MLB

2014 MLB Futures Game Roster: Breaking Down Team USA and the World Team

Mike RosenbaumMLB Prospects Lead WriterJune 25, 2014

2014 MLB Futures Game Roster: Breaking Down Team USA and the World Team

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    SS Francisco Lindor will make his third Futures Game appearance.
    SS Francisco Lindor will make his third Futures Game appearance.Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    The 25-man rosters for the 2014 Futures Game were released Tuesday, via MLB, giving fans an idea of which prospects will be suiting up for the U.S. and World teams on Sunday, July 13.

    Since its introduction in 1999, the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game has evolved into the hidden gem of All-Star weekend.

    The event offers fans a unique opportunity to watch baseball’s brightest prospects on the same field.

    Each year the event serves as a stepping stone for prospects destined for greatness, as 22 players from last year’s game have already reached the major leagues.

    Though some of the younger players are in the early stages of development, a majority of the participants in this year’s game are within striking distance of the major leagues and could potentially debut before the end of the season.

    Here is a look at the 50 prospects selected to play for the U.S. and World teams in this year’s Futures Game.

U.S.: Catchers

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    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    Kevin Plawecki, New York Mets

    2014 Stats (A+/AA): 249 PA, .326/.378/.487, 24 XBH (6 HR), 43 RBI, 16 BB, 27 K

    Selected with the No. 35 overall pick in the 2012 draft, Plawecki’s ability to make consistent hard contact and use the whole field has him moving quickly through the Mets’ system. Not only is the 23-year-old hitting up a storm at Double-A Binghamton this season, but he’s also making noticeable strides defensively with only four passed balls and a 31 percent caught stealing rate in 54 games behind the plate.

     

    Justin O’Conner, Tampa Bay Rays

    2014 Stats (A+): 233 PA, .261/.292/.446, 29 XBH (5 HR), 25 RBI, 7 BB, 60 K

    After three seasons in the Short Season leagues, O’Conner’s career has finally taken off in 2014 thanks to a strong showing on both sides of the ball at High-A Charlotte. The 22-year-old’s approach still needs considerable work, evidenced by his 60-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio, but he’s finally tapping into his above-average raw power while providing his usual top-notch defense behind the plate (58 percent caught stealing rate).

World: Catchers

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    Jorge Alfaro, Texas Rangers

    2014 Stats (+A): 288 PA, .258/.316/.424, 25 XBH (8 HR), 45 RBI, 17 BB, 69 K

    Jorge Alfaro continues to drop jaws with his potential on both sides of the ball, but at the same time, both areas of his game remain raw and inconsistent.

    The 21-year-old’s offensive campaign is shaping up a lot like last year’s, with a .258 batting average and 25 extra-base hits through 67 games, but he’s also struck out 69 times against just 17 walks. And while he’s thrown out base stealers at a 30 percent clip in 49 games behind the dish, he’s also committed seven errors to go along with 17 passed balls.

     

    Christian Bethancourt, Atlanta Braves

    2014 Stats (AAA): 232 PA, .265/.293/.365, 15 XBH (3 HR), 30 RBI, 9 BB, 38 K

    Bethancourt will always be known for his plus defense behind the plate, and any offense he provides should be considered a bonus. After batting .203 with three doubles and 17 strikeouts in the season’s first month, the 22-year-old has steadily raised his batting line in the subsequent months and seemingly is in line for a call-up in the near future.

U.S.: Infielders

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    Corey Seager, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers

    2014 Stats (A+): 296 PA, .353/.405/.613, 27 2B, 13 HR, 52 RBI, 5 SB, 20 BB, 60 K

    Corey Seager struggled at High-A Rancho Cucamonga during the final month of the 2013 regular season, as he batted just .160 with 31 strikeouts in 27 games following a promotion from Low-A Great Lakes.

    However, Seager, 20, has been one of the more impressive hitters in the minor leagues this season back at Rancho, as he’s hit for both average and power while basically mastering the level. It shouldn’t be long until the Dodgers move him up to Double-A.

     

    J.P. Crawford, SS, Philadelphia Phillies

    2014 Stats (A/A+): 267 PA, .295/.398/.405, 19 XBH (3 HR), 14 SB, 37 BB, 37 K

    J.P. Crawford turned in an impressive professional debut last summer after the Phillies selected him with the No. 16 overall pick in the draft, reaching Low-A Lakewood as an 18-year-old. This year, Crawford has emerged as one the game’s better shortstop prospects in his first full professional campaign, as he’s already received a well-deserved promotion to High-A Clearwater.

