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) Amed Rosario – New York Mets – Shortstop (2)
The whispers of a Rosario promotion are growing a little bit louder, with Adam Rubin of Mets Blog reporting that GM Sandy Alderson will be traveling to Las Vegas to take a look at the team’s prospect for himself. It’s possible that the showcase performance could lead to a one-way ticket to Flushing, where the Mets can certainly use a shot in the arm.
When you look at the numbers there would appear to be little left to prove, as he’s hitting .346 with 5 HR (as well as 13 doubles and 4 triples) and 11 SB over 228 PA at Triple-A. You can argue a bit of luck (.400 BABIP), though he does have the speed to maintain an elevated mark. You also can question his power upside (53.5% groundball rate), but 10-14 HR is more than enough given his speed and ability to make contact (16.6% strikeout rate). One of the premier prospects in the game, he may not be long for the Majors.
2) Rafael Devers – Boston Red Sox – Third Baseman (4)
The biggest questions facing Devers are his age (he won’t turn 21 until after the season) and his defensive ability at 3B. The former shouldn’t be a concern, as the Red Sox have shown a willingness to be aggressive with their promotions in the past. The latter is a different story, though many of the issues surround his ability to stick at the hot corner long-term (he has made 7 errors this season).
Offensively there’s little doubt that he’d represent an upgrade for the team. After slumping a little bit he’s hitting .368 over his past 10 games, bringing his average back up to .308 to go along with 10 HR and 33 RBI. He’s been even better over his past five games (10-19, 2 HR, 6 RBI) and continues to show a good command of the strike zone (19.3% strikeout rate, 9.4% walk rate). Pablo Sandoval’s return clearly shouldn’t be an impediment, especially with Boston’s third basemen slashing a pathetic .208/.258/.347 (and they’ve also combined for 14 errors).
3) Yoan Moncada – Chicago White Sox – Second Baseman (3)
We all know the upside, but since returning to the lineup on May 26 he has struggled mightily hitting .139 with 0 HR and 3 RBI over 36 AB. His only extra base hits are 1 double and 1 triple, and he’s hardly been an extra base machine this season (5 doubles, 2 triples, 6 home runs). He also continues to strikeout at an alarming rate, with 13 K over this stretch and a 27.9% strikeout rate overall. That gives the White Sox an excuse to keep Moncada pinned at Triple-A, and it’s justifiable. He has all the talent, but he needs to make some adjustments before his opportunity is going to come.
4) Gleyber Torres – New York Yankees (NR)
While Torres has gotten off to a slow start offensively at Triple-A (.194 with 0 HR and 2 SB over 11 games), the fact that he’s played 6 games at third base shows where the Yankees intent lies. The production from Chase Headley has fallen off a cliff, and instead of going outside of the organization for an alternative it appears that the Yankees will wait for the next key young piece to be deemed ready. He certainly looked the part at Double-A (.273/.367/.496), and it shouldn’t be long before he adjusts and starts producing at Triple-A as well. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him arrive right around the All-Star Break.
5) Derek Fisher – Houston Astros – Outfielder (7)
Maybe the Astros turn left field over to Marwin Gonzalez, as he’s certainly been the most productive person to man the position, but the team seems more inclined to utilize him in a super utility role. For his part Fisher is trying to force the organization to give him an opportunity to fill the role, hitting .338 with 14 HR (and 16 doubles) and 9 SB over 240 PA. He’s not striking out a ton (20.8%), so the only real “knock” has been his inefficiency on the bases (9-for-19), a little bit of luck (.386 BABIP) and a home run rate he likely won’t maintain (28.0% HR/FB). Then again, are any of those things a reason not to give him a chance and see what he can do?
6) Jacob Faria – Tampa Bay Rays – Starting Pitcher (9)
Matt Andriese is on the DL and both Alex Cobb and Erasmo Ramirez have had their issues in the rotation and Faria is going to get an opportunity to fill one of the spots. He has now made 24 starts at Triple-A (126.1 IP) and posted a 3.42 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 148 K and 54 BB. Overall he hasn’t generated many groundballs, though the number is respectable in ’17 (41.5%), and he has clearly baffled opposing hitters at the highest level of the minors (15.4% SwStr%). Pitching in the AL is going to be a potential detriment, but it’s hard not to love what he’s done and his potential to produce.
7) Austin Meadows – Pittsburgh Pirates – Outfielder (5)
He’s figured things out at the plate, hitting .300 with 2 HR (and 10 doubles) and 17 RBI over 110 AB in May (as well as posting a solid 15 K vs. 10 BB). That production has carried into June and it’s easy to argue that he’s the best defensive centerfielder the team has with Starling Marte still out. So the question is, why haven’t the Pirates recalled him yet? With the Super 2 deadline seemingly behind us, there doesn’t appear to be a great reason. He may not have one true carrying skill, but the sum of the parts is impressive and at this point it shouldn’t be long.
8) Reynaldo Lopez – Chicago White Sox – Starting Pitcher (NR)
The White Sox have a slew of young pitchers waiting to get an opportunity in the Majors. Lopez is joined by Lucas Giolito and Carson Fulmer (and maybe even Michael Kopech) as candidates to be promoted during 2017. Giolito could’ve leapfrogged the others with his most recent outing (11 K vs. 2 BB over 6.0 IP), but for now Lopez is going to get this spot on the rankings.
For his part Lopez owns a 3.81 ERA on the season, with a 9.15 K/9. There are fair concerns about his control (4.12 BB/9) and potential to give up home runs (32.3% groundball rate), but no one is going to argue against the pure stuff that he possesses.
9) Franklin Barreto – Oakland A’s – Shortstop (1)
The thought of an imminent promotion has seemingly come and gone, especially with talk that Marcus Semien is inching closer to a return (with the end of June talked about as the target date). For his part Barreto hasn’t forced the issue, hitting .190 over his past 10 games and struggling to make consistent contact (29.0% strikeout rate). That’s not to say that there isn’t upside or that he won’t get a chance at some point, but for now it doesn’t appear to be coming in the near future.
10) Ronald Guzman – Texas Rangers – First Baseman (NR)
He’s slumping currently (.229 over his past ten games) and there are going to be questions about his power production (he has 5 HR over 229 PA at Triple-A this season), but we know he can hit and there is a potential opening in Texas with Mike Napoli landing on the DL. Even during his struggles Guzman has continued to make consistent contact (15.7% strikeout rate) and he’s also hit the ball hard (23.1% line drive rate). He has shown an ability to hit right-handed pitchers (.308/.384/.452), so maybe he steps into a platoon with Ryan Rua or someone else. Either way, if he gets the call he should be an intriguing name to watch.
Five More To Watch:
- Lewis Brinson – Milwaukee Brewers – Outfielder
- Zack Burdi – Chicago White Sox – Relief Pitcher
- Rhys Hoskins – Philadelphia Phillies – First Baseman
- Tyler O’Neill – Seattle Mariners – Outfielder
- Luke Weaver – St. Louis Cardinals – Starting Pitcher
- Ben Lively – Philadelphia Phillies – Starting Pitcher (6)
Fell Off The Rankings:
- Brandon Woodruff – Milwaukee Brewers – Starting Pitcher (8)
- Nick Williams – Philadelphia Phillies – Outfielder (10)
Sources – MILB.com, MLB.com, Baseball Reference, Fangraphs
Make sure to check out all of our 2017 Prospect Rankings: