Players Making Significant Jumps Up Central Top 30 Prospects Lists

Image credit: Vinnie Pasquantino (Tracy Proffitt/Four Seam Images)


With the minor league season heating up we’re updating Top 30 lists for all 30 teams. Below are Central Division prospects who made a big jump in our latest update.

Chicago Cubs

Alfonso Rivas, 1B (Moved from No. 27 to No. 16)

Rivas has supplanted Frank Schwindel as the Cubs’ primary first baseman and continues to show the contact and on-base skills to succeed in the major leagues. Even with below-average power, he’s done enough to secure a spot in the Cubs starting lineup. 

Christopher Morel, OF/3B (Moved from No. 29 to No. 17) 

Morel has some of the best tools in the Cubs system and is finally making better swing decisions to cut down his strikeout rate. After striking out in 30% of his plate appearances last year at Double-A, Morel has cut his strikeout rate to 25% at the level this year. More contact has allowed his power to play more, with 13 extra-base hits—including seven homers—already in just 28 games. 

Chicago White Sox

Sean Burke, RHP (Moved from No. 9 to No. 4)

Last year’s third-round pick from Maryland is thriving in his first full season at High-A Winston-Salem with two plus pitches and a chance for a third as he develops the slider. Burke has a high floor with a projection of a mid-rotation starter.

Lenyn Sosa, SS/2B (Moved from No. 19 to No. 11)

The power has emerged in Sosa’s age-22 season, with his ISO jumping from .068 last year to .197 in 2022. His walk rate has also improved significantly while strikeouts have dropped. With the ability to play all three infield positions, there could be further upward movement as the season progresses.

Yolbert Sanchez, 2B/SS (Moved from No. 17 to No. 12)

A plus defender at second base, Sanchez teamed with Lenyn Sosa as both have taken jumps forward. A walk rate of nearly 20% in Double-A, six times his rate at the same level in 2021, turned Sanchez into an on-base machine and earned him a promotion to Triple-A.

Davis Martin, RHP (Moved from NR to No. 13)

The velo on Martin’s four-seamer has jumped, now touching 97, and he pairs it with a plus slider. He’s also locating his pitches better and showing more consistency. After a strong start in Double-A, he was moved up to Triple-A and made his big league debut on May 17.

Adam Hackenberg, C (Moved from No. 30 to No. 25)

Hackenberg continues to show better results at the plate than in his college career. He’s got plus raw power and a strong, athletic frame. The biggest key is his leadership skills to go with average defense and an above-average arm.

Kohl Simas, RHP (Moved from NR to No. 20)

An undrafted free agent in 2021, Simas moved into the rotation this year at Low-A Kannapolis and is attacking hitters with a four-pitch mix and a mid-90s fastball.

Carlos Perez, C (Moved from NR to No. 27)

Perez, the third of three catching brothers all named Carlos who have played pro ball, jumps onto the top 30 in his ninth year in the organization. The key is his elite contact, with a strikeout rate of less than 3%, and he’s showing power in Triple-A this year with a .271 ISO.

Yohemy Nolasco, RHP (Moved from NR to No. 28)

Nolasco has been one of the highlights of the White Sox extended spring training team, with a fastball at 92-96 mph with good life and feel for a slurvy breaking ball. His tall, very slender frame has drawn comparisons to that of Cleveland’s Triston McKenzie, so more velocity should come with added strength.

Yoelvin Silven, RHP (Moved from NR to No. 30)

Silven’s combination of a low-to-mid-90s fastball and average slider should help him reach the big leagues at least in a reliever’s capacity. His changeup and overall command need to be improved, however, and could prevent him from reaching his ceiling.

Cincinnati Reds

Andrew Abbott, LHP (Up to No. 9 from No. 25)

Abbott has followed up a strong 2021 pro debut by being even better in 2022. Abbott’s fastball/slider combination forced an early promotion to Double-A after five exceptional High-A starts. He’ll need to use his changeup more often with Chattanooga, but his exceptional feel is serving him well.

