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American League

Looking at the 2020 status of the American League’s farm systems

As the American League fell in the 2019 World Series, teams all across the league were already planning ahead for the 2020 season and beyond. Each has developed a minor-league system of players, many of which have been biding their time as off-the-radar prospects just looking for a shot in the big show.

On the other hand, there are a small amount of top-tiered guys who are very well known and expected to eventually become competitors at the big-league level, some of which are being heralded as the sport’s next generation of superstars. Players like shortstop Wander Franco of the Tampa Bay Rays, outfielder Jared Kelenic of the Seattle Mariners, and shortstop Royce Lewis of the Minnesota Twins, among others, are all knocking on the doorstep of making it to the MLB on a full-time basis.

This article is going to dive into each of the AL divisions and take a look at each team’s farm system, seeing which prospects stand out at the top, which lower-level guys could break out just in time to make an impression in 2020.

American League East

Boston Red Sox
#1 prospect – Triston Casas, 1B/3B (#85 in 2019 Top 100 rankings)
Underrated – Noah Song, RHP

Even as the turmoil from the sign-stealing catastrophe for the Houston Astros has spread to the Boston Red Sox, this team still has a decently-bright future ahead of them, even with as bad of a farm system as it can get across the league.

Outside of corner infield slugger Triston Casas, the system for the Red Sox looks to be pretty bleak. Fellow third baseman Bobby Dalbec has become the household name in the minors even though he is not as highly ranked as Casas is, but he looks to be close to joining the big-league squad sometime in 2020.

New York Yankees
#1 prospect – Deivi Garcia, RHP (#62)
Underrated – Luis Medina, RHP

For the New York Yankees, their embarrassment of riches continues throughout most levels of their farm system, which is led by upstart super prospect Deivi Garcia, who’s name has been thrown around in a few trade packages for different superstars, like Josh Hader.

Including Garcia, the Yankees have built the top of their system mostly through the international market, as outfielders Jasson Dominguez and Estevan Florial, as well as right Luis Gil, were all signed in various years from outside of the country, showing how dedicated this team is to finding talent anywhere possible.

Baltimore Orioles
#1 prospect – Adley Rutschman, C (#6)
Underrated – Zac Lowther, LHP

As bad as their major-league roster currently is, fans of the Baltimore Orioles just need to hold out one or two more seasons before the reinforcements arrive, headlined by 2019 first overall selection, catcher Adley Rutschman.

Already having made it to Single-A ball, the second-year pro from Oregon State is exactly what this team needed to revamp its franchise. Outside of Rutschman, the next three prospects (Grayson Rodriguez, DL Hall, and Ryan Mountcastle) are all members of the Top 100 ranks, showing that the Orioles are almost back to being relevant again.

Tampa Bay Rays
#1 prospect – Wander Franco, SS (#1)
Underrated – John Doxakis, LHP

One of the best farm systems in all of baseball is headlined by a plethora of fantastic prospects, which include Franco and lefty/designated hitter Brendan McKay. The top six players in their team ranks are ranked within the league’s 100 best as well, showcasing a close-to-perfect developmental approach for a small-market franchise.

John Doxakis, who sits as the team’s 20th-best prospect, has the tools to slide in as mid-rotation starter (if he can correct his stressful windup and release) or as a flamethrower in the bullpen in a few years.

Toronto Blue Jays
#1 prospect – Nate Pearson, RHP (#10)
Underrated – Alejandro Kirk, C

Even as Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, and others graduated their prospect status in 2019, this system still remains one of the better ones across the AL. Headlined by right-hander Nate Pearson, who is a draft and develop prospect that has reached as high as 104 MPH in the Fall Stars Game, Toronto has a few weapons stashed away in their minor leagues that should be joining their young core very soon.

Not even the best catcher in the team’s system, Alejandro Kirk projects to be a bat-first backstop in need of a serious acclimation process on the defensive side – if this can happen, he has the tools to turn himself into one of the better catching prospects before reaching the majors in 2021 – ‘22.

American League Central

Minnesota Twins
#1 prospect – Royce Lewis, SS (#9)
Underrated – Blayne Enlow, RHP

The top of the Minnesota Twins’ system is filled with uber prospects, as both Lewis and outfielder Alex Kirilloff are getting very close to making impactful debuts for the Central-winning Twins. Players behind them, like Jordan Balazovic and Trevor Larnach, are not far behind them either.

The Twins have played it very well as a mid-market franchise looking to compete in one of the easier divisions in baseball, as of the last decade. By relying on drafting techniques and scouting, they were able to identify prospects like Blayne Enlow, who just needs to develop a consistent curveball before jumping up onto people’s radars for 2020 and beyond.

