Ranking the Top Prospect for All 30 MLB Teams Entering 2017

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistJanuary 26, 2017

Ranking the Top Prospect for All 30 MLB Teams Entering 2017

0 of 30

    Alex Reyes enters the 2017 season as baseball's top pitching prospect.
    Alex Reyes enters the 2017 season as baseball's top pitching prospect.Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

    As we get ready for the start of spring training in less than a month, now is the time that top-prospect lists are unveiled around the baseball world.

    Prospects are generally ranked on a team-by-team basis to show how each farm system stacks up and then on a leaguewide basis to give an idea of how the top young players in the minor leagues compare as they make their way toward the majors.

    However, we're going to do something a little different here.

    We've taken the No. 1 prospect for each MLB team and ranked them 1-30, as we compare the cream of the crop from each farm system around the league.

        

    Note: All prospect rankings cited are in reference to the 2016 Baseball America Prospect Handbook, unless otherwise noted.

30. Arizona Diamondbacks: LHP Anthony Banda

1 of 30

    Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images

    DOB: Aug. 10, 1993 (23 years old)

    Height/Weight: 6'2", 190 lbs

    Acquired: 2014 trade, Milwaukee Brewers

        

    2016 Stats (AA/AAA)

    26 GS, 10-6, 2.88 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 55 BB, 152 K, 150.2 IP

        

    Outlook

    Left-hander Anthony Banda is the new top dog in an Arizona Diamondbacks system that has rapidly become one of the thinnest in baseball.

    Trading away Dansby Swanson, Isan Diaz and Aaron Blair, while watching Archie Bradley, Braden Shipley and Brandon Drury all exhaust their rookie eligibility, has left the team without a top-tier prospect.

    Banda was acquired from the Brewers in the deal that sent Gerardo Parra to Milwaukee, and he rose up the organizational ranks thanks to a marked improvement in his overall command. With smooth mechanics and a decent three-pitch repertoire, he's a safe bet to develop into a solid back-of-the-rotation starter.

    There's not much room between his floor and ceiling, though, leaving him in the No. 30 spot in these rankings.

29. Kansas City Royals: RHP Josh Staumont

2 of 30

    DOB: Dec. 21, 1993 (23 years old)

    Height/Weight: 6'3", 200 lbs

    Acquired: 2015 draft, second round (64th overall)

        

    2016 Stats (A+/AA)

    26 GS, 4-11, 4.23 ERA, 1.69 WHIP, 104 BB, 167 K, 123.1 IP

        

    Outlook

    In terms of pure stuff, Josh Staumont rivals any pitching prospect in the game.

    With a fastball that touches 102 mph and consistently sits in the upper 90s, and a curveball-changeup combination that flashes plus at times, it's easy to see his front-line potential.

    "There's nobody we have that throws the ball as easy and as hard as he does," Royals assistant general manager J.J. Picollo told Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com. "Even when he's throwing 98, it looks like he's just playing catch."

    There's still a ton of work to do from a command standpoint—evidenced by his 104 walks in 123.1 innings of work—but no one in the Kansas City Royals system has a higher ceiling, and that's enough for him to claim the top spot in the organization.

28. Los Angeles Angels: CF Jahmai Jones

3 of 30

    DOB: Aug. 4, 1997 (19 years old)

    Height/Weight: 6'0", 215 lbs

    Acquired: 2015 draft, second round (70th overall)

        

    2016 Stats (Rk/A)

    64 G, 296 PA, .302/.379/.422, 20 XBH (4 HR), 30 RBI, 57 R, 20/26 SB

        

    Outlook

    A standout football player as a sophomore in high school, Jahmai Jones had the prototypical "toolsy high school outfielder" profile when the Los Angeles Angels made him their second-round pick in 2015.

    After hitting .244/.330/.344 over 183 plate appearances in rookie ball in his pro debut, he turned heads with a .321/.404/.459 line to start the 2016 season, earning a promotion to full-season ball with Single-A Burlington.

    While he's still more athlete than baseball player, he already possesses a smooth line-drive swing and a solid hit tool, with the chance to develop some power down the road.

    His intangibles are also a point in his favor.

    "More than his raw tools, Jones' aptitude and off-the-charts makeup stand out and give him the chance to succeed at the highest level, with a chance to be an everyday center fielder in the big leagues a strong possibility," wrote MLB.com's Prospect Watch.

27. Baltimore Orioles: C Chance Sisco

4 of 30

    Harry How/Getty Images

    DOB: Feb. 24, 1995 (21 years old)

    Height/Weight: 6'2", 195 lbs

    Acquired: 2013 draft, second round (61st overall)

        

    2016 Stats (AA/AAA)

    116 G, 497 PA, .317/.403/.430, 35 XBH (6 HR), 51 RBI, 57 R, 2/4 SB

        

    Outlook

    It looks like the Baltimore Orioles have found their catcher of the future in Chance Sisco.

    His bat might already be MLB-ready after he hit .317 with 35 extra-base hits in the upper levels of the minors, but his receiving skills remain a work in progress.

    The 21-year-old has made strides in that department, though.

    "Improvements in Sisco's blocking, receiving and game-calling last season have helped to assuage some concerns about his defensive profile, with many scouts now projecting him to be average behind the plate," wrote MLB.com's Prospect Watch.

