I thought I did my last list of the season after the draft, but since we've acquired so many new prospects via trades, I'm in a mood to do one more.
1) Jonathan Singleton, 1B, Grade B+: Borderline A-: You can make a case for either a straight up B+ or an A-, but I think a grade right between those two is accurate. Singleton's power numbers are up, but he still has yet to tap into his power. His defense isn't too shabby, and his two-strike approach is extraordinary for someone his age. He's improved against lefties this year, hitting .258 and slugging .454 against them, but he's still struggling seeing the ball and often swings at pitches way out of the zone. Still very young, though, and still projects to be someone you can build your lineup around.
2) Carlos Correa, SS, Grade B+: Borderline A-: The main reason why I'm not putting Correa ahead of Singleton is because Correa is so raw and lacks refinement, even though he's only 17. Also because Singleton is doing very well as a 20 year old in AA, which is pretty rare. The one thing going for Correa early on in his pro career is his relatively low K rate. Usually, players his age strikeout at a much higher rate than he currently is. As expected, his defensive fundamentals are raw, but they'll improve with experience. There's a chance that he may have to convert to 3B, which would be a downer, but it's too early to tell.
3) George Springer, OF, Grade B+: Springer has had a solid season at Lancaster, as he is contributing in just about every way a position player can. His defense is terrific, and I don't think it'd be too unrealistic to say he has Torii Hunter-like upside out in center. He's walking at a pretty good rate, but it's nothing new with him. So far, Springer has done everything that was expected of him, including striking out at a fairly high rate (though he has been better recently). He'll be put to the test next year when he's in AA, facing much better pitchers who possess more refined secondary pitches, so it'll be interesting to see how he does against them.
4) Lance McCullers, RHP, Grade B: Borderline B+: I was a bit hesitant to give him a borderline B+ grade, but I just love his arsenal. His fastball not only has excellent velocity, but it has good action on it as well. He throws a power curveball that projects to be a plus pitch in the future, and right now he's trying to develop a changeup. If he can make good progress with those two pitches, especially his changeup, he could become a good #2, maybe even more.
5) Jarred Cosart, RHP, Grade B: I think it's time that we all accept the fact that Cosart will likely never be the ace that he could have become. He has the stuff of a future ace, but his pitchability is not as advanced as it was earlier in his pro career for some reason, and his fastball, despite sitting in the 96-98 range, is quite hittable. However, despite the fact that his fastball is hittable, it has great sink on it, and as a result, he induces a ton of groundballs. His command is average at best, as he can go on a walking spree at times, but it could be worse. I think Cosart ultimately becomes a pretty good #3, but there's a slim chance he could turn out better.
6) Jonathan Villar, SS, Grade B-: Borderline B: He's currently injured, and will likely miss most of the rest of the season, but prior to the injury, Villar made real progress at the plate this year (same can't be said for his defense, unfortunately). His numbers are up all across the board, and his approach looks much better than it did last year. I'm probably higher on Villar than most of you all are, but I watched the majority of his ABs this season (MiLB.tv) and last season, and there's a difference between the two seasons. He is still occasionally chasing, but for the most part he's not. His power is real, as is his speed. Can make the amazing play on defense, but not the simple one. Keep in mind he's just 21. Can still live up to his tools.
7) Domingo Santana, OF, Grade B-: The uber-toolsy Santana has made good progress this year. His glove may never be the best, but his arm is plus-plus. As for his progress at the plate, it looks real. The K rate is still too high, but his walk rate has increased significantly. Reports from Lancaster this year indicate that Santana has actually impressed more than Springer has. From a numbers standpoint, Springer has had the better year, but Santana is three years younger than him, and his numbers aren't too far behind Springer's. Santana might be the system's most intriguing prospect.
8) Nick Tropeano, RHP, Grade B-: I'm tempted to give Trope a higher grade than this, but I think a B- will do for now. His increase in velocity has come out of nowhere, as his fastball now sits in the 92-94 range, and can touch 96 at times. His changeup is easily the best one in the system, and one of the best in all of the minors. His curveball is still developing, but it's made some nice progress this year. He does a good job of mixing his pitches, and usually induces a decent number of groundballs. His command can occasionally be bad, but that doesn't happen very often. Projects to be a good #3, at this point, but I don't think a #2 is out of the question. Next year could be a big one for Trope.
9) Delino DeShields Jr., 2B, Grade B-: You can make a case for a B, but I want to see how DDJ does in High-A first. His approach at the plate looks lightyears better this year than it did last year, and as a result of that, he's walking at a high rate. Projects to have 10-15 HR power, while stealing at least 65+ bags per year. Defense has made progress, but still needs some refinement. DeShields has had a very good year for Lexington, but I want to wait and see how he does in the upper levels before I really buy into him.
10) Robbie Grossman, OF, Grade B-: In terms of tools, Grossman isn't all that great, but he essentially plays above them, thanks to some outstanding plate discipline. His defense is okay, but likely won't ever be anything special. Has decent speed and some power, but neither are above average. His hit tool is above average, however, but it likely won't ever be a plus tool. Grossman is a fine prospect and could become an everyday CF, but probably nothing more than that.
