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2023 SABR Analytics Conference Research Awards: Voting Open Now!

The minors may be down, but they’re not empty. There are 11 days left until the biggest single prospect stage of the season and here’s a look at the roster the USA will trot out there in San Diego on All Star Futures Game Sunday.

The Hitters:

Andrew Benintendi, OF, Boston Red Sox (Double-A Portland)

Drafted in the first round just one year ago, Benintendi has rapidly progressed through the minors and has become one of the best outfield prospects in baseball. He features an advanced approach, a textbook swing, and tremendous instincts that should allow his four above-average tools (his arm is merely average) to play up. After mashing for High-A Salem to start the season, he struggled initially following his promotion to Double-A Portland but appears to have found his stride again. I expect him to join the Red Sox outfield at some point next year. —Erich Rothmann

Alex Bregman, SS, Houston Astros (Triple-A Fresno)

Bregman’s rapid rise shouldn’t be all that much of a surprise, considering the five-tool skill set and collegiate polish, but what has startled evaluators this season has been a power binge at Double-A that has seen him crush 32 extra-base hits (including 14 homers) in just 62 games. He’s begun logging some time at third base as the franchise grooms him for an increasingly likely call-up for the stretch run. This is one of the premier left-side prospects in all of baseball. —Wilson Karaman

Willie Calhoun, 2B, Los Angeles Dodgers (Double-A Tulsa)

The Dodgers’ fifth-rounder a year ago, Calhoun crushed his way through three levels after signing last summer, earning an aggressive assignment to Double-A. It took some adjusting through the season’s first month, but lo, he has crushed once again. Calhoun boasts outsized plus power despite his modest frame, thanks to absurd bat speed and wrist strength, and the bat has a chance to play regardless of here he ends up on the diamond. That’s good, because his ten errors and still-choppy footwork leave the question open at present as to whether he can stick on the dirt. —Wilson Karaman

Dylan Cozens, OF, Philadelphia Phillies (Double-A Reading)

Cozens is enjoying a huge breakout year with 20 homers, 60 RBI, and a .280 ISO. He possesses an imposing frame, and the power is for real, but his long swing and free-swinging approach could prevent it from playing at the big-league level. A move to first base could improve his defensive value. With his below-average speed, I do not expect him to continue to steal bases frequently. His realistic role is becoming a power bench bat, and the best-case outcome is a career similar to Chris Carter’s. —Erich Rothmann

Travis Demeritte, 2B, Texas Ranger (High-A High Desert)

Demeritte boasts premium, quick-twitch athleticism and exceptional raw power for a middle-infield prospect, and he’s found a way to tap into it consistently this year to the tune of a league-leading (by a lot) home run total in the Cal. There’s enough power and usable speed that it might not matter if he fails to crack .240 against big-league pitching, and the defensive profile is solid-average for the keystone with enough arm that there’s room for left-side utility if he never hits enough to warrant a starting role. —Wilson Karaman

Hunter Dozier, 3B, Kansas City Royals (Triple-A Omaha)

Coming off a 2015 Double-A season for Northwest Arkansas where many questioned his prospect status, Hunter Dozier is putting together a 2016 season that proves the naysayers wrong. The former 2013 first-round pick by the Royals is doing what most thought he’d do: hit for power and average. With a couple of swing and approach adjustments in the offseason, Dozier has put to bed the sub-standard results of last year, thereby restoring his major-league projection. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound third baseman out of Stephen F. Austin is undoubtedly creating a quick path to the big leagues after last season’s disappointments. —Colin Young

Clint Frazier, OF, Cleveland Indians (Double-A Akron)

Frazier is one of the most explosive players in the minors. Built like a football player with broad, twitchy features, he’s an excellent athlete with the raw tools of a prototype right fielder. He has plus raw power, and naturally generates towering loft with an uppercut swing-plane and lightning quick bat-speed through the hitting zone. He’s also got cannon for an arm, and shows plus velocity and carry from both outfield corners. While the 21-year-old likely won’t carry averages in the .295-range that he’s currently hitting, Frazier hits the ball so hard that he still could get to solid batting averages. The best-case ceiling is that of an exciting 20/20 corner outfielder. Some evaluators are concerned that despite his gaudy numbers as a young player in Double-A, an aggressive swing and approach might lead to more strikeouts than the 20-some percent totals he’s posted throughout his professional career, which could hold up how consistently he taps into his plus raw power. The sum of the parts makes him one of the minors’ best outfield prospects, and he could be a mainstay in the Indians’ lineup by next season. —Adam McInturff

Ryon Healy, 1B/3B, Oakland Athletics (Triple-A Nashville)

Healy is massive, and as you might expect from someone of his size, there's a ton of strength in his swing. The reason he's here is not the power, however, as Healy has really improved his feel for hitting, showing top-notch hand-eye coordination and more willingness to work counts. His lack of speed and arm limit him to first base in the long-term, but he could become a very nice platoon first baseman, with a slim chance of being a regular if the feel for the barrel takes another step up. —Christopher Crawford

