Prospects of the Year for every org.

October 4th, 2021

MLB Pipeline has selected position and pitching prospects of the year for each of the 30 organizations below, based on their performance this season in the Minor Leagues. Players must have spent at least half of the year in the Minors and appeared on their team's Top 30 Prospects list to qualify.

We didn't hand out these awards in 2020 because COVID-19 wiped out the Minor League season, but one of this year's winners earned acclaim in 2019 as well: Orioles right-hander Grayson Rodriguez. He's one of 26 Top 100 Prospects among our 60 honorees.

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

Blue Jays

Orelvis Martinez, SS/3B (No. 2, MLB No. 44): The 19-year-old infielder led the organization by a healthy margin with 28 homers -- the most by any Minor League teenager, in fact -- and finished with a .261/.345/.549 line over 98 games between Low-A and High-A in his first taste of full-season ball.

Zach Logue, LHP: The 2017 ninth-rounder played his way into Top 30 consideration with a 3.75 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 136 strikeouts (most among Toronto farmhands) over 120 innings at Double-A and Triple-A. He was even better for Buffalo, where he sported a 3.42 ERA in 17 appearances (16 starts).

Orioles

Adley Rutschman, C (No. 1/MLB No. 1): The No. 1 pick in the 2019 Draft and the top prospect in baseball reached Triple-A in his first full year (and hit better there), putting up a combined .285/.397/.502 line with 23 homers and nearly as many walks (79) as strikeouts (90).

Grayson Rodriguez, RHP (No. 2/MLB No. 8): Our Pitching Prospect of the Year, GrayRod was dominant across High-A and Double-A, leading all pitchers with 100 or more innings in K/9 (14.07), strikeout rate (40.5 pct) and batting average against (.159).

Rays

Josh Lowe, OF (No. 4, MLB No. 73): Lowe was the only member of the 20-20 club to reach both marks entirely in Triple-A (21 homers, 26 steals), and as of Thursday, he owned a .291/.382/.536 line in his 108 games with Durham.

Taj Bradley, RHP (No. 6): In a breakout season, the 20-year-old right-hander led full-season qualifiers with a 1.83 ERA across 103 1/3 innings at High-A and Low-A. He chipped in 123 strikeouts in that span and finished with a 0.93 WHIP, second-best in the organization.

Red Sox

Nick Yorke, 2B (No. 4/MLB No. 97): In his pro debut, the surprise 2020 first-round pick out of a California high school slashed .325/.412/.516 -- including .361/.450/.598 after a slow first month -- with 14 homers and 13 steals in 97 games between Low-A and High-A at age 19. He topped the Low-A East in batting (.323) and OPS (.913).

Brandon Walter, LHP (No. 15): A 26th-round pick out of Delaware as a redshirt junior in 2019, he broke out this year by going 5-4 with a 2.92 ERA, .199 opponents' batting average and a 132/20 K/BB ratio in 25 games (14 starts) between Low-A and High-A.

Yankees

Anthony Volpe, SS (No. 1/MLB No. 15): After a so-so pro debut during which he was weakened by a bout with mono, the 2019 first-rounder from a New Jersey high school returned this summer with a spectacular .294/.423/.604 season with 27 homers and 33 steals in 109 games between Low-A and High-A. MLB Pipeline's Hitting Prospect of the Year, he led the Minors in runs (113) and OPS (1.027) while ranking second in extra-base hits (68).

Ken Waldichuk, LHP (No. 9): He has added velocity since signing as a fifth-round pick out of Saint Mary's College of California in 2019, giving him an at-times unhittable fastball that he rode to a 6-3 record with a 3.03 ERA, 163 strikeouts (fourth in the Minors), 13.3 whiffs per nine innings (sixth) and a .192 opponents' batting average in 110 innings between High-A and Double-A.

AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL

Indians

George Valera, OF (No. 2/MLB No. 63): Signed out of the Dominican Republic for $1.3 million in 2017, he finally got a chance to make his full-season debut and responded by slashing .260/.405/.505 with 19 homers and 11 steals in 86 games between High-A and Double-A at age 20.

Logan Allen, LHP (No. 10): He went from a two-way star at Florida International to the second round of the 2020 Draft to making MLB Pipeline's Prospect Team of the Year in his pro debut. He finished fourth in the Minors in ERA (2.10) and eighth in WHIP (0.93), fashioning a perfect 9-0 record with a 143/26 K/BB ratio in 111 1/3 innings between High-A and Double-A.

Twins

Jose Miranda, INF (No. 8): Miranda led all Minor Leaguers in total bases, by a wide margin, and paced the Twins org in a host of offensive categories in one of the biggest breakout seasons in the Minors, finishing with a .973 OPS and .344/.401/.572 line across Double-A and Triple-A to go along with 30 homers and 94 RBIs.

