BERNIE'S BASEBALL WORLD

RANKING MLB FARM SYSTEMS

Fernando Tatis
Bernie Pleskoff
Written by Bernie Pleskoff

Last week, I unveiled my Top 50 MLB prospects for the coming season. I indicated at the time that task is never easy. There are always guys that just miss my top rankings. However, with so many hopeful prospects, it is difficult to include all the best in just 50 slots.

Ranking MLB farm systems isn’t easy, either. I always find it much easier to rank the top clubs. It becomes much more problematic the further down the list I proceed. This year is no different.

I do want to acknowledge a couple farm systems that have improved markedly year over year. For example, I think clubs like the Mariners, the Angels, the Twins, and the Diamondbacks have placed themselves on a much better track to sustain more consistency and credibility.

Conversely, I believe teams such as the Red Sox, the Indians and to some extent the Brewers have slipped in the rankings for one reason or another. The Indians and Brewers as well as the Yankees (although I still like their farm, and I think they are underrated by many) lost prospects in trades that benefited the organization as a whole.

I have spoken and written repeatedly about the value of prospects. For me, these are the important organizational goals for prospects in baseball:

-First and foremost, develop prospects that can be promoted to the major league club and be a contributing member of the 25-man roster.

-Second, stock the organization with enough quality prospects that can be used in trade to improve the organization.

-Finally, have enough prospects to stock an entire organization of minor league clubs.

It is not practical to sit down and create a farm system ranking without criteria. I am big on criteria. What do I consider when I do my organizational farm system ranking?

Not in any particular import, I take the following factors into account when ranking clubs. Some may be more crucial than others, but all the ingredients comprise the recipe.

The number of high quality minor league players projected for major league play at a level well above the average.

The number of minor league players projected for major league play at an average level.

Position depth of the organization.

I always ask myself if an organization can replace an injured player or a player performing poorly at every position from within the farm system? That is crucial to me. If someone gets hurt, can the club reach down and get help from the farm?

All high quality players are not impact players. A high quality player to me is someone I have evaluated above a grade 50-he is a better than the average major leaguer.

A projected impact prospect is someone with consistent game-changing qualities on offense, defense or on the mound. I do give organizations consideration for having impact prospects

To be fair, many organizations have impact prospects because they finished low in the standings. They are rewarded for their poor results with high draft picks. It is how they use those high picks that separate the good teams from others.

To be fair, some clubs don’t have impact prospects because of their success in the standings. But how do they use the draft picks they do have?

And of course, some quality teams have traded highly regarded prospects in an effort to improve as an organization. Those trades have an impact in organizational farm system rankings.

Here are my farm system rankings heading to the 2019 season. Please note, that it is virtually impossible to note all the good prospects of an organization. Each system has been given an overall grading.

No. 1- SAN DIEGO PADRES

The Padres have amassed a farm system that is loaded with some of the best young talent in the game. From shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. to left-handed pitcher MacKenzie Gore and C Francisco Mejia, the club has placed themselves in an attractive position to improve the major league club via trade. They are really deep in prospect pitching potential beyond the highly rated McKenzie. Consider lefties Adrian Morejon, and Logan Allen as well as right-handers Chris Paddack, Michael Baez and Luis Patino and the team can almost take their pick of trade partners from among pitching starved franchises. And we can’t forget INF Luis Urias as a stellar member of the Padres prospect depth. Shortstop Xavier Edwards should arrive at some point in 2022 as well.  First baseman Josh Naylor doesn’t get the same type of buzz as some other Padres prospects, but from what I have seen, he can hit. The team has graduated some outfield help, so they may be a bit light in that position, but they can likely improve that area via trade if needed. I have seen what speedy switch-hitting Buddy Reed can do on the bases, so the outfield isn’t totally without prospect help.

