The List: 10 Prospects In Line For Quick Promotions
2. Andrew Benintendi, of, Red Sox The reigning college player of the year, Benintendi is having little trouble making contact or driving the ball for extra-base hits in the high Class A Carolina League. He likely wouldn’t have any trouble making the jump to Double-A, where the No. 2 overall pick in the draft, Astros shortstop Alex Bregman, is already flourishing. The Red Sox typically have let even their best prospects stay at one level for a while, but with Dave Dombrowski now in charge, perhaps that could change, especially if the Red Sox are influenced by the drafted one year, MLB the next precedent set by a pair of elite college hitters in Michael Conforto and Kyle Schwarber last year.
3. Yoan Moncada, 2b, Red Sox Just like Benintendi, his Salem teammate, Moncada could test where the Red Sox are philosophically when it comes to pushing prospects aggressively or remaining patient in keeping them in one place for an extended period. Once Moncada shook off the rust from his layoff in the second half last year, he’s been unstoppable at the plate and on the basepaths, becoming the top-ranked prospect still in the minors. One scout who watched Moncada recently said he was playing way beyond the Carolina League level. The Red Sox do have a legitimate second base prospect ahead of him at Double-A, however, in Wendell Rijo.
4. J.P. Crawford, ss, Phillies Crawford has spent 103 games in Double-A Reading, where he has 63 walks and 55 strikeouts. With nearly a full season of Eastern League experience and a mature, disciplined hitting approach, it shouldn’t be long before Crawford gets a crack at Triple-A.
5. Josh Tobias, 2b, Phillies Tobias could prove quite the steal for the Phillies, who signed him for $10,000 last year as a 10th-round pick after his senior season at Florida. Tobias had a smaller, compact frame (5-foot-9, 195 pounds) without any loud tools, but he continued to hit, batting .349/.468/.556 in 17 games with 10 walks and 10 strikeouts. He’s also 23 and would benefit from being challenged against better pitching.
6. Thomas Eshelman, rhp, Phillies The Astros drafted Eshelman out of Cal State Fullerton in the second round last year, then shipped him to the Phillies in December as part of the prospect package to get Ken Giles. Eshelman can’t overpower anyone, so he relies on mixing his pitches and hitting his spots, which he’s done a masterful job of so far with just three walks in 19 innings for high Class A Clearwater. Fastball command is often something that farm directors want to see progress before they promote a pitcher to a new level, and with some scouts already pegging Eshleman with legitimate plus command, Eshelman could move quickly.
7. Edwin Diaz, rhp, Mariners Diaz is off to a terrific start for Double-A Jackson, with a stellar 32-3 K-BB mark in 22 innings to go with a 2.45 ERA, a rare bright spot in a thin farm system. Diaz has spent ample time at Double-A now with 126 1/3 innings over 24 starts, so his excellent April could get him to Triple-A Tacoma soon.
8. Brent Honeywell, rhp, Rays After Blake Snell threw 21 scoreless innings over first four games in high Class A Charlotte last year, the Rays quickly promoted him to Double-A Montgomery. Honeywell could follow in his footsteps, with an ERA of 0.73 through 24 2/3 innings over his first four starts for Charlotte. His command is even ahead of where Snell’s was at this time last year, with a sharp 26-2 K-BB mark.
9. Brett Phillips, of, Brewers In Triple-A Colorado Springs, the Brewers are giving Michael Reed an opportunity to play center field, which makes sense given that he runs well and doesn’t have the traditional power from a corner outfielder, though his hitting ability and plate discipline make him an enticing sleeper. So there’s reason to keep Phillips in Double-A a little longer—it’s not like the Brewers have any illusions of competing in 2016—but as one of the top center field prospects in baseball with 71 games of Double-A experience, Phillips probably won’t spend too much more time in Biloxi.
10. Donnie Dewees, cf, Cubs