Louie Varland, RHP (No. 29): It’s really a question of what the 2019 15th-round pick didn’t lead the organization in while splitting the year between two levels of A ball, topping Twins pitching prospects in ERA (2.09), strikeouts (142), strikeout percentage (33.7) and WHIP (1.09) to go along with a stingy .212 BAA.

Royals

Bobby Witt Jr., SS (No. 1, MLB No. 3): A long list of candidates here, including Prospect Team of the Year honorees MJ Melendez and Nick Pratto. But Witt wins out for his all-encompassing offensive ability. Entering Thursday, he is on the cusp of being the Minors’ only 30-30 player -- with 33 homers and 29 steals -- at Double-A and Triple-A, and his .293/.363/.584 line backs up that assessment as well.

Will Klein, RHP (No. 27): Kansas City used its 2020 fifth-rounder as a multi-inning reliever to great effect at High-A. Klein struck out 40.9 percent of the batters he faced (121 in 70 1/3 innings) and finished with a solid 3.20 ERA, 2.99 FIP and 1.24 WHIP across 36 appearances.

Tigers

Spencer Torkelson, 1B/3B (No. 1, MLB No. 4): Detroit couldn’t have asked much more of the 2020 first overall pick. Torkelson finished second among Tigers Minor Leaguers with 29 homers, and his .381 OBP, .555 slugging percentage and .936 OPS across High-A, Double-A and Triple-A placed in the top six each.

Beau Brieske, RHP (No. 27): Tigers officials admitted that the 2019 27th-rounder forced them to pay attention with a strong first full season. His 3.12 ERA, 3.16 FIP and 1.01 WHIP were all best among qualified pitchers in the system, while his 116 strikeouts in 106 2/3 innings at High-A and Double-A placed second.

White Sox

Romy Gonzalez, SS (No. 20): A previously unheralded 18th-rounder from Miami in 2018, he made his big league debut in September after slashing .282/.362/.524 with 23 homers and 24 steals in 91 games between Double-A and Triple-A. He led the Double-A South with an .856 OPS.

Kade McClure, RHP (No. 19): Several White Sox pitching prospects had rough years, but the 2017 sixth-rounder out of Louisville finished second in the system in ERA (4.57) and strikeouts (111 in 102 1/3 innings) while splitting time between Double-A and Triple-A.

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST

A's

Tyler Soderstrom, C (No. 1/MLB No. 42): Injuries were the only thing that remotely slowed the 2020 first-rounder down as he posted a .306/.390/.568 line in 254 Low-A plate appearances, with nearly half of his 68 hits (33, to be precise) going for extra bases.

Colin Peluse, RHP (No. 19): Capping off a solid first full season with a strong three-start debut in Double-A, the 2019 draftee topped 100 IP while topping all A’s farmhands who reached that plateau in K/9 (9.71), K/BB (4.11) and WHIP (1.16).

Angels

Jeremiah Jackson, SS (No. 5): While a quad strain kept him off the field for a considerable time, the infielder put up some gaudy numbers, with a .548 SLG and .906 OPS, 10 homers, 13 steals and 50 RBIs in just 218 plate appearances.

Reid Detmers, LHP (No. 1/MLB No. 23): The top left-handed pitching prospect in the game pitched his way to the big leagues in his first year of pro ball by striking out 15.68 per nine over 62 IP in Double-A, translating to a whopping 42 percent strikeout rate while only walking 7.4 percent and holding hitters to a .220 batting average.

Astros

Jake Meyers, OF: The 13th-rounder out of Nebraska suddenly discovered his power stroke and slashed .343/.408/.598 with 16 homers and 10 steals in 68 Triple-A games before claiming a regular role with the Astros in the final two months.

Hunter Brown, RHP (No. 3): The fast-rising 2019 fifth-rounder from Wayne State (Mich.) divided his first full pro season between Double-A and Triple-A, going 6-5 with a 4.16 ERA and 127 strikeouts in 97 1/3 innings.

Mariners

Julio Rodríguez, OF (No. 1/MLB No. 2): If it weren’t for the 20-year old’s time away for Olympic qualifying, the Olympics and the Futures Game, Rodríguez  would have surely built on his gaudy .347/.441/.543 line that included 13 homers and 21 steals.

Matt Brash, RHP (No. 10): He began the year in High-A and is finishing in the big leagues after posting a 2.31 ERA, .178 BAA and 13.1 K/9 over 97 1/3 IP and was even more dominant up in Double-A (2.13 ERA, .162 BAA).

Rangers

Dustin Harris, 1B/3B (No. 17): Acquired from the Athletics in September 2020 as part of a trade for Mike Minor, Harris was a revelation in his first year with the Rangers, slashing .327/.401/.542 with 20 homers and 25 steals between Low-A and High-A.

