1. Houston Astros- Jonathan Gray, RHP, Oklahoma
2. Chicago Cubs- Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford
3. Colorado Rockies- Clint Frazier, OF, Loganville HS (GA)
4. Minnesota Twins- Sean Manaea, LHP, Indiana State
5. Cleveland Indians- Kris Bryant, 3B, San Diego
6. Miami Marlins- Austin Meadows, OF, Grayson HS (GA)
7. Boston Red Sox- Braden Shipley, RHP, Nevada
8. Kansas City Royals- Ryne Stanek, RHP, Arkansas
9. Pittsburgh Pirates- Colin Moran, 3B, North Carolina
10. Toronto Blue Jays- Jonathan Denney, C, Yukon HS (OK)
11. New York Mets- D.J. Peterson, 1B/3B, New Mexico
12. Seattle Mariners- Reese McGuire, C, Kentwood HS (WA)
13. San Diego Padres- Kohl Stewart, RHP, St. Pius X HS (TX)
14. Pittsburgh Pirates- Trey Ball, OF, New Castle HS (IN)
15. Arizona Diamondbacks- Chris Anderson, RHP, Jacksonville
16. Philadelphia Phillies- Ryan Eades, RHP, Louisiana State
17. Chicago White Sox- Aaron Judge, OF, Fresno State
18. Los Angeles Dodgers- Dominic Smith, 1B/OF, Sierra HS (CA)
19. St. Louis Cardinals- Jonathan Crawford, RHP, Florida
20. Detroit Tigers- Bobby Wahl, RHP, Mississippi
21. Tampa Bay Rays- J.P. Crawford, SS, Lakewood HS (CA)
22. Baltimore Orioles- Kevin Ziomek, LHP, Vanderbilt
23. Texas Rangers- Ian Clarkin, LHP, James Madison HS (CA)
24. Oakland Athletics- Austin Wilson, OF, Stanford
25. San Francisco Giants- Marco Gonzales, LHP, Gonzaga
26. New York Yankees- Oscar Mercado, SS, Gaither HS (FL)
27. Cincinnati Reds- Hunter Harvey, RHP, Bandys HS (NC)
28. St. Louis Cardinals- Eric Jagielo, 3B/OF, Notre Dame
29. Tampa Bay Rays- Nick Ciuffo, C, Lexington HS (SC)
30. Texas Rangers- Billy McKinney, OF, Plano West HS (TX)
31. Atlanta Braves- Phillip Ervin, OF, Samford
32. New York Yankees- Robert Kaminsky, LHP, St. Joseph Regional HS (NJ)
33. New York Yankees- Brian Ragira, 1B/OF, Stanford
34. Kansas City Royals- Phil Bickford, RHP, Oaks Christian HS (CA)
35. Miami Marlins- Teddy Stankewicz, RHP, Seminole State JC (FL)
36. Arizona Diamondbacks- Michael Lorenzen, OF, Cal State Fullerton
37. Baltimore Orioles- Chad Pinder, 3B, Virginia Tech
38. Cincinnati Reds- Hunter Green, LHP, Warren East HS (KY)
39. Detroit Tigers- Tom Windle, LHP, Minnesota
We're almost a month into the Minor League baseball season, and we're starting to get a large enough sample size to really start making some early judgments on players. Sure, we've seen some of the top prospects, like Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, and Archie Bradley, completely dominate their leagues. But, we've had a fair share of sleepers emerge as legitimate breakout prospects. On the other hand, there are some guys who really aren't living up to the hype coming into the season.
I will be spotlighting eight breakout players and four underachievers from each league so far. I'll start with the Class A South Atlantic League.
Kevin Plawecki, C, Savannah Sand Gnats (NYM)
.393/.454/.679, 4 HR, 12 2B, 20 RBI
Plawecki was a Sandwich Round pick in the 2012 draft out of Purdue University, and was considered the Mets' 17th best prospect according to MLB.com going into the season. The 2012 Big Ten Player of the year is proving that he could translate his college success into professional success as he is absolutely mashing in the SAL League to start the season. He should move fast in the Mets system, and could potentially finish the season as high as Binghamton, even with the Mets history of moving players slowly. Plawecki is a blue collar type player, whose ceiling is that of an every day catcher in the big leagues with a little bit of pop at the plate.
Tom Murphy, C, Asheville Tourists (COL)
.408/.500/.898, 6 HR, 4 2B, 17 RBI, 2 SB
Plawecki isn't the only college catcher from the 2012 Draft that is tearing up the SAL League in 2013, Tom Murphy, a 3rd Round pick from the University at Buffalo, is having just as much success at the plate. Murphy has only played in 14 games but has hit more HRs than Plawecki, and has a higher BA, OBP and SLG percentage. The biggest downfall to Murphy so far has been a high rate of strikeouts (14 in 49 ABs), but his great arm behind the plate combined with his developing power have drawn comparisons to the Blue Jay's J.P. Arencibia.
