MiLB Top 10 Prospects Flashback: 2015 International League
No minor league has seen its alumni produce more WAR in the big leagues or accumulate more plate appearances or innings than the Triple-A International League. While the league counts 14 members today, it was an eight- or 10-team league in the 1980s and ’90s until the dissolution of the American Association after the 1997 season.
Cal Ripken Jr. ranked as the IL’s first ever No. 1 prospect for BA in 1981. Following him as IL top 10 prospects were fellow Hall of Famers John Smoltz (1988), Mike Mussina (1991), Chipper Jones and Jim Thome (1993), Derek Jeter (1995) and Roy Halladay (1997 and ’98).
Francisco Lindor (No. 1) headlined the IL class of 2015 and could one day join the others in the Hall of Fame. The IL that season also featured future impact big leaguers Trea Turner (No. 4) and Aaron Judge (No. 10), along with power arms Luis Severino (No. 2), Eduardo Rodriguez (No. 5) and Jose Berrios (No. 9), who are still building toward their peak years.
2015 International League Top 10 Prospects
|3||Maikel Franco||3B||Lehigh Valley||Phillies||2,767||4.6|
|5||Eduardo Rodriguez||LHP||Pawtucket||Red Sox||699||13.5|
|7||Daniel Norris||LHP||Buffalo||Blue Jays||452||5.3|
|8||Henry Owens||LHP||Pawtucket||Red Sox||27||0.5|
The Indians assigned Lindor to Columbus to “limit his defensive lapses” and “impact the ball better from the left side.” Mission accomplished. He is a generational shortstop who has won two Gold Gloves and has topped 30 homers three times in his young career.
Turner faced questions about his impact potential in terms of power and arm strength but has satisfactorily answered them. He was projected to develop power as he “fills out a still-lanky frame,” but his “blazing speed” marked him as a “threat on the basepaths and to beat out infield hits.”
Judge used a “gap-to-gap approach with bat speed and natural strength to drive the ball,” which is the perfect approach for a righthanded slugger at Yankee Stadium. He earned comps with future Yankees teammate Giancarlo Stanton for his power to all fields.
International League All-Time BA No. 1 Prospects
Players listed with career major league plate appearances/innings and FanGraphs WAR. Stats for active players current through mid August.
|1981||Cal Ripken Jr.||3B||Rochester||Orioles||12,883||92.5|
|1982||Steve Balboni (tie)||1B||Columbus||Yankees||3,440||2.8|
|1982||Tony Fernandez (tie)||SS||Syracuse||Blue Jays||8,793||43.5|
|1989||Glenallen Hill||OF||Syracuse||Blue Jays||4,033||10.6|
|1990||Mark Whiten||OF||Syracuse||Blue Jays||3,523||13.1|
|1991||Derek Bell||OF||Syracuse||Blue Jays||5,068||13.0|
|1994||Shawn Green||OF||Syracuse||Blue Jays||7,963||29.9|
|1996||Nomar Garciaparra||SS||Pawtucket||Red Sox||6,116||41.5|
|1997||Carl Pavano||RHP||Pawtucket||Red Sox||1,789||19.1|
|1999||Vernon Wells||OF||Syracuse||Blue Jays||7,212||25.1|
|2000||Jon Garland||RHP||Charlotte||White Sox||2,151||26.8|
|2013||Xander Bogaerts||SS||Pawtucket||Red Sox||4,025||25.2|
|2017||Ronald Acuna Jr.||OF||Gwinnett||Braves||1,280||9.9|
|2018||Eloy Jimenez||OF||Charlotte||White Sox||600||2.4|
|2019||Luis Robert||OF||Charlotte||White Sox||95||1.0|