The time has come to countdown the Top 20 prospects heading into the 2021 season.
Unlike most prospect lists, Dallas Sports Nation does not include ANY prospects who have played at least one inning in the major leagues. That means this year’s top prospect will once again be new since last year’s number one, Sam Huff, played the end of the season in Arlington. In fact, a lot of new names will be on the list since names like Anderson Tejeda, Demarcus Evans, Sherten Apostel, and Leody Taveras will also not be eligible.
Another criterion that Dallas Sports Nation takes into consideration is injuries. Injured players who will most likely not play in 2021 are also ineligible. Names like Ricky Vanasco, Ryan Garcia, and Cole Ragans will not make the list. All three have arm issues that will keep them out for most, if not all of the 2021 season. They are, however, top prospects nonetheless.
With all of that info, let us begin the countdown.
20) Dylan MacLean // LHP
MacLean was taken in the 4th round of the 2020 draft out of Portland Oregon. He signed for $1.2 million which was well over the slot for that pick. Not an overpowering pitcher, he relies on his ability to locate his three-pitch arsenal. MacLean has added some strength in the last year and boosted his fastball to the upper 80s and topped out at 92 mph during bullpen workouts last spring.
With the way his arm works and with room for more muscle on his 6-foot-3 frame, he should develop at least average velocity on his heater, which should play better than that thanks to his command.
He was committed to the Washington Huskies before signing with the Rangers. With no pitching in 2020, he will most likely get some extended spring training before eventually heading out to Down East where the Rangers Low A affiliate is.
19) Thomas Saggese // SS
Saggese is another 2020 draft pick that was taken in the 5th and final round. Committed to Pepperdine University, the Rangers paid him $800 thousand to turn pro. This was an interesting pick who a lot of scouts thought had the potential to climb up draft boards had he gotten to play a full season in 2020. Saggese, who is 5-foot-11 and 175 pounds, batted .440 with three home runs and nine RBIs in seven games for Carlsbad High School in the shortened season last spring.
The shortstop was named Most Valuable Player of San Diego’s Avocado West League as a junior after batting .422 (43-for-102) with 10 home runs, 26 RBIs, and 17 walks against 14 strikeouts. He is another one who will most likely play at Down East after a short stay in extended spring.
18) Jonathan Ornelas // INF
Ornelas was a third-round pick out of Arizona in 2018. He played 48 games after signing for the AZL Rangers where he hit .302 with 3 HRs and a .848 OPS.
A SS coming out of Kellis High School in Glendale, he has played 2B and 3B since turning pro. In 2019 he played 113 games for the Hickory Crawdads at 19 years old. He was one of the youngest players in the South Atlantic League and hit .257 with an OPS of .706.
Not playing in 2020 really hampered an opportunity for him to climb up the list. 2021 is an important year. Now that Hickory has moved up to High A ball, Ornelas Is most likely headed back there.
17) Blaine Crim // 1B
Crim is a guy who burst on the scene in 2019. He was drafted in the 19th round of the 2019 draft out of Mississippi College, where his senior year he hit .373 with 11 HRs and a 1.112 OPS. He took those numbers and ended up playing in 55 games as a pro that same year. Between AZL Rangers for 2 games and 53 for Spokane, he hit a combined .348 with 8 HRs and a .954 OPS and was the Northwest League MVP. With no 2020 season, he never got the chance to take those numbers and continue to add to them. This is a guy who has a chance to really climb up through the system if he continues to hit the way he has.
Where he lands defensively is still the question. If he continues to hit the way he has, they will find a place for him to play. Crim is likely destined for Down East, but could end up in Hickory or even Frisco should he continue to put up solid numbers. He is 23 heading into the season and won’t be held back. This is a guy to watch.
16) Bubba Thompson // CF
Thompson might have been hurt worse than anyone by not playing the 2020 season. He has been on a slide since being drafted in the 1st round of the 2017 draft out of Mobile Alabama where he was a two-sport athlete. His rookie campaign wasn’t horrible. He hit .257 in 30 games in 2017 for the AZL Rangers. He broke out in 2018 by hitting .289 in Hickory in 84 games with 8 HRs and a .790 OPS.
Unfortunately, injuries derailed his season and again in 2019. He only played 57 games, watching his average drop to a career-low .178. He broke his hamate bone which kept him out of action. Thompson needs a big 2021 season and should begin the year in Frisco as the starting centerfielder.
Next week, 15-11.
Featured Image: Bubba Thompson/The Athletic