MLB Futures Games Preview: Which Teams Are Best Represented?

With the first half coming to an end, we are approaching the All-Star break, and the events that come with it. Among those events is the Futures Game, which showcases some of the game’s top prospects in a format similar to the All-Star Game. It’s a very underrated event highlighting the future of baseball, but still, fans may be wondering how their team will be represented with prospects compared to other teams. Obviously, this game is more exciting for teams with the top prospects with superstar potential rather than organizational depth; let’s rank how each team is represented in this event based on how many of their prospects will be participating in this event.

*Rankings and Tool Grades via MLB.Com

*Statistics via Fangraphs

*Tool Grades Out of 80

#30: Milwaukee Brewers

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Photo Cred: Brew Crew Ball

RHP Devin Williams (Team Rank: N/A)

Bio: 2013 Second Round, 24-years-old

Tools (Fangraphs): 65 Fastball, 55 Slider, 50 Curveball, 40 Changeup, 30 Control, 35 Future Value

Current Level: AA

A second-round pick in 2013, it’s safe to say that Devin Williams’ road to the Futures Game has been shaky, to say the least. After undergoing Tommy John surgery, his stock as a prospect declined significantly; he missed all of 2017 and pitched just 34 innings in 2018. He’s rebounded this year though, with a 3.29 FIP backed up by a 12.08 K/9. The swing and miss stuff is there with his fastball-slider combination, but command has always been an issue for him, as evidenced by his 5.48 BB/9 this season. With a lack of a changeup, Williams’ path to the majors looks to be as a reliever – he’s been a full-time reliever this season – but even then, he’ll likely be a depth piece as best given that he’s already 24-years-old.

#29: Boston Red Sox

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Photo Cred: Over the Monster

OF Jarren Duran (Team Rank: 9)

Bio: 2018 7th Round Pick, 22-years-old

Tools: 50 Hit, 45 Power, 70 Run, 50 Arm, 55 Field

Current Level: AA

With a very thin farm system, the Red Sox are in need of breakout prospects. That’s what they’re hoping for from outfielder Jarren Duran, who had a 187 weighted runs created plus (wrc+) in Single-A before being promoted to Double-A. However, since being promoted, he has just a 65 wrc+ and .051 ISO; he’s been a well below-average hitter. Plus, his Single-A success was sparked by a .480 BABIP, so it’s unclear if his promotion was even called for. I’m not sure what Duran is at this point of his career, but at the very least, he’s an intriguing athlete that could develop into a fourth outfielder in the future.

#28: Colorado Rockies

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Photo Cred: ItemLive

LHP Ben Bowden (Team Rank: 16)

Bio: 2016 Second Round, 24-years-old

Tools: 60 Fastball, 50 Slider, 55 Changeup, 50 Control

Current Level: AAA

If you’re going to pitch in Colorado, you have to have the ability to miss bats. Luckily for Ben Bowden, he doesn’t have a problem with that; he posted a 14.73 K/9 en route to a dominant 1.18 FIP in Double-A before being called up to Triple-A. Additionally, Bowden flashed solid command with a 2.45 BB/9, though a .171 BABIP despite a .67 GB/FB ratio may have played a role in his overall success. With two plus pitches, including a mid 90s fastball, Bowden at least should be able to carve out a role as a reliever based on his strikeout rates; he’s only been a reliever this season. That’ll likely be his place with the Rockies major league team in the future, but there’s always value in left-handed relievers; he should be a key contributor in their bullpen soon.

#27: Texas Rangers

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Photo Cred: MLB.Com

C Sam Huff (Team Rank: 21)

Bio: 2016 Seventh Round, 21-years-old

Tools: 40 Hit, 55 Power, 40 Run, 60 Arm, 45 Field

Current Level: A+

For practically every prospect in this event, they either are well-known in national rankings, or they’re in the midst of a huge breakout season. For Sam Huff, he certainly fits the ladder category. As a seventh-round pick in 2016, he was an unknown for many heading into this season. However, he posted an absurd 225 wrc+ before being called up to Single-A, where he’s still producing to the tune of a 117 wrc+. Given the rarity of quality hitting catchers, this breakout is certainly eye-popping; Huff’s power is valuable at his position. Poor walk and strikeout rates hinder the chances of him becoming an everyday starter, but he definitely has the potential to be a very solid backup catcher.

#26: Pittsburgh Pirates

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Photo Cred: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

1B Will Craig (Team Rank: 12)

Bio: 2016 First Round, 24-years-old

Tools: 45 Hit, 55 Power, 35 Run, 50 Arm, 45 Field

Current Level: AAA

As a first-round pick in 2016, Will Craig was expected to be a key part of the Pirates’ future. However, at 24-years-old, the time is now for him to make a push to be promoted to the big league team. Unfortunately for Craig, he’s been practically a league average hitter with a 102 wrc+ in Triple-A, despite there being a major offensive surge currently happening at that level. Craig’s power is obvious – he has an above average power tool grade and a .221 ISO – but that’s clearly his main contribution, considering he has just a .332 on-base percentage (OBP) a year after posting a .321 OBP in Double-A. However, the potential is there to be a CJ Cron type of player at the next level, whether that be at first base or at third base.

