Farm Futures: AL Central: 131 Prospects You Need To Know

Farm Futures: AL Central: 131 Prospects You Need To Know

This article is part of our Farm Futures series.

For the fourth year in a row, I will be going division by division, providing analysis on every fantasy-relevant prospect in baseball while also ranking those prospects in their respective systems. This means there will be 30-plus prospects ranked in certain systems and less than 15 prospects ranked in others. There is no point in listing an irrelevant prospect just to reach an arbitrary total of 10, 20 or 30. Similarly, it is unfortunate to not include information on highly relevant prospects just because that prospect was not one of his team's 10 or 20 best.

The fifth installment takes us to the 131 prospects you need to know in the American League Central.

I wrote the outlooks for most of the guys in the top 250 or so of the top 400 prospect rankings, so if you want more in-depth analysis on someone, check out their player profile. The order of the players on the back half of the top 400 will be evolving throughout this process, so the 400 may not be up to date with the team rankings in this article. Listed ages are as of 4/1/20. Feel free to ask me any prospect-related questions in the comments section or on Twitter.

WHITE SOX

1. Luis Robert, OF, 22, MLB

I still don't expect Robert to develop into better than a .265 MLB hitter or so, and even that should take a few years — if it ever happens — but Ronald Acuna Jr.,

For the fourth year in a row, I will be going division by division, providing analysis on every fantasy-relevant prospect in baseball while also ranking those prospects in their respective systems. This means there will be 30-plus prospects ranked in certain systems and less than 15 prospects ranked in others. There is no point in listing an irrelevant prospect just to reach an arbitrary total of 10, 20 or 30. Similarly, it is unfortunate to not include information on highly relevant prospects just because that prospect was not one of his team's 10 or 20 best.

The fifth installment takes us to the 131 prospects you need to know in the American League Central.

I wrote the outlooks for most of the guys in the top 250 or so of the top 400 prospect rankings, so if you want more in-depth analysis on someone, check out their player profile. The order of the players on the back half of the top 400 will be evolving throughout this process, so the 400 may not be up to date with the team rankings in this article. Listed ages are as of 4/1/20. Feel free to ask me any prospect-related questions in the comments section or on Twitter.

WHITE SOX

1. Luis Robert, OF, 22, MLB

I still don't expect Robert to develop into better than a .265 MLB hitter or so, and even that should take a few years — if it ever happens — but Ronald Acuna Jr., Christian Yelich, Trevor Story and Francisco Lindor were the only hitters to go 30/20 last year, and Robert should be able to achieve that feat in his healthy prime seasons. He gets dinged in OBP leagues.

2. Andrew Vaughn, 1B, 21, Double-A

First base is the second-shallowest position behind catcher, and Vaughn is light years ahead of the next best first-base prospect. His ceiling is a .300/.420/.560 type of masher who annually hits 40-plus home runs. He should be the first player from the 2019 draft class to reach the majors.

3. Nick Madrigal, 2B, 23, Triple-A

Madrigal is amazing at the stuff he's good at and terrible at the one thing he's really bad at (hitting for power). As long as you are expecting a very high batting average (should be north of .300 some years), around 20 steals and around 100 runs, you won't be disappointed. That profile is easier to put to use in a 20-team league than a 12-team league.

4. Michael Kopech, RHP, 23, Triple-A

I can't wait to see Kopech back in action, but I think Tommy John optimism has gone a little too far. Some guys return just fine, but a re-injury or setback that would result in Kopech being a fantasy bust in 2020 is more likely than most people think, and a poor WHIP seems like a lock in 2020. His stuff is nasty enough that he could be an ace even with average command, but that wouldn't be until several years down the road.

5. Benyamin Bailey, OF, 18, AZL

If Bailey had received seven figures on July 2, 2018, he would be one of the trendiest position-player names in dynasty leagues, based on his tools and production. Since he only received five figures and signed in April of 2019, he makes for a sneaky target in FYPD.

6. Jonathan Stiever, RHP, 22, Double-A

A 6-foot-2, 205-pound righty with a mid-90s fastball, Stiever didn't need a full arsenal to handle the lower levels, thanks to that plus heater and solid control. He will need at least one of his average to fringe-average secondaries to improve in order to remain on a starter's track, but he has No. 3 starter upside if it comes together.

7. Matthew Thompson, RHP, 19, Pioneer League

The White Sox gave Thompson $2.1 million in the second round. He is an athletic 6-foot-3, 195-pound righty with a chance for three plus pitches — his mid-90s fastball is his best pitch now. He has a very high ceiling, but as a prep righty with an inconsistent recent track record, he is incredibly risky.

8. Bryan Ramos, 3B/2B/OF, 18, Pioneer League

Ramos received $300K in 2018 out of Cuba and handled an aggressive assignment to the AZL as a young 17-year-old. He has good size at 6-foot-2, 190 pounds and should develop plus power. Look for him to put up good numbers as one of the youngest hitters in the hitter-friendly Pioneer League.

9. Dane Dunning, RHP, 25, Recovering from Tommy John surgery (March 2019)

Dunning should be able to pitch in games for around half the season, thanks to the timing of his TJS. I was underwhelmed by his ceiling prior to the surgery, and now there is an added element of risk that he won't be the same guy. He could be a solid No. 4 starter if he returns to form.

