Every MLB Team's Top Prospect Left off the 40-Man Roster for 2012

Mike RosenbaumMLB Prospects Lead WriterApril 11, 2012

Every MLB Team's Top Prospect Left off the 40-Man Roster for 2012

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    With Prospect Pipeline's Top 50 in place, it's time to feature some of the other prospects that were not lucky enough to make the list.

    As I continue to write prospect scouting reports for every organization, I will also be ranking prospects by position, tools, roster status and estimated time of arrival.

    Today, we look at every team’s top prospect not on their respective 40-man roster. While you may recognize some familiar faces on this list from the original Top 50, there is also a host of new players appearing on a Prospect Pipeline list for the first time this season.

Gary Sanchez, New York Yankees

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    Position: C                       

    Height/Weight: 6'2", 220 lbs. 

    DOB: 12/2/1992           

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: 2009, Dominican Republic

     

    2011 Stats:

    Single-A: .256/.335/.485, .229 ISO, 121 wRC+ (343 PA)

     

    Overview: Gary Sanchez distinguished himself as one of the game’s top catching prospects in 2010 by slashing .353/.408/.597 to kick off his professional career. Although the power still showed up in 2011, he lacked consistency. Sanchez has easy, raw power to all fields thanks to pure bat speed, and he should hit for a decent average. He knows how to work the count, often to his own detriment, and struggles with quality off-speed offerings.

    His receiving skills can be poor at times, and he can even come across as careless. Scouts think he will improve behind the plate enough to keep his bat at the major league level—a la Jesus Montero. He does have a plus arm that helped him gun down 31 percent of base stealers last season.

    Sanchez could use some more time at Low-A to begin the season, but if he shows the same type of power that he did in 2011, he could be finishing the season at High-A.

    Team Rank: No. 2

    Top 50 Ranking: No. 46

    ETA: 2015

Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox

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    Position: SS                       

    Height/Weight: 6'3", 175 lbs. 

    DOB: 10/1/1992           

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: 2009, Aruba

     

    2011 Stats:

    Single-A: .260/.324/.509, .249 ISO, 120 wRC+ (296 PA)

     

    Overview: Bogaerts put his name on the map with a .314/.396/.423 professional debut in 2010 and followed it by blasting 16 home runs in 72 games in 2011. Only 19 years old, his smooth swing and plus power allow him to drive the ball to all fields with backspin carry. As he faces more advanced pitching, however, he will be forced to become more selective, especially with quality off-speed pitches.

    While he has soft hands and a plus arm at shortstop, Bogaerts lacks the quickness needed to remain there. Considering his other tools, he could either end up in right field or at third base—likely the latter.

    He may hit a few speed bumps this season at High-A, but that’s often the case with elite power-hitting prospects.

    Team Rank: No. 1

    Top 50 Rank: No. 39

    ETA: 2015

Hak-Ju Lee, Tampa Bay Rays

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    Position: SS                        

    Height/Weight: 6'2", 170 lbs. 

    DOB: 11/4/1990            

    Bats/Throws: L/R

    Drafted/Signed: 2008, South Korea

     

    2011 Stats:

    High-A: .318/.389/.443, 28 SB, .125 ISO, 133 wRC+ (454 PA)

    Double-A: .190/.272/.310, 5 SB (114 PA)

     

    Overview: Lee is an exceptional fielder and one of the best defensive shortstops in the minors. He has phenomenal range and a plus arm with outstanding instincts and feel for the position. His bat is behind, and he will never provide the thump to be the consistent All-Star that some other shortstop prospects likely will.

    Across two stops in 2011, Lee posted a .292/.365/.416 slash line with 33 swipes and 37 extra-base hits. A left-handed hitter, he runs well and should consistently collect more doubles and triples than home runs.

    A full season in Double-A should provide Lee with the seasoning he needs to be a big-league shortstop in 2013. However, nothing is certain when it comes to the Rays and shortstop prospects.

    Team Rank: No. 2

    Top 50 Rank: No. 41

    ETA: 2013

Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles

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    Position: SS                       

    Height/Weight: 6'3", 185 lbs. 

    DOB: 7/6/1992           

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: 2010, first round (Brito HS, FL)

     

    2011 Stats:

    Single-A: .276/.376/.483, .207 ISO, 131 wRC+ (170 PA)

    High-A: .245/.308/.313, .139 ISO, 95 wRC+ (260 PA)

     

    Overview: Machado was impressive in his first full professional season despite suffering a dislocated kneecap and subsequently missing a month.  His 6'3", 185-pound frame is extremely projectable; whether it’s at shortstop or third base is the only question. 

