MLB 2012: Who Are the Top 100 Major League Prospects?
Now that spring training has started, people everywhere are thinking about baseball.
Part of that includes thinking about the future of their favorite team as well as the present. That is why I am putting out an updated Top 100 prospect list.
This article takes a look at the top 100 prospects in baseball and discusses their strengths and weaknesses along with their potential and when they may reach the big leagues.
I made Yu Darvish ineligible for the list because of his pro experience in Japan, but would probably rank him sixth overall if I were ranking him.
Didn't Make the Cut
The following prospects are guys with some hype, but failed to make my Top 100. I'll discuss why each of them failed to make the Top 100.
Yasmani Grandal, C, San Diego: Part of the Mat Latos trade from Cincinnati, Grandal is an offensive-minded catcher. However he has questions about his defense and his bat just doesn't profile well at first base, the position he would be forced to move to if he can't make it at catcher.
Matt Adams, 1B, St. Louis: I'm just not that high on Adams' upside. He is a guy that will need to prove it at the big-league level for me to buy in. I do believe he could be a decent player, but not a starter at first base, a position that demands a lot of a player's bat.
Aaron Hicks, OF, Minnesota: Hicks still hasn't turned his many tools into production.
Dellin Betances, P, NY Yankees: I just don't see Betances as a starter long-term. His value as a reliever drops him out of the Top 100 because it's hard for relievers to be worthy of a Top 100 spot.
Anthony Ranaudo, SP, Boston: Ranaudo disappointed in his pro debut last year.
Zack Cox, 3B, St. Louis: His power isn't enough for him to be a Top 100 guy even though I believe in his ability to be a decent regular.
Casey Kelly, SP, San Diego: His results don't match his stuff. I think he will be a back-of-the-rotation starter that puts up decent numbers due to pitching his home games at Petco.
Jeurys Familia, SP, NY Mets: I like Familia, but just like Betances his role is in question. I do like his ability to remain in the rotation slightly better than I do with Betances.
Wilin Rosario, C, Colorado: His numbers were down last year in his return from an ACL injury. He will need to show better on-base skills this year.
Nate Eovaldi, SP, LA Dodgers: Eovaldi showed some flashes of his potential last year, but may not be a starter long-term.
Jedd Gyorko, 3B, San Diego: Gyorko is a guy that just missed the Top 100. I think he will be more of a solid regular than a star and his defense will not be better than just average.
Joe Wieland, SP, San Diego: His stuff isn't that great, but his command is excellent. I had him as one of my final cuts. Like Kelly he should get an advantage by pitching his home games at Petco.
Robbie Ross, SP, Texas: Ross is a similar pitcher to Wieland, but ranks just behind Wieland.
Ryan Lavarnway, C/DH, Boston: Lavarnway could be an All-Star as a catcher but may not be able to remain there defensively.
Zack Cozart, SS, Cincinnati: Cozart is one of my final cuts. He could be a recent regular at shortstop with some power.
These guys didn't make the Top 100 and for the most part weren't even close to making it, but could be on the last within the next year or two. Most of these guys are far away from the big leagues or have yet to turn their tools into production.
These guys are worth at least following if you play fantasy baseball.
Oscar Hernandez, C, Tampa Bay: Hernandez put up Babe Ruth-like numbers last year, but did it in the Venezuelan League (.402 with 21 homers in 69 games). Still he was only 17 and has considerable potential. Plenty of eyes will be on him this year when he makes his stateside debut to see if his numbers were for real.
Domingo Santana, OF, Houston: Santana was part of the Hunter Pence deal for the Astros. He has great power potential but strikes out often. He hit .269 with seven homers in 96 games in the South Atlantic League (Low-A) for Philadelphia, but picked things up after the trade by hitting .382 with five homers in just 17 games.
Oswaldo Arcia, OF, Minnesota: After a huge 2010 Arcia battled injuries last season, which hurt his production. He was great in 20 games in Low-A before the injuries but was just decent in High-A ball after the injuries. At age 20 he still managed a .760 OPS in 59 games in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League.
Rosell Herrera, SS, Colorado: Herrera has a promising bat, but there are some questions about his ability to stick at short defensively.
Garin Cecchini, 3B, Boston: Cecchini is a guy what could hit in the .280 to .300 range and has excellent on-base skills.
Edward Salcedo, 3B, Atlanta: Salcedo has a bunch of raw tools, but he needs to turn them into production.
Brandon Drury, 3B, Atlanta: Drury hit .347 last year in short-season ball. Some question his ability to keep hitting as he moves up the ladder. Another strong year this year in Low-A will likely be enough to put him in the Top 100 next year.
Jose Fernandez, SP, Miami: The Marlins' first-round pick last year out of high school, Fernandez is a high-ceiling pitcher that will need a while before he is ready.
JT Realmuto, C, Miami: This athletic catcher impressed last year in his full-season debut and another solid year could have him closer to the Top 100.
Brian Goodwin, OF, Washington: Goodwin is a five-tool prospect, but hasn't done anything in pro ball yet.
Alex Meyer, SP, Washington: A first-round pick in June, Meyer needs to have some success in pro ball before I feel comfortable ranking him due to an up-and-down college career.
Elier Hernandez, OF-Kansas City: Hernandez was a big-dollar international signee last season and has some lofty expectations.
