Minor League Baseball's season is coming to a close. That means it's time for us to highlight each system's Prospect of the Year, as.
We'll be upfront that this is a subjective exercise. There's almost always more than one compelling candidate in an organization, and there's no magic formula for determining which of those should earn the nod. (Even if there were such a formula, you'd probably take exception to a few of its outputs.)
In some cases, we've chosen players who double as top prospects, even if their performance was a little below some of their organizational mates; in other cases, we've opted for a top statistical performer, no matter their cachet. Do note that we've excluded players who have since appeared in the majors.
Now, with all the fine print out of the way, let's get to it.
|SS Jackson Holliday: Perhaps this is a lame choice, but c'mon, who else would it be? Holliday will not celebrate his 20th birthday until December, and yet he's advanced his way to Triple-A without posting an OPS lower than .900 at any level this season. The only question facing Holliday the rest of the way is whether or not he makes his big-league debut before the year is out.
|OF Roman Anthony: The Red Sox selected Anthony with the 79th pick in the 2022 draft. So far, he appears to be a steal. Anthony, like Holliday above, has reached Double-A before his 20th birthday. He has a chance to be an above-average contributor in all three triple-slash categories (though his strikeout rate did creep to the wrong side of 30% in High-A), and it's encouraging that he was able to hold his own against High-A competition that was more than three years his senior. In our estimation, he was the obvious pick here.
|SS Colson Montgomery: Again, we're not exactly embracing our inner baseball hipster by going with an obvious top prospect. Montgomery missed the onset of the season due to injury, but he's been a well-above-average performer when he's been healthy.
|OF Chase DeLauter: We were big fans of DeLauter heading into the 2022 draft. He slipped because of injury and poor quality of competition, and additional physical ailments have limited his professional exposure. The closest he's gotten to extended burn has been at the High-A level, where he's hit .364/.396/.539. That'll play.
|RHP Jackson Jobe: Jobe, the No. 3 pick in the 2021 draft, has rebounded from a rough introduction to the professional ranks. In just over 50 innings, he's averaged more than 12 strikeouts per nine innings and more than 11 strikeouts per walk. Sure, we could've gone with Colt Keith, Justice Bigbie, or even Justyn-Henry Malloy, but Jobe deserved the nod for his impressive turnaround.
|3B Zach Dezenzo: It has to be Dezenzo, right? He's continued to improve his stock since being selected in the 12th round of the 2022 draft. This season, that meant hitting .307/.387/.534 across High- and Double-A. The Astros mostly settled on playing Dezenzo at third base since his promotion. We could see sometime next season just how he fits into the big-league lineup.
|UTL Tyler Tolbert: We're not going to pretend that Tolbert is an amazing prospect or anything, but we like to recognize Cool Players when we can. Tolbert qualifies, having stolen 49 bases on 57 attempts.
|OF Jadiel Sanchez: The Angels acquired the switch-hitting Sanchez from the Phillies as part of the Noah Syndergaard trade. He's solidified the Angels' decision so far this season, hitting .301/.378/.484 with 11 home runs and seven stolen bases in 102 A-ball games. Sanchez doesn't have big power or speed, so he'll need to continue to hit and get on base to maximize his game.
|OF Emmanuel Rodriguez: Rodriguez underwent season-ending knee surgery in June, but he performed well enough in 96 games at the High-A level to earn this accolade. He hit .244/.399/.471 with 16 home runs and 20 stolen bases. He'll absolutely rank highly on the Twins' prospect lists this winter.
|RHP Drew Thorpe: This came down to Thorpe and fellow right-hander Chase Hampton. We're giving Thorpe the spot based on his advantage in innings, but they both could play a role in the 2024 Yankees rotation. He had one of the best changeups in the 2022 draft, so it's not too surprising to use that he's made mincemeat out of lower-level batters.
|INF Brennan Milone: Milone is not a particularly skilled defender, but he's continued to hit for power and work walks. In 110 games split between Low- and High-A, he's hit .281/.392/.487 with 17 home runs and 72 RBI. That's good enough for him to rank second in the system in weighted runs created (behind Jonah Bride, who saw big-league action this year).
|C Harry Ford: A first-round prep catcher hasn't truly worked out in more than two decades. Ford is a real threat to change that. He spent the season in High-A, where he batted .255, slugged .427, and walked nearly as often as he struck out. Ford is a quality athlete and he won't celebrate his 21st birthday until next spring. Keep an eye on him.
|3B Junior Caminero: Caminero is one of the best prospects in the minors and he had a huge offensive season across High- and Double-A despite turning 20 in July. No disrespect to anyone else in the Rays system, but this was an easy call.
|OF Wyatt Langford: It's a small sample, and it's partially cheating since Langford was one of our favorite prospects in the draft, but he's performed so well as a professional (through his first 29 games, he's batted .340/.445/.660) we felt it was defensible to give him this slot. Don't be surprised if Langford makes his big-league debut sometime next summer.
|INF Orelvis Martinez: Martinez has above-average raw power, but the concern with his game has entailed his hit tool, based in large part upon his strikeout tendencies. He seemed to take a step in the right direction this season, cutting his Double-A K rate by eight percentage points compared to last year. He's solidified himself as someone to watch as pertains to the 2024 Blue Jays.