#25: Oakland Athletics

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Photo Cred: NBC Sports

SS Jorge Mateo (Team Rank: 8)

Bio: 2012 International Signing, 24-years-old

Tools: 50 Hit, 45 Power, 80 Run, 60 Arm, 55 Field

Current Level: AAA

Acquired in the package for star pitcher Sonny Gray, Jorge Mateo was once seen as a can’t miss prospect for the A’s. However, his stock fell off hard last season after posting an awful 62 wrc+ in Triple-A last season. To his credit, he’s rebounded to the tune of a 109 wrc+ this season, and likely is on the cusp of a call-up. Still, he has a well below average walk rate (4.4%) and is striking out at a 23.8% rate, while his success is being sparked by an increase in power, which is concerning considering most Triple-A hitters are currently benefiting from a major power surge. Yes, he’s an incredible athlete, but if he doesn’t get on base, why does it matter? He has the tools to be a solid defensive shortstop with a plus arm and above average fielding, but as of now, I’m not sure his offense will ever develop enough for him to be more than a utility player.

#24: Houston Astros

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Photo Cred: The Runner Sports

RHP JB Bukauskas (Team Rank: 4)

Bio: 2017 First Round, 22-years-old

Tools: 65 Fastball, 65 Slider, 50 Cutter, 55 Changeup, 45 Control

Current Level: AA

The Astros have been a major success in terms of developing pitchers, and when they drafted JB Bukauskas in the first round in the 2017 MLB Draft, they likely envisioned him being their latest success story. After all, the North Carolina product features a filthy fastball-slider duo, and also has a solid changeup. He certainly has the needed pitching arsenal to be a front-line starting pitcher, but the same cannot be said about his command. He currently has a 5.83 BB/9, which would explain why he possesses a poor 4.69 FIP in Double-A. If that control cannot improve, Bukauskas may eventually end up in the bullpen. However, if he can refine it, he certainly has the potential to be a very solid starting pitcher for Houston in the future.

#23: New York Yankees

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Photo Cred: Pinstriped Prospects

RHP Deivi Garcia (Team Rank: 6)

Bio: 2015 International Signing, 20-years-old

Tools: 60 Fastball, 60 Curveball, 50 Changeup, 55 Control

Current Level: A+

The Yankees have a collection of young pitching talent that can be either a part of their future or in packages for an experienced starting pitcher, which explains why the team didn’t hesitate to trade top pitching prospect Justus Sheffield this past offseason for James Paxton. Quickly, Deivi Garcia is rising to the top as their most prized prospect; he’s excelled with a 2.16 FIP in 51 innings at High-A. Furthermore, he has a 14.29 K/9, certainly isn’t benefiting from luck (.324 BABIP), and although he’s struggled with command so far, it’s not expected to be an issue in the future. Garcia is undersized at 5’9” and 163 pounds, but his ability cannot be doubted; as long as stamina/durability isn’t a concern, he definitely has a future in a big league rotation, whether it be for the Yankees or another team.

#22: New York Mets

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Photo Cred: Newsday

LHP Anthony Kay (Team Rank: 3)

Bio: 2016 First Round, 24-years-old

Tools: 55 Fastball, 55 Curveball, 55 Changeup, 50 Control

Current Level: AAA

Speaking of pitching prospects of New York teams who are breaking out, Anthony Kay has emerged as a very exciting young asset for the Mets. He’s not as good as his 1.49 ERA would indicate in Double-A (his FIP was 2.67), but his peripherals were all fine, and although he’s gotten rocked so far in Triple-A, he has three plus pitches that should allow him to develop into a middle of the rotation starting pitcher. His development was hindered by him undergoing Tommy John surgery, but he looks ready to make an impact soon, and for a Mets team in need of young contributors, that’s huge for them.

#21: Arizona Diamondbacks

 

 

 

 

C Daulton Varsho (Team Rank: 4)

Bio: 2017 CBB Pick, 23-years-old

Tools: 55 Hit, 50 Power, 55 Run, 45 Arm, 50 Field

As mentioned with Sam Huff, finding quality catchers is very difficult for an organization. Therefore, the Diamondbacks have to be watching Daulton Varsho’s progress closely. Luckily for them, he’s excelled at the plate so far with a 131 wrc+ in Double-A and could be on the cusp of being called up to the major league team. Varsho has cut down his strikeout significantly this year (20.8% to 12.4%), while his power output (.169 ISO) has remained solid. As a solid hitter with a good approach and acceptable power, he could develop into an above-average offensive producer for his position, while his plus athleticism gives him the ability be a corner outfielder if needed. Since his arm strength isn’t great and the team already has Carson Kelly as the long-term answer behind the dish, that’ll likely be their approach, but even then, Varsho’s flexibility and offense make him one of the most intriguing players in their farm system.

OF Alek Thomas (Team Rank: 7)

Bio: 2018 Second Round, 19-years-old

Tools: 55 Hit, 45 Power, 60 Run, 40 Arm, 60 Field

Current Level: A

Alek Thomas was generally viewed as a steal as a second-round pick for the Diamondbacks; he could easily have been taken in the first round. Thomas is quickly making teams pay for passing on him; he’s excelled with a 141 wrc+ and a .376 OBP in Single-A. He’s already shown his excellent plate discipline with an 11.5% walk rate, while his .166 ISO shows he does have some power despite his 45 power tool grade. With above average fielding and athleticism, I’m very excited to see what the future holds for Thomas, who still is only 19-year-old.

#20: Chicago Cubs

 

 

 

 

RHP Adbert Alzolay (Team Rank: 4)

Bio: 2012 International Signing, 24-years-old

Tools: 60 Fastball, 60 Curveball, 50 Changeup, 50 Control

Current Level: MLB

In 11.1 innings at the majors, Adbert Alzolay has struggled with a 7.80 FIP. However, that small sample size shouldn’t distract Cubs fans from the fact that he remains arguably their best pitching prospect. The 24-year-old has two plus pitches with his fastball and breaking ball, and was finally putting it together this season with a 3.18 FIP and 7.67 K-BB ratio in 32 innings at Triple-A before being called up. He’s obviously had a tough time at his first stint at the major league level, but eventually, expect him to be in Chicago’s rotation for years to come.