Grade: A

No. 2-CHICAGO WHITE SOX

The White Sox clearly have the impact players other teams would love to have. Leading the group is my No. 1 overall prospect, outfielder Eloy Jimenez, a true star in waiting. But it isn’t just Jimenez that help the White Sox earn this lofty position in my rankings. They also boast flame-throwing righty Michael Kopech, who is working his way back from Tommy John surgery. Hopefully, his plus 100 miles per hour fastball returns in tact. I project right-hander Dylan Cease as a closer, but most observers feel his is headed for the rotation. Wherever he pitches, and whatever his role, Cease is exciting. Luis Robert is a very athletic outfielder still learning the nuances of the game. I think he can really excel when his development concludes. Nick Madrigal is a fine second baseman/shortstop with likely another year waiting for his turn. But I can’t forget catcher Zack Collins, outfielders Micker Adolfo, Luis Gonzalez, Blake Rutherford and Luis Alexander Basabe, and right-hander Dan Dunning among the outstanding athletes in the system. This is a system a bit light on infielders, but they have enough good prospects to earn this ranking.

Grade: A

No. 3-ATLANTA BRAVES

While I’m not optimistic the Padres or White Sox can contend for the playoffs, I clearly can’t say the same for the Braves. They have enough of a club to contend and excel. I am very bullish on third baseman Austin Riley, and I think we’ll see him as soon as this year Other Braves prospects with exciting big league futures include center fielder Cristian Pace, a terrific athlete, but one who is still a bit raw. Outfielder Drew Waters is one to keep an eye on. But if there is any position that sets the Braves apart, it is their prospect pitching depth. Mike Soroka, Ian Anderson, Kyle Wright, Touki Toussaint, Bryse Wilson, and lefties Luis Gohara, and Kolby Allard are each much better than average pitchers. The team’s pitching depth cannot be ignored. Given the Braves now have highly regarded All-Star quality outfielder Ronald Acuna on the big league roster, it remains remarkable the Braves have been able to retain such a formidable farm system. Catcher William Contreras and some other outfielders in waiting make the Braves a club with enough depth to weather the worst storm.

Grade: A

No. 4-TAMPA BAY RAYS

This is a club coming very close to an even higher ranking. The club is loaded with players that can continue to make the Rays even more dangerous. Remember, it was last season when Tampa Bay won 90 games and served notice that they want to play with the big boys. I have little doubt that shortstop Wander Franco is the real deal. He is turning heads every time he takes a field. He played his first year at age 17 and hit .351 with 11 homers. Right-hander Brent Honeywell went down with an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery, but his screwball was the best in baseball when he was healthy. The team has highly regarded prospect lefty Brendan McKay ready to pitch and play first base in a dual role. First baseman Nathaniel Lowe, catcher Ronaldo Hernandez, outfielder Jesus Sanchez, right-handed pitcher Shane Baz, second baseman Vidal Brujan, lefty Matthew Liberatore, and shortstop Lucius Fox are important pieces to a deep and well-balanced organization that is ready to continue to climb.

Grade: A

No. 5-TORONTO BLUE JAYS

It wasn’t long ago that one had to look long and hard to uncover quality Blue Jays prospects. That has all changed with everyone’s (except mine) No. 1 ranked prospect, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. waiting to take the field this coming season. I ranked Guerrero Jr. as my second best prospect behind only Eloy Jimenez, but I don’t doubt his incredible upside and talent. Some are saying Guerrero might be the best prospect since Alex Rodriguez or Ken Griffey Jr., and even better than Mike Trout. That’s really saying something. I don’t see that, but I still like his future as a perennial All-Star. He is followed in Blue Jays prospect impact by shortstop Bo Bichette, a good hitting middle infielder with some fielding issues to overcome. Danny Jansen has a chance to be the team’s catcher. Right-handed pitchers Eric Pardinho, Sean Reid-Foley and Nate Pearson could be giving the club exactly what they need in the future to fill-out their pitching depth, a concern of the club. Pearson is probably the best of the lot. Third baseman Jordan Gorshans is an excellent prospect. Middle infield prospects are abundant in the system, with the best probably being shortstop Kevin Smith. I saw Cavan Biggio in the Fall League and I still wonder where he will end up playing on defense. This is a team loaded with middle infield prospects. It remains to be seen if outfielders Anthony Alford and Billy McKinney can crack the Blue Jays lineup.

