Who has the most talent in the minors? Ranking every MLB system from 1-30


Now that we have ranked the top 100 prospects in MLB heading into the 2023 season, let’s turn our attention to how all 30 farm systems stack up.

Spoiler alert: You’ll notice the same teams that have the best prospects on the top 100 tend to land near the top of this list. It helps to have good players making their way through your farm system.

I’ve always found it too subjective to line up 30 lists of players and say this list is better than that one with any certainty, since the process of ranking them is already pretty subjective and over 1,000 players/data points are too many for one brain to effectively consider.

Enter science! These rankings of all 30 organizations were done, for the most part, the same way as last year’s version. In short, while at FanGraphs, research by Craig Edwards (who now works for the MLB Players Association) revealed empirical surplus dollar values for each future value tier of prospect, so we can now make an objective ranking of farm systems derived from my individual team lists, which have been completed and will be published next week.

Another benefit of this approach is that you can use your own judgment to disagree with a ranking if, say, a team has $500,000 more talent but the lower-ranked team has prospects of the sort you prefer. This gives you the tools to see exactly how close every team is and a more granular view of what their players are like, compared to the other 29 teams.

Last year: 1st, $344 million

Top-100 prospects: 9

This value is much higher than last year’s top-rated system but is in line with recent top farm systems using this dollar-value process, with the best recent farm system running just above $500 million. Baltimore has excelled in the talent collection phase of its rebuild similarly to how Houston (with current O’s GM Mike Elias running the Astros’ drafts) nailed their time in the wilderness.

The Orioles have a clear M.O. in the draft and in trades, which leans into their development strengths — most notably targeting hitters with raw power and defensive value, but just OK contact skills and pitch selection. Having a clear strategy might sound obvious, but only a few clubs are successfully steering the entire organization toward their strengths. There are three potential impact pitchers who will be in Triple-A or the big leagues this season along with at least eight, and maybe as many as a dozen, everyday-quality position players starting the season in Double-A or higher.

Last year: 5th, $276.5 million

Top-100 prospects: 6

A winter trade for just-barely-eligible-for-this-list catcher Gabriel Moreno pushed the top of the Diamondbacks’ system to being one of the best in recent memory: three prospects in the top 10 of my top 100, four in the top 21, and five in the top 32. Like Baltimore, a wave of standout talent is in the upper minors or has already matriculated to the big leagues. Druw Jones, the No. 2 overall pick in last summer’s MLB draft, is the lone top prospect who isn’t on the verge of reaching the majors. Corbin Carroll will be a favorite in the 2023 National League Rookie of the Year race, but Arizona will also have Moreno — along with righties Brandon Pfaadt, Drey Jameson and Ryne Nelson — in the mix.

Last year: 9th, $259 million

Top-100 prospects: 7

It’s a different formula, but just like the Orioles, the Guardians have a thing that works for them and they’ve built a self-sustaining organization around those core competencies. They can reliably turn middling college pitchers into standout big leaguers, they also find scouting and development success outside of that prospect demographic and they are competitive at the major league level almost every year with a mostly homegrown club. Their system is cresting now, with the entire top 10 on my team list starting the season in Double-A or higher. This system is stocked with a number of potential everyday players and headlined by two potential frontline starting pitchers.

Last year: 7th, $269.5 million

Top-100 prospects: 5

Stop me if you’re sensing a trend, but the Yankees also have their own flavor of success and they’ve been doing a version of it for years. First, their international scouting is top notch. Yes, they often spend at the top of the market but they also reliably find real prospects with low bonuses.

The domestic amateur scouting group also keeps turning midround picks into real prospects who often headline big trades to fill needs at the major league level. GM Brian Cashman is aggressive in dealing non-core prospects, so those two departments, along with player development, need to keep the pipeline churning.

Other teams near the top of this list like Tampa Bay, Baltimore and Cleveland generally don’t trade away prospects, so there’s something to admire about the Bombers’ ability to keep their system here with this approach.

Last year: 20th, $166.5 million

Top-100 prospects: 4

The Reds made a big move up this list after trading a number of veteran big leaguers in an effort to create a wave of young talent to help them compete once again. The second and third prospects on their team list are the headliners in the Luis Castillo trade, No. 4 prospect Cam Collier was last summer’s first-round pick, and four more players who rank in their top 10 were acquired in the past 11 months. All of those players except Collier should be in the upper minors this season, so the Reds could be interesting again soon.

