April 1, 2016
The Top 101 Prospects of 2016, With Write-Ups
While it's entirely likely you'll skip right ahead to the rankings, we wanted to provide some context for the list. As always, prospect lists are a snapshot in time—in this case mid-to-late December, when the list was compiled. It's possible a prospect's situation has changed since then, or that our evaluator's feelings on a prospect have changed, due to new information. Additionally, it's possible that a prospect ranks higher within his team list than he does here, and that's because the team Top 10s are spearheaded by individual authors who are informed by the BP Prospect Team and outside sources. The product below reflects a more rounded team effort, and thus there could be some inconsistencies between the Top 10s and the 101. These are not mistakes, but rather reflections of the different weight of opinions that drove the respective lists. Thank you, and enjoy —Craig Goldstein
It’s dangerous to read too much into a month’s worth of major-league plate appearances, especially when that month is September. Maybe Corey Seager took advantage of 40-man roster fodder and teams with one foot on the golf course to hit .337/.425/.561 as the 2015 season waned, but that’s pretty consistent with what he has done at every other stop in his professional career. He hits for average. He hits for power. He may not be a shortstop forever, as he is a very large human, but the bat is good enough to play anywhere. Regardless, Seager will be the Dodgers shortstop in 2016, and he may very well be the best one in the National League from the moment he steps foot on the field Opening Day.
It may be an exercise in hyperbole to refer to our no. 2 prospect as a “post-hype sleeper” (especially since he’s been our no. 1 prospect the past two years), but in an industry always on the lookout for the next new hotness, Buxton qualifies as old news. It doesn’t help his Q rating (or for the millennials reading, his Klout score) that he missed most of 2014 with a wrist injury and then a concussion, or that he looked overmatched at times in his first taste of the majors this past season. But as the old scouting adage goes, “tools play,” and Buxton’s selection rivals your local Ace Hardware. He may not be the next Andre Dawson as we opined in 2013, but the first Byron Buxton still looks like an impact major leaguer.
2015 was a good year for the Giolito clan. Showtime announced a Twin Peaks revival (Lucas’ uncle co-created it with David Lynch, and his grandfather played Dr. Will Heyward, the remarkably normal town coroner), and the youngest Giolito made it all the way to Double-A, striking out better than a batter an inning and flashing true top-of-the-scouting-scale stuff along the way. He is now more than three years removed from the UCL tear that kept him from going first overall in the 2012 draft, and with an invitation to Nationals spring training already secured, Giolito may soon be on the hunt for some cherry pie and a damn fine cup of coffee in the nation’s capital.
Crawford will inevitably draw comparisons to Jimmy Rollins, his predecessor in Philadelphia (future histories will gloss over the Freddie Galvis epoch). Both were early-round picks, African-American shortstops out of high schools in California. Sure, it’s not entirely fair to saddle him with this comp: Rollins is a first-ballot Hall of Very Good player who won an MVP and made multiple All-Star games. Crawford may not quite reach those lofty heights, but he is a true five-tool player and the total package at shortstop.
Texas invested more than $4 million in Mazara, setting the record for a bonus given to a 15-year-old amateur the year before international signing pools were implemented. He’s rewarded their investment with a quick ascent through Texas’ system, showing a rare set of offensive tools on a long-levered, 6-foot-5 frame. Mazara has a pure left-handed stroke that has the looks of being able to produce both batting average and home runs at above-average outputs. The fluidity of his swing-path through the zone—supplied by long arms and a physical frame—gives an effortless look to a left-handed stroke that elicits some Will Clark comparisons. Mazara throws well but only moves "fair" to "decently" defensively; while he ultimately could wind up on either outfield corner, it’s the hitting tools that give him legitimate middle-order, All-Star upside. It also makes him one of baseball’s best prospects entering his age-21 season. Mazara had a successful 20-game stint at Triple-A to end 2015; it isn’t unreasonable to foresee a scenario in which he mashes his way into Texas’ lineup at some point in the upcoming season.
Following prospects is a great way to be continuously aware of your own encroaching mortality. Julio Urias is not the youngest player on this list, but he did spend most of the season as an 18-year-old, and he finished it in Triple-A. This isn’t just age-relative-to-league novelty: The stuff is potentially elite, and he has pitchability beyond his years. Urias was dominant in 2015 while only facing two batters younger than him (during a rehab). His combination of youth, polish and stuff draws comparisons to Felix Hernandez, in part because he is very good, but also in part because there’s no one else similar in recent history. The cold water: Unlike Felix at the same age, Urias has never thrown even 90 innings in a season, and may not be able to handle a full 200-inning workload until 2018. But he will be getting major-league hitters out well before then.
The Red Sox paid $31.5 million dollars for the 19-year-old Moncada (well, $63 million if you include the 100 percent tax Boston had to pay for exceeding its international bonus pool), giving a glimpse into a world where the top amateur talent is allowed to freely negotiate his services with teams, a scenario more horrifying to baseball owners than than anything ever dreamt up by David Cronenberg. So far Moncada has looked well worth the money spent (which is more than you could say for Crash ), showing five average-or-better tools in the South Atlantic League. Moncada has work to do defensively at second base, and may fit better at third, where he would have more than enough arm for the position. At either spot, the bat has the potential to anchor the middle of a major-league lineup.
Shortly after he was called up to the majors, Gallo hit a home run off Clayton Kershaw. The box score describes it as going out to deep right field, but that dry recitation of the facts does it no justice. It was a moment that makes you understand why Russian audiences nearly rioted after hearing The Rite of Spring for the first time. It was an ode to atonality on the baseball diamond, a burst of free jazz. Unfortunately, in Gallo’s other 122 major-league plate appearances, his bat was more of a wind instrument, as he struck out 57 times (including all three of his other plate appearances against the Dodgers that day). The swing-and-miss issues continued after his demotion to Triple-A as well. He wields true 80 raw power, and we live in an era where one can stomach even a 30 percent K-rate if you can play third base and hit majestic dingers that cause those in attendance to reconsider centuries of acceptable artistic form and their place in the universe. But any more swing-and-miss than that, and you’re looking at just another Quad-A Salieri.
It seems odd to call someone who made three playoff starts for the National League pennant winner a "prospect," but Prospect List protocol demands it. A torn lat muscle and a stiff back in the second half kept Matz from accruing enough service time to graduate, but he did pitch enough for the Mets to show off three average-or-better major-league offerings, including a plus-plus fastball and plus curve. He also has begun to work on the vaunted "Warthen Slider," which you may remember from such 70-grade offerings as Matt Harvey’s and Jacob deGrom’s.
Reyes has one of the most electric right arms in the minors. His fastball sits in the upper 90s and touches triple digits. He pairs that with a potential wipeout curve that he can throw for strikes or bury to put away hitters. He struggles at times to harness both pitches, and his command of the fastball is presently below average. The optimist might say that just means he has a chance to get even better, and minor-league hitters were no match for him in 2015 as it stood. The pessimist might point to the command troubles and the lack of an average changeup projection, and see “only” a good late-inning arm. Both would probably agree he has one of the highest ceilings of any current pitching prospect.
