Top Centerfield Prospects

These are the shortstops in the grass. They are expected to cover a lot of ground and should have decent throwing arms. If they have average to weak throwing arms they should have a quick release. If they lack exceptional speed they move to a corner. Because these are the most athletic of the outfield prospects, my world will rate 15 top centerfield prospects.

1. Jarred Kelenic (Mariners) - The Mets made a good choice by drafting Kelenic in the first round of the 2018 draft. They made a poor choice by trading him and a couple other prospects for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz. Jarred has all the tools you want in a centerfielder. Speed to patrol the outfield and an arm baserunners have to respect. He also has above average hitting tools that should make him a 20-20 player when he reaches the major leagues. His stolen base production may decrease if he moves to the third slot in the lineup. He was a 20-20 player in 2019 in the minor leagues, slugging 23 homeruns and stealing 20 bases. A reduction in strikeouts (111) could make his average slide above the .300 neighborhood. Expect him to be with the Mariners some time in 2021.

2. Cristian Pache (Braves) - The Braves signed Cristian in 2015 for $1.4 million out of the Dominican Republic. Shortly after that the Braves were penalized severely for violating international signing limits, losing a number of international players signed in 2015 and 2016. Fortunately for the Braves, Pache was not one of the 12 players lost. He is a better defensive centerfielder than Kelenic, with a stronger arm and greater speed. Once he arrives with the Braves he will appear every year on Gold Glove lists. His bat is not as strong and his tremendous speed does not result in a lot of stolen bases. He made his major league debut with the Braves in 2020 but only got four at bats. In 2019 in the minor leagues he hit .277 with 12 homeruns and 8 stolen bases. His strikeout numbers increased dramatically, but this didn’t seem to impact his overall numbers. Cristian should start the 2021 season as the Braves starting centerfielder.

3. Drew Waters (Braves) - A luxury of riches for the Braves. Obviously both can not play centerfield. The Braves could use the second round 2017 pick as trade bait, or move him to a corner outfield. They could also keep him in centerfield and move Pache to right field, though Pache is the better defensive player. Currently Waters is a player who can drive the ball from gap to gap hitting from both sides of the plate. His Achilles heel is his inability to make consistent contact, with a 39/164 walk to whiff ratio in 2019. More contact and a better read of pitchers could lead to more power and a higher average. He should also arrive with the Braves sometime late in 2021. With both Pache and Waters patrolling the outfield they should have one of the better defensive outfields in the major leagues.

4. Jasson Dominguez (Yankees) - Jasson signed with the Yankees out of the Dominican Republic in 2019 for $5.1 million. As a Yankee signing he comes with a lot of accolades. Since he has yet to swing a bat in the minor leagues a lot is unknown about what kind of numbers he will put up. The tools are impressive. He could bulk up, lose some speed and he would still probably be swift enough to cover centerfield. Combine his bat and his speed he should hit in the neighborhood of .300 consistently while creating 30-30 homerun/stolen base numbers. Since there was no 2020 season the 2021 season will do a lot to define this pending superstar. The Yankees will start him somewhere in A ball where he can exhibit his plus five tools. Yankee fans should not expect to see him until 2023.

5. Garrett Mitchell (Brewers) - The 2020 first round pick can run with the wind and has a power arm. The big question mark is whether he can hit minor league pitching. An injury prevented him from putting up any decent numbers in his last college season prior to the draft. His draft prospects dropped and the Brewers could not be happier. Major plusses for Garrett are his 6′3″ frame with a left handed bat that should develop power. The power is already evident in his batting practice swings. A concern is how he will keep his health and maintain his Type 1 diabetes. Since Garrett lacked a minor league season he will probably start 2021 in A ball and will not be seen by Brewer fans until late 2022 at the earliest. As a college drafted player he should move a lot quicker.

6. Hunter Bishop (Giants) - The 2019 first round pick of the Giants is one reason the Giant outfield of the future looks so promising. Heliot Ramos and Alexander Canario are two more reasons. Hunter may have the more complete tools, with the speed to play center and an arm that is strong, but a little light to compete with Ramos for right. Prior to being drafted he showed power with his 22 homeruns in college. That power continued in the minor leagues with five more homeruns in 32 games. A propensity to swing and miss kept his batting average low (.229) but a 38/39 walk to whiff ratio had his OBA rise to .438. Perhaps a little more aggressiveness at the plate could improve his numbers. At 6′5″ he is a pretty intimidating presence at the plate, but he also carries a large strike zone. A good athlete, Bishop thought of playing football as a wide receiver, but chose to focus on baseball. He will rise quickly in the minor leagues, seeing the Giants outfield sometime in 2022.

7. Corbin Carroll (Diamondbacks) - The 2019 first round pick of the Diamondbacks is another player who covers a lot of grass when he chases flyballs in the outfield. The big question with Corbin is his ability to hit for power. He slugged .487 in his minor league debut in 2019, but those numbers were inflated by his speed to hit 7 triples and 9 doubles. His speed should consistently result in 30 plus stolen bases per year. The patience is there to take walks (.409 OBA) but he needs to improve his ability to make more consistent contact to take advantage of his speed. While his arm is strong enough for right field, he could lack the power expected from a corner outfielder. Next year he should start at A ball with a 2023 major league debut sometime late in the season.