    He has the actions to remain at shortstop for the time being, but his physical development will ultimately dictate his position. He has a plus arm from the left side as well as average range, so expect Machado to be projected at both positions over the course of his minor league career. His plus bat speed suggests potential for plus power, and he has already shown an impressive feel for the strike zone.

    Team Rank: No. 1

    Top 50 Rank: No. 7

    ETA: 2014

Jake Marisnick, Toronto Blue Jays

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    Position: OF                       

    Height/Weight: 6'4", 200 lbs. 

    DOB: 3/30/1991           

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: 2009, third round (Riverside Poly HS, CA)

     

    2011 Stats:

    Single-A: .320/.392/.500, 37 SB, .180 ISO, 160 wRC+ (523 PA)

     

    Overview: Yes, Anthony Gose is an extremely toolsy and highly exciting player. However, Marisnick is the player everyone should be talking about. At 6'4", he is an extremely athletic outfielder who will stick in center field due to his plus range and arm.

    After struggling at Low-A after a midseason promotion in 2010, Marisnick repeated the level in 2011 with much better results. His .320 batting average was second-best in the Midwest League, and his power blossomed after making an adjustment to his swing.  He can drive the ball out of the park to all fields, and he should continue to get stronger.

    He’s an excellent and intelligent base-stealer who has been successful in 60 of 71 attempts over two seasons. Marisnick has immense potential and should put up some impressive numbers this season at High-A Dunedin. It remains to be seen if he ascends through the minors as fast as I anticipate.

    Team Rank: No. 2

    Top 50 Rank: No. 33

    ETA: 2013

Trayce Thompson, Chicago White sox

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    Position: OF 

    Height/Weight: 6’4”, 200 lbs. 

    DOB: 3/15/1991 

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: 2009, second round (HS—Santa Margarita, CA)

     

    2011 Stats:

    Single-A: .241/.329/.457, .216 ISO, 113 wRC+ (597 PA)

     

    Overview: Thompson has some of the best raw power in the minor leagues thanks to an ability to drive the ball with backspin carry to all fields. However, his power is a product of a lengthy swing, which has led to exceptionally high strikeout rates. 

    He religiously chases breaking balls and lacks a feel for the strike zone. His defense in center is tolerable, although he does possess a strong arm. He will continue to play center for the time being, but his combination of raw power and arm strength profile better in right field.  

    Team Rank: No. 3

    Top 50 Rank: N/R

    ETA: 2015

Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians

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    Position: SS                       

    Height/Weight: 5'11", 175 lbs. 

    DOB: 11/14/1993            

    Bats/Throws: S/R

    Drafted/Signed: 2011, first round (Monteverde Academy, FL)

     

    2011 Stats:

    Low-A: .316/.350/.316 (20 PA)

     

    Overview: One of the most promising young shortstops in the game, Lindor will be on the fast track to the major leagues once the 2012 season is underway. The best defensive shortstop out of the 2011 draft, he has drawn rave reviews for his athleticism and fluidity at short. The combination of his excellent range and plus arm have the Indians convinced that Lindor will be able to stick at shortstop for a long, long time.

    A switch-hitter, Lindor’s offensive value will come from his ability to hit for a solid average and hopefully get on base at a decent clip. He will never hit for much power, but he has enough pop to produce 20-plus doubles. Despite being just a slightly above-average runner, Lindor projects to steal 20 bases annually due to his instincts and high baseball IQ.

    Team Rank: No. 1

    Top 50 Rank: No. 29

    ETA: 2014

Nick Castellanos, Detroit Tigers

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    Position: 3B                       

    Height/Weight: 6'4", 210 lbs. 

    DOB: 3/4/1992                        

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: 2010, first round (Archbishop McCarthy HS, FL)

     

    2011 Stats:

    Single-A: .312/.367/.436, .124 ISO, 129 wRC+ (562 PA)

     

    Overview: A first-round selection in 2010, Castellanos is hands down the Tigers’ top hitting prospect. After an anemic start to the 2011 season at Low-A, he went on to slash .312/.367/.435 while playing in 135 games. Even though he swatted only seven home runs, the right-handed hitter did tally 36 doubles. Considering his ability to barrel up the baseball, adding a little loft to his swing should yield more home runs. He struck out 130 times compared to 45 walks, so he will need to improve that differential this season.

    Castellanos is still learning how to play third base, but his range, instincts and above-average arm work well there. He’s tall with wiry strength and lots of room to fill out.

    It will be interesting to see what adjustments he makes at High-A in 2012.

