If you missed part one of my top 69 prospects (#'s 69-51), it dropped on Tuesday here at the minor league mothership.
50. Mike Clevinger, RHP, Indians
I'm willing to completely throw out Clevinger's ugly three-start cup of coffee in May. At the time the Tribe decided they needed a brief reprieve from Cody Anderson, and threw their top pitching prospect in the fire against a trio of quality opponents in tough ballparks.
In retrospect Clevinger likely needed a little more time at AAA. He was effective but inefficient in his first month before the call-up, giving up free passes and never making it to the sixth inning. The 6'4" righthander looks to have found his rhythm, as he's been a workhorse for Columbus in the past month.
We might expect Clevinger to fare better the next time he gets the call, and his outlook as a 'discount deGrom' is not meant as a slight at all. BrooksBaseball has him going to battle with six pitches with their inclusion of a sinker. Clevinger only sits 92-94 with his fastball(s) but has flashed mastery of three offspeeds (CH, CRV, SL) that look to have uncommon movement. With improved command of the whole arsenal, he's ready for another chance in the Show.
49. Cody Bellinger, 1B/OF, Dodgers
In Bellinger's current form, he's every bit a future MLB starter if he can continue to whittle down the whiff rate. His performance with AA Tulsa signifies that last year's CAL League explosion was no mirage, and that he's seen time in all three outfield spots only adds to his portfolio.
The most intriguing thing about Bellinger isn't the nifty glovework or the ravishing uppercut swing, but the notion that he could have physical projection left on his 6'4", 210 lb. frame. The willingness to hit to all fields while holding his own against southpaws are positive early indicators, and the total package could really sing if the body fills out. The hope would be that Bellinger puts the finishing touches on his approach in the PCL, and acts as a natural successor to Adrian Gonzalez as soon as mid-2017.
48. Sean Newcomb, LHP, Braves
Newcomb hasn't been able to make any headway on his control issues, and to make matters worse he's been far more hittable in his second trip through AA. Newk carries substantial risk with a history of wildness but there just aren't many southpaws that have his stuff and size to hold up - the payoff could be huge.
The Northeast native just turned 23 and needs more development time. I'm inclined to be patient partly because he's just getting his bearings with a new organization. Newcomb is one that could be a mechanical adjustment or two away from outclassing hitters in the upper minors. It'll be on both him and the Braves' coaches to find the remedy and apply it.
47. Jake Thompson, RHP, Phillies
Thompson's relied more on weak contact than strikeouts since coming over in the Hamels trade, and recent mechanical tweaks inform his first-half dominance. He sits on the cusp of a call-up thanks to this astounding run of form in his last seven starts: 4-0, 49.1 IP, 35 H, 0.73 ERA.
Thompson is a good bet to supply value in a mid-rotation role with ideal size and an arsenal that's effective if not overpowering. The two-seam variation on his heater yields plenty of grounders and a mid-80's slider is his knockout pitch. The Texas native mixes in a passable curve and change, and it shouldn't be long before he's using them all to bully hitters on Broad Street.
46. Reynaldo Lopez, RHP, Nationals
Reynaldo certainly looks like the real deal, and a quartet of double-digit K games in the same month earned him a ticket to AAA Syracuse. As he pumps triple-digit heat from a small frame, many wonder if he'd hold up better as a shutdown closer in the long term. Indeed, his arm looks to be carrying a heavy burden in his delivery.
I'm still regarding Lopez highly because his stuff is dominant enough to flourish in either role. His high-70's, 11-5 breaker highlights his secondaries along with a high-80's change that has the separation needed to be workable. The Nats could reach down for Reynaldo this summer to provide a spark in the 'pen and to keep his innings down - Lopez is only 12 away from his career-high mark.
45. Nick Williams, OF, Phillies
Williams made huge strides in AA last year, showing improved patience and reinforcing the chance he could stick in center. His plate discipline has regressed somewhat in the International League, but the 22-year-old offers a package of tools that remain plenty exciting and with room for growth.
Williams' future defensive home is certainly up for debate, but the hit tool and expected power gains should ensure he provides value in a corner spot at the very least. He's always flashed easy, line-to-line pop generated by a quick bat and slight loft in his picturesque stroke.
We saw last season how a slightly-improved approach did wonders for Williams' production. That he's young and skilled enough to make continued progress here is what gives him a floor of the strong side in a platoon and the ceiling of an All-Star.
44. Raul Mondesi, SS, Royals
After serving a 50-game suspension the Royals kept the challenges coming for their 20-year-old shortstop, bumping Mondesi to the PCL just a month into the season.
The son of El Cañon still struggles with the strike zone and still hasn't given a performance to match his elite tools. A late start to the season makes the sample size even smaller, but Mondesi has so far ticked up his power production/ISO while stealing more bases with greater efficiency. He was also showing a career-high walk rate (9.9%) in repeating the Texas League, and it will be intriguing to see if these enhancements port over to the PCL.
