Checking back on my preseason predictions, this has to be my best year ever. In the March 31 Pipeline Inbox, I correctly called five of the six division winners: Red Sox, Indians, Rangers, Nationals and Cubs. I tabbed the sixth (Dodgers) as a Wild Card, and also had the Blue
Checking back on my preseason predictions, this has to be my best year ever. In the March 31 Pipeline Inbox, I correctly called five of the six division winners: Red Sox, Indians, Rangers, Nationals and Cubs. I tabbed the sixth (Dodgers) as a Wild Card, and also had the Blue Jays and Giants making the playoffs. My only postseason misses -- assuming San Francisco holds on -- were picking the Pirates and Royals to grab Wild Card berths.
My World Series choice was Cubs over Rangers, and I'll let that ride.
MLBPipeline.com's Yankees Top 30 Prospects list is top-heavy with position players, as outfielder Clint Frazier, middle infielders Gleyber Torres and Jorge Mateo, and outfielders Aaron Judge and Blake Rutherford claim the top five spots (as well as overall Top 100 status). While the pitching prospects aren't as impressive, New York does have several interesting arms.
Left-hander Justus Sheffield (acquired along with Frazier in the Andrew Miller trade with the Indians) and right-handers Domingo Acevedo and James Kaprielian could surface in the front half of the Yankees' rotation one day. Righty Chance Adams, who led the Minors in opponent average (.169) and ranked second in WHIP (0.90) in his first full pro season since signing as a fifth-rounder in 2015, could do the same.
Righty Dillon Tate, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2015 Draft, showed similar upside before his stock took a hit and he came to New York in the Carlos Beltrán deal with the Rangers. Lefties Ian Clarkin, Jordan Montgomery and Drew Finley stand out with their advanced pitchability. There also are pitchers who posted dominant numbers at the upper levels of the system (righties Chad Green and Jonathan Holder, lefty Dietrich Enns) and some intriguing youngsters (righties Freicer Perez and Nolan Martinez) just getting started.
Mickey Moniak and Taylor Trammell were two of the best high school outfielders available in the 2016 Draft. Moniak went No. 1 overall to the Phillies, signed for $6.1 million and hit .284/.340/.409 with 10 steals in 46 games in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. Trammell got mid-first-round money ($3.2 million) from the Reds after going 35th overall, then batted .303/.374/.421 with 24 steals in 61 games in the Rookie-advanced Pioneer League.
While they're both athletic center fielders, there are clear differences between them. Moniak is an advanced hitter, while Trammell has more adjustments to make after dividing his time between two sports, earning Georgia Class A football Offensive Player of the Year accolades after rushing for 2,479 yards and 36 touchdowns last fall. Moniak also is more polished in center field, though both project as quality defenders there.
Trammell has more raw power than Moniak, though he has further to go to tap into what he has. With well-above-average speed, Trammell is the faster of the two. With average arm strength, Moniak has a slight advantage in that department.
Moniak has a considerable ceiling with plus hitting skills, speed and center-field ability, not to mention an exceptionally high floor for a prep product. With more power potential and speed, Trammell offers more upside if he can make the most of his tools.
The White Sox selected catcher Zack Collins (first round/10th overall) and right-handers Zack Burdi (first round/26th overall) and Alec Hansen (second round) with their first three choices in the 2016 Draft. While all three are college products and Chicago tends to promote its top prospects aggressively, Burdi is the only member of that group that I expect to see at Guaranteed Rate Field next year.
A closer-in-waiting, Burdi already has reached Triple-A, and he has two big league pitches in his 95-101 mph fastball and his hard slider. Once he finds the strike zone with a bit more regularity, he'll be ready to help the White Sox.
Collins spent most of his first pro season in high Class A, but he needs some time to work on making more consistent contact and cleaning up his defense behind the plate. While Hansen had a spectacular pro debut (1.32 ERA, 81 strikeouts in 54 2/3 innings and a .133 opponent average) after a rough junior season at Oklahoma, he barely has pitched above Rookie ball and still needs to prove he can keep his delivery together and throw strikes on a consistent basis. Chicago isn't likely to contend for the playoffs in 2017, so there's no reason to rush Collins or Hansen.
Can I get your thoughts on the Athletics' pitching prospects at Short-Season Vermont: left-hander A.J. Puk and right-handers Logan Shore, Dakota Chalmers and Brandon Bailey?
-- Jeb C., Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
The A's had a lot of future rotation fodder on that Vermont club. Puk went sixth in this year's Draft after drawing consideration as the No. 1 overall pick, Shore (second round, 2016) and Chalmers (third round, 2015) also signed for seven-figure bonuses, and Bailey (sixth round, 2016) is an interesting sleeper.
Puk has a mid-90s fastball and a wipeout slider when at his best, but he also can be maddeningly inconsistent. He could develop into a front-line starter or perhaps wind up as a closer. Shore has less stuff but a nifty changeup and a lot more polish, so it's possible he could beat his former Florida teammate to Oakland.
As the only high schooler in this group, Chalmers is more of a work in progress. While he can hit 98 mph with his fastball and flash solid breaking stuff, he's still figuring out control and command. A 5-foot-10 righty with a fringy fastball, Bailey has less ceiling than the others, but he has a nice changeup and pounds the bottom of the strike zone.
Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter.