2017 Florida State League Top 20 Prospects


(Photo by Cliff Welch)

Dunedin (Blue Jays)
Palm Beach (Cardinals)
Best Record
Tampa (Yankees), 85-50 (.630)
Most Valuable Player
Brandon Lowe, 2B, Charlotte (Rays)
Pitcher Of The Year
Ryan Helsey, RHP, Palm Beach (Cardinals)
Did Not Qualify
Ronald Acuna, OF, Florida (Braves)

SEE ALSO: Florida State League Top 20 Chat

To qualify for a Minor League Top 20 Prospects list, a position player must have one plate appearance per team game, a starting pitcher must have one-third of an inning per team game and a reliever must have 20 relief appearances.

Hurricane Irma laid waste to parts of Florida in September, disrupting the economy, producing billions of dollars in damage and, incidentally, cancelling the Florida State League playoffs.

Dunedin and Palm Beach shared the title after winning their initial playoff series, with the Blue Jays downing regular-season behemoth Tampa, which finished 35 games over .500.

As is often the case, the FSL was a pitcher's paradise thanks to its combination of heat, humidity, big league dimensions in its ballparks and lack of energy in the stands. The average FSL batter slashed .250/.320/.360, good for the lowest slugging percentage and OPS of any full-season league.

Teenage batters did their part to try to improve the league's batting line. Three of the game's best prospects either started or finished in the FSL. Minor League Player of the Year Ronald Acuna didn't quite get enough playing time with the Braves' new Florida affiliate, which played in Kissimmee's Osceola County Stadium, but the league's top two prospects, Blue Jays teen sensations Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr., did.

1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B, Dunedin (Blue Jays) |📹
Age: 18 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 200 Signed: Dominican Republic, 2015

Guerrero came up to Dunedin after the all-star break and had 16 multi-hit games while dominating the league offensively, finishing with such a flourish that he passed teammate Bo Bichette for the minor league on-base percentage crown at .425.

Guerrero does it with stunning bat speed thanks to the fastest hands in the FSL, and scouts don't shrink from grading him as a 70 hitter on the 20-80 scale. He belies his family name with plenty of patience at the plate, with more walks than strikeouts. His power rates lower than than his hitting ability at present, but he's just 18, and scouts see plenty of home runs in his future. The biggest question about Guerrero is defense, where he lacks his father's arm strength but has enough--earning above-average grades from some scouts--to stick at third base, at least in the short term.

"He's solid there now," one pro scout with an American League club said, "and I put him at third until he can't do it anymore. But he doesn't have a great body . . . I have reservations over how it will hold up at third. He has more than enough bat for first base though."

168 31 56 7 1 6 31 36 28 2 2 .333 .450 .494

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