C Miguel Amaya (Team Rank: 2)

The Cubs certainly aren’t in need of a young catcher since they have Wilson Contreras, but the progression of Miguel Amaya has to be a welcome development for them. The 20-year-old has a 106 wrc+ despite dealing with rough luck (.240 BABIP), thanks in large part to an above average 13.9% walk rate. Furthermore, he’s cited as an above average defender behind the plate with a well above average arm. Whether it be for the Cubs or eventually another team, Amaya certainly has a bright outlook as one of the best young catching prospects in baseball.

#19: Philadelphia Phillies

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Photo Cred: milb.com

3B Alec Bohm (Team Rank: 1)

Bio: 2018 First Round, 22-years-old

Current Level: AA

The third overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, Alec Bohm is expected to emerge as a key building block for the Phillies in a hurry. After all, the Wichita State product was one of the most polished sluggers in the entire draft, and his power would fit in tremendously with Citizen’s Bank Park’s smaller dimensions. After a rough debut in professional baseball last year, Bohm has excelled this season; his 165 wrc+ and .408 weighted on-base average (wOBA) in Single-A were fantastic, and paved the way for him to be called up to Double-A. Since being promoted, Bohm has actually hit even better, with a 170 wrc+ in 46 plate appearances. Expect Bohm to continue his quick ascension into the majors and for him to become a middle of the order bat in short notice, though serious concerns remain regarding his defensive limitations at third base.

 

#18: Washington Nationals

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Photo Cred: NBC Sports

SS Carter Kieboom (Team Rank: 1)

Bio: 2016 First Round, 21-years-old

Tools: 60 Hit, 55 Power, 50 Run, 55 Arm, 50 Field

Current Level: AAA

Similar to Alzolay with the Cubs, Carter Kieboom got his chance with the major league team earlier in the season, but struggled immediately. After posting an abysmal 19 wrc+ in 43 plate appearances, he was sent back down to Triple-A, where he continued to rake to the tune of a 146 wrc+. Overall, there are two statistics that best illustrate the major offensive potential Kieboom posseses: his .267 ISO and 15.8% walk rate. With excellent plate discipline and above average power, he should have no problem becoming a terrific offensive producer at the next level. He’s not a fantastic defender – a move to second base is certainly possible – but given his all-around abilities as a hitter, the Nationals have to view him as a long-term building block alongside Juan Soto.

#17: Baltimore Orioles

 

 

LHP DL Hall (Team Rank: 3)

Bio: 2017 First Round, 20-years-old

Tools: 60 Fastball, 55 Slider, 55 Changeup, 50 Control

Current Level: A+

A major reason that the Orioles were never able to build a winning team around an exciting core headlined by Manny Machado was that they were never able to properly develop the pitching needed for them to contend for a World Series. Oriole fans certainly hope that won’t turn out to be the case with the aftermath of their current rebuild; the progression of their pitching prospects should be watched closely. With three pitches graded as above average, no one is doubting that DL Hall has the capability of becoming a front-line starting pitcher. His 13.29 K/9 in High-A is outstanding, and it’s led to an overall solid 3.25 FIP. However, Hall has dealt with command issues during his entire minor league career, and this year it’s reached a career-worst (7.04 BB/9). That’s a significant concern, and until Hall refines that command, I cannot commit to labeling him as a sure-fire part of Baltimore’s future, despite his ability to miss bats.

RHP Grayson Rodriguez (Team Rank: 1)

Bio: 2018 First Round, 19-years-old

Tools: 60 Fastball, 55 Curveball, 60 Slider, 50 Changeup, 50 Control

Speaking of young pitching, the Orioles clearly have made it an emphasis to find it in recent drafts; they selected another pitcher in last year’s draft: Grayson Rodriguez. Rodriguez was seen as a toolsy pitcher that needed refinement coming out of high school, but had all the tools to become an elite starting pitcher. The latter part still remains true, but it sure seems like Rodriguez has jumped through the refinement stage; he’s dominated in Single-A with a 2.31 FIP and 5.25 K-BB ratio. Unlike with Hall, Rodriguez has shown his swing and miss pitching arsenal without compromising command (2.32), while he’s inducing ground balls nearly half of the time. With a mid to high 90s fastball and two effective breaking balls, the sky is the limit for him, and he’s demonstrated that with his performance this season.

#16: Toronto Blue Jays

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Photo Cred: Minor League Baseball

RHP Nate Pearson (Team Rank: 2)

Bio: 2017 First Round, 22-years-old

Tools: 75 Fastball, 55 Slider, 45 Curveball, 50 Changeup, 45 Control

In this year’s MLB draft, the Nationals took absolutely filthy junior college pitcher in Jackson Rutledge in the first round. What inspired them to make that selection? The success of Nate Pearson. A junior college product as well, Pearson was seen as a reach by many in the back-end of 2017 MLB Draft, but he’s definitely moved that to be false. “Nasty Nate” has been even better than advertised this season; he had a 1.70 FIP in High-A with an incredible 11.67 K-BB ratio before being promoted to Double-A. Even since the promotion, Pearson has dominated with a 1.94 FIP; he’s certainly in the running for minor league pitcher of the year. With a fastball that reaches 100 MPH and an above average slider, it’s no surprise that Pearson has had no problem striking out hitters at an excellent rate (12.3 K/9). However, his superb command (1.47 BB/9) is a welcome surprise, given the criticisms he generally receives in that regard. Pearson is throwing strikes, and hasn’t compromised his strikeout ability to do that; he looks like an ace in the making if he can stay healthy, and is yet another exciting young piece to pair with infielders Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette for a Blue Jays organization that could potentially develop into a powerhouse in the future.