    The decision to sign veteran Welington Castillo to a one-year deal with a mutual option for 2018 means the Orioles won't need to rush Sisco.

    Still, don't be surprised if he makes his debut at some point during the upcoming season.

26. San Francisco Giants: IF Christian Arroyo

5 of 30

    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    DOB: May 30, 1995 (21 years old)

    Height/Weight: 6'1", 180 lbs

    Acquired: 2013 draft, first round (25th overall)

       

    2016 Stats (AA)

    119 G, 517 PA, .274/.316/.373, 40 XBH (3 HR), 49 RBI, 57 R, 1/2 SB

        

    Outlook

    There's a good chance Christian Arroyo makes his MLB debut in 2017—just don't expect to see him on the Opening Day roster.

    "l’ll go into spring training hoping Christian continues to show progress in his defensive role and with the bat," general manager Bobby Evans told Alex Pavlovic of CSN Bay Area. "I anticipate him starting next year in the minor leagues."

    The 21-year-old enjoyed a breakout season in 2015, hitting .304/.344/.459 with 40 extra-base hits in 409 plate appearances with High-A San Jose. His numbers dropped the across the board with the jump to Double-A, though, with a strained oblique at least playing a role.

    A shortstop by trade, he figures to slide over to third base once he reaches the majors.

    If the presumptive hot corner platoon of Eduardo Nunez and Conor Gillaspie gets off to a slow start, that could come sooner than later.

25. Toronto Blue Jays: RHP Sean Reid-Foley

6 of 30

    DOB: Aug. 30, 1995 (21 years old)

    Height/Weight: 6'3", 220 lbs

    Acquired: 2014 draft, second round (49th overall)

        

    2016 Stats (A/A+)

    21 GS, 10-5, 2.81 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 38 BB, 130 K, 115.1 IP

        

    Outlook

    A disappointing season from outfielder Anthony Alford and the relative inexperience of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. leaves right-hander Sean Reid-Foley as the top overall prospect in the Toronto Blue Jays system.

    The 21-year-old has always had terrific stuff dating back to his time as a second-round pick out of Sandalwood High School in Florida.

    Now, improved command has given his prospect stock a huge shot in the arm.

    After walking batters at a 6.3 BB/9 clip during his first full pro season, he managed to trim his free passes to a more manageable 3.0 BB/9 last year, and he looks ready to tackle the Double-A level as a result.

    With a fastball that touches 98 and a plus slider, the development of his changeup and further refining of his overall command will be the determining factors in whether he reaches his ceiling as a No. 2 starter or winds up at the back of the bullpen.

24. Detroit Tigers: RHP Matt Manning

7 of 30

    DOB: Jan. 28, 1998 (18 years old)

    Height/Weight: 6'6", 190 lbs

    Acquired: 2016 draft, first round (9th overall)

        

    2016 Stats (Rk)

    10 GS, 0-2, 3.99 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 7 BB, 46 K, 29.1 IP

        

    Outlook

    The Detroit Tigers took right-hander Matt Manning with the No. 9 overall pick last June, signing him away from a commitment to play baseball and basketball at Loyola Marymount.

    He immediately became the best prospect in a thin system.

    "Manning's size, athleticism, stuff and projectability give him top-of-the-rotation potential. Now that he's focusing on baseball only, the sky might be the limit," wrote MLB.com's Prospect Watch.

    There's still plenty of room to add strength to his towering 6'6" frame, and his fastball already touches 97, though his curveball-changeup combination lags behind at this point.

    With considerable work to do refining his secondary stuff and smoothing out his mechanics, he'll be brought along slowly.

    His big frame, plus athleticism and power stuff give him a legitimate front-line ceiling, though.

23. Texas Rangers: LHP Yohander Mendez

8 of 30

    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    DOB: Jan. 17, 1995 (22 years old)

    Height/Weight: 6'5", 200 lbs

    Acquired: 2011 international free agent, Venezuela ($1.5M bonus)

         

    2016 Stats (A+/AA/AAA/MLB)

    MiLB: 21 GS, 12-3, 2.19 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 41 BB, 113 K, 111.0 IP
    MLB: 2 G, 0-0, 18.00 ERA, 2.33 WHIP, 2 BB, 0 K, 3.0 IP

        

    Outlook

    One of the breakout prospects of 2016, Yohander Mendez began the season ranked as the No. 24 prospect in the Texas Rangers system.

    With Lewis Brinson, Luis Ortiz and Dillon Tate shipped out at the trade deadline and both Joey Gallo and Nomar Mazara exhausting their rookie eligibility, the left-hander now takes over as the team's top prospect.

    His climb through the Rangers system was a rapid one, as he began last season at High-A High Desert and closed it out with two appearances out of the MLB bullpen.

    The 22-year-old has added velocity as his 6'5" frame has filled out, and he backs his fastball with a terrific changeup and an average curveball. He also has smooth mechanics, despite his lanky frame, and should have no problem sticking as a starter.

    Cole Hamels, Yu Darvish, Martin Perez and Andrew Cashner appear to have the first four spots in the Texas rotation locked up, with Tyson Ross expected to step in as the No. 5 starter once he's healthy.

    That leaves Mendez to compete with A.J. Griffin, Nick Martinez and Chi Chi Gonzalez for a chance to break camp with the final spot in the rotation.

