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MLB Farm System Rankings: Pre-2019 Spring Training Edition

Joel Reuter

With spring training officially underway, it's time for an updated look at the MLB prospect landscape.

A handful of trades have taken place since we last updated our farm system rankings shortly after the new year—most notably the J.T. Realmuto blockbuster.

We'll likely update and tweak these rankings again before Opening Day, but the following will serve as a baseline as spring training begins.

The factors below helped determine the rankings of players and teams:

A tier system is used to help differentiate the varying levels of individual talent.

Teams were initially ranked based on the number of Tier 1 and Tier 2 prospects in their systems, and then the rankings were subjectively tweaked from there.

        

Note: A player must not have passed the rookie-eligibility limits (130 AB, 50 IP, 45 days on an active roster prior to Sept. 1) to be included in these rankings.

30. Boston Red Sox

Darwinzon Hernandez Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Top 10 Prospects

Name Age Tier
1. 3B Michael Chavis 23 2
2. LHP Darwinzon Hernandez 22 3
3. 3B Bobby Dalbec 23 3
4. 1B Triston Casas 19 3
5. RHP Bryan Mata 19 3
6. SS Antoni Flores 18 3
7. LHP Jay Groome 20 3
8. RHP Mike Shawaryn 24 3
9. RHP Tanner Houck 22 3
10. SS C.J. Chatham 24 3

     

2019 Outlook

The Red Sox's ability to climb in these rankings will depend on the continued development of pitching prospects Darwinzon Hernandez, Bryan Mata, Jay Groome and Tanner Houck. All four have high ceilings with equally low floors, and that volatility makes it hard to rank them any higher.

Michael Chavis is the one top prospect who could make a legitimate impact at the MLB level in 2019, provided he finds a path to playing time. Reliever Durbin Feltman also appears to be on the fast track and is a name worth watching.

Teenagers Antoni Flores ($1.4 million) and Danny Diaz ($1.6 million) signed big bonuses during the 2017 international window, and both have the potential to be pop-up prospects in their full-season debuts.

29. Chicago Cubs

Nico Hoerner Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Top 10 Prospects

Name Age Tier
1. SS Nico Hoerner 21 Top 100
2. C Miguel Amaya 19 2
3. OF Cole Roederer 19 3
4. LHP Brailyn Marquez 20 3
5. RHP Adbert Alzolay 23 3
6. LHP Justin Steele 23 3
7. SS Aramis Ademan 20 3
8. OF Brennen Davis 19 3
9. RHP Cory Abbott 23 3
10. RHP Paul Richan 21 3

                  

2019 Outlook

The Cubs have worked hard to restock the farm system via the draft and the international market in recent seasons after welcoming a wave of top prospects to the MLB level.

While the pitching side of the system remains thin, there are some promising arms on the cusp. Left-hander Justin Steele and a healthy Adbert Alzolay could both debut in 2019, while the same is true of 2018 first-round pick Nico Hoerner if he keeps raking.

Outfielders Cole Roederer ($1.2 million) and Brennen Davis ($1.1 million) both received above-slot bonuses as second-round picks last year, and both are capable of making the jump to Tier 2 status with strong full-season debuts.

28. Milwaukee Brewers

Keston Hiura Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Top 10 Prospects

Name Age Tier
1. 2B Keston Hiura 22 Top 25
2. OF Corey Ray 24 2
3. SS Brice Turang 19 3
4. RHP Zack Brown 24 3
5. OF Tristen Lutz 20 3
6. IF Mauricio Dubon 24 3
7. OF Carlos Rodriguez 18 3
8. 3B Lucas Erceg 23 3
9. OF Joe Gray 18 3
10. RHP Trey Supak 22 3

      

2019 Outlook

After trading several top prospects in the Christian Yelich deal before welcoming Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes to the MLB level, the Brewers farm system has been considerably thinned.

That said, they still have one elite young talent in second baseman Keston Hiura, who has a 70-grade hit tool and 60-grade power. Cory Spangenberg was signed as a stopgap option at second base, but it won't be long before Hiura is in the everyday lineup.

Outfielder Je'Von Ward was signed away from a commitment to USC with a $475,000 bonus as a 12th-round pick in 2017. The 19-year-old hit .307/.391/.403 with 17 extra-base hits and 13 steals in 64 games at the rookie league level, and he could join the organizational top 10 in short order.

27. San Francisco Giants

Shaun Anderson Rob Carr/Getty Images

Top 10 Prospects

Name Age Tier
1. C Joey Bart 22 Top 25
2. OF Heliot Ramos 19 Top 100
3. OF Marco Luciano 17 3
4. RHP Shaun Anderson 24 3
5. OF Alexander Canario 18 3
6. RHP Sean Hjelle 21 3
7. OF Heath Quinn 23 3
8. RHP Gregory Santos 19 3
9. RHP Melvin Adon 24 3
10. OF Diego Rincones 19 3

             

2019 Outlook

Between first-round picks Joey Bart (No. 2, 2018) and Heliot Ramos (No. 19, 2017) and marquee international signing Marco Luciano ($2.6 million, 2018), the Giants have added some promising young pieces to a farm system that was once paper thin.

