Ray Butler’s 2017 Midseason Top 100 MLB Prospects

Written by: Ray Butler (@CoachRayButler)

Follow prospects-365.com on Twitter: @Prospects365

It’s been a long time coming.

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you spend too much time thinking/worrying about baseball prospects. Heck, it took a month of tinkering and adjusting before I finalized the rankings you’re about to read. As an industry, we really should form some sort of help group.

Before you dive in, allow me to inform you of a couple of things: No player taken in the 2017 MLB Draft is ranked below. They’ll probably be included in my end of the season update. Within these rankings, I attempted to think both in terms of what advanced stats/scouting reports say about an individual player and how an individual player projects from a fantasy baseball standpoint. That combination of thinking led me to rank these prospects in the fashion that I did.

If you keep that in mind, I don’t see how anyone in this entire world could possibly disagree with any part of these rankings (wink).

Without further ado…. here’s the latest edition of my top 100 MLB prospect rankings:

Rank    Pos.      Name, Team                       Age at End of 2017

1          SS/2B   Brendan Rodgers, COL                    21


2          2B/3B   Yoan Moncada, CHW                      22


3          SS        Amed Rosario, NYM                         22


4          3B/SS   Gleyber Torres, NYY                        21


5          OF       Eloy Jimenez, CHC                            21


Thoughts on 1-5: We’ll never be afraid to go against the grain here at Prospects 365, and I hope that’s evident by my pick as top prospect. Look, Moncada has the chance to be a special player, without question. He also as a chance to be a super frustrating player that never reaches his full potential because of his jaw-dropping strikeout rate. Rodgers being ranked first isn’t a knock on Moncada; it’s high-praise for Rodgers. He’ll always benefit from playing in hitter-friendly environments in the minor leagues, but Rodgers has all the makings of an absolute stud. I’m hopeful that Tommy John surgery doesn’t derail Torres’ projection. I had him ranked second before the injury news was publicized. There’s a chance that Rosario is a better real-life player than fantasy contributor, but a .300 AVG, 10 HR, 15 SB shortstop will still be lovely. Jimenez has some of the rawest power at any level of the minor leagues, but some scouts believe he’ll also develop into a .300 hitter too.


6          3B        Rafael Devers, BOS                           21


7          OF       Ronald Acuna, ATL                           20


8          OF       Victor Robles, WAS                           20


9          3B        Vladimir Guerrero Jr, TOR             18


10        OF       Lewis Brinson, MIL                          23


Thoughts on 6-10: These five are just as solid as the first five. What we’ve seen from Brinson in the big leagues so far is the rock-bottom floor. Don’t let a small sample derail your confidence in him. Devers’ power is developing just as scouts thought it would; he’s got .300, 30 HR potential. I’ve never been shy about my thoughts on Acuna. He’s scuffling a bit in AA at the moment, but he should be a 20 year old big leaguer next season. Robles is progressing nicely, and he has more speed than his 2017 stolen base numbers would suggest. Vlad Jr. has hall-of-fame potential, period. The power will develop with age, but the hit tool is about as advanced as it gets for his age.


11        OF       Clint Frazier, NYY                               23


12        3B        Nick Senzel, CIN                                  22


13        OF       Kyle Tucker, HOU                                20


14        OF       Austin Meadows, PIT                           22


15        P          Alex Reyes, STL                                   23


Thoughts on 11-15: I had Reyes ranked in the top five of my preseason rankings before news broke of him needing Tommy John surgery. His stuff will help him maintain top prospect status, and I think we’ll see him in the bullpen in 2018 before he returns to starting in 2019. This time next season, Tucker’s MLB floor could very well be 20 HR, 10 SB. There’s also a chance he’s traded at the deadline. Where exactly does Frazier fit in the Yankees’ current outfield? That’s really the only thing keeping him in AAA. Senzel should compete for an everyday spot in the Reds lineup next season, though I wish the power had played a little more so far in 2017. If the Pirates decide to sell at the deadline (McCutchen’s trade value is suddenly beginning to bounce back), Meadows will finish the year in Pittsburgh. I’m concerned with his ability to reach base enough for his 20 SB potential to play.


