MLB Top 125 Minor League Prospects: 100-76

Aug 27, 2016; Williamsport, PA, USA; A general view of some game balls during the game between the Asia-Pacific Region and Latin America Region at Howard J. Lamade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

After reviewing each system’s top 10 prospects, who are the top 125 MLB prospects?

An Introduction

Our MLB minor league top 125 prospect list is coordinated by Benjamin Chase, one of our contributors at Call To The Pen.

He has poured over thousands of minor league games over the course of the year via milb.tv along with speaking with a number of team and independent scouts. He presented his team top 10 lists starting in November and finishing in December of 2016. Those lists and this top 125 list are based out of those conversations and his own personal scouting.

Each slide will feature five players with a brief write up, a link to their position on the team top 10, where Ben put out a more detailed write up on each player, unless that player did not make the team top 10, at which point, Ben will have a more detailed write up.

In general, the exact ranking is less intensive at the lower levels of the rankings. At the top levels, the top 50, the order of each player was considered fairly carefully, but in general, after about 75, the players are more in tiers and ranked within their tier, so don’t worry too much if your favorite guy is 101 versus 99, but 101 versus 50 could lead to some discussion, and feel free to comment with any questions you may have in the comments section below as we go along!

Let’s get started with today’s group of 25, 76-100!!

100. Domingo Acevedo, RHP, New York Yankees, Yankees #7

Acevedo had a very good 2016, and many have pushed him forward significantly due to that, and the simple fact that a baseball leaving his hand has been known to be clocked at 103 MPH, which is absolutely ridiculous. He does have some typical issues of a guy standing 6’7 in repeating his delivery, and that’s a big reason why he was still in low-A to start 2016 at 22 years old. Acevedo will be a guy the Yankees will handle cautiously, but his fastball/slider combo may only be rivaled in professional baseball by Noah Syndergaard. If he’s forced to a relief role, he’d be the equivalent of Aroldis Chapman from the right side.

99. A.J. Puk, LHP, Oakland Athletics, Athletics #2

Widely considered the best collegiate arm coming into the 2016 draft season, Puk had a stagnant season in 2016 in that he didn’t perform badly, but he didn’t really take strides forward that teams were hoping to see. Puk is a big (6’7) lefty, but he has none of the major issues with inconsistent delivery that typically plague a guy of his height. Puk had back issues during his college season, and that does scare some evaluators in his future as back stuff can linger, especially in taller guys. Puk’s stuff is tremendous and truly front line material when he’s healthy, so the A’s could have a true ace here if Puk can show he’s past the back stuff.

98. Ariel Jurado, RHP, Texas Rangers, Rangers #4

While Texas is often known for their all-or-nothing prospects, Jurado is an exception to that, as he’s always been a pitchability sort of guy who was more command and control of his arsenal than velocity and movement creating strikeouts until he added nearly two full grades of velocity as he added strength. The added strength also added bite to his breaking pitch, allowing it to miss bats better rather than just being a “weak contact” sort of slurvy breaker. He’ll likely be at AAA as a 21 y/o in 2017, so it is not surprising that some have him quite high on their lists, but I did hear some concerns around scouting circles that Jurado’s velocity spike reads strongly like the type of spike a pitcher would get just before seeing his elbow pop for Tommy John surgery, which is why I did take some caution in ranking him overall.

97. Nick Neidert, RHP, Seattle Mariners, Mariners #4

Neidert scared away some teams with elbow tendinitis his senior year, but the Mariners grabbed him in the 2nd round, and they’ve been very pleased every since. He has a very solid pitch combination, including the slider that the Mariners introduced to Neidert after drafting him, which could quickly become his most effective secondary pitch, though it’s more of a pitch to generate weak contact rather than swing and miss. Neidert is physically mature at a size that isn’t ideal for a front line guy, but he has all the makings of that sort of a starter if things can continue to progress for him as he works up to high-A in 2017 and upper minors in 2018 most likely.

