So, we're nearly 1/3 of the way through the season, and although some of these guys aren't even playing in games yet, I'm getting the itch. It's time to make a list.
Note: Rankings, grades, and analysis are that of my own opinion, based on various sources, video, scouting reports, performance, and while I don't personally have any scouting experience or credentials, I have seen at least a handful of these guys play with my own two eyes, for what that's worth.
1) Zack Wheeler (A): One of the things I was most looking forward to this season was the opportunity to see this kid pitch in Binghamton, and I was not at all disappointed. His fastball has so much life, and his breaking ball (I saw it as more of a curve) can be devastating. He's tearing through the Eastern League and his command is coming along. He should be in AAA before long, and I really don't think a September call-up is out of the question. I liked Wheeler a lot preseason, and his stock is rising fast as one of the
better best pitching prospects in all of baseball.
2. Matt Harvey (A-): Got off to a rough start in AAA, but has made adjustments as he did in AA, and he has been better lately than his statistics will tell you. He still needs to refine his command and secondary pitches some more, and will have to take his game to the next level to earn his callup. I'm going somewhat aggressive in predicting him to join the big club before September.
3. Wilmer Flores (B+): Amazing what two months can do. Wilmer is finally breaking out with the bat, during his third tour of the Florida State League. At age 20/21, he is still relatively young for the league and his performance can not be written off. If there is one complaint about his offensive game it's that he doesn't walk much; however with his superior contact ability I am less concerned about him as opposed to some other prospects. He should make his way to AA at some point soon.
4. Brandon Nimmo (B+): I'm only dreaming on him as of now, as he hasn't played in any games yet. I am optimistic, however, and anxiously await for the NY/Penn League to get under way, as he is likely ticketed for Brooklyn, where I can't wait to see him in person.
5. Jenrry Mejia (B+): The simple fact that he is once again pitching has his seen stock rise. The results have been decent thus far in his rehab, and regardless of any rumblings of him re-joining the MLB bullpen, he figures to get an extended look as a part of the AAA rotation.
6. Jeurys Familia (B / B-): Has heen his stock fall considerably as he has struggled mightily in AAA, as he is walking far too many (BB/9 over 7) and allowing too many hits. He's a project again.
7. Matt den Dekker (B- / B): really didn't see this coming. I was down on MDD coming into the season, and simply put, I was wrong. He's maintained a solid walk rate around 8%, while cutting his strikeout rate. He still strikes out a tad too much, and at age 24/25 he's an older prospect, but his .306/.373/.513 line through more than 200 PAs deserves recognition. His performance with the bat at AA, combined with his superior play at a premium defensive position, sees him burst in the top 10.
8. Jordany Valdespin (B-): There's alot of things I don't like about 'spin. He has made improvements to his K and BB rates in AAA but he could still stand to walk more. Or just stop swinging at everything. He has the talent to be an above average player up the middle, be it at short (where I would like to see him play), second, or even in center field. I saw Jordany in AA last year and came away with the impression that he had the tools to be successful at the SS position, but lacked discipline. To this day, I don't understand why he isn't playing short on a regular basis. He has the athleticism, (potential) range, and a strong arm... I don't know. I just feel like he's being groomed as a super utility guy, but he has made improvements to his game, and I don't think he's reached his peak, which could be a star (not superstar) level player at 4, 6, or 8.
9. Micheal Fulmer (B-): Some might argue that Tapia is the better prospect, and he probably has more upside, but Fulmer is already further along with his secondary offerings, and it's not particularly close.
10. Domingo Tapia (B-): Armed with a fastball that even Zack Wheeler can be envious of, but not much else, his tremendous upside and performance to date sees him round out the top ten.
11. Aderlin Rodriguez (B-): Another guy I was low on coming into the season, he's currently boasting a walk rate over 10%, and not striking out at an outrageous clip, though his contact ability still needs a lot of refinement (and it goes beyond just striking out less) but he is improving, and as the prospect with the best raw power in the system, he sits just outside the top ten, where at the moment of this write up, I feel I'm overrating him a little, but I'm done tooling around with the rankings for now.
12. Elvin Ramirez (B-): Boy, am I glad he's back with us, as he has been dominant, allowing 4.2 H/9 and 2.8 BB/9, while striking out over 30% of the batters he faces over 25.2 innings split between AA and AAA. He should be helping the lolpen in Queens sooner, rather than later.
13. Rafeal Montero (B-): Probably doesn't have the elite ceiling of some of the other arms in the system, but has superior command of a low 90s fastball, and some feel for a change. Haven't seen or heard of him having much of a breaking ball yet, which will be key in his development as he moves up.
14. Cory Mazzoni (B-): You would certainly like to see him missing more bats, but he has been effective, to date.
15. Jefry Marte (B-): I feel like I was higher on him than most coming into the season, but even I didn't see this coming. Only a month and a half older than Wilmer Flores, and hitting .306/.371/.419 in AA. He displays good contact ability, a decent walk rate, and some pop. I see him sort of as a Wilmer Flores lite, though his stock is way up.
16. Phil Evans (C+): Yet to play in any games, will likely join Nimmo in Brooklyn.
17. Cesar Puello (C+): One of my biggest fallers since preseason, I still love his tools, but he hasn't done anything yet to suggest a breakthrough, and recently landed on the DL with a broken hamate bone. He'll likely miss at least a couple months.
18. Juan Lagares (C+): He's not hitting .350, but he is walking more, and has been heating up a bit after a sluggish start to the season. His power numbers are down, but I'm not concerned yet.
19. Akeel Morris (C+): The fact that he's not pitching in Savannah has him ticketed for a return to Brooklyn as he looks to refine his command.
20. Wilfredo Tovar (C+): Slick fielding SS is hitting a bit in St. Lucie. He has virtually no power, but is showing some on base ability, and reports say he is better than Tejada defensively. And I like Tejada's play at short.
Darin Gorski: Was lower on him coming into the season than nearly everyone, and his performance to date has done nothing to change my opinion of him.
Josh Edgin: Isn't ready yet for the big club, and I honestly wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't join the team until September.
Cory Vaughn: The power numbers are nice, but he isn't making enough contact. Often compared to his father, Gregg, but is far behind in terms of development.
Reese Havens: The injury bug and the fact that he hasn't hit a lick has him falling significantly on my list. At least he's getting on base?
Logan Verrett: Was impressive through his first three starts, currently sidelined with a strained shoulder.