The 5 Most Improved Farm Systems After the MLB Trade Deadline


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The trade deadline has come and gone and several big league clubs improved their minor league farm systems. What five organizations are the most improved?

As the calendar changed from July to August, the dust has finally settled on the whirlwind MLB trade deadline.

Big names like Troy Tulowitzki, Cole Hamels, Johnny Cueto, David Price and Yoenis Cespedes all have new big league homes as playoff contenders searched for what they believed to be the missing pieces necessary for future postseason success. As a result, dozens of minor leaguers also shifted allegiances.

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There were ten very active sellers at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline: the Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Colorado Rockies, Detroit Tigers, Miami Marlins, Oakland Athletics, Philadelphia Phillies, Seattle Mariners and Tampa Bay Rays. Overall, more than 50 minor leaguers were traded and only Jose Peraza, who was sent from Atlanta to the Los Angeles Dodgers as part of the deal that brought back Hector Olivera, ended up with anyone else.

RELATED: Cincinnati Reds Future Looks Bright After MLB Trade Deadline

So, which franchises got the best return for their big league stars? We take a closer look at the five teams that improved their farm systems the most at the MLB trade deadline.

Note: Among players received in trades, we’re only considering the players that still have Major League rookie status.

Next: 5. Oakland Athletics

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5. player. 96. . Three Trades. Five Prospects. Oakland Athletics

The Oakland Athletics got the ball rolling in the days leading up to the MLB trade deadline when they sent left-handed starter Scott Kazmir to the Houston Astros.



The prized player the A’s received in the deal was Jacob Nottingham, a 20-year old catcher with great power potential. In 78 games in the Astros organization this season, the right-handed hitter slugged 14 home runs and drove in 60 runs. So far this season, he’s compiled an impressive .316/.371/.519 slash.

RELATED: Oakland Athletics Deadline Acquisitions Off to Hot Start

However, the best overall prospect the A’s received might be left-handed pitcher Sean Manaea – acquired from the Kansas City Royals in the Ben Zobrist deal. The 34th overall pick in the 2013 draft, Manaea led the Carolina League in strikeouts in 2014, but has struggled with injuries in the past. Limited by abdominal and groin injuries, Manaea has posted a 3.03 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 38.2 innings across eight starts this season. If he stays healthy, Manaea will be a No. 2 or No. 3 starter in Oakland very soon.

Pitching prospects Casey Meisner, Daniel Mengden and Aaron Brooks helped round out the deadline deals and all add pitching depth to the organization.

Next: 4. Colorado Rockies

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. One Trade. Three Prospects. Colorado Rockies. 4. player. 108

The Colorado Rockies avoided a full-scale sell-off in July by holding on to outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, but the team did move franchise cornerstone Troy Tulowitzki to Toronto and received three pitching prospects from the Blue Jays in return.


  • Troy Tulowitzki, SS


Colorado landed a trio of quality pitchers from the Blue Jays, headlined by Double-A right-hander Jeff Hoffman. The No. 9 overall pick in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft, the 22-year old flame-thrower is on the fast track to the big leagues.

In 11 starts for High Class-A Dunedin this season, Hoffman posted a 3.21 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 56 innings. He made two appearances for Double-A New Hampshire prior to the trade and surrendered just two earned runs in 11.2 frames.

Another intriguing high-upside pitcher, Miguel Castro is just 20 years old but already has Major League experience. The 6-foot-5 right-hander and his high-90s fastball appeared in 13 games for the Blue Jays earlier this season, and he even had a short stint as the team’s closer. It’s undecided whether or not Castro will start or relieve with the Rockies, but he has the stuff to excel in the ninth inning.

Also 20 years old, Jesus Tinoco has posted solid numbers in 16 Class-A starts, including six shutout innings in his Rockies debut with the Ashville Tourists.

Next: 3. Milwaukee Brewers

Jun 28, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros right fielder Domingo Santana (13) hits a single during the sixth inning against the New York Yankees at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Six Prospects. Milwaukee Brewers. 3. player. 76. . Four Trades

One of the most active teams at the deadline, the Milwaukee Brewers made four trades that immediately upgraded a farm system in need.



The Carlos Gomez should prove to be the most important to the future of the organization. One of the most highly regarded prospects traded in July – and the key to the Gomez deal – was Brett Phillips, who currently ranks 39th overall in’s Top 100 Prospects list.

