All 30 Major League farm systems have strengths and weaknesses. On the week of Thanksgiving, Toolshed explores what each organization should be most grateful for, starting today in the American League.
American League East
Baltimore Orioles: Austin Hays -- The O's grabbed the Jacksonville University star at No. 91 overall in the 2016 Draft. Just one year later, he already has 36 Minor League home runs and 60 Major League at-bats. Whether Hays' power is sustainable and where he fits in Baltimore's outfield plans remains to be seen, but his quick ascension is a big boost for the club.
Boston Red Sox: Third basemen -- The Red Sox seem to have finally found their man at the hot corner. Rafael Devers lived up to his status as the organization's top prospect, climbing from Double-A to the Majors at age 20. He'll be the club's starting third baseman for the foreseeable future. Prospect Michael Chavis, who broke out with 31 homers in 2017, may have to shift across the diamond to first base to fit into Boston's lineup. After the disastrous Pablo Sandoval signing, the Sox are thrilled to have an abundance of third-base options.
New York Yankees: Infield depth -- Gleyber Torres looks like he could be a superstar -- either at shortstop or third base -- and though he missed more than half the season (and a potential shot at the Majors) with a torn UCL in his non-throwing elbow, he remains among the Minors' top prospects. But Miguel Andujar should also press for playing time at third, Thairo Estrada broke out as a middle infielder in Double-A and second baseman Nick Solak continues to reach base wherever he goes. The Yankees are blessed with great depth throughout their system, but nowhere more so than in the infield.
Tampa Bay Rays: Triple-A Durham's title run -- Depending on how they tackle the offseason, the Rays might be on the cusp of a rebuild. They can take solace in the fact that prospects vital to their future were already knocking on the door in 2017, helping Durham capture a Triple-A National Championship. Brent Honeywell is one of the game's most promising pitching prospects and fellow top-100 prospects Willy Adames and Jake Bauers earned plaudits for the way they handled the Minors' top level. All three players are just 22. Whether in 2018 or later, the trio figures to play a big role in the next competitive Rays team.
Toronto Blue Jays: Teenaged prospects -- Canadian Thanksgiving was back in October, but Toronto shouldn't mind giving thanks again in November. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette would have been standout hitters regardless of their age in 2017. The fact that they each showed advanced bats while playing at 18 and 19, respectively, only underlines their offensive potential. The Jays, who were ranked No. 20 as a farm system by MiLB.com last offseason, now have two top-25 overall prospects and big plans for the future of their infield.
Chicago White Sox: Rebuild gets better -- The South Siders already had one of the most promising systems in the game after their rebuilding efforts last offseason, but the farm got even stronger when they signed Luis Robert in May and acquired prospects Eloy Jimenez, Dylan Cease, Blake Rutherford and Casey Gillaspie in deadline deals. Despite the graduation of Yoan Moncada, the White Sox can still boast arguably the game's best slugging prospect in Jimenez and its best flamethrowing pitching prospect in Michael Kopech. Time will tell if all the top pieces can find success in Chicago, but the Sox are following the rebuild blueprint to a T.
Cleveland Indians: Triston McKenzie looks like real deal -- Having won two straight division titles, one prospect in particular seems ready to help Cleveland continue its recent dominance.. McKenzie is one of the most intriguing pitching prospects in the game, striking out 186 batters in 143 innings with Class A Advanced Lynchburg this past season. The 6-foot-5, 165-pound right-hander has faced questions about his durability but saw his workload jump by 59 2/3 innings from 2016 to 2017 without issue. If he continues to hold up, the Tribe could have another impressive top-of-the-line starter.
Detroit Tigers: Arms race -- Helped by the trade of Justin Verlander in August, the Tigers system got a big boost with the arrival of No. 40 overall prospect Franklin Perez from Houston. Beau Burrows worked his way into the top-100 conversation in his second full season, Kyle Funkhouser regained the form that made him a first-round pick in 2015 and Matt Manning showed signs of why he was a top-10 pick last year. Detroit also added Alex Faedo with the No. 18 overall pick, signing him shortly after he won a College World Series title with Florida. What was once a weak system now has a bona fide strength.
Kansas City Royals: Nicky Lopez's jump in the AFL -- It could be a tough Thanksgiving for the Royals, who have one of the few farm systems without a top-100 prospect and appear set to lose a good chunk of their Major League talent to free agency. But there is hope on the horizon. Lopez, currently the No. 11 prospect in the system, was already known for his defensive ability at shortstop and showed an improved bat in the Arizona Fall League, hitting .383/.433/.568 in 20 games with as many home runs (two) as he hit during the regular season. Kansas City will have a hole at shortstop if Alcides Escobar departs, so Lopez may soon get a chance to battle for a big league role.
