If you’re not going for it in today’s MLB environment, you’re — well, let’s not say “tanking” and just go with “developing.” Teams that build from their farm system, through the draft, the international market and trades of veterans for prospects, keep reaching and winning the World Series. The Royals had the No. 1 farm system in baseball in 2011 and won two pennants, including a world championship in 2015. The Cubs hit the top five in 2013, ranked No. 1 in 2015 and won the World Series in 2016. The Astros had the No. 1 farm system in baseball in 2014 and won their first title in 2017.
I don’t think any of this is a big coincidence: Teams can’t buy championships. They can buy a player or two to finish off a good roster, but the bulk of a pennant-winning roster comes from within, either through cheaper players the team developed from its farm system or veterans acquired by trading such prospects. This year’s prospect-rankings package continues with the top 50 prospects in the minors. For the first half of the list, click here.
Editor’s note: Age is the player’s age as of July 1, 2018. Players with experience in foreign major leagues such as Japan’s NPB or Korea’s KBO, such as Shohei Ohtani, are ineligible for these rankings.