The Top 27
The Top 27 Hitting and Pitching Prospects
you may not know, but you should!
Brock Stassi, 1B/OF (Phillies)
The Phillies got a great deal with the ever-improving Stassi, a 33rd round pick in 2011. In his second year with the Reading Fightin Phils (AA), the first baseman improved in every aspect of the game — batting .300/.394/.470 in 2015. He was also named the Eastern League’s Most Valuable Player for his great play. Look forward to see what Stassi has in store for the 2016 season.
John Andreoli, OF (Cubs)
Drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 17th round of the 2011 draft, Andreoli got his first look in Triple-A in 2015. In 106 games, he put up five home runs and 32 RBIs while hitting .277. Perhaps seen as a fourth outfielder on a Major League roster someday, Andreoli had put up solid numbers for the Tennessee Smokies (AA) in 2013, though he regressed with a .211 average in 2014. After picking up his production in 2015, look for Andreoli to continue to produce, and perhaps be considered for a Cubs’ call-up sometime in 2016.
Chase Jensen, Utility (Padres)
San Diego made a bold but safe pick in 2013 by selecting Jensen from Oklahoma City University. The pick has provided dividends for the organization already in his short career: 10 homers, 68 RBIs, 25 walks and a .228 average through 171 games. While he may never be known for his offensive power numbers, Jensen has the defensive tools to help him move up the Padres’ ranks and become a legitimate contender to make the team’s 40-man roster within the next couple of years.
Sebastian Elizalde, OF (Reds)
Elizalde signed with the Reds as an international free agent prior to the 2014 season after playing four seasons with the Monterrey Sultans (Sultanes de Monterrey) of the Mexican League. His .301 lifetime average with the Sultans has translated nicely to the American game — .270 between Dayton (A) and Bakersfield/Daytona (A+) with a .344 OBP, 57 2B, 26 HR and 148 RBI. Elizalde continues to make noise during the Mexican Winter League in preparation for the 2016 season, batting .297 (46-for-155 through 39 games) with four home runs and 17 RBIs.
Adam Engel, OF (White Sox)
Engel capped his 2015 season with a stellar six-week performance for the Glendale Desert Dogs in MLB’s Arizona Fall League. The White Sox’s No. 17 prospect led the circuit with a .403 batting average and topped the charts in OPS (1.165), OBP (.523) and slugging (.642). The former Louisville Cardinal standout uses his plus-plus speed on the basepaths — 65 stolen bases for the Winston-Salem Dash in 2015 — and in the outfield, allowing him to post a .985 fielding percentage in three Minor League seasons.
Jeff McNeil, IF (Mets)
Already three years into his professional career and McNeil, the No. 30 ranked prospect in the Mets organization, continues to better himself from the previous year. Valued as a highly-skilled defensive asset, McNeil batted .329 with 17 walks and only 14 strikeouts during his rookie season in 2013. The following year he hit .332 with the Savannah Sand Gnats (A) before his promotion to the St. Lucie Mets (A+) in the Florida State League. Through 58 games, McNeil ended the season with a .246 average, a mark he destroyed in his second go around in the FSL, batting .312 in 2015 before a promotion to join the Binghamton Mets (AA). If McNeil continues to study the game and make himself better on a yearly basis, he should be seen playing with the Las Vegas 51s (AAA) in 2016.
Luke Voit, 1B (Cardinals)
Drafted in the 22nd round in 2013 by the St. Louis Cardinals, Voit has shown early power with the State College Spikes (A-) and the Palm Beach Cardinals (A+). The 24-year-old first baseman has increased his home run totals each year, posting 11 in 2015 (9 HR, 2014) along with a spike in RBIs with 77 (51, 2014). His patience at the plate also increased with 63 walks compared to 32 and 21 in previous seasons. Voit was named the Florida State League’s Player of the Month for August and was a mid-season All-Star, having led the Cardinals across the board in at-bats (300), batting average (.273), OBP (.360), slugging (.405), OPS (.765), hits (126), walks (63), triples (5), home runs (11), runs (52) and RBIs (77).
Collin Radack, OF (Cardinals)
The Florida State League is often considered to be a pitcher’s league — Radack must not have gotten the memo. The Hendrix College (AR) alumnus finished the season with a .285 average with 27 walks and 13 extra-base hits in 70 games. In his first two seasons of professional baseball, Radack has followed through on one of his biggest goals: “I’m not trying to be a good minor-league hitter, I’m trying to be a good major-league hitter,” Radack told the StL Sports Page back in May 2015.
Braxton Lee, OF (Rays)
Lee continues to make an impression in the Rays’ outfield, earning the organization’s Minor League Defensive Player of the Year award for his efforts in 2015. His second professional season was spent with the Charlotte Stone Crabs (A+), where he appeared in 115 games, finishing with a team-leading .281 average and 23 stolen bases. Lee was one of the most consistent gloves on the team, committing only three errors in 113 starts in centerfield (.988 in 329 chances) leading to his postseason award from his parent club. 2016 should be another great year for Lee as he continues to make his way through the Minor League system.
