A look into how the American League is set up came out recently. For the National League, a good amount of the teams have a ton of strong prospects in their system, but only six of the top 20 prospects are on NL teams.
With the San Diego Padres leading the pack in terms of having the best system in all of baseball, they are carrying the water for teams like the Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs, both of which ranks near or at the bottom of the cumulative list.
This article is going to dive into each of the National League divisions and take a look at each team’s farm system, seeing which prospects stand out at the top and which lower-level guys could break out just in time to make an impression in 2020.
National League East
#1 prospect – Carter Kieboom, SS/2B (#20 in 2019 Top 100 rankings)
Underrated – Matt Cronin, LHP
Having surfaced in the big leagues for 39 at-bats in his first taste of MLB action, Carter Kieboom is exactly what the Washington Nationals needs in their system to keep their hopes of the postseason alive for 2020 and beyond. With third baseman Anthony Rendon having skipped town for a payday out on the West Coast with the Los Angeles Angels, the Nats are without their best bat.
Kieboom’s path to regular playing time in the majors may be slightly difficult to find, as Trea Turner is entrenched as the team’s shortstop of the past, present, and future, and with both Howie Kendrick (odd fit, but is next man up) and Starlin Castro both having resigned/signed this offseason, second base has a lot of bodies tied up in it.
With Eric Thames taking the starting time that Kendrick had over at first base, Kieboom’s bat will need to be what keeps him in the majors as a solid bench bat, although that move could hurt his development.
In the minors, Matt Cronin kept his success as an Arkansas Razorback chugging right along into A-ball, turning 17 games into one save and a 0.82 ERA. While having just been drafted in 2019, Cronin’s path to the majors should not take all that long, seeing as though he is already 22 years old.
#1 prospect – Alec Bohm, 3B/1B (#34)
Underrated – Simon Muzziotti, OF
The best third base prospect in all of baseball resides in the Philadelphia Phillies’ farm system, as Alec Bohm tore the cover off the ball in his second season in an MLB organization. Drafted in 2018 with the third overall pick, Bohm put together a healthy season that saw him rise from Single-A ball up to Double-A ball.
Bohm is the corner infielder of the future for the National League East organization, and while he projects to be a third baseman, his flexibility to potentially play first affords him some experience at different positions on the diamond. 2021 looks to be the first time that Bohm will play for the Phillies, although a strong 2020 season could expedite his appearance.
Another prospect destined to reach the big leagues in a year or two, Simon Muzziotti suited up at Advanced-A level ball this past season, showcasing his above-average defensive abilities while his power numbers improve by the day.
New York Mets
#1 prospect – Ronny Mauricio, SS (#80)
Underrated – Shervyen Newton, INF
Even though he has been on the fast track to the majors, shortstop Ronny Mauricio should not keep fans waiting, at least for the time being. 2022 – 2023 looks to be the realistic time-frame to see the 2017 international signee make the ascent to the majors.
A really solid player that has the intangibles to be an above-average hitter and fielder, Mauricio gives the New York Mets something to look forward to a few years down the road.
Shervyen Newton may be able to form two pieces of the Mets’ infield situation in 2022, as the strong-throwing infield prospect is finding his offensive wings as he bids his time at the lower levels of minor-league baseball.
#1 prospect – Cristian Pache, OF (#11)
Underrated – William Contreras, C
Boasting a remarkable three 70-grade elements to his game, according to MLB.com, outfielder Cristian Pache is looking to be yet another steal of a prospect for the Atlanta Braves. His arm strength, fielding abilities, and speed are the three-best elements of his game, and his offensive skill set is not far behind.
The younger brother of Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras, William Contreras has a high ceiling and an even higher set of expectations. While having his brother’s abilities cast a heavy shadow over his skills so far, the younger Contreras catcher looks to have a lot of his older brother’s skills, many of which the Braves can use when he comes up to the majors in a few years.
#1 prospect – Sixto Sanchez, RHP (#22)
Underrated – Nick Neidert, RHP
The prized possession when the team traded away catcher J.T. Realmuto to the Phillies, the Miami Marlins’ Sixto Sanchez is turning into the type of ace-caliber arm that they had in mind when they acquired him. While his workload in 2018 was limited a bit due to injury concerns, his 2019 season saw him produce at A+ and AA ball.
Projected to finally make his big-league debut after dealing with a torn meniscus, right Nick Neidert has middle rotation arm written all over him, something that the Marlins do not have enough of. Acquired in the Dee Gordon trade with the Seattle Mariners, Neidert has solid control and a plus changeup, mixing in his hard stuff to be a very deceptive arm in the Marlins’ system.
National League Central
St. Louis Cardinals
#1 prospect – Dylan Carlson, OF (#24)
Underrated – Treyjn Fletcher, OF
As a switch hitter, outfielder Dylan Carlson looks to be a solid addition into the starting outfielder ranks for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2020, especially after the trade of Jose Martinez and the team seeming to have moved on from Marcell Ozuna, although he still remains a free agent.
