You may be wondering “Wait, I thought it was Top 25 prospects… why does the list go up to 31?” Because, observant reader, I am combining the Top 25 with my Honorable Mentions, and my Five Sleeper Prospects mentioned in this article. I’m also including some final thoughts with lessons learned. Yeah I know what you’re thinking… Christmas DID come early this year.
These rankings are the original rankings from preseason 2015. The rankings have not been adjusted based on players’ 2015 performance.
17. Alex Guerrero (2B, Dodgers) – His playing time situation entering the season was undoubtedly strange and unprecedented, but he did carve out a role for himself. Due to his strong offensive performance. I predicted “Assuming he’s in Dodger Blue, he’ll eke out 10 reluctant homers and a .250 AVG in 250-300 At-Bats”. Seeing as he’s hitting .229 with 11 Homers in 201 ABs, I consider this a big win for getting close on such a wildcard.
18. Maikel Franco (1B/3B, Phillies) – Franco blew away mine, and just about everybody’s expectations upon arrival, though he’s cooled off as of late. I was right about a June Call-up, and I predicted “13-16 HR with a .230-240 AVG due to a high K rate”. Looking back, I don’t know why I was concerned about his K rate at all… it was only 14.6% last year in Triple-A which is great for a power hitter, and the 22.4% mark in the majors was over a miniscule sample size. Shame on you, April Ben.
19. D.J. Peterson (3B, Mariners) – I went out on a limb for DJ, and he used that limb to beat me over the head repeatedly. He was a vortex of suckitude all year in the minors, got a promotion to Triple-A he never deserved and continued to suck. My suspicion is he was hiding an injury, because he is talented and hit better at Double-A last year. I hope you didn’t share my optimism.
20. Byron Buxton (OF, Twins) – I was not feeling a Buxton breakthrough this year, citing his injury concerns as well as the Twins conservative nature with promoting prospects. However, I thought he’d even be better than this… .200 with no homers and 2 SB over 123 PA? I’m not betting on him for next year either, his future is bright but he has a LOT to work out.
21. Steven Moya (OF, Tigers) – Well, I did call him a “high bust risk”,, I got that part right. He had worse everything in his Triple-A campaign, and got a September call-up and struck out in more than half of the at-bats. The power may be real but his strikeout issues may be too much for him to overcome a Quad-A future.
22. Dilson Herrera (2B, Mets) – Dilly didn’t Dally in making his case for the majors, but he had a rude awakening in the majors, ending in a major injury. He still brought power and speed to the table, and I think he draws enough walks to be a great sleeper since he didn’t deserve to be under the Mendoza line with that K rate. Should have a long future as a mid-tier keystone guy.
23. Miguel Sano (3B, Twins) – While I did predict Sano would hit 5-6 dingers in the majors upon his call-up, I expected him to be blocked all year… and I didn’t expect him to hit for better than a .230 AVG… His 36.8% K rate laughs in my face, menacingly. The power prediction was fine on a rate basis, but I’d have to call this a miss since he beat my timetable and hit for better average. But some are calling him Miguel Cabrera 2.0 and I Sayno to that with his extreme K rate.
24. Andrew Susac (C, Giants) – I was hoping for a midseason trade. Instead the logjam worked out by way of him getting injured. His campaign was disappointing before the injury too, as he only mustered a .218 AVG with 3 Homers in 148 PA, where I thought he’d eke out 7 over a full season. I’ll blame it on the in-in-in-in-jury baby.
25. Joey Gallo (3B, Rangers) – I predicted that should Gallo, who I deemed “not ready” for the majors this year, get the call that you could “expect 6-7 home runs a month, and a .200 AVG, but a call-up before September is a low-percentage shot”. Well, I was half-right. .200 AVG with 6 Homers in 120 PA (approx a month of PA) ON THE NOSE! I consider this a win in that I focus more on the production than team circumstances I can’t control.
26. Jake Lamb (3B, Diamondbacks) –The “Honorable Mention” on the Top 25, Lamb was almost as valuable as I hoped, but not how I expected. I predicted he could hit .245-.250 with 13-16 dingers over a full season, but like Tomas, he traded off power for average and hit .275 with 6 Homers in 346 PA. It’s solid for a stopgap, but not enough to get consideration in most mixed leagues.
27. Robert Refsnyder (2B, Yankees) – My #1 “sleeper prospect”, Refsnyder put up a solid campaign in the minors, and got a lot of hype after hitting a homer in his first major league game, then was quickly demoted and never heard from again. Given he had a 14.3% K rate and .231 avg in the majors, I think the Yankees were too quick to jump ship on him. But his defense has been an issue, so he may need a position switch or a defensive overhaul to establish himself in the majors.
28. Giovanny Urshela (3B, Indians) – I did expect he’d force his way into the majors, which was correct. But I expected more of him at the major league level. Instead of hitting .250-260 with 7-10 Homers over 325-375 AB, he’s hitting .222 with 6 HR in 257 AB after falling apart in a second half slump. I still believe he’s better than this an can hold his own as a solid regular.
29. Christian Walker (1B, Orioles) – This prediction looked a lot worse in the first half of the season when he wasn’t hitting at Triple-A. He did rally towards the end with 18 Homers at the level and win a September call-up, but he’s done nothing of significance. His bat is just not quite good enough to be a major league first-baseman.
30. Greg Bird (1B, Yankees) – My optimism for the Birdman looked to be shot out of the air when he went down with an early-season injury, but upon his return he hit like gangbusters and continued to mash to the majors. In the majors he’s been quite the late-season find, hitting .248 with 7 HR in 115 PA. With an 11.3% walk rate, he’s packed even more punch in OBP leagues. I predicted he could run away with a full-time role when A-Rod or Teix got hurt, and it took a while but I’m glad to be right.
31. Domingo Santana (OF, Brewers) – This was considered a “bullish” prediction, since everyone was Lemon-Warhead-sour on him after crashing and burning in his debut. But I predicted he’d find his way into enough ABs to hit .220-230 with 8-10 HR. Right now he’s hitting .257 with 7 Home Runs, and with his 34.8% K rate, there’s still time for this prediction to be spot-on.
Overall Review: I must say, I’m fairly happy with how my hitter predictions turned out. Sure, Soler was a bust at #1, but there were a lot of hits and near hits. Kang was my favorite, but I was also close on Bryant, Gallo, Guerrero and Santana, Taylor and Franco. That being said, I did get burned by Peterson and my aggressive rankings of speedsters Peraza and Micah Johnson.
I will never again dismiss a talented prospect’s potential to make a fantasy impact by making assumptions on their timetable. I believed the Cubs when they said Schwarber would spend all year learning catcher, that Russell and Correa would not get more than a September call-up. That’s on me for being too gullible… Exceptional young talent will always find a way.
Next week: Top 25 Minor League Pitchers IN REVIEW