Alex Swim, Util. (Twins)
Swim was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 22nd round of the 2013 MLB Draft. A lack of power has slowed Swim down from climbing up the ranks in the Twins’ organization. However, over the last two seasons he has driven in 69 runs and 22 doubles while holding a career split of .307/.351/.354. This is a player you must know about as he may very well be a surprise in 2016.
L.B. Dantzler, 1B/OF (Blue Jays)
Dantzler was a 14th round selection by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2013 draft. In 2015, he played the most games of his professional career with 98 games for the Dunedin Blue Jays (A+) of the Florida State League. He hit .251 with five home runs and 45 runs driven in. Considered a hitter with good ability at the plate, Dantzler is also praised for his defensive ability, having made the move from third to first base. 2014 was his first season in the FSL and he looks to continue his progression in 2016 and beyond.
Luke Tendler, OF (Rangers)
Tendler, an outfielder drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 29th round of the 2014 draft, was an All-Star for the Spokane Indians (A-) in his first season and again in 2015 with the Hickory Crawdads (A). The selection to the South Atlantic League’s summer classic came after hitting .262 with 15 home runs and 73 RBIs. While Tendler is eager to progress through the ranks, his time will come sooner rather than later as long as he keeps producing.
Ben Carhart, C/IF (Cubs)
Carhart has seen his share of ups and downs since being drafted in 2012, spending the majority of his four seasons in the High-A Florida State and Carolina Leagues. However, 2015 was a good year for the 25-year-old catcher/infielder who slugged seven home runs in only 44 games, his highest total since joining the professional circuit. Carhart was named the Carolina League’s Player of the Week (8/17-23) when he hit .500 with 3 HR, 8 RBIs, 4 R, 2 BB in only four games. Carhart will likely start 2016 with the Tennessee Smokies (AA) which will be a nice break from the pitcher-dominant FSL.
Ryan O’Hearn, 1B/OF (Royals)
After leading the Pioneer League in most offensive power categories and claiming the league’s Most Valuable Player award in 2014, O’Hearn split time between the Lexington Legends (A) and Wilmington Blue Rocks (A+) in 2015. He smashed 27 home runs in only 127 games (HR/4.7 games) and drove in 77 RBI all with a .263 average. The Royals like the power numbers as long as they come consistently — 2016 should be a clear indicator on whether O’Hearn has what it takes to reach the next level for the World Champion Royals.
J.P. Sportman, OF (Athletics)
John Paul Sportman, a 27th round (2013) pick of the Oakland Athletics out of Central Connecticut, is an All-Star center fielder that was plagued by injury during the 2015 season. In only 45 games, Sportman put up good numbers (.298/.345/.421) while playing solid defense for the Stockton Ports. After helping the Midland RockHounds win the 2015 Texas League Championship, Sportman’s stock continues to rise heading into the 2016 season.
Joey Hawkins, IF (Cardinals)
While Hawkins may not swing a big stick, he does wield a big glove. As one of the best defensive fielders in the game, arguably comparable to a Nick Punto or Maicer Izturis-type of player, Hawkins belongs to an organization well-known for developing their players. The Team-Canada alumnus batted .141 between the Gulf Coast (Rk) and Appalachian Leagues (Rk), a lack of production Hawkins hadn’t suffered since his freshman season at Missouri State. With a year’s worth of professional experience under his belt, Hawkins will take a firm approach to the 2016 season to improve the offensive half of his game.
Trevor Mitsui, 1B (Diamondbacks)
The 6’5″ Mistui burst onto the scenes after his 2014 draft selection, proving the Diamondbacks had scored a potential gem late in the 30th round. His rookie campaign with the Missoula Osprey (.330, 12 HR, 52 RBIs, .932 OPS) earned him a late-season promotion to join the South Bend Silver Hawks (A). 2015 proved to be a troublesome season for Mitsui, batting only .237 in 69 games for the Northwest League Champion Hillsboro Hops. However, his SO/BB ratio decreased from nearly 3.81 to 1.81, an improvement certainly needed to find success at the higher levels.
Erich Weiss, 2B (Pirates)
Weiss, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ 11th round (2013) selection out of Texas University, is a standout second baseman and the son of former Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Gary Weiss. An All-Star selection in each of his first three seasons, Erich was also an MiLB.com Organization All-Star in 2014. Weiss finished his 2015 season with the Altoona Curve after a promotion from the Bradenton Marauders, where he batted .285/.362/.366.
