With the Future’s Game being played this past week, and minor league All Star games being held, it’s time to take a look at who has been the best of the best at their respective positions through the first half of baseball. Here is the Minor League Midseason team.
C – Travis d’Arnaud, 23 (age), Blue Jays
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.333, 21 2B, 2 3B, 16 HR, 52 RBI, .380/.595/.975
The Yankees Gary Sanchez has had a very good season, but d’Arnaud has been better. He tore a ligament in his knee on June 26 and will miss 6-8 weeks, which is unfortunate because he was playing better than most on this list, hitting .356 with 15 doubles, 14 home runs, 41 RBI and a .670 SLG over his last 46 games. Already at triple-A Las Vegas, he may not finish the season in the minors.
1B – Anthony Rizzo, 22, Cubs
.342, 18 2B, 2 3B, 23 HR, 62 RBI, .405/.696/1.101
Rizzo is now playing for the Cubs but his first half can’t be ignored, as he was one of the best offensive threats in the minors. Before his promotion, he was among the leaders in HR, RBI, SLG and OPS. Over his last 163 games in the minors, he hit .336 with 52 doubles, 49 home runs and 163 RBI.
2B – Delino DeShields, 19, Astros
.281, 16 2B, 3 3B, 7 HR, 39 RBI, 64 SB, .387/.410/.798
If it wasn’t for Billy Hamilton, DeShields would be talked about as the next great base stealer. On pace for over 100 SB, the 19-year old is already further along in his development than Hamilton was at the same age. Over his last 33 games, he is hitting .326 with 32 stolen bases and a .426 OBP playing for class-A Lexington. Built like a running back at 5’-9” and 200 pounds, he also has some pop in his bat to go along with his blazing speed.
3B – Matthew Skole, 22, Nationals
.280, 14 2B, 0 3B, 21 HR, 73 RBI, .434/.553/.987
Aside from the power numbers, Skole has showed remarkable patience at the plate by drawing 79 walks over his first 83 games. The 6’-4”, 230-pound lefty ranks among the top in HR, RBI and OBP and has drawn at least 20 walks in every month. Nick Castellanos and Mike Olt deserve mention, as well.
SS – Billy Hamilton, 21, Reds
.323, 18 2B, 9 3B, 1 HR, 30 RBI, 104 SB, .413/.439/.852
No debate here. Hamilton has been the most exciting player in the minors this season and is chasing Vince Coleman’s record of 145 stolen bases set in 1983. He isn’t slowing down either, as he wrapped up the month of June hitting .347 with 22 walks and 39 stolen bases over 26 games. He got a promotion to double-A Pensacola and will make his debut on July 11.
OF – Wil Myers, 21, Royals
.327, 20 2B, 5 3B, 27 HR, 72 RBI, .403/.676/1.079
Myers has been the best overall hitter in the first half, putting up similar gaudy numbers over two stops. Over 35 games at double-A Northwest Arkansas, he hit .343 with 13 home runs, 30 RBI and a 1.146 OPS. Since his promotion to triple-A Omaha, he has hit .315 with 14 home runs, 42 RBI and a 1.031 OPS through 48 games. Has been great in the clutch, hitting .352 with seven home runs and 30 RBI over 54 at bats with runners in scoring position.
OF – Oscar Taveras, 20, Cardinals
.324, 25 2B, 4 3B, 17 HR, 63 RBI, .372/.593/.965
Tavares just turned 20, is one of the youngest players in double-A and keeps getting better as the season goes on. Over 24 games in June, he hit .347 with nine doubles, six home runs, 19 RBI and a 1.041 OPS. The 6’-2, 180-pound left-hander was already considered one of the best hitters in the minors coming into the season after hitting .386 over 78 games last season. The power numbers were expected to come, just not this soon.
OF – George Springer, 22, Astros
.321, 17 2B, 7 3B, 17 HR, 63 RBI, 20 SB, .401/.568/.969
The 11th overall pick in last year’s draft out of Connecticut, Springer is one of the best five-tool prospects in the minors and has a shot at a rare 30 HR/30 SB season in the minors. Has been especially hot of late, hitting .436 with six doubles, two home runs, nine RBI, 3 stolen bases and a .744 SLG over nine July games. Tyler Austin, Jackie Bradley and Christian Yelich also have had great seasons and deserve mention.
