If you want scouting reports and videos for the most talented players in the Minor Leagues, check out MLBPipeline.com’s just-released Top 100 Prospects list. If you want to know what it cost to sign those prospects, you’ve come to the right place.
The Top 100 Financial Report is back for the second straight year (the 2014 edition can be found here.)
The 2015 Top 100 Prospects received a total of $222,453,430 in bonuses. Cubs outfielder Jorge Soler and Orioles right-hander Dylan Bundy got Major League contracts — which no longer can be given to drafted or foreign amateurs under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement — that included an additional $26,225,000 in guarantees. That brings the total to $248,678,430, an average of nearly $2.5 million per prospect and just slightly less than the Dodgers’ record payroll of $257,283,410 last year.
Seventy-two of the prospects landed seven-figure bonuses, while 10 of them topped $5 million in guarantees. Below are the financial highlights from the Top 100, including some recognition for the agents who orchestrated the biggest deals and the scouts who stretched their teams’ dollars the furthest:
The Five Highest Guarantees
1. Cubs OF Jorge Soler, No. 22 on the Top 100 ($6 million bonus, $30 million guarantee). If he had waited another three days to sign in 2012, the Cuban defector would have been subject to the current CBA and unable to receive a big league contract. Soler already has collected $10 million and can void the final three years and $12 million on his deal if he’s arbitration-eligible. Agency: Praver Shapiro Sports Management.
We released the MLBPipeline.com Top 100 Prospects list on Friday, and as always, there wasn’t enough room to include everyone I like. With that in mind, I’ve listed below (alphabetically) 20 more prospects who have caught my eye, some of whom made my personal Top 100 but couldn’t crack the official list once I combined my choices with Jonathan Mayo’s and we got feedback from industry sources.
A year ago, I identified 15 prospects as the Cream Of The Not-Quite-Top-100 Crop. That group included Phillies shortstop J.P. Crawford, Reds outfielder Jesse Winker, who have soared all the way to Nos. 21 and 26 on the current Top 100.
Ozhaino Albies, ss, Braves. A younger version of Jose Peraza — with a stronger arm that would enhance his chances of staying at shortstop if Andrelton Simmons weren’t in Atlanta — who hit .364/.446/.444 when he made his U.S. debut at age 17 last year.
Garin Cecchini, 3b/of, Red Sox. He’s blocked in Boston and uncharacteristically struggled at times in 2014, but he’s still one of the best pure hitters in the Minors.
Michael Feliz, rhp, Astros. He’s a work in progress but it’s hard not to like his combination of a mid-90s fastball, power breaking ball, promising changeup and sturdy build. (more…)
The talent in the Arizona Fall League was better than usual this year — and it’s usually pretty good. As a result, we increased the MLBPipeline.com AFL Top Prospects list from 20 to 25.
That still wasn’t enough to include all of the intriguing players I saw in 2 1/2 weeks in Arizona, however. So I’ve put together the team below of the best prospects who couldn’t crack our Top 25 (Jonathan Mayo also breaks down his favorite AFL extras at his blog here):
Peter O’Brien, c/1b, Diamondbacks (Salt River)
He was one of the most dangerous power hitters in the AFL, finishing third with five homers, and also has a strong arm. I’d like O’Brien more if he didn’t swing and miss so much and didn’t look so rough defensively at catcher and first base.
Patrick Kivlehan, 1b, Mariners (Surprise)
I like Dan Vogelbach’s (Cubs/Mesa) bat and approach, but the baserunning and defense were such negatives that I’m going with Kivlehan here. The former Rutgers defensive back topped the AFL with 22 RBIs, has enticing raw power and fits better at first base than third base. So does fellow Mariners slugging prospect D.J. Peterson.
If you’re not ready for the baseball season to end after the World Series, the Arizona Fall League is a godsend. Many of the game’s top prospects continue to play through mid-November in Arizona, which made identifying which AFLers I’m looking forward to seeing the most a difficult task because I was limited to just one position player and one pitcher.
So I’ve decided to expand on my choices of Twins outfielder Byron Buxton and White Sox right-hander Francellis Montas, and pick an entire team of AFL players worth watching:
Justin O’Conner, c, Rays (Peoria)
O’Conner has a cannon arm and promising power potential as well. In a light AFL year for backstops, slugging Peter O’Brien (Diamondbacks/Salt River) also stands out but probably won’t stick behind the plate for the long term.
Josh Bell, 1b, Pirates (Scottsdale)
How are the Pirates going to sort out their outfield logjam? One way is to see if Bell can handle first base. Mesa is loaded at first base with Matt Olson (Athletics) and Dan Vogelbach (Cubs), Nos. 2 and 4 on the MLBPipeline.com First Base Top 10.
Phil Bickford, a former first-round pick projected to go very early in the 2015 First-Year Player Draft, will attend the Community College of Southern Nevada next spring, according to a source familiar with the situation.
After starring in the Cape Cod League this summer, Bickford left Cal State Fullerton after one season to make himself eligible for next year’s Draft. Had he returned to the Titans, he would have had to wait until after his junior season in 2016 to turn pro.
