See Also: 2016 League Top 20 Index
See Also: League Top 20 Prospects Historical Index
AZL Dodgers, 33-22 (.600)
|Most Valuable Player
Oscar Gonzalez, of, AZL Indians
|Pitcher OF The Year*
Luis Ledo, rhp, AZL White Sox
|Did Not Qualify
Cal Quantrill, rhp, AZL Padres
|* As selected by Baseball America|
Hitters dominated the Rookie-level Arizona League prospect list in 2016 by taking 17 of 20 spots. Rangers outfielder Leody Taveras ranks as the top prospect followed by Dodgers righthander Yadier Alvarez, but either would have been a worthy choice for the top spot.
Scouts and fans were treated to the pro debuts of a number of high-profile hurlers, including 2016 first-round righthanders Zack Burdi (White Sox) and Cal Quantrill (Padres), supplemental first-round righty Jordan Sheffield (Dodgers) and 2015 first-round righty Walker Buehler (Dodgers) coming back from Tommy John surgery—but none pitched enough to qualify for the Top 20.
Oscar Gonzalez (Indians) was voted the league MVP, leading all hitters in slugging percentage (.566) and tying for the lead in home runs (eight). Second baseman Josh Vidales (Athletics), a 28th-round pick who hit .229 in the spring at Houston, led the league in batting (.345), on-base percentage (.437) and OPS (.944). Vidales, 23, is not regarded as a top prospect although scouts foresee a possible big league bench role for him later in his career.
The Mariners captured the league crown by sweeping a best-of-three championship series against the Angels after disposing of the Cubs and Reds in the qualifying rounds. First-time skipper Zac Livingston earned his first ring after spending the previous four years as a minor league catcher and coach in the Angels organization.
Veteran minor league manager John Shoemaker was named manager of the year after his Dodgers squad posted the top regular season record (33-22).
1. Leody Taveras, of, Rangers |
The switch-hitting Taveras quickly generated a buzz among scouts in the AZL, playing in his first pro season after signing for $2.1 million. Scouts couldn’t remember an AZL player being evaluated as heavily prior to the Aug. 1 trade deadline as the native Dominican, a cousin of former major league outfielder Willy Taveras.
Taveras is a natural center fielder with an advanced feel for hitting, and he draws comparisons with a young Carlos Beltran.
“Defensively, he’s as good of a young center fielder as I’ve seen,” Rangers manager Matt Siegel said. “He was put on this earth to be a center fielder.”
A five-tool athlete, Taveras takes a whippy bat to the plate with a good feel for the barrel. His power began to emerge during his time in Arizona and will continue to develop with added strength. He’s an above-average runner who stole 11 bases during his 33 games in Arizona. An instinctual defender who moves well in the outfield because of his long strides, Taveras is a plus defender with plus range and an accurate, above-average arm.