Slugger Chris Shaw should have a chance to win the everyday left field job this spring and Aramis Garcia is in the mix for the backup catcher job. The top prospect to watch at the MLB level is hard-throwing Melvin Adon. He can touch 102 mph with his fastball and he thrived in the AFL after moving to the bullpen.

Outfielder Alexander Canario signed for just $60,000 in 2016 and he's been rocketing up the organizational rankings since winning Dominican Summer League MVP in 2017. His Single-A debut will be among the most anticipated leaguewide.

26. Cleveland Indians

Yu Chang Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Top 10 Prospects

Name Age Tier
1. RHP Triston McKenzie 21 Top 50
2. 3B Nolan Jones 20 Top 50
3. OF George Valera 18 3
4. C Bo Naylor 18 3
5. SS Tyler Freeman 19 3
6. RHP Luis Oviedo 19 3
7. SS Brayan Rocchio 18 3
8. RHP Ethan Hankins 18 3
9. LHP Sam Hentges 22 3
10. SS/3B Yu Chang 23 3

             

2019 Outlook

While the Indians farm system is propped up by two elite prospects, it's the progression of the six teenagers ranked behind them that could ultimately lead them to climb up the rankings. Outfielder George Valera, in particular, has top-100 upside.

Shortstop Francisco Lindor is nursing a calf strain that could land him on the disabled list to start the season. That might open the door for Yu Chang to break camp with the team after he hit .337/.396/.523 with four doubles and four home runs in the Arizona Fall League.

The 6'4", 170-pound Luis Oviedo is one of the most projectable pitching prospects in baseball with a big fastball and three offspeed pitches. The 19-year-old posted a 2.05 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 10.6 K/9 while holding opponents to a .190 batting average last season.

25. Miami Marlins

Victor Victor Mesa Mark Brown/Getty Images

Top 10 Prospects

Name Age Tier
1. RHP Sixto Sanchez 20 Top 50
2. OF Victor Victor Mesa 22 Top 100
3. RHP Nick Neidert 22 2
4. RHP Sandy Alcantara 23 3
5. OF Monte Harrison 23 3
6. OF Connor Scott 19 3
7. RHP Jorge Guzman 23 3
8. 2B Isan Diaz 22 3
9. RHP Jordan Yamamoto 22 3
10. C Will Banfield 19 3

             

2019 Outlook

There's a new No. 1 prospect in the Marlins system after right-hander Sixto Sanchez was acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies in the J.T. Realmuto blockbuster. He joins Cuban outfielder Victor Victor Mesa as a high-profile new addition to the rebuilding club's minor league ranks.

Right-handers Nick Neidert, Sandy Alcantara and Jordan Yamamoto could all see time in the MLB rotation this season. Yamamoto—an underrated addition in the Christian Yelich trade—posted a 2.06 ERA and 1.08 WHIP with 27 strikeouts in 26 innings in the AFL.

Projectable 6'4", 175-pound right-hander Edward Cabrera struck out 93 batters in 100.1 innings at Single-A Clinton last season. The 20-year-old might have the highest ceiling of any pitching prospect in the system.

24. Kansas City Royals

Khalil Lee Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Top 10 Prospects

Name Age Tier
1. RHP Brady Singer 22 Top 100
2. C MJ Melendez 20 Top 100
3. OF Khalil Lee 20 Top 100
4. LHP Daniel Lynch 22 3
5. RHP Jackson Kowar 22 3
6. SS Nicky Lopez 23 3
7. 1B Nick Pratto 20 3
8. OF Seuly Matias 20 3
9. OF Kyle Isbel 21 3
10. RHP Carlos Hernandez 21 3

            

2019 Outlook

The Royals gave their system a serious shot in the arm with the selections of Brady Singer (No. 18), Jackson Kowar (No. 33) and Daniel Lynch (No. 34) last June. This is still a top-heavy system, but they've added some quality talent the past few years.

Middle infielder Nicky Lopez is the team's one MLB-ready top prospect after hitting .308/.382/.417 with 30 extra-base hits and 15 steals between Double-A and Triple-A. Whit Merrifield and Adalberto Mondesi are blocking his path, though, so he may need to move elsewhere defensively.

Right-hander Yefri Del Rosario was scooped up last offseason for $650,000 after he was removed from the Atlanta Braves system as a result of their international violations. The 19-year-old posted a 3.19 ERA with 72 strikeouts in 79 innings in his Single-A debut, and he has a ton of physical projection remaining.

23. New York Mets

Peter Alonso Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Top 10 Prospects

Name Age Tier
1. SS Andres Gimenez 20 Top 50
2. 1B Peter Alonso 24 Top 100
3. 3B Mark Vientos 19 Top 100
4. SS Ronny Mauricio 17 3
5. LHP David Peterson 23 3
6. SS Shervyen Newton 19 3
7. LHP Anthony Kay 23 3
8. RHP Simeon Woods-Richardson 18 3
9. RHP Franklyn Kilome 23 3
10. LHP Thomas Szapucki 22 3

          

2019 Outlook

The Mets have a clear-cut top eight prospects in their system, and there's some potentially elite talent in that group, but the drop-off behind them is steep.

Slugger Peter Alonso will compete with veteran Todd Frazier for the starting first base job this spring. Even if he doesn't win outright, expect to see Alonso in the majors before midseason after he posted a .975 OPS with 36 home runs and 119 RBI last year.