10. Gavin Sheets, 1B, 23, Triple-A

Sheets is blocked in the short term and the long term, so he could really use a trade, and even then, he's not a lock to hit enough to be a big-league first baseman. He has more raw power than he has shown in games to date.

11. Micker Adolfo, OF, 23, Double-A

If we're being generous, we can chalk 2019 up to a lost year for Adolfo — Tommy John surgery and subsequent setbacks limited him to just 115 games between 2018 and 2019. Strikeouts have always been a glaring weakness in the profile, but 70-grade raw power remains. Now that he is on the 40-man roster, the clock is ticking.

12. Manuel Veloz, OF, 19, AZL

A 6-foot-2, 185-pound Venezuelan righty, Veloz dominated in the DSL thanks to strong control of a three-pitch mix. His fastball sits in the low-90s, but his projectable frame leads to optimism that he could add velocity. He also has a quality breaking ball and advanced changeup.

13. Andrew Dalquist, RHP, 19, Pioneer League

One of the most ordinary prep pitching prospects I can recall getting $2 million in the draft, Dalquist has a No. 4 starter ceiling, barring significant improvements to his arsenal. Maybe the White Sox are brilliant and saw something in Dalquist that nobody else saw, but I doubt it.

14. Cristian Mena, RHP, 17, Dominican Summer League

Mena, a 6-foot-2, 170-pound righty from the D.R., received $250K on July 2. He has a low-90s fastball that should develop into a plus offering and already shows feel for a changeup while mixing in a high-spin breaking ball.

15. Luis Alexander Basabe, OF, 23, Double-A

Basabe has a fantasy-relevant power/speed combo, but a below-average hit tool and an inability to stay healthy has led to him falling almost all the way off the dynasty-league map. He has just one minor-league option year remaining, so the pressure is on.

16. Zack Collins, DH, 24, Triple-A

A perfect example of why we should fade catching prospects who can't catch, Collins is now a man without a home, and no team is trying to give up anything of value for a DH who hasn't proven he can hit enough to be a big-league DH.

17. Bryce Bush, OF, 20, Low-A

Bush, a former third baseman, has huge raw power but may not hit enough for it to matter. He opened a lot of eyes in 2018 but injuries and poor performance sunk his stock in 2019.

18. Blake Rutherford, OF, 22, Triple-A

It's a testament to how shallow this farm system is that Rutherford has a spot on the 40-man roster. He doesn't have a plus tool and probably doesn't even have an above-average one.

19. Yolbert Sanchez, 2B/SS, 23, Low-A

I know Sanchez got the biggest bonus ($2.5 million) from the White Sox's J-2 class, but he's not a prospect for fantasy. With the potential for an average hit tool with below-average power and average speed, his ceiling is basically Yolmer Sanchez. I'm only listing him to make it clear you should not roster him.

INDIANS

1. Tyler Freeman, SS, 20, Double-A

I've been in the bag for Freeman for a couple years now and he keeps hitting while showing an elite batted-ball profile, so I keep moving him up. I really think he's going to be a special hitter who adds double-digit homers and steals while leading off or hitting second.

2. Nolan Jones, 3B, 21, Triple-A

Jones headlined a Max Scherzer return in an OBP league I'm in. Of course, that would cause a riot in an AVG league. He will get on base a ton and should eventually get to 30-HR pop, but I think it will be a few years before he really hits his stride.

3. George Valera, OF, 19, Low-A

A year ago, Valera was supposed to be a hit-over-power prospect, but his 2019 paints a different picture. I think he fell in love with getting to surprising over-the-fence power at 18. The traits that led many to project a plus hit too still exist, the Indians may just need to coax it out of him. For now I think he's better in OBP than AVG leagues. He may be limited to left field.

4. Ethan Hankins, RHP, 19, Low-A

Hankins could be a frontline starter some day, but the risk and lead time are extreme. His fastball is performance art and he has a workhorse frame. His command and all three of his secondaries need to improve in the coming years, but he's worth gambling on.

5. Daniel Espino, RHP, 19, Low-A

Espino looks the part of a future ace, but he also checks every box for an 18-year-old pitcher who is likely to experience an arm injury at some point in the near future. Draft him if he is there in the second round of first-year player drafts and cross your fingers.

6. James Karinchak, RHP, 24, MLB

The best relief prospect in the game (I'd still prefer Andres Munoz if he had not exhausted his prospect status), Karinchak should miss enough bats to be useful in deep category leagues even when he's not getting saves.

7. Daniel Johnson, OF, 24, Triple-A

Johnson has fantasy-relevant tools (55 power, 60 speed) and an opportunity to seize an everyday job this year thanks to his ability to play all three outfield spots. There are some encouraging signs regarding his hit tool, but I'd say it's a toss up as to whether he'll be an everyday guy long term.

8. Brayan Rocchio, 2B/SS, 19, Low-A

I can get overly infatuated with players of Rocchio's ilk (undersized up-the-middle players with great hit tools). Realistically, it wouldn't be surprising if he only amounts to a Mauricio Dubon type of utility infielder, but maybe he can take more of a Tommy Edman-esque path.

9. Alexfri Planez, OF, 18, New York-Penn League

The hype with Planez has gotten a little out of control ever since he got an extremely glowing review from former writer and current Twins scout, Jason Pennini. His power is prodigious and he could steal double-digit bases, but his approach is extremely raw. I like him in batting average leagues where he is a little under the radar, but don't get carried away.

