These are the top prospects in MiLB playoffs

September 21st, 2021

While the end of the Minor League regular season (not counting Triple-A’s extension of the year with a 10-game “Final Stretch”) is a time to celebrate a full year of Minor League Baseball after the cancellation of the 2020 season, we’re not quite done yet.

The other full-season levels -- Double-, High- and Low-A -- do have playoffs to pay attention to. The playoff format has been truncated a bit, with each league (three for each level) sending the top two teams based on winning percentage playing a best-of-5 series to determine a league champion.

That means there are 18 teams involved in the playoffs this year, with a grand total of 14 Top 100 prospects trying to win a title while showing that winning and player development does indeed mesh together. And you can watch a lot of them live on MiLB.TV. Here they are, ranked in order of their placement on the Top 100 list.

1. Marco Luciano, SS (MLB No. 5/Giants’ No. 1)
High-A West: Eugene Emeralds (SF) vs. Spokane Indians (COL)

The 2021 Futures Gamer began the year in Low-A with San Jose and was promoted after a .930 OPS and 18 homers in 70 games. High-A has been a bit more challenging overall (.577 OPS), but the infielder has as much raw power as just about anyone in the game and could carry an offense in a short series if he finds his stroke again.

2. Grayson Rodriguez, RHP (MLB No. 8/Orioles’ No. 2)
Double-A Northeast: Bowie Baysox (BAL) vs. Akron RubberDucks (CLE)
The top pitching prospect in the game had his workload monitored closely as the season wore on, but look for him to go around five innings in a playoff start. That could bode well for the Baysox, since Rodriguez gave up just one earned run in 13 September innings (0.69 ERA) while allowing only five hits (.116 average against) and striking out 17. Across two levels this year, the right-hander had a 2.36 ERA, .159 BAA and 14.07 K/9 rate.

3. Jasson Dominguez, OF (MLB No. 17/Yankees’ No. 2)
Low-A South: Tampa Tarpons (NYY) vs. Bradenton Marauders (PIT)
More Martian? Yes, please! The 18-year-old phenom held his own as an 18-year old in full-season ball for the first time, posting a .744 OPS with five homers and seven steals in 49 games with Tampa. The switch-hitting center fielder has the chance to display at least above-average tools across the board with 30-30 potential.

4. Austin Martin, OF/SS (MLB No. 37/Twins’ No. 2)
Double-A Central: Wichita Wind Surge (MIN) vs. NW Arkansas Naturals (KC)
Martin, a 2021 Futures Gamer while with the Blue Jays, came to the Twins courtesy of the José Berríos trade. While he didn’t set the world on fire post-trade (.254/.399/.381), he did show off his excellent on-base skills and also hit in seven of his last eight games. He finished off the regular season with a two-double, three-walk performance on Sunday.

5. Quinn Priester, RHP (MLB No. 50/Pirates’ No. 2)
High-A East: Greensboro Grasshoppers (PIT) vs. Bowling Green Hot Rods (TB)
The Pirates’ top prospect in the playoffs (No. 1 overall pick Henry Davis might have been catching Priester in this series if not for an oblique injury), Priester was good, but not dominant for much of the first half of the season. He then turned it up a notch and, throwing out a clunker to end the regular season on Sept. 15, had a 2.21 ERA, .196 BAA and struck out more than a batter per inning over 10 starts from the beginning of July into September.

6. Zac Veen, OF (MLB No. 51/Rockies’ No. 1)
Low-A West: Fresno Grizzlies (COL) vs. San Jose Giants (SF)
It was a very strong first full season for the Rockies’ No. 1 pick in the 2020 Draft, as he finished with a .301/.399/.501 line to go along with 15 homers and 36 steals. He hit in eight of his 10 games in September, though he hasn’t homered since Aug. 24.

