Every MLB Team's Biggest Breakout Prospect of 2017

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistSeptember 7, 2017

Every MLB Team's Biggest Breakout Prospect of 2017

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    Dylan Buell/Getty Images

    Without fail, there are always a handful of relatively unknown players in every MLB farm system who push their way into the top-prospect conversation each season.

    Whether it's a talented player returning from injury, a promising prospect repeating a level with increased success or a low-level minor leaguer turning raw tools into on-field production, breakout performances come in all shapes and sizes.

    Ahead is a look at each club's biggest breakout prospect of 2017, as well as a few honorable mentions also worth keeping an eye on.


    Note: Preseason prospect rankings refer to the 2017 Baseball America Prospect Handbook.

Arizona Diamondbacks: OF Marcus Wilson

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    Acquired: 2014 draft, second round (69th overall)

    Preseason Ranking: No. 22 in ARI system



    2016A-/A.252/.394/.3465917 (1)203525
    2017A.295/.383/.44611335 (9)545615


    Player Outlook

    Marcus Wilson was brought along slowly after Arizona took him with the No. 69 overall pick in the 2014 MLB draft, spending his first two seasons in rookie ball.

    He finally made his full-season debut last year with a less than stellar .253/.357/.384 line over 115 plate appearances in Single-A, but he's taken off in 2017.

    MLB.com wrote: "Wilson's raw athleticism has taken a step toward being more refined, with better at-bats, more walks and an ability to impact the ball on a more consistent basis."

    The 21-year-old still has room to add further strength to his 6'3", 175-pound frame, and if he adds a bit more power, he could be a legitimate five-tool contributor.


    Other Breakout Prospects

    • SP Jon Duplantier (No. 9)
    • SP Jose Almonte (No. 18)
    • 1B Kevin Cron
    • RP Mason McCullough
    • SP Sam McWilliams

Atlanta Braves: OF Cristian Pache

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    Acquired: 2015 international free-agent signing

    Preseason Ranking: No. 13 in ATL system



    2016Rk.309/.349/.3916811 (0)212811
    2017A.281/.335/.34313221 (0)426032


    Player Outlook

    Ronald Acuna and Kevin Maitan are two of the most hyped teenage prospects in baseball and part of a loaded top tier in the Atlanta Braves' farm system.

    Outfielder Cristian Pache hasn't received the same fanfare, but he's a player worth watching.

    Despite being the second-youngest player in the Sally League and not turning 19 until November, he's more than held his own offensively, and his 132 hits rank fifth in the league.

    Pache showed some intriguing upside with a .309/.349/.391 line in 57 games at the rookie league level last year, and now he's backed it up in his full-season debut.

    An even bigger breakout could be coming in 2018.


    Other Breakout Prospects

    • SP Luiz Gohara (No. 3SEA)
    • SP Joey Wentz (No. 15)
    • C Brett Cumberland (No. 23)
    • SP Bryse Wilson (No. 25)
    • IF Johan Camargo

Baltimore Orioles: OF Austin Hays

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    Acquired: 2016 draft, third round (91st overall)

    Preseason Ranking: No. 7 in BAL system



    2016A-.336/.386/.5144715 (4)21144
    2017A+/AA.329/.365/.59317269 (32)95815


    Player Outlook

    Austin Hays already looks like one of the biggest steals of the 2016 draft.

    After an impressive turn in the Cape Cod League, he was one of the most productive college bats in the nation during his junior season at Jacksonville University as he posted a .350/.406/.655 line with 16 doubles and 16 home runs.

    Playing for the small school was enough for him to slip to the third round, and it seems he's done nothing but hit since joining an improving Baltimore Orioles farm system.

    The 22-year-old hit .336 with 15 extra-base hits in 153 plate appearances for short-season Aberdeen in his pro debut, and he's climbed all the way to Double-A this season while posting some of the best power numbers in the minors.

    Hays is now a bonafide top-100 prospect, and he'll push catcher Chance Sisco for top billing in the Baltimore system.


    Other Breakout Prospects

    • SP Tanner Scott (No. 11)
    • OF Cedric Mullins (No. 26)
    • RP Stefan Crichton (No. 27)
    • SP Brenan Hanifee
    • SP David Hess
    • OF Ademar Rifaela

Boston Red Sox: 3B Michael Chavis

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    Acquired: 2014 draft, first round (26th overall)

    Preseason Ranking: No. 11 in BOS system



    2016A/A+.237/.313/.3727222 (8)36354
    2017A+/AA.282/.347/.56313368 (31)94892


    Player Outlook

    Michael Chavis was one of the top high school bats in the 2014 draft class and his intriguing power potential was enough for the Boston Red Sox to take him at No. 26 overall.

