Ranking all 30 teams’ farm systems

Detroit Tigers

The most efficient way to build a winning big league club is by constructing a strong farm system. Since MLB Pipeline began ranking farm systems biannually in 2015, every organization that claimed the top spot has enjoyed plenty of on-field success.

The first three teams to sit atop our rankings — the Cubs (pre-2015), Red Sox (mid-2015) and Dodgers (pre-2016) — have won World Series championships. Their successors at No. 1 don’t have a Commissioner’s Trophy yet, but they’ve been in the hunt and all of them are contenders once again this year.

The Brewers (mid-2016) and Braves (pre-2017) have made three straight playoff appearances, including a trip each to the National League Championship Series. The White Sox (mid-2017) and Padres (pre-2018 through mid-2019) both ended long postseason droughts a year ago and are among the favorites to reach the World Series this October, just as the Rays (pre-2020 and mid-2020 through pre-2021) did last October.

Including Baseball America’s organizational rankings for the years before ours existed, each of the last 14 World Series champions had a top-10-rated farm system at some point in the five years leading up to their title. The last exception was the 2006 Cardinals.

So when you peruse our system rankings below, expect to see the teams ranked near the top playing for championships in the near future. We’ve considered factors such as potential impact talent, depth, proximity to the big leagues and balance between position players and pitchers as well as ceilings and floors.

1. Tampa Bay Rays
2020 midseason rank: 1
2020 preseason rank: 1
Top 100 Prospects: Wander Franco (No. 1), Luis Patiño (No. 19), Randy Arozarena (No. 34), Vidal Brujan (No. 50), Brendan McKay (No. 72), Shane McClanahan (No. 84), Xavier Edwards (No. 85), Shane Baz (No. 90)
Top 2021 rookie: Randy Arozarena, OF

Highlighted by baseball’s top prospect, Wander Franco, the Rays have battled with the Padres over the past five rankings for the top farm system title. But last fall, Tampa Bay watched as Randy Arozarena electrified the postseason, and then snagged Luis Patiño from San Diego to bolster its case even more and lead baseball with eight Top 100 prospects. More »

2. Detroit Tigers
2020 midseason rank: 2
2020 preseason rank: 5
Top 100 Prospects: Spencer Torkelson (No. 3), Casey Mize (No. 11), Riley Greene (No. 21), Tarik Skubal (No. 24), Matt Manning (No. 25)
Top 2021 rookie: Tarik Skubal, LHP

Led by two of the past three No. 1 overall Draft picks (Spencer Torkelson and Casey Mize), two more Top 10 overall picks (Riley Greene and Matt Manning) and a late-round gem (Tarik Skubal), the Tigers are the first team ever to have five of the top 25 players in one of our Top 100 Prospects lists. More »

3. Seattle Mariners
2020 midseason rank: 4
2020 preseason rank: 9
Top 100 Prospects: Jarred Kelenic (No. 4), Julio Rodriguez (No. 5), Emerson Hancock (No. 31), Logan Gilbert (No. 33), George Kirby (No. 92), Taylor Trammell (No. 100)
Top 2021 rookie: Jarred Kelenic, OF

The Mariners’ rise continues, as they’ve jumped from being unranked in 10 consecutive Top 10s — from preseason 2015 through midseason 2019 — to having baseball’s third-best farm system. The dynamic outfield duo of Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez is the highest-ranked pair of prospects in the game. More »

4. Miami Marlins
2020 midseason rank: 5
2020 preseason rank: 4
Top 100 Prospects: Sixto Sánchez (No. 15), JJ Bleday (No. 20), Max Meyer (No. 28), Jazz Chisholm (No. 66), Edward Cabrera (No. 68)
Top 2021 rookie: Sixto Sanchez, RHP

The Marlins rallied last year for their first winning record in a decade and first playoff appearance in 16 seasons. Miami not only has the youngest team in the National League East, but it also has easily the best crop of prospects. It’s conceivable that the first nine players on MLB Pipeline’s Marlins Top 30 could see action in the Majors this year, and the franchise’s future hasn’t seemed this bright in quite a while. More »