Last year: 8th, $259.5 million

Top-100 prospects: 5

Yep, they keep winning and churning out young players — even if dorks on Twitter dunk on them for not winning enough World Series. The major league team is at a bit of an inflection point: The Dodgers let a number of veterans leave this offseason then opted to add more Band-Aid-types as solutions and will at least come close to resetting their Competitive Balance Tax (CBT).

The solution seems to be filling the holes with internal options from the farm system. By my count, there are seven prospect-eligible pitchers in the upper minors who I give at least a 45 FV (i.e. fifth starter/setup man expectation). Meanwhile, Miguel Vargas and Michael Busch should provide help on the corners and James Outman can play all three outfield spots.

If that group provides enough to supplement the Dodgers’ veteran players in 2023, L.A. could have another $40 million (gap between 2023 and 2022 payrolls) to spend next winter on top of $50 million in expiring deals. That’s a lot of firepower for the potential winter of Shohei Ohtani and Manny Machado.

Last year: 10th, $250 million

Top-100 prospects: 5

The Rays seem to be ranked in the top 10 on this list every year. Tampa Bay’s organizational philosophy means they’re always net-adders to their system because they are willing to trade arbitration-eligible players for prospects in the upper minors to start the cycle again. Like many of the teams this high in the rankings, Tampa Bay is above average at every part of the scouting and development process. After Wander Franco and Brandon Lowe graduated to the majors, they still seemed to have too many middle infielders to even play them all in the minors, much less fit the young players on a big league roster. They’re doing that with infielders again, but they’ve also mixed in some other types of position players with offensive prospects making up 11 of their top 12.

Last year: 10th, $250 million

Top-100 prospects: 3

The Rangers are fascinating because they seem to be the only organization building a contender this way. Their system has been among the deepest in terms of pure prospects for years, developing some higher variance players into top 100 quality of late while continuing to add to the depth. The Rangers haven’t traded away many prospects because their big league focus has been getting better almost entirely through spending unprecedented amounts in free agency right as these prospects start to show up. GM Chris Young has taken over the reins from Jon Daniels, and they’re approaching the first CBT threshold as a playoff contender with a top-10 system. I think this is working, but 2023 should give a much clearer signal.

Last year: 3rd, $313 million

Top-100 prospects: 3

The Pirates are coming to a bit of a crossroads. Under this ownership, it looks like they’re always going to run a bottom-five payroll. The Rays and Guardians have shown this can still lead to playoff appearances if done efficiently, but the Pirates have been in full rebuild or talent collection mode for the entirety of GM Ben Cherington’s three-plus-year tenure.

There are now a lot of good players in the system and a handful of core young players on the big league roster, but there haven’t been nearly as many breakthrough seasons or cases of lower-rated prospects becoming key pieces as we have seen from a similar effort in Baltimore. This could prove to be concern-trolling if Oneil Cruz, Bryan Reynolds, Ke’Bryan Hayes, and Mitch Keller all have big 2023 seasons while Liover Peguero, Endy Rodriguez, and Henry Davis storm to the big leagues — but it’s something to keep an eye on.

Last year: 14th, $217.5 million

Top-100 prospects: 5

The Cards bring up the rear of a three-team group locked in a virtual tie at the back of the top 10. Like some of the teams I’ve covered so far, the Cards also have a wealth of young talent showing up to the big leagues — to the point that I’m not sure how all the pieces will fit together. The major league lineup is already full enough that recent graduate Nolan Gorman and prospect Alec Burleson don’t clearly have full-time spots, which means Jordan Walker, Masyn Winn, and Ivan Herrera are all sitting in Triple-A waiting for a big league shot. At the same time, the rotation lacks an ace, but there are six solid starting options in St. Louis while Matthew Liberatore, Gordon Graceffo and a few others sit in the upper minors waiting for a chance to crack that group. This is feeling Dodgers-adjacent — and that’s a huge compliment.

Last year: 19th, 182.5 million

Top-100 prospects: 3

The Cubs seem to have turned the corner in their rebuild and are now left with the hard part: bridging the gap with the Cardinals at the top of the NL Central. Chicago has improved the big league team this winter and the farm system has notably improved over the last year.

Lefty Jordan Wicks and center fielder Pete Crow-Armstrong both took big steps forward and the Cubs added a couple of prospects who now rank in the top 10 of their system in first-round pick Cade Horton and Hayden Wesneski, who came over from the Yankees at the deadline. The entire top tier of the system either held serve or improved, which was crucial with so many young high-variance hitters in the low minors.

I don’t think the Cubs will return to the playoffs in 2023, but I see a path to the farm system helping create a postseason contender in 2024.

