Ranking MLB’s Best Minor League Farm Systems, Early-2019 (21-30)

These are my 2019 Early Season Rankings for MLB’s top farm systems. In this article, we will be looking at the systems ranked 21-30. Numbers 11-20 and 1-10 will be released later in May.

30.) St. Louis Cardinals

  1. Nolan Gorman, 3B (46)
  2. Andrew Knizner, C
  3. Malcom Nunez, 3B
  4. Jhon Torres, OF
  5. Dylan Carlson, OF
  6. Genesis Cabrera, SP
  7. Justin Williams, OF
  8. Johan Oviedo, SP
  9. Ryan Helsley, SP
  10. Luken Baker, 1B

STL Overview: After graduating players like Jack Flaherty, Alex Reyes and Harrison Bader, and dealing other top prospects like Oscar Mercado and Carson Kelly, there is not much talent remaining in St. Louis’ farm system. Nolan Gorman is the exception, coming in at #46 on my 2019 Top 100 MLB Prospect Rankings 1.0 (Early Season). Gorman, along with catcher Andrew Knizner, are the only two Cardinals prospects who I see as reliable guys, who I would be confident in saying they will be successful major leaguers.

29.) Chicago Cubs

  1. Nico Hoerner, SS (79)
  2. Brailyn Marquez, SP
  3. Miguel Amaya, C
  4. Oscar De La Cruz, SP
  5. Adbert Azolay, SP
  6. Aramis Ademan, SS
  7. Corey Abbott, SP
  8. Zack Short, SS
  9. Tyson Miller, SP
  10. Nelson Velazquez, OF

CHI Overview: I was very close between St. Louis and Chicago for the last spot in my rankings, as I dislike both systems equally. After multiple terrible trades (Jose Quintana/Aroldis Chapman) the Cubs lost elite prospects Gleyber Torres, Eloy Jimenez, and Dylan Cease. It is very hard for a system to recover after trades like these, especially if their major league club is not willing to part with any talented veterans. Nico Hoerner is their only top 100 prospect, and may be their only one for quite a while. Oscar de la Cruz was one of my favorite Cubs prospects a couple years ago, but injuries and a long suspension have dampened expectations. If he can turn things around, de la Cruz is probably the only possible candidate to make my Late-2019 top 100 list.

28.) Washington Nationals

  1. Carter Kieboom, SS (25)
  2. Luis V. Garcia, SS/2B/3B (72)
  3. Mason Denaburg, SP
  4. Tim Cate, SP
  5. Wil Crowe, SP
  6. Sterling Sharp, SP
  7. Yasel Antuna, SS/3B
  8. Jeremy De La Rosa, OF
  9. Seth Romero, SP
  10. Jose Sanchez, SS

WSH Overview: Out of all the MLB systems, I’d have to say the Nationals’ is the one lacking the most depth. Outside of the top two or three guys, I wouldn’t consider many of the rest to be quality prospects. Carter Kieboom just recently made his MLB debut, so when he ends up losing his prospect status, I would have the Nationals as the last ranked group. Luis V. Garcia is a decent prospect, but he has struggled mightily after his promotion to Double-A in 2019. To be fair he is only 18 years old (well under the average for Double-A), but I’m sure the Nationals expected a bit more. Mason Denaburg, the Nationals’ 2018 1st round pick, has yet to pitch in a professional game, but could wind up being their best pitching prospect. Yasel Antuna is an intriguing guy, but he is currently recovering from Tommy John surgery.

27.) Cleveland Indians

  1. Triston McKenzie, SP (51)
  2. Nolan Jones, 3B (88)
  3. Ethan Hankins, SP
  4. Tyler Freeman, SS/2B
  5. Oscar Mercado, OF
  6. Lenny Torres Jr., SP
  7. Brayan Rocchio, SS
  8. Bo Naylor, C
  9. Luis Oviedo, SP
  10. Daniel Johnson, OF

