- Keith Law, ESPN Insider
Sunday's Futures Game will feature a number of the top prospects currently in the minors, ranging from imminent callups like Domonic Brown (of the Philadelphia Phillies) and Jeremy Hellickson (of the Tampa Bay Rays) to long-term stars like Mike Trout (of the Los Angeles Angels) and Shelby Miller (of the St. Louis Cardinals). I've written short capsules on all of the players in the game, and ranked the 30 best prospects within those two rosters; the remaining players are listed after the rankings.
1. Domonic Brown, OF, Philadelphia Phillies:
The best prospect remaining in the minors, Brown is a tooled-up, all-around athlete with solid plate discipline, and he's started to grow into his power more this year, holding his performance even after a June promotion to AAA. He could come up to the majors at any time.
2. Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels:
The second-best prospect remaining in the minors, Trout isn't quite the all-world athlete that Brown is, but is a great athlete in his own right with far more polish and better instincts than Brown had at the same age. He's an above-average runner with good range in center, and his plate discipline so far has been unbelievable for an 18-year-old in low-A.
3. Desmond Jennings, OF, Tampa Bay Rays:
Started slowly this year after an injury, but he's heated up since the end of May. Plus defensive outfielder with a good swing and patient approach but only moderate power potential. Ready for the majors now.
4. Jeremy Hellickson, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays:
A chronic strike-thrower who has a kitchen sink of pitches, including plus changeup, a cutter, a hard curve, and a four-seamer up to 94, and whose minor arm troubles of last year appear to be completely behind him. He has plus command and control and could step into the Rays' rotation immediately.
Big fastball, plus change, improved breaking ball have helped him dominate at two levels this year; certainly the best pitching prospect we've seen from Colombia, and his signing a few years ago really kicked off a new wave of scouting along that country's northern coast.
Tremendously disciplined hitter who hits for average but needs a little more loft in his swing to convert his size into 30-homer power. He's had trouble staying healthy the last year and a half.
7. Shelby Miller, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals:
He was 92-96 in high school and has recently hit 98, all with a plus curve and improving changeup, and his command this year has been a pleasant surprise. He's emerging as perhaps the highest-ceiling starter in the minors.
A scouts' favorite, a lefty who touches 94 with a sinker and an above-average slider, as well as a solid changeup and an arm action that works. He's thrown more strikes this year and could be in line for a late-season callup.
Fully healthy this year, he's been one of the minors' biggest breakout prospects, and has already surpassed his 2009 home run total despite playing in a pitchers' park in Wilmington. He projects as a plus-power, plus-OBP hitter who's a solid defender at first, although he has the arm to play right field as well.
10. Mike Moustakas, 3B, Kansas City Royals:
Strong, square-built third baseman with a smooth swing and lots of hard contact this year, including a power surge partly fueled by a great home park. Not likely to stay at third long term despite a plus arm, but the bat now looks like it will play anywhere on the diamond.
Owner of one of the best swings in the minors, Chisenhall has had an up and down season marred by some shoulder soreness in May that put him on the shelf for two weeks. When fully healthy he's a good bet to hit for average and power with average defense at third.
Still a work in progress -- at best -- at the position, but the Canadian can hit, with a classic left-handed stroke but from the right side, and good rotation that should lead to power. He's also shown steady improvement this year despite being young for AA.
The Astros were mocked by a few teams when they took Lyles in the sandwich round in 2008, but he was a late bloomer whose velocity kept increasing his senior year of high school. He's dominating AA despite being nine days younger than phenom Shelby Miller. He's got a good changeup and will show a cutter, curve, and fastball up to 94.
Potential No. 2 starter with a chance for three pitches, a fastball at 92-94, a late-breaking slider, and a solid changeup. There's some concern about his frame holding up in the rotation, but given his success so far and three-pitch mix he has to stay there until he proves otherwise.
15. Austin Romine, C, New York Yankees:
Started out on fire this year but heads to the Futures Game hitting just .226/.346/.330 since June 1st. Romine has a strong arm and has the strength to hit for power but has a big leak when he swings and doesn't carry the power over to games. He's made major improvements in his pitch recognition this year and is young for AA.
16. Henderson Alvarez, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays:
A 6' right-hander with excellent feel for pitching, Alvarez will sit 92-95 with a plus changeup that's more effective for him against right-handed hitters. He works down in the zone to get groundballs and has plus control.