Video: Kernels' Lewis hits first Class A homer
Minnesota Twins: Shortstop depth chart -- The Twins might someday have a logjam at shortstop, and for now, that's a reason to rejoice. The club already had a top prospect at the position in Nick Gordon before taking Royce Lewis with the No. 1 overall pick in June, only to see him take off in his first pro campaign, reaching as high as Class A Cedar Rapids. Meanwhile, Wander Javier, who signed for $4 million in 2015, made his stateside debut at 18 and showed impressive offensive skills with a .383 OBP and .855 OPS at Rookie-level Elizabethton. Minnesota will have to figure out how to handle Lewis and Javier immediately, and it's possible all three could be on a collision course. That's a "problem" any club would love to have.
Houston Astros: The fun isn't over -- The Astros have a big Commissioner's Trophy-sized reason to be thankful this week, but even after trading away key pieces to acquire Verlander, the team is in good shape for years to come. Kyle Tucker remains one of the game's best outfield prospects and won't turn 21 until January. Forrest Whitley is coming off an age-19 season in which he climbed three levels and struck out 143 batters in 92 1/3 innings. J.B. Bukauskas saw his Draft stock drop a bit in June, but he remains one of the Draft's best college arms and could turn out to be a steal for the Astros at No. 15. This Houston club was built on the strength of its prospects, and there's more to come.
Los Angeles Angels: Top-ranked outfielders -- The Angels already have the best center fielder on the planet in Mike Trout, and they'll be thankful for him as long as they can keep him. Looking further down the depth chart, the position is easily the deepest in the organization. Jahmai Jones is pushing for a top-100 spot thanks to his above-average hit tool and plus speed. Jo Adell, the No. 10 overall pick in this past Draft, also has a high ceiling featuring impressive power and speed. (His arm is also considered a plus, but a shoulder issue limited his play in 2017.) Fellow high picks Jacob Pearson (2017 third round) and Brandon Marsh (2016 second round) also have exciting speed. Once had the weakest system in the game, the Angels now have legitimate strengths, particularly on the grass.
Video: Puk records 13th strikeout of night for Midland
Oakland Athletics: 2016 picks -- It's only been 17 months since the 2016 Draft, but it looks like it could mark a turning point for the A's. Top pick A.J. Puk struck out 184 batters over 125 innings in his first full season, showing why he could be the game's top left-handed pitching prospect after reaching Double-A. His former Florida teammate Logan Shore held his own with a 4.09 ERA, 74 strikeouts and 16 walks in 72 2/3 innings at Class A Advanced Stockton, and third-rounder Sean Murphy earned a trip to the Arizona Fall League, where he stood out with his bat and a plus-plus arm. Those three -- each of whom rank among Oakland's top 11 prospects -- are sufficient reasons to be grateful, but the organization also picked up other notable prospects from the Class of 2016 in Jesus Luzardo and Sheldon Neuse in a deal with the Nationals for Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson. The foundation in Oakland may rest on the powerful bats of Matt Chapman and Matt Olson, but the next wave is approaching from the 2016 Draft class.
Seattle Mariners: Wheeling, dealing Jerry Dipoto -- There isn't much in the Mariners system to get excited about right now, but that could change in a heartbeat. Top prospect Kyle Lewis was limited to 49 regular-season games and only two in the Fall League due to knee problems. No. 2 pitching prospect Nick Neidert was solid (especially in the control department), but after that the system drops off. The good news is that no general manager in baseball is more willing to make a trade than Dipoto. Last year's pickup of Mitch Haniger looked particularly inspired after the outfielder went from an average D-backs prospect to one of the AL's best rookies. He's continued that trend with trades for No. 30 prospect Nick Rumbelow and slugger Ryon Healy as well as picking up more international money (potentially for Shohei Ohtani) in a deal with the White Sox. If the farm system looks low now, M's fans should take solace in the fact that Dipoto is unusually active in his attempts to help the big league club.
Texas Rangers: Addition of Willie Calhoun -- It wasn't banner year in the Rangers system either, so the pickup of No. 59 overall prospect Calhoun from the Dodgers in the Yu Darvish deal will have to do. The 23-year-old left-handed slugger hit .300/.355/.572 with 31 home runs over 128 games in the Pacific Coast League and ended the year playing 13 Major League games in September. Calhoun, a former second baseman who lacks a plus defensive tool, has played almost exclusively in left field since joining Texas. He'll force his way into the Rangers lineup based on the strength of his bat, no matter where they have to play him.
Sam Dykstra is a reporter for MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @SamDykstraMiLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.