MLB NEWS

Mid-spring Snapshot: Farm report for all 30 teams

The Sports Xchange

March 22, 2017 at 10:21 am.

Mar 17, 2017; Fort Myers, FL, USA; Houston Astros relief pitcher Francis Martes (79) throws against the Boston Red Sox in the fifth inning at JetBlue Park. The Astros won 6-2. Photo Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Mar 17, 2017; Fort Myers, FL, USA; Houston Astros relief pitcher Francis Martes (79) throws against the Boston Red Sox in the fifth inning at JetBlue Park. The Astros won 6-2. Photo Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

As spring training begins to wind down, teams are finalizing their assessments of their top prospects. Many youngsters are headed back to the minors for further seasoning, while some will crack Opening Day rosters.

Here is a mid-spring farm report for each team as determined by The Sports Xchange’s national network of baseball correspondents.

NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Left-hander Anthony Banda, the only D-back listed in Baseball America’s preseason top 100 prospects, made two scoreless relief appearances in spring training, striking out five and giving up one hit and one walk in four innings before being reassigned to minor league camp. Obtained by Kevin Towers in the 2014 trading deadline deal that sent Gerardo Parra to Milwaukee, Banda had a 2.88 ERA in 26 starts evenly split between Double-A Mobile and Triple-A Reno, and he could be ready to contribute shortly. Right-hander Jimmy Sherfy, 25, had two saves in three scoreless spring appearances and leads with a mid-90 mph fastball.

COLORADO ROCKIES

Shortstop/second baseman Brendon Rodgers, 20, possibly reaches the majors in 2019 and right-hander Riley Pint, 19, the following year. The third overall pick in 2015, Rodgers, who has elite bat speed, will move up to high Single-A Lancaster after hitting .281/.342/.480 with 19 homers and 73 RBI at low Single-A Asheville. That’s where Pint, the fourth overall pick last year, should pitch this season. He sits at 96-99 mph with a fastball that easily touches 100, 101 mph, good secondary stuff and, best of all, a more compact and repeatable delivery thanks to extensive offseason work.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS

First baseman Cody Bellinger, the Dodgers’ top prospect, is hitting just .196 with a .283 slugging percentage through Sunday and will start the season at Triple-A Oklahoma City. Observers consider the 21-year-old Bellinger to be the probable replacement for 1B Adrian Gonzalez, whose contract expires after next season. Right-hander Walker Buehler, 22, made the biggest impression despite not appearing in a major league game this spring. “It’s elite stuff,” Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt told MLB.com. “The actual pitch-ability and actual stuff ranks up there pretty much with anybody.” The team selected Buehler in the first round of the 2015 draft.

SAN DIEGO PADRES

Right-hander Cal Quantrill and left-hander Eric Lauer, two of the Padres three first-round draft picks last June, will likely open the season at Advanced Single-A Lake Elsinore with dreams of pitching in the Majors by the end of 2017. They are the leaders of a youth movement. Between the draft, trades and international signing period, the Padres added more than 80 players to their system last year. The system produced three position players this year — catcher Austin Hedges and outfielders Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot. The next wave includes relievers Phil Maton and Jose Torres and starting pitchers Dinelson Lamet and Walker Lockett but most of the best prospects start at Single-A or lower.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

Tyler Beede and Kyle Crick both pitched well enough in the spring to warrant consideration for spots in many teams’ starting rotations. But not the Giants. With four front-line starters locked into position, the No. 5 spot is Matt Cain’s to lose. And if he loses it, it almost certainly will go to Ty Blach, a late-season sensation in 2016. That should leave Beede and Crick battling it out at Triple-A for the honor of being the club’s first in-season pitching call-up.

NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL

CHICAGO CUBS

With a solid core returning from a 2016 World Series championship, there’s not much room for a rookie to break through. But some kids could see time with the parent club as the season progresses. INF Ian Happ is batting .400 with a .725 slugging percentage through 20 spring games. The Cubs also took a long look at top prospect Eloy Jimenez before he was assigned to Minor League camp last week. Jimenez, a 20-year-old OF, batted .321 in 16 games, with two homers and a pair of doubles.

