MLB Player Development, 2016

Posted: December 26, 2016 in Uncategorized

My preamble:

I rate MLB player development from A to AAA ball.  Why not A- and Rookie ball?  I do not rate 18 and 19 year olds.  Tis exhausting and beyond speculative.

Age matters.  I will not rate Will Venable no matter what kind of year he had in AAA.

I will not rate a 22 year old in AA ball who strikes out 30% of his at-bats.  I don’t care if he hits 27/80 in 430 abs.  Curing strike outs at the major league level does not happen.

Speaking of maladies, I rarely rate a pitcher (starter or closer) who walks more than 3 batters per 9 innings.  And by more than 3 , I mean 3.1, 3.2.  You get the idea.  That disease becomes raging fever against major league hitters.  Ask Kevin Quackenbush.

I do not track trades during the rating process.  Thus, if you read of a traded minor leaguer listed with the team who raised him and traded him, now you know.

I rate on a scale of 1 (worst) to 4 (best).

Here we go.


Seattle (3.8).  Go ahead.  Laugh.  Four years ago, Houston caught my attention.  If your club needs a catcher, call Seattle.  From A ball to AAA, eight guys made the grade.  All eight, less Mike Zunino, had 2016 toss rates of at least 33% with two guys, Daniel Torres (A+) and James Alfonso (A), above 40%.  The only 2-9 spot that did not rate at least a 3 was left field (ranked a 2).  All other positions are a 3 or 4.

The M’s pitching, starting and relief, both rated 4.  All starting prospects are AAA and AA with a splash of Show experience in 2016.  Relief prospects, less one, are also found in AAA and AA.

Watch List:  Marcus Littlewood (c, AAA, AA), Kyle Petty (1b, A+), Mike Freeman (2b, MLB, AAA), Adam Law (3b, AA), Guillermo Heredia (cf, MLB, AAA, AA), Braden Bishop (cf, A), Stefen Romero (rf, MLB, AAA), Tyler O’Neill (rf, AA), Edwin Diaz (starter, MLB, AA.  He skipped AAA), Andrew Kittredge (relief, AAA, AA), Steve Johnson (relief, MLB, AAA) and Jake Zokan (relief, A+).

NYY  (3.5).  Loaded at every position less second base and short.  Catching, first base and all outfield spots are especially deep and brimming with talent.  Of course, the eternal NYY challenge is not to trade talent for the Chase Headley of the future (enough said).  By the way, if Gary Sanchez gets lazy, don’t worry.  Kyle Higashioka (AA) and Francisco Diaz (AA, A+) are ready.

Starting pitching and relief is the best in the A.L. and possibly all of MLB.  Much like the Mariners, all starters, less one, are AA and up.  Relievers are all AAA and AA with the occasional cup of coffee in the Bronx during 2016.

Watch List:  Tyler Austin (1b, MLB, AAA), Billy Fleming (1b, A+), Chris Gittens 1b, A), Donovan Solano (he’s 28.  Now is the time.  2b, MLB, AAA), Miguel Andujar (3b, A+), Ben Gamel (cf, MLB, AAA), Chad Green (starter, MLB, AAA), Luis Severino (post an 8-1 record by appearing in 13 AAA games, and you remain a minor league pitching prospect), Dan Camarena (starter, AA), Chance Adams (starter, AA, A+) James Kaprielian (starter, A+), Nick Goody (relief, MLB, AAA.  Lots of ability.  So NY trades him), Giovanny Gallegos (relief, AAA, AA), Jonathan Holder (relief, MLB, AAA, AA) and Travis Hissong (relief, AA, A+, A.  Mr. Hissong is the best of the lot).

Houston (3.5).  The annual reminder that their A+ club is in Lancaster, CA where the wind blows and offensive numbers soar accordingly.  Consider the reverse on behalf of A+ pitching prospects.

All 2-9 positions rated either a 3 or 4.  A deep list at catcher, first, second, center and right.

Starting pitching features Joseph Musgrove and a host of other impressive mound men (an original.  You are welcome).  Relief was thin, rating a mere 2.  This is the only weak spot in the Houston organization.

