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Urias and De Leon Look Close to the Big Leagues

Heading into the season, there were a lot of question marks about the Dodgers rotation, but so far, the team’s struggling offense and bullpen have received a big boost from a pitching staff led by Clayton Kershaw and Kenta Maeda; their starters currently rank fifth in WAR. Ross Stripling has been a nice early surprise for the team, and while Alex Wood‘s ERA remains too high, his underlying metrics suggest that he still can help the team. Scott Kazmir’s struggles are perhaps most worrisome, but if he can stop giving up home runs, he should be serviceable as well.

And if any of the big leaguers falter, there is help on the way. In the minors, Jose De Leon made his first start of the 2016 season on Tuesday, the delay being partly due to a minor ankle injury and also the product of an effort to keep his innings low in the early going. When de Leon’s debut came the day before Julio Urias’ most recent start, I decided to watch both via MILB.tv.

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Sean Manaea Comes to Oakland

As Susan Slusser with the San Francisco Chronicle reported on Wednesday, Sean Manaea will be called up to start Friday’s game in Oakland against Mike Fiers and the Houston Astros. Manaea made a decent case for making the rotation out of spring training, tallying 16 strikeouts in 14.1 innings, but the seven walks allowed over the same period gave the A’s enough reason to start him in Triple-A Nashville.

Across three starts in Nashville, he has been lights out on the mound. Only three runs have crossed the plate against him in 18 innings pitched, while 21 batters have struck out and just four have reached via free passes. That level of performance was enough for Oakland to feel comfortable bringing him up to the majors in lieu of a fourth appearance for the Sounds. But what can we expect from him out of this start, and (presumably) those going forward in an A’s uniform?

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Evaluating the 2016 Prospects: Washington Nationals

EVALUATING THE PROSPECTS 2016
Angels
Astros
Athletics
Blue Jays
Braves
Brewers
Cardinals
Cubs
Diamondbacks
Dodgers
Giants
Indians
Mariners
Marlins
Mets
Nationals
Orioles
Padres
Phillies
Pirates
Rangers
Rays
Red Sox
Reds
Rockies
Royals
Tigers
Twins
White Sox
Yankees

The Nationals have an extremely interesting system, highlighted by a handful of consensus big-upside prospects in Lucas Giolito, Trea Turner, Victor Robles, and Reynaldo Lopez. Though it doesn’t have the name recognition throughout that some of the top-rated teams have, this is one of the more exciting organizations to cover as a prospector (prospectator?). The Auburn and Hagerstown affiliates may end up being the most exciting groups to watch by mid-season.

In general, the Nationals seem to have found a niche bringing in a ton of underrated hit-tool-heavy guys that are hitting their stride at the same time. Expect a lot of turnover with this list by next year, as the top guys are due for full-time gigs in Washington, and the upside prospects start to separate themselves a bit more. If you could criticize any part of the system, there are a few less high-upside arms in the lower minors than many teams like to stockpile. In terms of total value, however, this group doesn’t have a problem stacking up against the rest of the league.

Following the top four are a sizable number of 50+ prospects who provide the big-league club with sufficient low-cost resources to hold them over until their talented crop of players in the lower levels have time to sort themselves out. Though I find myself lower on a few popular prospects like Pedro Severino, Juan Soto and Rafael Bautista, I am equally more enthusiastic than most on less established players like Telmito Agustin, Kelvin Gutierrez and Taylor Hearn.

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Evaluating the 2016 Prospects: Toronto Blue Jays

EVALUATING THE PROSPECTS 2016
Angels
Astros
Athletics
Blue Jays
Braves
Brewers
Cardinals
Cubs
Diamondbacks
Dodgers
Giants
Indians
Mariners
Marlins
Mets
Nationals
Orioles
Padres
Phillies
Pirates
Rangers
Rays
Red Sox
Reds
Rockies
Royals
Tigers
Twins
White Sox
Yankees

The top of the Blue Jays system saw an almost complete overhaul with the trades and promotions of the past year. It obviously has been for the best, as many of the organization’s first-year contributors played well last season — even if the minor leagues appear a little barren at a quick glance. Fortunately, the system remains filled with a lot of upside at the lower levels, and recent drafts have only helped to strengthen that depth, even if it is of the higher risk variety.

