MLB.com Columnist

Jim Callis

Midseason ranking of MLB's Top 10 farm systems

After major prospect hauls at Trade Deadline, rebuilding Brewers, Yankees vault atop list

Midseason ranking of MLB's Top 10 farm systems

Thanks to a strong Draft and a commitment to rebuilding, the Brewers improved their farm system more than any other organization did from the beginning to the end of 2015. First-year general manager David Stearns has continued to build for tomorrow throughout 2016, including a pair of dazzling deals at Monday's non-waiver Trade Deadline.

Stearns sent Will Smith to the Giants for hard-throwing right-hander Phil Bickford (No. 65 on MLBPipeline.com's recently revamped Top 100 Prospects list) and young big leaguer Andrew Susac. Then he shipped Jonathan Lucroy and Jeremy Jeffress to the Rangers for five-tool center fielder Lewis Brinson (No. 21), precocious righty Luis Ortiz (No. 63) and a player to be named.

The additions of Bickford, Brinson and Ortiz, all former first-round picks, pushed Milwaukee's system from good to the best in baseball. Only the Astros can match the Brewers' total of eight Top 100 Prospects: shortstop Orlando Arcia (No. 13), Brinson, outfielder Corey Ray (No. 35), left-hander Josh Hader (No. 43), Ortiz, Bickford and outfielders Trent Clark (No. 74) and Brett Phillips (No. 76). They have a nice balance of hitting and pitching talent, as well as depth at the top and bottom levels of the Minors.

Callis talks Brewers' prospects

The Brewers, whose system placed ninth in MLBPipeline's preseason rankings, have amassed this talent in a variety of ways. Arcia is a product of a revitalized international program that also has landed youngsters such as shortstop Gilbert Lara and right-hander Miguel Diaz. Ray was the fifth overall pick this year in the Draft, an avenue that also has produced Clark, righty Cody Ponce and lefty Kodi Medeiros.

MLB's Top 10 farm systems
Rank Preseason Midseason
1 Dodgers Brewers
2 Braves Yankees
3 Rangers Astros
4 Rockies Pirates
5 Twins Dodgers
6 Red Sox Nationals
7 Phillies Red Sox
8 Pirates Phillies
9 Brewers Braves
10 Astros Rockies

In one of his last acts as GM before giving way to Stearns, Doug Melvin dealt Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers to the Astros last July for a four-player package that included Hader and Phillips. Stearns has been busy on the trade front as well, acquiring prospects such as infielder Isan Diaz and catcher Jacob Nottingham well in advance of Monday's big splash.

The rebuilding process is far from over in Milwaukee, which will miss the playoffs for the fifth straight year, but there's definite cause to be optimistic about the future. Here's how other teams with talented systems line up behind the Brewers:

2. New York Yankees
Preseason Top 10 rank: unranked
Prospects on Top 100: 7

If not for the Brewers' Monday moves, the Yankees' Trade Deadline activity would have given them the best farm system in baseball. They maximized the value received for Aroldis Chapman (shortstop Gleyber Torres, No. 24 on the Top 100, among four players), Andrew Miller (outfielder Clint Frazier, No. 22, and left-hander Justus Sheffield, No. 93, among four players) and Carlos Beltran (right-hander Dillon Tate, the fourth overall pick in the 2015 Draft, among three players). Even before that, New York had plenty of high-ceiling talent, including speedy shortstop Jorge Mateo (No. 25), a pair of nearly-ready sluggers in outfielder Aaron Judge (No. 30) and catcher Gary Sanchez (No. 37), and toolsy outfielder Blake Rutherford (No. 62). They may come in No. 2 in our rankings, but the Yanks do have the deepest system in the game. For more on their prospects, read this.

Callis on Yankees' new prospects

3. Houston Astros
Preseason Top 10 rank: No. 10
Prospects on Top 100: 8

The Astros match the Brewers for the lead with eight Top 100 Prospects, starting with the best in baseball, infielder Alex Bregman (No. 1). Houston has wisely used premium Draft picks on Bregman (second overall in 2015), first baseman A.J. Reed (No. 36, second round in 2014), outfielder Kyle Tucker (No. 61, fifth overall in 2015), right-hander Forrest Whitley (No. 83, 17th overall in 2016) and outfielder Derek Fisher (No. 99, supplemental first round in 2014). It also has stolen most of its best mound prospects as minor trade pieces when they were in Rookie ball: righties Francis Martes (No. 39, from the Marlins for Jarred Cosart), David Paulino (No. 84, from the Tigers for Jose Veras) and Joe Musgrove (No. 85, from the Blue Jays in a 10-player deal).

