It is that time of year where every baseball site, expert, and blogger is releasing their list of baseball’s top prospects. I love these lists as much as the next baseball enthusiast and I spend a lot of time studying them from top to bottom. I do put a lot of stock in the lists released by certain writers and I have decided to present some promising prospects in a new way.
Many Minor League baseball fans enjoy going out to support their local MiLB teams even though they may not necessarily have a rooting interest in that team’s parent club. That was the inspiration for this list. This will not only be a projection of who the best pitcher and position player at several minor league teams will be, but also a projection on where some Major League club’s top prospects will start 2017.
Let’s dive in with the 2016 Southern League champs and Arizona’s new AA affiliate:
Pitcher to Watch: RHP Taylor Clarke
- Clarke was drafted 76th overall in 2015 by the D-Backs and has not disappointed since. He is a guy that pitched at three different levels last season and was very effective at all stops, including in the Southern League with Mobile (the Diamondbacks former AA affiliate). He started 17 games at the AA level last year and after throwing just under 100 innings there, finished 8-6 with a 3.59 ERA.
Taylor Clarke 2016 AA
The strikeout percentage may seem low but scouts do say that Clarke has a slider that will miss some bats. The one thing Clarke is praised on is his ability to put his fastball where ever he wants and throw all of his pitches for strikes. Jackson fans, look forward to seeing Clarke lead your rotation in 2017. He has progressed through the system quickly so you might want to get out to the ballpark early in the year.
Position Player to Watch: SS/2B Domingo Leyba
I was torn between Leyba and 3B/SS Dawel Lugo for this selection, both have been decent at the plate with Lugo showing more power, but Leyba is the better all around player in my eyes. He is a good contact hitter who has plus speed, a plus arm and is very good at either position up the middle of the infield.
Leyba was acquired through a three team trade in which he came over from the Tigers in late 2014. He also spent time in the Southern League last year and appeared in 44 games. The switch hitting middle infielder out of the Dominican hit 4 home runs with 21 RBI while slashing .301/.374/.436 in 156 AB’s at Double A, all during his age 20 season. One thing about Leyba that may be a positive or a negative is his aggressiveness. When he steps up to the plate, he goes up hacking. He will put a lot of balls in play and as a result has a pretty low strikeout rate, however, he does not walk very often either. Regardless, Leyba will be an extremely exciting player to watch progress. He is only coming into his age 21 season but his glove will certainly be one to watch up the middle in Jackson this season.
We will continue to make our way around the Southern League this week projecting where some top prospects will start the 2017 season and who might be making a stop in with your hometown team. After we wrap up with the Southern League we will hit the South Atlantic. Next up, the Mississippi Braves!
Stats Courtesy of: mlb.com / milb.com / fangraphs.com
Photo Courtesy of: milb.com