As is so often the case with prospect rankings, there were several teams who weren’t represented in Prospect Pipeline’s Midseason Top 50 Prospects, released on July 16.
Fans of those teams typically wouldn’t have the opportunity to review their respective farm systems until the conclusion of the 2012 season, when I rank each team’s top 10 prospects. However, in conjunction with the release of my recent rankings, I have ranked every Major League Baseball organization, Nos. 1-30, based upon each club's top overall prospect. Therefore, every team and its top prospect has been factored into this ranking.
So here is a ranking of all 30 teams as determined by each organization's top prospect.
Height/Weight: 6'2", 240
Drafted/Signed: 2005, Dominican Republic
Triple-A: 5-9, 100 IP, 5.04 ERA, 3.84 FIP, .287 BAA, 89 K/54 BB (20 GS)
MLB: IP, ER, 3 H, K (1 G)
Peralta was signed out of the Dominican Republic as a toolsy outfielder in 2005. But after witnessing his raw arm strength, he was quickly transitioned to the bump. After missing the 2007 season due to Tommy John surgery, Peralta has progressed steadily since returning.
Peralta pounds the strike zone with a four-seam and two-seam fastball and typically sits in the low-to-mid-90s—although he is capable of touching the upper 90s.
His best secondary pitch is a hard slider, which, when kept down in the zone, is a legitimate swing-and-miss pitch. He also features a changeup that has come along over the years due to his role as a starter, but at the moment, probably only grades out as about a 50.
Although some believe he is best suited for a bullpen role, the Brewers have remained steadfast in their development of Peralta as a starter. Therefore, it will likely take an injury to a member of the Brewers’ rotation for Peralta to get his shot. Until then, he'll wait patiently in Triple-A.
After enjoying his best minor-league season in 2011, Peralta has endured a frustrating 2012 campaign as he continues to be knocked around in the Pacific Coast League and struggles to command his pitches (54 walks in 100 innings; 1.71 WHIP).
Height/Weight: 6'1", 180
Drafted/Signed: 2006, Venezuela
Double-A: 4-7, 86 IP, 4.50 ERA, 3.14 FIP, .315 BAA, 60 K/19 BB (15; 14 GS)
Traded this offseason for Sergio Santos, Molina, like Santos, is a former position player turned pitcher. However, although he lacks significant experience on the bump, he’s considerably advanced with both his overall feel and command.
None of his pitches grade out as a plus, but he mixes them well and exhibits excellent command. He spots his fastball, which registers between 88-92 mph, to both sides of the plate, which subsequently sets up his offspeed offerings. Molina’s arsenal consists of a curveball, change-up and splitter which has late tumble and generates a fair amount of swing-and-misses.
After a strong start to the season in Double-A, Molina was called up to Triple-A Charlotte for a very unimpressive spot-start. Overall, he’s struggled at Double-A, surrendering 112 hits in 86 innings. However, his command has been sharp as usual, as he’s only issued 19 free passes in 86 innings. On July 15, the right-hander was placed on the disabled list with tendonitis.
Height/Weight: 6'4", 225
Drafted/Signed: 2010, first round (HS—Philadelphia, Pa.)
High-A: 6-4, 101.1 IP, 3.21 ERA, 3.18 FIP, .245 BAA, 104 K/39 BB (19 GS)
Drafted out of a local Philadelphia high school, Biddle’s selection was one of the feel-good stories of the 2010 first-year player draft. A tall southpaw with a projectable frame, Biddle’s fastball comes in at 90-94 mph, and when he’s feeling good, it noticeably explodes out of his hand.
His off-speed pitches are underdeveloped, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t promising. His changeup has excellent fade and is thrown with arm speed similar to his fastball, and it has the makings of a plus pitch once it’s fully developed. Biddle also works in a downer curveball that he is still learning to command, as he has a tendency to overthrow it and spike it before reaching the plate.
