Amed Rosario, SS, New York Mets (High-A Port St. Lucie)
After an aggressive placement to start 2015saw Rosario skip Low-A and head right to the Florida State League, the 19-year-old shortstop’s talent has been on display throughout the first half of the season. As the no. 78 prospect in our off-season Top 101, a case could be made for including him within the last couple slots of the just released mid-season Top 50, but regardless this prospect’s stock has jumped forward as we hit the midpoint of the season.
Rosario is currently a top 101 prospect in the game, and barring some kind of unforeseen circumstances will be a shoe-in for our list this coming off-season. So, why highlight him? He is an interesting case study because of how advanced he is, with a good dose of physical development likely to come. Standing 6-foot-2, Rosario currently is on the wiry/thin side. Though the expectation isn’t that he’ll suddenly morph into a monster, strength is going to come in time, and with strength there’s going to be an enhancement to the overall offensive game.
Without much progression when it comes to the physical side of things, the bat is likely to play down considerably, but my long-term view sees physical development as Rosario begins to mature into his early twenties. It’s a profile that has both offense and defense at a premium position, which has me excited as to what’s to come when things really start taking off. – Chris Mellen
Eloy Jimenez, OF, Chicago Cubs (Short-season Boise)
Jimenez is probably a year away from getting serious ink on top prospect lists, though an offensive explosion in the Northwest League this summer could accelerate his stock. Widely considered the top amateur in the Dominican Republic in 2013, the Cubs signed him as a 16-year-old for $2.8 million that July. He wasn’t small back then and he’s huge now, listed at 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds, and he looks even bigger in person. He’s a high-waisted athlete with bulging forearms and a classic right fielder’s frame.
At the plate, Jimenez has a smooth load and plus bat speed. Right now, he uses a clean and level stroke to mash deep line drives to all parts of the field. He’s capable of manipulating the barrel to hit pitches in all quadrants of the zone, and while he’s susceptible to chasing up when he’s behind in the count, he has a decent feel for the strike zone. He’s homered twice in the first two weeks of Eugene’s season but the real power will come if he can incorporate his lower half more, and add a little loft into his swing.
In the field, Jimenez holds his own. He has above average arm strength, though his throws tail and were often off-line in my viewing. Further growth will knock his average foot speed down at least half a grade at full maturity, but he should still have the wheels to handle a corner. It’s his bat that will do the talking though, and if it clicks, the Cubs could have a monster on their hands.
He’s in short-season ball and thus is a few years from the big leagues, but Jimenez has the size and physical tools to be an impact hitter down the line. – Brendan Gawlowski
Cole Tucker, SS, Pittsburgh Pirates (Low-A West Virginia)
Heading into the 2014 amateur draft, Tucker was seen as an overdraft at 24, and many teams felt that he would eventually slide off the shortstop position. After sitting on him for an entire series, there were strong signs that he can handle shortstop defensively.
His footwork and reaction times are currently inconsistent, but this is a developmental aspect that can improve with further repetition. He displays above-average range, smooth hands, and an above-average arm. At the plate, is where Tucker shines. He has innate barrel control from both sides of the plate, and his feel for hitting is solid for a player that just turned 19. While the power has yet to manifest in-game, Tucker displays above-average raw power and could eventually grow into a bat-first shortstop. The overall signs this season have been strong, and the development leads me to believe he will grab a spot on the top 101 heading into the offseason. — Tucker Blair
Jomar Reyes, 3B, Baltimore Orioles (Low-A Delmarva)
A giant on the field, Reyes already owns a major league body and the power to go with it. This is a strong kid, with quick, loose wrists at the plate that help implement this power. He has a natural swing, which allows for the bottom half to sync with the top and generate extreme force off the bat. While the bat speed is average, the other aspects of his swing work well together. The most exciting aspect of his development has been the seasoned approach and the ability to drive the ball to all parts of the field. This is one of the best bats I have laid eyes on in the minors this season, and he warrants discussion as one of the top bats in the game. I have my reservations about his ability to stick at third base, as he is already a large human and the actions are not smooth. However, Reyes is going to hit, even if he needs to move to first base in a couple years. For now, let’s dream on the potential at the plate — Tucker Blair
Brent Honeywell, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays (High-A Port Charlotte)
Honeywell handled himself well in the Midwest League, earning a promotion to High-A Port Charlotte. While his frame is skinny at present, he looks like he will add some good mass as he matures, and his athleticism will help him handle a starter’s workload in the long termThe screwball gets a lot of attention for its uniqueness, but the offering has plus potential. It has sharp 1-7 movement when it’s going right, and can develop into a bat-misser at the highest level. Honeywell’s fastball operates comfortably in the 90-94 range and he was able to reach back for more velocity late into his outing. His changeup and curveball can both get to average; the change is inconsistent currently, but does flash above-average fade. The deception on the pitch is below average, though, and it can pitch flatten out when misfired. Honeywell’s curveball has sharp 11-5 movement but the command on the pitch is below average and he doesn’t throw it for quality strikes.
