An all-star team comprised of prospects, based on their performance in the minors during the month of April.
C Peter O’Brien • Yankees
High Class A Tampa (Florida State)
He might not be the most graceful defender (six passed balls, three errors), but O’Brien donned catcher’s gear 20 times in April and still managed to lead the Florida State League in homers (eight), extra-base hits (17) and slugging (.703). The strikeout-to-walk ratio must improve, but the 2012 second-rounder has manifest power, regardless of ultimate position.
1B Jon Singleton • Astros
Triple-A Oklahoma City (Pacific Coast)
Scouts have long seen double-plus power potential from Singleton, but he’s on pace to shatter his previous high for home runs—21 at Double-A in 2012—after belting nine, tied for the most among prospects, in April. He struck out more than a quarter of the time in the opening month, but paid off the whiffs with a Pacific Coast League-leading 16 extra-base hits.
2B Mookie Betts • Red Sox
Double-A Portland (Eastern)
Eastern League pitchers found a way to retire Betts only about half the time in April, and he sequenced his hits and walks such that he reached base at least once in all 22 games, collecting a hit in all but one of them. He led the EL in average, on-base percentage and slugging when the calendar turned to May. So much for a Double-A adjustment period.
3B Joey Gallo • Rangers
High Class A Myrtle Beach (Carolina)
Few parks are more difficult to homer in than Myrtle Beach, but that didn’t stop Gallo from bashing nine longballs, tied with Singleton for the most among prospects, through the season’s first month. He led the minors with 40 bombs last year, too, so it’s all in a day’s work for the 2012 supplemental first-rounder with 80-grade power.
SS Trevor Story • Rockies
High Class A Modesto (California)
Even though Story is repeating the California League, he’s still a 21-year-old shortstop showcasing power (16 extra-base hits) and speed (16 steals in 18 tries) in one of the better pitcher’s parks in the league. While his 29-percent strikeout rate is down only a tick from 2013, when it was 33 percent, he’s paying off the punchouts with more power.
OF Brandon Nimmo • Mets
High Class A St. Lucie (Florida State)
Think the 21-year-old Nimmo knows the strike zone? No minor leaguer walked more often in April (25 times), which contributed to a .508 on-base percentage that trailed only White Sox Double-A first baseman Rangel Ravelo (.518). He mixed in a dollop of power and speed as well, indicating that he’s fully recovered from the left hand injury that slowed him in 2013.
OF Joc Pederson • Dodgers
Triple-A Albuquerque (Pacific Coast)
One of the stealthier power/speed prospects in the minors while at Double-A a year ago, Pederson has taken advantage of Albuquerque’s thin air and high altitude to amplify his credentials. He’ll continue to fly standby in the Pacific Coast League for now, gaining experience versus lefthanders and building trade value, but at least that beats riding the pine behind Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig in Los Angeles.
OF Gregory Polanco • Pirates
Triple-A Indianapolis (International)
Pirates right fielders Travis Snider and Jose Tabata have combined to hit .218/.281/.298 through 30 games this season, making them easy to push aside when Pittsburgh deems Polanco ready for prime time. That temptation will be difficult to resist if he continues to pace the International League in hitting, on-base percentage, RBIs, runs and total bases, as he does now.
RHP Trevor Bauer • Indians
Triple-A Columbus (International)
What a difference a year makes. Bauer looked like a colossal bust in 2013 when he failed to retire Triple-A batters with consistency, running up a 4.15 ERA, 1.58 WHIP and 1.5 SO/BB ratio for Columbus. This year, he’s commanding his above-average fastball to get ahead early in counts and deploy an arsenal of plus secondary weapons to strike out four times as many as he’s walked.
RHP Aaron Blair • Diamondbacks
Low Class A South Bend (Midwest)
The 2013 supplemental first-rounder from Marshall already had advanced command of a fastball and changeup when he turned pro, so this season Blair strived to get on top of his breaking ball to create more power and less slurve. The early results—he ranked among the minor league leaders with 43 strikeouts and a .148 opponent average in April—speak to his progress.
RHP Ben Lively • Reds
High Class A Bakersfield (California)
How does one succeed in a home park in which the center-field wall stands just 354 feet from home plate? Lively has the answer to that question: Strike everyone out, don’t walk anybody and don’t surrender any hits. Easy, right? The 2013 fourth-rounder from Central Florida has the potential (and deception) to mirror Tony Cingrani‘s rapid rise through the Reds system.
RHP Marcus Stroman • Blue Jays
Triple-A Buffalo (International)
Young guns such as Sonny Gray, Danny Salazar and Yordano Ventura have helped relieve the stigma attached to the 6-foot-and-under righthanded starter, so Stroman won’t be engaging in quite the same battle for acceptance that once seemed inevitable given his 5-foot-9 stature. What will be inevitable when he reaches the majors, however, are comparisons with Tom Gordon, the similarly proportioned, 21-year big league vet.
RHP Matt Wisler • Padres
Double-A San Antonio (Texas)
A deadly combination of stuff and control will make Wisler a fantasy target for years to come, especially for as long as he’s making half his starts in Petco Park. Just three starter prospects bettered Wisler’s 5.8 SO/BB ratio in April—Lively (40.0), the Brewers’ Barrett Astin (14.0) and the Diamondbacks’ Chase Anderson (6.2)—all of them older and/or in lower minor league classifications.