Carson Kelly, C, St Louis Cardinals (Double-A Springfield)

Kelly’s .345 BABIP is not only the best of his career, but the first “good” BABIP he’s had in a professional season. He’s establishing career best slash numbers in spite of walk and strikeout rates that are drifting steadily from yellow to red as he advances levels. Cautionary tidings? Not necessarily. He appears to have transferred about 10 percent of his contact from fly balls to line drives while everything else has remained stable, and he is hitting the ball with more authority regardless of trajectory. Defensively, the naked eye and the naked numbers both agree that he handles pitches beautifully. He won’t rush Yadier Molina off the stage (12 years and 1 day his senior), but succession is becoming a real conversation. —Kit House

Austin Meadows, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates (Triple A Indianapolis)

After destroying Eastern League pitching for 45 games, Meadows has made the leap to Indianapolis. And while the Pirates have plenty of talent in the outfield, his continued development will give them options as the trade deadline nears. Meadows has also begun to silence critics of his power potential with his increased home run rate this year. —Nathan Graham

Hunter Renfroe, OF, San Diego Padres (Triple-A El Paso)

If you can imagine a Jayson Werth that never walked, you would get Hunter Renfroe. Even with the lack of patience (10 walks in 320 at-bats), Renfroe has a chance to be a starting outfielder because he can square anything up on any part of the plate, and he also has plus power potential from the right side. Like Werth, he plays a competent corner outfield, and he has a strong, accurate throwing arm that makes him a real asset in right. You probably can't hit him in the middle of the order unless he cures his allergy to bases-on-balls, but an average hit tool and plus power give him a chance to be an everyday player. —Christopher Crawford

Chance Sisco, C, Baltimore Orioles (Double-A Bowie)

Sisco is Baltimore’s top catching prospect, and rightfully earns his place in the Futures Game by way of a .783 OPS (at publication) as a 21-year-old in Double-A. His compact left-handed stroke is well suited for spraying line drives to both fields, and the .323 career hitter has always demonstrated an advanced ability to control the strike zone. In the midst of a breakout 2016, evaluators who have seen him in the Eastern League see the best-case ceiling of a regular catcher with good on-base ability and playably average defense. His offensive approach isn’t tailored for loft power, and detractors cite fringy defensive ability as a reason to worry how well he fits a profile if he isn’t catching. Sisco has yet to homer this season, though he has matched his doubles total from last year in significantly fewer plate appearances. Though he’s carried significant platoon splits throughout his career—mashing righties but struggling with same-side pitching—Baltimore is a team that has successfully, and frequently, relied on platoons in their everyday lineup. As a young player with a chance to hit at catcher, he’ll get every chance to develop his defense enough to remain at the position. —Adam McInturff

Dominic Smith, 1B, New York Mets (Double-A Binghamton)

Dom's Double-A debut has been disappointing so far. The more advanced arms of the Eastern League have been able to exploit his opposite field approach with soft stuff away. The power that was projected for Smith will show up a week here and a week there, but he is still slugging under .400, and his contact-oriented, go-with-the-pitch approach inhibits his solid-average raw power in games. He's a good defensive first baseman, and he has one of the more advanced hit tools in the minors, but it's hard out there for a first base prospect without an even average power projection. —Jeffrey Paternostro

Dansby Swanson, SS, Atlanta Braves (Double-A Mississippi)

There’s just so much to like with this kid. Swanson can do everything well, from the plus-potential hit tool and plus speed to the above-average glove and arm at a premium position. That’s without mentioning the strong makeup, leadership skills and overall polish at 22 years old. The Braves challenged him with a Double-A assignment in his first full season and it’s had its ups and downs, but to hold your own in the Southern League in a full-season debut is quite the accomplishment. Swanson is the prototypical no. 2 hitter who does it all at a high level while playing up the middle and playing a leadership role. Not a bad thing to have in your farm system. —David Lee

Christin Stewart, OF, Detroit Tigers (High-A Lakeland)

A first-rounder in 2015, Stewart has so far made the FSL look like his own personal home-run hitting haven as he currently leads the league with 18 homers, which is four more than last year’s leader had. The raw power is plus-plus and should play at full utility down the road with his average hitting ability. Just don’t ask for him too much defensively. —Steve Givarz

The Pitchers:

Anthony Banda, LHP, Arizona Diamondbacks (Triple-A Reno)

Banda has added some bulk and a tick or two of velocity along with it over the last calendar year, and now reportedly works into the 94-95 range while sitting low-90s. The fastball heads a solid three-pitch arsenal that also includes a curve that he can manipulate for speed and depth and a change that’ll tumble when he turns it over. The delivery is fluid, with good physicality and body control of his long levers, and he profiles as a higher-floor back-end guy with aspirations to a three-starter if the secondaries tighten up further. —Wilson Karaman

