2017 Northwest League Top 20 Prospects


(Photo by Bill Mitchell)

Champions Series
Vancouver (Blue Jays) 3
Eugene (Cubs) 1
Ryan Kirby, 1B, Salem-Keizer (Giants)
Pitcher of the Year
Andres Torres, RHP, Everett (Mariners)

SEE ALSO: NW 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.

Hitters didn't have an easy go of it in the Northwest League this summer.

Five pitchers are among the league's top 10 prospects—four in the top five—and for good reason. The league's hitters, forced to contend with Cole Ragans' changeup, upper-90s fastballs from Jhoan Duran and Jose Albertos and the poise and command of Adrian Morejon and Javier Assad, managed to hit just .253/.327/.368 collectively. Missing from that group is Vancouver righthander Nate Pearson, who flirts with triple-digit velocity and had an excellent season (19 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 24 SO) for Vancouver but didn't have enough innings to qualify for this list.

While those arms stand out, there was no shortage of positional talent either—particularly up the middle. The likes of Daulton Varsho, Riley Adams and Miguel Amaya made catching a strength in the league. At shortstop, league managers raved about Aramis Ademan and Logan Warmoth.

Warmoth, the Blue Jays' first-rounder out of North Carolina, hit the go-ahead two-run single against Eugene's Albertos in the championship series, leading the Canadians to a 2-1 title-clinching win.

The title was Vancouver's fourth in the last seven years.

1. Cole Ragans, LHP, Spokane (Rangers) |📹
Age: 19. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 190. Drafted: HS—Tallahassee, Fla., 2016 (1).

Drafted by the Rangers with last year's 30th overall pick and Signed out of a Florida State commitment, Ragans excelled in his first full year in pro ball. The 19-year-old southpaw anchored Spokane's rotation, going 3-2, 3.61 and striking out 87 to 35 walks in 57.1 innings. In a league strong on pitching, Ragans stood out.

"The swing-and-miss on his fastball is what impressed me," said Matt Hagen, Ragans' manager at Spokane. "It never got squared up that often."

The 6-foot-4 lefthander typically works 90-93 mph with that fastball, touching the mid-90s. His fastball plays up due to a high spin rate and late action, which gives it the appearance of rising as it crosses the plate. Adding to the pitch's effectiveness is Ragans' delivery. Ragans closes off his front side, hiding the ball well and creating a tough angle—particularly when he pitches inside to righthanders.

While advanced for his age, Ragans still needs to refine his command and cut down on the amount of deep counts he works himself into. His 79-84 mph changeup is already graded as plus by some and forms a potent one-two punch with his fastball. However, his low-70s curveball could use tightening. The pitch has a soft, loopy shape and lacks the bite needed to put away hitters at higher levels. If he can develop his breaking ball into at least an average offering, Ragans has No. 2 or No. 3 starter potential.

3 2 3.61 13 13 0 57 50 27 23 5 35 87 .234

This Article is a paid feature of the Baseball America website. To continue reading, please sign-in.

Login to Your AccountPurchase Website Access