2020 MSB Farm System Rankings – Developing Systems

Brooklyn Kraken 

          Graduates: Oscar Mercado (OF), Harold Ramirez (OF) 

          Risers: Luis Patino (SP), Alek Thomas (OF) 

          Top Prospects: 1. Alek Thomas (OF), 2. DL Hall (SP), 3. Isaac Paredes (SS), 4. Mark Vientos (3B), 5. Lewin Diaz (1B), 6. Ryan Vilade (3B), 7. Kevin Alcantara (OF), 8. Bryan Mata (SP), 9. Mathew Lugo (SS), 10. Austin Beck (OF) 

          Promotions and trades over the last few seasons have depleted the Brooklyn farm.  Back to back 100-win seasons, three straight division titles, and on track for 100 wins and leading the division again this season ease the concern though.  And the system is certainly not bare.  Even after trading their top two prospects in the recent de Grom trade (and what an addition he was for Brooklyn!), the Kraken have a very well-balanced system.  Taking over the top spot in the system is centerfielder Alek Thomas.  Since his signing, Thomas has proven to be one of the best prep hitters in recent years.  He sends line drives to all fields with a compact lefty stroke, impressive bat speed, and a mature approach.  Thomas is not physically imposing, but his feel for barreling the ball leads to some sneaky pop that could see 15 HR once he matures.  Add that to plenty of doubles and triples due to his plus speed and the Benintendi/Ellsbury comps seems apt.    DL Hall is an under the radar arm that could develop past expectations.  He has continued to add velocity since signing, climbing to the mid-90’s with peaks of 98 mph on what is easily a plus fastball.  Hall has made great strides with his change up, which some view now as his second best offering.  The pitch has good fade and flashes plus more and more routinely as he gains comfort with the pitch.  His curve can flash plus as well, with excellent spin ad bite, but he needs to find consistency with the breaking pitch.  Command and control have been issues at times, but a clean, repeatable delivery bodes well for those issues being worked out.  Hall needs to stay healthy and on the mound to gain the experience he needs to reach his mid-rotation ceiling.  Bryan Mata, Luis Oviedo and Joey Wentz add additional depth to the mound.  Shortstop Isaac Paredes has hit at every level, also continually exceeding expectations and he adds infield depth along with third basemen Mark Vientos and Ryan Vilade and first baseman Lewin Diaz. 

Moonstruck Blues 

          Graduates: Will Smith (C), Caleb Ferguson (RP), Josh VanMeter (OF) 

          Risers: Daulton Varsho (C), Tony Gonsolin (P) 

          Top Prospects: 1. Daulton Varsho (C), 2. Alek Manoah (SP), 3. Tony Gonsolin (P), 4. Samuel Huff (C), 5. Aaron Bracho (SS), 6. Luis Gil (SP), 7. Michael Busch (2B), 8. Miles Straw (OF), 9. Beau Burrows (SP), 10. Randy Arozarena (OF), 11. Gabriel Montero (C), 12. Kean Wong (UT) 

          The Moonstruck system may not boast high end names, but there is depth throughout the system.  And with the uncanny knack the Blues front office has with identifying quality complimentary pieces, this is not a system to sleep on.  Well balance overall, the system is led by catcher Daulton Varsho.  Varsho is a bit of an anomaly, pairing excellent athleticism and above average speed with a well developed catching profile.  Highly regarded for his receiving, blocking, and game management skills behind the plate, Varsho only needs to improve his arm strength and catch-and-throw ability to round out his well above average defensive profile.  There is an outside chance that Moonstruck decides to move Varsho to a different defensive position if the throwing issues do not improve, but with his top shelf athleticism, any move shouldn’t slow Varsho’s ascent too much.  At the plate, Varsho combines a well disciplined eye with an aggressive approach, leading to good contact rates and high on base averages.  Developing power could see him top the 20 home run plateau at his peak, and if he can hold his speed he could also approach 20 steals.  How rare is Varsho’s potential skill set?  Only HOF Pudge Roderiguez has ever produced a 20/20 season from the catchers position.  Alek Manoah brings a big arm to the Moonstruck farm.  Manoah easily sits in the upper 90’s and is able to hold that power late into starts, but it was the development of a slider that has fueled his rise.  He is able to manipulate the pitch for early snap or late fade and the pitch should give Manoah a second plus offering once it is fully developed.  Fast riser Tony Gonsolin sits right on the cusp of the majors after excelling in short stints with the big club last season.  Like Manoah, Gonsolin is a power arm looking to fully refine his off speed offerings.  He owns a plus fastball that sits mid-90’s, and an above-average slider that features good late break, but his best offering is a plus-plus, fall-off-the-table splitter.  Another interesting name to keep an eye on is 2019 draftee, Michael Busch.  Possessing a plus hit tool, good batting eye, and developing power, there is little worry about Busch’s bat.  After playing 1B and LF in college, he has been playing 2B as a pro, but his final defensive position is still a matter of question.  Luis Gil and Beau Burrows add further depth to the pitching side of the system, while Sam Huff and Gabriel Montero add catching depth along with Aaron Bracho, Nick Pratto, and Kean Wong around the infield. 

