Jonathan Gray, rhp, Rockies: Some teams felt Gray was the top talent available in this year’s draft, so the Rockies were elated to get the Oklahoma righthander with the third overall pick. The stuff and the results have been there for Gray, who struck out eight over five shutout innings yesterday for high Class A Modesto. Gray has consistently run his fastball into the high 90s and put away Cal League hitters with his slider, leading to an ERA of 0.75 with a 36-6 K-BB mark through 24 innings. He’s good enough to start next year in Double-A if the Rockies want to push him there. Between Gray and Eddie Butler, the Rockies have a pair of promising power arms who could be in their big league rotation before the end of 2014.
Miguel Sano, 3b, Twins: Sano probably won’t catch George Springer for the minor league lead, but his two home runs yesterday for Double-A New Britain brought him to 33 on the season, tying him for third in the minors with Rangers third baseman Joey Gallo and placing him one behind Cubs shortstop Javier Baez. Given the way Sano has handled the Eastern League, he’s probably going to start next year in Triple-A, with a big league callup before the all-star break certainly in the mix.
C.J. Edwards, rhp, Cubs: Mike Olt may have been the more well-known name in the trade that sent Matt Garza to Texas, but Edwards could end up being the prize of the haul for the Cubs. With a fastball that sits around 90-94 mph and can get into the high 90s when he needs it, Edwards is a strike thrower who repeats his delivery, works down in the zone, misses plenty of bats and can keep the ball in the yard. The home run he allowed two weeks ago was the first he’s allowed in his 179-inning career. After eight strikeouts in four shutout innings yesterday, Edwards, 21, lowered his ERA to 1.45 in five starts since joining high Class A Daytona.
Byron Buxton, cf, Twins: In general, teams want to push prospects to a level where they’ll be challenged but not overmatched. Historically speaking, the Twins have taken a cautious approach to promoting players, but Buxton forced their hand, and Minnesota pushed him to high Class A Fort Myers as a 19-year-old. In 49 games, Buxton appears to have mastered the Florida State League, where he’s hitting .328/.420/.495. With a walk-happy weekend in which he drew six free passes (counting Friday’s doubleheader), he’s showing the combination of tools and polish that make him the best prospect in the game.
Manuel Margot, cf, Red Sox: Margot was a highly-regarded prospect when the Red Sox signed him two years ago out of the Dominican Republic, where his tools, athleticism and instincts all stood out. He showed the tools could translate to games last year in the Dominican Summer League and made such a strong impression on the Red Sox that they skipped him over the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and jumped him to short-season Lowell. Yesterday Margot, 18, went 4-for-4 with a double, a triple and a walk, bringing him to .301/.375/.390 through 39 games. Throw in premium defense in center field and the Red Sox have one of their most exciting Dominican prospects in years.
Felix Jorge, rhp, Twins: Jorge generated buzz in the Dominican Republic when he was an amateur in leading up to July 2, 2010, but his velocity dropped and with it so did his price tag. Jorge signed with the Twins for $250,000 in February 2010 and has shown the ingredients to be a starting pitcher, throwing strikes with a low- to mid-90s fastball and solid feel for his secondary pitches. On Friday, Jorge struck out a season-high 11 batters and allowed two runs over six innings for Rookie-level Elizabethton, lowering his ERA to 3.15 with 63 strikeouts and 17 walks in 54 1/3 innings.
Mookie Betts, 2b, Red Sox: Betts is a good athlete with excellent hand-eye coordination, but at 5-foot-9, 165 pounds, the knock on him coming into the year centered on his ability to drive the ball well enough for his bat to play at higher levels. Betts, who had nine extra-base hits (no home runs) in 71 games for short-season Lowell a year ago, has had a breakout season. As he’s gotten stronger, the 20-year-old has shown more to go with his keen batting eye, mature hitting approach, above-average speed and high baseball instincts. The highlight of Betts’ year came on Friday, when he went 5-for-6 with two home runs and two doubles, bringing him to .325/.393/.546 in 44 games since joining high Class A Salem last month.