#15: Kansas City Royals

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Photo Cred: The Kansas City Star

RHP Brady Singer

Bio: 2018 First Round, 22-years-old

Tools: 60 Fastball, 60 Slider, 50 Changeup, 55 Control

Current Level: AA

Heading into his junior year at the University of Florida, Brady Singer was seen as the favorite to be the number one pick in the draft. However, his stock fell throughout the draft process, and he ended up falling to the Royals at pick #18. That looked like a major steal at the time, and nothing since then has changed that. With a 2.84 FIP, Singer held steady in 57.2 innings at Single-A, earning a quick promotion to Double-A. Though he’s struggled with a 5.46 FIP in Double-A, he’s dealing with bad luck (.364 BABIP) despite inducing ground balls nearly 50% of the time; he’ll likely bounce back sooner rather than later. Without a doubt, two abilities he has in his arsenal is his ability to induce weak ground balls and his above-average command. However, what will ultimately determine if he’s a front-line starting pitcher or a middle of the rotation innings eater is his ability to strike batters out. He hasn’t done that yet (7.69 K/9), but with a mid 90s fastball with sharp moving and a strong slider, he’s certainly capable of missing a lot of bats at the major league level. With a combination of a high floor (#3 starter) and relatively high ceiling (#1-2 starter), Singer was easily the best chance to represent the Royals in the Futures Game, and is an intriguing prospect to keep an eye on.

LHP Kris Bubic (Team Rank: 8)

Bio: 2018 CBA Round, 21-years-old

Tools: 55 Fastball, 50 Slider, 60 Changeup, 50 Control

Current Level: A+

Drafted alongside Singer, Kris Bubic was expected to move along quickly through the minors, especially since he was coming from a major college in Stanford. After dominating in Low-A with a 2.22 FIP and a 14.16 K/9, he’s continued to do well after being promoted to High-A (3.22 FIP). Bubic doesn’t have a great breaking ball, but with a mid 90s fastball and a borderline elite changeup to go along with a good feel for pitching, he should settle into Kansas City’s rotation as a middle of the rotation starter soon, pairing with Singer to help the Royals hopefully get back to their winning ways.

#14: Cleveland Indians

 

 

OF Daniel Johnson (Team Rank: 22)

Bio: 2016 Fifth Round, 23-years-old

Tools: 45 Hit, 50 Power, 60 Run, 70 Arm, 55 Field

Acquired from the Nationals for catcher Yan Gomes, Daniel Johnson likely has an opportunity to claim an outfield spot for the Indians. After all, the Indians are trying to make the playoffs, but have a subpar outfield, to put it kindly. Could the 23-year-old Johnson be part of the solution? After dominating to the tune of a 152 wrc+ in Double-A, he was quickly moved up to Triple-A, where his success has continued (124 wrc+). Furthermore, his 10.6% walk rate and .379 OBP demonstrate his on-base abilities, while his .226 ISO clearly shows his power. Even if Johnson can develop into an average to slightly above average hitter, his athleticism, arm strength, and defensive abilities should allow him to carve out a role at any outfield spot. He’ll likely never be a star, but that’s not what the Indians need him to be; if he can be a slightly above average everyday player (around 2 WAR) for them, he’ll be a very useful player.

3B Nolan Jones (Team Rank: 2)

Bio: 2016 Second Round, 21-years-old

Tools: 55 Hit, 55 Power, 40 Run, 60 Arm, 50 Field

In today’s game, the ability to draw walks and get on-base is valued more than ever. Therefore, if players want to have long, successful careers, developing those abilities should be seen as a must. That’s part of what makes Nolan Jones a very exciting prospect for the Indians. He’s never had a walk rate below 16.2%, and this year, he’s walking at a career-best 20.1% rate. It’s no surprise, therefore, that his on-base percentage (.435) is well over .400 for the second straight season, due in large part to that walk rate. There is some swing and miss in his game (26.2% K rate), but his plate discipline makes up for it, and with above-average power, he looks to be a complete hitter. There’s not much to write about Jones as a defender, though his plus arm should allow him to stay at third base or benefit him if he has the move to the outfield. Either way, his offensive production will make him a very valuable commodity.

#13: Cincinnati Reds

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Photo Cred: Red Reporter

OF Taylor Trammell (Team Rank: 1)

Bio: 2016 CBA Round, 21-years-old

Tools: 60 Hit, 50 Power, 65 Run, 45 Arm, 55 Field

Speaking of excellent walk rates, Taylor Trammell has improved in that category every year, and is now drawing walks at a 15.8% rate at Double-A. Like Jones, therefore, it shouldn’t be shocking that despite a 243 batting average, Trammell has a .367 on-base percentage. Considering the 2018 Futures Game MVP also is a plus athlete, it’s definitely exciting to see that he has a strong on-base ability. Eventually, you’d hope the power he should have in his 6’2” 215 pound frame develops – he only has a .099 ISO this season – but given that he also is an above average defender, Trammell seems like a look to be at least a 3-4 WAR player at the major league level. The ceiling, however? A five-tool superstar talent that can be one of the faces of the Reds franchise for years to come.

#12: Miami Marlins

 

 

2B/SS Isan Diaz (Team Rank: 6)

Bio: 2014 CBB Round, 23-years-old

Tools: 50 Hit, 50 Power, 50 Run, 50 Arm, 50 Field

Current Level: AAA

Despite not playing in one major league game, Isan Diaz is in his third organization. He looks to finally have a home with the Marlins, where he should find himself as the everyday second baseman very soon. Diaz has as smooth of a swing as possible, one that reminds many of Robinson Cano. That swing has translated into impressive numbers in Triple-A; he has a 130 wrc+ and a .267 ISO. Furthermore, his 11.3% walk rate illustrates his advanced approach, one that should allow him to have a relatively smooth transition into the big leagues.

