The quality of farm systems is always in flux, whether because of acquisitions, graduations, or the overall ebb and flow of the prospects themselves. As such, ranking these prospects - as well as the farm systems they populate - is often a generalization based on opinions.
It can often be difficult to reach an industry consensus, as it pertains to player valuation While the top tiers of prospects are usually widely recognized from outlet to outlet, it often gets a bit cloudier as the lists go on. In some cases, certain prospects will appear highly on some lists, while being completely left off others.
For instances such as these, it helps to combine and aggregate these rankings into a composite to get a better overall view of how certain players stack up against each other. For the guys who were highly touted by some national outlets and completely omitted by others, the truth about them is somewhere in the middle - so are their overall rankings.
To reflect these discrepancies, here is a link to the 2018 Midseason Composite Farm System Rankings. This list not only shows where individual prospects find themselves ranked, but also how their parent clubs fare relative to each other.
I outlined my methodology in the Preseason Farm System Rankings; for easy recall, I will re-state it here. While building these lists, I assigned a reverse point system, in which the 100th ranked player received one point, the 99th ranked player received two points, all the way up to #1 where the top ranked prospect received 100 points. By adding up any points generated across the four outlets - MLB Pipeline, Baseball America, Fangraphs, and ESPN’s Keith Law - the players were then ranked according to point values.
These publications broke their lists to different thresholds. Fangraphs’ list went to 131, but I only used the Top 100 for the sake of congruence. As FG did not update their list to reflect graduations after its initial publication, I have done so on the composite - this is the advantage of breaking out a list past 100 players. Keith Law’s list only went to 50; in this case, the 50 players listed are scored as though they were merely the top half of a list; the 50th ranked player on this list still gets 51 points, as he would have if he was ranked 50th on a Top 100.
Between the four publications used to build this composite, 138 players made the list. Accordingly, the #1 ranked prospect (in this installment, Vlad Guerrero, Jr.) received 138 points, and each prospect’s points were assigned to their respective team. Otherwise, the same reverse point system methodology was used to calculate the Farm System Rankings.
Hopefully, this view this composite offers will offset any alleged bias created by any one list (this was also done to remove my own bias).
Full disclosure: I know this is not a perfect system for ranking overall farm systems, as it only takes into account the top-heaviness of each farm system. These rankings only go as deep as the Top 100 lists will allow (or Top 50, in the case of Keith Law), so this is an inherent limitation in the scope of the exercise. Until Baseball America, MLB Pipeline, et al, start doing Top 500 lists, the composite rankings will be handicapped accordingly. Also, these rankings are not meant to express individual values on players relative to other players, and should not be interpreted as such - for example, just because a player is scores 96 points, I am not implying he is twice as valuable as a player with 48 points, or four times are valuable as a player with 24 points. Sometimes, it’s just how the proverbial cookie crumbles.
Of course, this list is also subject to constant shuffling. With the trade deadline slated for the 31st and prospects often on the move around this time of year, along with the ever-present nuisance of service time thresholds and eligibility exhaustion, this is more meant to serve as a snapshot of where these players stand going into the trade deadline.
Now that we’ve clarified the formalities, on to the fun stuff.
From an individual player standpoint, Toronto’s Vlad Guerrero, Jr. sits atop the prospect mountain, with San Diego’s Fernando Tatis, Jr. just behind him. Eloy Jimenez (CWS), Victor Robles (WAS), and Nick Senzel (CIN) round out the Top 5. Houston’s Forrest Whitley is the first pitcher to make the list, at #6. Guerrero’s system mate Bo Bichette comes in at #7; Michael Kopech joins Eloy Jimenez among White Sox prospects to make the Top 10, at #8; Colorado’s Brendan Rodgers finds himself at #9. Padres southpaw Mackenzie Gore is the first lefty pitcher on the list, and comes in at #10.
As far as organizational farm system rankings go, the Braves placed the most players on the composite, with 13. The Padres placed the second-most players, with 11, the White Sox had 9, and the Rays and Blue Jays each had 7. As noted above - San Diego, Chicago, and Toronto each placed two players in the Top 10.
As a statement of the preposterous top-end depth of Atlanta’s system, the Marlins, Orioles, Royals, Diamondbacks, Mariners, and Cubs had 13 combined. The Boston Red Sox pulled off a rare feat, got completely shut out - they did not place one player on any of the aforementioned lists.
Here is the entire list of Braves who made the list:
- Kyle Wright (#24)
- Ian Anderson (#31)
- Mike Soroka (#32 - the omission from Keith Law’s list dropped him considerably)
- Austin Riley (#43)
- Cristian Pache (#45)
- Touki Toussaint (#50)
- Luiz Gohara (#53)
- Bryse Wilson (#87)
- Max Fried (#115)
- Joey Wentz (#117)
- Drew Waters (#119)
- Kolby Allard (#122)
- Brett Cumberland (#126)
Even with the graduations of Ronald Acuña, Ozzie Albies, and Sean Newcomb over the last calendar year, Atlanta clearly has beaucoup top-end reinforcements coming to bolster the big league club over the next several seasons.
While the Braves placed the most players, the Padres’ farm system is the winner for the best overall system with 901 organizational points. The recent acquisition of Francisco Mejia - tied as the 14th best prospect in the game - put them over the top. Their big league club is going to be an absolute juggernaut soon.
The Braves farm system ranked second overall with 852 points, the White Sox took third with 727, and the Rays placed fourth with 677. This is where the clearly defined “top tier” of farm systems ends, as after that was a notable step down in point, with the Blue Jays’ 507 points earning them fifth place. Here is the complete Top 10:
The Padres and Braves have been hoarding prospects like Pokemon over the past several years, and the Pads find themselves in a similar place to where the Braves were a year ago - poised to make a big jump if they younger guys can figure it out on the fly. Look for them to make a big splash in the NL West over the next several seasons.
Prospects are suspects until they prove it at the big league level, but if the Braves have proven anything to the teams surrounding them on the list, a wide swath of homegrown prospects, paired with a competent and capable development staff, can lead to a lot of fun baseball for a fan base.