96. Touki Toussaint, RHP, Atlanta Braves, Braves #10

Toussaint is one of those guys who is known nearly as well for the GIFs of his wicked curve ball as he is for his actual pitching on the field. Of course, having an ERA that was cut in half in 2015 from his 2014 number and was still nearly 5 is not exactly going to inspire a lot of confidence from evaluators. The Braves did some heavy work with the mechanics of Toussaint early in 2016, and his early season numbers were not good, to say the least, but as he got into that and worked with the Braves’ program of leading with location of the fastball/change, he really took off and showed his dominant self, posting a final closing line from June 1st through Rome’s time in the playoffs of 97 1/3 innings, a 2.59 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, and a 43/110 BB/K ratio from a guy who didn’t turn 20 until June 20th. He’s still definitely got ace upside.

95. Chance Sisco, C, Baltimore Orioles, Orioles #1

Sisco has established himself so strongly as a future consideration at backstop that the Orioles were willing to let Matt Wieters walk this offseason and go with a short-term solution to bridge until Sisco’s expected 2018 arrival. Sisco probably isn’t going to be an elite defensive catcher by any means, but he has worked hard to become a guy who should be at least a league-average regular behind the plate, and he gets tremendous marks for his handling of pitchers. Offensively, he has a tremendous hit tool, which should allow him to be a guy with a very good batting average that eventually allows for more power as he develops in the majors, but should give some offensive value while the power comes.

94. Carson Kelly, C, St. Louis Cardinals, Cardinals #5

Converted from the hot corner, Kelly has always had some solid instincts behind the plate, but he’s really developed into a standout defensive receiver with a plus arm and excellent footwork. Kelly was reputed when drafted to have plus raw power, but he’s never really developed that, and his swing looks more like an excellent line drive swing that should lead to a very solid batting average, though there could be 15-20 homer potential there eventually. Of course, there is that Yadier Molina guy in St. Louis to get out of his way…

93. Stephen Gonsalves, LHP, Minnesota Twins, Twins #3

A year from now, this spot could look extremely low on Gonsalves, but I’m still a bit concerned by a few comments I got about Gonsalves from guys in spite of his ridiculous numbers in 2016 that only seemed to get better in AA. Gonsalves has very solid stuff, but it’s his late movement on all of his stuff that makes it near-impossible for hitters to square him up. However, a scout from a rival team told me that in their one viewing of Gonsalves in AA, they found a tell on him in their only viewing of him. I asked around about this, and a few other scouts did have a similar report, so I looked things up. Gonsalves faced only one team in AA three times, and it was the eventual league champion, who tuned him up to a tone of 13 innings over the three starts with 6 runs allowed on 11 hits and an astonishing 15 walks. He also made multiple starts against only 3 opponents in AA, and the second start in 2 of those situations was a worse game score, so there could be something there to teams seeing something that could be a challenge in 2017.

92. Hunter Renfroe, OF, San Diego Padres, Padres #4

Renfroe has been seeing a bump this offseason that I can only believe comes in large part due to his flashes at the big league level in September after getting called up. He hit for big numbers in the PCL, knocking out 30 homers with a near .900 OPS, but there are certainly concerns here. Renfroe has put up solid contact in the PCL, but his bat is more of a .250-.270 type of bat, and he’s not shown the ability to control the strike zone, which could limit accessing his strong power. He does have a traditional right field profile with big power and a big arm, but he’ll need to control the zone better in the majors, which is where he’ll be starting out 2017 in right field for San Diego.

91. Jason Groome, LHP, Boston Red Sox, Red Sox #3

Groome was considered the top lefty high school arm in the 2016 draft class before discussion about off-field concerns and a risky signing bonus number started to get floated around the game. Instead, he got just barely above the slot value for pick #12, where the Red Sox picked him. Groome has a tremendous blend of pitches, and much of his off field stuff can be written off to youthful indiscretion and a lack of maturity in response to situations, but it is something that will be sure to be considered with Groome for at least a little while unless he shows himself to be a model citizen.

90. Walker Buehler, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers, Dodgers #7

Buehler did get back on the mound this season for a few innings after having Tommy John surgery in August of 2015, so not a lot can be gleamed from that. He is a guy with a very high pedigree after two seasons as the ace of Vanderbilt’s staff ahead of such pitchers as Carson Fulmer. He filled into his frame well in his recovery time, so there is very good thought that he’ll be more able to hold up physically to starting as he gets his arm back in shape from the surgery. He’ll be handled carefully in 2017, but he still has a very high ceiling.