The most likely prospects to jump up into the team's top 10 are last year's big-ticket international free-agent signings. Catcher Francisco Alvarez ($2.7 million) and outfielder Freddy Valdez ($1.45 million) both have tremendous long-term upside.

22. Los Angeles Angels

Jo Adell Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Top 10 Prospects

Name Age Tier
1. OF Jo Adell 19 Top 25
2. RHP Griffin Canning 22 Top 100
3. OF Brandon Marsh 21 Top 100
4. IF Luis Rengifo 21 3
5. OF Jordyn Adams 19 3
6. 2B Jahmai Jones 21 3
7. LHP Jose Suarez 21 3
8. 1B Matt Thaiss 23 3
9. OF D'Shawn Knowles 18 3
10. LHP Patrick Sandoval 22 3

              

2019 Outlook

Not long ago, the Angels had the consensus worst farm system in baseball. They've consistently hit on their early draft picks in recent seasons, though, including the uber-talented Jo Adell. This could be a top-15 system by midseason if their top guys continue to develop as hoped.

Matt Thaiss will never have prototypical first baseman power, but he's one Albert Pujols injury away from the starting first base job after a strong season in the upper minors. Reliever Ty Buttrey is also one to watch at the MLB level after he posted a 3.31 ERA and 11.0 K/9 with four saves in 16 games following a mid-August promotion—he has closer upside.

D'Shawn Knowles could be latest Bahamian prospect to make a name for himself, following in the footsteps of Lucius Fox, Jazz Chisholm and Kristian Robinson. The 18-year-old hit .311/.391/.464 with 21 extra-base hits in 58 rookie ball games.

21. Washington Nationals

Victor Robles Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Top 10 Prospects

Name Age Tier
1. OF Victor Robles 21 Top 25
2. SS Carter Kieboom 21 Top 50
3. SS Luis Garcia 18 Top 100
4. RHP Mason Denaburg 19 3
5. RHP Wil Crowe 24 3
6. SS Yasel Antuna 19 3
7. LHP Seth Romero 22 3
8. RHP Sterling Sharp 23 3
9. OF Gage Canning 21 3
10. C Israel Pineda 18 3

             

2019 Outlook

There's not a more top-heavy system in baseball than the Nationals. Victor Robles and Carter Kieboom are both elite, and shortstop Luis Garcia is not far behind. A healthy Mason Denaburg would make a fourth quality prospect, but there's a chasm between that group and the rest of the system.

Assuming Bryce Harper signs elsewhere, Victor Robles will have a clear path to a starting job in the outfield, and he might be the NL Rookie of the Year front-runner. Otherwise, reliever James Bourque is the most likely farmhand to make an impact. The 25-year-old used an excellent fastball/curveball pairing to post a 1.70 ERA and 12.9 K/9 in 41 games between High-A and Double-A.

Catcher Israel Pineda could quickly emerge as the top backstop prospect in the system in his full-season debut. Signed for $450,000 in 2016, he hit .273/.341/.388 with seven doubles and four home runs in 46 games at Low-A Auburn, and he has the receiving skills to develop into a plus defender.

20. Philadelphia Phillies

Adonis Medina Rob Carr/Getty Images

Top 10 Prospects

Name Age Tier
1. 3B Alec Bohm 22 Top 100
2. SS Luis Garcia 18 2
3. RHP Adonis Medina 22 2
4. OF Adam Haseley 22 2
5. RHP Spencer Howard 22 3
6. LHP JoJo Romero 22 3
7. RHP Enyel De Los Santos 23 3
8. LHP Cole Irvin 25 3
9. LHP Ranger Suarez 23 3
10. RHP Francisco Morales 19 3

              

2019 Outlook

Trading No. 1 prospect Sixto Sanchez to the Marlins in the J.T. Realmuto cost the Phillies several spots in these rankings, and the system as a whole is in a bit of a downturn. It's a pitching-heavy group, and if a few of their more well-regarded arms can take a step forward, the arrow would again be pointing up.

MLB-ready arms like Enyel De Los Santos, Ranger Suarez and Cole Irvin could ultimately wind up being used as trade fodder, given the quality starting pitching depth the team already possesses. With that in mind, outfielder Adam Haseley could impact arrival in the majors, especially if Bryce Harper signs elsewhere.

Former No. 1 overall pick Mickey Moniak quietly hit .297/.347/.470 with 24 extra-base hits in 53 games from July 1 on, and he could regain his top prospect status with more of the same in 2019.

19. Baltimore Orioles

Ryan Mountcastle Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Top 10 Prospects

Name Age Tier
1. OF Yusniel Diaz 22 Top 100
2. LHP DL Hall 20 Top 100
3. 3B Ryan Mountcastle 21 2
4. RHP Grayson Rodriguez 19 2
5. OF Austin Hays 23 3
6. OF Ryan McKenna 22 3
7. RHP Dean Kremer 23 3
8. LHP Zac Lowther 23 3
9. SS Jean Carmona 19 3
10. LHP Keegan Akin 23 3

       

2019 Outlook

The Orioles added a wealth of prospect talent to the farm system during last summer's fire sale, headlined by outfielder Yusniel Diazthe centerpiece of the Manny Machado trade. The system is still thin on impact prospects, but the talent pool is deeper than it's been in years.