OF Monte Harrison (Team Rank: 2)

Bio: 2014 Second Round, 23-years-old

Tools: 40 Hit, 55 Power, 60 Run, 70 Arm, 55 Field

Current Level: AAA

Acquired along with Diaz in the Christian Yelich trade, Monte Harrison was seen as an up and coming prospect with the chance to blossom into an All-Star caliber player at least. His stock has fallen a bit since then, however, as he posted a relatively average 104 wrc+ in Double-A last year, and has only improved marginally this season (109 wrc+) at Triple-A. Harrison’s power is his best offensive tool, and it is encouraging to see such a tremendous athlete draw walks at an 11% rate. However, he’s also striking out at 30.3% rate, which foreshadows further growing pains, and also has relied on a .388 BABIP for a good, not great stat line. Harrison still has the tools to be a solid everyday outfielder, but at 23-years-old, it’s time for him to put those tools together.

RHP Sixto Sanchez (Team Rank: 1)

Bio: 2015 International Signing, 20-years-old

Tools: 75 Fastball, 55 Curveball, 55 Changeup, 60 Control

Current Level: AA

The Marlins spent the whole offseason shopping catcher JT Realmuto, hoping to get the best return possible. In the end, they settled on a package from the Phillies, which was headlined by pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez. Sanchez had been dealing with some injury issues, but had some of the best tools out of any pitching prospect. Now back healthy, he’s dominated in Double-A to the tune of a 2.27 FIP and 4.83 K-BB ratio, proving to be capable of becoming a front-line starting pitcher. Sanchez possesses a fastball that can reach 100, two excellent complementary pitches, as well as superb command. He’s undersized (6’0” 185 pounds) and has an injury history, but as far as his on-field performance goes, he’s the real deal.

#11: Detroit Tigers

 

RHP Matt Manning (Team Rank: 2)

Bio: 2016 First Round, 21-years-old

Tools: 65 Fastball, 60 Curveball, 50 Changeup, 50 Control

Current Level: AA

Though Casey Mize rightfully generates most of the attention within the Tigers farm system, there’s another pitching prospect that deserves some of that attention as well: Matt Manning. The 6’6” right-hander was an unpolished prospect coming out of high school, since he also played basketball, but that didn’t stop Detroit from selecting him with the 9th overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft. Now, the team is seeing their commitment pay off; Manning has a 2.60 FIP and a 10.48 K/9 in 91 innings at Double-A. He still has work to do with refining his changeup and command, but he already has a stellar fastball, which is paired with a terrific breaking ball. At the front of the rotation with Mize, Manning should be a huge part in the Tigers’ resurgence.

SS Issac Parades (Team Rank: 3)

Bio: 2015 International Signing, 20-years-old

Tools: 55 Hit, 50 Power, 45 Run, 55 Arm, 45 Field

Current Level: AA

One issue with the Tigers’ farm system is that although it’s strong with high-end pitching talent, it lacks impact position players. Acquired from the Cubs in a package for reliever Justin Wilson and catcher Alex Avila, Issac Parades may be the one exception to that statement. The 20-year-old performed well in Low-A and High-A last year, and although he’s slightly regressed amid a promotion to Double-A, his 117 wrc+ and .346 OBP are still strong. More importantly, the gap between his walk rate (10.2%) and strikeout rate (12%) continues to get smaller, and if that trend continues, Detroit will have no choice but to continue to challenge him with more promotions. Contact rate continues to become a more valuable statistic by the day, as demonstrated by the success of the Astros, and if that continues to be the case, Paredes’ plate discipline will be a very valuable asset for the Tigers. His fielding isn’t ideal, so he’s likely a second baseman, but even then, his offense should be able to carry him to be at least a 3 WAR type of player at the next level.

C Jake Rogers (Team Rank: 12)

Bio: 2016 Third Round, 24-year-old

Tools: 40 Hit, 50 Power, 30 Run, 65 Arm, 70 Field

Current Level: AAA

Since finding quality catchers is such a difficult task, it’s okay to have a catcher who isn’t the greatest hitter but is an excellent defender. That’s exactly who Jake Rogers is. He’s the best defensive catcher in the minors, meaning no matter how he hits, he should have a solid career at the next level. However, Rogers also performed well offensively in Double-A with a terrific 179 wrc+ and .429 OBP before being called up to Triple-A, where he’s been roughly a league average hitter (94 wrc+). Plus, after walking at a tremendous 17% rate in Double-A, his walk rate has remained strong at Triple-A (10.4%). An elite defensive catcher with some power and the ability to draw walks? Sign me up; Rogers may not be a flashy prospect, but the 24-year-old looks to be Detroit’s catcher of the future.

#10: Los Angeles Angels

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Photo Cred: The Undefeated

OF Jo Adell (Team Rank: 1)

Bio: 2017 First Round, 20-years-old

Tools: 55 Hit, 60 Power, 65 Run, 60 Arm, 60 Field

Current Level: AA

Drafted with the tenth overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, Jo Adell was seen as a project as a tremendous athlete with unrefined tools. He’s apparently refined his abilities rapidly; he’s quickly emerged as one of the best prospects in baseball and has been unstoppable at Double-A. Adell’s wrc+ of 207 means that he’s currently 107% better than league average, while his .443 OBP and .608 slugging percentage (SLG) are both very strong. His walk rate isn’t eye-popping (8%), but he’s already cut his strikeout rate (15.8%) in half, and he’s increased his line drive rate to 30%. Not only does Adell project to be an offensive threat at the next level, but with elite athleticism and a great arm, he also should be a tremendous defender capable of playing every outfield spot. The sky’s the limit for Adell, who isn’t a lock to be a star, but certainly feels heading towards becoming one.