8. Leody Taveras (Rangers) - Like Corbin, the 2015 Dominican signing has a lot of speed to cover the middle of the outfield. The questions remain about his ability to hit. He has spent a lot of years in the minors, stitching together a career .260 batting average with a .358 slugging. Those numbers fall short of being welcome in a corner outfield, but could be acceptable with gold glove defense in centerfield. The glove is exceptional and the speed will result in 20 plus stolen bases per year. Leody made his major league debut last year. The bat was a little light (.227) but he slugged four homeruns for a .395 slugging percentage in 33 games. The batting average was a career low but the slugging was a career high. Spring training will dictate where he plays in 2021. Myworld suspects he will start in AAA and be promoted mid season if he improves his bat.

9. Khalil Lee (Royals) - Myworld has a soft spot for the 2016 third round pick. We coached his sister for a little bit ( a couple clinics) in volleyball. He played high school at Flint Hill where he earned Gatorade player of the year for Virginia. The arm is suited for right field but his speed is enough to patrol center. His bat showed some trouble making contact in 2019 with 154 strikeouts, limiting his average to .264. He did have an impressive 53 steals in 2019. With improved barrel of bat on ball contact his power should rise as his ability to get on base improves. The Royals did not see enough in him to call him up in 2020 so expect him to spend the year in AAA in 2021, with a callup late in the year.

10. Daz Cameron (Tigers) - The son of Mike and the Astros supplemental first round pick in 2015 has the above average tools to be a five tool player light. The Tigers acquired him in the Justin Verlander trade. It has been awhile since the Tigers had a true centerfielder. Daz could fit that role. The one major question mark is his ability to hit. In 2019 he could only muster a .214 average with 152 whiffs. The Tigers gave him an opportunity to roam their outfield last year, but in 17 games his bat was only good for a .193 average. He has shown patience at the plate, taking enough walks to keep his OBA above .330. With that he would be on base enough to steal 30 plus bases per year. With a good spring, showing an improved bat he could start out the 2021 season as the Tigers centerfielder. Myworld suspects AAA will be his most likely start.

11. Estevan Florial (Yankees) - As he bulks up myworld suspects right field will be his ultimate destination, but he missed out on making the top ten there. The Yankees outfield is a little crowded and Estevan did not help himself any by putting up a .237 average in 2019. He has also been limited to less than 100 games his last two years because of injuries. The power is there but he has not slugged over .500 since his first year in the minors in 2015. Haitian born, based on his birth certificate, he spent most of his youth going to school in the Dominican Republic. Last year Estevan appeared in one major league game, striking out in two of his three at bats, but getting a single in his other. He will start 2021 in AAA but with the always fragile Yankee outfield, it would not be a surprise to see him in the Yankee outfield at many points during the season.

12. Pete Crow-Armstrong (Mets) - Like Hassell on the right field prospect list, Armstrong also made the All World team at the 18 and under World Cup. It was enough for the Mets to make him a first round pick in 2020. He lacks the tools of a Jarred Kelenic, especially in the power department. There is the ability to make good contact to hit for a decent average. He did hit .364 with three triples and three stolen bases at the 18 and under world cup. Since he has not seen any professional time, Pete will probably begin the season in A ball. Mets fans should not expect to see him until 2023, right after Kelenic wins the American League rookie of the Year award.

13. Josh Lowe (Rays) - The 2016 first round pick has a big time power bat that is expected from a 6′4″ frame. He also carries a strong arm and glides with deer like speed in the outfield. In 2019 he had a breakout season, slugging 18 homeruns with a career high .442 slugging. His 132 whiffs in 121 games was too much for his batting average, keeping it at .252. Last year he stole a career high 30 bases. Since he will be hitting in a power spot in the lineup, this should not be expected to last. The position he may be best suited for is right field but he needs to develop more power in the games, rather than leave it at batting practice. Next year he should be patrolling the Rays AAA outfield with a good chance of promotion in 2021 to take advantage of his power bat and cheap salary.

14. Gilberto Jimenez (Red Sox) - Jimenez signed for the paltry amount of $10,000 in 2017. The tools have been in evidence, especially his blazing speed. The power is negligible. He did hit his first three homeruns last year. His career .444 slugging percentage is attributed to his speed, turning singles into double and doubles into triples. He has stolen 30 bases in his two minor league seasons. In 2019 he won the batting title in the New York Penn League with a .359 average. Gilberto has yet to play full season ball and with short season absent for 2021 he should start next year somewhere in A ball with a major league appearance expected for 2023.

15. Luis Barrera (Athletics) - The 2012 Dominican signing has risen past Lazaro Armenteros, Austin Beck and Skye Bolt for outfield relevance in the Athletics minor league system. His speed is top shelf but his power is invisible. His highest homerun total in his snailish pace up the minor league ladder was seven in 2017. His ability to hit triples keeps his slugging average at a respectable .412. Despite his blazing speed his stolen base numbers are tame, but that could be the result of the Athletics deemphasis on the stolen base. His 2019 season was shortened to 54 games, but not before he hit .321, with a .513 slugging, both of which would have been career highs if he maintained that pace. The 2021 season should be spent in AAA, but Luis deserves a shot in the Athletics outfield at some point during the season.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.