MLB Prospect Power Rankings: Top 10 On The Cusp Of Reaching The Majors (May 10, 2017)

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Which prospects are on the verge of making an impact in the Major Leagues? This weekly column will rank the ten who are closest (as well as other names that are being closely considered). Keep in mind that while talent is factored in opportunity plays a major role, so there may be some “lesser” prospects who rank fairly highly on the list (please note all stats are through Monday and the number in parenthesis is the ranking from last week):

 

1) Yoan Moncada – Chicago White Sox – Second Baseman (1)
Tyler Saladino continues to underwhelm, helping White Sox second baseman to own the fourth lowest SLG in the league (.300) and be tied for the second fewest RBI (5).  The team is starting to utilize Yolmer Sanchez at the spot, which really should be all you need to know.

That’s not to say that Moncada doesn’t bring his own concerns and is a guarantee to produce, as he’s struggled with strikeouts (26.6%) over his 124 PA.  He has been improving in that regard, however, with 4 K over his past 7 game stretch (April 30 – May 7).  With 5 BB over that span it is highly promising, though we’d also like to see him producing a few more extra base hits overall (3 doubles, 1 triple and 7 home runs).  That’s splitting hairs, as we know the power and speed are there.  If he has taken a step forward in his plate discipline he has the potential to make a significant impact immediately.  Considering the production they’ve gotten at the position, it’s only a matter of time.

 

2) Bradley Zimmer – Cleveland Indians – Outfielder (3)
Entering play on Monday the Cleveland Indians had actually scored the fewest runs in May.  While many of their players are hitting under .250 over the first week, the outfielders have been particularly poor:

  • Brandon Guyer – .200/.250/.333
  • Michael Brantley – .190/.261/.190
  • Lonnie Chisenhall – .100/.100/.300
  • Abraham Almonte – .000/.063/.000

While Michael Brantley is safe, Guyer is nothing more than a platoon player and the other two could easily cede AB (the Indians have promoted Yandy Diaz to help boost the production).  Zimmer could definitely help to provide a spark, though he does face strikeout issues (29.5% at Triple-A).  Still he’s producing extra base hits (14 total) and stealing bases (6-for-9), showing just what he’s capable of.

 

3) Austin Meadows – Pittsburgh Pirates – Outfielder (9)
Pirates’ centerfielders are hitting just .222 on the season, and while the team has held out promoting Meadows it soon may not have much of a choice.  Of course that would be easier if he was actually producing at the plate himself, as he’s hitting .192 with 1 HR and 3 SB on the season.  It’s easy to imagine him picking up the pace, considering the underlying numbers:

  • Strikeout Rate – 19.4%
  • Line Drive Rate – 22.8%
  • BABIP – .231

So he’s not striking out a ton and is suffering from poor luck…  Considering the need and Meadows’ defensive ability, it isn’t going to take much for him to earn a promotion.  With a hot streak likely coming, be prepared.

 

4) Derek Fisher – Houston Astros – Outfielder (6)
You can easily argue that Norichika Aoki doesn’t belong in the outfield mix, as he’s seen his numbers steadily regress since a good start.  While Fisher does have strikeout concerns, he’s showing that he can produce regardless.  Entering play on Monday he was the owner of a 12-game hitting streak, going 23-56 with 3 HR, 9 RBI, 8 R and 1 SB.  Obviously he’s not quite that good, considering his .402 BABIP, his 24.1% strikeout rate is actually reasonable.  He also now has 251 PA at Triple-A over the past two season, hitting .310 with 11 HR (as well as 17 doubles) and 8 SB.  There’s no questioning his potential and there also appears to be an opportunity.  It’s just a matter of when the Astros decide to make a change, which should come before long.

 

5) Brandon Woodruff – Milwaukee Brewers – Starting Pitcher (7)
Only two Brewers’ starters have an ERA below 3.00, and considering one of those pitchers is Matt Garza there obviously are opportunities.  Woodruff has done his part at Triple-A, going 5-0 with a 1.83 ERA and 0.96 WHIP over his first six starts (34.1 IP).  He hasn’t shown much strikeout stuff, with a 7.86 K/9, but it’s been there before and he has 18 K over 18.0 IP in his past three starts.  Couple that with pinpoint control (1.83 BB/9) and enough groundballs (47.9%) and there’s a lot to like.  While home runs could be an issue, like with many Brewers’ starters, there’s enough upside that he could stick in the rotation for the remainder of the season once his opportunity comes.

 

6) Franklin Barreto – Oakland A’s – Shortstop (5)
Adam Rosales has been filling in at shortstop, but we all know he’s not a long-term solution.  Maybe the A’s are waiting for the Super 2 deadline or maybe they are waiting to get a more definitive timetable for Marcus Semien, regardless you have to think it’s only a matter of time before Barreto forces his way into the Majors.  Despite an elevated strikeout rate (29.6%) he’s hitting .360 with 4 HR and 3 SB over 111 AB.  It’s possible that he gets completely exposed in the Majors, which will require a return trip to Triple-A, but it will give him much needed experience.  Look for at least a brief opportunity to come, but don’t necessarily expect a monster performance.

 

7) Jacob Faria – Tampa Bay Rays – Starting Pitcher (NR)
When you just look at the ERA it wouldn’t appear like the Rays’ are in need of help in the rotation.  However Blake Snell has struggled with his control and Alex Cobb simply isn’t the same pitcher, so it would seem like an opportunity would be there before long.  We covered Faria in depth earlier this week (click here to view http://rotoprofessor.com/prospects/?p=1608), but the fact is that he’s gained his Triple-A experience and continues to show strikeouts and groundballs.  Obviously pitching in the AL East is never easy, but he has the potential to hit the ground running.

