Updated Top-10 Prospects Lists: NL Central

Below are the updated summer top-10 prospect lists for the orgs in the National League Central. I have notes beneath the top 10s explaining why some of these prospects have moved up or down. For detailed scouting information on individual players, check out the player’s profile page which may include tool grades and/or links to Daily Prospect Notes posts in which they’ve appeared this season. For detailed info on players drafted or signed this year, check out our sortable boards.

Chicago Cubs (Preseason List)

1. Adbert Alzolay, RHP
2. Victor Caratini, C/1B
3. Oscar de la Cruz, RHP
4. Jose Albertos, RHP
5. Thomas Hatch, RHP
6. Aramis Ademan, SS
7. Alex Lange, RHP
8. Brendon Little, LHP
9. Mark Zagunis, 3B
10. D.J. Wilson, CF

Trades and graduations have sucked some of the talent from the top of this system as Alzolay has ascended. Caratini can hit and is a fine receiver with average raw arm strength, but he has issues blocking balls and is slow out of his crouch, something scouts think he’s trying to remedy by throwing from his knees at times. He’s likely to hit enough to at least be a valuable corner platoon bat and backup catcher, a la Robert Fick. Albertos and de la Cruz have had trouble staying healthy, the former also experiencing issues with throwing strikes. Ademan was one of the more advanced bats left back in Arizona when camp broke, and he’s very likely to stay on the middle infield.

Cincinnati Reds (Preseason List)

1. Hunter Greene, RHP
2. Nick Senzel, 3B
3. Taylor Trammell, OF
4. Tyler Mahle, RHP
5. Luis Castillo, RHP
6. Jesse Winker, LF
7. Shed Long, 2B
8. Tyler Stephenson, C
9. Aristides Aqunio, OF
10. Alfredo Rodriguez, SS

Castillo is missing big-league bats with his combination of elite velocity and diving changeup. He’s essentially a two-pitch guy right now, but they’re two good pitches and he’s a special athlete. I’ve come around on his chances of figuring it out as a starter based on that, but some scouts still want to see a better breaking ball and command. (Eno Sarris examined some of the pitch-type data on Castillo earlier today.) Mahle has solid stuff and plus command, vaulting him toward the top of the group beneath the elite talents at the head of the list. After initial struggles, Long has started to hit at Double-A. Aquino is trending down.

Milwaukee Brewers (Preseason List)

1. Lewis Brinson, CF
2. Corey Ray, OF
3. Brandon Woodruff, RHP
4. Luis Ortiz, RHP
5. Isan Diaz, 2B
6. Josh Hader, LHP
7. Keston Hiura, 2B
8. Corbin Burnes, RHP
9. Lucas Erceg, 3B
10. Mauricio Dubon, UTIL

Ray, Hader, and Erceg have all struggled at times this year but two of those players are enduring their first full pro season and Hader was feeling the effects of Colorado Springs. Tooled-up outfielder and personal cheeseball, Monte Harrison, has finally started to perform and just missed the list, as did RHP Freddy Peralta, who has been up to 95 and missing bats with his changeup and breaking ball.

Pittsburgh Pirates (Preseason List)

1. Austin Meadows, OF
2. Mitch Keller, RHP
3. Cole Tucker, SS
4. Kevin Newman, SS
5. Shane Baz, RHP
6. Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B
7. Steven Brault, LHP
8. Will Craig, 1B/3B
9. Taylor Hearn, LHP
10. Luis Escobar, RHP

There’s lots of room for varied opinion on the last couple spots of this 10, but each prospect north of Brault has a top-100 argument. Meadows had begun to right the ship after a month beneath the Mendoza line and then missed a month with a hamstring injury. He’s hitting his way back through the low minors right now. Newman has had a tough year but still projects as a solid defensive shortstop who puts the ball in play. Tucker has become more physical and retained above-average speed. Escobar’s velocity ticked up this year and his stuff is generally hellacious, but he still doesn’t know where it’s going.

St. Louis Cardinals (Preseason List)

1. Alex Reyes, RHP
2. Carson Kelly, C
3. Jack Flaherty, RHP
4. Delvin Perez, SS
5. Sandy Alcantara, RHP
6. Dakota Hudson, RHP
7. Magneuris Sierra, CF
8. Tyler O’Neill, OF
9. Harrison Bader, OF
10. Jordan Hicks, RHP

This system has depth, especially on the mound, and there was no room for gigantic teenager Johan Oviedo nor strike-throwing righty Zac Gallen, who is already at Triple-A in his first full pro season. Flaherty looks like an above-average starter after seeing a slight uptick in stuff across an already well-rounded repertoire. Perez has struggled early on but still has star-level tools.

Eric Longenhagen is from Catasauqua, PA and currently lives in Tempe, AZ. He spent four years working for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, two with Baseball Info Solutions and two contributing to prospect coverage at ESPN.com. Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.

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6 years ago

What do you still see in Ke’Bryan Hayes to say he’s T100 worthy? Also, Will Craig seems like a huge bust and not a prospect for me. For the Reds, you have Nick Senzel listed as a C/1B.

Pirates Hurdles
6 years ago
Reply to  KayEmCee

The Craig assessment is a little harsh considering he has put up 142 and 130 wRC+ in his year and a half as a pro. The lack or power is concerning, but the bat to ball skills are playing.

6 years ago

Well, a 22 year old line drive hitting 1B prospect in High A ball is really not too exciting. If he was still at 3B maybe he’s still a prospect but right now he’s the next Matt Hague, more or less.

6 years ago

Craig does not have enough power to profile at 3B (where he’s already being moved off of) or 1B. Can’t play anywhere else.