MLB Prospects: B/R's Official Midseason Top 50 Prospects Update

Mike Rosenbaum@GoldenSombreroMLB Prospects Lead WriterJuly 16, 2012

MLB Prospects: B/R's Official Midseason Top 50 Prospects Update

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    When I originally published my preseason top 50 prospects list on March 26, I mentioned there would be a midseason update following the All-Star break. Now, it’s important to note that this is not a ranking of the top 50 prospect performances this season, but rather an updated and adjusted version of my preseason rankings.

    Since the first rankings were released, there have been numerous players that have officially gained rookie status: Matt Moore (No. 1), Bryce Harper (No. 2), Mike Trout (No. 3), Jesus Montero (No. 12), Devin Mesoraco (No. 22), Jarrod Parker (No. 31) and Yonder Alonso (No. 48).

    Furthermore, as with most midseason top prospects rankings, any player who is on an active big-league roster after the All-Star break has been omitted from this list.

    Furthermore, I decided not to include any of the 2012 draft picks or international signees on this list, as there's simply too small of a sample to make any definite rankings.

    Having said that, I present to you: Prospect Pipeline’s Midseason Top 50 Prospects Update.


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    * Age vs. level: How well a player fared at a certain level relative to his age. For example, a 19-year-old outfielder who raked at either High-A or Double-A would garner a higher ranking than a 24-year-old who posted similar numbers at Triple-A.

    * Injury history.

    * Tools: The number of impact tools a player possesses in relation to his position.

    * Hit tool: In the evolution of the prospect landscape, the hit tool has emerged as both the most valuable and hardest to project.

    * On-base skills: How frequently the player gets on base and, in turn, how advanced his pitch recognition ability is.

    * Whether he has a clear path to the major leagues.

    * Whether he currently plays a premium position and remains there.

    * If not, what skills separate him from other prospects at the same position?



    * Age vs. level.

    * Injury history (durability).

    * K/9: Has the pitcher posted similar K/9 rates throughout the minor leagues? Essentially, does he have the stuff to generate swing-and-misses in the major leagues?

    * Command: Whether he can command his pure stuff.

    * Pitchability: The number of above-average offerings in a pitcher's arsenal.

    * Does he project as a starter, or will he ultimately work out of the bullpen?

50. Alex Meyer, RHP, Washington Nationals

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    Position: RHP

    Height/Weight: 6’9”, 220

    DOB: 1/3/1990 (Age: 22)

    Bats/Throws: R/R

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

    Preseason Rank: NR


    2012 Stats

    Low-A: 7-4, 90 IP, 3.10 ERA, 2.63 FIP, .210 BAA, 107 K/34 BB (18 GS)


    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 significant arm-side run, will need to become more prevalent in his arsenal as he ascends the Nationals system.

    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.

    Considering that he’s a lanky 6'9", 220 pounds, Meyer has done a significantly better job repeating his mechanics this season—something that’s difficult with all those arms and legs. In the past, he’s had 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.

    The Nationals may let him finish the season at Low-A, but in my opinion, he’s ready for a more challenging level.

49. Trevor Story, SS, Colorado Rockies

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    Position: SS

    Height/Weight: 6'1", 175

    DOB: 11/15/1992 (Age: 19)

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: 2011, first-round supplemental (HS: Irving, Texas)

    Preseason Rank: NR


    2012 Stats

    Low-A: .262/.357/.492, 41 XBH (13 HR), 45 RBI, 7 SB, 76 K/41 BB (81 G)


    One of the more under-the-radar prospects in all of baseball, Trevor Story employs a mature approach at the plate that allows him to drive the ball all over the field. His present raw power and direct bat path suggest that he’ll hit for average to above-average power as he continues to physically develop.

    At 6’1”, 175 pounds, Story has an athletic and physically strong frame that still leaves room for projection. He’s an above-average runner with excellent instincts at shortstop, though his range is only slightly above average. Furthermore, he has smooth and natural actions to and through the baseball. His best defensive tool is his plus arm, which is more than enough for the position.

    After posting a .960-plus OPS in both April and May, Story, a right-handed hitter, fell into a slump prior to the Low-A All-Star break. However, his bat has come alive in July with eight extra-base hits and 10 walks over 12 games. It’ll be interesting to see how aggressive the Rockies are with him, as he seems to nearly be ready for a challenge at High-A.

48. Luis Heredia, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Position: RHP                       

    Height/Weight: 6'6", 205

    DOB: 8/10/1994 (Age: 17)

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: 2010, Mexico

    Preseason Rank: NR


    2012 Stats

    Class-A Short Season: 1-1, 24 IP, 1.13 ERA, .230 BAA, 14 K/6 BB (5 GS)


    Considered too advanced for the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League, the Pirates assigned Heredia to the Gulf Coast League in 2011 as a 16-year-old. However, they’ve been extremely cautious and protective of the tall right-hander, giving him ample rest between starts and allowing him to only throw a certain number of innings per outing.

    Heredia’s fastball velocity is up since signing with the Pirates, as he sits 92-93 mph but has been clocked as high at 95-96. His breaking ball shows a lot of promise and has a late, downward bite, but it’s an inconsistent offering given his lack of experience. The right-hander also mixes in a changeup with some sink and fade that projects to be at least a third above-average pitch.

47. Tyler Austin, OF, New York Yankees

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    Position: OF               

    Height/Weight: 6'2", 200

    DOB: 9/6/1991 (Age: 20)           

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: 2010, 13th round (HS—Conyers, Ga.)

    Preseason Rank: NR


    2012 Stats

    Low-A: .320/.405/.598, 41 XBH (14 HR), 54 RBI, 17 SB, 68 K/37 BB (70 G)

    High-A: 0-for-2 (1 G)


    Since entering the Yankees system in 2010, all Austin has done is rake. Possessing quiet athleticism, the right-handed hitter has strong, quick wrists that generate above-average to plus raw power—primarily to his pull side. While there is some swing-and-miss in his game, he’s an overall patient hitter with an advanced approach and is capable of manipulating counts.

    He’s not a burner on the bases; however, he reads pitchers well and picks his spots, therefore allowing his average speed to play up.

    Playing primarily third base in 2011, Austin’s defense was inconsistent and raw and prompted a move to outfield prior to the 2012 season. He’s an average defense outfielder with a slightly above average arm; therefore, his bat will ultimately determine whether he lands in left or right field. He’s produced at every level thus far and has demonstrated the ability to make adjustments.

    Recently, Austin was promoted to High-A Tampa, along with Mason Williams and Gary Sanchez.

46. Zach Lee, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Position: RHP                       

    Height/Weight: 6'4", 190

    DOB: 9/13/1991 (Age: 20)

    Bats/Throws: R/R

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

    Preseason Rank: NR


    2012 Stats

    High-A: 2-3, 55.1 IP, 4.55 ERA, 4.03 FIP, .270 BAA, 52 K/10 BB (12 GS)

    Double-A: 0-2, 16.1 IP, 8.82 ERA, 4.85 FIP, .357 BAA, 13 K/8 BB (4 GS)


    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 at 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 the occasional 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 a high school pitcher.

    After exhibiting excellent command at Low-A to begin the season, Lee recently received an aggressive promotion to Double-A. Since then, he’s been somewhat inconsistent, as he’s been hit around in two of his four starts after struggling to locate his pitches down in the strike zone. Still, given his promotion, Lee has a chance to be the next young Dodger pitcher to reach the major leagues.

45. Eddie Rosario, 2B/OF, Minnesota Twins

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    Position: 2B                       

    Height/Weight: 6'0", 170

    DOB: 9/28/1991 (Age: 20)

    Bats/Throws: L/R

    Drafted/Signed: 2010, fourth round (HS—Guayama, P.R.)

    Preseason Rank: NR


    2012 Stats

    Low-A: .293/.362/.473, 28 XBH (7 HR), 40 RBI, 9 SB, 38 K/27 BB (62 G)


    A left-handed hitter, Rosario has a short, compact swing that allows him see the ball deep at the plate and use the entire field. Although his best offensive tool will likely always be his bat, he has surprising power for a player of his size and could hit 15-20 by the time he reaches the major leagues. Rosario does have above-average speed; however, his base-stealing skills are lacking, and he’s still learning how to read pitchers.

    Primarily a center fielder until moving to second base, Rosario has the quickness, strong arm and overall athleticism to handle the position. Naturally, he will be raw and need extensive reps at the position in order to learn the intricacies, but Rosario has shown no signs that he can’t handle the transition.