10. Aaron Bracho, 2B, 18, Low-A

Bracho has a chance to be a four-category stud at second base, but I think there will be an adjustment period for him at some point, due to his aggressive, overly flyball-heavy approach. He will also need to keep his body in check, as he already resembles Jason Kipnis as an 18-year-old.

11. Emmanuel Clase, RHP, 22, MLB

Clase is the second-best relief-pitching prospect in the game, so it's unfortunate that he and Karinchak share a bullpen. He has an 80-grade cutter that he throws over 70 percent of the time. That pitch induces weak contact at a very high clip. While he might never be a 100-strikeout closer, he could still be a top-five closer due to elite ratios. I think Clase is a slightly better fit in the ninth inning, but unlike Karinchak, he is unlikely to be useful in mixed leagues if he's not getting saves.

12. Will Benson, OF, 21, High-A

Benson is my favorite of the super toolsy outfielders in full-season ball who we highly doubt will hit enough for their tools to matter (Bubba Thompson, Austin Beck, Estevan Florial, Corey Ray, Garrett Whitley, Parker Meadows, Brewer Hicklen, Connor Scott, etc...). He has proven he can be a monster even with a 30 percent strikeout rate. Don't be surprised if he makes noise again this year.

13. Triston McKenzie, RHP, 22, Double-A

I would rather a top pitching prospect need Tommy John surgery than miss a year with a back injury, especially when there were already big concerns about whether that pitcher could handle a starter's workload in the majors. McKenzie, a rail-thin 6-foot-5 righty with a ton of upside, will look to rebound this year in the upper levels.

14. Bo Naylor, C, 20, High-A

Naylor is right on that borderline of having enough fantasy upside to warrant a stash in one-catcher dynasty leagues. He could be an above-average hitter with above-average power, but there's a chance both of those tools only get to average. Fortunately, he has improved enough behind the plate that we don't have to worry about his defense costing him playing time.

15. Bobby Bradley, 1B/DH, 23, Triple-A

The best we can hope for with Bradley at this point is that he can be a .240 hitter with an OBP over .300. If he achieves that level of success at the plate, he will be at least a 30-homer guy, which would probably be enough for him to at least occupy the strong side of a platoon. He could fall well short of those AVG/OBP targets though.

16. Gabriel Rodriguez, 3B, 18, AZL

Recent anecdotal evidence suggests the bust rate on the top J-2 guys isn't any higher than that of the top prospects in the draft, but Rodriguez underwhelmed a little after getting over $2 million on July 2, 2018. He has huge raw power but really needs to improve his hit tool.

17. Angel Martinez, 2B/3B/SS, 18, AZL

While Martinez was very impressive in the DSL from a hit tool/plate discipline standpoint, he lacks the type of power or speed that would make him a high-priority stash, given his distant ETA. Reports on his speed grade are mixed, but I tend to think he's an above-average runner.

18. Carlos Vargas, RHP, 20, Low-A

Vargas is 6-foot-3, 180 pounds and has a plus-plus fastball that touches triple digits and a plus slider. His command and changeup need work, and the odds are stacked against him to make it as a starter, but he has the type of upside we crave.

19. Jhonkensy Noel, 1B, 18, New York-Penn League

An 18.7 percent strikeout rate for a 17-year-old first baseman with plus raw power in the AZL is pretty impressive. Despite being a R/R first baseman, Noel has a chance to be a quality defender. There is power and batting average upside, but he can't fall short in those categories given his defensive home.

20. Jose Pastrano, SS, 17, Dominican Summer League

The recipient of a $1.5 million bonus out of Venezuela on July 2, 2019, Pastrano is a better real-life prospect than a fantasy one, although he's decent for our purposes as well. He is a switch hitter with a hit-over-power profile and plus speed. He should stick at shortstop.

21. Johnathan Rodriguez, OF, 20, Low-A

Big right-handed corner outfielders often move slowly through the minors, as there are holes in their swings and adjustments to be made against same-handed pitching. Rodriguez has been an above-average hitter every step of the way, and is set to make his full-season debut in Year 4. He could still develop into a middle-of-the-order masher, but the margin for error is slim.

22. Cody Morris, RHP, 23, High-A

Morris is a 6-foot-5, 222-pound righty whom the Indians selected in the seventh round in 2018. He racked up the strikeouts in his pro debut — his fastball, curveball and changeup all have plus potential. The big key will be improving his command/control. He should split the year between High-A and Double-A.

23. Jean Carlos Mejia, RHP, 23, High-A

Mejia was so good in 2018 that he was protected from the Rule 5 draft with just one start under his belt at High-A. He has a quality four-pitch mix and good command that would fit well in the middle of a big-league rotation, but a hip injury resulted in a mostly lost season. He could shoot back up rankings this year.

24. Ernie Clement, 2B/SS, 24, Triple-A

Clement was on the short list of the fastest players in the Arizona Fall League, showcasing plus-plus wheels. He makes contact at an elite clip and has utilized a line drive stroke, so he's not just using his speed to leg out infield hits. He has very little pop, so the hope is for a bottom-of-the-order middle infielder who swipes 20-plus bases.

25. Lenny Torres, RHP, 19, Recovering from Tommy John surgery (May 2019)

Torres has a high ceiling, but predictably needed TJS (he's an undersized righty with a big fastball). He could be ready to pitch in the New York-Penn League in July or August, where he will focus on improving his command and his third pitch.

