Ranking the top-five and bottom-five farm systems in MLB this year

Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Paul Skenes (30) in the fourth inning of the spring training game against the Tampa Bay Rays at CoolToday Park.
Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Paul Skenes (30) in the fourth inning of the spring training game against the Tampa Bay Rays at CoolToday Park.

With the 2024 MLB season already nearly a quarter of the way through, it's almost time for those season-altering call-ups to change the trajectory of your favorite franchise. Of course, that's being very optimistic. In all reality, there will be numerous teams that don't see any change in production even after calling their top prospects to the bigs. Unfortunately, some teams just have much better talent available at the minor league levels currently.

So, which group does your favorite organization fall under? Will your team be catapulted to new heights later this year thanks to a promising young rookie, or will they be subject to another season of irrelevancy after no one makes a difference?

Here are our picks for the five best and worst farm systems right now in MLB.

*prospect rankings courtesy of

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Best Farm Systems in MLB:

5) Washington Nationals

Top 5 prospects:

  • OF Dylan Crews (#6 prospect per

  • OF James Wood (12)

  • 3B Brady House (43)

  • 3B Yohandy Morales (97)

  • RHP Cade Cavalli (N/A)

While the future offense in Washington will be one to behold, behind the likes of Crews, Wood, House, Morales, Lile, Hassell, and Vaquero all safely in Washington's minor league system, the pitching is what brings this group down. They're top prospect on the mound is coming off Tommy John surgery and their two next best prospects at the position are both still in Single-A. There's a lot to love about the future of Washington, but it just might be a little too dependent on the health of Cavalli.

4) Pittsburgh Pirates

Top 5 prospects:

  • RHP Paul Skenes (3)

  • 2B Termarr Johnson (39)

  • RHP Jared Jones (55)

  • LHP Anthony Solometo (73)

  • RHP Bubba Chandler (83)

Having five players in the top-100 prospects is hard enough, but also having four of them be pitchers is astounding. The Pirates already have a flurry of promising young talent on the offensive end in the bigs. Sure, Ke'Bryan Hayes, Oneil Cruz, and Henry Davis have not lived up to expectations thus far, but they're all still very young with tons of room to grow.

Pirates fans should feel great about their pitching staff moving forward though. Jared Jones has looked great in his short stint in MLB. Bubba Chandler is dominating Double-A to the tune of 10.4 strikeouts per nine innings. And Paul Skenes might be the best pitcher on the planet; he just hasn't been called up yet. I mean, the man has a 0.78 ERA at the highest level of the minors and hasn't even been pitching professionally for two full years. That's nutty. Skenes alone could warrant the Pirates being near the top of this list. Luckily, the Pirates have a few more stars up their sleeve.

3) Milwaukee Brewers

Top 5 prospects:

  • OF Jackson Chourio (2)

  • RHP Jacob Misiorowski (29)

  • C Jeferson Quero (31)

  • 3B/1B Tyler Black (41)

  • LHP Robert Gasser (N/A)

This is by far the best Brewers minor league system in nearly a decade. This list doesn't even do the Brew Crew justice since Joey Ortiz was called up to the Majors this year and has been dominating the league to the tune of a 140 OPS+. While there are still questions about Misiorowski's control issues as well as Gasser's and Carlos Rodriguez's ceilings at the MLB level, the pitching for Milwaukee should be mostly fine for years to come. After all, Freddy Peralta, Bryan Hudson, Bryse Wilson, and Elvis Peguero are all still under 29 years old. That's plenty of time for the team's top prospects to develop and start producing in MLB.

2) Chicago Cubs

Top 5 prospects:

  • OF Pete Crow-Armstrong (14)

  • RHP Cade Horton (22)

  • OF Owen Caissie (42)

  • SS/2B Matt Shaw (48)

  • OF Kevin Alcantara (57)

Talent-wise, this group is very reminiscent of the team's prospect pool from the early 2010's that eventually wound up winning a World Series. Not only do the Cubs have two players in the top-25, they also have four players in the top-50, five players in the top-60, and six players in the top-70. That's right. I couldn't even fit all of their top-100 prospects on the list.

Also not shown is how deep their pitching prospects are. Outside of Cade Horton, players like Ben Brown, Drew Gray, and Michael Arias have all shown potential to be effective big leaguers as well. Perhaps this team has more long-term dynasty potential than even those 2016 Cubs.