5. Baltimore Orioles
2020 midseason rank: 3
2020 preseason rank: 8
Top 100 Prospects: Adley Rutschman (No. 2), Grayson Rodriguez (No. 27), Heston Kjerstad (No. 69), DL Hall (No. 70), Ryan Mountcastle (No. 77)
Top 2021 rookie: Ryan Mountcastle, OF

Several years into their organizational rebuild, the Orioles have reshaped their farm system from one of baseball’s weakest into one of its best. The organization has keyed in on top Draft picks, like Adley Rutschman and Heston Kjerstad, while also re-establishing a presence in Latin America. More »

6. San Diego Padres
2020 midseason rank: 3
2020 preseason rank: 2
Top 100 Prospects: MacKenzie Gore (No. 6), CJ Abrams (No. 8), Luis Campusano (No. 45), Robert Hassell III (No. 62)
Top 2021 rookie: MacKenzie Gore, LHP

Led by Fernando Tatis Jr. and Chris Paddack, the longtime bountiful Padres system finally began making an impact in the Majors. And as the club gets closer to postseason success, they’ve made the corresponding moves, trading 15 of their Top 30 prospects this past offseason, most notably Luis Patiño to the Rays. But even after all that, the farm system is still among the best in baseball. More »

7. Toronto Blue Jays
2020 midseason rank: 7
2020 preseason rank: 16
Top 100 Prospects: Nate Pearson (No. 10), Austin Martin (No. 22), Jordan Groshans (No. 46), Simeon Woods Richardson (No. 87)
Top 2021 rookie: Nate Pearson, RHP

The Blue Jays are No. 7 despite graduating the likes of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio in recent years. While Toronto landed star power in George Springer and Marcus Semien via free agency, it did so without touching their top-end prospects. More »

8. Pittsburgh Pirates
2020 midseason rank: 16
2020 preseason rank: 15
Top 100 Prospects: Ke’Bryan Hayes (No. 9), Nick Gonzales (No. 43), Quinn Priester (No. 52), Oneil Cruz (No. 64)
Top 2021 rookie: Ke’Bryan Hayes

Eleven of the players on Pittsburgh’s Top 30 Prospects list were acquired by trade, more than any other organization this year. But the top three on the list were all first-round picks of the Pirates. The system is ranked among MLB’s Top 10 for the first time since 2017. More »

9. Arizona Diamondbacks
2020 midseason rank: 9
2020 preseason rank: 6
Top 100 Prospects: Corbin Carroll (No. 47), Kristian Robinson (No. 55), Geraldo Perdomo (No. 79), Alek Thomas (No. 81)
Top 2021 rookie: Corbin Martin, RHP

The D-backs hold steady at No. 9 as the farm system continues to become more balanced on both sides of the ball. While the organization’s top four prospects are position players, the next six are pitchers. More »

10. Kansas City Royals
2020 midseason rank: 10
2020 preseason rank: 17
Top 100 Prospects: Bobby Witt Jr. (No. 7), Daniel Lynch (No. 29), Asa Lacy (No. 30)
Top 2021 rookie: Daniel Lynch, LHP

For the second straight year, shortstop phenom Bobby Witt Jr. headlines the Royals’ Top 30. Every player in the Top 10 is homegrown, with nine coming via the Draft and one coming via international signing. More »

11. San Francisco Giants
2020 midseason rank: 13
2020 preseason rank: 10
Top 100 Prospects: Marco Luciano (No. 16), Joey Bart (No. 23), Heliot Ramos (No. 82), Hunter Bishop (No. 83)
Top 2021 rookie: Joey Bart, C

Now that they’ve embraced rebuilding, the Giants have assembled their best group of prospect talent since Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner and Co. were about to start winning World Series. More »

12. Minnesota Twins
2020 midseason rank: 12
2020 preseason rank: 7
Top 100 Prospects: Royce Lewis (No. 17), Alex Kirilloff (No. 26), Trevor Larnach (No. 80), Jordan Balazovic (No. 97)
Top 2021 rookie: Alex Kirilloff, OF

Even with the loss of top prospect Royce Lewis for the year, four of the Twins’ top six prospects have the chance to impact the big league roster in 2021, with some good depth behind them. More »