     

    Mookie Betts, 2B/OF, Boston Red Sox

    2014 Stats (AA/AAA): 345 PA, .346/.432/.525, 102 H, 33 XBH (8 HR), 47 RBI, 28 SB, 46 BB, 33 K

    After a breakout full-season debut last year across both Class-A levels, Betts entered 2014 as one of the better second base prospects in the minor leagues. However, the 21-year-old’s astounding performance this season (see ridiculous stats above) has already led to a promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket, and he’s likely to rank among the game’s top prospects by the time he takes the field in the Futures Game.

     

    Micah Johnson, 2B, Chicago White Sox

    2014 Stats (AA/AAA): 280 PA, .308/.372/.424, 19 XBH (4 HR), 14 SB, 24 BB, 44 K

    Johnson was named the White Sox’s 2013 Minor League Player of the Year after batting .312/.373/.451 in his full-season debut, with 106 runs, 46 extra-base hits and 84 stolen bases in 131 games across three levels.

    So far this season, the 23-year-old second baseman has shown better plate discipline, evidenced by improved strikeout and walk rates, but has struggled on the basepaths with 14 stolen bases in 23 attempts over 61 games between the Double- and Triple-A levels.

     

    Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs

    2014 Stats (AA/AAA): 317 PA, .346/.448/.714, 20 2B, 26 HR, 64 RBI, 8 SB, 45 BB, 85 K

    What’s there left to say about Kris Bryant? The 22-year-old slugger is putting up unimaginable numbers in his first full professional season, as he currently leads the world in nearly every offensive category. Since his promotion to Triple-A Iowa late last week, Bryant has clubbed four home runs in his first five games at the more advanced level and now has 26 through 73 games on the season.

     

    D.J. Peterson, 3B, Seattle Mariners

    2014 Stats (A+): 299 PA, .326/.381/.615, 23 2B, 18 HR, 73 RBI, 23 BB, 65 K

    Regarded as the most advanced college hitter in the 2013 draft class, D.J. Peterson’s advanced approach and potential for plus hit and power tools already have him moving quickly through the Mariners’ system. The 22-year-old was promoted to Double-A Jackson on Tuesday, per a team release, after posting a .997 OPS with 18 home runs and 73 RBI in 65 games at High-A High Desert.

     

    Joey Gallo, 3B, Texas Rangers

    2014 Stats (A+/AA): 302 PA, .309/.447/.720, 10 2B, 27 HR, 64 RBI, 60 BB, 87 K

    Gallo led all minor league hitters last season with 40 home runs (38 of which came while playing for Low-A Hickory), and he’s on pace to shatter that mark this year with a minor league-leading 27 home runs through his first 71 games, including six in his first 13 games following a recent promotion to Double-A Frisco.

    Beyond his legitimate 80-grade power, the 20-year-old slugger has shown better place discipline and pitch recognition this season, as he’s drastically improved both his strikeout and walk rates and hit for a high average without sacrificing any power.

     

    Peter O’Brien, 3B, New York Yankees

    2014 Stats (A+/AA): 292 PA, .266/.308/.602, 41 XBH (25 HR), 54 RBI, 13 BB, 70 K

    Speaking of power, Peter OBrien has put up monster numbers this season between High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton, as the 23-year-old owns a .910 OPS with 25 home runs through 72 games. However, his 70-13 strikeout-to-walk ratio highlights his ongoing struggles to control the strike zone and suggests that his current level of production is partially a result of luck.

    While OBrien has received most of his bats at catcher and designated hitter this season, the Yankees are still exploring ways to potentially expedite his arrival to the major leagues by working him out at first base and in right field.

World: Infielders

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Javier Baez, SS, Chicago Cubs

    2014 Stats (AAA): 266 PA, .226/.278/.424, 24 XBH (11 HR), 42 RBI, 14 SB, 16 BB, 91 K

    As you know by now, Baez had a horrendous start to the season at Triple-A Iowa. However, it seemingly was only a matter of time until the 21-year-old made the necessary adjustments and started to put up big numbers.

    While he’s yet to fire on all cylinders this season and continues to strike out entirely too often, Baez’s power and approach have been more consistent as of late. Plus, his track record of second-half success seemingly has him poised to turn things around after the All-Star break.