Last season was more of the same for the Pirates’ top prospect, for both good and ill. Glasnow continued to show a fastball that can touch the high 90s and a curve that will flash plus. When both are working, he looks like a guy who will strike out a batter per inning in the majors, much like he's done at every other stop so far. Glasnow does struggle from tall-pitcher syndrome at times (he's listed at 6-foot-8), where his delivery can get out of whack, causing both his control and command to suffer. The stuff is good enough that even with those issues, he should pitch in the middle of a major-league rotation for a while, perhaps as soon as this year, but the ceiling if he ever works out the mechanical issues is as high as any arm on this list.
With improvements across the board in 2015, Arcia turned himself into an archetypal shortstop prospect. He is smooth in the field, equipped with a plus arm and plus projection in the glove. The hitting took a large step forward as well. Arcia has always been able to put bat to ball, but he added strength in 2015 and can now get the ball over the infielders. He's not a double-digit home run threat yet, but pitchers will need to be careful challenging him, because he can drive the ball to both gaps and let his plus-plus legs wreak havoc from home to third. The defense/ speed combination was likely going to make him a useful major leaguer regardless, but now he bats second instead of eighth.
In a scene that Tom Stoppard probably left on the cutting room floor, Turner spent the first half of 2015 playing for an organization that had already traded him. Everyone knew this; most just nodded along politely and hoped he didn't twist an ankle. He didn't, and even got a new rule named after him. Despite his high overall ranking, on a list this deep in shortstop talent Turner could get overlooked. He is a very good runner, but doesn't have Albies' or Mateo’s gaudy stolen base totals. He is a solid defender, but isn't a potential Gold Glover like Arcia or Mondesi. And he can hit, but the offensive profile isn't as tantalizing as Crawford. Unlike those four names, though, he's already a major leaguer. The Nationals brought in Stephen Drew to provide a little adversity, but Turner should reach his rightful place as shortstop before too long.
Margot's high ranking here is thanks in part to a renewed emphasis on defense across the game. This is not to suggest that potentially plus center-field gloves were ever at risk of becoming passé in scouting circles, but it's easier to get on the bandwagon in an era when the Royals have won back-to-back pennants. Margot won't be hitting in the eight hole, either: He's shown some bat-to-ball ability and gets more power out of his sub-six-foot frame than you'd expect. The party piece here is the speed/defense combination, which should get plenty of work in the still-spacious Petco outfield.
Have bat, will travel. Brinson made five stops in 2015, playing in three different time zones from April 9th more or less straight through to the end of the year. No matter how short or long his stay, he impressed the locals by putting balls over the fence, socking 20-plus home runs in less than a season’s worth of games. He also cut his strikeouts to a relatively reasonable rate, at least for this day and age. You’d like to see him do more outside the very friendly confines of High Desert, but last year was a breakout from start to finish. Feel free to dream on some 20/20 seasons from a plus center fielder.
One of two players on this list to play in the 2015 World Series, Mondesi did not fair as well as Matz, striking out against Noah Syndergaard in his one plate appearance. He does head back to Northwest Arkansas with a big ring, a large playoff share and one of the odder Baseball-Reference pages out there. Mondesi struggled in his first taste of the Texas League, as you might expect from a 19-year-old who has never been even league average on offense at any of his full-season stops. But the Royals may continue to be aggressive with his development track, as the glove will play in the high minors even if the bat is presently overmatched. If he does learn to hit—and the tools are certainly there—Mondesi is a slam-dunk first-division shortstop.
The flip side of Tyler Glasnow, Berrios gets knocked for the usual short-pitcher reasons. It starts with phrases like “fastball lacks downward plane” and usually ends with “may be best suited to relief.” A lot of scouting is about comps, and there aren't many short, slim, right-handed starters in baseball. Berrios might bust the quota with three potential plus pitches, including a devastating changeup. There is a track record of durability here too, at least by pitching-prospect standards. Berrios tossed 166 innings in the upper minors this year, four fewer than Dylan Bundy has thrown in his entire professional career. That sure looks like a starting-pitcher profile, even if he doesn't look like most starting pitchers.
Judge should make his debut in the Bronx sometime in 2016, but it feels like a man of his proportions and potential needs a nickname. For opposing pitchers he might very well be “Judge Dredd,” or when he fires one back up the box, “Judge Holden.” Or maybe his 6-foot-7 frame holds “the long arms of the law.” (When they get extended the 70-grade raw power definitely plays.) All right, these aren't as good as “Death to Flying Things” (although Judge should be a good defensive right fielder), so maybe we'll just let his bat do the talking when he gets to East 161st Street.
“Raw” isn't the first adjective that usually comes to mind when discussing a prospect who hit over .300 in Double-A, but Anderson is unusual. A basketball state champion in high school, he didn't play baseball until his junior year, and spent two years in junior college before being drafted. He still gets by even as he’s catching up, in part due to his loud athletic tools. His stats grow harder to hand wave as his competition improves, even though his approach is still quite unrefined. Anderson may require a longer adjustment period against major-league pitching than other prospect bats in this range, and questions about his long-term position remain, but given how rapidly his skills have matured in pro ball, this might be the last time “raw” shows up in his scouting reports.
Rodgers was the third straight shortstop taken to start the 2015 draft, but he may end up the best of the troika. He won't get to the majors as quickly as Dansby Swanson or Alex Bregman, the two SEC players picked ahead of him, but with a potential plus hit/plus power offensive profile and a glove that will keep him on the left side of the diamond, Rodgers may be worth the extra wait. Fortunately, time is one thing the Rockies have had plenty of lately.
Snell vaulted to the top of our Tampa Bay Top 10 list after burning through three levels of the minors with a 1.41 ERA. Minor-league ERA not your thing? Understandable. He also fanned 163 batters in 134 innings while giving up only 84 hits. The stuff more than matches the gaudy stats: Snell features a 92–94 mph fastball with excellent movement and life and pairs it with a plus slider and a potentially solid-average change. The only quibble is that you'd like to see him iron out his control issues before he debuts in the Trop, which will likely be sometime in 2016.
Meadows has yet to grow into the power some forecast for him as a top-10 pick in 2013, but there is little else here to complain about. He's so far assuaged concerns that he can stick in the middle of the diamond, and his swing still draws raves from scouts. He may never develop even average home run power, but he should knock plenty of doubles. That, combined with his overall hitting acumen and ability to play center field, has drawn comparisons to Christian Yelich.
Zimmer struggled in his first taste of Double-A this season, but the Indians' 2014 first-round pick can take some positives away from his first full year as a pro. His defense in center field improved to the point where he may be at least average there over the middle term, and his solid-average power continued to show up in games, even against more advanced arms. While he doesn't have the vaulted ceiling of some of the other prospects in this area of the list, Zimmer is a polished player on both offense and defense, and all of his tools grade out at average or better. If he continues to improve in center field, his broad base of skills would make him a first-division starter there, and if forced to a corner, his plus arm and sufficient pop would still qualify him to play every day.
