Baseball season is drawing to a close for the big leaguers, but it`s just second season time for prospects. With such things as the Arizona Fall League and Winter league baseball. While most people think nothing of prospects or think they have little value, where do all the superstars come from?
They all started somewhere and that place was as a prospect.
Over the last about 5-years we have seen a ton of studs come out of the minors and become huge stars at the next level. Only a few of them have not met the mark, but there is still time for guys like Byron Buxton who was a consensus #1 player by many (I was not one of them). As for the others like Bryant, Harper, Story, Seager and Machado they have become household names.
So here is a look at the top-10 guys heading into next season. Hopefully, your team has one of these stars.
- Yohan Moncada, 2B/3B Boston Red Sox
21-years-old 6`2 205LB
Moncada has been blowing through the minors since coming out of Cuba as one of the most hyped players in a very long time. Moncada is not only vastly talented across the board he is also a physical beast. When I first saw him he looked more like a safety or linebacker than a baseball player. He has above-average to elite traits across the board and that includes what I think is an undervalued defensive ability. Moncada is easily one of the next elite young infielders, along the lines of Manny Macahdo and Nolan Arenado. With his speed and power combo we should see Moncada have more than a few seasons around 20 SB and 20 HR in the show. This kid is truly a rare talent that we don’t always see in baseball and I think he could easily be one of the next great players not only to come from Cuba, but in all of baseball. Its also rare you get a young kid out of Cuba who goes through the whole process who posses all five tools and the game does not get to big for them. Even at 19-years-old Moncada looked ready for the majors, but Boston took their time wisely. What he can do with the bat is just as amazing as what he can do from the hot corner or at 2B. Boston really knows what they are doing in the minors and how to progress young players, if they continue this trend there should be no reason at some point Moncada does not compete for an MVP title or a batting crown.
2016 Minors stats:
106 Games, 94 Runs, 31 Doubles, 6 Triples, 15 HR, 62 RBI, 72 Walks, 124 K`s, 45 SB, .294 BA, .407 OPB, .918 OPS
- Dansby Swanson, SS Atlanta Braves
22-years-old 6`1 190lb
Dansby was my favorite player when he came into the draft in 2015. Which would make sense why the Diamondbacks picked him 1st overall. However, in an extremely one-sided trade that was in the Braves favor they shipped him off to Atlanta in the Shelby Miller trade. Swanson looks to become yet another elite shortstop at the next level, having several above-average traits. His hitting and running ability are amazing and his defense might even be better. He lacks the power we have seen from such guys as Story and Seager, but is a better all-around player than either of them. If he can find average to above-average power, Swanson could be as good as Correa who was the Rookie of The Year when he burst onto the scene. He should easily be the center piece of the Braves rebuilding program and can hit at the top of the order. If he gets more power he could even slide into the 3rd slot and not just sit in the 2nd slot or maybe the 6th. Having the ability to stay at short stop long term, Swanson will get all the power in the world and time to become one of the next elite players in baseball. The Braves will be one of the youngest teams in baseball over the next few seasons which should give him more time to learn and progress before setting their sights on the playoffs.
2016 Minors Stats:
105 Games, 68 Runs, 24 Doubles, 3 Triples, 9 HR, 55 RBI, 50 Walks, 84 K`s , 13 SB, .275 BA, .362 OPB, .787 OPS
- JP Crawford, SS Philadelphia Phillies
21-years-old 6`2 18olb
Taken out of high school in 2013 he was the 16th player taken in the draft. Once again we see another top-end shortstop. After what seemed like several years of average play out of this position we are seeing a grab bag of amazing talent at shortstop. Crawford is close to the same player as Swanson he just is a bit slower on the run and has even less power. Crawford could end up being the better defender, but even as his bat progresses at the next level it won’t top what Dansby`s can do. Other than that they are very similar and the Phillies have another young piece to build around to go along with the break out OF Herrera. If his average stays around the .240-.260 range I would not expect him to hit above 7th, unless his speed shows up and he can find his way to the top of the order. Another similarity between the two is the fact neither the Phillies or the Braves will be looking toward the playoffs anytime soon and will be so young, they will let the players get better and progress as they need to with out the fear of them slumping and being sent back down. I don’t think the demotion hurts batters as much as pitchers, but either way it seems to more often than not delay the progression process.
2016 Minors Stats:
123 games, 63 Runs, 19 Doubles, 1 Triple, 7 HR, 43 RBI, 72 Walks, 80 K1s, 12 SB, .250 avg, .349 OPB, .688 OPS
- Andrew Benintendi, OF Boston Red Sox
22-years-old 5`10 170lbAndrew is my favorite player on this list and was my favorite when he came out of college into the draft. Making an already loaded minors system for Boston even better. Outside of his arm everything he has is above-average and I think his hitting and fielding could end up being elite. One of the more intriguing aspects of his game is even with his great hitting ability he is patient, far more patient than your average 22-year-old only striking out 39 times in 97 games in the minors this year. If Benintendi can keep progressing he could easily make the list for the best outfielders in baseball. Boston got everything they wanted and more when they drafted him at the 7th overall pick in the draft. Not often do you get a kid at 7 who ends up maybe being the best player out of that draft. In just a handful of games this year that the major league level he showed us what he can really do in 34 games he hit 2 HR with 14 RBI and batted just shy of .300 at .294. In 5-7 years Benintendi could end up being the best player on this list. Its also scary to think how good the Red Sox will be in a year or two with Moncada, Benitendi and other young stars who are already on the team in Betts and Boegarts. Benintendi should end up a top of the order type hitter once he gets a fulls season in and gets used to the pitching at the next level.