CINCINNATI REDS

Left-hander Amir Garrett’s bid to make the Opening Day rotation is off to a good start. In five spring starts, Garrett is 3-1 with a 2.20 ERA with four earned runs allowed in 16 1/3 innings. He had 10 strikeouts and three walks. Left-hander Cody Reed, looking to rebound from a rough big-league debut last season has posted a 3.24 ERA in five appearances including three Outfielder Jesse Winker is hitting .293 with a double, homer and five RBIs in 37 at-bats.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS

Many of the top prospects in Milwaukee’s resurgent farm system spent the last few weeks in big league camp but are now getting their assignments. Outfielder Lewis Brinson reinforced his standing as top prospect during Cactus League play but will begin the season at Triple-A Colorado Springs. He’ll be joined there by fellow outfielders Ryan Cordell and Brett Phillips, while right-hander Josh Hader, the Brewers’ top pitching prospect, will anchor the Sky Sox rotation. The rebuilding Brewers figure to dip into their crop of young talent at some point, so expect to see all four in Milwaukee sooner rather than later.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES

Outfielder Austin Meadows, drafted ninth overall in 2013, is batting .313 with a .936 OPS .993 OPS through 32 at-bats. He dominated at Class AA Altoona but dropped off some in 37 games Class AAA Indianapolis last year. A strong start at Indy could earn him his first crack with the Pirates. … Right-hander Tyler Glasnow, 23, looked more like a longer-term project than someone ready to be the fifth starter. In four appearances (two starts), Glasnow has a 6.10 ERA.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

A pair of young outfielders, Harrison Bader and Magneuris Sierra, have looked more advanced than their billing coming into spring training. Neither will break camp with the big club, but in Bader’s case, he could be there later this summer. Bader is batting .310 with two home runs in 38 spring at-bats, showing the ability to hit to all fields and flashing occasional power. Sierra is hitting .387 with three doubles in 31 at-bats and is one of the fastest players in the organization. Sierra will need to control the strike zone a bit better to get past Double-A Springfield this year.

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

ATLANTA BRAVES

Infielder Ozzie Albies missed the first start of spring training because of the fractured elbow he suffered last September, but he quickly showed why he considered one of the Braves’ top prospects. The 20-year-old speedster, who won the Double-A Southern League batting title a year ago, will start the season in Triple-A, but it will be tough to keep him there all year. The Braves envision having Dansby Swanson at shortstop and Albies at second base for many seasons to come.

MIAMI MARLINS

The Marlins are ranked near the bottom in terms of prospect depth and talent. The system is so barren that left-hander Braxton Barrett, last year’s first-rounder, jumped to the top of their prospect list despite being a couple of years from the majors. The No. 2 prospect was right-hander Luis Castillo, who has since been traded, and the No. 3 player, right-hander Tyler Kolek, was ineffective in the low minors before elbow surgery. That leaves left-hander Dillon Peters, 24, as a possible breakthrough rookie this year. He is 15-10 with a 2.69 ERA in the minors and likely starts this year with Double-A Jacksonville.

NEW YORK METS

It will be a surprise if right-hander Robert Gsellman, who retains rookie eligibility after throwing 44 2/3 innings last season, doesn’t spent most of 2017 in the majors. Shortstop Amed Rosario, widely viewed as one of baseball’s top 10 prospects, will likely open at Double-A Binghamton after hitting .267 in Grapefruit League action and is on track to become the Mets’ starter next season. First baseman Dominic Smith, whose power began developing at Binghamton last year, should start at Triple-A Las Vegas but looked farther away than Rosario after hitting .176 in 34 spring at-bats.

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

Shortstop J.P. Crawford was sent to minor league camp after hitting .207 in 29 at-bats this spring but he may make his debut in 2017. Outfielder Mickey Moniak, the No. 1 overall pick in last year’s draft reportedly added 20 pounds of muscle to his 6-foot-2 frame and projects to start 2017 in Single-A Lakewood. Moniak doesn’t turn 19 until May and is still a few years away from the major leagues. Catcher Jorge Alfaro had a brief stint with the Phillies late last season and is the only top prospect to reach the major leagues.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS

RHP Erick Fedde has seen time with RHP Tanner Roark on the USA roster for the World Baseball Classic and while RHP Max Scherzer works his way back from an issue with his right ring finger. Fedde could be in the mix if the Nationals need a starter at some point late in the season. Fedde was a combined 8-5 with a 3.12 ERA in 23 games at two minor league levels last year. OF Rafael Bautista, one of the game’s top prospects, hit .313 before being sent to Triple-A on March 17.