    However, he hit just .235/.301/.396 with 25 home runs in 960 plate appearances over his first three pro seasons, and his prospect star was fading heading into the 2017 campaign.

    The 22-year-old has made significant strides this year, though.

    MLB.com explained: "Chavis has plenty of bat speed, strength and loft in his right-handed stroke, so he can hit home runs without selling out for power. He's at his best as a hitter when he keeps his swing under control and uses the whole field, and he has stopped trying to pull everything out of the park."

    With Andrew Benintendi and Rafael Devers both reaching the majors, Chavis is now the top position-player prospect in the Boston system and a power bat on the rise.


    Other Breakout Prospects

    • SP Mike Shawaryn (No. 12)
    • SP Bryan Mata (No. 27)
    • SP Jalen Beeks
    • IF Chad De La Guerra
    • SP Dedgar Jimenez

Chicago Cubs: RHP Adbert Alzolay

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    Acquired: 2012 international free-agent signing

    Preseason Ranking: NR in CHC system





    Player Outlook

    Blockbuster deals to acquire Aroldis Chapman and Jose Quintana have taken a bite out of the Chicago Cubs' farm system over the past two seasons.

    Luckily, there are a number of lower-level prospects on the rise, and right-hander Adbert Alzolay is the headliner of that group.

    The 22-year-old went 9-4 with a 4.34 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 81 strikeouts in 120.1 innings during his full-season debut last year, and he's shot up prospect boards this season thanks to an uptick in his stuff and improved mechanics, as he explained to Josh Norris of Baseball America:

    "I've been working with my pitching coach on my delivery since spring training. Now, I just lock in. I get the sign and try to be aggressive with all my pitches every single outing. When I'm pitching, I don't like when we give a chance to the hitter to think about the pitches. I think if you are quick with your pitches, you can do everything."

    He's positioned himself alongside Oscar De La Cruz and Jose Albertos as the top-tier arms in the system.


    Other Breakout Prospects

    • SP Justin Steele (No. 24)
    • SS Aramis Ademan
    • OF Charcer Burks
    • RP Dillon Maples
    • SP Michael Rucker
    • SP Jen-Ho Tseng

Chicago White Sox: RHP Alec Hansen

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    Acquired: 2016 draft, second round (49th overall)

    Preseason Ranking: No. 10 in CWS system





    Player Outlook

    Alec Hansen was a candidate to go No. 1 overall in the 2016 draft before a disappointing junior season at the University of Oklahoma saw him post a 5.40 ERA and fall from Friday starter to pitching out of the bullpen.

    The Chicago White Sox scooped him up with the No. 49 overall pick with the hope that he could harness his power stuff, and that's exactly what he's done.

    Hansen was dominant in the lower levels of the minors in his pro debut, punching out 81 hitters in 54.2 innings while showing improved command.

    He's followed that up by climbing three levels to Double-A in his first full season, striking out an MiLB-best 191 batters in 141.1 innings along the way.

    There's legitimate No. 2/3 starter upside here for a White Sox team that's loaded with high-ceiling arms.


    Other Breakout Prospects

    • OF Micker Adolfo (No. 24)
    • 1B Nicky Delmonico
    • SP Jordan Guerrero

Cincinnati Reds: RHP Tyler Mahle

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    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    Acquired: 2013 draft, seventh round (225th overall)

    Preseason Ranking: No. 12 in CIN system





    Player Outlook

    Tyler Mahle began the season as the No. 12 prospect in the Cincinnati Reds' system, according to Baseball America.

    That put him behind Cody Reed (No. 2), Amir Garrett (No. 3), Robert Stephenson (No. 4), Sal Romano (No. 8), Vladimir Gutierrez (No. 9) and Tony Santillan (No. 11) among pitching prospects.

    Now he looks like the safest bet of any of them to fill a long-term spot in the rotation.

    Two starts into his MLB career, he's already made a positive impression on manager Bryan Price.

    "I'm impressed with his demeanor and his presence, and that it hasn't changed going from Double-A to Triple-A, Triple-A to the big leagues," Price told reporters. "He's doing exactly what we read in the reports. He's coming right after hitters and attacking the zone and not backing down to anybody."

    The 22-year-old will be given every chance to break camp with a rotation spot next spring.