Grade: A-

No. 6- CINCINNATI REDS

Few teams have revitalized their franchise this offseason as much as the Reds. They should be commended for starting to spend some money in an environment that is seeing financial restraint as the watchwords for payroll construction. The Reds have a very solid farm system that is headed by what could be their new center fielder, Nick Senzel. He is my 5th ranked prospect. Senzel is a third baseman by experience, but that role belongs to Eugenio Suarez. Second base is taken by Scooter Gennett. That may leave Senzel without a position. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Senzel traded at some point for Corey Kluber of the Indians. For now, however, Senzel heads a very good farm system. He is joined by very athletic outfielder Taylor Trammell, third baseman Jonathan India, and right-handed pitcher Hunter Greene as players that can add depth to their big league roster at some point soon. Right-handers Tony Santillan and Vladimir Gutierrez are highly regarded as well. Left-handed hitting outfielder Mike Siani has some speed to add. Jose Siri and Mariel Bautista add outfield depth. Catcher Tyler Stephenson is probably the highest rated backstop in the system. There are lots of outfielders in waiting in the Reds system, and that’s why I think they make an excellent in-season trade partner for a team like Cleveland or Baltimore.

Grade: B+

No. 7-MINNESOTA TWINS

Like the Reds, the Twins have improved their major league club this offseason. But the players in their farm system may hasten their arrival as true contenders to take down the Cleveland Indians, as soon as this coming season. The biggest names to know with the Twins are outfielder Alex Kiriloff, a right-handed hitter capable of using the entire field, and shortstop Royce Lewis who gets rave reviews from prospect analysts. While those two set the pace for the Twins minor league system, right-handed pitcher Brusdar Graterol is very highly regarded as a future star to help stabilize a wobbly pitching staff. Position players include shortstop Wander Javier, shortstop Nick Gordon, and outfielders Trevor Larnach, and Brent Rooker. Rooker also plays first base. Catcher Willians Astudillo is a solid hitter with position versatility. Akil Baddoo is also a player to watch. If young pitchers like Graterol, Stephen Gonsalves, who debuted last season, Lewis Thorpe, and Jhoan Duran develop, the Twins will continue to show the type of improvement that can land them in contention in the American League Central.

Grade: B+

No. 8-HOUSTON ASTROS

The Astros have managed to become one of the most exciting and feared teams in baseball while still maintaining a very, very solid farm system. Part of that rests with the quality of top pitcher Forrest Whitley. A very mature right-hander, Whitley was outstanding in the Arizona Fall League where he mowed down hitters with high velocity fastballs and crisp breaking balls. He heads a list of prospects that include outfielders Kyle Tucker and Yordan Alverez, potential 2019 starting pitcher Josh James, and solid right-handers J.B Bukauskas, and Corbin Martin. Tyler Ivey and Bryan Abreu are two other righties that bring more promise to the club. Freudis Nova is a player to remember as an up and coming shortstop. Outfielder Seth Beer is a couple years away. Once we see the graduation of Whitley, and possibly more from the group, we will likely see this farm system drop a tad in the rankings. Tucker made his debut in 2018, but he will have to fight for playing time in the crowded Astros outfield. For now, however, they have some help just a phone call away as they seek to represent the American League in the World Series once again.

