Every offseason, there's a sense of anticipation to see what moves Major League teams will make, either to improve their 25-man rosters or to rebuild the farm system. There is never any question whether prospects will get moved; it's always a matter of how many, and how good they will
Every offseason, there's a sense of anticipation to see what moves Major League teams will make, either to improve their 25-man rosters or to rebuild the farm system. There is never any question whether prospects will get moved; it's always a matter of how many, and how good they will be.
Two years ago, the Chris Sale trade made huge prospect news because then-No. 1 prospect Yoan Moncada was part of a big package of Minor League prospects that also included Top 100 prospect Michael Kopech. That offseason also saw the White Sox get top prospects Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning from the Nationals.
The 2017 and '18 Hot Stove seasons have struggled to match that legendary winter. There were no Top 100 prospects dealt last offseason. There have been three this year, with a group of solid, if unspectacular, prospects finding new organizations as well.
Most of them have gone to the Mariners, whose rebuild has enabled them to add eight players to their Top 30 list. MLB Pipeline has tracked every prospect traded so far, but here's a ranked top 10, followed by a ranked list of the remaining prospects found on team Top 30 lists.
1. Justus Sheffield, LHP, Mariners No. 1 (No. 31 overall)
The key prospect in the James Paxton deal with the Yankees, Sheffield has been involved in two big trades, having gone from Cleveland to New York in the July 2016 Andrew Miller trade. The left-hander made his big league debut last season, and with three above-average-to-plus pitches, he has the chance to be a solid starter in the big leagues, though his command did regress a bit in 2018.
2. Jarred Kelenic, OF, Mariners No. 2 (No. 62 overall)
The Mariners really liked Kelenic heading into the 2018 Draft and even brought him to Seattle for a workout. So when they worked out the trade that sent Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz to the Mets, they made sure to get the outfielder, who had been taken No. 6 overall, seven spots ahead of the Mariners' pick. He earned a promotion in his first pro summer and could be the kind of pure high-school bat who moves fairly quickly.
3. Justin Dunn, RHP, Mariners No. 3 (No. 89 overall)
The second first-rounder the Mariners got from the Mets for Cano and Diaz, Dunn went 19th overall in 2016. After an uneven first full year in '17, the right-hander out of Boston College pitched well in 2018, earning a promotion to Double-A early and finishing second in the Mets' system in strikeouts and fifth in ERA. He has the stuff and, it seems, the stamina to impact a big league club in a rotation.
4. Erik Swanson, RHP, Mariners No. 11
Another part of the Paxton trade, Swanson is a big right-hander who dominated in Double-A and pitched his way to Triple-A in 2018, finishing fourth in the Yankees' system in ERA and strikeouts. He has the stuff -- a plus fastball and average slider and changeup -- that could lead to a job in the back end of a rotation soon.
5. Daniel Johnson, OF, Indians No. 12
The first non-Mariner on the list, Johnson came to the Indians from the Nationals via the Yan Gomes trade. He has the speed to play center and the arm to play right. His power-speed combination allowed him to post a 20-20 season in 2017. He stole 20-plus bags in '18, but missed time because of a hamate injury that hampered his power output.
6. Chih-Wei Hu, RHP, Indians No. 17
Hu's feel for pitching, to go along with his five-pitch repertoire, has interested multiple teams. He started with the Twins, signing out of Taiwan in 2012, then got traded to the Rays in '15. He's now a member of the Tribe after a deal for Minor Leaguer Gionti Turner. Hu has made it to the big leagues in two straight seasons as a reliever, though he's mostly started in the Minors.
7. Dom Thompson-Williams, OF, Mariners No. 16
Thompson-Williams is the third of three players from the Paxton deal on this list. The 2016 fifth-rounder had a breakout season in '18, going 20-20 in only 100 games, mostly in the pitching-friendly Florida State League. He has legit power from the left side, but will have to refine his approach to hit enough to become an everyday outfielder.
8. Trent Thornton, RHP, Blue Jays No. 22
The North Carolina product was a fifth-round pick of the Astros in 2015, and made it to the upper levels of their system by '17, where he initially stalled. He fared better in Triple-A in 2018 and missed a lot of bats pitching in relief in the Arizona Fall League before being dealt to the Blue Jays in return for Aledmys Diaz. He has the stuff and deception to be a backend starter, but might be best suited for relief work.
9. Andy Young, 2B, D-backs No. 22
Young has already exceeded expectations as a 37th-round pick who signed as a senior for $3,000 in 2016, by reaching Double-A in '18. The fact that he hit 21 homers, fourth in the Cardinals' system in 2018, raised his profile, as did his .936 OPS in the AFL, so the D-backs were sure to acquire him as part of the package they received for Paul Goldschmidt.
10. Ricardo Sanchez, LHP, Mariners No. 23
It seems like Sanchez has been on the prospect radar for an eternity, but in truth, he'll be only 22 years old for the 2019 season. The southpaw was designated for assignment by the Braves after a year that saw him reach Double-A, so the Mariners nabbed him in return for cash. He may have been passed by other pitching prospects in Atlanta's deep system, but still has the potential to develop into a big league starter.
11. Jake Fraley, OF, Mariners No. 27
Injuries have hampered him, but the outfielder who came from the Rays as part of the Mike Zunino deal has some serious speed.
12. Drew Jackson, 2B/SS, Orioles No. 24
A Rule 5 Draft pick taken by the Phillies from the Dodgers and then dealt to the O's, Jackson has always been able to run and throw well, and he had a breakout season offensively in 2018.
13. Tanner Rainey, RHP, Nationals No. 22
Traded by the Reds to the Nats for Tanner Roark, Rainey's fastball-slider combination is plenty good enough to pitch in the back of a bullpen, with command his main impediment.
14. Jordan Romano, RHP, Rangers No. 23
The White Sox selected Romano from the Rays as a Rule 5 Draft pick, then sent him to the Rangers, who might want to put him back in a bullpen where his fastball-slider combo will play up.
15. Gerson Bautista, RHP, Mariners No. 28
Have strong arm, will travel: Bautista went from the Red Sox to the Mets at the 2017 Trade Deadline and is now a Mariner thanks to the Cano/Diaz trade, bringing his triple-digit-touching fastball with him.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.