Minor League Baseball 2017 League Top 10 Prospects – Midwest League

MIAMI, FL - JULY 09: Bo Bichette
MIAMI, FL - JULY 09: Bo Bichette /
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2. Jesus Sanchez, OF, Tampa Bay Rays

A well-rounded outfielder from the 2014-2015 signing class, the Rays signed Sanchez for just $400K at nearly the end of signing period, then hitting .335/.382/.498 in the DSL in 2015 in his first time hitting as a professional.

Coming state-side, Sanchez was tremendous across two rookie levels in 2016, hitting .329/.351/.549 with 25 extra base hits in 56 games, though he did see his BB/K ratios balloon to a 4% walk rate and 19% strikeout rate. He did hit well this season with Bowling Green, posting a .305/.348/.478 line with 29 doubles, 4 triples, 15 home runs, and 7 stolen bases. He put up a 6.3% walk rate and 17.8% strikeout rate.

Sanchez is a physical specimen that stands 6’3″ and 215 pounds with five tools all above average. His raw power is impressive, definitely plus and perhaps more. His best tool overall is very likely his defense, as he’s a legit plus defender in center field, which is an impressive skill set to have with the power and bat speed he brings to the table.

Sanchez has pushed himself forward as a legit top-50 prospect in the entire game at this point. He’s got some work to do in his pitch recognition to allow him to draw more walks, but he has kept his strikeout rate quite manageable in spite of his developing power.

Sanchez will turn 20 this month and spend the 2018 season opening at high-A. The Rays may move their pitchers one level at a time, but if a hitter pushes his way forward, they are usually willing to allow that player to move up, so if Sanchez keeps hitting like he did this season, he could be in AA by the end of the season.

1. Fernando Tatis, Jr., SS, San Diego Padres

One of the most recognized names of the 2015 class, Tatis carried the name of his slugging father into the signing period before signing for just $700K with the White Sox after being rated roughly 25th-30th in that season’s class. The White Sox traded him to the Padres the next June before he’d had a professional appearance for James Shields.

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Tatis opened the 2016 season with the Padres’ Arizona Rookie League team, showing well before moving up for a quick bust with the short-season A-ball club. Altogether, he hit .273/.311/.432 with 17 doubles, 3 triples, 4 home runs, 15 stolen bases, 5.5% walk rate, and 24.2% strikeout rate over 236 plate appearances. The performance was good for a 17 year-old kid, but nothing that blew anyone away, which is why he wasn’t on any preseason top 100 lists.

That changed during the season, however. Tatis opened the season with Fort Wayne and spent nearly the whole season there before getting a two-week promotion all the way up to AA San Antonio for their playoff run. The jump in level was tough on the 18 year-old, but in his time with the Midwest League saw Tatis put up a .281/.390/.520 line with 26 doubles, 7 triples, 21 home runs, and 29 stolen bases while also posting a 14.5% walk rate and 23.9% strikeout rate.

Tatis has plus power that could even add a tick more. He has incredibly quick actions at the plate, in the field, and on the bases. His overall speed is more average to a tick above-average, in spite of excellent first step quickness, so he likely is going to be a good stolen base guy, but only if he chooses his spots well, which he did get a bit sloppy with this season, as he was caught 15 times in 44 attempts.

Tatis has been thought to grow off of shortstop as he’s 6’3 with a solid frame. However, that explosive first step and plus to double-plus arm allowed him to handle short very well this season. He did make some errors, and there are some questions on his pure hands at the position, especially around the second base bag, which is why he’s considered a possibility to slide over to third base long term. However, for right now, he’s playing a very solid shortstop.

Tatis will likely open with high-A in the Cal League next season, but he’s established himself as one of the top 10-20 prospects in all of baseball.

Next: 2017 Minor League Awards team

Some of the top prospects who didn’t make the minimum time in the league this season included Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., Bo Bichette, Michel Baez, Forrest Whitley, Yordan Alvarez, Dylan Cease, Jon Duplantier, Logan Allen, Keibert Ruiz, Tyler Stephenson, Monte Harrison, Lucius Fox, Jordan Hicks, Pedro Avila, Gregory Soto, Jordan Sheffield, and Kyle Funkhouser. All of those players would have merited consideration for this list, but none had the requisite time for the list.