Baseball’s minor leagues received the nickname “farm teams” and “farm clubs” in the 1930s by major league players when this system was formalized. For, the professional players joked that small towns were “growing players down on the farm like corn.” However, today no one laughs about these teams. They provide managers with skilled, confident, and experienced players who are prepared when opportunities to perform in the major leagues present themselves or when good substitutes for injured major league players are needed. The players who usually are the first to be called up are those on the triple-A teams.
Jim Callis has covered the drafts and prospects in farm teams since 1988. He and Jonathan Mayo and Mike Rosenbaum have posted the top 20 farm systems. Here are four teams listed at the top:
In 2019, Jim Callis ranked the Houston minor league at the top. They have been named Prospects of MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 list. There are more prospects on this team than on any other minor league team. Two right-handed pitchers, Forrest Whitley and Corbin Martin, along with two outfielders, Kyle Tucker and Yordan Alvarez, are likely to be called to the majors. In 2020, Collis, Mayo, and Rosenbaum placed the Tampa Bay Rays at the top with Wander Franco as the No. 1 overall prospect.
The winning of the National League Championship by the L.A. Dodgers has brought some recognition to their farm team’s victory in the Texas League championship of September 2018. (Incidentally, Justin Turner was on a minor league team before coming to the Dodgers.)
The Braves have two twenty-year-old left-handed pitchers not far removed from the Top 100. They are Joey Wentz and Kyle Mueller. The right-hander Ian Anderson also has a promising future. The Braves have a third-baseman, C.J. Anderson, who has much potential after making high batting averages. Outfielders Cristian Pache and Drew Waters are also young players with potential at just age 21.
The Pirates’ right-handed pitcher Mitch Keller is one of the top prospects in the game. The team itself has depth with Ke’Bryan Hayes, who plays third base, Cole Tucker at second base, and first baseman, Will Craig. The outfield also has great hitters in Jason Martin and Bryan Reynolds.