     

    Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians

    2014 Stats (AA): 318 PA, .281/.360/.403, 18 XBH (6 HR), 43 RBI, 19 SB, 35 BB, 51 K

    After getting his first taste of Double-A late last season, Francisco Lindor has excelled on both sides of the ball this year despite being one of the youngest everyday players in the Eastern League. In addition to his trademark defensive prowess at shortstop, Lindor is once again hitting for both average and modest power, reaching base at a high rate thanks to plate discipline that exceeds his years and stealing bases with efficiency.

    All signs point to the 20-year-old receiving a second-half call-up before taking over at shortstop for the Tribe in 2015.

     

    Jose Peraza, 2B, Atlanta Braves

    2014 Stats (A+/AA): 328 PA, .355/.377/.479, 25 XBH (9 3B), 37 SB, 10 BB, 33 K

    After opening eyes last year with a .288 batting average and 64 steals in his full-season debut at Low-A Rome, Peraza, 20, has jumped on the fast track to the major leagues—indicated by his shift from shortstop to second base in deference to Andrelton Simmons—this season with his outstanding performance at a pair of advanced levels.

    More specifically, Peraza is batting .522 in five games following a promotion to Double-A Mississippi late last week.

     

    Rosell Herrera, SS/3B, Colorado Rockies

    2014 Stats (A+): 143 PA, .276/.315/.343, 5 XBH (2 HR), 16 RBI, 4 SB, 8 BB, 24 K

    Herrera was named as both the South Atlantic League MVP and Rockies Minor League Player of the Year last season after posting a .933 OPS with 33 doubles, 16 home runs and 21 steals at Low-A Asheville.

    Though the 21-year-old switch-hitter struggled out of the gate this season at High-A Modesto before landing on the disabled list in late April, he’s started to settle in at the plate this month with a .305/.354/.441 batting line in 15 games.

     

    Maikel Franco, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies

    2014 Stats (AAA): 310 PA, .207/.265/.323, 22 XBH (5 HR), 29 RBI, 21 BB, 48 K

    Coming off a monster 2013 breakout campaign in which he batted .320/.356/.569 with 36 doubles, 31 home runs and 103 RBI between High- and Double-A, Maikel Franco entered the 2014 season seemingly on the cusp of the major leagues.

    However, the 21-year-old’s inconsistent showing during spring training has carried over into his time at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, where he’s struggled to the tune of a .587 OPS and hit only five home runs through 73 games.

     

    Kennys Vargas, 1B, Minnesota Twins

    2014 Stats (AA): 296 PA, .318/.395/.531, 27 XBH (14 HR), 57 RBI, 34 BB, 45 K

    While Vargas stands out for his plus raw power as a 6’5”, 275-pound first baseman, the 23-year-old switch-hitter actually is a much more mature and disciplined hitter than people realize. Beyond his potential to hit 20-25 home runs in a given season, Vargas also projects as at least an average hitter with strong on-base skills at the highest level.

     

    Carlos Correa, SS, Houston Astros

    2014 Stats (A+): 293 PA, .325/.416/.510, 28 XBH (6 HR), 57 RBI, 20 SB, 36 BB, 45 K

    One of the younger everyday players at the High-A level, Correa, 19, has continued to blow past all reasonable expectations this season—albeit in the hitter-friendly California League—with a .325/.416/.510 batting line, 32 extra-base hits, 20 stolen bases and a 45-36 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 62 games.

    Unfortunately, the remainder of Correa’s season—which potentially could have concluded with a brief taste of the major leagues—is now in jeopardy after he suffered a serious ankle injury on Sunday while sliding into third base.

     

    Renato Nunez, 3B, Oakland Athletics

    2014 Stats (A+): 292 PA, .272/.339/.498, 33 XBH (12 HR), 39 RBI, 21 BB, 59 K

    Nunez showed big-time power in his full-season debut last year at Low-A Beloit by smashing 27 doubles and 19 home runs in 128 games. However, he also struck out 136 times compared to just 28 walks. The 20-year-old is hitting for even more power this season at High-A Stockton (albeit in the hitter-friendly California League), but it’s his vastly improved approach that has his stock on the rise.