16        P          Michael Kopech, CHW                         21


17        C          Francisco Mejia, CLE                            22


18        P          Brent Honeywell, TB                            22


19        SS/2B   Ozzie Albies, ATL                                20


20        P          Triston McKenzie, CLE                        20


Thoughts on 16-20: McKenzie’s stuff is so pure, and he’s struck out 91 batters in 71.1 IP despite lacking premium velocity. I think he has 96-97 mph potential as he continues to fill out, so imagine what those strikeout numbers would look like. Kopech is learning how to pitch this season, and the development of his off-speed will be absolutely crucial in him reaching his ridiculous ceiling. Albies will be a .300 AVG, 25 SB guy that will hit just enough home runs to keep you happy. It’s only a matter of time before we see Honeywell, but Jacob Faria and Blake Snell make the timeline a little fuzzier than it should be. Mejia is one of my favorite prospects; he might also be the safest prospect on this list. Also, it may be nothing, but Mejia’s stolen a handful of bases in AA so far this season.


21        OF       Corey Ray, MIL                                    23


22        OF       Kyle Lewis, SEA                                  22


23        1B        Dominic Smith, NYM                          22


24        P          A.J. Puk, OAK                                     22


25        P          Mitch Keller, PIT                                  21


Thoughts on 21-25: I feel like Ray and Lewis will progress throughout the minor leagues together, even to the point where one name becomes synonymous with the other. Both got a late start to the season thanks to injuries. Ray’s ceiling may be higher, but the high K-Rate so far this season is something to keep an eye on. Puk is a big riser thanks to exhibiting better command than expected. I don’t think he gets a look this season, but he should compete for a rotation spot in 2018. Dom Smith is ripping Vegas a new one; he’s got .300 AVG, 20 HR potential. We haven’t seen enough of Keller this season thanks to a long stint on the DL, so a strong second half will be key in him maintaining top 25 prospect status.


26        C          Carson Kelly, STL                                23


27        OF       Alex Verdugo, LAD                              21


28        P          Francis Martes, HOU                            22


29        P          Josh Hader, MIL                                   23


30        P          Jay Groome, BOS                                 19


Thoughts on 26-30: Kelly has quietly put together a strong first half of the 2017 season. I think there’s a strong chance he gets moved in a deadline deal. Verdugo would probably be in the big leagues if he played for a lot of teams not named the Dodgers. Let’s hope he flashes more power at some point this season to go with the lovely OBP. Like Corey Ray and Kyle Lewis, I’ll always associate Francis Martes to Josh Hader in the world of prospects. I think both have a chance to eventually end up in the bullpen, but they’ll get plenty of chances to thrive as starting pitchers first. Groome has been on the shelf for most of the first half of the 2017 season, but he’ll have a chance to move up quite a bit before next year’s preseason rankings.


31        OF       Blake Rutherford, NYY                         20


32        P          Kolby Allard, ATL                                20


33        P          Anderson Espinoza, SD                         19


34        SS/2B   Franklin Barreto, OAK                          21


35        P          Yadier Alvarez, LAD                            21


Thoughts on 31-35: I worry that Allard’s frame could eventually hinder his workload over a full season with no reins, but it’s hard to question what he’s done this season in AA. He could potentially be a #2. I’m worried about Espinoza and his elbow. We’ll see him before too long, but there will be rightful caution from here on out when projecting his floor and ceiling. The K% and BB% are concerning for Barreto seeing as he’s so close to the big leagues, but he still projects as a solid middle infielder. Alvarez has an FIP and xFIP that’s nearly a run and a half lower than his ERA, and he’s striking out more than a batter per inning. Reports I’ve read seem to indicate that Alvarez has been completely unable to locate any pitch other than his fastball, so that’ll be the next step in his long progression. The ceiling remains incredibly high (a top end #2 for me). Rutherford has a ton of developing left to do, but I’m a strong believer that the plus-athlete will soon develop into an five-tool terror.


