Impact Prospect Ranking: Center-fielders

I began the year at RotoGraphs by producing a semi-regularly-updated Top 25 prospects list. For the second half of the year and into the offseason, I’ll be rotating expanded Top 10, 12 or 15 lists (on a far more regular basis) by position: C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, LF/RF, CF, RHSP (tier 1), RHSP (tier 2), LHSP. Whether you play traditional formats of fantasy baseball or dynasty/keeper styles (or you’re just a prospect nut like me), you’ll surely find these lists indispensable. You can read the Impact Catchers, the Impact First Basemen, the Impact Second Basemen, the Impact Third Basemen, the Impact Shortstops and the Impact Corner Outfielders.

 

#1 Byron Buxton | Twins | ETA: 2015 (OF)


Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA
20 137 29 4 4 10 36 6 .234 .307 .395 .326

August 21 Notes: It’s been an ugly, lost season for Buxton, who entered the season as not only the best center-fielder in the game, but also the best prospect overall. His season will end after just 31 games thanks to an ugly outfield collision that led to a concussion for the young outfielder. Despite the setbacks, don’t be shocked to see Buxton in the Majors in the second half of 2015.

 

#2 Joc Pederson | Dodgers | ETA: 2015 (OF)


Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA
22 503 122 14 30 88 135 28 .299 .426 .574 .432

August 21 Notes: Pederson doesn’t ooze tools and athleticism like some of the other names on this list but he’s having arguably the best offensive season of any minor league center-fielder. With 30 home runs and 28 steals, he’s closing in on a rare .300-30-30 (AVG-HR-SB) season. Toss in 85 walks in 110 games and you have a very impressive offensive attack — even with 133 strikeouts. 

 

#3 David Dahl | Rockies | ETA: 2017 (OF)


Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA
20 503 141 39 12 26 83 20 .300 .337 .494 .370

August 21 Notes: Prior to the 2014 season, I took an aggressive stance on Dahl and ranked him as the 38th best prospect in baseball and higher than any of the top three prospect ranking publications — MLB.com, Baseball America, and ESPN.com (Keith Law). He rewarded me for that faith with an excellent season, especially given his lost development time due to injuries. Dahl, 20, has shown raw power, solid defence and solid base running with 20 steals in 24 attempts. He may have a few 20-20 seasons in his future.  

 

#4 Albert Almora | Cubs | ETA: 2016 (OF)


Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA
20 483 126 25 8 14 61 6 .273 .296 .392 .313

August 21 Notes: Almora’s best tool is probably his glove but he also shows flashes of potential at the plate. However, his value is currently impacted by his overly-aggressive nature. He’s walked just 14 times in 113 games this season and a .298 on-base average is not going to cut it at the Major League level. Just 20, he has plenty of time to make adjustments and his promotion to Double-A was somewhat questionable.

 

#5 Dalton Pompey | Blue Jays | ETA: 2015 (OF)


Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA
21 444 121 17 9 49 74 37 .312 .391 .472 .394

August 21 Notes: Pompey is a rare offensive prospect in the upper levels (ie. AAA and AA) of the Jays system. What the system lacks in quantity, though, it makes up in quality with this 21-year-old Canadian. He could eventually develop into a four-tool player with the lone modest tool being his power tool. With Colby Rasmus a free agent at the end of the year, look for Anthony Gose to fill the void until Pompey is ready.

 

#6 Clint Frazier | Indians | ETA: 2017 (OF)


Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA
19 486 113 15 12 51 145 10 .265 .346 .407 .348

August 21 Notes: The Midwest League isn’t the easiest place to stick out from an offensive standpoint. Even so, he’s shown flashes of the talent that made him a highly-sought-after commodity.  He’s shown some patience at the plate with 51 walks in 107 games but he’s also struck out 144 times. Frazier, 19, will likely move to a corner outfield spot down the line so he’ll need to see his raw power continue to develop into over-the-fence pop if he’s going to be a true impact player. 

 

#7 Austin Meadows | Pirates | ETA: 2017 (OF)


Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA
19 145 40 10 2 13 24 0 .305 .372 .443 .377

August 21 Notes: Like Frazier, Meadows was a 2013 first round pick. Injuries kept the 19-year-old Georgia native on the sidelines during the early going but he’s been swinging the bat well since joining the Pirates’ affiliate in Low-A ball. He’s currently hitting .310 with a little gap pop in 28 games. The Pirates have a surplus of talented, young outfielders — both in the Majors and the minors.

 

#8 Billy McKinney | Cubs | ETA: 2016 (OF)


Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA
19 498 113 23 11 56 90 5 .265 .353 .415 .347

August 21 Notes: McKinney was one of the players acquired by Chicago from Oakland in the Samardzija/Hammel deal. The former first rounder was struggling in High-A ball for the A’s but his bat has picked up significantly since the trade and currently boasts a triple-slash line of .313/.401/.440 in 39 games. He’s another player that’s likely to eventually move to a corner spot so keep an eye on his future over-the-fence pop.

 

#9 Teoscar Hernandez | Astros | ETA: 2016 (OF)


Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA
21 507 128 34 20 50 139 31 .290 .365 .544 .392

August 21 Notes: Hernandez isn’t the most recognizable name on this list but it just goes to show how deep the Astros system is when a player like this doesn’t get much attention. The 21-year-old Dominican native produced a .925 OPS in the hitter’s haven also known as Lancaster (High-A ball) but he’s continued to swing a hot stick (11 games) since moving up to Double-A. He’s now produced 63 extra base hits on the year in 107 games (including 20 homers) while also swiping 31 bags in 39 tries.

 

#10 Tyrone Taylor | Brewers | ETA: 2016 (OF)


Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA
20 518 134 36 6 33 51 21 .283 .331 .409 .340

August 21 Notes: Taylor is a young, toolsy player who continues to shed his “raw label” with back-to-back solid offensive seasons. The 20-year-old prospect could eventually develop into a 15-15 or 20-20 threat once his gap power (36 doubles) develops more loft. Milwaukee’s system gets knocked for lacking quality prospects but don’t overlook Taylor.




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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospect analysis. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.


10 Responses to “Impact Prospect Ranking: Center-fielders”

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  1. Yirmiyahu says:

    Where art Mookie Betts?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. Alex says:

    shortstops link is broken…

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  3. Mike Trout says:

    I think I’m better than Buxton.

    (I assume that should read “It’s been an ugly, lost season for Buxton, who entered the season as not only the best CF PROSPECT in the game, but also the best prospect overall.)

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. Jason says:

    Roman Quinn is missing…

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. Bren says:

    Brandon Nimmo would seem a pretty big snub here…

    Vote -1 Vote +1

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