Ladies and gentlemen, get up, get loud, get on your feet for your...2017...United States...Futures...Team!!!
The 25-man roster is —as expected— absolutely loaded with the top talent in the Minor Leagues. Colleague Eric Cole previewed the World roster here.
Guide: Name, Position (for position players; positions played this year), Team, Level, John Sickels Top 200 Prospects rankings
The second prize of the epic Chris Sale deal (top prospect Yoan Moncada is on the World team), Kopech has been alright this season. Alright. The Texan still misses an incredible amount of bats (101 strikeouts, 11.6 K/9) and remains an elite prospect. The White Sox surrendered one of the best pitchers in baseball, but the return looks to spark quite the rebuild.
With such a tasty last name, it’s no surprise he’s become one of baseball’s best young arms. Dominating Double-A again bumped him to Triple-A Durham, where he hasn’t had the same amount of success. He’s walked just 22 batters in 79.1 innings for the Bulls. He’s still just 22.
A favorite of Mr. Sickels, the final selection of the 2015 first round (42nd overall) is having a breakout year. His advancement to High-A has been met with success and like the two others ranked above him, he’s a strikeout machine with 115 this season in 89.2 innings.
A.J. Puk, Oakland A’s, AA, 54th
A neat name and some seriously luscious crimson dreads, Puk’s first year of professional ball has been aggressive. He’s already in Double-A but is giving up a lot of runs in his Minor League career (4.6). On the bright side, he’s piling up the strikeouts, totaling 150 in 107 innings. Oakland has been pretty forceful with his development, but the 2016 sixth overall pick remains a fascinating prospect.
Recently promoted to Triple-A Memphis, Flaherty is part of a great crop of Cardinals starting pitching prospects. His 1.42 ERA at Double-A has the Cards very excited about the 2014 first-rounder. He doesn’t miss bats like every other pitcher I’ve listed, but he’s exceptional in keeping runners off bases, evidenced by his career 1.2 WHIP, which was sub-one (.92) in Double-A Springfield this year.
Another seriously awesome name, with the next one coming up also super fun to say. Selected 22nd overall in 2015, Burrows experienced success at every lower Minor League level, earning him his promotion to Double-A this summer. Still just 20 (one of three in the Eastern League: World team member Rafael Devers and injured top prospect Gleyber Torres the others), Burrows doesn’t walk a lot of hitters and avoids the home run ball, a trait that would prove extremely valuable in today’s baseball climate.
Arizona’s system isn’t in peak form but has some winners. Duplantier, a third round pick from 2016, starred at Rice University and his eyes are now set on Chase Field. Not immediately heralded, he’s become a name to watch. Duplantier keeps the opponent off the bases (career Minor League WHIP of just .95). He’s just cracked High-A and his signature WHIP is up, but his ERA remains a very respectable 2.35. The D-Backs may have found something here.
The Royals have a developing crop of arms and Griffin is not to be omitted. He’s now firmly entrenched at Double-A Northwest Arkansas, where he’s compiled a 7-1 record. The 21-year old was a 2014 first-round pick, so his advancement isn’t a big surprise, yet still encouraging. A rough patch from the end of 2015 to the start of 2016 stymied his stock, but he’s back on track.
The O’s system is pretty depleted at the moment, but Scott presents a diamond in the rough. A community college sixth-rounder, the powerful lefty touches 100 MPH and has absolutely dominated Double-A hitters. In 16 starts, his 1.88 ERA is accompanied by giving up 10 runs and 30 hits...total. A projected reliever, he’s giving Baltimore a lot to think about.
The lone bullpen-only arm on the roster, Herget is having himself a season. The 2015 sixth-rounder has been a closer for the duration of his professional tenure. He converted 15 saves in rookie ball and his total has run up to to 59 with a 2.29 ERA and 1.09 WHIP. He likes to punch out batters and could have a high leverage role in the Reds bullpen before long.
The third overall pick in 2015 was almost the first. Colorado gladly accepted his “fall” to pick three and have themselves a potential stud. Rodgers, still just 20, was promoted to Double-A this season and has absolutely torn apart opposing pitchers. Through 48 games he’s hitting a monstrous .400 with a .700 slugging percentage. Even numbers! He also has 12 homers. My oh my.
Nick Senzel, 3B, Cincinnati Reds, AA, 23rd
The number two pick of the 2016 draft, the former Tennessee Volunteer star was expected to move up the ladder quickly...and he has. Oddly enough, rookie ball was his only skittish encounter so far. Perhaps he was experiencing some minor growing pains, but he’s done great work at Low-A, High-A and now Double-A, a .316 hitter in those levels. He’s definitely the future third baseman for the Reds.
Acquired in the fortuitous (for them) Jonathan Lucroy trade, top prospect Brinson made his MLB debut earlier this season, a common occurrence for the Brew Crew in ‘17. Always projecting as a Major Leaguer thanks to his plus-plus defensive tools, his bat has been a nice revelation in Triple-A, hitting a dominant .341 with a .415 OBP. The depth of the Brewers’ outfield keeps him biding his time, but they’ll only be able to keep him in the minors for so long.
Amidst the Astros path to dominance, they’ve had some swing-and-misses at the tippy top of the draft with their many high picks. Kyle Tucker appears to be a winner. The younger brother of system mate Preston, Kyle has achieved Double-A at 20 years young. He’s hit his entire pro career with a power-speed combo that promises to get even better. He’s walking once every two nights and appears to be a complete hitter.
A farm system that has been big on hype and low on the results for the past several years, the 2014 fifth overall pick looks to buck that trend. Gordon doesn’t have one tool above others like older brother Dee’s speed, but he’s a complete player. However, as complete as he is, he’s struggled defensively at shortstop and strikes out a bit too much. Still developing, he remains full of promise with encouraging plate discipline and a knack for finding holes in the defense.
