Author Archives: joshs0515
Thursday saw some impressive pitching outings from some prospects who are not that high on many lists. Pitchers such as Dinelson Lamet, Lucas Sims, and Nick Pivetta are all prospects who have not been talked about a ton, but pitched gems on Thursday. Baseball’s top prospect, Yoan Moncada, continued his hot start.
5.1 Innings Pitched- 13 strikeouts- 3 hits- 3 walks
Dinelson Lamet, one of the Padres’ top prospects, was dealing on Thursday night. Lamet started the night off strong, striking out 2 batters in each of the first 3 innings. He then upped his game and struck out the side in the 4th inning increasing his total to 9 strikeouts through 4 innings pitched. The beginning of the top of the 5th he found himself giving up a walk and a single to begin the inning, but quickly got out of trouble by striking out three in a row. Lamet would give up a home run to Gordon Beckham to begin the 5th inning and would be pulled in the 5th after a few more batters. All said and done, not too shabby of an outing for Lamet, tallying 13 strikeouts over only 5.1 innings pitched.
The last article went over hot starts by South Atlantic League hitters, this one highlights the top pitchers over the first two weeks. This is by no means a definitive list and in no particular order, just a quick update on which prospects are starting off the season red hot.
SP (PIT) – Age 20 – 16.2 IP, 14 H, 2 BB, 32 K, 3.24 ERA, 0.96 WHIP
A good way to get your name on this list is to rack up 32 K’s through your first 3 starts. Escobar was signed as a much smaller 16-year-old out of Colombia in 2013. His milb.com page lists him at 6-foot-1, 155 pounds which is laughable to anyone who’s seen him this year. While he’s not exactly Carlos Zambrano, he’s definitely filled in much closer to 200 lbs. With filling out his frame the power stuff has come strong. While he’s still learning how to harness a mid-90s fastball and power curve, minor league hitters are struggling mightily to catch up.
At just 20 years old and starting his first year of full-season baseball, staying healthy and consistent will be a huge key for Escobar. While it’s nice to see him put up these gaudy strikeout numbers, he needs to learn how to pitch for a night where he might not have his best stuff. At this point, he’s only walked 2 batters in 16.2 innings, but he’s been a bit wild at times and helped a bit by some overzealous swings. There is something to be said about a pitcher who generates a lot of swings and misses while still being out of the zone, though I’m not sure how much of it is intentional with him.
The Astros’ farm system flaunted it’s muscles this weekend as top prospects Francis Martes and Kyle Tucker both showed what they are capable of and why they are so highly thought of. There were many solid pitching performances over the weekend, a few by top prospects Josh Hader, Enyel De Los Santos, and Walker Buehler.
2 doubles- 7 runs batted in- 1 home run
Kyle Tucker, the Astro’s number 2 prospect in the system, had himself a day on Saturday at High-A Buies Creek. Tucker racked up 7 RBIs in the game, all coming in the first three innings. Tucker doubled in his first at-bat, driving in one run. Tucker had his next at-bat in the 2nd inning, this time with bases loaded, and Tucker delivered. He hit a bases-clearing double to center field, racking up 3 more ribeyes. He would get his third at-bat in three innings, hitting a three-run home run to right center. Tucker would another hit to his tally later in the 7th inning, marking a 4-5 day at the plate.
Tucker, the brother of Astros’ Preston Tucker, is 19 years of age and is impressing at High-A thus far, slashing .343/.395/.714 for the Buies Creek Astros. If he continues raking at this rate it won’t be long until he is called up to Double-A. Tucker has a very advanced approach at the plate and is one of the best hitters in the Astros’ farm. Astros fans have a lot to be excited for in this kid.