43. Raimel Tapia, OF, Rockies
It's a major bummer that Hartford is still without a home ballpark over halfway into the season on account of political mumbo-jumbo. Fans in the capital have already missed David Dahl's romp through town and the way Raimel Tapia is hitting, it won't be long until he graduates onward.
Tapia's standout tool is his contact ability, as evidenced by his Eastern League-leading .337 AVG and 113 hits at the break. He's turned himself into a menace atop the order by cutting his K's (down to 11%) and spraying hard contact from an unorthodox crouch that mimics Ozzie Guillen's ancient batting style.
Crouching Tapia may have hidden power, but is an absolute string bean right now. The possibility that he could add even a little bit of bulk on his 160 lb. frame is part of what makes him so appealing. He needs to be more efficient and technical in his basestealing but otherwise has a baseline skillset and hitting approach that should play well at his next two stops - ABQ and Denver.
42. Brent Honeywell, RHP, Rays
Honeywell's meal ticket is well-known by now, a 1-7 true screwball that's somewhat of a family heirloom. Brent picked up the pitch at 13 from his dad (also named Brent), who learned it while playing under his cousin, coach, and former Cy Young winner Mike Marshall at Saint Leo University.
Evaluators haven't hesitated to throw a 70-grade on the pitch, describing it as a potential double-plus bat-misser in the Bigs. Honeywell also gets high marks for a smooth, athletic delivery that will hopefully allow him to combat the heavy pronation needed for his 'fadeaway'.
The screwballer mixes in a promising curve and changeup alongside a variety of moving fastballs that he's slowly adding velocity to. Honeywell is reportedly up to 94 on the regular, and if he can add a couple more ticks while making gains in command, the end result is likely something more than just a mid-rotation guy.
41. Jeff Hoffman, RHP, Rockies
Hoffman offers the usual Coors caveats, but has the frontline stuff to perhaps succeed in Colorado. He could be very close to getting that chance based on his performances at hitter-friendly Albuquerque. The TJS survivor has been especially good away from Isotopes Park, holding hitters to a .222 BAA and striking out 52 in 55 innings.
Hoffman's heat reaches the upper 90's, and his ability to sink it should benefit him greatly. The curve is a bonafide 11-5 hammer that he uses a variety of ways, but it will be put to the test by the laws of mile-high gravity.
I wouldn't dare count on Hoffman to produce 'number 2 starter' statistics anytime soon. But with a pair of potential plus-plus offerings and a restored strikeout rate, his profile screams exactly that. He'll need to make small strides in command and control at the highest level, but remains plenty intriguing as there aren't many that can match his arm talent.
40. Gary Sanchez, C, Yankees
The industry may be a little weary of discussing Sanchez for the past half-decade, but I'm afraid I'm just getting warmed up. He's not an exciting choice for top catching prospect in the game, but instead a sensible one that has grown into his tools on both sides of the ball.
'GarSanch' has been dropping clues for years that he could be a rare 25-HR backstop. He's known to have a weakness for breaking stuff but has made healthy progress in K-rate while repeating AAA. Continued selectivity and improving contact rates will be a key for him in allowing his 70 raw power to play in-game.
The tide has turned for Sanchez on the strength of improved work behind the plate. His arm has never been in question but his blocking and framing look to be on the rise according to the defensive data that's being mined in the minors.
39. Kyle Tucker, OF, Astros
It's best to put your scouty-hat on when projecting Tucker's future, because so much of his development is tied to filling out a wiry frame and making an unorthodox swing work against advanced pitching. The early returns are quite positive, though, and while his foot speed and arm are just average he could be passable at all three outfield spots. To give you an idea of Tucker's instincts on the basepaths, he's on pace for over 40 steals in his first crack at full-season ball despite being no one's definition of a burner.
Baserunning value is splendid, but Tucker's potential as a thumper near the top of the order can only be realized with gains in power production. In related news, the sweet-swingin' lefties' next three minor league stops would be: High-A Lancaster, 'the Hangar' in Corpus Christi, and PCL Fresno. If Tucker's ready to bop by the time he reaches these launchpads, he could gain as much helium as any outfield prospect in affiliated ball.
38. Nick Gordon, SS, Twins
Gordon's age-20 season doesn't jump off the page but he continues to do many things well at a premium position, keeping him in good standing.
One of those skills is his hit tool, and Gordon's .296 AVG in the pitching-dominated FSL is tied for 6th despite being a few years younger than league average. What's also impressive is his spray charts indicate an early effort to hit less grounders, instead adding loft and doing so more towards his pull side and up the middle.
Gordon's defense and contact ability make him a pretty safe play despite his youth. He'll be expected to take steps forward in plate discipline but there's no reason to sound the alarm yet. At 6' and 160 lbs he'll never be anyone's idea of a masher, but there is a chance he could bulk up and realize the XBH power that pushes him into the top tier of shortstop starlets.
