Clearwater (Phillies), 82-54 (.603)
|Most Valuable Player
Aristides Aquino, of, Daytona (Reds)
|Pitcher OF The Year
Luis Castillo, rhp, Jupiter (Marlins)
|Did Not Qualify
James Kaprielian, rhp, Tampa (Yankees)
See Also: 2016 League Top 20 Index
See Also: League Top 20 Prospects Historical Index
No full-season league conspires to depress offense like the Florida State League, which combines big league spring training ballparks with Sunshine State heat and humidity to keep power at a minimum.
The environment challenges hitters, and often only the multi-tooled survive. That was the case in 2016, when the average FSL player slugged just .356—a 19-point improvement on 2015. Some power hitters figured out how to overcome the elements, but most of the top prospects were well-rounded middle infielders, with shortstops dominating the top of the rankings.
"Our league was loaded with shortstops," said Fort Myers manager Jeff Smith, who has piloted the Miracle for four of the last five seasons. "We'll see almost all of them in the major leagues, as shortstops, very soon."
The league's best team, Clearwater, won 82 games but didn't win either half of the regular season, so it didn't qualify for the playoffs despite a roster deep with solid prospects. Instead, the league's top-scoring club, Bradenton, won the championship while hitting .311 with 10 homers in six postseason games. They also got a boost from righthander Mitch Keller, who spent most of the season at low Class A West Virginia but won two playoff starts for the Marauders.
1. Amed Rosario, ss, St. Lucie (Mets) |
While Rosario spent most of 2015 in the FSL and ranked seventh on this list a year ago, scouts and managers noted he was a "different player" in 2016.
Rosario's swing is now shorter and more authoritative, with the bat-to-ball skills he showed last year now translating into harder contact. Better pitch selection also helped him tap into the power in his stronger, maturing body. He still gets pull-happy at times, but when Rosario lets the ball travel a bit, he shows the quick hands and strong wrists and forearms to drive the ball to all parts of the park.
Defensively, Rosario earns comparisons with Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias as a potential 70-grade defender on the 20-80 scouting scale. He combines a quick first step and premium range with plus arm strength and a knack for making the tough play. He also shows the focus to make the routine play look routine.