Anthony Alford is the only impact bat I see, with a few potentially useful position players in above the 45+ future-value line. Rowdy Tellez and Richard Urena both have upside with the bats, but each has enough question marks to keep them from being reliable prospects to project at the big-league level. I still like Max Pentecost‘s chances of becoming an average producer, though that possibility is very dependent on his ability to return to health.

The pitching side is a bit stronger at the moment, headlined by Conner Greene and Sean Reid-Foley. I like both of their chances of remaining starters and being solid contributors, and there are a slew of lower-level hurlers with interesting qualities that could jump up this list by next year.

The strength of this system may be in the 40+ FV players and those who are just off the list. That group is filled with tremendous raw athletes, bounceback candidates and recent draftees with moderate upsides. While those kinds of profiles are risky for counting on any one prospect, the sheer volume of guys they have in those categories bodes well for a couple of them putting things together and moving toward higher end of the list.

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Evaluating the 2016 Prospects: Texas Rangers

EVALUATING THE PROSPECTS 2016
Angels
Astros
Athletics
Blue Jays
Braves
Brewers
Cardinals
Cubs
Diamondbacks
Dodgers
Giants
Indians
Mariners
Marlins
Mets
Nationals
Orioles
Padres
Phillies
Pirates
Rangers
Rays
Red Sox
Reds
Rockies
Royals
Tigers
Twins
White Sox
Yankees

The Rangers have assembled a pretty amazing collection of talent, one that enabled them to participate actively in the trade market last season without mortgaging their long-term success. They have an impressive mix of offense and defense among their higher-end prospects, though the hitters in this system, particularly, give them one of the best offensive pipelines in the league. Not only have they continued to be aggressive on the international market, but they are making solid picks in the draft and seem to have figured something out as an organization when it comes to bringing athletic hitters along.

You’ll see mostly familiar names at the top of the list, though Joey Gallo‘s ongoing contact issues keep him from appearing ahead of some of the Rangers’ more well-rounded prospects like Lewis Brinson and Nomar Mazara. I’m really expecting big things out of Brinson’s bat, as his combination of present ability and future development is unparalleled by most minor-league hitters in the game. Luis Ortiz is a bit of an enigma for me, because projecting his stuff makes him look like a rotation front-man, but projecting his body may have him resembling a front man from a different discipline.

Perhaps the two biggest surprises are at number seven and eight, with Ronald Guzman and Ariel Jurado appearing higher than elsewhere. Jurado’s presence is mostly a function of my grouping prospects by likely outcome rather than ceiling, since his floor seems to be as a big-league starter. Guzman, however, is a hit-first first baseman who hasn’t shown enough power to be a legitimate future big leaguer, but I like enough about his swing and expected physical development to see more than just good upside.

It’s an exciting time to be a Rangers fan, since their somewhat surprising run at the postseason makes them more fun to watch in the immediate future, while their vast array of quality prospects gives them plenty of ammunition to supplement the team. Should they need more reinforcements beyond promoting their higher-level guys, they have enough quality depth to swing another big trade this season.

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Evaluating the 2016 Prospects: Tampa Bay Rays

EVALUATING THE PROSPECTS 2016
Angels
Astros
Athletics
Blue Jays
Braves
Brewers
Cardinals
Cubs
Diamondbacks
Dodgers
Giants
Indians
Mariners
Marlins
Mets
Nationals
Orioles
Padres
Phillies
Pirates
Rangers
Rays
Red Sox
Reds
Rockies
Royals
Tigers
Twins
White Sox
Yankees

The Rays system has considerable upside and depth throughout its minor-league levels. Reviewing the organization, I was particularly struck with how many pitchers I liked, including many whom I figured wouldn’t be able to stick as starting pitchers but would be very viable members of the bullpen. Indeed, most of their near-ready starting options are already in the majors or well on their way to becoming relievers. Blake Snell and Brent Honeywell give them a lot of upside while the club waits for some of their lower-level pitchers to develop.

