Over the next two weeks, the staff here at Fake Teams will be providing their top 20 prospects in the minors at each of the infield positions (C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS), and their top 50 outfielders and starting pitchers. Here's a bit of how our determinations were made:
- Each player ranked at a position is either currently playing there, or widely anticipated to end up there by the time they reach the major leagues. As an example, Billy Hamilton is not expected to remain at shortstop long-term based on the opinions of others within the field. As a result, he can be ranked at shortstop since he currently plays the position, and will also be ranked at second base, as he is most likely to end up at that position.
- Primarily, we are viewing prospects who remain in the minor leagues, or who have been up in the majors for less than one month at most. As a result of this, players like Bryce Harper and Mike Trout will not appear on the outfield rankings.
- Draftees are not necessarily being included within the main rankings, but each position will have a few players from the draft mentioned as players who potentially could be in the top 20/50 lists created during the upcoming offseason.
- In many cases, prospects ranked within a spot of each other could likely be switched and still be fine in my rankings. As with all rankings, they are a good look at how I see the group of players at the time of the list preparation.
Top 20 3B
1 - Nick Castellanos (DET) - Double-A - Profile
Some might keep Sano on top of this list, but after Ted Williams-ing Hi-A and continuing to mash in Double-A, he's earned the top spot. The power is lacking (in contrast to the next guy on the list) but he's young and will grow into it.
2 - Miguel Sano (MIN) - Lo-A - Profile
He's got the power Castellanos lacks and he's got it in spades. Unfortunately he's striking out over 25% of the time in Lo-A and while the power is obvious, everything else is questionable right now, including his ability to stick at 3B.
Get the rest of the list after the jump...3 - Nolan Arenado (COL) - Double-A - Partial Profile
A pure hitter, Arenado might have topped my personal list before the season started. He's putting up a .291/.346/.439 line in Double-A at age 21. Those worried that the power he displayed last season was a product of the Cal League might feel vindicated but it's only been a couple months. He's yet to go on a real tear, and if his line is that good already, I can't wait to see what it will be when he does.
4 - Xander Bogaerts (BOS) - Hi-A
He's playing shortstop right now, but has been given almost no chance to stay there for the long haul, hence his inclusion on this list. I might be shortchanging him in terms of placement though as he's posting an 839 OPS in Hi-A as a 19 year old. A .196 ISO as a teenager in the Carolina League proves his power is for real.
5 - Mike Olt (TEX) - Double-A
Another victim of the top heavy talent at third base, Olt is posting an OPS north of 1000 in Double-A, though he does have the honor of being the first prospect discussed who is age appropriate for his level, at 23 years old. He recently went on a home run binge (5 HR in 7 games), but power isn't all he brings to the plate as he's posting a .312/.412/.615 slash line right now. What's holding him back from jumping up this is the number of strikeouts (68 in 231 at-bats), as scouts have often indicated that his swing will result in high strikeout totals. It's a trade you'd be willing to make for his power, but it does impact his value. Olt is the real deal on defense, as he was voted the Best Defensive 3B in the Carolina League according to Baseball America in 2011, though he's currently blocked by defensive wizard Adrian Beltre in Texas. His first taste of the bigs might come at first base.
6 - Anthony Rendon (WAS) - Hi-A - Partial Profile
What do you do with Anthony Rendon? The uber-talented 1st year player badly sprained his ankle early on this season and has yet to return. The Nats are targeting a post-allstar break comeback for Rendon, but that's always subject to change. His ceiling hasn't changed as a player but a third major ankle injury definitely affects his value as we just don't know if he can make it through a season healthy. I haven't changed my thoughts on him too much, as the players who have surpassed him have done so due to their own achievements.
7 - Jedd Gyorko (SD) - Triple-A - Profile
One could reasonably argue that Gyorko belongs ahead of Rendon on this list as a player on the verge of the major leagues who has posted a .306/.376/.521 slash line between Double- and Triple-A. I'm not sure what the Padres are waiting for, though the new super-two rules may be playing a role in their decision to hold off promoting Gyorko. His line drive stroke should play well in PETCO be it at the hot corner or the keystone.