Watch List:  Garrett Stubbs (c, AA, A+), A.J. Reed (1b, MLB, AAA), Tony Kemp (2b, MLB, AAA), Alex Bergman (ss, MLB, AAA, AA), Teoscar  Hernandez (rf, MLB, AAA, AA), Preston Tucker (rf, MLB, AAA), Myles Straw (rf, A+, A), the above mentioned Mr. Musgrove (starter, MLB, AAA, AA), David Paulino (starter, MLB, AAA – a mere 14 ip – and AA), Trent Thompson (starter, AA, A+) and Brendan McCurry (relief, AA).

Minnesota (2.9).  See my Seattle comment.  Much improved development.  Less first and third, the other positions rated 3 or 4.

Starting pitching is the deepest since I have rated development (I’m sure the Minnesota organization is thrilled).  Relief rated a 3, but only because of three talented relievers with one each at AAA, AA and A+.  Otherwise a 2 would have been the result.

Watch List:  Mitch Garver (c, AAA, AA), Luis Arraez (2b, A), Nelson Molina (3b, A), Nick Gordon (ss, A+), Lamonte Wade (lf, A+, A), Byron Buxton (cf, MLB,  AAA.  2017 is the year, Mr. Buxton.  You must make the club in March and produce), Eddie Rosario (cf, MLB, AAA), Zach Granite (cf, AA), Felix Jorge (starter, A+), Fernando Romero (starter, A+), J.T. Chargois (relief, MLB,  AAA), Trevor Hildenberger (relief, AA) and Nick Anderson (relief, A+, A).

Boston (2.9).  A lack of development with third basemen and relievers prevented the Sox from a 3.0 rating.  A solid group at catcher, second (trading Yoan Moncada did little to drain the depth at second) and right.

Starting pitching is above average while the relief corps was average with a tad too many A+ guys making the grade which indicates a lack of depth at AAA and AA.

Watch List:  Jake Romanski (c, AA), Luis Alejandro Basabe (2b, A), Marco Hernandez (ss, MLB, AAA.  Now that Travis Shaw and Yoan Moncada are Brewers, Mr. Hernandez has an opportunity to stay in Fenway), Mauricio Dubon (ss, AA and A+), Andrew Benintendi (cf, Boston, AAA and A+.  An extended stay in Boston does not make a starting outfielder.  Though, more than likely, yeah), Aneury Tavarez (rf, AA), Eduardo Rodriguez (see the Luis Severino comments.  Mr. Rodriguez made 7 starts and threw 38 innings at Pawtucket.  Time to stick in Fenway), Aaron Wilkerson (starter, AAA and AA) and Justin Haley (starter, AAA and AA, but I believe he was taken in the Rule 5 draft).

Oakland (2.9).  Thank their pitching prospects.  Without those two groups, the A’s would rate a 2.1.  Little to nobody at second and short.  Third is thin.  Catching, first and center have the most talent.

Starting pitching is deep, deep, deep.  The first nine are all AAA with time in the Bigs during 2016.  Relief is layered nicely from AAA to AA to A+.

Watch List:  Bruce Maxwell (c, MLb, AAA), Andy Paz (c, AA), Ryon Healy (1b, MLB, AAA, AA.  He’s good), James Harris (cf, A+), Mike Martin (cf, A), Raul Alcantara (starter, MLB, AAA), Jharel Cotton (starter, MLB, AAA ), Daniel Coulombe (relief, MLB, AAA), Andrew Triggs (relief, MLB, AAA) and Cody Stull (relief, A+).

Toronto (2.7).  Five solid prospects at first and third.  Catching, second and right are above average with the other positions thin.

Starting pitching is average.  Bullpen development is promising.

Watch List:  Jesus Montero (1b, MLB, AAA), Rowdy Tellez (1b, AA), Ryan McBroom (1b, A+), Jason Leblebijian (3b, AA, A+), Emilio Guerrero (3b, A+ and perhaps the best of the five), Richard Urena (ss, A+), Sean Reid-Foley (starter, A+), Danny Barnes (relief, MLB, AAA, AA), Aaron Loup (relief, MLB, AAA), Matt Dermody (relief, MLB, AAA, AA, A+.  Extraordinary progress in a single season) and Colton Turner (relief, A+).

Detroit (2.5).  Strong at catcher, first and left.  Average at second, short and right.  Nobody at third.  If Jacoby Jones develops in center, the position is above average.  If he has another horrible year in AAA, group center with second, short and right.

