All-Star Futures Game: Ranking Gerrit Cole and the Top 25 Prospects
The 14th annual Sirius XM All-Star Futures Game kicks off the 2012 MLB All-Star extravaganza this Sunday at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.
All eyes will be on the prospects taking the field for both the US and World teams. In fact, 31 of the prospects listed on the MLB.com list of top 100 prospects will be on hand.
Many of the players will be seen by the general public for the first time, and fans will get to see what the future holds for Major League Baseball.
We will take a look at the top 25 prospects participating in the Futures Game, and rank them according to performance thus far in 2012.
Note: All top 100 prospect rankings courtesy MLB.com
25. Xander Bogaerts: Boston Red Sox
2012 Stats: .281 BA, 12 HR, 48 RBI, .833 OPS
MLB 2012 Preseason Ranking: No. 65
At just 19 years of age, prospect Xander Bogaerts is showing why he is considered the possible shortstop of the future for the Boston Red Sox.
With tremendous power potential and solid defensive instincts, Bogaert's future could be at third base, but for now, the Red Sox are certainly delighted with what they see so far.
24. Manny Machado: Baltimore Orioles
2012 Stats: .267 BA, 7 HR, 48 RBI, 21 doubles, 10 SB
MLB 2012 Preseason Ranking: No. 3
The Baltimore Orioles have to be excited by what they've seen of young Manny Machado, who turned 20 years old on Friday.
Making the jump to Double-A Bowie this season, Machado is continuing to develop into an excellent shortstop. The O's would like to see his plate discipline get a bit better, but at just 20 years old, Machado figures to continue maturing at the plate and develop into an excellent middle-of-the-order hitter.
23. Nolan Arenado: Colorado Rockies
2012 Stats: .284 BA, 7 HR, 38 RBI, 17 doubles, .746 OPS
MLB 2012 Preseason Ranking: No. 17
So far in the 2012 season, the Colorado Rockies have used a combination of four players at third base, with Jordan Pacheco and Chris Nelson receiving the bulk of the playing time. While their combined batting average is solid at .274, the production of just three HR and 28 RBI is not anywhere near what's expected from the hot corner.
That's where prospect Nolan Arenado fits in.
The No. 17 preseason prospect according to MLB.com, Arenado exploded in the second half last season, finishing with 20 HR and 122 RBI at Advanced Single-A Modesto.
This year, Arenado made the move to Double-A and has shown flashes of brilliance. The Rockies hope the home run power will come, but they have no doubt that Arenado can become a run-producing machine in the very near future.
22. Jameson Taillon: Pittsburgh Pirates
2012 Stats: 5-6, 4.05 ERA, 1.142 WHIP, 7.6 K/9 rate
MLB 2012 Preseason Ranking: No. 5
Jameson Taillon, the second overall pick in the 2010 MLB draft behind Bryce Harper, is continuing to develop an impressive four-pitch repertoire at Advanced Single-A Bradenton this season.
Taillon already features a plus-fastball that touches the high 90s, a hammer curve and a plus-slider. Taillon has also worked a developing changeup into his arsenal.
21. Jean Segura: Los Angeles Angels
2012 Stats: .286 BA, 7 HR, 37 RBI, 30 SB
MLB 2012 Preseason Ranking: No. 46
Jean Segura was originally signed out of the Dominican Republic by the Los Angeles Angels as a second baseman in 2007, but has since made the transition to shortstop.
Making the jump to Double-A this season, Segura continues to show potential as a No. 2 hitter in the lineup, hitting .286 with decent pop in the bat along with blazing speed.
With current shortstop Erick Aybar now signed through the 2016 season, the Angels will have an interesting decision to make if Segura continues to progress and impress.
20. Jurickson Profar: Texas Rangers
2012 Stats: .295 BA, 9 HR, 39 RBI, 9 SB, .852 OPS
MLB 2012 Preseason Ranking: No. 4
At just 19 years of age, Texas Rangers shortstop prospect Jurickson Profar continues to show he can hit at any level.
Profar has raised his average with each level he's ascended to in his three seasons in the minors, now hitting .295 midway through the 2012 season at Double-A Frisco.
Profar has shown he can be a solid contact hitter from both sides of the plate and continues to develop solid discipline as well.
