The recent departures of Andrew Velazquez and Justin Williams in the trade for Hellickson did some serious damage to the upper half of our prospect list. The most glaring change since the late summer edition is my move of pitcher Aaron Blair to the top spot, would should engender some debate.
Blair earned my top spot due to his fast rise through several levels and consistently good performance at every step along the way. Of our big three pitching prospects that also includes Archie Bradley and Braden Shipley I just feel he is the most ready to contribute at the big league level and shows all the signs of being perhaps a #2 starter or at worst a good #3.
Shipley probably has better pure stuff than Blair and maybe a higher upside but he still needs to take another step forward to surpass what Blair has done. Bradley on the other hand has me officially worried about his future prospects. He missed a fair amount of time with an elbow injury in the first half of the year and his second half, while decent, wasn't exactly awe-inspiring, and he got hit pretty hard in the Arizona Fall League.
The #4 spot goes to Jake Lamb who looks ready to make a run at nailing down the full-time third base job. It remains to be seen if he can actually do that but his elite performance in the minors suggests he has a decent chance to do that. Touki Toussaint comes in at number 5, and while he started his professional career with a fair amount of wildness and struggled in Missoula, some strong off-season coaching and development should allow him to start harnessing his immense talent.
Brandon Drury gets the #6 spot and will keep the pressure on Lamb to perform or lose his future spot to the still relatively young Drury. Drury did get some work in at second base toward the end of the year and in the Fall League so the possibility exists that both he and Lamb could be future infield stalwarts.
Cody Reed showed impressive skills in his pro debut for such a young pitcher and could find himself moving even higher up the list in short order. I am extremely high on his ability and what he can become. Relievers Jake Barrett and Jimmie Sherfy show up at numbers 8 and 9 respectively. Both could find themselves in the major league bullpen as early as this season with Barrett being closer than Sherfy.
Peter O'Brien commands the 10th spot and while he certainly has the offensive potential to play in the big leagues finding him a position in the National League may prove to be a major challenge.
I'm uncertain how much true future major league talent resides on this list after the Top 10 though there are some very intriguing names who could make big leaps this year given their natural talent. Names like Marcus Wilson, Matt Railey, Jose Herrera and Sergio Alcantara represent the teenagers who will be watched closely for significant development in 2015. The second professional season is often when young players flash or fade to reveal their true future potential.
Injuries have derailed (or at best delayed) the development of a number of our prospects including Joe Munoz, Matt Railey, Andrew Barbosa, Colin Bray and Jose Martinez. If they can put in full healthy seasons they could find their names back into the Top 15 or so.
|1||Aaron Blair||RHP||Mobile||22||Close to being ready|
|2||Braden Shipley||RHP||Visalia||23||Needs another step forward|
|3||Archie Bradley||RHP||Mobile||22||Time to step up|
|4||Jake Lamb||3B||Mobile||24||Ready for full time gig?|
|5||Touki Toussaint||RHP||AZL||18||Big arm, learning how to "pitch"|
|6||Brandon Drury||3B||Visalia||21||Put up another solid season|
|7||Cody Reed||LHP||AZL||18||Flashed early potential|
|8||Jake Barrett||RHP||Reno||23||Ready for big league debut|
|9||Jimmie Sherfy||RHP||Mobile||22||Overcame bump in the road|
|10||Peter O'Brien||C||Mobile||24||Needs a position|
|11||Joe Munoz||3B||South Bend||20||Injuries stalled development|
|12||Marcus Wilson||OF||AZL||17||Had some first year struggles|
|13||Matt Railey||OF||Missoula||19||Only 13 games but flashed talent|
|14||Alex Glenn||OF||Visalia||23||Power plus speed but a little erratic|
|15||Andrew Chafin||LHP||Reno||24||Does he have one more step in him?|
|16||Socrates Brito||OF||Visalia||22||Parra clone with real speed|
|17||Matt Stites||RHP||Majors||24||Showed ability to get ML hitters out|
|18||Jose Herrera||C||AZL||17||Still very young. Had some moments|
|19||Sergio Alcantara||SS||Missoula||18||Bat still trailing glove|
|20||Nick Ahmed||SS||Majors||24||The bat is still a problem|
|21||Evan Marzilli||OF||Mobile||23||Bat needs another jump to make it|
|22||Jamie Westbrook||SS/2B||Missoula||19||Still developing|
|23||Mitch Haniger||OF||Mobile||23||Intriguing if he keeps improving|
|24||Jose Martinez||RHP||Hillsboro||20||Elbow injury has derailed|
|25||Anthony Banda||LHP||South Bend||21||Primed for next step|
|26||Grant Heyman||OF||Hillsboro||20||Looks like a professional hitter|
|27||Kevin Cron||1B||Missoula||21||Hit tool looking good so far|
|28||Brent Jones||RHP||Hillsboro||21||Decent start to career for 4th rounder|
|29||Daniel Palka||1B||South Bend||22||Good power, so-so contact|
|30||Matt McPhearson||OF||AZL||19||AZL repeat produced better results|
|31||Chuck Taylor||OF||South Bend||21||Decent season in South Bend|
|32||Trevor Mitsui||1B||South Bend||22||Came out hitting in first year|
|33||Zach Borenstein||OF||Mobile||24||Might be a hair shy for a ML LF|
|34||Sean Jamieson||SS||Mobile||25||Just keeps producing but age a factor|
|35||Brad Keller||RHP||Missoula||19||Had rough go in Missoula|
|36||Silvino Bracho||RHP||South Bend||22||Monster K/BB numbers|
|37||Cody Wheeler||LHP||Mobile||25||Breakout year in the bullpen|
|38||Stryker Trahan||C||South Bend||20||Took a step backwards in 2014|
|39||Henry Castillo||2B/3B||Missoula||19||Got to Missoula after tearing up AZL|
|40||A.J. Schugel||RHP||Mobile||25||Consistency a major issue|
|41||Kevin Munson||RHP||Reno||25||His turn is coming if consistent|
|42||Michael Perez||C||South Bend||22||Just a fair season. Stalling.|
|43||Jared Miller||LHP||Hillsboro||21||Big lefty started out okay|
|44||Daniel Gibson||LHP||Visalia||22||Up and down|
|45||Ismael Pena||OF||AZL||18||Bonus baby off to a slow start|
|46||Zac Curtis||LHP||Hillsboro||22||Dominating start in bullpen|
|47||Garrett Webber||INF||Reno||25||Solid upper minors guy|
|48||Blayne Weller||RHP||Visalia||24||Misses a lot of bats|
|49||Dane McFarland||OF||Missoula||20||Athletic OF lacks enough contact|
|50||Ben Eckels||RHP||Hillsboro||20||Settled down after failing in SB|
|51||Rudy Flores||1B||Visalia||23||Big power, big Ks|
|52||Felipe Perez||RHP||Missoula||20||Still not missing enough bats|
|53||Isan Diaz||SS/2B||AZL||18||Contact was a real problem|
|54||Andrew Barbosa||LHP||Visalia||26||Injury problems just won't end|
|55||Rodrigo Takahashi||RHP||AZL||17||Youngster had his moments|
|56||Blake Perry||RHP||South Bend||22||Solid year but time to move up|
|57||Tyler Humphreys||3B||Missoula||21||Not the best debut season|
|58||Colin Bray||OF||South Bend||21||Missed all year with injury|
|59||Brandon Jacobs||OF||Visalia||24||K rate was pretty ugly|
|60||Yefrey Ramirez||RHP||AZL||20||Has some upside|