I asked the Baseball prospectus Midwest writers to rank the prospects they saw to wrap up the Midwest League. We listed the best position player, the best pitcher, the best overall player and our favorite prospects. The lists broke down as such:
Mauricio Rubio Jr.
Best Position Player Eloy Jimenez
Best Pitcher Yadier Alvarez
Best Overall Eloy Jimenez
Favorite Isan Diaz
As such we have three clear winners for best position player, best pitcher, and best overall player and a predictable wide smattering of talent for each writer's favorite prospect. These kinds of straw polls are interesting to see where our staff’s value system and preferences break down and even though we are four very different evaluators it is fun to see a consensus emerge in the best categories. Without further adieu here is the best of the Midwest League:
Best Position Player/Best Overall:
Eloy Jimenez, OF, Chicago Cubs
Jimenez spent the entire regular season at South Bend before getting promoted to Myrtle Beach for the minor league playoffs. He destroyed the Midwest League to the tune of a .329/.369/.532 slash line and displayed an intense amount of game power paired with a body that suggests he can add even more raw strength as he grows. Jimenez earned high praise from Grant Jones in his Eyewitness Report from 8/29/16 and from industry sources who have seen him throughout the year. The Cubs overall prospect pipeline is buoyed by the stock of Eloy Jimenez: without him their list of top prospects looks considerably worse. Jimenez is advanced and he showed that through much of the 2016 season. He’ll face a real challenge in the Arizona Fall League and should be in line for an upper minors assignment in 2017.
Anderson Espinoza, RHP, San Diego Padres
The Padres acquired Espinoza from the Red Sox for Drew Pomeranz and Espinoza impressed during his brief stint in the Midwest League. He throws in the upper 90s, touching 97 with a downhill fastball that he commands well for a teenager. His tight-spinning curveball shows bat-missing promise and he’s developing feel for a changeup. Espinoza is a long-term projection arm much like Alcantara is. The initial results were encouraging enough but the projected finished product is an enticing one.
Michael Gettys, OF, San Diego Padres
“I know Gettys wasn't there long but he was really fun to watch once the adjustments happened. [The arm] is a cannon. The bat is the key as always but he sure has the tools to stick around while he works on that.” – James Fisher
The Tin Caps were a popular team for the BP squad. Gettys has a fun assortment of loud tools including plus power, speed, and a monster arm, but the one that was lagging behind early in the season was the most important one: the hit tool. His swing mechanics were stiff early on and there wasn’t much plate coverage on the outer half but Gettys made moderate progress with the swing and his profile got very exciting after that.
Jacob Nix, RHP, San Diego Padres
“Not that he's better or more valuable than the others listed I just have a prospect crush on Nix. I saw him in the AZL last year, and the difference is noticeable.” – Grant Jones
Nix doesn’t have the extreme upside of some of the other arms that were listed here but he is a promising arm nonetheless thanks to a bat missing curveball and mid-to-upper-90s velocity. He maintained a miniscule 4.5 percent walk rate throughout the year thanks to a consistent fluid action that improved as the year went on.
Isan Diaz, SS, Milwaukee Brewers
I penned a love note to Diaz already so it shouldn’t be a shocker that he earns my vote as my favorite prospect and it’s not a surprise to me that he earned best position player votes. Diaz started slowly but he posted blistering numbers from June on, including a .645 slugging percentage in July. He has his flaws, there’s going to be swing and miss in his offensive game and his defense is average at best at his long term home of second base. But Diaz didn’t earn this praise for his glove, it’s his power and approach that earn the high marks. Diaz has a strong upper body and generates plus bat speed and natural lift with his swing. The plus raw power has every chance to actualize in game as well thanks to a keen batting eye, creating a profile with a lot of upside and promise.
Ibandel Isabel, 1B, Los Angeles Dodgers
“Then I saw [Isabel’s] batting practice — everything carried, rivaling, if not, surpassing Eloy Jimenez's raw power.”
It sticks out when a first base prospect makes a “favorite player” submission, so I asked Will for clarification:
“Isabel was a player that initially drew some laughs because of his approach and generally unbalanced swing. He fit into the mold of an undisciplined hitter who won't succeed because he can't hit. Then I saw his batting practice—everything carried, rivaling, if not, surpassing Eloy Jimenez's raw power. He's a player who carries an uncelebrated status as an MiLB FA, but was a stunning sight because of his power, which already manifests in-game. He shifts around in the batter's box, starts closed then gradually opens the lower half, giving way to reverberating power and hard contact. He trusts his power and natural strength.
I saw him in the last series of my season, and he shed his label of obscurity very quickly. He'll be in the Cal League next year, and will stun someone behind home, or on the lawn, with his unique power.”
Sandy Alcantara, RHP, St Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals have sent a lot of high-upside arms through Peoria as of late, a list that includes Alex Reyes, Junior Fernandez, Jack Flaherty, and most recently Sandy Alcantara. The young Cardinals right hander enjoyed a lot of success at Peoria; he struck out 25.4 percent of batters and maintained his success even as he was working on improving his breaking ball and was forced to pocket his change at times. Alcantara’s command can waver at times but his velocity sits in the 97-100 range and he was touching 97+ well into the 7th inning during my viewing of him. Alcantara is a projection arm, he’s tall, lanky and broad shouldered and his frame has room to fill out. There’s a lot of upside here.
Yadier Alvarez, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
I’m not much for scouting the stat line but a 34.6 percent strikeout percentage will get my attention eight days a week. Yadier Alvarez had a limited showing in the Midwest League but he was very impressive. Alvarez throws 100, has a wipeout slider, and sources have indicated he shows some feel for a change. Add that package all together, sprinkle in some promising command thanks to a fluid and athletic delivery and there’s the potential for an absolute monster in the making with the tall, lanky right-hander.