My first ever article was on MLB’s Top Prospects going into the 2015-2016 MLB Offseason, and it seems only fitting to update N2K’s Top Prospects List entering the 2016 season. For the record, Corey Seager has been for the most part the consensus number one prospect in baseball for this season, but to me if you’ve batted in the three hole for the LA Dodgers in the playoffs… you’re no longer a prospect. So, we will continue without him. Without further ado, here are my top ten prospects for the 2016 season.
10.) Tyler Glasnow- Starting Pitcher, Pittsburgh Pirates
Age: 22 / Throws: Right / Bats: Left / Height: 6’8” / Weight: 225 / Acquired: 5th Rounder in 2011 / ETA: 2016
Tyler Glasnow has prototype strikeout pitcher written all over him. Glasnow mixes in a mid-to-high nineties fastball, with both a sweeping curve and a changeup. The fastball takes a lot of victims via way of the K while keeping the hitters honest. Both Glasnow’s curve and change need work in order to be more consistent and accurate. If Glasnow can start to hit his spots and shake off a rough spring training then he should be good to go.
Major League Comparison: Tyson Ross
9.) Dansby Swanson- Shortstop, Atlanta Braves
Age: 21 / Throws: Right / Bats: Right / Height: 6’0” / Weight: 190 / Acquired: Trade with Diamondbacks / ETA: 2017
Really the full package, former Vanderbilt standout shortstop was drafted first overall in the 2015 Draft but was almost immediately traded to the Braves for a deal that was centered around Shelby Miller. Swanson is now the foundation of the Braves rebuilding effort and I believe he will serve Atlanta as an extremely strong base. An all-around hitter with plus speed that will hurt you with both his contact and power. Swanson has the potential to become a 0.320 hitter with 25 home runs. Thanks to his arm strength and quickness, Swanson will remain the Braves’ shortstop of the future.
Major League Comparison: Troy Tulowitzki
8.) Steven Matz- Starting Pitcher, New York Mets
Age: 24 / Throws: Left / Bats: Right / Height: 6’2” / Weight: 200 / Acquired: 2nd Rounder in 2009 / ETA: 2016
Matz underwent Tommy John surgery early on in his career and now shows no sign of arm troubles. Matz relies mainly on a sinking fastball and changeup both of which produce strikeouts and ground balls. Matz also has a big breaking curveball that keeps hitter off balance at the plate. Steven’s velocity ranges anywhere from 90-97 MPH and his pitching arsenal really makes opposing batters quite flustered. Matz has the potential to be the Mets number one starter down the line, even better than Harvey, deGrom and Syndergaard.
Major League Comparison: Jon Lester
7.) Orlando Arcia- Shortstop, Milwaukee Brewers
Age: 21 / Throws: Right / Bats: Right / Height: 6’0” / Weight: 165 / Acquired: IFA from Venezuela in 2010 / ETA: 2016
Revered mainly for his glove in the past, Arcia showed out during the Winter Leagues in Venezuela and thanks to his sneaky offensive prowess, Arcia finds himself in my top ten. Arcia won’t blast the offense records away but should stay consistent with a swing made for doubles. Orlando during his prime could flirt with 0.300 and steal 40 bases but he’ll have to find success with the Milwaukee Brewers, which has clearly been tough for some. Outside of the batter’s box, Arcia will be about as dependable as they get defensively and will rack up his fair share of Gold Gloves.
Major League Comparison: Andrelton Simmons
6.) J.P. Crawford- Shortstop, Philadelphia Phillies
Age: 21 / Throws: Right / Bats: Left / Height: 6’2” / Weight: 180 / Acquired: 1st Rounder in 2013 / ETA: 2016
A quick and conscience lefty swing with gap power coupled with an unprecedented plate discipline should help Crawford fill the leadership void at SS since Jimmy Rollins left for Los Angeles. Believe it or not, Crawford actually walked more times than he struck out in 2015 but after a miserable spring training stint, J.P. needs a little more time to progress before filling the shoes of Rollins at short. Crawford in general is just a really tough out for opposing pitchers and his all-around skill as well as maturity will take him to the top.
Major League Comparison: Jimmy Rollins (circa mid-2000s)
5.) Alex Reyes- Starting Pitcher, St. Louis Cardinals
Age: 21 / Throws: Right / Bats: Right / Height: 6’3” / Weight: 185 / Acquired: IFA from Dominican Republic in 2012 / ETA: 2016
Rounding out my top five is pitcher Alex Reyes. Reyes is a bit of a scandalous choice for my list since he was suspended after testing positive for drug use and will be a spectator to start the 2016 campaign but Alex Reyes is flat-out talented. Alex Reyes depended on a 100 MPH fastball and a knee-buckling curveball to motor through the minor leagues. Reyes unlike most pitching prospects has unparalleled control of his fastball along with his third offering, a changeup. If Reyes’s suspension doesn’t develop into a long-term problem then he could really be an ace on the rise.