19. Christian Yelich: Miami Marlins
2012 Stats: .316 BA, 10 HR, 29 RBI, 14 SB, .959 OPS
MLB 2012 Preseason Ranking: No. 28
It is definitely fair to say that Miami Marlins outfield prospect Christian Yelich is a star in the making.
The 20-year-old center fielder is showing five-tool skills at Advanced Single-A Jupiter, with outstanding speed, 20-25 HR potential, the ability to hit to all fields and terrific defensive skills.
A future outfield with Yelich and Giancarlo Stanton will be fun to watch in Miami.
18. Kolten Wong: St. Louis Cardinals
2012 Stats: .315 BA, 7 HR, 34 RBI, 15 SB, .836 OPS
MLB 2012 Preseason Ranking: No. 91
Ever since he was selected with the No. 22 overall pick in the first round of the 2011 MLB draft by the St. Louis Cardinals, second baseman Kolten Wong has shown a propensity to hit, and hit often.
After hitting .335 in just 47 games last season for Single-A Quad Cities, Wong is again showing he can hit at any level, hitting .315 for the Double-A Springfield Cardinals.
Considering the carousel of second basemen the Cardinals have employed in recent years, Wong has a real shot at solidifying that position for years to come.
17. Jonathan Singleton: Houston Astros
2012 Stats: .272 BA, 12 HR, 47 RBI, .878 OPS
MLB 2012 Preseason Ranking: No. 35
At 6'2" and 235 pounds, Houston Astros first base/outfield prospect Jonathan Singleton is a physical specimen with a physique that screams power hitter.
The Astros are liking what they're seeing so far—Singleton has shown the ability to hit for power and average, and now that he's out of Philly, the Astros have moved him back to first base, where he's a much better fit defensively.
16. Tyler Skaggs: Arizona Diamondbacks
2012 Stats: 6-4, 3.17 ERA, 1.265 WHIP, 8.7 K/9 Rate
MLB 2012 Preseason Ranking: No. 16
The Arizona Diamondbacks pitching prospect was moved up to Triple-A earlier this week after posting a 5-4 record and 2.84 ERA at Double-A Mobile.
Now, the 20-year-old southpaw will show off his skills at the Futures Game as well.
Skaggs was actually being considered for a possible roster spot this spring training, but cooler heads prevailed, as Skaggs was sent to the minors for more seasoning.
However, seeing Skaggs in a D-Backs uniform in 2013 isn't a stretch at all.
15. Wilmer Flores: New York Mets
2012 Stats: .303 BA, 11 HR, 52 RBI, .820 OPS
MLB 2012 Preseason Ranking: N/A
At the beginning of the season, New York Mets third base prospect Wilmer Flores wasn't even in the conversation in terms of top 100 prospect rankings.
Now, however, his play has vaulted him up the charts.
Originally signed as a shortstop out of Venezuela, Flores made the transition to third base. The position change hasn't hurt Flores' bat at all; he's hitting .364 in 15 games after his promotion to Double-A Binghamton.
The bat is definitely a plus for Flores, who projects to hit for both power and average at the major league level.
14. Jose Fernandez: Miami Marlins
2012 Stats: 8-0, 2.12 ERA, 0.921 WHIP, 10.9 K/9 Rate
MLB 2012 Preseason Ranking: No. 94
With the season that 19-year-old pitching prospect Jose Fernandez is putting in, his preseason No. 94 ranking by MLB.com will likely be considerably higher next year.
Fernandez completely dominated the South Atlantic, posting a 1.59 ERA in 14 starts with 99 strikeouts in 79 innings.
Fernandez has found the road a bit tougher at Advanced Single-A Jupiter, giving up seven runs in his first two starts. However, considering how he has adapted to lower leagues thus far, there's no reason to think that Fernandez can't see a rapid ascent to Miami.
13. Lisalverto Bonilla: Philadelphia Phillies
2012 Stats: 30 appearances, 1.59 ERA, 1.125 WHIP, 12.3 K/9 Rate
MLB 2012 Preseason Ranking: N/A
Sometimes it takes a while for pitchers to find their way. For Philadelphia Phillies prospect Lisalverto Bonilla, that way appears to be the bullpen.
