They weren’t in the Top 100 to start the year, but they’re likely to push their way into next year’s list.
Evan Anundsen, rhp, Brewers: He didn’t crack our Brewers’ top 30 in the offseason, and at times the velocity on his sinker dips into the low 80s. But he can sit average as well, and the 21-year-old hadn’t allowed a home run in 81 innings at high Class A Brevard County.
Casey Kelly, rhp, Red Sox: He’s off to hit and play shortstop in the second half of the season. His first half on the mound at two A-ball levels—7-5, 2.08, 95 IP, 65 H, 16 BB, 74 SO—has us convinced he should remain on the mound.
Jenrry Mejia, rhp, Mets: He’s just 19 but already has pushed his way to Double-A, using a 98 mph fastball and drawing Edwin Jackson comparisons. He may need more feel to stay in the rotation, or may take a while to figure things out, like 2009 all-star Jackson did.
Esmil Rogers, rhp, Rockies: He’s got two power pitches, long levers, command and Double-A results, closing the gap between himself and teammate Jhoulys Chacin.
Zach Stewart, rhp, Reds: The 2008 third-rounder has zoomed to Triple-A in his first season thanks to a three-pitch mix. His changeup and slider (which can be an out pitch) give him solid secondary stuff, and his 93-94 mph fastball features plus sink and bore.
You had to be in the Top 100 to be eligible for this list, so a turnaround may not be far away. But it would be welcome.
Pedro Alvarez, 3b, Pirates: Maybe expectations were too high. Maybe the contract negotiations didn’t help. Alvarez, dogged in the offseason by conditioning concerns, has reached Double-A but also has struck out in 30 percent of his plate appearances while hitting just .240.
Andrew Brackman, rhp, Yankees: Our preseason No. 92 prospect led the minors with 56 walks while ranking second with 19 wild pitches. His ceiling remains sky high, but he looks a long, long way from reaching it.
Daniel Cortes, rhp, Royals: He still has premium stuff, though reports indicate his fastball velocity is down. Lack of focus has led to 50 walks (eighth in the minors), and lack of maturity led to a public intoxication charge.
Jeremy Jeffress, rhp, Brewers: From Prospect No. 100 to a 100-game suspension, reportedly because of repeated marijuana use. Baseball’s Ricky Williams is one failed test away from a lifetime ban.
Michael Ynoa, rhp, Athletics: Speaking of high expectations . . . Ynoa hasn’t thrown a pro pitch since signing for a record $4.25 million out of the Dominican Republic and already has made his first trip to the disabled list. We really just want to see him pitch is all.
Angels: The death of No. 1 prospect Nick Adenhart hurt the organization in many ways, yet the Angels have weathered the loss. High draft picks such as catcher Hank Conger (2006, first round) and righthander Trevor Bell (2005 supplemental first-rounder) have had their best seasons, while emerging lefty Trevor Reckling has broken out.
Astros: It had to get better for the No. 30 organization, and it has. The low Class A Lexington rotation, with Jordan Lyles and Ross Seaton setting the pace, gives hope for the future, and 2008 first-rounder Jason Castro looks like the real deal.
Phillies: If Philadelphia wants to deal for Roy Halladay, it has the pieces to make the move. Righthanders Kyle Drabek and Jason Knapp are legit power arms; Dom Brown and Michael Taylor are athletic power bats; and Travis d’Arnaud, Jason Donald and Lou Marson are up-the-middle assets.
Cardinals: Ranking this system eighth in the preseason proved optimistic, as the Cardinals lack impact talent after big league rookie Colby Rasmus. Starting pitching—there’s a lack of power arms—looks like a glaring system-wide weakness.
Pirates: Aside from Andrew McCutchen and Brad Lincoln, the Bucs’ top talents have mostly had middling seasons, from Alvarez and Neil Walker to Daniel Moskos and Shelby Ford.
Royals: Not much has gone right in the minors, from modest seasons by power plants Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas to spotty pitching at upper levels.
Contributing: Ben Badler, Jim Callis, J.J. Cooper, Matt Eddy, Jim Shonerd