Last year: 18th, $196 million

Top-100 prospects: 3

The top of the Mets’ system is anchored by Francisco Alvarez, Brett Baty, Ronny Mauricio and Mark Vientos as it has been for a couple of years now. The big changes here are that Alex Ramirez took a big step forward last season and first-round picks Kevin Parada and Jett Williams were added to the system. Some recent draftees, including Calvin Ziegler, Blade Tidwell and Nick Morabito, are potential breakout candidates in 2023 when the team will need to backfill for Alvarez, Baty and Vientos, who will graduate from prospect status this season.

Last year: 22nd, $162 million

Top-100 prospects: 4

The Nats are in full rebuild mode and that process was greatly helped along by the package Washington received from the Padres for Juan Soto. Three of the top four prospects in the system — all on my top 100 — came in that trade along with MacKenzie Gore and CJ Abrams, who weren’t eligible for the list but would’ve easily made it if they weren’t already in the majors.

Brady House and Elijah Green — the Nats’ past two first-round picks — both have sky-high ceilings and could slide onto my next list with a hot month or two. Things are a bit thin after that, but those players and two other graduated top-100 prospects (Keibert Ruiz and Josiah Gray) acquired in the Trea Turner/Max Scherzer trade have laid a foundation for Washington’s next playoff club.

Last year: 16th, $209.5 million

Top-100 prospects: 3

The top of the system — Marcelo Mayer and Triston Casas — did what was expected and continued moving up the list. Beyond that, last season was a mixed bag for Red Sox prospects.

Here’s what happened to prospects Nos. 3-11, in order: Nick Yorke was downgraded due to a tough season in which he was a bit unlucky with outcomes, Jarren Duran graduated but still hasn’t found much big league success, Jeter Downs went to the Nationals on waivers, Gilberto Jimenez and Wilkelman Gonzalez went unpicked in the Rule 5 draft after up-and-down seasons, Jay Groome was traded to the Padres in the Eric Hosmer salary dump, Ronaldo Hernandez was outrighted off of the 40-man roster, Chris Murphy was fine but nothing more in the upper minors, and Noah Song was selected in the Rule 5 draft by the Phillies.

While that stretch of the list wasn’t very good, there were a handful of breakout campaigns (Miguel Bleis, Ceddanne Rafaela, Blaze Jordan, Eddinson Paulino) of players who now move into that range in the team rankings along with some players added in the draft (Mikey Romero, Roman Anthony, Cutter Coffey) who also belong up there. Given how things are going at the big league level, the Red Sox need a strong next wave of players coming behind Casas and Mayer. More steps forward from this group are crucial.

Last year: 25th, $128.5 million

Top-100 prospects: 3

The big story in the Brewers’ system was the breakthrough that was Jackson Chourio. Some scouts and analysts are hanging 70 grades on the 18-year-old outfielder’s bat speed, raw power and foot speed. There is a good bit of hit-tool risk, but he also hit his way to Double-A at high-school-senior age so it would be silly to put a ceiling on him just yet. Beyond that, the system is chock-full of hit-first prospects who can play up-the-middle positions and advanced-data-friendly pitchers who keep with the Brewers’ tendencies.

Last year: 23rd, $152 million

Top-100 prospects: 3

The Rockies continue to be a punchline in the big leagues, analytics and front-office aspects, but their farm system had a sneaky-good 2022. Ezequiel Tovar is a strong Rookie of the Year candidate while Nolan Jones and Michael Toglia would have a shot to get in that mix if playing time emerges. A year or two behind are Zac Veen and Drew Romo, along with a half-dozen other position players who have everyday upside.

I didn’t love how they managed their 2022 draft, but I do like the three players they ended up with at their high picks: Gabriel Hughes, Jordan Beck and Sterlin Thompson. GM Bill Schmidt has always been respected for his work as scouting director, and that department remains the best-run part of the franchise.

Last year: 17th, $198.5 million

Top-100 prospects: 5

The Twins have been moving some chips into the middle with their decisions over the past few seasons — Byron Buxton‘s extension, Carlos Correa‘s megadeal and trading for Sonny Gray, Pablo Lopez, Tyler Mahle and Jorge Lopez. But they have managed to avoid mortgaging the future entirely in the process.

Having Royce Lewis, Brooks Lee, Jose Salas, Austin Martin, Edouard Julien, Noah Miller and Danny DeAndrade as middle-infield prospects with everyday potential gives plenty of fodder for trades or positional changes.

The Twins also do a solid job of developing pitchers who can contribute, and the organization is a good bet to land in the middle-third of these rankings for a long time.

