Chicago Rum Runners
Graduates: Tyler Alexander (SP)
Risers: Nico Hoerner (2B), Tarik Skubal (SP), Luis Campusano (C)
Top Prospects: 1. Nico Hoerner (2B), 2. Taylor Trammell (OF), 3. Tarik Skubal (SP), 4. Luis Campusano (C), 5. Nick Lodolo (SP), 6. Orelvis Martinez (SS), 7. Ethan Hankins (SP), 8. Brice Turang (SS), 9. Daniel Espino (SP), 10. Jackson Rutledge (SP), 11. Blake Walston (SP), 12. Braxton Garrett (SP), 13. Tanner Houck (SP), 14. Edwin Rios (3B)
Even after recent moves depleted the farm, Chicago has one of the deepest and well balanced systems in the league, placing fourteen players in the top 200. The system starts with three helium filled risers in second baseman Nico Hoerner, starter Tarik Skubal and catcher Luis Campusano. Hoerner possesses tremendous hand-eye coordination, a compact swing and a disciplined approach leading to excellent contact skills and a near elite hit tool. He has good speed and developing power, although 10-15 homers is probably his ceiling. Defensively he has seen action at short, second and centerfield, with second base looking like his long term position. Skubal was one of the most prolific strikeout pitchers in the minors last season, striking out 13.1 hitter per nine. His fastball sits 94-97 with late life and he compliments it with a plus slider and an above-average curveball and change up. Considering there is still development for him with his curve, change and command, the future is very bright for Skubal. At present Campusano is a hit first catcher who is learning the catching position while climbing the minor league ladder. His bat is well above average with a line drive swing and good patience and strike zone control. He should hit for average and if he can add some loft to his swing his power could tick up. Defensively he has made great strides since turning pro and he has the tools to be at least an average backstop. Even as he struggled somewhat in 2019, outfielder Taylor Trammell continued to show an impressive combination of athleticism, hitting ability, power potential, and speed. Although he has a patient approach, he will have to be a little more selectively aggressive to fully unlock his offensive and power potential. He has played centerfield so far as a pro, but most observers believe he fits better in left field where his speed will make him a superior defender and his below average arm will not be as much an issue. There are plenty of quality arms behind Skubal including Nick Lodolo, Ethan Hankins, Daniel Espino, Jackson Rutledge, Blake Walston and Braxton Garrett. Across the board the group has live arms capable of mid-to-upper 90’s heat but each has work on secondaries or command to do, just as Skubal did last season. Any one or more of the group could turn that corner and join Skubal in the top 100 rankings. Orelvis Martinez and Brice Turang give the Runners good depth in the middle infield. Martinez is a good athlete with across the board tools, a projectable body and a strong arm and while his offense will carry him, defensively he has the actions and body control to play either left side position well. Turang features a top of the order profile with good discipline and patience, a line drive stroke and plus speed. Power will likely be his one weakness, but he should be a good source of extra base hits. Defensively, he has the range, hands, and above-average arm strength to stick at short long term.
Graduates: Trent Grisham (OF), Nick Solak (2B), Luis Urias (2B), Peter Lambert(SP)
Risers: Spencer Howard (SP)
Top Prospects: 1. Brendan McKay (SP/DH), 2. Brendan Rodgers (SS), 3. Spencer Howard (SP), 4. Hunter Bishop (OF), 5. Geraldo Perdomo (SS), 6. Leody Taveras (OF), 7. Shane McClanahan (SP), 8. Jhoan Duran (OF), 9. Yusniel Diaz (OF), 10. Kyle Isbael (OF), 11. Luiz Gohara (SP)
Dropping a couple spots in this years rankings, Phoenix nonetheless has a strong top end with quality depth behind. Even if he were not a possible two way player, Brendan McKay would again be the systems top prospect on the strength of his pitching. Though not particularly overpowering, McKay does have pinpoint command and an innate feel for sequencing his four average-or-better pitches. His fastball hits 96, but he routinely sits 92-94 with the pitch that he throws confidently to all four quadrants of the zone. He also features an upper-80’s cutter, a curve, and a developing change. The change up is his least used pitch currently, but it figures to be the focal point of his development going forward. As a hitter, McKay still shows excellent patience and pitch recognition, but the hitting ability still has not manifested itself in pro ball. Sitting on the brink of the majors as a starter, McKay figures to be given a little more time to develop as a hitter, but it is becoming increasingly likely that his future is solely on the mound. No matter, he projects as a top of the rotation arm for the Miners. Acquired this past winter, middle infielder Brendan Rodgers has the most potent bat in the system. Armed with impressive bat speed, Rodgers has power to all fields and rockets line drives from line to line when he stays within himself. He has improved his patience, raising his walk rate and lowering his strikeout rate over his two years in the minors, but he will have to continue to show the patience to wait on his pitch. Rodgers has the potential to put up .300-30 