 

8) Carson Fulmer – Chicago White Sox – Starting Pitcher (NR)
Most of the attention has gone to Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, but it’s easy to argue that Fulmer has been the best of the trio.  He’s allowed 1 ER in each of his past four starts, helping him to a 2.88 ERA and 1.14 WHIP, while generating groundballs (1.35 GO/AO) and avoiding walks (11 BB over 34.1 IP).  The big surprise has been his lack of strikeouts, with a 6.55 K/9.  That could limit his upside upon reaching the Majors, but there’s more upside then that so hopefully he can figure it out before arriving.

 

9) Lewis Brinson – Milwaukee Brewers – Outfielder (2)
With Keon Broxton and Domingo Santana surging, as well as Ryan Braun expected to return to the lineup, Brinson is going to have to sit and wait a little while longer for his opportunity.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, considering his 23 K over his first 20 games at Triple-A this season.  That’s clearly something that he needs to improve upon, though it’s not something that will stop the Brewers from promoting him.  If/when Braun requires a DL stint, or when one of the other youngsters slumps, his opportunity will be there.

 

10) Ronald Guzman – Texas Rangers – First Baseman (10)
He continues to show a lack of power (3 HR) and without speed that’s going to limit his appeal upon arriving in the Majors (even if he could maintain his .347 average, which obviously is unlikely).  With Mike Napoli continuing to struggle (.169/.228/.339) it may only be a matter of time before Guzman’s opportunity comes.

 

Honorable Mention – Rhys Hoskins – Philadelphia Phillies – First Baseman (4)
It no longer appears that Hoskins’ arrival is imminent, with Tommy Joseph finally starting to produce.  That doesn’t mean that he doesn’t still belong on our radars, though, because does anyone believe Joseph is going to be able to keep on producing?  Hoskins continues to show power and a great command of the strike zone (15.3% strikeout rate, 12.6% walk rate), so when he does arrive he is going to make an impact.

 

Graduated:

  • None

 

Fell Off The Rankings:

  • Reynaldo Lopez – Chicago White Sox – Starting Pitcher (8)
  • Amed Rosario – New York Mets – Shortstop (HM)

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

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

12 comments

  1. Sawyer says:

    Rosario went from number 1 to not on the list at all?,

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      Becoming obvious that the Mets have no intention of calling him up right now, regardless of the #’s

  2. Steve says:

    I love Rhys Hoskins, but disappointedly enough, the Phillies GM Matt Klentak really squashed any excitement of him with recent comments hinting he is not even a Super 2 option and we likely won’t see him until August… but who knows, GM talk can be worthless sometimes.

    Some other articles expanded further, but here’s one:
    http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/sports/phillies/Phillies-GM-Matt-Klentak-preaching-patience-with-Alfaro–Hoskins-despite-torrid-starts.html

    “We are pleased with (the work of Hoskins) but I am not ready to concede after (90 plate appearances that Tommy Joseph has forgotten how to hit and we’re going to turn to Rhys at this early stage,” Klentak said.

    The Phillies general manager said that he didn’t want to minimize what Hoskins has accomplished, but it should also be kept in perspective.

    “He is a month into his Triple A career and we are happy to let him get at-bats there,” Klentak said.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      Yep, and Tommy Joseph starting to actually hit gives them even less of a reason to promote him

  3. bartonrp says:

    Wouldn’t the Indian give Naquin another chance before promoting Zimmer? Naquin is hitting .396 with a .969 OPS at Triple A.

  4. Sawyer says:

    Maybe Berrios has too many MLB innings to qualify for your list, but if you were to rank him, where would he fall? Given the state of pitching, I wonder if he is an immediate must-grab. However, I also wonder if the Twins are just horrible at handling prospects at the major league level…

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      If he qualified he’d be the unquestioned #1. I’m fully onboard and do feel he’s a must add in all formats

  5. Mike says:

    I hate asking these types of questions, but it relates to the topic at hand. I’m in a 12 team auction AL only keeper league, and I inherited a real mess of a team. I’m currently in 10th place and going in the wrong direction already. I was offered Healy, Rodon, and Moncada for Miggy, Carrasco, and Reddick. I know that seems lopsided on paper, but all three of my players are free agents in the off season and I won’t be able to keep them. I’ve posted this trade to numerous people; half say I’m insane to consider it, and the other half says that I should take Moncada and run. You can keep players for 6 years in this league. Any insight as to which side of the trade you stand on?

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      How long can you keep Healy & Rodon after this season? You are giving up a lot (obviously), but all three players you are receiving could be keys to your success in ’18 and beyond. I don’t think it’s a crazy deal at all, especially with Moncada starting to show signs of figuring things out and cutting back on his strikeouts.

      • Mike says:

        I have the option to sign them both long term. Both cost $5.00 on a $260 budget this year, and the contracts are based on length (you add $5 per year). So if I signed Rodon after this season for 4 years he would cost me $20 per year, then he becomes a free agent. I get 3 rookie years for Moncada at $5, then I would have to sign him long term.

        • Rotoprofessor says:

          It’s intriguing, but that’s still a lot to give up. I wonder if you could get more trading Miggy/Carrasco separately as opposed to in the same package

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