This is the Prospects Live All Stars series, where we settled on All Stars from all 17 professional leagues, giving credit where it was due. To be eligible for a list, a player must have played the majority of his season in said league and not exceeded 60 IP/300 PA in the majors. Players are listed under the position they played the most and stats shown pertain only to the listed league.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. This neatly sums up the Eastern League in 2019. The hitting overall, outside a few later summer promotions, was by and large bad. While the pitching was very good, every team seemed to sport at least two to three interesting arms at one point during the season, and some of the top starting pitching prospects made their way through the league. It’s almost unfair that eight position players will make the squad, while just four arms will gain inclusion into our post season awards. If 2018 was the season of Vlad and Bo in the Eastern League, 2019 was the year of Manning and Mize (and Faedo). - Ralph Lifshitz
C - Riley Adams (TOR)
.258/.349/.439, 11 HR, 3 SB, .181 ISO, 31.6 K%, 9.6 BB%
Big raw power is Adams calling card, and in a weaker field he was able to edge out Ali Sanchez just due to power upside. He’s average or just below as a receiver but his arm is relatively strong. Has a backup catcher ceiling with a good chance it’s more of a role 30.
1B - Alec Bohm (PHI)
.269/.344/.500, 14 HR, 2 SB, .231 ISO, 14.1 K%, 10.4 BB%
I played with eligibility here a little bit, but Bohm played first in my looks and he played first in about 20 percent of his games. Now that we’ve established his fringe eligibility, let’s talk about why he’s here. Bohm was one of the few hitters that balanced both contact, approach, and power in my looks, and I feel he was arguably the best position player on the circuit in 2019. He’s likely to move off of third at some point and should land full time at first, but he has the bat and power to make it work.
2B - Rylan Bannon (BAL)
.255/.345/.394, 8 HR, 8 SB, .139 ISO, 16.2 K%, 10.6 BB%
One of the better defensive second baseman I’ve seen over the last handful of years, Bannon is rangey (particularly for 2B in 2019), with a strong throwing arm that allows him to play an average third base. At the plate he swings hard despite his diminutive frame. His swing is on the long side but he does create good loft. It’s no mystery why Bannon’s 50 raw finally started showing up in AAA with the juiced balls. Sum-of-his-parts player in some respects, with ball player in his DNA.
3B - Bobby Dalbec (BOS)
.234/.371/.454, 20 HR, 6 SB, .220 ISO, 25.1 K%, 15.5 BB%
This was a quintessential Bobby Dalbec season, walks, flyballs, strikeouts, and solid defense at third. The former two-way player at Arizona still has the plus arm that made him a dangerous closer, and it’s why I’m bullish on him staying at the hot corner. His setup at the plate is simple, but his swing gets long and it leads to strikeouts. Few players combined power and on base ability the way Dalbec did.
SS - Isaac Paredes (DET)
.282/.368/.416, 13 HR, 5 SB, .134 ISO, 11.1 K%, 10.3 BB%
Another bit of poetic license with the positions again, but Paredes did log 32 games at short this season, while seeing another 80 at third base. He’s not a shortstop in the future, but he was one of the better hitters in the Eastern League and deserves his due. That’s not hyperbole either, Paredes possesses innate bat to ball ability and precise understanding of the strike zone. Paredes hardly swings and misses, rather making lots of hard contact mostly in the form of line drives heavily to his pullside. The game power should come and some time in Triple-A with the new ball (should it remain), should see Paredes in game power numbers jump big.
OF - Ka’ai Tom (CLE)
.285/.386/.512, 14 HR, 3 SB, .227 ISO, 21.3 K%, 12.5 BB%
A fifth rounder all the way back in 2015, the Kentucky product has quietly put up good offensive numbers throughout his minor league career to little fanfare. In 2019, Tom broke out in a big way, slugging 23 homers across Double-A and Triple-A. His previous season high came in 2018 where he hit 12 at High-A Lynchburg. There’s been an evolution in approach, as Tom hits line drives at an elite rate and lots of flyballs. A plus defender, the 25-year-old could catch on as a fourth outfielder.
OF - Josh Stephen (PHI)
.271/.342/.483, 12 HR, 7 SB, .213 ISO, 27.3 K%, 9.7 BB%
A former 11th rounder out of the legendary Mater Dei High in California, Stephen is a player going largely unnoticed despite producing excellent numbers in Double-A at 21. He revamped his entire approach to training, dropping 15 pounds and working with a sports psychologist this off-season. The adjustments paid dividends. It allowed Stephen to take his game to the next level this spring, earning an aggressive assignment skipping High-A Clearwater for the Eastern League. He certainly proved it a wise move as Stephen produced a 140 wRC+. There’s above average thump in the bat and good bat speed. He still has some work to do approach wise, but he has some understanding of the zone. His real knock is his lack of defensive value, already sentenced to the dreaded left field only profile.
