With the minor leagues' regular seasons over, it's time to present our third annual Prospect of the Year award, given to the prospect who showed the best performance in the minor leagues in 2016.
Although 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 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. The primary criterion here is performance as a prospect while still in the minors because nearly all of the minors' best hitting prospects ended up in the big leagues at some point in July or August.
With that, here is my overall Prospect of the Year assessment for 2016, as well as several players who had outstanding seasons and deserve notice. I also gave a separate award to the 2016 draftee who had the best pro debut and noted a handful of runners-up in that category.
2016 Prospect of the Year
I don't see how it could be anybody else. Bregman, drafted out of LSU with the second overall pick in 2015, tore apart Double-A and Triple-A en route to a late-July call-up. Including his time in the majors, he has 28 homers this year. Bregman, who turned 22 in March, hit a combined .306/.406/.580 at Corpus Christi and Fresno, with more walks than strikeouts, and finished 16th in the Texas League in homers, even though he left that league on June 26. He played solid defense at shortstop before shifting primarily to third base due to the presence of Carlos Correa at the big league level. However, Bregman is the better defender and could convince the Astros to slide Correa, who's bigger and less agile, to the hot corner next year.