Third baseman Ryan Mountcastle and outfielder Ryan McKenna could both be part of the everyday lineup by midseason. McKenna, a fourth-round pick in 2015, hit .315/.410/.457 between High-A and Double-A and then posted a .344/.474/.590 line in the AFL.

Unless a late move is made to sign Jose Iglesias, it looks like Rule 5 picks Richie Martin and Drew Jackson will be entrusted with the shortstop job. With a plus glove and a first-round pedigree and fresh off a breakout offensive season at Double-A, Martin could surprise some people.

18. Colorado Rockies

Garrett Hampson Ralph Freso/Getty Images

Top 10 Prospects

Name Age Tier
1. SS Brendan Rodgers 22 Top 25
2. 3B Colton Welker 21 Top 100
3. 1B/3B Tyler Nevin 21 Top 100
4. 2B/SS Garrett Hampson 24 2
5. LHP Ryan Rolison 21 3
6. 1B Grant Lavigne 19 3
7. RHP Peter Lambert 21 3
8. 3B Ryan Vilade 19 3
9. SS Terrin Vavra 21 3
10. RHP Justin Lawrence 24 3

               

2019 Outlook

The Colorado Rockies farm slants heavily in the position-player direction after it churned out some quality pitching talent in recent years. They can't afford to have the pitching pipeline run dry, especially considering how hard it is to convince free-agent hurlers to sign. Still, there's a lot of talent here.

Garrett Hampson should get the first crack at the vacant second base job this spring, and at the very least he looks ticketed for a utility role with the MLB squad. Sidewinder Justin Lawrence is also capable of pitching his way into a late-inning relief role after a dominant showing in the Arizona Fall League.

Shortstop Eddy Diaz has hit .310/.411/.431 with 84 steals in 87 games the past two seasons in the Dominican Summer League. His stateside debut will be one to watch.

17. Arizona Diamondbacks

Jon Duplantier Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Top 10 Prospects

Name Age Tier
1. RHP Jon Duplantier 24 Top 50
2. OF Kristian Robinson 18 Top 50
3. SS Jazz Chisholm 21 Top 100
4. C Daulton Varsho 22 2
5. RHP Taylor Widener 24 3
6. OF Alek Thomas 18 3
7. SS Geraldo Perdomo 19 3
8. OF Jake McCarthy 21 3
9. SS Blaze Alexander 19 3
10. RHP Emilio Vargas 22 3

               

2019 Outlook

The Arizona Diamondbacks opted to target MLB-ready talent when they acquired Luke Weaver and Carson Kelly from the St. Louis Cardinals in the Paul Goldschmidt deal in December. That was a missed opportunity to bolster a mediocre farm system, but it could mean a more competitive team in 2019.

Jon Duplantier and Taylor Widener are both knocking on the door after dominant seasons at Double-A, and an eventual trade of Zack Greinke and/or Robbie Ray would open the door. Slugger Kevin Cron, who posted a .921 OPS with 51 extra-base hits at Triple-A, has also earned a shot.

Outfielder Kristian Robinson has a chance to be the breakout prospect of 2019. He hit .279/.363/.428 with 12 doubles, seven home runs and 12 steals in 57 games in his stateside debut, and he didn't turn 18 until Dec. 11. Remember that name, folks.

16. Oakland Athletics

Sean Murphy Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Top 10 Prospects

Name Age Tier
1. LHP Jesus Luzardo 21 Top 25
2. C Sean Murphy 24 Top 50
3. LHP A.J. Puk 23 Top 100
4. OF Austin Beck 20 2
5. OF Lazaro Armenteros 19 3
6. OF Jameson Hannah 21 3
7. SS/OF Jorge Mateo 23 3
8. RHP Daulton Jefferies 23 3
9. 3B Sheldon Neuse 24 3
10. OF Skye Bolt 25 3

                        

2019 Outlook

The stalled developments of Jorge Mateo, James Kaprielian, Grant Holmes, Sheldon Neuse and others have hurt the outlook of the Oakland A's system, and losing Kyler Murray to the NFL is another major blow. Still, two of the game's elite left-handed pitching prospects and a potential franchise catcher is enough to prop them up for now.

Expect to see Jesus Luzardo and A.J. Puk not only pitching in the majors but also leading the staff by midseason. Who else is going to do it? Mike Fiers and Marco Estrada are useful veteran inning-eaters, not staff aces. The same goes for catcher Sean Murphy. Once he's deemed ready, Nick Hundley and Josh Phegley won't stand in his way.

Despite middling stuff, Brian Howard could soon sneak into the top 10. The 6'9" right-hander has plus command of an advanced four-pitch repertoire and uses his height well. The 23-year-old went 11-7 with a 2.91 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 140 strikeouts in 139.1 innings between High-A and Double-A, and he's close to his ceiling as a back-end starter.

15. Pittsburgh Pirates

Cole Tucker Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Top 10 Prospects

Name Age Tier
1. RHP Mitch Keller 22 Top 25
2. 3B Ke'Bryan Hayes 22 Top 50
3. SS Oneil Cruz 20 Top 100
4. OF Travis Swaggerty 21 Top 100
5. OF Calvin Mitchell 19 3
6. SS Cole Tucker 22 3
7. 2B Kevin Kramer 25 3
8. OF Bryan Reynolds 24 3
9. IF Kevin Newman 25 3
10. RHP Steven Jennings 20 3

                               

2019 Outlook

The Pittsburgh Pirates have done a solid job of developing pitching in recent years, so it's a bit surprising that so many of their top prospects are hitters. And with so many of its top guys likely to debut in 2019, this system could be headed for a slide.