17. Hank Conger, C, Los Angeles Angels:
Has carried forward a major improvement in his plate discipline, but the expected power still hasn't arrived. He's an offensive catcher who can stay behind the plate but isn't likely to be better than average back there. He's been useless against left-handed pitchers this year in a small sample, but his track record suggests that it's a fluke.
18. Mike Minor, LHP, Atlanta Braves:
Minor has surprised everyone -- even Atlanta -- with a velocity jump this year that had him touching 95 earlier and now sitting 90-93 with an improved curveball. At higher velocities he racked up more Ks with reduced control, but after backing off a little on the fastball his walk rate plunged in June. He could help the club this year.
A four-pitch lefty who can miss bats with his curve or his cutter, but he's had injury problems and hasn't racked up as many strikeouts as expected in AA, so there's some question of whether his pitches aren't as effective as they looked when he was an amateur.
Disappointing year for the former first-rounder but one I predicted because he broke his hamate bone last year, an injury that tends to sap a player's power for as much as a full year after the bone has healed. He has a good grasp of the strike zone and a power swing; the good news this year is that he's hit left-handed pitching well.
A surprise addition, since he's been out since late May with a torn fingernail, Wheeler has been up to 96 with a hard slurve but needs to improve his changeup and fastball command; his body has a lot of projection left and he looks like a potential 1 or 2.
He's 95-98 as a reliever with a venomous low-80s curveball with hard, late break, and while he has a starter's build, his 2008 shoulder injury was serious enough that the smart betting is that he ends up in the pen.
23. Dee Gordon, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers:
The Dodgers took a big risk promoting Gordon two levels to AA, and as predicted he's struggled at the plate, with poor pitch recognition leading to all-around trouble on offense. He's a plus runner and a potential Gold Glover at short, and he has the hands and bat speed to hit for average. His father is Tom "Flash" Gordon.
24. Grant Green, SS, Oakland Athletics:
Hitting much better after a slow April. Green has good bat speed and the size to eventually hit for power, but he has a tendency to get on top of the ball and hasn't carried over his plate discipline into pro ball. There's also a decent chance he moves off shortstop, where he's still pretty rough but has the athleticism to figure it out.
25. Lee Hak-Ju, SS, Chicago Cubs:
The lone Korean in this year's Futures Game, Lee has a chance for four above-average to plus tools, with power as the lone exception, and he should stay at shortstop long-term. He has good bat control and bat speed, with an approach aimed at contact rather than power, and he's a well above-average runner.
26. Alex Torres, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays:
Acquired in the Scott Kazmir trade, Torres is a short lefty who works in the low to mid-90s with a plus changeup and has done a nice job of getting groundballs. His command has improved but is still fringy, and at 5-foot-10 he'll always face questions over whether he can stay a starter.
27. Brett Jackson, OF, Chicago Cubs:
An athletic under-performer in college who has hit extremely well as a pro, already reaching AA and hitting well in a small sample there; he doesn't have a plus tool but could end up a solid glove in center who hits for average with doubles power.
28. Stolmy Pimentel, RHP, Boston Red Sox:
Pimentel's velocity keeps creeping up -- he's 89-94 now and I think there's more to come -- and he has always had an above-average changeup. He needs to tighten up his curveball and continue to fill out that long, lean frame.
29. Drew Cumberland, SS, San Diego Padres:
Fills the "scrappy white middle infielder" quota. Cumberland's a plus runner with a short stroke and good hand-eye coordination, leading to lots of contact but not much power yet. Expected to move to second base when he was drafted, he's managed to defy those predictions so far and is improving at shortstop.
30. Bryan Morris, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates:
Morris appears to finally be all the way back from 2007 Tommy John surgery, and he'll run his fastball up to 96 with newly improved control. There's some cross-body to his delivery that has scouts thinking he'll end up in the pen (or perhaps get hurt again), but he's had success as a starter in AA so far.
Missed The Top 30 Cut
Danny Espinosa, SS, Washington Nationals:
Very good defensive shortstop, but despite being a switch-hitter he offers little offensively, with poor plate discipline and a tendency to hook the ball from both sides of the plate.
Ben Revere, OF, Minnesota Twins:
Speedy slap-hitting centerfielder who has hit for average everywhere he's played but still needs to dial up his walk rate to get more value from his run tool. He covers plenty of ground in center but is hampered by a below-average arm.