Orange County Devils 

          Graduates: Ranger Suarez (RP), Dario Agrazal (RP), Austin Wynns (C), Ryan Helseley (RP) 

          Risers: Francisco Alvarez (C), Abraham Toro (3B) 

          Top Prospects: 1. Francisco Alvarez (C), 2. Abraham Toro (3B), 3. Luis Frias (SP), 4. Terrin Vavra (2B), 5. Alexander Mojica (3B), 6. Omar Estevez (2B), 7. Andrew Knizner (C), 8. Owen Miller (SS), 9. Aaron Schunk (3B), 10. Jojo Romero (SP), 11. TJ Zeuch (SP) 

          Replenished by the 2019 MiL draft, infielders and catchers are the depth of the Orange County system.  Focusing on infield talent, the Devils front office drafted Abraham Toro, Terrin Vavra, and Alexander Mojica in three of the first six rounds.  Sixth round selection, Toro, may turn out to be the best of the group with a well above average glove and excellent arm at the hot corner.  At the plate, Toro has excellent patience and pitch recognition which has helped him tap into his considerable power.  Toro may not have the hit tool to hit .300, but if his power fully develops, his combination of patience, power, and defense should enable him to become a major league regular. Selected in the fourth round, 18-year old catcher Francisco Alvarez has shot up prospect lists.  Splitting time at two stops, Alvarez’s defense and power improved dramatically in his first year of pro ball and have turned him into one of the most promising all-around young catchers in the minors.  His physical ability is apparent, with quick wrists at the plate and quick reflexes and a strong, accurate arm behind it, but it was his aptitude and willingness to work that impressed scouts.  Alvarez is a few years from the majors, but the Devils may have drafted their catcher of the future.  Drafted as a third baseman, Luis Frias was quickly moved to the mound and has developed into the highest ceiling arm in the system with a mid-90’s fastball that touches 99 mph.  While the power arm was easy to see, Frias’ ability to develop off speed pitches was a pleasant surprise.  His 12-to-6 curveball already rates as above average and his split-change is not far behind.  Both pitches could develop into plus offerings.  As with most young pitchers, command and control are the final pieces for Frias to learn, but if he does, a mid-90’s fastball and two plus off speed pitches give him a top of the rotation ceiling.  Terrin Vavra, Omar Estevez, and Owen Miller give the middle infield depth, and Alexander Mojica and Aaron Schunk add depth at the corner spots for this rebuilding system. 

Rolla Sweets 

          Graduates: Christian Walker (1B), Dwight Smith Jr. (OF), Mike Tauchman (OF), Dylan Cease (SP), Griffin Canning (SP) 

          Risers: Grayson Rodriguez (SP), Xavier Edwards (SS) 

          Top Prospects: 1. Grayson Rodriguez (SP), 2. Nolan Gorman (3B), 3. Xavier Edwards (SS), 4. Monte Harrison (OF), 5. Justin Dunn (SP), 6. Sherten Apostel (SP), 7. Conner Scott (OF), 8. Griffin Conine (OF), 9. Ryan Jensen (SP) 