Cole Winn, RHP (No. 3/MLB No. 60): The California prep product selected 15th overall in the 2018 Draft maintained his status as the system's top pitching prospect, going 4-3 with a 2.41 ERA and 107 strikeouts in 87 innings between Double-A and Triple-A at age 21. His .146 opponent average would have led the Minors if he hadn't fallen nine innings shy of qualifying.

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

Braves

Shea Langeliers, C (No. 2/MLB No. 69): Just moved up to Triple-A to end the season, Langeliers hit 22 homers, among the best power outputs of any Minor League catcher this year, while also throwing out 42 percent of potential basestealers.

Bryce Elder, RHP (No. 11): Spencer Strider gets a tip of the cap for pitching across all four levels of full-season ball this year, but it was Elder who won the organizational pitching triple crown with 11 wins, a 2.75 ERA and 155 strikeouts while holding hitters to a .193 batting average across three levels.

Marlins

Peyton Burdick, OF (No. 14): A 2019 third-rounder from Wright State followed up a huge pro debut by pacing the Double-A South in runs (71), homers (23) and walks (76). He batted a combined .226/.369/.461 with 23 homers and nine steals in 112 games between that level and Triple-A.

Max Meyer, RHP (No. 3/MLB No. 30): The third overall pick in 2020 jumped straight to Double-A for his pro debut and finished eighth in the Minor League ERA race at 2.38, going a combined 6-3 with 123 strikeouts in 106 innings between that level and Triple-A.

Mets

Francisco Álvarez, C (No. 1, MLB No. 10): The game’s No. 2 catching prospect got off to a roaring start with a .417/.567/.646 line in 15 games at Low-A and didn’t do a whole lot of slowing down at High-A either. His 24 homers were tied for the most among Mets Minor Leaguers and his .941 OPS and 148 wRC+ all placed in the top three.

J.T. Ginn, RHP (No. 5): After undergoing Tommy John surgery in his Draft year (2020), the 22-year-old right-hander was eased into the Minors to great effect, finishing with a 3.03 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in 92 innings between Low-A and High-A -- both best among Mets Minor Leaguers with at least 90 frames.

Nationals

Yasel Antuna, SS (No. 8): As much as anything else, this highlights how rough a year it was for Washington hitting prospects who spent the entire season in the organization (and underlines how big the additions were at the Trade Deadline). Antuna overcame a difficult first half to hit .272/.349/.436 with 28 extra-base hits in 65 games at High-A from July 1 through the end of the season.

Cade Cavalli, RHP (No. 1, MLB No. 39): Washington’s top prospect leads the Minors with 175 strikeouts in 123 1/3 innings, spread out across the Minors’ top three levels. His 3.36 ERA is the best among Nats’ full-season qualifiers, regardless of prospect rank or status.

Phillies

Bryson Stott, SS (No. 2/MLB No. 97): He started in High-A and finished in Triple-A, posting a combined .299/.290/.486 line with double-digits in homers (16) and steals (10), hitting better as he moved up the ladder and leading the organization in average, SLG and OPS.

Cristian Hernandez, RHP (No. 15): This was Hernandez’s United States debut and he responded by being among the best in the system in ERA (3.57), K/9 rate (11.2), strikeout percentage (29.5) and BAA (.225).

NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL

Brewers

Joey Wiemer, OF (No. 23): An MLB Pipeline Prospect Team of the Year selection, the 2020 fourth-rounder rocketed off to a stellar start in his first full season, collecting 27 homers and 30 stolen bases over 109 games at Low-A and High-A. He posted a .295/.403/.556 line at those stops and was even better at the higher level, where he slugged .719 over 34 contests.

Ethan Small, LHP (No. 5): A finger injury only slightly slowed down a special season from the 24-year-old southpaw. He posted a 1.87 ERA across three levels (mostly Double-A and Triple-A) and struck out 88 in 72 1/3 frames. His 1.80 ERA in eight Triple-A starts strengthened his case to see Milwaukee in 2022.

Cardinals

Juan Yepez, 1B/OF (No. 27): The 23-year-old slugger saw a power jump in 2021, leading to a career high 27 homers, .592 slugging percentage and .973 OPS in 109 games between Double-A and Triple-A. His .596 slugging percentage at Memphis specifically was tops among Triple-A East qualifiers.

Matthew Liberatore, LHP (No. 2, MLB No. 47): The Cardinals got aggressive by sending the 21-year-old southpaw to Memphis, and he responded by holding his own for 121 1/3 innings, third most of any Triple-A pitcher. His 4.15 ERA and 119 strikeouts in that span were solid for anyone at the Minors’ top level but especially someone of his age.

Cubs

Brennen Davis, OF (No. 1/MLB No. 14): After missing much of the season's first month after getting beaned in Spring Training, he climbed from High-A to Triple-A at age 21 while slashing a combined .268/.379/.510 with 19 homers in 96 games. The 2018 second-rounder out of an Arizona high school also won MVP honors at the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game.