Jorge Bonifacio, OF, Kansas City: Bonifacio is a totally different player than his brother Emilio. He doesn't have the same speed, but has some real power potential. He looked very strong in short-season ball last year.
Ronald Guzman, OF, Texas: Guzman is another big international signee from last year. He already had some big expectations, but rumors that he impressed in the instructional league have only increased the hype.
Rougned Odor, SS/2B, Texas: Odor was a big international signee in 2010 that looked solid in his United States debut last year.
Nomar Mazara, OF, Texas: Mazara is yet another big-dollar international signee from last year to deserve mention. Mazara has major power potential.
Jordan Akins, OF, Texas: Akins is a raw but athletic outfielder that will need some time to develop his skills. He is yet to reach full-season ball.
Jeimer Candelario, 3B, Chicago Cubs: Candelario put up big numbers and received some great scouting reports, but he did it from the Dominican Summer League.
Marco Hernandez, SS, Chicago Cubs: Hernandez hit .333 with gap power and impressed in the Arizona Rookie League last season.
Gioskar Amaya, SS/2B, Chicago Cubs: Amaya hit .377 in the Arizona Rookie League, but has more questions than Hernandez.
Brandon Nimmo, OF, NY Mets: Nimmo was a first-round pick out of high school last year. Since Wyoming doesn't have high school baseball, he is a bit further behind than the rest of his draft class. Still he has considerable potential.
Ravel Santana, OF, NY Yankees: Santana showed some promise last year by slugging .568 in rookie ball. To come closer to the Top 100 he needs to produce at a higher level.
Tyler Austin, 3B, NY Yankees: Austin hit .354 with 26 extra-base hits over 47 games between the Gulf Coast and New York-Penn Leagues last year.
Garrett Gould, SP, LA Dodgers: Gould managed a 2.40 ERA in Low-A ball last year and will make the Top 100 next year if he is anywhere near that good this year.
Joc Pederson, OF, LA Dodgers: Pederson has a considerable ceiling, but he is still turning his tools into production. In 68 games in the Pioneer League he hit .353 with 33 extra-base hits.
Kaleb Cowart, 3B, LA Angels: Cowart is a slugging third baseman that was a high draft pick in 2010. He will make his full-season debut this year, and a strong showing there will put him in the Top 100 next year.
John Hellweg, P, LA Angels: Hellweg has a monster fastball and actually looked better after being moved from the bullpen into the starting rotation.
Taylor Lindsey, 2B, LA Angels: Lindsey had an impressive year last year, but needs to do so in full-season ball to make the list.
Adonys Cardona, SP, Toronto: Cardona was one of the best international prospects in the 2010 class, and had a decent debut last year.
Phillips Castillo, OF, Seattle: Another big international signee from 2010, Castillo is a power prospect. He only managed one homer in 48 games in rookie ball last year, but that was only one of his 24 extra-base hits. The in-game power will likely come in time.
Guillermo Pimentel, OF, Seattle: This slugger is a prospect with big power potential, but will also produce big strikeout numbers.
Edinson Rincon, 3B, San Diego: Rincon has a big bat, but there are major questions about his defensive ability and many think he can't stick at third.
Donovan Tate, OF, San Diego: Tate looked to be putting things together last year, but his career has been sabotaged by injury and suspension. The elite potential is still there, but odds are he doesn't fulfill it due to his lack of development to this point.
Raul Alcantara, SP, Oakland: Alcantara was acquired from Boston in the Andrew Bailey trade and has a considerable ceiling.
Jesse Biddle, SP, Philadelphia: The 2010 first-round pick for the Phillies started slow last year before finishing the year strong.
Robert Stephenson, SP, Cincinnati: Stephenson was a first-round pick last year and has the potential to be very good, but he's not ready for the Top 100 yet.
100. Matt Purke, SP, Washington: Purke was in the discussion to be the top selection in last year's draft, but injuries brought his stock down. If he's healthy he could be a top-of-the-rotation starter, but the health is a question mark. He has looked like his old self in the spring, which is a good sign.
99. Henry Villar, SS, Houston: Villar has a high ceiling but major questions. He doesn't hit well and has some issues with consistently making plays defensively, but there is potential. It is worth noting that he made some progress last year by showing solid power.
98. Chad Bettis, SP, Colorado: Bettis is a future middle-of-the-rotation starter that didn't have much trouble with the offensive-happy California League last year.
97. Keyvius Sampson, SP, San Diego: Injuries have slowed him before last season, but he stayed healthy in 2011. He looked strong in Low-A last year and could be a potential No. 2 starter down the line.
96. Brad Peacock, P, Oakland: Some question his ability to stay in the rotation in the long term because his changeup needs work and his curve is average at best.
95. Daniel Norris, SP, Toronto: Norris was considered the top left-handed high school pitcher in the 2011 MLB draft, but fell due to signing bonus demands.
94. Taylor Jungmann, SP, Milwaukee: Jungmann was a very good college pitcher, but is most likely a No. 4 starter in the big leagues.
93. Taylor Guerrieri, SP, Tampa Bay: Guerrieri has a considerable ceiling but fell a bit in the 2011 MLB draft due to concerns about his makeup.
92. Luis Heredia, SP, Pittsburgh: The top international signee in 2010 showed some promise in his pro debut last year. He has ace potential, but is far from the big leagues and still has to grow as a player to get there.
