Top Baseball Prospects for 2016
Now updated for 2016's Top Prospects
Scouting Book's Top Prospects list is a Combined List, a calculated summary of the overall valuations of the entire prospect universe.
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The thirteenth overall selection in the 2014 draft, Washington infield prospect Trea Turner has the eye, bat and legs to be a premium tablesetter on top of an MLB roster someday. Better than the usual crop of defense-first players with speed, Turner also brings a plus contact bat and very good plate discipline to his game, at least when he doesn't get homer happy. Hopefully the Nats will remind Turner they don't need him to be a power threat: they'll be more than happy enough with the on-base skills and superior defense he's more equipped to deliver.
More Scouting Book Info on Trea Turner
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That was quick. The Red Sox farm system, battered and beaten in recent years, has been rebuilt swiftly by new management, with infielder Yoan Moncada the jewel of the new system.
The first legal Cuban immigrant to join MLB since the Revolution, Red Sox superprospect Yoan Moncada put on showcases for a dozen MLB ballclubs before landing in Boston, who signed him to a record-shattering $31.5 million dollar deal... and that's not even counting the penalty the Sox paid for going way, way over baseball's spending rules. In joining the Red Sox, Moncada joins fellow new-American Rusney Castillo, and both players should be a part of Boston baseball for a long time to come. Moncada, who's nominally a shortstop but likely to outgrow the position, is a very strong switch hitter who drives the ball to all fields, with very advanced plate discipline for a Cuban player. His speed is plus, and while some scouts see him converting to an outfield corner, he looks better as a third baseman from here. He'll get a look in 2016, and with a strong performance, could run away with a starting job somewhere on the diamond.
More Scouting Book Info on Yoan Moncada
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A lukewarm cup of coffee in 2015 has some observer's down on Twin phenom Byron Buxton, but things like plus base-stealing ability and plus-plus defense are not skills that deteriorate. While it might take a bit longer than hoped, Buxton remains a future star. At the plate, he's a line-drive hitter with a little pop, and more power expected in the years to come. Minnesota is well-known for cooking their prospects until they're well-done, and he has a scary wrist injury to come back from in 2015, so don't expect him to light up scoreboards right away, but don't forget about him, either. He'll be around for a long time.
More Scouting Book Info on Byron Buxton
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One of baseball's very top prospect pitchers, Lucas Giolito is a Washington righthander with three possible plus pitches. He may have been drafted #1 overall if he hadn't been held back by UCL problems, but if he's really back at full strength now, he's the Nationals' best bet to be a future ace. And considering the depth and quality of that system, that's really something. With a stable of quality arms at all stages of development, the Nats are better-poised, pitching-wise, for the coming decade than any team in baseball. Think of them as the anti-Cubs.
More Scouting Book Info on Lucas Giolito
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A towering righthander who's as good at intimidating hitters as he is at actually throwing baseballs, Pirate prospect Tyler Glasnow might not be as well-known as some of Pittsburgh's other pitching prospects, but his ceiling is at least as high. He doesn't command his fastball perfectly, but isn't afraid to use it inside as well as outside, which is enough to keep hitters skittish. Glasnow also shows a big curve on occasion that's impressive when it works, and a changeup that's rough but promising. He's firmly a prospect of the 'good stuff, needs to master it' type. Another year of easy repetition, though, and he should be Show-ready. Give him another hundred innings or so, then let him fly.
More Scouting Book Info on Tyler Glasnow
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The first player drafted overall in 2015, Georgia native Dansby Swanson sent shockwaves through baseball when he was traded to the Atlanta Braves in the winter of 2015 for a package that included ace Shelby Miller. Swanson, who immediately becomes Atlanta's top prospect and is one of the best shortstop prospects in all of baseball, is a five-tool threat who is expected to stick at shortstop. Swanon's best year in college was his final one, when he slashed a .348/.441/.648 line with 14 home runs for Vanderbilt. Pending a serious drop-off as he adjusts to professional pitching, Swanson looks like a near-lock to be a part of the Braves plan for the next decade.