Major League Comparison: Gerrit Cole
4.) Byron Buxton- Outfield, Minnesota Twins
Age: 22 / Throws: Right / Bats: Right / Height: 6’2” / Weight: 190 / Acquired: 1st Rounder in 2012 / ETA: 2015
I will wait for Buxton to prove himself offensively because he more or less has already done so defensively. Simply put, Buxton was dominant in the minors after he was drafted in 2012 but his timetable to the big leagues was thrown upside down when Buxton suffered from series of injuries. Buxton’s MLB time didn’t impress anybody but his raw potential still has scouts salivating. Byron will track down anything and everything in centerfield and also has the ability to lead the league in both steals and triples. Buxton has shown some signs of power during his career but I don’t see him ever becoming a heavy power bat, maybe he’ll hit 25 homers a year. If Buxton reaches his ceiling and finds the power stroke, he could be a perennial Triple Crown threat and MVP candidate.
Major League Comparison: Andrew McCutchen
3.) Julio Urias- Starting Pitcher, Los Angeles Dodgers
Age: 19 / Throws: Left / Bats: Left / Height: 6’2” / Weight: 205 / Acquired: IFA from Mexico 2012 / ETA: 2016
The youngest prospect on this list at the age of 19 years old has been speeding through the minor leagues and has the potential to reach the majors before he even turns 20. The Dodgers have been very careful with Urias because he has shown so much promise but he has never pitched an MLB caliber workload. Urias was limited by the Dodgers in years past as well as missing two months due to a surgery that removed a benign tumor from his left eye. Julio has three above average offerings with his fastball, curveball and changeup, all of which Urias has shown great ability to control on both sides of the plate.
Major League Comparison: Cole Hamels
2.) Yoan Moncada- Second Baseman, Boston Red Sox
Age: 20 / Throws: Right / Bats: Switch / Height: 6’2” / Weight: 205 / Acquired: IFA from Cuba in 2015 / ETA: 2017
Yoan Moncada literally has it all, plus plus speed, plus-to-average power, plus contact, average fielding and a plus arm. Some have compared him to Mike Trout but the Red Sox have him playing second base as of now. I see Moncada as a third baseman due to his arm strength but he would find ways to excel at 3B, 2B, SS and OF. Yoan is a switch hitter who has shown consistent ability to produce solid, clean contact from both sides. I have actually met Yoan twice, both times in Fort Myers, Florida for Red Sox spring training (picture on the left is from 2015 at JetBlue Park, and the right is from 2016 in a hotel bathroom believe it or not) and it is an understatement to say that he is built like an army tank. Boston General Manager Mike Hazen compared him to super-athlete Bo Jackson. He has drawn comparisons to “Robinson Cano with speed” and “Part A-Rod, part Machado”. Last season Yoan stole 49 bases on 52 attempts and says that his goals for the 2016 season are to “steal 100 bases and keep focused on reaching the big leagues”. I for one am uber-excited for this uber-prospect to start stealing bases at Fenway Park.
Major League Comparison: Alex Rodriguez
1.) Lucas Giolito- Starting Pitcher, Washington Nationals
Age: 21 / Throws: Right / Bats: Right / Height: 6’5” / Weight: 255 / Acquired: 1st Rounder in 2012 / ETA: 2016
Andddd your reigning #1 prospect in the MLB is Lucas Giolito. Giolito is a massive pitcher built to be an ace. His fastball sits between 95-100 MPH and he pairs that devastating fastball with a crippling 12-6 curveball. Giolito pitched alright in spring training, striking out 9 batters in 6.2 innings of work (I was an eye-witness to two of those strikeouts, but I was also an eye-witness to two of his three earned runs from the spring). Giolito fell to the Nationals in the 2012 Draft due to rumors of Lucas needing Tommy John surgery, and it turns out those rumors were true. So the Nats were able to draft him 16th overall when most people believed him to be a top three pick in a draft that boasted Carlos Correa and Byron Buxton (first and second overall respectively). Regardless of his elbow issues, they’re fixed for the time being and you can expect him to burst onto the MLB scene this season. If Stephen Strasburg doesn’t impress, you can anticipate Giolito to gain confidence with each start and by the end of the season playoff push I would not be shocked if he was challenging Strasburg for the number two position in the starting rotation.
Major League Comparison: Justin Verlander (circa 2011)
Agree with my list? Be sure to let me know in the comments below, as well as on Facebook and Twitter @N2KSports
Cover Photo via Boston Globe
Photos via Yahoo Sports, LA Times, TwinkieTown, MLB.com, DairyLand Express, YouTube, and That Ball is Outta Here