Last year: 4th, $288.5 million

Top-100 prospects: 2

The Fish have had a number of prospects — particularly pitchers — graduate to the majors over the past two seasons and their top four prospects now are all pitchers currently in the upper minors. Even after some attrition, the recent trade of Lopez and injuries to Max Meyer and Sixto Sanchez, the big league rotation has six viable candidates without including those four prospects.

The big league lineup is still below average and there isn’t an impact position-player prospect near the big leagues, so I’d expect another trade or two in Miami’s future unless something drastic changes.

Last year: 28th, $124.5 million

Top-100 prospects: 2

At this time last year, the A’s hadn’t yet traded Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Chris Bassitt, Frankie Montas, Sean Manaea, Lou Trivino, Sean Murphy or Cole Irvin. I said in last year’s farm blurb that this could be a top-10 system when they eventually made those moves, but they aren’t quite there because some of the return in those deals (Shea Langeliers, Cristian Pache, Kevin Smith) and some other holdover prospects (Kirby Snead, Dany Jimenez, Adrian Martinez, Daulton Jefferies, A.J. Puk, Nick Allen, Adam Oller, J.P. Sears, Jonah Bride, Zach Jackson) all graduated with Oakland playing a number of young players at the big league level.

Of those prospects on last year’s team list, Max Muncy, Mason Miller, Denzel Clarke, Brett Harris and Joey Estes improved their stock by a notch of FV, but there wasn’t a big breakthrough performance. Only two A’s made the top 100, which is why this system isn’t in the top 10 even with notable draft and international classes. That said, another half-dozen prospects are within striking distance of the top 100 and almost all of them are set to play in the upper minors.

Last year: 11th, $240 million

Top-100 prospects: 2

I’ve been critical of the Giants for the lack of young players in their long-term core and the lack of logic behind their offseason — in addition to the larger team-building philosophy.

The top five prospects from last winter’s list — minus the graduated Joey Bart — comprise the top four this year, though only lefty Kyle Harrison moved up in overall ranking from last year’s list. He looks like he’ll join Logan Webb as a core part of the club moving forward. The next group of Giants prospects included some players like Grant McCray, Aeverson Arteaga, Vaun Brown and Trevor McDonald, who took a step forward. But on balance, it’s not a notably better system than a year ago due to a number of early-round picks treading water or taking a step back.

Last year: 13th, $220.5 million

Top-100 prospects: 2

The Tigers made one big move this offseason, bringing in a new head of baseball operations in Scott Harris. He’ll continue to build around young players already in Detroit — with Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene as cornerstone-type talents who graduated last year — and a farm system that’s now headlined by a lot of solid contributors but lacks future stars. The big league team is bottom five in talent right now, so Harris’ priorities need to be adding high-end young players and figuring out how to get more out of what’s already in the system.

Last year: 21st, $163.5 million

Top-100 prospects: 2

The Jays are also in full go-for-it mode, spending into the first tier of the CBT while ranking comfortably within MLB’s top 10 teams on paper. The system is headlined by lefty Ricky Tiedemann, who could be a factor down the stretch in 2023 if needed for short stints. Beyond that, 2022 first-rounder Brandon Barriera has frontline upside and infielder Orelvis Martinez could either hit 30 homers in the big leagues or not hit enough to even be an everyday player. The rest of Toronto’s top prospects are more shots in the dark or potential role players. But that’s about all that’s necessary given where the major league club stands, as long as the flow of incoming talent keeps moving.

Last year: 15th, $212 million

Top-100 prospects: 3

The Padres are also in full-on go-for-it mode for the next few years but have still managed to hold on to a couple of premium prospects while also adding a few from the amateur markets last summer. Jackson Merrill is the big prize among players who weren’t included in the Soto trade — which sent five top-100 prospects to Washington. I still don’t understand why Dylan Lesko fell to the Padres’ No. 15 pick in the 2022 draft and I knew two years ago that the Pads had a deal in place with the top player in this year’s international class, catcher Ethan Salas. GM A.J. Preller will likely have to make another trade to improve the major league roster at some point and those three along with Samuel Zavala could be the new group that have a circle with a line through it around their names when rival GMs call.

Last year: 24th, $130 million

Top-100 prospects: 2

Like many of the teams in this area of the rankings, the Phillies are going for it. Bryson Stott was the big graduate last year, then GM Dave Dombrowski spent $300 million on Trea Turner, so Stott will slide over to second base. Several Phillies prospects improved this year, with Andrew Painter making the most notable leap to becoming part of the best-pitching-prospect-in-baseball conversation. Griff McGarry and Hao Yu Lee are two others worth noting that took steps forward.