#9: St.Louis Cardinals

3B Nolan Gorman (Team Rank: 1)

Bio: 2018 First Round, 19-years-old

Tools: 50 Hit, 60 Power, 40 Run, 55 Arm, 50 Field

Current Level: A+

Despite having arguably the most raw power in last year’s draft, third baseman Nolan Gorman fell to the 19th overall pick, where the Cardinals snatched him up. He’s making a case right away to be the biggest steal of the draft; he’s had so much success in his early professional career that he’s already been promoted to High-A. He’s had some growing pains there with a 87 wrc+, but that’s in just 36 plate appearances, so he should improve over time. Additionally, the slugger was patient in Low-A with a 11.3% walk rate, and since he projects to be a power hitter with a low batting average, that’s important for him to remain a solid OBP. It’s important to remember Gorman, who’s only 19-years-old, is well ahead of schedule; it’s likely that he hasn’t come close to reaching his peak. Expect him to continue ascending up prospect lists before settling in as a middle of the order bat for the Cardinals.

OF Dylan Carlson (Team Rank: 2)

Bio: 2016 First Round, 20-years-old

Tools: 50 Hit, 50 Power, 45 Run, 55 Arm, 55 Field

Current Level: AA

As emphasized repeatedly in this article, the ability to draw walks in the minors is extremely important and usually always carries over to the next level. That’s great news for Dylan Carlson, who has never had a walk rate below 10% in his minor league career, and finally seems to be untapping into the rest of his potential. Carlson has some raw power in his 6’2” frame, and by increasing his ISO to .228, it sure looks like he’s finally started to use it. If that power continues to develop and that advanced approach remains in that, he should be at least a 110 wrc+ type of hitter at the next level. Additionally, he’s a plus defender with a good arm, meaning that he should fit well at a corner outfield spot, primarily right field. He’s not a flashy prospect as of now, but there’s a Max Kepler type feel with Carlson, whose progression is worth watching.

#8: Los Angeles Dodgers

2B/SS Gavin Lux (Team Rank: 2)

Bio: 2016 First Round, 21-years-old

Tools: 55 Hit, 50 Power, 60 Run, 55 Arm, 50 Field

Current Level: AAA

The Dodgers are arguably the deepest and most talented team, and I’d argue that they are currently flawless. However, there is a long-term need at second base, which is where Gavin Lux should fit in. The 21-year-old has continued to make fun of minor league pitching, posting a 142 wrc+, .208 ISO, and .393 wOBA in Double-A before being called up to Triple-A. Lux’s walk rate has always been above 9%, while his strikeout rate only reached 20% this season for the first time in his career; he definitely has an excellent approach at the plate. Plus, I think there’s some extra power for the 6’2” infielder to tap into, and he does indeed tap into it, he’ll be an offensive force at the next level. He’s likely to move off of shortstop and over to second base, but that’s what the Dodgers need anyways, and with his tremendous offensive abilities, what he provides defensively is just a bonus.

RHP Dustin May (Team Rank: 3)

Bio: 2016 Third Round, 21-years-old

Tools: 65 Fastball, 60 Curveball, 55 Cutter, 50 Changeup, 55 Control

Current Level: AAA

Part of the Dodgers’ success comes from their ability to find talent outside of the first round. Cody Bellinger and Joc Pederson are amongst the many players they’ve found in the later rounds, and now, Dustin May could be following their footsteps. The 2016 third-round pick performed well in Double-A with a 3.20 FIP and 4.3 K-BB ratio in 79.1 innings, earning the call-up to Triple-A. With mid to upper 90s fastball, a sharp curveball, a cutter, and an average changeup, he has the makeup of a big league starter, especially considering his above-average command; we’re likely looking at a future #2 or #3 starter.

#7: Minnesota Twins

SS Royce Lewis (Team Rank: 1)

Bio: 2017 First Overall, 20-years-old

Tools: 60 Hit, 50 Power, 70 Run, 55 Arm, 55 Field

Current Level: A+

A surprise pick at #1 overall, Royce Lewis found quick minor league success, looking bound to proving to be the correct choice. However, he’s hit of a roadblock this season at High-A; he has a mere 86 wrc+ and a putrid .278 OBP. Notably, Lewis’ lack of walking (6.1%), increase in strikeout rate (22.4%), and lack of power (.119 ISO) have killed him, though his .285 BABIP is a little low for someone with his speed. Lewis is only 20, so it’s not time to panic, but still, #1 overall picks don’t usually hit those types of bumps in their progression. Though, his pure hitting abilities, sneaky power, and ability to hold his own at shortstop still give him the feel an above-average everyday player for the Twins.

RHP Jordan Balazovic (Team Rank: 5)

Bio: 2016 Fifth Round, 20-years-old

Tools; 60 Fastball, 55 Slider, 50 Changeup, 55 Control

Current Level: A+

Unlike Lewis, Jordan Balazovic wasn’t expected to be here; he was just a fifth-round pick in 2016. That hasn’t stopped the 20-year-old from thriving in the minor leagues; after posting a 1.62 FIP in 20.2 innings at Low-A, he has a 2.91 FIP in 45 innings at High-A. In those two spans, he’s had K-BB ratios of 8.25 and 3.87, respectively, and K/9s of 14.37 and 11.6. His above-average command is a plus, though he’ll need to add a third pitch to pair with his sinking fastball and solid slider. Plus, Balazovic is still only 20-years-old, and likely hasn’t come close to reaching his ceiling. I’d project him a middle of the rotation starting pitcher currently, but with further development, being a solid #2 starter isn’t out of the question.

