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Beyond the Top 40: Matt's 2017 Just Missed List

Sticking with the theme of going beyond the BB Top 40 list, having covered some interesting players in the organization who missed the age cutoff, it's time to take the annual look at some who just missed. A couple of these were in my personal top 40, the rest right on the fringe. Tom will post his own just missed at some point soon. One things to note is I didn't include any players who haven't played above the GCL level (complex ball), even though they have higher upsides and would be good candidates to jump up future lists. There's multiple interesting candidates, but no one who really stands out.

Before getting to this year's names, I've done just missed lists for the last two years, so let's start with a little accountability and look quickly at how those turned out.

I really like my picks from 2015. Jimmy Cordero had a very good 2015, starting in Dunedin and earning a promotion to New Hampshire before being traded in the Ben Revere deal. Justin Shafer is a ground ball machine, the numbers don't look good but I'd like to see what he can be as a reliever. Roemon Fields has been as high as Buffalo. Gunnar Heidt has an awful 2015, rebounded with a decent 2016. But the major standout was Conner Greene, who broke out and shot way up the rankings.

2016 on the other hand is not looking so great. John La Prise underwhelmed at the plate compared to what I was hoping for. Alonzo Gonzalez did make it to AA, but still is pretty inconsistent. Ryan Hissey didn't distinguish himself in Lansing. John Stilson might have had the best year on the list, but injuries may have taken too much of a toll. And Denis Diaz simply couldn't throw strikes.

Kyle Weatherly, LHP, age 22 (DOB: 10/3/1994)

Weatherly was drafted in the 8th round last June, signed for an above slot $250,000 and actually ranked in MLB Pipeline's Top 200 draft prospects. Consequently, I almost feel like it's cheating to have him on here, but he was the highest placed on my list (32nd) to not make the top 40.

Weatherly's first few appearances for Bluefield were rough, but then he settled in very nicely, working with a fastball in the low-90s, touching the mid-90s. Overall, he pitched to a 4.07 ERA (under 2.00 excluding his first four appearances) with 33 strikeouts against 9 walks. He did miss the last couple weeks with an injury, which hopefully was either minor or precautionary. Otherwise, I expect he'll move up to Lansing.

Osman Gutierrez, RHP, age 22 (DOB:12/15/1994)

If this series was the Top 41 rather than Top 40, Gutierrez would have made it as he was the first man out, and landing towards the backend of my own list. He put a nice season statistically for Bluefield, posting a 3.88 ERA with 66 strikeouts against 21 walks in 65 innings. The downside is that having spent three years in the Dominican, he's already 22 without having made it to full season ball, and 21 is relatively advanced age for rookie ball. He should move up to Lansing for 2017, or I should say has to to be a legitimate prospect.

Tom Robson, RHP, age 23 (DOB: 6/27/1993)

Robson's was progressing very promisingly until his career was sidetracked by Tommy John surgery three years ago, and while his velocity has comeback, unfortunately his command has not been the same. His 2016 started in Dunedin, where he simply could not throw strikes, and made another three rough starts for Lansing before being moved to the pen.

He still struggled out of the pen as a multi-inning reliever, with a 6.64 ERA in 42 innings. Given those numbers, saying he was inconsistent is actually a good thing, as he showed flashes of dominance. He consistently ran his fastball into the upper 90s, so if he can regain some command over it, that's a real weapon. That's basically what puts him here.

Rodrigo Orozco, RHP, age 22 on Opening Day (DOB:4/2/1995)

Orozco had some helium after a nice season in 2015 for Bluefield which landed him all the way up at 19 on last year's list. 2016 did not go well in Vancouver, as he posted a .241/.348/.289 batting line. Basically, he hit the ball with almost no authority, but the one silver lining is he maintained a very low strikeout rate. This a bet on a rebound, though at 22 on opening day, the clock is ticking a little bit.

Chris Hall, RHP, age 23 (DOB:1/27/1994)

Hall was drafted last year in the 14th round out of Elon University. He had a decent debut for Bluefield, with a 2.40 ERA for Bluefield (21 K against 8 walks in 30 innings), pitching primarily with a fastball up to 93-94, with a slider in the low/mid 80s. What's interesting about him is that he's relatively new to pitching as a converted catcher, which Baseball America detailed in a profile here.

Keep an eye on: LHP Brayden Bouchey. The 2016 33rd rounder from BC tops out in the high 80s, but was effective and sometimes dominating in multi-inning stints for Bluefield. I'm interested to see if he is assigned to Lansing, and how that might translate.