Image credit: Evan White (Photo by John Williamson)
The names of the top batting and pitching prospects in baseball dot the Top 100 Prospects ranking. But not all outstanding defensive players are household names.
To shed light on prospects with truly outstanding defensive skills, we present the minor league all-glove team.
Players are listed with the team and league in which they won best defensive player honors at their position in Best Tools balloting, which we conduct every year with minor league managers.
The catcher position is so demanding that we are recognizing two backstops, one for his left hand and one for his right.
Payton Henry, Brewers
High Class A Carolina (Carolina)
Henry is a catcher for the modern age. He receives well, he frames very well, he throws well—and he hits for power.
Jake Rogers, Tigers
Triple-A Toledo (International)
The cannon-armed Rogers, who also is best defensive catcher in the Eastern League, had thrown out nearly 50 percent of basestealers for his career.
Evan White, Mariners
Double-A Arkansas (Texas)
White is so graceful with sure hands, smooth footwork and a plus arm; he would probably play third base if he weren’t lefthanded.
Nick Madrigal, White Sox
Double-A Birmingham (Southern)
The former college shortstop earns raves for his range, sure-handedness and instincts. Even scouts who like Madrigal want to see improved arm strength, especially when turning the double play.
Nick Allen, Athletics
High Class A Stockton (California)
The 20-year-old shows remarkable poise for a player his age. Allen always takes the right angle to the ball and his sure hands and deadly throwing accuracy result in few errors.
Runners-up for best defensive shortstop in the minors include the Mets’ Andres Gimenez (Eastern), the Astros’ Jeremy Peña (Midwest) and the Tigers’ Cole Peterson (Florida State).
Ke’Bryan Hayes, Pirates
Triple-A Indianapolis (International)
Hayes reads the ball of the bat as well as anybody, which allows him to convert everything from smoked liners to barehanded choppers into outs. His arm is an asset.
Cristian Pache, Braves
Double-A Mississippi (Southern)
Pache combines plus speed, a tremendous first step and a 70-grade arm to rank as the best defensive outfielder in the minors.
Other best defensive outfielders of note:
Derek Hill, Tigers (Eastern)
Standout runner and defender in center.
Leody Taveras, Rangers (Carolina)
Known for gliding actions in center field.
Alek Thomas, D-backs (Midwest)
Teenager is beginning to make a name.