#6: San Francisco Giants

C Joey Bart (Team Rank: 1)

Bio: 2018 First Round, 22-years-old

Tools: 50 Hit, 60 Power, 30 Run, 60 Arm, 55 Field 

Current Level: A+

Selected with the second overall pick, Joey Bart is expected to eventually take over Buster Posey as the catcher and face of the Giants. The 22-year-old missed significant time with a broken hand and has been okay with a 105 wrc+ in 139 plate appearances, but in Low-A last year, he excelled to the tune of a 166 wrc+. Bart has major power potential, which is valuable for a catcher and can be seen from his .315 ISO last year and his .203 ISO this year, but it’s lack of on-base skills that is concerning. His walk rate has remained stagnant this season a 5.9%, which is well below average for someone who should be a feared offensive threat at High-A. Considering that he had swing and miss issues stemmed from chasing poor pitches, that’s concerning. Still, he’s an above-average defender at catcher and a power bat, and could be very well become a Gary Sanchez type player at the next level, though the Mike Zunino shades should scare Giants fans who are expecting him to be a superstar.

OF Heliot Ramos (Team Rank: 2)

Bio: 2017 First Round, 19-years-old

Tools: 45 Hit 55 Power 60 Run 50 Arm 55 Field

Current Level: A+

The first-round pick the year before Bart, Heliot Ramos was seen as a minor reach at pick #19. However, he’s quickly proving that to be false, as he’s succeeded in High-A with a 143 wrc+ and .393 wOBA. Ramos has increased his walk rate to 10.9%, which is a sign he’s starting to develop into a complete hitter to pair with his power (.212 ISO). Although there will be some strikeout issues, a 24.6% strikeout rate isn’t absurd, and unlike Bart, he makes up for it with his walk rate. It’s unlikely he’ll stick in center field, but he should be an above average fielder at a corner outfield spot, and given his offensive upside, he may end up being the best prospect in the Giants system, especially since he’s only 19-years-old.

#5: Chicago White Sox

2B Nick Madrigal (Team Rank: 4)

Bio: 2018 First Round, 22-years-old

Tools: 65 Hit, 40 Power, 60 Run, 50 Arm, 60 Field

As mentioned with Issac Paredes, the ability to put the ball in play is slowly becoming a valuable ability once again. Nick Madrigal takes that to the extreme, with an incredible 2.2% K rate in Double-A that is honestly the lowest I’ve ever seen before. We knew the 22-year-old had tremendous contact abilities, but no one could’ve guessed he could go to this extreme. Plus, with a 166 wrc+ carried by a .440 OBP and 9.9% walk rate, he’s certainly using his pure hitting ability to perform at a very high level. Madrigal’s also a gold-glove defender at second base, and although he’ll likely never hit for power (5’7” frame, .086 ISO) at the next level, he should easily develop into a 4-5 WAR player at the next level.

OF Luis Robert (Team Rank: 1)

Bio: 2017 International Signing, 21-years-old

Tools: 50 Hit, 55 Power, 65 Run, 60 Arm, 55 Field

Current Level: AA

When the White Sox invested $26 million to sign Luis Robert out of Cuba, they imagined him blossoming into a star for them. Therefore, they have to be excited about Robert’s success in Double-A this season, as he has a 155 wrc+ and .399 wOBA. His power is terrific thanks to his elite bat speed, and he’s used that in games with a .467 ISO in High-A and a .209 ISO in Double-A. Plus, as an elite athlete with plus defense, he’ll likely stick in centerfield as a 5-10 drs type of defender. Still, there’s something to be concerned about with Robert that could plague him significantly. His plate discipline numbers (5.7% BB, 23.8% K) are not ideal, and facing higher level pitching, he may find it difficult to consistently get on-base, similar to what White Sox fans had to deal with when Yoan Moncada had to transition into the major league level. The tools are there for Robert to be a Ronald Acuna type player. However, there is a major gap between his floor and ceiling, making him one of the hardest prospects to peg in this entire game.

#4: Atlanta Braves

RHP Ian Anderson (Team Rank: 3)

Bio: 2016 First Round, 21-years-old

Tools: 60 Fastball, 55 Curveball, 55 Changeup, 50 Control

Current Level: AA

Though the Braves have almost too many pitching prospects, 2016 third overall pick Ian Anderson has managed to stand out among that group. The 21-year-old has front-line starter potential, and with a 3.04 xFIP and 11.87 K/9 in Double-A, he’s shown plenty of positive flashes. However, Anderson is still working on his command, as evidenced by his 4.52 BB/9, so he’s likely still a year or two away from being big league ready. Still, it’s hard to ignore his high ceiling, and since he’s only 21-years-old, Atlanta should be content to remain patient in hopes of not disrupting his development.

OF Christian Pache (Team Rank: 1)

Bio: 2015 International Signing, 20-years-old

Tools: 55 Hit, 45 Power, 70 Run, 70 Arm, 70 Field

With Ronald Acuna and Austin Riley graduating from prospect lists, Christian Pache now stands strong as the Braves’ top position player prospect. The 20-year-old has been amazing in Double-A this season, compiling a 154 wrc+ and .397 wOBA. Furthermore, he’s shown more power than expected with a .228 ISO, and although his 7.7% walk rate isn’t anything crazy, it’s an improvement over last year (4.6%). He should be at worst a 105-110 wrc+ type hitter at the next level, but with stellar defense in centerfield thanks to his elite speed and arm strength, he only needs to be an average hitter to be an All-Star contributor. There’s so much to like with Pache, who should be seen as untouchable in all trade talks Atlanta has for pitching.