Hoffman made his professional debut last year after recovering from the Tommy John surgery that knocked him down draft boards in 2014. The reports on his stuff continue to wow, even if the results weren't as dominant as you might expect from the kind words. He can touch 99 with his fastball and shows a potentially plus change and curve as well. Dealt from the Blue Jays to the Rockies at the deadline as part of the Troy Tulowitzki deal, Hoffman sits near the top of a suddenly thriving Colorado system. He will be two years removed from surgery in 2016, and no one would be shocked if he moves into the top tier of prospect arms on our 2017 list.
Williams was Texas’ second-round pick in 2012, and was considered one of the best athletes in the draft. Even on a field of professionals he clearly displays the most athleticism on the diamond, and that shows up in nearly every aspect of his game. In years past he hasn't managed to turn those raw tools into polished skills, but Williams made real strides in that regard last season, and it culminated in him being a centerpiece of the prospect package the Phillies received from the Rangers in return for Cole Hamels. He has freakish bat-to-ball skills that allow him to reach base despite rarely walking. He has also hit double-digit home runs in every full season he’s played. Williams has the raw speed to handle center field, and is slowly starting to figure out how to take good routes. Naysayers will continue to question his strike-zone control and lackluster approach until he proves it in the majors.
For the next couple of years Barreto, who spent last season at High-A, will be known as “that guy the A's got back for MVP Josh Donaldson.” He’s less-catchily known as a prospect with an advanced feel for hitting and more power than you'd expect from a player listed at 5-foot-9 (which means there's no way he's actually 5-foot-9). Defensively, he is more of a mixed bag. Barreto has the arm for shortstop, but there are questions about whether he will develop the instincts and actions for the position. The bat looks like it will play elsewhere on the infield, even if the approach will confuse the people who think Moneyball was only about taking walks.
Let’s play two truths and a lie:
De Leon was a breakout star in the Dodgers' system in 2015. He features an explosive fastball that shows good late life, and his changeup has improved to the point where he is comfortable throwing it to both right-handed and left-handed batters. De Leon's delivery produces extension and deception, which makes the whole package play up. But don't take our word for it, just ask Cal and Texas League hitters, who struck out 35 percent of the time against De Leon last season.
All prospect rankings involve a certain amount of dreaming, but if you are going to dream, find a player on whom you can dream big. Robles offers some of the most vivid, 35mm Eastman color dreams in the minors right now. The 18-year-old raked in the New York–Penn League last summer, forcing scouts to re-evaluate their expectations. The performance alone would be noteworthy in a league filled with experienced college arms, but Robles pencils in three future 70-grade tools (hit, run, arm) on ￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼the scouting sheet as well. He is a long way from the majors, but he has an impact profile both in center field and at the plate.
A lot of what we wrote for Tyler Glasnow also applies to Stephenson. The Reds' top prospect has two potential 70-grade offerings in his fastball and curve, but like his NL Central counterpart, struggles to command them. With Glasnow, the difficulty is getting his long levers to repeat his mechanics; with Stephenson, it’s due to what we called a “grip and rip mentality” in his pre-2015 scouting report. Last year, he got all the way to Triple-A and struck out more than a batter per inning between the Southern and International Leagues, but the command and control issues lingered. Stephenson struggled with walks and was a bit more hittable at times than you would think given the arsenal. There is a no. 2 starter in here with further refinement, with a mid-rotation or late-inning relief profile otherwise.
Dahl missed a month in 2015 after having his spleen removed, the result of a bad outfield collision in New Britain. He was one of the youngest players in the Eastern League and more than held his own on the field. Dahl is a true center fielder with advanced instincts to match his plus speed and strong arm. At the plate he struggled with more advanced sequencing from Double-A arms and was vulnerable to fastballs out of the zone with two strikes. When he does make contact, he does so with exclamation marks, and he may grow into more power as he matures. He needs to make adjustments to his approach to fully tap into his offensive potential, but the defense and athleticism should make him a good regular in center even if the bat never fully develops.
This isn’t a Top 101 of prospects who were traded to the Braves this offseason, but it’s understandable that you might think so. Newcomb, the grand prize sent to in Atlanta in the Andrelton Simmons deal, garners comparisons to Jon Lester due to his size, handedness and low-effort delivery. Lefties with potential plus-plus velocity are a rare commodity, but Newcomb has struggled with his control and command so far as a professional. Still, he's not just an arm-strength guy; he shows a full four-pitch mix and more feel than you’d expect from a cold-weather, small-college arm. If he gets a better handle on his mechanics and the strike zone, there is front-of-the-rotation upside here.
The career of a Colorado Rockies pitching prospect is only slightly less tenuous than that of a Spinal Tap drummer. While Gray can do his level best to stay away from gardening shears, he couldn't avoid breathing in the thin air of Albuquerque and Denver in 2015. Gray's fastball sits around 95, and his plus slider will be a bat-misser at the highest level, but command and altitude issues led to more loud contact than you would expect from an arm with his arsenal. He's already logged innings in the majors and has the frame to pitch 200 of them per season, but he will need to refine his changeup and improve his fastball command (and avoid spontaneously combusting, natch) to reach his no. 3 starter upside.
Thompson is the second of three prospects on this list that came over from Texas in the Cole Hamels deal. He doesn’t have the upside of Nick Williams or Jorge Alfaro, but Thompson’s a future major-league starter who will show you a plus fastball and slider to go with an average curveball and changeup. He is a strike-thrower as well, but his command lags behind his control, and that makes the whole arsenal a little more hittable than it should be based on the raw scouting grades. Still, the stuff is good enough that Thompson should settle into the middle of the Phillies' rotation as soon as the end of 2016, and he has the frame for eating up innings once he arrives there.
It’s unusual even this far down the list to find a plus hit/plus power bat like Devers. Granted, he’s still very young and a ways away from contributing to the big club in Boston, but you don’t have to squint too hard to see an impact major-league hitter given the above-average bat speed and backspin Devers produces at the plate. If he were a lock to stay on the left side of the infield, that’s a borderline All-Star profile, but he’s already stout at just 18 years old and struggles with his footwork. When he moves across the diamond to first base, the bat will be just “good” there.
You can nitpick McMahon’s performance the last two seasons if you like. In 2014 he played his home games in Asheville, which has one of the most inviting right-field porches in minor-league baseball. And in 2015 he played all of his games in the Cal League, which is the Cal League. There is 20-home run power in his bat in any park or league, though, and McMahon is a polished third baseman with a plus arm, so he will contribute on the defensive side as well. Perhaps someday he’ll do enough to please you.
One of the few 2016 Braves prospects who was also a 2015 Braves prospect, Albies made a smooth transition to full-season ball as an 18-year-old, hitting .300 in the South Atlantic League. The diminutive switch-hitter is never going to be much of a power threat (you’d be forgiven for suspecting his one career home run was an inside-the-park job), but he offers major-league tools everywhere else. In a perfect world Albies is a good glove up the middle while swiping 30-plus bases and serving as a table-setter for the rest of the lineup. In several other worlds, he’s a reboot of Casey Candaele.