91. Nick Franklin, SS, Seattle: Franklin struggled last year after a breakout 2010. Now that he is healthy he will need to produce in 2012. There are also questions about whether he can stick at short defensively, but if he does and he produces, he could become an All-Star.
90. Brandon Jacobs, OF, Boston: Jacobs has drawn comparisons to former MVP Kevin Mitchell. The athletic ex-football player has a nice combination of power and speed.
89. Jorge Alfaro, C, Texas: While Alfaro isn't anywhere near the big leagues, his potential is considerable. In his United States debut last year he hit .300 with 16 extra-base hits in 45 games at age 18.
88. Jed Bradley, SP, Milwaukee: Bradley was the 15th pick in the 2011 MLB draft out of Georgia Tech. He has the ceiling to be a No. 2 starter, but may need a bit more developmental time than the average college pitcher.
87. Justin Nicolino, SP, Toronto: After dominating short-season ball while posting a 1.03 ERA, Nicolino got moved up to Low-A ball where he made three solid starts late in the year. He could be a nice middle-of-the-rotation guy.
86. Joe Ross, SP, San Diego: The brother of Oakland pitcher Tyson Ross, Joe Ross was a first-round pick last year out of high school. Ross has the potential to be very good, and could be ranked significantly higher next year with a strong season in Low-A.
85. Jose Campos, SP, NY Yankees: The other part of the trade in which the Yankees received Michael Pineda. He spent last season making his United States debut at age 18 and went 5-5 with a 2.32 ERA, and could become a front-of-the-rotation starter.
84. John Lamb, SP, Kansas City: Lamb ranked much higher a year ago, but his stuff wasn't the same and then he required Tommy John surgery. Once he returns midseason, he could restore his stock.
83. Mikie Mahtook, OF, Tampa Bay: Mahtook slipped a bit in the draft last year but showed promising power in college last year.
82. Dante Bichette Jr., 3B, NY Yankees: Bichette had almost no issues adjusting to pro ball after being drafted, and looks like a potential slugging third baseman. He hit a pair of homers in a spring training game on March 31st.
81. Christian Bethancourt, C, Atlanta: Bethancourt's offensive game is still behind his strong defense, but there is potential.
80. Leonys Martin, OF, Texas: Martin has the potential to be a solid starting center fielder capable of playing solid defense as well as hitting in the top part of the lineup.
79. Sonny Gray, SP, Oakland: If Gray was just a bit taller he may have been the top pick in last year's draft. He could still become a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter, if not more.
78. Mike Montgomery, SP, Kansas City: Control issues slowed him last year, but reports said his stuff was still there despite those issues. Montgomery still has the same ceiling as he did a year ago, but just has a bit more work to do to reach it.
77. Addison Reed, RP, Chicago White Sox: Reed is the top pure relief prospect in baseball and could eventually become a very good closer.
76. Kolten Wong, 2B, St. Louis: The Cardinals' top draft choice a year ago, Wong is an offensive-minded second base prospect that won't hurt his team defensively.
75. Cody Buckel, SP, Texas: Buckel is a guy I'm very high on after a strong full-season debut last year that earned him comparisons to Jeremy Hellickson.
74. Cory Spangenburg, 2B, San Diego: Spangenburg is an offensive-minded second baseman that is a threat on the bases.
73. Jonathan Schoop, INF, Baltimore: Schoop is a promising offensive prospect with some questions about his future defensive home. He is likely to play second or third, but is going to get a look at short.
72. Jarred Cosart, SP, Houston: Cosart is a kid with the potential to become an ace, but has also left scouts wondering why his stuff has not produced better results in the minors.
71. Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Chicago Cubs: Rizzo disappointed last year in his big-league debut with San Diego, but was called up too early after posting big numbers in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. He is still the same prospect he was a year ago, not as bad as what we saw in the big leagues, but not as good as the inflated minor league numbers.
70. Starling Marte, OF, Pittsburgh: Marte is a potential top-part-of-the-order hitter with good defensive ability, but at the same time could end up as a fourth outfielder. He had a very good spring before being sent back down.
69. Jean Segura, SS, LA Angels: Segura has to still prove he can play short after a shortened season due to injury last year. He's a potential All-Star if he stays at short, but may not be much better than average if he has to play second. Reports from Angels camp suggest that he's healthy and ready to go.
68. Allen Webster, SP, LA Dodgers: Webster broke out last year before tiring out in Double-A ball. He could be a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter.
67. Noah Syndergaard, SP, Toronto: Syndergaard has plenty of potential, but he's only pitched two games in full-season ball. He has star potential.
66. Will Middlebrooks, 3B, Boston: Middlebrooks projects to be a strong defender with a decent bat at the hot corner.
65. Tyrell Jenkins, SP, St. Louis: Jenkins is a bit raw and had his ups and downs last year, but he could eventually become a front-of-the-rotation starter.
64. Wily Peralta, SP, Milwaukee: The Brewers' top prospect is nearly ready to help on the big-league level. He could become a strong No. 3 starter down the line.
63. Trevor May, SP, Philadelphia: May posted big strikeout numbers last year, but looks more like a middle-of-the-rotation guy. He does have the potential to be a bit more than that though.