26. Ka'ai Tom, OF, 25, Triple-A

The Indians clearly made the right move by not protecting Tom ahead of the Rule 5 draft, as they kept him in their system for at least another year without burning a 40-man spot. He bats left-handed and is a good defender, so he's still pretty interesting if he gets a look. I particularly loved his line drive and walk rates from 2019.

27. Logan Allen, LHP, 22, Triple-A

Teams don't trade away big left-handed starters who they believe have significant upside in the rotation, so it's a bad sign that Allen is already with his third organization. Remember pitchers like Allen the next time the No. 3 starter tag gets assigned to a pitcher as a compliment. His production above Double-A has been flat out bad.

28. Jose Tena, 2B/SS, 19, New York-Penn League

Tena has a chance to be a plus hitter (a rare middle infielder who bats left-handed) with plus speed. He didn't need to walk much to have success in the DSL or AZL, but he will need to be a bit more selective against advanced pitchers. The one knock is that he will probably never be much of a power threat.

29. Jose Fermin, 2B, 21, High-A

Fermin stole 28 bases and walked more than he struck out as a 20-year-old in the Midwest League. He has below-average power and above-average speed, so even if he has a plus hit tool, it's probably a utility infielder ceiling unless he is able to access more game power.

30. Joe Naranjo, 1B, 18, New York-Penn League

Naranjo received $770K in the third round as one of the better pure hitters from the prep ranks. He is L/L, which should help him profile at first base. His AZL numbers weren't amazing, but he hit .296 with a .371 OBP over his final 140 PA. It's hit over power for now, which is fine, but he needs to develop impact pop in the coming years due to his defensive limitations. 

31. Luis Durango, OF, 16, Dominican Summer League

A 5-foot-10 speedster who got $500K out of Panama, Durango could develop into a lefty-hitting center fielder with a chance to lead off. He will be one of the youngest prospects in the DSL, and while I expect him to hit for a high average with a bunch of steals, he probably won't hit for power anytime soon.

32. Luis Oviedo, RHP, 20, High-A

When a highly-touted pitcher has a year like Oviedo's 2019, we need to be willing to pivot away quickly. In addition to really struggling with his command, he missed the final six weeks with a back injury. At 6-foot-4, 250 pounds, the back issue and command woes are particularly concerning. He still has an impressive four-pitch mix.

33. Sam Hentges, LHP, 23, Double-A

Given that he is 6-foot-8, it's not surprising that Hentges' command is still his biggest weakness. He has a plus fastball, potentially plus curveball and a couple other secondaries. The command probably needs to improve this year for him to avoid a move to the bullpen — he only has two minor-league options remaining.

34. Richard Palacios, 2B/OF, 22, Low-A

Palacios had an excellent statistical debut in 2018 but missed the entire 2019 season due to shoulder surgery. He is a left-handed hitter with plus speed and the makings of a quality hit tool. There will likely be a lot of rust to knock off after his long absence.

35. Maick Collado, 2B/3B/SS, 17, Dominican Summer League

A smooth switch hitter from the D.R., Collado should hit for a high average and demonstrated strong plate skills in his pro debut. He should eventually grow into 20-homer power, which will be necessary for him to profile at second or third base.

36. Scott Moss, LHP, 25, Triple-A

Moss is a 6-foot-6, 225-pound lefty built to eat innings. It remains to be seen if he will throw enough strikes to be given that chance, or if he will be better suited in relief. He has a low-90s fastball, plus slider and average changeup.

37. Hunter Gaddis, RHP, 21, Low-A

Gaddis was a fifth-round pick last year and dominated in a brief pro debut across two levels. He works with a sinker, slider and changeup and has good size at 6-foot-6, 212 pounds. The Indians have done more with less in the past, so he's worth keeping an eye on.

38. Will Bartlett, 1B/OF, 19, New York-Penn League

The Indians gave Bartlett an over-slot $275K bonus in the ninth round and he showed well in the AZL. Already 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, he is limited to first base and left field, so he needs to really hit. His 15.8 percent walk rate and all-fields, line drive-oriented approach were encouraging.

39. Yordys Valdes, SS, 18, AZL

Valdes' potential as a plus defensive shortstop got him drafted in the second round ($1 million bonus), but he's not very interesting for fantasy. It will take at least a couple years for him to develop into a quality hitter, and that may never happen. He is not a plus runner, but has good instincts on the bases.

40. Oscar Gonzalez, OF, 22, Double-A

Gonzalez's ability to make contact at a high clip is impressive for a corner outfielder, but he would be better served taking more pitches and looking for pitches he can drive. The lack of walks and game power are getting to be pretty concerning, as he fits best in left field.

41. Steven Kwan, OF, 22, Double-A

Kwan is a left-handed outfielder who has walked more than he has struck out in pro ball. That's where the compliments end, as there isn't much power or speed, but the approach earns him a spot on the bottom of this list.

TIGERS

1. Matt Manning, RHP, 22, Triple-A

Manning flew a little too under the radar throughout a dominant year at Double-A. He didn't have the extreme peaks that other pitching prospects experienced, but was consistently excellent and lacks apparent flaws. I just hope the Tigers don't find some way to ruin this.