    Team Rank: No. 2

    Top 50 Rank: No. 47

    ETA: 2015

Wil Myers, Kansas City Royals

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    Position: OF                       

    Height/Weight: 6'3", 205 lbs. 

    DOB: 12/10/1990            

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: 2009, third round (Wesleyan Academy, NC)

     

    2011 Stats:

    Double-A: .254/.353/.393, 9 SB, .138 ISO, 104 wRC+ (416 PA)

     

    Overview: A lot of writers penalized Myers for his lack of power in 2011, which stemmed from a knee injury and subsequent infection that limited his ability to drive through the baseball. However, his .360/.481/.674 slash line in the Arizona Fall League indicates that he has regained his power.

    Since entering the minor leagues in 2009, Myers has absolutely raked at every level—excluding his 2011 campaign. He has quick wrists and outstanding bat control that allows him to effortlessly drive the ball to right field. By the time he makes his debut, Myers should have 20-plus home run potential and the ability to be a .310-.320 hitter.

    Like teammate Eric Hosmer, his plate discipline is advanced beyond his years and he’s comfortable hitting in any count. He will be nothing more than an average corner outfielder, although the plus arm that made him an elite catching prospect plays best in right.  Now fully healthy, Myers should light up Double-A pitching and force his way to Kauffman Stadium sometime this season.

    Team Rank: No. 1

    Top 50 Rank: No. 19

    ETA: 2012

Miguel Sano, Minnesota Twins

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    Position: 3B                       

    Height/Weight: 6'3", 195 lbs. 

    DOB: 5/11/1993           

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: 2009, Dominican Republic

     

    2011 Stats:

    Rookie: .292/.352/.637, .345 ISO, 151 wRC+ (293 PA)

     

    Overview: Outside of Bryce Harper, Sano is the best power-hitting prospect in baseball. He has the ideal combination of quick wrists and explosive weight transfer that allows him to effortlessly jump the yard to all fields. If his plate discipline continues to improve, Sano, who turns 20 in May, could hit for a decent average down the road.

    He can be a wreck on defense at times, mostly in his actions to and through the baseball, which suggests an eventual transition to first base. For now the Twins will move forward with Sano as their third baseman of the future.

    Team Rank: No. 1

    Top 50 Rank: No. 16

    ETA: 2014

Jurickson Profar, Texas Rangers

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    Position: SS                       

    Height/Weight: 5'11", 165 lbs. 

    DOB: 2/20/1993           

    Bats/Throws: S/R

    Drafted/Signed: 2010, Curacao

     

    2011 Stats:

    Single-A: .286/.390/.493, 23 SB, .207 ISO, 143 wRC+ (516 PA)

     

    Overview: There’s a whole lot to like about the 19-year-old Profar, who is the unanimous top infield prospect in all of baseball. He possesses an above-average bat from both sides of the plate that’s highlighted by an advanced knowledge of the strike zone. He has surprising strength for his size that, when bundled with his quick wrists, could yield 15-25 home run potential.

    Profar also made strides as a base stealer in 2011—his first full season—but his speed is only above average. Beyond his obvious offensive potential, Profar is a stud at shortstop. He is a plus defender with excellent range and soft hands and also possesses a plus arm that will allow him to remain at the position. 

    Due to the Rangers’ current middle infield combo of Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler, there’s a chance Profar begins his major league career at second base. But that will only be temporary as the 19-year-old is undoubtedly the team’s shortstop of the future.        

    Team Rank: No. 1

    Top 50 Rank: No. 5

    ETA: 2014

Kaleb Cowart, Los Angeles Angels

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    Position: 3B

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 190 lbs. 

    DOB: 6/2/1992

    Bats/Throws: S/R

    Drafted/Signed: 2010, first round (HS—Adel, GA)

     

    2011 Stats:

    Rookie: .283/.345/.420, 11 SB, .138 ISO, 95 wRC+ (319 PA)

     

    Overview: A switch-hitting third baseman, Cowart handles the bat significantly better from his natural right side. His bat speed and fluid stroke as a right-handed hitter suggests plus power. He may even have a chance to hit for a respectable average.

    Left-handed, his swing is choppy and lacks the fluidity showcased from the right side, although he’s flashed plus power from that side as well.

    At third base, Cowart’s athleticism and instincts foster above-average range and smooth defensive actions. His arm—which was mid-to-upper-90s off the bump in high school—is ideal for the position, although he has a tendency to get out of sync with his footwork and miss his target. 

    He may not develop as quickly as the Angels hoped when drafting him, but his overall potential at the hot corner is undeniable.

