Bernie on the Scene: My Top 15 NL Prospects

Bernie on the Scene: My Top 15 NL Prospects

This article is part of our Bernie on the Scene series.

This week, I will offer my top-15 National League Prospect Rankings.

These rankings are based upon players who have played at Double-A at some point in their careers.

Note: There are a host of young prospects in the National League, just as in the American League who would be ranked higher in my list if they had reached a higher level in their development.

However, I am restricting my ranking to those players with a significant enough track record to be of consequence in evaluating actual performance results more than upside and potential.

One additional thought: To me, there are far more high-quality prospects knocking on the major league door in the American League than the National League.

For me, this top 15 will be totally different next year, when more young players have increased their experience levels beyond Double-A.

1. CJ Abrams, Padres

Shortstop/First Base
6-2, 185 
Bats Left
Age 21
2019 1st-Round Pick (No. 6 overall) 

Tools:
Hit: 60
Power: 50
Run: 80 Arm: 55
Defense: 60

2021 at Double-A:
.296/.363/.420/.782 in 183 plate appearances
3 home runs, 22 RBIs, 40 runs scored, 14 stolen bases/6 caught stealing  

In a word: Electric

2. Brennen Davis, Cubs

Outfield
6-4, 210 
Bats Right
Age 22
2018 2nd-Round Pick

Tools:
Hitting: 55
Power: 55
Run: 60
Arm: 55
Defense: 55

2021 at High-A, Double-A, Triple-A :
.260/.375/.494/.869 in 416 plate appearances
19 homers, 53 RBIs, 66 runs scored, 8 stolen bases/4 caught stealing

In a word: Underperforming

3. Hunter

This week, I will offer my top-15 National League Prospect Rankings.

These rankings are based upon players who have played at Double-A at some point in their careers.

Note: There are a host of young prospects in the National League, just as in the American League who would be ranked higher in my list if they had reached a higher level in their development.

However, I am restricting my ranking to those players with a significant enough track record to be of consequence in evaluating actual performance results more than upside and potential.

One additional thought: To me, there are far more high-quality prospects knocking on the major league door in the American League than the National League.

For me, this top 15 will be totally different next year, when more young players have increased their experience levels beyond Double-A.

1. CJ Abrams, Padres

Shortstop/First Base
6-2, 185 
Bats Left
Age 21
2019 1st-Round Pick (No. 6 overall) 

Tools:
Hit: 60
Power: 50
Run: 80 Arm: 55
Defense: 60

2021 at Double-A:
.296/.363/.420/.782 in 183 plate appearances
3 home runs, 22 RBIs, 40 runs scored, 14 stolen bases/6 caught stealing  

In a word: Electric

2. Brennen Davis, Cubs

Outfield
6-4, 210 
Bats Right
Age 22
2018 2nd-Round Pick

Tools:
Hitting: 55
Power: 55
Run: 60
Arm: 55
Defense: 55

2021 at High-A, Double-A, Triple-A :
.260/.375/.494/.869 in 416 plate appearances
19 homers, 53 RBIs, 66 runs scored, 8 stolen bases/4 caught stealing

In a word: Underperforming

3. Hunter Greene, Reds

Right-Handed Pitcher
6-5, 230
Age 22
2017 1st-round Pick (No. 2 overall)

Tools:
Fastball (98-100): 80
Slider: 55
Changeup: 55
Cutter: 50
Command: 55
Control: 55

2021 at Double-A, Triple-A:
10-8, 106.1 innings, 21 starts, 3.30 ERA, 1.17 WHIP

In a word: Blazing
 

4. Nolan Gorman, Cardinals

Third Base/First Base
6-1, 210
Bats Left
Age 21
2018 1st-Round Pick (No. 18 overall)

Tools: 
Hit: 50
Power: 60
Run: 45
Arm: 60
Defense: 50

2021 at Double-A, Triple-A:
.279/.333/.481/.814 in 523 plate appearances
25 homers, 75 RBIs, 71 runs scored, 7 stolen bases/1 caught stealing

In a word: Strong

5. Edward Cabrera, Marlins

Right-Handed Pitcher
6-5, 217
Age 23
International Free Agent from Dominican Republic

Tools:
Fastball: (94-97) 65
Slider: 60
Changeup: 55
Command: 50
Control: 50

2021 at Class-A, Double-A, Triple-A:
3-4, 61.1 innings, 13 starts, 2.93 ERA, 1.14 WHIP

2021 at Miami:
0-3, 26.1 innings, 7 starts, 5.81 ERA, 1.63 WHIP

In a word: Shell-shocked

6. Alek Thomas, Diamondbacks

Outfield
5-11, 175
Bats Left
Age 21
2018 2nd-Round Pick

Tools: 
Hit: 60
Power: 50
Run: 60
Arm: 45
Defense: 60

2021 at Double-A, Triple-A:
.313/.394/.559/.953
18 homers, 59 RBIs, 86 runs scored, 13 stolen bases/9 caught stealing

In a word: Underrated
 

7. Max Meyer, Marlins 

Left-Handed Pitcher/Outfield (scouted as pitcher only)
6-0, 196
Bats Left
Age 22
2020 1st-Round Pick (No. 3 overall)

Tools:
Fastball: (94-97)-65
Slider: 70
Changeup:55
Command: 55
Control: 50

2021 at Double-A, Triple-A:
6-4, 111 innings, 22 starts, 2.27 ERA, 1.18 WHIP

In a word: Solid
 

8. Oneil Cruz, Pirates

Shortstop/Third Base
6-7, 210
Bats Left
Age 23
International Free Agent from Dominican Republic 