Corey Ray, CF/RF, Milwaukee Brewers, A+, 51st
The Brewers have taken two outfielders high in recent drafts (Ray and Trent Clark) and via trades with Texas and Houston, have acquired Brinson, Brett Phillips and Domingo Santana to put some serious depth in their outfield. Ray could have the highest ceiling of them all, if not a risky floor. A top five selection in 2016, Ray resides in High-A where his bat has yet to make the hopeful impression. He’s already 22 but patience will be key and is something the organization is willing to do with all the names ahead of him. Then again, the way the Brewers are playing, they’re sure to receive phone calls about Ray at the trading deadline.
Zack Collins, C, Chicago White Sox, A, 59th
One of the most tantalizing prospects in baseball, Collins offers some serious offensive potential at the catcher position. Some question whether he’ll stay there, with a move to one of the corners possible, but Collins has done nothing but catch so far in his pro career. He skipped Low-A after rookie ball and is hitting only .214 for High-A Winston-Salem, but sports a .369 OBP (61 walks; but 86 K’s) with 11 homers and his defense behind the plate has been encouraging for the White Sox brass.
Chance Sisco, C, Baltimore Orioles, AAA, 111th
Baltimore’s unquestioned top prospect entering the year, Sisco (another great name) is on the verge of the Majors. Sickels’ fourth ranked catching prospect stole eight bases in 2015 and has some hidden speed at the position. Teams are often content with a catcher who just provides defense, but Sisco has eyes on being a .270+ hitter in the pros.
Ryan McMahon, 3B/1B/2B, Colorado Rockies, AAA, 144th
McMahon’s stock seems to fluctuate like the air in Colorado. A second-rounder in 2013, the corner infielder entered 2016 in the spotlight, just to struggle and lose some steam. However, 2017 has seen his resurgence to the tune of a .353 batting average. He hit “only” .326 in Double-A before getting promoted to Albuquerque where he’s hitting .390! He and teammate Brendan Rodgers are combining to hit .790. So that’s cool for the Rockies. With Nolan Arenado occupying third, Colorado has experimented with McMahon at second to increase his versatility, vying to get his bat into their DH-less lineup as soon as possible.
Derek Fisher, OF, Houston Astros, AAA, 165th
Like Brinson, an injury in Houston’s outfield gave Fisher a shot a little earlier than expected. His preview in the bigs went well, but like Milwaukee the Astros have some serious outfield depth (made less by the fact that Phillips and Santana were dealt for Carlos Gomez) and Fisher was optioned back to Fresno. An absolutely stacked system has squeezed Fisher a bit, but his impressive Minor League stats (.306/.370/.575 with 19 homers and 14 steals) paired with the aging Carlos Beltran and Nori Aoki could open up an opportunity for him in 2018.
San Francisco’s farm system has some nice names. They all appear to be outfielders. Joining quick-rising Chris Shaw, Steven Duggar and Heath Quinn is Reynolds. A 2016 second-rounder from the powerhouse Vanderbilt has an intriguing power tool and has hit for a high average in his first year as a pro. He’s spent the entirety of 2017 in High-A and is hitting a very good .294 (career average: .302) with a .333 OBP (.346). The current state of the Giants begs for some young talent and Reynolds aspires to answer the call.
The name game is. not. fooling. around. Big fan of Rhys, who stumbled out of the gates in 2014 but has hit and hit and hit some more since. He’s an on-base machine with a career .375 OBP that is even higher in Triple-A this season at .387. At first base, we love power. Or at least I think we still do. Hoskins clubbed 38 home runs in 2016 at Double-A and has 20 this season at the next level, on pace to exceed 30 in style. Of course, he will hopefully be promoted before he gets that chance.
The second son of former Major Leaguer Dante Bichette and younger brother of Dante’s son and Yankees prospect Dante Jr., Bo is the better prospect of the brothers and aspires to be the best big leaguer in the family. I assume dad is ok with that. Since being drafted in 2016’s second round, Bichette has absolutely torn the cover off the ball. In 22 games at the rookie level, he hit .427. Now in Low-A Lansing, he’ll play the whole season at age 19 and is still raking, posting a spine-tingling .384 average and .448 OBP. His 28 walks (one every 10 AB) look only somewhat impressive next to his 10 home runs, 12 steals (in 15 attempts) and 32 doubles. Three triples, too.
Their top two prospects (pitchers Braxton Garrett and Tyler Kolek) are Tommy John victims, but Anderson’s bat can make them forget about that misfortune for a bit. The Marlins are aching for arms rather than bats, but if the team sells at the deadline, Anderson’s path to the big leagues would become far more clear. Hailing from the same Oklahoma high school as Tigers ace Michael Fulmer, he entered pro ball as a second baseman but has transitioned to third with a small taste of first. The 24-year old has capped out at Double-A to date, but is faring better at the level than he did in 2016. He’s compiled 34 walks and a .343 OBP to go with 14 home runs and should see Triple-A before the end of the year.
Scott Kingery, 2B, Philadelphia Phillies, AAA
Kingery is a curious case, having hit just nine career home runs before the season. But like his superiors in the Majors, he’s seen a power surge that has garnered quite a bit of attention. The speedster is still running (22 stolen bases) but has matched his total on the basepaths with 22 long balls. I’ve always been a little partial to the former Arizona Wildcat, but there’s no doubt about his potential anymore. He’s up above 100 hits (101) in his first 80 games of 2017 and surely projects as Philly’s future second baseman.