It has become general consensus that the Orioles offer one of the worst farm systems in baseball. Various rankings have them placed in the bottom five organizations across the sport. A handful of recent selections have already risen through the rankings as Cody Sedlock (2016 1st round), Ryan Mountcastle (2015 1st round), and Keegan Akin (2016 2nd round) are all in our top ten. Given the offensive success of the team, Baltimore’s focus has turned to developing pitching as these rankings are 60% pitching prospects. Despite regular drafting of young arms, 4 of the 7 best prospects are positional. Chance Sisco is the leading name in the organization with impressive offensive prowess for a catcher. While other organizations are able to offer potential stars like Victor Robles, Austin Meadows, and Francisco Mejia; Baltimore lacks any excitement from top to bottom.
Fans can expect to see a handful of young players work their way to the 25-man roster by season’s end. Trey Mancini began the year at the Major League level with positive results. Jason Garcia may see a return after a full season in Bowie and Gabriel Ynoa brings in exposure with the Mets. The majority of prospects remain a few years off, but the Orioles at least have an exciting enough top level squad to keep the focus away from their desperate farm system.
Thursday saw some very good pitching performances by some top pitching prospects in the minor league. Youngster Kolby Allard showed what he is made of at Double-A and Josh Staumont, Erick Fedde, and Tyler Eppler all had outstanding outings. Cody Bellinger went deep for the second time this season.
Players Of The Day
5 Innings Pitched- 2 Walks- 3 Strikeouts- 3 Hits Allowed
Kolby Allard and his teammate Mike Soroka are two of the youngest players in the Southern League, both skipping over High-A. That label has not slowed either one down and Allard proved it further yesterday.
Allard did not allow a run in his start against the Tennessee Smokies and lasted 5 innings in the effort. He could have gone farther in the game, but there are restrictions in place on Allard due to an innings limit and the such. He did not strikeout many in the game, only 3, but was still very effective pitching to contact. He made it a focus of his to work on his changeup this year and today and from the early looks of it so far this year it is effective. Besides the changeup, Allard has a low-90s fastball with movement and a devastating 12-6 curve. The low strikeout total yesterday should be of no concern as it is clear he was working on the changeup and not trying to be too fine with his other pitches.
Allard is only 19 years old, but is already in Double-A. Allard keeps impressing with every start and it will be interesting to see how he does next time out to see if he can keep up this success. He could be one of the key pieces in the Braves’ rebuild. He isn’t the top prospect of the day due to the outcome of his performance but rather the magnitude of his performance.
Another day of stud loaded stand out performances continues as Jeimer Candelario logs his third five-RBI game of this short season. Brent Honeywell also continued to show why he is one of the best pitching prospects in baseball with another scoreless outing logging eight strikeouts in seven innings pitched. Lastly, Juan Soto and Albert Abreu continue to enamor scouts and fans with their enormous raw potential lower in the minors and adding fuel to the hype that follows both of them.
Player of the Day
4-4 2 R 3B BB 5 RBI
The Cubs’ farm is loaded with good hitting prospects and Jeimer Candelario is one of their best hitting prospects. Candelario is only still in the minors because there isn’t a position for him on the Major-league team where he can see regular at-bats and tap into his potential. The left-handed third baseman picked up his third five-RBI game of the young season. The key to his success has come from his coaches stressing him on being more aggressive at the plate especially with runners in scoring position. Swinging early in his at-bats has helped him collected 15 RBI so far and hitting to the tune of .370. His Double-A hitting coach last year Desi Wilson, mentioned that he can see the difference from last year to this year, before he was starting his at bats 0-1 or 0-2 which made it harder for him get a pitch to hit. Last night he hit a triple showcasing his nice line drive swing into the gap of the outfield.
Since joining the Cubs organization in 2010, Candelario’s development has been a roller coaster having superb seasons and then struggling for extended periods. The inconsistency has lead to having to repeat both High A and Double A. Now that he is showcasing a maturity that has produced consistency the Cubs should be trying to find a position for him.
PLAYERS LIKELY RISING THE TOP PROSPECT RANKING
RANK 218 – FRANKLIN PEREZ
Franklin Perez is a tough cookie to quantify. He is 19 years-old with a decent fastball and a curveball that shows hints of elite status and throws at plus on a bad day.
On the surface, I am in love with Franklin Perez and think he has the chance to be something magnificent long-term.
