As we wind down the 2016 Baseball Season, let's finish off the next few weeks with some annual traditions, starting with my looking at prospects who are worth keeping on your radar (or Ultra reserve list) and who might make an impact in 2017 (not that my 2017 Top 250 Prospect List will be out in November).
Hunter Renfroe (OF, Padres): Though there are indeed some Triple-A hopefuls, Renfroe's big league team could really use his potentially big stick. A first-round selection of San Diego in 2013 (Renfroe was a 31st rounder in 2010 but opted to attend Mississippi State), the outfielder moved through the ranks, debuting at Triple-A El Paso in 2015 with a .333-6-24 line over 21 games, and then played a full complement there this season. The results produced a PCL MVP to go with .306-30-105 totals with 34 doubles. Strike zone judgement is an issue as Renfroe only walked 22 times, but he only whiffed 105, which ultimately suggests pretty good contact. Of all the prospects on this list, Renfroe might be the most vulnerable, but similarly at this point he has the best chance of earning full-time play next year.
Gleyber Torres (SS, Yankees): If Renfroe represents the top shot playing at Triple-A, then Torres is the long-shot. The 19-year-old shortstop started at the Carolina League as a member of the loaded Cubs minor league system, and then went to the Pinstripes as part of the Aroldis Chapman deadline swap. Before the trade, Torres hit .275-9-47 in the Carolina League, then finished at .254-2-19 as part of the Florida State League. That made for a .270-11-66 line with 40 extra-base hits, 21 steals and a pretty good .354 OBP (58 walks to 110 strikeouts). Torres will start the 2017 season at Double-A, and is a long-shot to hit Yankee Stadium until maybe a year from now, but he is a real talent and will get a chance to earn the shortstop gig on a retooling team before long.
Willy Adames (SS, Rays): A 2014 pcik by the Tigers, then swapped to Tampa as part of the David Price deal, Adames put up .274-11-57 numbers with 89 runs scored and 13 steals. Just 21 last week, Adames also contributed 30 doubles and worked 74 walks to 121 strikeouts, good for a solid .372 OBP.
Jake Bauers (OF, Rays): Tampa set the tone for complete rebuilds via prudent drafting and prospect acquisition over a decade ago. The team is again undergoing reconstruction, not just with Adames, but also Bauers. Another 2014 trade acquisition, the Rays copped Bauers from San Diego as part of the Wil Myers deal. A month younger than Adames, Bauers notched a .274-14-78 line with ten swipes and 207 Total Bases. Similarly patient, Bauers garnered 79 walks to 89 strikeouts, good for a .370 OBP.
Barrett Astin (P, Reds): Cincy has done pretty well assembling a group of young arms, and Astin could indeed join the ranks. Playing at Pensacola last year, Astin logged a 9-3, 2.26 line over 103.3 innings, striking out 96 while walking just 25 (0.96 WHIP). Astin made 11 starts and 26 appearances in relief, earning one save (he has six in the Minors), so it looks like the pen might indeed be his future and that means a potentially faster path to the Show.
Dylan Cozens (OF, Phillies): A 22-year-old, signed in 2012, Cozens toiled in Redding last year and delivered some major offensive totals, hitting .276-40-125 with 38 doubles, meaning 56% of his hits went for extra bases. Cozens did strike out an awesome 186 times, but walked a decent 61 while also stealing 21 bags. He should get a shot at joining Aaron Altherr and Odubel Herrera in one of the more potentially exciting outfields in the Majors.
Rowdy Tellez (1B, Blue Jays): A Northern California product, Tellez produced a solid .297-23-81 mark with 29 doubles at New Hampshire last year. He is a big (6'4", 240 pounds) guy who is not a speedster, making him a potential perfect power source at the corner. Tellez also displayed a good eye, walking 63 times to 92 strikeouts, good for a solid .387 OBP. 35% of his minor league hits have gone for extra bases.
Matt Chapman (3B, Athletics): A 23-year-old drafted out of Cal-State Fullerton, Chapman is a guy who I have written about before. The third sacker posted .244-29-83 totals at Midland before finishing at Nashville (.197-7-13), good for an aggregate .237-37-96 with 27 doubles. Chapman too has to work on his zone judgement as he has whiffed 173 times to just 68 walks, but Oakland management is looking at Chapman as the future at third, not Ryon Healy.
Francis Martes (P, Astros): Finishing with a hurler on a team that desperately needs a dominant guy on the hill, Martes went 9-6, 3.30 at Corpus Christi last year, in a hitters league, wherein he struck out 131 over 125.3 innings. The right-handed Dominican is just 20, and was originally a Marlin who came to Houston via the 2014 Jarred Cosart swap. As a minor leaguer, Martes has 307 punchouts over 321.3 innings with a 1.20 WHIP.