Over the past three weeks, I have been analyzing our consensus top-hundred prospect list with the power of hindsight. On June 2, I looked into the players that graduated from the list (or were poised to graduate); and on June 14, I delved into some of the disappointments. This time around, I will venture off the list a bit - but not too far - by checking-in on some of the prospects that were in the consideration set for our top-hundred. Seven writers contributed to the consensus list, and a total of 176 players made at least one list (you can find the seventy-six that didn’t make the final cut here).
In perusing this group of prospects that just missed, I identified nineteen players that have performed well-enough to make some second-guess their absence from our final list. Again, this is done with the benefit of hindsight, and prospecting is oftentimes an imprecise endeavor - so take it all with a grain of salt. Without further ado:
Beau Burrows, SP, Tigers - 52.0 IP, 42 H, 14 BB, 37 K, 2.77 ERA, 1.08 WHIP
Drafted in the first-round of the 2015 MLB Draft (22nd overall), Burrows was immediately one of my favorite prospects in the Tigers system. Blessed with a wicked fastball in the mid-90s, a promising curveball, and solid command and control, he seemed like the type of high school draft pick that could make it to the Majors in a couple of years. Burrows neglected his secondary stuff at times as an amateur, due to his overpowering fastball, but he has worked his curve and change-up into his repertoire with strong results. He has performed quite well as one of the youngest pitchers in the Midwest League, and is ready for his next test at High-A.
Brandon Nimmo, OF, Mets - .325/.404/.513, 36 R, 5 HR, 33 RBI, 4 SB (7 CS), 261 PA
Nimmo has long been a frustrating prospect, showing flashes of power, speed, and an advanced approach, yet never really putting it together. He is now in the midst of his best professional season in his first extended run at Triple-A, and will likely get his first taste of the Majors some time this season. Las Vegas is a hitter’s heaven, so his numbers cannot be taken at face value - but he was a consensus top-100 guy heading into 2015 for a reason.
Cody Reed, SP, Reds - 64.2 IP, 59 H, 17 BB, 63 K, 3.20 ERA, 1.18 WHIP
Reed made his MLB debut on Saturday night, and he did fairly well - 7.0 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 9 K. It wasn’t a dazzling performance by any means, but it’s tough to expect much more from a 23-year-old making his first big league start on the road. Reed’s command has improved markedly over time, and his slider and change are both at least fringe offerings. If he can find consistency in those off-speed pitches, he’ll be here to stay.
Chance Sisco, C, Orioles - .313/.407/.384, 25 R, 0 HR, 22 RBI, 1 SB (2 CS), 237 PA
Sisco’s ability to hit has never come into question - he may have the best hit tool of any catching prospect in the minors. However, his defense is still a work in progress (he was drafted as a shortstop), and that may well keep him in the minors for a bit longer than his bat would suggest. Despite the lack of power this season, Sisco does have average-ish raw power that could translate into 8 to 12 home runs per season.
Ryan Cordell, OF, Rangers - .289/.342/.550, 45 R, 14 HR, 50 RBI, 7 SB (4 CS), 275 PA
Cordell struggled mightily in his first stint in Double-A, posting a .597 OPS in 242 PA, but that feels like the distant past nowadays. His walk (6.7%) and strikeout (25.6%) rates leave a bit to be desired, but his performance has been excellent otherwise. It is worth noting that he has exclusively played the outfield this year, after spending time everywhere but catcher and second-base last season.
Edwin Diaz, SP/RP, Mariners - 40.2 IP, 32 H, 7 BB, 54 K, 2.21 ERA, 0.96 WHIP
Posting Diaz’s Double-A stats seems a bit moot, as he is all but guaranteed to graduate from the prospect ranks this year. The 22-year-old was transitioned to the bullpen this Spring, and he made his MLB debut less than a month later. Since moving on up, he has pitched to the following line: 7.2 IP, 8 H, 4 BB, 11 K, 2.35 ERA, 1.57 WHIP. His control has been a bit off, which was arguably his biggest flaw as a prospect, but his stuff is incredible, and he should be an elite reliever in time. I just hope he gets another chance to start, as he could be special in the rotation, too.
Tyler Jay, SP, Twins - 60.2 IP, 56 H, 18 BB, 61 K, 2.97 ERA, 1.22 WHIP
Jay was taken 6th overall in last year’s MLB Draft, and was widely considered the best LHP in the class. His fastball and slider are both plus pitches, and he has above-average command, as well. The greatest issue with Jay is his size (6’1”, 180 pounds), which leads some to wonder whether he will be durable enough to make thirty-plus starts and toss 180-plus innings regularly. For now, though, he seems ready for a promotion to Double-A.
Willie Calhoun, 2B, Dodgers - .275/.342/.514, 40 R, 14 HR, 49 RBI, 0 SB (0 CS), 282 PA
Calhoun has hit and hit for power at every level since being drafted in the fourth-round of the 2015 MLB Draft, showing a refined approach at the plate along the way. Despite his height (5’8”), most scouts agree that his power is legitimately above-average, and his bat is almost certainly for real. The greatest question with Calhoun is whether he will be able to stick at 2B, as his defense is below-average at best. I could see him shifting to LF in the not-so-distant future.