For variety’s sake, here’s some potential no. 3 starter Mad Libs:
When the Astros selected Bregman with the second pick in the 2015 draft, they got a proven, polished performer from the best baseball conference in NCAA. You will find plenty of shortstops with louder tools on this list, but Bregman’s floor is likely higher than all of them. He shows a plus hit tool and a solid glove for the position, and may start his first full professional season in Double-A. He also gets high marks for makeup and is a top-step player through and through. While he may not be a future All-Star, Bregman could be contributing to a major-league team as soon as this September.
Holmes is one of the more underrated pitching prospects in baseball. He is outshone in his own system by the top-end arm strength of Jose De Leon and the combination of youth, stuff and pitchability of Julio Urias. He even got overlooked among the 2014 prep-arm draft class due to the lack of projection in his 6-foot-1 frame. The Dodgers may have gotten a steal with the 22nd-overall pick as a result. Holmes features a plus fastball and curve, but needs to refine his command and changeup to reach his projection as a mid-rotation starter. You may have heard some of this before.
After graduating Addison Russell, Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber in 2015, it would be forgivable if the Cubs system were down a bit this year. Their player-development system doesn't rebuild, though; it reloads. Torres may remind you of Starlin Castro, although not so much Castro the wizened veteran but Castro the prospect. He shows the same precocious hitting ability (Torres hit .293 as the youngest player in the Midwest League), and there are also questions about whether he sticks at shortstop long term. Torres cost the current Cubs front office a few pretty pennies more than the $45,000 that Jim Hendry and company paid for Castro, but if he can produce the same results at the plate, it’s unlikely there will be much quibbling over the $1.7 million “splurge.”
Tapia is a divisive prospect, even within Baseball Prospectus. He has bat-to-ball skills border on the preternatural. His ability to get the barrel on almost any pitch leads to some bad contact and chasing, though. He is still raw in center field, but his plus foot speed should let him play at least average there with further development of his reads and routes. The bat would be pushed in a corner, as the power projection is muddied a bit by his stints in Asheville and the Cal League. In short, Tapia has more development room than you would think for a player set to start the 2016 season in Double-A, but the bat is so tantalizing that it keeps him in the top half of this list.
Hey, another Braves prospect who wasn’t a Braves prospect at the beginning of last season! Blair lacks the upside of Sean Newcomb or Touki Toussaint, but he is a major-league-ready arm with mid-rotation upside. He has a prototypical starter’s frame (6-foot-5, 230 pounds) and he’s made 52 starts over the last two seasons. He may lack a high-end swing-and-miss offering against major-league hitters (though both the curve and change have a chance to be above average), but he has four major-league pitches and a body built to sweat out 200 innings.
Alford cost the Jays almost twice the third-round slot on a two-sport deal out of the 2012 draft (he was a highly regarded quarterback prospect at Southern Miss), and it started to pay off in 2015. He always had five-tool potential, and it showed up at the plate in a big way in his first extended taste of full-season ball. Alford displayed above-average bat speed and an improving approach, and his athleticism already plays well in center. Although he lost some development time due to his dalliance with college football, he will find himself in 2016 a level-appropriate 22-year-old in the Eastern League.
Manaea certainly looks the part of a top pitching prospect. He's got the prototypical workhorse-starter build. The fastball can touch 97 from the left side and sits comfortably plus with good movement. He complements that with a slider and change, both of which could be at least average. However, there area whole bunch of “cans” and “coulds” with this profile. The Manaea described above doesn't show up in every start, and recently he hasn't been showing up much at all. An abdominal injury followed by a groin injury limited him to under 100 innings in 2015, even after he popped up healthy in the crisp baseball of autumn. If you shook a Magic 8 Ball and asked it about Manaea, you'd get an “Outlook Cloudy” or “Ask Again Later.”
A bit of a surprise pick by the Red Sox at no. 7 in the 2015 draft, Benintendi hit the ground running, putting pitchers in both the New York–Penn and the South Atlantic League to the sword. There is no one carrying tool here, and the ceiling isn't as high as it usually is for a seventh-overall pick, but nothing grades out as worse than average, and he gets more power out of his 5-foot-10 frame than you’d expect. His advanced approach makes the whole offensive profile play up, and he should stick in center field. The lack of a long professional track record or standout tool injects some risk into the profile, but there isn’t much more Benintendi could have done in 2015 to quell any remaining doubts.
Reed moved from the land of burnt ends to the land of “chili” last summer as part of the Johnny Cueto deal. The tall, lanky lefty was in the midst of a breakout season in the Royals' system at the time, and he continued his success in Pensacola for the Reds. He has an electric fastball from the left side, which sits 92-95 as a starter and has touched 99 in short bursts. Reed pairs that with a sharp-breaking, upper-80s slider. He still has occasional issues with control and command, which plagued him more prominently in 2013 and 2014, due to a bit of a crossfire delivery and timing issues with his lightning-fast arm action. He may be best suited as a reliever long term, but his fastball-slider combo could make him an elite late-inning arm.
Last year was a bit of a lost season for the Diamondbacks' top prospect. His major-league debut was marred by a line drive off his face and general control struggles led to his demotion back to Triple-A. Shoulder issues followed, and cost him most of the summer. He showed flashes of what made him a top-10 national prospect at the end of the year in Reno, but this was the second straight year in which Bradley spent more time off the field than on it. At his best, he features a mid-90s fastball and a hammer curve, but much to Riverdale’s dismay, he has rarely been at his best lately.
We’ve been waiting for years for Bell’s raw plus power to start showing up in games. It didn’t get all the way there in 2015, but the hit tool took a huge step forward against upper-level pitching. He hit .317 between the Eastern and International Leagues and walked as often as he struck out. Although he has yet to post double-digit home runs in a professional season, Bell shows power from both sides of the plate, and even if it only plays as average in the end, his 2015 makes you feel more confident that his bat will play in right field (where he isn’t great defensively, although his arm is good) or first base (where it doesn’t really matter).
“Left-field profile” is a pejorative in scout circles, a little like calling a movie “one of Adam Sandler’s better ones.” The implication is that the player does not have the athleticism for center or the arm for right. Left fielders have to hit. Fortunately, Winker hasn’t had much of a problem with that so far. The raw power won't wow you, but Winker should deliver plenty of doubles, hit for a good average and show a strong approach that ties the whole offensive package together.
Nowadays we all but expect top pitching prospects to lose a year to Tommy John surgery somewhere along the road, but two years without a line on the baseball card will raise an eyebrow. Taillon missed all of 2014 for the de rigueur elbow surgery, and his path back last season was further marred by a hernia that kept him off the mound. Before his injury issues, Taillon had stuff that would easily put him among the top tier of prospects on this list, and he ended 2013 on the cusp of the majors. This ranking may look too low in six months, or it may look too high. It could also look juuuuuuuuuust right.
