This list was compiled by weighing pure performance along with positive changes to a player’s profile. This isn’t a top prospect list, but age relative to level was considered when judging performance.
1. Grayson Rodriguez – RHP/19/A
16.2 IP, 0.54 ERA, 2.13 FIP, 15.12 K/9, 3.24 BB/9, 37.0% GB
Profile Changes: Rodriguez was a fastball, slider, curveball guy when he was drafted. His slider was his out pitch. He flashed a plus curveball in instructs, but had never really shown much of a changeup. That changed, he learned a changeup grip from Josh Tomlin in the offseason and debuted the pitch to great effect in his first start. It features a 10+ mph velocity separation from the fastball and late tumble. The fastball has touched 96mph, sitting 91-94 and I think there is more coming. He has also shown much more advanced pitchability than you’d expect from a teenager.
2. Ofelky Peralta – RHP/22/A
20.1 IP, 0.89 ERA, 1.46 FIP, 13.72 K/9, 2.21 BB/9, 51.3% GB
Profile Changes: Peralta drastically changed his delivery going into the 2018 season, going from a long arm circle and a low ¾ slinging release to shorter circle and higher arm slot which improved the plane on the fastball and his extension to the plate. It looked good in spring training but he had trouble repeating the new mechanics. This spring he looks more physically mature and is consistently repeating a delivery very similar to the 2018 mechanics (slightly lowered arm slot). His control has improved dramatically and for the first time in his pro career looks like he could have the command to start. He’s worn down in seasons past, so he needs to show he can maintain his mechanics over the course of a season. If he does, the fastball plays above it’s mid-90s velocity, the sharp low 80s curveball flashes, and the changeup is usable.
3. Michael Baumann – RHP/23/A+
18.2 IP, 3.86 ERA, 0.81 FIP, 16.39 K/9, 2.41 BB/9, 51.4% GB
Profile Changes: Baumann lived in the low 90s last season with poor fastball command. Early this year he’s sat 94-96 with the fastball and is doing a better job of staying behind the ball and not unintentionally cutting the pitch. That’s allowed the command to tick up and for the pitch to miss more bats. His out pitch is still the slider, which is playing up thanks to him being ahead in the count more often. He’s flashed an improved curveball with depth and sharp late break. It’s a notable improvement from the loopy version of the pitch he showed last year. That should help him against LHB since his changeup is more of a show me pitch than an out generator.
4. Robert Neustrom – LF/22/A
84 PA, 3 HR, 5 SB, .329/.429/.529, 177 wRC+, 14.3% BB, 14.3% K, .200 ISO
Profile Changes: Neustrom’s pre-swing load was overly circuitous coming out of college. He dropped his hands and pointed the barrel straight up before pulling his hands back to load his swing. This led to inconsistencies and trouble timing premium velocity. He’s cut down on the pre-swing hand movement significantly (although the load is still a bit late for my preference). This will give him a better chance to hit enough to take advantage of his plus lefthanded raw power.
5. Rylan Bannon – 2B/23/AA
101 PA, 3 HR, 2 SB, .273/.360/.466, 147 wRC+, 10.9% BB, 23.8% K, .193 ISO
Profile Changes: Bannon is a small guy with a big slugger’s swing. In his AA debut last summer pitchers took advantage of his big leg kick timing mechanism. They peppered him with offspeed stuff and got him out on the front foot early, leading to poor contact quality despite good K/BB numbers. He’s cut down on the leg kick substantially, it’s just a small stride now. The swing likewise has shortened up some. This surprisingly hasn’t hurt his power, he’s making consistent hard contact and launched a 109.5 mph HR the other day.
6. DL Hall – LHP/20/A+
15 IP, 4.20 ERA, 2.84 FIP, 13.80 K/9, 6.00 BB/9, 39.4% GB
Profile Changes: Hall was working on a slider last year, which I and many others mistook for a poorly executed curveball. The two pitches ran together and neither were plus. This year, the curveball and slider are distinct and they both could be plus pitches for the young lefty. His fastball velocity is also well ahead of where it was this time last year, pounding 94-97mph heat. He only threw that hard a couple of late season outings last year.
7. Drew Rom – LHP/19/A
16.2 IP, 3.42 ERA, 1.59 FIP, 12.42 K/9, 2.16 BB/9, 57.1% GB
Profile Changes: I’m not sure how much the profile has changed because I had seen very little of Rom (just pre-draft video clips), but he has shown advanced feel for a quality slider and changeup. His ability to throw those pitches in any count should let him move more quickly than the average HS pitcher. His overall potential will have a lot to do with where his fastball velocity ends up. He’s touched 92mph, but is mostly in the 88-90 range.
8. Adam Hall – SS/19/A
95 PA, 1 HR, 11 SB, .354/.453/.456, 172 wRC+, 10.5% BB, 22.1% K, .101 ISO
Profile Changes: Not a wholesale change, just adjusting well to full season pitching more quickly than expected, hitting the ball hard to all fields. Looks more polished at SS, increasing my confidence he can stick at the position. He’s still hitting the ball on the ground an extreme amount, which will need to change for him to profile as a regular.
9. Blaine Knight – RHP/22/A
20.2 IP, 0.87 ERA, 2.61 FIP, 11.32 K/9, 1.74 BB/9, 40.5% GB
Profile Changes: No real change, he’s pretty much the same guy as in college, doing what he should be doing in Low A, which is dominating. I think it’s time for Frederick.
10. Cody Sedlock – RHP/23/A+
21.2 IP, 2.49 ERA, 5.87 FIP, 8.31 K/9, 3.74 BB/9, 38.8% GB
Profile Changes: There are probably at least 5 guys that are more deserving of this spot statistically, but Sedlock was a completely broken pitcher last year. He’s the healthiest he’s been since his draft year. He’s touching 95mph already, 4 ticks higher than I saw last year. His slider and changeup have improved with the increased arm speed. He’s back on the radar, not a top prospect, but one to follow.
Honorable Mention: Jake Ring (OF/24/A+) and Doran Turchin (OF/21/A), a couple guys with interesting tools (average or better run, field, raw power, and arm) but a big penchant for swing and miss have started the season hot (174 and 162 wRC+ respectively). Turchin is the better prospect of the two with the better frame and playing at a more age-appropriate level. Ring is undersized and probably just an org guy but he made a drastic (but necessary) swing change last year to cut down on his lengthy and unorthodox swing. He struggled with the new swing, striking out less, but not hitting the ball hard. He stuck with it and looks comfortable more with the new swing this year. He’s already equaled his 2018 HR total. Turchin’s swing is compact but he struggles with pitch recognition and approach.