Question marks arise on pitches outside his curve and are primarily geared at the change up. He also needs to clean up his delivery and become more repeatable. He is very early on in the development for a transitional pitcher from third base.
Though this ranking is likely more passive than aggressive, the future for Perez could net him a top 50 grade by season’s end if he showcases improvement in the mentioned areas. At the moment he looks like a potential SP4 with the upside of an SP2.
With his current offerings and age in mind, he didn’t calculate out higher than other names who are younger or hold better offerings. But, that doesn’t mean he can’t beat them out quickly. Read the rest of this entry
Soroka was Atlanta’s first-round pick in 2015 out of high school in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and has gone on to climb organizational charts since. After a steady 2016 in a full season of Class-A ball, the Braves brass felt confident promoting Soroka directly onto the Double-A Mississippi Braves roster where he made his 2017 debut on Monday.
Soroka flourished. He mixed in his regular combination of a sinking fastball, slider, and changeup and avoided walking a single batter in five innings of work. He struck out seven batters over those innings – five of his first nine outs recorded – and validated John Hart & Co.’s decision to accelerate his development after that aggressive promotion to Double-A ball earlier than anyone anticipated.
Soroka’s combination of skills allows for optimism regarding his floor. He already exhibits the characteristics of a solid, mid-rotation starter and his early work as a 19-year old in Double-A grants some further hope that he might even be able to take another leap forward toward a front-end slot.
Yesterday’s Top Prospects
On this opening day, we see a lot of studs being studs and players living to the hype that was seen in them over the offseason. Brent Honeywell, Cody Bellinger, and Forrest Wall are all touted names over the last few years but Cedric Mullins continues to showcase his potential. Andrew Moore continues to showcase why he is still among the nation’s best pitchers despite having the electric stuff that normally turns the heads of both scouts and fans.
Players Of The Day
6.0 Innings Pitched – 3 Hits – 2 Earned Runs – 12 Strikeouts – 1 Walk
In an amazing effort that ends in a loss for Montgomery Brent Honeywell was electric in his 2017 Double-A debut. He started off strong striking out Mauricio Dubon on a foul tip and finished the inning striking out Michael Reed. He then went on to strike out every batter in the second. The damage came in the fourth inning when he walked Michael Reed and then proceeded to let both Victor Roache and Jacob Nottingham with hit by pitches. With the bases loaded Honeywell allowed a single to Angel Ortega that drove in Michael Reed and Victor Roache. He escaped the inning by catching Jacob Nottingham in what is logged as a stolen base attempt but ended in a pickle.
Honeywell is one of the nation’s best pitching prospects and rated as our #23 overall prospect in our initial Top 250 MLB Prospects list. The Rays pitching situation is one of the worst in baseball for him in terms of reaching the majors. Nonetheless, Honeywell is more than likely going to see the field in Tampa in 2017. He is still working to develop a true out pitch and needs to find a way to break away from righties.
PLAYERS LIKELY RISING THE TOP PROSPECT RANKING
RANK 218 – FRANKLIN PEREZ
Franklin Perez is a tough cookie to quantify. He is 19 years-old with a decent fastball and a curveball that shows hints of elite status and throws at plus on a bad day. On the surface, I am in love with Franklin Perez and think he has the chance to be something magnificent long-term. Question marks arise on pitches outside his curve and are primarily geared at the change up. He also needs to clean up his delivery and become more repeatable. He is very early on in the development for a transitional pitcher from third base. Though this ranking is likely more passive than aggressive, the future for Perez could net him a top 50 grade by season’s end if he showcases improvement in the mentioned areas. At the moment he looks like a potential SP4 with the upside of an SP2. With his current offerings and age in mind, he didn’t calculate out higher than other names who are younger or hold better offerings. But, that doesn’t mean he can’t beat them out quickly.