Jose Torres, SS/2B (Up from No. 15 to No. 11)

Torres has consistently shown a better-than-projected bat since he became a pro. Torres’ consistent glove has long impressed, but despite a slight frame, his strong wrists and forearms have given him gap power to go with athleticism and speed.

Connor Phillips, RHP (Up from No. 23 to No. 14)

Acquired as the player to be named later in the Mariners’ Jesse Winker trade, Phillips has been even better than expected so far. He has some of the best stuff in the organization. He’s sitting in the mid 90s and touching 99 mph with his fastball and his slider has been just as effective.

Alexis Diaz, RHP (Up from No. 27 to No. 18)

Diaz has been one of the bright spots in the Reds bullpen and is being used in the fifth through seventh innings in high- and medium-leverage situations. His pinpoint command of his slider has made it an extremely effective pitch.

Joe Boyle (Up from No. 34 preseason to No. 30)

Boyle’s stuff is some of the best in the Reds organization. When he’s around the zone, he’s quite effective. His shaky control (21 walks in his first 28 innings) remains a long-term concern.

Cleveland Guardians

Tanner Bibee, RHP (Moved from NR to No. 21)

The Guardians’ scouting and development staffs have done a tremendous job with Bibee, whose stuff has jumped tremendously since his days at Cal State Fullerton. His fastball in particular has taken a leap, now averaging 94 mph and touching 98. He pairs the pitch with a potentially plus slider and a changeup, which gives him a strong three-pitch mix. The Guardians chose to develop Bibee post-draft instead of sending him to an affiliate. So far, the work they did has paid off in his early starts with High-A Lake County. 

Will Brennan, OF (Moved from NR to No. 28)

The Guardians believed last season that Brennan, their eighth-rounder from 2019 out of Kansas State, had flown somewhat under the radar. He controlled the strike zone quite well at both Class A levels, but did not show much in the way of impact. That’s changed this year. The organization credits strong work between Brennan and his hitting coaches for changing the way he moves in the box as the reason he’s tapped into more power, including three home runs so far—he hit just two in 40 Double-A games last year—while still maintaining the same level of strike zone control.

Milan Tolentino, SS (Moved from NR to No. 29)

The Guardians scouting and player development groups worked with Tolentino to change the way he moves in the box in order to tap into more impact without sacrificing his bat-to-ball skills. The results have shown up in a scorching start for the team’s fourth-round pick from two seasons ago. Scouts inside and outside the organization see a player who can hit his way to the big leagues, but there are questions about where he’ll wind up defensively.

Isaiah Greene, OF (Moved from NR to No. 30)

The Guardians snagged Greene from the Mets in the Francisco Lindor trade. He was lauded in high school for a smooth, polished swing and an excellent approach. So far, both of those traits have shown up in pro ball. He could stand to add more strength, but already shows strong hand-eye coordination and pitch recognition skills. He’s got some work to do defensively, but with enough improvements he could play his way into a fourth outfielder’s role. Scouts would also like to see more continuity between his swings during BP and in games.


Detroit Tigers

Colt Keith, 3B (Up from No. 13 to No. 8)

Keith has been one of the Tigers best performers in the early going. He combines solid swing decisions with the power to make an impact when he does connect.

Wilmer Flores, RHP (Up from No. 23 to No. 9)

In 2020, Flores walked more than a batter an inning at Arizona Western JC (12 walks in 11.2 IP). The Tigers signed him as a nondrafted free agent anyway and just two years later, he’s emerged as one of the team’s best pitching prospects. Flores’ mid-90s fastball is impressive, but it’s his hard, 12-to-6 77-83 mph curveball that causes hitters the biggest issues. Flores has complete confidence in his ability to land it for strikes or bury it depending on the situation. His once-shaky control is now plus or even plus-plus. He’s walked two batters in his first 19.2 innings and has a 72.2% strike percentage, far beyond the MiLB average of 63%.

Alex Faedo, RHP (Up from No. 21 to No. 10)

After bouts of ineffectiveness and Tommy John surgery, Faedo has returned to the mound and shown his slider is effective enough to give him a shot to be a back-of-the-rotation starter, a role he’s already grabbed hold of in Detroit.