89. Rowdy Tellez, 1B, Toronto Blue Jays, Blue Jays #5

Besides having one of the best names in the game, Tellez has a tremendous swing from the left side, compact and explosive through the zone, allowing him to spray powerful drives throughout the whole field. Due to his excellent bat speed and strike zone judgement, he’s also a guy who’s a power hitter that strikes out at a very reasonable rate. While he’s not elite defensively, he is a first baseman, so he’s not exactly high on the defensive spectrum. He’ll likely start at AAA in 2017, and he could be knocking on the door in Toronto very soon.

88. Alex Kirilloff, OF, Minnesota Twins, Twins #2

I make no bones about the fact that I’m a big, big fan of Kirilloff, and I have been since early on in the pre-draft process, when I called him a top 10 talent in the draft. Kirilloff doesn’t have an ideal swing, but he does very well getting the bat through the zone and knows the zone well, as evidenced by a sub-15% strikeout rate for a power-hitting teenager in his first pro experience. He was also a better athlete than advertised, both on the bases and in the outfield, not a guy with a quick first step but with solid speed once underway, which should allow him to handle right field well.

87. Harrison Bader, OF, St. Louis Cardinals, Cardinals #4

On the surface, Bader would seem to be the prototype college hitter that St. Louis seems to love, with maybe even a tick more athleticism than a guy like Stephen Piscotty or Allen Craig. Instead, not many guys generate a wider range of opinions than Bader. Some see him as a sure-fire starting outfielder very soon for the Cardinals, as soon as mid-2017. Others believe that he’ll be lucky to eventually end up a platoon partner due to holes that they see in his approach with same-sided pitchers. Bader will likely start at AAA in the PCL, so his numbers could cover up any true issues that are there.

86. Adrian Morejon, LHP, San Diego Padres, Padres #3

Morejon was the one prospect that put a legit challenge to uber-prospect Kevin Maitan as the best prospect in the 2016 July 2nd signing class. Coming from Cuba, he has a very unique pitch mix, throwing a knuckle ball as one of his breaking pitches, which is a rare thing as typically anyone throwing the pitch throws it exclusively, or at least primarily. Instead, Morejon throws into the mid-90s with his fastball with a plus curve and change to go with his power knuckler. He’s definitely got ace upside, but this is a guy who is just going to be 18 years old when he throws his first professional pitch in a game, so he’s got a ways to go before he’ll sniff the major leagues at this point.

85. Josh Bell, 1B/OF, Pittsburgh Pirates, Pirates #5

The last big beneficiary before the new slotted draft came into play, Bell was signed to a significant bonus as a 2nd round pick in 2011. The switch-hitter has played outfield for a number of years and is a solid defensive corner outfielder, but he did move to first base, where he’s shown to be an elite defender at the position. He has incredible power from both sides of the plate, and he should have an opportunity in Pittsburgh in 2017.

84. Kyle Lewis, OF, Seattle Mariners, Mariners #3

Lewis was one of the elite college hitters in 2016, garnering a ton of interest as he drilled home run after home run. However, just before the draft, as teams began to do their own medicals, there were whispers that there was something there with Lewis. Nothing definitive ever got leaked, and Lewis fell to the Mariners at #11 overall. He got off to a tremendous start, making many people wonder if his fall was an overreaction by teams, and then he shredded basically every knee ligament in the knee in a gruesome injury that could sideline him into the 2017 season. The bat has shown to be legit, and it could be enough to give Lewis a career, but his excellent right field defense may be a thing of the past depending on how things heal for him.

83. Jorge Alfaro, C, Philadelphia Phillies, Phillies #6

Alfaro has been well-regarded for many years for his elite arm behind the plate and his big power at the plate. He continues to polish other parts of his game enough to let both of those elite tools play forward, but even as he made his big league debut in 2016, he can still be considered raw in many facets of the game. He still has struggles controlling the strike zone, and he often can get overly aggressive behind the plate and not be in the best position to block a ball as he’s sneaking a foot to help him throw a runner out rather than keeping best defensive position. He’s in a system with two other solid catchers in Andrew Knapp and Cameron Rupp, so he’ll need to keep progressing to keep getting chances, but the arm and power are certainly stand out tools.