Trystan Magnuson, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays:
Strike-throwing reliever with three weapons, a fastball at 90-94, a hard cutter/slider and a split-change. Born in British Columbia, drafted as a fifth-year senior out of Louisville after he received his mechanical engineering degree.
Wilin Rosario, C, Colorado Rockies:
Missed half of last year due to injury, but has come back strongly, matching his career high in home runs. His swing is compact with good follow-through and he has good plate coverage up, but sets his hands up high and gets long when he swings at anything down in the zone.
Pedro Baez, 3B, Los Angeles Dodgers:
Has bat speed and some pop, with a plus arm at third, but is unrefined across the board, notably in plate discipline and instincts in the field. He's had knee trouble as well, limiting the reps he needs to improve as a hitter.
Eduardo Sanchez, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals:
Signed at 16 out of Venezuela, he keeps adding velocity and will now sit 94 and touch 97, with a sharp upper-70s breaking ball and some feel for a changeup, and unlike a lot of power relievers in the minors he doesn't walk guys.
Philippe Valiquette, LHP, Cincinnati Reds:
Unusual arm strength for a lefty -- he's been clocked up to 98 although he'll sit lower than that -- but he's been plagued by poor control and the lack of a consistent second pitch.
Alex Liddi, 3B, Seattle Mariners:
Liddi has a good swing with above-average raw power, but is struggling to make contact in games, and is still an unfinished product at third base. As expected, Liddi's stats took a big step backwards when he left the friendly confines of the Cal League, and he's showing a big platoon split (he's destroyed LHP but has just a .686 OPS against righties).
Goryks Hernandez, CF, Pittsburgh Pirates:
Outstanding defensive centerfielder who has shown zero progress with the stick in three years. He has poor pitch recognition and swings down at the ball, putting it on the ground over 60 percent of the time he makes contact.
Eury Perez, CF, Washington Nationals:
The poor man's Gorkys Hernanez. He's a plus-plus runner who plays a solid centerfield but has no power and poor plate discipline.
Francisco Peguero, CF, San Francisco Giants:
Toolsy but very crude centerfielder who can run and has good bat speed, but six unintentional walks in over 280 plate appearances isn't going to get anyone's bat to the big leagues.
Pedro Ciriaco, SS, Arizona Diamondbacks:
Looks the part at short, with quick yet natural actions and a good arm, but he's lost at the plate, with the approach of a player two or three years younger than he is.
Osvaldo Martinez, SS, Florida Marlins:
Martinez is a singles hitter without much in the way of tools -- he offers neither power nor speed -- but can handle shortstop and, though his swing tends to put the ball on the ground, he makes plenty of contact. Jorge Cantu dubbed him "Iron Man" after Martinez survived an offseason shooting in Puerto Rico, with bullet fragments still in his body.
Luis Jimenez, 3B, Los Angeles Angels:
Strong hitter with good bat speed and improving approach, with a chance for some power down the road. Solid actions at third base; arm is still coming back from a 2009 labrum injury that wiped out his season.
I don't get this one; he has some raw power and can run a little bit, but he's a real hacker, a mediocre defender in either corner, and not young for his levels.
Jeurys Familia, RHP, New York Mets:
Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2007, Familia is a big, imposing power arm who'll hit the upper 90s but needs to work on command and secondary pitches.
Hector Noesi, RHP, New York Yankees:
Noesi missed parts of two years after Tommy John surgery and was suspended for PED usage in 2006, but he's healthy (and presumably clean) now, with four pitches, nothing plus but above-average command and control. His fastball has some life but it hasn't helped him keep the ball on the ground.
Chen Chun-Hsiu, C, Cleveland Indians:
Chen had two nondescript years in short-season ball but had a huge first half in Lake County, showing more pop -- he starts his hands high but gets good extension through contact -- and cutting his strikeout rate as well.
Carlos Peguero, OF, Seattle Mariners:
A great athlete who's a physical monster but who has a long swing and a tendency to get pull happy. Jumped on to the radar with 9 home runs in April, but he's slugging under .400 since with 6 homers in another 200-plus at bats.
Anthony Slama, RHP, Minnesota Twins:
Two solid-average pitches, an 88-92 mph fastball and a slider with some tilt, but fringy command and control. Strictly a one-inning reliever.
Keith Law ranks every player at the Futures Game, with comments on each. Domonic Brown tops the roster, but you'll find some surprises toward the back.