Though I find that I’m less sold on many of the more popular bats, or at least those who are closer to the big leagues, there are a ton of options both as future regulars and as valuable role players who can succeed in situational exposure. Luckily, the Rays have been awesome at maximizing those types of assets, so even if more hitting prospects flame out, they have a strong pipeline to supplement the core at the major-league level.

On that note, I really like Kevin Padlo and Adrian Rondon as prospects who will take at least a few years to make it to the parent club. You’ll see I’m much less optimistic on Richie Shaffer and Casey Gillaspie despite their solid years in 2015. Shaffer’s power probably gets him a shot in the big leagues soon, but his lack of overall value makes him a fringe option in my opinion. Gillaspie could just be a case of hand-eye coordination and raw strength making up for unathletic moves, but I need to see him face better pitching before trusting his results more than what I see him doing with the bat, and he too has limited value elsewhere in his profile.

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Evaluating the 2016 Prospects: St. Louis Cardinals

EVALUATING THE PROSPECTS 2016
Angels
Astros
Athletics
Blue Jays
Braves
Brewers
Cardinals
Cubs
Diamondbacks
Dodgers
Giants
Indians
Mariners
Marlins
Mets
Nationals
Orioles
Padres
Phillies
Pirates
Rangers
Rays
Red Sox
Reds
Rockies
Royals
Tigers
Twins
White Sox
Yankees

The Cardinals certainly have tons of mid-level depth. If history continues to repeat itself, that means at least two above-average position players and a high-upside pitcher or two will pop up from the low minors this year, replenishing the lack of “impact” players at the high levels. They continue to target hitters with upside in the hit-tool department, trusting them to develop power or complement it with defensive or base-running value. On the pitching side, it’s like a broken record for a lot of the newer pitchers in the low levels: (Pitcher Name) came in throwing in the high-80s, and now comfortably sits in the low- to mid-90s with more physical projection left to realize.

No one will be excited by the prospects coming up through this system, but you’d be mistaken if you underestimate the player development model they have created in recent years. I had trouble putting a lot of the prospects I like in this system into the 50+ group for various reasons, but the Cardinals have one of the highest numbers of players just outside that line that could step forward this year with the right adjustments.

There are a number of players whom I rank lower than most in this organization, but in all honesty, there’s so much clustering in the middle of the list that it’s just semantics arguing over most of them. Feel free, anyway. Darren Seferina is my top pick for the Cardinals’ patented out-of-nowhere starting position player, with excellent hitting ability and base-running potential to go with potential above-average defense at second base. If you listen carefully, you’ll hear the boo birds gathering forces in the darkest corners of the internet as you read this.

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Evaluating the 2016 Prospects: Seattle Mariners

EVALUATING THE PROSPECTS 2016
Angels
Astros
Athletics
Blue Jays
Braves
Brewers
Cardinals
Cubs
Diamondbacks
Dodgers
Giants
Indians
Mariners
Marlins
Mets
Nationals
Orioles
Padres
Phillies
Pirates
Rangers
Rays
Red Sox
Reds
Rockies
Royals
Tigers
Twins
White Sox
Yankees

The Mariners organization won’t be confused for having one of the top farm systems in baseball, but the developments of the past year help bring some legitimate optimism for its future contributions to the big-league product. A number of low- and medium-level trades have bolstered the middle of the pack, with guys like Boog Powell and Nick Wells providing some high-floor, moderate-upside additions to a prospect pool that has seen better years.

On top of that, and maybe most excitingly, the 2015 draft class is already proving to be a kickstart for the organization. Though it’s way too early to anoint a lot of their fresh faces as sure big leaguers, it’s hard to have a better start than what they have put together so far. Drew Jackson and Braden Bishop were both known as excellent defenders, but it was their hitting performances that were the story of the post-draft months. Nick Neidert and Andrew Moore lead a list of 2015 draftees who are quality contenders for at least upper-minors success as pitchers, and both have a reasonable chance of eventually being starters for a major-league team.

