One of the things that I tried to do while doing my prospect countdown rankings is to give an overall perspective of how I see certain players ranking based on many different factors such as age, expectations, track record, and proximity to their major league debut. When ranking players it is extremely difficult to have certain lower level players ranked highly and so I’ve tried to rank players based more on how I think they might reflect as a whole in the prospect world more so than where they could be ranked based on pure talent alone. Thus I’ve decided to do some in-depth dives on players I feel have the ability to move up the rankings in 2020 but are in my opinion still quite underrated and under-ranked due to various reasons.
#98 Brennen Davis, OF, Chicago Cubs
2018 2nd Round Draft Pick of the Chicago Cubs. As a high schooler Davis was a two sport star playing both baseball and basketball and was thought to be a player that would take time to develop as he was considered one of the top athletes in his draft class. However in his first spring training he impressed enough to get an opportunity to start his first full season at Low-A where he was able to showcase his skills at the plate, in fact he was so impressive in his first full season league that he ranked among the top 10 prospects in his league according to Baseball America.
Age: 20 Size: 6’4”, 175 Bats: R Throws: R ETA: 2022
Hitting: Davis is considered an above average hitter that has a chance to have plus power to go along with above average speed. Baseball America considered him the top power hitting prospect in the Cubs organization and he did not disappoint as he finished 2nd on his team in home runs despite playing in only 50 games.
Fielding: Davis is capable of playing all three outfield positions and the Cubs will continue to try him out in center field as he has the speed to play there but will need to improve his reads and routes to balls. He should be able to develop into an above average defender in time.
2020 and beyond: Brennen Davis is an exciting young player in the Chicago Cubs farm system and he has the talent to possibly become a 30-30 player someday but he will need to continue to stay healthy, something he had some trouble with in 2019. He will more than likely start the season at High-A.
Prospects1500 Rank: #89
Hit Streak: 6 (5/25-5/30) 9-21 (.429), with a double and a triple
Best Game: 7/13/19 vs. Quad Cities 3-5, with a HR and 2 RBI
Splits: vs. RH: .293/.377/.521 vs. LH: .351/.400/.541 Fielding %: 1.000
George Valera, OF, Cleveland Indians
Signed by the Cleveland Indians out of the Dominican Republic in 2017. Valera was known as one of the top hitters in the international class in 2017 and since that time he has not disappointed in fact he was so advanced that in 2018 he made his pro debut stateside in the rookie level Arizona League but only played 6 games before losing time to injury. In 2019 he started the season off in short season in the New York-Penn League where he finished as a top 10 prospect in that league according to Baseball America while ranking among the leaders in home runs with 8.
Age: 19 Size: 5’10”, 160 Bats: L Throws: L ETA: 2023
Hitting: One of the top hitters in his international class, he has a nice swing that looks good and stays on plane through the hitting zone. He has a nice approach at the plate and good knowledge of the strike zone, and has good patience at the plate for a young player. He is currently viewed as a hit over power type of hitter. He has good bat speed and a good feel for the barrel which has allowed him to showcase above average or better power in BP while showing the ability to have it translate to in game power as well. He is an average runner now but will probably lose some more speed as he develops.
Defense: Valera looks to be a corner outfielder due to his average speed and his arm is solid enough to play in right field.
2020 and beyond: George Valera will probably start the season off at Low A, and if he can continue to show improvements as a hitter there’s a chance he could make it to High A at some point. He will definitely have to improve on his career (.222) batting average something a player of his talent should be able to do rather easily.
Prospects1500 Rank: #57, Baseball America Rank: #82
Hit Streak: 5 (7/12-7/18) 6-16 (.375), a double and 2 HR
Best Game: 6/25/19 @ State College 4-5, with a double, HR and 6 RBI
Splits: vs. RH: .248/.353/.504 vs. LH: .128/.293/.149 Fielding %: .988
— Ben Badler (@BenBadler) July 2, 2017
Corbin Carroll, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks
2019 1st Round Draft Pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks selected with the 16th overall pick out of Lakeside HS (WA). Corbin Carroll hit everywhere he played throughout the summer showcase circuit winning the Perfect Game All-American Game MVP, and he continued to perform well his senior season which allowed him to become a first round pick. In fact if it weren’t for some teams concerns about his size he could have possibly been a top 10 overall pick. As a pro Carroll did not disappoint as he was a top 5 prospect in the Arizona League according to Baseball America, and he even earned a promotion to the Northwest League where he helped Hillsboro win the championship while compiling even better stats against even more advanced competition.
Age: 19 Size: 5’10, 165 Bats: L Throws: L ETA: 2023
Hitting: Corbin was one of the more advanced bats among all prep hitters in his draft class. He has an all fields approach to go along with a good knowledge of the strike zone which helps scouts to give him a future plus hit grade. He has a patient approach and good knowledge of the strike zone which allows him to draw plenty of walks and when he’s on base he uses his plus to double plus speed to wreak havoc on the bases. He also projects to have average or better power.
Fielding: Scouting directors voted Carroll as the best prep defender in his draft class in the preseason before his senior year. He has great speed which allows him to cover plenty of ground in centerfield. His arm isn’t the best but it plays better due to the accuracy on his throws.