Most of the press around Honeywell is concerned with his screwball, taught to him by his uncle, Mike Marshall. It’s a pitch worth the column inches, already a bat-missing offering in the minors, but Honeywell is far from a one-trick pony, with a plus fastball and two other major-league-quality secondaries in his arsenal as well. That is a quality mid-rotation profile, if a unique one nowadays. Honeywell also does not lack for moxie, something else he may have picked up from Uncle Mike.
If you remember nothing else about Frazier, highly regarded 2013 prep bat, you probably remember that he had near-elite bat speed and bright red hair. In 2016, he still swings a fast stick and is still very ginger. The plus-plus bat speed and lift from his swing plane translated into real over-the-fence power in the Carolina League last season, and he cut his strikeout rate to a more acceptable level. There is still too much swing-and-miss in the zone from Frazier, and questions linger about his pitch recognition and whether he will be able to play center field in the majors, but oh man does that bug-zapper bat speed seduce.
Adames rose to national prominence as the main prospect sent to Tampa in the David Price deal. That brings with it additional attention and expectations, so it is easy to view his 2015 season (.258/.342/.379 in High-A) as a disappointment. But Adames will play the entire 2016 season as a 20-year-old, and the underlying skill set that makes him a potentially above-average regular at shortstop is still present. If his lack of foot speed forces him to second or third (the arm should play at the latter), the bat will have to take a step forward.
Reed is the best first-base prospect in the minors. While that isn’t quite the dictionary definition of “damning with faint praise,” you can probably find it in a thesaurus. He will have to do more than just hit; he’ll have to mash for the bat to play even average for the position. Fortunately, the skill set fits the bill. Reed socked 34 home runs across two levels in 2015, and the scouting reports back up the statistical performance, raving about his power to all fields and epic batting-practice displays. The swing that generates this power is long enough that even with his advanced approach, there will be strikeout issues that cut into his average, but the potential 30-home run pop and OBP skills should make up for that deficiency. Reed doesn’t offer much outside of the bat, even considering the already low bar at first base, so it’s not the worst thing in the world that he’ll have the DH option available to him in the majors.
Guerra entered 2015 as one of our “prospects on the rise” in a very, very deep Red Sox system. He enters the 2016 season in the Padres system (he was part of the package for Craig Kimbrel), and as one of the best shortstop prospects in the game. Guess he rose. What changed? The slick glove that brought Guerra to our attention in the first place remains. Everything he does in the field is loose and smooth, and he shows both the range and arm the position demands. The bat was the real revelation. In his full-season debut, the 19-year-old Panamanian knocked 15 home runs in the South Atlantic League, and while the power may not reach quite those heights at higher levels, he’s always shown above-average bat speed and a frame that could add strength as he ages. Guerra still needs refinement in his approach, but given the defensive projection, if he turns into even an average hitter in the majors, he’s a slam-dunk first-division shortstop.
Contreras didn't get cut from BP's Cubs top-prospects list coming into the 2015 season because he wasn't in legit consideration in the first place. It’s a tribute both to how outstanding their system is and how large a step forward Contreras took in 2015 that he lands just outside the top 50 a year later. Contreras came somewhat late to catching, as the Cubs signed him as an infielder out of Venezuela, and he spent his first three professional seasons playing mostly first and third. But he’s taken well to the tools, and is a good bet to be at least an average defender behind the plate. That said, it was the development of his bat over the last year that marks him as the best catching prospect in baseball. Contreras hit .333 in Double-A and set a career high with 34 doubles; his approach and plate discipline took a step forward as well. It was a true breakout season, and another voyage of self-discovery could rocket him into the top echelon of prospects next year, assuming he doesn't hit his way to Wrigley first.
As you may have gathered, we are now in the middle of the “oft-injured pitching prospect with potentially great stuff” range. A healthy Harvey was a top-20 prospect entering 2015, but was plagued by general discomfort in his forearm area throughout the season. If that sounds like a precursor to Tommy John surgery, well, it often is. That would at least clarify the situation for him, although it would also cost him all of 2016 as well. If a healthy Harvey gets back on the mound, hopefully his top-of-the-rotation stuff returns with him. He's a potential no. 2 starter, but that whole “when healthy” thing is a chilling qualifier for any pitching prospect.
The consensus best pitcher in the 2015 draft class, Tate failed to slip past the Rangers at no. 4, who paid $4.2 million to procure his services. He features a mid-90s fastball that can touch 98 and a potentially plus-plus slider that will generate whiffs against both righties and lefties. The changeup has a ways to go, but that’s how it is for most amateur arms; he didn't need it much to get Big West hitters out. Tate also has a chance to become the most famous alumnus of Claremont High School, a title currently held by The Mountain Goats' frontman, John Darnielle. It's not a great chance, though; We Shall All Be Healed is a really good record.
Kepler has always looked the part of a big, slugging corner outfielder, but the production from the German has never matched the body. That finally changed in 2015, as he set a career high in extra-base hits with 56, and even got a brief cup of coffee with the Twins in September. Kepler is still playing some center field, but it’s more of a dalliance given his burgeoning physique and, maybe more importantly, the existence of Byron Buxton, so it would be helpful if some of those 2015 doubles turn into home runs. At this point along his development path, power will be the last piece of the puzzle, as he has an extremely advanced approach, can hit for average and runs just well enough to nip 15 bases a year.
The centerpiece of the Carlos Gomez trade, Phillips is a hard-nosed center fielder with a free safety's mentality and an arbalest for a right arm. He improved his approach at the plate and grew into his swing last year, and now combines an ability to make in-swing adjustments with some natural loft and pull-side pop to project as an average contributor at the plate with additional value added on the basepaths. Phillips didn’t show much of that pop outside of the launching pad in Lancaster (15 home runs in 66 games in the Cal League, one home run in 54 elsewhere), but he doesn’t need to hit for much power to be a productive regular in center field given the rest of the skill set.
Son of Flash, brother of Dee, Nick garners all the positive epithets we often hear about a prospect with major-league bloodlines. You will hear things like “high baseball IQ” and “good feel for the game.” As far as the tools go, he doesn’t have his older brother’s elite speed, but he’s athletic enough to stick on the left side of the diamond and could even end up above average there due to his strong fundamentals at shortstop and a plus arm. He’s more advanced in the field than at the plate, but he showed some feel for hitting and a bit of gap-to-gap power in his 2015 Midwest League campaign.
Acquired at the 2014 trade deadline as part of the return for Jarred Cosart, Martes blew through three levels as a 19-year-old last year, finishing in the Texas League. Along the way he struck out nearly a quarter of the batters he faced on the strength of a fastball-curve combo that flashes plus-plus. He is only 6-foot-1 and struggles at times with mechanical inconsistency, so there will always be bullpen whispers, but Martes has the frame to handle a starter’s workload and already shows a solid change. He needs further refinement on the mound, but this is a potential front-of-the-rotation arm. The fallback position of relief ace who sits in the upper 90s isn’t too shabby either.