22. Seattle Mariners: OF Tyler O'Neill

9 of 30

    Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images

    DOB: June 22, 1995 (21 years old)

    Height/Weight: 5'11", 210 lbs

    Acquired: 2013 draft, third round (85th overall)

        

    2016 Stats (AA)

    130 G, 575 PA, .293/.374/.508, 54 XBH (24 HR), 102 RBI, 68 R, 12/14 SB

        

    Outlook

    Tyler O'Neill launched 32 home runs at the High-A level in 2015 but struck out at a 30.5 percent clip in the process to lead to questions about whether he'd be able to make enough consistent contact against higher-level competition.

    The 21-year-old continued to flash impressive raw power and good run-production skills this past season while making the jump to Double-A, and he trimmed his strikeout rate to 26.1 percent in the process.

    His walk rate also moved in the right direction, improving from 6.5 to 10.8 percent. As a result, he's emerged as one of the game's top outfield prospects.

    The Mariners currently project for a starting outfield of Jarrod Dyson, Leonys Martin and rookie Mitch Haniger.

    While Haniger has some potential and both Dyson and Martin have their strengths, it's unlikely any of them will stand in the way of O'Neill once he's deemed ready.

    If he continues to show an improved approach, that could come as soon as 2017.

21. Miami Marlins: LHP Braxton Garrett

10 of 30

    DOB: Aug. 5, 1997 (19 years old)

    Height/Weight: 6'3", 190 lbs

    Acquired: 2016 draft, first round (7th overall)

    2016 Stats (DNP)

    Did not pitch after signing.

        

    Outlook

    The Miami Marlins grabbed one of the most polished prep arms in recent memory when they selected Braxton Garrett with the No. 7 overall pick last June.

    "Everyone who saw him liked the ability, loved the athleticism, the ability to repeat his delivery, his mechanics, three plus-pitches. We feel like he's someone who will feed into our system and hopefully move quickly," team president Mike Hill told Craig Davis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

    While it's his curveball that stood out during his time as an Alabama high schooler, he has a solid three-pitch mix with a fastball that tops out at 94 with good late life and a changeup that developed into a third above-average offering this past spring.

    The left-hander has a durable 6'3" frame and smooth mechanics, which translate to plus overall command of his full arsenal.

    He may not have much projection remaining or true ace upside, but he should move quickly and looks like as safe a bet as any to develop into a steady middle-of-the-rotation starter.

20. Minnesota Twins: SS Nick Gordon

11 of 30

    Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images

    DOB: Oct. 24, 1995 (21 years old)

    Height/Weight: 6'0", 160 lbs

    Acquired: 2014 draft, first round (5th overall)

        

    2016 Stats (A+)

    116 G, 494 PA, .291/.335/.386, 32 XBH (3 HR), 52 RBI, 56 R, 19/32 SB

        

    Outlook

    With a good baseball pedigree and solid tools across the board, the future has always looked bright for Minnesota Twins shortstop prospect Nick Gordon.

    With a slight uptick in his extra-base power at the High-A level, he's provided some hope he can exceed expectations offensively.

    The 21-year-old raised his OPS from .696 to .721 while continuing to flash the plus athleticism and strong arm that should allow him to remain at shortstop long term.

    He doesn't have the same ceiling as some of the game's elite shortstop prospects, but he's more than capable of carving out a successful MLB career and living up to his first-round billing.

    "Gordon continues to be more high floor than high ceiling, a prospect who doesn't have one 'wow' tool but who can do everything relatively well. He'll continue his path toward being a solid everyday big leaguer with a move to the upper levels," wrote MLB.com's Prospect Watch.

19. Milwaukee Brewers: CF Lewis Brinson

12 of 30

    DOB: May 8, 1994 (22 years old)

    Height/Weight: 6'3", 195 lbs

    Acquired: 2016 trade, Texas Rangers

        

    2016 Stats (Rk/AA/AAA)

    104 G, 434 PA, .268/.305/.468, 45 XBH (15 HR), 61 RBI, 63 R, 17/23 SB

        

    Outlook

    The prize of the Jonathan Lucroy trade, outfielder Lewis Brinson is looking to regain his status as an elite-level prospect with the Milwaukee Brewers after an up-and-down 2016 season.

    Brinson shot up prospect rankings when he hit .332/.403/.601 with 31 doubles and 20 home runs over three minor league stops in 2015.

    He was hitting just .238/.280/.431 in Double-A at the time of the trade last summer, though.

    That didn't stop the Brewers from bumping him up to Triple-A after he joined the organization, and he responded with a .382/.387/.618 line with 13 extra-base hits in 93 plate appearances.

    With a 30/30 ceiling offensively and the defensive tools to stick in center field, Brinson is still the headliner in a deep Brewers system that also includes top-tier pitching prospect Josh Hader.

    Keon Broxton has earned a shot at the starting center field job after an impressive showing to close out last season, but Brinson should push him for the job before 2017 comes to a close.

18. Cincinnati Reds: 3B Nick Senzel

13 of 30

    DOB: June 29, 1995 (21 years old)

    Height/Weight: 6'1", 205 lbs

    Acquired: 2016 draft, first round (2nd overall)

        

    2016 Stats (Rk/A)

    68 G, 292 PA, .305/.398/.514, 34 XBH (7 HR), 40 RBI, 41 R, 18/25 SB

        

    Outlook

    Guys like Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, Andrew Benintendi, Alex Bregman and Dansby Swanson rocketed through the minor league ranks as polished college bats with little need for further seasoning.

