The List: Salem Has Minors' Best Opening Day Roster
Every week, Baseball America will rank some aspect of the minor leagues with The List. First up? Which teams have the best rosters for prospects as the 2016 season begins.
At the end of last season, the Red Sox's low Class A Greenville affiliate had the best prospect group in the minors. Six months later, those players have moved up a level. But the honor remains. At the start of the season, Baseball America picks the Salem Red Sox as having the best group of prospects in the minors.
1. Salem Red Sox (Red Sox)
Top 100 Prospects: 2B Yoan Moncada (3), OF Andrew Benintendi (15), 3B Rafael Devers (18).
Top 30 Prospects: Moncada (1), Devers (2), Benintendi (3), SS/2B Mauricio Dubon (13), 1B/OF Nick Longhi (14), RHP Travis Lakins (16). Yes, Corpus Christi has more Top 100 Prospects, but no team can match the star power of Salem with three Top 20 Prospects. Amazingly this group was even better at the end of last year in Greenville (when we called them the best prospect group in the minors) as those three were joined by shortstop Javier Guerra before he was traded to the Padres.
2. Corpus Christi Hooks (Astros)
Top 100 Prospects: RHP Francis Martes (20), SS Alex Bregman (42), RHP Joe Musgrove (83), RHP David Paulino (91).
Top 30 Prospects: Martes (2), Bregman (3), Musgrove (6), Paulino (7), OF Derek Fisher (10), 3B J.D. Davis (14), C Alfredo Gonzalez (26), LHP Michael Freeman (30). Whatever day you catch the Hooks, you have a very good chance of seeing an excellent starting pitcher as the Hooks have the best trio of starters in the minors. Adding in Bregman, the club’s first 2015 first-round pick, Fisher, Davis and Gonzalez makes this the must-see team of the Texas League.
3. Rochester Red Wings (Twins)
Top 100 Prospects: RHP Jose Berrios (28), OF Max Kepler (30), SS/2B Jorge Polanco (99).
Top 30 Prospects: Berrios (2), Kepler (3), Polanco (6), RHP Alex Meyer (12), LHP Taylor Rogers (14), OF/1B Adam Brett Walker (17). The Red Wings' roster is even better when you consider that Tyler Duffey and J.R. Graham are no longer prospect-eligible. Berrios gives the team a true ace while Kepler-Polanco-Walker makes this one of the most interesting lineups to watch in the International League.
4. Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Phillies)
Top 100 Prospects: OF Nick Williams (27), RHP Jake Thompson (75), C Andrew Knapp (96).
Top 30 Prospects: Williams (2), Thompson (3), Knapp (4), RHP Mark Appel (8 on Astros list pre-trade), Zach Eflin (13), OF/2B Darnell Sweeney (26). The Phillies have a pair of loaded upper-level minor league clubs, but the depth of prospects of the IronPigs tops the top-end talent of the J.P. Crawford-led Reading club. When Crawford gets promoted to Triple-A, this club will get even better.
5. Hartford Yard Goats (Rockies)
Top 100 Prospects: OF David Dahl (2), 3B Ryan McMahon (5).
Top 30 Prospects: Dahl (2), McMahon (5), LHP Kyle Freeland (6), RHP Antonio Senzatela (9), OF Raimel Tapia (10), RHP German Marquez (14 on Rays list before trade). The Rockies have a system loaded with upper-level prospect talent and most of it will be playing for the new Yard Goats affiliate. Freeland gets an aggressive promotion to Double-A while the Eastern League’s best lineup (Dahl, McMahon, Tapia) will make pitchers’ lives very difficult.
6. Indianapolis Indians (Pirates)
Top 100 Prospects: RHP Tyler Glasnow (14), 1B Josh Bell (38).
Top 30 Prospects: Glasnow (1), Bell (3), RHP Jameson Taillon (4), 2B Alen Hanson (11), OF Willy Garcia (12), RHP Steven Brault (15), 2B Max Moroff (25), SS/OF Adam Frazier (27). Even though he’s two years removed from his last official game, Taillon has shown no rust in spring training and should pair with Glasnow and Brault to give the Indians a fascinating group of power arms. The position players aren’t as interesting, but it should be fun to watch Bell ready to tackle the first base job in Pittsburgh at some point this season.
7. Rome Braves (Braves)
Top 100 Prospects: RHP Touki Toussaint (90).
Top 30 Prospects: Toussaint (5), 3B Austin Riley (6), LHP Max Fried (7), RHP Mike Soroka (9), LHP Ricardo Sanchez (15), C Lucas Herbert (18), OF Ronald Acuna (26). Yes, the Rome club has just one Top 100 Prospect, but this club has a rotation of fascinating prospects and it will only get better when lefthander Kolby Allard joins in the not-to-distant future. While Riley is the biggest name among the hitters, keep an eye on Acuna, a toolsy, talented outfielder who could break out in 2016.
8. Louisville Bats (Reds)
Top 100 Prospects: LHP Cody Reed (34), OF Jesse Winker (51), SS/2B/OF Jose Peraza (66).
Top 30 Prospects: Reed (2), Peraza (4), Winker (5), OF Kyle Waldrop (21). Even with the promotion of RHP Robert Stephenson to the big leagues, Louisville still has a trio of Top 100 Prospects led by the hard-throwing Reed. Peraza should bounce around to a number of positions, but fans should pay special attention to how he looks at shortstop as he reacclimates to the position after sliding to second base for much of the past two years.
9. Colorado Springs (Brewers)
Top 100 Prospects: SS Orlando Arcia (8), RHP Jorge Lopez (59)
Top 30 Prospects: Arcia (1), Lopez (2), RHP Zach Davies (12), OF Michael Reed (17), 3B/OF Garin Cecchini (30). It’s all about star power in Colorado Springs as the Sky Sox have both one of the best shortstop prospects in the game in Arcia and a dependable righthander in Lopez.
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10. Mississippi Braves (Braves)
Top 100 Prospects: LHP Sean Newcomb (24), SS Ozzie Albies (63).
Top 30 Prospects: Newcomb (1), Albies (4), RHP Lucas Sims (11), RHP Chris Ellis (13), OF Dustin Peterson (20), RHP Jason Hursh (21), LHP Brady Feigl (23), SS/2B Johan Camargo (25), RHP Mauricio Cabrera (27), RHP Andrew Thurman (28), RHP Steve Janas (30). The M-Braves will stand out for volume. Eight pitchers from the Top 30 Prospects list plus three position players make this one of the deeper prospect groupings in all of baseball.