Starting pitching rated a 3 while relief development barely hit a 1.  Boo.

Watch List:  John Hicks (c, MLB, AAA), Arvicent Perez (c, A), Dean Green (1b, AAA, AA), Will Maddox (1b, A) and Christian Stewart (lf, A+).

Baltimore (2.2.).  Starting pitching and first are average while third and short are woeful.  Talent is found at catcher and second.  The three outfield spots are above average.

Of the top ten rated starters, three are in A+.  Not good.  A+ is a long way from MLB.  Relief is solid, if unspectacular.

Watch List:  Chance Sisco (c, AA), Yermin Mercedes (c, A+, A), Aderlin Rodriguez (1b, A+), Corban Joseph (2b, MLB, AAA, AA) and Luis Gonzalez (relief, A+).

Tampa Bay (2.1).  Above average at catcher, first, center and left.  Average to below average at third, short and second.

Pitching development in the bullpen is awful.  One of the worst in the A.L., though two guys show promise, but are at least two years from arrival.  Starting pitching is average.

Watch List:  Armando Araiza (c, AA, A+), Brett Sullivan (c, A), Casey Gillaspie (1b, AAA, AA), Mike Mahtook (cf, MLB, AAA), Justin Williams (rf, A+), Brent Honeywell (starter, AA, A+), Kyle Bird (relief, A+, A) and Brian Miller (relief, A+).

Kansas City (2.1).  Pitching development saved the Royals from a sub 2 rating.  No development is found at third, shortstop and right field after the AAA level.  In the entire organization, one left fielder rated.  Catching, second and center are average.  First base is the only position with any depth and talent.

Starting pitching was deep at the AA level in 2016.  Relief candidates are many and talented.

Watch List:  Ryan O’Hearn (1b, AA, A+), Samir Duenez (1b, A+), Hunter Dozier (3b, MLB, AAA, AA), Jorge Bonifacio (rf, AAA), Daniel Stumpf (relief, MLB, AA.  Mr. Stumpf skipped AAA), Andrew Edwards (relief, AA) and Mark Peterson (relief, AA).

Anaheim (2.0).  Mostly average development at the 2-9 spots.  Catching and first are the only two bright spots.  Lots of A ball players made the grade, but A ball is distant.

Starting pitching rated a zero.  Awful.  Relief development is average.  Much like the 2-9 spots, a lot of A ball hopes.

Watch List:  Jeff Bandy (c, MLB, AAA, but recently traded.  Dumb), Ji-Man Choi (1b, MLB, AAA), Michael Hermosillo (cf, A+, A), Tyler Carpenter (starter, A+), Tyler DeLoach (relief, AA), Eduardo Parades (relief, A+), Kevin Grendell (relief, A), Adam Hofacket (relief, A) and Erick Alonzo (relief, A).  Remember, A ball pitchers appearing on a depth chart is not a sign of strength or depth.

Chicago (1.9).  First, left and center hold hope.  The rest, not so much.

Overall pitching development is by far the worse in the A.L.  Both starting and relief are woeful.

Watch List:  Alfredo Gonzalez (c, AA), Nick Delmonico (1b, AA), Leury Garcia (3b, MLB, AAA), Jason Coats (3b, MLB, AAA), Nick Basto (3b, A+), Mason Robbins (rf, A+), Anthony Renaudo (starter, MLB, AAA), Matt Cooper (relief, AA, though he was a starter in A+ ball).

Texas (1.7).  Except for right field (loaded), not much to average.  Short and left are especially thin.

Pitching development is not as barren as the White Sox.  But close.

Watch List:  Juremi Profar (1b, A+), Scott Heineman (lf, A+), Jose Cardona (cf, A+), Eduardo Pinto (rf, AA, A.  He skipped A+ ball), Luke Tendler (rf, A+), Luis Ortiz (starter, A+), Adam Parks (relief, AA) and Nick Gardenwine (relief, A+).

Cleveland (1.6).  Center is the only above average position.  Catching and right rated a 2 while the other positions rated 1.  Yuck.

Both kinds of pitching development rated average.

