Yankees prospect Rafael De Paula has had an impressive first full season in the minors (73.1 IP, 3.31 ERA, 26 BB, 105 SO) and appears to be on the fast track to the major leagues. He’s hit a bit of a rough patch in his transition to High-A, but an impressive three-pitch arsenal (mid-90s fastball, curve, change) should quickly solve that.
Staying in New York, Mets prospect Rafael Montero has been equally impressive, having recently been promoted to Triple-A Las Vegas. After dominating Double-A hitters (66.2 IP, 2.43 ERA, 10 BB, 72 SO), he’s also found the transition to a higher level more challenging (31 IP, 4.65 ERA, 10 BB, 27 SO). Montero works off his low-90s fastball (which he can run into the mid-90s when he needs a little extra) with a slider and curve, displaying solid command with each pitch.
One of the most electric arms in the minors is Royals righty Yordano Ventura, who has been clocked at 100-101 MPH with his fastball. He works regularly in the upper-90s, and has continued improving his secondary offerings. He’s short though (5-foot-11), leading many to believe he’s destined for a late-inning relief role long term.
Highlighting the impressive collection of offensive talent is Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts, who we’ve talked about quite a bit here this season. Since arriving in Triple-A earlier this year, he’s continued to show his offensive promise (.270, 5 HR, 15 RBI). His keen batting eye will help him compete for Boston's starting shortstop gig out of spring training next year.
Astros shortstop Carlos Correa has been tearing the cover off the ball in his first look at full season baseball (.325, 5 HR, 48 RBI). After a slow start in April (.222), he’s hit .349 and .370 in May and June, respectively. A promotion to High-A could be looming on the horizon for last year’s No. 1 overall draft pick.
Philles third baseman Maikel Franco has been on the rise this season, and earns a Futures Game nod after his tremendous first half (.324, 21 HR, 67 RBI). Even more impressive has been his debut in Double-A, where he’s batting .413 through his first 18 games, slugging five homers with just three whiffs. Scouts still have questions about his unorthodox swing and feel it will be exploited by higher-level pitching, but for now he’s silencing his critics.
Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor has quietly produced an excellent first half (.309, 19 2B, 6 3B, 1 HR, 27 RBI, 19 SB), all while displaying glove work that scouts rave about. He’s the most complete shortstop in the minors, and could arrive as early as 2015 if he continues to show solid progress with his bat.
After hitting .330 with 16 homers at High-A, Twins third baseman Miguel Sano has run into a hurdle at Double-A, batting .195 with six homers. His luck has been bad (.200 BABIP), so a correction could be on the horizon. A 2014 MLB debut is very possible if he continues to make strides with his plate discipline and defense.
Rounding out the squad is Pirates outfielder Gregory Polanco, who has continued to rise up prospect lists with a strong 2013 campaign. Now at Double-A Altoona, he’s shown combo power/speed skills (307, 8 HR, 45 RBI, 28 SB across two levels) that has made him such a highly regarded prospect. He could arrive in the majors as early as mid-2014.
Rob Steingall is a syndicated fantasy analyst. You can follow him on Twitter (https://twitter.com/#!/rsteingall) and email prospect questions to MinorDevelopments@yahoo.com