Beau Brieske, RHP (Up from No. 19 to No. 15)

With injuries to Casey Mize, Matt Manning and now Michael Pineda, Detroit has needed help for its starting rotation. Brieske has capably filled in. He doesn’t miss a lot of bats, but his above-average mid-90s fastball is firm enough to make sure hitters are aware of it, and he heavily relies on an above-average changeup. His fringy curveball and slider are good enough to make the whole package work.

Garrett Hill, RHP (Moved from NR to No. 21)

A shorter (6-foot) righthander, Hill has been a steady performer for the Tigers ever since he was selected in the 26th round in 2018 out of San Diego State. That effectiveness is starting to get noticed now that he’s dominating Double-A hitters. Hill’s flat, lively 92-95 mph fastball jumps above hitters’ bats, which helps explain his dominant start. Hill has struck out 52 of the first 127 batters he’s faced.

Austin Bergner, RHP (Moved from unranked to No. 28)

Bergner is actually throwing a little softer than the 94-95 mph he sat at last year, but he’s been just as effective in a jump to Double-A Erie as he’s proven he can get above hitters’ bats at the top of the zone. His hard, 84-87 mph slider gives him a second effective weapon to attack hitters.

Brant Hurter, LHP (Moved from NR to No. 29)

Hurter has regained his pre-Tommy John surgery form. This year he’s sitting 92-93 mph, up a tick from what he was in his final year at Georgia Tech. His sinker isn’t much of a bat-misser, but it sets up an average slider and changeup that pair well together. Hurter should move up to High-A West Michigan before long, but he’s spent his first six weeks toying with Florida State League hitters.

Kansas City Royals

Vinnie Pasquantino, 1B (Moved from No. 10 to No. 4)

Pasquantino is knocking on the door for the big league first base job. He’s a rare slugger who walks more than he strikes out.

Maikel Garcia, SS (Moved from No. 28 to No. 15)

Garcia has taken another big step forward in his first chance at Double-A, with the most impressive metric being a walk rate of better than 15%. He’s added strength, allowing him to drive more balls to the gap for doubles, and is still a plus defender up the middle.

Luca Tresh, C (Moved from NR to No. 17)

Tresh was drafted last year in the 17th round, signing just before the deadline for an over-slot $423,000 bonus. He’s gotten off to a strong start at High-A Quad Cities in his first full season and has been one of the team’s strongest hitters, in addition to catching more than half its games.

Drew Parrish, LHP (Moved from NR to No. 18)

The Florida State product is dominating Double-A hitters in his return to Northwest Arkansas, with his strengths being a fastball that he lands to all quadrants of the plate and a plus changeup with pitch characteristics resembling the heater. He rounds out his arsenal with a work-in-progress curveball typically thrown in hitter counts. He’s not overpowering, with the fastball sitting 88-92 mph, but succeeds with mound confidence and pitchability.

Collin Snider, RHP (Moved from No. 29 to No. 20)

Snider was a surprise addition to the 40-man roster last winter and has proven that it was the right move as he’s become a key member of the Royals bullpen this year. He thrives with a two-seam fastball that touches the high 90s and a slider with good movement—his swing-and-miss pitch. The sink on his heater gets plenty of ground balls.

Yefri Del Rosario, RHP (Moved from NR to No. 25)

Now pitching out of the bullpen, Del Rosario is regaining the form he had before his 2019 injury that kept him out all season. The key is better location of his 94-95 mph fastball and being more aggressive with it inside. He’s also improved the location of a sweeping slider with horizontal movement.

Milwaukee Brewers 

Jackson Chourio, OF (Moves up from No. 10 to No. 3)

If you want to place a premium on pure upside, you can make a case to put Chourio as the top prospect in Milwaukee’s farm system right now. The power upside is greater than that of shortstop Brice Turang and center fielder Sal Frelick, the only two players ahead of him, and Chourio also projects to stick at a premium position with plenty of speed and quick-twitch athleticism. While the reviews on his hitting ability and approach were positive coming into the season after he was in the Dominican Summer League, the praise has only become more effusive from scouts after extended spring training (where he hit four home runs in his first five games) and now in Low-A, where he’s crushing it (albeit in a small sample) as an 18-year-old, the equivalent of a high school senior. Chourio is now a Top 100 prospect, and if he keeps this up longer into the season, he has the potential to skyrocket up that list. 