2. Casey Mize, RHP, 22, Triple-A 

I think everyone is confident that a healthy Mize will be a very good MLB starter. The question that has still not been answered is whether he can handle a starter's workload. He certainly has the size, stuff and command, but his shoulder barked last year and his production suffered before he was shut down with over two weeks left in the season.

3. Riley Greene, OF, 19, Low-A

Greene shouldn't have been drafted ahead of CJ Abrams, but that has more to do with Abrams than Greene. I hope he fine tunes his plate skills and strong hitting approach rather than selling out for power in 2020 or 2021. The power will come — hopefully a plus hit tool is there when it does.

4. Tarik Skubal, LHP, 23, Triple-A

I think we will know fairly early on in Skubal's MLB career whether his deceptive delivery and monster fastball can carry the day in a starting role. I have my doubts — big-league hitters are really good at taking advantage of pitchers with shaky command and inconsistent secondaries. At worst he will be a deadly late-inning arm.

5. Daz Cameron, OF, 23, Triple-A

It's hard to have confidence in Cameron just looking at his Triple-A stats, but there are some minor positives if you dig deep enough. The main argument in his favor is that he's only entering his age-23 season and will be given a Lewis Brinson-level amount of opportunities to fail.

6. Isaac Paredes, 3B/2B, 21, Triple-A

The closer Paredes gets to the majors, the less appealing I find him. He has a bad body, which results in poor defense and no speed. Maybe he can be a .280/.370/.430 type of hitter if he maxes out, but if he falls short of that, the Tigers will eventually look for a better option at third base.

7. Adinso Reyes, 3B, 18, Gulf Coast League

Reyes was a high-pedigree J-2 signee in 2018 ($1.45 million bonus) and showed off an intriguing offensive skillset in the DSL. He uses the whole field and could develop plus right-handed power. There will probably be more strikeouts against more advanced pitching, but he has a chance to be a classic power-hitting third baseman with an average or better hit tool.

8. Jose De La Cruz, OF, 18, Gulf Coast League

De La Cruz got $1.85 million on July 2, 2018, and while he has plus speed to go with plus power, edging out Reyes from a raw tools standpoint, Reyes is probably the better bet to hit more advanced pitching. One or both of them could really shoot up lists with a good stateside debut.

9. Parker Meadows, OF, 20, Low-A

Bloodlines and impressive physical tools can only get you so far. Eventually, Meadows needs to learn how to hit good professional pitching. He has 70-grade speed that plays better in the field than on the bases and plus raw power from the left side. It would be very exciting if it all came together, but it probably won't.

10. Derek Hill, OF, 24, Triple-A

Hill is the best defensive prospect in this system — he could be one of the best center fielders in the game. The 70-grade speed that allows him to cover ground in center is also an asset on the bases. He will never hit for a high average in the majors, but he has enough pop to hit double-digit homers over a full season. Something like a .230 AVG, 11 HR and 30 SB is possible.

11. Willi Castro, SS, 22, MLB

Castro can handle shortstop, and won't be usurped by anyone in this organization anytime soon. Other than job security, it's hard to find something appealing for fantasy. He could maybe hit around .265 or .270 with 12-15 HR and 8-12 SB, but that's the best-case scenario. He is even less valuable in OBP leagues.

12. Elvin Rodriguez, RHP, 22, Double-A

Of the back-end starter candidates in this system, I think Rodriguez has the best chance to still improve his offerings enough to beat that projection. He sits in the low-90s with his fastball, but at 6-foot-3, 160 pounds, there could be more juice in there if he can add strength. His changeup and curveball both have potential and he should throw enough strikes to start.

13. Roberto Campos, OF, 16, Dominican Summer League

Campos is already 6-foot-3, 200 pounds and won't turn 17 until June. That's not good. Yes, he received the sixth-highest bonus ($2.85 million) in the entire 2019 J-2 class and has huge raw power, but he is firmly on the Jhailyn Ortiz track in terms of body and strikeouts.

14. Joey Wentz, LHP, 22, Triple-A

Wentz lacks a plus pitch and therefore lacks a high ceiling, but he is a big southpaw with three average or better pitches and he should get a long look in the big-league rotation, perhaps as early as the second half of 2020.

15. Alex Faedo, RHP, 24, Triple-A

Not remotely close to as good as his numbers last year at Double-A might suggest, Faedo lacks a true plus pitch (his slider is close) and also lacks a reliable third pitch — there's a chance his changeup gets there. He has the frame to eat innings, but this is a back-end starter profile.

16. Wenceel Perez, SS/2B, 20, Low-A

Perez is still young enough to stay on this list after a rough first full season at Low-A. His plus speed and defensive chops give him a path to fantasy and real-life value, but he needs to hit enough to get there. He won't ever be much of a power threat.

17. Nick Quintana, 3B, 22, Low-A

The Tigers hit on Manning and Mize, and they may hit on Greene, but they've botched all of their early-round picks that have not been in the top 10 of the draft. Quintana, who has above-average raw power and received $1.58 million in the second round, looks like the most recent example.

18. Franklin Perez, RHP, 22, Double-A

The words "if he can stay healthy" have been a part of Perez's scouting report for as long as I can remember. He can't stay healthy — I think he's proven as much. 

19. Bryant Packard, OF, 22, High-A

Packard hit a ton in short-season ball and at Low-A after getting almost $400K in the fifth round, but he is old, slow and won't provide any defensive value, so he needs to do nothing but hit as he climbs the ladder.

