Christian Binford, RHP, Royals: Age 21, Binford was a 30th round pick in 2011 from high school in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania. Command is his best attribute as demonstrated by a terrific 85/11 K/BB in 77 innings this year and a 2.35 ERA for High-A Wilmington. He features a low-90s fastball with a slurve and changeup.
Lucas Giolito, RHP, Nationals: Turning 20 next month, the former first round pick from Studio City, California, has overcome Tommy John surgery without any loss of stuff, featuring mid-90s heat, a nasty power curveball, and a future at the top of a rotation. He’s posted a 2.59 ERA with a 52/20 K/BB in 49 innings for Low-A Hagerstown.
Marco Gonzales, LHP, Cardinals: Age 22, this polished lefty from Gonzaga made his major league debut yesterday just one year after being drafted in the first round. He won’t be at the Futures Game, but his 1.89 ERA and 78/18 K/BB in 76 innings this year between High-A and Double-A certainly earned him the honor.
Hunter Harvey, RHP, Orioles: Just 19 years old, Harvey has a 2.98 ERA with a 76/28 K/BB in 66 innings for Low-A Delmarva. The son of former major leaguer Bryan Harvey, Hunter was drafted in the first round last year from high school in Catawba, North Carolina, hits the mid-90s, has an outstanding curve, and has improved his changeup.
Trevor May, RHP, Twins: May has been announced as the replacement for the promoted Marco Gonzales. Age 24, he is having a breakthrough year for Triple-A Rochester with a 2.94 ERA and an 81/31 K/BB in 80 innings, allowing just 59 hits. Drafted by the Phillies in the fourth round in 2008 from high school in Kelso, Washington, he’s gained command of his hard sinking fastball and developed an improved breaking ball and changeup.
Daniel Norris, LHP, Blue Jays: Age 21, Norris is breaking through with a 1.62 ERA and a 7-0 record in 15 starts between High-A and Double-A, with a 95/22 K/BB ratio in just 57 innings. A second round pick in 2011 from high school in Johnson City, Tennessee, he’s gained command of his mid-90s fastball, power curve, and changeup due to more consistent mechanics.
Henry Owens, LHP, Red Sox: Age 21, Owens was a supplemental first round pick in 2011 from high school in Huntington Beach, California. He’s dominated Double-A this year (1.99 ERA, 89/35 K/BB in 86 innings, just 54 hits) with a low-90s fastball, outstanding changeup, and improved curve, looking to develop into a workhorse starter.
Braden Shipley, RHP, Diamondbacks: Age 22, Shipley was a first round pick in 2013 from the University of Nevada. He’s thrived in A-ball with a 3.41 ERA and a 75/21 K/BB in 71 innings between Low-A South Bend and High-A Visalia, pounding the zone with his 90-96 MPH fastball and a strong curveball/changeup combination.
Robert Stephenson, RHP, Reds: Age 21, Stephenson was a first round pick in 2011 from high school in Martinez, California. He has had an up-and-down season for Double-A Pensacola, dominant at times but also having some command issues, leading to a 3.97 ERA and an 80/39 K/BB in 77 innings. He has a power curve and a decent change to go with a fastball that can top 98 on his best days.
Noah Syndergaard, RHP, Mets: Age 21, Syndergaard is another guy with an up-and-down campaign on the books, with a 4.98 ERA and a 67/20 K/BB in 65 innings for Triple-A Las Vegas and 75 hits allowed. A supplemental first rounder from high school in Mansfield, Texas, by the Blue Jays in 2010, he’s been slowed by some injury problems this year and the unforgiving PCL environment, but still shows top-of-the rotation potential.
Jake Thompson, RHP, Tigers: Age 20, Thompson was a second-round pick in 2012 from high school in Rockwall, Texas. He hasn’t had the fanfare of other prospects but has been very effective, with a 2.43 ERA and a 66/24 K/BB in 67 innings for High-A Lakeland. He has no shortage of stuff with a 90-95 MPH heater and a sharpening slider and changeup.
Kevin Plawecki, C, Mets: Age 23, Plawecki was drafted from Purdue University in the supplemental first round in 2012. He’s hit .326/.378/.487 this year for Double-A Binghamton and was just promoted to Las Vegas. His line drive bat and contact hitting skills are highly respected, and he’s also a sound defensive catcher who avoids mistakes and has thrown out 31% of runners this year.
Justin O’Conner, C, Rays: Age 22, he was drafted in the first round in 2010 from high school in Muncie, Indiana. Although somewhat error-prone behind the plate, he’s also thrown out 55% of runners this year. He has some power, but is very impatient (seven walks, 60 strikeouts in 237 plate appearances for High-A Charlotte) which reduces his overall production (.257/.278/.438 this year).