RANK 217 – JOSE ALBERTOS
The 6’1″, 18-year-old seems to be making quite the buzz with a high 90s fastball already shown before he truly manifests stateside. The idea that Albertos throws over 100 MPH is running rampant throughout the community and with valid reasons. Though being 185 likely means Albertos isn’t going to find that extra oomph from added size, he already has simple, repeatable mechanics. Albertos can jump significantly up this ranking once he showcases his secondary offerings. He possesses a changeup that flashes plus, and in limited exposure, it was noted that his pitches move with decent horizontal movement. This is a cautionary grade and, as more video and reps manifest, Albertos could see himself within the top 75 prospects in baseball by year end. I expect a potential jump to come from secondary pitches rather than velocity or mechanics.
RANK 208 – GERMAN MARQUEZ
Very similar in nature to Franklin Perez, German Marquez is another pitcher that has a curveball as his best offering, but the fastball is much further along. Marquez is already showing improvement with his changeup and locating his fastball to match the extreme upside his curve alone generates. There is a reason to believe he could eventually turn into a top of the rotation type of arm. When analyzing Marquez, you will notice that he throws a rather straight fastball the later he goes into his starts due to a lowering arm slot. There are also obvious differences in arm speed between pitches, and the arc of the ball becomes visible too early for the curve to enhance the change up. His delivery is very repeatable, but could benefit from becoming more dynamic in the lower half. Higher projection could make him a top 100 type of player, but his current state and the work ahead of him keep him in the SP4 to bullpen bracket.
RANK 165 – PATRICK WEIGEL
Standing 6’6″ with mechanics that are simple while still being able to touch 99 on the gun will generally garner attention. Weigel’s upside varies in time and nature depending on what he is willing to do with his lower half. He already has two off-speed movement pitches that rank as pluses to me (slider/curveball). The issue with Weigel is that controlling those pitches is much harder than throwing for strikes due to how much movement he is able to generate. Increasing the effort in the lower half would only go against enhancing that control, but would move him closer to three elite pitches on pure stuff projection alone. If it wasn’t for the arm action on his changeup, Weigel may be best regarded as a potential bullpen option. Though the pitch is lacking, deception on the changeup could allow him to boast four above average pitches. Moving forward, Weigel could range between an SP2 to a bullpen option, depending on how he harnesses that control while making his lower half more dynamic. As is, he could be a back of the rotation option with dominant outings every now and again. The stuff is there.
RANK 129 – BRANDON WOODRUFF
Brandon Woodruff was somewhat off my radar prior to the improvements he made in the 2016 season. When analyzing tape on Woodruff, he seems to have more control and command than many tend to credit him. He operates with great movement to outside the zone and generates a lot of swings and misses. He has impressive velocity with a lot of life running through the zone than results in weak contact. His primary is complemented by offspeed pitches that offer both work and deception. Overall, Woodruff looks to be a very polished asset in the farm and in a direct comparison could actually outrank Luis Ortiz in their current states. The question for Woodruff is about repeating last season’s performance and answering the question of “what’s next?”. If proves he can maintain a K/9 closer to 9.00 in the next level without sacrificing his pitch usage, it would go a long way in improving his stock. He is someone to carefully eye in 2017 with potential to vastly outperform this ranking.
RANK 95 -NICK WILLIAMS
If you followed Nick Williams at all last year you are well aware of the complete collapse. Williams fell from being a top talent in baseball to a man with more red flags than opportunity provided. The skills are still there and, upon reading media reports and interviews, it appears the issues are more mental and work ethic based than his baseball skill. Williams may continue to slide or he could rise quicker than anyone on this list depending on his mindset this season. With maturity and patience will come opportunity and stardom in regards to Williams’ future. 95 is still higher than many are comfortable with given his results, but I would much Sather take a player in his situation than one already operating at peak potential.