Signed as a starting pitcher by the Phillies in 2008, Bonilla floundered for the first three seasons of his minor league career before taking off this year. Working exclusively out of the bullpen, Bonilla has been outstanding, posting a 1.35 ERA in 10 appearances at Advanced Single-A Clearwater before moving on to Reading in Double-A.
In 20 appearances at Reading, Bonilla continues to shine, posting a 1.69 ERA with 44 strikeouts in 32 innings.
Sometimes the talent is there, but it needs to be used in the right setting. For Bonilla, that setting is clearly the bullpen.
12. Tyler Austin: New York Yankees
2012 Stats: .317 BA, 14 HR, 54 RBI, 17 SB, .997 OPS
MLB 2012 Preseason Ranking: N/A
Taken out of high school in the 13th round of the 2010 MLB draft by the New York Yankees, outfield prospect Tyler Austin was thought to be a nice pick but not necessarily a standout.
However, Austin's play is making people think otherwise.
Austin earned a promotion to Advanced Single-A Tampa earlier this week after a dominant first half in the South Atlantic League. In 70 games for the Charleston RiverDogs, Austin hit .320 with 14 HR, 54 RBI and 17 stolen bases.
Austin is showing off a little bit of all the tools that the Yankees saw when they drafted him two years ago.
11. Mike Olt: Texas Rangers
2012 Stats: .297 BA, 22 HR, 62 RBI, .990 OPS
MLB 2012 Preseason Ranking: No. 34
The Texas Rangers knew they were drafting a kid with a potential power bat when they selected Mike Olt in the sandwich round of the 2010 MLB draft.
That power has been on display all season for the Double-A Frisco RoughRiders. Olt has kicked it up a notch, belting 22 homers in 76 games. Olt has shown a good eye as well, walking 50 times. His 83 strikeouts are what one would normally expect from a power hitter, but no doubt the Rangers would like to see Olt mature even more in that regard.
Still, the potential is clearly there, and Olt will have that power on display this weekend in Kansas City.
10. Jake Odorizzi: Kansas City Royals
2012 Stats: 9-2, 3.05 ERA, 1.226 WHIP, 9.7 K/9 Rate
MLB 2012 Preseason Ranking: No. 38
Kansas City Royals pitching prospect Jake Odorizzi has already risen two levels this year, and if he continues progressing, Kansas City could be the next level sooner than he thinks.
After going 4-2 with a 3.32 ERA in seven starts at Double-A Northwest Arkansas, Odorizzi earned a promotion to Triple-A Omaha, where he is undefeated in eight starts with a 2.83 ERA.
Considering the season-ending injuries to both Danny Duffy and Felipe Paulino, Odorizzi might want to consider waiting by his phone.
9. Zack Wheeler: New York Mets
2012 Stats: 8-4, 2.62 ERA, 1.090 WHIP, 8.5 K/9 Rate
MLB 2012 Preseason Ranking: No. 22
All settled now in his new home with the New York Mets, Zack Wheeler is finding the new digs to his liking.
Wheeler's first full season with the Mets has been stellar, with an 8-4 record and 2.62 ERA in 15 starts. Wheeler could very well find himself at Citi Field in 2013.
8. Bruce Rondon: Detroit Tigers
2012 Stats: 30 appearances, 1.42 ERA, 22 saves, 0.821 WHIP, 12.8 K/9 Rate
MLB 2012 Preseason Ranking: N/A
If there is anyone currently in the minors completely built to be a closer, it would absolutely have to be Detroit Tigers prospect Bruce Rondon.
Rondon has dominated at two different levels—first at Advanced Single-A and now at Double-A. With 22 saves in 30 appearances, Rondon could find himself on the fast track to the majors.
7. Oscar Taveras: St. Louis Cardinals
2012 Stats: .320 BA, 17 HR, 62 RBI, .965 OBP
MLB 2012 Preseason Ranking: No. 86
St. Louis Cardinals outfield prospect Oscar Taveras was thought to be a solid hitter when he was signed out of the Dominican Republic. He's now added power to his impressive resume.
Taveras continues to impress with his overall hitting skills, but the power has definitely been a bonus. With a career .321 average in the minors and a terrific batting eye, 2013 is definitely not out of the question for a Taveras sighting in the majors.