We have around 100 words or so to describe the player in question in these blurbs, so some summarizing is always necessary. Focus on a couple high points, stick in a developmental opportunity, maybe a quick projection and on to the next one. Appel confounds that modality. Getting any agreement on him from scouts and evaluators, even on velocity readings, which vary from day to day, is a difficult task. Forget about reaching any sort of détente around his pitch grades or ultimate projection. The best reports show Appel with three plus offerings (though not always in the same start) and a possible no. 2 starter outcome. Others teem with complaints about inconsistency in the stuff from start to start, inning to inning, even pitch to pitch, and predict a consignment to the bullpen. “The truth is probably somewhere in the middle” is an awfully pat conclusion in most instances, but here the middle is a vast expanse that covers most of the outcomes likely for prospects good enough to make this list in the first place. We could go on, but we are already stretching the patience of our lovely editors and their “around 100 words” diktat.
The Yankees have spent millions in the international market over the last few seasons, blowing past their cap in both 2013 and 2014, but their best IFA prospect might be one they paid just a quarter of a million dollars in 2012. Mateo is an 80 runner fully capable of stolen-base titles. He offers a potentially solid glove at shortstop as well. The bat is still quite raw, and may never win him a Silver Slugger, but he can challenge the old adage that “you can’t steal first.” Every ball in play is a potential single, and every ball up the alleys a potential triple.
Nottingham was dealt from Houston to Oakland in the Scott Kazmir deal while in the midst of a breakout season with the bat. Granted, he did a fair chunk of damage in the California League, which is quite hitter-friendly, but the swing backs up a plus power projection to go with the A-ball power production. Behind the plate he’s a mixed bag, with a strong arm, but still raw receiving skills. Prep catchers can take longer to develop, and the happy dreams of a 20-home run catcher is high enough to give Nottingham more time behind the dish.
It is not mere happenstance that finds Happ on this year's 101. He's another polished college bat that the Cubs happily added to their system, selecting the Cincinnati outfielder with the ninth overall pick in the 2015 draft. If you happened upon him in his professional debut this past summer, you'd have seen a switch-hitting outfielder who never looks hapless from either side of the plate, and shows enough present-day feel and approach to move quickly through the minors. Happ is not quite athletic enough for center field, and has gotten the run out at all three outfield positions so far in his pro career. There is some thought that he might be able to play second base as well, so there is no need for the Cubs to make a decision about his ultimate defensive home haphazardly.
A 2014 first-round pick, Ortiz performed very well in his first full professional season. He posted very impressive strikeout and strikeout-to-walk rates—especially for a 19-year-old in a full-season league. Ortiz has a workhorse frame, but needs to monitor his weight to avoid being compared to less complimentary animals. His delivery is fairly unorthodox, but as his control numbers suggest, he naturally fills the zone quite well. A potential middle-rotation starter, Ortiz has a heavy sinker/slider mix with a changeup that can get to average. A 2017 debuter at the absolute earliest, Ortiz likely will be capped at Double-A Frisco in 2016 while he logs more innings.
Much of what was written for Hunter Harvey would fit under Bundy’s name as well. Bundy did pitch in 2015, but threw 22 innings and dealt with shoulder issues for much of the season. This comes on the heels of arm issues in 2014, and Tommy John surgery that cost him all of 2013. You might forget that he pitched a bit in the majors in 2012, but the Orioles are probably well aware, as that means he enters 2016 out of options. If he’s not on the DL, he’ll have to be on the major-league staff somewhere, but the balance between maintaining his rights and building up his arm strength will be a sticky wicket for the Baltimore front office and field staff. Why go through all this trouble for an oft-injured pitcher? Well, Bundy showed three potential plus pitches at his height as a prospect. That is some nice stuff, and the list of prospect arms with that on their resume is very, very short.
It feels like #TheLegend has been tantalizing us with his po- tential for years now. Alfaro’s loud tools are fun to talk about, but they needed to show up in actual baseball games more consistently, and that still didn’t happen in 2015. Granted, Alfaro missed a lot of time with an ankle injury, but a leg issue for a catching prospect, one about whom there were already whispers regarding his long-term future behind the plate, is very concerning. Alfaro the player may never live up to Alfaro the prospect, but this is a prospect list, and it is tough to ignore a potential five-tool catcher.
Lopez was nowhere near our 2015 Top 101 list, and only clocked in at seventh overall in a shallow Milwaukee system. The stuff ￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼projected as average across the board at best, and his performance in the Carolina League was uninspiring. He looked like a prototypical projectable guy who hadn't yet projected, physically or astrally. Flash forward 12 months and Lopez's fastball now sits 92-94, touching the upper 90s, with a curve that dismays opponents. He dominated Double-A and got two starts for the Brewers as they played out the string. He'll likely be back in their rotation at some point in 2016, and while his occasional control issues may keep him from being a front-line arm, he could end up a useful mid-rotation starter, something that seemed very unlikely this time last year..
Anytime a former 13th-rounder makes his big-league debut, someone somewhere in an amateur-scouting department gets an extra half-hour of free continental breakfast at the closest Days Inn. Drury has a legitimate shot at helping the big club in a significant way in 2016. He’ll show four average-or-slightly-bet- ter tools, with the power potential standing out as an expected strength despite curiously poor home run totals in the high minors. A competent defender at second or third, he’s capable of occupying prime real estate on the depth chart for the next several years.
Remember what you were doing at 17? If your answer doesn’t involve hitting triple digits with your fastball on the back end of a seven-figure bonus, then you and Espinoza might not have a whole lot to talk about. The Venezuelan wunderkind forced his way stateside in his first professional season, then proceeded to whiff a batter an inning while allowing all of three earned runs in his first 40 frames of Rookie ball. That’s a 0.68 ERA if you’re scoring at home. Espinoza’s heater already shows projection as an elite major-league weapon, and he backs it up with startlingly advanced feel for a pair of potentially plus secondaries. Still, his slight build and the natural attrition rate of young pitchers are reasons enough to keep expectations in check, kind of like your junior prom date did when you were the kid’s age.
If “left-field profile” is pejorative, “tweener” is an epitaph. But we come to praise McKinney, not to bury him. He is, after all, the 74th-best prospect in baseball. True, he doesn’t have the foot speed for center field, nor the arm for right, and his yearly total of dingers should just barely creep into double digits once his game power fully develops. What he can do is engage that most primal of baseball skills: See ball, strike ball. If we were to rank these same 101 prospects just on their hit tools, McKinney would be much higher, and not just because there are a lot of pitchers. He could be a perennial .300 hitter in an era when that is a very rare thing. That may be enough to carry a left-field profile and avoid the tweener tag.
A pop-up prospect in the New York-Penn League in 2014, Lopez proved more hittable over a full season at High-A last year. At its best his fastball sits in the high 90s and hops to the arm side in the nick of time. Physical gains also had his curveball snapping harder and avoiding more bats for Potomac. He struggles at times to repeat a delivery that can get overwhelmed by his top-shelf arm speed, but the cadence and raw material for a solid command profile are present. The Nationals have built his workload cautiously, and figure to polish him at Double-A this spring.
