Prospects who play left field in the minor leagues usually lack the arm to play right and miss the foot speed to play center. To justify them playing with that large expansion of grass surrounding them they must show an ability to hit. And hit with power.
1) Austin Meadows (Pirates) - The Pirates have a young outfield and it is full. That makes for plenty of time for Meadows to develop. He was a first round pick of the Pirates in 2013 and will always be linked with his Georgia rival Clint Frazier, both players drafted in the first round in 2013. The 2014 season was a nightmare year for Austin where hamstring issues limited him to 45 games. When he did play he hit .322 with a .874 OPS. The bat should produce more power as he matures but a below average arm and Andrew McCutchen will restrict him to left field. He does have the foot speed to play center. This year he has stayed healthy to play 127 games. The bat has produced another above .300 average (.310) but the power has yet to appear (7 homeruns and .420 slugging).
2) Billy McKinney (Cubs) - Billy was drafted by the Athletics in the first round of the 2013 draft but the Cubs were able to steal him last year for Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija. A weak arm and average speed will limit him to left. The Cubs hope his power develops to have him fill the position. Right now Kyle Schwarber is filling the position and McKinney does not come close to that kind of power potential, but his defense will be better. McKinney did have a nice .544 slugging average in High A, but when promoted to AA it dropped to .420. Only seven balls flew over the fence, a paltry sum when compared to Schwarber.
3) Nick Williams (Phillies) - The Rangers drafted Nick in the second round of the 2012 draft. He was one of the prospects the Rangers sent to the Phillies in the Cole Hamels trade. It is his bat that will provide a combination of power and average that will get him to the major leagues. While he has played mostly left field in the minors his arm is strong enough to play right, though it lacks the cannon like quality you expect from right fielders. Last year at High A he had a 19/117 walk to whiff ratio, which is a cause for concern. This year he has improved that to 35/97 with two different AA teams. The Phillies are rebuilding and lack options in the outfield. With a good start in the minor leagues Nick could see himself in the Phillies outfield by mid-season 2016.
4) Jessie Winker (Reds) - Jesse was a first round pick of the Reds in 2012. His speed is probably geared more towards first base than the outfield and his arm is suited for left. With Joey Votto at first base the Reds are using him in left field. What is attractive about him is his left handed power bat. Last year he slugged .580 with 13 homeruns in what is traditionally a hitter’s league. He made a return to AA this year after slugging only .351 there last year in minimal at bats. The Reds are hoping for better but he did mash 13 homeruns with a slugging average of .433. He will need to do more if he hopes to win a full time job in left field. Jessie did show good patience at the plate with a .390 OBA as a result of a 74/83 walk to whiff ratio.
5) Brandon Nimmo (Mets) - Nimmo will be forever known as the first player from Wyoming drafted in the first round, selected by the Mets in 2011. Since his high school did not have a baseball team he earned his swag from playing on travel teams. His best attribute at this point is his patience at the plate which results in high OBAs (.387 career). His arm and speed are average. The Mets are hoping with a little more maturity his power will develop. At this stage of his career his minor league high for homeruns is 10 (2014) with a career .397 slugging average entering this season. He didn’t improve on those power numbers this year with a .372 slugging average at three different levels, ending at AAA. If Nimmo wants to be more than a fourth outfielder in the major leagues the power will have to come.
6) Scott Schebler (Dodgers) - Despite the surplus of outfielders the Dodgers still found some room to put Scott in 15 games. His defense will not win any gold gloves and is probably better suited for first base or designated hitter. The Dodgers drafted him in the 26th round in 2010 so to get any kind of production from him is a bonus. Last year he sent 28 balls over the fence and legged his way to 14 triples. It would seem he would be a prime candidate for a trade to an American League team where he could rotate between first base, left field and designated hitter. The 2016 season saw his slugging average drop more than 140 points so he needs to get the bat on track to reestablish his value for 2016.
7) Teoscar Hernandez (Astros) - The Astros are going to have difficulty fitting all their minor league talent on their major league club. The nice thing about Teoscar is he only cost the Astros a $20,000 bonus out of the Dominican in 2011. Last year he made that look like a bargain with 21 homeruns. When promoted to AA he showed very little patience with a 2/36 walk to whiff ratio. That continued this year with a 33/126 ratio resulting in a .216 average. His power continued to show with 17 homeruns and his speed gave him a second consecutive year with 33 stolen bases. He still has the speed for centerfield and his arm is strong enough for right, but that position will belong to George Springer so if he hopes to make it with the Astros he may have to settle for left.
8) Kyle Waldrop (Reds) - With Winker and Waldrop the Reds have two players whose best outfield skill is left field. One of them will have to be traded. Last year Waldrop combined for a .339 average between High A and AA. No one expected him to repeat those numbers in 2015 but in AA he hit .277. A promotion to AAA saw him struggle with a .185 average and a 7/54 walk to whiff ratio. His weak arm will relegate him to left field or first base and he lacks the speed to play centerfield. If he wants to fit in the Reds outfield he will need to return to the bat that hit .339 in 2014.
9) Max Kepler (Twins) - The Twins signed Kepler out of Germany back in 2009. They have been playing him mostly at first base because their outfield is crowded with young outfielders (Aaron Hicks, Byron Buxton and Eddie Rosario). After hitting .322 in AA with a 67/63 walk to whiff ratio the Twins may have to find room for him. His lack of power does not make him a good fit for first base, but at 6′4″ the Twins hope the power will develop. He did split the gaps for 32 doubles and showed off the speed to leg out 13 triples and steal 18 bases. Next year will be key for Max to show that he can replicate the numbers he put up in 2015
10) Steven Moya (Tigers) - At 6′6″ Moya has a large strike zone. Born in Puerto Rico but raised in the Dominican the outfielder hit 35 homeruns and drove in 105 runs last year in AA, earning him the MVP of the Eastern League. There still is too much swing and miss in his swing (23/161 in 2014 and 28/175 in 2015) so a low batting average is to be expected. Pitchers were able to exploit that last year to sink his average from .275 to .243. His arm has plenty of carry for right field and that has been the position he has played in the minors but when myworld watches him play we keep thinking left fielder. Steven has had two September callups with the Tigers. The 2016 season may be a key year with the Tigers rebuilding and looking like they may need help in the outfield next year.