Rosell Herrera, SS, Asheville Tourists (COL)
.363/.433/.593, 5 HR, 6 2B, 15 RBI, 6 SB
Herrera came into the 2012 season as the #13 ranked prospect in the Rockies organization, but is slowly moving up that list as he has a breakouts season in Asheville. After a very strong 2011 season in the Pioneer League, Herrera struggled last year, splitting between the Northwest League and the SA L League, only hitting 2 HRs all season. This year, the 20 year old already has 5 HRs, and is hitting for a high average as well. He stands at about 6'4" and while he continues to grow into his body and develop power, he may need to transition to 3B or corner OF eventually.
Stetson Allie, 1B, West Virginia Power (PIT)
.351/.409/.660, 8 HR, 6 2B, 26 RBI, 4 SB
Allie was one of the most highly touted High School prospects in the 2010 MLB Draft, as a flame throwing RHP. After struggling greatly with control issues in 2011 and for two appearances in 2012, he was converted to a power hitting 1B, where he spent some time in the GCL last season, with limited success. This season with the West Virginia Power, the 22 year old has legitimately broken out as a power hitting machine. Allie has blasted 8 HRs already and has 26 RBI, which is 2nd in the league behind teammate Josh Bell.
Nick Williams, OF, Hickory Crawdads (TEX)
.303/.333/.618, 7 HR, 1 2B, 1 3B, 17 RBI, 2 SB
Out of all the highly touted position players on the Hickory roster, the only one who has really been a consistent offensive threat all season has been their 2nd round pick in 2012, Nick Williams. The 19 year old has 7 HRs, which is good for 3rd in the league behind teammate Joey Gallo and Allie, and has gotten his batting average up above the .300 mark. He profiles as a five-tool type guy, with a very strong throwing arm and above-average speed, and could be an impact athlete down the line. The main cause for concern with Williams has been his impatience at the plate, with only a .333 OBP, but at only 19 years old there is reason to believe he can improve upon this.
Micah Johnson, 2B, Kannapolis Intimidators (CHW)
.302/.390/.488, 1 HR, 5 2B, 4 3B, 20 SB, 4 CS
The second 2012 draftee from the Big Ten to make the list of breakout prospects from the SAL League is dynamic Kannapolis infielder Micah Johnson. Johnson was a 9th round pick in 2012 out of Indiana University,. where he missed much of his final college season after elbow surgery. The speedster is having a huge season in his full season debut, leading the South Atlantic League in stolen bases with a whopping 20 in April, while hitting over .300 with good patience at the plate. He profiles as a gap hitter with great speed and a good approach at the plate, and could develop into a big league caliber player in a few years.
Martin Agosta, RHP, Augusta Greenjackets (SFG)
3-1, 2.08 ERA, 26 IP, 10 BB, 35 K, 1.12 WHIP
Agosta is part of a rotation with the Giant's 2012 first round draft pick, Chris Stratton, but the fellow college draftee from 2012, Agosta, has been equally impressive. Agosta was the Giant's second round pick in 2012 out of Saint Mary's College, where he had a successful college career in the WCC. He could be a fast mover in the system as he is already fairly polished, showing a low-to-mid 90s fastball and two solid off-speed pitches, a cutter and a curveball. He has seen great success in his full season debut, with a 12.1 K/9 rate and a low ERA. His upside is probably that of a mid-to-back of the rotation starter for the Giants with an ETA of around 2015.
Gabriel Encinas, RHP, Charleston Riverdogs (NYY)
3-0, 0.31 ERA, 29 IP, 9 BB, 23 K, 0.86 WHIP
Encinas was a 6th Round pick of the Yankees in 2010 out of St. Paul HS in Santa Fe Springs, CA and has slowly worked his way up to Low A ball in Charleston for 2013. Many think that his make-up and competitive nature on the mound could lead him to a reliever role later in his career, but for now he has been dominant as a starter in the South Atlantic League. He's only given up one Earned Run in 29 IP this season, and has a WHIP well under 1.0.
Humberto Arteaga, SS, Lexington Legends (KCR)
.138/.156/.138, 0 XBH, 17 K, 0 SB, 2 CS
Arteaga, from Caracas, Venezuela, came into the season ranked as the #20 prospect in the Royals organization on MLB.com, and had a chance to emerge as an 18 year old in full season A-ball. He has not done anything to increase his stock as a prospect, as he has been the worst everyday hitter in the South Atlantic League this season. Arteaga is hitting a measley .138 with no extra base hits and only two BBs, adding up to a pathetic OPS of .295. His defense has always been his plus tool, but in order to have any chance of making the big leagues Arteaga will need to hit better than he has this season.