    Cincinnati Reds third baseman Nick Senzel could follow a similar path.

    Senzel hit .352/.456/.595 with 34 extra-base hits and 25 stolen bases while recording far more walks (40) than strikeouts (21) during his junior season at the University of Tennessee.

    That was enough for the Reds to take him with the No. 2 overall pick last June, and he wasted little time making his mark as a pro, rapping out 34 extra-base hits over 292 plate appearances while earning a taste of Single-A.

    "We saw a good player, that was a very encouraging first year. It's a long season coming out of college ball and going through the grind and playing for two different affiliates. There was a lot of movement, and you're getting to know a lot of people. We were asking a lot of a player, and it was an impressive rookie campaign," GM Dick Williams told C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer.

    There's no reason to rush the 21-year-old, but it won't be long before he's manning the hot corner for a rebuilding Cincinnati club.

17. Cleveland Indians: C Francisco Mejia

14 of 30

    Mark Cunningham/Getty Images

    DOB: Oct. 27, 1995 (21 years old)

    Height/Weight: 5'10", 175 lbs

    Acquired: 2012 international free agent, Dominican Republic ($350,000 bonus)

        

    2016 Stats (A/A+)

    102 G, 443 PA, .342/.382/.514, 44 XBH (11 HR), 80 RBI, 63 R, 2/4 SB

        

    Outlook

    The minor league landscape is generally somewhat thin on top-tier catching prospects, and that's the case once again heading into the 2017 season.

    With all due respect to Carson Kelly (STL), Chance Sisco (BAL), Jorge Alfaro (PHI) and a handful of others, Cleveland Indians prospect Francisco Mejia looks like an easy choice as the top catching prospect in the game right now.

    Splitting last season between Single-A and High-A, Mejia hit .342 with 44 extra-base hits while rattling off a 50-game hitting streak at one point.

    Aside from his offensive prowess, the 21-year-old has an absolute rocket for an arm, gunning down 44 percent of would-be base stealers last season, and his overall receiving skills have improved to the point where he has a chance to be a solid all-around defender.

    The Andrew Miller trade cost the Indians two of their elite prospects in Clint Frazier and Justus Sheffield, but they still have an awfully good one in Mejia.

16. Oakland Athletics: SS Franklin Barreto

15 of 30

    Michael Zagaris/Getty Images

    DOB: Feb. 27, 1996 (20 years old)

    Height/Weight: 5'10", 190 lbs

    Acquired: 2014 trade, Toronto Blue Jays

        

    2016 Stats (AA/AAA)

    123 G, 525 PA, .284/.342/.422, 40 XBH (11 HR), 53 RBI, 65 R, 30/47 SB

        

    Outlook

    For better or worse, Franklin Barreto will forever be linked to 2015 AL MVP Josh Donaldson.

    Barreto was the headliner of a four-player package that the Oakland Athletics acquired when they shipped Donaldson to Toronto in what currently looks like one of the more lopsided trades in recent memory.

    Two of the other players from that tradeBrett Lawrie and Sean Nolinare no longer with the team, while right-hander Kendall Graveman has turned into a solid MLB starter, albeit one with limited back-of-the-rotation upside.

    That leaves Barreto to salvage the deal from Oakland's end.

    The 20-year-old has shown plenty of offensive promise, hitting .293/.349/.465 over four minor league seasons while consistently ranking among the youngest players at each level.

    After reaching Triple-A last season, he could be ready for a shot at the majors this coming season. A move across the bag to second base seems likely, and Jed Lowrie won't stand in his way.

15. Los Angeles Dodgers: RHP Yadier Alvarez

16 of 30

    DOB: March 7, 1996 (20 years old)

    Height/Weight: 6'3", 175 lbs

    Acquired: 2015 international free agent, Cuba ($16M bonus)

        

    2016 Stats (Rk/A)

    14 GS, 4-3, 2.12 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 21 BB, 81 K, 59.1 IP

        

    Outlook

    It cost the Los Angeles Dodgers a $16 million bonus and a matching tax penalty to sign Yadier Alvarez after he defected from Cuba, and it already looks like money well spent.

    The 20-year-old showed well in his pro debut at the rookie level, earning a midseason promotion to Single-A, where he really turned heads.

    In nine starts, Alvarez posted a 2.29 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and a 55-to-11 strikeouts-to-walk ratio over 39.1 innings.

    That's enough to propel him to the top of the organizational rankings, ahead of guys like Cody Bellinger and Alex Verdugo, and he has a chance to emerge as one of the game's elite pitching prospects with a breakout performance in his first full season.

    Alvarez sits comfortably in the mid-90s with his fastball and can touch triple digits, backing it with a wipeout slider and a developing changeup.

    His secondary stuff still needs work, but there's ample projection in his 6'3" frame, and the sky is the limit as far as his ceiling is concerned.

14. Tampa Bay Rays: SS Willy Adames

17 of 30

    Harry How/Getty Images

    DOB: Sept. 2, 1995 (21 years old)

    Height/Weight: 6'1", 180 lbs

    Acquired: 2014 trade, Detroit Tigers

        

    2016 Stats (AA)

    132 G, 568 PA, .274/.372/.430, 48 XBH (11 HR), 57 RBI, 89 R, 13/19 SB

        

    Outlook

    Willy Adames was a little-known, low-minors prospect when the Tampa Bay Rays acquired him in the deadline deal that sent David Price to the Detroit Tigers.