More Scouting Book Info on Dansby Swanson
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A big, slugging lefthander from the Dominican Republic, Ranger prospect Nomar Mazara has never lacked for strength, though his ability to put the bat cleanly on the ball isn't always quite up to snuff. Still, he took enough of a step forward in the minors last year (.296/.366/.443 in a year split between Round Rock and Frisco) to raise his lifetime average by 40 points. In the field, he's a bit slow but has a strong arm, projecting as a league-average right fielder.
More Scouting Book Info on Nomar Mazara
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A future star already shaking the launch pad in Milwaukee, shortstop Orlando Arcia will make a play to be the everyday Brewers shortstop this season, and his talent level is more than enough to make it likely he'll succeed. A quick righthanded bat with a very strong line-drive swing should be enough to keep him in the lineup, while slick glovework and plus range suggest he'll stick at shortstop, too. Get used to the name.
More Scouting Book Info on Orlando Arcia
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Originally drafted out of high school by the Mets, Astro first base prospect AJ Reed elected to continue his education at Kentucky instead, reentering the draft in 2014. It paid off, as the slugger, now 240lbs and coming off a College Player of the Year award, was taken as the first player off the board in round two, this time by the Astros. Reed's slashline in his senior year (.336/.476/.735) was topped off by 23 home runs (best in the NCAA) and threw in ace-level mound work as the team's Friday starter to boot.
A dream slugger, Reed combines real plus power with the kind of mature batting eye usually only seen in singles hitters. He's not afraid to take bad strikes, or to foul them off, waiting for a pitch he can drive, and he hits as well when behind in the count as any young player in baseball. In the field he's an adequate first baseman who should get better with practice -- he usually served as a DH when not pitching in college -- but even if he ends up a designated hitter for the Astros, he's going to be a very good one.
More Scouting Book Info on AJ Reed
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Another slow-cooking pitching prospect in a system that never seems to run out, Cardinal righthander Alex Reyes is pushing against the minor-league ceiling and should be contributing in the St Louis bullpen or rotation just as soon as there's an opening. A power righthander, he's often described as a copy of Cardinal project Carlos Martinez, though he actually looks a little more like Shelby Miller in action: a big, booming fastball that he throws deep into ballgames, peppered with a mix of so-so breaking stuff that's just enough to keep hitters honest. If his changeup ever truly blossoms, he's an ace, but even without he looks like a competent middle-of-rotation arm, and he's pretty much ready to fly right now.
More Scouting Book Info on Alex Reyes
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A very young lefthander who is raising eyebrows all over minor league ball with his electric filth*, Julio Urias is one of the most intriguing prospects in the Dodger system today. His stuff is plus-plus, and while there are concerns about his slight frame and ability to handle an MLB workload, the youngster is in good hands, and if anyone can maximize his potential as he grows, it's the Dodger coaching crew. While his raw stuff is MLB-level already, he's got enough to learn that he really should spend another full year in the minors. Let's see if the Dodgers have enough patience for that.
* Note: also a great name for a punk-jazz fusion band.
More Scouting Book Info on Julio Urias
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A complete hitter with enough pop to rack up big numbers in Colorado, prospect Brendan Rodgers also brings just enough range and arm to stick at shortstop. Drafted third overall in 2015 and dropped directly into the Pioneer League, Rodgers stepped up with a professional .273/.340/.420 line.
He'll turn 20 in mid-2016, and will probably be pushing up against AA ball right around the same time. Rockies fans are already comparing Rodgers 21-year-old Troy Tulowitzki... and they're not wrong.
More Scouting Book Info on Brendan Rodgers
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A nominal third baseman, Texas prospect Joey Gallo should probably be considered a first base or DH prospect, as his fieldwork isn't anything that will get him close to anything golden anytime soon.