Zack Zehner, OF (Yankees)
After being drafted by the New York Yankees in 2015 from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Zehner was assigned to play for the Staten Island Yankees (A-). The left fielder had a rough year in the New York-Penn League (NYPL), batting just .232. The good thing about his hits was that he made them count when he got them, holding a 60% RBI rate. Zehner also had a decent defensive year, committing only four errors towards a .957 fielding percentage. One thing to consider is that a player’s first season is usually played in a rookie league, whereas Zehner was thrown into the NYPL. If he can pump up his batting average and improve on his OBP, he should get some immediate attention from the Yankees.
Dominic Ficociello, 1B (Tigers)
Drafted twice by the Detroit Tigers (2010 and 2013), Ficociello ended the 2015 season as the organization’s top first base prospect (No. 28 overall) according to MLB.com. Where he lacked in power numbers, Ficociello made up with a .293 batting average over a combined 128 games with the Lakeland Flying Tigers (A+) and the Erie SeaWolves (AA). Ficociello helped the 2015 Scottsdale Scorpions in their quest for the Arizona Fall League championship, hitting .247 with 12 RBI in 19 games.
Christopher McFarland, 2B (Brewers)
McFarland has lived up to the expectations of being an every day hitter, batting .275 over his four-year Minor League career, including .274 in 2015. The young second baseman has advanced only two levels since being drafted in 2011, but it’s not because of his bat. His .951 fielding percentage may be holding him back slightly, but at only 22-years of age, he knows exactly where he needs to improve. Watch for Chris to become an all-around talent in 2016 as he hones in on his full potential.
Justin Bohn, IF (Marlins)
Since finishing the 2014 season with an appearance in the Arizona Fall League, where he batted .328 in 17 contests, Bohn’s average took a slight dive in 2015 between playing time with the Jupiter Hammerheads (A+) and Jacksonville Suns (AA). The positive note — experience, and a lot of it. Bohn played 118 games between the two Marlins’ affiliates, hitting .241 with 12 doubles, four home runs, 34 runs batted in and 40 runs scored of his own. Bohn is still young at 22-years old which works well for having played at the Double-A level already. That experience and knowledge combined with an offseason and Spring Training should work well for Bohn as he prepares for the 2016 season.
Patrick Mazeika, C/1B (Mets)
Mazeika, a Stetson University (FL) product, was drafted by the New York Mets in 2015 and came out of the gate swinging. He debuted with the Kingsport Mets (Rk) and finished the season with a .354 average and .991 OPS. He has a clean swing and very good plate discipline, striking out just 26 times in 226 at-bats. Mazeika won an MiLB.com Player of the Month award for his play in August and received Postseason All-Star honors during Kingsport’s run to the Appalachian League Finals. Good offensive catchers (Mazeika committed only one defensive error in 2015 earning a .996 fielding percentage) are a hot commodity in baseball, given that there have been very few in the Majors over the last 15 years. If Mazeika transitions to the higher levels of the Minors with similar offensive number, we will be seeing him in Citi Field sooner rather than later.
Nellie Rodriguez, 1B (Indians)
Selected by the Cleveland Indians in the 15th round of the 2012 draft, Rodriguez continues his climb up the ladder. He was the winner of the California/Carolina League Home Run Derby in Rancho Cucamonga, CA this past summer. Playing most of the year with the Lynchburg Hillcats, the All-Star first baseman batted .275/.357/.495 in 108 games before being promoted to the Akron RubberDucks.
Carlos Franco, 3B (Braves)
Consistent is a word that describes Franco’s performance over the past three seasons in which he has tallied a minimum of 104 hits, 20 or more doubles and exactly 54 runs scored in each of the past three seasons. His 2015 season with the Carolina Mudcats (A+) was his best at any level — hitting .254/.347/.403 with 11 HR, 62 RBI, 30 2B and 66 BB since joining the Braves organization in 2009. Franco swung a hot stick in the month of June going 30-for-98 (.306) with four homers, 16 RBIs, eight 2B and two 3B, providing a look at the true consistency he could provide the organization.
Chase McDonald, 1B (Astros)
McDonald, a 12th round pick out of East Carolina University by the Houston Astros in 2013, is a power first baseman in his own right. The Houston farmhand blasted 30 home runs during the 2015 season for the Lancaster JetHawks while batting .279/.358/.592 in 105 games. With a cut like his, look forward to more McDonald homers in the seasons to come.
Eric Aguilera, 1B/OF (Angels)
A 2013 senior sign out of Illinois State, Aguilera has steadily been on the rise over the past three summers. The 6’2″ Illinois native posted team-highs with a .327 batting average, 94 RBIs, 17 home runs, 151 hits and 38 doubles with Inland Empire (A+) before a late-season call-up to join the Arkansas Travelers (AA). Aguilera earned the opportunity to showcase his talent in the 2015 Arizona Fall League with a focus on his SO/BB ratio. His 2.34 SO/BB ratio improved to 1.50 with the help of Mesa Solar Sox’s hitting coaches.