    Other Breakout Prospects

    • RP Tanner Rainey (No. 25)
    • OF Jose Siri (No. 31)
    • SP Jose Lopez
    • SP Scott Moss

Cleveland Indians: OF Conner Capel

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    Acquired: 2016 draft, fifth round (152nd overall)

    Preseason Ranking: NR in CLE system



    2016Rk.210/.270/.290298 (0)132210
    2017A.246/.316/.47810851 (22)617315


    Player Outlook

    Conner Capel was on the older end of the prep prospect scale coming out of Seven Lakes High School in Texas, as he turned 19 prior to being selected in the fifth round of the 2016 draft.

    As a result, the Cleveland Indians aggressively promoted him to Single-A Lake County for his first full season and he has responded with a breakout season.

    Aside from showing plus speed and the defensive tools to stick in center field, he's also flashing more over-the-fence power than expected and a good approach.

    As MLB.com wrote, he also brings plus intangibles to the table: "Scouts praise Capel's makeup, billing him as a grinder with tools."

    Don't be surprised to see his name among the organization's top 10 prospects going into next season.


    Other Breakout Prospects

    • SS Willi Castro (No. 15)
    • SP Aaron Civale (No. 20)
    • SP Shane Bieber (No. 21)
    • C Eric Haase

Colorado Rockies: 3B Colton Welker

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    Acquired: 2016 draft, fourth round (110th overall)

    Preseason Ranking: No. 16 in COL system



    2016Rk.329/.366/.4906922 (5)36386
    2017A.350/.401/.5008925 (6)33325


    Player Outlook

    Colton Welker signed an above-slot $855,000 bonus as a fourth-round pick out of Stoneman Douglas High School in 2016—the same high school Cubs star Anthony Rizzo attended.

    The 19-year-old has a polished approach at the plate and a plus hit tool, allowing him to thrive against older competition since kicking off his pro career.

    MLB.com offered up this glowing summation:

    "Extremely advanced at the plate for a teenager, Welker recognizes pitches well, has good feel for the barrel and uses the entire field. His bat speed and leverage in his right-handed swing could translate into 20-homer power once he adds strength. He immediately took to third base, displaying reliable hands and a strong, accurate arm."

    The Rockies have Nolan Arenado firmly entrenched at third base. Welker is still at least a few years away from the majors, though, so there's no reason to worry about his long-term fit just yet.


    Other Breakout Prospects

    • IF Garrett Hampson (No. 14)
    • OF Noel Cuevas
    • SP Breiling Eusebio
    • OF Sam Hilliard

Detroit Tigers: LHP Gregory Soto

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    Acquired: 2012 international free-agent signing

    Preseason Ranking: No. 30 in DET system





    Player Outlook

    The Detroit Tigers traded for a pair of rising prospects this summer in catcher Jake Rogers (via HOU) and shortstop Isaac Paredes (via CHC), and both could crack the organizational top 10 next season.

    Choosing either of them to represent the team here felt like cheating, though.

    Instead, we'll go with left-hander Gregory Soto who has boosted his stock considerably with a stellar full-season debut.

    The 22-year-old has shown improved secondary stuff this season and seen his strikeout rate spike from 7.8 to 10.5 K/9 against improved competition.

    The Tigers will continue to develop him as a starter, but he still has work to do in the control department (4.7 BB/9). And his stuff could eventually play up in a relief role.


    Other Breakout Prospects

    • SP Austin Sodders (No. 16)
    • C Jake Rogers (No. 20—HOU)
    • SS Isaac Paredes (No. 29—CHC)
    • RP Jason Foley
    • RP John Schreiber

Houston Astros: 1B/OF Yordan Alvarez

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Acquired: 2016 trade, via Los Angeles Dodgers

    Preseason Ranking: No. 28 in HOU system



    2016Rk.341/.474/.500154 (1)472
    2017A/A+.304/.379/.48110232 (12)69458


    Player Outlook

    The Los Angeles Dodgers signed Yordan Alvarez to a $2 million bonus last June and traded him to the Houston Astros in exchange for reliever Josh Fields before he ever made his way stateside.

    He hit .351 over 125 plate appearances as a 17-year-old in the Cuban National Series—the top league in Cuba—and that experience against high-level competition has served him well.

    The 20-year-old has walked at a 10.7 percent clip while striking out just 19.7 percent of the time, and he has plenty of raw power packed into his 6'5", 225-pound frame.

    MLB.com wrote: "He has a quiet left-handed stroke with advanced feel for the barrel and mastery of the strike zone."

    Don't be surprised if he moves quickly.