Grade: B

No. 9-NEW YORK YANKEES

Some of their best prospects have been traded, but the club’s farm is still very deep, with minor league prospect Estevan Florial leading the way. The true strength may well be in their pitching depth. Deivi Garcia, Jonathan Loaisiga, Domingo Acevedo, Albert Abreu, Michael King, Garrett Whitlock, Clarke Schmidt, Luis Medina and many more are the type of arms teams will be asking about in trades. They also have outfielder Clint Frazier remaining on the roster, as he will return from injury in 2019. Not as deep in position players as in the past, the Yankees pitching prospects, too numerous to mention, keep them highly ranked in my estimation. One of the Yankees best young prospects is outfielder Everson Pereira. His is a name that I would guess many clubs mention in trades with New York. He and Antonio Cabello are two very well regarded outfield prospects for an organization that continues to add to their depth. Outfielder Josh Stowers was just acquired in trade. Anthony Seigler is probably the club’s best catcher in waiting. I still think this farm system is very formidable and very underrated by many. The reason the Yankees retain such a high ranking is their incredible prospect pitching roster which just seems to go on and on and on.

Grade: B

No. 10- LOS ANGELES DODGERS

The Dodgers have long been known for turning out pitchers. The coming year is no different, but there are other positions that are getting a boost in the organization. We saw righty Walker Buehler burst on the scene, but he won’t be the last prospect pitcher to wear Dodger blue in the coming years. Look for righty Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin, Dennis Santana, or Mitchell White, to break in with the club in the future. But at the top of the prospect list is outfielder Alex Verdugo. Now 22, it would seem his time has come. He and catcher Keibert Ruiz were in my top 50 player rankings, with shortstop Gavin Lux just missing out. Outfielder D J Peters is intriguing as well. Jeter Downs may be sneaking up as a viable middle-infield candidate for the future. Catcher Will Smith may be playing some at third base. The Dodgers farm is one that can help the major league club with most positions if called up.

Grade: B-

No. 11- ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

This ranking is a tremendous accomplishment for a Diamondbacks club that seems to have traded away countless prospects in the past few years. However, remaining are highly regarded right-handed pitchers Jon Duplantier and Taylor Widener. For me, the cream of the Dbacks crop is shortstop Jazz Chisholm. Chisholm reminds me of “Didi light” as he has outstanding range, a solid arm, good speed and a true gap bat that will only get better. This is a “spark plug” player that might sneak up on some people. Young outfielder Kristian Robinson has great promise and tops the Dbacks organizational chart for many scouts and analysts. Outfielder Alek Thomas is highly regarded. I also like what I have seen of catcher Daulton Varsho-a catcher with some speed. And there are more where those came from. I am a bit more optimistic than most about the future of first baseman Pavin Smith. However, it is the top of the Dbacks minor league food chain that has earned them this ranking. The first group in the Dbacks farm system are legitimate major league candidates.

Grade: B-

No. 12- SEATTLE MARINERS

Clearly, general manager Jerry Dipoto is not shy about shaking up his organizational roster. A series of trades that have been chronicled on this site this offseason has returned some young players capable of helping the club control payroll and plan for the future. Included among those trades was lefty Justus Sheffield. Obtained from the Yankees, Sheffield has a nice future with a good repertoire. I don’t view him as an impact pitcher, but as a good fit for a team in need of his pitching ability. First baseman Evan White, outfielders Kyle Lewis, Braden Bishop and Dom Thompson-Williams are position players to watch. Outfielders Jarred Kelenic, over from the Mets, and Julio Rodriguez may be the best of the outfield lot. But the big acquisition may well be left-hander Yusei Kikuchi from Japan. He is 27 and he will make his stateside debut with the Mariners after signing an offseason international contract. Among others, Erik Swanson, Logan Gilbert and Justin Dunn are formidable. Second baseman Shed Long came over from the Reds, but I’m not as bullish on him as some others may be. This is a franchise that has improved regarding organizational prospect depth.