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST

HOUSTON ASTROS

Francis Martes is the Astros’ top overall prospect and is rated by MLB.com as the fifth-best right-handed pitching prospect in baseball. He was assigned to minor league camp on March 19, two days after his best performance of the spring: three hitless innings in a split-squad game against the Red Sox. Martes posted a 1-1 record and 3.86 ERA over four appearances and seven innings this spring, and while he’s just 21, his stuff and competitive fire are intriguing enough that a big-league debut this summer isn’t out of the question.

LOS ANGELES ANGELS

First baseman Matt Thaiss, considered the Angels’ second-best prospect, was productive and consistently got on base this spring. The 21-year-old Thaiss, the Angels’ first-round selection in last year’s draft, begins his first full season of professional baseball. Left-hander Nate Smith, 25, returns to Triple-A Salt Lake after allowing two earned runs in four innings this spring but could be recalled if the Angels’ rotation has problems. Unheralded infielder David Fletcher, 22, hit .333 (9-for-27) with three doubles and four RBIs. Fletcher likely will start the season at Double-A Mobile and could be in Anaheim in two years.

OAKLAND ATHLETICS

All eyes were on top infield prospects Franklin Barreto and Matt Chapman this spring. Barreto at times appeared to be the best Athletic on the field, yet was sent to minor league camp despite a .481 batting average. Chapman, on the other hand, struggled at the plate, but remained in the mix for the 25-man major league roster. Chances are they’ll begin the season as teammates at Triple-A, and in Oakland by the end of the season.

SEATTLE MARINERS

Outfielder Tyler O’Neill, who might push for a midseason promotion, got some valuable experience with the Canadian Olympic team. O’Neill is one of the top minor league hitters in the organization, and he did enough this spring to validate that claim. First baseman Dan Vogelbach, who was acquired from the Chicago Cubs last season, is getting on base at a high rate despite a low batting average and is competing to be the Opening Day first baseman.

TEXAS RANGERS

Drew Robinson isn’t the top prospect in the organization but the 24-year-old has carved a niche for himself in spring training with his versatility. Robinson, 24, batted .257 in Triple-A last year with 20 home runs and 17 stolen bases. He’s shown those flashes this spring with three homers and three steals to go along with the ability to play both the infield and corner outfield spots. The chances of him breaking camp with the Rangers are slim, but if something happens to either Jurickson Profar or Ryan Rua, Robinson is the next-best option.

AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL

CHICAGO WHITE SOX

Top-rated prospect Yoan Moncada has lived up to some lofty expectations in his first spring with the White Sox, who acquired him from the Red Sox in December as part of the trade for Chris Sale. Moncada batted .317 (13-for-41) with three home runs and 13 RBIs in 17 games. The 21-year-old likely will start the season at Triple-A Charlotte, but it is only a matter of time before the second baseman is starting games on Chicago’s South Side.

CLEVELAND INDIANS

Outfielder Bradley Zimmer and catcher Francisco Mejia, the top two minor league prospects in the Indians’ organization, were the two most-watched prospects in camp. Both performed well. In his first 18 spring training games Zimmer hit .354 (17-for-48), with three home runs and a team-high 12 RBI. Mejia hit .421 (8-for-19), with two home runs and eight RBI. Zimmer will likely start the season at Triple-A Columbus, and could make his major league debut sometime during the 2017 season. Mejia will start the season at Double-A Akron, with an estimated arrival to the majors in 2018.