    Team Rank: No. 3

    Top 50 Rank: N/R

    ETA: 2015

A.J. Cole, Oakland Athletics

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    Position: RHP                       

    Height/Weight: 6'4", 180 lbs. 

    DOB: 1/5/92                       

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: 2010, fourth round (Oviedo HS, FL)

     

    2011 Stats:

    Single-A: 89 IP, 4.04 ERA, 2.53 FIP, 10.92 K/9, 2.43 BB/9, 0.61 HR/9

     

    Overview: A key piece of the trade that sent Gio Gonzalez to the Nationals, Cole emerged as one of the minors' top power pitchers in 2011. A bulldog on the mound, he relentlessly attacks hitters with a mid-90s fastball that peaks at 98 mph. While he has shown above-average command of his fastball, he doesn’t locate his secondary stuff as well, though his curveball is a hammer that generates swing-and-misses. He does have a changeup, but it’s a work in progress.

    At 6'4", Cole throws everything on a downward plane and has worked hard to make his mechanics more repeatable. He has tremendous natural ability and could develop into a No. 1 starter. He will head to High-A to begin the upcoming season and is a pitcher to follow closely in 2012.

    Team Rank: No. 3

    Top 50 Rank: No. 42

    ETA: 2014

Taijuan Walker, Seattle Mariners

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    Position: RHP                       

    Height/Weight: 6'4", 210 lbs. 

    DOB: 8/13/1992           

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: 2010, first round (Yucaipa HS, CA)

     

    2011 Stats:

    Single-A: 96.2 IP, 2.89 ERA, 2.70 FIP, 10.52 K/9, 3.63 BB/9, 0.37 HR/9

     

    Overview: Walker was lights-out last season at Low-A Clinton until he reached the 100-inning limit imposed by the Mariners. The right-hander has a big-time fastball with late-life that touches the upper 90s, and he showed improved command of it in 2011. He also throws a circle change and an over-the-top curveball that could be a double-plus with improved command.

    Walker’s raw athleticism distinguishes him from the other pitching prospects in the game and only makes his potential that much greater. He is the Mariners' future ace with one of the highest ceilings of any pitching prospect on this list. Walker should begin the 2012 season at High-A where he will work on refining his command.

    Team Rank: No. 1

    Top 50 Rank: No. 14

    ETA: 2014

Christian Bethancourt, Atlanta Braves

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    Position: C

    Height/Weight: 6’2”, 190 lbs. 

    DOB: 9/21/1991

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: 2008, Panama

     

    2011 Stats:

    Single-A: .303/.323/.430, 6 SB, .127 ISO, 102 wRC+ (235 PA)

    High-A: .271/.277/.325, .054 ISO, 66 wRC+ (175 PA)

     

    Overview: Bethancourt has the athleticism and raw tools to be an All-Star catcher. Now it’s just a matter of putting it all together. He’s an average receiver with a rocket arm and fluid release that consistently produces sub-1.9 pop times.

    At the plate he will swing at almost anything and rarely walks, though he does have superb hand-eye coordination that helps him square the ball up with consistency. He’s shown some gap power early in his career, which leads some to believe that he may hit for average power.

    At 20 years old, his on-field demeanor is immature, and he can get lazy in his approach and blocking behind the plate. He has decent speed for a catcher but isn’t the base-stealing type.

    After playing nearly 100 games between Low and High-A last season, Bethancourt will begin the his 2012 campaign at Double-A.

    Team Rank: No. 4

    Top 50 Rank: N/A

    ETA: 2014

Trevor May, Philadelphia Phillies

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    Position: RHP

    Height/Weight: 6'5", 215 lbs. 

    DOB: 9/23/1989

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: 2008, fourth round (Kelso HS, Wash.)

     

    2011 Stats

    High-A: 151.1 IP, 3.63 ERA, 2.57 FIP, 12.4 K/9, 4.0 BB/9, 0.50 HR/9

     

    Overview: The Phillies' minor league pitcher of the year in 2011, May led the Florida State League with 208 strikeouts. At 6'5", he is an imposing presence on the mound with two plus pitches. While he can reach back for 98 mph, the right-hander's heavy fastball sits in the mid-90s with late, arm-side run. He's not afraid to challenge hitters up in the zone with it and often uses it as an out pitch.

    May is one of a select few minor league pitchers who possess the ability to sustain their velocity late into games.

    His premier off-speed pitch is a plus curveball with serious bite. When May struggles with establishing his arm speed, he has a tendency to spike the pitch. He also features a solid-average changeup that flashes potential at times.