4. Pittsburgh Pirates
Preseason Top 10 rank: No. 8
Prospects on Top 100: 6

The Pirates' system took a slight hit when they sacrificed catcher Reese McGuire and outfielder Harold Ramirez to shed Francisco Liriano's salary. Still, no team has four better prospects than right-hander Tyler Glasnow (No. 10), outfielder Austin Meadows (No. 12), first baseman Josh Bell (No. 27) and righty Jameson Taillon (No. 28). Shortstop Kevin Newman (No. 51), righty Mitch Keller (No. 87) and third baseman Ke'Bryan Hayes are Pittsburgh's next wave.

5. Los Angeles Dodgers
Preseason Top 10 rank: No. 1
Prospects on Top 100: 4

Even after graduating baseball's preseason No. 1 prospect Corey Seager to Los Angeles and swapping three solid right-handers (Grant Holmes, Frankie Montas, Jharel Cotton) to the Athletics for Rich Hill and Josh Reddick, the Dodgers still have plenty of young hitting talent and mound depth. First baseman Cody Bellinger (No. 41), outfielder Alex Verdugo (No. 56), second baseman Willie Calhoun and outfielder Yusniel Diaz are all very advanced hitters for their age. Julio Urias (No. 6) remains the best lefty pitching prospect around, while righties Jose De Leon (No. 42) and Yadier Alvarez epitomize swing-and-miss stuff.

6. Washington Nationals
Preseason Top 10 rank: unranked
Prospects on Top 100: 5

The Nationals stand out more for their star power than depth, but oh, what star power. Right-hander Lucas Giolito (No. 4) is the game's top pitching prospect, infielder Trea Turner (No. 11) combines tremendous speed and surprising pop, and outfielder Victor Robles (No. 16) might have the best all-around tools in the Minors. They also have two more Top 100 righties in Reynaldo Lopez (No. 47) and Erick Fedde (No. 90).

7. Boston Red Sox
Preseason Top 10 rank: No. 6
Prospects on Top 100: 5

The Red Sox have the thinnest system on this list, in part because president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski used it liberally to make trades for Craig Kimbrel and Drew Pomeranz. But Boston still has the most dynamic duo of prospects in second baseman Yoan Moncada (No. 2) and outfielder Andrew Benintendi (No. 7), and backs them up with high-ceiling talents in third baseman Rafael Devers (No. 23), left-hander Jason Groome (No. 40) and 105-mph righty Michael Kopech (No. 81).

8. Philadelphia Phillies
Preseason Top 10 rank: No. 7
Prospects on Top 100: 5

Shortstop J.P. Crawford (No. 3), a potential offensive and defensive star, headlines a deep Phillies crop that was bolstered by the game's best 2016 Draft. Outfielder Mickey Moniak (No. 32) was the first overall pick and second-round right-hander Kevin Gowdy also has a lofty ceiling. While Philadelphia didn't pull off a Cole Hamels-esque blockbuster this summer, the key prospects from that deal -- outfielder Nick Williams (No. 60), catcher Jorge Alfaro (No. 70), righty Jake Thompson (No. 71) -- are percolating through the system.

9. Atlanta Braves
Preseason Top 10 rank: No. 2
Prospects on Top 100: 5

The Braves are building a formidable infield of the future around Dansby Swanson (No. 5) and Ozzie Albies (No. 18), either of whom could play second base or shortstop, and third baseman-to-be Kevin Maitan, the cream of the 2016-17 international crop who signed for $4.25 million after drawing comparisons to Miguel Cabrera and Chipper Jones. They have several promising arms, though many of them have control issues (left-hander Sean Newcomb, No. 58) or health concerns (lefty Kolby Allard, No. 73). If the three pitchers Atlanta took at the top of its 2016 Draft -- righty Ian Anderson (No. 92), lefties Joey Wentz and Kyle Muller -- live up to their scouting reports, this system could rocket up our next rankings.

10. Colorado Rockies
Preseason Top 10 rank: No. 4
Prospects on Top 100: 5

The Rockies may have graduated Jon Gray and Trevor Story to the big leagues this season, but they have a lot more talent where they came from. Their depth and balance rivals that of the systems at the top of the list, starting with five Top 100 Prospects: shortstop Brendan Rodgers (No. 8), outfielder David Dahl (No. 19), right-handers Jeff Hoffman (No. 44) and Riley Pint (No. 48) -- the latter of whom had the highest ceiling in the 2016 Draft -- and outfielder Raimel Tapia (No. 86).

Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.