This is the strongest division in baseball if we're just talking farm systems, with four systems ranging from good to great, and then the World Champions, whose system isn't even that bad, although their upper levels are probably mined out at this point.
The Pirates, Brewers, and Reds all play in some of MLB's smallest markets, so contention can only come if they build from within. The first two clubs have star prospects, while the Reds have more depth but probably lack the potential grade-60 players the other two clubs have. The Cardinals continue to find value later in drafts and now in the international market, with a number of Cuban signings in the wake of Aledmys Diaz' success.
Here are the top prospects in the NL Central:
The Cubs' pipeline of top-tier talent isn't about to run dry. They're well stocked with electric arms, and Eloy Jimenez raked in his full-season debut.
The rebuilding Reds have assembled a promising crew of likely big leaguers, but drafting Nick Senzel last year gives them a potential All-Star.
Few franchises have done as well as the Brewers in restocking their farm system, with 2016 first-rounder Corey Ray leading the charge.
The Pirates could be ready to renew their contender status with a new crew of farmhands almost ready for the majors, led by Austin Meadows in the outfield.
Alex Reyes is ready to graduate to the majors, but the lower rungs of the organization boast plenty of prospects on the Cardinals' way.