Florida State League Top 20 Prospects
By Josh Norris
1Fort Myers (Twins) SSNotes:
Age: 19. B-T: R-R. Ht: 6-2. Wt: 188. Drafted: HS—San Juan Capistrano, Calif., 2017 (1).
The Twins made Lewis the first choice in the 2017 draft and then quickly hinted at his potential by promoting him from the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League to low Class A Cedar Rapids in his first season as a pro. He was impressive in the Midwest League both last year and upon his return there in the first half of 2018 before hitting his way to the FSL.
Scouts like just about everything about Lewis, who has quickly become one of the game's elite prospects. On defense, he has made people believe he can stick at shortstop by showing strong range and reactions with an above-average arm. Even so, some scouts wondered if he might also be a fit in center field.
At the plate, Lewis has a little bit of an unorthodox setup, but he gets the job done. One evaluator said that his swing looked long but was actually rather short to the ball.
Lewis may have to tweak his approach a little bit to further unlock his offensive potential, but scouts see a player with the much-desired combination of power and speed as he matures. Those qualities will make him an all-star player at his peak.
188 AB, 5 HR, 21 RBI, 19 BB, 35 SOMore Less
2Fort Myers (Twins) OFNotes:
Age: 20. B-T: L-L. Ht: 6-2. Wt: 195.
Drafted: HS—Pittsburgh, 2016 (1).
The Twins drafted Kirilloff 15th overall in 2016 and got a hint of his potential when he won MVP honors in the Rookie-level Appalachian League in his debut. Tommy John surgery wiped out his 2017 season.
After squashing the competition in the Midwest League, Kirilloff continued his rampage in the FSL. He hit for average and power at both stops, showcasing supreme barrel control to all fields. In one game against Jupiter, Kirilloff sprayed one double to right field, one to center and one to left and hosed a runner at third base. He hits balls with authority to all sectors, and has the athleticism and throwing arm to be a steady defender in right field.
As he showed in 2018, Kirilloff projects as a player who can anchor a lineup.
260 AB, 7 HR, 45 RBI, 14 BB, 39 SOMore Less
3Florida (Braves) OFNotes:
Age: 19. B-T: R-R. Ht: 6-2. Wt: 185.
Signed: Dominican Republic, 2015.
Pache entered the season as a 19-year-old with no professional home runs, but then he swatted eight in the FSL, which he entered as the league's second-youngest player.
Pache's calling card has long been his unrivaled defense in center field, but in 2018 he began to show the makings of a complete player. To get to his newfound power, Pache refined his approach to be more patient and wait for a pitch he can drive. When he does that, he can use his natural strength to drive the ball out. Because he's still maturing, scouts can see more power shows if he retains his approach as he fills out.
Pache has a case as the best defensive outfielder in the minors. He glides to balls that would otherwise land in the gaps and has an above-average arm.
If he continues to improve, Pache could become a two-way threat and a future all-star.
369 AB, 8 HR, 40 RBI, 15 BB, 69 SOMore Less
4Clearwater (Phillies) RHPNotes:
Age: 20. B-T: R-R. Ht: 6-0. Wt: 185.
Signed: Dominican Republic, 2015.
Sanchez's season was mostly shelved because of lingering tenderness in his elbow. He pitched just enough to qualify for the FSL ranking and in that time made a big enough impression on talent evaluators to rank as the league's top pitching prospect.
Scouts who saw Sanchez this year saw two top-of-the-scale pitches in his fastball and slider, as well as an above-average changeup that gave him a three-pitch mix that rivaled nearly any other pitcher. He paired his arsenal with advanced pitchability that allowed him to toy with lesser hitters while saving his focus for the middle of the order and big situations.
Health was the only ding on Sanchez's record this year. If he had stayed at full strength he could have fit easily in the Phillies' big league bullpen down the stretch. He has all the makings of a future No. 1 starter.