U.S.: Outfielders

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    Lenny Ignelzi/Associated Press

    Jesse Winker, Cincinnati Reds

    2014 Stats (A+/AA): 271 PA, .308/.424/.552, 28 XBH (13 HR), 49 RBI, 5 SB, 40 BB, 46 K

    One of the more underrated hitters in the minor leagues, Winker, 20, possesses an approach that’s mature beyond his years as well as preternatural bat-to-ball skills and emerging power. The left-handed batter has the potential for a plus hit tool and above-average pop at maturity and was recently promoted from to Double-A Pensacola.

     

    Michael Taylor, Washington Nationals

    2014 Stats (AA): 307 PA, .333/.413/.584, 31 XBH (17 HR), 52 RBI, 19 SB, 34 BB, 90 K

    After years of flashing his potential in the low minors, Taylor, 23, has been one of the more productive hitters in the minors this season, as he’s doing a little bit of everything offensively while offering his usual plus defense in center field.

    Taylor’s game still features too much swing-and-miss, evidenced by his 90-34 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 307 plate appearances, but his contact rate is still trending up, and he’s already established a new career high with 17 home runs.

     

    James Ramsey, St. Louis Cardinals

    2014 Stats (AA): 216 PA, .307/.389/.550, 21 XBH (12 HR), 31 RBI, 23 BB, 45 K

    Ramsey, the No. 23 overall pick in the 2012 draft, is hitting for both average and power this season in his second tour of the Double-A level. However, the 24-year-old won’t have a clear path to the major leagues anytime soon with Oscar Taveras, Stephen Piscotty and Randal Grichuk ahead of him on the organizational depth chart.

     

    Josh Bell, Pittsburgh Pirates

    2014 Stats (A+): 300 PA, .335/.385/.518, 29 XBH (9 HR), 47 RBI, 22 BB, 38 K

    Moved up to High-A Bradenton for his 2014 campaign, Bell, 21, has made offensive strides in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League, as he’s hitting for a high average, showing improved power and handling the strike zone. As he continues to add strength and gain experience against quality pitching, it’s easy to envision the switch-hitter becoming a middle-of-the-order threat capable of hitting 20-25 home runs at maturity.

     

    Hunter Renfroe, San Diego Padres

    2014 Stats (A+/AA): 336 PA, .284/.360/.547, 41 XBH (17 HR), 53 RBI, 9 SB, 30 BB, 84 K

    Selected with the No. 13 overall pick in the 2013 draft, Renfroe, 22, has excelled this year in his first full professional season while proving to be less raw than expected.

    His approach and pitch recognition both need considerable refinement, evidenced by his 84-30 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 74 games, but the Padres decision to promote him to Double-A San Antonio last week suggests they believe in his capacity to make adjustments in a challenging environment.

World: Outfielders

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    Alex Brandon/Associated Press

    Domingo Santana, Houston Astros

    2014 Stats (AAA): 333 PA, .296/.378/.493, 33 XBH (12 HR), 47 RBI, 38 BB, 89 K

    After posting an .842 OPS with 25 home runs and 139 strikeouts in 112 games last season at Double-A Corpus Christi—he also hit 23 bombs and fanned 148 times at High-A Lancaster in 2012—Santana, 21, is on pace to put up career-best numbers across the board this season as one of the youngest everyday players at the Triple-A level.

    His hit tool is still suspect due to his penchant for whiffing and the fact he’s played in hitter-friendly leagues in two of the last three seasons, but the right-handed batter’s power is legit and should translate to 20-plus home runs annually at the highest level.

     

    Gabriel Guerrero, Seattle Mariners

    2014 Stats (A+): 316 PA, .313/.359/.457, 25 XBH (8 HR), 50 RBI, 12 SB, 21 BB, 74 K

    The nephew of Vladimir Guerrero, Gabriel showcased his raw talent last year in his full-season debut by batting .271/.303/.358 with 30 extra-base hits but 113 strikeouts in 125 games at Low-A Clinton. The 20-year-old has shown more consistent power as well as better plate discipline this season at High-A High Desert, and he could be in store for a promotion to Double-A at some point later in the summer.

     

    Dalton Pompey, Toronto Blue Jays

    2014 Stats (A+): 303 PA, .312/.392/.460, 22 XBH (6 HR), 34 RBI, 27 SB, 34 BB, 54 K

    Pompey got everyone’s attention last season by posting a .752 OPS with 37 extra-base hits and 38 steals in 115 games at Low-A Lansing. This season, the 21-year-old has emerged as one the better power-speed prospects in the low minors with his strong showing in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League.