The very recent success of the prospect class couldn’t come at a better time, when less recent high draft picks like Alex Jackson and Austin Wilson have seen their stocks plummet in a very short time. Jackson is particularly troubling for me: although you can still see similarities to the hitter he was before being in conversation for a first-overall pick, nearly everything has gone south for him statistically and physically. Though the player development and scouting staffs still have their work cut out for them, new management under Jerry Dipoto promises to at least add some fresh voices to the fold. If you buy into momentum, they have plenty of it heading into the 2016 season and this June’s draft.

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Evaluating the 2016 Prospects: San Francisco Giants

EVALUATING THE PROSPECTS 2016
Angels
Astros
Athletics
Blue Jays
Braves
Brewers
Cardinals
Cubs
Diamondbacks
Dodgers
Giants
Indians
Mariners
Marlins
Mets
Nationals
Orioles
Padres
Phillies
Pirates
Rangers
Rays
Red Sox
Reds
Rockies
Royals
Tigers
Twins
White Sox
Yankees

I’d say there are some surprises in the rankings here, but if you’ve been following the Giants’ player development successes the last few years, everything’s a surprise. They have found a niche that they have doubled down on in recent years of acquiring guys who are baseball players first and toolsy showcase darlings second, if at all. It’s hard to argue with anything they’ve done for a while now, as they continue to be a consistent winner despite changing expectations every season.

This system is really exciting for how many of the under-the-radar players I think can actually end up being solid major leaguers. Having Christian Arroyo as your top prospect isn’t exciting, but it becomes all the more gratifying if and when he becomes a major contributor to the parent club in a couple years. The same goes with a lot of the lesser-known pitchers who don’t have big velocity, yet are mowing right through the minor leagues on the way to a shot at cracking the Giants’ rotation. For evaluation’s sake, I really am intrigued by their collection of guys, both because of the collective thought that obviously went into its formation, and because I do genuinely like a good number of their chances going forward.

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Evaluating the 2016 Prospects: San Diego Padres

EVALUATING THE PROSPECTS 2016
Angels
Astros
Athletics
Blue Jays
Braves
Brewers
Cardinals
Cubs
Diamondbacks
Dodgers
Giants
Indians
Mariners
Marlins
Mets
Nationals
Orioles
Padres
Phillies
Pirates
Rangers
Rays
Red Sox
Reds
Rockies
Royals
Tigers
Twins
White Sox
Yankees

The Padres took something that was a tremendous weakness after last offseason’s trade and spending spree, and turned it into a system that can start feeding the next competitive team in San Diego. There isn’t a ton of depth or more than a few high-probability prospects, but there is some upside to which Padres fans can look forward. The Craig Kimbrel trade was a big win, almost enough to wipe away the flop that was the 2015 season (of course, not really).

Two of the prospects that came over in that trade jump right into the 50+ FV group. Everyone agrees Manuel Margot is a legitimate prospect, but I’m a little lower on Javier Guerra, and Carlos Asuaje for that matter. Logan Allen is actually the prospect I’m picking to be the second-best prospect coming out of that deal. Guerra’s power potential isn’t a sure thing in my view, while Allen has the potential to move very quickly despite having been a prep pick just last June.

After last year’s dramatic improvements, I’m buying high on Colin Rea, believing the pitch mix and excellent command keeps him in the rotation for the foreseeable future. Also on this list, I make the case for why Travis Jankowski shouldn’t be dismissed as a fourth outfielder yet, while also acknowledging how much risk there is in Ruddy Giron‘s future.

The depth of this system is really in the Quick Hits group. There were probably another 10-15 names I could justify putting there, but I wanted to stay focused on some of the more interesting ones. Their exclusion was less about not believing in their ceilings and more about an attempt to be concise about the prospects I wanted to highlight. It’s not as exciting of an area in which to possess depth, but there are quite a few players that could step up and appear on this list by midseason.