RANK 92 – JUAN SOTO
Juan Soto looks to be the next phenom production from Washington’s system. Victor Robles burst into the top echelon of prospects under the Nationals’ management. Juan Soto looks to do the same.Soto actually holds a comparative advantage at this point in his career when looking at Robles’ move into the limelight. In terms of pure hitting, Soto may completely outclass Robles when they play side by side at the next level. Robles has clear favor when it comes to speed and defense, but Soto has the build to play above average. He will likely only use his speed in the outfield, though, rather than the basepaths. Juan Soto fits into the group of players that Robles, Acuna and himself currently operate with players possessing enough potential to lead their class sooner rather than later. At maturation, though, the order of the three may vary depending on how they adapt this season. Given the level of pitching Soto has seen, I need to see more production against dominant lefties or pitchers offering control of big secondary movement to truly account for how he can adapt to pro play. Acuna and Robles have already displayed the ability, so that should speak to where Soto could land come December of 2017.
RANK 52 – MAX FRIED
In what many may already quantify as a reach at #52, Max Fried looks to become one of the nation’s best pitchers. The lefty possesses strong velocity, excellent secondaries, improved mechanics and could become the strongest southpaw in the minors sooner rather than later. He holds front-end talent at maturation and has displayed that potential early in outings. Coming off Tommy John surgery, conditioning and usage will always come into question…and will be the deciding factors as he moves forward. If they find his arm cannot handle the stress of 7+ innings over 20 starts in a year, he may move to the bullpen, but there is little to suggest the transition yet. There is some concern because Fried showcased dangerous mechanics deep into his starts after the injury. Lulls in technique became more frequent by the inning, but by the end of the year h appeared to correct the issues. With increased stamina via offseason conditioning, he is set for stardom.
Washington was one of two Major League clubs to send a highly touted prospect to the Chicago White Sox this offseason. The Nationals showed their faith in the current staff and future pitchers by trading away Lucas Giolito, Dane Dunning, and Reynaldo Lopez for defensive superstar Adam Eaton. Pitching certainly comes at a premium in the current system with only 6 pitchers making these rankings, but a number of them appear well suited for this organization’s layout. Erick Fedde sits behind only Victory Robles as a likely mid-rotation arm in the future. Behind him are Austin Voth and A.J. Cole who, though limited in potential, will work their way onto the 25-man roster for spot starts and relief appearances either in the summer or during September call-ups. Koda Gloves is one of the lower ranking pitches in the system, but an uncertain closer role in Washington makes him a clear name to emerge over the next couple of seasons.
The limited nature of pitchers in the rankings come as a result of the Giolito trade, but also remarkable depth in the field. Washington has prepared for the potential loss of Bryce Harper with seven outfielders making the Top 25, Victor Robles taking the top spot. The teenage phenom remains a ways off of the 25-man roster, but rapid development since signing out of the Dominican Republic has scouts salivating across the league. Youngsters Juan Soto and Carter Kieboom follow suit given areas of need, but the Nationals have a slew of potential stars awaiting in the ranks. What separates this system from many others is that potential stemming from the lower spots. Players like Kelvin Gutierrez, Jose Marmolejos, Spencer Kieboom, and Telmito Agustin all have things that they need to improve, but all profile as potential everyday players given the right situation.
Catching prospect Reese McGuire was sent to Toronto along with promising outfielder Harold Ramirez in the Drew Hutchison deal. With sending away both Polo and Ramirez at the deadline, the Bucs were clearly happy with their strength in the outfield, giving them the ability to shore up a rotation that’s lacked quality back-end starters for awhile now. By shipping Mark Melancon to Washington, the Pirates picked up flame-throwing lefty Taylor Hearn. He was a popular name to surge up prospect lists last year, making our list at #12.
Currently the farm system has good depth, but beyond the top 2 prospects Austin Meadows and Tyler Glasnow there aren’t many standouts. With 13 pitchers and 12 hitters in the top 25, the Pirates system is relatively well-balanced. Josh Bell should make some major league contributions in 2017, and former first-round infielder Kevin Newman may see some time with the big club as well.
Braxton Garrett and Tyler Kolek stand 1-2 at the top of the Marlins’ prospect rankings as potential starting arms in a few years. Unfortunately for the team, the search for a new ace would have been facilitated by the fact that they had both Josh Naylor and Chris Paddack within the system last year. However, the two pitchers were traded away in separate deals with the Padres. The organization is now left with one of the thinnest farm systems in all of baseball.
