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Legends On Deck

Single-A: 2017 Midwest League Preview

The Minor League baseball season is upon us and the Midwest League looks poised to be full of young talent for yet another season. Sixteen Major League teams have affiliates in the consistently deep Single-A league and with first pitch later on tonight, it’s time to give fans of the Midwest League, and fans of their parent clubs, the teams and players to look out for in 2017.

Photo by Mathew Carper

Eastern Division:

 

Bowling Green Hot Rods – Tampa Bay Rays 

Bowling Green, Kentucky

2016 Overall Record: 84-55 (1st in Eastern Division)

The Hot Rods were eliminated in the first round of last year’s playoffs despite posting the second best overall regular season record, tied with with South Bend and two games behind Clinton, in the entire league. With a prospect heavy lineup, they may find themselves near the top again in 2017.

Rays Top Prospects on Roster: #6 Josh Lowe OF, #7 Jesus Sanchez OF, #13 Adrian Rondon SS, #14 Lucius Fox SS

Opening Night: 4/6 vs. Fort Wayne

Dayton Dragons – Cincinnati Reds

Dayton, Ohio

2016 Record: 47-93 (8th in Eastern Division)

Dayton posted by far the worst record in the league last year as their overall mark ended up being 12 games worse than the second to last place team. However, with four of the Red’s top 16 prospects set to start the season in a Dragon’s uniform, and they are four good ones, there is reason to have a more positive outlook on baseball in the Gem City for 2017.

Reds Top Prospects on Roster: #5 Taylor Trammell OF, #8 Tyler Stephenson C, #15 Antonio Santillan RHP, #16 T.J. Friedl OF

Opening Night: 4/6 vs. Lake County

 

Fort Wayne TinCapsSan Diego Padres

Fort Wayne, Indiana

2016 Record: 62-78 (7th in Eastern Division)

After finishing seventh in the eastern division overall standings in 2016, the TinCaps are looking to an improved Padres farm system to help them take a step forward on the field in 2017.

Padres Top Prospects on Roster: #8 Fernando Tatis Jr. SS, #9 Jorge Ona OF, #14 Hudson Potts 3B, #19 Logan Allen LHP, #30 Buddy Reed OF

Opening Night: 4/6 @ Bowling Green

 

Great Lakes Loons Los Angeles Dodgers

Midland, Michigan

2016 Record: 65-75 (6th in Eastern Division)

Your 2016 Midwest League Champions finished with an overall record ten games under .500 and finished in seventh in the first half with a record of 29-41 before finishing third in the division in the second half with a record only two games above .500 at 36-34. The Loons got hot at the right time and ended up going 7-3 in the playoffs en route to their 2016 Midwest League title.

Dodgers Top Prospects on Roster: #10 Jordan Sheffield RHP, #14 Keibert Ruiz C, #22 Oneil Cruz 3B, #24 Dustin May RHP, #25 Carlos Rincon OF, #28 Brendon Davis SS, #30 A.J. Alexy RHP

Opening Night: 4/6 vs. Lansing

 

Lake County CaptainsCleveland Indians

Eastlake, Ohio

2016 Record: 72-68 (4th in Eastern Division)

The Lake County Captains missed the playoffs by half a game when they finished third in the first half standings in 2016. Lake County hopes that this crop of young Captains can lead them to the promised land. There is so much talent on this year’s roster that I don’t think they will have to worry about missing out on the playoffs in 2017.

Indians Top Prospects on Roster: #5 Brady Aiken LHP, #12 Juan Hillman LHP, #16 Shane Bieber RHP, #20 Gabriel Mejia OF, #21 Aaron Civale RHP, #22 Logan Ice C, #29 Micah Miniard RHP, #30 Conner Capel OF

Opening Night: 4/6 @ Dayton

 

Lansing LugnutsToronto Blue Jays

Lansing, Michigan

2016 Record: 69-71 (5th in Eastern Division)

The 2016 edition of the Lansing Lugnuts was a relatively middle of the road team during the duration of the entire season when they finished fifth in the first half and fourth in the second half. There will be plenty of excitement in 2017 as they have some big name prospects coming their way this season including the Blue Jays number one prospect.

Blue Jays Top Prospects on Roster: #1 Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 3B, #9 Bo Bichette SS, #10 Justin Maese RHP, #13 J.B. Woodman OF, #15 Joshua Palacios OF, #17 Patrick Murphy RHP, #19 Zach Jackson RHP, #26 Osman Gutierrez RHP

Opening Night: 4/6 @ Great Lakes

 

South Bend CubsChicago Cubs

South Bend, Indiana

2016 Record: 84-55 (2nd in Eastern Division)

The South Bend Cubs fell to the West Michigan Whitecaps in the opening round of last year’s playoffs two games to one. They won the Eastern Division in the first half of the season and finished in second during the second half. The Cubs were the only team to win 40 games in both halves of the 2016 season. They look to continue that success in 2017.

Cubs Top Prospects on Roster: #3 Dylan Cease RHP, #9 D.J. Wilson CF, #14 Jose Paulino LHP, #18 Isaac Paredes SS

Opening Night: 4/6 @ West Michigan

West Michigan WhitecapsDetroit Tigers

Comstock Park, Michigan

2016 Record: 71-65

The team that snuck in the playoffs a year ago over Lake County, the Whitecaps actually won a playoff series before being eliminated in the semi’s by the eventual champions, Great Lakes. The Tigers will send some outstanding talent to Michigan this season, including a couple of guys to watch out for on the bump.

