Top 15 Prospects For 2017

DENNIS ‘LITTLE FISH’ GUPPY

1. Dennis ‘Little Fish’ Guppy, OF, Detroit Motorheads
R / R • 5’11” • 175 • Age: 22 • Quebec City, QC

The 2016 #1 overall draft pick by Chicoutimi (now the Detroit Motorheads) is not as big and tall as some of his peers, but scouts consistently rate him a five-tool threat, who can hit for contact, hit for power, run, field and throw at an elite level. After a brief stint in Rookie and A level last season, where he hit for a combined .281 with 6 HR and 28 RBI while stealing 18 bases in just 45 games, the Little Fish looks ready to swim in the big pond, and Detroit has put him into the starting lineup at CF (though he is solid at any outfield position). Detroit has high expectations from him, and if he can meet them, he will truly be an impact player.

ALEX ORELLANA

2. Alex Orellana, RHP, Arizona Cowboys
R / R • 6’1″ • 185 • Age: 20 • Willemstad, Curaçao

Discovered by Arizona’s international scouts while playing sandlot semi-pro in the Dutch Caribbean island of Curaçao in 2013, he was signed and straight away began climbing the prospect rankings as he has worked his velocity up into the 99-101 mph range, and nailed down his pitch control. With a four-pitch repertoire, he has been notoriously difficult for opposing batters, particularly when it comes to giving up home runs and walks. In 220 minor league innings, he’s allowed just 3 home runs, and 74 walks, and promises to be a future #1 rotation guy for years to come. This year he finally breaks into Arizona the rotation in the #5 slot, but has a bright future for many years ahead.

3. Jim Koch, RHP, Nevada Speeders
R / R • 6’4″ • 215 • Age: 22 • Waterford, WI

Koch is one of the league’s top-rated knuckle-curve pitchers, who is very much in the mold of Jacksonville’s knuckle-curveballing southpaw, veteran Micah Jones. Except Koch has a high heat fastball, in addition to the changeup both pitchers throw. Last year, Koch struggled to find his groove at AA-level, allowing batters to run up a 5.47 ERA on him, but overall he has been tracking well and last season’s poor Heifer League stats are likely just a blip on a long, positive development trend. This year, he added a splitter to his pitch menu, and could end the year in AAA if he is able to stay consistent.

4. Nick Seer, RHP, Arizona Cowboys
R / R • 6’1″ • 200 • Age: 22 • Charlotte Amalie East, US Virgin Islands

Signed out of the Virgin Islands on an international scouting trip, he immediately signed to Arizona for 3 years, for a total of $12.6M, on the promise of smart fastball/curveball/slider menu. To quote one scout, Seer has “dominant hurler” written all over him. For a young pitcher with no amateur experience, he has well above-average control, dotting I’s and exclamation marks at any part of the strike zone he wishes. Despite ranking below Orellana, Arizona has slotted Seer in the #1 spot in the rotation due to his sheer dominance of the plate. His spring stats were positive, going 2-1 with a 2.96 ERA, and a dependable 1.32 WHIP.

JON GUILLOT

5. John Guillot, 3B, Chicago Pit Bulls
R / R • 6’2″ • 190 • Age: 21 • Brooklyn, NY

After a slow buildup through four seasons at rookie-level, he finally moved to A-level last season and showed promise, knocking in a career-high 38 RBIs and a respectable 7 triples, finishing the season with a .255 average and .443 slugging percentage after 57 games. He was notably absent from the Pit Bulls spring roster, but could be a real game-changer for Chicago’s 3B corner when he’s ready to make the jump to the major-level.

6. Herb Steward, RHP, New York Dragons
R / R • 6’1″ • 205 • Age: 23 • Louiseville, QC

Herb had high potential coming into 2017, and got a chance to hone his considerable skills even more when he was put in the Florida Rookie League winter baseball roster, where he was a huge impact pitcher. He had five outings with 10+ K’s, and was named FRL Pitcher of the Year, after a 6-1 stint where he crafted a 1.52 ERA and razor-thin 0.80 WHIP. Already blessed with impressive control, he continues to work on his fastball and velocity. After stumbling in three spring training outings, he will likely start the year in AAA-level Anaheim, but could be honed for the majors within a year or two.

7. Jorge Velazquez, 3B, Rimouski Fighting Moose
R / R • 6’2″ • 180 • Age: 21 • Progreso, Mexico

Traded from the Toronto Ducks (now Nomads) in 2014, Velazquez was progressing slowly but steadily, reaching AAA-level last season and hitting .361 over 9 games. When given the chance at the major level with Hamilton (now Rimouski), he hit a mediocre .222 and did not show any power, despite being rated well for it. He continues to develop though, not only as an all-round hitting and running threat, but also a promising corner infielder with a cannon arm. Expect to see him on the bench for Rimouski, but getting increasing numbers of opportunities to prove himself.

8. Justin Kelly, OF, Chicago Pit Bulls
R / R • 5’10” • 170 • Age: 21 • Masonboro, NC

Drafted in the first round (9th overall) last year, he has consistently hit above .300 at two levels, even showing some “pop” knocking in 2 homers last season at A-level. He’s fast on the bases, as well, and has a future as an impact power/speed player who can track down line-drives in the gaps that many pro’s wouldn’t catch.

