Albert Almora, of, Cubs: Few hitters in the minors are blessed with Almora’s bat control, smooth swing and plate coverage. His hitting approach is advanced for a 19-year-old and his game awareness is strong in all aspects of the game. Almora went 6-for-10 with a home run, a triple and a walk since Friday, raising his slash line with low Class A Kane County to .353/.387/.519 through 38 games of an injury-shortened season. He doesn’t have the electrifying bat speed or raw power of Javier Baez, but his ability to hit and play excellent defense in center field have helped him become the No. 16 prospect in baseball.
Eddie Rosario, 2b, Twins: It’s easy to get caught up in what Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano are doing. The Twins have the No. 1 and No. 3 prospects in baseball, two players with very different skill sets but both possessing superstar potential. Then there is Rosario, who is more steady than flashy but is still one of the game’s elite second base prospects. After a big weekend, Rosario is hitting .284/.357/.432 through 23 games for Double-A New Britain, showing the hitting instincts and barrel awareness that should allow him to become an offensive-oriented second baseman in Minnesota within the next couple of years.
Franklin Barreto, ss, Blue Jays: Barreto was the No. 1 international prospect available for July 2 last year, and had he been in this year’s class, he would have ranked above Eloy Jimenez. Barreto’s speed and hitting ability are outstanding, as he has a knack for squaring up the baseball that’s helped him get off to a .364/.462/.409 start through his first 62 plate appearances in his pro debut in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. Infield actions don’t come naturally for Barreto, who has seven errors in 10 games at shortstop, but few scouts believed he would stick at shortstop anyway, with center field or second base his most likely landing spot.
Luis Torrens, c, Yankees: Had he stayed at third base, Torrens would have been one of the top prospects in last year’s international signing class thanks to his sweet righthanded stroke. Teams look at his 6-foot, 170-pound frame, arm strength and lack of foot speed and envisioned him behind the plate, but Torrens was hesitant to make the move. The Yankees eventually helped persuade him to give catching a try not long before July 2, liked what they saw and signed him for $1.3 million on July 2. Now Torrens has the look of a future impact player at a premium position, with plenty of arm strength to control the running game even if his receiving is understandably still nascent. The bat is still the draw for the 17-year-old Torrens, who is hitting .293/.341/.463 in 11 games in the GCL.
Clint Frazier, of, Indians: A nine-game sample isn’t going to affect Frazier’s stock much in either direction. But the Indians have to at least be pleased with how their first-round pick has started in the Rookie-level Arizona League. Frazier, 18, has hit .406/.436/.750 in 41 trips to the plate, showcasing his terrific bat speed, power and wheels.