6. Danny Hultzen: Seattle Mariners
2012 Stats: 9-4, 1.75 ERA, 1.099 WHIP, 9.7 K/9 Rate
MLB 2012 Preseason Ranking: No. 11
At the beginning of the season, everyone was touting the abilities of a trio of Seattle Mariners pitchers—James Paxton, Taijuan Walker and Danny Hultzen.
Paxton and Walker are progressing, with both going through growing pains this year. However, Hultzen has been outstanding.
In the first 13 starts of his professional career at Double-A Jackson, Hultzen literally toyed with the opposition, posting an 8-3 record and 1.19 ERA. The going's been a bit tougher in Triple-A, but the body of work (three starts) is certainly not enough to raise red flags. Hultzen got rocked in his very first start after his promotion, but settled down, picking up his first win for Tacoma on Tuesday night with five innings of one-run ball.
5. Gerrit Cole: Pittsburgh Pirates
2012 Stats: 7-2, 2.86 ERA, 1.157 WHIP, 9.4 K/9 Rate
MLB 2012 Preseason Ranking: No. 8
Last year's No. 1 overall draft pick hasn't really done anything to convince anyone he wasn't worthy of the honor.
Gerrit Cole, given the distinction of being the first player drafted in 2011 by the Pittsburgh Pirates, has put up outstanding numbers in his first professional season.
Cole was moved up to Double-A Altoona three weeks after posting a 5-1 record and 2.55 ERA at Advanced Single-A Bradenton.
The Pirates got a major scare when Cole was struck twice by batted balls in the first inning of game on June 26.
Fortunately, Cole was fine, rebounding six days later to give up just one earned run on six hits in 5.2 innings.
4. Nick Castellanos: Detroit Tigers
2012 Stats: .369 BA, 7 HR, 47 RBI, 23 doubles, .940 OPS
MLB 2012 Preseason Ranking: No. 42
When Nick Castellanos was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the sandwich round of the 2010 draft, the high school third baseman from Archbishop McCarthy High School in Florida quickly showed why he was worthy of such a high pick.
Castellanos hit over .400 in 55 games at Advanced Single-A Lakeland before earning a promotion to Double-A Erie. Even at the higher level, Castellanos has maintained a .300 average.
With power to the gaps and the ability to hit for average, Castellanos is definitely making a case for rapid movement through the Tigers' system.
3. Billy Hamilton: Cincinnati Reds
2012 Stats: .326 BA, 30 RBI, 9 triples, 103 SB
MLB 2012 Preseason Ranking: No. 27
There may be nothing more exciting than watching a player who dominates the basepaths, and Cincinnati Reds prospect Billy Hamilton is certainly doing just that.
Hamilton topped the century mark in stolen bases last season at Single-A Dayton in 135 games. However, he has already reached that mark in just 81 games this year at Advanced Single-A Bakersfield.
Hamilton is also showing he can hit—batting .326 with a .415 on-base percentage.
You think the Reds are salivating over having that kind of production at the top of their lineup?
2. Dylan Bundy: Baltimore Orioles
2012 Stats: 5-2, 1.87 ERA, 0.766 WHIP, 10.6 K/9 Rate
MLB 2012 Preseason Ranking: No. 7
Last year's No. 4 overall pick in the MLB draft is fast showing that he could very well be one of the elite pitchers in baseball in the very near future.
Baltimore Orioles prospect Dylan Bundy absolutely dominated at Single-A Delmarva, giving up five hits in 30 innings of work while not allowing an earned run.
Bundy hasn't exactly shown he's not up to higher levels either, posting a 4-2 record and 3.58 ERA in seven starts at Advanced Single-A Frederick.
What's really impressive is Bundy's outstanding command. Bundy throws all of his pitches for strikes, which will continue to help his rapid ascent.
1. Wil Myers: Kansas City Royals
2012 Stats: .327 BA, 27 HR, 72 RBI, 1.079 OPS
MLB 2012 Preseason Ranking: No. 14
It seems that the only question at this point in the development of outfield prospect Wil Myers is when the Kansas City Royals will call him up for his major league debut.
Performance certainly isn't an issue—Myers is hitting .315 at Triple-A Omaha with 14 HR and 42 RBI in 48 games.
Myers will get national exposure this weekend in his future home, and the whole world will get to see what the Royals already know about—a star in the making.
Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.