82. Justus Sheffield, LHP, New York Yankees, Yankees #6

Brother Jordan Sheffield was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers this season, so he and Justus could have arguments not just over who is the better pitcher, but who is part of the better farm system as well. Justus was having a very solid season in high-A when the Yankees acquired him. His small size and high arm slot combination has led to mechanical inconsistency over his pro career so far, but he really made big strides in 2016 to clean a lot of that up, and if he can continue that in 2017, he could make a jump up prospect lists.

81. Jake Bauers, 1B/OF, Tampa Bay Rays, Rays #3

The Rays acquired Bauers from the Padres in the Wil Myers deal, and he was labeled a bat-first guy that would likely be stuck at 1B-only, but he’s shown to be quite athletic and more than capable in a corner outfield spot, which has worked well as he’s been paired with Casey Gillaspie in the Rays system since arriving. Bauers has a compact swing that generates excellent power to all fields and also allows him to cover the strike zone quite well. He’s not shown a ton of over-the-fence power thus far, but he has hit plenty of extra bases thus far, and at only 20 in AA in 2016, it’s quite likely that he’ll be adding plenty of home runs as he matures in the major leagues in late-2017 and 2018.

80. Josh Hader, LHP, Milwaukee Brewers, Brewers #6

Hader is the spitting image of “Wild Thing” Mitch Williams, the former lefty closer most notorious for serving up Joe Carter‘s famous home run in the 1993 World Series. His delivery is more reminiscent of Chris Sale. However, on the mound, he is a one of a kind, which is certainly a good thing, but it’s also where it becomes a challenge to rank him. You’ll likely see Hader as high as a top 25 prospect on some lists, and I’ve talked with a lot of people who’ve told me that they’d not have him on a top 100 list at all. His ability to control his stuff took a big step forward in 2016, but he was still walking batters over 10.5% of the time, which is too much to be successful as a starter long-term. He’s been more consistent in his delivery, and that could be the key to continuing progress in being even better with his walk rate, but he’d be a dominant reliever if he was forced into that role.

79. Luke Weaver, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals, Cardinals #3

Weaver had a rough draft season where his stuff fell off a bit, which dropped him right into the Cardinals’ laps in the draft, and they’ve enjoyed their luck ever since. He’s a guy with very solid velocity and a tremendous change, but his breaking stuff has been inconsistent. I compared Weaver to Jeff Samardzija in my team write up, and I had a few scouts contact me really liking that comparison in that at his best, Weaver has elite stuff, but he’ll also throw in some real clunkers where it seems nothing can record an out, and you just never know what you’re going to get when he climbs the mound.

78. Jeff Hoffman, RHP, Colorado Rockies, Rockies #3

Hoffman has an elite fastball that could have plenty of intrigue on its own, but he also pairs that with a curve that has tremendous depth. He got in a bad rut of “aiming” his pitches in the majors, and it led to him hanging a lot of pitches up in the zone and getting hit hard, but when he’s working at his best, he works very well low in the zone with all four pitches, generating a ton of weak contact. Hoffman has the sort of velocity that would make you think front-line starter, but with his excellent work low in the zone, he could have a more likely outcome as a solid #2/3 starter that creates a lot of weak contact.

77. Derek Fisher, OF, Houston Astros, Astros #4

Fisher has an elite power/speed combo, but he struggles with getting too happy with his power swing rather than using his solid bat speed and swing to generate excellent overall contact. This has led to high strikeout rates, in spite of him having a reported excellent strike zone judgement before being drafted out of Virginia in 2014. Fisher is a left field only defender due to below-average instincts in the outfield and an average arm. However, the power/speed combo is so elite and unique that it’s hard to put him any lower on this list.

76. Zack Burdi, RHP, Chicago White Sox, White Sox #6

I would typically not have a reliever this high, but then I got word from a few folks that the White Sox intended to stretch out Burdi now that they’re going into rebuild mode as their quick advancement of him as a reliever was to help what they had hoped to be a competitive big league club. If Burdi is going back to the rotation and working on his high end change along with the high-velo fastball and solid power breaking pitch, he could have a very high ceiling as a starter. If he is used as a reliever, he could be very productive in the majors in 2017. As a starter, he’ll likely be sitting in the minors another year or two, but that could provide much more value to the White Sox in general, and the team has done the same with Chris Sale in the past, starting him as a reliever and working him back to a starter.

Agree? Disagree? Make your voice heard with a comment down below!

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