    Other Breakout Prospects

    • SP Hector Perez (No. 16)
    • SP Rogelio Armenteros (No. 24)
    • 3B Colin Moran (No. 30)
    • SP Brett Adcock
    • SP Framber Valdez   

Kansas City Royals: OF Khalil Lee

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    Acquired: 2016 draft, third round (103rd overall)

    Preseason Ranking: No. 12 in KC system



    2016Rk.269/.396/.4844921 (6)29438
    2017A.237/.344/.43010747 (17)617120


    Player Outlook

    The Kansas City Royals have one of the thinnest farm systems in baseball, so they'll take all the breakout prospects they can get.

    Khalil Lee was one of the best two-way talents in the 2016 draft, and the Royals considered him the "best athlete available," according to MLB.com.

    There's a good deal of swing-and-miss to his game, as he's fanned 171 times this season. But he's also walked at a 12.2 percent clip, and his overall approach at the plate is sound.

    With intriguing raw power, the tools to stick in center field and a terrific arm, he might have the highest ceiling of any position-player prospect in the Kansas City system—including this year's top pick, Nick Pratto.


    Other Breakout Prospects

    • SS Nicky Lopez (No. 13)
    • SP Foster Griffin (No. 29)
    • 2B Gabriel Cancel
    • RP Richard Lovelady
    • 3B Emmanuel Rivera
    • 1B Frank Schwindel

Los Angeles Angels: RHP Jesus Castillo

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    Acquired: 2016 trade, via Chicago Cubs

    Preseason Ranking: No. 23 in LAA system





    Player Outlook

    Jesus Castillo has already been traded twice in his young career.

    Originally signed by the Diamondbacks, he was traded to the Cubs in exchange for Tony Campana prior to the 2013 season and then dealt again last summer for reliever Joe Smith.

    His pitchability, more than his pure stuff, gives him a real chance to make it as a starter.

    MLB.com wrote: "None of Castillo's stuff jumps off the page, but his feel for pitching and his deception gives him a chance to succeed."

    The 22-year-old reached Double-A this season and posted a 3.04 ERA over five starts, so he could be knocking on the door by this time next year.


    Other Breakout Prospects

    • SP Jose Suarez (No. 15)
    • OF Brennon Lund (No. 28)
    • SS Leonardo Rivas

Los Angeles Dodgers: RHP Walker Buehler

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    Acquired: 2015 draft, first round (24th overall)

    Preseason Ranking: No. 11 in LAD system





    Player Outlook

    Walker Buehler was more highly thought of than Vanderbilt teammates Dansby Swanson and Carson Fulmer heading into their respective junior seasons, but an arm injury that would require Tommy John surgery caused him to slip to No. 24 overall in the 2015 draft.

    Despite entering the 2017 season with just five professional innings under his belt, he was deemed untouchable by the organization in offseason trade talks, per Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports.

    That looks like the right decision now, as he's returned strong and shot up the organizational ladder to earn a September promotion.

    Manager Dave Roberts gave him a glowing review while talking to reporters:

    "He's had a very quick ascension. He's ultra-ultra-competitive, ultra-talented. To get him here and reward him for being as good as he has been this year, to get him around our guys, for Rick [Honeycutt, Dodgers pitching coach] to put eyes on him, to be around our players, we feel it can help him. And also in between the lines, he can help us get some innings and get some outs."

    His future is in the rotation, but he can be a major weapon out of the bullpen down the stretch.


    Other Breakout Prospects

    • SP Dustin May (No. 13)
    • SP Mitchell White (No. 19)
    • C Keibert Ruiz (No. 20)
    • PF DJ Peters (No. 21)
    • SP Caleb Ferguson
    • OF Luke Raley

Miami Marlins: RHP Trevor Richards

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    Acquired: 2016 undrafted free-agent signing

    Preseason Ranking: NR in MIA system





    Player Outlook

    Every once in a while, a diamond in the rough emerges from the independent leagues.

    Trevor Richards went undrafted out of Drury University in 2015 and spent two seasons pitching for the Gateway Grizzlies in the Frontier League before the Miami Marlins signed him last July.

    MLB.com wrote: "Richards gets the most out of his three-pitch mix because he's a consistent strike-thrower who has feel for changing speeds and keeping hitters off balance."

    The 24-year-old has moved quickly since signing and already has 14 starts at the Double-A level under his belt. His ceiling is probably at the back of the big league rotation, but the Marlins would be thrilled if he reaches that given his humble beginnings in the organization.