DETROIT TIGERS

Center fielder JaCoby Jones is Detroit’s highest profile rookie and with a good spring he’s due to play for the Tigers this season. Hard-throwing right-handed reliever Joe Jimenez only worked two spring games and needs to hone a slider and changeup before he gets called up. Right-hander Arcenio Leon, 30, was signed as a minor league free agent but positioned himself for a possible early callup by working 4 1/3 scoreless innings in his first four spring games. Infielder Dixon Machado and outfielder Steven Moya are out of options; Machado should stick as a reserve but Moya seems destined for waivers.

KANSAS CITY ROYALS

First baseman Ryan O’Hearn has received more playing time with Eric Hosmer in the WBC. Manager Ned Yost said he likes O’Hearn “compact swing.” Reliever Yender Caramo is not listed among the Royals’ top prospects, but he opened eyes as a non-roster invitee in spring training, allowing one run over 7 1/3 innings. Both will likely open the season with Triple-A Omaha. Top pitching prospect Josh Staumont has allowed one run in five appearances and struck out five in three scoreless innings last Thursday against the San Diego Padres. He could be in the Royals’ bullpen before the season ends.

MINNESOTA TWINS

The news for Minnesota’s top prospects hasn’t been too good this spring. Outfielder Alex Kiriloff, the team’s first-round last year, had to have Tommy John surgery and is out for the season. The Twins also announced recently that LHP Tyler Jay, the 2015 No. 6 overall pick, would be moved back to the bullpen after Minnesota drafted the college reliever and hoped to make him a starter. LHP Stephen Gonsalves and RHP Fernando Romero did look good in short time with the major league club this spring, totaling a combined 6 1/3 scoreless innings.

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

BALTIMORE ORIOLES

First baseman/outfielder/DH Trey Mancini and catcher Chance Sisco are the top two prospects now, and both could see time at the big-league level this season. Mancini could make the team out of camp but the Orioles might keep him at Triple-A Norfolk to get daily playing time. However, it’s a good bet that he’ll be here at some point by mid-season. Sisco’s best chance to join the Orioles seems to be — unless injuries happen — later in the year. A full year at Norfolk is what’s best for him now, not sitting on the bench in Baltimore.

BOSTON RED SOX

The Red Sox have been dealing their prospects in major deals but that doesn’t mean the cupboard is bare. Baseball America dropped the Sox on their prospect rankings list but still had them at No. 14. Outfielder Andrew Benintendi has already arrived, but there are others still on the way — slugger Sam Travis and 3B Rafael Devers top the hitters’ list and LHP Jason Groome the top-rated remaining pitcher.

NEW YORK YANKEES
Outfielder Clint Frazier likely will start this season in Triple-A. He could reach the majors at some point this year if not next year. While also getting attention for his hair, Frazier also is batting .316 and if he is good as advertised, it might result in Brett Gardner getting traded at some point. Right-hander James Kaprielian, New York’s first-round pick in 2015, was demoted to minor league camp last week after his debut and could be in the majors by 2018 if he pitches well and does not get hurt. For now, he will start the season with Single-A Tampa.

TAMPA BAY RAYS

First baseman Jake Bauers hasn’t played above Double-A ball yet, but he’s been the Rays’ most productive hitter this spring, mashing a team-high four home runs for 11 RBIs and a .353 batting average. The 21-year-old isn’t likely to open the season in the majors, but his strong spring makes it just a matter of when. Right-hander Jaime Schultz, 25, has topped 160 strikeouts in each of the last two seasons, playing at AA Montgomery and AAA Durham. He has struck out 19 in 12 1/3 innings this spring, with a 2.13 ERA, making a case for a bullpen spot.

TORONTO BLUE JAYS

First baseman Rowdy Tellez, 22, likely will open in Triple-A but the left-handed hitter has advanced enough that he could be in Toronto this season. Outfielder Anthony Alford, 22, hampered by injuries in 2016, has made rapid improvement over last year. He might need another season before reaching the majors. Tim Mayza, 25, a left-hander who throws 95 to 98, could see the majors once he harnesses his stuff. Lourdes Gurriel Jr., a 23-year-old Cuban, looks like the real deal. His ability to play infield and outfield could speed his rise to the majors.

 

ARTICLE OF THE WEEK

SCARBROUGH'S TAKE

College Fans, Beware The Man in the Bottle.