4-3, 2.51 ERA
47 IP, 39 H, 11 BB, 45 SOMore Less
5Daytona (Reds) OFNotes:
Age: 21. B-T: L-L. Ht: 6-2. Wt: 195.
Drafted: HS—Kennesaw, Ga., 2016 (1s).
Trammell has advanced one level per year for his first three pro seasons. He spent this year with Daytona, where he showed a strong blend of current skills and future tools at the plate and in the field, with evaluators comparing him to a lighter version of Curtis Granderson.
Trammell isn't a slam-dunk center fielder, but there's enough belief in his abilities there—which are amplified by plus makeup—that he likely will continue getting the majority of his reps at the position. If he does have to move over at some point, his bat will help him easily profile as a left fielder.
Trammell will occasionally miss pitches due to some inconsistency in the way he loads his hands, but he has sneaky raw power that he should be able to tap into without sacrificing average.
If he continues developing, Trammell has the upside of a classic power-speed player who can be a fixture near the top of an order.
397 AB, 8 HR, 41 RBI, 58 BB, 105 SOMore Less
6Lakeland (Tigers) RHPNotes:
Age: 20. B-T: R-R. Ht: 6-6. Wt: 190.
Drafted: HS—Sacramento, 2016 (1).
As part of their rebuilding process, the Tigers have been stockpiling young, powerful arms via the draft and as part of midseason trades. Manning, whom the Tigers took with the ninth overall pick in 2016, combines size, athleticism and top-end stuff.
Manning starts his arsenal with a low-to-mid-90s fastball that peaks around 96 mph and plays up because of the massive extension he gets from his lanky, 6-foot-6 frame. He pairs it with a hard-biting 12-to-6 curveball that can flash plus and a developing changeup that is below-average at this point.
The Tigers were so intrigued by Manning that they brought him to Detroit in August to throw bullpens in front of the big league staff. With further development, he could find himself knocking on the door of the big league rotation in the near future.
4-4, 2.98 ERA
51 IP, 32 H, 19 BB, 65 SOMore Less
7St. Lucie (Mets) SSNotes:
Age: 19. B-T: L-R. Ht: 5-11. Wt: 161.
Signed: Venezuela, 2015.
Gimenez started off hot in 2017 with low Class A Columbia before a jammed thumb derailed his year, but he still showed the Mets enough that they bumped him to the FSL, where he opened 2018 as the league's third-youngest player.
A lot of Gimenez's offensive future is contingent on him gaining strength as he gets older, but what he showed in the FSL was still impressive. He's wiry strong now, and he sprayed doubles around the park with St. Lucie before he earned a bump to Double-A.
A twitchy athlete, Gimenez will have to balance that twitchiness against future strength gains. He's got the range, arm and instincts to stick at shortstop and has displayed leadership qualities that belie his age.
Gimenez might ultimately settle at second base, where he could one day team with shortstop Amed Rosario in New York.
308 AB, 6 HR, 30 RBI, 22 BB, 70 SOMore Less
8Charlotte (Rays) OFNotes:
Age: 20. B-T: L-R. Ht: 6-3. Wt: 210.
Signed: Dominican Republic, 2014.
Sanchez stands towards the front of a vastly improved Rays' farm system. He ranked fourth in the FSL in both average (.301) and slugging (.462) this season to earn a bump to Double-A Montgomery in August.
Sanchez's offensive tools are impressive. He has barrel control that allows him to make hard contact on a variety of pitches despite an aggressive approach. He walked just 26 times all season but also struck out fewer than 100 times over 117 games.
Sanchez came into spring training looking stronger than ever, and it showed with tape-measure home runs in the pitcher-friendly FSL.
An unorthodox runner, Sanchez gets down the line in times that grade him as a plus runner. He's adequate defensively in right field, but he could stand to focus more on that aspect of his game.
The Rays will have plenty of options bubbling from their farm over the next few years, and Sanchez could hit his way into the team's immediate plans with a big 2019 season.