    The key to his success at more advanced levels will be the development of his changeup, as well as the utilization of a slider he picked up towards the end of the 2011 season. To be efficient with his pitches, he will have to continue refining his command and making his mechanics more repeatable.

    Since drafting him in 2008, the Phillies have been extremely cautious in their handling of May. After spending the last three seasons playing for the Phillies' Class-A affiliates, May is clearly ready for a promotion to Double-A. Like so many other prospects, a successful 2012 season will be crucial for his development.

    Team Rank: No. 1

    Top 50 Rank: N/R

    ETA: 2012

Alex Meyer, Washington Nationals

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    Position: RHP

    Height/Weight: 6’9”, 220 lbs.

    DOB: 1/3/1990

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: 2011, first round (University of Kentucky)

     

    2011 Stats: DNP

     

    Overview: At 6’9”, Meyer features a fastball that sits in the mid-to-upper-90s and occasionally flirts with triple digits.  His two seam fastball, which registers in the low-90s with considerable arm-side run, will need to become more prevalent in his arsenal.

    When it’s on, Meyer’s power slider serves as a legitimate out pitch and generates plenty of swing-and-misses. Rounding out his arsenal is a steadily improving changeup, though it still needs extensive development to be a usable pitch at the big-league level.

    Given his towering frame, Meyer has a tendency to lose a feel for his mechanics, as his arms and legs get out of sync with his torso, causing balance issues throughout his delivery, as well as an inconsistent arm slot.

    Considering he was a college pitcher, Meyer should be ready for full-season in 2012. If things don’t go smoothly, his big-time size and arm profile well as a closer.  

    Team Rank: No. 3

    Top 50 Rank: N/R

    ETA: 2014

Christian Yelich, Miami Marlins

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    Position: OF                       

    Height/Weight: 6'4", 189 lbs. 

    DOB: 12/5/1991           

    Bats/Throws: L/R

    Drafted/Signed: 2010, first round (Westlake HS, Calif.)

     

    2011 Stats:

    Single-A: .312/.388/.484, 32 SB, .171 ISO, 146 wRC+ (521 PA)

     

    Overview: Still just 20 years old, Yelich’s hit tool already grades out as a plus and has room to grow with improvement in his plate discipline. His swing is incredibly smooth and fluid, which allows him to attack pitches throughout the entire strike zone.

    Due to the level plane of his swing, Yelich will never hit for overwhelming power, but I think he will have enough to annually belt a quiet 20-30 homeruns. As of his now, most of his power is to the pull side, but he should start driving the ball out the other way with more experience. His easy speed and good instincts on the bases suggest that Yelich will have 20-20, perhaps even 30-30, potential in his prime.

    Although he patrolled center field for Low-A Greensboro last season, Yelich profiles as a left fielder due to his fringy arm strength. However, the Marlins will allow him to develop in center for the time being.

    Yelich should begin the season at High-A with a chance to log significant time at Double-A over the second half of the 2012 season.

    Team Rank: No. 1

    Top 50 Rank: No. 30

    ETA: 2013

Zack Wheeler, New York Mets

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    Position: RHP                       

    Height/Weight: 6'4", 185 lbs. 

    DOB: 5/30/1990           

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: 2009, first round (East Paulding HS, Ga.)

     

    2011 Stats:

    High-A (Giants): 88 IP, 3.99 ERA, 3.75 FIP, 10.02 K/9, 4.81 BB/9, 0.72 HR/9

    High-A (Mets): 27 IP, 2.00 ERA, 1.68 FIP, 10.33 K/9, 1.67 BB/9

     

    Overview: It must have been hard for San Francisco to part ways with Wheeler, whom they traded to the Mets in exchange for Carlos Beltran surrounding the 2011 trade deadline. One of my favorite right-handed prospects in baseball, Wheeler has a 6'4" frame, fast arm and repeatable mechanics. When I watch him throw, I see a future ace.

    His fastball runs as high as 97, though he usually sits low to mid 90s with late life. His curveball is a sharp downer that jelly-legs right-handed hitters, and he also throws a solid changeup that should develop by the time he reaches the major leagues.

    While his command still needs some refinement, I’m eager to see how he handles the jump to Double-A to begin the 2012 season. At this time next year, I have a feeling that I may be writing about Wheeler as a top 10 prospect.

    Team Rank: No. 1

    Top 50 Rank: No. 20

    ETA: 2013

Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs

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    Position: SS                       

    Height/Weight: 6'0", 180 lbs. 