Honeywell has an ample repertoire as he works with four pitches, two of them plus. His fastball and screwball will carry the arsenal, but the curve and change should work well enough for him to become an effective No. 3 starter in the long term. Honeywell is a top 101 talent and there’s a considerable case to be made that he’s a top 50 one. – Mauricio Rubio
Balbino Fuenmayor, 3B, Kansas City Royals (Double-A Northwest Arkansas)
To say that Balbino Fuenmayor has the best name in Professional Baseball right now would be stating the obvious [ed. note: this opinion reflects that of the author and the author alone Fuenmayor has been putting up gawdy numbers this season (.354/.386/.591, 15 homers, 51 RBI) for NW Arkansa and now has been promoted to Triple-A Omaha. His average, homers, and RBI put him the top three in each respective category for the Texas League. What’s interesting is Fuenmayor’s history coming off a recent stint in the Can-Am League with Quebec and another stint in the Frontier League after being signed as a 17-year-old free agent out of Venezuela by Toronto in 2007. His track record would tell you he is a guy that swings and misses a lot and doesn’t have much discipline at the dish. However, judging by this year’s performance, and a conversation with some of his teammates, Fuenmayor has changed his approach at the plate for the better. His strikeout rate is way down compared to years past, and while his walk totals are still at pedestrian levels, it seems his two-strike approach has made the difference. Instead of the Gallo-esque two-strike swing, Fuenmayor has been shortening his swing and leg kick a la Anthony Rizzo, and putting the bat on the ball with two strikes with positive results. It’ll be interesting to see if he can continue this approach with the same success in Omaha. – Colin Young
Dan Vogelbach, 1B, Chicago Cubs (Double-A Tennessee)
It’s not difficult to make a case for Vogelbach having a top-50 bat. He’s one of the best pure hitters in the minors, has plus raw power, and will ultimately end up being a better hitter than half the position players on our list. Unfortunately, that’s where his value ends. He offers nothing with the glove, masquerading as a first baseman when really his mitt should he hidden from him altogether. He’s a zero on the bases, leaving his bat to do all the work. It’s strong enough to carry him, but his lack of position essentially renders him useless to half the league. That said, there’s a good chance that in five years he’s one of the five best designated hitters in the game, and while that’s not the most exciting profile, it will make for a good baseball player. – Jeff Moore
Jacob Faria, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays (Double-A Montgomery)
Faria put the prospect world on notice this season, taking major steps forward in his development en route to dominating the Florida State League. As if that wasn’t enough to make his case for our off-season list, however, Faria turned in one of the better pitching performances in the minors over the holiday weekend, striking out 14 batters in seven no-hit innings. The 6-foot-4 Faria has an ideal pitcher’s frame that generates tremendous downward plane on his 94-mph fastball. He also offers a 12-6 curveball that flashes plus at times and a change-up with just enough arm-side fade, and deception from his long limbs, to be effective. He may not be the biggest name on the mound within the Rays farm system, but he’s just as talented. – Jeff Moore
D.J. Peterson, 3B, Seattle Mariners (Double-A Jackson)
It’s no secret that Peterson has struggled in his first taste of Double-A; Southern League pitchers have limited the New Mexico product to a .213/.288/.335 line, with just five homers and the highest strikeout rate of his career. He’s also playing more first than third now, and between his poor numbers at the plate and a shift down the defensive spectrum, he was never in serious consideration for a place on the midseason Top 50.
That’s not to say that Peterson has fallen off the radar completely. The jump from High-A to Double-A is the toughest leap in the minor league chain and many hitters have recovered after starting slowly. Critically, the former first-rounder appears to be making small adjustments to his game. A pull hitter by trade, Peterson has started to go the other way more often, and has lined several extra base hits the other way in the last couple of weeks. He’ll need to curb his tendency to chase pitches down and out of the strike zone, and to stop trying to hit so many homers with a line drive swing, but he has enough pop and feel for hitting to re-establish himself as a future cog in the Mariners lineup. He’s had a rough 2015 thus far but a big second half could propel him back onto the top 101. – Brendan Gawlowski
Sean Newcomb, LHP, Los Angeles Angels (High-A Inland Empire)
The 15th-overall pick in last summer’s draft, Newcomb offers the kind of pitcher’s frame that looks like it was created in a lab. The stuff was dynamic in my first glimpse earlier in the year; he worked 90-94 with the fastball and showed an advanced ability to manipulate the pitch with cut and run. He generates outstanding plane on the pitch, and when his delivery is in rhythm he can pound the pitch into the bottom third of the zone. His primary weapon, the fastball showed true plus projection, and he backed it up with two potentially above-average secondaries in his curveball and change-up. His arm action is clean and quick, but corralling his large frame into a repeatable delivery will be the next big developmental step for him. There’s some stiffness in his lower half that has held his command back for much of the year. He lacked fluidity and consistent tempo with his leg-kick in my viewing, with a firm foot leading to an inconsistent release point. He was a cold weather kid coming up (Massachusetts native, college at Hartford), so there’s some deserved leeway granted for some of the raw elements of his present mechanics. He showed plenty of athleticism to suggest that he can make the necessary adjustments as he gains more polish. If he starts to show more evidence of making those adjustments in the second half he’s a guy that’ll be very likely to feature prominently in our Top 101 conversations in the offseason. – Wilson Karaman