Cleveland Indians
#1 prospect – Nolan Jones, 3B (#37)
Underrated – Raynel Delgado, 2B

In the team’s quest to retake their hold of the AL Central title, the Indians boast a middle-of-the-pack farm system, topped with three Top 100 players – Nolan Jones, Triston McKenzie (RHP), and Tyler Freeman (SS).

Jones looks to be the closest of the three to make his MLB debut, even though he has not played in Triple-A yet. A bit farther down the list boasts a real gem, as second baseman Raynel Delgado’s switch-hitting abilities far overshadow his lack of a definite position in the diamond.

Chicago White Sox
#1 prospect – Luis Robert, OF (#3)
Underrated – Konnor Pilkington, LHP

The best outfield prospect in all of MiLB is Luis Robert, and he fits in perfectly with the youth that is taking over the Chicago White Sox. Fresh off a contract extension, Robert is ready to get to work, hopefully at the big-league level sometime early in 2020.

Besides a cool name, lefty Konnor Pilkington has the ceiling of a mid-rotation starter down the road for the White Sox, which could slot in nicely next to Dallas Keuchel and Michael Kopech in 2021.

Detroit Tigers
#1 prospect – Casey Mize, RHP (#7)
Underrated – Parker Meadows, OF

One of the worst teams over the past few seasons, the Detroit Tigers have taken the ‘need’ to lose to heart, but their farm system has rebounded quite nicely because of it. Lead by household name Casey Mize, the Tigers may actually have a decently-bright future ahead of them.

Parker Meadows has baseball in his blood, being the younger brother of Austin Meadows, and his 20-20 potential has him creeping up prospect rankings all across the league. If he continues his power breakthrough, he will be a great addition to the Tigers just as they are gearing up to compete again.

Kansas City Royals
#1 prospect – Bobby Whitt, SS (#8)
Underrated – Michael Gigliotti, OF

Like the Tigers, the Kansas City Royals have struggled over the past few seasons, ‘tanking’ their way to high draft picks and a refilled farm. But, with only their top three prospects in the top 100, they need a bit more firepower at the top.

Bobby Whitt is a few years down the road, but Michael Gigliotti looks to be much closer to the majors, and his defensive abilities make him an interesting outfielder for this team in their future.

American League West

Houston Astros
#1 prospect – Forrest Whitley, RHP (#16)
Underrated – Ross Adolph, OF

Having been talking about his name for what feels like forever, Forrest Whitley still remains at the top of the Astros’ system, which will not be seeing a first or second-round selection the next two seasons as punishment for their cheating scandal.

Acquired from the New York Mets in the J.D. Davis trade, Ross Adolph sits towards the bottom of the Astros’ 30-best prospects, but his potential to put up 20-20 seasons should hopefully overshadow his lengthy injury history.

Oakland Athletics
#1 prospect – Jesus Luzardo, LHP (#18)
Underrated – Skye Bolt, OF

As one of the league’s stringiest teams in terms of money and investments, the Oakland Athletics sit in the middle of the pack for farm systems. As Jesus Luzardo, A.J. Puk, and Sean Murphy all gained valuable MLB time, this team’s system is poised for a drop off once those three graduate.

To help with that graduation, the best name on this list – Skye Bolt – is poised to recoup his value and demonstrate that he is more than just a speedy, defensive outfielder – his bat can play too.

Los Angeles Angels
#1 prospect – Jo Adell, OF (#5)
Underrated – Erik Rivera, LHP/OF

Sitting towards the bottom of the MLB in prospect potential, the Los Angeles Angels have one big card left in their pocket – outfielder Jo Adell – who should be joining Mike Trout in the bigs very soon.

Outside of Adell, two-way prospect Erik Rivera looks to follow the path that was paved for him by Shohei Ohtani, as this team believes that Rivera has the stuff to play both ways as he makes his way through the minors after being drafted this past year.

Seattle Mariners
#1 prospect – Jarred Kelenic, OF (#13)
Underrated – Juan Then, RHP

Having been tossed aside by the hapless Mets, the Seattle Mariners were more than happy to get Jarred Kelenic in return for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz after the 2018 draft. Looked at now as a real steal by Seattle, Kelenic is already at the Double-A level, looking to race up to the majors.

Juan Then is still looking to make it through a full season in the minors due to injuries, but his potential puts up as a back-end starter for Seattle in the near future, which would help address one of the team’s weakest elements.

Texas Rangers
#1 prospect – Josh Jung, 3B (#55)
Underrated – Randy Florentino, C

While not necessarily bad, the Texas Rangers’ farm system is nothing special to write home about. Headlined by 2019 draftee Josh Jung, the Rangers are lacking a true talent at the top of their system.

Not saying that Jung is not that guy, but catcher Randy Florentino, who currently sits as the team’s 24th-best prospect, is refining the tools to be a catcher and is slowly putting his offensive and defensive skills together. While never probably catching Jung on the system ladder, it would not be surprising to see him make a run at being the team’s catcher in 2024 and beyond.