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Reviewing the Top 50 hitting prospects for 2015

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Kris Bryant
Kris Bryant
Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

The first item on my End-of-Season Checklist every fall is to go back and review the Top 50/50 lists from the Baseball Prospect Book, see what went right, what went wrong, and why. So let's do that right now.

Remember, this is the pre-season list. We will review the pitchers next then start the process of generating new lists for 2016.

Overall this list came out well. REMEMBER THIS IS THE PRE-SEASON LIST. I review this every fall in order to improve my methods and remain accountable.

1) Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs, Grade A: Met or exceeded all expectations, hitting .275/.359/.488 with 26 homers in the majors, wRC+136, 6.5 fWAR. Expect an outstanding career.

2) Carlos Correa, SS, Houston Astros, Grade A:
Met or exceeded all expectations, hitting .279/.345/.512 with 22 homers, wRC+133, fWAR 3.3. Almost as good as Bryant with the bat and can play shortstop. Expect an outstanding career.

3) Addison Russell, SS, Chicago Cubs, Grade A:
Hit .242/.307/.389 in the majors, wRC+90, fWAR 2.9, 13 homers. Not quite there with the bat yet but it should come in time, glovework boosted WAR value. I think he breaks through sooner rather than later.

4) Byron Buxton, OF, Minnesota Twins, Grade A:
Hit well in the minors while fighting nagging physical issues, did not hit well in majors (.209/.250/.326 in 138 PA, wRC+54). Will obviously get more chances. Retains rookie status for 2016 and will continue to rank highly.

5) Jorge Soler, OF, Chicago Cubs, Grade A:
Hit .262/.324/.399 with 10 homers in 404 PA in the majors, wRC+96, fWAR 0.1. Disappointing rookie season particularly in the power department, contact an issue with K-rate at 30%. I still believe in this bat long-term.

6) Corey Seager, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers, Grade A:
Decent year in Triple-A (.278/.332/.451), then tore up majors in September (.337/.425/.561). True ability is between those extremes, retains rookie status for 2016 and likely number one on the list.

7) Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians, Grade A:
Truly excellent debut on both sides of the ball, hit .313/.353/.482, wRC+128, with impressive glove leading to 4.6 fWAR in 99 games. The power may back off some but overall he will give Correa a real run for his money as the best young shortstop of this decade.

8) Rusney Castillo, OF, Boston Red Sox, Grade A-:
Hit .253/.288/.359, wRC+72, fWAR 0.4. Hit well in July and August but lost momentum in September. The overall line looks bad and he’s 28, but if I were the Red Sox I’d let him play every day in 2016. I still think he can be a valuable regular.

9) Yoan Moncada, INF, Boston Red Sox, Grade A-:
Strong debut in Low-A, hit .278/.380/.438 with wRC+135. Stole 49 bases. Needs glove polish but that will come, power can increase to go with the speed. Thinking he moves up to a Grade A.

10) Joc Pederson, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers, Grade A-:
Fast start got him All-Star nod but then he slumped, hit .210/.346/.417 with 26 homers, wRC+115, fWAR 2.8. Still like him, he just needs to play and should iron his issues out with more at-bats.

11) Kyle Schwarber, C-OF, Chicago Cubs, Grade A-
Vaulted through minors in a year, hit .246/.355/.487 in majors, 16 homers, 131 wRC+, 1.9 fWAR in 69 games. Obviously a beast with the bat, if his glove can be barely adequate that’s good enough. Man I love the Cubs lineup.

12) Blake Swihart, C, Boston Red Sox, Grade A-:
Hit .274/.319/.392 in majors, wRC+91, fWAR 1.5 in 84 games. Strong defense will keep him around a long time and the bat should catch up eventually.

13) Miguel Sano, 3B, Minnesota Twins, Grade A-:
Jumped from Double-A to majors at mid-season and didn’t skip a beat, hitting .269/.385/.530 with 18 homers, wRC+151, fWAR 2.0 despite late injury problems. Should battle Bryant for MLB home run titles.

14) Joey Gallo, 3B, Texas Rangers, Grade A-
Excellent in Double-A (.314/.425/.636) but contact issues hurt him in Triple-A (.195/.289/.450) and majors (.204/.301/.417, wRC+85). Hit 29 homers on the season. Still uncertain if he becomes Russ Branyan or Chris Davis or something in between.

15) J.P. Crawford, SS, Philadelphia Phillies, Grade A-:
Destroyed High-A (.392/.489/.443), moved up to Double-A early and held his own (.265/.354/.407), scouting reports glowing all-around, controls strike zone and can field his position, young at 20. Think Lindor for the upside if it all comes together.

16) Jesse Winker, OF, Cincinnati Reds, Grade A-:
Started cold but picked things up in second half, finished at .282/.390/.433 with 13 homers, 74 walks, 83 strikeouts in 443 at-bats in Double-A, wRC+137. Second-half bat is the real one in my view. He’ll hit.

