One of the most exciting leagues to watch this year, but you might want to get there early.
While Double-A can often be a mixed bag of top prospects and organizational filler, the 2015 Texas League—or at least the first half of the season—should offer some compelling talent for fans and talent evaluators to observe. Between elite prospects like Carlos Correa and Julio Urias, and merely excellent prospects like Raul Mondesi, Miguel Almonte, and Nomar Mazara, people with the ability to get out to a Texas League park should do so early and often before the top prospects finish abusing the rest of the league and get promoted.
Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Kansas City Royals)
Those who follow the minor leagues closely will realize that the Royals system, while not at the peak of a few years ago, remains very strong, and they would need to look no further than the Double-A Northwest Arkansas roster to see evidence of that strength. The club’s top three prospects, Raul Mondesi (SS), Miguel Almonte (RHP), and Sean Manaea (LHP), are all projected to see considerable time on the Naturals’ diamond this summer; all three with the potential to take your breath away during any given game. On top of that ridiculous trio, the Royals are likely to send infielder Hunter Dozier and possibly outfielder Jorge Bonifacio to Double-A to continue their development. Rounding things out—for those with a morbid curiosity for big athletes with limited feel for baseball—outfielder Bubba Starling could make an appearance in Double-A, and his time on the field is always worth watching.
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We continue our league preview series with a breakdown of every team in the California League.
Known for the high-octane offensive environment that surrounds the bulk of the league, the California League should have several impact offensive talents moving through the ranks this summer. Highlighted by prospects like David Dahl, Raimel Tapia, and others, offense should not be an issue during the first half of the season. Many of these top-flight offensive talents will be heading to Double-A around the All-Star break, leaving many lineups a little less potent, though new hitters are sure to emerge as the season moves along. While many clubs have begun to keep top pitching prospects away from the challenging pitching conditions in the Cal League, there should still be some intriguing arms toeing the rubber from time to time. Prospects like Edwin Diaz, Michael Feliz, Kyle Freeland, and Keury Mella should all log significant innings for their clubs this summer. All told, the California League is likely to see its fair share of highly ranked prospects throughout the season, but fans should expect the talent to taper off in the second half as the upper echelon of prospects are promoted to Double-A; meaning the goal in the Cal League should be to get to the park early and often to catch the best talent.
Every farm system in baseball, ordered from best to worst.
1. Chicago Cubs Farm System Ranking in 2014: 2 2015 Top Ten Prospects: Link Top Prospect: Addison Russell (2) Prospects on the BP 101: 7 State of the System: Despite graduating infielders Arismendy Alcantara and Javier Baez, and mildly uninspiring years from former Top 10 prospects like C.J. Edwards and Christian Villanueva, the Cubs are the proud owner of the game’s top system. With the 2014 arrival of shortstop Addison Russell via trade, the explosive emergence of third baseman Kris Bryant, and the selection of a hit-first prospect like Kyle Schwarber, the Cubs remain absolutely loaded with impact talent. The arrival and emergence of those players doesn’t even begin to touch on the continued presence of outfielders Jorge Soler and Albert Almora, as well as quality depth of high ceiling players like Gleyber Torres, Eloy Jimenez, Carson Sands, and Mark Zagunis. The Cubs’ system is loaded to the gills with talent that could help their roster continue to improve internally, or via trade. Must-See Affiliate: Triple-A Iowa Prospects to See There: Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Pierce Johnson
In Steven Moya's first big test, he showed massive raw power and a terrifying K:BB ratio. Which indicator will win out?
Some prospects inspire a strong consensus among scouts. The tools and projection are easy to see; we know a player is going to be good, so it’s only a matter of how good. With other prospects, however, there can be a much wider range of opinions. Two scouts can see the same thing from the same player and come up with two totally different sets of opinions. It happens in the seats behind the plate, in meeting rooms before the draft, and in many of the discussions behind the scenes here at BP. To me, this is one of the best parts about scouting. Sometimes there are no right or wrong answers, or at least not ones we’ll know for a few years.
The Blue Jays call up a top pitching prospect for the third time this season.
The Situation: With the postseason all but out of reach, the Blue Jays are promoting yet another of their top pitching prospects. Following the promotion of Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez earlier this year, left-hander Daniel Norris will cap off his season in the big leagues.
The Phillies call up the slugging corner infielder, who has recovered from a terrible start to his season.
The Situation: Despite the shine of a Labor Day no-hitter, the Phillies season has quickly slipped away, so as a result it is time to see what the kids can do. Ranked as the Phillies top prospect entering the season, Franco has overcome a miserable start to the season and is now hitting .257 with 16 home runs and 32 doubles.