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Evaluating the 2016 Prospects: Pittsburgh Pirates

EVALUATING THE PROSPECTS 2016
Angels
Astros
Athletics
Blue Jays
Braves
Brewers
Cardinals
Cubs
Diamondbacks
Dodgers
Giants
Indians
Mariners
Marlins
Mets
Nationals
Orioles
Padres
Phillies
Pirates
Rangers
Rays
Red Sox
Reds
Rockies
Royals
Tigers
Twins
White Sox
Yankees

The Pirates have put together a stunning collection of players who possess strong hit-tool projections, sort of reminiscent of the strategy attributed to the Cardinals’ scouting and development heads in the last 5-10 years. Even just looking at the last three drafts, they have taken five hitters in the various first rounds – Kevin Newman, Ke’Bryan Hayes, Cole Tucker, Austin Meadows and Reese McGuire – and all but Tucker project for average-or-better hit tools as their likely future grades. In fairness, there’s a case to be made that Tucker deserves a 50 as well.

In recent years the Pirates’ player-development system has not been able to get the most out of many of their positional players’ power potentials, a trend that a number of their current prospects will have to hope changes course. You could throw pitcher injuries into the mix as well, but that may only be more apparent because of the dramatic focus on acquiring top-tier hitters over pitchers in the draft and international markets.

There shouldn’t be a ton of surprise rankings on this list, except for perhaps Reese McGuire. He looked like a totally different player in the Arizona Fall League, and it was substantial enough to buy into more of his offensive potential than I have before. Overall, this is just a solid system with plenty of front-line talent and a great mix of upside and floor filling out the next two tiers. It’s an exciting time to watch Pirates’ prospects.

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Evaluating the 2016 Prospects: Philadelphia Phillies

EVALUATING THE PROSPECTS 2016
Angels
Astros
Athletics
Blue Jays
Braves
Brewers
Cardinals
Cubs
Diamondbacks
Dodgers
Giants
Indians
Mariners
Marlins
Mets
Nationals
Orioles
Padres
Phillies
Pirates
Rangers
Rays
Red Sox
Reds
Rockies
Royals
Tigers
Twins
White Sox
Yankees

Since having committed to a full-scale rebuild, the Phillies have prepared themselves nicely for a more sustainable future. Right to the top of their prospect ranks went trade acquisitions Nick Williams, Mark Appel and Jake Thompson. Additionally, a number of second-tier players have given the organization the depth and upside it desperately needed after a few stagnant years with aging veterans. The main weakness of the minor-league group is its lack of immediate help for the rotation, with questions surrounding both Appel’s and Thompson’s viability as starters preventing them from being sure things. After that, there’s a lack of options until you get to the lower levels, where exciting younger pitchers like Franklyn Kilome look to take a step forward and challenge for upper-minors rotation spots.

There shouldn’t be a ton of surprises on this list. It looks like I’m a half-grade higher or lower on few guys than the consensus, but most of the guys after the 50+ group are fairly interchangeable. Medium-upside players at the lower levels of the system are plentiful, making the relative grades more a preference than anything.

Mark Appel‘s ranking may stir some discussion, as I make the case here why I don’t think we have a Gerrit Cole-esque breakout to which we can to look forward. It’s not so dire that I don’t think he’s a major league starter, but his ceiling grade is lower here than most are ready to admit.

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Evaluating the 2016 Prospects: Oakland Athletics

EVALUATING THE PROSPECTS 2016
Angels
Astros
Athletics
Blue Jays
Braves
Brewers
Cardinals
Cubs
Diamondbacks
Dodgers
Giants
Indians
Mariners
Marlins
Mets
Nationals
Orioles
Padres
Phillies
Pirates
Rangers
Rays
Red Sox
Reds
Rockies
Royals
Tigers
Twins
White Sox
Yankees

Billy Beane has been the master of the pseudo-rebuild for a long time now, replenishing the farm system while simultaneously improving or at least diversifying the big league roster. This past year has been more about subtraction from the minor league depth than addition, but internal development, a solid draft last June and some lesser moves have put the system in a better spot than it was last year. Translation: they have some more chips to play with come this July.

Though it is definitely in a better spot, it certainly isn’t without weakness. Besides Sean Manaea, there isn’t much immediate help for the big league rotation without dipping into some more of the command specialist-types that they have had to rely on the last few years, albeit with pretty good success. On the offensive side, Matt Olson, Chad Pinder and Renato Nunez are close to ready for their big league shots, as are guys like Joe Wendle and Matt Chapman, to a lesser extent impact-wise.