1) Baltimore Orioles

Top 5 prospects:

  • SS/2B Jackson Holliday (1)

  • C/1B Samuel Basallo (15)

  • 3B/1B Coby Mayo (26)

  • OF Heston Kjerstad (28)

  • OF Enrique Bradfield Jr. (N/A)

What a shocker! The team that has one of the frontrunners for AL Rookie of the Year, a former No. 1 overall pick, and two more prospects with over a 1.000 OPS at Triple-A is at the top of the rankings.

The Baltimore Orioles have had the best farm system in baseball for quite some time and it only seems to get stronger as more and more of their prospects leave the barn to join the big league club. Still, despite Holliday's struggles at the Major League level, he's still one of the most highly-touted prospects for a reason and should see tremendous growth with a little more time.

Worst Farm Systems in MLB:

5) Atlanta Braves

Top 5 prospects:

  • RHP AJ Smith-Shawver (61)

  • RHP Hurston Waldrep (81)

  • RHP Spencer Schwellenbach (N/A)

  • RHP JR Ritchie (N/A)

  • RHP Owen Murphy (N/A)

The Atlanta Braves have numerous young stars on their Major League roster already, so their window certainly isn't closing anytime soon. However, there are questions about the future if players start regressing or injuries start to pile up. That could wind up spelling doom for the Braves, who have just two prospects in's top-100, and only very few bats at the top of their farm system should players in the big leagues start to get hurt.

4) Kansas City Royals

Top 5 prospects:

  • C Blake Mitchell (84)

  • 3B Cayden Wallace (N/A)

  • RHP Ben Kudrna (N/A)

  • LHP Frank Mozzicato (N/A)

  • RHP Mason Barnett (N/A)

There is a chance that the Royals climb out of this farm system hole. International prospects Ramon Ramirez and Yandel Ricardo could breakout and give the Royals' farm a much needed kick, but that's still yet to be seen. As it stands, the Royals just don't have enough proven commodities in their lower levels to feel good about their future, and the fall of prospects like Beck Way, who was part of the deal that sent Andrew Benintendi to the Yankees, are just more signs pointing in the wrong direction.

3) Oakland Athletics

Top 5 prospects:

  • SS Jacob Wilson (60)

  • RHP Luis Morales (N/A)

  • OF Denzel Clarke (N/A)

  • SS Darell Hernaiz (N/A)

  • C Daniel Susac (N/A)

There isn't much going right for the A's. If the hope is to be ready for a monster first season in Vegas to get fans interested, they aren't doing that very well. The fact is that most of their top young talent is already at the Major League level, which can either turn out tremendously as they develop skills against the best possible competition, or fail miserably as they never adjust to their counterparts. The former could still turn out true given that the A's don't have a terrible record thus far (sitting just one game under .500, 17-18). However, there also is not much hope for long-term success given their farm system's current talent pool.

2) Houston Astros

Top 5 prospects:

  • OF Jacob Melton (90)

  • OF Luis Baez (N/A)

  • RHP Spencer Arighetti (N/A)

  • SS Brice Matthews (N/A)

  • 3B/2B Zach Dezenzo (N/A)

The Houston Astros have not had a great farm system for quite some time now and perhaps that lack of attention to their lower levels is finally starting to take its toll. The team currently sits at fourth in the American League West, behind the Oakland Athletics. That's not a good sign.

Outside of Ronel Blanco and the injured Christian Javier, this team doesn't seem to have much going for it on the pitching side either. Framber Valdez and Josh Hader are the only lefties on the roster currently and both have been underwhelming to say the least. While the team's No. 10 prospect LHP Colton Gordon could make the jump, he currently holds a 9 ERA in Triple-A this year after posting a 4.63 ERA in 35 innings in Triple-A last year. He's clearly not ready yet and even if he was, it would do little to solve the bullpen problems the team is having.

1) Los Angeles Angels

Top 5 prospects:

  • OF Nelson Rada (N/A)

  • RHP Caden Dana (N/A)

  • SS/2B Kyren Paris (N/A)

  • RHP Ben Joyce (N/A)

  • RHP Barrett Kent (N/A)

Yes, not one Angel is in's top-100 prospects. I shouldn't have to say much more. While the argument could be made that the Angels don't have any great prospects because they call all their best prospects up immediately, that isn't necessarily a great plan if you want to have long-term success. Former top prospects Zach Neto and Nolan Schanuel both made it to Anaheim in less than a full year.

While there are some potentially talented players on this list, particularly from the international pool where nearly half of the Angels' top-30 prospects were signed from, there just isn't enough experience with this farm system to inspire any confidence. That's why they rank dead last.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: MLB farm systems: Ranking the 5 best and worst baseball farm teams