Tigers Top Prospects on Roster: #6 Kyle Funkhouser RHP, #27 Daniel Pinero SS, #30 Bryan Garcia RHP

Opening Night: 4/6 vs. West Michigan

 

Western Division:

Beloit Snappers Oakland Athletics

Beloit, Wisconsin

2016 Record: 59-80 (8th in Western Division)

It was a long second half to 2016 in Beloit when the Snappers finished out their season at 27-43 after finishing just five games under .500 in the first half. The Snappers will have a good right arm to look forward to on the mound, but outside of that, most of their top prospects will be seeing time in more advanced leagues.

Athletics Top Prospect on Roster: #14 Dakota Chalmers

Opening Night: 4/6 vs. Cedar Rapids

 

Burlington BeesLos Angeles Angels

Burlington, Iowa

2016 Record: 68-72 (5th in Western Division)

The Bees near .500 record was a reflection on both halves as they stayed relatively close to that mark all of last season. The Angels have a lot of top prospects in extended spring training who are still awaiting assignment, but the eyes of all Angels fans will be on Burlington as the number one prospect in the organization is set to join the Bees for 2017.

Angels Top Prospects on Roster: #1 Jahmai Jones OF, #18 Troy Montgomery OF, #25 Joe Gatto RHP

Opening Night: 4/6 vs. Peoria

 

Cedar Rapids KernelsMinnesota Twins

Cedar Rapids, Iowa

2016 Record: 78-61 (2nd in Western Division)

The Kernels made it to the semi’s in 2016 after posting two halves above .500 as well as the second best overall record in the Western division. After falling to Clinton in the playoffs, the Kernels will look to their plethora of young talent to lead them to another playoff run. They may be a little thin on the mound, but the lineup should be able to produce some good offensive numbers.

Twins Top Prospects on Roster: #7 Travis Blankenhorn DH, #10 Lewin Diaz 1B, #13 Ben Rortvedt C

Opening Night: 4/6 @ Beloit

 

Clinton LumberKingsSeattle Mariners

Clinton, Iowa

2016 Record: 86-54 (1st in Western Division)

The team with the best 2016 overall record in the Midwest League tore through the second half with a 47-23 mark before coming up short in the finals against Great Lakes. Most of the players from that dominant team have moved up, but don’t sleep on the LumberKings, they have plenty of talent coming into Clinton this year.

Mariners Top Prospects on Roster: #17 Bryson Brigman SS, #21 Brandon Miller RHP, #22 Luis Liberato OF, #30 Nick Wells LHP

Opening Night: @ Kane County

 

Kane County CougarsArizona Diamondbacks

Geneva, Illinois

2016 Record: 65-75 (6th in Western Division)

Kane County posted nearly identical marks in last year’s two halves when they won 33 games in the first and 32 games in the second. Despite not having the best farm system, the Diamondbacks will still send some highly talented young ball players for fans in Geneva to look forward to seeing.

Diamondbacks Top Prospects on Roster: #3 Jasrado Chisholm SS, #8 Jon Duplantier RHP, #9 Anfernee Grier DH, #19 Cody Reed LHP, #22 Jhoan Duran RHP, #23 Jose Herrera C, #25 Wei-Chieh Huang RHP, #29 Tyler Mark RHP

Opening Night: 4/6 vs Clinton

 

Peoria Chiefs St. Louis Cardinals

Peoria, Illinois

2016 Record: 73-66 (3rd in Western Division)

Due to a strong first half in 2016, Peoria locked up a playoff spot before getting swept in the first round by Clinton. The outfielders will be the group to watch in Peoria this year as the Chiefs will field three prospects on the Cardinals top 30 list in their outfield to start the season.

Cardinals Top Prospects on Roster: #16 Dylan Carlson OF, #18 Jordan Hicks RHP, #23 Nick Plummer OF, #25 Ronnie Williams RHP, #26 Bryce Denton OF

Opening Night: 4/6 @ Burlington

 

Quad Cities River BanditsHouston Astros

Davenport, Iowa

2016 Record: 61-78 (7th in Western Division)

The team in Davenport finished towards the bottom of the standings in both halves of last year’s season. The roster will be filled with some pretty talented position players as well as a top pitching prospect to look out for. Forrest Whitley is a 6’7 righty that many scouts are excited about.

Astros Top Prospects on Roster: #5 Forrest Whitley RHP, #9 Daz Cameron OF, #17 Anibal Sierra SS, #19 Ronnie Dawson OF, #22 Jake Rogers C, #28 Stephen Wrenn OF, #29 Jorge Alcala RHP

Opening Night: 4/6 vs. Wisconsin

 

Wisconsin Timber RattlersMilwaukee Brewers

Appleton, Wisconsin

2016 Record: 71-69 (4th in Western Division)

The Timber Rattlers snuck into the playoffs last year with a 37-33 second half record that ended up being good enough for a third place finish in the Western Division. They didn’t hang around long though when they were swept by Cedar Rapids in the first round of the playoffs.

Brewers Top Prospects on Roster: #17 Gilbert Lara SS, #22 Monte Harrison OF, #23 Mario Feliciano C, #24 Demi Orimoloye OF, #29 Trey Supak RHP

Opening Night: 4/6 @ Quad Cities

Jake Berry
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Jake Berry

Contributing Writer at Legends On Deck®
Jake resides in Carrollton, GA and loves everything baseball. He is a lifelong Atlanta Braves fan and enjoys traveling to watch their Minor League teams. He graduated from the University of West Georgia with a Bachelor's Degree in Sport Management. Jake is also a certified personal trainer and has a passion for fitness and weight lifting. You can find his personal site at berrysbaseball.com

You can also reach out to Jake at jberry@legendsondeck.com
Jake Berry
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