2016 Minors Stats:
97 games, 70 Runs, 31 Doubles, 12 Triples, 9 HR, 76 RBI, 39 Walks, 39 K`s, 16 SB, .312 BA, .378 OPB, .910 OPS
- Lucas Giolito, SP Washington Nationals
22-years-old 6`6 255lb
Giolito is the first pitcher on my list. Depending on who you ask he can range from 1st-5th for the top-10 prospects going into next year. He might have been higher on my list if he didn’t have such a bad showing in the majors this year. In just 21.1 innings he allowed 7 HR and 12 walks. He has amazing size and strength not to often do you get a 6`
6 SP who has true top-end talent. While I think he still does project as an ace last year showed he still has a lot left to learn before he comes up full time in the majors. Which is just fine with Washington since they have maybe one of the best 1-2 pitching combos at the top end in the league. He has an elite fastball and a curve ball that's quickly becoming elite, after that the rest of his arsenal is about average. Its hard to win at the next level with out 3 good pitches. My favorite part easily about Lucas is the fact he can throw a high-90s fast ball then come back and drop maybe the best 12-6 curve ball out of any pitcher who throws it. His size will give him added strength as he gets older he just needs maybe another season or two to fine tune everything. Letting a pitcher get up to early and fail, could ultimately destroy their confidence and they may never get it back. Plus, the Nationals don’t need his service right now vs the risk. When its all said and done if he can find that third pitch we are looking at another top-5 starting pitcher in Giolito. When he finally gets to the next level full time if he can find that change up and maybe develop one more pitch his ascent to the top of the rotation should not take long at all. With his size alone giving hitters fits standing at a massive 6`6 his elite abilities when the command shows up and he can keep the ball in the park could make him one of the hardest pitchers to read in all of baseball when the ball comes out of his hand.
2016 Minors Stats:
6 W- 5L, 2.97 ERA, 22 Games started, 115.1 IP, 104 Hits Allowed, 7 HR Allowed, 44 Walks, 116 K`s, 1.28 WHIP, .239 BA Against.
- Alex Reyes, SP St. Louis Cardinals
22-years-old 6`3 175lb
While Reyes is not as much of a physical specimen as the previously listed Lucas Giolito his arm has that good stuff. He is another elite fast ball pitcher with an amazing curve ball and an evolving change up. Two of his pitches the fast ball and curve ball right now project to be above-average to elite, his fast ball to me is already elite. Just like how Crawford and Swanson were close to the same person you can see some of the same with Reyes and Giolito. Both project as a staff ace with amazing power behind their pitches, Reyes however will be the only one of the two to hit 100MPH+ with the fast ball. Unlike Giolito the Cardinals will need Reyes to progress much faster and be ready for a full season in the majors next year. His command is still lacking at times to be a true elite pitcher at the next level, but he will have time to figure it out and the Cardinals have a good track record of making young pitchers great. Also unlike Giolito, Reyes showed his flashes of dominance last year in his brief majors stint going 4-1 with an amazing 1.5 ERA and 52 strike outs. Reyes could easily be the next big thing for the Cardinals who are starting a massive youth movement with guys like Piscotty, Reyes and Grichuk.
2016 Minors Stats:
2 W- 3 L, 4.96 ERA, 14 Games Started, 65.1 IP, 63 Hits Allowed, 6 HR Allowed, 32 Walks, 93 K`s, 1.45 WHIP, .252 BA Against.
- Ozzie Albies, SS/2B Atlanta Braves
19-years-old 5`9 160lb
Albies is an electric teenager and is the youngest guy on this list to this point. Even at his super young age he already has 4 tools of which I think two right now are elite or well on their way. That would be his hitting ability and his running, his arm is just behind those two. With that being said if they did not already have Swanson on the roster Albies would easily be able to stick at shortstop at the next level, but due to Swanson’s presence he will most likely be moved over to 2B. There are so many things to love about Albies from his amazing abilities to the obvious love he has for the game when he plays. His electric arm will be on many highlight reels at the next level, and once his defense catches up to his arm the double-play ability of him and Swanson will be off the charts. His one glaring weakness his is true lack of power with the bat, while he many never see 20 home runs in a season he can easily hit over .270 each year. With his speed and ability to make contact Albies should be able to stick at the top of the order as 1st or 2nd in the line up. There is a lot more to see from this kid as he progresses, if he had more power he could easily be several slots higher maybe even better than Swanson. Only time will tell if he can find that power.