Overall, he needs to continue to improve his command, especially that of his fastball, as it sets up each of his promising off-speed offerings.
Height/Weight: 6'1", 190
Drafted/Signed: 2010, first round (Cal State Fullerton)
Double-A: .289/.352/.404, 34 XBH (26 2B), 28 SB (14 CS), 61 K/27 BB (103 G)
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 61 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.
The Cal State Fullerton alumnus is also an elite defender in center, which compensates for an average arm. He's a hard-nosed competitor with the type of game-changing speed that will be hard to keep in the minors.
After a disappointing first half of the 2012 season, Brown has turned it on over the last two months, batting .294/.364/.413 in June and .376/.400/.604 through 24 games in July.
Height/Weight: 6'0", 215
Drafted/Signed: 2010, first round (UT-Arlington)
Double-A: .287/.356/.432, 27 XBH, 5 SB, 88 K/33 BB (91 G)
There's some swing-and-miss with Choice, but no part of any park can hold him, and his defense is far better than one would expect from this kind of power bat. He still chases too many breaking balls, but that should improve in 2012.
There's a realistic chance that Choice can stay in center field, and if he can, then he has All-Star potential. While his speed is a 60, he doesn’t necessarily use it very well on the bases. The down tool with Choice is his arm, so his value drops considerably if he's forced to move away of center, but by no means is that move imminent or even likely.
Choice was having a breakout month in July, batting .435/.493/.710 with eight extra-base hits, but will now miss the rest of the season after he was hit by an errant pitch and suffered a broken hand on July 21. He never tapped into his robust power as he did last season, but then again, there was bound to be a slight regression upon the jump to Double-A. Expect him to reach the major leagues in late 2013.
Drafted/Signed: 2010, first round (HS—Adel, GA)
Low-A: .293/.348/.479, 28 XBH (9 HR), 54 RBI, 9 SB, 44 K/22 BB (66 G)
High-A: .303/.426/.513, 15 XBH, 25 RBI, 27 K/26 BB (32 G)
A switch-hitting third baseman, Cowart handles the bat significantly better from his natural right side, though he’s made significant strides these season as a left-handed hitter. His bat speed and fluid stroke from both sides suggests plus power. Given his progress this season, it seems as though he may even have a chance to hit for a respectable average.
Left-handed, his swing can be a bit choppy and lacks the fluidity showcased from the right side, although he flashes 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.
Enjoying one of top breakout seasons among all minor leaguers, Cowart has gone from a prospect with questions about his bat to a hitter with constantly improving plate discipline. There’s still not a ton of power there, but he’s demonstrating the ability to consistently drive in runs. Furthermore, as his hit tool improves, his power should follow.
Height/Weight: 6'4", 190
DOB: 9/13/1991 (Age: 20)
Drafted/Signed: 2010, first round (HS: McKinney, Texas)
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, 20 IP, 9.45 ERA, 4.67 FIP, .360 BAA, 16 K/12 BB (5 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.
Height/Weight: 6'2", 235
DOB: 9/18/1991 (Age: 20)
Drafted/Signed: 2009, eighth round (HS—Long Beach, Calif.)
Double-A: .277/.393/.482, 38 XBH (13 HR), 56 RBI, 93 K/64 BB (96 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 .242/.337/.348 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.
Height/Weight: 6'0", 210
DOB: 6/20/1991 (Age: 21)
Drafted/Signed: 2007, Dominican Republic
High-A: .298/.360/.443, 29 XBH (22 2B), 22 SB, 69 K/21 BB (74 G)
Double-A: .192/.284/.295, 5 XBH, 26 K/8 BB (23 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.
Height/Weight: 6'2", 170
DOB: 11/4/1990 (Age: 21)
Drafted/Signed: 2008, South Korea
Double-A: .270/.340/.353, 23 XBH (8 3B), 36 SB, 84 K/43 BB (99 G)
Lee is an exceptional fielder—one of the best defensive shortstops in the minors. He has both plus range and a plus arm with outstanding instincts and smooth actions. His bat lags behind his defense, and he will never provide the thump to be the consistent All-Star that some other shortstop prospects likely will. However, his hit tool continues to develop and should be at least average by the time he reaches the major leagues.