359 AB, 10 HR, 64 RBI, 15 BB, 71 SOMore Less
9Florida (Braves) RHPNotes:
Age: 20. B-T: R-R. Ht: 6-3. Wt: 170.
Drafted: HS—Clifton Park, N.Y., 2016 (1).
Anderson, the No. 3 overall pick in 2016, started the year as the youngest pitcher in the FSL. He finished the year with four strong starts at Double-A Mississippi, including a 10-punchout game to close his season.
Anderson fronts his arsenal with a fastball that sits in the low-to-mid-90s and has touched as high as 97 mph. He backs it up with a tight-breaking curveball in the mid-70s.
Anderson also throws a changeup in the 86-88 mph range, but it's a clear third pitch at this point. He showed more feel for his changeup as he got deeper into the season.
Some evaluators were concerned with Anderson's fastball command and also wanted to see him use his curveball as chase pitch out of the zone more often.
A large part of the Braves' rebuild has been predicated on high-end starting pitchers, and Anderson should push his way into the mix late in 2019.
2-6, 2.52 ERA
100 IP, 73 H, 2 HR, 40 BB, 118 SOMore Less
10Florida (Braves) LHPNotes:
Age: 20. B-T: R-L. Ht: 6-2. Wt: 225.
Drafted: HS—Dallas, 2016 (2).
The Braves went pitching-heavy in the 2016 draft, taking six arms among their first seven picks. Muller, the third of those arms, got his first taste of full-season ball this year when he opened at low Class A Rome.
Muller moved to the FSL after six starts and finished the year in the Double-A Mississippi rotation.
Muller impressed evaluators with his one-two punch of a mid-90s fastball and a mid-80s slider, and he mixed in a mid-70s curveball as well. The next step will be to develop his changeup to average and find a way to combat same-side hitters. Lefthanded batters hit .288/.342/.405 against Muller in the FSL.
If he can make those improvements, Muller has a chance to be a mid-rotation starter.
4-2, 3.24 ERA
80.2 IP, 80 H, 2 HR, 32 BB, 79 SOMore Less
11Dunedin (Blue Jays) SSNotes:
Age: 22. B-T: R-R. Ht: 6-1. Wt: 188. Drafted: Maryland, 2017 (4th round).
A subpar junior season at Maryland dropped Smith to the fourth round in 2017, and the Blue Jays were more than willing to pounce. So far, they've been rewarded handsomely with a breakout season from Smith in his first full campaign.
Smith tore up low Class A Lansing for a month and a half before earning a promotion to Dunedin, where he continued to hit, albeit at nowhere near the pace he produced in the Midwest League. His 25 home runs and 93 RBIs placed him second in the organization in both categories.
Evaluators who like Smith see a player who can stick at shortstop with a bat-first profile in the mold of Paul DeJong. He's never going to be the flashiest player on the field, but his work ethic and all-around skills will help him produce impressive seasons. His bat can handle a slide to second base as well.
He'll get his first test at the upper levels in 2019, when he graduates to Double-A New Hampshire and continues honing his all-around game.
340 AB, 18 HR, 49 RBI, 23 BB, 88 SOMore Less
12Charlotte (Rays) 1B/LHPNotes:
Age: 22. B-T: L-L. Ht: 6-2. Wt: 212. Drafted: Louisville, 2017 (1st round).
No matter what kind of season he had, McKay was always going to wind up as one of the most interesting stories of the year. Besides the Angels' Shohei Ohtani, McKay was the sport's only true two-way player, and he qualified for this list both as a hitter and as a pitcher.
He battled nagging oblique injuries this year, but still left a mark on evaluators. McKay was more lauded for what he did on the mound than at the plate. He showed a keen batting eye at the plate, but otherwise struggled to survive against more advanced pitchers.
On the mound, McKay's stuff has taken a step forward. His fastball sat 92-94 mph this year and touched higher with extreme strike-throwing ability. McKay has plus control. McKay is sometimes around the zone too much, as he can learn to bury his pitches when ahead in counts or elevate a fastball up and out of the zone to set up a next pitch.