Recent drafts have been fairly successful keeping the pipeline operational, though the A’s have had an inordinate amount of pitchers dealing with injuries. Raul Alcantara, Dillon Overton and Bobby Wahl are all in the comeback stages of arm injuries, and young Chris Kohler is dealing with shoulder stiffness this spring. It may just be a product of their wheeling and dealing of anyone who is healthy, but it still bears watching over the next season or two to look for any patterns.

As for the surprise picks on the list, Manaea’s consistency issues drop him down a little bit for me, though I still like his potential in the rotation. Chad Pinder and Rangel Ravelo are both better hitters than most people seem to think in my opinion, while Matt Chapman and Ryon Healy have some things to prove before I’ll really buy into their offensive profiles. Seth Brown is an interesting upside prospect to watch, coming out of nowhere to hit a bunch of homers in college, getting drafted late and continuing to hit well in the low minors.

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Evaluating the 2016 Prospects: New York Yankees

EVALUATING THE PROSPECTS 2016
Angels
Astros
Athletics
Blue Jays
Braves
Brewers
Cardinals
Cubs
Diamondbacks
Dodgers
Giants
Indians
Mariners
Marlins
Mets
Nationals
Orioles
Padres
Phillies
Pirates
Rangers
Rays
Red Sox
Reds
Rockies
Royals
Tigers
Twins
White Sox
Yankees

The Yankees have enviable depth at multiple positions, though it’s their bullpen options that seem to continually be a strength for them each year. This particular group is full of many of them, to the point where it seems the Yankees have an affinity for pitchers with unique deliveries and arm actions. Besides Jorge Mateo being the consensus top prospect, there is a bit more risk in their collection of 50+ FV players than most organizations have, but they make up for any uncertainty with quantity of upside prospects from the next tiers. Perhaps the only real surprise ranking here is Domingo Acevedo taking the number two spot, though he seems to sit comfortably in the top 10 by most people’s standards. His combination of velocity, athleticism and control at a young age was too interesting to rank further down the list.

You’ll notice that many of the Yankees’ recent international signings are found in the Quick Hits section, with the exception of Wilkerman Garcia, Leonardo Molina and Hyo Jun Park. These three represent the prospects I feel have the best chance out of the gate to reach the major leagues, though that doesn’t mean they necessarily have the highest ceilings. Others like Dermis Garcia, Miguel Flames, Juan De Leon and Nelson Gomez all have sizable raw potential, but in terms of 50th percentile outcomes, they are a little too far away to count on just yet. Another year of professional competition will give us the information we need about their physical development and translation to skills.

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Evaluating the 2016 Prospects: Los Angeles Dodgers

Other clubs: Angels, Astros, Braves, Brewers, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Indians, Marlins, Mets, OriolesRedsRed Sox, Rockies, Royals, Tigers, Twins, White Sox.

You might not know it by listening to talk radio or television discussions about the club, but it’s an awesome time to be a Dodgers fan right now. They continue to use their financial might to bring in a plethora of international and domestic amateur prospects, then proceed to pawn off their international bonus slots for even more prospects. While they’ve gotten a lot of criticism for letting Zack Greinke go and not dishing out any of the bigger contracts this offseason, the reinforcements they have available in their minor-league system are at least a part of the reason why. Not only do they boast one of the deepest major-league rosters, they have ready-made replacements within a couple levels of their parent club, particularly on the pitching side. On top of that, they keep making shrewd mid-level trades and taking some of my favorite upside talents in the amateur draft. At every turn, their process has been consistent and on point.

You could make a case that they’re light on impact offensive prospects outside of the guys who’ll be starting the year in Los Angeles and first baseman Cody Bellinger, but they have enough depth in the next tier down. Outfielders Johan Mieses, Jacob Scavuzzo and Alex Verdugo are close in the outfield, while Willie Calhoun and hopefully a return to form by Micah Johnson give them options in the infield should multiple position players falter this year. Julio Urias and Jose De Leon are two of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball, and could handle a promotion in the near future if pressed into duty.

