With the minor leagues' regular seasons over, it's time to present our second annual Prospect of the Year award, given to the prospect who showed the best performance (primarily in the minor leagues) in 2015.
While the process of selecting the top prospects was ultimately subjective, I focused primarily on legitimate prospects who performed well relative to their age, level and experience in pro ball. In short, the younger a player was relative to the other players in his league -- especially when compared just to the players in his league with a chance to have some impact in the majors -- the more impressed I was with a strong performance.
With that, here is my overall Prospect of the Year for 2015, as well as 10 other players who had outstanding seasons and deserved notice. I also gave a separate award to the 2015 draftee who had the best pro debut, as well as noted a handful of runners-up in that category.
Prospect of the Year: A.J. Reed, 1B, Houston Astros
Reed won the 2014 Golden Spikes Award after starring as a two-way player -- first baseman and starting pitcher -- for the University of Kentucky that spring, but slipped to the second round in the '14 draft for two major reasons: questions about his bat speed and the lack of any possible position other than first base.
He's still stuck at the same spot, but I think most of the questions about his hit tool have been resolved now after he destroyed high-A and Double-A pitching this season. His numbers in hitter-friendly Lancaster in the hitter-friendly Cal League could be easily dismissed, but he continued to make frequent, hard contact for Double-A Corpus Christi, hitting .332/.405/.571 at that higher level, with strong walk and strikeout rates.
He's not great at first base, but even slightly below-average defense there won't matter given the broad skills Reed has shown at the plate. He is now ESPN's 2015 Prospect of the Year, and I think he should be firmly in the Astros' major league plans for 2016.