This year, once I had the Top 40 Prospects all ranked (and those rankings will appear on Bleacher Nation soon! your primer is here), I had a lot of interesting prospects left that I could not find room for. They ranged across all positions and levels of the farm system and, in some cases, I feel pretty confident that in nearly any other year they would have made the cut. In fact, some of them did make the cut in previous lists. But not this year.
Rather than just pass them over, I thought it might be good to take a quick run through at least some of the names who did not make it into the Top 40 but who are still well worth watching this season. I suspect the odds are pretty good that some of these players are about to break out and could find themselves on the list as soon as mid-summer.
The format you are going to see largely the same as I will use for the Top 40 itself. The order, on the other hand, is arbitrary. These players are not ranked and are not all the names that were left over. They are names worth knowing, however.
Eddy Julio Martinez, CF
Likely 2016 Team: South Bend
Acquired: Signed out of Cuba as an International Free Agent in 2015.
Notable Stat: Has yet to play a regular season game in the Cubs organization.
Martinez is probably one of the better prospects in the organization, easily good enough to make it onto the Top 40, but he misses the cut due to a technicality. I don’t rank players who have not played in a real game as a professional in the U.S. That means players who have only Venezuelan or Dominican Summer League stats are not eligible, and IFA signees who have not yet made it into a game are not eligible. I do this because data (and often scouting reports, too) on players who haven’t played professional in the states is erratic in value, and I can’t rank with confidence when I don’t have confidence in my data.
Adbert Alzolay, RHP
Likely 2016 Team: South Bend
Acquired: Signed as an IFA prior to the 2013 season.
Notable Stat: Struck out 49 in just 53 innings for Eugene last year, and held batters to a .183 average.
I remain fairly high on Alzolay, and I would not be surprised to see him breakout in 2016. The strikeout rate is good (8.32 K/9), the walk rate is good (2.55 BB/9), and he gets results. Ultimately he misses the Top 40 because, as of now, I think he projects better as a reliever than a starter. Ranking a reliever that high based on 50 innings in Short Season A is a tough sell.
On the other hand, if he moves into the rotation and establishes a somewhat better ground ball rate in South Bend, he could be a strong candidate to make the list mid-season. Getting a better look at his stuff thanks to more exposure on MiLB.tv will also help.
John Andreoli, LF
Likely 2016 Team: Iowa
Acquired: Drafted in the 17th round in 2011.
Notable Stat: Has posted double digit walk rates at every minor league stop but one, including a 12.3% rate in Iowa last summer.
I have been on the Andreoli bandwagon for as long as I’ve been with Bleacher Nation, but even though he is coming off a solid Triple A season, he falls off the list. Combine his walks with his 33 steals and respectable .277/.372/.401 line and he looks like a guy who should get a chance in the majors one day.
Unfortunately, while he has all the speed necessary for center, I’m not sure his arm would play effectively anywhere but in left field. Unless he proves me wrong, that would make him a right handed hitting fifth outfielder who is suspect defensively in center and right and doesn’t have much power. Despite the walks and the base running, that’s not a great profile for a guy who is already 25.
Cael Brockmeyer, C
Likely 2016 Team: Tennessee
Acquired: Drafted in the 16th round in 2013.
Notable Stat: He’s a 6’5″ catcher who played in every full season league AND the Arizona Fall League in 2015.
Brockmeyer is the largest human being I have ever witnessed play catcher, but despite his relatively enormous frame, he’s a pretty decent catcher. I suspect, with additional time, he could be good enough to be a regular behind the plate. Offensively he hasn’t tapped into his power yet, but his walk rate (11.7%) and strikeout rate (22.1%) with Myrtle Beach were both solid.