Mitch Keller is as MLB-ready as any top-tier pitching prospect, and Ke'Bryan Hayes could push Colin Moran for the third base job by the second half of 2019. That said, it's the brewing battle between Cole Tucker, Kevin Kramer and Kevin Newman for two middle infield spots that could produce the team's first impact prospects of the new season.

The door will be wide open for Steven Jennings to claim the title of top pitching prospect in the system once Keller is promoted. A two-sport star in high school, he could make significant strides in a hurry now that he's turned his full attention to baseball.

14. Texas Rangers

Julio Pablo Martinez Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Top 10 Prospects

Name Age Tier
1. LHP Taylor Hearn 24 Top 100
2. RHP Hans Crouse 20 2
3. OF Leody Taveras 20 2
4. OF Julio Pablo Martinez 22 2
5. RHP Cole Winn 19 2
6. OF Bubba Thompson 20 3
7. IF Anderson Tejeda 20 3
8. RHP Jonathan Hernandez 22 3
9. LHP Brock Burke 22 3
10. RHP Tyler Phillips 21 3

                    

2019 Outlook

The Texas Rangers have had a tough time developing pitching talent since Derek Holland, C.J. Wilson, Scott Feldman and Tommy Hunter helped lead the team to back-to-back World Series appearances at the start of the decade. That could soon change thanks to a farm system that's loaded with high-ceiling arms and toolsy outfielders.

Left-hander Taylor Hearn was acquired from the Pirates in the Keone Kela trade last summer, and he's the most MLB-ready arm in the system. The development of his slider as a viable third pitch will determine whether he finds his way into the rotation, but his high-octane fastball and plus changeup would already be a weapon out of the bullpen.

Infielder Jonathan Ornelas is one of a number of low-level prospects who could help propel this system even higher in the rankings. A third-round pick last June, he hit .302/.389/.459 with 17 extra-base hits and 15 steals in rookie ball.

13. New York Yankees

Estevan Florial Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Top 10 Prospects

Name Age Tier
1. OF Estevan Florial 21 Top 100
2. RHP Deivi Garcia 19 Top 100
3. RHP Jonathan Loaisiga 24 2
4. OF Everson Pereira 17 2
5. RHP Michael King 23 2
6. RHP Roansy Contreras 19 3
7. RHP Clarke Schmidt 22 3
8. C Anthony Seigler 19 3
9. RHP Garrett Whitlock 22 3
10. OF Antonio Cabello 18 3

                 

2019 Outlook

The New York Yankees have more high-ceiling pitching talent than any organization outside the Atlanta Braves and San Diego Padres. Most of it still resides in the lower levels of the minors, though, which adds some obvious risk to their projection. The system is also extremely thin on position-player talent. Still, this could be a top-10 group by midseason.

Jonathan Loaisiga looks like the next man up for a rotation spot. Given James Paxton's injury history and CC Sabathia's age (38), that figures to be an important role. Michael King is also ready for a look after he went 11-5 with a 1.79 ERA and 152 strikeouts in 161.1 innings on his way to Triple-A.

Outfielder Antonio Cabello was one of the prospects the Yankees signed with the money they set aside for Shohei Ohtani. He made his stateside debut as a 17-year-old and hit .321/.426/.555 with 18 extra-base hits in 40 rookie league games. Keep a close eye on this one.

12. St. Louis Cardinals

Andrew Knizner Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

Top 10 Prospects

Name Age Tier
1. 3B Nolan Gorman 18 Top 100
2. RHP Alex Reyes 24 Top 100
3. RHP Dakota Hudson 24 Top 100
4. C Andrew Knizner 24 2
5. 3B Elehuris Montero 20 2
6. RHP Ryan Helsley 24 3
7. OF Dylan Carlson 20 3
8. RHP Griffin Roberts 22 3
9. OF Jhon Torres 18 3
10. 3B Malcom Nunez 17 3

          

2019 Outlook

The St. Louis Cardinals' ranking is a bit of a mirage. Alex Reyes will lose his prospect status with the next major league out he records, while Dakota Hudson is 22.2 innings from doing the same. In other words, two top-100-caliber prospects could be removed from the equation before the All-Star break. There are plenty of promising low-level prospects capable of easing that loss, though.

While Hudson will likely break camp with a spot in the bullpen unless they intend to stretch him back out as a starter, Reyes could be left behind at extended spring training in an effort to limit his workload. If Yadier Molina misses any time, catcher Andrew Knizner could wind up having the biggest impact of any prospect.

Still, few, if any, professional baseball players put up better numbers than Malcom Nunez in 2018. The 17-year-old hit .415/.497/.774 with 16 doubles, 13 home runs and 59 RBI in 44 games in the Dominican Summer League. How will he handle a tougher test in his U.S. debut?

