Top 10 farm systems by position players

Detroit Tigers

Over the coming days, MLB Pipeline is ranking farm systems by their position-player and pitcher groups as well as their 21-and-under talent. This provides one way of highlighting the strengths of the game’s best farm systems and also gives us a chance to point out ways that some of the more middling clubs can still stand out on their own. Rankings take into account Top 100 talent, overall depth and variety of types of prospects among other factors.

This first edition tackles the top 10 sets of position players:

1. Tampa Bay Rays
Top 100 Prospects:
Wander Franco (No. 1), Randy Arozarena (No. 34), Vidal Brujan (No. 50), Xavier Edwards (No. 85)
Position players among Top 30 prospects: 16

Looking to build a position-player prospect group in a lab? Start with this prototype. It features the best prospect in the game in Wander Franco, who is likely to bring an 80-grade hit tool to the Majors this season. The second-best prospect in Randy Arozarena has already set Major League postseason records. Expand it to a quartet of Top 100 prospects in general, two acquired in trades and two as international signings. Add lots and lots of depth, particularly at the premium position of shortstop. It’s the type of system that has long been a goal of the Rays and one needed to build a contender in an organization with such a low payroll.

2. San Francisco Giants
Top 100 Prospects:
Marco Luciano (No. 16), Joey Bart (No. 23), Heliot Ramos (No. 82), Hunter Bishop (No. 83)
Position players among Top 30 prospects: 18

The Giants missed out on the top 10 overall ranking by one spot but shoot comfortably toward the top of the position-player list. (Yes, the pitcher pool is much rougher.) San Francisco boasts four position players among MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 prospects, tied with the Rays and D-backs for most among the 30 farm systems. Marco Luciano could easily be the game’s top prospect talent by this time next year if he picks up where he left off in 2019, and there are more young names where he came from with Luis Matos, Alexander Canario and Luis Toribio representing the next layer, all at 20 years old or younger. Expect Joey Bart and Heliot Ramos to contribute to the Major League club in some form in 2021, and it’s easy to see the collective’s well-rounded nature.

3. Seattle Mariners
Top 100 Prospects:
Jarred Kelenic (No. 4), Julio Rodriguez (No. 5), Taylor Trammell (No. 100)
Position players among Top 30 prospects: 12

No other organization has two position-player prospects among MLB Pipeline’s top 20 overall. The Mariners have two in the top five. Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez would be individual stars of any other system. The fact they are paired up in one organization is massive for Seattle’s rebuilding plans. Fellow outfielder Taylor Trammell rounds out the Top 100 contingent, and shortstop Noelvi Marte might not be far off once he can get a full Minor League season in. Sure, only 12 of the top 30 prospects hit and play the field, but the top is too good to keep the M’s from a prominent spot on this list.

4. Detroit Tigers
Top 100 Prospects:
Spencer Torkelson (No. 3), Riley Greene (No. 21)
Position players among Top 30 prospects: 22

The Tigers’ ability to take Spencer Torkelson first overall certainly boosted their spot on the board. That said, the group already had star power in outfielder Riley Greene, a 2019 first-rounder who stood out at both Spring Training and alternate-site play last year. Having either one would make Detroit a candidate for the top 10 alone. What might surprise is that Detroit – widely seen as a pitching-rich system for good reason – actually has position players making up the majority of its Top 30 list, with Isaac Paredes, Dillon Dingler, Daniel Cabrera, Parker Meadows and Daz Cameron in the next tier. It’s a better all-around system on the whole than it was just one year ago.

5. Pittsburgh Pirates
Top 100 Prospects:
Ke’Bryan Hayes (No. 9), Nick Gonzales (No. 43), Oneil Cruz (No. 64)
Position players among Top 30 prospects: 14

The Pirates hope that Ke’Bryan Hayes‘ stupendous arrival in the Majors last year was just the start of the wave of position players that the club can ride to future contention. Getting plus college hitter Nick Gonzales with the seventh overall pick last year certainly helped matters. Trades – like the ones that brought Liover Peguero from the D-backs and Hudson Head from the Padres – have helped deepen this group as well. Hayes’ upcoming graduation would drop the system’s rankings if we were to do a midseason update, but that’s the whole point of the Minor League system – to give the Major League club potential stars directly from the farm.