Grade: B-

No. 13-OAKLAND ATHLETICS

A bit of a cloud hangs over the Athletics as they await the decision of outfielder Kyler Murray, their 1st round 2018 (No. 9 overall) draft pick. Murray has applied for the National Football League Draft, which will be held in April. His presence on the roster could elevate the A’s even higher on this list if he chooses to play baseball. At this point, I think his heart is with the NFL. I am a huge fan of lefties A.J. Puk (Tommy John surgery rehab) and Jesus Luzardo. Catcher Sean Murphy is outstanding behind the plate. The team is loaded with outfielders including Austin Beck, Lazaro Armenteros, and Jameson Hannah. Jorge Mateo is a quality shortstop in waiting. Former Yankees prospect pitcher James Kaprielian is in the system. It really is tough to argue that outfielder Skye Bolt doesn’t have the best overall prospect name. For me, Sheldon Neuse, a third baseman blocked at his position is an outstanding prospect. I’d love to see the club try him in the outfield. He has a very solid bat.

Grade: B-

No. 14-MIAMI MARLINS

The addition of flame-throwing right-handed starter Sixto Sanchez is huge for the future of the Marlins. He is a quality starter, and he boosts their farm system depth tremendously. We still don’t know the total impact of the trade with Milwaukee that yielded Lewis Brinson, Monte Harrison, Jordan Yamamoto and Isan Diaz. All four of them could eventually play for the major league club. I do like Harrison and Diaz a great deal. I think Sandy Alcantara, Nick Neidert and lefties Braxton Garrett and Trevor Rogers can be quality pitchers. Signing Victor Victor Mesa out of Cuba this offseason is the great unknown. He can be a wild card in the entire Marlins equation. Triston Pompey offers outfield depth beyond the guys the Marlins picked up from the Brewers. I do see this club as one on the rise due to their improving farm.

Grade: B-

No. 15- COLORADO ROCKIES

Shortstop Brendan Rodgers may not live up to expectations, but he’s still good enough to lead the team’s prospect list. He may have to fight prospect Garrett Hampson for a role on the 25-man roster as a middle-infielder. The team also has third baseman Colton Welker and first baseman/third baseman Tyler Nevin to work the corners of the infield. The system is a bit light on pitching prospects, but recent rotation help at the big league level may not make the need as urgent.  Peter Lambert may be a right-hander capable of offering help if it is needed. Pitcher Ryan Rolison is a lefty with a projection of major league readiness in 2021. First baseman Grant Lavigne is a young player to watch develop as well. Outfielder Sam Hilliard gets some attention. So there are some nice future Rockies currently in the system, but many are at lower levels.

Grade: C

No. 16- ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

The Cardinals are looking forward to the return of hard-throwing righty Alex Reyes who has to try to make it back from surgery. He is joined in their pitching department by righties Ryan Helsley and Griffin Roberts. Like the Pirates farm for example, the strength of the Cardinals system is not in their pitching. Position players include a top prospect in third baseman Nolan Gorman, catcher Andrew Knizner, and outfielders Dylan Carlson, Randy Arozarena, and Jhon Torres. The team will look to Elehuris Montero if they need help at third base, as he is among their best prospects at that position. Malcom Nunez is also available at third base. There are more prospects on the way as the Cardinals continue their steady development of quality players. Outfielders are plentiful in the system, as are quality third basemen. The Cardinals should be able to contend in the future if they can shore up the pitching depth.

Grade: C

No. 17-TEXAS RANGERS

They need pitching, and it may be on the way. Lefty Taylor Hearn and righties Cole Winn and Hans Crouse may be the cream of the pitching crop. But the organization’s depth is improving. Pitcher Brock Burke came in the Jurickson Profar trade, and he may offer some pitching help. And I’m not giving up on outfielder Leddy Taveras even though he has had some rough moments. I also like Bubba Thompson, a 20-year old with a nice future. Julio Pablo Martinez is a bit older than most players at lower levels, but he is on the rise and is very highly regarded among their best prospects. Basically, the Rangers have added lots of pitching depth to their organization with the hope a couple like lefty Cole Ragans and Jonathan Hernandez also emerge. It may happen. I like Hearn, Crouse and Winn to take big steps forward.