Mookie Betts, 2B, Red Sox: Age 21, Betts was a fifth round pick from a Nashville high school in 2011. He is having a stunning campaign, hitting .350/.436/.527 with 28 steals in 75 games between Double-A and Triple-A, showing speed, surprising power, and outstanding plate discipline (47 walks, just 33 strikeouts in 300 at-bats). He’s splitting time between second base and center field and doing well at both positions.
Kris Bryant, 3B, Cubs: Age 22, the former University of San Diego star has lived up to his potential as a 2013 first-rounder, murdering minor league pitching this year , hitting .346/.449/.721 with 27 homers already in 74 games between Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa. He’ll take a walk and his defense at third base has been decent. He won’t need much longer in the minor leagues.
J.P. Crawford, SS, Phillies: Age 19, this 2013 first rounder from high school in Lakewood, California, has been impressive as a pro with a .282/.384/.384 mark this year between Low-A Lakewood and a recent promotion to High-A Clearwater. He’s swiped 14 bases, shows a mature approach at the plate, and has all the tools to be a top-flight shortstop with more experience. He doesn’t have power yet but more may come with time.
Joey Gallo, 3B, Rangers: If Crawford needs more power, perhaps he can borrow some from Joey Gallo. Age 20, the 2012 supplemental first round pick from Las Vegas has hit an insane 27 homers this year in 72 games between High-A Myrtle Beach and Double-A Frisco. He’s also whiffed 90 times, but has drawn 60 walks and has closed up the problems with his swing and pitch recognition that hampered him at times last year in Low-A. His defense at third base is also much improved.
Micah Johnson, 2B, White Sox: Age 23, Johnson hit .329/.414/.466 in 37 games for Double-A Birmingham this spring, earning him a move up to Triple-A Charlotte where he’s at .278/.310/.361 in 25 games. Drafted in the ninth round in 2012 from Indiana University, he’s stolen 14 bases in ’14 but was quite a threat last year when he swiped 84 (and hit .312) in A-ball. His defense has improved a great deal over the last few months, easing concerns about a potential move to the outfield.
Peter O’Brien, 1B, Yankees: Age 23 (24 next month), O’Brien was a second-round pick in 2012 from the University of Miami Hurricanes. He has enormous power and has hit 25 homers this year between High-A and Double-A, although his plate discipline and batting average have taken a hit after being promoted to Trenton (.218 with 44 strikeouts and just nine walks in 170 at-bats, albeit with 15 homers). He’s spent time at catcher and right field but seems best-suited for first base overall.
D.J. Peterson, 3B-1B, Mariners: Age 22, Peterson was just promoted to Double-A this week after hitting .326/.381/.615 with 18 homers in 65 games for High-A High Desert. That’s a high-offense environment but scouts say that Peterson’s power and offensive ability are legitimate. He’s not a very good defender at third base but the bat will be enough for first if he develops as expected.
Corey Seager, SS, Dodgers: Age 20, Seager was a first round pick in 2012 from high school in Concord, North Carolina. He’s fully justified that with a .349/.400/.615 mark this year for High-A Rancho Cucamonga, with 14 homers, 20 walks, and 61 strikeouts in 278 at-bats. Although many scouts still assume he’ll outgrow shortstop, he’s currently a solid fielder at the position with good reliability and surprising range.
, OF, Pirates: Age 21, Bell was a second round pick in 2011 from high school in Dallas, though it took a massive overslot bonus of $5,000,000 to buy him away from the University of Texas. It looks like a good investment, if his .332/.382/.516 mark this year for High-A Bradenton is any indication. The switch-hitter has power and a mature hitting approach for his age.
James Ramsey, OF, Cardinals: Age 24, Ramsey was a first round pick in 2012 as a college senior from Florida State University. Known for his outstanding makeup and solid defense, he’s cut back on strikeouts while tapping into his power this year and is hitting .307/.389/.550 with 12 homers for Double-A Springfield.
Hunter Renfroe, OF, Padres: Age 22, this 2013 first round pick from Mississippi State has outstanding power potential and runs well for a big guy too. He hit .295/.370/.565 with 16 homers but with 81 strikeouts this year in 69 games for High-A Lake Elsinore. Recently promoted to Double-A San Antonio, he’s just 2-for-22 in six games but one of those hits was a home run.
Michael A. Taylor, OF, Nationals: Age 23, Taylor is having a breakthrough season for Double-A Harrisburg, hitting .327/.408/.571 with 17 homers and 20 steals. There’s some swing and miss in his game (95 strikeouts) but the power/speed combination is potent and he’s also an excellent defensive outfielder. He was a sixth round pick in 2009 from high school in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Jesse Winker, OF, Reds: Age 20, Winker was a supplemental first round pick in 2012 from high school in Orlando, Florida. He destroyed Cal League pitching with a .317/.426/.580 mark in 53 games for Bakersfield this year and was recently promoted to Double-A Pensacola. He’s just 3-for-19 so far but has maintained good strike zone judgment with seven walks. Scouts like his swing, he has a great batting eye, and has hit everywhere he’s gone, not just in the friendly Cal League.