Trayce Thompson, OF, Dodgers - .259/.340/.506, 27 R, 11 HR, 27 RBI, 4 SB (1 CS), 191 PA
Thompson has been the Dodgers best outfielder this season, and was the team’s best hitter until his bat cooled off (and Corey Seager’s heated up). Many thought that he would be best-suited as a lefty-mashing fourth outfielder, but he has a reverse platoon split this season (.863 OPS vs. RHP, .802 OPS vs. LHP). Regardless, he’s here to stay.
Domingo Acevedo, SP, Yankees - 48.1 IP, 38 H, 8 BB, 52 K, 1.86 ERA, 0.95 WHIP
Acevedo might be the hardest thrower in the minors, sitting in the upper-90s and regularly breaking 100 MPH. And, for the time being, that may be all that he is - a thrower. His slider and change-up are show-me offerings, and his mechanics are rough (though, to be fair, he didn’t start playing baseball until he was 16). Acevedo is a perfect example of a high-risk, high-reward prospect.
Michael Feliz, SP/RP, Astros - 30.2 IP, 18 H, 8 BB, 42 K, 3.23 ERA, 0.85 WHIP
Feliz was dominant at Double-A last season, and had all the makings of a solid starting pitcher. He shifted to the bullpen when the need arose, however, and hasn’t looked back. The 22-year-old is 9th among relievers in K%-BB% (just ahead of Kenley Jansen), and may be next in-line for the Astros closer role should the need arise.
Phil Bickford, SP, Giants - 66.0 IP, 51 H, 15 BB, 82 K, 2.73 ERA, 1.00 WHIP
Like the aforementioned Acevedo, Bickford is often viewed as a thrower rather than a pitcher. His fastball has above-average velocity and excellent movement, but his slider and change-up are several grades behind due to their inconsistency. Bickford has mid-rotation upside if he can figure out his off-speed stuff, as he has shown in his first full professional season.
Harrison Bader, OF, Cardinals - .305/.371/.519, 36 R, 13 HR, 31 RBI, 7 SB (10 CS), 267 PA
Bader is the sort of prospect that can fly under the radar due to his lack of a true carrying tool; most outlets agree that his traditional tools all range from average to slightly above. He has done nothing but rake as a professional, however, despite skipping High-A entirely, and he should be in-line for a promotion relatively soon. Bader’s aggressiveness at the plate and on the bases could be a double-edged sword against more advanced competition, though.
Mike Soroka, SP, Braves - 71.0 IP, 67 H, 15 BB, 65 K, 2.92 ERA, 1.16 WHIP
Soroka has thrived as the third-youngest pitcher in the South Atlantic League, mixing three pitches (fastball curve, and change-up) that all flash average or better. He didn’t face the best competition in high school, which led some to view him as a reach in the first-round - but he looks like a solid mid-rotation starter right now.
Roman Quinn, OF, Phillies - .288/.361/.420, 44 R, 3 HR, 16 RBI, 25 SB (6 CS), 231 PA
Full disclosure - Quinn has long been one of my guys. He is an excellent defender in center, and he ranks among the best base-runners in the minors; he has a solid approach at the plate, and more power than his frame might suggest. Quinn remind me quite a bit of Lorenzo Cain, in fact, and he may well end up being better in the Majors than he ever was in the minors. His inability to stay healthy, however, has plagued him throughout his career - and he’s currently on the 7-day DL with an oblique injury.
Sean Reid-Foley, SP, Blue Jays - 65.0 IP, 45 H, 25 BB, 71 K, 2.63 ERA, 1.08 WHIP
Reid-Foley opened the season at Single-A after struggling at High-A in the last couple of months of 2015. A month and change later and he is back at High-A, where he struck out 12 in 7 shutout innings in his last start. Reid-Foley has struggled with repeating his mechanics at times, which has led to ugly walk rates at times; however, he seems to have sorted that out to some degree in 2016, and could move quickly going forward.
Yohander Mendez, SP, Rangers - 58.0 IP, 43 H, 19 BB, 71 K, 2.64 ERA, 1.07 WHIP
The 21-year-old made short work of High-A, earning a promotion to Double-A after a bit over a month. He is currently the third-youngest pitcher in the Texas League, and continues to impress against more advanced hitters. Mendez works in the low-90s with his fastball, and his plus change-up is his best pitch (a swing and miss offering). Despite being 6’4”, he lacks the frame that many look for in a workhorse starter, so it will be interesting to see how many innings he racks up this season - and how he response to the work load.
Jorge Polanco, SS, Twins - .299/.359/.490, 17 R, 3 HR, 17 RBI, 1 SB (3 CS), 167 PA
Polanco should be the Twins starting shortstop right now, given the state of the team, but playing everyday in Triple-A is better than riding the pine in the Majors. He is batting .307/.365/.485 since being sent back down to Rochester in late May, and I have to imagine that he’ll be with the Twins for good sooner rather than later.
Eloy Jimenez, OF, Cubs - .341/.379/.535, 39 R, 8 HR, 45 RBI, 4 SB (1 CS), 277 PA
Jimenez is second in the Midwest League in OPS despite being one of its youngest position players, showcasing the talent that made him the top IFA prospect back in 2013. His offensive upside is immense, as a potential middle-of-the-order masher, and he is showcasing it a bit sooner than expected. I expect that he will be promoted to High-A within the next month or so.