Bubba Starling, OF, Lexington Legends (KCR)
.195/.263/.379, 4 HR, 4 2B, 32 K, 1 SB
Starling was the Royals golden child, drafted out of nearby Gardner, KS with the 5th overall pick in the 2011 draft, he has been considered one of the best talents in the minor leagues since. Despite showing major flashes of all five tools, Starling has been unable to put it all together, starting with an unspectacular debut season with Burlington in 2012, and continuing with his 2013 campaign in Lexington where his extremely high K-rate and low average have major causes for concern
Nomar Mazara, OF, Hickory Crawdads (TEX)
.172/.234/.322, 3 HR, 4 2B, 31 K, 13 RBI
Mazara has a strikingly similar line of stats to Starling, but perhaps there is a little bit less cause for concern with him because he is so much younger, having just celebrated his 18th birthday a few days ago. The Rangers invested a ton in the power hitting Mazara, who has failed to deliver so far. His main tool is his power, which profiles as exceptional as he continues to mature and grow into his body, but he will need to start hitting for a high enough average, and striking out much less, to ever be able to hone that power at the big league level.
Branden Kline, RHP, Delmarva Shorebirds (BAL)
1-2, 6.98 ERA, 19.1 IP, 11 BB, 12 K, 1.86 WHIP
Normally, as seen with guys like Chris Stratton, Martin Agosta, and Eddie Butler this season, highly touted college arms tend to dominate the South Atlantic League when they are assigned there. This has been far from the case for Branden Kline, the Orioles' 2nd Round pick in 2012 out of the University of Virginia. Opponents are hitting .321 off of Kline this season, and he has nearly as many walks as strike-outs. It's likely that the lack of success in a starting role, combined with his live fastball, will call for a transition to the bullpen quite soon. That being said, he was ranked #8 in the Orioles organization in terms of prospects to start 2013, and it is unlikely that he will main
Well, it's officially that time of year again. Sunday night was opening night in Major League Baseball, and Minor League rosters have been taking their forms all week. As MILB fans, this week marks a time where we all hope and pray that top prospect(s) and/or interesting big league veterans will be assigned to the MILB team in your area. Here's a list of some of the best cities to be a fan of a minor league baseball team this year. This is not necessarily a list of the best teams in MILB, but rather the teams with the most intriguing and exciting players to watch.
Team: Memphis Redbirds
MLB Organization: St. Louis Cardinals
Key Players: OF Oscar Taveras, RHP Michael Wacha, 2B Kolten Wong, SS Greg Garcia, OF Adron Chambers
Why Memphis?: The Cardinals have arguably the top farm system in baseball and much of it is due to their depth and talent level in the upper levels of their system. Obviously 20-year old Taveras is the biggest draw here, as he may be the best pure hitter in the minor leagues. Wacha, the Cardinals 1st Round pick in 2012, is one of the most under-appreciated pitching prospects in the game, with electric stuff and the ability to help the Cardinals this season. Lastly, the middle infield of Wong and Garcia are a talented duo who will be competing with the likes of Pete Kozma, Daniel Descalso, Matt Carpenter, and Ryan Jackson for big league playing time sooner rather than later. To top it off, as a special treat, Redbirds fans will get to see 3B David Freese this weekend, who is on a rehab assignment.
Team: Tacoma Rainiers
MLB Organization: Seattle Mariners
Key Players: LHP Danny Hultzen, C Mike Zunino, RHP James Paxton, 2B/SS Nick Franklin, 2B/3B Stefen Romero
Why Tacoma?: If the Cardinals aren't at the top of your list in terms of best farm system in baseball, it's most likely the Seattle Mariners. And again, like St. Louis, Seattle has much of their minor league talent in the upper levels, specifically AAA Tacoma. Hultzen and Paxton are two of four (Taijuan Walker, Brandon Maurer) outstanding pitching prospects that will most likely compete for big league rotation spots in 2014. Many have said Zunino has a chance to be the best power hitting catcher since Mike Piazza, while Romero (who will start the season on the DL), starts the season in AAA after being the organization's best bat in A and AA ball in 2012.