     

    Dariel Alvarez, Baltimore Orioles

    2014 Stats (AA): 308 PA, .308/.326/.503, 32 XBH (12 HR), 57 RBI, 8 BB, 30 K

    Signed by the Orioles last July after defecting from Cuba, Alvarez is putting together a surprisingly productive first full season in the states, as the 25-year-old is hitting for both average and power in the Eastern League.

    However, his 30-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio through 73 games accurately reflects his free-swinging, aggressive approach, while his tendency to overcommit and lunge at secondary pitches could lead to struggles against more advanced sequencing.

     

    Steven Moya, Detroit Tigers

    2014 Stats (AA): 282 PA, .260/.284/.520, 36 XBH (16 HR), 50 RBI, 12 SB, 8 BB, 82 K

    While Moya’s near-elite raw power has long ranked among the best in the minor leagues, a rash of injuries has caused the 22-year-old to fall behind the developmental curve, which is why he’s experiencing Double-A for the first time this year in his sixth professional season.

    The 6’6” left-handed hitter still lacks any semblance of plate discipline and is fanning out at an obscene rate this season (82 strikeouts against eight walks in 282 plate appearances), but his ability to stay on the field has resulted in a new career high with 16 home runs.

U.S.: Pitchers

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    Noah Syndergaard, RHP, New York Mets

    2014 Stats (AAA): 6-4, 65 IP, 4.98 ERA, 1.462 WHIP, 1.2 HR/9, 20 BB, 67 K (13 GS)

    Noah Syndergaards performance at Triple-A Las Vegas this season has been frustrating, as hes continued to miss bats at a favorable rate and limit free passes but has also been knocked around at times in the Pacific Coast League. The 21-year-old gave the baseball world a scare last month when he hit the disabled list with a minor elbow injury, but he’s since returned to mound and appears to be fully healthy.

     

    Robert Stephenson, RHP, Cincinnati Reds

    2014 Stats (AA): 3-5, 77 IP, 3.97 ERA, 1.273 WHIP, 1.1 HR/9, 39 BB, 80 K (15 G/14 GS)

    Robert Stephenson, 21, has held his own this season at Double-A Pensacola with a respectable 3.97 ERA and 80 strikeouts in 77 innings; however, the right-hander’s inconsistent command has led to an elevated walk rate, while his tendency to pitch up in the zone with his mid-to-upper 90s fastball has allowed hitters to take him deep nine times.

    That said, Stephenson still is young for the level, so the fact that he’s held opposing hitters to a .210 batting average and missed more than a bat per inning is highly encouraging.

     

    Henry Owens, LHP, Boston Red Sox

    2014 Stats (AA): 9-3, 3 CG, 86 IP, 1.99 ERA, 1.035 WHIP, 0.3 HR/9, 35 BB, 89 K (14 GS)

    Despite his impressive numbers at Double-A Portland, Owens, a 6’6” left-hander, has struggled with his command this season and lacked consistency from start to start. However, the 21-year-old southpaw still has been difficult to barrel—as is usually the case when his secondary pitches are working—as hes held opposing hitters to a .178 average while registering 89 strikeouts in 86 innings.

     

    Hunter Harvey, RHP, Baltimore Orioles

    2014 Stats (A): 4-4, 66.1 IP, 2.98 ERA, 1.131 WHIP, 0.4 HR/9, 28 BB, 76 K (13 GS)

    Few pitchers in the low minors have been as impressive as Hunter Harvey this season, as the 19-year-old has dominated hitters in the South Atlantic League behind advanced command of his 90-94 mph fastball and swing-and-miss curveball. Like many of the Orioles’ other top draft picks in recent years, Harvey should be able to move quickly through the minor leagues compared to his peers.

     

    Braden Shipley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks

    2014 Stats (A/A+): 5-3, 71.1 IP, 3.41 ERA, 1.234 WHIP, 0.5 HR/9, 21 BB, 75 K (12 GS)

    Braden Shipley, the No. 15 overall pick in the 2013 draft, has already received a promotion to High-A Visalia after posting a 3.74 ERA with 41 strikeouts and 11 walks in 45.2 innings (eight starts) for Low-A South Bend to begin the season.

    The 22-year-old right-hander should continue to move up the ladder in a hurry thanks a mid-90s fastball, plus-plus changeup that already ranks as one of the best in the minor leagues and hard curveball that projects as another plus offering at maturity.