Brockmeyer did not turn 24 until October of last year, and by that time he had spent at least five games with South Bend, Myrtle Beach, Tennessee, Iowa, and Mesa of the AFL. Seeing a minor league player bounce across all four full season leagues in a season is not that remarkable, but they tend to be minor league veterans. The Arizona Fall League, though, is a prospect league. You don’t often see minor league veteran types on those rosters. Brockmeyer is the only player I can think of who has played in all four full season leagues AND the AFL in a single season.
Catchers tend to develop a little more slowly than other hitters, so I’m not too concerned by the age. He’ll need to show some additional power if he is going to have a future beyond that of a back up catcher, but if he does he could get a chance one of these days. If, of course, his 6’5″ frame holds up to the rigors of regular catching. If he has to move to first base or the outfield full time, then his path to majors gets a little tougher.
Charcer Burks, OF
Likely 2016 Team: Myrtle Beach
Acquired: Drafted in the 9th round in 2013.
Notable Stat: Walked at a 10.2% rate versus just a 16.7% strikeout rate in Low A.
If you read yesterday’s article, here is the guy who didn’t make the cut. He was one of the last ones to be taken off the list. I love the walk rate. I love the strikeout rate. The 28 steals are a nice asset, and even the pedestrian ISO of .090 is fine given the rest of his stats. Unfortunately, what keeps him off the list is uncertainty. I’m not convinced he’ll hit enough at the higher levels to be an option on the corners, and I’m not sold that he has the glove to be a regular in center field. For now, Burks suffers from the Curse of the Tweener.
Andruw Monasterio, SS
Likely 2016 Team: Eugene
Acquired: Signed as an IFA prior to the 2014 season.
Notable Stat: In 42 games he had 16 walks against just 20 strikeouts. At the age of 18.
There is not much here not to like. He walks, he doesn’t strike out, he can steal some bases (6 in 2015), and already shows signs of having a bit of pop in his bat. Oh, and he’s a switch hitter. He will be one of the players to watch closely when Eugene fires up later this summer.
But for now, though, there is too much uncertainty for me to rank him with much confidence. By the stats he appeared to get better as the season wore on (which is what I like to see), but the sample size on any of the splits is too small for me to put much confidence in it. Defensively, I have almost no data at all.
Monasterio could turn into another high quality Cubs middle infield prospect, but I don’t think we know that yet. Until we get more data it is hard to put a projection on him, but I definitely consider one of the key prospects to watch in the very lowest levels of the organization.
Jeffrey Baez, OF
Likely 2016 Team: Myrtle Beach
Acquired: Signed as an IFA prior to the 2011 season.
Notable Stat: A .143 ISO and .427 SLG in the Midwest League says this guy has some power.
He has power (9 home runs), he has speed (34 steals), he avoids strikeouts (16.6% rate), and he a solid outfielder who might be an option in center. Sounds like a guy who should be on the Top 40 (and, in the past, he has been). This is the side effect of a deep system; some guys just get pushed off the list despite have pretty decent years. I should note, though, that Baseball America has him ranked 31st. Despite not making the Top 40, he isn’t someone to ignore.
He was a little older (21) than I like to see non-college draftees in Low A, but that’s not a much of a knock on him. What concerns me more is his extreme first and second half splits. Through about 170 PAs in the first half he hit just .190/.262/.268 with one home run and 9 steals. Not good. In the second half he played like one of the best players in the league: about 230 PAs, .348/.369/.536 with 8 homers and 25 steals. Sometimes guys do suddenly put it all together and take off like that, but usually when there is a stat jump of that magnitude we can see something. A mechanical change, or a change in coaching or approach, or an injury that stopped being an issue. In this case, I have no clue.
And that means I can’t be sure which Baez is the real deal. If it is the second half one (I really hope it is the second half one), then we’re looking at a potential starting outfielder with the power for right and the range for center, a guy who easily falls into the Top 40. The Jekyll/Hyde risk led to a more cautious ranking here, and he misses the Top 40 by a hair.
That said, consider Baez one of the early leaders for the 2016 ‘Where did he come from?’ Contreras-esque Breakout Award.