OF - Yusniel Diaz (BAL)
.262/.335/.472, 11 HR, .210 ISO, 20.8 K%, 9.9 BB%
It felt like Diaz had a down year, but in actuality he had a pretty strong campaign, heavily bolstered by a torrid second half. Diaz slashed .303/.365/.528 for the final two months of season. Pretty remarkable considering he’s been hampered by nagging injuries all season. His all around ability makes him one of the top prospects in the Eastern League and his final two months made him an all-star.
SP - Matt Manning (DET)
133.2 IP, 2.56 ERA, 2.53 FIP, 28.1 K%, 7.2 BB%, .191 BAA
“Manning or Mize?” is often the question posed these days when discussing Erie. For my money give me Manning. Withstanding another full season of innings, the tall right-hander finished the campaign with elite numbers across the board. He sported the lowest FIP among qualified starters, while finishing second in K%, and third in opponent’s batting average. He mixes a fastball in the 93-96 range, touching 98 at its hottest, with a plus curveball in the 79-81 area code with tight, late break. It’s a one-two punch he rides to a fair amount of success, but the feel for the third pitch escapes him. His changeup comes and goes, showing flashes of fade and tumble at its best, and a lack of shape at other times. Manning should face the test of Triple-A next year before seeing the majors at some point in late 2020.
SP - Casey Mize (DET)
78.2 IP, 3.20 ERA, 2.98 FIP, 23.5 K%, 5.6 BB%, .231 BAA
Part of a four-headed monster in the Erie rotation, the 2018 first overall pick cemented himself as one of the top players in the league almost immediately, tossing a nine inning no-hitter in his Double-A debut. He was strong in the seven starts following, going 5-0 with a 1.33 ERA and a 2.61 FIP before a shoulder injury stripped Mize of much of his second half. This injury has led to some serious questions about his long term durability. As for his pitch mix, he features multiple plus pitches, including a hard breaking slider and a devastating splitter. He employs a cutter as well, but it’s rarely used. His fastball has good velocity sitting between 91-95 in my looks touching 97 a few times. It’s an above-average fastball but it’s not especially live. Injuries robbed Mize of a promotion to AAA late in the season, and likely better performances late in AA . Health is the biggest hurdle Mize will face going forward.
SP - Nate Pearson (TOR)
62.2 IP, 2.59 ERA, 2.90 FIP, 28.3 K%, 8.6 BB%, .186 BAA
Monster is the first word that comes to mind when describing the 6-foot-6 behemoth. He sits in the upper-90s with ease, touching 100 multiple times an outing. He mixes in a plus, possibly double plus, slider, a curveball, and a changeup. All of his secondaries flash above average to plus and paired with his fastball he can be deadly. His command will come and go and endurance is a question mark for Pearson. After alternating full starts with two inning opens, the Blue Jays took the reigns off post All-Star Break. Over his five Double-A starts following, Pearson posted a 1.59 ERA, 2.99 FIP, 28.8 K%, and a 9.9 BB% over 28.1 IP. His command is still below average and he will work himself into hitters counts when he over throws his fastball and slider, losing shape, and making them easy takes.
RP - Argenis Angulo (CLE)
35 IP, 2.06 ERA, 1.46 FIP, 43.8 K%, 15.3 BB%, .156 BAA
A two-pitch reliever with a mid-90s fastball with lots of movement and an average curveball with 11-5 shape. He has some deception to his delivery, complete with an odd backward twist at the start of his motion. Angulo simply dominated Eastern League hitting before his promotion to Triple-A.
Most Valuable Player: Matt Manning
Seemed only right to award the MVP to a pitcher in a pitching dominate league, and no starter was better from start to finish than Matt Manning.
The Southern League is typically a pitcher’s league, and it absolutely was in 2019, but that also had to do with some incredible talent coming through the league on the mound in 2019.It felt like more top prospect arms passed through than top prospect bats over the course of the year. -Ben Chase
C - Daulton Varsho (Ari)
Stats: .301/.378/.520, 18 HR, 21 SB, .220 ISO, 9.3 BB%, 13.9 K%, 159 wRC+
Considered one of the top prospects in the Arizona system coming into 2019, Varsho took his play to a whole new level in 2019, showing excellent contact skills, power, and plate discipline along with continuing to be one of the most athletic catching prospects in the game. It was surprising to see the Diamondbacks not bump him up to Triple-A at any point, and the offseason acquisition of Carson Kelly could mean the big league backstop job is occupied for a bit, but Varsho did log his first time in the outfield (in centerfield, no less) in his pro career during the 2019 season.
