Best Minor League Baseball Players by Division
After a peculiar 2020 season throughout the sports industry, teams and fans alike are gearing up for a return to normality following a year of COVID-19 changes. Fans were kept at home while players were forced to take precautionary measures to adapt to the new circumstances that the pandemic placed upon them. Staying on the sidelines, the dugout or the bench is the biggest concern for any athlete and one that many will no longer have to worry as much about with virus concerns diminishing rapidly. Particularly among those looking to be recruited and show off their talents to the big leagues, this was not easy. Take Minor League Baseball, for example, comprised of 240 teams, each with 28-30 players on each team, and all vying for a spot in the coveted big leagues. Every swing, every walk, every base hit, every strikeout, and every home run matters for these up and coming players. Today, we highlight the top minor league prospects and those that will look to take the stage as the next class of Major League Baseball players. Without further ado, let’s play ball!
Wander Franco: SS
Franco plays for the Durham Bulls, the minor league affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays. He is just twenty years old and was born in Bani, a small town in the Dominican Republic. Across his minor league career, the shortstop has compiled a .332 batting average along with 263 hits, 27 home runs, and 140 runs batted in. Even better, he has an outstanding seven percent strikeout rate and was given a grade of 80 by the MLB Pipeline, a score that has only been met by the highest prospect in all time with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Some have even placed the young star above Guerro Jr. as his hitting numbers eclipsed the former, but one thing needs no debate: he is a generational talent that will make a big difference in the big leagues. He has continued his playmaking trend this season with a current .312 batting average and 39 hits, stats that reflect a star in the making. It is no “wander” that he’s as good as they say!
This twenty-one-year-old has seen time in all three of the minor league divisions and has shown that he can hit the ball no matter what league or team he plays on. To be precise, the center fielder has made appearances for 13 different ballclubs in the last 3 years! Crazy, right? He was drafted in the first round of the 2018 MLB draft by the New York Mets and was traded to the Seattle Mariners later that season. Kelenic is like a fine wine that just gets better with age, he hit .333 in his most recent season with the AAA affiliate of the Seattle Mariners, the Tacoma Rainiers. He was ranked as the 4th best MLB product coming into the 2021 year and has already seen time with the Mariners MLB team this year. He figures to be a focal point in the future of not just the plans of Seattle, but the entire league.
Another player that has seen time in all three leagues, including the Majors, Hayes has a bright future ahead of him. The third baseman is currently a part of the Pittsburgh Pirates organization and was drafted in the first round of the 2015 MLB draft. He has hit .361 since first joining the big leagues. Prior to taking the stage, the Tomball, TX. product played six seasons in the minor leagues with nine different teams where he put up an overall .279 batting average with 489 hits and 27 home runs. Most notably, he won the National League Rookie of the Month in September of 2020 and was voted to the prestigious Baseball America Major League All-Rookie team in 2020. He was last activated by the Pirates on June 3rd of 2021.
The number one pick in the 2019 MLB draft by the Baltimore Orioles and arguably the best prospect catcher in all of baseball, Rutschman is prepared to make an impact immediately once he is called up to the big leagues. In the minors, the star has answered the call batting .295 with an OPS of 1.021 and the power of a menace. He played college baseball at Oregon State where he hit .408 and .411 in his two seasons before getting drafted. He has been praised for his work on and off the field as his work ethic and leadership has not gone unnoticed. The Orioles appear to be easing their top prospect into action but only time will tell before the wrath of Rutschman is released.
A name that many were unfamiliar with coming into the 2021 season, Weiss is turning heads in a big way. The twenty-four-year-old pitcher was drafted in the fourth round of the 2018 draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks and is currently playing for his fifth minor league team, the Sod Poodles. There he has proven himself to be an instant ace as a two-time Minor League baseball AA player of the week including a no-hitter on May 12th as he lasted six full innings. Opponents are hitting just .175 against the right-hander while he has gone through the 2021 season with an incredible WHIP of 0.93. Keep your eyes out for a star in the making.
Selected just one spot below Rutschman in the 2019 MLB draft, Witt Jr. signed a franchise-record bonus of $7,789,900. Additionally, the shortstop played for the Northwest Arkansas Naturals where he currently posts a batting average of .256 with 10 home runs and 17 runs batted in. He is also the son of former MLB star pitcher Bobby Witt. His speed and raw power combine to display his massive ceiling and his bat speed should only continue to get faster. At just twenty years old, he has consistently matched up against much older competition as he plays for the Kansas City Royals minor league affiliate.
Somehow unselected in the 2017 draft, Torkelson has emerged as one of the top prospects in all of baseball. The third baseman who also sees time at first base opted to stay at Arizona State where he broke Barry Bonds freshman home runs record at 25, making teams question why they didn’t consider drafting the kid out of Petaluma, California. He led the Pac 12 in home runs his sophomore year, before being selected as the number one overall pick by the San Diego Padres in 2020. How’s that for a story? The three-sport standout has massive power and should no longer be overlooked as he continues his campaign and awaits being called up to the Major Leagues in due time. Expect him to make a difference right away.
This Dominican outfielder was signed to a $1.75 million dollar deal by the Seattle Mariners during the 2017-2018 international signing period. At only 20 years old, Rodriguez has plenty of time to show off his talents but has decided to act sooner rather than later. He marked a .929 OPS in the Dominican Summer League in 2018, quickly asserting his dominance. Thereafter, he played for three minor league teams, including the Modesto Nuts, where he posted a batting average of .462 and 30 hits across just 17 games. He is currently riding an eight-game hitting streak (as of writing this) and is expected to make his Major League debut in 2022. Stay patient Marlins fans, this guy is worth the wait.
The Giants scored big when they landed this star shortstop out of the Dominican Republic in 2018, signing him for $2.6 million. He is just 19 years old yet has already played for three different minor league teams, where he has boasted a combined .290 batting average with 86 hits, 64 runs batted in, and 17 home runs. His 100 MPH exit velocities are extremely notable, particularly for his young age. His power and arm strength are his biggest qualities and his defensive skills are strong as well. it will come as no surprise when he is leading the league in a number of categories, in a decade. For now, we can watch Luciano tear it up in the Minor Leagues while pitchers shrivel in fear.
There you have it, the next generation of Major League Baseball players and the top three ballplayers in each division! This list is sure to change and expand within the next few years as players shift divisions across their farm systems, while others get called up this season and earn the chance to live their dreams in the Majors. Regardless, the dream has become closer and closer as these stars put up high achieving numbers. The 2021 MLB Draft will take place on July 11-13 in Denver, Colorado along with the All-Star game.