2018 Pitching Stats
3-2, 3.11 ERA
47.2 IP, 45 H, 11 BB, 54 SO
2018 Hitting Stats
119 AB, 5 HR, 21 RBI, 16 BB, 38 SOMore Less
13Fort Myers (Twins) RHPNotes:
Age: 20. B-T: R-R. Ht: 6-1. Wt: 180. Signed: Venezuela, 2014
Graterol burst on the scene last year, when he showed off his tantalizing pitch package in the Rookie-level Appalachian League during Elizabethton's run to its first of back-to-back championships. He was hampered early this year with back issues, but finished his season with another ring when Fort Myers took home the FSL crown.
Graterol starts his arsenal with a top-shelf fastball that sits in the upper 90s and regularly hits triple-digits. He backs it up with a hard slider in the 87-90 mph range and a hammer of a 12-to-6 curveball. He's developing a changeup to go with his breaking balls. The arsenal on its own is enough to place him high on this list, but he does need to refine his effectively wild command. He gets away with misses and sequences that might get exploited at the upper levels, and his arm action has drawn concern from some scouts.
There's work to be done, but the basic ingredients are there for Graterol to be a front of the rotation starter with a fallback option as a power reliever.
5-2, 3.12 ERA
60.2 IP, 59 H, 19 BB, 56 SOMore Less
14Daytona (Reds) RHPNotes:
Age: 21. B-T: R-R. Ht: 6-3. Wt: 240. Drafted: HS—Seguin, Texas, 2015 (2nd round).
It's been a slow climb for Santillan, who made it to high Class A in 2018 in his third full season as a pro. The breakout he experienced, however, showed the industry his full potential. He finished in the top five in the Reds' system in ERA, strikeouts and wins, and made it to Double-A in the second half.
Every time he takes the mound, Santillan brings the hard stuff. He uses a high-effort delivery to blow hitters away with a mid-90s fastball that can touch 97-98. He couples his fastball with a high 80s swing-and-miss slider and a firm changeup in the same range that has made some strides over the past year.
The main concerns surrounding Santillan involve his lack of finesse in both his arsenal and his delivery. Nothing he throws is particularly soft, and his delivery is a little bit stiff at times.
6-4, 2.70 ERA
86.2 IP, 81 H, 22 BB, 73 SOMore Less
15Charlotte (Rays) 1BNotes:
Age: 23. B-T: L-R. Ht: 6-4. Wt: 235. Drafted: Mississippi State, 2016 (13th round).
Lowe started the year with his brother, Josh, in the FSL, but Nathaniel proved very quickly that his bat was far too advanced for the level. Then he did it again at Double-A Montgomery before moving to Triple-A Durham for the last part of the season.
Lowe is an offense-first prospect who makes his money with calm, professional approach and at least average power. Lowe changed his approach in 2018, taking more aggressive swings which paid off in vastly improved power production. He led the organization in home runs and RBIs, and finished with best average among Rays minor leaguers at full-season levels. Because he's not an average defender at first base, Lowe is going to have to continue to prove himself at every stop.
194 AB, 10 HR, 44 RBI, 25 BB, 33 SOMore Less
16Lakeland (Tigers) OFNotes:
Age: 21. B-T: R-R. Ht: 6-2. Wt: 195. Drafted: HS—Eagle's Landing, Ga., 2015, (1st round supp., Astros)
After hinting at his potential for two seasons, Cameron tapped into his full set of skills this season while he climbed from high Class A to the cusp of the majors. Cameron, along with righty Franklin Perez and catcher Jake Rogers, was part of the package that brought ace Justin Verlander to Houston.
In his first full season with his new organization, Cameron made an adjustment to his approach at the plate. He was more aggressive on early-count fastballs, and the results were evident. He made louder contact this year, especially when he got to Double-A Erie later in the season. That offense was accompanied by above-average defense in center field and above-average speed as well.