Watch List:  Francisco Mejia (c, A+, A), Tyler Kriegel (2b, A+, A), Yandy Diaz (3b, AAA, AA), Greg Allen (cf, AA, A+), Nathan Lukes (cf, A), Connor Marabell (rf, A), Adam Plutko (starter, AAA, AA), David Speer (relief, A+) and Cole Sulser (relief, A+).


Los Angeles (3.8).  Tremendous improvement.  Andrew Friedman quickly replenished the Dodgers from the bottom up.

Each 2-9 position earned a 4 less first base which received a 3.  Outstanding.  Twelve prospects at the 2-9 spots received the prized asterisk (my designation of players who have the best chance at enjoying a MLB career).  I know all twelve are giddy.

Starting pitching is deep and, no, Zach Lee did not make my list.  Good luck to Mr. Lee in San Diego.  All starting prospects are found in AAA and AA.  Relief is not as deep as starting pitching, but nonetheless above average.

Watch List:  Austin Barnes (c, MLB, AAA), Shawn Zarraga (c, AA), Will Smith (c, A+, A), Matt Beatty (1b, A+), Mike Ahmed (1b, A+), Willie Calhoun (2b, AA), Noah Perio (2b, A+), Rob Segedin (3b, MLB, AAA), Edwin Rios (3b, A+), Cody Bellinger (lf, AA), Andrew Toles (cf, MLB, AAA, AA, A+.  Impressive progress during the course of a single season), Andrew Verdugo (cf, AA), Julio Urias (starter, MLB, AAA), Brock Stewart (starter, MLB, AAA), Grant Dayton (relief, MLB, AAA), Gus Schlosser (relief, MLB, AAA, AA), Caleb Dirks (relief, AA).

Philadelphia (3.5).  Less third base, all 2-9 positions rated a 3 or 4.  A lot of depth at catcher, first and left.  Most spots have candidates at AAA, AA and A+.  Well done.

Pitching development is brimming with talent.  All rated starters are AAA or AA.

Watch List:  Jorge Alvaro (c, MLB, AA.  He skipped AAA), Chace Numata (c, A+), Tommy Joseph (1b, MLB, AAA).  Rhys Hoskins (1b, AA), Josh Tobias (2b, A and traded to Boston), Christian Marrero (lf, AA), Andrew Pullin (lf, AA), Dylan Cozens (rf, AA), Zack Coppola (rf, A+, A), Alec Asher (starter, MLB, AAA), Phil Klein (starter, MLB, AAA), Zach Elfin (starter, MLB, AAA), Ben Lively (starter, AAA, AA), Edubray Ramos (relief, MLB, AAA), Elvis Araujo (relief, MLB, AAA), Alexis Rivero (relief, A+), Jeff Singer (relief, A) and Grant Dyer (relief, A).

San Diego (3.3).  Fear not Padres fans, drafted and developed help is on the way.  Especially since g.m.’s are reluctant to trade with A.J. “The Truth” Preller.

Second base and short were the only average 2-9 positions while the rest rated 4.  Development is especially talented at the catching, first and left positions.

Sadly, starting pitching is woeful.  Relief is much stronger having rated above average.

Watch List:  Austin Hedges (c, MLB, AAA.  Potential plus), Austin Allen (c, A), Hector Sanchez (1b, MLB, AAA.  Another talented player), Patrick Kivlehan (1b, MLB, AAA), Carlos Asuaje (2b, AAA.  See Hedges and Sanchez), Ryan Schimpf (3b, MLB, AAA), Nick Noonan (s, MLB, AAA), Alex Dickerson (lf, MLB, AAA), Nick Torres, (lf, AAA), Manuel Margot (cf, AAA), Michael Gettys (cf, A+, A), Hunter Renfroe (rf, AAA), Franmil Reyes, (rf, A+).  Any combination of Hedges, Sanchez, Asuaje, Schimpf, Noonan, Dickerson, Margot and Renfroe could easily make the team at the end of March.  Andrew Lockett, (starter, AA, A+, A), Kyle McGrath (relief, AA, A+), Phil Maton (relief, A+) and Elliot Ashbeck (relief, A).

St. Louis (3.1).  Less third, well done.  Strongest positions are first, second, left and center.

Starting pitching development is struggling.  A mere 2.  Relief rated above average.