1B - Pavin Smith (Ari)
Stats: .291/.370/.466, 12 HR, .175 ISO, 11.6 BB%, 12 K%, 142 wRC+
One of the best college hitters we’ve seen in recent memory, Smith was pushed up draft boards by those who thought his stick would be good enough in spite of being primarily a first baseman. Instead, he’s never really shown power as a pro, with his ISO representing nearly a 40-point leap on his previous high. The contact skills and ability to avoid a strikeout are still there, and Smith has also worked well in the outfield, which still gives him an excellent chance of big league success to some level.
2B - Travis Blankenhorn (Min)
Stats: .278/.312/.474, 18 HR, 11 SB, .196 ISO, 4.4 BB%, 22.7 K%, 125 wRC+
After a handful of games in High-A where he was all patience and no power, Blankenhorn flipped the script in Double-A and led what ended up becoming a very talented Pensacola offense by the time the season was over. Blankenhorn plays solid defense both at the keystone and the hot corner, and his power should make him worthy of a future bench role.
3B - Vimael Machin (ChC)
Stats: .294/.386/.403, 6 HR, .109 ISO, 12.7 BB%, 11.4 K%, 129 wRC+
A season to promote all “org filler” types everywhere, Machin played almost equally at second, third, and short, and in a dearth of quality third base play in the league in 2019, he is the choice here. Machin never hurts a team, but he doesn’t typically stand out either, as his career .265/.358/.371 line indicates. The 25-year-old is a grinder with good footwork and hands around the infield along with some gap power - the type of guy that could surprise his way onto a pro roster or end up org filler for his career as there’s a very fine line between the two with his profile.
SS - Jazz Chisholm (Ari/Mia)
Stats: .220/.321/.441, 21 HR, 16 SB, .220 ISO, 11.4 BB%, 32.4 K%, 121 wRC+
There were a few considerations for this position before Chisholm was traded to Miami at the trade deadline. He then went about impressing his new organization, with a .284/.383/.494 slash with Jacksonville, posting three home runs and three stolen bases in 23 games and cutting his strikeout rate significantly to 25.5 K%. Chisholm is in the discussion for the most raw talent in the upper minors, and his ceiling could be impressive - if only he can make contact enough to reach it.
OF - Cooper Hummel (Mil)
Stats: .249/.384/.450, 17 HR, .202 ISO, 14.8 BB%, 23.9 K%, 147 wRC+
Originally a catcher, Hummel moved full-time to the outfield last season, and his big arm plays well in the grass, but he’d not truly unlocked his impressive raw power until 2019. Though he didn’t tally the doubles that he has in the past, he turned those doubles into home runs, more than doubling his previous high in home runs and giving Biloxi a consistent power threat.
OF - Drew Waters (Atl)
Stats: .319/.366/.481, 5 HR, 13 SB, .162 ISO, 6.2 BB%, 26.7 K%, 144 wRC+
While his “fantasy” stats aren’t tremendously impressive, Waters did lead all Double-A hitters in batting average and he tallied 49 extra-base hits before he was promoted to Triple-A to close out the season. And he did all of it was a 20-year-old. He’s not the overall prospect that teammate Cristian Pache is, but Waters has established himself as one of the elite outfield prospects in the game.
OF - Josh Lowe (TB)
Stats: .252/.341/.442, 18 HR, 30 SB, .190 ISO, 11.4 BB%, 25.4 K%, 128 wRC+
Lowe always had the raw talent from the time he was the 13th overall selection in the 2016 draft, but he’d always left a little on the table each season. In 2019, he let it all hang out, and it led to one of the more impressive power/speed displays in the Tampa Bay system. Lowe improved his strikeout rate and walk rate while nearly doubling his previous career-high in home runs and adding nearly 10 steals to his previous career best.
SP - Sixto Sanchez (Mia)
Stats: 103 IP, 2.53 ERA, 2.69 FIP, 4.6 BB%, 23.6 K%, .224 BAA
While everyone knew about Sixto’s talent, he’d struggled to stay healthy in his career, never pitching more than 95 innings in a season. He opened the year in high-A, but he moved quickly to Double-A, and by the end of the season, Sanchez had tossed 114 innings. Sanchez achieves incredible groundball rates with his premium stuff, which should make the Marlins more comfortable with his less-than-you’d-expect strikeout rate.
