15. New York Mets
Last Year’s Ranking: 18
Why They Are Here: The system is on the upswing, thanks to a nice group coming from the international market and, for the first time in a while, a draft class (2009) that looks like it will pay some dividends. With four Top 101 prospects and a three-star list that runs into the early teens, there's room for optimism here.
Where They Will Be Next Year: The Mets could add another Top 50-type with the seventh overall pick in the draft, their highest slot since 2004, and fourth-highest pick in the last 25 years. Top prospects like Jenrry Mejia and Ike Davis have more of a 2011 timetable, so Fernando Martinez is the only top prospect likely to lose his eligibility this season.
14. Detroit Tigers
Last Year’s Ranking: 27
Why They Are Here: While they are young and risky, for pure upside few teams can provide a one-two punch as promising as Jacob Turner and Casey Crosby, while Scott Sizemore is a solid big league-ready second baseman. The power arms continue from there, and while the system lacks depth, there are still some interesting power bats at the upper levels.
Where They Will Be Next Year: The same at best, but likely down. Turner and Crosby have to live up to expectations, as Sizemore will lose eligibility, and the signing of Jose Valverde cost the team its first-round pick in June. There's just not a ton of upside among the hitting crop.
13. San Francisco Giants
Last Year’s Ranking: 6
Why They Are Here: This is one of the most difficult systems to rank. One has to give them credit for having two five-star, big league-ready prospects in Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner, but while there's depth here, the star quality falls off quickly after the big two.
Where They Will Be Next Year: Down, and down significantly if both Posey and Bumgarner get enough big-league time. Unless Zach Wheeler pitches as well as expected, there's not an obvious candidate to step into the team's best-prospect spot.
12. Washington Nationals
Last Year’s Ranking: 29
Why They Are Here: Having the top prospect in baseball sure helps, but it doesn't end there, as Derek Norris is one of the best catching prospects in the game, and Drew Storen is a nearly ready big-league closer. Beyond those three, there are plenty of players who at least have the tools to create a brighter blip on a scout's radar.
Where They Will Be Next Year: Unquestionably down, but that's what happens when you lose the top prospect in the game. Washington picks first again in June, and that selection will almost assuredly be the system's new top prospect, but nobody in this year's draft can replace Strasburg.
11. San Diego Padres
Last Year’s Ranking: 25
Why They Are Here: The 2008 draft class looks like a potential monster at this point, while righty Simon Castro took a massive step forward last year and they found that crazy tools/crazy upside prospect the system has been lacking for years with Donavan Tate. New general manager Jed Hoyer inherits a system where most everything is suddenly moving in the right direction.
Where They Will Be Next Year: All of their prospects should be around next year, and the club picks ninth overall in June. They should be in the top half once again, with a solid chance to move into the single digits.
10. Kansas City Royals
Last Year’s Ranking: 16
Why They Are Here: Because they know how to draft, at least after the first round. Some might even classify them as trailblazers when it comes to small-market teams spending big money in the later rounds, as it's still the best bargain in baseball. The Royals have tons of impressive young pitchers, most of them with true starter profiles.
Where They Will Be Next Year: It should be up, and maybe significantly so. They pick fourth overall, will likely lose nobody from their current list, and there are still plenty of scouts who think disappointing elite-level picks Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer have plenty of upside.
9. Cincinnati Reds
Last Year’s Ranking: 19
Why They Are Here: Signing Aroldis Chapman didn't only shock the industry, but it also moved this ranking up from the second half into the single digits. Mike Leake is a starting prospect who could move quickly, and much of their top talent is already in the upper levels of the organization.
Where They Will Be Next Year: Much could depend on how quickly Chapman develops. If he gets to the big leagues this year, it will be difficult to stay this high, as there are plenty of others, like Todd Frazier, Chris Heisey, and Travis Wood, who also could lose eligibility for all the right reasons.
8. Chicago Cubs
Last Year’s Ranking: 26
Why They Are Here: As bad a year as the Cubs had at the big-league level, that's how good a year they had down on the farm, as 2008 draftees stepped forward, international signees shined, and plenty of others stepped forward. Throw in a first-round draft steal in Brett Jackson, and things are looking very, very up.
