2017 Gulf Coast League Top 20 Prospects


(Photo by Cliff Welch)

Championship Series:
GCL Yankees East 2
GCL Nationals 1
Best Record:
GCL Phillies, 36-22 (.621)
Most Valuable Player:
Mason Martin, 1B, GCL Pirates
Pitcher of the year:
Carlos Suniaga, RHP, GCL Twins*
Did Not Qualify:
Kevin Maitan, SS, GCL Braves
*Selected by Baseball America

SEE ALSO: GCL 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.

The Phillies, Yankees and Nationals all packed their Gulf Coast League rosters with talented teenage prospects—particularly from Latin America—and used that talent to win their divisions, while No. 1 overall pick Royce Lewis carried the Twins to the top spot in their division.

Despite splitting their players among two teams in the GCL, the Yankees won the championship, with the Yankees East beating the Phillies 5-4 in the decisive third game of the finals. Beyond Lewis, the clear-cut talent at the top of the league was down from recent years, though the depth of potential breakout prospects with high risk factors remained high.

Outfielder Drew Waters and shortstop Kevin Maitan were both well-regarded prospects in the league, though the Braves promoted both of them to the Rookie-level Appalachian League before they had enough GCL plate appearances to qualify for this list.

1. Royce Lewis, SS, Twins | 📹
Age: 18. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 188. Drafted: HS—San Juan Capistrano, Calif., 2017 (1).

The Twins drafted Lewis with the top overall pick in June, then signed him for $6,725,000. He looked as advertised in his pro debut in the GCL before an August promotion to low Class A Cedar Rapids, where he will likely open the 2018 season.

Lewis has an exciting blend of top-shelf tools and instincts for the game. With a high waist and wide shoulders, Lewis has outstanding bat speed and plus raw power. He makes frequent contact with a mature hitting approach, driving the ball with authority to all fields. His sharp eye for the strike-zone should make him a high on-base threat to go with his power, and his plus-plus wheels make him a power-speed threat. There are questions about whether Lewis will stay at shortstop or fits better in center field. Lewis showed plus arm strength before the draft, though in the GCL he didn't have the same zip behind his throws.

133 38 36 6 2 3 17 19 17 15 2 .271 .390 .414

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