11. Detroit Tigers

Casey Mize Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

Top 10 Prospects

Name Age Tier
1. RHP Casey Mize 21 Top 25
2. RHP Matt Manning 21 Top 50
3. SS Isaac Paredes 19 2
4. OF Daz Cameron 22 2
5. RHP Franklin Perez 21 2
6. RHP Alex Faedo 23 2
7. RHP Beau Burrows 22 3
8. OF Parker Meadows 19 3
9. OF Christin Stewart 25 3
10. OF Brock Deatherage 23 3

             

2019 Outlook

The Detroit Tigers have assembled an impressive collection of high-end talent since they kicked off a rebuild with the trade of Justin Verlander at the 2017 August waiver deadline. It's easy to dream on a future rotation of Casey Mize, Matt Manning, Franklin Perez, Alex Faedo and Beau Burrows.

While the system is pitching-heavy at the top, outfielder Christin Stewart could be the first to establish himself as a long-term piece at the MLB level. The 25-year-old hit .267/.375/.417 with two home runs and 10 RBI in 17 games following a September call-up, and he should be part of the Opening Day lineupeither in left field or as the DH.

Brock Deatherage hit .307/.397/.548 with 14 home runs and 18 steals during a breakout senior season at NC State, and he just kept hitting after going in the 10th round last June. He reached High-A in his pro debut and hit a combined .326/.385/.504 with eight doubles, six triples, seven home runs and 19 steals. Some guys can just flat-out hit.

10. Seattle Mariners

Yusei Kikuchi Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

Top 10 Prospects

Name Age Tier
1. LHP Justus Sheffield 22 Top 50
2. LHP Yusei Kikuchi 27 Top 100
3. OF Julio Rodriguez 18 Top 100
4. OF Jarred Kelenic 19 Top 100
5. 1B Evan White 22 2
6. RHP Justin Dunn 23 2
7. RHP Logan Gilbert 21 3
8. OF Kyle Lewis 23 3
9. 2B Shed Long 23 3
10. C Cal Raleigh 22 3

             

2019 Outlook

The Seattle Mariners won't hold this spot in the rankings for long. Yusei Kikuchi could be the Opening Day starter, and Justus Sheffield will arrive in short order if he doesn't win a rotation spot. Graduating them will be an obvious hit. Still, this is a system on the rise thanks to a busy offseason.

Aside from the aforementioned Kikuchi and Sheffield, outfielder Braden Bishop is the system's most MLB-ready prospect. With top-of-the-order speed and a good glove in center field, he could serve as an oft-used fourth outfielder.

Catcher Cal Raleigh hit .288/.367/.534 with 10 doubles and eight home runs at Low-A after being selected in the third round last June. He's already the best catching prospect on a team without a long-term answer at the position, and if he can smooth the rough edges defensively, he could arrive soon.

9. Minnesota Twins

Alex Kirilloff Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images

Top 10 Prospects

Name Age Tier
1. SS Royce Lewis 19 Top 25
2. OF Alex Kirilloff 21 Top 25
3. RHP Brusdar Graterol 20 Top 50
4. OF Trevor Larnach 21 2
5. OF Brent Rooker 24 2
6. LHP Stephen Gonsalves 24 2
7. SS Wander Javier 19 3
8. RHP Jhoan Duran 21 3
9. LHP Lewis Thorpe 23 3
10. C Ryan Jeffers 21 3

                    

2019 Outlook

The Minnesota Twins have as much homegrown talent as any team at the MLB level, and the pipeline is still going strong, as two of the best offensive prospects in baseball headline the system.

Lefty Stephen Gonsalves has nothing left to prove in the minors after he went 12-3 with a 2.76 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 120 strikeouts in 120.2 innings between Double-A and Triple-A. He was shelled to the tune of a 6.57 ERA in 24.2 innings in the majors, but the potential is still there for him to be a staple in the middle of the rotation.

Catcher Ryan Jeffers looks like one of the early steals from the 2018 draft class. He was taken in the second round after a standout junior season at UNC-Wilmington, and he torched rookie ball pitching to the tune of a .422/.543/.578 line in 28 games to earn an early promotion to Single-A. Could he be the catcher of the future?

8. Los Angeles Dodgers

Keibert Ruiz Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images

Top 10 Prospects

Name Age Tier
1. OF Alex Verdugo 22 Top 25
2. SS Gavin Lux 21 Top 50
3. C Keibert Ruiz 20 Top 100
4. RHP Dustin May 21 Top 100
5. C/3B Will Smith 23 2
6. SS Jeter Downs 20 2
7. RHP Tony Gonsolin 24 3
8. RHP Dennis Santana 22 3
9. OF DJ Peters 23 3
10. RHP Josiah Gray 21 3

                

2019 Outlook

Even with Alex Verdugo likely to exhaust his prospect status early in the 2019 season, the Los Angeles Dodgers still have a stocked system and a number of other top-tier talents thanks to the emergence of Gavin Lux and Dustin May, among others.

The trade of Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp cleared some of the outfield clutter, and even after A.J. Pollock signed with L.A., Verdugo will still have a chance to claim his piece of the pie. The 22-year-old will never be a 30-homer threat, but he didn't post a .321/.389/.452 line in 208 games at Triple-A by accident.

The Dodgers already have two elite catching prospects in Keibert Ruiz and Will Smith, and another intriguing up-and-comer in Connor Wong. Diego Cartaya could quickly join that group with a strong pro debut after he signed for $2.5 million out of Venezuela last July.

