This time last year, Alex Meyer ranked 10th among right-handed pitching prospects on Major League Baseball's positional breakdown. At that time I was still quite optimistic about Meyer's outlook for 2015. Meyer did make his Major League debut, but nothing about last summer went as anyone had hoped.
While he doesn't make the cut this year, another Twins prospect does. Jose Berrios debuts at number four on this list, behind Washington's Lucas Giolito, Pittsburgh's Tyler Glasnow, and St. Louis' Alex Reyes. Berrios stands up to all three, at least on a statistical level. Giolito reached Double-A at age 20 in 2015, and Berrios' numbers at Double-A might be a little bit better. Glasnow, the same age as Berrios, also reached Triple-A this past summer, and Berrios' command and stamina look stronger. Reyes, 20 in Double-A and the AFL in 2015, has incredible stuff but also doesn't have Berrios' command. But I suppose Berrios only struck out 27.7% of batters in Triple-A as a 21-year old, and that's bound to knock him down a peg (insert sarcasm font).
I'm obviously a bit of a homer, but there's no doubt in my mind that these top four pitchers could have been arranged in any order and not many people would think twice about it. It's a very strong crop of right-handed prospects at the top of Jim Callis' list.
Despite contending until season's end and needing rotation help, Minnesota curiously didn't promote Berrios, who led the Minors with 175 strikeouts and started his second consecutive SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game. The highest-drafted (32nd overall) Puerto Rican pitcher of all-time, he has the potential for three plus pitches and throws them all for strikes.
It's worth noting that one of the biggest detriments to Berrios' game in the past, his size, is nowhere to be found here. For all the early banter about his numbers being ahead of his stuff, it certainly seems as though the stuff has caught up for the scouts.
In our own community prospect rankings, Berrios has climbed from 9th (pre-2013) to 3rd last year, and I expect he'll move up to number two on our list for 2016. MLB.com ranked him among the game's top 100 prospects the last two years (#90 pre-2014, #32 pre-2015), as did Baseball Prospectus (#75, #48), and Baseball America finally caught up last winter with a #36 ranking 'pre-2015. Even Keith Law, who ranked Berrios #97 at about this time last year, bumped him up to #25 in time for his mid-season update.
By any measure Berrios has earned a place on any informed Top 100 prospect list this season, with a spot in the top 20 seeming almost guaranteed. He's a special pitcher, and with his ceiling (many of the most recent scouting reports positing a number two starter) and his history, Berrios is worth being excited for. He may not make the starting rotation from Opening Day, but it's still easy to see him getting his breakthrough opportunities early in the 2016 season.