Jim Callis

Ranking the best farm systems of the past five years

Nationals, Cardinals, Braves pipelines among most productive since 2009

Ranking the best farm systems of the past five years

There's a good amount of subjectivity regarding baseball prospects. With the evaluation of talent being in the eye of the beholder, finding consensus is often difficult. Even Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of don't always see eye to eye. They discuss their viewpoints regularly in a feature called Pipeline Perspectives. Submit a topic for them to debate.

In today's Pipeline Perspectives, Jonathan and I debate which farm system has been the most productive since the end of the 2009 season. My choice was the Nationals, who have developed three budding superstars in Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon, two more All-Stars in Ian Desmond and Derek Norris, plus a bunch of complementary players and trade fodder.

A few other systems deserve some kudos, so I'll rank the top half-dozen below:

1. Nationals
My full story is here.

2. Cardinals
Jonathan's choice, which he explains here, was a close second for me. St. Louis has impressive depth (Matt Adams, Matt Carpenter, Allen Craig, David Freese, Jaime Garcia, Jon Jay, Lance Lynn, Carlos Martinez, Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal, Michael Wacha, Kolten Wong), but Washington's star power dazzled me more.

3. Braves
Atlanta came up with five building blocks (Freddie Freeman, Jason Heyward, Craig Kimbrel, Andrelton Simmons, Julio Teheran) and several useful players (Evan Gattis, Mike Minor and Alex Wood, among others).

4. Royals
Kansas City nearly rode its system to a World Series championship last year, building the second-most homegrown playoff team in 2014 -- behind only St. Louis. The Royals' in-house highlights included Kelvin Herrera, Greg Holland, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi (the key pieces in the James Shields trade), Salvador Perez and Yordano Ventura.

5. Reds
Cincinnati has harvested a nice combination of blue-chip talent (Aroldis Chapman, Todd Frazier, Billy Hamilton, Devin Mesoraco) and solid contributors (most notably, Yonder Alonso, Brad Boxberger, Zack Cozart, Didi Gregorius, Yasmani Grandal and Mike Leake), though it has traded most of the latter group.

6. Cubs
While the best is yet to come from's top-rated system, it has produced Arismendy Alcantara, Chris Archer, Javier Baez, Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo in recent years.

Jim Callis is a reporter for and writes a blog, Callis' Corner. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.