Phil Bickford, RHP, San Francisco Giants (High-A San Jose)

Bickford mercilessly dominated the South Atlantic League with basically one-and-a-half pitches and is faring even better in the California League so far. He offers an above-average fastball in the low-90s that could reach plus or better in short bursts. It feeds off deception and changing eye levels effectively to make up for minimal movement. His slider remains inconsistent in many aspects but could settle around average, while his changeup remains show-me quality. Bickford has a wiry frame and is athletic with plus arm speed. His challenge will come in the upper levels when the depth of his arsenal will be tested. It’s tough to count out such a quick arm with deceptive qualities as a starter, but it’s an arsenal best suited for relief. —David Lee

J.T. Chargois, RHP, Minnesota Twins (Triple-A Rochester)

Chargois sounds like how a French Canadian would pronounce Chargers, but he's all american, baby, and he's got an 80 fastball in any country that will touch triple-digits. He'll also show a solid-average curve and occasionally a fringe-average change vs. left-handed hitters, but the reason Chargois is among the better relief prospects is because he can make you look foolish with that heater. —Christopher Crawford

Carson Fulmer, RHP, White Sox (Double-A Birmingham)

Taken eighth-overall in last year’s draft, Fulmer was coming off of an ascendant junior season at Vanderbilt, where his high-90s fastball and hyper-quick delivery baffled collegiate hitters. Fulmer had success in his 22 innings at High-A last season, but has struggled with his control in Double-A, where he’s walked 5.3 batters per nine innings. Fulmer still retains the upside of a capable and engaging starting pitcher, but he’ll have to clean up the flaws in his mechanics that have derailed his control this season. —Will Haines

Amir Garrett, LHP, Cincinnati Reds (Triple-A Louisville)

Gone are the days of Amir Garrett, St. John’s basketball star. Here are the days of Amir Garrett, formidable left-handed pitcher. Amir has effectively converted his athleticism to the mound, where he boasts a high-90s fastball and respectable secondaries. Garrett’s dominant campaign at Double-A earned him both a bump in prospect stock and a promotion to Triple-A Louisville. In a system loaded with prospect arms, Garrett offers tantalizing upside if he continues to refine his command and perfect his secondaries. —Will Haines

Josh Hader, LHP, Milwaukee Brewers (Triple-A Colorado Springs)

Phrases that have been thrown around about Hader being a starting pitcher: “He lacks the build of other guys,” “he can’t be consistent with that low-three-quarters slot,” “his delivery scares the heck out of me,” and “he lacks the command for it.” While the doubts still linger, Hader has kept taking the ball every fifth day to the dismay of the Southern and Pacific Coast Leagues. Armed with a fastball that sits 92-94 and can touch 97 and two above-average secondary pitches, Hader will be given every chance to start for the rebuilding Brewers down the road. —Steve Givarz

Jeff Hoffman, RHP, Colorado Rockies (Triple-A Albuquerque)

Hoffman is clearly one of the top arms left in the minor leagues. The righty touches 97, can throw strikes with four pitches, and can get whiffs with a wipeout slider. The pitch to watch is his 12-6 curve: It was a long breaker in the mid-70s earlier this year, and while it was an effective strike-stealer, he’s thrown a sharper deuce in the past. Regardless, Hoffman has the arsenal and the command to succeed in a big-league rotation right now. —Brendan Gawlowski

Joe Musgrove, RHP, Houston Astros (Triple-A Fresno)

Finally healthy for an extended stretch, Musgrove dominated Double-A and is holding his own in the PCL. He works with a plus fastball and three competent-to-plus offspeed pitches, but the calling card here is his control. He’s walked only 40 hitters in 318 minor-league innings, prompting questions from evaluators about whether he throws too many strikes. —Brendan Gawlowski

Nate Smith, LHP, Los Angeles Angels (Triple-A Salt Lake City)

While LA’s system lacks projectable impact talent, the Angels do have a couple of potentially useful pieces. Of them, Smith might have the most utility. The lefty sits in the upper 80s and low 90s, and complements his fastball with three offspeed pitches. None of them are wipeout offerings, but he can spin a curve for a strike, occasionally get lefties to chase his tight-breaking slider, and keep righties off balance with a changeup that flashes above average. With an uptick in command, he could hang in the back of a rotation for years. —Brendan Gawlowski

Ryne Stanek, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays (Double-A Montgomery)

Stanek was having another middling season a starter after being the 28th pick of the 2013 draft, and the Rays decided to make the switch to the bullpen. To say it looks like the right call is quite the understatement. The fastball has gone up two grades—now touching 99 with life—and the same can be said for a slider that flashes 70 with ridiculous amounts of tilt. The sample size is small, but if this is what we're gonna get, he just might be the best relief prospect in baseball, with all due respect to Joe Jimenez. —Christopher Crawford

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