13. Cleveland Indians
2020 midseason rank: 13
2020 preseason rank: 14
Top 100 Prospects: Nolan Jones (No. 36), Triston McKenzie (No. 51), Tyler Freeman (No. 98)
Top 2021 rookie: Triston McKenzie, RHP

The Indians keep trading stars yet keep winning because they keep developing talent, and they may rank among the game’s very best systems a year from now because they have a ton of young hitters and prospects on the rise. More »

14. Los Angeles Dodgers
2020 midseason rank: 14
2020 preseason rank: 11
Top 100 Prospects: Keibert Ruiz (No. 57), Josiah Gray (No. 58)
Top 2021 rookie: Josiah Gray, RHP

The Dodgers excel at developing talent as much as they do at winning at the big league level. While this represents their lowest ranking since we started rating systems in 2015, recent first-rounders such as 2B Michael Busch, 3B Kody Hoese and RHP Bobby Miller headline a number of prospects on the rise. More »

15. Atlanta Braves
2020 midseason rank: 15
2020 preseason rank: 8
Top 100 Prospects: Cristian Pache (No. 12), Ian Anderson (No. 18), Drew Waters (No. 35), Shea Langeliers (No. 73)
Top 2021 rookie: Ian Anderson, RHP

Winning three straight division titles certainly has thinned out the system some, but there’s still some elite talent, especially that dynamic outfield duo at the top, with a backlog of contributors at the upper levels. More »

16. Chicago White Sox
2020 midseason rank: 6
2020 preseason rank: 11
Top 100 Prospects: Andrew Vaughn (No. 14), Michael Kopech (No. 39), Nick Madrigal (No. 40), Garrett Crochet (No. 56)
Top 2021 rookie: Nick Madrigal, 2B

The White Sox have an incredibly top-heavy system with four Top 100 Prospects who are legitimate Rookie of the Year candidates and not much in the way of proven talent behind them. More »

17. St. Louis Cardinals
2020 midseason rank: 18
2020 preseason rank: 18
Top 100 Prospects: Dylan Carlson (No. 13), Matthew Liberatore (No. 37), Nolan Gorman (No. 38)
Top 2021 rookie: Dylan Carlson, OF

While Dylan Carlson will likely graduate early in the 2021 season, Matthew Liberatore and Nolan Gorman are legitimate, big-time prospects. In addition, the Cardinals have several high-ceiling prospects, such as Masyn Winn and Edwin Nunez, who could really elevate the system’s ranking if everything clicks in their development. More »

18. New York Yankees
2020 midseason rank: 19
2020 preseason rank: 22
Top 100 Prospects: Jasson Dominguez (No. 32), Clarke Schmidt (No. 88)
Top 2021 rookie: Deivi Garcia, RHP

The Yankees system continues to feature a heavy international flavor, led by the ultratalented and ultrahyped Dominguez and prime Rookie of the Year candidate Garcia. More »

19. New York Mets
2020 midseason rank: 20
2020 preseason rank: 20
Top 100 Prospects: Francisco Alvarez (No. 48), Ronny Mauricio (No. 67), Matt Allan (No. 75), Brett Baty (No. 94)
Top 2021 rookie: Khalil Lee, OF

The Mets lost six of their Top 30 prospects from this time last year due to trades, hurting the overall depth of the system. But plenty of talent remains at the top with four Top-100 prospects, each of whom is 21 or younger. More »

20. Cincinnati Reds
2020 midseason rank: 22
2020 preseason rank: 24
Top 100 Prospects: Nick Lodolo (No. 59), Hunter Greene (No. 71), Austin Hendrick (No. 86), Tyler Stephenson (No. 95)
Top 2021 rookie: Tyler Stephenson, C

Things are looking up for the Reds, who finished over .500 in 2020 and boast a system with a mass of talent at the top of its Top 30 courtesy of a string of first-round picks over the last several years. More »

21. Texas Rangers
2020 midseason rank: 24
2020 preseason rank: 21
Top 100 Prospects: Josh Jung (No. 63), Sam Huff (No. 78), Dane Dunning (No. 91)
Top 2021 rookie: Leody Taveras, OF

