Baseball Factory Alumni on Baseball America’s 2017 Top 10 Prospects List: NL Central
Our Factory Alumni in Baseball America’s Top 10 Prospects takes us into the loaded National League Central this week. From the World Series Champion Chicago Cubs to the loaded farm system of the Milwaukee Brewers, Baseball Factory Alumni are littered amongst the top prospects in the division.
Rankings are prioritized by Baseball America and numbered 1 through 10 for each team. This week, there are 15 Baseball Factory Alumni on NL Central Top Prospects List.
Dylan Cease – RHP (BA Rank: #4)
Cease was touted as a potential high first round pick out of high school in 2014, after hitting 98 MPH as a senior. However, Tommy John surgery knocked him down to the 6th round, where he still got a hefty $1.5 million bonus. Cease more than held his own at short-season Eugene, going 2-0 with a 2.22 ERA and whiffing 66 hitters in just 45 innings, good for fourth in the league. Known for his electric arm, he will spend this season in Low A ball, looking to improve his secondary stuff.
Cease was an Under Armour All-American in 2013, where he showcased elite athletic ability and a fastball that topped out at 97 MPH. His breaking ball was in the low 70s and featured a change up around 80 MPH. He was the starter for the American team and struck out one in his perfect inning of work.
Trevor Clifton – RHP (BA Rank: #8)
Clifton signed with the Cubs after being a 12th round pick in 2013. He had a breakout season in 2016, being named the Carolina League pitcher of the year. His 2.72 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and .225 BAA were all tops in the league. Clifton has an above average fastball and both a slider and a curveball to keep hitters off balance and featured an improved change up in 2016. He will start 2017 at AA Tennessee, with a some late season work at AAA Iowa not out of the question.
Clifton came to our Team One Showcases in both 2011 and 2012 where he displayed a fastball that touched as high as 94 and the two aforementioned breaking balls. He was aggressive in attacking hitters, but it was evident that he would really take off if he smoothed out his mechanics, which it appears he did in 2016.
Taylor Trammell – (OF (BA Rank: #5)
Trammel was the top prep football player in Georgia as a senior, so it took all of the $3.2 million that the Reds paid him after drafting him in the supplemental round in 2016, to sign. Trammel didn’t disappoint, as he hit an impressive .303 for Rookie Level Billings in the Pioneer league. His plus speed enabled him to finish third in the league with 24 stolen bases. His swing is currently tailored to hit line drives, but look for him to develop into plus power as he fills out, with a chance to become an impact outfielder. He will spend 2017 at Low A Dayton.
Trammell was a 2015 Under Armour All-American who displayed good to great barrel accuracy and flashed power during the week. He has what was classified as “game-changing” speed which allowed for him to cover a ton of ground in center field.
Jesse Winker – OF (BA Rank: #6)
Winker, a supplement pick out of Orlando, FL in 2012, has proven himself as a professional hitter over the course of his minor league career, and 2016 was no exception. He hit .303 with AAA Louisville. His 1:1 K/BB ratio bodes well for Winker as he has proven that he can get on base and really hit for average. Wrist injuries (broken in 2015 and sprained in 2016) seemed to have zapped Winker of some power, as he only hit 3 HR in 2016, but his hit tool should carry him into a big league debut in 2017.
Winker attended a Team One event in 2010, where he was one of the top outfielders. Defensively he displayed a strong and accurate arm and was able to tack the ball extremely well. Offensively, he had what was considered major league power with plus bat speed that would play well at the next level.
Lewis Brinson – OF (BA Rank: #1)
Brinson was the crown jewel of the trade that sent Jonathan Lucroy to Texas at least year’s trade deadline. Selected in the 1st round in 2012, Brinson spent the time after the trade at AAA Colorado Springs where he mashed to the tune of .382/.387/.618. (albeit in 23 games). He need to continue to refine his approach at the plate, as he only walked twice in 93 plate appearances at AAA. His potential power should also continue to develop. Look for Brinson to make his major league debut this season.
Brinson was an All-American in 2011 where he played all three outfield positions. He displayed massive arm strength and raw plus power. Defensively, he had excellent range and was considered one of the top players at the event.
Corey Ray – OF (BA Rank: #4)
Another of the stockpiled center fielders in the Brewers organization, Ray was selected 5th overall after a standout college career at Louisville. He was assigned to High A Brevard County where he hit .247. He is a true power/speed threat as he hit 15 home runs and stole 44 bases at Louisville in 2016. Unfortunately, Ray tore his meniscus and had arthroscopic surgery during instructional league. He should reach as high as AA Biloxi in 2016.
Ray started as an participant at an Under Armour National Tryout and was selected to the 2012 Under Armour All America Game where he was one of the best defensive outfielders. He also displayed a very smooth stroke that was both simple and balanced, allowing for hard contact to all fields.
Trent Clark – OF (BA Rank: #6)
The third CF on this list, Clark was drafted 15th overall out of North Richland Hills, TX in 2015. He was hamstrung by leg injuries in 2016 and managed to hit just .231 at Low A Wisconsin after hitting .309 in Rookie ball. He features a short swing that produces extraordinarily hard contact. He has an advanced approach at the plate and, if he stays healthy, could be a plus defender in center field. He will repeat Low A ball in 2017.
Clark was a Under Armour Pre Season All-America Tournament participant in 2013, where he was one of the better offensive players at the event. His left handed swing featured great bat speed and flashed power. He also displayed a plus arm and his speed allowed him to cover the gaps.
Brandon Woodruff – RHP (BA Rank: #7)
Woodruff had a breakout 2016, dominating Hi A Brevard County before more than holding his own at AA Biloxi. The 2014 11th rounder went 10-8 with a 3.01 and struck out 124 with just 30 walks in 114 innings. His fastball is low to mid 90s but features movement and sink, to go with a plus slider an average changeup. He will spend 2017 at AAA Colorado Springs.
In 2010, Woodruff went to Wrigley for the Under Armour All-America Game. There he featured an easy, low effort delivery between 90-04 MPH and had the makings of a good breaking ball.
Austin Meadows – OF (BA Rank: #1)
The 9th overall pick in 2013, Meadows has established himself as one of the top prospects in the game, and he will begin 2017 at AAA Indianapolis only because of the star studded outfield in Pittsburgh. In 87 games in 2016, Meadows combined for .266/.333/.536 with 12 homers and 17 stolen bases between AA and AAA. He has a very advanced approach at the plate, rarely chasing pitches outside the zone and has the makings of an outstanding defensive outfielder. Meadows could develop into a superstar.
Meadows went to Wrigley in 2012 and was already considered a top pick in the 2013 draft. He showed a fluid stroke with speed and balance. His power was evident and defensively, he was tabbed as able to play at the major league level.
Josh Bell – 1B/OF (BA Rank: #4)
Bell reached the big club in 2016, hitting a respectable .273/.368/.406 in his big league debut. He has an advanced approach at the plate, and is willing to walk, as evidenced by the fact that he had more BBs than Ks. Defensively, he transitioned from RF to 1B and it shows, as he is still a tad raw, but he has worked to improve. He should be the Opening Day first baseman for Pittsburgh in 2017.
Bell attended an Under Armour National Tryout and then was a standout at the Team One Futures Game. He displayed a very powerful swing and was quick from both sides of the plate. His gap to gap power was second to none at the event and he was able to use all fields.
Ke’Bryan Hayes – 3B (BA Rank: #6)
Hayes, a 2015 first rounder, spent 2016 at Low A West Virginia, where he displayed both above average hit and power tools. His all-field approach should allow him to continue to develop at High A Bradenton. Hayes missed the second half of the year with a back injury, but he showed that he has a strong arm and good instincts at 3rd base.
Hayes participated in many Factory events, culminating in the Under Armour All-America Game in 2014, where he displayed a an easy stroke that produced line drives and hard contact to all fields. His strong, accurate arm was in tune with soft hands, which made him a plus defender.
Will Craig – 3B (BA Rank: #9)
Craig dominated at Wake Forrest, where he hit .379/.520/.731 with 16 homers in 2016, prompting the Pirates to take him in the first round. While he is viewed as a below average defender, his bat should carry him as he hit .280 in his limited pro debut in short season ball. He will spend 2017 at High A Bradenton. Craig attended a National Tryout all the way back in 2009.
St. Louis Cardinals
Delvin Perez – SS (BA Rank: #3)
Perez, the 23rd overall pick in 2016, has plus-plus speed and should end up as a plus defender. Still very young and raw, his approach at the plate still needs to be refined as he moves through the system. However, he is an elite talent. Look for him to possible get up to Johnson City at the Rookie level in 2017.
Perez stood out for his tools at the 2015 Under Armour All-America Game, as he was a plus runner with a plus arm. His future power also graded out as plus. He was seen as one of the most projectable players at the event.
Carson Kelly – C (BA Rank: #4)
Kelly made his big league debut in 2016, rising quickly from AA to the majors in a breakout campaign. He hit .292/.352/.381 at AAA. He is viewed as an elite glove defensively and appears to have tremendous leadership ability. He will be back and forth between Memphis and St. Louis this season, continuing to develop, even though he is Major League ready now.
Kelly has done many events with Factory, including the Under Armour All-America Game in 2011, where he was a 3B/P. He featured plus power, arm strength and glove with an above average hit tool. The fact that he was a pitcher certainly helps him understand how to call a game behind the dish.
Dakota Hudson – RHP (BA Rank: #9)
Hudson was selected in the 1st round out of Mississippi State in 2016. His fastball can get up to 97 and sits in the mid 90s, which compliments his plus-plus slider and a plus curveball.
He dominated both Rookie ball and Hi A ball as a reliever, but will become a part of the rotation in AA in 2017. As a 2012 Team One South Showcase player, Hudson showed good command and a long, loose arm, projecting as an impact player at the next level.