9. George Grease, RHP, Arizona Cowboys
R / R • 5’10” • 190 • Age: 24 • Hendersonville, TN

Deemed to small by many to be a serious impact pitcher, he nonetheless has mastered a solid fastball with decent velocity, hitting 94-96 mph, and a serious slider. He continues to improve on his changeup, and can pick his corners well. With more run support, and big-league level fielding, expect his ERA to come down to earth, and one day slot into an Arizona rotation that could dominate the American Eagle League for years to come.

10. Robby McWeeney, RHP, Arizona Cowboys
R / R • 6’0″ • 195 • Age: 23 • Bright, IN

Made two starts in 2016, and showed glimpses of dominant pitching that the league will soon become accustomed to from Arizona. Went 1-0 with a 2.89 ERA, allowing just 5 hits, no walks and 3 runs in 9.1 innings, for a 0.59 WHIP and a .152 opposing batting average. To score on Robby, hitters typically have to hope for a home run, as they won’t be seeing the bases very often on hits or walks. One of the best curveballs in the game. He’ll get a taste of the major-level again from the bullpen this year, as Arizona works out what it’s going to do with 4 of the top 10 prospects on its pitching staff.

11. John Heart, OF, Dallas Deputies
L / L • 6’0″ • 170 • Age: 23 • Chesterfield Twp, MI

Though still struggling to master the fundamentals, and thus frustrating his coaches, he is nevertheless possessed of the raw skills and talent that could one day make him an impact power hitter and cannon-arm outfielder, who is also a serious threat to steal. In his rookie league debut last year, he stole 11 of 15 bases, but struggled at the plate. This winter in the Florida Rookie League, he doubled his 2016 home run count to 4, and learned how to lay off bad pitches, walking 37 times, pushing his OPS to .793. He was not invited to spring training, but will continue his development at the low minors until the 2016 #2 overall pick has grasped enough of the basics to use his tools effectively.

CHRIS ZERKLE

12. Chris Zerkle, RHP, Anchorage Aces
R / R • 5’10” • 175 • Age: 22 • Peru, NE

A first rounder in 2014 (5th overall), San Diego (now Anchorage) has great hopes in the young southpaw curveballer, and he proved his mettle in spring training finishing with a respectable 0.87 ERA after four relief outings. The real hope for the Aces is that he will develop into a solid top of the rotation starter, an area they are desperate for help with. Zerkle could be ready for that role soon. In three years of minor league time he’s worked a 3.74 ERA over 245.1 innings, allowing just 6 homers, and crafting a 1.28 WHIP. Over half his AA-level starts last year met the “Quality Start” criteria of 6 innings with 3 or less earned runs against. Zerkle will likely start this year at AAA but won’t be there long at this rate.

13. Alejandro Dominguez, RHP, Jacksonville Ravens
R / R • 6’7″ • 210 • Age: 22 • Mejicanos, El Salvador

The tall and imposing Dominguez has made steady progress since signing with Ravens in 2010 (back when they were still in Richmond, California). His career minor league record is 26-11, with a 3.29 ERA and 1.16 WHIP. He may have made the leap to the major-level last year, but his AAA-level time in Baltimore suggested he wasn’t ready to face elite hitting just yet, as his ERA shot to 4.32. Nevertheless, with Baltimore he tasted playoff success, helping them win a Cow League championship, though he was out with a torn UCL by that time, and recovering after Tommy John Surgery. He is anticipated to return in mid-August and if he’s 100% he may just find himself in the Ravens rotation as they steam towards a playoff run.

14. Tyler ‘Lumpy’ Mixon, RHP, Kingston Cannons
R / R • 6’1″ • 180 • Age: 20 • Winchester, CT

Lumpy was the #1 overall pick in 2015, and initially showed loads of promise as a lanky, but dominating high-heat power pitcher. He has had mixed success so far in the low minors, but this year scouts believe his fastball is up in the 95-97 mph range, and he has made strides to improve his control. In the past, his tendency to issue free passes has plagued his success, though he has still managed a record of 8-9 and an ERA of 3.63 in two seasons of A-level baseball. He is still young, and so his development could still see him spending 3-4 years in the minors before breaking into the bigs, but break in he will.

AARON MILLER

15. Aaron Miller, RHP, Jacksonville Ravens
R / R • 6’6″ • 245 • Age: 25 • Colorado Springs, CO

The huge right-hander must have been quite a Christmas present for his parents when he was born back in 1991, as he has now developed into a hand-breaking fastballer who can reach 99-101 mph when he’s got his stuff working for him. After three seasons at AA-level, where he worked up a record of 17-14 and an ERA of 3.76, starting 43 games in total, the Ravens tried him in the relief role during spring training and were likely impressed by his 18 K’s in 9 innings, allowing just 10 hits and 1 walk for a 1.22 WHIP. Yes, he blew a save and only crafted a 1-1 record with a 5.00 ERA, but fundamentally he projects to be a dominant pitcher, even on a team that is full of dominant pitchers. He likely earned a long relief slot in the Ravens bullpen, but could easily fill a starter role in case of an injury.

 

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