62. George Springer, OF, Houston: Springer has a great power and speed combination with a strong arm from center field. His biggest issue is his contact rate, but the star power is there.
61. Mason Williams, OF, NY Yankees: Williams looked like a future top-of-the-lineup stud in short-season ball last year. The biggest reason he's not ranked higher is because he's obviously far from reaching the big leagues.
60. Mike Olt, 3B, Texas: Olt plays solid defense to go with good power and the ability to get on base. He could become the eventual replacement for Adrian Beltre.
59. AJ Cole, SP, Oakland: Cole was a big bonus draft pick from 2010 that was sent to Oakland as part of the Gio Gonzalez trade. He has the ceiling of a front-of-the-rotation starter, but he's a few years away.
58. Zach Lee, SP, LA Dodgers: Lee looked strong in his debut last year and looks like he made the right choice in passing up the chance to play quarterback for LSU. The strikeouts weren't there for him last year, but at the same time he did great for his age in the Midwest League.
57. Gary Sanchez, C, NY Yankees: He struggled early and has questions regarding his defense and maturity, but the kid can hit. A white-hot streak before a season-ending injury gave him a very strong line in the Sally League (South Atlantic League) at age 18.
56. Drew Hutchison, SP, Toronto: Hutchison doesn't have the ace to be more than a middle-of-the-rotation guy, but he dominated hitters at three separate levels last year despite not turning 21 until late August. He just knows how to pitch.
55. Anthony Gose, OF, Toronto: Gose is a raw five-tool talent that finally showed some signs of improvement last year in Double-A. He will spent this season at age 21 in Triple-A and could become a star if he puts it all together.
54. Matt Harvey, SP, NY Mets: A first-round draft choice in 2010, Harvey moved up to Double-A in his pro debut. His changeup will determine if he's a front-of-the-rotation guy or middle-of-the-rotation guy, as that pitch is below average.
53. Michael Choice, OF, Oakland: Choice is a guy with the potential to hit 30 homers and steal double-digit bases while playing strong defense. His biggest issue is his contact rate as he racks up a ton of strikeouts.
52. Javier Baez, SS, Chicago Cubs: The Cubs' first-rounder last year may outgrow short and be forced to move to third. Still he has a potentially special bat that could be All-Star worthy at third.
51. Billy Hamilton, SS, Cincinnati: Hamilton was hitting below .200 at the end of May, but made huge strides at the plate after that point. His hitting ability looks like it may be good enough to take advantage of his speed, which is among the best in the game and grades out at an 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale.
Hamilton has to prove he can stick at short defensively and not be forced to move to second base or the outfield.
50. Brett Jackson, OF, Chicago Cubs
Brett Jackson isn't a guy with a single plus tool, but at the same time he's also at least average across the board. He will hit for decent power, steal bases and play solid defense. That's a skill set that could eventually make him an All-Star center fielder.
Jackson's only real question is his contact rate because he strikes out fairly often, but that's something the Cubs should be able to live with because of everything he will do well.
If it weren't for the Cubs not having a starting job for him right now, Jackson would be a candidate to be the Opening Day starter. He should be in the big leagues this year and could be a fixture for a very long time at Wrigley Field.
49. Robbie Erlin, SP, San Diego
Robbie Erlin was acquired by the Padres in the Mike Adams deal last July, in a deal that should benefit both the Padres and Erlin. Erlin's stuff may be just average, but he has such great command that he shouldn't have much trouble having success in the big leagues.
Erlin is ready to move up to Triple-A and should get a look in the big leagues this year, as he'd be an improvement over the current group of pitchers in San Diego.
He could be a middle-of-the-rotation starter anywhere, but the advantage of pitching in spacious Petco Park could lead to him being among the National League leaders in ERA somewhere in the future.
48. Rymer Liriano, OF, San Diego
Rymer Liriano is a toolsy young outfielder that won the Midwest League's MVP award after hitting .319 with 12 homers and 65 steals in 116 games after failing in a short trial in the California League.
While some will hold the weak stint in the California League against him, they have to remember that he was only 20 last year.
Liriano is a potential All-Star that appears to be a corner outfielder. He could end up hitting for a good average with 20 homers and 30 steals per year, as he will likely lose some speed as he fills out his body.
He's also a player that will need to move a level at a time for now and may not be ready for the big leagues until late 2014.
47. Oscar Taveras, OF, St. Louis
Oscar Taveras only turned 19 in mid-June last year and spent some time battling injuries, but nothing was able to slow him in full-season ball. Taveras was hitting around the .400 mark for a while last year and ended up with a .386 average in 78 games against older competition.
He had a strong enough season that the Cardinals were confident enough to send him to the Arizona Fall League against much more experienced competition. Despite the challenge he managed to hit .307 in 75 at-bats.
Some scouts question the mechanics of Taveras' swing and he isn't a great athlete, which will limit his defense and baserunning. Still he could be a decent corner outfielder that hits for a high average with solid power.
Taveras may be young and inexperienced with just 78 games in full-season ball, but he has an advanced hit tool that could help him reach the big leagues relatively quickly.
I wouldn't be shocked to see him in the big leagues in 2013, and would expect him there at the least by mid-2014.
46. Andrelton Simmons, SS, Atlanta
When the Braves selected Andrelton Simmons in the second round of the 2010 MLB draft, they were leaning towards him as a pitcher.
