We're mixing it up on State of the Farm this week. Rather than the typical format where I throw out a million names and stats and weekly hot streaks, we'll be sitting down and going over MLB.com's Top-10 prospects in the system.
We'll look at how they've performed so far in 2016, what that means for them moving forward, and whether they've moved up or down in the rankings. Keep in mind, these rankings were made prior to the draft, so you won't be seeing Kyle Lewis or Joe Rizzo, both of whom would crack my personal, immediate Top-10. Let's get to it:
1. Alex Jackson – OF – Class-A Clinton LumberKings
Jackson spent a large portion of the first half in extended spring training before joining the Clinton LumberKings. At first, Jackson was a mess, running an astronomically-high k-rate and at one point posting a sub-.100 batting average. He has since put concerns to rest. Since June 9th, Jackson has hit .314/.392/.477 with a 160 wRC+. For a 20-year-old, those are fantastic numbers for the level, even with the 24.7% k-rate. I don't know if he'll ever get back to the extremely high regard he had coming out of high school, but he's looked the part of an exciting, young prospect.
Trending: In terms of his standing as the number one prospect in the system, he is down, but only due to the emergence of Tyler O'Neill and the drafting of Kyle Lewis. Still very easily a top-three prospect in the system, especially given his performance over the last month or so.
2. Edwin Diaz – RHP – Seattle Mariners
Diaz's 2016 has been an interesting one. After looking the part of a dominant starter in Jackson, albeit one that didn't work deep into games, Diaz was converted to reliever. General Manager Jerry Dipoto cited Diaz's potential as a fast-moving, late-inning arm with his plus-fastball/slider combo. Diaz made ten dominant relief appearances before being called up to Seattle, where he has continued his dominance. Through 15.1 IP, Diaz has a posted a 2.07 xFIP and a 17.02 K/9. He has been straight filth.
Trending: In terms of prospect rankings, Diaz's switch to a reliever role probably dropped him, but his sudden emergence as a vital piece of the bullpen has his career arc trending way up. You can argue for whichever side you want, but at the end of the day we still can't hit his slider.
3. Drew Jackson – SS – High-A Bakersfield Blaze
Jackson shot up the prospect rankings after an absurd showing in Everett last summer. This year, he managed to skip Class-A and go straight to High-A Bakersfield, where he's been okay with the bat. Through 351 at-bats, Jackson has slashed .268/.343/.363 with a 100 wRC+. The walk-rate and k-rate are still promising and his ISO continues to make a small, yearly hike dating back to his freshman year of college. Another thing of note is that his stolen bases are way down from last year. The glove and arm will continue to be big strengths moving forward.
Trending: Down. Obviously, he wasn't going to continue running the .414 BABIP he had in Everett last year, but he hasn't been quite as dominant as you'd like with the bat. Still a fantastic prospect, but he probably won't make the top-five next year.
4. Tyler O'Neill – OF – Double-A Jackson Generals
O'Neill has been far and away the most pleasant surprise in the system this year. Through 341 at-bats with the Generals, O'Neill has slashed .302/.367/.528 with a .226 ISO and has, in my opinion, established himself as the best prospect in the system. Barring a significant and sudden slump, he should get some time in Tacoma before the year is out and enter 2017 Spring Training with a realistic shot at making the team.
Trending: Up. No one has made as big of a step forward as O'Neill has. He's gone from a raw power guy to a well-respected, all-around hitter.
5. Luiz Gohara – LHP – Clinton LumberKings
Gohara made his 2016 debut on June 18th with the Everett AquaSox, striking out seven and allowing four hits over 4.1 IP. He made two more impressive starts with Everett before getting bumped up to Clinton. In his first start with the LumberKings, he struck out six, walked four, and surrendered seven hits and one earned run in 4.2 IP.
Trending: Gohara has done nothing to harm his stock and he hasn't taken the next step, either. At just four starts for the season, Gohara has pretty much stayed put.
6. D.J. Peterson – 1B – Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers
After a terrible 2015, Peterson has put himself back on track this year. Over his last 52 games with Jackson, he slashed .294/.372/.513 with a 154 wRC+. Through his first five games with Tacoma, Peterson has hit .474/.545/.947 with two monster home runs:
His swing received quite an overhaul and he's starting to look much more like the guy the Mariners drafted out of New Mexico back in 2013. Reports of his defense at first base are good, as well.
Trending: Just the same. Peterson has put himself back into the conversation regarding the future of the Mariners after nearly collapsing into prospect purgatory a year ago. That being said, I still think his standing as the sixth-best prospect would still hold true, give or take a spot.
7. Nick Neidert – RHP – Clinton LumberKings
Like Alex Jackson, Neidert spent a lot of time in extended spring before joining the Clinton LumberKings. He's managed to get in eight starts so far in 2016, and they've all been impressive in their own way. So far, Neidert has posted a 2.22 ERA and a 3.86 FIP while striking out 7.95 hitters per 9. In two of his last three starts, he's struck out eleven or more.
Neidert was considered to be a first-round talent when he was drafted 60th overall last year, and he's really been showing why.
Trending: Just the same. Neidert has lived up to the respectable expectations that come with being a team's first pick in the draft. He has been giving up a teensy bit too many home runs, however, and he's been the beneficiary of a fairly low BABIP. He's leaning upwards, but for now he remains put.
8. Boog Powell – OF – Tacoma Rainiers
2016 hasn't been kind to Powell. Through 64 games with the Rainiers, he's posted the lowest wRC+ (85) of his career and his 7.9% walk-rate is far below his career norms. The defense was still there, however, and there appeared to be a chance he would take over for Nori Aoki in late June when he was busted for PEDs. It was the second suspension of Powell's career, meaning he'll be out 80 games this time.
9. Braden Bishop – OF – Bakersfield Blaze
Bishop posted a 113 wRC+ over 63 games with the Clinton LumberKings before receiving a promotion to Bakersfield a few days ago. He slugged just .331 during his time with Clinton, but the pop should improve some moving forward. Bishop is still arguably the best defensive outfielder in the entire system and has proven that on a nightly basis with both Clinton and Bakersfield.
So far in Bakersfield, Bishop has hit .273/.360/.364.
Trending: Maybe a slight tick down because of the lightweight bat he's showcased thus far, but I don't expect that to last. Aside from that, he's been everything the Mariners thought he was when they drafted him. Incredibly talented center fielder who puts the ball in play and takes advantage of his speed.
10. Andrew Moore – RHP – Jackson Generals
Moore steamrolled his way through the California League this year, posting a 1.65 ERA and 3.11 FIP over 9 starts (54.2 IP) before getting bumped up to Jackson. In Jackson, Moore has ran into a bit of a wall, but has also held his own. Through his first 7 starts (39.0 IP), Moore has done the following: 3.23 ERA, 3.59 FIP, 6.92 K/9, 1.38 BB/9.
Despite the low walk-rate, command has been a bit issue for Moore in Jackson. There are times where he'll completely lose the feel for one of his pitches and have to rely a little too much on one of his other offerings. Because Moore doesn't have the most dazzling arsenal, he relies heavily on being able to locate everything in order to be effective.
Regardless, a 22-year-old holding their own in Jackson is impressive. The positives have far outweighed the negatives so far for Moore.
Trending: Just the same. Moore is still absolutely a top-ten prospect in this system, but I'd hesitate to move a guy with a back of the rotation ceiling any higher on the list.