2018 Arizona League Top 20 Prospects
The Arizona League expanded to a record number 18 teams in 2018 as three more organizations–Cubs, Giants and Indians–followed the lead of the Padres in adding a second team to the rookie level league. The expansion of the league greatly added to the overall prospect pool, although observers generally agreed that the top of this year’s list wasn’t as strong as prior seasons.
Top prospect Brayan Rocchio began his professional career with 25 games for the Indians Dominican Summer League before an early July promotion to Arizona. The 17-year-old switch-hitting shortstop was lauded by scouts and rival managers for his plus or better hit tool and extremely advanced instincts.
Seven 2018 first round picks made their professional debuts in the Arizona League, with Jordyn Adams (Angels), Brice Turang (Brewers) and Bo Naylor (Indians) getting enough playing time to rank in the top 20. Other first rounders who didn’t accrue enough playing time to qualify included Joey Bart (Giants), Nick Madrigal (White Sox), Ryan Weathers (Padres), Nico Hoerner (Cubs) and Ethan Hankins (Indians).
Cleveland’s Lenny Torres came up just short of qualifying for the list when his last scheduled regular season start was scratched so that he could instead pitch in the playoffs; scouts covering the league concurred that the 17-year-old righthander was the league’s best pitching prospect. George Valera, another premier Indians prospect who likely would have ranked among the league’s top prospects, missed most of the season due to a broken hamate.
The Dodgers, who entered the league in 2009 after the relocation of their training complex from Florida to Arizona, captured their second Arizona League crown by besting the Cubs-1 squad in a best-of-three series. Manager Mark Kertenian’s squad finished with a 37-18 record, ranking at the top of the West division in both halves of the season.