Grade: C

No. 18- PITTSBURGH PIRATES

Right-handed pitcher Mitch Keller and third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes are two very solid prospects that can help this team move forward. Shortstop Oneil Cruz and OF Travis Swaggerty, along with shortstop Cole Tucker are exciting players to watch. Tucker was very impressive in the Fall League and played way above his press clippings. Kevin Kramer and Kevin Newman are players to watch in the middle-infield. Cal Mitchell, Lolo Sanchez, Jared Olivia, and Bryan Reynolds bring outfield depth to the club. Other than Keller at the top of the heap, it is difficult to find top drawer pitching depth. Perhaps Steven Jennings will help. For that reason, the Pirates may have to look to the trade route if they wish to add to their pitching inventory.

Grade: C

No. 19-DETROIT TIGERS

Pitchers Casey Mize and Matt Manning bring hope for the future as they lead the Tigers minor league prospects. Righty Beau Burrows is my sleeper pitcher in the organization. All three could really help the rotation of the future in Detroit. Isaac Paredes is probably best suited at third base. The Tigers also have outfielder Daz Cameron as a highly rated prospect by many, but I was disappointed in his play this past fall. Christin Stewart is another outfielder with some promise. Most everyone likes the future of catcher Jake Rogers, and I can see that. But overall, the Tigers don’t have that many top drawer players on the horizon. Names like Willi Castro and Wenceel Perez may help in the infield as the club continue to try to climb in their overall roster makeover. Pitchers Franklin Perez and Alex Faedo are highly regarded and may offer some mound help. But make no mistake, this farm is improving and future high draft picks will help even more.

Grade: C

No. 20-LOS ANGELES ANGELS

Outfielder Jo Adell has off the charts ability. Right-handed pitcher Griffin Canning and outfielder Brandon Marsh round out a solid trio of Angels prospects. For me, Adell is going to be a huge star with All-Star Game potential year after year. Jahmal Jones has played both the outfield and second base. I frankly don’t know where he will begin 2019, but I guess we can now say he is, indeed, a second baseman. He did have a fine AFL season. Jordyn Adams is an outfielder to watch in the system. First baseman Matt Thaiss did not impress me at all in the Fall League and I remain very mediocre on my evaluation of him. I think he’s overrated based upon what I have seen. Luis Rengifo may provide help at shortstop or second base. Jeremiah Jackson is a solid but young shortstop candidate. D’Shawn Knowles is another outfielder of some ability to watch. Overall the club still lacks pitching depth-the one commodity they need more than anything. But lefty Jose Suarez and righty Aaron Hernandez, who sat out 2018 after college, may help eventually.

Grade: C

No. 21-WASHINGTON NATIONALS-Victor Robles should start as the Nationals CF with Shortstops Carter Kieboom and Luis Garcia adding depth to their potential infield inventory. Kieboom gets lots of love, but I’m not totally convinced his bat is as loud as advertised. A pitching duo of righties Will Crowe, Mason Denaburg and lefties Seth Romero and Tim Cate are intriguing, but pitching is the strength of the big league club. Shortstop Yasel Antuna is highly regarded. Other than Robles, Telmito Agustin and Gage Canning are waiting in line for their opportunities. Overall, the system is a bit below average in my opinion, at best.

Grade: C-

No. 22-CLEVELAND INDIANS

RHP Triston McKenzie may be called upon this year if anyone in the rotation falters. Nolan Jones may be the third baseman of the Indians future. I do like some of the younger prospects like catcher Bo Naylor and outfielder George Valera, who is still very young but highly regarded. Ethan Hankins is getting some attention as a right-hander in the organization. Bobby Bradley has battled weight issues and may be able to bring some much needed power at the first base position. Yu Chang is better than people think as a versatile infielder, and with the injury to shortstop Francisco Lindor we will likely see him this spring. Outfielder Will Benson may be able to add some future pop. Other infielders include Brayan Rocchio who is years away and Tyler Freeman, young as well. I do like outfielder Oscar Mercado who came to the Tribe from the Cardinals. He’s a sleeper for me.