Carlson is a toolsy player with all of the areas of his game at 50+, and, just like underrated outfielder Treyjn Fletcher, boast an above-average arm from the outfield. For Fletcher, he has a few pitches that he can use if he is brought up as a two-way player, but the team looks to be determined to have him refine his craft as an outfielder, having only reached rookie-level ball so far.
#1 prospect – Brice Turang, SS/2B (#98)
Underrated – Drew Rasmussen, RHP
With their farm system still trying to recover from the haul that it took to acquire National League MVP Christian Yelich, the Milwaukee Brewers barely boast a top 100 prospect, as infielder Brice Turang ranks 98th. With everyday shortstop written all over him with plus-plus speed and an improving bat, Turang looks to be the real deal, just in a few years.
Drew Rasmussen projects to be a solid bullpen arm for the team as soon as 2020, and his 70-grade fastball plays more out of the ‘pen than the rotation, where he put in most of his time in 2019.
#1 prospect – Nico Hoerner, SS (#47)
Underrated – Christopher Morel, 3B
Compared to Ian Kinsler, shortstop Nico Hoerner got a taste of the MLB in 78 at-bats last year, showing fans what he can bring to the table. The 47th-best prospect in the minors, Hoerner is everything that the Cubs need and should have him be their starting shortstop in 2020.
Christopher Morel is being projected to follow the defensive path that Kris Bryant looks to be on, starting out at third but eventually transitioning to center field. For Morel, his defensive abilities should make any sort of a defensive switch quite easy to handle.
#1 prospect – Hunter Greene, RHP (#49)
Underrated – Ivan Johnson, SS/2B
While dealing with injuries to start his professional career, Hunter Greene still projects to be one of the better starters this league has to offer in a few years. Sidelined by Tommy John surgery in 2019, Greene’s development has been slowed up a bit.
On a similar time-frame like that of Greene, Ivan Johnson is set to make his MLB debut around 2022, and if the infielder makes a full-on switch to second base, then his limited defensive abilities should be overshadowed by his strong bat.
#1 prospect – Mitch Keller, RHP (#26)
Underrated – Lolo Sanchez, OF
11 starts and a 7.13 ERA are contrasting stats for Mitch Keller and the Pittsburgh Pirates, as they are looking to develop their next rotational ace. While Keller is that guy for this team, he may just take a little longer than hoped.
A speedy centerfielder who struggles with anything offspeed, Lolo Sanchez projects as a typical leadoff guy who should not be expected to produce any power numbers in a couple of years for the Pirates at the MLB level.
National League West
Los Angeles Dodgers
#1 prospect – Gavin Lux, SS/2B (#2)
Underrated – Cristian Santana, 3B/1B
Everyone knows who Gavin Lux is now, especially after his brief appearance in the MLB for the Los Angeles Dodgers. A prospect that has had a big-time following due to his big-time potential, Lux should become LA’s starting 2B as Max Muncy slides over to first base, permanently.
One of the stronger arms in the Dodgers’ system, Cristian Santana is a Double-A hot-corner specialist that has a power stroke and may turn into solid trade bait if anything for LA, especially with how fast his expected appearance in the MLB keeps getting pushed up.
San Diego Padres
#1 prospect – Mackenzie Gore, LHP (#4)
Underrated – Joshua Mears, OF
The league’s best system boasts five players in the top 100, led by Mackenzie Gore at #4. For Gore, a 2020 debut is certainly in the cards, especially with a 9-2, 1.69 ERA and 20 starts stat line for 2019 across two levels.
A bit of a slow bloomer, Joshua Mears has been pushed down in the Padres’ farm system due to their talent at the top, something that should help take the spotlight off Mears and help him develop into an RBI machine in the outfield.
#1 prospect – Brendan Rodgers, INF (#14)
Underrated – Reid Humphreys, RHP
Shoulder surgery ended Brendan Rodgers’ 2019 season, but not after he showed what he can do in an infield with Nolan Arenado. With trade rumors swirling for NA, Rodgers may need to be the face that carries this team in 2020 and beyond.
Headlined by a dominant fastball and cutter, Reid Humphreys projects to be a power-arm, set-up guy for Colorado as soon as this year.
#1 prospect – Alek Thomas, OF (#59)
Underrated – Liover Peguero, SS
First five prospects are in the top 100 is a good thing, but the bad thing is 4/5 are outfielders, creating a log jam at the top. Led by Alek Thomas, Arizona has outsiders raving about an outfielder that is getting Andrew Benintendi comparisons early on.
Weighing only around 160 lbs., Liover Peguero’s small frame lends itself to his speed and defensive abilities, although he may need to move away from short to fully capitalize on his talent.
San Francisco Giants
#1 prospect – Joey Bart, C (#19)
Underrated – Jairo Pomares, OF
The second-best catcher in MiLB, Joey Bart is almost ready to make his MLB debut. An organization ripe with catching talent ever since Buster Posey made his way through the ranks, Bart is next in line to supplant Posey very soon.
Looked at as potentially the most natural bat in the team’s system, Jairo Pomares’ sweet stroke has produced solid averages at two levels of ball. While his average arm will regulate him to a corner outfield role, his bat will be the best thing that gets him to the majors, quickly.