There's still some development to go, but the potential is there for Cameron to be a 20-20 player in the big leagues.
216 AB, 3 HR, 20 RBI, 25 BB, 69 SOMore Less
17Palm Beach (Cardinals) OFNotes:
Age: 19. B-T: B-L. Ht: 6-3. Wt: 195. Drafted: HS—Elk Grove, Calif., 2016 (1st round).
After a quick stint in the Midwest League, the Cardinals pushed Carlson to the FSL, where he became one of a handful of 19-year-olds on the circuit. Those who like Carlson are buying on the present strength and future projection.
His raw tools are abundant. He's got above-average raw power with a lofted swing that produces plenty of loud contact that doesn't always translate into extra-bases. He's also got a plus arm with accuracy in right field and enough athleticism to play center field in a pinch. He needs to refine his approach and work on not selling out for power as often, but considering his age he has plenty of time to add refinement.
376 AB, 9 HR, 53 RBI, 52 BB, 78 SOMore Less
18Daytona (Reds) CNotes:
Age: 22. B-T: R-R. Ht: 6-4. Wt: 225. Drafted: HS—Kennesaw, Ga., 2015 (1st round)
Entering 2018, Stephenson's high for games in a season was just 80, with just 53 of those at catcher. Those totals moved to 109 games this year, with 96 starts behind the plate. Injuries have sapped him of reps, but not of his talent.
Stephenson's rep is as an offensive-minded catcher, and he lived up to that mark with 11 home runs in 2018 while dealing with the FSL for the first time. Scouts like his ability to receive the ball, though his size makes him a little slow to move around behind the plate. He can improve his blocking and he threw out just 25 percent of runners trying to steal, but he does show a plus arm when he gets everything synced up. The most important way to ease those concerns is with repetitions, which he got this year during Daytona's run to the FSL championship series.
388 AB, 11 HR, 59 RBI, 45 BB, 98 SOMore Less
19Clearwater (Phillies) OFNotes:
Age: 22. B-T: L-L. Ht: 6-1. Wt: 195. Drafted: Virginia, 2017 (1st round)
Between Clearwater and Double-A Reading, Haseley put together an extremely steady first full season as a professional. He hit .280 or better in each month of the season and produced on-base percentages of .330 or better in every month after April.
The question now is whether he'll wind up in center field or in a corner. Haseley is an average runner who doesn't project as a true center fielder because of his lack of speed. He's a tough profile there because of the below-average power he's shown so far in pro ball. Haseley either has to improve his speed and center field defense or his power to project as a first-division regular. Some scouts see him as a future fourth outfielder because of that.
A power boost is more likely than improved defense. He did hit 14 home runs in his junior season at Virginia and he flashes above-average raw power. But his swing is geared to drive the ball to the opposite field, and he doesn't have the strength to clear the left field fence consistently. Nine of his 11 home runs this season came to right field, but he rarely pulls the ball.
330 AB, 5 HR, 38 RBI, 19 BB, 54 SOMore Less
20Clearwater (Phillies) RHPNotes:
Age: 21. B-T: R-R. Ht: 6-1. Wt: 185. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2014.
Medina's progression through the system has been slow, having never pitched at more than one level per season. His 123 strikeouts ranked third in the FSL, and he added a nice bow on his year with an appearance in the Futures Game.
His bread-and-butter offerings are his fastball, which sits in the mid 90s and his sharp slider, which some scouts project as a future plus pitch. His changeup has made strides, too, and could also reach plus status with further improvements. He's got more control than he does command, and he'll need to make refinements in that area before he's a slam dunk for the rotation.
He'll get a big test in 2019 in the hitter's paradise that is Double-A Reading, where his ability to keep the ball on the ground will become paramount.
10-4, 4.12 ERA
111.1 IP, 103 H, 36 BB, 123 SOMore Less