Grade: C-

No. 23-NEW YORK METS

Shortstop/second baseman Andres Gimenez made my top 50 with first baseman Peter Alonso close behind. Third baseman Mark Vientos is a potential top performer. I like Alonso better than many scouts, as I think he can put the bat on the ball with some power. Ronny Mauricio is a shortstop name to remember, as is infielder Shervyen Newton. But it is Gimenez that gets the deserved praise. Pitchers of note include Simeon Woods-Richardson, David Peterson and Thomas Szapucki. Peterson and Szapucki are southpaws. The Mets system is improving. Adrian Hernandez is an outfielder of note, as is Freddy Valdez.

Grade: C-

No.24-KANSAS CITY ROYALS

This is a young team that should get some assistance from RHP Brady Singer, OF Khalil Lee and catcher M.J. Melendez as they move forward. The prospect list doesn’t include many big names, but first baseman Nick Pratto, second baseman/shortstop Nicky Lopez, and outfielder Seuly Matias are all on the radar. Pitching prospects also include Daniel Lynch, a lefty, and right-handed Jackson Kowar. I think this is a club that could scuffle for a few more seasons. The top catcher is MJ Melendez. Kyle Isbel and Brewer Hicklen offer outfield depth to an organization still looking to turn their roster around.

Grade: C-

No. 25-PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

Trading Sixto Sanchez really impacts the Phillies farm system. Alex Bohm is a quality third baseman and probably now tops their prospect chart. Adonis Medina now becomes the top rated pitcher, with Adam Haseley the top outfielder in the system. All are above average prospects. Spencer Howard, JoJo Romero, and Francisco Morales offers some pitching depth. I have been very disappointed with the lack of progress by one-time phenom outfielder Mickey Moniak. This will be a big year for him to show if he can play. Shortstop Luis Garcia is a fine prospect. Other outfielders include Matt Vierling and Jhailyn Ortiz.

Grade: C-

No. 26-BALTIMORE ORIOLES

I still consider Austin Hays a rookie and I hope he returns this year in good health. He will be joined soon by a very underrated Yusniel Diaz in the outfield. Lefty D.L. Hall is formidable as a top pitching prospect and third baseman Ryan Mountcastle may be of help. For me, Diaz is a very under the radar, athletic outfielder with huge upside. Ryan McKenna and D J Steward get some buzz in the Orioles outfield as well.  Other than Hall, top pitching prospects include lefty Keegan Akin, right-hander Grayson Rodriguez, and righty Dean Kramer. Right-hander Hunter Harvey may help in the area of most need for the Orioles, as their pitching has been woeful for a few years. But really, I don’t see many pitchers in the system ready to step up as soon as this year, when they really need the mound help. Dillon Tate is with the club as a right-handed pitching prospect as well.

Grade: C-

No. 27-MILWAUKEE BREWERS

Trades have depleted some of the depth, but Brewers fans are going to love watching second baseman Keston Hiura hit. Outfielder Corey Ray is a disappointment for me, but the team still hopes to see him blossom. I’m a huge fan of both versatile infielder/outfielder Mauricio Dubon and third baseman Lucas Erceg. Brice Turang is a very highly rated shortstop, and a player I believe has a nice future. Outfielder Tristen Lutz may be able to make up for some of the depth the team lost by trading Monte Harrison and Lewis Brinson. Other outfielders include Trent Grisham, Micah Bello and Joe Gray. Righty Zack Brown and lefty Aaron Ashby are pitching hopefuls. The system remains thin in quality prospect pitching.

Grade: C-

No. 28-BOSTON RED SOX

They really don’t need a solid farm system, do they? Well, yes, they do. But they don’t have nearly the depth and breath of other clubs. All they do is win at the big league level. Three players stand out to me. Third baseman/first baseman Michael Chavis reminds me of Jeff Bagwell when he came up with the Red Sox. Lefty Darwinzon Hernandez may be able to help at the major league level, and third baseman Bobby Dalbec may take over that role at some point. Shortstop Antonio Flores is joined by third basemen Danny Diaz and Triston Casas as infield depth. If teams need a third baseman, they should call Boston. They are loaded at that position. Lefty Jay Groome has to return from Tommy John surgery to show he can pitch. Righty Bryan Mata waits in the wings along with right-hander Mike Shawaryn. I would say Chavis may be their only prospect player currently major league ready. Nick Decker is a very young outfield prospect to know. There won’t be much additional help on the farm if the Red Sox have a position need. But their strength is in the youth that will continue to develop.