17) Nomar Mazara, OF, Texas Rangers, Grade B+:
Strong season in Double-A (.284/.357/.443), tore up Triple-A in 20 games (.358/.409/.444), more home run power should come. Stock holding strong.

18) Maikel Franco, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies, Grade B+:
Performed well in majors in second half, .280/.343/.497, wRC+128, fWAR 1.5. This should continue.

19) Franklin Barreto, SS, Oakland Athletics, Grade B+
Strong year in High-A, hit .302/.333/.500 in 338 at-bats, 15 walks, 67 strikeouts at age 19, big leap from short-season ball. An elite prospect.

20) Alex Jackson, OF, Seattle Mariners, Grade B+
: Slow start in Low-A (.157/.240/.313), went down to short-season ball and was better though not excellent at .239/.365/.466. Power is clear but contact issues are apparent and his bat was not as polished as advertised in high school.

21) Austin Meadows, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates, Grade B+
: Fine season in High-A at age 20, hit .307.357/.407 with 20 steals, 41 walks, 79 strikeouts in 508 at-bats then finished with a good week in Double-A. More power can develop here.

22) Dilson Herrera, 2B, New York Mets, Grade B+:
Good year at Triple-A Las Vegas, .327/.382/.511 but just .211/.311/.367 in 90 major league at-bats. Past rookie qualifications now with 149 AB in his career. He’s always hit and I don’t see why that can’t continue if he finds a defensive home. In retrospect this placement was too high.

23) Andrew Susac, C, San Francisco Giants, Grade B+:
148 at-bats for the Giants as main reserve, hit .218/.297/.368, wRC+91. I still believe he will hit if given a regular opportunity.

24) Jose Peraza, INF, Atlanta Braves, Grade B+:
Traded to Dodgers, hit .293/.316/.378 with 33 steals in 481 at-bats between Triple-A for two organizations. No change in profile, fast, hits for average, fields, lacks power.

25) Steven Souza, OF, Tampa Bay Rays, Grade B+:
Hit .225/.318/.399 with 16 homers, 12 steals, 46 walks, 144 strikeouts in 373 at-bats in majors, wRC+103, fWAR 1.5. Real interesting case, obvious flaws but all tools are there. . .outburst year at age 27 or 28 seems plausible.

26) Aaron Judge, OF, New York Yankees, Grade B+
: hit .255/.330/.448 with 20 homers, 53 walks, 144 strikeouts in 478 at-bats between Double-A and Triple-A. Big hype machine going with this one but profile hasn’t changed much, big power but questions about average/OBP at higher levels remain unanswered.

27) Matt Olson, 1B, Oakland Athletics, Grade B+:
Hit .249/.388/.438 with 37 doubles, 17 homers, 105 walks, 139 strikeouts in 466 at-bats in Double-A. Prediction: he will (apparently) blossom in the PCL next year, average will jump up but with no real change in underlying skill, still see him as a possible Swisher-like bat.

28) Josh Bell, 1B-OF, Pittsburgh Pirates, Grade B+:
Hit .317/.393/.446 with seven homers, 65 walks, 65 strikeouts in 489 at-bats between Double-A and Triple-A. Excellent approach, but will the homers come? I think yes, not 30 but perhaps 15-20.

29) D.J. Peterson, 1B-3B, Seattle Mariners, Grade B+:
Hit just .223/.287/.344 with seven homers, 31 walks, 93 strikeouts in 372 at-bats between Double-A and Triple-A. The Mariners need to hire an exorcist for their hitting department.

30) Daniel Robertson, INF, Tampa Bay Rays, Grade B+
Hit .270/.365/.407 in 82 games, 78 in Double-A and four games in rookie ball on injury rehab. Gets on base, doubles power, still has a chance to stick at shortstop in my opinion.

31) David Dahl, OF, Colorado Rockies, Grade B+
: Hit .266/.291/.397 in 79 games, 73 in Double-A and six games on rehab after destroying his spleen. Stole 22 bases. Retains power/speed possibilities, partial mulligan due to the injury and praise for rapid comeback.

32) Willy Adames, SS, Tampa Bay Rays, Grade B+:
Hit .258/.342/.379 with 54 walks, 123 strikeouts in 396 at-bats in High-A at age 20, 10 steals in 11 attempts. Production was well above-average for context, wRC+121.

33) Greg Bird, 1B, New York Yankees, Grade B+:
Good year in high minors, .277/.356/.469, then tore up majors in 46 games, .261/.343/.529 with 11 homers, 19 walks, 53 strikeouts in 157 at-bats, pushing past rookie limits. There could be some slippage in BA/OBP but overall this doesn’t seem out of bounds to me.