Franklin Barreto - Kenny Karst/USA Today
37. Franklin Barreto, SS, A's
Barreto's ultimate defensive home seems to be a hot topic, but I'm prone to ignore the notion completely and move onto his potential impact bat. The 20-year-old has decreased his errors by 100% and added standout part-time play at the keystone, signifying that he's getting things sorted with the glove.
Barreto will probably make his bones with the bat as he climbs. Though he's undersized and there's a lot of projection in it, double-digit HR power is expected to blossom because of his quick hands, coordination, and plate coverage.
Without much changed in his peripheral production, I see Barreto's relatively slow AA start as a product of the tougher, craftier southpaws he's seeing in the Texas League. In the past his work against lefties had been a boon to him, and it's possible he's already begun to make adjustments after just two months. Barreto is off to a .390/.468/.585 start to July and will be one to watch in the second half.
36. Ian Happ, 2B/OF, Cubs
Happ gets both the Zobrist and switch-hitting Utley comps hung on him routinely, and from an offensive standpoint it's easy to see why. Advanced plate recognition and an explosive stroke seem to ensure Happ will have value in a lineup, regardless of where he ends up on defense.
Just like his comps, Happ also adds baserunning chops and surprising all-fields power considering his size. He does have a high whiff rate for an OBP type if you had to pick a weakness, but the early returns on his performance in AA are very positive on this front as well as many others.
35. Josh Hader, LHP, Brewers
Two of Hader's five PCL outings so far have been rather rough, but it's important not to penalize him yet considering the environment and his overwhelming stuff.
Hader is pure hell on batters, as he drops to a low three-quarters slot on the 1B side and slings it across his body to create ample deception. Both his velocity (92-94, t97?) and command have made huge strides since coming over in the Bud Norris trade, improving his outlook for at least the middle of a rotation. If he can continue to stay healthy and refine offspeeds while staying consistent with his funky delivery, he could even be a strong #2.
34. Joe Musgrove, RHP, Astros
Houston's brass is hoping Musgrove is a legit rotation piece, as he's the only commodity left from a mind-numbing 10-player deal that Jeff Luhnow consummated with Toronto in 2012.
Musgrove is appealing from a scouting perspective: listed at 6'5" 265, he seems to have turned the corner on an injury-filled past. His velocity has kicked up to low-mid 90's and combined with his pinpoint control and improving secondaries, he's put the 'Stros on notice.
The Fresno Grizz co-ace is also a favorite of the statistical crowd, flashing absurd K/BB rates at every level he's hit during a very rapid rise. Despite a 4.60 ERA in the PCL I consider the first half a smash success for Musgrove. All of his dreamy peripherals are in line despite a challenging pitching environment, and the only question we're left with is his durability. The righthander's high mark in innings is 100.2, set across three levels last year.
33. Aaron Judge, OF, Yankees
Judge was looking at a possible call-up before a recent knee injury that'll cost him roughly a month. The rightfielder does harbor some risk with low contact rates that are accentuated by his sizable strike zone. However, his already-tapped power is rare and he moves well for a smallball power forward.
After an ugly .183/.271/.327 showing in May, the sleeping giant awoke with 9 HR in a breakout June that saw him win IL Player of the Month. I'm admittedly unsure which of the two months best represent his future, but it does seem he was making usable progress while repeating AAA. Judge saw modest initial improvement with his K-rate, while his surge in ISO can be attributed to hitting more opposite field HR in 2016 than his last two seasons combined.
32. Jorge Mateo, SS, Yankees
Mateo seems likely to always possess a high floor thanks to top-shelf 80 speed that has in the past produced sub-4.0 times to first. His quicks also prop up his range in the field and combined with an above-average arm, should keep him at shortstop in the long-term.
Mateo would seem to have more power potential than most speedsters of his ilk. When examining Mateo and his explosive bat speed, wiry frame, and quick leg-pump, it's impossible not to see a dead ringer for Alfonso Soriano. It took 'Sori' until his age-26 season to have a 20-homer campaign, and indeed Mateo has plenty of time to tap into it having just turned 21.
31. Manuel Margot, OF, Padres
Margot's numbers away from Isotopes Park this year (.283/.337/.377) might be more indicative of where he's at offensively. That's ok, though - at 21 he's one of the youngest players in the PCL and has acquitted himself quite well thanks to a bevy of tools that provide a baseline for his value.
Margot's speed makes him a threat on the bases even without exemplary technique, and he also puts it to use in centerfield where he's known to have Gold Glove potential. He's shown to be a legit table-setter with an advanced approach, drawing walks and suppressing strikeouts at uncommon levels in light of his youth.
It's pretty obvious that Margot has plenty of floor baked in, suggesting that his future outlook will be colored by further improvement at the plate. With a fiercely quick bat and some sneaky power helped by a leg lift, you might like his chances of tapping into more of it even if only the XBH variety.