          The Sweets have a quality collection of graduates to go along with a strong upper end of the farm.  Dwight Smith Jr. and Mike Tauchman surprised with strong rookie campaigns in the outfield, while long time prospect Christian Walker finally received a shot at regular playing time and didn’t waste it.  All three could be integral members of the Sweets supporting cast for several years.  While Dylan Cease and Griffin Canning struggled in their first taste of the majors, both have high quality arms and should continue to improve, hopefully reaching their considerable ceilings.  Grayson Rodriguez, the systems #1 prospect, also has a high ceiling, pairing a 90-95 mph fastball with excellent movement with three distinct secondary pitches.  Entering pro ball, Rodriguez’ md-80’s slider was his best secondary pitch and it still rates as a future plus offering, but it didn’t take much time for his previously seldom used change up to equal or, according to some, eclipse the slider.  Either way, both pitches project as swing and miss plus offerings.  Rodriguez’ feel for his curve comes and goes as it does with many developing pitchers, but when the pitch is on it offers a fourth plus pitch for Rodriguez to use.  The 20 year old has excellent command and control, able to command all his pitches (when the curve is on) to all parts of the zone. Third baseman Nolan Gorman made strides harnessing his prodigious power, but there is still more to be tapped, with 40 HR power a possibility.  Gorman must learn to contain his aggressiveness and not swing at pitchers pitches.  He is progressing defensively, with good footwork and a strong arm.  Middle infielder Xavier Edwards is probably the biggest mover in the system, pairing excellent hitting ability and elite speed showcasing top of the order ability.  There is very little power to Edwards game, but he has now proven that professional pitchers can not knock the bat out of his hands and once on base he is a threat to run at any time.  He will not walk much, so his on base skills will be reliant on his batting average, but he owns a .328 average through two seasons and a promotion to High-A, and he has been lauded for his bat speed and line drive approach.  Justin Dunn and Sherten Apostel are additional mound depth, and outfielders Monte Harrison, Conner Scott and Griffin Conine have the same kind of upside as Tauchman and Smith. 

Seattle Rainiers 


          Risers: Corbin Carroll (OF), Daniel Lynch (SP) 

          Top Prospects: 1. Alec Bohm (3B), 2. Corbin Carroll (OF), 3. Daniel Lynch (SP), 4. Kris Bubic (SP), 5. Michael Toglia (1B), 6. Ryan Rolison (SP), 7. Ryan Weathers (SP), 8. Anthony Volpe (SS), 9. Brandon Williamson (SP), 10. Josh Smith (SS), 11. Cadyn Grenier (SS) 

          A well balanced system in Seattle is led by corner infielder Alec Bohm.  Last years #2 overall selection, Bohm came with a plus hit tool, excellent patience and a questionable power.  The power is no longer in question.  After hitting zero home runs and slugging just .324 across 140 at bats in 2018, Bohm broke out in a big way in 2019.  He popped 30 doubles and 21 home runs and slugged .518 in 475 at bats as he rose three levels to AA in his first full season.  Bohm still showed his hitting ability and patience, producing a .305 average and getting on base at a 38% clip.  What still has to be settled for Bohm is his position on the field.  He has split time both seasons between both corner infield spots and most believe that his ultimate stop will be at 1B.  Seattle is of course giving him every chance to prove he can handle the hot corner on at least an average level, and he did make strides in that direction last season.  A tireless worker, Bohm has improved his footwork, angles, and accuracy and he already possesses a plus arm well suited for the long throws from line to line.  Corbin Carroll has much the same hit tool and patient approach as Bohm, the difference between the two coming on the bases.  Carroll does have some swing and miss to take care of, but he makes plenty of contact nonetheless and knows how to work a count.  If his hit tool and on base ability continue as he climbs the minor league ladder, Carroll’s easy plus speed could make him a prototype leadoff hitter.  In his first taste of the professional game last season, Carroll recorded a .408 OBP, stole 18 bases in 19 attempts, and scored 36 runs all in just 42 games.  In the outfield, Carroll’s speed once again plays well, as he covers tons of ground in centerfield with ease.  He is probably major league ready on defense already.  On the pitching side, Seattle boasts a few live arms capable of major league rotation duty within the next few seasons.  The leader of the pack is 6’6” lefty Daniel Lynch.  While Lynch does not possess the mid-90’s fastball, he does come to bear with five pitches that all grade out as at least average at present.  Pairing his fastball with a curve, slider, change and cutter, Lynch pitches with outstanding command and control and knows how to mix his pitches to keep hitters off balance.  Having pitched under 150 innings over the past two seasons, Lynch still needs to build his durability, but with his strong 6’6” frame that shouldn’t be a problem.  A young system overall, Seattle is looking for another year of improvement like 2019.