A 21-year-old with power, speed and a very strong arm, Phillips hit 15 home runs and seven triples in 66 games in the Cal League this season before earning a promotion to Double-A. Overall, the left-handed hitter is hitting .319/.376/.544 with 16 home runs, 71 RBI and 15 stolen bases in 99 games this season.

Domingo Santana also has tremendous upside, and even has big league experience. The powerful right-handed outfielder made his Major League debut as a 21-year old in 2014 and appeared in 14 games for the Astros this year – posting a .256/.310/.462 slash with two home runs and eight RBI – before the trade.

The Brewers also picked up Josh Hader – a 21-year old left-handed pitcher with a fastball clocked in the upper 90s and 348 strikeouts in 324.1 professional innings – and the even harder throwing Adrian Houser from the Astros. Continuing the trend, Yhonathan Berrios – acquired from Pittsburgh – has triple-digit heat.

Last but not least, Zach Davies posted a 2.84 ERA over more than 100 innings with Triple-A Norfolk before being traded for Gerardo Parra.

Next: 2. Detroit Tigers

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. Three Trades. Six Prospects. Detroit Tigers. 2. player. 63

No one paid a bigger Price (see what I did there?) to rebuild a middling farm system than the Detroit Tigers, who parted with former Cy Young winner David Price as well as All-Star slugger Yoenis Cespedes and closer Joakim Soria in three separate deals.



Pitching was obviously the most important commodity to Detroit and the Tigers added a crop of youngsters capable of big things.

Left-handed pitcher Daniel Norris was arguably the best overall prospect traded during any deadline deal, as he’s currently ranked No. 25 on’s Top 100 Top Prospects list. The 22-year old began the season in the Blue Jays’ starting rotation, so he’s ready to contribute immediately for Detroit – and he’s off to a good start. In his first start with the Tigers, Norris allowed only one earned run on four hits and one walk in 7.1 innings.

Futures Game participant Jairo Labourt is a raw talent and one of the hardest throwing southpaws around, and right-handed starter Michael Fulmer had terrific numbers (1.88 ERA, 83 strikeouts in 86 innings across 15 starts) for Double-A Binghamton.

RELATED: Detroit Tigers Rapidly Rebuilt Farm System

Another intriguing lefty is Matt Boyd, a 24-year old that has dominated minor league hitters to the tune of a 1.68 ERA with 107 strikeouts and only 24 walks in 112.2 innings in 2015 as a member of the Toronto organization. Sure, he had a horrible Major League stint in Toronto (14.85 ERA and .441 batting average allowed in 6.2 innings across two starts), but Boyd is big league ready and should help the Tigers soon.

Next: 1. Philadelphia Phillies

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1. player. 6. . Three Trades. Eight Prospects. Philadelphia Phillies

Cole Hamels was the most talked about Major League trade candidate from spring training through the July 31 trade deadline, and the Philadelphia Phillies took their sweet time structuring a deal that would help them build for the future.



The Phillies weren’t able to land power-hitting prospects Joey Gallo or Nomar Mazara from the Rangers, but Philadelphia was able to get a solid return for their ace, including two of the best position players acquired by any team.

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The most important piece of the Hamels trade was catcher Jorge Alfaro, a 6-foot-2, 225-pound right-handed hitter with huge power potential and a very strong arm. The 22-year old is currently on the disabled list in Double-A, but once healthy is the likely backstop of the future for the Phils.

Outfielder Nick Williams has a lot of upside as a 21-year old in Double-A. He’s shown an ability to hit for average and power with a .299/.357/.479 slash with 13 home runs in Double-A this season. Expect him to replace Ben Revere in the Phillies outfield sooner rather than later.

Jake Thompson is now with his third MLB franchise after previously being a Detroit Tigers farmhand. A starter throughout his professional career, the 6-foot-4 right-hander has the stuff to become a Major League starter, or even a closer if necessary – specifically a mid 90s sinking fastball and high 80s slider. So far this season, Thompson has a 4.72 ERA in 87.2 innings across 17 Double-A starts. ranks Alfaro, Williams, and Thompson among the top 70 prospects in Major League Baseball and each member of the trio should contribute in Philadelphia by 2016. Add five right-handed pitchers and Philadelphia certainly received the biggest boost of talent of any Major League franchise at the trade deadline.

Next: Detroit Tigers Rapidly Rebuilt Farm System