Baseball America, generally regarded as the most authoritative media voice in minor league baseball, has just released its midseason update on their top 50 prospects list. Since their pre-season top 100 was released in February every organization has experienced their fare share of graduations, injuries, breakouts and busts, and the list looks a lot different than it once did.
Gone are the number two to four prospects in baseball: Xander Bogaerts, Oscar Taveras, and Masahiro Tanaka, all receiving the ultimate promotion in the first half of the season. Joining them are Gregory Polanco, Taijuan Walker, George Springer, Kevin Gausman, Nick Castellanos, Yordano Ventura, Jose Abreu, Andrew Heaney, Carlos Martinez, Rougned Odor, Billy Hamilton, and Jackie Bradley.
Still, other prospects missed the cut for less savory reasons. Injuries to Cubs prospects C.J. Edwards and Jorge Soler have expelled them from the 28th and 41st spot, respectively, to off the list entirely. For Soler, who just returned today after missing two months with a hamstring injury, his second of the season, this is back-to-back seasons in which he has missed significant time due to injury. This is Edwards’ first major bout with arm trouble but scouts have always doubted if his slender 155 lb frame will be able hold up to the rigors of starting. His extended stay on the disabled list for “fatigue” only grants credence to these notions.
Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez, meanwhile, fell from the 35th spot thanks to poor defense and what some scouts’ have called a lack of fire or work ethic. Giants’ starter Kyle Crick hasn’t been terrible (3.22 ERA), but his scarily erratic performance (6.1 BB/9!) dropped him off the list. With a an 8.91 ERA Houston starter Mark Appel has joined him, although BA’s JJ Cooper insisted the former first overall pick has came up only just short.
Enough with the busts and broken, the list also has its fare share of breakout starts.
20 year old Yankee lefthander Luis Severino has come out of nowhere to dominate the Sally and Florida State Leauges. He owns a 2.56 ERA on the season and the the 34th spot on BA’s list. From New York’s other team, Kevin Plawecki was ranked 40th overall. The former sandwich round pick has done nothing but get on base since he stepped on a professional diamond, with a .373 OBP over the course of his minor league career.
The Royals surprised a lot of people when they took Hunter Dozier with the 8th overall pick in last year’s draft. It was a money-saving mover, but the Royals are doubtless glad they made it. The solid bat, solid glove, third baseman is listed 39th, ahead of the three guys taken before him, and the six taken after.
Dalton Pompey is also a surprising new member, coming in at number 47. The agile 21 year old centerfielder has always had the tools, but its taken him until this season to channel them onto the field. In 79 games between High and Double-A, Pompey is hitting .297/.384/.441 with 31 stolen bases, seven triples and six home runs.
Overall the mid-season season rankings served to show just how strong the Cubs and Dodgers farm systems are. In Javier Baez, Kris Bryant and the newly acquired Addison Russell, Chicago has three of the top seven prospects in all of baseball. And that was after C.J. Edwards and Jorge Soler fell off the list. The Dodgers are teeming with almost as much potential; Julio Urias, Corey Seager, and Joc Pederson all made the cut.
The Twins meanwhile, have both upside and depth. With five prospects, Minnesota is the most represented team on the list and they have the game’s number one overall prospect, Byron Buxton. Despite missing almost the entirety of the season with injury, Buxton retained the distinction’s of the game’s top prospect, a testament to his immense all around talent.
Of course, the list does not include recent draftees, and it may look a bit different if it did. The big three starters taken at the top of the draft – Brady Aiken, Tyler Kolek, and Carlos Rodon – would all find their names here, as well as possibly Nick Gordon, Alex Jackson, Michael Conforto, and Aaron Nola.