    Other Breakout Prospects

    • 3B James Nelson (No. 18)
    • OF John Norwood (No. 29)
    • RP Marcus Crescentini
    • SP Ben Meyer

Milwaukee Brewers: RHP Corbin Burnes

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    Acquired: 2016 draft, fourth round (111th overall)

    Preseason Ranking: No. 24 in MIL system





    Player Outlook

    Corbin Burnes had as much helium as any college pitcher in the country heading into the 2016 draft after going 9-2 with a 2.48 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 120 strikeouts in 101.2 innings during his junior season at St. Mary's.

    The Milwaukee Brewers eventually grabbed him in the fourth round, and he's quickly established himself as one of the top arms in a deep farm system.

    While he does have some effort to his delivery, he's proved durable to this point in his pro career, and the questions about whether he'll stick as a starter have begun to wane.

    As he continues on the fast track, he'll look to develop his changeup into a viable fourth offering alongside a mid-90s fastball, plus slider and passable curveball. That four-pitch mix and good overall command give him legitimate middle-of-the-rotation upside.


    Other Breakout Prospects

    • OF Monte Harrison (No. 20)
    • SP Freddy Peralta (No. 21)
    • 1B Jake Gatewood (No. 23)
    • OF Troy Stokes Jr.
    • SP Trey Supak
    • SP Jordan Yamamoto

Minnesota Twins: RHP John Curtiss

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    Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

    Acquired: 2014 draft, sixth round (170th overall)

    Preseason Ranking: NR in MLB system





    Player Outlook

    Hard-throwing J.T. Chargois was the Minnesota Twins' bullpen prospect to watch heading into the season as he was coming off a dominant 2016 campaign and checked in as the team's No. 11 prospect, per Baseball America.

    However, he missed the 2013 and 2014 seasons with an elbow injury that eventually led to Tommy John surgery, and now arm issues have limited him to just two appearances this year.

    In his absence, right-hander John Curtiss has emerged as a potential future closer in his own right.

    MLB.com wrote: "With an intense and serious personality on the mound, it wouldn't surprise anyone if the success he's had closing games in Double-A in 2017 translates to the same role in the big leagues."

    The 24-year-old has piled up 153 strikeouts in 110.1 innings since making a full-time move to the bullpen last season. An impressive showing in his September call-up could put him in position to break camp with a roster spot next year.   


    Other Breakout Prospects

    • 1B Lewin Diaz (No. 26)
    • SP Brusdar Graterol
    • RP Thomas Hackimer
    • SS Jermaine Palacios

New York Mets: RHP Jordan Humphreys

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    Acquired: 2015 draft, 18th round (539th overall)

    Preseason Ranking: NR in NYM system





    Player Outlook

    Injuries are always tough, and they sting just a little bit more when they bring a breakout season to a grinding halt.   

    Jordan Humphreys has shot up the New York Mets' organizational rankings with a stellar full-season debut, only to be lost for the remainder of this season and likely all of next after undergoing Tommy John surgery on Aug. 29.

    That doesn't erase what the 2015 18th-round pick accomplished prior to that injury, though.

    The 21-year-old is already a finished product physically at 6'2", 223 pounds, and he relies more on command and pitchability than pure stuff. So he should have as good a chance as anyone in his situation of not falling behind the developmental curve.


    Other Breakout Prospects

    • SP Chris Flexen (No. 22)
    • SP Corey Oswalt
    • RP Adonis Uceta
    • 3B Jhoan Urena

New York Yankees: OF Estevan Florial

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    Acquired: 2015 international free-agent signing

    Preseason Ranking: No. 14 in NYY system



    2016Rk/A-/A+.227/.312/.3716020 (8)304010
    2017A/A+.298/.372/.47912543 (13)577723


    Player Outlook

    With paperwork issues related to his identity now in the rearview, Estevan Florial—who went by Haniel d'Oleo when he first attempted to sign with the New York Yankees—is now one of baseball fastest-rising prospects.

    The 19-year-old signed with the Yankees for $200,000 in March 2015, which was "perhaps one-tenth of what he would have received if not for the controversy" as MLB.com put it.

    His impressive set of tools was evident last season even as he posted mediocre numbers in his stateside debut, and he's turned those raw skills into loud production this season.

    Florial is just starting to tap into his plus raw power, he's already shown a solid hit tool and he's willing to work a walk with a 10.5 percent walk rate. Throw in 60-grade speed and above-average defensive skills, and he has a chance to be the total package as a finished product.


    Other Breakout Prospects

    • SP Jordan Montgomery (No. 13)
    • 2B Nick Solak (No. 19)
    • SP Jorge Guzman (No. 26)
    • RP Cody Carroll
    • RP Raynel Espinal
    • OF Isiah Gilliam
    • SP Freicer Perez
    • SP Taylor Widener

Oakland Athletics: C Sean Murphy

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    Acquired: 2016 draft, third round (83rd overall)

    Preseason Ranking: No. 20 in OAK system



    2016Rk/A-.228/.307/.316183 (2)7111
    2017A+/AA.250/.313/.4108931 (13)48470


    Player Outlook

    Sean Murphy went off the board in the third round of the 2016 draft on the strength of his overall defensive skills and his plus raw power.