The upper half of these rankings is luckily filled with arms that may be able to contribute. Garrett and Kolek are the clear favorites, but both are a minimum three seasons away from breaking into the Major League rotation. Players like Dillon Peters, Jarlin Garcia, and Drew Steckenrider will all pitch at the top level this season, but they lack the talent to be long term solutions. Further down in the charts are limited pitching prospects, many of whom have already begun the transition to relief.
Miami’s strength comes in the position players they are currently able to field. However, a number of those players may see their way out of the organization in the next couple of years and the Marlins lack the replacements within their system. Brian Anderson and Isael Soto lead the positional rankings, but there remains a glaring hole in each of their games. Fans looking forward to this season will certainly see Tomas Telis and Yefri Perez work at the Major League level this season. Telis sees a limited ceiling behind J.T. Realmuto, but Giancarlo Stanton’s seasonal injury will likely result in Perez seeing greater opportunity in comparison to previous years.
The San Diego Padres’ farm system has improved in talent over the past year via trades and international signings. The Padres have spent a lot of money internationally to restock their farm system and the dividends will soon be seen in the Major Leagues. San Diego has also managed to flip some of the veterans they got in the offseason a few years ago for quality prospects, such as Anderson Espinoza, and this has really improved the overall quality of the system. Some of these investments are going to make an impact very soon and the Padres’ will hope to be competitive once again within the next couple of years.
Dansby Swanson made his way to the Major Leagues last season and was the leading name for farm system loaded with overall talent. Atlanta fans have a reason to be excited about the future with the likes of Ozzie Albies, Ronald Acuna, Max Fried, and Sean Newcomb all offering potential that may change the outlook of the franchise for years to come. The system is loaded with high upside younger prospects such as Derian Cruz and Christian Pache and developing assets that could have major league impact such as Lucas Sims, Austin Riley, Patrick Weigel, and Luis Gohara. Then there are the prospects with massive upsides with known weaknesses such as Travis Demeritte, Kolby Allard, Joey Wentz and Touki Toussaint. Through and through this is likely the deepest farm in baseball and has the upside to contend with the best.
The Angels commitment to winning a World Series while Mike Trout is still affordable has led to a lot of money and prospects being spent, in most cases, unwisely. Among those lost included future starter and future bullpen piece Sean Newcomb and Victor Alcantara. Furthermore, the team’s hesitancy to draft high upside players in favor of high floor athletes has kept the team as the worst system in Major League Baseball. However, the team does have some promising players acquired via the draft. 2015 second rounder Jahmai Jones may have a ways to go, but the team has put a solid value on his toolsy approach. 2016 first rounder Matt Thaiss may be blocked by Albert Pujols and CJ Cron, but his bat has shown why he was taken with the 15th overall pick. And should 2016 picks Brandon Marsh, Nonie Williams and Chris Rodriguez show the upside that had the team sold on them, the system could start climbing out of the cellar.
Los Angeles Angels Top Prospects
There are some very exciting players to be found within the Reds organization. Last year’s first-round pick Nick Senzel appears to be the real deal. Amir Garrett has the ability to lead a rotation. Jesse Winker, Luis Castillo, and Sal Romano provide a very solid foundation upon which the Reds can raise their floor, and the system contains a great deal of upside with players like Aristides Aquino, Taylor Trammell, and Alex Blandino.
There are few sure things in their Minor League ranks, but the farm is headed in the right direction. With a few breakout seasons from key prospects, the talent is present for this to be the group that leads the Reds back into the postseason for the first time since 2013.