    Following a strong showing in the Appalachian League in 2011, Rosario is turning in an impressive season at Low-A Beloit. However, the left-handed hitter hasn’t played a game since June 11, when he landed on the disabled list.

44. Matt Davidson, 3B, Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Position: 3B                       

    Height/Weight: 6'2", 225

    DOB: 3/26/1991 (Age: 21)

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: 2009, first-round supplemental (HS—Yucaipa, Calif.)

    Preseason Rank: NR


    2012 Stats

    Double-A: .263/.372/.494, 40 XBH (18 HR), 49 RBI, 87 K/49 BB (93 G)


    A right-handed hitter with strong arms and quick wrists, Davidson has the ability to drive the ball out of the park to all fields. Despite his high strikeout totals of previous years, he actually possesses fairly advanced plate discipline that should help him retain a decent batting average at higher levels. His pitch recognition still needs to improve, but the fact that he’s handled the jump to Double-A this season is highly encouraging.

    At third base, Davidson has only average range and exhibits sloppy footwork at times. However, he does have soft hands and a plus arm. Realistically, if he can continue to mash and cut down on his strikeouts (to an extent), his defense should be more than tolerable at the major league level.

43. George Springer, OF, Houston Astros

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    Position: OF                       

    Height/Weight: 6'3"/200

    DOB: 9/19/1989 (Age: 22)            

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: 2011, first round (Connecticut)

    Preseason Rank: NR


    2012 Stats

    High-A: .331/.408/.576, 42 XBH (18 HR), 68 RBI, 20 SB, 100 K/43 BB (85 G)


    The Astros’ first-round draft pick in 2011, Springer is a toolsy outfielder with an impressive blend of speed and power. A right-handed hitter, Springer has plus bat speed that generates explosive pop to all fields.

    At the same time, his overall approach is still somewhat raw, as he often chases subpar off-speed pitches out of the strike zone. Springer is capable of drawing walks but is still learning how to maintain a consistent approach.

    There’s still uncertainty as to whether Springer profiles best in center or right field—his plus speed and arm will likely keep both in play and help him reach the big leagues by 2013. He has enough speed to comfortably play either position, as he gets great jumps and demonstrates plus range. Expect the Astros to keep him in center field for as long as possible, where his offensive production is more of a premium.

    After batting .278 with 30 strikeouts in April, the toolsy outfielder has been on fire over the last two months and is a couple home runs shy of a 20/20 season—something that he’ll be capable of in the major leagues as well.

42. Cody Buckel, RHP, Texas Rangers

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    Position: RHP                       

    Height/Weight: 6'0", 185

    DOB: 6/18/1992 (Age: 20)                       

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: 2010, second round (HS—Simi Valley, Calif.)

    Preseason Rank: NR


    2012 Stats

    High-A: 5-3, 75.2 IP, 1.31 ERA, 2.17 FIP, .186 BAA, 91 K/25 BB (13 GS)

    Double-A: 1-4, 27.1 IP, 3.62 ERA, 3.97 FIP, .212 BAA, 22 K/12 BB (5 G; 4 GS)


    Despite standing only six feet tall, Buckel draws strong comparisons to 2011 first-rounder Trevor Bauer, who happens to be his best friend. Therefore, like Bauer, Buckel employs a delivery with exceptional torque and a loose arm that adds to the deception of all his pitches. However, the right-hander doesn’t rely solely on deception, as his stuff is excellent as well.

    Buckel’s fastball sits in the low to mid 90s with late run, and he does a great job of using it to change the eye level of opposing hitters. Beyond his heater, Buckel mixes in a hammer for a breaking ball that grades as an above-average offering, as well as a plus changeup that continues to improve. Rounding out his arsenal is a cutter, a pitch that’s still developing but already flashes above-average potential.

    He may not be an imposing presence on the mound, but Buckel’s pure stuff and overall command are legitimate. He has an advanced feel for pitching—especially for a 20-year-old—and could move quickly through the Rangers system. It says a lot that the Rangers gave him an aggressive promotion to Double-A so early in the season.