ROYALS

1. Bobby Witt Jr., SS, 19, Low-A

If anyone tells you they know Witt will hit for a high average, they're full of it. He could hit .275, and if he does, he will be a top-25 fantasy pick and will get MVP votes. He could also hit .245 with several offseasons worth of "this is the year" hype.

2. Erick Pena, OF, 17, AZL

Pena is in that Marco Luciano class of J-2 prospects (prior to debuting). It's a similar skills package too, with the potential for plus hit and plus-plus power, thanks to elite bat speed. Witt and Pena form perhaps the most exciting teenage prospect duo in the game.

3. Daniel Lynch, LHP, 23, Double-A

This is a pretty standard No. 3 starter kit, but given Lynch's projectability, even for a 23-year-old, he could surpass that outcome. One of his curveball or changeup probably needs to join his fastball and slider as plus pitches for him to be a No. 2.

4. Khalil Lee, OF, 21, Triple-A

Lee isn't a true burner, but he is clearly very good at stealing bases. He gets good jumps and has a long wingspan, making him a good head-first slider. Despite his numbers at Double-A, he has above-average power, but he needs a swing change to start lifting the ball more.

5. Jackson Kowar, RHP, 23, Triple-A

I love that Kowar has a smutty secondary pitch (changeup) to go with his plus fastball and above-average command/control. That out pitch and his future home park can serve as a separator when comparing Kowar to other potential mid-rotation starters.

6. Kyle Isbel, OF, 23, Double-A

Isbel had a mostly lost season due to injuries, but showed well in the AFL. He is a plus runner who provides good defense in center field and could hit enough to be a leadoff hitter in the Adam Eaton mold. 

7. Brady Singer, RHP, 23, Triple-A

Singer should be able to have success against right-handed hitters with his sinker/slider combo, but he still hasn't developed a reliable changeup. At worst, he should be a good streaming option, but he could be a No. 3 starter if his third pitch comes along.

8. Kris Bubic, LHP, 22, Double-A

On the surface (not the stats, the scouting report), Bubic projects as a No. 4 starter. But any lefty with a plus changeup and good command/control can overshoot projections. He has the size to eat innings, and as with the rest of the pitching prospects in this organization, he would benefit from pitching half his games in Kansas City.

9. Jonathan Bowlan, RHP, 23, Double-A

Bowlan is a big boy (6-foot-6, 262 pounds) with big stuff. He has a mid-90s fastball and his changeup and slider have plus potential, but what's most impressive is how well he is able to control his offerings given that he probably buys his clothes from DXL.

10. Austin Cox, LHP, 23, Double-A

A 6-foot-4, 185-pound southpaw, Cox has a plus low-to-mid-90s fastball and hammer curveball. He has also improved as a strike thrower and comfortably projects to stick in the rotation. He could be a No. 3/4 starter with good health, but if he can start to sit 94-95 instead of 92-93 with his fastball and/or improves his average changeup, he could surpass that projection.

11. Zach Haake, RHP, 23, High-A

A 6-foot-5, 186-pound righty with a high ceiling, Haake has a mid-90s fastball and will flash a plus changeup and plus slider. His big lanky frame leads to some strike-throwing issues, so he won't be on the fast track to the majors, but his strikeout numbers are the product of legit stuff. 

12. Nick Pratto, 1B, 21, High-A

Almost all of the highly-touted Royals hitting prospects at Wilmington struggled. The home park there is very pitcher-friendly, but Pratto had just a .630 OPS on the road. He is a hard worker and is putting in the work this offseason, so if he ends up being a straight up bust, it won't be for lack of trying to fix what went wrong in 2019.

13. Brewer Hicklen, OF, 24, Double-A

Like all Royals prospects, Hicklen has had the green light on the bases and has used his plus speed to put up impressive steals totals. A two-sport guy who was late to give up football, his age/level can be partially explained away, but his strikeout rates still look pretty ugly. He has a chance to be a power/speed outfielder who strikes out a lot.

14. Luis Echenique, OF, 17, Dominican Summer League

Echenique is a distant second behind Pena among the Royals' 2019 J-2 haul, but he has a very fantasy-friendly set of tools. He has plus speed with a strong 5-foot-11, 175-pound frame. He hits left-handed and should make contact at a good clip, so if power comes he could be a hot commodity.

15. Darryl Collins, OF, 18, Appalachian League

Collins, a rare Dutch signee, logged a 132 wRC+ as a 17-year-old in the AZL. His strong handle of the strike zone is what really propelled his success, as he didn't hit a home run and stole just one base. He is 6-foot-2, 185 pounds and hits left-handed, so he would be pretty intriguing if he starts hitting for power.

16. Wilmin Candelario, SS, 18, AZL

A 6-foot-1, 170-pound wiz at shortstop, Candelario got just shy of $850K on July 2, 2018 and put up a good slash line in the DSL, although it came with a lot of strikeouts and he was 11-for-22 on the bases. He won't have to move off shortstop, so if he can improve his hit tool, he could be a power-over-hit shortstop who steals 5-10 bases.

17. Michael Gigliotti, OF, 24, Double-A

Injuries have really slowed Gigliotti's ascent through the minors. He is a plus runner who should hold that speed into his late 20s and he is a good defensive center fielder. The left-handed hitter makes contact at a good clip, but he doesn't project to do enough damage at the plate to hit higher than eighth or ninth.