Last year: 30th, $63 million

Top-100 prospects: 2

It’s been a few years since the White Sox system produced anything more than a role player. Garrett Crochet, Michael Kopech, Dylan Cease, Andrew Vaughn and Luis Robert are a pretty darn good group of players from just before that time, but it’s hard to keep contending with an ownership-imposed cap on payroll and nothing more than role players coming from the system. The good news is Colson Montgomery looks like he’ll be that guy (maybe in 2024?), Bryan Ramos very well could be that kind of guy, Oscar Colas is on the borderline and Noah Schultz could be a star if it all clicks. The bad news is those four are basically the system’s entire list of candidates, and the White Sox probably won’t have a top-10 draft position coming soon.

Last year: 29th, $91 million

Top-100 prospects: 3

The Angels have two of the best players in baseball … but one might be leaving in free agency next winter. They were for sale … until they weren’t. Their playoff drought goes back to 2014. The farm system isn’t the problem or the solution here, but things are at least moving in the right direction when it comes to young talent accumulation.

I loved their first pick of Zach Neto when they took him last summer and he shocked the industry by performing well in jumping from mid-major Campbell to Double-A. Ben Joyce might also run to the big leagues in short order, Edgar Quero made the leap last spring and Logan O’Hoppe was a savvy trade deadline acquisition who is ready to contribute in the majors. The cupboard isn’t bare, but it’s also not solving the problem for GM Perry Minasian; it’s just a complement right now.

Last year: 26th, $128 million

Top-100 prospects: 1

I like the top of the Astros’ system, which features four big-league-ready prospects, including two catchers and a fireballer with an airbender in Hunter Brown, along with Drew Gilbert, who was my favorite first-round pick in last summer’s draft. There isn’t a whole lot to be excited about beyond that group right now, but the big league team is so good and deep that this isn’t a real concern for new GM Dana Brown just yet.

Last year: 12th, $224.5 million

Top-100 prospects: 1

Long-time GM Dayton Moore was fired recently, which says, very clearly, that things weren’t going well. The Royals are among the bottom half-dozen or so in the majors right now and the farm system is more a group of solid players than future stars. The good news is last year’s group of graduated prospects — Bobby Witt Jr., Vinnie Pasquantino, M.J. Melendez, Nick Pratto, Michael Massey, Kyle Isbel — give Kansas City the infusion of young hitters that was needed to complement a group of young pitching that had already arrived. Now, the Royals need all of the youngsters to mesh and improve while universally raising the talent level to keep this thing moving in the right direction.

Last year: 6th, $271 million

Top-100 prospects: 2

Seattle is one of the few franchises that has recognized that its core wasn’t good enough to be a sustained contender, committed to a two-to-three-year rebuild, ran low payrolls as part of a plan, then actually built the team, spent at least some of the money that was saved and made the playoffs — all on schedule.

There’s a great young core headlined by Julio Rodriguez in the majors and some recent trades of top-100 types to build that major league roster has hurt their overall ranking here, but the key is to have one or two new real prospects showing up every year. I think there’s enough here to keep that up, with some exciting young position players who are years away and some pitchers who might be ready by the trade deadline.

Last year: 27th, $127.5 million

Top-100 prospects: 0

This is the lowest farm system total in my rankings in a few years, with the lowest-ranked system for the past few years normally coming in at around $60 million. The Braves’ farm system should be looked at differently than other teams at the bottom of these rankings though, for a couple of reasons.

First, this system just gives the team credit for how the player is rated, but does not account for variance. If you’re showing me two 45 FV pitchers — one a depth starter on the 40-man roster and pitching Triple-A, and the other a teenaged power righty who went in the back half of a recent first round — I’m almost always taking the latter player. The odds of breakout (and thus being much more valuable) are considerably higher and that prospect would likely have more trade value due to 40-man status.

The top five prospects in Atlanta’s system all fit as that type of potential breakout pitcher: Owen Murphy, J.R. Ritchie, A.J. Smith-Shawver, Spencer Schwellenbach and Cole Phillips. This means the Braves could easily jump in value when a couple of these types emerge, similar to what happened when the Yankees and Cubs had teenage-heavy farm systems in recent years.

The second reason to view Atlanta’s place on this list differently is even more basic: You play to win the game! The Braves have the best young core in baseball, those players are locked up for (check notes) ever and Atlanta recently won a World Series. The Braves have both graduated stars from the farm system and traded others to make their major league team the best it can be. There’s no trophy handed out for best farm system process, but there is one for winning the World Series.

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