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Top 10 Prospects Rankings - NL Central Teams

Recently at RotoBaller, we began rolling out our Top 10 fantasy baseball prospects lists for every organization in baseball. We began with a look at the National League West clubs, which was followed by the American League West. Today, we roll out the National League Central clubs.

Ranking prospects over the past year hasn’t been easy. However, with a good portion of the minor league season now behind us, we’re starting to get a good handle on what prospects thrived during the unusual 2020 season and what prospects were hindered by it. From early observations, there is a bigger gap than ever between the top prospects and the average or borderline prospects — likely because the top prospects had opportunities to spend time at the alternate training sites and likely had access to better equipment, etc. The less-fortunate prospects were nowhere near as lucky and were left to their own devices.

To be eligible for the list, prospects must have fewer than 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched at the MLB level. I have also removed a few players that are closing in on those totals. Players selected in the 2021 amateur draft have not been included. They will be added in during our offseason update.

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Pittsburgh Pirates

1. Nick Gonzales, 2B
2. Quinn Priester, SP
3. Oneil Cruz, SS
4. Liover Peguero, SS
5. Jared Jones, SP
6. Tucupito Marcano, IF
7. Hudson Head, OF
8. Mason Martin, 1B
9. Roansy Contreras, SP
10. Tahnaj Thomas, SP

Notes: The Pirates organization has been busy improving the depth of the system but it hasn’t added much in the way of impact talent. It’s been a rough year for Gonzales who looked very good at the beginning of the season but then got hurt. He’s back and playing every day but he hasn’t looked the same. Priester has been very good at times but the second-year pro is still polishing his command. He could eventually have four average-or-better offerings. Cruz was having a solid season at Double-A before getting hurt. He hasn’t played since June 30 and is dealing with an arm injury. Peguero has shown flashes of his impressive tools but his overly aggressive approach has been exposed by pitchers in High-A ball. Jones is one of my favorite under-the-radar pitching prospects. The Pirates have been careful with him and he’s thrown just 35 innings but he has 55 strikeouts and just 15 walks. I’m not a huge fan of the recently acquired Marcano. He’s probably a solid regular at the MLB level if everything clicks and he learns to drive the ball with more authority. Just Missed: Carmen Mlodzinski


St. Louis Cardinals

1. Nolan Gorman, 3B/2B
2. Jordan Walker, 3B
3. Matthew Liberatore, SP
4. Zack Thompson, SP
5. Ivan Herrera, C
6. Alec Burleson, OF
7. Masyn Winn, SP/SS
8. Jhon Torres, OF
9. Tink Hence, SP
10. Luken Baker, 1B

Notes: The Cardinals organization has some intriguing prospects but it lacks depth. Gorman started off the year with an improved approach at the plate. That started to slip in July — right before he was oddly promoted to Triple-A. It took some time but he’s now showing signs of gaining his footing at the new level. I was a huge fan of Walker in the 2020 amateur draft and he’s been a steal for the Cardinals. The 19-year-old infielder is already in High-A and he’s been heating up again recently. I’m still not sure why the Cardinals jumped Liberatore over High-A and Double-A. He’s held his own at Triple-A but he’s really struggled with the long ball (16 homers in 67 1/3 innings) and has a 5.21 ERA. Winn was supposed to be a two-way player in pro ball but he has yet to take the mound. He’s looked solid at the plate (112 wRC+) but oddly received a promotion from Low-A to High-A recently. He has a chance to be an impact player with his athleticism and speed.


Milwaukee Brewers

1. Garrett Mitchell, OF
2. Hedbert Perez, OF
3. Brice Turang, SS
4. Ethan Small, SP
5. Jeferson Quero, C
6. Zavier Warren, C
7. Joe Gray Jr, OF
8. Kory Howell, OF
9. Eduardo Garcia, SS
10. Freddy Zamora, SS

Notes: Like the Cardinals, the Brewers organization has some interesting prospects but the system is not overly deep. Mitchell has enjoyed a breakout season and looks like a future above-average player at the MLB level. Perez is a long way from realizing his full potential but he has perhaps the highest ceiling in the system. The organization also has some underrated catching talent with Quero and Warren; both could develop into above-average catchers. Gray Jr. and Howell are boom-or-bust prospects with huge ceilings and intriguing power/speed mixes but they also come with huge strikeout rates. Garcia and Zamora are middle infielders that have a chance to be above-average with their gloves but it remains to be seen if they’ll hit enough to be fantasy relevant. Sleeper: Jackson Chourio


Chicago Cubs

1. Brennen Davis, OF
2. Cristian Hernandez, SS
3. Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF
4. Brailyn Marquez, SP
5. Alexander Canario, OF
6. Kevin Alcantara, OF
7. Miguel Amaya, C
8. Alexander Vizcaino, SP
9. Ryan Jensen, SP
10. Caleb Kilian, SP

Notes: The Cubs system was quite barren before the trade deadline, which saw five new prospects added to the list. Davis could develop into a special player if he keeps the strikeouts in check while his power develops. Hernandez also has a massive ceiling but he’s been just so-so in the Dominican Summer League this year. However, he’s just 17 and has shown a solid eye. I am a huge Crow-Armstrong fan and although the trade doesn’t quite look as bad as the Jarred Kelenic deal, it could hurt Mets fans a few years down the line. Canario has intriguing power but needs to work on making more consistent contact. Alcantara could be the steal of the trade deadline for the Cubs but he’s also a long way away from realizing his full potential. It wouldn’t shock me if he eventually has a better career than the more hyped Jasson Dominguez. Kilian is also a sneaky-good prospect; I think he has mid-rotation upside. The Cubs did an excellent job of getting value for Kris Bryant, who is on an expiring contract.  Sleeper: Reginald Preciado


Cincinnati Reds

1. Hunter Greene, SP
2. Jose Barrero, SS
3. Nick Lodolo, SP
4. Austin Hendrick, OF
5. Tyler Callihan, 3B
6. Rece Hinds, 3B
7. Tony Santillan, SP
8. Christian Roa, SP
9. Michael Siani, OF
10. Lyon Richardson, SP

Notes: The Reds organization is quietly building a deep system with some players with star potential at the top of the rankings. Greene and Lodolo both look like intriguing arms if they can stay healthy. Greene quite possibly has the ceiling of a No. 2 starter while Lodolo is more of a solid mid-rotation arm. Barrero is toolsy and exciting. His power has started to really show since moving up to Triple-A this year. Henrick and Hinds both have the potential to hit for plus power but lack a feel for hitting, which could hurt them down the road. Callihan has shown flashes of what made him a fringe first-round talent back in 2019 but he’s been moved along very slowly. Roa is a name to keep an eye on as a pitcher with some velocity, a deep repertoire, and promising command/control. Sleeper: Malvin Valdez

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