11) Rio Ruiz, 3B, Grade B-: I would rank Rio ahead of Grossman, but he's far away from the majors, and is still somewhat of a mystery. He's got a very nice swing, and could develop 20+ HR power, but we don't know at this point. What we do know, though, is his hit tool is a plus one. He should hit in the .300 range, and projects to be a solid defender at third with a good arm. His medical history isn't attractive, but it seems kind of flukey, too. Don't think it'll ever be a major concern.
12) Mike Foltynewicz, RHP, Grade B-: Folty has been very good throughout the season with the exception of a few starts, but for the most part, he's been solid. He's inducing a decent number of groundballs, and isn't giving up to many HRs. It's tough to say right now if he'll ever be a big strikeout guy, but it's more likely that he doesn't become one. His command has been consistently good throughout the season. Could become a #3. Doubt he turns out as more, but he's still young.
13) Joe Musgrove, RHP, Grade B-: Musgrove is a big guy at 6'5" 230, and could become a workhorse in the future, but he's not close to the majors, and won't be for some time. His fastball velocity has dropped from his high school days, for some reason, but it's still a solid offering that sits in the 92-94 range. His secondaries are raw and unrefined right now, but that's to be expected of someone so young. One of the more intriguing prospects in the system.
14) Jose Cisnero, RHP, Grade B-: Cisnero is a pretty weird prospect. His secondary stuff is nothing special, and his fastball only sits in the 91-93 range, but he racks up Ks. The one thing his fastball does have, however, is great action, especially up in the zone. Cisnero was recently promoted to AAA after having a very good season at AA, and pitched very well in his AAA debut. His command has been much better this year, and hasn't walked a lot of batters like he did last year. Some think he'll ultimately become a reliever, but I see no reason why he can't become a starter, and a pretty good one at that. He's just 23, and could be ready for the majors as soon as sometime next season.
15) Asher Wojciechowski, RHP, Grade B-: Wojo, like Musgrove, is big righty who stands at 6'5" 235. Also like Musgrove, Wojo lost some of his velocity after becoming a pro. Still, his fastball has some decent action on it, and usually sits in the 93 range. His curveball flashes plus potential, as it's a good pitch right now, but it may or may not live up to its potential. Wojo also has a decent changeup, but it's not likely that it ever becomes more than an okay pitch. Overall, his stuff is solid, but his command is incredibly shaky. He completely loses control of the zone at times, but then he can come back and paint a corner with his fastball. Wojo could become a #3, but it's more likely he ends up as a decent #4.
16) Vincent Velasquez, RHP, Grade C+: Borderline B-: Velasquez is in his first year as a pro this season, and is pitching very well thus far for Tri-City. His fastball is his best pitch, as it consistently sits in the 93-95 range with pretty good movement, and can touch 96 occasionally. His slider is already a good pitch, and definitely has plus potential. His changeup is also already a decent pitch, and could become a good one in the future. His command is solid overall, and he seems to be a guy who can record a good number of strikeouts per season. Velasquez is just 19, and could put up some serious numbers next year at Lexington.
17) Ariel Ovando, OF, Grade C+: Borderline B-: Ovando has massive upside, but he's still quite raw. He's in his 2nd year in the Appy league, and he's off to a terrific start, especially in the power department. His defense is similar to Santana's in RF. The glove may never become anything special, but the arm absolutely will be. He's got big time power potential, and his hit tool isn't so bad either. He may or may not eventually become our #1 prospect in a few years, but don't be surprised if he does. This kid has got a huge ceiling.
18) Adrian Houser, RHP, Grade C+: The 2011 2nd round pick is repeating rookie ball, but he's had a fine start to the season, especially in the strikeout and groundball departments. Houser has a good fastball that sits in the 92-95 range, and his secondaries seem to be much improved. His command is solid, though he does lose the zone occasionally. Houser's kind of tough to project. He could turn out to be something significant, or he could turn out to be nothing special. He likely winds up as a #3 or a #4.
19) Bobby Borchering, 3B, Grade C+: Borchering is another intriguing prospect. He's got plus power, but that's about it. His hit tool is mediocre, but he's young enough to improve that. Same goes for his defense. Just 21 in AA, can still live up to his 1st round talent.
20) Carlos Perez, C, Grade C+: Perez is a mystery. He's already at High-A, but it's tough to evaluate him. He could become a good, everyday catcher in the big leagues, but he has yet to fully show that potential. He's a good athlete compared to other catchers, and has the defensive tools to stay behind the plate. His power will show up some times and then disappear at other times. Possesses decent plate discipline, and could hit for an okay average in the future.
Next five in: Matt Dominguez, 3B; Brett Oberholtzer, LHP; Brady Rodgers, RHP; Colton Cain, LHP; Marc Krauss, OF
This system is relatively deep, thanks to the trades. I'm sure there'll be some debate about the ranking of the top 3 guys, but I feel like Singleton is nearly major league ready, and the fact that he's just 20 is huge. Springer still has some areas he needs to improve on, notably his strikeouts, but he could surpass Singleton if he does well in AA. Correa is just so raw, and despite the fact that he has a big ceiling, I think putting him behind Singleton makes sense.
Dominguez still has the ability to be a decent hitter with some pop, as he's just 22 in AAA. Just like Perez's upside more.
Thanks for reading this far if you did.