I’ve spent the last two weeks ranking the top 10 pitching prospects and the top 10 hitting prospects in the Cape Cod League. The most prestigious summer collegiate circuit has produced more than 1,000 big leaguers — including more than 200 who have been active this year — and 13 first-round picks in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft. It’s a terrific destination to see many of the stars of tomorrow today.
I pushed my word counts to give detailed scouting reports of those 20 players, but my notebook is full of much more information. So I’m going to present an overall Cape Top 30 list here, combining the arms and bats. If a player was covered in one of the two Top 10s, I’ll let you click the links above to check out his details. If he’s new on this list, I’ll provide a quick report.
All of the players below are eligible for the 2015 Draft, with the exception of Garrett Williams (No. 19).
1. Walker Buehler, rhp, Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox (Vanderbilt, Jr. in 2015).
2. Phil Bickford, rhp, Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox (CC of Southern Nevada, So.).
3. Ian Happ, of, Harwich Mariners (Cincinnati, Jr.).
Give me prospects to rank, and I can’t stop myself from providing extras. I spent the last couple of weeks doing that for the 10 farm systems I handled when we updated MLBPipeline.com’s Prospect Watch, and I’m back at it with the U.S. collegiate national team.
As I mentioned in my story where I listed Team USA’s 10 best prospects, the team annually features several of college baseball’s brightest stars. The 2013 squad produced 10 first-round picks in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft, led by Carlos Rodon (White Sox, No. 3 overall) and Kyle Schwarber (Cubs, No. 4), and should have at least two more next June in Louisiana State shortstop Alex Bregman and Texas Christian right-hander Riley Ferrell. This year’s team probably won’t produce 12 first-rounders, but it still had several intriguing prospects and there wasn’t room for all of them in the Top 10. So here are 10 more:
11. Jake Lemoine, rhp (Houston, Jr. in 2015). Scouts liked his body (6-foot-5, 220 pounds), his delivery and the way he pitched off his 89-94 mph sinker. Lemoine’s slider and changeup can be average offerings, giving him a chance to start in the Major Leagues.
In the 10th and final installment of my Bonus Prospects series, I give you the Rangers. Texas has a lot of high-risk/high-reward prospects in its system, epitomized and headlined by third baseman Joey Gallo, and its Top 20 Prospects list already was strong before it acquired right-handers Jake Thompson and Corey Knebel from the Tigers for Joakim Soria shortly before the July 31 trade deadline. So not only do the Rangers have one of the better Top 20s around, they also have one of the more intriguing 21-25 lists as well.
To see MLBPipeline.com’s Top 20 lists for every organization, as well as our overall Top 100 and Top 10s by position, visit Prospect Watch.
21. Roman Mendez, rhp. One of three prospects acquired in the Jarrod Saltalamacchia trade with the Red Sox in July 2010, Mendez missed most of 2013 with a stress fracture in his elbow but has emerged as a solid contributor in Texas’ big league bullpen this year. He chews up bats with his 91-96 mph sinker and has late-inning upside if he can continue to hone his power breaking ball and his splitter. (more…)
Much like our Cardinals Top 20, MLBPipeline.com’s Giants Top 20 Prospects list needed more updating even after we overhauled all of the Prospect Watch lists at the end of July. Actually, before we revamped them all, because San Francisco traded Edwin Escobar and Heath Hembree to the Red Sox for Jake Peavy the day before all of the new Top 20s went live.
Right-hander Joan Gregorio and lefty Michael Kickham replaced Escobar and Hembree on our Giants list. Ten days later, Joe Panik lost his rookie/prospect eligibility and outfielder Gary Brown joined the Top 20.
San Francisco doesn’t have a deep farm system, so adding Gregorio, Kickham and Brown depleted our Giants Nos. 21-25 prospects. However, that won’t stop me from continuing my blog series of bonus prospects for each of the ten Top 20s I wrote up:
21. Cody Hall, rhp. He didn’t play baseball in his final two seasons of high school and had a modest collge career at Baton Rouge (La.) CC and Southern before signing for $2,500 as a 19th-round college senior in 2011. Thanks to a 95-98 mph fastball and a mid-80s slider, Hall has averaged more than a strikeout per inning at every one of his Minor League stops, and his control has improved significantly the last two years. (more…)
MLBPipeline.com’s Cardinals Top 20 Prospects list already has seen some changes since we revamped all of our organization lists at Prospect Watch toward the end of July. Three days after we updated our St. Louis Top 20, the club traded outfielder James Ramsey (No. 6 on the list) to the Indians for Justin Masterson, and two days after that, outfielder Oscar Taveras (No. 1) lost his rookie status.
So in my ongoing series of posting bonus prospects for each of the 10 organizations I wrote the updates for, Cardinals Nos. 21-25 below would have been Nos. 23-27 had I blogged immediately.
21. Greg Garcia, 2b/ss. Kolten Wong’s former teammate at Hawaii has progressed steadily through the system and made his big league debut in April. Projected as more of a utilityman than a regular, Garcia is a quality defender with average speed and arm strength to go with a decent line-drive bat. (more…)