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’s an adept base stealer and should consistently collect more doubles and triples than home runs.
After batting .248 in April and .220 in May, his bat exploded in June to the tune of .330/.387/.450 with seven extra-base hits and 14 stolen bases. He’s kept pace so far in July and should continue to turn his season around over the second half.
Height/Weight: 6'1", 205
DOB: 4/16/1991 (Age: 21)
Drafted/Signed: 2009, second round (HS: El Toro, Calif.)
Double-A: .261/.322/.379, 29 XBH (7 HR), 40 RBI, 45 K/32 BB (98 G)
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 has the potential to be a decent defender in the major leaguers. He’s always possessed the arm strength and instincts to handle the position, but now, his athleticism is finally catching up.
After amassing 55 extra-base hits last season at High-A Modesto, Arenado’s power numbers are down this season at Double-A, but the plate discipline and consistent contact to all fields is still there. Attribute last season’s power to the hitter-friendly California League if you will, but he’s simply not driving the ball like he can.
With a strong season, it seemed as though Arenado would make his big-league debut late this season, especially given the Rockies’ struggles. However, it’s doubtful that will still happen unless he catches fire for the remainder of the season.
Height/Weight: 6'0", 195
DOB: 6/6/1990 (Age: 22)
Drafted/Signed: 2011, first round (Rice)
High-A: 2-for-4, 2B, 3B, 2 BB (2 G)
Even though he’s not a physically imposing hitter, the Rice alumnus has a plus bat with power. But what I find most impressive about Rendon is his pitch recognition and ability to manipulate counts in his favor.
Despite his lack of professional experience, the right-handed hitter still profiles as one of the more advanced hitters in the minor leagues—much like how he was considered the most advanced bat in the 2011 draft class. Rendon manages to make consistent, hard contact and drives the ball to all fields with authority.
As a third baseman, he's an above-average defender with solid instincts and a plus arm. Prior to the season, there was even speculation that the Nationals may move him to second base to expedite his big league arrival.
Unfortunately, in his second game of the season with High-A Potomac, Rendon suffered a fractured ankle while rounding third base. The ankle injury is his third in as many years. Although the Nationals are hopeful that he can return by September, it’s unlikely that they’ll rush him back into action.
Height/Weight: 6'0", 150
DOB: 8/21/1991 (Age: 20)
Drafted/Signed: 2010, fourth round (HS: West Orange, Fla.)
Low-A: .304/.359/.489, 31 XBH (8 HR), 19 SB, 33 K/21 BB (69 G)
High-A: .277/.302/.422, 6 XBH, 14 K/3 BB (22 G)
In his first professional season, Williams ranked as the New York-Penn League’s top prospect after leading the league with 28 steals and posting a .349 batting average. He's a toolsy player with projectable athleticism and the baseball skills already in place to one day be a dynamic outfielder in the major leagues.
At the plate, the left-handed hitter has quick wrists with solid hand-eye coordination and a swing that projects for some power. Right now, he’s mainly an arms/upper-body hitter, so the incorporation of his lower half should yield significant results.
He possesses nearly 80-grade speed that plays better in the outfield than it does on the basepaths. His range is excellent in center field, and he has a strong enough arm to be considered for right field. As a base stealer, Williams has the speed but lacks the intuition of a polished base stealer.
After posting an .848 OPS through 69 games at Low-A, the Yankees promoted him to High-A Tampa, along with fellow prospects Tyler Austin and Gary Sanchez.
Height/Weight: 6'1", 205
DOB: 12/1/1992 (Age: 19)
Drafted/Signed: 2011, first round (HS: Arlington Country Day School, Fla.)
