MLB.com Columnist

Jim Callis

Midseason ranking of MLB's Top 10 farm systems

After major prospect haul at Trade Deadline, rebuilding White Sox lead list, followed by Braves

Midseason ranking of MLB's Top 10 farm systems

Heading into the Winter Meetings last December, the White Sox were coming off four straight losing seasons and had a so-so farm system hoping for a boost from a promising Draft. Fast forward eight months, and Chicago has the worst record in the American League along with a shot at the No. 1 overall pick in next year's Draft for the first time since 1977.

While the big league club has yet to show any signs of getting better, the system has improved dramatically. It now ranks as the best in the game, up from No. 3 in the preseason and headlined by eight players on MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 Prospect list. None of them were Chicago property before the Winter Meetings.

General Manager Rick Hahn got things started at the Meetings by sending Chris Sale to the Red Sox for four Minor Leaguers -- including second baseman Yoan Moncada (No. 1 on the Top 100), baseball's best position prospect, and right-hander Michael Kopech (No. 12), now its top pitching prospect. The next day, he shipped Adam Eaton to the Nationals for three righties, including Reynaldo Lopez (No. 59) and Lucas Giolito (No. 60).

MLB's Top 10 farm systems
Rank Preseason Midseason
1 Braves White Sox
2 Yankees Braves
3 White Sox Padres
4 Padres Yankees
5 Brewers Rays
6 Dodgers A's
7 Pirates Phillies
8 Rockies Brewers
9 Reds Astros
10 Rays Dodgers

In May, the White Sox landed outfielder Luis Robert (No. 26), the best Cuban prospect since Moncada, by giving him a $26 million bonus and paying a matching amount as a penalty for exceeding their international bonus pool. Hahn was active again in the weeks leading up to Monday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, making the first big move by dealing Jose Quintana to the Cubs for outfielder Eloy Jimenez (No. 7) and right-hander Dylan Cease (No. 67). He later packaged Todd Frazier, David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle to the Yankees in exchange for four players, most notably outfielder Blake Rutherford (No. 45).

Right-hander Alec Hansen and catcher Zack Collins, products of the 2016 Draft, just missed the list, as did righty Dane Dunning, another part of the Eaton trade. Chicago spent its top two picks in this year's Draft on two of the best power bats available, third baseman Jake Burger and first baseman Gavin Sheets. The organization still believes in recent first-rounders Carson Fulmer and Zack Burdi, both righties, and acquired two more in first baseman Casey Gillaspie (from the Rays on July 27 for Dan Jennings) and lefty Ian Clarkin (part of the haul for Frazier & Co.).

The White Sox now have enviable depth with both hitters and pitchers, with talent coursing through all levels of the Minors. Their farm system hasn't been this strong since Baseball America ranked it as the game's best entering the 2001 season. Four years later, they won their first World Series since 1917 after trading several of those prospects for veterans.

While Chicago still has a lot of rebuilding to do, the pieces are in place and its future looks considerably brighter. Here are nine other farm systems poised to deliver a lot of help, as ranked by MLBPipeline:

2. Braves
Preseason Top 10 rank: No. 1
Prospects on Top 100: 8
8. Ronald Acuna, OF
19. Ozzie Albies, 2B/SS
25. Kolby Allard, LHP
35. Kyle Wright, RHP
38. Mike Soroka, RHP
44. Kevin Maitan, SS
57. Ian Anderson, RHP
96. Luiz Gohara, LHP

The Braves are the only organization that can match the White Sox's eight Top 100 Prospects and rival them as the best system in baseball. Acuna, Albies and Maitain are a fabulous triumvirate of position prospects, and they are a reflection of Atlanta's international efforts, and the pitching depth is even more impressive. Allard and Soroka have thrived in Double-A as teenagers, Anderson could jump on the fast track as well, and some clubs considered Wright the best prospect in the 2017 Draft.

Mayo on Braves' top prospects

3. Padres
Preseason Top 10 rank: No. 4
Prospects on Top 100: 6
29. MacKenzie Gore, LHP
43. Cal Quantrill, RHP
55. Luis Urias, SS/2B
58. Fernando Tatis Jr., SS
80. Adrian Morejon, LHP
83. Anderson Espinoza, RHP

Like the White Sox, the Padres have acquired the bulk of their best prospects in the past 14 months. Gore (2017 first round), Quantrill ('16 first round) and left-handers Eric Lauer ('16 first round) and Joey Lucchesi ('16 fourth round) were drafted; Tatis, Espinoza and first baseman Josh Naylor arrived via trades; and lefty Adrian Morejon, righty Michel Baez and outfielder Jorge Ona are Cubans who signed for a combined $21 million (plus a matching tax penalty) last year.

Top Prospects: Gore, SD

Prospect Points
100 points to the team with the No. 1 prospect, 99 to the team with No. 2 and so on down the line, below are the teams' ranks in terms of "prospect points."
TEAM # PP
White Sox 8 531
Braves 8 486
Rays 6 295
Astros 5 269
Phillies 6 260
Padres 6 258
Dodgers 5 240
Cardinals 5 236
Yankees 5 231
Reds 5 227
Blue Jays 3 218
Twins 4 183
Pirates 3 174
Rockies 3 165
Indians 2 162
A's 4 160
Mets 2 159
Nationals 2 155
Brewers 6 154
Red Sox 2 150
Rangers 2 101
Tigers 4 68
Mariners 1 54
Orioles 1 51
Giants 1 35
D-backs 1 28
Angels 0 0
Cubs 0 0
Marlins 0 0
Royals 0 0

4. Yankees
Preseason Top 10 rank: No. 2
Prospects on Top 100: 5
3. Gleyber Torres, INF
27. Clint Frazier, OF
61. Chance Adams, RHP
90. Estevan Florial, OF
93. Justus Sheffield, LHP

The Yankees had the game's deepest farm system before trading Rutherford and Clarkin to the White Sox and then outfielder Dustin Fowler, shortstop/outfielder Jorge Mateo and right-hander James Kaprielian to the Athletics for Sonny Gray. They still may have the deepest, with an abundance of infielders (led by Torres, Tyler Wade, Miguel Andujar) and a seemingly endless supply of power arms (Adams, Domingo Acevedo, Albert Abreu, Jorge Guzman, Freicer Perez, Matt Sauer and on and on and on). Look for Florial, who has the highest ceiling among New York farmhands, to start climbing the Top 100.