SP - Ian Anderson (Atl)
Stats: 111 IP, 2.68 ERA, 2.91 FIP, 10.2 BB%, 31.8 K%, .199 BAA
The Mississippi rotation was absolutely loaded in 2019. The Braves would have certainly had one more rotation spot if the starting pitcher slots on this team were taken from three to five, and there’d be at least a reasonable argument for Mississippi to have both of the additional spots. Anderson’s numbers were already elite, but what’s even more remarkable is that he got better every single month through July, after which he was promoted to Triple-A. Anderson’s ERA went down each month, his walk rate went down each month, and his strikeout rate went up every month (through June) before the promotion.
SP - Cory Abbott (Chi)
Stats: 146.2 IP, 3.01 ERA, 3.51 FIP, 8.7 BB%, 27.8 K%, .207 BAA
It is arguable that no one had a better under-radar season in the upper minors in 2019. What makes it more impressive is that Abbott is part of a club that gets plenty of press and sees its prospects get plenty of notice for that reason. In just two full seasons in the Cubs minor league system, he’s put up over 260 innings and struck out 315 hitters. He may not project as a frontline starter, but there’s good reason to think he could step into the back of the Cubs’ rotation soon.
RP - Devin Williams (Mil)
Stats: 31 G, 53 1/3 IP, 2.36 ERA, 2.87 FIP, 13.2 BB%, 34.6 K%, .167 BAA
A high school pick in 2013 by the Brewers, Williams moved to the bullpen in 2019 after going through Tommy John surgery that cost him the entire 2017 season. His success jumped him all the way to the majors by the end of the season. Primarily a fastball/changeup pitcher, Williams will have to iron down his command further to be an effective reliever, but his stuff made plenty of Southern League hitters sweat this summer.
MVP - Daulton Varsho
A very good argument could be made for multiple pitchers on the season, but the guy who spent the entire year at the level and also put up some of the most impressive stats in the league, all while wearing the tools of ignorance? Yeah, he’s earned this nod.
The qualified leader in wRC+, slugging, runs scored, and OPS along with top-five finishes in average, ISO, home runs, and an incredible top ten finish in steals in the league make for quite a resume!
The Texas League has traditionally been a hitters league, but with all the offensive explosions in the leagues above it, it now represented a bit of normalcy. For that reason I’m surprised more of these prospects didn’t hang around a bit longer. All that being said, while this may read like a top prospects list, it is not. It is a list of who I deemed to be the best at their positions in this league. - Matt Thompson
C – Luis Torrens (SD)
.300/.373/.500, 15 HR, 1 SB, .200 ISO, 16.9 K%, 10.6 BB%
Torrens spent the entire season playing for the Amarillo Sod Poodles and is back on track as a 23-year old in Double-A. He famously spent 2017 with the Padres as part of their massive Rule 5 stash, and it cost him a year of development. The former Yankee farmhand is an interesting lottery ticket stash in deep fantasy leagues, and you won’t find him on any prospect lists due to his big league experience. Remember, Torrens was signed for $1.2 million as part of the Yankees 2012 J2 class and there are some defensive skills to go with an above average offensive skill set.
1B – Seth Beer (HOU)
.299/.407/.543, 16 HR, .270 ISO, 20.7 K%, 8.6 BB%
I argued with myself over the first base selection for the Texas League for a while but ultimately went with Seth Beer over Evan White (.293/.350/.488) despite White having a 120 plate appearance advantage. The truth is, Beer’s offensive game is on another level, and I think he’s a middle of the order bat on a contending club. The trade to Arizona is a great thing for Beer going forward, and he has a clear path to the first base job in the desert, possibly as soon as May 2020.
2B – Ivan Castillo (SD)
.313/.347/.461, 8 HR, 15 SB, .148 ISO, 12.7 K%, 4.3 BB%
Castillo was signed by the Indians as part of their 2012 J2 class, and after six uninspiring years in the Indians system the Blue Jays selected him in the Triple-A portion of the Rule 5 draft prior to the 2018 season. After a strong campaign in the Florida State League, Castillo signed with the Padres as a minor league free agent prior to 2019. Castillo is an above-average runner with an average glove at second base, and can also play shortstop, third and the outfield. He was the 2019 Texas League batting champion and I can see him creating a Tony Kemp like career for himself as he climbs up the ladder.
3B – Abraham Toro (HOU)
.306/.393/.513, 16 HR, 4 SB, .207 ISO, 17.7 K%, 11 BB%
The switch-hitting Toro put it all together and had a breakout season in 2019, as he was able to add power to his all-around plate skills without seeing a rise in strikeouts. Toro does everything well, and fits the prototype of the players that typically out perform their offensive grades, and that looks to be the case thus far. He’s played his way on to top 100 lists with his strong play.