Grade: D+

No. 29-SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

I think this is a franchise in deep trouble. They have way too many high priced players that cannot contribute much longer and their farm system is void of top prospects. They have hope that catcher Joey Bart will live up to his hype. Shortstop Marco Luciano and Heliot Ramos are to be watched. Luciano is high on the Giants radar. Beyond Ramos, other outfielders include Alexander Canarios, Heath Quinn, Jairo Pomares, and Diego Rincones. Chris Shaw remains as an outfield prospect. The Giants need help at every position, but their farm system isn’t ready yet to answer the need to fill-in with quality players. Like so many other clubs, pitching depth in the organization really isn’t there. Perhaps righties Shaun Anderson, Sean Hjelle, Shaun Anderson, Gregory Santos along with someone like Logan Webb can help. Jacob Gonzalez may be their best third base prospect. The Giants have a long way to go to fill in gaps at the big league level.

Grade: D

No. 30-CHICAGO CUBS

We must not forget that this was a club that had Gleyber Torres and Jorge Soler in their system. They had Jeimer Candelario and Dan Vogelbach. And who could forget that Eloy Jimenez was signed by them out of the Dominican. But Cubs fans are able to say their club has won a World Series. Sometimes trades help a team get there. The current top prospect is shortstop Nico Hoerner. I think Cubs fans will enjoy watching him as well as catcher Miguel Amaya, outfielder Brennen Davis and probably outfielder Cole Rogederer, among others. Those are the Cubs of the future. But for the immediate future, there aren’t any Cubs prospects ready for graduation for the coming season. The greatest weakness may be in pitching. I would list righty Alex Lange and lefty Brailyn Marquez as bright spots. Righty Adbert Aizolay may help this year. Nelson Valesquez is a bright spot for outfield help, but he is years away. The Cubs can stand to shore up a farm system that was depleted with the trades of blue chip players.

Grade: D

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This week baseball lost Hall of Fame great Frank Robinson. The former Orioles, Reds, Giants and Indians (player-manager) player was a true baseball legend. Rest in peace, Frank Robinson.

Every week until the beginning of the baseball season I will provide fantasy baseball rankings.

This week I am providing my shortstop rankings for the 2019 season.

FANTASY BASEBALL SHORTSTOP RANKINGS FOR 2019

Francisco Lindor

Trea Turner

Manny Machado

Trevor Story

Javier Baez

Carlos Correa

Jean Segura

Gleyber Torres

Xander Bogaerts

Corey Seager

Raul Mondesi

Elvis Andrus

Jose Perraza

Jorge Polanco

Tim Anderson

Jurickson Profar

Andrelton Simmons

Amed Rosario

Luis Urias

Willy Adames

Paul DeJong

Marcus Semien

Didi Gregorius

Brandon Crawford

Freddy Galvis

Jonathan Villar

Troy Tulowitzki

Orlando Arcia

Dansby Swanson

Erik Gonzalez

Tim Beckham

Jordy Mercer

Nick Ahmed

Richie Martin

J T Riddle

Miguel Rojas

I hope you will listen to our ShortHops podcast every Friday at iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play or right here at ClubhouseCorner.com. Host Doug Hall and I discuss everything baseball with an emphasis on fantasy baseball every week.

Follow me on Twitter @BerniePleskoff.

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About the author

Bernie Pleskoff

Bernie Pleskoff

Bernie Pleskoff is a former professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Bernie's work has been featured on MLB Pipeline, MLB.com and FanRag Sports, among others. You can follow Bernie Pleskoff on Twitter @BerniePleskoff

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