36        OF       Luis Robert, CHW                                20


37        1B        Rhys Hoskins, PHI                                24


38        P          Reynaldo Lopez, CHW                          23


39        OF       Juan Soto, WAS                                   19


40        P          David Paulino, HOU                             23


Thoughts on 36-40: Soto would have probably been even higher on this list had he not been sidelined relatively early in the regular season. He’ll be back soon, and he’s freakin’ legit. The industry (myself included) was late on Hoskins, but the undeniable truth is that he’s raked at every level he’s been at. Only a matter of time before he dethrones Tommy Joseph in Philadelphia. After a long, long layoff, Robert is back to playing competitive baseball. He’ll have some rust, but the tools certainly seem to be there. The numbers aren’t overly amazing for Lopez so far this season in AAA, but he’s developing as a pitcher and I think he’ll be a fixture in the White Sox’ rotation as early as Opening Day next season. Like a couple of other guys on this list, Paulino may be moved if the Astros trade for an ace at the deadline. He’s struggled so far in the big leagues, but the ceiling is still that of a #3.


41        P          Sean Newcomb, ATL                            24


42        SS        Kevin Maitan, ATL                              17


43        P          Luke Weaver, STL                                24


44        OF       Leody Taveras, TEX                             19


45        P          Lucas Giolito, CHW                             23


Thoughts on 41-45: What we’ve seen from Newcomb in the big leagues so far is fairly close to his ceiling. He’ll likely regress a bit, but depending on how the command develops, he can be a legit #2. Personally, I thought Weaver was close to being called up before an injury. No timetable has been announced. Taveras hasn’t found his way on base as much as he’d like, but he’s shown a surprising amount of power and will always be a sure-bet to steal bases. Maitan is such a wild card at this point, but we’ll finally get a decent look during the second half of the regular season. Maitan’s ceiling is “a face of the game” at this point. Giolito shouldn’t be ranked as the top 10 prospect he was once universally considered, but he has shown some positive signs as of late. He’s a hold-and-wait guy for me.


46        2B/SS   Nick Gordon, MIN                                22


47        OF       Raimel Tapia, COL                               23


48        P          Walker Buehler, LAD                           23


49        P          Cal Quantrill, SD                                  22


50        SS        Fernando Tatis Jr., SD                          18


Thoughts on 46-50: It’s nearly a consensus amongst the people I trust in the world of prospects: Quantrill has the stuff to someday be a #2. He should end the season in AA. Gordon isn’t the same player as his brother Dee, but he has potential to someday be a better overall player. Like Quantrill, Buehler has the ceiling of a #2. I think there’s an outside shot he ends the regular season as a key piece in the Dodgers’ bullpen (this would be a temporary move to help monitor his innings, he’s a starting pitcher in the long-term). Tapia may be more hit tool than power tool, but he should thrive in Denver once he sees everyday playing time. I’ve seen some scouts give Tatis Jr. a 65 or 70 grade future. The most popular comp amongst those guys? Manny Machado.


51        P          Mike Soroka, ATL                                20


52        SS        Willy Adames, TB                                22


53        OF       Derek Fisher, HOU                               24


54        SS        J.P. Crawford, PHI                                22


55        P          Yohander Mendez, TEX                        22


Thoughts on 51-55: Adames has made some adjustments at the plate, and I think he’ll have a huge second-half that could eventually lead to him being called up to Tampa Bay. How much longer can we be patient with Crawford? He’s another half-season of poor offensive performance away from being at the bottom or completely off of top 100 prospect lists. Fisher has benefited from the friendly hitter confines of the PCL, but his tools will still play just fine once he’s in Houston (or traded) for good. I’ve always been a big fan of Mendez, and I’ve heard some positive reports about the progression of his changeup. He should be promoted soon. What Soroka and teammate Kolby Allard have done in AA as teenagers has been nothing short of remarkable. I’m hoping Soroka gains some fastball velocity as he continues to mature.


56        OF       Tyler O’Neill, SEA                                23


57        OF       Mickey Moniak, PHI                             19


58        2B/SS   Luis Urias, SD                                      20


59        1B/OF  Jake Bauers, TB                                    22


60        P          Dylan Cease, CHC                                22


Thoughts on 56-60: There may be no larger contrast in all the minor leagues than how analysts and scouts view Urias. If the differing opinions meet in the middle, Urias will easily be an above-average middle infielder at the big league level. O’Neill showed some holes in his swing during the WBC, and it carried over to the first half of the regular season. The power potential is great enough to demand patience, though, so let’s hold our horses instead of jumping ship. Moniak struck out way too much early in the season, but he’s seemingly steadied the ship since then. There’s some risk that he’ll be in real life than the world of fantasy baseball, but he’ll be a valuable player regardless. Bauers is an athletic first baseman, and I think he’ll eventually be a 20 HR hitter. He’s also stolen nine bases so far in AAA. I’m thinking Cease will be promoted to High-A soon, and he should be a top 50 prospect before the start of the 2018 regular season.