    Now he's the Rays' top overall prospect, as left-hander Blake Snell used up his rookie eligibility last season.

    Adames spent the entire 2016 season in Double-A, despite not turning 21 until September, and he remains well ahead of the developmental curve at this point.

    "To go along with loud tools on both sides of the ball, Adames continues to receive raves from club officials for his plus makeup and leadership skills. He has all the ingredients to develop into an All-Star-caliber shortstop capable of hitting in the middle of a lineup...," wrote MLB.com's Prospect Watch.

    The Rays' recent decision to trade second baseman Logan Forsythe to the Los Angeles Dodgers opens up a spot for Adames up the middle once he's ready to make the jump.

    A late-season promotion this coming year could put him in a position to take over as the everyday shortstop in 2018.

13. San Diego Padres: RHP Anderson Espinoza

18 of 30

    DOB: March 9, 1998 (18 years old)

    Height/Weight: 6'0", 160 lbs

    Acquired: 2016 trade, Boston Red Sox

        

    2016 Stats (A)

    24 GS, 6-11, 4.49 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 35 BB, 100 K, 108.1 IP

        

    Outlook

    Anderson Espinoza won't turn 19 years old until March, yet he already has 25 starts and 111.2 innings at the Single-A level under his belt.

    That puts him squarely in the "prodigy" category and on a similar developmental path to guys like Felix Hernandez and, more recently, Julio Urias.

    The San Diego Padres added the precocious right-hander to a rapidly improving farm system at the trade deadline when they shipped All-Star Drew Pomeranz to the Boston Red Sox in a straight one-for-one swap.

    MLB.com raved about his advanced three-pitch arsenal while naming him the No. 6 right-handed pitching prospect in the league: "Though he may be small in stature, there's nothing diminutive about Espinoza's stuff. His smooth delivery and lightning-quick arm produce a heater that can touch triple digits, though he typically works in the 94-97 mph range with late movement. Espinoza's curveball shows plus potential but lacked consistency at times in 2016, while his changeup, thrown with fastball-like arm action as well as considerable sink, gives the teenager a true chance for three plus pitches once he matures."

    His undersized frame will lead to questions about his durability until he proves he can handle a full MLB workload, but all the other pieces are in place for him to emerge as a true ace.

12. Philadelphia Phillies: SS J.P. Crawford

19 of 30

    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    DOB: Jan. 11, 1995 (22 years old)

    Height/Weight: 6'2", 180 lbs

    Acquired: 2013 draft, first round (16th overall)

        

    2016 Stats (AA/AAA)

    123 G, 551 PA, .250/.349/.339, 27 XBH (7 HR), 43 RBI, 63 R, 12/19 SB

        

    Outlook

    After spending the bulk of the 2015 season at the Double-A level, most expected J.P. Crawford to take over as the Philadelphia Phillies' starting shortstop by midseason last year.

    Instead, he spent another full season in the minors, as he struggled to a .244/.328/.318 line over 385 plate appearances after making an early jump to Triple-A.

    While that delayed his arrival in the big leagues, it's done little to derail his promising long-term outlook.

    "Crawford's numbers should be digested with the knowledge that he'll be just 22 for all of the 2017 season. At some point, he will need to produce, but there are no indicators to suggest he still can't be an All-Star caliber shortstop at the big league level," wrote MLB.com's Prospect Watch.

    Strong seasons from Cesar Hernandez and Freddy Galvis meant the Phillies had no reason to rush Crawford last year and both young middle infielders are set to return for the upcoming season.

    With a plus hit tool, terrific plate discipline and all the tools to be a standout defender at the shortstop position, Crawford still looks like a potential cornerstone piece of the rebuilding Phillies, so the job will be his as soon as he's deemed ready.

11. Houston Astros: RHP Francis Martes

20 of 30

    DOB: Nov. 24, 1995 (21 years old)

    Height/Weight: 6'1", 225 lbs

    Acquired: 2014 trade, Miami Marlins

        

    2016 Stats (AA)

    22 GS, 9-6, 3.30 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 47 BB, 131 K, 125.1 IP

        

    Outlook

    Francis Martes was a little-known teenager pitching in rookie ball when the Houston Astros acquired him from the Marlins in the six-player deal that sent Jarred Cosart to Miami at the trade deadline in 2014.

    It didn't take long for him to emerge as one of the top pitching prospects in the league.

    In his first full season in the Houston organization, he went 8-3 with a 2.04 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 98 strikeouts in 101.2 innings, climbing three levels to reach Double-A before his 20th birthday.

    That's put him in line to potentially debut in 2017.

    "Francis Martes is getting close, and I could see him following the Lance McCullers path of starting in either Double A or Triple A and somewhere in the middle of the season getting a call-up to the big leagues," GM Jeff Luhnow told Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle. "He's got the weapons to get big league hitters out right now and it's just a matter of a little more seasoning."

    Those weapons include a fastball in the 93-96 mph range, a plus curveball that will be his out pitch and a slider-changeup combination that give him four viable pitches.

    While he's a finished product in terms of physical projection, he has the durable frame and smooth mechanics to deliver on his ceiling as a front-line starter.

