Carlos Correa, ss, Astros: Correa will forever be compared to Byron Buxton, as the Astros passed on Buxton to draft Correa with the first overall pick in 2012 to save money to spread around on other players in the draft. While Buxton continues to build his case as the No. 1 prospect in baseball, Correa has shined in the low Class A Midwest League as well. He’s been especially hot lately, going a combined 9-for-16 since Friday to bring his season averages to .321/.407/.444 through 59 games with 32 walks and 49 strikeouts. The over-the-fence power isn’t showing up much in games yet, but Correa is still 18, and with his size, strength potential and swing path, the power will be there, giving him monster offensive potential at a premium position.
Maikel Franco, 3b, Phillies: Welcome to Double-A, Maikel Franco. Since his promotion to Reading, Franco is 8-for-17 with two home runs, including a 4-for-5 game yesterday with a triple (yes, a triple) and a home run. He also hasn’t struck out yet in his first four Double-A games. All of the arrows continue to point in the right direction for the 20-year-old Dominican third baseman, one of the breakout stories of the season.
Alen Hanson, ss, Pirates: Hanson didn’t get off to a great start at the plate or in the field, but he’s been much better in both areas recently. He’s hitting .333/.387/.580 in June with four of his five home runs on the season coming this month, including one yesterday. Gregory Polanco might be a better prospect than Hanson, but given that the Pirates have Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte in Pittsburgh and have been sorely lacking a shortstop with basic major league competency, Hanson is arguably a more important prospect for the franchise.
Julio Morban, of, Mariners: Morban was a big July 2 signing for the Mariners five years ago, but injuries have limited his time on the field and hampered him when he’s been in the lineup. Now a 21-year-old in Double-A, Morban is finally showing what he’s capable of as a hitter. After going 3-for-5 with two doubles and his fifth home run of the season yesterday, Morban is batting .330/.382/.528 in 50 games. Scouts would like to see more power from a right fielder, but he has hitting instincts and should be able to turn those doubles into homers once he gets stronger.
James Paxton, lhp, Mariners: While Morban has frustrated mostly because of his inability to stay healthy, Paxton is a Mariners prospect who has simply been inconsistent. Paxton has been hit so hard at times that he hasn’t lasted five innings in seven of his 15 starts, resulting in a bloated 4.75 ERA for Triple-A Tacoma despite 76 strikeouts in 72 innings. Then there are times when he dominates, like his last two starts, including six shutout innings with 11 strikeouts and one walk on Saturday. When his mechanics are in sync and his command is at least average, Paxton looks like a frontline starter. Being able to bring that to the mound more often is what will be the key for him to take that next step.
Alex Yarbrough, 2b, Angels: The Angels drafted Yarbrough out of Mississippi last year with their fourth-round pick, and he’s quickly become one of the most advanced hitters in the system. He’s shown good bat control and a bit of California League-aided pop this year, hitting .314/.340/.500 in 70 games for high Class A Inland Empire. He’s not a standout guy for his tools or athleticism, but he his hands work well at the plate and he has a knack for squaring up the baseball.
Joc Pederson, of, Dodgers: Yasiel Puig is the talk of Dodger land, but the organization has another exciting outfielder who isn’t far from being ready to contribute in Los Angeles. How the Dodgers will find a spot for him to play is another question, but Pederson has shown a polished offensive skill set and after a strong weekend is hitting .300/.384/.509 in 73 games for Double-A Chattanooga. Pederson has a sound swing, controls the strike zone, has solid extra-base punch and is a smart baserunner who has swiped 21 bags in 24 tries. Don’t hold him up to Puig’s standards, but Pederson has all the attributes to be an above-average regular.