    DOB: 12/1/1992            

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: 2011, first round (Arlington Country Day School, FL)

     

    2011 Stats:

    Rookie: .333/.333/.500, 2 SB, .167 ISO, 135 wRC+ (12 PA)

    Low-A: .167/.167/.167 (6 PA)

     

    Overview: The ninth overall pick in the 2011 draft, Baez has insane raw bat speed with the potential for plus power by the time he reaches the major leagues. Simply put, Baez swings as hard as humanly possible—every time. But that’s also what makes him such a promising hitter.

    His defense at shortstop is average, though he does have a strong arm. Given his size and defensive actions, Baez will probably shift to third base at some point. He has decent speed and good instincts on the base paths that give him 20/20 potential.

    Only 19 years old, the Cubs will send Baez to Low-A Peoria to begin the 2012 season.

    Team Rank: No. 1

    Top 50 Rank: No. 38

    ETA: 2015

Taylor Jungmann, Milwaukee Brewers

21 of 30

    Position: RHP

    Height/Weight: 6’6”, 220 lbs. 

    DOB: 12/18/1989

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: 2011, first round (University of Texas)

     

    2011 Stats:  DNP

     

    Overview: Selected by the Brewers with the 12th overall pick in the 2011 draft, Jungmann had been one of the top collegiate pitchers since his freshman year at Texas. At 6’6”, 220 pounds, the lanky right-hander throws each of his pitches on a downward plane and isn’t afraid to attack opposing hitters. Although he can reach back for a 95-96 mph fastball, he typically works in the 92-94 range with late life. 

    His slider continues to improve—his size, arm slot, and arm speed have always generated above-average tilt—and is considered his best secondary offering. Like most young pitchers, Jungmann was considered a power pitcher in college and therefore lacks an above-average changeup. However, it’s decent and could grade as a 60 in time.

    Considering he signed at the last minute, Jungmann will get his first taste of professional baseball in 2012. Given his collegiate experience, he will likely begin the season at High-A Brevard County—unless he wows the organization enough during spring training to begin at Double-A.

    Keep your eye on Jungmann. If he progresses swimmingly, the right-hander could be on the fast track to the big leagues.

    Team Rank: No. 2

    Top 50 Rank: N/R

    ETA: 2013

Jarred Cosart, Houston Astros

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    Position: RHP                       

    Height/Weight: 6'3", 180 lbs. 

    DOB: 5/25/1990

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: 2008, 38th round (League City HS, Texas)

     

    2011 Stats:

    High-A (PHI): 108 IP, 3.92 ERA, 4.00 FIP, 6.58 K/9, 3.58 BB/9, 0.58 HR/9

    Double-A (HOU): 36.1, 4.71 ERA, 4.49 FIP, 5.45 K/9, 3.22 BB/9, 0.99 HR/9

     

    Overview: Cosart was dealt to the Houston Astros at the trade deadline for Hunter Pence and immediately became the top pitching prospect in the organization.

    His fast arm generates 94-97 mph fastballs that can flash up to 98 or 99. Cosart's secondary offerings both grade out to at least a 50 in terms of stuff, but he lacks the command to use them in high volume. At this point, his changeup is a better out pitch than his breaker, though it does have good shape and pace.

    Cosart has an wiry frame with room to add some bulk. His mechanics range from clean to jerky, but he is athletic and still has time to refine them.

    As far as his statistics go, 2011 was an up-and-down season for Cosart. He dominated through the middle of June, got shelled for a month and a half, and was traded and ultimately rushed into an unsuccessful stint at Double-A.

    He'll start the 2012 season back in Double-A, where the Astros hope he will begin to reverse his converging K/9 and BB/9 rates.

    Team Rank: No. 1

    Top 50 Rank: N/R

    ETA: 2012

Shelby Miller, St. Louis Cardinals

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    Position: RHP                       

    Height/Weight: 6'3", 195 lbs.

    DOB: 10/10/1990           

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: 2009, first round (Brownwood HS, Texas)

     

    2011 Stats:

    High-A: 53 IP, 2.89 ERA, 1.82 FIP, 13.75 K/9, 3.40 BB/9, 0.34 HR/9

    Double-A: 86.2 IP, 2.70 ERA, 2.73 FIP, 9.24 K/9, 3.43 BB/9, 0.21 HR/9

     

    Overview: After only nine starts for High-A Palm Beach, Miller upped his ETA by dominating at Double-A Springfield. He has an excellent pitcher’s frame at 6'3", 195 pounds, and he will only continue to fill out. Miller throws a heavy 93-97 mph fastball with outstanding arm-side run that generates a healthy mixture of swings-and-misses and weak contact.

    To complement his heater, Miller throws two above-average off-speed pitches: a sharp, downer curve and a fading changeup. He has already shown the ability to work deep into games while sustaining his velocity and is built for innings.