7. Nick Gonzales, 2B (MLB No. 63/Pirates’ No. 4)
High-A East: Greensboro Grasshoppers (PIT) vs. Bowling Green Hot Rods (TB)
Few prospects were as hot at the plate as Gonzales was late in the year. The Pirates’ top pick in the 2020 Draft hit .344/.433/.695 with 12 homers and 38 RBIs from Aug. 1 until the end of the regular season. That helped him finish with a .302/.385/.565 line and he stood second in the High-A East with a .950 OPS.

8. George Valera, OF (MLB No. 64/Indians’ No. 2)
Double-A Northeast: Akron RubberDucks (CLE) vs. Bowie Baysox (BAL)
Watching Valera take swings against Rodriguez will be a lot of fun in this series (and it would’ve been even more so if a healthy Tyler Freeman was in Akron’s lineup too). Just 20, Valera slugged his way from High-A (.977 OPS in 63 games) to Double-A in late August. After hitting .333 over his first 27 Akron at-bats, he did scuffle a bit (.237/.304/.390) in September, but he finished off by hitting in 11 of his final 12 games.

9. Shea Langeliers, C (MLB No. 70/Braves’ No. 2)
Double-A South: Mississippi Braves (ATL) vs. Montgomery Biscuits (TB)
While he went yard in two of his last three games, Langeliers’ bat slowed down a bit in September (.227/.327/.432). But he did belt 22 homers (third in the Double-A South) for the season, slugged .498 (second on the circuit) and provided the expected outstanding defense behind the plate, throwing out 41.7 percent of potential base stealers.

10. Xavier Edwards, 2B (MLB No. 71/Rays’ No. 3)
Double-A South: Montgomery Biscuits (TB) vs. Mississippi Braves (ATL)
All of the Rays’ affiliates are either in the playoffs or leading their leagues in winning percentage, another sign of how deep this system is. While injuries kept the 2021 Futures Gamer out of action around two months total, he still hit .302 with a .377 OBP in 291 at-bats, placing him second and third respectively in the Double-A South. He was red-hot in September too (.426/.456/.500).

11. Gunnar Henderson, SS/3B (MLB No. 75/Orioles’ No. 4)
Double-A Northeast: Bowie Baysox (BAL) vs. Akron RubberDucks (CLE)
Henderson doesn’t have much time in Double-A under his belt (five games total), but played his way across three levels in 2021 even though he didn't turn 20 until late June. There is some swing-and-miss there (143 K’s in 105 games), but he draws walks (.350 combined OBP this year) and displayed an exciting power-speed combination with 18 homers and 18 steals this year. On top of that, he showed the ability to play both positions on the left side of the infield.

12. Luis Matos, OF (MLB No. 78/Giants’ No. 3)
Low-A West: San Jose Giants (SF) vs. Fresno Grizzlies (COL)
This will be a great matchup of two young outfielders in the Low-A West -- Veen and Matos, the 19-year old who finished fifth in the league with his .313 average to go along with a .358 OBP and .494 SLG. Matos also had 15 homers and 18 steals and was hot as the regular season came to an end (.333/.449/.614 in September).

13. Jordan Balazovic, RHP (MLB No. 82/Twins’ No. 3)
Double-A Central: Wichita Wind Surge (MIN) vs. NW Arkansas Naturals (KC)
The Canadian right-hander just turned 23 last week and is coming off a year in which he finished third in the Double-A Central in ERA and K/9 while landing fourth in WHIP and average against. His last start of the year wasn’t great (3 2/3 IP, 4 ER), but the start before that was a gem (6 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K).

14. Liover Peguero, SS (MLB No. 87/Pirates’ No. 5)
High-A East: Greensboro Grasshoppers (PIT) vs. Bowling Green Hot Rods (TB)
Greensboro has the most Top 100 prospects on the roster with three, and it would’ve been four if the aforementioned Davis hadn’t been shelved with injury. Peguero, who teams with Gonzales for one of the better prospect double-play combinations in the Minors, played well down the stretch. He batted .285/.346/.453 from Aug. 1 on to finish the year with 14 homers and 28 steals as a 20-year old making his full-season debut in High-A.