61        OF       Anthony Alford, TOR                           23


62        P          Jose De Leon, TB                                 25


63        2B/OF Willie Calhoun, LAD                            23


64        2B/SS   Isan Diaz, MIL                                     21


65        P          Franklin Perez, HOU                             20


Thoughts on 61-65: The great Willie Calhoun: Outfielder experiment has officially begun, which means he may make his MLB debut sooner than expected. Alford’s early-season promotion to Toronto shows how much confidence the organization has in his ability; I’m hopeful he’ll show no ill-effects once he returns from injury. Perez will be one of the main topics of discussion in any trade talks the Astros have before the deadline, and the talent is undeniable. I’m a big fan. Diaz’s batting average is rough (as is the strikeout rate), but the BABIP is due to positively regress, so I’ll evaluate in September before panicking. I’m not buying any stock in De Leon right now. The drop in velocity and overall performance are concerning (to say the least), but he has the pedigree to eventually rebound.


66        P          Adrian Morejon, SD                              18


67        C          Zack Collins, CHW                               22


68        P          Chance Adams, NYY                            23


69        P          Thomas Szapucki, NYM                       21


70        2B/SS   Mauricio Dubon, MIL                           23


Thoughts on 66-70: Remember the hype surrounding Jorge Mateo prior to the 2016 season? I think Dubon will be everything we hoped Mateo would be. He’ll steal 30 bases in the big leagues without breaking a sweat, and he’ll hit more than enough to be a top-of-the-lineup guy. A lot of scouts who have seen Morejon think he’ll be better than fellow Padres farmhands Anderson Espinoza or Cal Quantrill; we just need to see it on the field first before becoming too giddy. Collins has improved as a defensive catcher, and I think there’s now some genuine belief that he’ll stick at the position. He will be much more valuable in an OBP league than an AVG league. Adams should be sporting pinstripes before the end of the 2017 season, and he should eventually be a solid middle-of-the-rotation guy. Szapucki’s beautiful strikeout rate in 2016 hasn’t materialized since returning from injury this season, but I’m willing to be patient and evaluate more closely in September. He should get promoted to High-A relatively soon.


71        OF       Harrison Bader, STL                             23


72        P          Jack Flaherty, STL                                22


73        P          Brandon Woodruff, MIL                       24


74        2B/SS   Bo Bichette. TOR                                 19


75        P          Sean Reid-Foley, TOR                          22


Thoughts on 71-75: Reid-Foley is an innings-eater that is currently striking out over a batter per inning in AA. The FIP and xFIP both suggest that his 5.33 ERA isn’t as bad as it seems. Woodruff’s numbers in 2017 aren’t worth writing home about until you consider he’s been pitching in Colorado Springs. He’s developed into a pitching prospect that has a chance to be a solid #3. Bichette has been absolutely ridiculous alongside VGJ in Low-A, but I’m extremely interested to see how his unorthodox swing holds up against better competition. The past few seasons, the Cardinals have had a farm-arm to breakthrough and become a mainstay on prospect lists. This year it’s been Flaherty, whose numbers haven’t suffered too much since being promoted to AAA. BAEder has put together a solid first half in AAA; I think he’s a sneaky bet to steal ten or more bases each season as a big leaguer.


76        P          Ian Anderson, ATL                               19


77        P          Stephen Gonsalves, MIN                       23


78        P          Erick Fedde, WAS                                24


79        SP        Sixto Sanchez, PHI                               19


80        P          Justus Sheffield, NYY                          21


Thoughts on 76-80: He doesn’t get the publicity because he’s only in Low-A, but out of all the quality arms the Braves have in their farm system, Anderson might be the best. Fedde will be promoted to D.C. as a reliever within the next month or two. Sadly, I think there’s a chance he stays there. Sanchez is a triple-digit flamethrower, and I think the odds are at least decent that he’s the Phillies top prospect this time next season. Gonsalves’ 2017 campaign got off to a late start, but early returns suggest he’s the same top-of-the-rotation prospect he was projected to be at the start of the season. Sheffield hasn’t been quite as good as the peripherals suggest (2.99 ERA, 4.06 FIP, 3.91 xFIP, 7.65 K/9), but I’m going to see how the second half shakes out before worrying too much.