#3: Seattle Mariners

RHP Justin Dunn (Team Rank: 2)

Bio: 2016 First Round, 23-years-old

Tools: 60 Fastball, 55 Slider, 50 Curveball, 45 Changeup, 50 Control

Current Level: AA

Heading into the offseason, the Mariners had one of the weakest farm systems in baseball. However, after trading Robinson Cano’s bad contract and closing pitcher Edwin Diaz to the Mets, Seattle’s farm system looks to be rejuvinated. A big part of that is Justin Dunn, who has become the team’s best pitching prospect. With a 2.86 FIP and 11.52 K/9 in Double-A, he’s shown exactly why the Mariners coveted him this past offseason. Plus, with a .343 BABIP against, he’s clearly been unlucky; he may be even better than what the statistics are currently showing. There are legitimate concerns with Dunn being a two-pitch pitcher, but as of now, he hasn’t been snackbitten by that, and if he can develop his changeup, he could be heading towards a very successful career, though at age 23, he’s running out of time for that development to happen.

OF Jared Kelenic (Team Rank: 1)

Bio: 2018 First Round, 19-years-old

Tools: 60 Hit, 50 Power, 55 Run, 60 Arm, 50 Field

Current Level: A+

An even bigger part of the Cano-Diaz trade was Jared Kelenic, who certainly was the reason why general manager Jerry Dipoto made the move. Despite being 19-years-old, he’s already in High-A after dominating to the tune of a 179 wrc+ in Low-A. With a 11.5% walk rate during that time, Kelenic is showing the elite approach that made so coveted during the draft last year, and his .277 ISO illustrates that he has more power than he’s getting credit for. He’s honestly just a complete hitter with very few flaws, if any, and as a solid athlete with a good arm, he also seems fit to be an above-average fielder at a corner outfield spot. This could be a future MVP winner.

1B/OF Evan White (Team Rank: 4)

Bio: 2017 First Round, 23-years-old

Tools: 55 Hit, 50 Power, 60 Run, 55 Arm, 70 Field

Current Level: AA

Drafted in the first round of the 2017 draft, Evan White isn’t the prototypical first base prospect. He’s a plus athlete who is more known for his fielding than his power, leading some, including myself, to picture him as an outfielder in the future. Still, with a 134 wrc+ and .364 OBP in Double-A, he’s shown to a plus pure hitter, and if his power develops, his elite defense at first base could allow him to be one of the best at the positon. If he’s more of a good, not great player offensively, however, then a move to the outfield may be the best use of his athletic abilities.

#2: Tampa Bay Rays

SS Wander Samuel Franco (Team Rank: 1)

Bio: 2017 International Signing, 18-years-old

Tools: 70 Hit, 55 Power, 60 Run, 55 Arm, 50 Field

Current Level: A+

With Vladimir Guerrero Jr. graduating from prospect lists, there isn’t a doubt who the best prospect in baseball currently is: Wander Samuel Franco. Despite being just 18-years-old, Franco is already in High-A after he absolutely dismantled Low-A pitching (154 wrc+). Furthermore, he walked (11%) more than he struck out (7.4%), and in 23 plate appearances in High-A, hasn’t struck out once while posting a 335 wrc+. This kid is definitely the real deal; Franco is a superstar in the making, and could easily reach stardom in the majors before he even reaches the age of 20. He’s the definition of a franchise-changing player.

C Ronaldo Hernandez (Team Rank: 7)

Bio: 2014 International Signing, 21-years-old

Tools: 50 Hit, 55 Power, 40 Run, 60 Arm, 70 Field

Current Level: A+

As mentioned previously, defense tends to be more valuable than offense at the catching position. However, what if you could have both? Though he’s been roughly league average (97 wrc+) at High-A, Ronaldo Hernandez is seen as a power threat behind the plate with the ability to grow into a plus hitter. Even if he doesn’t, which is possible considering he has just a 3.8% walk rate and .134 ISO, his elite defense gives him tremendous value at the next level. Basically, we’re either looking at Yasmani Grandal or Austin Hedges, each of whom have been solid everyday catchers, though obviously, the Rays are hoping Hernandez blossoms to be like the former.

#1: San Diego Padres

LHP Mackenzie Gore (Team Rank: 1)

Bio: 2017 First Round, 20-years-old

Tools: 60 Fastball, 60 Curveball, 55 Slider, 55 Changeup, 55 Control

With a 2.31 FIP and 12.57 K/9, Mackenzie Gore is already showing the ace potential that made him a top three pick in the 2017 draft. With four plus pitches and elite command, he looks heading towards stardom, and could easily develop into a possible Cy Young winner in the near future for the Padres.

LHP Adrian Morejon (Team Rank: 4)

Bio: 2016 International Signing, 20-years-old

Tools: 60 Fastball, 60 Curveball, 55 Changeup, 50 Control

Like Gore, Morejon is one of the best left-handed pitching prospects in baseball, whose 11.4 K/9 in Double-A illustrates the potential he has with his impressive three-pitch mix. Still, his command is a work in progress, and he’s struggled to prevent free passes (4.2 BB/9). If he can refine his command, he’ll fit along with Gore at the top of San Diego’s rotation. If not, that spot won’t be a lock.

RHP Luis Patino (Team Rank: 3)

Though he has some command issues like Morejon, it’s hard to not be intrigued by Luis Patino. At just 19-years-old, he’s been impressive with a 3.21 FIP and 11.53 K/9 in High-A, while his elite fastball and two excellent breaking balls give him the pitching arsenal necessary to succeed at the next level. He’s kind of a boom-or-bust prospect, but currently, he’s trending towards being a key part of the Padres’ future rotation.

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