5. Rays
Preseason Top 10 rank: No. 10
Prospects on Top 100: 6
14. Brent Honeywell, RHP
18. Willy Adames, SS
23. Brendan McKay, 1B/LHP
75. Jesus Sanchez, OF
84. Jake Bauers, OF/1B
97. Jose De Leon, RHP

The Rays are one of just three organizations with three prospects ranked among baseball's 25 best. Honeywell is nearly ready and in the discussion of the game's best pitching prospect; Adames has blossomed into an all-around shortstop since arriving from the Tigers in the David Price deal three years ago; and McKay is the most accomplished two-way star in college baseball history. Tampa Bay has nice depth behind them, including international signees Sanchez and shortstop Wander Franco and trade acquisitions Bauers and De Leon.

6. Athletics
Preseason Top 10 rank: Unranked
Prospects on Top 100: 4
37. Franklin Barreto, SS/2B
39. A.J. Puk, LHP
77. Dustin Fowler, OF
91. Matt Chapman, 3B

The A's vaulted from outside the top 10 to No. 6 thanks to two nifty July trades. Getting the high upsides of Fowler, Mateo and Kaprielian in exchange for Gray generated more headlines, but adding left-hander Jesus Luzardo and shortstop Sheldon Neuse from the Nationals for Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson also could make a huge impact. Though Oakland has done better making deals than drafting in recent years, recent first-rounders Puk (2016), Chapman ('14) and outfielder Austin Beck ('17) have high ceilings.

Mayo on prospects in Gray deal

7. Phillies
Preseason Top 10 rank: Unranked
Prospects on Top 100: 6
33. Mickey Moniak, OF
52. Sixto Sanchez, RHP
56. Scott Kingery, 2B
62. J.P. Crawford, SS
71. Jorge Alfaro C
72. Rhys Hoskins 1B

The Phillies have several prospects on the upswing. Sanchez may have more helium than any Minor League pitcher, Kingery is chasing a 30-30 season and Hoskins' 62 homers rank second in the Minors to teammate Dylan Cozens' 63 over the past two seasons. Philadelphia also is banking on former first-rounders Moniak (No. 1 overall in 2016), Crawford ('13) and outfielder Adam Haseley ('17), plus parts of the Cole Hamels trade package in Alfaro and outfielder Nick Williams.

Mayo on Phillies' new prospects

8. Brewers
Preseason Top 10 rank: No. 5
Prospects on Top 100: 6 
15. Lewis Brinson, OF
68. Corey Ray, OF
81. Luis Ortiz, RHP
94. Brandon Woodruff), RHP
95. Keston Hiura, 2B
99. Isan Diaz, 2B/SS

No. 1 in these midseason rankings a year ago, the Brewers have dropped to No. 8 because they graduated Orlando Arcia and Josh Hader to the Majors and several of their prospects are having so-so 2017 performances. Yet they still have a lot of talent, with Hiura and outfielder Tristen Lutz arriving via the '17 Draft and '16 fourth-round right-hander Corbin Burnes already reaching Double-A while posting numbers as good as any pitcher in the Minors.

9. Astros
Preseason Top 10 rank: Unranked
Prospects on Top 100: 5
10. Kyle Tucker, OF
40. Forrest Whitley, RHP
46. Franklin Perez, RHP
54. Derek Fisher, OF
86. J.B. Bukauskas, RHP

The Astros used their system to rebuild from baseball's worst team to a consistent contender, and they're not done yet. Tucker (2015), Whitley ('16), Fisher ('14) and Bukauskas ('17) all were first-round or supplemental first-round choices in the past four Drafts, as were big league graduate Alex Bregman ('15) and outfielder Daz Cameron ('15). Strong full-season debuts by two Cubans, outfielder/first baseman Yordan Alvarez and left-hander Cionel Perez, plus breakouts by corner infielder Colin Moran, catcher Jake Rogers and right-hander Hector Perez also have helped.

Top Prospects: Tucker, HOU

10. Dodgers
Preseason Top 10 rank: No. 6
Prospects on Top 100: 5
13. Walker Buehler, RHP
28. Alex Verdugo, OF
51. Yadier Alvarez, RHP
85. Jeren Kendall, OF
88. Yusniel Diaz, OF

The Dodgers would have ranked five spots higher if they hadn't sent second baseman/outfielder Willie Calhoun, right-hander A.J. Alexy and infielder Brendon Davis to the Rangers for Yu Darvish at the Trade Deadline. Still, it's hard to argue with the Darvish pickup, and they didn't have to part with any of their elite prospects in Buehler, Verdugo and Alvarez. Los Angeles has done good work on the international market, with big-money investments in Alvarez, Diaz and outfielder Starling Heredia and relative bargains in catcher Keibert Ruiz and shortstop-turned-pitcher Dennis Santana.

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.