8 - Matt Davidson (ARI) - Double-A - Profile
I profiled Davidson last week (see link above), so if you read that you know my thoughts on him. My quick take is that while he's not a slugger, he generates power throughout his whole body as he swings. He's a good hitter who could see the occasional all-star game in his time, though he's not as premium as talent as those ahead of him on this list.
9 - Tyler Goeddel (TB) - Lo-A - Profile
Goeddel is a favorite of mine and I've place him aggressively on this list. After a very hot start to his season, he's come back to earth, now sporting a very pedestrian .250/.323/.396 slash line. He's still shown the all-around skills that made me a fan in the first place, with 13 stolen bases in 15 attempts and a reasonable 8% walk rate. That said, he's striking out in a Sano-esque 28% of his at-bats without the power to show for it. I expect a rebound this year, and this ranking is based on the tools he's shown and some expected progression.
10 - Kaleb Cowart (LAA) - Lo-A - Profile
I've been on Cowart since he was drafted and was always intrigued by his tools package. Originally billed as a potential second baseman, Cowart has found a home at the hot corner. He currently boasts a .286/.337/.468 slash line as a nineteen year old in the Midwest League (Lo-A), though that includes a rough patch from the middle of April through early May, and a subsequent hot streak. He's walking about 1% less often than last year, but that includes a stunning(ly good) 10% drop in his strikeout rate while increasing his ISO.
11 - Garin Cecchini (BOS) - Lo-A - Profile
12 - Zack Cox (STL) - Triple-A - Profile
13 - Wilmer Flores (NYM) - Hi-A
He's performing but it's also his third go at the level. He's not old for it yet, but one would expect a good performance given the time spent at the level.
14 - Cheslor Cuthbert (KC) - Hi-A - Partial Profile
Perhaps I'm overreacting to two poor months, but this has been a rough year for Cuthbert. I'd cut him more slack, but the reports are not only that he's looked bad, but he's looked bad doing it. Lack of #want and an otherwise poor attitude will move you down my list quickly. Just note he could be in the top ten if he turns it around and performs like he did in Spring Training.
15 - Christian Villanueva (TEX) - Hi-A
16 - Dante Bichette, Jr (NYY) - Lo-A
A great debut last year and a rough start to this one. He made major progress with his swing last year and my hope is he can turn it back around this one. He has the tools to be on this list despite his struggles so far.
17 - Josh Vitters (CHC) - Triple-A
The enigma continues.
18 - Francisco Martinez (SEA) - Double-A
Posted an 807 OPS at Double-A as a 20-year old. He's this far down the list because he's struggling as he repeats the level.
19 - Luis Jimenez (LAA) - Triple-A
Not a big name but he's never posted an OPS lower than 800, and is 24 in Triple-A. Could contribute in case of an injury, or given that the Angels are stacked at the position, a rash of them.
20 - Brandon Drury (ATL) - Hi-A
Posted an 892 OPS in the rookie level Appy League with good scouting reports to boot. As good as he was last year, he's been bad this year, but I couldn't leave his upside off the list.
Matt Dominguez (MIA) - Not much bat, but phenomenal defense.
Travis Harrison (MIN) - The inverse of Dominguez but much further behind in his development. He might end up at first base, but if he can stick at third, his bat would be above average.
Richie Shaffer (TB) - The best college hitter in the draft probably shouldn't have lasted as long as he did. Not many move quickly in Tampa's system, but Shaffer has the polish to do it. There's question as to whether he can stick at 3rd base, but he's not a lock to move either.
Corey Seager (LAD) - Kyle's younger brother is a shortstop now, but is expected to move to 3rd as a pro. He's bigger and stronger than Kyle and should have more power as he matures. He employs the same sweet swing, a good combination if I ever saw one.
Daniel Robertson (OAK) - Robertson was the third 3rd baseman off the board and sports a potential plus bat, with power grades ranging from 45-60.
Joey Gallo (TEX) - Gallo signed for WELL above bonus pool money this past week, and sports 80 arm strength and 80 power. It's possible he's a pitcher, as he was a two-way player in high school. He wanted to hit, so my guess is Texas gives him the Mitch Moreland treatment and allows him to hit for a year or two before moving him to the mound if he fails.
If you're not tired of me by now, follow me on twitter