Without a doubt, low Class A Greenville had the most talented Minor League club at the end of 2015. Scouts who saw the Red Sox's South Atlantic League affiliate in the second half laughed about how loaded the Drive's roster was.After signing for $31.5 million (and costing Boston a matching
Without a doubt, low Class A Greenville had the most talented Minor League club at the end of 2015. Scouts who saw the Red Sox's South Atlantic League affiliate in the second half laughed about how loaded the Drive's roster was.
After signing for $31.5 million (and costing Boston a matching penalty for exceeding its international bonus pool) in March, second baseman Yoan Moncada lived up to his "Robinson Cano with more speed" comparisons and hit .310/.415/.500 with 45 steals in his final 56 games. Third baseman Rafael Devers ranked second in the SAL in doubles (38) and total bases (208) as an 18-year-old. Shortstop Javier Guerra flashed Gold Glove potential and slammed 15 homers.
While third baseman Michael Chavis and right-hander Michael Kopech had their ups and downs -- Chavis had swing-and-miss issues, Kopech got suspended for 50 games after testing positive for a banned stimulant -- they both showed the upside that made them first-round picks in 2014. Outfielder Andrew Benintendi, the No. 7 overall choice in 2015, arrived in Greenville in August and batted .351/.430/.581 in 19 games. Precocious righty Anderson Espinoza, who draws Pedro Martinez parallels, made a cameo in the final series at age 17.
Even with the Red Sox breaking up the gang to start the 2016 season, they've still assembled the most impressive Minor League roster again, this time at high Class A Salem. No club has three players ranked higher on MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 Prospects than Moncada (No. 6), Devers (No. 16) and Benintendi (No. 24).
Guerra (No. 57) went to the Padres in the Craig Kimbrel trade in November, but Espinoza (No. 38), Kopech (currently sidelined after breaking his pitching hand in an altercation with a teammate during Spring Training) and Chavis could move up to the Carolina League later in the year. Salem also features several interesting sleepers in right-hander Travis Lakins, middle infielder Mauricio Dubon and first baseman Nick Longhi.
After Salem, these are the best prospect rosters in the Minors:
2. Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks (Astros)
Shortstop Alex Bregman (No. 21 on the Top 100), the second overall pick in the 2015 Draft, makes the jump to Double-A for his first full pro season. He's joined by the Astros' three best pitching prospects in right-handers Francis Martes (No. 40), David Paulino and Joe Musgrove, and two of their better sluggers in outfielder Derek Fisher and third baseman J.D. Davis. They don't have the same type of ceilings, but righty Brendan McCurry and lefty Michael Freeman could contribute in Houston's bullpen later this year.
3. Double-A Hartford Yard Goats (Rockies)
The deepest farm system in baseball fuels what may be the deepest roster on this list. The Yard Goats' best prospects are hitters -- outfielders David Dahl (No. 45), Raimel Tapia and third baseman Ryan McMahon (No. 47) -- but they also have a formidable group of starting pitchers. Left-hander Kyle Freeland was the eighth overall pick in 2014, righty Antonio Senzatela was the high Class A California League Pitcher of the Year in 2015 and righty German Marquez throws strikes with three promising pitches.
4. Triple-A Indianapolis Indians (Pirates)
The first of four International League clubs on this list, Indianapolis has a pair of future front-line starters in right-handers Tyler Glasnow (No. 9) and Jameson Taillon (No. 53) and one of the game's best first-base prospects in Josh Bell (No. 48). Second baseman Alen Hanson and righty Nick Kingham have made our Top 100 list in the past, though Kingham is currently on the disabled list as he continues his rehabilitation following Tommy John surgery.
5. Triple-A Round Rock Express (Rangers)
The dynamic duo of third baseman Joey Gallo (No. 7), who has as much raw power as anyone in baseball, and right fielder Nomar Mazara (No. 16) is enough to put the Express on this list by themselves. Another reason to go see Round Rock is shortstop Jurickson Profar, who no longer qualifies as a prospect but ranked No. 1 on the Top 100 three years ago before a shoulder injury sidetracked his career.
6. Triple-A Louisville Bats (Reds)
The Bats opened the season with outfielder Jesse Winker (No. 33), left-hander Cody Reed (No. 65) and second baseman Jose Peraza (No. 71). When the Reds sent down righty Robert Stephenson (No. 34) after he won his big league debut in a spot start on Thursday, Louisville became the only Minor League club with four Top 100 Prospects.
7. Triple-A Rochester Red Wings (Twins)
Right-hander Jose Berrios (No. 18) has little left to prove in the Minors after starting the past two SiriusXM All-Star Futures Games and leading the Minors with 175 strikeouts last year. Outfielder Max Kepler (No. 43) also had a spectacular 2015 season, winning Southern League MVP honors after topping the Double-A circuit in on-base percentage (.416) and slugging percentage (.531). Jorge Polanco (No. 96) has more offensive ability than most shortstops, outfielder Adam Brett Walker has led his leagues in homers and strikeouts in each of his four pro seasons and righty Alex Meyer is a former first-round pick with closer stuff.
8. Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Phillies)
All three of the IronPigs' Top 100 Prospects were acquired via trade last year by the rebuilding Phillies. Right-hander Jake Thompson (No. 54) and outfielder Nick Williams (No. 64) came from the Rangers in July's Cole Hamels deal, while righty Mark Appel (No. 69) -- the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 Draft -- was part of the package the Astros gave up for Ken Giles in December. Catcher Andrew Knapp was one of the Minors' hottest hitters after the All-Star break last year, batting .370/.437/.698 with 11 homers in 42 Double-A games.
9. Double-A Reading Fightin Phils (Phillies)
Philadelphia leads all organizations with seven Top 100 Prospects, so it's not surprising that the Phils are the only one with multiple affiliates on this list. J.P. Crawford (No. 4) is an elite shortstop prospect, catcher Jorge Alfaro (No. 95) is another piece from the Hamels trade and outfielder Roman Quinn (No. 98) is one of the fastest players in the Minors. Potential mid-rotation right-hander Ricardo Pinto has two plus pitches in his fastball and changeup.
10. Triple-A Oklahoma City Dodgers (Dodgers)
Oklahoma City's greatest strength is starting pitching, as Julio Urias (No. 3) is the game's best lefty prospect, righty Jose De Leon (No. 23, currently on the disabled list with a minor ankle injury) led the Minors in strikeout rate (12.8 per nine innings) last year and righty Jharel Cotton recorded a 2.45 ERA and 10.7 whiffs per nine innings in 2015. Micah Johnson led the Minors with 84 steals in 2013 and ranks among baseball's top second-base prospects.
Honorable mention: Low Class A Rome Braves (Braves)
If Atlanta wasn't being careful with 2015 first-rounder Kolby Allard (No. 88) and keeping him in extended spring camp for a month after he missed most of last year with back issues, Rome would have cracked our top 10. Without Allard, the R-Braves will have to settle for being the most talented team in low Class A and the best without a single Top 100 representative. They have three former first-round picks in their rotation with righties Touki Toussaint and Mike Soroka and lefty Max Fried, and a supplemental first-rounder in third baseman Austin Riley to power their offense.
Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.