7. Houston Astros

Forrest Whitley Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Top 10 Prospects

Name Age Tier
1. RHP Forrest Whitley 21 Top 25
2. OF Kyle Tucker 22 Top 25
3. 1B/OF Yordan Alvarez 21 Top 50
4. RHP Josh James 25 Top 100
5. RHP Corbin Martin 23 2
6. RHP J.B. Bukauskas 22 2
7. 1B/OF Seth Beer 22 3
8. SS Freudis Nova 19 3
9. RHP Bryan Abreu 21 3
10. RHP Cristian Javier 21 3

                 

2019 Outlook

Even after dipping into the farm system to acquire Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole, the Houston Astros still have one of the best systems in the sport. That includes the best pitching prospect in baseball and a wealth of low-level international signings that could emerge as top prospects.

While Forrest Whitley has ace upside and should debut at some point in 2019, flame-thrower Josh James will make the most immediate impact. He's the front-runner for the No. 5 starter job after an impressive late-season showing.

The under-the-radar name to know is Bryan Abreu. He struck out an absurd 90 batters in 54.1 innings last season, and his ceiling is as high as any pitcher's in the system outside Whitley. A step forward with his command (3.8 BB/9) could vault him onto leaguewide top 100 lists.

6. Cincinnati Reds

Taylor Trammell Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Top 10 Prospects

Name Age Tier
1. IF/OF Nick Senzel 23 Top 25
2. OF Taylor Trammell 21 Top 25
3. RHP Hunter Greene 19 Top 50
4. 3B Jonathan India 22 Top 100
5. RHP Tony Santillan 21 2
6. C Tyler Stephenson 22 2
7. OF Mike Siani 19 3
8. RHP Vladimir Gutierrez 23 3
9. OF Mariel Bautista 21 3
10. OF Stuart Fairchild 22 3

              

2019 Outlook

The Cincinnati Reds have had a tough time turning top pitching prospects into members of the big league rotation in recent years, and those struggles could continue with a thin group of arms behind the trio listed above. Few teams have a better collection of elite position-player talent, though.

After playing shortstop in college and lining up at both second and third base as a pro, Nick Senzel could ultimately settle in as a center fielder in the majors. His bat will play anywhere, and he should join a Reds team on the rise well before the All-Star break.

Michael Beltre hit .278/.397/.402 with a 16.1 percent walk rate between Single-A and High-A, and there's still untapped raw power in his 6'3", 225-pound frame. However, he's also 23 years old and behind the developmental curve. This will be a make-or-break season for his top-prospect status.

5. Tampa Bay Rays

Nate Lowe Rob Carr/Getty Images

Top 10 Prospects

Name Age Tier
1. SS Wander Franco 17 Top 25
2. RHP Brent Honeywell 23 Top 50
3. 1B/LHP Brendan McKay 23 Top 50
4. OF Jesus Sanchez 21 Top 50
5. C Ronaldo Hernandez 21 Top 100
6. LHP Matthew Liberatore 19 Top 100
7. 2B/OF Brandon Lowe 24 2
8. 1B Nate Lowe 23 3
9. 2B Vidal Brujan 21 3
10. RHP Shane Baz 19 3

                   

2019 Outlook

The emergence of Wander Franco as one of baseball's top prospects has elevated an already deep Tampa Bay Rays system to elite status. A case can be made that Nate Lowe and Vidal Brujan should also receive a Tier 2 grade, which would bump them up to the No. 3 spot in these rankings. Don't be surprised if that's exactly what happens by midseason.

Lowe hit .330/.416/.568 with 32 doubles, 27 home runs and 102 RBI last season, closing out the year at Triple-A. It's hard to see Ji-Man Choi and Yandy Diaz standing in his way if he keeps hitting like that. Meanwhile, Brandon Lowe, Brent Honeywell and Nick Solak could also see significant time in the majors in 2019.

A 5.7 BB/9 rate last spring at South Florida was the reason Shane McClanahan slipped to No. 31 in the 2018 draft. With a 100 mph fastball, plus changeup and decent slider, his pure stuff stacked up to any college arm in the class. It was a small sample size, but his 13-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in seven innings after he signed was a promising first taste of pro ball, and it could serve as a springboard.

4. Chicago White Sox

Eloy Jimenez Ron Vesely/Getty Images

Top 10 Prospects

Name Age Tier
1. OF Eloy Jimenez 22 Top 25
2. RHP Dylan Cease 23 Top 25
3. RHP Michael Kopech 22 Top 25
4. OF Luis Robert 21 Top 50
5. SS Nick Madrigal 21 Top 100
6. RHP Dane Dunning 24 Top 100
7. OF Micker Adolfo 22 2
8. OF Luis Gonzalez 23 3
9. OF Blake Rutherford 21 3
10. OF Luis Alexander Basabe 22 3

                 

2019 Outlook

The Chicago White Sox have as much elite young talent as any team, but they don't have the same prospect depth of the three clubs ranked ahead of them. In fact, outside the top 10 prospects in their system and Zack Collins, it's an underwhelming group.

Those top seven guys have a chance to be really good, though, starting with Eloy Jimenez and his 70-grade power. He's more than just a masher, as he posted a .337/.384/.577 line between Double-A and Triple-A last season. He should be the everyday left fielder before the beginning of May. Right-hander Dane Dunning is also close to MLB-ready, and he could get a long look for a rotation spot this spring.