Where They Will Be Next Year: Chances are good that all of these players should still be eligible next year, and while I don't see the true star potential in Starlin Castro that others do, it's reasonable to expect good performances from Josh Vitters and Hak-Ju Lee. The aging big-league team needs help now, but this might take awhile.
7. Oakland Athletics
Last Year’s Ranking: 1
Why They Are Here: Chris Carter is one of the best pure slugging prospects in the game, while the A's improved their standing by flipping Brett Wallace to Toronto for a much more dynamic talent in outfielder Michael Taylor.
Where They Will Be Next Year: Finally down a bit. The 10thoverall pick in June helps, but they could lose both Carter and Taylor to the big leagues, while the starting pitching has finally run thin after graduating so many to the majors. Then again, there's a decent shot at Michael Ynoa finally pitching and blowing scouts away.
6. Minnesota Twins
Last Year’s Ranking: 20
Why They Are Here: With Aaron Hicks and Miguel Sano, the Twins have two of the toolsiest young talents around, with outfielder Ben Revere and catcher Wilson Ramos giving them two more in the Top 101. The mound group makes up for star quality with impressive depth, as many of the pitchers at least have big-league numbers on their scouting reports.
Where They Will Be Next Year: Their top prospects are all young, so graduation shouldn't be a problem. They don't have a high first-round pick, but if the talent continues to develop, there's no reason they can't be around here again next year.
5. Boston Red Sox
Last Year’s Ranking: 8
Why They Are Here: Few teams are more aggressive in signing amateur talent, be it internationally or via over-slot draft deals, and that's reflected with an impressive collection of talent across the board and few positional weaknesswa (catcher stands out). There's a chance that outfielder Ryan Westmoreland turns into a monster.
Where They Will Be Next Year: They should still be well toward the top. None of their elite-level prospects are expected to help the big-league squad, while one should still expect plenty of money spent to bring in more top-shelf talent.
4. Atlanta Braves
Last Year’s Ranking: 4
Why They Are Here: Obviously, having the best position player prospect in the game in right fielder Jason Heyward plays a massive role here, but the system goes further than that with arguably the top collection of young, high-upside Latin arms in the game. There's a big hole here when it come to up-the-middle talent, but everything else more than makes up for it.
Where They Will Be Next Year: Unquestionably down, without Heyward or a first-round pick in the upcoming draft. The pitchers could take another step forward, as could catcher Christian Bethancourt, but it will be hard to stay in the single digits.
3. Cleveland Indians
Last Year’s Ranking: 12
Why They Are Here: While catcher Carlos Santana is their only Top-50 prospect, no system in the game can match Cleveland's depth, as their three-star prospects go into the 20s. If you are making a wager on a system to produce the most players who reach the big leagues, Cleveland might just be your best bet.
Where They Will Be Next Year: Much could depend on how much time Santana spends in the big leagues, and who the club selects with the fifth overall pick in the draft. The three-star players tend to be solid, safe bets, as opposed to players who provide a lot of upside.
2. Texas Rangers
Last Year’s Ranking: 2
Why They Are Here: No system in baseball can match a left/right pitching prospect combination like Neftali Feliz and Martin Perez, and there's just an embarrassment of riches after than when it comes to young arms. The system is actually below average when it comes to hitting prospects, but Justin Smoak is a future three-hole hitter, and Jurickson Profar could explode.
Where They Will Be Next Year: It will be tough to repeat this high of a ranking, as Feliz will be gone, while Smoak could be as well. Two first-round picks will certainly help, but overall, we're looking at a net loss 12 months from now, albeit not the kind anyone should be complaining about.
1. Tampa Bay Rays
Last Year’s Ranking: 3
Why They Are Here: They're not just the best; they're at the top by a stunningly wide margin with not only seven Top 101 prospects, but also five of those sitting among the first 42 names. That's an insane amount of potential star power for what is already the most talented young team in the big leagues. The Rays are definitely here to stay.
Where They Will Be Next Year: It should still be in the upper half, but somewhere between two and four of their Top 101 prospects could lose eligibility this year, and most of their top players are at the upper levels, with the younger prospects lacking the potential to match the upper class.