Simmons, a Curacao native who was playing at an Oklahoma community college, was considered to be the best defensive shortstop in the draft but also came with a fastball in the upper 90s.
Simmons was thought to be a weak hitter when he was drafted, though he did decent in short-season ball in 2010 after signing. He came into 2011 and won the batting title in the High-A Carolina League when he hit .311.
Simmons only hit one homer, but hit 35 double, six triples and stole 26 bases. He also showed good strike zone recognition, striking out just 43 times in 517 at-bats.
Simmons is a potential Gold Glove award winner at shortstop, which is where his value lies. He has a chance to eventually become an average hitter for the position, though won't ever have much power.
Simmons impressed the Braves in spring training and is competing with Tyler Pastornicky to be the Opening Day starter at short. I believe it would be a mistake to choose Simmons, who is ready with the glove, because it would really hurt his development as a hitter.
If he doesn't win the job he will start the year in Double-A and could reach Atlanta during this season.
45. Xander Bogaerts, 3B, Boston
One year ago Xander Bogaerts was a sleeper prospect not on anyone's Top 100 lists; however, a lot has happened since then.
Bogaerts was given an aggressive assignment in June, as the Red Sox thought he was ready for full-season ball and he skipped over rookie ball and short-season ball to begin in Low-A.
In Low-A Bogaerts hit .260 with 32 extra-base hits, including 16 homers and 45 RBI in 72 games. Those are impressive numbers, but even more impressive considering that he was only 18 years old for the entire season and it was his United States debut.
Bogaerts isn't likely to stick at shortstop defensively, but there is hope that he can handle third base. He projects to have at least plus power and should hit for a decent average. The native of Aruba could be the best Latin American signee by the Red Sox since Hanley Ramirez.
Bogaerts is likely to start this year in High-A. He is still very young and will take some time to develop, so it's not likely that he gets promoted to Double-A this year, unless he absolutely crushes High-A pitching.
Bogaerts could make his debut as soon as late 2013, or sometime in 2014.
44. Gary Brown, OF, San Francisco
When the Giants took Gary Brown with the 24th pick in the 2010 MLB draft, some questioned the decision because of the lack of walks Brown had in college. It turns out that Brown took so few walks in college because he was able to hit whatever he wanted to, not because of a plate discipline issue.
Brown began 2011 in High-A and had a monster year for a leadoff hitter. He hit .336 with 34 doubles, 13 triples, 14 homers, 80 RBI and stole 53 bases. He posted an on-base percentage of .407 with a slugging percentage of .519.
While some will point to the numbers being inflated by the California League, Brown was still an impact player with his speed and ability to make contact.
Brown projects as a leadoff hitter capable of impacting the game with his ability to hit for average, speed and strong center field defense. He also projects to have at least gap power.
Brown will likely begin the year in Double-A, and considering the Giants' offensive struggles there is a chance that he makes his debut later this year to help spark the offense.
43. Jake Odorizzi, SP, Kansas City
Jake Odorizzi was selected in the first round of the 2008 MLB draft by Milwaukee and had shown plenty of promise before being dealt to the Royals prior to the 2011 season in the Zack Greinke deal. Odorizzi really broke out in his first year in the Kansas City organization, and he reached Double-A.
Odorizzi started the year in High-A where he went 5-4 with a 2.87 ERA in 15 starts there, striking out 103 batters in 78.1 innings. He pitched well enough to get moved up to Double-A, where he went 5-3 with a 4.72 ERA in 13 starts.
Odorizzi has a plus fastball and then three other pitches that grade out as average. The lack of a second above-average pitch likely gives him the potential to be a middle-of-the-rotation starter instead of a front-of-the-rotation guy, but he has a good chance of reaching his ceiling.
Odorizzi may start the year back in Double-A, but could see a promotion to Triple-A during the year. There is a chance he makes his debut later this year, and if he doesn't he should in 2013.
42. Cheslor Cuthbert, 3B, Kansas City
Last year Cheslor Cuthbert hit .267 with eight homers and 51 RBI in 81 games. That doesn't tell the whole story for the third baseman. Cuthbert was playing in his first extended playing time as an 18-year-old in Low-A, which is very young for the level. Cuthbert also hit very well for a while before tiring out and slumping over the last two months.
Cuthbert has drawn great scouting reports from many sources, and reports say that the ball just makes a different sound when it comes off his bat. That's a sign that he could become a special hitter after further development. He does project to be a guy that hits for a decent average and possibly plus power. Cuthbert is a guy with the potential to move up these rankings in the future depending on what he shows this year.
Cuthbert will move up to High-A ball this year, where he will continue to be young for his league. He learned about the grind of a full season last year, and he should be better equipped to handle the workload. Expect him in the big leagues sometime in 2014.
41. Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland
The Cleveland Indians selected Francisco Lindor with the eighth pick in the 2011 MLB draft out of a Florida high school because they believe that he could be a future All-Star as a shortstop. Considering there are few legitimate solid everyday starters at the position, it just goes to show his future value.
Lindor's value is in his defense, as he projects as a plus defender at short with a good arm. He also has the ability to be a very solid hitter, though scouting reports on his power potential do vary a bit right now.
He is a player that could climb the rankings after we get some pro data on him, similar to the way Jurickson Profar did last year.