His bat is tremendous though, with huge power to all fields, more than any other prospect in the system: in a season split between AAA Round Rock and AA Frisco, Gallo smacked 23 homers in 87 games, slashing .240/.342/.520 along the way. With a long swing and iffy judgement, though (139 strikeouts in those same 87 games), he's got some development to do before he's ready to really join in on the Texas thunder.
More Scouting Book Info on Joey Gallo
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A lefthanded power pitcher with a dominating mound presence, top Angel prospect Sean Newcomb went to the Braves in the winter of 2015, further strengthening an embarrassment of pitching riches in Atlanta's rebuild. Newcomb has a heavy, sinking fastball that lives around 95mph but can reach 99, more than enough to qualify him as one of the hardest-throwing lefty prospects in the game. His sweeping, hard slider is already a strikeout pitch, while a developing change and curve, while still rough, show occasional flashes of quality. He'll need some time to smooth out his big delivery and learn to repeat it more easily, but he's an exciting pitching prospect in an organization desperately in need of some.
More Scouting Book Info on Sean Newcomb
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A young, toolsy prospect with a very high ceiling, John Paul (JP) Crawford is one of the nation's best young baseball players. He has all the raw athleticism, including plus speed and superior fast-twitch muscles, to succeed almost anywhere on the diamond. Naturally, we'll see how he performs as a shortstop first, and the early signs are positive: he has soft hands and a strong arm, managing to look as smooth and practiced as any phenom Dominican. At the plate, Crawford shows a good eye for such a young hitter, with good bat control and the ability to square up and turn around on pretty much anything he's ever seen. At 6-2 and still growing, he may outgrow shortstop before his talent displaces him, but it shouldn't matter: he could be a fine future All Star centerfielder, too.
More Scouting Book Info on JP Crawford
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An all around standout athlete, Ranger outfielder Lewis Brinson looks like a shining star being forged deep in the heart of the Texas prospect furnace. In the field, he's always had such speed and grace that his ability has never been in doubt, but it's only recently that the offensive side of his game has started to really develop.
Brinson breezed past Low-A ball in 2014 and seemed to find his level with a .246/.307/.350 line during his year-ending tour of High-A pitching, when more patient pitchers were able to pick apart his sometimes too-aggressive swings. In 2015 he stepped up, though, adjusting to even AA pitching (.291/.328/.545) before showing off by stroking .433/.541/.567 in eight games with the AAA team in Round Rock. Along the way, Brinson kept showing ever-improving strike zone control, adjusting to newer and better pitchers at each stop, and re-learning how to make hard contact. He's got a shot in the major league outfield this season for Texas: even if he stumbles in April, he'll be a phone call away all year long.
More Scouting Book Info on Lewis Brinson
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A Tampa Bay prospect who's ready to push his way into the MLB rotation, Seattle native Blake Snell zipped up prospect lists by opening 2015 with forty consecutive shutout innings, and that's pretty much his game in a nutshell: a ground-ball control freak with frustrating stuff. Snell can repeat his low-90's sinker with ease, and he leans on it heavily, mixing in a quality cutter and a classic wipeout slider to produce strikeout numbers higher than one usually sees from a sinkerballer.
Tampa Bay may not be quite ready with their retooling project, but right around the time the rest of the team gears up into win-now mode, Snell should be a part of that machine.
More Scouting Book Info on Blake Snell
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Drafted as a teenager from Puerto Rico to open 2012's compensation round, Jose Orlando (J-O) Berrios is a smallish righthander with good arm strength that springs a compact but strong frame. His short delivery suggests mechanical soundness, even if it's a bit jerky, with a fastball that can pop at 96mph and a breaking ball that looks like a real plus offering. A top-flight phenom in a system good at maximizing pitcher value, there are few more certain things in the iffy business of pitching prospects: those last four starts he made at AAA in 2015 (32 strikeouts, 4 walks) made every last scout sit up and take notice.
More Scouting Book Info on Jose Berrios
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Top Prospects 2013