CLE Overview: The Indians have one of the youngest farm systems out of any team. While this means their rank is quite low, most of their players have plenty of time to develop, and I could see Cleveland making a big jump in my Late-2019 rankings. 2018 draftees, Noah “Bo” Naylor and Ethan Hankins are both guys I could see being in my Late-2019 Top 100 Rankings. Both offer high ceilings and they will both be 19 for the majority of the 2019 season. Oscar Mercado is one of the more underrated prospects in my opinion. On the brink of reaching the MLB, Mercado is a speedy outfielder who could make a big impact on the major league roster. The Indians’ top two prospects, Triston McKenzie and Nolan Jones, are only 21 years old and also have plenty of time to increase their stock. The only issue with having such a young farm system is that Cleveland won’t be able to get much help within the next year or two, but youth is always a benefit when it comes to building superstars.

26.) San Francisco Giants

Heliot Ramos, OF (SF)
  1. Joey Bart, C (12)
  2. Heliot Ramos, OF (80)
  3. Marco Luciano, SS
  4. Jake Wong, SP
  5. Shaun Anderson, SP
  6. Sean Hjelle, SP
  7. Seth Corry, SP
  8. Jairo Pomares, OF
  9. Jalen Miller, 2B
  10. Luis Toribio, 3B

SF Overview: The Giants possess one of the rarest things among their prospects, an elite catcher. Joey Bart is not only the best catching prospect, but he is one of the very best prospects at any position. It is extremely rare to see a catcher rated so highly as both a defender and as a hitter. As of now Bart has a huge gap between him and the next best catching prospect, but that may change when Adley Rutschman (projected #1 overall pick in 2019) gets drafted. Aside from Bart, Heliot Ramos and Marco Luciano are the only other two guys who I’d consider to be “top prospects”. Ramos has shown a lot of power amidst his inconsistency, and Luciano would likely have ranked in my top 100, but he is yet to appear in a professional game. The rest of the system has some talent, but I don’t see anyone currently in San Francisco’s system else ever reaching my top 100 list. Seth Corry is a name to watch as a guy who has been flying under the radar. Corry has dominated in Class-A, and I’d expect a promotion within weeks assuming he keeps it up.

25.) Philadelphia Phillies

  1. Adonis Medina, SP (58)
  2. Alec Bohm, 3B (70)
  3. Luis Garcia, SS (95)
  4. Adam Haseley, OF
  5. Spencer Howard, SP
  6. Mickey Moniak, OF
  7. Enyel De Los Santos, SP
  8. Jhailyn Ortiz, OF
  9. Cole Irvin, SP
  10. Kevin Gowdy, SP

PHI Overview: Even after losing their best prospect, Sixto Sanchez, in the trade for J.T. Realmuto, Philadelphia still had three prospects in my top 100 rankings. Both Alec Bohm and Luis Garcia started the 2019 season in Class-A, but Bohm already received a well deserved promotion to A-Advanced. One of the biggest names in the Phillies system Mickey Moniak, was the #1 overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft. Yet to break out as a professional, Moniak is still only 20 years old and there is still a chance he turns out to be the star that the Phillies expected when taking him first overall. Outfielder Jhailyn Ortiz offers exciting raw power and Adam Haseley, another outfielder, has a very well rounded skill set that should keep him moving up the system. Medina, Howard, and De Los Santos offer relatively high floors as starters, and should all be contributing within a year.

24.) New York Yankees

  1. Estevan Florial, OF (69)
  2. Albert Abreu, SP
  3. Jonathan Loaisiga, SP
  4. Clarke Schmidt, SP
  5. Anthony Seigler, C
  6. Deivi Garcia, SP
  7. Domingo Acevedo, RP/SP
  8. Thairo Estrada, UTIL
  9. Luis Gil, SP
  10. Josh Stowers, OF

NYY Overview: For one of the best MLB rosters, the Yankees farm system is understandably depleted. Recent graduates include stars like Gleyber Torres, Miguel Andujar, Clint Frazier and Domingo German. Their only top 100 prospect in my rankings, Estevan Florial, is yet to play in 2019 due to a broken wrist. Recent 1st round picks, Clarke Schmidt and Anthony Seigler, seem to be worthy of those high selections, but are very far from contributing to the Yankees. 2017 2nd round pick, Matt Sauer, would have ranked in the Yankees’ top 10 list, but will miss all of 2019 and a large part of the 2020 season due to Tommy John surgery. With Estrada and Loaisiga already called up to the MLB, Domingo Acevedo or Albert Abreu could be next. Both at Double-A, with the amount of injuries to the Yankees’ MLB team, Acevedo or Abreu could be up before expected.