41. Jackie Bradley, OF, Boston Red Sox

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    Position: OF                       

    Height/Weight: 5'10", 180

    DOB: 4/19/1990 (Age: 22)            

    Bats/Throws: L/R

    Drafted/Signed: 2011 (South Carolina)

    Preseason Rank: NR


    2012 Stats

    High-A: .359/.480/.526, 31 XBH, 16 SB, 40 K/52 BB (67 G)

    Double-A: .316/.398/.418, 9 XBH, 24 K/12 BB (25 G)


    After an injury-plagued 2011 season playing for South Carolina, it appears the Red Sox landed a steal when they drafted Bradley in the supplemental first round of the 2011 draft.

    A natural center fielder, Bradley gets phenomenal reads in center field and possesses above-average range. While his arm is strong enough to play right field, his defense is such an asset that he should have no problem sticking in center field in the major leagues. Plus, while his plate discipline is among the best in the minor leagues, he doesn’t necessary have the power to play a corner position.

    Bradley possesses an above-average to plus hit tool from the left side and is adept at working counts and getting on base. Furthermore, his speed plays up on the basepaths, where he gets excellent jumps and repeatedly demonstrates a knack for swiping bags.

    His plate discipline and ability to drive the ball from pole to pole has made him one of the more impressive position players in the minors this season, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he reaches the big leagues at some point in 2013. For now, it looks as though he’ll finish his first full professional season at Double-A.

40. Alen Hanson, SS, Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Position: SS

    Height/Weight: 5’11"/152 lbs

    Bats/Throws: S/R

    DOB: 10/22/1992 (Age: 19)

    Drafted/Signed: 2009, Dominican Republic

    Preseason Rank: NR


    2012 Stats

    Low-A: .329/.391/.577, 51 XBH (15 HR), 49 RBI, 22 SB, 79 K/37 BB (89 G)


    Despite being undersized at 5’11”, 152 pounds, Hanson is an exceptional athlete with projectable baseball skills. He has insanely quick feet and plus speed that in turn give him exceptional range at both shortstop and second base. His slightly below average arm is his weakest tool, so while he’s currently manning shortstop in Low-A, he may be second-base-bound once he reaches a more advanced level.

    An aggressive switch-hitter with a short and direct bat path from both sides of the plate, Hanson has some serious little-man pop, as he projects to tally plenty of doubles and triples as well as a surprising number of home runs. He’s absolutely raking at Low-A this season and has been one of the more impressive position prospects in the South Atlantic League. At this rate, Hanson should finish the season at High-A.

39. Jonathan Singleton, 1B, Houston Astros

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    Position: 1B                       

    Height/Weight: 6'2", 235

    DOB: 9/18/1991 (Age: 20)           

    Bats/Throws: L/L

    Drafted/Signed: 2009, eighth round (HS—Long Beach, Calif.)

    Preseason Rank: NR


    2012 Stats

    Double-A: .273/.397/.492, 36 XBH (13 HR), 50 RBI, 85 K/60 BB (85 G)


    Acquired along with Jarred Cosart in the deal that sent Hunter Pence to Philadelphia, Singleton has explosive bat speed to go along with advanced plate discipline. Although his power isn’t overly apparent at the moment, it should continue to develop as he gains experience and should be at least above-average by the time he reaches the major leagues.

    One knock against the left-handed hitter is that he struggles against southpaws, as he strikes out too often and lacks his typical power. Over his last two seasons, Singleton is batting only .248/.342/.357 with two home runs (both this season) against left-handers. He’ll still track the ball well and draw walks, but he’s consistently demonstrated an inability to square up the ball.

    While he’s received playing time in left field, Singleton’s future is at first base. His below-average speed is a non-factor at the position, while he’s slick with the glove and surprisingly athletic.

    Singleton has a chance to be the Astros' first baseman in 2013 and, in his prime, could hit .275 with 20-plus home runs in the middle of the order. Legitimate first base prospects are rare, especially ones who will likely hit for average. Once he figures out how to hit left-handed pitching, there shouldn’t be anything holding him back from the major leagues.

38. Nick Franklin, SS/2B, Seattle Mariners

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    Position: SS

    Height/Weight: 6'1", 180

    DOB: 3/2/1991 (Age: 21)

    Bats/Throws: S/R

    Drafted/Signed: 2009, first round (HS: Sanford, Fla.)