    That power was on display this season as he tallied 13 home runs and 31 total extra-base hits in 395 plate appearances while reaching the Double-A level in his first full season with the organization.

    Blessed with a 70-grade arm behind the plate, he's thrown out 36.6 percent of attempted base stealers as a pro, and he has the receiving skills and durable frame to handle everyday catching duties.

    The 22-year-old looks like the obvious candidate to be the long-term answer behind the plate in Oakland, and he could be knocking on the door by this time next season if he continues on his current trajectory.


    Other Breakout Prospects

    • SP Jesus Luzardo (No. 15—WAS)
    • SP Brandon Bailey
    • OF B.J. Boyd
    • OF Tyler Ramirez
    • OF Brett Siddall

Philadelphia Phillies: 2B Scott Kingery

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Acquired: 2015 draft, second round (48th overall)

    Preseason Ranking: No. 9 in PHI system



    2016A+/AA.281/.335/.38814944 (5)467630
    2017AA/AAA.304/.359/.53016563 (26)6510329


    Player Outlook

    Rhys Hoskins was a tempting choice here for the Philadelphia Phillies, but he didn't exactly come out of nowhere after slugging 38 home runs at the Double-A level last season.

    Instead, we'll go with second baseman Scott Kingery.

    The Phillies' Double-A affiliate in Reading, Pennsylvania, plays in perhaps the most hitter-friendly park in all of the minors, so offensive numbers there need to be taken with a grain of salt.

    However, Kingery has continued to hit since getting the call to Triple-A with a .294/.337/.449 line that includes 11 doubles, eight home runs and 21 RBI in 63 games.

    The 23-year-old looks to have legitimate 20-20 potential at the next level, and playing alongside J.P. Crawford up the middle, he could become a cornerstone piece of the team's rebuilding efforts.


    Other Breakout Prospects

    • SP Sixto Sanchez (No. 5)
    • SP Adonis Medina (No. 16)
    • SS Jose Gomez
    • 1B Darick Hall
    • RP J.D. Hammer
    • SP JoJo Romero
    • SP Ranger Suarez

Pittsburgh Pirates: 2B Kevin Kramer

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    Acquired: 2015 draft, second round (62nd overall)

    Preseason Ranking: No. 21 in PIT system



    2016A+.277/.352/.37812335 (4)57563
    2017AA.286/.366/.4796126 (6)29317


    Player Outlook

    Kevin Kramer was something of a forgotten man playing in a Pittsburgh Pirates farm system that featured a pair of highly regarded middle infield prospects in Kevin Newman (No. 5 prospect) and Cole Tucker (No. 8 prospect).

    He's outperformed them both here in 2017.

    • Newman (AA/AAA): 552 PA, .267 BA, .675 OPS, 37 XBH
    • Tucker (A+/AA): 510 PA, .275 BA, .766 OPS, 36 XBH
    • Kramer (AA): 246 PA, .286 BA, .845 OPS, 26 XBH

    It's worth nothing, Kramer suffered a broken hand in June and didn't return to action until Sept. 2, so his body of work is roughly half the size of those other two prospects.

    Still, his uptick in offensive production while making the jump to Double-A leaves him better positioned to compete with those two for a long-term spot in the Pittsburgh infield.


    Other Breakout Prospects

    • SP Taylor Hearn (No. 13)
    • SP Luis Escobar (No. 28)
    • SP Dario Agrazal
    • OF Jordan Luplow

San Diego Padres: SS Fernando Tatis Jr.

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    Acquired: 2016 trade, via Chicago White Sox

    Preseason Ranking: No. 17 in SD system



    2016Rk/A-.273/.311/.4326024 (4)253915
    2017A/AA.278/.379/.49813556 (22)758432


    Player Outlook

    Chicago White Sox general manager Rick Hahn has made some brilliant moves recently. Trading Fernando Tatis Jr. to the San Diego Padres for veteran starter James Shields last year was not one of them.

    Tatis has emerged as one of the game's most dynamic prospects, and his huge offensive potential is already showing up in games against significantly older competition. Meanwhile, Shields has a 6.30 ERA in 39 starts for the White Sox.