10. Chicago Cubs: RF Eloy Jimenez

21 of 30

    Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images

    DOB: Nov. 27, 1996 (20 years old)

    Height/Weight: 6'4", 205 lbs

    Acquired: 2013 international free agent, Dominican Republic ($2.8M bonus)

        

    2016 Stats (A)

    112 G, 464 PA, .329/.369/.532, 57 XBH (14 HR), 81 RBI, 65 R, 8/11 SB

        

    Outlook

    Eloy Jimenez has arrived, folks.

    After posting a .635 OPS in rookie ball and a .746 OPS with just 17 extra-base hits in 250 plate appearances at the Low-A level in 2015, the Dominican-born slugger finally turned his impressive physical tools into on-field production.

    The Chicago Cubs gave Jimenezwho ranked as the No. 1 international prospect in the 2013 classa hefty $2.8 million bonus as part of an $8.2 million spending spree on the international market that summer. A breakout season has earned him top billing among the organization's prospects.

    The 20-year-old spent the entire 2016 season in Single-A, ranking among the Midwest League leaders in OPS (.901, fourth), doubles (40, first), home runs (14, third), RBI (81, second) and total bases (230, second).

    There's a good chance more of those doubles will turn into home runs as he continues to add muscle to an already imposing frame, and there's legitimate 30-homer potential in his bat.

    He could stand to draw more walks, but his 20.2 percent strikeout rate is a good indication that he'll be more than just a masher at the next level.

9. Colorado Rockies: SS Brendan Rodgers

22 of 30

    DOB: Aug. 9, 1996 (20 years old)

    Height/Weight: 6'0", 180 lbs

    Acquired: 2015 draft, first round (3rd overall)

        

    2016 Stats (A)

    110 G, 491 PA, .281/.342/.480, 50 XBH (19 HR), 73 RBI, 73 R, 6/9 SB

        

    Outlook

    Brendan Rodgers was the top-rated prospect in the 2015 MLB draft, according to both MLB.com and Baseball America.

    He wound up going No. 3 overall behind a pair of college shortstopsDansby Swanson and Alex Bregmanand while they may have beaten him to the majors, it's Rodgers who could wind up making the biggest offensive impact.

    Rodgers has a strong frame and tremendous bat speed, which helped him rank among the South Atlantic League leaders in doubles (31, sixth), home runs (19, third) and total bases (212, fourth) in his full-season debut.

    There's more in-game power to come, and while it's unclear at this point whether he'll stick at shortstop long term, his bat should play anywhere.

    DJ LeMahieu is set to reach free agency following the 2018 season, at which point Rodgers could join Trevor Story up the middle to form one of the best power-hitting double play combinations in baseball.

8. Pittsburgh Pirates: RHP Tyler Glasnow

23 of 30

    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    DOB: Aug. 23, 1993 (23 years old)

    Height/Weight: 6'8", 220 lbs

    Acquired: 2011 draft, fifth round (152nd overall)

        

    2016 Stats (AA/AAA/MLB)

    MiLB: 22 GS, 8-3, 1.93 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 68 BB, 144 K, 116.2 IP
    MLB: 7 G, 4 GS, 0-2, 4.24 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 13 BB, 24 K, 23.1 IP

        

    Outlook

    Based on stuff and potential, Tyler Glasnow is squarely in the conversation for best pitching prospect in baseball.

    Over 500 career minor league innings, the towering 6'8" right-hander has pitched to a 2.03 ERA and 1.09 WHIP while racking up 645 strikeouts for an 11.6 K/9 rate.

    With a fastball that resides in the upper 90s, a curveball that can serve as a second out pitch and an improving changeup, the pieces are there for him to develop into a front-line starter.

    However, a lack of command remains the one glaring issue.

    Glasnow has walked 4.4 batters per nine innings in his minor league career, and that number spiked to 5.2 BB/9 in the minors last season and 5.0 BB/9 in his 23.1 innings of work at the MLB level.

    As with many pitchers his size, duplicating his mechanics can be tricky and things can seemingly fall out of sync at any given time.

    Still, the 23-year-old has little left to prove in the minors at this point and he should have a chance to stake a full-time claim to a spot in the rotation at some point in 2017.

7. New York Mets: SS Amed Rosario

24 of 30

    Mark Cunningham/Getty Images

    DOB: Nov. 20, 1995 (21 years old)

    Height/Weight: 6'2", 190 lbs

    Acquired: 2012 international free agent, Dominican Republic ($1.75M bonus)

       

    2016 Stats (A+/AA)

    120 G, 527 PA, .324/.374/.459, 42 XBH (5 HR), 71 RBI, 65 R, 19/27 SB

        

    Outlook

    Amed Rosario was not even a top-15 prospect at the shortstop position a year ago when a whopping 19 different shortstops appeared on the Baseball America preseason top-100 list and he checked in 16th at the position.

    Now it looks like the 21-year-old trails only Dansby Swanson and Gleyber Torres at what remains a deep and talented pool of shortstop prospects.

    After posting a .257/.307/.335 line at the High-A level in 2015, Rosario returned for a second go-around this past season and wound up hitting .309/.359/.442 with 21 extra-base hits in 66 games to earn a midseason promotion to Double-A.

    He didn't slow down a bit against higher-level competition with a .341/.392/.481 line over 237 plate appearances and that's vaulted him up prospect lists.