2020 and Beyond: Corbin Carroll earns plenty of praise for his makeup and baseball IQ and his game reminds some of a young Jacoby Ellsbury or Andrew Benintendi. He will more than likely start the season at Low-A. Due to his advanced skills and maturity he could move faster than most of the other prep players in his class.
Prospects1500 Rank: #80, MLB Rank: #95, Baseball America Rank: #96
Hit Streak: 12 (7/31-8/15) 16-49 (.327), with 3 doubles and 4 triples
Best Game: 7/21/19 vs. AZL Athletics 3-3, with a double, 3 stolen bases and 3 RBI
Splits: vs. RH: .291/.399/.480 vs. LH: .333/.455/.519 Fielding %: .952
Francisco Alvarez, C, New York Mets
Signed by the New York Mets out of Venezuela in 2018. Francisco Alvarez is one of the youngest players and one of the most talented catchers on the top 100. He was named the #1 prospect in the rookie advanced Appalachian League. He has a chance to be an elite hitter, one that should be able to still stay at catcher while developing into an above average hitter with plenty of power potential.
Age: 18 Size: 5’11”, 220 Bats: R Throws: R ETA: 2023
Hitting: Francisco Alvarez is strong and has a swing that allows him to display power to all fields. He also makes good adjustments and has shown the ability to hit pitching that is years older than him. Alvarez is a very impactful hitter at the plate for his age and is still continuing to learn and improve. He is good at hitting the ball to all fields which lends evaluators to believe he will become an above average to plus hitter in time.
Defense: His defense is still improving and he has a cannon for an arm. Alvarez is still learning to improve as a blocker but he has good actions behind the plate and has shown a willingness to learn and work hard to improve. He handled the pitching staff well for his young age and impressed many coaches and scouts.
2020 and beyond: Francisco Alvarez has a bright future ahead and will look to make his full season debut at Low-A. He has the tools, work ethic, and skills to develop into a really special type of player one that can be an impact hitter and solid defensive catcher.
Baseball America Rank: #97
Hit Streak: 16 (7/8-8/5) 25-60 (.417), 3 doubles and 2 home runs
Best Game: 8/24/19 vs. Bluefield 2-4, 2 HR and 2 RBI
Splits: vs. RH: .281/.360/.471 vs. LH: .417/.543/.639 Fielding %: .980
Daulton Varsho, C, Arizona Diamondbacks
2017 2nd Round Draft Pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Daulton Varsho is the son of former major league outfielder Gary Varsho and was named after Gary Varsho’s teammate Darren Daulton. He’s performed well as a pro throughout his career in the minor leagues making it up to AA in his second full season in 2019. While in the Southern League in 2019 he had an amazing second half in which he put up a slash line of .344/.420/.599 which helped him to lead the league in runs scored, slugging, and OPS, while ranking among the leaders in average and on base. I believe his talent probably warrants a higher ranking but there are still plenty of questions as to what position he will play in the majors as he’s blocked at catcher by Carson Kelly.
Age: 23 Size: 5’10”, 190 Bats: L Throws: R ETA: 2020
Hitting: Varsho is an above average hitter with a good knowledge of the strike zone. He also makes solid contact and should develop above average power. He’s an above average runner who is able to steal bases as evidenced by his 40 stolen bases over the past 2 seasons.
Fielding: Varsho is a really good athlete who is a good blocker but might not stick behind the plate as a regular due to his below average arm. He’s seen time in the outfield and some evaluators feel he’s athletic enough to play second base, although he hasn’t played second base as a pro.
2020 and Beyond: What position Varsho will become a future regular at is unknown. One thing we do know is he can flat out hit with an excellent power-speed combo. He will more than likely start the season at AAA with a chance to make it to the majors before the end of the season. If he can develop into a super utility player that can still hit for a good average he could be a really special player in the future as he has the potential to be a good hitter that garners plenty of value due to his ability to play catcher, outfield, and maybe even second base.
Prospects1500 Rank: #81, MLB Rank: #100 Baseball America Rank: #86
Hit Streak: 10 (5/1-5/14) 17-41 (.415), with 4 doubles and a home run
Best Game: 8/21/19 vs. Tennessee 4-4, with a double, HR and 2 RBI
Splits: vs. RH: .312/.382/.609 vs. LH: .277/.371/.338 Fielding %: .991
James Weisser has been following prospects since 2003, when the Florida Marlins won the world series with players like Josh Beckett, Miguel Cabrera, and Dontrelle Willis. He has seen MVP's, Cy Young Winners, and All-Stars before they ever played in the majors, and is an avid college baseball fan who enjoys watching the SEC and ACC in the spring when often times the cold, wet weather of the Midwest allows him to follow some of the top players in both conferences. He also enjoys following/covering the Midwest League which is often players first full-season level. He also watches some of the top amateur talent that comes through Chicago and the Midwest like the Under Armour All-America game at Wrigley Field which features some of the top incoming seniors for the following year as well as the 17U Team USA which features some of the top juniors in the country. He currently resides in McHenry, Illinois which is located within an hour from the Beloit Snappers and Kane County Cougars which allows him to see 4 or more organizations Low A teams in a week at times. A White Sox fan growing up one of his favorite moments was watching them win the World Series in 2005. A few of his all-time favorite players to watch are Frank Thomas, Albert Pujols, Derek Jeter, Ryan Howard, Clayton Kershaw, Barry Bonds, Mike Trout, and Ken Griffey Jr.