Top 15 Teenage MLB Prospects In Summer Camp
With no minor league season, 60-man player pools are serving a dual purpose for clubs.
They need those rosters spots to help them win at the major league level this season, so upper-level prospects who could potentially factor into the 2020 picture are in camp. At the same time, many clubs are using their player pool as a development tool for minor league prospects, making sure that their priority prospects are in town to help expedite their progress with no minor league games for them to play.
From our perspective of focusing on evaluating prospects, the youngest players in camp are some of the most interesting players there, even if they won't play in major league games this year. The teenage prospects in camp include current Top 100 prospects and several players with the upside to jump into Top 100 status in the near future.
These are the top 15 teenage prospects who are in a summer camp. Note that outfielder Kristian Robinson is in Arizona, though he's not on the D-backs' 60-man roster. I suspect the Indians will add Brayan Rocchio to their roster as well—just look at everyone else they have on their 60-man—but he's still in Venezuela. Royals shortstop Bobby Witt. Jr was a 2019 draft pick out of high school, but he turned 20 on June 14.
1. Wander Franco, SS, Rays (Top 100 ranking: 1)
The best prospect in baseball, Franco would have started in Double-A as a 19-year-old during a normal season and probably would have finished the year in Triple-A. Given the history of the Rays, it seems unlikely they would start his service time with a 2020 major league debut, but Franco is the most talented hitter in the minors, a potential batting champion with an excellent eye and outstanding barrel control.
2. Julio Rodriguez, OF, Mariners (Top 100 ranking: 8)
With the 19-year-old Rodriguez and 20-year-old outfielder Jarred Kelenic, the Mariners have the most exciting one-two prospect punch in summer camp. Rodriguez has a chance to be a franchise player, a mature hitter with a loose, fluid swing and 70-grade raw power, along with a plus-plus arm in right field. With the expected graduations of Luis Robert, Gavin Lux and Nate Pearson this season, Rodriguez should become a top-five prospect in baseball soon.
3. Marco Luciano, SS, Giants (Top 100 ranking: 21)
Luciano was the top-ranked 16-year-old international signing in the 2018 class. Still 18, he's already one of the top 25 prospects in baseball, a potential star with an explosive swing and 30-plus home run potential. Given the prospect graduations alone that will happen this year, Luciano will probably be a top-15 prospect by the end of the year and has the upside to climb even higher.
4. CJ Abrams, SS, Padres (Top 100 ranking: 24)
Abrams went sixth overall in last year's draft, then raised his stock with an electric debut in the Rookie-level Arizona League, where he hit .401/.442/.662 in 32 games. Abrams is an elite athlete who combines high-end speed and contact skills that give him a chance to hit at the top of a lineup while playing a premium position.
5. Riley Greene, OF, Tigers (Top 100 ranking: 52)
Lauded as one of the best pure hitters in the 2019 draft, Greene went fifth overall and continued to make a strong impression on pro scouts who saw him after he signed with the Tigers. Greene has the lefthanded swing, feel for hitting and plus raw power to have the upside of a middle-of-the-lineup bat. Getting a spot on the 60-man roster gives Greene an opportunity to get experience against Detroit's high-end pitching prospects in the upper levels.
6. Robert Hassell, OF, Padres (Top 100 ranking: 98)
Major league scouts voted Hassell as the best pure hitter in the 2020 high school class, and the Padres drafted him No. 8 overall. At 18, Hassell is the second-youngest player from the United States in summer camp. Instead of what would have been an introduction to pro ball in the Rookie-level Arizona League, Hassell will get to test himself against some of the top pitching prospects in baseball like MacKenzie Gore and Luis Patino right away.
7. Corbin Carroll, OF, D-backs (Top 100 ranking: 100)
The No. 16 overall pick in the 2019 draft, Carroll quickly boosted his stock last year after signing when he hit .299/.409/.487 in 42 games split between the Arizona League and short-season Northwest League. With plus-plus speed, Carroll has the quickness and instincts for center field, with the pure hitting ability and patience to be a high-OBP hitter who can hit toward the top of a lineup.
8. Noelvi Marte, SS, Mariners
Marte has yet to play above the Dominican Summer League, where he ranked as the league's No. 1 prospect. At 18, Marte is the same age as 2020 high school players and could have easily been a top half of the first-round pick if he were in the 2020 draft, and I think he would have been a top 10 pick. Where he ends up in the field is still to be determined, but he's a dynamic power/speed threat with good feel for hitting out of a well-sequenced, explosive swing.
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9. Diego Cartaya, C, Dodgers
The top Venezuelan signing in the 2018 international class, Cartaya is still 18 and will benefit from catching bullpens and live batting practice against the Dodgers' upper-level power arms as well as getting to face them at the team's alternate training site. Cartaya has the attributes to become a plus defender with a strong arm and all the intangibles teams seek from a catcher, along with the offensive potential that give him a chance to hit in the top half of a lineup.
10. George Valera, OF, Indians
So far, health has been the main thing slowing down Valera, a 19-year-old who signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2017. He played just six games in 2018 due to a broken hamate bone, then spent last year mostly with short-season Mahoning Valley. With one of the sweetest lefthanded swings in the game and above-average raw power, Valera will get some valuable development time this summer after playing in just 58 official games his first two seasons.
11. Tyler Soderstrom, C, Athletics
The 26th overall pick in the 2020 draft, Soderstrom signed with the A's and will report straight to summer camp, making him the youngest American player on any 60-man roster. Soderstrom draws widespread praise from scouts for his lefthanded-hitting ability and plus raw power. There are more questions about whether he can stay behind the plate, so getting him into camp now to work with the A's coaches on his defense is important for his development.
12. Daniel Espino, RHP, Indians
The 24th overall pick in the 2019 draft, Espino got a brief introduction to pro ball last year with nine short starts between the AZL and New York-Penn League. He has an electric fastball that reaches 99 mph and a potential out pitch in his slider coming out of his long arm stroke. He's the youngest pitcher in summer camp, the lone teenage pitcher on any 60-man roster.
13. Aaron Bracho, 2B, Indians
Bracho and Valera both signed in Cleveland's 2017 international class. Like Valera, health has also held back Bracho, who missed the 2018 season and has played just 38 games, with eight games in short-season Mahoning Valley serving as his highest level of experience. Putting Bracho on the 60-man roster is an aggressive assignment for him, but it's an important one for a player who has missed significant time but flashed Top 100 prospect potential. Bracho is an offensive-minded second baseman with a compact swing from both sides of the plate and a good eye for the strike zone.
14. Robert Puason, SS, Athletics
Added to Oakland's player pool on Wednesday, Puason is still 17 and the youngest player on any 60-man roster. Signed out of the Dominican Republic last year for $5.1 million (tied with Yankees outfielder Jasson Dominguez for the top international bonus in 2019), Puason ranked as the No. 5 signing in the 2019 international class. He has yet to make his official pro debut, but he's an excellent athlete with a lean, lively frame, plus speed and a strong arm at shortstop.
15. Brayan Buelvas, OF, Athletics
With Puason, Soderstrom and Buelvas, the A's have the three youngest players in summer camp. Buelvas, 18, signed with the A's for $100,000 out of Colombia in 2018, then his stock rose after an auspicious pro debut where he hit .300/.392/.506 in 44 games in the Rookie-level Arizona League, entering the season as the organization's No. 19 prospect. Buelvas isn't that physical, but he is an instinctive player who has a chance to stick in center field, where he reads the ball well off the bat, and has a mature hitting approach for his age.