DH – Miles Head, 21, Athletics
.360, 26 2B, 7 3B, 19 HR, 63 RBI, .414/.655/1.069
Head’s 52 extra-base hits puts him among the top in the minors, as well as his .360 batting average and 1.069 OPS. Was hitting .382 with 18 home runs, 56 RBI and a 1.149 OPS over 67 games at class-A advanced Stockton before his promotion. The 21-year old is already at double-A, not bad for a 26th round draft pick.
UT – Jurickson Profar, 19, Rangers
.292, 19 2B, 6 3B, 10 HR, 40 RBI, 9 SB, .369/.473/.842
Profar had a 29-game hitting streak earlier this season and is one of the top prospects in all of baseball. He hit a home run in the 2012 Future’s Game, his second appearance in the event. While his overall numbers aren’t as impressive as others on this list, he will be 19 years old all season long and is the youngest player at double-A, and even younger than Dylan Bundy.
SP – Dylan Bundy, 19, Orioles
5-2, 1.87 ERA, 0.77 WHIP, 74 K/13 BB, 62.2 IP
Bundy’s eight starts for Delmarva of the Sally League were arguably the best-ever start to anyone’s career. Over 30 innings, he allowed zero runs, five hits and struck out 40 batters to just two walks. He has been a little more human at class-A advanced Frederick, going 4-2 with a 3.58 ERA and 1.26 WHIP over seven starts. He has , however, continued his high strikeout totals with 34 K/11 BB over 32.2 innings, thanks in large part to a fastball that can touch triple digits.
SP – Matt Barnes, 22, Red Sox
7-2, 2.44 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 101 K/17 BB, 81 IP
Barnes was nearly as impressive as Bundy in the Sally League, going 2-0 while allowing just one run on 12 hits over 26.2 innings. He also struck out 42 batters to just four walks. He has more than held his own at class-A advanced Salem, going 5-2 with a 3.48 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 59 K/13 BB over 54.1 innings. His 11.2 K/9 ratio is the best among the pitchers on this list, as well as his 5.94 K/BB.
SP – Jose Fernandez, 19, Marlins
8-0, 2.12 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 108 K/22 BB, 89 IP
Fernandez was no match for opposing hitters in the Sally league, going 7-0 with a 1.59 ERA, 0.87 WHIP and 99 K/18 BB over 79 innings. He has been knocked around a little at class-A advanced Jupiter, allowing seven runs over ten innings, but he is one of the youngest pitchers in the league. At just 19, he is most likely nearing his innings count for the season and is probably good for only five or six more starts, although, at 6’-3” and 215 pounds, he has the frame to carry the load.
SP – Tony Cingrani, 23, Reds
9-2, 1.28 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 121 K/28 BB, 98.2 IP
Cingrani put up the most eye-popping numbers in the first half and is currently riding a 20.2 scoreless innings streak, allowing just seven hits over that span and a 15-strikeout performance on June 27. Opponents are hitting just .186 against him and his 11.1 K/9 ratio is second only to Barnes on this list. Over his two minor league seasons, the lefty is 12-4 with a 1.44 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and 200 K/34 BB over 150 innings.
SP- Trevor Bauer, 22, Diamondbacks
11-1, 2.23 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 116 K/48 BB, 93 IP
Danny Hultzen or Trevor Bauer? It was close, but I chose Bauer with the last spot because of the way he handled the PCL, a league that gives pitchers nightmares. Over eight games at Reno, he went 4-0 with a 2.82 ERA and 56 K over 44.2 innings. Bauer is in the majors now and probably won’t find himself in the minors again this season, but his first half was extremely impressive as he ranked among the leaders in wins and strikeouts. Jake Odorizzi and Daniel Straily deserve mention, as well, for the way they have handled the PCL.
CL – Carter Capps, 21, Mariners
2-3, 1.47 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 16 SV, 63 K/12 BB, 43 IP
Capps’ 13.1 K/9 ratio shows the kind of dominating closer he has been all season. Over his 19 appearances in May and June, he didn’t allow a run over 25.1 innings. He allowed just 14 hits and struck out 40 batters to just six walks during that span, recording 10 saves.