Round Rock, TX
Team: Round Rock Express
MLB Organization: Texas Rangers
Key Players: SS Jurickson Profar, 1B/3B Mike Olt, OF Engel Beltre, RHP Justin Grimm, 1B Chris McGuinness
Why Round Rock?: Clearly the main attraction in Round Rock this season is the consensus #1 prospect in baseball, 20-year old phenom Jurickson Profar. Profar should be in the big leagues sooner rather than later, but the talented youngster will get a chance to hone his skills in AAA after a quick stint as a September call-up in 2012. Olt, from UConn, is one of the better power hitting prospects in the game who also got a chance at the big league level in 2012.
Las Vegas, NV
Team: Las Vegas 51s
MLB Organization: New York Mets
Key Players: C Travis D'Arnaud, RHP Zack Wheeler, IF Wilmer Flores
Why Las Vegas?: First of all, unfortunately, probably the last thing on your bucket list of things to do in Vegas is to watch a minor league baseball game. That being said, any Las Vegas 51s fans out there have to be excited for the team's first year as an affiliate of the New York Mets. D'Arnaud returns to Las Vegas after being traded from the Blue Jays to the Mets, and is considered one of the top catching prospects in baseball. Wheeler has electric stuff, and should be joining Matt Harvey as a dynamic 1-2 punch in the Mets rotation before the all-star break.
Team: Bowie Baysox
MLB Organization: Baltimore Orioles
Key Players: RHP Dylan Bundy, RHP Kevin Gausman, OF Xavier Avery
Why Bowie?: The consensus top pitching prospect in the game is 20-year old Bundy, who completely dominated both levels of A-ball in 2012, before getting a quick September call-up. Gausman, the 4th overall pick in the 2012 draft out of LSU, is another one of the top pitching prospects in baseball. Both will start with the Bowie Baysox with every intention of being with the big league squad by the season's end. The Baysox also will have an outfield full of guys with big league experience, including Xavier Avery, who at 23 is still a prospect to watch in the Orioles organization.
Team: Portland Sea Dogs
MLB Organization: Boston Red Sox
Key Players: SS Xander Bogaerts, RHP Matt Barnes, RHP Daniel Bard, C Christian Vasquez
Why Portland?: A combination of two of the top prospects in the Red Sox organization, and an established veteran trying to work his way back to the big leagues, make the Sea Dogs a very interesting team to watch this year. Bogaerts is on many's Top 10 prospects in baseball list, with elite athleticism and raw talent. Barnes is also on most top prospect lists, and will join a rotation full of guys who could help the big league club soon including Brandon Workman, Anthony Ranaudo and Drake Britton. Finally, Daniel Bard will be appearing at Hadlock Field, at least for the early part of the season, in an effort to regain his dominant form from the 2010 Red Sox season.
Team: Chattanooga Lookouts
MLB Organization: Los Angeles Dodgers
Key Players: OF Yasiel Puig, OF Joc Peterson, RHP Zach Lee, LHP Chris Reed
Why Chattanooga?: One of the biggest stories in 2013 Spring Training was the dominance of Cuban OF prospect Yasiel Puig of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who was eventually optioned to Chattanooga to start the season. He will join another outstanding young hitter in the outfield with the underrated 20-year old Joc Peterson. To top it off, two of the more electric arms in the system (especially after dealing Allen Webster to the Red Sox), in Lee and Reed will be on the roster as well.
Team: Daytona Cubs
MLB Organization: Chicago Cubs
Key Players: OF Jorge Soler, SS Javier Baez, 2B Zeke DeVoss
Why Daytona?: While the Daytona Cubs aren't quite as deep with prospects as some of these other teams, they do have two of the most dynamic young players in all of minor league baseball in Baez and Soler. Soler, the No. 42 prospect in MLB for 2013, signed a massive major league contract with the Cubs in 2012 before impressing in the Arizona and Midwest Leagues. Baez, the 9th overall pick in the 2011 draft, is a talented bat at a premium position who was ranked the No. 16 prospect in baseball.
Cedar Rapids, IA
Team: Cedar Rapids Kernels
MLB Organization: Minnesota Twins
Key Players: OF Byron Buxton, LHP Mason Melotakis, RHP Hudson Boyd, 3B Travis Harrison, IF Jorge Polanco, OF Max Kepler (maybe??)
Why Cedar Rapids?: I admit, I expected this team to be much more loaded than it actually is, but due to the draw of Buxton it is still a place I would want to be as an MILB fan. Buxton is one of the highest upside prospects in baseball, and will be joined by other solid prospects in the lineup like Harrison, Polanco, and Adam Walker. Kepler, a German native who was awesome at Elizabethton in 2012, should join the team eventually after recovering from an elbow injury. The pitching staff isn't as strong as expected, with the notable omissions of RHPs from the 2012 draft Luke Bard and Jose Berrios, but Melotakis and Boyd are both decent prospects to watch.