The first month of the minor league season is in the books and several prospects have already made tremendous strides or have earned promotions, while some have found new roles that alter their future outlook. While it's too premature to adjust the Top 20 rankings, here's a look at where some of the prospects are trending, and some new names worth following more closely.
After taking a closer look at his receiving skills in Oklahoma City, Austin Barnes has solidified himself as a bonafide catcher for me. This raises his profile for me, as now rather than a utility man that can serve as a backup or third catcher, Barnes has the defensive tools to be an above average defensive catcher at the big league level. A re-rank of prospects would have him placed in the 6-10 range.
He's not moving up in the rankings, but Corey Seager's hit tool and estimated time of arrival in the bigs have both ticked up. After watching him smash line drives consistently in Tulsa, I'm pretty confident in giving his hit tool a 70 grade. By raking in AA and earning a promotion, Seager is on the major league doorstep with only Jimmy Rollins and his offensive struggles in his path. Should Rollins continue to struggle, don't be surprised to see Seager come up in the second half, as he might be the best possible improvement the team could make to the big league roster, trades included.
While skipping a level to make his full season debut seemed ambitious, Cody Bellinger has not only held his own, but is starting to show some power. He's very young for the level and he's not showing signs of being overmatched. He's also tinkered with some outfield, which he has the athleticism to play.
If I had to re-rank today, I still could not rank Jose De Leon because I haven't seen him, either on film or in person. That's likely to change soon with a seemingly imminent promotion to Double A looming. He's been unchallenged by California League hitters thus far.
A move to the bullpen lowers Chris Reed's profile, and the stuff I saw early on was a little unconvincing. He's performed in the role, nevertheless, and still likely has a big league future at some point, but the thought of him taking the ball for 25-30 times in the Dodger rotation is nothing but a memory at this point.
Bumped from 20 to 21 on the prospect list, Erisbel Arruebarrena has since been removed from the 40 man roster and has been kept back in Spring Training for issues not relating to injury. It's anyone's guess when or if we'll see him playing for a Dodger affiliate soon.
Struggling, but don't Worry
The Low A trio of Grant Holmes, Julian Leon, and Alex Verdugo are taking their time to adjust to full season ball. The jump from rookie ball to full season ball is one of the trickier leaps young players make because of how much more polished the players are at A ball compared to rookie ball. Additionally, the early season weather in the Midwest League isn't always conducive to offensive breakouts or pitchers loosening up their arms. Regardless, Holmes is faring the best with a K rate above 9/9, Verdugo has flashed his easy hit tool for stretches, and Leon had the lowest profile for me and his struggles are least surprising. Let the weather warm up and get some more innings or at bats in these guys before anyone lowers their opinion on these players.
Similarly, Zach Bird is finding the offensive heavy environments of the California League harsh on his ERA. The strikeouts are there, but so are the walks. He's young for the level and will need time to harness his stuff in harsh environments against more polished hitters.
The Follow List
The follow list is a group of guys that were either not previously on my radar, or I didn't have enough information to evaluate them but may soon shortly:
Adam Law- An unheralded 12th rounder out of Brigham Young that has always been old for his level but has always hit. He's hitting in a big way right now and has the look of a speed oriented utility player
Brandon Trinkwon- Taken five rounds ahead of Adam Law, Trinkwon had a reputation as a decent hitter at UC Santa Barbara, and he's producing this year. He's playing in offensive friendly parks, which detracts from his upside, but as a shortstop, he has an infield utility profile.
Kyle Farmer- Another guy with a reputation for feel for hitting, Farmer has been recently promoted to Tulsa and I should get my first look at him Thursday.
Yadir Drake- Another recent promotion to tulsa, Drake is an older Cuban import that has beat up on the lower levels, but has left a toolsy reputation in his wake.
Jacob Rhame- He was a player of interest before the year started, and now in Tulsa, I should be able to evaluate him enough to rank. His performance across his professional career thus far suggests he's Top 20 worthy.
Matt West- Recently signed and sent to Tulsa, West has intriguing arm strength and the Dodgers have been successful with mound converts.
Trevor Oaks- 2014 seventh rounder had a reputation for throwing a hard sinker, and his worm-burning tendencies have led to a 64.5% groundball percentage in the early going.
Brock Stewart- Arm strength project looks like he's becoming a bonafide pitching prospect in Great Lakes
Johan Mieses- 17 year old Latin signees are generally not high upside types, but Mieses could be a late bloomer with a smattering of athletic tools.