    Before earning a late promotion to Double-A, Tatis ranked among the Midwest League leaders in OPS (.910, fifth), home runs (21, second) stolen bases (29, sixth) and total bases (224, third).

    That breakout performance should make him a top-50 prospect leaguewide next season, and he could challenge MacKenzie Gore and Cal Quantrill for the No. 1 spot in a stocked San Diego system.

    He also doesn't turn 19 until January.


    Other Breakout Prospects

    • OF Franchy Cordero (No. 23)
    • SP Joey Lucchesi (No. 24)
    • C Austin Allen (No. 30)
    • SP Pedro Avila
    • SP Michel Baez

San Francisco Giants: LHP Garrett Williams

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    Acquired: 2016 draft, seventh round (215th overall)

    Preseason Ranking: No. 24 in SF system





    Player Outlook

    It's been a brutal season for the San Francisco Giants at the MLB level, and things don't look much better down on the farm.

    Finding a breakout prospect here was difficult.

    Ryder Jones was one potential choice as he hit .312 with a .969 OPS and 34 extra-base hits in 64 games for Triple-A Sacramento to earn a call-up.

    However, he's been a non-factor in the majors with a .196 average and .592 OPS over 117 plate appearances, so that knocked him out of contention.

    Instead, we'll go with left-hander Garrett Williams. The 22-year-old has a plus fastball/curveball combination, but his changeup lags behind as a third offering. His future could be in the bullpen as a result.

    That said, it still looks like he'll be a useful arm in some capacity.


    Other Breakout Prospects

    • 3B Ryder Jones
    • RP Patrick Ruotolo
    • SP Stephen Woods

Seattle Mariners: OF Braden Bishop

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    Acquired: 2015 draft, third round (94th overall)

    Preseason Ranking: No. 15 in SEA system



    2016A/A+.273/.338/.32611315 (3)43578
    2017A+/AA.306/.393/.41314741 (3)438922


    Player Outlook

    Braden Bishop was a prospect on the rise after he hit .320 with 11 extra-base hits and 13 stolen base at Low-A Everett following his selection in the third round of the 2015 draft.

    However, his full-season debut fell flat, and he went from being ranked as the Seattle Mariners' No. 7 prospect heading into 2016 to their No. 15 prospect at the start of this season.

    Patience is a virtue.

    He raised his OPS from .665 to .806 this season, and both his walk (7.7 to 10.8 percent) and strikeout (18.6 to 14.4 percent) rates improved against tougher competition.

    With a solid hit tool, terrific plate discipline and good speed, he has a chance to be a top-of-the-order catalyst who should have no problem sticking in center field defensively.


    Other Breakout Prospects

    • SP Robert Dugger
    • OF Ian Miller
    • OF Chuck Taylor

St. Louis Cardinals: SS Paul DeJong

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    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Acquired: 2015 draft, fourth round (131st overall)

    Preseason Ranking: No. 14 in STL system



    2016AA.260/.324/.46012953 (22)73623
    2017AAA.299/.339/.5715322 (13)34270
    2017MLB.285/.321/.5389541 (21)55430


    Player Outlook

    In a lot of other seasons, Paul DeJong would be a serious contender for National League Rookie of the Year honors.

    He doesn't have any real chance of snatching the award away from Cody Bellinger this season, but he's a big reason why the St. Louis Cardinals have managed to hang around in the wild-card race.

    Since replacing a struggling Aledmys Diaz at shortstop, DeJong has racked up 41 extra-base hits in 352 plate appearances while settling in as the No. 3 hitter in the lineup.

    Originally drafted as a third baseman, he's also been rock-solid at shortstop with 1 DRS and a 5.9 UZR/150 in 558.1 innings.

    It would be nice to see more than 14 walks in those 352 plate appearances, and his .351 BABIP might not be sustainable. His power, however, is for real.


    Other Breakout Prospects

    • SP Jack Flaherty (No. 11)
    • SP Zac Gallen
    • SP Ryan Helsley
    • C Andrew Knizner
    • OF Oscar Mercado
    • SP Mike O'Reilly
    • 3B Patrick Wisdom

Tampa Bay Rays: OF Jesus Sanchez

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    Acquired: 2014 international free-agent signing

    Preseason Ranking: No. 7 in TB system



    2016Rk.329/.351/.5497025 (7)39332
    2017A.305/.348/.47814548 (15)82817


    Player Outlook

    Outside of Ronald Acuna (ATL) and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (TOR), there might not be a more exciting offensive prospect who is still shy of his 20th birthday than Jesus Sanchez. 