     

    Jake Thompson, RHP, Detroit Tigers

    2014 Stats (A+): 6-2, 66.2 IP, 2.43 ERA, 1.155 WHIP, 0.1 HR/9, 24 BB, 66 K (13 GS)

    Thompson, 20, had an under-the-radar good full-season debut last year at Low-A West Michigan, as the right-hander posted a 3.13 ERA and a 91-32 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 83.1 innings. Moved up to High-A Lakeland for the 2014 season, Thompson has thrived against advanced hitters in the Florida State League and could get a taste of Double-A before the season ends.

    Don’t be surprised if he ranks as the Tigers’ top pitching prospect headed into the 2015 season.

     

    Christian Binford, RHP, Kansas City Royals

    2014 Stats (A+): 5-3, 76.2 IP, 2.35 ERA, 1.017 WHIP, 0.2 HR/9, 11 BB, 85 K (13 GS)

    A 30th-round draft pick in 2011, Binford has quietly emerged as one of the best pitchers at the High-A level this season, as the 21-year-old right-hander has dominated opposing hitters with his plus command of a three-pitch mix. While he lacks a true plus offering, Binford’s impressive feel for pitching makes his entire arsenal play up and could have him pitching at Double-A in short order.

     

    Lucas Giolito, RHP, Washington Nationals

    2014 Stats (A): 2-2, 48.2 IP, 2.59 ERA, 1.089 WHIP, 0.9 HR/9, 20 BB, 52 K (11 GS)

    Giolito’s workload has been (and will continue to be) limited by the organization as he continues to work back from Tommy John surgery, but it hasn’t prevented the right-hander from absolutely dominating hitters in the South Atlantic League.

    The 19-year-old is simply too good to remain at the Low-A level much longer, though it will be interesting to see how the Nationals handle his development moving forward in his first full season back from the elbow injury.

     

    Daniel Norris, LHP, Toronto Blue Jays

    2014 Stats (A+/AA): 6-0, 72 IP, 1.62 ERA, 1.014 WHIP, 0.2 HR/9, 19 BB, 85 K (14 GS)

    Daniel Norris quietly has emerged as one the game’s better left-handed pitching prospects this year thanks to a mechanical adjustment he made late last season. The 21-year-old was recently promoted to Double-A New Hampshire after registering a 1.22 ERA and 76-19 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 66.1 innings at High-A Dunedin.

    Norris projects as a No. 2 or No. 3 starter with four average-or-better offerings at maturity, including a plus fastball and changeup.

World: Pitchers

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    Julio Urias, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers

    2014 Stats (A+): 1-1, 45.2 IP, 3.35 ERA, 1.270 WHIP, 0.4 HR/9, 21 BB, 48 K (14 G/11 GS)

    Urias emerged as a can’t-miss prospect last season as a 16-year-old at Low-A Great Lakes, as he excelled against significantly older hitters in a full-season league.

    The left-hander possesses a truly special combination of stuff and pitchability—not to mention a repeatable delivery and smooth arm action—as he already sits in the low 90s, bumps 94-95 mph with his fastball and adeptly mixes in a plus curveball and promising changeup.

     

    Jose Berrios, RHP, Minnesota Twins

    2014 Stats (A+): 8-2, 83.1 IP, 2.05 ERA, 1.056 WHIP, 0.3 HR/9, 21 BB, 98 K (14 GS)

    Berrios opened eyes last season in his full-season debut for Low-A Cedar Rapids, as he posted a 3.99 ERA and 100-40 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 103.2 innings against hitters two to three years his elder. The 20-year-old has taken a huge step forward this season at High-A Fort Myers in the challenging (not for him, clearly) Florida State League, highlighted by his stellar 98-21 strikeout-to-walk ratio in just 83.1 innings.

    I’m sure the Twins have their reasons for keeping him at the level for as long as they have, but it’s obvious Berrios is in need of a greater challenge.

     

    Luis Severino, RHP, New York Yankees

    2014 Stats (A/A+): 3-3, 72.1 IP, 2.99 ERA, 1.147 WHIP, 0.2 HR/9, 16 BB, 78 K (15 GS)

    After putting himself on the prospect radar last season by reaching full-season ball in his stateside debut, Severino, 20, has seen his stock take off this year thanks to a dominant showing at Low-A Charleston to begin the season—and now High-A Tampa after a recent promotion.