McGuire lacks the offensive upside of the other catching prospects on the 101, but he’s by far the best defender of the group. He struggled with the bat in the Florida State League last year, but he offers a plus defensive projection behind the plate with a plus arm and advanced receiving skills. He’s a good athlete for a catcher as well, and may grow into more game power over time. His stock is down until he starts to hit a bit more, but the glove alone gives him a good shot at a major-league career, even if it’s the one-day-a-week kind.
Garrett advanced one level to pitch the entirety of 2015 at age-appropriate High-A, and he put together an eerily consistent season compared to 2014, save for an impressively slashed home run rate. Although he’ll pop the mid-90s from a tough left-handed angle, he still hasn’t quite figured out how to fully channel his premium athleticism into a consistent delivery. That hasn’t necessarily mattered thus far, as he’s shown plenty of raw stuff to get by in the lower minors, but 2016 will bring with it a stronger challenge at Double-A and a chance for Reds brass to figure out Garrett's place among the organization’s expanding hierarchy of interesting pitching prospects.
We’ve reached the point in gluttonous Dodgers spending where they could throw eight figures at the shruggy emoticon guy and nobody would so much as raise an eyebrow. Their outlay for the 19-year-old Cuban wasn’t quite that random, but it was certainly aggressive given Alvarez’s poor production in junior-league play. A well-timed growth spurt helped his velocity spike into the high 90s when he defected last year, and he tantalizes with premium arm speed and flashes of a wipeout slider. The mechanics are raw enough to be served on lightly toasted rye bread, however, and he struggles mightily to repeat his delivery and command the baseball right now. The upside is massive, and the risk would be too, if risk mattered to the Dodgers.
A two-way player in high school more generally regarded as a future hurler heading into the draft, Riley heard his name on day one thanks to an Atlanta front office that preferred the raw thunder in his bat. He didn’t disappoint after signing, slugging a dozen rhombuses and 14 doubles in his 60 games of Rookie ball. He generates plus-or-better power with an easy, country-strong swing, though an Ugglan strikeout rate warrants caution. His strong arm and surprising agility for a big man lend hope that he can stay at the hot corner long term, while his dreamy blue eyes and plus baseball name round out the package of a potential franchise cornerstone.
A 2011 bonus baby out of Colombia, Ramirez would have comfortably led the offense-challenged Florida State League in hitting had he tallied a qualifying number of at-bats. The well-rounded outfielder failed to do so, however, because the team held him back for extensive conditioning work after he showed up last spring heavily emphasizing the “round.” And the “heavily.” (He was overweight.) Questions of focus and dedication notwithstanding, Ramirez can really hit. His barrel-delivery and feel for contact are both well above average, and his frame suggests ample power should be on the way as his approach matures. His body type and lack of arm strength may force him to left field, but the Pirates aren’t likely to mind if he reaches his offensive potential.
When a top prospect is traded twice in the space of four months, it tends to elicit sidelong glances. Why was the player deemed expendable? The focus turns to what he can’t do. There are things Peraza can’t do, to be sure. He won’t walk much or hit for any sort of power. That profile can be tough at the highest level, because major-league arms will challenge you if the worst they can expect is a line-drive single. Peraza can give you those, though. He can also run and has experience at all three up-the-middle positions. If he improves at shortstop, he's an everyday player; he's also a guy worth trading for twice..
Allard is a true oddity on this list. Not that the ranking is out of place or anything: He was the best prep arm in the 2015 draft, synecdochally speaking. The little lefty will flash three plus pitches and also gets high marks for command and pitchability given his age. No, the weird thing is that he is listed as a Braves prospect, but as far as we here at Baseball Prospectus can tell, at no point in time has Allard played any of his amateur baseball in the state of Georgia. We’ll continue to investigate..
Almora’s well-rounded skill set hasn’t quite coalesced at the superstar speed of some of his fellow 2012 first-rounders, but it’s getting there. An aggressive approach has frequently undercut his promising hit tool and limited his solid power potential as he’s journeyed up the ranks. But while the power remains nascent he made notable progress in upping his previously abysmal walk rate at Double-A last year, and he continued to make contact at a fine clip. He shines in the field, and though he lacks for much more than average raw foot speed he is blessed with an innate ability to anticipate and read contact. It remains an open question whether the offensive package is likely to get to first-division caliber, but the defense and drive should be more than enough to grant him an audition to find out in the near future.
Guerrieri’s stuff may merit a higher place on this list, but he’s yet to have the opportunity to show that stuff across a full season: The 78 innings he threw in 2015 were a career high, and he was drafted all the way back in 2011. Most of the other first-round prep arms from that draft have already debuted in the majors or are knocking on the door (e.g. Jose Fernandez, Joe Ross, Dylan Bundy, Archie Bradley and Robert Stephenson), while Guerrieri has thrown just 36 innings above A-ball. The fastball-curve combo both show up as plus, but given his durability issues and lack of an above-average future projection for the change, he may end up as a late-inning reliever.
Writing about teenage prospects will make you feel old, as we’ve mentioned before. Writing about teenage prospects whose father’s career you remember from start to finish will make you feel... really old. Daz is the son of former All-Star Mike, and the Astros gave him $4 million in last year's draft, tying him for the fifth-highest bonus paid. Daz may not offer the same speed-power combo his father did, and he’ll almost certainly never hit four home runs in a game, but he has a good shot to stick in center field, and he has a broad set of offensive tools to bet on with an up-the-middle defensive profile.
Unix programmers follow a guiding philosophy of DOTADIW (Do One Thing And Do It Well). Meet Smith. Dude can hit. He's a first- base-only prospect, and he has yet to show much in the wayof game power in his first two professional seasons, but he has preternatural bat-to-ball skills and started driving the ball into the left-center gap more in 2015. It's still a difficult profile, and he has a high-maintenance body even for first base, but when you watch him swing the bat, those thoughts drift further from your mind. Now if only we could get you all using mutt for email.
Various arm and leg issues cost Fulmer large chunks of 2013 and 2014. He shook them off in 2015, and showed why he was a supplemental first-round pick. The fastball is still a plus offering that can touch the mid-90s consistently, and his slider took a large step forward. The changeup lags behind, and this was the first full(ish) healthy season Fulmer has pitched, so there will be lingering questions about whether he is a major-league starter. He looks built for a 200-inning workload, so he could turn into a mid-rotation stalwart with further command and changeup refinement, but he may be best suited as a late-inning reliever where the fastball-slider combination could play up further in short bursts..
We hope you’re not tired of reading about shortstops yet, because we have a few more to go. Robertson technically qualifies: Sent to Tampa in the Ben Zobrist deal with Oakland, he demonstrates below-average range at the position, although both the A’s and the Rays have never been shy about playing shortstops who are stretched. He has the arm for third, but he has yet to show the over-the-fence power for a corner (outside of the Cal League, anyway). If he does find himself banished from shortstop, there still might be enough OBP and doubles power in the profile to carve out a career as a regular.