HR seasons at his peak. Defensively, he has seen time at both his natural shortstop position and increasingly this past season at 2B. He is an above-average fielder with plenty of arm strength to play either of the left side infield positions and offers valuable versatility in the field. The fastest riser this past season was starter Spencer Howard. When he was drafted, Howard sat in the low to mid 90’s and had two inconsistent breaking pitches that sometimes blended together. After two years of physical development, strength training, and tireless work with pro coaches, Howard now sits comfortably in the mid to high 90’s and has two distinct breaking pitches. On any given day, either his slider or his curve can be a wipeout swing and miss pitch and both rate easily as above-average to plus. But it is Howard’s change up that has shown the biggest improvement and is the reason he now looks like a top of the rotation arm. The change has excellent fade and depth and as he gains more confidence in the pitch, it could become his most effective secondary offering. Behind McKay and Howard the pitching gets a little thin, with Shane McClanahan adding another upper-90’s arm to the system, but on the position side there is quality depth. 2019 1st round selection Hunter Bishop brings big raw power which he began to tap as he calmed his approach and worked counts better and he joins a deep outfield stable including Leody Taveras, Jhoan Duran, Yusniel Diaz and Kyle Isbel. Shortstop Geraldo Perdomo lacks only power, exhibiting an above-average hit tool, good patience, near 70 grade speed and the arm and instincts to be a Gold Glove level defender.
Risers: Dustin May (SP)
Top Prospects: 1. Adley Rutschman (C), 2. Dustin May (SP), 3. Joey Bart (C), 4. Ke-Bryan Hayes (3B), 5. Kody Hoese (3B), 6. Bryse Wilson (SP), 7. Travis Swaggerty (OF), 8. Kameron Misner (OF), 9. Daz Cameron (OF), 10. Jon Duplantier (SP), 11. Grant Lavigne (1B), 12. Dean Kremer (SP)
Rising in the rankings again this season, Roxbury has built a deep and highly athletic system. At the top of the system sits the top catching prospect in baseball, Adley Rutschman. Advanced and refined both at the plate and behind it, Rutschman possesses all the tools to be a team cornerstone. As a hitter, the switch hitter is patient and powerful. His BB/K rate is among the best in the minors and he is willing and capable of shooting line drives from line to line and blasting home runs to all fields. He should be a middle of the order anchor in Roxbury in the near future. Defensively he is no slouch either. He is athletic and mechanically sound as a receiver, possesses a plus arm and quick pop times, and is adept at calling a game. High expectations have always been placed on Rutschman and he has always met or exceeded them and now sits as perhaps the best catching prospect since Joe Mauer. Starter Dustin May has ascended through the system quicker than expected. The 6’6” power pitcher may have one of the most devastating 1-2 pitch combinations in baseball. He works off a 70 grade mid-to-high 90’s fastball that has heavy sinking action and compliments it with a wipeout cutter that sits in the low 90’s. Once hitters are geared for the hard stuff, May will drop a sharp-breaking power curveball that hitters will either swing over or tap weakly on the ground. Command and control have never been an issue for May, as he is always around the zone and manipulating hitters into hitting his pitch. The final piece for May will be to trust his above-average change up and once he does his four above-average or better pitch mix, control and intimidating and poised mound presence should see him atop the Robots rotation. Adding to the riches behind the plate in Roxbury is former #1 selection Joey Bart. Himself a four tool talent missing only speed, Bart may well be the #2 catching prospect in baseball. Bart has 65 grade raw power, the product of bat speed, strength and leverage in his 6’3” frame, and he has already shown the hitting ability to reach that power in game. He does have to remember to stay within himself and not swing for the fences, and when he does that he shows middle of the order hitting and power potential. Defensively he has all the tools to be a Gold Glove receiver with great hands, quickness, aptitude and a strong arm. He has a knack for calling his own game and pitchers older and more experienced already trust him to run a game. The hot corner also looks to be in good hands in Roxbury with Ke-Bryan Hayes and Kody Hoese rising through the ranks. Hayes is a plus defender with a strong arm and excellent footwork who has begun to tap his offensive potential. There is still more there and Hayes will have to maximize his power as he is not expected to be a high average hitter. Hoese is still polishing his defense but he has all the tools to stay at 3B long term. Hoese shines with a bat in his hands, displaying a disciplined approach, a hit tool that could rate as plus once he fully develops, and excellent leverage resulting in 60 grade power. Bryse Wilson and Jon Duplantier add additional pitching depth and there is considerable athletic talent in the outfield in Travis Swaggerty, Daz Cameron, and Kameron Misner. Even after rising from 18 to 9 in the rankings in just two years, the Robots system is poised to rise even further with its stable of young, athletic talent.