23.) Boston Red Sox

  1. Michael Chavis, 3B/2B (56)
  2. Darwinzon Hernandez, SP (86)
  3. Bobby Dalbec, 3B
  4. Tristan Casas, 1B
  5. Antoni Flores, SS
  6. Jarren Duran, OF
  7. C.J. Chatham, SS
  8. Bryan Mata, SP
  9. Jay Groome, SP
  10. Tanner Houck, SP

BOS Overview: Ever since losing Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, and Luis Alexander Basabe in the Chris Sale trade, Boston has not had the same top tier talent. Chavis, my number 56 overall prospect, may be the exception. After being called up to Boston early in the 2019 season, Chavis has gotten off to an extremely hot start. Darwinzon Hernandez also got a taste of the majors, pitching well in one relief appearance before being optioned back to Double-A. #9 prospect, Jay Groome, has been derailed by injuries, but may be Boston’s best pitching prospect when healthy. Antoni Flores is a guy who I could see doing very well, but he has not had enough at-bats to constitute a top-100 ranking.

22.) New York Mets

Ronny Mauricio, SS (NYM)
  1. Peter Alonso, 1B (14)
  2. Andres Gimenez, SS (53)
  3. Ronny Mauricio, SS (75)
  4. Anthony Kay, SP
  5. Adrian Hernandez, OF
  6. Simeon Woods-Richardson, SP
  7. Mark Vientos, 3B
  8. Junior Santos, SP
  9. David Peterson, SP
  10. Shervyen Newton, SS

NYM Overview: One of the best rookie performances so far in 2019 has been Pete Alonso’s amazing stretch with the Mets. Taking opponents by storm, Alonso already has 10 HRs in just over 100 at bats. Alonso will soon no longer be “prospect eligible”, which will most likely make the Mets system drop in the rankings. Shortstops Andres Gimenez and Ronny Mauricio are two former international signees who will likely be the Mets’ future SS/2B combo if all goes well. The Mets pitching lacks a “front of the rotation” guy after the trade of Justin Dunn, but they still have quality depth with David Peterson, Anthony Kay, and Simeon Woods-Richardson all projected to be mid-to-back end rotation guys.

21.) Milwaukee Brewers

  1. Keston Hiura, 2B (22)
  2. Corey Ray, OF (81)
  3. Mauricio Dubon, SS/2B
  4. Brice Turang, SS
  5. Joe Gray Jr., OF
  6. Lucas Erceg, 3B
  7. Larry Ernesto, OF
  8. Troy Stokes Jr., OF
  9. Tristan Lutz, OF
  10. Marco Feliciano, C

MIL Overview: Keston Hiura is the gem of the Brewers’ system. The former #9 overall pick has been excellent at the plate, and is looking like he will make a huge impact sometime in 2019. The Brewers’ second top 100 prospect is Corey Ray. The #5 overall pick in 2016, Ray had struggled in 2016 and 2017, not living up to the expectations of a top five pick. 2018 was a breakout year for Ray as he showed his exciting 5-tool abilities. Both Ray and Hiura started their 2019 seasons in Triple-A, so both may be up in Milwaukee as early as June/July. Their top three prospects (and five out of the top ten), are in Triple-A, so the Brewers should have some available talent during the 2019 season. Although all ten of the Brewers top prospects ore position players, they do have some quality pitching prospects as well. Starters Zack Brown and Trey Supak narrowly missed my MIL top 10, and both are having great starts to 2019.