    That uptick in offensive production complements what has always been a standout glove.

    "There is no question he'll be a shortstop long term, with the potential to be an elite-level defender thanks to his range, hands, footwork and plus arm," wrote MLB.com's Prospect Watch.

    The New York Mets made Rosario untouchable in trade talks this winter and all signs point to him replacing Asdrubal Cabrera as the starting shortstop in 2018.

6. Washington Nationals: CF Victor Robles

25 of 30

    DOB: May 19, 1997 (19 years old)

    Height/Weight: 6'0", 185 lbs

    Acquired: 2013 international free agent, Dominican Republic ($225,000 bonus)

        

    2016 Stats (Rk/A/A+)

    110 G, 504 PA, .280/.376/.423, 34 XBH (9 HR), 42 RBI, 75 R, 37/51 SB

        

    Outlook

    Victor Robles set the bar awfully high with his stateside debut in 2015.

    The No. 25 prospect in the Washington Nationals system heading into that season, Robles crushed rookie league pitching to earn a surprise promotion to Low-A Auburn, where he continued to rake.

    All told, he closed out the year with a .352/.445/.507 line that included 21 extra-base hits and 24 stolen bases, making him one of the fastest-rising prospects in the game.

    The Nationals continued to promote him aggressively this past season and he made his full-season debut roughly a month before his 19th birthday.

    "Robles is an excellent athlete with true five-tool potential," wrote Teddy Cahill of Baseball America.

    Presently, it's his 70-grade speed that stands out as his loudest tool, and he's already shown a knack for stealing bases with 83 thefts and a 74.8 percent success rate as a pro.

    However, he has the hit tool to be a perennial .300 hitter, the defensive skills to be a Gold Glove defender in center field and the bat speed to develop into at least a 20-homer threat.

    Robles is sort of the last man standing in the Nationals system after fellow top prospects Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez were sent to the Chicago White Sox. There's a good chance he'll wind up being the best of the bunch.

5. New York Yankees: SS Gleyber Torres

26 of 30

    DOB: Dec. 13, 1996 (20 years old)

    Height/Weight: 6'1", 175 lbs

    Acquired: 2016 trade, Chicago Cubs

        

    2016 Stats (A+)

    125 G, 547 PA, .270/.354/.421, 45 XBH (11 HR), 66 RBI, 81 R, 21/34 SB

        

    Outlook

    No prospect has done more to boost his stock since the conclusion of the 2016 regular season than Gleyber Torres.

    Despite the fact that he was still a teenager when the Arizona Fall League began, Torres absolutely dominated against some of the best young talent the league has to offer.

    He wound up taking home league MVP honors—the youngest player ever to do soon the strength of a .403/.513/.645 line that included more walks (14) than strikeouts (8).

    "He went out and played at a very, very high levelwith kids that are older than him, with kids that played at a higher level than him. He was one of the kids that really shined," manager Joe Girardi told Mike Mazzeo of the New York Daily News. "I think that really bodes well for us, and I look forward to seeing him (in the spring)."

    Torres was the prize of the deadline deal that sent Aroldis Chapman to the Chicago Cubs, and now that Chapman is back in the fold after signing a new five-year deal, that move looks like a huge win for the Yankees.

    He'll begin the 2017 season in Double-A and could push his way into the MLB picture by midseason if he continues on his current trajectory.

4. Atlanta Braves: SS Dansby Swanson

27 of 30

    Norm Hall/Getty Images

    DOB: Feb. 11, 1994 (22 years old)

    Height/Weight: 6'1", 190 lbs

    Acquired: 2015 trade, Arizona Diamondbacks

        

    2016 Stats (A+/AA/MLB)

    MiLB: 105 G, 470 PA, .275/.362/.426, 39 XBH (9 HR), 55 RBI, 68 R, 13/16 SB
    MLB: 38 G, 145 PA, .302/.361/.442, 11 XBH (3 HR), 17 RBI, 20 R, 3/3 SB

        

    Outlook

    Dansby Swanson and Ender Inciarte for Shelby Miller.

    It's a trade that will be pointed to as a major turning point in the Atlanta Braves' rebuilding efforts.

    The 26-year-old Inciarte recently signed a five-year extension after winning his first Gold Glove during a 3.8 WAR season, but it's Swanson who figures to be the real prize of that ill-advised trade by the Arizona Diamondbacks.

    The No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 draft, Swanson needed just 127 games in the minors before making his MLB debut on Aug. 17 last year, when he immediately took over as the everyday shortstop.

    Despite his quick ascent he more than held his own with a .302/.361/.442 line over 145 plate appearances, and because he tallied just 129 official at-bats he'll still be rookie eligible for the upcoming season.

    Jim Callis of MLB.com compared Swanson to Derek Jeter, both in terms of on-field tools and overall intangibles: "Like Jeter, Swanson should hit for a high average with moderate power (albeit good pop for a shortstop) and a decent amount of walks. He has similar quickness and should provide 20 or so steals per year. Swanson is a solid defender and likely a better shortstop than Jeter was, though he probably won't match The Captain's five Gold Glove Awards."

    He added: "Swanson's charisma is reminiscent of Jeter's as well. Relative to the market sizes, Swanson will become as big a star in his hometown as Jeter was in New York."

    That's a lofty comparison to be sure, but that's the type of impact the 22-year-old could have on the Braves' climb back to relevance in the years to come.

