Top 20 Outfield Prospects: #11-20 (Preseason 2017 Edition)

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Earlier in the week we kicked off our Top 20 Outfield Prospect list (click here to view).  Who joins them among the best outfield prospects in the league?  Let’s take a look:

 

11) Corey Ray – Milwaukee Brewers
Grade – B+
ETA – 2018

The left-handed hitter was selected fifth overall in the 2016 draft and could arrive quickly (he’s already 22-years old).  The Brewers were aggressive, giving him 254 PA at High-A, and he showed his power (13 doubles, 2 triples and 5 HR) and speed (9 SB) backing up the thought that he could develop into a 20/20 weapon.  He does need to prove that he can handle southpaws, as there was a distinct split:

  • RHP – .261/.303/.438
  • LHP – .218/.315/.282

He also could stand to improve his strikeout rate (21.3%), though in his first year of professional baseball we can give him a pass.  The upside is evident, and if he quickly answers the questions a 2017 debut isn’t unthinkable.

 

12) Hunter Renfroe – Outfielder
Grade – B+
ETA – Already Arrived

Renfroe spent the bulk of ’16 at Triple-A, hitting .306 with 30 HR in the process.  There’s clearly power in his bat, despite playing in the Pacific Coast League, as he added 34 doubles and 5 triples.  Even in San Diego that should translate to 25+ HR annually, with the potential to hit over 30 in any given season.  He also has shown an ability to kick in a few SB, something that shouldn’t go overlooked (think 4-8 annually).

So where are the concerns?  His aggressive approach at the plate is something that could easily be exposed by Major League pitching (strikeout rate // walk rate):

  • Double-A (2015, 463 PA) – 24.2% // 7.1%
  • Triple-A (2015, 95 PA) – 21.1% // 4.2%
  • Triple-A (2016, 563 PA) – 20.4% // 3.9%

A strikeout rate north of 25% is realistic, and that’s going to put a cap on his average upside (think .260ish, as opposed to the .300 he posted last season).

 

13) Tyler O’Neill – Seattle Mariners
Grade – B+
ETA – 2017

After hitting .293 with 24 HR, 102 RBI and 12 SB at Double-A (showing his proximity to the Majors), the hype machine is going to be in full force for O’Neill.  Considering he hit 32 HR at High-A in ’15 there’s obviously reason to believe in his power, though he has not supplemented the long balls with a significant number of additional extra base hits (21 doubles and 2 triples in ’15, 26 doubles and 4 triples in ’16).  He also has shown a propensity to swing and miss at an excessive amount:

  • High-A – 30.5%
  • Double-A – 26.1%

Obviously improving, despite the tougher competition, is an impressive sign.  That said last season’s mark still has a long way to go.  It’s something that could be exposed at Triple-A, and how he produces early in the year will help to cement our impressions.

 

14) Alex Verdugo – Outfielder
Grade – B+
ETA – 2017

The left-handed hitter has potential and is starting to tap into it.  In 477 AB at Double-A he hit .273 with 13 HR while demonstrating an impressive approach:

  • Strikeout Rate – 12.7%
  • Walk Rate – 8.3%

That type of strikeout rate will give him the ability to routinely hit .280+ (with the potential to put up a .300 average) and he should continue adding power (he had 23 doubles and 1 triple last season).  He also should add a few SB, despite picking up 2 in 2016, as he had 14 in 19 attempts in 2015.  He may not be a burner, but with his average he could pick up 10 SB at his peak.

 

15) Juan Soto – Washington Nationals
Grade – B+
ETA – 2020

Playing at 17-years old, Soto was highly impressive during his time in Rookie Ball (183 PA) as he hit .361 with 5 HR and 5 SB.  Adding 11 doubles and 3 triples shows his power potential and a 13.7% strikeout rate for a player his age shows an impressive approach.  He obviously has a long way to go and a lot can happen, but he seems to be in the same type of situation as Victor Robles a year ago (though without the elite speed).

 

16) Christian Stewart – Detroit Tigers
Grade – B+
ETA – 2018

Stewart was one of four players to hit more than 15 HR in the Florida State League in ’16, leading the way with 24 HR in just 356 AB.  It’s impressive and shows just how much power the 2015 first round pick possesses.  The question is going to be if he can cut his strikeouts down enough, as he struggled with it at both levels he played:

  • High-A – 23.8%
  • Double-A – 26.0%

It’s not that he’s overly aggressive, with walk rates of 16.7% and 12.0% at the levels, so there is hope that he can continue learning and keep the number in check.  If he can do that, even keeping it right around 23-26% as he progresses, he can prove to be a dangerous hitter.  Time will tell, but the power is for real.