18. Jon Heasley, RHP, 23, High-A

The amount of quality arms ahead of Heasley in this system makes him seem like an afterthought, but he has No. 3 starter upside in his own right. He has a 6-foot-3, 215-pound frame, a plus fastball and his changeup and curveball both flash plus as well.

19. Brady McConnell, 3B/SS, 21, Low-A

I really don't understand why McConnell is treated like a prospect who should be drafted in normal-sized dynasty leagues. He got a $2.22 million bonus in the second round due to impressive power and speed for a college infielder, but there were concerns about his hit tool before the draft and those concerns are amplified after a bad pro debut.

20. Vinnie Pasquantino, 1B, 22, Low-A

A 6-foot-4, 245-pound first baseman who hits and throws left-handed, Pasquantino got $125K in the 11th round out of Old Dominion and dominated in the Appy League. He needs to continue to rake at every step to the big leagues, but his metrics over a fairly large sample keep the door open for him to do so.

21. Yohanse Morel, RHP, 19, Low-A

Morel, who was acquired from the Nationals in the Kelvin Herrera trade back in 2018, will probably end up in the bullpen due to his size (6-foot, 170 pounds) and shaky command. However, he has a chance to have three plus pitches (fastball, changeup, slider) and won't turn 20 until August, so we can dream for now.

22. Seuly Matias, OF, 21, High-A

Some of Matias' struggles last year can be chalked up to the fact he played with a broken hand (not the entire time), but a 44.3 percent strikeout rate is still enough for me to be 99 percent out on him. His prodigious raw power rivals that of any prospect in the minors, but even in his "good" year he hit .231 against Low-A pitching.

23. Yefri Del Rosario, RHP, 20, High-A

Del Rosario missed the entire season with a biceps/nerve issue. He has mid-rotation stuff, but there have long been questions about whether he would throw enough strikes to make it as a starter, and now we have some durability concerns.

24. Carlos Hernandez, RHP, 23, High-A

Hernandez, who is on the 40-man roster but has never pitched above Low-A, is likely to end up in the big-league bullpen in a year or two, and that's probably the best-case scenario for fantasy. He could be their closer of the future with a fastball that could sit in the upper-90s in short bursts.

TWINS

1. Royce Lewis, SS/3B/OF, 20, Double-A

My faith in Lewis is largely a gut call. Not every great big-league hitter is great in every one of their minor-league seasons. Lewis has the things I want most in a hitting prospect: bat speed, great makeup, impact speed, intelligence, defensive utility… There's no doubt he needs to hit well at Double-A this year to remain a top-15 prospect, and I'm betting big that he will.

2. Alex Kirilloff, 1B/OF, 22, Triple-A

He's not quite as good as his 2018 numbers suggest, but once he got over a wrist injury last year Kirilloff still performed like a future plus hitter with plus power. He will probably break in as a first baseman who also gets some starts in right field and at designated hitter.

3. Jordan Balazovic, RHP, 21, Double-A

I love Balazovic's size (6-foot-5), mid-90s fastball and potentially above-average command. He reminds me of Matt Manning in some regards, and could vault to that range of prospect rankings if he improves his changeup like Manning did in 2018 and 2019.

4. Trevor Larnach, OF/DH, 23, Triple-A

Larnach has been consistently dominant, but he has not been able to get to his big raw power consistently in games and some contact issues emerged against Double-A pitching. He has a chance to be a middle-of-the-order run producer, but is a below-average defender, so he needs to really hit.

5. Misael Urbina, OF, 18, Appalachian League

Urbina didn't hit for much power, but he excelled at everything else in his pro debut, demonstrating one of the best approaches in the DSL. I think he could develop into a Starling Marte type of fantasy outfielder.

6. Ryan Jeffers, C, 22, Double-A

The only real knock on Jeffers is that he will eventually be battling Mitch Garver for playing time. He is actually extremely similar to Garver — big-time power hitters who went from below-average defenders to above-average defenders.

7. Keoni Cavaco, 3B/SS, 18, Appalachian League

I adored Cavaco before the draft, so I'm still cautiously optimistic despite his horrific pro debut. I understand being out on him if you weren't that high on him to begin with, but he has 30/20 upside if he hits. He will either shoot up rankings or fall off them altogether over the next two seasons.

8. Jhoan Duran, RHP, 22, Double-A

Duran's fastball and split sinker are both dominant offerings earning plus-plus grades, and they enable him to generate groundballs at an elite clip. My gut says he's a reliever when it's all said and done, but the Twins will continue developing him as a starter for now.

9. Matt Wallner, OF, 22, Low-A

Wallner has some of the biggest raw power from the 2019 draft class and the tools to be a solid defender in right field. The question is, will he hit enough? He is 6-foot-5, so there are always going to be a lot of strikeouts. As a lefty hitter, he could be a strong-side platoon option, but odds are he will fall short of the bar to be an everyday guy.

10. Cole Sands, RHP, 22, Double-A

Sands has a lot of things going for him: the potential for plus command/control, a plus changeup and good size (6-foot-3, 215 pounds). His low-90s fastball can play up due to his ability to locate it. If one of his breaking balls improve, we could be looking at a No. 3 starter.