6. Minnesota Twins
Top 100 Prospects:
Royce Lewis (No. 17), Alex Kirilloff (No. 26), Trevor Larnach (No. 80)
Position players among Top 30 prospects: 19

The Twins are very much on the back half of developing a strong prospect core, built primarily around impressive hitters. In fact, the case could have been made that all three of their Top 100 prospects above would have seen Major League time this summer, if not for Royce Lewis’ torn ACL that will rule him out for the 2021 season. Catcher Ryan Jeffers, who is already a solid Major League contributor himself, and first-rounder Aaron Sabato add strength to the next tier. While the Top 30 is hitter-heavy on the whole, the depth does fall off a bit toward the back half of the list, limiting the Twins from jumping into the top five of this ranking. Still, a postseason contender with more internal bats to come should be an exciting thought in Minnesota.

7. Arizona Diamondbacks
Top 100 Prospects:
Corbin Carroll (No. 47), Kristian Robinson (No. 55), Geraldo Perdomo (No. 79), Alek Thomas (No. 81)
Position players among Top 30 prospects: 13

You know the Big Four. At least fans in Arizona do. All legit Top 100 talents. Three outfielders, one shortstop. Diverse skill sets. They are the foundation on which any organization would want to build its farm system, and there’s a chance the fearsome foursome could have been even better after a normal 2020. Geraldo Perdomo is the only one with considerable full-season experience before last year’s lost Minor League season. You have to go all the way down to Wilderd Patino at No. 11 to find the next ranked position player, however, and while names like Seth Beer and Pavin Smith should be familiar to D-backs followers, there isn’t quite the depth that the top of the list would suggest. If development continues with limited graduations, this remains a group that could pop into the top five or even top three in 12 months time.

8. Baltimore Orioles
Top 100 Prospects:
Adley Rutschman (No. 2), Heston Kjerstad (No. 69), Ryan Mountcastle (No. 77)
Position players among Top 30 prospects: 18

The O’s rebuild revolves around Adley Rutschman, a potential superstar who can perform all aspects of the catching position. Baltimore added behind him with legit slugger Heston Kjerstad as last year’s No. 2 overall pick, and Ryan Mountcastle received some 2020 AL Rookie of the Year consideration after posting an .878 OPS in 35 games. Trades and an actual interest in signing international players (a reverse in course from previous front offices) have bulked up the farm system further. This is lower than the overall ranking at No. 5, but that’s not a knock. The system is in a solid place with even more room to grow.

9. Atlanta Braves
Top 100 Prospects:
Cristian Pache (No. 12), Drew Waters (No. 35), Shea Langeliers (No. 73)
Position players among Top 30 prospects: 15

Once known for its loaded pitching corps, Atlanta’s pipeline is being taken over by position players. Cristian Pache is ready to win a National League Gold Glove for the big club, and his 2019 teammate at both Double-A and Triple-A Drew Waters shouldn’t be far behind from bringing his switch-hitting ability to the NL East. Shea Langeliers is a legit catching prospect, and he isn’t the only one; William Contreras should contend for playing time behind Travis d’Arnaud in 2021. Braden Shewmake, a 2019 first-rounder, gives the Braves a legit shortstop prospect, and Michael Harris and Bryce Ball provide some intrigue lower down the ranks.

10. San Diego Padres
Top 100 Prospects:
CJ Abrams (No. 8), Luis Campusano (No. 45), Robert Hassell III (No. 62)
Position players among Top 30 prospects: 12

Is this the same deep set of position players as a year ago? Definitely not. Trades have trimmed the depth fairly significantly with the likes of Taylor Trammell, Hudson Head, Gabriel Arias, Owen Miller, Hudson Potts and several others now calling other farm systems home. What still remains is a potential superstar in CJ Abrams, a catcher of the future in Luis Campusano and a first-rounder in Robert Hassell III. It’s that top trio that pushes the Padres into the final spot of the top 10. But don’t sleep on spring performer Tucupita Marcano and mega-mashers Jorge Oña and Joshua Mears lower down either.

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