Joey Wiemer, OF (Moves up from No. 8 to No. 4)

Wiemer was a split camp prospect coming into the year. He’s big, physical, athletic and tooled up, with a combined .296/.403/.556 line and 27 home runs in 472 plate appearances last year, mostly at Low-A Carolina as a 22-year-old. Scouts highest on Wiemer pointed to that and thought he could develop into a plus regular. Others were more hesitant, given his track record while at Cincinnati and, even with a toned-down swing, some unconventional parts to his stroke that could lead to more swing and miss against better competition. So far, Wiemer is heading in the right direction. His 30% strikeout rate still is something to monitor, but he’s continuing to perform at a high level and translate his power in games this year in Double-A, putting himself into Top 100 prospect conversation.

Felix Valerio, 2B/3B/LF (Moves up from No. 21 to No. 11)

Valerio has always hit well, showing good bat control and an eye for the strike zone. At 5-foot-7, that’s an especially small strike zone, but he has done a good job staying disciplined and not expanding that zone. Now that he’s doing it in Double-A—hitting .277/.355/.515 through 28 games as a 21-year-old—he’s proving he can do it against upper-level minor league pitching as well. Where he plays is still an issue—most of his time this year has come at second base, with more exposure to left field as well—but his hitterish tendencies are translating as one of the youngest players in the Southern League.

Minnesota Twins

Gilberto Celestino, OF (Up from No. 20 to No. 14)

Celestino looked over-matched in his first MLB stint in 2021. Now he’s staked a pretty firm claim to the Twins fourth outfield job. With his ability to play all three outfield spots and his newfound ability to get on base, he fills a need on Minnesota’s roster.

Marco Raya, RHP (Up from No. 29 to No. 18)

Raya’s mid-90s fastball has excellent shape with life as well as the flat approach angle teams love. He’s shown no problems adapting to the Florida State League so far.

Edouard Julien, 2B/OF (Up from No. 26 to No. 20)

Julien has always been patient and a maestro at getting on base. That ability has carried over to the Double-A Texas League. He still needs to get to more power, but his ability to work counts and get pitchers into tough situations should eventually help him do that.

David Festa, RHP (Moved from NR to No. 29)

Festa earned a promotion to High-A Cedar Rapids after dominating younger hitters in a five-start stint with Low-A Fort Myers. It’s fair to say that Festa should have been too advanced for Low-A hitters, as he posted a 2.00 ERA as a starter for Seton Hall in 2021. But the quality of his arsenal is worth a second look. Festa is sitting 95-96 mph and touching 98-99. He also throws a plus slider and changeup that will be more tested in the MIdwest League.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Kyle Nicolas, RHP (Moved from NR to No. 20)

When the Pirates plucked Nicolas from the Marlins in the Jacob Stallings deal, they knew they were getting a pitcher with a potentially elite fastball. This year, thanks to some work behind the scenes and tweaked grips on his changeup and curveball, Nicolas has raised his profile significantly and looks like yet another intriguing prospect in the Pirates’ enviable farm system.

Luis Ortiz, RHP (Moved from NR to No. 22)

Perhaps the most improved pitcher in the Pirates’ system, Ortiz was skipped over High-A entirely in favor of an assignment at Double-A Altoona. His fastball sits in the upper 90s and is backed up by an interesting pair of offspeed pitches in his slider and changeup. The next steps for Ortiz involve improving his command and learning how best to sequence his repertoire. There is still some rawness to his operation, but the Pirates believe they are polishing a potential gem.

Cal Mitchell, OF (Moved from NR to No. 23)

Mitchell has impressed evaluators with his early play. The former second-round pick has shown a consistently smooth swing from the left side along with an all-fields approach. Mitchell is a below-average defender without a ton of range, but he will make plays on everything he can track down. If he can show a tick more power, he could fit nicely into a corner outfielder’s profile.