 

17) Lazaro Armenteros – Outfielder
Grade – B+
ETA – 2020

The 17-year old Cuban defector has garnered a lot of attention, with people comparing his upside to that of Yoan Moncada.  It’s certainly possible he gets to that level, but keep in mind that he’s going to need significant time to get there.  He’s not going to emerge overnight, and while the talent is impressive (he reportedly brings both power and speed to the table), he needs to get the work and development time that any prospect would.

 

18) Anthony Alford – Outfielder
Grade – B (B+ if he’s healthy)
ETA – 2018

Last season was supposed to be the year that he figured things out, devoting all of his attention to baseball (instead of splitting his time between baseball and football).  Instead injuries helped to limit him to 92 games (339 AB) and he struggled as he hit .236 with 9 HR and 18 SB.  It makes sense that strikeouts were his biggest issue (29.2%), considering the amount of time he missed and his history of splitting his attention.  The hope would be that a full season of baseball only would help him refine his approach, and with his proven ability to draw a walk (13.2% last season) there’s little doubt that he has a good feel of the strike zone.  It’s going to come in time.

He added 17 doubles and 2 triples, showing that there’s power potential, and going 18-for-24 in SB attempts is a solid number.  There’s no question that he can run, and 15/30 is a realistic upside.  The question is going to be if he can stay on the field and improve on his strikeout rate.  If he does, watch out.

 

19) Raimel Tapia – Colorado Rockies
Grade – B
ETA – Already Arrived

The question is where Tapia’s fit in to the Rockies’ future plans?  Their outfield is already full (Carlos Gonzalez, Charlie Blackmon & David Dahl), and they are planning on utilizing Ian Desmond at first base (and you can argue that he’s a better fit in the outfield).  There’s going to need to be an injury/trade in order to free up a spot, with the latter being something that’s always being rumored.

Tapia brings speed (he’s stolen as many as 33 bases in a minor league season) and power potential (especially playing in Colorado).  While he’s proven capable of making consistent contact, as displayed by the 2016 numbers, you have to wonder in MLB pitchers will exploit his aggressiveness (Strikeout Rate // Walk Rate):

  • Double-A – 10.7% // 5.5%
  • Triple-A – 10.9% // 1.8%

 

20) Roman Quinn – Philadelphia Phillies
ETA – Already Arrived
Grade – B

The biggest issue facing Quinn is his ability to stay on the field, not what he can do when on it.  He spent the bulk of his time at Double-A last season, hitting .287 with 6 HR and 31 SB in 286 AB (his total for the year was 41 SB over 365 AB).  His speed is his biggest asset, with at least 29 SB every year despite setting a career high in SB last season.

He may not be a slugger, but if he can reach double-digits (which seems possible in Philadelphia) we are talking about a consistent 10/30 performer.  We do need to monitor the strikeout rate (21.1% while at Double-A) and the addition of Michael Saunders should ticket Quinn to start the season at Triple-A, but it shouldn’t be long before he forces his way into the mix.

 

Sources – MLB.com, MILB.com, Frangraphs, Baseball Reference

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Grading System:
Grade A – Elite Prospects (aka potential future perennial All-Stars)
Grade B – Above Average Prospects (aka above average Major Leaguers, could develop into a potential All-Star)
Grade C – Average Prospects (aka solid, though unspectacular)
Grade D – Nothing More Than Roster Filler
Grade F – Move On

Make sure to check out all of our 2017 Prospect Rankings:

AL EastAL CentralAL West
Baltimore OriolesChicago White SoxHouston Astros
Boston Red SoxCleveland IndiansLos Angeles Angels
New York YankeesDetroit TigersOakland A's
Tampa Bay RaysKansas City RoyalsSeattle Mariners
Toronto Blue JaysMinnesota TwinsTexas Rangers
NL EastNL CentralNL West
Atlanta BravesChicago CubsArizona Diamondbacks
Miami MarlinsCincinnati RedsColorado Rockies
New York MetsMilwaukee BrewersLos Angeles Dodgers
Philadelphia PhilliesPittsburgh PiratesSan Diego Padres
Washington NationalsSt. Louis CardinalsSan Francisco Giants

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