Zimmer has now compiled a stellar 3.28 ERA in parts of four professional seasons, but he’s also logged more days on the disabled list than innings on the mound. Last year, a setback in rehabbing his surgically repaired shoulder delayed his debut and ultimately cost him two more months of development, after which the organization conservatively limited his innings in a relief role for the bulk of the season. When he did toe the rubber he still showed the same premium velocity and hammer curveball that got him drafted as the fifth-overall pick back in the day. Short of hiring away the white-gloved Stanley Cup bodyman to shadow him, it’s unclear what else the Royals can do to keep their top pitching prospect on the mound for a full season. They’ll try again in 2016.
“Right-field profile” doesn't get the same bad press as the other corner outfield spot, but it puts similar pressure on the bat to perform. Our vision of a right fielder is more in line with a baseball player who oozes tools. Sure, maybe he isn't quite athletic enough for center (Renfroe certainly isn't), but we are more likely to find a big arm and some lift in the swing next to the no. 9 on your scorecard (Renfroe gives you both). There's enough swing-and-miss here that the 70-grade raw power may only play as 60 against major-league pitching, but, coupled with his above-average athletic tools for a corner, that should make him a solid regular for the Friars as soon as the second half of 2016.
A legend of the Cuban junior leagues, Diaz signed with the Dodgers for eight figures because of course he did. He’s a center fielder by trade, with four above-average tools and raw power that may evolve into a fifth depending on how his body develops. He already shows solid command of the zone, leading evaluators to believe that outstanding hand-eye coordination can help him play as a top-of-the-order asset who gets on base and steals some bags. That assumes, of course, that the Dodgers haven’t bought all of the free agents by then and left him as a superfluous—if quite rich—career minor leaguer.
This is Sanchez’s sixth appearance on a BP Top 101, so it falls to him to show the kids how to fix the copier and where we keep the K-Cups. He took steps forward on both sides of the ball in 2015, and the plus power and plus-plus arm that have kept him on every new iteration of this list are still very much present. ￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼Evaluations differ on whether he is a catcher long term, but the Yankees have an opening for him behind the plate in 2016, albeit as a backup, so we prospect writers should at least be able to avoid the seven-year itch. Maybe Sanchez should avoid any subway grates around the D train just to be on the safe side though.
Tucker's swing was the subject of much internal discussionhere at BP Towers. It's difficult to find a modern comp for it, as nowadays no one loads their hands quite as low as he does. The result was email threads filled with grainy film of Ted Williams and Stan Musial. Needless to say, those are a couple of wildly unfair names to drop in the commentary for any hitter, much less an 18-year-old, even one highly regarded enough as an amateur to get picked fifth overall. Tucker needs to work out the occasional timing issues with his left hook of a swing and add more physical strength in order to generate enough power for his right-field projection. He remains one of the most intriguing amateur bats in the 2015 class, and he can always pick up some free pointers from older brother, Preston.
The 20-year-old Jackson is a bit young for the “post-hype sleeper” designation, but hitting just .157/.240/.213 in the Midwest League after getting pegged as the sixth-overall draft pick will dissipate your hype quickly. He fared better in the Northwest League, where he was hardly an old man, and showed more of the power that made him such a highly regarded amateur talent. Jackson is limited to right field, so he will have to hit a lot, but the pedigree and potential are still there.
Kilome may very well be the rawest arm on this list. He’s a 6-foot-6 string bean who has yet to throw a pitch in full-season ball. The stuff that earns him this spot only shows up in flashes right now. That’s the (possibly temporary) bad news. The good news is he has plus-plus arm strength and bumped the upper 90s last summer for Williamsport. He will also flash a plus curve. The development path will be long for Kilome, but there may be projection left in his frame, and the upside is very, very high.
Rosario has turned into a very different type of prospect than the Mets might have figured when they gave the Dominican shortstop $1.7 million in 2012. Scouts thought he might grow into serious game power but out of the position. Rosario hasn’t really put on mass, and hit zero home runs in the Florida State League (where he was the youngest every-day player) last year, but he has made huge strides with his defense. Rosario now looks like he could be an above-average glove, and he does have incredibly quick wrists that should at least give him gap power as he continues to physically mature. He may not be the prospect we expected, but he’s still a good one. If you were just here for the shortstops, you can quit now. No more, promise.
Martinez might want to steer clear of the Swan Oyster Depot for a while after backing out of a deal with San Francisco to take $3 million from the Cubs. It's not the end of the world (Chicago has almost as many Michelin stars as offensive stars nowadays), but the 20-year-old Cuban outfielder still has a ways to go developmentally before he'll be scoring reservations at Alinea or 42 Grams. Martinez is likely to start 2016 in South Bend (best restaurant according to TripAdvisor: LaSalle Grill), where he will start to answer the questions about his power potential and ultimate defensive home in the outfield.
Kopech's dominant season in the South Atlantic League was cut short in July by a 50-game suspension for using a banned amphetamine. If you insist the two are related we will point you to that XKCD comic about correlation versus causation(no. 552; there truly is an XKCD for every situation). Even in an abbreviated stint, Kopech showed a fastball that could bump the upper 90s and a potentially plus power curve. The mechanics (like much of the rest of the profile) are a bit raw and he may eventually settle in as a power arm in the bullpen. Given that he won't turn 20 until a month into the 2016 season, Kopech still has plenty of time to try sticking as a starter.
Clark’s is an unusual profile among first-round prep picks, especially one likely to end up in a corner spot. He has an advanced approach and impressive pure hitting ability for his age, but lacks big-time athletic tools. Without much in the way of projected power or enough speed for center field, Clark will have to hit his way to the majors. Fortunately, he may very well have been the best overall high school hitter in last year’s draft class.100.
The Jays nabbed Greene as a projectable Southern California prep arm in the seventh round of the 2013 draft. He, uh, projected, climbing three levels of the minors in his full-season debut. The skinny 6-foot-3 right-hander can run his fastball up to 98 and sits comfortably at 92-94. The curveball and changeup will both flash average, but are in need of further development. Greene got all the way to Double-A, but he is still a bit of a raw athlete on the mound. The stuff is good enough that with more development time he could round into a mid-rotation starter, although the top-end velocity he showed last year would also be alluring in a late-inning role.
If Clark was considered by some the best pure hitter among the prep bats in 2015, Wall got similar accolades in 2014. He has a swing geared to spray line drives all over the outfield and has one of the best pure hit tools in the minors. He’s inexperienced at second base, only being forced there after undergoing labrum surgery in high school, which has left his arm well below average. He has the foot speed to play in center field, though so far the Rockies have left him at the keystone, where he projects as an average defender. Wall’s swing is geared for contact over power, so his average raw power may end up playing more fringy in games. Having conquered the left-handed hitter’s paradise in Asheville, he will head to the Cal League in 2016. Life can be tough out there for second base prospects, but Wall is a good one.