11. Randy Dobnak, RHP, 25, MLB

Dobnak might get the first crack as the Twins' No. 5 starter as he is basically a finished product with four pitches, craft and command. Long term, and even later this summer, he may have to transition into a swing man role, but he can be a useful streamer against the Royals and Tigers.

12. Devin Smeltzer, LHP, 24, Triple-A

Like Dobnak, Smeltzer lacks any elite pitches but he can sometimes have success due to craft and command/control. His below-average fastball velocity gets hitters excited when they first see him and then he makes them look silly with his curveball. The more a team sees him, the less effective he will be. Royals/Tigers streamer.

13. Lewis Thorpe, LHP, 24, Triple-A

Thorpe was a high-upside southpaw a few years ago, but now he mostly gets by on a deadly slider and solid command. His strikeout rates make him look like a higher upside option than Dobnak and Smeltzer, but they're all about the same for our purposes. Royals/Tigers streamer.

14. Brent Rooker, OF/1B/DH, 25, Triple-A

Rooker is a spare piece on this team — a second-division team could give him a look as an everyday DH, but he's a bad fielder at every position, and his hit tool isn't good enough for him to get DH starts on a good team. The right-handed hitter has shown reverse splits.

15. Matt Canterino, RHP, 22, High-A

Canterino got $1.1 million in the second round out of Rice, but he's more floor than ceiling. His delivery is so funky that it's possible he will exceed the projection of a No. 4/5 starter, just know that while he will probably rack up strikeouts at High-A, his stuff isn't actually that good.

16. LaMonte Wade, OF, 26, Triple-A

I think Wade is rosterable in OBP dynasty leagues. He will always get on base at a strong clip, and he is in the mix to be the next man up whenever the Twins deal with injuries in the outfield. His hit tool is a lot better than he showed in the majors last year, but he has below-average power and doesn't put his above-average speed to work much on the bases.

17. Nick Gordon, SS/2B, 24, Triple-A

Gordon realistically profiles as a bench infielder. He is ready to get a taste of the majors this year and could steal 10-15 bases over a full season, but he is unlikely to ever get a full season's worth of at-bats.

18. Gilberto Celestino, OF, 21, High-A

Celestino is kind of a poor man's Leody Taveras. While he is not as fast as Taveras, it will be his center field defense that gets him to the majors, and he is unlikely to hit enough to be an everyday player on a good team.

19. Travis Blankenhorn, 2B/OF, 23, Triple-A

Blankenhorn is kind of a tweener, as he could hit enough to be a big-league second baseman if he were a plus defender, but as a fringe-average defender at the keystone and in left field, the sum of the parts doesn't add up to a likely regular.

20. Emmanuel Rodriguez, OF, 17, Dominican Summer League

A former center fielder who now weighs roughly 200 pounds at 5-foot-11, Rodriguez received $2.5 million on July 2 out of the D.R., but that figure was agreed to before he transformed physically. He needs to hit enough to profile in a corner and is only starting to tap into over-the-fence power.

21. Akil Baddoo, OF, 21, High-A

Baddoo's stock was already well down, and then he needed Tommy John surgery last May. He has plus speed, above-average power and will take his walks, but the hit tool is fringe-average and he's not a great defender due to a below-average arm.

22. Chris Vallimont, RHP, 23, Double-A

Acquired along with Sergio Romo from Miami at the deadline, Vallimont's stuff isn't quite as good as his strikeout rates indicate, but he has good size (6-foot-5, 220 pounds) and could make it as a No. 4 starter thanks to good control.

23. Edouard Julien, OF/2B, 20, Recovering from Tommy John surgery (August 2019)

The Twins gave Julien almost $500K in the 18th round, but he needed TJS in August so he has not played a pro game. He is a poor defender everywhere, but has big-time power from the left side and plus bat speed. Just a guy to keep an eye on when he does debut.

24. Wander Javier, SS, 21, Low-A

Javier missed all of 2018 due to injury and was pretty awful in his first year back. Perhaps a healthy offseason will have allowed him to put in the work to regain the explosiveness he showed pre-injury, but that seems unlikely. He is a reminder that not all promising big-ticket J-2 guys pan out.

25. Gabriel Maciel, OF, 21, High-A

Maciel is one of the fastest players in the organization, but that speed has not translated into him being a plus center fielder, which he would likely need to become due to his light bat. If he were traded to a lesser team, he could get some work as a leadoff or No. 9 hitter and the steals would be the fantasy draw.

26. Spencer Steer, 2B/3B/SS, 22, High-A

Steer is a bat-first infielder, and even so, he may not hit enough to be a regular. He got a $575K bonus in the third round and did enough in his pro debut to earn a spot on this list.

27. Jose Miranda, 3B/2B, 21, Double-A

Miranda is still young enough and still makes enough solid contact to remain on this list after a down year. He will need to start tapping into more over-the-fence power this year.

28. Blayne Enlow, RHP, 21, High-A

It seems like Enlow has been around forever, but he doesn't turn 21 until March. He has a prototypical build (6-foot-3, 170 pounds) to add velocity, but his stuff has either stayed the same or backed up, with the exception of his cutter, which is his best pitch. He has solid command and generates weak contact, but he needs his stuff to jump for him to be more than a No. 5 starter.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
James Anderson
James Anderson is RotoWire's Lead Prospect Analyst, Assistant Baseball Editor, and co-host of Farm Fridays on Sirius/XM radio and the RotoWire Prospect Podcast.
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