The rebuilding Rangers have changed gears a bit, and many of their top farmhands exude more polish than their high-risk, high-reward prospects of recent years. More »

22. Chicago Cubs
2020 midseason rank: 26
2020 preseason rank: 23
Top 100 Prospects: Brailyn Marquez (No. 60), Brennen Davis (No. 61), Miguel Amaya (No. 89)
Top 2021 rookie: Adbert Alzolay, RHP

The Cubs continue to stand out with their ability to develop hitters and their struggles to produce pitchers, though Marquez and RHPs Kohl Franklin and Adbert Alzolay offer some hope on the mound. More »

23. Philadelphia Phillies
2020 midseason rank: 23
2020 preseason rank: 19
Top 100 Prospects: Spencer Howard (No. 42), Mick Abel (No. 76)
Top 2021 rookie: Spencer Howard, RHP

Top prospect Spencer Howard hopes to follow in Alec Bohm’s footsteps as a Rookie of the Year candidate and there’s an exciting group of prospects growing at the bottom rungs of the organization, with a lot of emphasis on talent from the international market. More »

24. Boston Red Sox
2020 midseason rank: 24
2020 preseason rank: 25
Top 100 Prospects: Triston Casas (No. 44), Jeter Downs (No. 49), Bobby Dalbec (No. 93)
Top 2021 rookie: Bobby Dalbec, 3B/1B

Despite the low ranking, this system looks to be on the upswing thanks to recent Drafts, international signings and trades, though most of the Red Sox’s best prospects are another year or two away from making an impact. More »

25. Los Angeles Angels
2020 midseason rank: 21
2020 preseason rank: 26
Top 100 Prospects: Brandon Marsh (No. 53), Reid Detmers (No. 74)
Top 2021 rookie: Brandon Marsh, OF

We still believe in Jo Adell and Brandon Marsh, once 100 percent, isn’t far behind him, with a bunch of intriguing, albeit far away, up-the-middle type talents throughout the system. More »

26. Oakland Athletics
2020 midseason rank: 17
2020 preseason rank: 14
Top 100 Prospects: None
Top 2021 rookie: A.J. Puk, LHP

The graduations of Jesús Luzardo and Sean Murphy weaken the top of the list, though a healthy A.J. Puk is ready to follow them and make a major contribution in Oakland this year, with younger talent like 2020 first-rounder Tyler Soderstrom and 2019 international signee Robert Puason hoping to lead the next wave. More »

27. Colorado Rockies
2020 midseason rank: 28
2020 preseason rank: 27
Top 100 Prospects: Zac Veen (No. 54)
Top 2021 rookie: Ryan Rolison, LHP

Brendan Rodgers isn’t the No. 1 prospect here for the first time in five years, there are a few new names courtesy of the Nolan Arenado deal and there’s some young talent several years away thanks to the Rockies’ long-standing presence in Latin America. More »

28. Milwaukee Brewers
2020 midseason rank: 28
2020 preseason rank: 29
Top 100 Prospects: Garrett Mitchell (No. 65)
Top 2021 rookie: Justin Topa, RHP

The Brewers have multiple players on the Top 100 for the first time since 2018, giving them two up-the-middle premium to lead a Top 30 that’s almost entirely homegrown (29 of the Top 30) and has a lot more bats (21) than arms (nine). More »

29. Houston Astros
2020 midseason rank: 27
2020 preseason rank: 28
Top 100 Prospects: Forrest Whitley (No. 41)
Top 2021 rookie: Luis Garcia, RHP

Losing its only Top 100 Prospect (Whitley) to Tommy John surgery didn’t help a system in flux, though the Astros hope OF Pedro Leon (signed in January) will make a quick impact and they can continue to turn anonymous signees into viable big league arms. More »

30. Washington Nationals
2020 midseason rank: 30
2020 preseason rank: 29
Top 100 Prospects: Cade Cavalli (No. 99)
Top 2021 rookie: Tim Cate, LHP

Last season’s graduations of Carter Kieboom and Luis Garcia and the continued fallout from moves made to aid the 2019 World Series run leave the Nats in the bottom spot. But three big right-handers at the top and toolsy young position players at the lowest levels give hope that more homegrown talent could eventually make its way to the capital. More »

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