Lindor is likely to start the year in full-season ball in Low-A after making his professional debut in a short-season league late last season. He's probably about three years away from the big leagues, but has a very high ceiling.
40. Jonathan Singleton, 1B, Houston
Jonathan Singleton had a very up-and-down 2010.
He started out being an experiment for the Phillies, as they tried to alter his swing and also tried to convert him to the outfield because Ryan Howard was blocking his path to the big leagues.
Neither of those things really worked out as he struggled early on, but after the team scrapped both of those plans he began to hit again after the slow start.
Shortly after Singleton started to hit again, the Phillies dealt him to Houston in the Hunter Pence trade. Following that trade Singleton was very hot, but those numbers are partly inflated by the extremely hitter-friendly California League.
Overall he posted a .298 average with 13 homers and 63 RBI as a 19-year-old in High-A ball. While the numbers aren't spectacular, they are good considering his age was young for that level and he spent most of his season in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League.
Singleton is limited to first base defensively and looks like a potential middle-of-the-order hitter. Singleton should hit for a high average and hit 25-30 homers per year, though he won't provide any speed and will be just average defensively.
He's expected to start the year in Double-A, but could potentially start in High-A to gain confidence in the California League. Don't expect him in the big leagues until late 2013.
39. Zack Wheeler, SP, New York Mets
The Mets held on to Carlos Beltran last year until they got the right offer, and when the Giants offered pitching prospect Zack Wheeler the Mets jumped all over that offer. Wheeler was the No. 6 pick in the 2009 MLB draft and has steadily moved up in the Giants system.
Wheeler has the potential to become an ace in the future, though that is more of a maximum-end projection. The more likely result with him is that he becomes a very strong second starter for a playoff team.
The main thing holding him back is his below-average control, as he has averaged 4.7 walks per nine innings throughout his minor league career.
Wheeler is ready to start the 2012 season in Double-A after going 9-7 with a 3.52 ERA last year, including going 2-2 with a 2.00 ERA in six starts after the trade.
If he keeps on the same developmental track, he should reach the big leagues in 2013, though it's not totally out of the question that he makes his debut this September.
38. Carlos Martinez, SP, St. Louis
Carlos Martinez, formerly Carlos Matias, is a short (6'0") right-handed pitcher with an explosive fastball capable of hitting 100 MPH. Martinez is a former high-profile signee out of the Dominican Republic who had some identity issues, leading to his original contract with the Red Sox to be voided.
Now that he's in America he's moved up the ladder fairly quickly.
He made his U.S. debut on May 7th last year, and was promoted to High-A before the end of June after dominating Low-A hitters. He fell apart a little against tougher competition, but it's not a major concern yet since he was young for the level at just 19 years old and in the United States for the first time.
There are some that project Martinez to end up in the bullpen as a closer because of his height and issues with control, but he has the ability to become a front-of-the-rotation starter if he develops.
Either way don't expect him in the big leagues until mid-2014 because the Cardinals are going to be patient and allow him to develop as a starter.
The Cardinals may start him in High-A ball again to regain some confidence and pitch in a pitcher-friendly environment in the Florida State League, with a chance he moves to Double-A later in the year.
37. Christian Yelich, OF, Miami
The Marlins drafted Christian Yelich out of his California high school in the first round of the 2010 MLB draft hoping to add an impact bat to their lineup in the future.
He was only able to get 12 games in the minors that year after signing late, but he showed promise with a .868 OPS in 50 plate appearances.
Yelich got to spend all of last year in Low-A and he couldn't have had a much better year than he did. He hit ..312 with 15 homers and 77 RBI in 122 games and showed excellent base running ability by stealing 32 bases in 37 attempts despite not having true plus speed.
Yelich is the whole package, a hard-working player that has shown an ability to make adjustments. He is likely to hit .300 with a high on-base percentage and enough power to hit at least 20-25 homers a year and mix in 20 steals.
His defense is solid in left field, but it could improve since he's a converted high school first baseman. The only big knock on him is his well-below-average throwing arm.
Yelich spent the entire 2011 season in Low-A, and will move up to High-A this year. He will be playing the season at age 20, so it's possible he gets a promotion to Double-A in the second half of the year, but he will need to prove he's ready for that.
He should be ready for the big leagues in 2014. He's also a guy that could rank significantly higher in the future as his power develops and he starts producing at the upper levels of the minors.
36. Jarrod Parker, SP, Oakland
For a guy that is only 23 years old, Jarrod Parker has already seen plenty in his professional career.
A first-round draft pick in 2007 by Arizona, Parker was on the fast track to the big leagues before requiring Tommy John surgery in 2009.
He returned last year and started slowly, but made his big-league debut late in the year and went on to make the postseason roster. He was then dealt to Oakland in the winter in the Trevor Cahill trade.
Parker has a big fastball that reaches the upper 90s, and his plus slider should be fully back now that he's two years removed from his injury. He has solid control as well, though it was off last year as he was working to find it, which is normal for pitchers recovering from that type of surgery.
That helps him project into a front-end starter in the near future, though he won't ever be a true ace.
I actually expected Parker to make the Opening Day roster, but he wasn't very effective in Cactus League games this spring. Due to his spring struggles Parker was sent to the minors already and will begin the year in Triple-A.