Austin Barnes and Trayce Thompson are in the 50+ FV group here, despite how Barnes is only the club’s second or third option at catcher, and Thompson’s reputation in recent years as a questionable bat who might not make it in the big leagues. Thompson is quicker to explain: I really like the changes he made to his swing and approach. No one ever denied the tools and overall athletic ability, and barring a step back for some reason, he’s positioned to develop into a legitimate starting option in the outfield.

Barnes is much farther out there compared to perception, I’m well aware. He’s not a big power guy, and he doesn’t have big arm strength, both tools that historically are typical of catching prospects. His atypical profile is probably why he didn’t get more of an opportunity in the Marlins organization. Perhaps it’s telling, however, that one of the smartest front offices in baseball targeted him. As a professional, all he’s done is hit, flirt with an on-base percentage over .400, steal some bases and be one of the best pitch framers in the minor leagues — for years now. He makes enough contact and has a good swing, so there’s no reason I can find that he won’t continue to do it against big-league pitching. I don’t see any reason to discount his receiving behind the plate. Watch a Dodgers spring-training game and you’ll quickly notice what makes him so special back there.

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Evaluating the 2016 Prospects: New York Mets

Other clubs: Angels, Astros, Braves, Brewers, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Indians, Marlins, OriolesRedsRed Sox, Rockies, Royals, Tigers, Twins, White Sox.

With the exception of Steven Matz, this Mets system is a bit short on pitching. That would be a problem if the club didn’t already have one of the best young pitching staffs in the game. Most of their impact bats will probably be coming from the low minors, Desmond Lindsay being the most likely exception. Amed Rosario‘s bat is still a few years away, but he’s the kind of talent where if/when things click he’s immediately a stud. Don’t sleep on their mid-level bats either, as guys like Dominic Smith, Eudor Garcia, Jhoan Urena and Wuilmer Becerra have quiet profiles that could erupt as they climb the next few levels.

The biggest strength of this group is its shortstop depth. Signing Gregory Guerrero and Andres Gimenez last year only added to an impressive group that will at least give the Mets some high-risk/high-reward trade chips should they need to add to another contender this year. The list goes on with Rosario, Milton Ramos, Luis Carpio, Luis Guillorme… making the defense at every level a nice crutch on which their young pitchers can lean.

The biggest surprises on this list have to start with Guerrero and Guillorme making their way into the top-10. Guerrero is unproven, but I think has the makings of one of the best swings in the system. Guillorme is good enough defensively he only needs to be a man with a bat at the plate to reach the big leagues. Brandon Nimmo is lower here than I have seen elsewhere, and I can’t deny he still has the potential to be an average MLB outfielder. I just don’t see his power showing up enough for his super patient approach to work against big-league pitchers with better command.

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Evaluating the 2016 Prospects: Milwaukee Brewers

Other clubs: Astros, Braves, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Indians, OriolesRedsRed Sox, Rockies, Royals, Tigers, Twins, White Sox.

Despite only recently being regarded one of the worst farm systems in the league, the Brewers now have a wealth of talent that can be used to build up the next winner in Milwaukee. They project to have solid pitching and outfield depth for the foreseeable future, while the immediate term will see a sizable influx of quality players hopefully gearing up to fill important roles on the next competitive Brewers team. It may be another year before they can really start expecting to take steps toward the playoffs, but the Brewers have quality depth if not true studs, which can breed a few surprise impact players.

Some of the more bold rankings in this massive system include a few lows and highs. I see Michael Reed as a legitimate starting outfielder whose power is an inevitability, hence he ranks more highly here than anywhere I’ve read. The organization is convinced his power will come around, as well. I also like Josh Hader and Isan Diaz‘s chances of reaching the 50-grade threshold. Rymer Liriano makes a surprise appearance in the 45 FV pod. The only thing I can say about it is maybe he won’t pan out, but there’s enough potential there that I don’t know how you essentially cut a guy like that…

Nathan Orf is a hustler who may not seem like much of a pure athlete, but his hit tool carries his value into this list for me. As for some lows, I recognize the potential value Jacob Nottingham and Gilbert Lara possess, but I just don’t have faith in either’s hit tool panning out in the long run. Lara is super young and Nottingham has his raw power, so neither is a lost cause, but I’m looking at it in terms of most likely outcomes.