    The Tampa Bay Rays signed him to a modest $400,000 bonus in 2014, and he turned heads in his stateside debut last year with a .329 average, .900 OPS and 25 extra-base hits in 226 plate appearances over two different rookie league stops.

    Making the all-important leap to full-season ball this year, he's continued to exceed expectations.

    The 19-year-old ranked among the Midwest League leaders in hits (145, second), doubles (29, fourth), home runs (15, fifth), RBI (82, first), runs scored (81, third) and total bases (227, second).

    MLB.com put it simply: "... Sanchez has the offensive tools to develop into a big-time run creator in the middle of a lineup."


    Other Breakout Prospects

    • SP Jacob Faria (No. 8)
    • SP Resly Linares (No. 30)
    • SP Genesis Cabrera
    • SP Yonny Chirinos
    • 2B Brandon Lowe
    • SP Travis Ott
    • SP Mikey York

Texas Rangers: 1B/OF Yanio Perez

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    Acquired: 2016 international free-agent signing

    Preseason Ranking: No. 27 in TEX system



    2017A/A+.280/.343/.43412940 (14)66586


    Player Outlook

    The Texas Rangers signed Yanio Perez to a $1.1 million bonus out of Cuba last September, and he delivered on lofty expectations with a stellar pro debut.

    The 22-year-old spent two seasons playing in the Cuban National Series when he was 17 and 18 years old, posting a .259/.335/.328 line over 514 plate appearances against the best Cuba has to offer.

    That experience speaks to his significant offensive potential and allowed the Rangers to aggressively assign him to Single-A Hickory to start his pro career.

    He played all over the place in Cuba and has gotten looks at first base, third base and at both corner outfield spots in 2017. His best fit might wind up being first base, but his bat will play anywhere if he delivers on his power potential.


    Other Breakout Prospects

    • OF Miguel Aparicio (No. 14) 
    • SP A.J. Alexy
    • SP Kyle Cody
    • SP Walker Weickel

Toronto Blue Jays: SS Bo Bichette

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    Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images

    Acquired: 2016 draft, second round (66th overall)

    Preseason Ranking: No. 9 in TOR system



    2016Rk.427/.451/.7323515 (4)36213
    2017A/A+.362/.423/.56516259 (14)748822


    Player Outlook

    Bo Bichette laid waste to Gulf Coast League pitching last season after landing an above-slot $1.1 million bonus as a second-round pick by the Toronto Blue Jays.

    That was enough to put him on the top prospect radar, and a monster full-season debut has vaulted him squarely into the top-100 prospect conversation.

    Among MiLB hitters with at least 400 plate appearances this season, he ranks in the top 10 in batting average (.362, first), on-base percentage (.423, second) and OPS (.988, second).

    He'll be tested against higher-level pitching and might need to simplify a complicated swing, as MLB.com explained:

    "He has plus bat speed in spite of a swing that is unorthodox and has lots of moving parts, although it doesn't impede his ability to make consistently hard contact and drive the ball to all fields with power. Some mechanical tweaks may be necessary, but scouts nonetheless like his chances of becoming a plus hitter with at least average power."

    But there's simply no ignoring what he's done since kicking off his pro career.


    Other Breakout Prospects

    • SP Ryan Borucki (No. 16)
    • C Danny Jansen (No. 22)
    • OF Edward Olivares
    • SP Thomas Pannone

Washington Nationals: OF Daniel Johnson

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    Acquired: 2016 draft, fifth round (154th overall)

    Preseason Ranking: NR in WAS system



    2016A-.265/.312/.3476514 (1)142513
    2017A/A+.298/.356/.50514855 (22)728322


    Player Outlook

    The Washington Nationals have four top-tier prospects—Victor Robles, Juan Soto, Erick Fedde and Carter Kieboom—and after that, there's a significant drop-off on the farm.

    One prospect who could eventually join that elite group is outfielder Daniel Johnson. 

    The 22-year-old won WAC Player of the Year honors during his junior season at New Mexico State with a .382/.434/.630 line that included 11 doubles, seven triples, 12 home runs and 29 stolen bases. 

    His move to the professional ranks has gone smoothly thanks to a "better-than-expected feel for the game," and he "could develop into a dynamic outfielder capable of impacting games in several ways," MLB.com wrote.

    A 20-20 season at the plate and standout defensive skills in the outfield should be enough for him to climb up the organization's top 10 next season.


    Other Breakout Prospects

    • OF Brian Goodwin (No. 19)
    • C Raudy Read (No. 22)
    • 1B Jose Marmolejos (No. 26)
    • C Taylor Gushue
    • RP Wander Suero


    All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs and accurate through Tuesday's games.