He will be back sometime this year, depending on when there is an injury and how well he pitches.
35. Arodys Vizcaino, P, Atlanta
Arodys Vizcaino came to the Braves after the 2009 season along with Melky Cabrera in the deal that sent Javier Vazquez to the Yankees. At the time of the deal he was a highly thought-of prospect, but he wasn't close to the big leagues and had a history of some arm issues.
Vizcaino had a big year in 2010 splitting the season between Low-A and High-A, but an arm issue forced him to sit out a big chunk of the season. He came into 2011 and dominated as a starter in High-A and then had success in Double-A before the Braves converted him to the bullpen to help in the big leagues.
Vizcaino shot through the system fairly quickly after the conversion and made his big-league debut in mid-August. He pitched well considering he was only 20 years old, going 1-1 with a 4.67 ERA in 17.1 innings, though his numbers would have been better if not for one bad game.
Vizcaino will miss all of the 2012 season after requiring Tommy John surgery following a spring training injury, but his stuff pre-surgery was electric.
When he returns he could be a front-end starter or a back-end-of-the-bullpen reliever, though the injury may have decided his fate as a reliever. His timeline to return to the big leagues all depends on his recovery.
34. Nick Castellanos, 3B, Detroit
Nick Castellanos was possibly the best high school hitter in the 2010 MLB draft, though high bonus demands kept him from being selected until the sandwich round.
Detroit paid up and assigned him to Low-A to start the 2011 season, where he struggled badly in April as he adjusted to pro ball and the cold weather of the Midwest League.
Castellanos rebounded in May and stayed hot for the rest of the season. On the year he hit .312 with seven homers and 76 RBI along with 36 doubles. He looks like he will hit for a high average, though he will strike out often.
His defense is a work in progress, but it's due to being converted from being a high school shortstop rather than a lack of skills.
Scouts are divided on his power potential, which is the thing that will likely determine his future value. Some expect him to hit for plus power, while others are saying it will only be average. If he develops even above-average power he has the potential to be an All-Star.
Castellanos will begin the year in High-A, and will have a chance to reach Double-A by midseason because the Tigers are very aggressive with their top young prospects. He will likely reach the majors in 2014 because he's still developing his entire game.
33. Randall Delgado, SP, Atlanta
Though he is sometimes overshadowed by fellow Braves pitching prospects Julio Teheran and Arodys Vizcaino, Randall Delgado is a top prospect in his own right. He may not have the pure stuff that either of the other two guys have, but he still has quality stuff and a good feel for pitching.
When injuries to starters Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens forced the Braves to promote a prospect, it was Delgado that they brought up instead of Teheran.
Delgado rewarded the Braves by going 1-1 with a 2.83 ERA in seven starts late in the season during a pennant race. His numbers were a bit better than he actually pitched, though it's tough to ask for more from a kid that was just 21 years old.
Delgado is fighting Teheran for the final spot in the rotation this spring and appears to have a lead, though barring an injury he will be back in Triple-A by May once Tim Hudson returns.
Delgado only made four Triple-A starts last year, so he could use the extra time to develop and should be in the bigs for good next year, He projects as a very good No. 3 starter.
32. Martin Perez, SP, Texas
Martin Perez is a talented pitcher that seems to always be young for his level ever since he debuted in 2008. His biggest knock is a real concern, and that is the fact that his numbers rarely match the glowing scouting reports.
He will need to really produce this year at age 21 to make the jump to Texas.
Perez is a lefty with great stuff and three above-average pitches, which on the surface makes him a top-of-the-rotation starter. His numbers aren't that impressive ever since he reached Double-A in the second half of 2009. He had a 5.57 ERA in five starts in 2009 at that level and returned there to spend all of 2010, but only went 5-8 with a 5.96 ERA.
While that may not be impressive at all, he was only 19 years old and did strike out 101 hitters in 99.2 innings.
Perez returned to Double-A to start 2011 and had more success this time, going 4-2 with a 3.16 ERA in 17 games before being promoted to Triple-A. In 10 Triple-A starts he only went 4-4 with a 6.43 ERA, though he was again young for the level and the Pacific Coast League is an extreme hitters league.
Perez will start 2012 in Triple-A and could make his debut at any time if he pitches well, though he isn't likely to come up for good this year unless there is an injury.
If he pitches well in Triple-A the Rangers could allow Colby Lewis to walk as a free agent, though he would still need to beat out some talented internal candidates that already have big league experience.
31. James Paxton, SP, Seattle
James Paxton was drafted by Toronto in the sandwich round in 2009 but decided not to sign; however an eligibility issue kept him from returning to pitch in college. He pitched in the independent leagues, though he failed to impress and Seattle re-drafted him in the fourth round in 2010.
Paxton started 2011 in Low-A in late-April, and after looking great in 10 starts the Mariners promoted him to Double-A. The reason for skipping a level was because Paxton was already 22 years old and because the level skipped was the California League, a notorious hitters league. In seven starts in Double-A, Paxton went 3-0 with a 1.85 ERA.
Paxton has the stuff to be a strong No. 3 starter with a chance to be a No. 2 if everything breaks right for him. He has a chance to be in Seattle by midseason.