    Miller should begin the 2012 season in Triple-A, but he seems on schedule to make a midseason debut. Don’t be overly concerned with his well-documented off-field issues last season either—it’s not like he had the college experience to get juvenile behavior out of his system.

    Team Rank: No. 1

    Top 50 Rank: No. 4

    ETA: 2012

Jameson Taillon, Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Position: RHP                       

    Height/Weight: 6'6", 225 lbs. 

    DOB: 11/18/1991           

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: 2010, first round (The Woodlands HS, Texas)

     

    2011 Stats:

    Single-A: 92.2 IP, 3.98 ERA, 3.37 FIP, 9.42 K/9, 2.14 BB/9, 0.87 HR/9

     

    Overview: I may be one of the only people who sees a higher ceiling in Taillon than now-teammate Gerrit Cole, but I assure you it’s with good reason. Despite his dominance in 2010 for UCLA, Cole has only regressed since then—although his stuff remains exceptional.

    Taillon, on the other hand, made impressive strides in his first full season, as he demonstrated improved command of all pitches. His quick arm generates fastballs that sit in the 93-97 mph range, and he occasionally flirts with triple digits.

    A typical power pitcher, the right-hander complements his heater with a late-breaking, power slider and knee-buckling curve. He also has a changeup that grades as solid-average and will be crucial in his development over the next couple seasons.

    Taillon should begin the season at High-A as the Pirates gradually give him a longer leash.

    Team Rank: No. 1

    Top 50 Rank: No. 11

    ETA: 2014

Billy Hamilton, Cincinnati Reds

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    Position: SS                       

    Height/Weight: 6'1", 160 lbs. 

    DOB: 9/9/1990           

    Bats/Throws: S/R

    Drafted/Signed: 2009, second round (Taylorsville HS, MS)

     

    2011 Stats:

    Single-A: .278/.340/.360, 103 SB, .082 ISO, 120 wRC+ (610 PA)

     

    Overview: For as fast as the Giants' Gary Brown is, Hamilton is somehow faster—and I’m not one for hyperbole. The first minor-leaguer to steal 100 bases in over a decade, Hamilton is a ridiculous athlete who’s still learning the intricacies of the game.

    Hamilton will never hit for power. But as a switch-hitting shortstop, any improvement in his plate discipline will significantly boost his stock. Outside of his range, Hamilton lacks the tools to be an elite shortstop, which leads scouts to believe that he will wind up in center field or perhaps at second base.

    Hamilton has a long way to go in his development and should therefore spend a majority of the season at High-A with a chance for a late-season challenge at Double-A. He’s an extremely raw work-in-progress who has tremendous upside once his hit tool develops.

    Team Rank: No. 2

    Top 50 Rank: No. 27

    ETA: 2014

Tyler Skaggs, Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Position: LHP                       

    Height/Weight: 6'4", 195 lbs. 

    DOB: 7/13/1991           

    Bats/Throws: L/L

    Drafted/Signed: 2009, first round (Santa Monica HS, CA)

     

    2011 Stats:

    High-A: 100.2 IP, 3.22 ERA, 2.65 FIP, 11.18 K/9, 3.04 BB/9, 0.54 HR/9

    Double-A: 57.2 IP, 2.50 ERA, 2.45 FIP, 11.39 K/9, 2.34 BB/9, 0.62 HR/9

     

    Overview: The centerpiece of the trade that sent Dan Haren to the Angels in July of 2010, Skaggs has emerged as one of the game’s premier left-handed pitching prospects. He’s tall and lanky with a smooth arm, and has repeatable mechanics that allow him to pound the knees with his 88-93 mph fastball.

    For how I described Bauer’s breaking ball, Skaggs’ might be the southpaw equivalent—it’s unfair and keeps right-handed hitters off-balance as much as it does lefties. He has a decent changeup that will get better with time, but it honestly doesn’t even matter when you have that good of a curveball.

    The organization’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2011, he’s only 20 years old and already has 10 impressive Double-A starts under his belt. Skaggs has tremendous upside as a No. 2 or No. 3 starter and could make his Major League debut before his 21st birthday.

    Team Rank: No. 2

    Top 50 Rank: No. 13

    ETA: 2012

Gary Brown, San Francisco Giants

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    Position: OF                       

    Height/Weight: 6'1", 190 lbs. 