3. St. Louis Cardinals: RHP Alex Reyes

28 of 30

    Jon Durr/Getty Images

    DOB: Aug. 29, 1994 (22 years old)

    Height/Weight: 6'3", 175 lbs

    Acquired: 2012 international free agent, Dominican Republic ($950,000 bonus)

        

    2016 Stats (AAA/MLB)

    MiLB: 14 GS, 2-3, 4.96 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 32 BB, 93 K, 65.1 IP
    MLB: 12 G, 5 GS, 4-1, 1.57 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 23 BB, 52 K, 46.0 IP

        

    Outlook

    With Julio Urias exhausting his rookie eligibility during the season's final month, St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Alex Reyes enters the 2017 season as the consensus top pitching prospect in baseball.

    His 2016 season started late as he served a 50-game suspension for marijuana use, but he wasted little time proving he was ready for a shot at the big leagues upon returning, striking out 93 batters in 65.1 innings of work in Triple-A.

    The call came on Aug. 9 and Reyes quickly proved to be a dangerous weapon for the Cardinals in their push for a postseason spot that eventually came up a game short.

    After making seven relief appearances and a pair of spot starts, Reyes joined the rotation in earnest over the season's final few weeks and went 2-0 with a 2.00 ERA, 1.33 WHIP and an 18-to-5 K/BB rate over his final three starts.

    With a fastball that routinely touches triple digits, a devastating hammer curve and a changeup that he showed an increased affinity for upon reaching the majorsall from a sturdy 6'3", 175-pound framehe has future ace written all over him.

    The return of Lance Lynn and a presumed return to health for Michael Wacha makes it unclear whether Reyes will have a spot in the St. Louis rotation to start the upcoming season.

    If not, he could return to a multi-inning role out of the bullpen or remain stretched out in Triple-A as the next man up.

2. Chicago White Sox: 2B Yoan Moncada

29 of 30

    Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

    DOB: May 27, 1995 (21 years old)

    Height/Weight: 6'2", 205 lbs

    Acquired: 2015 international free agent, Cuba ($31.5M bonus)

    2016 Stats (A+/AA/MLB)

    MiLB: 106 G, 491 PA, .294/.407/.511, 52 XBH (15 HR), 62 RBI, 94 R, 45/57 SB
    MLB: 8 G, 20 PA, .211/.250/.263, 1 XBH (0 HR), 1 RBI, 3 R, 0/0 SB

        

    Outlook

    It was going to take a franchise-altering trade for the Boston Red Sox to part with uber-prospect Yoan Moncada in a trade.

    That deal presented itself during the winter meetings as the team struck a blockbuster deal to acquire Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale in exchange for a package of four prospects that also included highly regarded right-hander Michael Kopech.

    With that, Moncada immediately becomes the face of a long overdue rebuild on the South Side.

    "I also have expectations about myself because of the trade," Moncada told reporters. "This team gave up a lot to get me. I feel very humbled for this opportunity. I expect to be a big part of this team in the future and to help this team to win so many games and to win a World Series. That's my goal and that's the mindset that every one of us have to have."

    The 21-year-old has quickly established himself as one of the game's elite prospects since landing a massive $31.5 million bonus that came with a matching tax penalty in 2015.

    MLB.com called him a "faster version of Robinson Cano" and he has the tools to make a similar offensive impact as the seven-time All-Star while also swiping 30-plus bases annually.

    He'll return to his natural position of second base after spending time at the hot corner last year and it's only a matter of time before he supplants incumbent Brett Lawrie during the upcoming season.

1. Boston Red Sox: LF Andrew Benintendi

30 of 30

    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    DOB: July 6, 1994 (22 years old)

    Height/Weight: 5'10", 170 lbs

    Acquired: 2015 draft, first round (7th overall)

        

    2016 Stats (A+/AA/MLB)

    MiLB: 97 G, 418 PA, .312/.378/.532, 52 XBH (9 HR), 76 RBI, 70 R, 16/25 SB
    MLB: 34 G, 118 PA, .295/.359/.476, 14 XBH (2 HR), 14 RBI, 16 R, 1/1 SB

        

    Outlook

    MLB.com asked 20 general manager and scouting executives who they thought was the top overall prospect in baseball earlier this offseason.

    The results:

    • Andrew Benintendi: 10 votes
    • Yoan Moncada: 5 votes
    • Dansby Swanson: 3 votes
    • Gleyber Torres: 2 votes

    That doesn't make it fact, but it's clear that Benintendi has the upside to be a perennial All-Star for the Boston Red Sox as he gets set to take over as the everyday left fielder.

    The 22-year-old has done nothing but hit since his days at the University of Arkansas, where he took home Golden Spikes honors as a junior and went to the Red Sox with the No. 7 pick in the 2015 draft.

    With the hit tool to contend for multiple batting titles, the bat speed to be a 20-plus homer threat despite his less-than-imposing frame and the defensive skills to win a few Gold Glove Awards, Benintendi is the complete package.

    Moncada may still have a higher ceiling, but Benintendi is essentially a finished product and the clear front-runner for AL Rookie of the Year honors.

        

    All minor league stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com, while college stats courtesy of TheBaseballCube.com.

    I encourage you to direct any comments you may have on this article to my Twitter account.

🚨 SPORTS NEWS ➡️ YOUR INBOX

The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.


X