Trade Review: Chris Sale, CHW & BOS

Yoan Moncada, the key piece of the Chris Sale trade

At the 2016 Winter Meetings, the topic of a potential Chris Sale trade was prominent throughout the week. Eventually the Red Sox pounced, prying super star pitcher, Chris Sale, from the rebuilding White Sox. This was the first domino to fall in Chicago’s rebuild which included the White Sox dealing Adam Eaton, Jose Quintana, Todd Frazier, and David Robertson. The Sale trade got the White Sox the biggest return, landing them four pieces in total.

The Deal: December 6th, 2016

Red Sox Receive: Chris Sale (SP)

White Sox Receive: Yoan Moncada (2B/3B), Michael Kopech (SP), Luis Alexander Basabe (OF), and Victor Diaz (SP)

General Overview: After multiple unpleasant incidents between Chris Sale and the White Sox organization, many expected Sale to be dealt over the offseason. On his way to the Red Sox, Sale joined a rotation already featuring the likes of David Price, Rick Porcello, and Drew Pomeranz. Joining a winning organization was something Sale greatly desired, so all three parties were happy with the deal. The Red Sox got the ace they desperatly needed, while the White Sox got two top tier prospects and two lower end guys who they felt could step up as well.

Red Sox Overview: No matter how well any of the players the Red Sox gave up do, it is hard to argue that they will be more valuable than Chris Sale was for them. Sale was not the only star player on the team in 2018, but he was one of the main reasons they made it to the World Series. Though doing poorly in his World Series start, without Sale, it is unlikely that the Red Sox would have even made it as far. Giving up two top tier prospects is tough, but it is hard to compare that to a World Series victory. Unfortunately for Boston, Sale’s 2019 season has been about as disastrous as possible, starting the season with an ERA over 6.00.

White Sox Overview: In the return for Sale, the White Sox got a massive haul of young talent. Just after reaching the majors, Yoan Moncada was MLB Pipeline’s #1 overall prospect in all of baseball. After his arrival, Moncada starred in Triple-A Charlotte for the first half of 2017 until his promotion to Chicago. Things did not go great for Moncada as his batting average and strikeout rate both worsened after the jump to the majors. In 2018, Moncada played the entire season at the MLB level, showing his 5-tool abilities, but again struggled with his contact. So far in 2019, Moncada has been excellent, looking like a true #1 overall prospect. His strikeouts have fallen drastically, while his HRs and AVG are both well above his previous season’s. It is a bit to early to tell for sure, but it appears as if Moncada was well worth being the centerpiece for Chris Sale. If he keeps performing at this rate, the Red Sox will soon (if not already) regret parting with him

Michael Kopech, another top prospect at the time, was dealt as a 2nd headliner to pair with Moncada. His combination of a high 90s (up to 100mph) fastball and a devastating slider really caught the eye of White Sox scouts. After doing well in Double-A (2017) and Triple-A (2017/2018), Kopech finally got a taste of the majors at the back end of the 2018 season. After a dominating first three starts, Kopech got absolutely shelled in his 4th. A day later, it was discovered Kopech needed Tommy John surgery, sidelining him for 2018 as well as 2019. He is expected to be fully healthy by 2020, and will be a crucial part of Chicago’s rotation then.

Though not as highly rated at the time, outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe, may turn out to be the 3rd very good player the White Sox got. A switch hitting outfielder, Basabe was traded away from his twin brother, Luis Alejando Basabe, who also played in the Red Sox organization. Though both were viewed as similar level players, Luis Alexander took off upon his arrival in the White Sox organization, and has proved himself to be an important member of their rebuild.

Victor Diaz, the 4th and final piece of the deal has not been much of a factor at all. After the trade, Diaz pitched 12 inning of relief between Class-A and Class A-Advanced, combining for a disgustingly bad 12 walks, and a 14.25 ERA. Diaz has been sidelined since 2017 due to injuries, so he is hoping to bounce back later this year. It’s always hard to tell for sure, but it appears that Diaz will be a pretty irrelevant part of this deal, essentially making it a 3:1 deal.

Chris Sale pitching vs Orioles (9/20/17)

Player Grades:

Chris Sale: A

Yoan Moncada: A-

Michael Kopech: A-

Luis Alexander Basabe: B-

Victor Diaz: D

Winner: Chicago White Sox