    DOB: 9/28/1988           

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: 2010, first round (Cal State Fullerton)

     

    2011 Stats:

    High-A: .336/.407/.519, 53 SB, .182 ISO, 140 wRC+

     

    Overview: In his first full season, Brown opened tons of his eyes with his 80-grade speed and ability to make consistent, hard contact. He has a knack for peppering the gaps with line drives and is an extra-base threat—he had 53 last season—the second he stands in the batter’s box. He may never hit 14 home runs again, but it really doesn’t matter. His speed has him pegged as the Giants’ future leadoff hitter.

    His speed also makes him an elite defender in center which compensates for an average arm. If his first season at Double-A goes swimmingly, Brown could debut in San Francisco as early as September, although 2013 is a much safer bet. He is a hard-nosed competitor with the type of game-changing speed that will be hard to keep in the minors.

    Team Rank: No. 1

    Top 50 Rank: No. 24

    ETA: 2013

Robbie Erlin, San Diego Padres

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    Position: LHP

    Height/Weight: 5’11'', 190 lbs.

    DOB: 10/8/1990

    Bats/Throws: L/L

    Drafted/Signed: 2009, third round (HS—Scotts Valley, CA)

     

    2011 Stats:

    Double-A (Padres): 26 IP, 1.38 ERA, 2.28 FIP, 10.73 K/9, 1.38 BB/9, 0.69 HR/9

    Double-A (Rangers): 66.2 IP, 4.32 ERA, 3.53 FIP, 8.24 K/9, 0.95 BB/9, 1.22 HR/9

     

    Overview: While many of the elite arms on this list have blazing hot fastballs and need to come up some in terms of commanding pitches and developing usable third pitches, Erlin already has plus secondary offerings and command.  His breaking ball has terrific shape as does his changeup, and he locates both nearly as well as his fastball.

    His fastball works in the 88-91 mph range, but can reach 93 mph when he lets one go. Erlin gets great plane on his pitches despite only being 6'0", and has fluid, repeatable, and athletic mechanics that should keep him healthy. His 2.99 ERA across two leagues (including 16 starts in the Texas League) and 154 strikeouts in 147.1 innings reflect just how dominant Erlin can be despite not having prototypical ace stuff. He only walked 16 batters all season, and despite a bit of a propensity for fly balls, Erlin projects as a very solid No. 2 option in the Show.

    Organizational Rank: No. 4

    Top 50 Rank: N/R

    ETA: 2012

Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies

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    Position: 3B                       

    Height/Weight: 6'1", 205 lbs. 

    DOB: 4/16/1991           

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: 2009, second round (El Toro HS, CA)

     

    2011 Stats:

    High-A: .298/.349/.487, .190 ISO, 109 wRC+ (583 PA)

     

    Overview: Arenado has a flat bat path that can look awkward at first sight. However, he’s strong enough that the swing allows him to hit through the ball and generate backspin. He has average plate discipline that should improve with further seasoning in either Double- or Triple-A.

    After shedding nearly 20 pounds prior to the 2011 season, Arenado showed significant improvement at third base and shows potential to be a decent defender. He has always had the arm strength and instincts to handle the position, but now his athleticism is finally catching up.

    In his prime, Arenado should be capable of 40 doubles and 20 home runs as either a No. 3 or No. 5 hitter, while still hitting for a respectable average. He has All-Star potential and should be a run-producing machine upon his arrival in late 2012.

    Team Rank: No. 1

    Top 50 Rank: No. 21

    ETA: 2012

Zach Lee, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Position: RHP                       

    Height/Weight: 6'4", 190 lbs. 

    DOB: 9/13/1991

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: 2010, first round (McKinney HS, Texas)

     

    2011 Stats:

    Single-A: 109 IP, 3.47 ERA, 3.68 FIP, 7.51 K/9, 2.64 BB/9, 0.74 HR/9

     

    Overview: After selecting Lee with the 28th overall pick in the 2010 draft, the Dodgers signed him for $5.25 million just before the deadline. Slated to play both football and baseball for Louisiana State, the signing bonus—the largest in franchise history—lured Lee away from his previous commitment.

    The right-hander's fastball typically sits in the 90-93 mph range to both sides of the plate, and he will give hitters a different look by mixing in a cutter. For the first time in his young career, Lee threw both a curveball and slider in 2011, with the latter frequently showing the potential to be a plus pitch. His changeup is pretty mediocre, but it could still be an effective pitch down the road.

    For someone his size, Lee repeats his mechanics well despite throwing across his body. He exudes confidence on the mound while controlling the pace of the game, traits rarely found in high school pitchers.

    Lee will likely begin the season at High-A, and considering both his polish and maturity on the mound, he should log significant time at Double-A as early as July.

    Team Rank: No. 1

    Top 50 Rank: N/R

    ETA: 2014