30. Hak-Ju Lee, SS, Tampa Bay
Hak-Ju Lee came to the Rays as one of the headliners in the trade that sent Matt Garza to the Cubs. The Korean shortstop had been coming off a solid 2010 in Low-A and a trip to the Futures game, where he finally got some exposure as a prospect.
Lee is a very good defender with a chance to hit for a decent average and the ability to steal 30 bases or so. He looked great in High-A before a midseason promotion to Double-A, hitting .318 with 31 extra-base hits in 97 games. He did struggle in 24 Double-A games, hitting just .190 with a .582 OPS.
Lee has the ability to become an All-Star, and considering the Rays' hole at shortstop ever since Jason Bartlett's big 2009 season there is a chance they'll try to move him more aggressively than they tend to move other prospects.
He will begin the year in Double-A, but it's not out of the question that he makes his debut at some point this year, even if it's not as a permanent starter yet.
29. Manny Banuelos, SP, New York Yankees
Manny Banuelos is a diminutive left-handed starter that Yankees fans have been waiting for ever since he signed out of Mexico as a 16-year-old international free agent. Due to the fact that he's fairly polished, he has always been young for his level and just turned 21 this month.
Banuelos reached Triple-A last year and made seven starts at that level, going 2-2 with a 4.19 ERA. He showed some issues with his control as walked a career-high 4.9 hitters per nine innings between Double and Triple-A, though some think he was never fully right after battling through a minor injury from the spring.
Banuelos will start the year in Triple-A, though due to the Yankees' depth in the rotation he isn't likely to debut until September. He could end up in the rotation for good in 2013 as guys like Freddy Garcia, Andy Pettite and Hiroki Kuroda are likely to move on after this season.
He ceiling is as a No. 2 starter and one of his best attributes is the fact that his polish means that his floor isn't much lower than his ceiling.
28. Danny Hultzen, SP, Seattle
Danny Hultzen was selected with the second pick in the 2011 MLB draft over higher upside pitchers like Dylan Bundy, Archie Bradley and Trevor Bauer as well as top college hitter Anthony Rendon.
The Mariners took the Virginia ace because they thought he was a very safe bet to become at least a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter.
Hultzen signed too late to debut last year, but pitched well in the Arizona Fall League. He has three pitches that rate as at least above-average and has good control. He's also very polished after pitching well for a top college program for the past three seasons, so he should move quickly.
Hultzen is a guy that could potentially make his big-league debut this year, but the Mariners aren't likely to be that aggressive with him. He's expected to debut sometime in 2013 and could eventually become a solid No. 2 starter.
27. Jake Marisnick, OF, Toronto
Jake Marisnick was a talented high school outfielder from California that was selected in the third round of the 2009 MLB draft by Toronto. The five-tool prospect debuted in 2010 and got as high as Low-A that season after starting the year in short-season ball.
Marisnick started 2011 where he finished 2010, and he really broke out in the Midwest League. Marisnick hit .320 with 14 homers and 77 RBI while stealing 37 bases in 45 attempts.
His secondary stats also backed up the breakout being for real, as he 47 total extra-base hits and posted a .392 on-base percentage as he improved his plate discipline.
Marisnick is a true five-tool guy that has an All-Star ceiling if he develops as expected. He will start the year in High-A, at age 21, and has a chance to reach Double-A. Marisnick isn't going to be rushed to the bigs because the Jays offense is very good, so he is looking at making his debut in 2014.
26. Josh Bell, OF, Pittsburgh
Heading into the 2011 MLB draft Josh Bell ranked right up there with Bubba Starling as the top hitter in the class.
He was set to be a high pick but a letter he wrote to teams stating that he was headed to college and asking them not to draft him caused him to fall to the second round. His signing with the Pirates surprised many, but when the Pirates offered $5 million it was too tough to pass up.
Bell is the prototype right fielder. He's a slugger that could potentially hit for a decent average and has a strong throwing arm. Bell still has to turn that power potential into in-game power, which is why he isn't ranked any higher right now.
Bell has a ton of potential, but he's going to take a while to reach Pittsburgh. There is a good chance he begins the year in Low-A, but it's not likely he gets moved up any higher this year. He should reach the majors in 2015.
25. Bubba Starling, OF, Kansas City
The Royals used their first-round pick in the 2011 MLB draft on local product Bubba Starling.
After going down to the deadline, they were able too sign him and buy him out of a scholarship to play quarterback for the University of Nebraska, where he was a top recruit. Starling was considered by many to be the top high school hitter in the draft class.
Starling is a five-tool outfielder with an arm strong enough to have considerable potential as a pitcher if he fails to develop as a hitter. Starling needs to work on his swing, but has the potential to hit for both average and power and he has the speed to be a very good defender in center.
Starling is considerably more raw than a normal top draft prospect because he's been a two-sport star and will just now start to focus on only baseball. Starling is set to debut in Low-A this year, but is a guy that will move up one level a year because he is going to take time to fully develop. He could debut in 2015.
24. Anthony Rendon, 3B, Washington
Anthony Rendon was the top college hitter in a talented draft class last year, but saw his stock fall because he had a bunch of injuries. He had a pair of serious ankle injuries and spent his whole junior year with a shoulder injury that kept him from playing the field and limited his power.
Rendon was one of the top college players in the game in his freshman in sophomore seasons and looked like the total package.
He looks like he will hit for an average above .300 along with more than 20 homers per year and very good on-base sk