Right now the thing that jumps out at you about this system is the number of big arms that populate the various levels. I will rank Alex Reyes on this list, but he is far from the only guy who will light up a radar gun in this system. Sandy Alcantara, Dakota Hudson, Junior Fernandez, Rowan Wick, Ryan Helsley, and Ronnie Williams all are radar gun delights who can push triple digits in short spurts. The Cardinals philosophy in regards to pitching has always been to teach fastball command to all four quadrants first and foremost, so even if a pitcher is showing high strikeout rates and posting quality ERA’s, they may not move quickly if they cannot demonstrate fastball command first and foremost. They tend to favor athleticism in their pitchers first and foremost, believing they can teach consistent mechanics if they have the requisite athleticism. The Cardinals look for loose, fast arms, as they believe this is an indicator of an ability to create spin on a baseball- needed for great breaking balls. Finally, they look to the changeup as their secondary offering of choice. Pitchers who can locate a changeup and keep their deception are less prone to platoon splits against either right-handed or left-handed hitters.
Coming into the 2016 season, the Boston Red Sox were positioned as well as any team in baseball to be a consistent force in the coming years. With a great team filled with young stars like Mookie Betts, and veterans who would be in the clubhouse to help guide the up-and-comers, like Dustin Pedroia, things were looking up. Bolstering this argument was a farm system that was a consensus top-10 in league with top-to-bottom talent, including the number one prospect in baseball, Yoan Moncada. It’s amazing what Dealin’ Dave Dombrowski can do to a farm system over the course of 12 months. The Sox are still a force to be reckoned with in the MLB, but their farm system has been changed dramatically, after trading away Moncada, and Michael Kopech to land Chris Sale. Boston still has a decent, albeit top-heavy farm system, headlined by budding star Andrew Benintendi and slugging third base Rafael Devers.
The Phillies farm system has some outstanding talent at the top of the list highlighted by top baseball prospect J.P. Crawford and the #1 overall draft pick from last season in Mickey Moniak. The farm is pretty deep as we go down the top 25 and the Phillies have a lot of pitching prospects that are very near Major League ready and have a sort of logjam at Triple-A as far as the rotation goes. The Phillies have invested a lot of money in the international free agents in the last few years, and they are starting to see the results of those investments. The Phillies may not have the best farm system in the Major Leagues, but they have young enough, solid pieces in the farm that will help them become a good team in the Majors again.
This farm system has been built on the backs of Elite position players and the ability of the minor league staff to help them reach their potential. The Major League lineup is one of the most potent in baseball, and there are still prospects who could add more firepower to the order. The up and coming prospects cover a wide range of ages so that the team can be primed to defend their championship this season while also having insurance policies as arbitration years approach shortly.
The top of the list is again loaded with positional talent as Chicago looks to have options in the infield (Happ, Jeimer Candelario) and the outfield (Jimenez, Mark Zagunis, Eddy Martinez). Though there is limited star power, the Cubs starting lineup has enough to hold over the city. More important for the short-term, players such as Victor Caratini and Wladimir Galindo should see extended time on the 25-man roster.
The state of the Chicago White Sox minor league system has likely never been brighter. With a huge influx of talent like Michael Kopech, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, and Dane Dunning the White Sox have the top prospects to truly build one of the elite pitching staffs in baseball. They also brought in young raw bats such as Luis Alexander Basabe and Yoan Moncada to potentially create franchise caliber talent in the field.
The White Sox also have done a good job of cultivating and developing talent through the draft and foreign signing classes. Alec Hansen looks to offer more promise than people him credit for while the ceiling for Zack Collins has many looking at this organization in awe. There is also an increasing amount of talent in the back end of the farm that offers some of the better upside seen in the league outside of the team’s top ten prospects.
Look out for other talents still yet that could emerge on the list in the future. Tyler Ramirez has a strong hitting pedigree and multiple potentially exciting tools just drafted out of UNC. Sandber Pimentel has the brute strength right now that makes his upside relevant. Skye Bolt has worn out his stay on many scouts minds but still has a lot of pure talent to counter that initiative. All in all the Athletics top prospects are in a questionable state with many question marks moving forward. That doesn’t mean that they will not have a significant impact, as the organization is built to support that notion.