    Preseason Rank: NR


    2012 Stats

    Double-A: .322/.394/.502, 25 XBH (17 2B), 9 SB, 38 K/24 BB (57 G)

    Triple-A: .253/.337/.460, 11 XBH, 29 K/10 BB (21 G)


    Had it not been for a down year in 2011 due to bizarre injuries and illness, Franklin would have ranked comfortably within the top 50 to begin the 2012 season. He had an excellent first full professional season in 2010, leading the Midwest League in home runs (23) and setting a new Low-A Clinton record.

    A switch-hitter, he definitely has more pop from the left side, including above-average power to the opposite field. Since entering the Mariners system in 2009, he’s consistently produced as a left-handed hitter due to a more fluid swing and bat path compared to his natural right side.

    Overall, Franklin is an aggressive hitter with plus bat speed and uses his loose wrists and compact swing to maximize power. Although strikeouts will always be part of his game, he’s improved his plate discipline and become a more selective hitter.

    Although he’s still a slightly above average runner, Franklin won’t steal 25 bases again as he did at Low-A in 2010. He still has good instincts and knows how to read pitchers, but he simply isn’t as aggressive on the basepaths. His speed plays up a tick at shortstop due to an instinctual first step, though his range is only average. He has a slick enough glove to remain at shortstop, but his average arm profiles better at second base in the major leagues.

    After a strong start to the season at Double-A Jackson, Franklin has been playing both middle infield positions at Triple-A Tacoma. Given Brendan Ryan’s lack of production this season, I wouldn’t rule out a September call-up.   

37. Matt Barnes, RHP, Boston Red Sox

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    Position: RHP 

    Height/Weight: 6’4”, 200

    DOB: 6/17/1990 (Age: 22)

    Bats/Throws: R/R

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

    Preseason Rank: NR


    2012 Stats

    Low-A: 2-0, 26.2 IP, 0.34 ERA, .130 BAA, 42 K/4 BB (5 GS)

    High-A: 5-2, 54.1 IP, 3.48 ERA, .246 BAA, 59 K/13 BB (11 GS)


    Headed into the 2012 season, there was widespread concern that Barnes would be the next Anthony Ranaudo. Luckily, that hasn’t been the case, as the right-hander has emerged as one of the more dominant pitchers in the lower minors this season.

    Barnes has an explosive fastball that sits in the mid 90s and occasionally flashes a 96 or 97. He possesses a power frame that’s extremely durable, and he has the pure arm strength to maintain his velocity deep into games. His curveball is above-average with plus potential and should quickly improve as he moves away from the use of a mediocre slider. His changeup lags behind his other two pitches and will be crucial in his development.

    His easy delivery produces big-time heat, although he occasionally struggles to work on a downward plane, which, in turn, levels his pitches. 

36. Rymer Liriano, OF, San Diego Padres

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    Position: OF                        

    Height/Weight: 6'0", 210

    DOB: 6/20/1991 (Age: 21)           

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: 2007, Dominican Republic

    Preseason Ranking: 43


    2012 Stats

    High-A: .298/.360/.443, 29 XBH (22 2B), 22 SB, 69 K/21 BB (74 G)

    Double-A: .190/.261/.262, 3 XBH, 14 K/4 BB (13 G)


    Liriano struggled at High-A to begin the 2011 season and was subsequently demoted to Low-A, where he garnered Midwest League MVP honors after slashing .319/.383/.499.

    A toolsy outfielder with tons of upside, he possesses average power and plus speed as well as an above-average knowledge of the strike zone. Liriano’s ability to hit for a high average remains suspect, but that shouldn’t detract from his overall game.

    Liriano’s ability to cover ground and above-average arm should allow him to stay in center field for the time being, but his thick build suggests he might get bulky over time and require a move to right field.

    Already on the Padres’ 40-man roster, Liriano was recently promoted to Double-A after a strong first-half performance at High-A. If he’s able to continue making adjustments, Liriano could reach the major leagues by late 2013.

35. Matt Harvey, RHP, New York Mets

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    Position: RHP                       

    Height/Weight: 6'4", 225

    DOB: 3/27/1989 (Age: 23)           

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: 2010, first round (North Carolina)

    Preseason Ranking: 32


    2012 Stats

    Triple-A: 7-4, 98.1 IP, 3.39 ERA, 3.45 FIP, .234 BAA, 102 K/42 BB (18 GS)


    Drafted out of North Carolina in the first round of the 2010 draft, Ha