USA TODAY Sports Weekly
TOP FIVE PROSPECTS
Excerpted from BaseballHQ.com’s 2016 Minor League Baseball Analyst. To order: baseballhq.com/mlba16.
1. Alex Reyes, RHP: One of the best pitching prospects in baseball, Reyes will miss the first 50 games of 2016 for testing positive for a drug of abuse. He features a 96- to 97-mph fastball that tops out at 102 mph; a hard 12-to-6 curveball and an improved changeup. His mechanics have been smoothed out, and the 21-year-old struck out 13.4 batters per nine innings in 2015. Once he returns, he will report to Class AAA Memphis and should make his big-league debut in 2016.
2. Magneuris Sierra, OF: Sierra struggled as a 19-year-old in full-season Class A but rebounded nicely when demoted to a short-season affiliate. He possesses a quick, left-handed stroke, though breaking pitches down in the zone give him fits. He has above-average speed (19 stolen bases) but doesn’t project to have more than average power. Sierra should stick as a center fielder, and he’ll give Class A another try in 2016.
With a fourpitch mix, Flaherty, 20, was lights-out in the low-A Midwest League with a 2.84 ERA. He fills up the strike zone and has easy athleticism and repeatable mechanics, but some scouts wonder whether his longterm projection is anything higher than a middle-rotation starter.
4. Luke Weaver, RHP: He has a 90- to 93-mph fastball, keeps the ball down in the zone and gets late action from a high threequarters arm slot. With good command (19 walks in 1051⁄ innings at high-Class A in 2015), Weaver will get a shot a Class AA.
5. Marco Gonzales, LHP: Another four-pitch pitcher, Gonzales has a fluid delivery that leads to good command. Though his fastball lacks premium velocity (88-92 mph), he locates it well and pairs it with a good changeup that he throws in any count. His curveball is more inconsistent. The 23-year-old struggled at Class AAA in 2015 (5.45 ERA), though he will have a shot to make the Cardinals rotation.