St. Louis Cardinals

Gordon Graceffo, RHP (Moves Up from No. 12 to No. 10)

There’s some case to be made Graceffo could have moved up further, as he’s been dominant over his first seven starts in the Midwest League. Graceffo’s name floods the Midwest League leaderboards. Among qualified pitchers he ranks first in strikeouts (51) and FIP (1.58) and second in ERA (1.13), innings pitched (39.2) and K-BB% (34%). Beyond the performance, Graceffo has taken his velocity gains of the last year up a notch, sitting mid 90s and showing the ability to reach back for upper 90s when needed. He pairs his fastball with a plus slider, an above-average changeup and an average curveball and he shows the ability to throw strikes and miss bats with all of his secondaries. It’s been a breakout performance from the righthander early this spring. 

Brendan Donovan, 2B/OF (Moves up from No. 14 to No. 8)

Entering the season, Donovan was among a group of lower-risk, close-to-the-majors positional prospects that ranked in the top half of the Cardinals preseason Top 30. He, along with fellow rookie Juan Yepez, has differentiated himself from this group early this spring as he’s played a valuable role for the major league club. Donovan is a high-contact hitter who walks as much as he strikes out, but lacks impact. He’s made starts at shortstop recently, and offers the Cardinals positional versatility and a hitter who can get on base or put the ball in play. 

Jake Walsh, RHP (Moves up from No. 25 to No. 18)

To say Walsh has been dominant as a relief-only prospect the last two seasons is an understatement. Over 33 innings he’s struck out 38.2% of the batters he’s faced while allowing an opposing batting average of just .162. His high-octane fastball sits mid-to-high 90s with ride and late life and his low-80s hammer curveball has good depth, particularly for the velocity in the pitch. He was promoted to the major leagues on May 11 and quickly made a pair of scoreless appearances for the Cardinals. Walsh has the stuff to fit into high-leverage spots with the Cardinals as soon as this summer. 

Connor Thomas, LHP (Moves up from No. 30 to No. 21)

Despite below-average velocity, Thomas has always displayed a high level of pitchability and an uncanny ability to drive groundball contact dating back to his days at Georgia Tech. He’s been a performer throughout his professional career, handling advanced assignments. Thomas presently ranks fifth in xFIP among qualified pitchers in the International League behind notable prospects like Grayson Rodriguez and Max Meyer. While he certainly doesn’t have the ceiling of either of those names, Thomas has been a strong performer over 130-plus innings at the Triple-A level. His continued success at the minor leagues’ highest level is difficult to ignore. 

Pedro Pages, C (Moves from Unranked to No. 28)

While teammate Moises Gomez has received several accolades for his early power performance, Pages has been undergoing a renaissance of his own. As an amateur and early in his professional career, Pages was a patient contact hitter with a high walk rate. He’s morphed into more of a power hitter over the last year, and has unlocked more in-game raw power based on his exit data. This newfound power has raised Pages’ profile and put him on the back end of the Cardinals Top 30. 

Chandler Redmond, 2B (Moves from Unranked to No. 29)

One of the best power hitters in the Cardinals system, Redmond has cut down on the strikeouts to begin his second full professional season and is transitioning to first base defensively. He’s a player with tremendous power but a limited profile defensively, though he does have pro experience at a few different positions. His ability to make contact more regularly this season has turned into more sustainable results. A 32nd-round senior sign in 2019, Redmond has made tremendous strides since turning pro and is performing in the upper minors. It’s a limited profile but a strong-side platoon first base/DH ceiling. 

Andre Granillo, RHP (Moves from Unranked to No. 30)

The righthander first burst onto the draft radar early last spring closing games for UC Riverside and resurfaced on the Cape with standout performances for Cotuit before the 2021 draft. Granillo is mostly a two-pitch reliever with a fastball that sits 92-95 mph and a low-80s slider that misses bats and drives ground balls. He’s a bigger-bodied, high-effort reliever, but he hides the ball well and could add a few ticks in the coming years. Granillo fits into a group of harder-throwing, two-pitch relief types at the edges of the Cardinals Top 30.

Comments are closed.

Download our app

Read the newest magazine issue right on your phone