    Though he’s undersized at 6’0”, 195 pounds, the right-hander features an explosive mid-90s fastball that bumps 97-97 mph as well as a pair of promising secondary offerings in a sharp slider and quickly improving changeup. Expect Severino to light up the radar gun during the Futures Game in his first exposure to a national audience.

     

    Francellis Montas, RHP, Chicago White Sox

    2014 Stats (A+): 3-0, 55 IP, 1.64 ERA, 0.891 WHIP, 0.2 HR/9, 11 BB, 51 K (9 GS)

    Acquired from the Red Sox last summer in the Jake Peavy deal, Montas, 21, quickly has emerged as one of the best pitching prospects (if not the best) in the White Sox system this season behind improved command of his power stuff.

    The 6’2”, 185-pound right-hander boasts a fastball in the upper 90s that eats up opposing hitters, and he’s developed a better feel for his curveball, slider and changeup. That said, his overall command remains a work in progress, so it’ll be interesting to see how he fares following an inevitable promotion to Double-A Birmingham.

     

    Enny Romero, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays

    2014 Stats (AAA): 3-7, 69 IP, 5.35 ERA, 1.478 WHIP, 1.0 HR/9, 29 BB, 64 K (14 GS)

    Even though Romero pitched well in a spot start for the Rays late last season, the 23-year-old left-hander is still more of a thrower than a pitcher, as he’ll struggle to repeat a consistent release point and in turn miss his spots both inside and outside of the zone.

    However, there’s no denying that Romero has impressive stuff, with an explosive fastball that ranges anywhere from 92 to 97 mph, a power curveball that flashes plus potential due to its velocity and downer break, and a raw, inconsistent changeup that shows at least above-average potential.

     

    Jorge Lopez, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers

    2014 Stats (A+): 7-3, 72 IP, 3.00 ERA, 1.181 WHIP, 0.4 HR/9, 20 BB, 56 K (13 GS)

    Despite his disappointing performance in the Midwest League last season, the Brewers decided to reward the 21-year-old with a promotion to High-A Brevard County for the 2014 season. Suffice it to say, the projectable 6’4”, 165-pound right-hander’s response to the organization’s challenge already has surpassed expectations.

     

    Tayron Guerrero, RHP, San Diego Padres

    2014 Stats (A/A+): 6-1, 37.2 IP, 0.96 ERA, 0.982 WHIP, 0.5 HR/9, 14 BB, 44 K (27 G)

    The only reliever to make a Futures Game roster, Guerrero, a 23-year-old right-hander, is in the midst of a breakout performance between both A-ball levels this season, which is also his fifth in the Padres’ system.

     

    Domingo German, RHP, Miami Marlins

    2014 Stats (A): 7-2, 83 IP, 2.28 ERA, 1.133 WHIP, 0.4 HR/9, 14 BB, 76 K (15 GS)

    German, 21, was finally turned loose this year in the South Atlantic League after four strong seasons at the complex and Short Season levels. Considering his overwhelming success through his first 15 starts, I can’t help but wonder why we haven’t heard more about this guy prior to this year.

     

    Edwin Escobar, LHP, San Francisco Giants

    2014 Stats (AAA): 3-6, 81.1 IP, 5.31 ERA, 1.512 WHIP, 1.1 HR/9, 27 BB, 75 K (15 GS)

    Escobar jumped on the major league radar last season by posting a 2.80 ERA and 146-30 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 128.2 innings between High-A San Jose and Double-A Richmond.

    However, the 22-year-old left-hander, who has the potential for three average-or-better offerings at maturity, has taken a step back this season at Triple-A Fresno with 96 hits allowed (10 home runs) in 81.1 innings—a product of being a command-oriented pitcher in the Pacific Coast League—though he’s maintained a solid 75-27 strikeout-to-walk ratio during that span.

     

    Alfonso Alcantara, RHP, Los Angeles Angels

    2014 Stats (A): 4-4, 65 IP, 4.43 ERA, 1.262 WHIP, 0.4 HR/9, 38 BB, 60 K (15 G/9 GS)

    Making his full-season debut this year at Low-A Burlington, Alcantara, 21, possesses some of the best arm strength in the low minors with a fastball that sits in the mid-to-upper 90s. The only problem is that the right-hander has absolutely no clue where the pitch will end up, as his mechanics currently are a work in progress (read: mess) and lack consistency.

     

    *All stats are courtesy of either MiLB.com or Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

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