The minor league season ends early next week, and with it we will be getting into prospect rankings starting in early October. As a lead up to that, I have been looking briefly at each position's rankings from last offseason, along with some prospects who have jumped into the conversation for this upcoming offseason's list. Up today is the second part of the outfield prospect list, #11-25.
11. Rusney Castillo - Red Sox (MLB - Graduate)
It's been an up and down year for Castillo, who has split time between AAA Pawtucket, Boston, and the disabled list. With the team selling off pieces at the deadline, we are now seeing Castillo play every day, and he is hitting .355/.388/.553 with 3 home runs and two steals in August. He's expected to be an everyday player next year in the outfield.
12. Nomar Mazara - Rangers (AAA)
Mazara reached AAA this year, and is hitting .291/.360/.447 with 14 home runs between AA and AAA. I'm anticipating that he starts the 2016 season at AAA again in part because I'm not sure where the Rangers can get him consistent playing time at the start of the year. The potential is still for Mazara to be a .290+ hitter with 25+ home run power on a regular basis.
13. Dalton Pompey - Blue Jays (AAA)
Pompey won the starting center field job out of spring training, but hit just .193 over 23 games before being demoted to AAA. He continued to struggle there, and ended up back at AA through mid-July. He moved back up to AAA, and has been killing the ball there to a .335/.422/.424 line with 9 steals, and 25 walks against 21 strikeouts. It will be interesting to see what the Jays do this offseason with Kevin Pillar, as he can effect Pompey's future as well.
14. Manuel Margot - Red Sox (AA)
Margot has split time between High-A and AA this year, stealing 36 bases to go along with a .262/.314/.390 slash line. The numbers don't look amazing, but this is still a 20 year old center fielder who is also expected to provide above-average defense there in the majors. He seems unlikely to develop a ton of home run power, but with a high contact rate and above-average speed, should provide value at the top of a batting order.
15. Jesse Winker - Reds (AA)
Winker has been a bit streaky this year at Pensacola, but the overall numbers look very promising. In August he's hit .352/.464/.615 with six home runs, 19 RBI, 21 runs scored, and a 20:18 strikeout to walk rate. He's going to provide even more value in on-base leagues on the strength of an excellent approach, and could be in Cincinnati during the 2016 season.
16. Aaron Judge - Yankees (AAA)
Judge remains well known for his power potential, having hit 20 home runs this year between AA and AAA. He's not likely to get a September call up this year, but I think we see him in New York at some point in the 2016 season, and can be a 25+ home run hitter on a regular basis.
17. Nick Williams - Phillies (AA)
Williams was another of the prospects that the Phillies received for Cole Hamels, and after spending the year between the two teams' AA affiliates, looks like another potential high-end outfield prospect. He's drastically reduced his strikeout rate this year, while maintaining a similar power output, walk rate, and batting average.
18. Austin Meadows - Pirates (AA)
Meadows is finally healthy for a full season, having more than doubled his previous career games played just this year at Bradenton. He's hitting for a high average (.305), stealing bases (19) and even providing some home runs (7).
19. Michael Taylor - Nationals (MLB - Graduate)
Taylor has been a regular for the Nationals this year due to the numerous injuries in their outfield, and has been about as anticipated. He's providing counting stats (13 HR, 15 SB), along with a low batting average and a ton of strikeouts. He's going to have value because of the potential to be a 20-20 outfielder, especially with Denard Span likely done in Washington after this year.
20. Michael Conforto - Mets (MLB - Graduate)
Conforto has been holding his own since being called up straight from AA, hitting .275 with three home runs in 28 games. I'm not entirely sure how they get Conforto into the lineup everyday in 2016, but he is starting to look like he belongs in the majors long term.
21. Teoscar Hernandez - Astros (AA)
Hernandez has put up counting stats galore this year (17 HR, 32 SB), but while his .216 batting average appears to be in part fueled by a well-below career norm BABIP (.256 this year, while never being below .308 previously in his minor league career). It's been a tough year overall, and looks like Hernandez could return to AA in 2016 to see if he can do better.
22. Stephen Piscotty - Cardinals (MLB - Graduate)
Piscotty has been hitting like crazy since being called up to the majors, with a .341/.379/.566 slash line in 36 games. While I don't think he keeps hitting for this kind of batting average, I can see him settling in as a .290 hitter with 20+ home runs over a full season fairly easily, making the Cardinals decision on Jason Heyward a fairly painless one if they choose to let him go.
23. Rymer Liriano - Padres (AAA)
Liriano is hitting .281 with 11 home runs and 17 stolen bases at AAA El Paso, and I could see the Padres bringing him up in September to see whether he can be the long-term replacement for Justin Upton, as he'll need to stick on the roster next spring as he will be out of options.
24. Steven Souza - Rays (MLB - Graduate)
Souza has shown the potential that made him the key piece going to the Rays in the Wil Myers trade, hitting 15 home runs and stealing 10 bases in just 89 games this year. Unfortunately, he's also hitting for an even lower average than anticipated and has missed significant parts of the year due to injuries.
25. Brett Phillips - Brewers (AA)
Phillips hit extremely well at High-A Lancaster (.320, 15 HR, 8 SB), and then continued the performance after his promotion to AA (.321, 1 HR, 7 SB in 31 games) before being included in the Carlos Gomez trade. He's not hitting as well with Biloxi, but he's been walking and striking out at a much higher rate than usual. He's currently on the disabled list, and it could mean the end of his season.
Some Potential Names for 2016's List
Billy McKinney - Cubs - McKinney finished up with a .300/.371/.454 slash line with seven home runs and 31 doubles between High-A and AA before a knee injury ended his year in mid-August. He could see Chicago by the end of the 2016 season, although he's likely to be a left fielder in the majors.
Ian Happ - Cubs - The top pick of the Cubs this year, Happ has nine home runs and 10 stolen bases between the Northwest League and Low-A South Bend. The Cubs have been playing him exclusively in the outfield, which seems the most likely position for him to play in the majors as well. Once the position is settled, Happ could move quickly, as he is considered an advanced hitter who can provide both power and speed.
Andrew Benintendi - Red Sox - The #7 pick this year, Benintendi has been excellent between short season ball and Low-A, hitting 10 home runs, stealing 9 bases, and posting a 20:33 strikeout to walk rate in 47 games. There are questions about his size, but all signs point to Benintendi having the potential to be a five-category contributor, with batting average as the best chance to be a carrying category.
Derek Fisher - Astros - Fisher's profile defensively is expected to put pressure on his bat, but the potential is there for an above-average hitter for both power and speed. Fisher has 21 home runs and 30 steals between Low-A and High-A, and while I will include the usual caveats about the California League, even if he ends up as a 10-15 home run, 15-20 steal outfielder with a low batting average, that will have value in a lot of leagues.
Kyle Tucker - Astros - The brother of current Astros' outfielder Preston Tucker, Kyle is known for his power potential and possesses an advanced approach at the plate for a high school draftee. He's going to be in the minors for at least a few years, but he's another potential top 25 prospect down the line who could provide a high batting average, above-average power, and some speed.
Daz Cameron - Astros - The son of former major leaguer Mike Cameron, Daz was viewed as a top 5 talent in the draft, but signability concerns led a number of teams to pass on the toolsy outfielder. The Astros took the chance after having the extra bonus pool money related to the #2 and #5 overall picks this year, and were able to get Cameron into the organization.
Garrett Whitley - Rays - The #13 overall pick this year, Whitley came into the draft known for his 80 grade speed, and can potentially have above-average power and excellent bat speed. He's another high school draftee that could take a few years to get there, but a five category contributor could be there for Tampa. The biggest questions on him seem to stem from his defense, and specifically his arm strength, but that's not all that relevant to us, now is it?