Players headline the farm that they acquired through the Chapman and Miller trades. The likes of Clint Frazier, Gleyber Torres, and other top tier prospects have the Yankees looking set for the near future. The prospects at the top of the farm are superb, but the farm is not thin. The Yankees have some depth in multiple positions. The outfield is not a concern for them anytime soon players like Mason Williams, and Ben Gamel who are never going to make a huge impact in the majors are good players to fill in for an injury here and there.
What started off as one of the weakest systems in baseball was bolstered by the additions by the trade of Zack Wheeler in 2011, then Noah Syndergaard and Travis d’Arnaud in 2012-13. Furthermore, the team opted to draft high ceiling project players like Brandon Nimmo, Michael Fulmer, Gavin Cecchini, and Dominic Smith.
In 2014, Alderson changed his draft approach again with the selection of college outfielder Michael Conforto, then after losing the Mets 2015 first rounder in the Michael Cuddyer signing, selected his first set of college pitchers in Justin Dunn and Anthony Kay.
Graduation and trades have lowered the ranking of the farm system to the bottom third of the league. What was once a system flush with ace level arms and high ceiling batters have since become a more balanced system that features both potential offensive contributors and future rotation contributors.
Still, the 2016 season saw many prospects make their first impressions in the majors, including Sandy Alderson’s first ever Mets draft pick in Brandon Nimmo. For the first time since 2011, the Mets find themselves looking up at their counterparts as opposed to the other way around. What can a full season from the 2016 draft class do? Which prospects will graduate from this list?
The major selling point of this system is the success of the pitching coaches in recent years. The Major League rotation is one of the best in baseball, and there are many top prospects who may challenge for those spots. The age range for both pitchers and fielders offers a look for continued success with players breaking through to the top level both now and three years into the future. A team coming off of a World Series run will not need a complete roster overhaul, allowing the lower level clubs to develop their players at the right pace.
Drafted in the second round of the 2014 draft, Honeywell didn’t come with the eye-catching fastball-curve or fastball-slider combo of other top pitching prospects. Instead, he comes with a well-rounded game; a four pitch mix, of which three project above average to plus, and quality command in an athletic delivery. And, of course, a screwball. Who doesn’t like screwballs?
This year’s class is notable for the dearth of college pitching, which serves as a direct contrast to the relative scarcity of college position players. As far as the high school talent goes, there seem to be more position players than there are pitchers. However, this particular class is notable for its dearth of two-way players.
The Minnesota Twins “earned” the first overall selection after a miserable 2016 season, one that saw their pitching staff and offense underperform under renewed expectations. Minnesota hadn’t occupied the top spot in the draft since 2001 when they took an in-state product and current first baseman Joe Mauer out of Cretin-Durham Hall High School. In a year that has no consensus top prospect, much like 2016, anything is possible. The Twins could go after a prep product, like San Diego prepster Hunter Greene or they could go for a major league ready collegian, like Jeren Kendall or Kyle Wright.
The Blue Jays system is mostly made up of high upside hitters but, like always, the Jays have been stockpiling pitching in the draft to compensate. With these new draftees, the organization is trending up compared to how barren it was after the Jays first postseason run. There is tremendous upside in picks like T.J. Zeuch, J.B. Woodman, and Joshua Palacios just in the 2016 MLB Draft. Vlad Jr. and Bo Bichette are two young talents that look like they could shine in the spotlight as stars. They also have bloodlines of former greats, which has proven to be a characteristic the Jays tend to take a chance on. The pitching doesn’t have the same talent as it did when “The Lansing Three” were storming their way up the system, but pitchers like Justin Maese and Angel Perdomo could develop into a top of the rotation starters. Overall, the system has enough upside talent to use as trade bait and still have an upper half ranking system.
The system offers a handful of true prospects that could make a difference at the Major League level this season, but also hold higher potential down the road. The list is headed by Brent Honeywell who could find his way into the middle of the rotation in the next couple of years. The young bats that follow Honeywell all offer a strong foundation. Willy Adames, Jake Bauers, Garrett Whitley, and Joshua Lowe all have their flaws but have shown enough promise real improvement in the next couple of years.