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Evaluating the 2016 Prospects: Minnesota Twins

Other clubs: Astros, Braves, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Indians, Marlins, OriolesRedsRed Sox, Rockies, Royals, Tigers, White Sox.

The Twins have done a tremendous job of stockpiling minor-league talent, and currently deserve consideration for top farm system in the league. Even with Miguel Sano and Eddie Rosario graduating to the majors, this collection of players has a crazy diverse mix of floor and upside, polish and potential, offense and pitching… there aren’t many weaknesses you could find within it. The worst thing you could say is they don’t have many power bats in their upper minors, but the addition of Byung-ho Park and the rebound of Byron Buxton will limit issues stemming from a lack of immediate offensive help.

There are a few surprises here that you should notice. One is the inclusion of Park to this list, despite having played professionally in Korea. He’s still a relatively unknown quantity, and obviously he hasn’t exhausted his rookie eligibility, so here he is! If you disagree with the decision to include him, close your eyes and scroll past it, or enjoy the “free” content.

One high rank and one snub may bother some readers. LaMonte Wade had a nice half-season debut after being a relatively unknown college pick out of Maryland, but it came against Rookie-ball competition, where college players are supposed to do well. I like enough of what he brings to the table offensively and defensively to think he’s more than just a guy who was placed too low to start his career. Adam Brett Walker sits at the end of the 40+ FV group here, which was kind of a stretch if you take the likely future 35 hit tool grade literally. I just don’t see him making enough contact for his power to work, but I do recognize he could have a future as a platoon or bench bat with some improvements.

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Evaluating the 2016 Prospects: Miami Marlins

Other clubs: Angels, Astros, Braves, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Indians, OriolesRedsRed Sox, Rockies, Royals, Tigers, White Sox.

To start off, a brief programming note: I’m going out of alphabetical order here, as inside information trickles in at different rates. I’ll be jumping around to different teams as soon as I get a suitable amount of corroborating sources for each.

With regard to the Marlins, specifically, they don’t have a ton of impact offense waiting in the wings, but there is a plethora of pitching reinforcements — mostly in terms of depth but some with high ceilings — at all levels of the minors. It’s interesting to think about what this group will do in the next few years, having enough potential to turn out a number of surprise contributors but not enough blue-chippers to rank highly among the league’s best farm systems.

Tyler Kolek has struggled a bit as a professional, but his talent makes him the best prospect in the organization. It seems I’m the high guy on Chris Paddack, but his placement only sticks out here because of the lack of certainty among other prospects around him. There aren’t a ton of other surprises elswhere, with a reasonable argument to be made about anyone outside the top-four or -five guys to either be in the top 10 or at the bottom of the list.

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Evaluating the 2016 Prospects: Los Angeles Angels

Other clubs: Astros, Braves, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Indians, OriolesRedsRed Sox, Rockies, Royals, Tigers, White Sox.

Let’s get this out of the way up front: this is not a high-potential system. Joe Gatto sits at the top of these rankings because someone had to. That’s not meant to demean Gatto’s abilities, or anyone else’s in the Angels’ minor league pool, but it’s just a product of owner Arte Moreno’s and upper management’s decisions the last five years. Most of the top talent has been included in trades to bring in less volatile assets at the big league level. A lot of early picks have been given up to sign present-value free agents, and the draft philosophy has been mostly focused on safety rather than upside.

That said, the system isn’t designed terribly to the end of supplementing their strategy for the parent club. They get their stars from outside the organization, and they will be able to fill in the gaps with a lot of role players, upside bench bats and decent pitching depth that this group should be able to provide. So while, in a vacuum, the system may seem like a disappointment, it just puts a little more pressure on the front office to make sound major league signings and hold them over for a few acquisition seasons. Management deserves credit for bringing in some projectable talent in the last couple drafts, with many of them figuring to restock the upper levels of the minor leagues in due time.

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