81        P          Matt Manning, DET                             19


82        2B        Shedric Long, CIN                                22


83        P          Luis Ortiz, MIL                                     22


84        1B/2B/3B         Ryan McMahon, COL               23


85        OF       Christin Stewart, DET                          24


Thoughts on 81-85: I was skeptical of Long’s power coming into the 2017 season; I am skeptical no more. He could be a top 50 prospect heading into next season if everything breaks right. Ortiz has been fantastic so far, and he’ll be next in line once Josh Hader and Brandon Woodruff are up for good. Manning just got started in Short Season A ball, but he’s got potential to be a #2. If the Tigers sell at the deadline, Stewart’s path to the big leagues should become crystal clear. Despite the power profile, the mediocre batting average will always limit his ceiling a bit. After a disappointing 2016 campaign, McMahon has been everything we ever hoped he would be this season. He’s seen time at three different defensive positions, and that versatility will hope him get on the field once he’s in Denver.


86        P          Luis Castillo, CIN                                 25


87        P          Tyler Mahle, CIN                                  23


88        C          Chance Sisco, BAL                               22


89        P          Riley Pint, COL                                                20


90        1B        Ronald Guzman, TEX                           23


Thoughts on 86-90: I’m a gigantic fan of Ronald Guzman; I think he’ll be a player that will hit for more power in the big leagues than he ever did while on the farm. That’s good news when you consider he should be a .300 hitter. Castillo just got called up to make his big league debut, and Mahle shouldn’t be too far behind him. Thanks to Castillo’s devastating changeup and Mahle’s velocity increase, both have front-end stuff. Sisco will always be a high-average hitter, but he’s never hit more than 6 homeruns in any professional season, which will always limit his ceiling if it continues to hold true. Pint’s been extremely confusing to me as a professional so far. A 70 grade fastball should be striking out more than 6.4 batters per nine innings regardless of how bad the command is. Hopefully that improves soon.


91        P          Max Fried, ATL                                    23


92        1B        Bobby Bradley, CLE                             21


93        OF       Dustin Fowler, NYY                             23


94        OF       Jesus Sanchez, TB                                20


95        2B        Scott Kingery, PHI                               23


Thoughts on 91-95: I was all-in on Fried before the season, but he’s had a rough go of it in the first half. A couple of scouts I’ve talked to still prefer his arm to that of Soroka and Allard. Kingery has been a huge riser thanks to an incredible first half; I’m skeptical he’ll ever hit more than 20 HRs in the big leagues, but that number paired with a .300 AVG (which is realistic for him) makes him an extremely valuable asset at second base. Bradley’s contact rate has improved this season, but the power has gone down. I’m interested to see what he does in the second half of the season. Fowler’s fantastic first half has his stock on the rise, but where does he fit in a crowded Yankees outfield with Clint Frazier ready for a promotion as well? The reports on Sanchez this season have been gaudy; he’s got some loud tools with some projection still remaining.


96        OF       Jesse Winker, CIN                                24


97        C          Jorge Alfaro, PHI                                  24


98        SS/OF  Lourdes Gurriel Jr., TOR                       24


99        OF       Taylor Trammell, CIN                           20


100       P          Domingo Acevedo, NYY                      23


Thoughts on 96-100: Acevedo is currently playing in his third level of the season, and I wouldn’t be too surprised if he gets a shot in the Bronx before the end of the season. We keep waiting and waiting on Alfaro to get a shot and finally stick in the big leagues, but the truth is that his bat really hasn’t warranted a move being made by the Phillies. Winker will be a better real-life player than fantasy player, but I’m hopeful he eventually recaptures some of the power that you would think a 6’3, 215 lb. player would have. Trammell is a freak athlete that is still maturing physically. If his power continues to develop… oh boy. There are some incredibly savvy people that think Lourdes Gurriel Jr. will be an absolute star, but injury has kept him from flashing much of anything so far this season.

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Credit for featured image goes to milb.com.

One comment

  1. We think too similarly with so many of these prospects…I guess it’s not a coincidence I joined to write for this site before I had even read anything.

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