34) Bradley Zimmer, OF, Cleveland Indians, Grade B+
Tore up High-A (.308/.403/.493), scuffled in Double-A (.219/.313/.374), combined for 16 homers, 55 walks, 131 strikeouts in 473 at-bats while stealing 44 bases. He has some kinks to work out against high-level pitching but there’s a good chance he will, very broad base of skills/tools stands out.

35) Michael Taylor, OF, Washington Nationals, Grade B+:
Played 155 games in the majors, hit .227/.282/.358 with 15 homer, 16 steals, 38 walks, 175 strikeouts in 511 at-bats. Received the fairest trial he could have asked for, multiple tools/skills are obvious as are his weaknesses. Adam Jones ceiling.

36) Rafael Devers, 3B, Boston Red Sox, Grade B+:
Hit .288/.329/.443 with 38 doubles, 11 homers, 24 walks, 84 strikeouts in 469 at-bats in Low-A at age 18. Defense impressive and just scratching the surface with the bat. Stock up.

37) Brandon Drury, 3B, Arizona Diamondbacks, Grade B+:
hit .303/.344/.412 with 40 doubles, five homers, 32 walks, 75 strikeouts in 524 at-bats in high minors, just .214/.254/.375 in 56 at-bats MLB trial. Strong reviews for glove, makes contact, doubles may turn into homers eventually.

38) Clint Frazier, OF, Cleveland Indians, Grade B+:
Slow start but heated up, destroyed High-A in second half, finished at .285/.377/.465 with 36 doubles, 16 homers, 15 steals, 68 walks, 125 strikeouts in 501 at-bats. Strikeouts declining while power is increasing, have to love that.

39) Ryan McMahon, 3B, Colorado Rockies, Grade B+: Hit .300/.372/.520 with 43 doubles, 18 homers, 49 walks, 153 strikeouts in 496 at-bats in High-A. Of course, that’s the Cal League. Age 20, scouting reports remain promising but Double-A will tell us a lot, needs work on glove with 39 errors.

40) Yasmany Tomas, 3B-OF, Arizona Diamondbacks, Grade B:
Hit .273/.305/.401 with nine homers, 17 walks, 110 strikeouts in 406 at-bats in the majors. An outfielder, not a third baseman. Potential is clear but he’s got to refine his approach, at age 24 he has time to do so.

41) Dalton Pompey, OF, Toronto Blue Jays, Grade B:
Hit .307/.383/.421 with 23 steals, 47 walks, 64 strikeouts in 387 at-bats in high minors, .226/.295/.391 in the majors. Fast, good glove, past rookie limits now. Should have a long career but still uncertain if this will be as a regular or a really good fourth outfielder.

42) Michael Conforto, OF, New York Mets, Grade B:
Blew through High-A/Double-A ahead of schedule at .297/.372/.482, kept hitting in majors at .270/.335/.506. Not a fluke. Entirely real.

43) Jorge Alfaro, C, Texas Rangers, Grade B:
Hit .253/.314/.432 in Double-A, traded to Phillies. Still struggling to find consistency with both bat and glove, natural talent remains clear but critical weaknesses remain clear too. Still young at 22 but needs that step forward.

44) Brandon Nimmo, OF, New York Mets, Grade B:
Hit .269/.362/.372 between Double-A, Triple-A, and injury rehab. Still draws walks, fields well and flashes some pop but looking less like an impact guy and more like a solid roster piece.

45) Alen Hanson, INF, Pittsburgh Pirates, Grade B:
Hit .263/.313/.387 with 17 doubles, 12 triples, 35 steals, 37 walks, 91 strikeouts in 475 at-bats in Triple-A. Seems solid with glove at second base but bat hasn’t progressed as much as hoped.

46) Nick Gordon, SS, Minnesota Twins, Grade B: Hit .277/.336/.360 with 39 walks, 88 strikeouts, 25 steals in 481 at-bats in Low-A. Drew praise for defense, seems certain he can stay at shortstop now, rough patches with the bat early but hit .302/.347/.416 in second half.

47) Trea Turner, SS, Padres/Nationals, Grade B: Hit .322/.370/.458 in the high minors for his two organizations, stole 29 bases, hit .225/.295/.325 in 40 major league at-bats, can run and field and hit for average. Still like him.

48) Kevin Plawecki, C, New York Mets, Grade B: Hit .219/.280/.296 in 233 major league at-bats, wRC+ weak at 60, played well enough on defense to stay on roster. Obviously needs to hit more to play regularly but it may happen.

49) Hunter Renfroe, OF, San Diego Padres, Grade B: hit .272/.321/.462 with 20 homers, 37 walks, 132 strikeouts in Double-A/Triple-A. No real change in the profile, big power potential with contact concerns.

50) Alex Verdugo, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers, Grade B:
Once he ironed out his hitting mechanics he exploded, hitting .311/.340/.441 with 32 doubles, nine homers, 14 steals, 21 walks, 65 strikeouts in 512 at-bats in Low-A/High-A. You can nitpick low walk rate but Ks are low too and more power will come. Very impressive bat.