Watch List:  Jose Godoy (c, A), Luke Voit (1b, AA), Breyvil Valera (2b, AAA.  The best 2-9 player in the organization), Casey Turgeon (lf, A+), David Washington (rf, AAA, AA), Luke Weaver (starter, MLB, AAA.  As talented as James Tailson of Pittsburgh) and Kevin Herget (relief, AA, A+).

San Francisco (3.1).  Most of the talent was at A+ ball in 2016.  Yet, unlike a lot of N.L. teams, at least talent was found.

Positions with depth are second, third, short, left and center.  The rest rated no worse than average.

Starting pitching prospects are deep while relief is above average.

Watch List:  Ali Castillo (2b, AAA, AA), Miguel Gomez (3b, A), Ruben Tejada (ss, MLB, AAA), Austin Slayer (lf, AAA, AA), Gorkys Hernandez (cf, MLB, AAA), Steven Duggar (cf, AA, A+), Dylan Davis (rf, A+, A), Ty Blach (starter, MLB, AAA), Joan Gregorio (starter, AA), Dan Slanta (starter, AA), Andrew Suarez (starter, A+), Carlos Alvarado (relief, AA), Tyler Rogers (relief, AA) and Preston Claiborne (relief, MLB, AA.  Skipped AAA).

Cincinnati (3.0).  Second, third, left and right rated 4.  Short and first rated above average.  Catching is defensively talented, but ultra-light on hitting.  Not a soul in center.

Both kinds of pitching rated above average.

Watch List:  Tony Renda (2b, MLB, AAA, AA), Shedric Long (2b, A+, A), Jermaine Curtis (3b, MLB, AAA), Nick Senzel (3b, A), Calten Daal (ss, AA), Scott Schebler (lf, MLB, AAA), Angelo Gumbs (lf, A+), Juan Duran (lf, A+), Jesse Winkler (rf, AAA), Aristides Aquino (rf, A+), Daniel Wright (starter, MLB, AAA, AA) and Nick Routt (relief, AA).

Colorado (2.9).  2-9 spots were either 4’s or barely 2’s.  Catching, third and center provide the most depth.

Starting pitching development was most impressive.  Relief development is horrible.  Whomever coaches these guys throughout the organization should be relieved (no pun intended) of their duties.

Watch List:  Tom Murphy (c, MLB, AAA), Ashley Graeter (c, AA.  Though he played more games at second.  Why a catcher then?  Because he had a toss rate of 65%!), Brian Mundell (1b, A), Wilson Soriano (3b, AA), Omar Carrizales (lf, A+), David Dahl (cf, MLB, AAA, AA.  One of two very talented outfielders in system), Raimel Tapia (cf, MLB, AAA, AA.  As talented as Mr. Dahl), Noel Cuevas (cf, AA), Yonathan Daza (rf, A), German Marquel (starter, MLB, AAA, AA), Harrison Musgrave (starter, AA), Parker French (starter, A+, A) and Matt Carasiti (relief, MLB, AAA – a mere 7 ip -, AA).

NYM (2.8).  2-9 represented fairly well less first and second.  Solid development at catching, third, short, left and center.

Pitching development absolutely failed in 2016.  Both starting and relief rated 1.  Boo.

Watch List:  Kevin Plawecki (c, MLB, AAA), Tomas Nido (c, A+), Patrick Mazeika (c, A), Dominic Smith (1b, AA), T.J. Rivera (3b, MLB, AAA), Phillip Evans (ss, AA), Ahmed Rosario (ss, AA, A+), Ty Kelly (lf, MLB, AAA), Michael Conforto (lf, MLB, AAA), Brandon Mimmo (cf, MLB, AAA), Patrick Bondi (cf, A+), Wuilmer Becera (rf, A+), Ricky Knapp (starter, AA, A+), Andrew Barbosa (starter, A+), Nabil Crismatt (starter, A), Tim Peterson (relief, AA, A+) and Kevin McGowan (relief, A+).

Pittsburgh (2.8).  Similar to the Mets.  First, left and center are loaded with talent.  Catching, second and third less so.  Short is average.  Right is poorly developed.

Both starting and relief received a 2.