2016 Minors Stats:
138 games, 83 Runs, 33 Doubles, 10 Triples, 6 HR, 53 RBI, 52 Walks, 96 K`s, 30 SB, .292 AVG, .358 OPB, .778 OPS
- Anderson Espinoza, SP San Diego Padres
18-years-old 6`0 160lb
Right after seeing our first teenager we have another one who is one year younger. He came over in the Drew Pomeranz trade earlier this year and the Padres could not be happier with him. I have Anderson higher than most people do, but that’s because I value his all-around ability more than most. I think he might be the most under-rated prospect in baseball. While he lacks what would be a truly elite pitch all of his pitches are above-average. He has also torn through the minors at just 18-years-old which is not very common. While he is not as tall as most people would like their pitchers to be right now, he has electric stuff. His fast ball is in the high 90`s and his curve ball and sinking change up are also very advanced for his age. I think right now with the Padres lack of staff depth and no real sign of moving forward Anderson could make an impact on that staff. They play in a pitcher friendly park so when he does make mistakes they are far less likely to hurt him than they would if he stayed with his first team the Red Sox. He is already good at keeping the ball down only allowing 3 HR all year last year in the minors so playing at a pitcher friendly park could make him even more deadly. This kid truly has the ability to be an ace, I don’t think his stature and size will be an issue over a full majors season like others seem to do. He has been compared to Pedro Martinez, I don’t disagree with that when you watch him and see where he can go that is a pretty accurate comparison. He should end up at the top of the rotation after his first full major season and an ace within two to three seasons after being called up which could be as early as next year.
2016 Minors Stats:
6 W- 11 L, 4.49 ERA, 24 Games Started, 108.1 IP, 115 Hits Allowed, 3 HR Allowed, 35 Walks, 100 K`s, 1.38 WHIP, .276 BA Against
- Brendan Rodgers, SS/2B Colorado Rockies
20-years-old 6`0 180LB
Coming out of the 2015 Rodgers was the first high school player taken. There is a very good reason he was taken so high, he has massive speed and power in his bat. Coming out of high school he already had what many scouts considered to be elite power for his age. That has not changed and his bat speed has kept up with his ever growing power. His running, arm and fielding ability are all average right now, but should end up above-average. Right now I don’t think he will stick at short stop mainly due to the fact Trevor Story is at that slot already. While neither of them are true elite defenders, Story is a bit better at it. There are now some questions on what do with him, since Colorado is in the NL they don’t have the DH. They already have great players at 3B and 2B in Nolan Arenado and DJ Lemahieu. However, Nolan is up for a deal in 2018 and there is growing concern he may not get it so if he does not in favor of Rodgers he should split time at SS and 3B. Rodgers clearly has the bat speed and power to wreck opposing pitchers at the next level, and has the speed to take bags almost at will which gives him great range in the infield. It will all be on the Rockies on how to deploy him going forward. With his abilities, if they keep Nolan Arenado around he could end up in a corner outfield spot or splitting time around the infield until he settles in. Either way if Rodgers keeps going forward he could be the best power bat on this list.
2016 Minors Stats:
110 Games, 73 Runs, 31 Doubles, 0 Triples, 19 HR, 73 RBI, 35 Walks, 98 K`s, 6 SB, .281 BA , .342 OBP, .821 OPS
- Amed Rosario, SS New York Mets
20-years-old 6`2 190LB
Since Rosario got into the league he has been the youngest player at his slot where ever he has been. Which usually points to the fact he has far surpassed expectations and flown through the system, which is exactly what has happened. He can be an elite defender with a plus arm and good range. He wont rip the cover off the ball like Rodgers will the guy we just covered, but he loves to get on base. The Mets young pitching staff has been the talk of the league over the last two years, I think that will soon shift to the young INF with Rosario and Cecchini. One of them most likely Rosario will play at SS while Cecchini plays over at 2B. Rosario should stay at SS for more or less his entire career at the next level and at just 20-years-old Rosario could see more than half of 2017 at the major level. I love a short stop who can play defense and can rip the ball to home or 1st with a power arm which is one of Rosario`s strenghts. His only real downside is what is usually expected from this position and its power, but don’t let it fool you he still has some pop netting double digit doubles and triples last year. I think with some coaching and when he grows into his frame his power could reach or get close to above-average. The sky is the limit for the 10th player on our list he has all the tools and the size needed to do what ever he wants to at the next level. Having ripped through the minors, if he continues to grow into his big frame at the next level we could see him be an above-average player with all 5 tools. Where as Rodgers might be the best power bat on this list, Rosario might be the best contact hitter on this list and should easily lock down as slot as a lead-off or a #2 hitter. With his age and current set of tools, he could also end up being one of the better players in the league by the time he hits his prime if not in the top-50.
2016 Minors Stats:
120 Games, 65 Runs, 24 Doubles, 13 Triples, 5 HR, 71 RBI, 40 Walks, 80 k`s, 19 SB, .324 BA, .372 OBP, .833 OPS