SS – Gavin Lux (LAD)
.313/.375/.521, 13 HR, 7 SB, .208 ISO, 20.6 K%, 9.6 BB%
While Toro hit himself onto top 100 lists, Lux hit his way into the top five of all lists after a 2019 season that exceeded even the most optimistic expectations. Lux is the complete package, and likely would’ve been the MVP of the Texas League if not for a mid-season promotion to the Pacific Coast League.
OF – Dylan Carlson (STL)
.281/.364/.518, 21 HR, 18 SB, .237 ISO, 20.3 K%, 10.8 BB%
Carlson matched Lux blow for blow, but stayed in the league nearly two months longer than the Dodgers farmhand. Carlson exploded on the scene after years of teasing us with a complete game that lacked offensive consistency. In 2019 he found that offensive brilliance we’ve been waiting for and shot up prospect lists because of it by hitting 21 homers, stealing 18 bags and playing strong outfield defense. He’s the MVP of the Texas League and hit well in Triple-A after his promotion.
OF – Edward Olivares (SD)
.283/.349/.453, 18 HR, 35 SB, .170 ISO, 17.8 K%, 7.8 BB%
The Padres stole Olivares from the Blue Jays as part of the package that sent Yangervis Solarte north of the border, and this might be one that Toronto wants back. The 2014 J2 signing has flourished since joining the Padres organization flashing strong plate skills in addition to the 18 homers and 35 steals in 2019. There’s no glaring weakness here, as Olivares is a well-rounded talent that does a bit of everything.
OF – Jake Fraley (SEA)
.313/.386/.539, 11 HR, 16 SB, .226 ISO, 21.2 K%, 8.9 BB%
Fraley had his first healthy season since the Rays drafted him with the 77th overall pick in the 2016 draft out of LSU. He’s yet another prospect that has no glaring weakness and projects as a starting big league outfielder for the Mariners. Fraley was having a comparable season to Carlson and Lux, but a mid-season promotion to Triple-A may have cost him some hardware.
SP – Justin Dunn (SEA)
131.2 IP, 3.55 ERA, 3.43 FIP, 28.6 K%, 7.1 BB%, .234 BAA
Dunn took the ball 25 times for Arkansas in his debut season as a Mariner prospect and he pitched well enough to make this list. The right-hander attacks hitters with four above-average (or better) offerings. His fastball sits 92-95, and he has plus command of his plus slider and above average curve. He also throws a firm changeup that has some fade. His fastball command has improved over the last two seasons, but I’d say its still one of the weaker parts of his game. Dunn projects as a future number three starter for the Mariners.
SP – Dustin May (LAD)
79.1 IP, 3.74 ERA, 3.12 FIP, 25.8 K%, 6 BB%, .232 BAA
Gingergaard has some of the nastiest stuff in all of baseball, and he rode his plus-plus slider and plus fastball combination from Double-A all the way to Chavez Ravine in 2019. May has an athletic, loose delivery with a Bronson Arroyo-esque leg kick and projectable frame. The overall command is plus, and he keeps hitters off balance with a 95 MPH heater that he backs up with a 90 MPH slider. May is a future front of the rotation arm.
SP – Justus Sheffield (SEA)
78 IP, 2.19 ERA, 2.63 FIP, 27.9 K%, 5.9 BB%, .216 BAA
The former Indians and Yankees prospect Justus Sheffield gets my vote for Texas League Pitcher of the Year despite only 78 innings in the league in 2019. The quality of his work was strong enough despite the low innings total, and his ability to limit walks and miss bats stood out to me. Sheffield opened the season in Triple-A and the Mariners sent him to Double-A in June after it was obvious that the Triple-A environment wasn’t going to be beneficial to his game, and everything clicked in Double-A.
RP – David Bednar (SD)
58 IP, 2.95 ERA, 2.47 FIP, 35.8 K%, 7.5 BB%, .224 BAA
Bednar was the Padres 35th round pick in the 2016 draft out of Lafayette College. He’s a traditional three-pitch reliever, but his fastball and curveball are plus pitches, and the only thing keeping his splitter from getting a plus grade is consistency. This is a relief only profile, but it’s one that you can project to be in high leverage situations in the future. He was promoted to San Diego as soon as the Double-A season ended.
League MVP: Dylan Carlson, St. Louis Cardinals
Though he wasn’t the highest pedigree player to play in the Texas League, Carlson was here the longest and he never cooled off. His blend of high floor, high ceiling play helped him ascend from a relatively unheralded prospect to one inside top 25s.