Watch List:  Josh Bell (1b, MLB, AAA), Kevin Newman (ss, AA, A+), Adam Frazier (lf, MLB, AAA), Barrett Barnes (lf, AA), Harold Ramirez (cf, AA), Austin Meadows (cf, AA), Tito Polo (cf, A+, A), Jordan George (rf, A), James Tailson (starter, MLB, AAA.  As Joseph Musgrove is to the A.L., Mr. Tailson is arguably the N.L. minor league starter to watch above all others), Brandon Waddell (starter, A+), Mitch Keller (starter, A), A.J. Schugel (relief, MLB, AAA), Edgar Santana (relief, AA, A+), Tate Scioneaux (relief, A+, A) and Sean Keselica (relief, A).

Do note the three rated center fielders (Ramirez, Meadows and Polo).  Perhaps the Pirates dangling of Mr. McCutchen is understood.

Arizona (2.7).  The good news:  not a single 2-9 spot rated 1.  Bad news is catching, third and right are almost bare.

Pitching, starting and relief, both rated average.

Watch List:  Kyle Jensen (1b, MLB, AAA.  One of the two best position players in the organization), Ildemaro Vargas (2b, AAA), Mitch Freeman (2b, MLB, AAA), Dawel Lugo (3b, A+), Domingo Leyba (ss, AA, A+), Rudy Flores (lf, AA, A+), Mitch Haniger (cf, MLB, AAA, AA.  As talented as Mr. Jensen), Victor Reyes (rf, A+), Jimmie Sherry (relief, AA.  One of the best relief prospects in the N.L), Gabriel Moya (relief, A+) and Kirby Bellow (relief, A).

Washington (2.6).  Uneven development.  Two spots rated 4 (first and second).  Two rated 3 (center and right).  Two rated 2 (third and short).  Two rated 1 (catching and left).

Starting pitching rated 4 while relief was average.

Watch List:  Jose Marmolejos-Diaz (1b, AA, A+), Matt Page (1b, A), Grant DeBruin (1b, A), Chris Bostick (2b, AA), Max Schrock (2b, A+, A), Ian Sagdal (2b, A), Victor Robles (cf, A+, A), Luis Giolito (starter, MLB, AAA), Greg Ross (starter, AA), Bryan Harper (relief, AA) and Tommy Peterson (relief, A).

Milwaukee (2.2).  Nobody at third or short.  Two guys each at left and right.  The cupboard is almost bare.

Both starting and relief rated average.

Watch List:  Manny Pina (c, MLB, AAA), Josmil Pinto (c, MLB, AAA), Max McDowell (c, A), Mitch Ghelfi (1b, A), Jake Elmore (2b, MLB, AAA), Blake Allemand (2b, A), Lewis Brinson (cf, AAA, AA.  The best position player in the organization), Brandon Woodruff (starter, AA, A+) and Jon Perrin (starter, A+, A).

Chicago (2.0):  Strangely out of balance.  Thin as gruel at first, third, short and center.  Loaded at catching, second and right.

Starting pitching is average.  Relief development is as bad as Colorado.

Watch List:  The forever in waiting Tim Federowicz (c, MLB, AAA), Wilson Contreras (c, MLB, AAA), David Frietas (c, AAA, AA), Victor Caratini (c, AA), Dan Vogelbach (1b, AAA), Chesny Young (2b, AA), David Bote (2b, A+), Carlos Sepulveda (2b, A), Jeimer Candelario (3b, MLB, AAA), Eloy Jiminez (lf, A), Mark Zaqunis (rf, AAA, AA), Daniel Spingola (rf, A), Preston Morrison (starter, A+) and James Farris (relief, AA, A+).

Atlanta (1.8).  Not a single 2-9 position rated 4.  Only two rated above average (second and third).  Boo.

Pitching, starting and relief, rated 1.  Double boo.

Watch List:  Ozzie Albies (2b, AA), Dustin Peterson (lf, AA), Jared James (lf, A), Ronald Acuna (cf, A), Max Poyse (starter, AA, A+), Trevor Belicek (relief, A) and Devan Watts (relief, A).

Miami (1.8).  Two positions of notable development:  catching and center.  Then close the book.

Starting pitching is average.  Relief is below average.

Watch List:  Cam Maron (c, AA), Xavier Scruggs (1b, MLB, AAA), Moises Sierra (rf, MLB, AAA) and Jose Quijada (relief, A).




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