Minor League Report: For teams’ top prospects, look to Pacific Coast League

Contributing writerMay 25, 2014 

Cubs White Sox Spring Baseball

Chicago Cubs shortstop Javier Baez throws out Chicago White Sox's Marcus Semien at first in the fourth inning of a spring exhibition baseball game Friday, March 21, 2014, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

MARK DUNCAN — AP

Every spring, Baseball America ranks the top 10 prospects in each major league organization. Often the top prospects are very young and play in the low-level minor leagues.

That is not the case this year.

When the Miami Marlins promoted pitcher Andrew Heaney to Triple-A New Orleans on Thursday, it was a landmark in the Pacific Coast League: Eight of the 16 teams in the league had its organization’s top-ranked prospect on the roster.

Listed below (in alphabetical order) are the eight PCL players who rank as the No. 1 prospect in their organization.

Javier Baez, Iowa (Chicago Cubs): A shortstop who hit 37 home runs in the lower minor leagues in 2013, Baez broke camp with the Triple-A club after hitting five home runs in 14 spring training games.

The 21-year-old had trouble adjusting to Triple-A pitching and was batting just .142 with 45 strikeouts on May 15, but now he’s hot: Baez carried an eight-game hitting streak into Saturday, with 13 hits and three homers during the streak.

Archie Bradley, Reno (Arizona Diamondbacks): A 21-year-old right-hander with ace potential, Bradley opened the season in Reno’s starting rotation and made just five starts before landing on the disabled list because of elbow soreness.

No structural damage was found, and Bradley recently began a throwing program and is targeting a mid-June return to Reno. He’s 1-4 with a 5.18 earned-run average.

Andrew Heaney, New Orleans (Miami Marlins): The 22-year-old left-hander was promoted to New Orleans after going 4-2 with a 2.35 ERA in nine appearances in Double A. He held Oklahoma City to one run in five innings Thursday, striking out seven.

Taylor Lindsey, Salt Lake (Los Angeles Angels): The Angels’ first-round draft pick in 2010 broke camp with Salt Lake, where he is batting .241 with five homers in 47 games.

The 22-year-old second baseman has drawn 23 walks with 26 strikeouts.

Jimmy Nelson, Nashville (Milwaukee Brewers): Nelson opened the season with nine consecutive quality starts, going 5-1 with a 1.71 ERA with 58 strikeouts in 58 innings for the Sounds. The 24-year-old is scheduled to make his major league debut Sunday.

Joc Pederson, Albuquerque (Los Angeles Dodgers): Blocked by a logjam of outfielders with the parent club, Pederson could put up huge numbers in a full PCL season. The 22-year-old is off to a great start, batting .346 with 15 homers and 13 stolen bases for Albuquerque.

Noah Syndergaard, Las Vegas (New York Mets): At age 21, Syndergaard flashes major league stuff but is working to improve his command.

He’s 5-2 with a 4.02 ERA in 10 starts for Vegas, with 57 strikeouts and 19 walks in 532/3 innings.

Oscar Taveras, Memphis (St. Louis Cardinals): A string of four consecutive multiple-hit games last week bumped Taveras’ average to .326, with seven homers and 38 RBIs. The 21-year-old outfielder has posted a .917 OPS.

A ninth No. 1 prospect is waiting to appear soon in the PCL. Seattle Mariners pitcher Taijuan Walker received the top ranking from Baseball America, and he figures to make an appearance with the Tacoma Rainiers this week.

Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers.

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