Tools:
Hit: 55
Power: 60
Run: 55
Arm: 70
Defense: 50

2021 at Double-A, Triple-A:
.310/.375/.594/.970 in 302 plate appearances
17 homers, 47 RBIs, 62 runs, 19 stolen bases/3 caught stealing

2021 at Pittsburgh:
.333/.333/.667/.1.00 in 9 plate appearances

In a word: Huge

9. Matthew Liberatore, Cardinals

Left-Handed Pitcher
6-4, 200
Age 22
2018 1st-Round Pick (No. 16 overall)  by Rays, Traded to Cardinals

Tools:
Fastball: (95-96): 60
Curveball: 60
Slider: 50
Changeup: 55

In a word: Stuff

10. Cade Cavalli, Nationals

Right-Handed Pitcher
6-4, 230
Age 23
2020 1st-Round Pick (No. 22 overall)

Tools:
Fastball: (mid-90s to 99): 65
Curveball: 60
Slider: 60
Changeup: 55
Command: 50
Control: 50

2021 at High-A, Double-A, Triple-A:
7-9, 123.1 innings, 24 starts, 3.36 ERA, 1.26 WHIP 

In a word: Ascending

11. Nick Lodolo, Reds

Left-Handed Pitcher
6-6, 205
Age 24
2019 1st-Round (No. 7 overall)

Tools: 
Fastball (94-95) 55
Slider: 55
Changeup: 55
Control: 60
Command: 55

2021 at Double-A, Triple-A:
2-2, 50.2 innings, 13 starts, 2.31 ERA, 0.96 WHIP

In a word: Deceptive

12. Brett Baty, Mets

Third Base/Outfield
6-3, 210
Bats Left
Age 22
2019 1st-Round Pick (No. 12 overall)

Tools:
Hit: 55
Power: 55
Run: 45
Arm: 60
Defense: 50

2021 at High-A, Double-A:
.292/.382/.473/.855 in 385 plate appearances
12 home runs, 56 RBIs, 43 runs, 6 stolen bases/3 caught stealing

In a word: Selective

No. 13: Bryson Stott, Phillies

Shortstop
6-3, 200 
Bats Left
Age 24
2019 1st-Round Pick (No. 14 overall)

Tools:
Hit: 55
Power: 50
Run: 55
Arm: 55
Defense: 55

2021 at High-A, Double-A, Triple-A:
.299/.390/.486/.876 in 487 plate appearances
16 homers, 49 RBIs, 71 runs, 10 stolen bases/4 caught stealing

In a word: Reliable

14. Colton Welker, Rockies

First Base/Third Base
6-1, 235
Bats Right
Age 24
2016 4th-Round Pick

Tools:
Hit: 50
Power: 50
Run: 40
Arm: 60
Defense: 50

2021 at Rookie, High-A, Triple-A:
.258/.345/.483/.829 in 139 plate appearances
6 home runs, 26 RBIs, 18 runs, 0 stolen bases/0 caught stealing

2021 at Colorado:
.189/.250/.216/466 in 40 plate appearances
0 home runs, 3 RBIs 7 runs, 0 stolen bases/0 caught stealing

In a word: Overmatched

15. Cristian Pache, Braves

Outfield
6-2, 215 
Bats Right
Age 23
International Free Agent from Dominican Republic

Tools:
Hit: 45
Power: 50
Run: 70
Arm: 70
Defense: 80

2021 at Triple-A:
.265/.33/.414/.744 in 353 plate appearances
11 home runs, 44 RBIs, 50 runs, 9 stolen bases/7 caught stealing

2021 at Atlanta:
.111/152/206/358 in 68 plate appearances
1 home run, 4 RBIs, 6 runs scored, 0 stolen bases/ 0 caught stealing

In a word: Defense

Heading Home: 

Here is what I have heard regarding the current MLB Civil War between players and owners:

  1. The feeling among those I have spoken with who are "in the know" seems to be very consistent. Most people feel that once the owners feel the pinch of losing money, and agreement can be reached.
     
  2. The players may also feel the loss of income. They have created a fund that will give players a stipend every month. However, that money will not come close to covering their normal monthly income.
     
  3. Owners have to pay rent to spring training facilities. They clearly won't like paying rent to facilities that are sitting empty. Paying those fees could help nudge the owners closer to an agreement.
  4. It is widely felt that the players need three to four weeks to get in shape. With the first spring games scheduled for February 26, one can assume money will be lost beginning that date — with no revenue from spring games. 
  5. Estimates from those I have spoken with put the beginning of the season at some point around April 15th. Frankly, I think that's optimistic. I think all of April will be lost, with a potential starting date of May 1st. That's my best guesstimate.
  6. Beginning February 21 (today, if you are reading this on Monday) the players and owners will begin to meet more frequently. Apparently, all the work takes place behind the scenes. Once the right numbers are hit for both sides, a deal could come quickly. It is all about money. And it all rests on when the numbers will be hit.
  7. I have always felt that both sides should be sitting at the same table, around the clock if need be. But that hasn't happened.

Have a great week.

Thank you for following me @BerniePleskoff on twitter. Thank you for reading my work at forbes.com.

I appreciate the comments and questions you leave. I try to respond to them all.

Next week: I begin my fantasy baseball position rankings.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bernie Pleskoff
Bernie Pleskoff is a former professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners.
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