With a 99 mph fastball and a hard-biting slider, Ian Hamilton has late-inning stuff. He posted a pristine 1.74 ERA with 22 saves and 10.8 K/9 in the minors last season before he made 10 appearances out of the MLB bullpen. Relief-pitching prospects rarely receive top prospect billing, but he's as good as any around and has legitimate closer upside.

3. Toronto Blue Jays

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Top 10 Prospects

Name Age Tier
1. 3B Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 19 Top 25
2. SS Bo Bichette 20 Top 25
3. C Danny Jansen 23 Top 100
4. RHP Eric Pardinho 18 Top 100
5. RHP Nate Pearson 22 Top 100
6. SS Jordan Groshans 19 2
7. SS Kevin Smith 22 2
8. 2B Cavan Biggio 23 2
9. RHP Sean Reid-Foley 23 3
10. OF Anthony Alford 24 3

                   

2019 Outlook

Led by the top prospect in baseball, another top-25 talent and three more guys who will appear on our leaguewide top 100 list, the Toronto Blue Jays claim the No. 3 spot in these rankings.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is the overwhelming favorite for AL Rookie of the Year, and he'll be the team's everyday third baseman once the service-time rigamarole is over. Danny Jansen also has a clear path to the starting catcher job since the Jays traded Russell Martin to the Dodgers. Look for Sean Reid-Foley to crack the big league rotation at some point.

Orelvis Martinez was given a $3.5 million bonus last July—the highest of any player in the 2018 international class. MLB.com gave all five of his tools a 50 grade or better, including 60-grade power, while noting he's drawn comparisons to a young Adrian Beltre.

2. Atlanta Braves

Cristian Pache Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Top 10 Prospects

Name Age Tier
1. RHP Ian Anderson 20 Top 25
2. 3B Austin Riley 21 Top 25
3. RHP Kyle Wright 23 Top 50
4. RHP Touki Toussaint 22 Top 50
5. OF Cristian Pache 20 Top 50
6. RHP Mike Soroka 21 Top 100
7. RHP Bryse Wilson 21 Top 100
8. OF Drew Waters 20 Top 100
9. C William Contreras 21 Top 100
10. LHP Luiz Gohara 22 Top 100

                     

2019 Outlook

No team in recent memory has had a deeper stable of talented pitching prospects than the Atlanta Braves. Kyle Wright, Touki Toussaint, Mike Soroka, Bryse Wilson and Luiz Gohara all saw MLB time last season, and Austin Riley is MLB-ready as well, so it could be a different-looking top prospect list by midseason.

For now, there's no question they are squarely in the conversation for the best system in baseball.

One of the team's pitching prospects will break camp with the No. 5 starter job, and Toussaint is the early favorite after he turned heads late last season. Josh Donaldson's signing is blocking Riley at third base, but he could hit his way into the lineup as a corner outfielder.

Who will fill the vacancies on the top prospect list as guys start to exhaust their eligibility? Freddy Tarnok is one to watch. The projectable 6'3", 185-pound righty was given a $1.445 million bonus as a third-round pick in 2017, and he posted a 3.96 ERA with 83 strikeouts in 77.1 innings at Single-A last year.

1. San Diego Padres

Fernando Tatis Jr. Andy Hayt/Getty Images

Top 10 Prospects

Name Age Tier
1. SS Fernando Tatis Jr. 20 Top 25
2. LHP MacKenzie Gore 19 Top 25
3. RHP Chris Paddack 23 Top 50
4. 2B/SS Luis Urias 21 Top 50
5. C/OF Francisco Mejia 23 Top 50
6. LHP Adrian Morejon 19 Top 100
7. LHP Logan Allen 21 Top 100
8. RHP Luis Patino 19 Top 100
9. RHP Michel Baez 23 Top 100
10. SS Xavier Edwards 19 Top 100

          

2019 Outlook

The San Diego Padres have used a combination of trades (Fernando Tatis Jr., Chris Paddack, Francisco Mejia, Logan Allen, Josh Naylor and Esteury Ruiz), international signings (Luis Urias, Adrian Morejon, Michel Baez and Luis Patino) and the amateur draft (MacKenzie Gore, Xavier Edwards, Cal Quantrill, Hudson Potts, Buddy Reed and Ryan Weathers) to build baseball's best farm system.

Urias and Tatis Jr. figure to be manning the middle infield together for the next decade, and that era should begin sometime before the All-Star break in July. Paddack, Allen and Quantrill are the most MLB-ready starters in the group, and there's little standing in their way. Mejia is ready offensively, and the team could opt to have him refine his defensive game while he platoons with Austin Hedges in the majors.

In other words, get ready for a wave of prospect talent to descend on the Padres roster.

Ruiz, 19, sometimes gets lost in the shuffle in such a stacked system. He was acquired from Kansas City in the deal that also sent Travis Wood and Matt Strahm to San Diego in exchange for Trevor Cahill, Brandon Maurer and Ryan Buchter. After he hit .253/.324/.403 with 20 doubles, 12 home runs and 49 steals at Single-A, an even bigger breakout could be coming in 2019.

                   

All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs, unless otherwise noted.

   
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