D.J. Herz, LHP (No. 13): In his full-season debut, the 2019 eight-rounder from a North Carolina high school went 4-4 with a 3.31 ERA, .157 opponents' batting average and 131 strikeouts in 81 2/3 innings between Low-A and High-A. If he had a few more innings to qualify, he would have led the Minors in strikeout rate (14.4 per nine innings) and ranked second in opponent average.

Pirates

Nick Gonzales, 2B (No. 4/MLB No. 62): Gonzales missed more than a month of his first full season and then was one of the hottest hitters in the Minors after he came back, allowing him to finish with a .950 OPS as a middle infielder, with a .302/.385/.565 line over 80 games with High-A Greensboro.

Quinn Priester, RHP (No. 2/MLB No. 49): The Pirates’ top pitching prospect lived up to that title, especially late in the year as he started missing bats more consistently, allowing him to strike out more than a batter per inning and finish with a 3.04 ERA and .224 BAA for High-A Greensboro.

Reds

Jose Barrero, SS: Now graduated off of prospect lists, Barrero answered questions that came up about his bat when he was in the big leagues last year by putting up a .303/.380/.539 line with 19 homers and 16 steals in 85 games across Double- and Triple-A while continuing to play outstanding defense.

Graham Ashcraft, RHP (No. 6): The 2019 sixth-rounder pitched his way from High-A to Double-A, finishing with a 3.00 ERA, .212 BAA and 10.46 K/9 rate across 111 innings of work.

NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST

D-backs

Alek Thomas, OF (No. 3, MLB No. 40): An already solid prospect, Thomas boosted his stock by showing more power than ever with a .313/.394/.559 line and career-high 18 homers in 106 games between Double-A and Triple-A. His 12 triples were second most in the Minors, and his 59 extra-base hits tied for 10th.

Ryne Nelson, RHP (No. 5): The 2019 second-rounder struck out 163 over 116 1/3 innings between High-A and Double-A, leading to a 34.7 percent K rate that ranked seventh among full-season qualifiers. He complemented those numbers with a 3.17 ERA and 1.09 WHIP on the strength of his upper-90s fastball and above-average curve.

Dodgers

Andy Pages, OF (No. 5/ No. 100): After tearing up the Rookie-level Pioneer League in 2019, the 2017 Cuban signee jumped to full-season ball and slashed .265/.394/.539 in 120 games in the High-A Central, leading the league in runs (96), RBIs (88), homers (31), extra-base hits (57), total bases (236), walks (77), slugging and OPS (.933).

Gavin Stone, RHP (No. 28): The Dodgers had several worthy pitching candidates, with their 2020 fifth-rounder from Central Arkansas prevailing after topping the system with 138 strikeouts and going 2-2 with a 3.76 ERA between Low-A and High-A.

Giants

Jairo Pomares, OF (No. 9): A Cuban signed for $975,000 in 2018, he missed the first six weeks with back issues before coming back to slash .334/.378/.629 with 20 homers in 77 games between Low-A and High-A. He placed third in the Minors in slugging, fifth in OPS (1.007) and sixth in hitting.

Ryan Murphy, RHP (No. 21): The Giants had several dominant pitchers, none more than Murphy, a 2020 fifth-rounder from Le Moyne (N.Y.) who ranked second in the Minors in strikeout percentage (39.3), third in whiffs (164 in 107 1/3 innings) and 10th in ERA (2.52) and opponents' batting average (.189) while working in Low-A and High-A. He ended his pro debut by winning the High-A West playoff clincher with seven strikeouts over five scoreless innings.

Padres

Robert Hassell III, OF (No. 3, MLB No. 43): In a system known for its high-ceiling talents entering 2021, Hassell posted a .302/.393/.470 line with 11 homers and 34 stolen bases in 110 games between Low-A and High-A. His 139 wRC+ ranked second-best at Low-A West prior to his promotion.

Ethan Elliott, LHP (No. 12): The 2019 10th-rounder rode a promising changeup and above-average control to a breakout season. Among Padres Minor Leaguers with at least 70 innings pitched in 2021, he led the way with a 3.06 ERA and 1.10 WHIP between High-A and Double-A.

Rockies

Zac Veen, OF (No. 1/MLB No. 50): Veen showed why he was a top 10 pick in 2020 by finishing with a .301/.399/.501 line that put him third in the Low-A West in OBP, fourth in OPS (.900) and fifth in SLG while hitting 15 homers and swiping 36 bags.

Ryan Feltner, RHP (No. 22): Feltner touched three levels of the Minors and led the system with 127 strikeouts in 112 2/3 IP while making his big league debut in September, topping the org in BAA (.231) and K/9 (10.14) among pitchers with 80 IP or more.