Low-A: .328/.381/.589, 22 XBH (10 HR), 25 RBI, 19 SB, 40 K/7 BB (48 G)
The ninth overall pick in the 2011 draft, Baez has insane raw bat speed with present plus power and a chance to add more as he develops. A right-handed hitter, he swings as hard as humanly possible every time. Yes, that inevitably leads to a high strikeout total. But that’s also what makes him such a uniquely 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 as he continues to fill out. He has above-average speed and good instincts on the basepaths and should have at least 20/20 potential by the time he reaches the major leagues.
Activated from extended spring training in late May, Baez has come out of the gates swinging in 2012, blasting eight home runs in his first 40 games. In addition to his ability to consistently square up the baseball, he’s shown to be an adept base stealer, going 19-for-22 in stolen base attempts.
Height/Weight: 6'3", 195
DOB: 5/11/1993 (Age: 19)
Drafted/Signed: 2009, Dominican Republic
Low-A: .242/.365/.493, 41 XBH (20 HR), 70 RBI, 7 SB, 114 K/60 BB (96 G)
Now that Bryce Harper has graduated to the major leagues, Miguel 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 the right-handed hitter can improve his plate discipline in the next several years, he could hit for a decent average in his prime.
Sano can be a wreck on defense at times, mostly in his actions to and through the baseball, which hints toward an eventual transition to first base as he outgrows the position. For now, however, the Twins will remain steadfast in their development of Sano as their third baseman of the future.
In his first full professional season, Sano’s 20 home runs, 70 RBI and 60 walks pace the Midwest League.
Height/Weight: 6'1", 160
DOB: 9/9/1990 (Age: 21)
Drafted/Signed: 2009, second round (HS: Taylorsville, Miss.)
High-A: .323/.413/.439, 79 R, 28 XBH (9 3B), 104 SB, 70 K/50 BB (82 G)
Double-A: .310/.442/.476, 4 XBH, 9 SB, 9 K/10 BB (13 G)
The first minor leaguer to steal 100 bases in over a decade in 2011 (103 for Low-A Dayton), Hamilton is hands-down the fastest player in baseball. Even more impressive is the fact that he’s made enormous strides this season learning the intricacies of the game.
He’ll never hit for power. But as a switch-hitting shortstop, the improvement in his plate discipline this season has already boosted his stock. Prior to his recent promotion to Double-A, Hamilton was batting over .320 from both sides of the plate. He’s shown more power from the right side due to more lift in his swing and better extension after contact. He’s also done a better job utilizing his speed this season, hitting ground balls at a favorable rate and putting pressure on the opposing defense.
Outside of his range—his best defensive tool—Hamilton's arm and hands can be fringy, which has some scouts thinking that he’ll wind up in center field or perhaps at second base. His arm stroke is unnatural at shortstop and has led to increased throwing errors, as his lower half often moves too quickly to execute fluid arm action.
Having already eclipsed last year’s high-water mark for stolen bases (103), Hamilton had 80 stolen bases by the High-A All-Star break and continues to average nearly 1.2 per game. What he is doing on the basepaths is absolutely amazing and needs to be followed closely for the rest of the season. For those of you who may be wondering, Vince Coleman holds the minor league single-season stolen base record of 145, set in 1983.
Hamilton is still likely two years away from reaching the big leagues, but given his speed, there’s a chance that the Reds may be forced to consider using him as a base-stealing threat off the bench—especially if they find themselves in the playoff hunt during the final month of the season.
Height/Weight: 6'3", 175
DOB: 10/1/1992 (Age: 19)
Drafted/Signed: 2009, Aruba
High-A: .284/.358/.478, 36 XBH (14 HR), 56 RBI, 79 K/35 BB (93 G)
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 at Low-A. Only 19 years old, his quick bat and plus power allow him to drive the ball to all fields with backspin carry. As he faces more advanced pitching, however, he’ll be forced to become more selective, especially with quality off-speed pitches.
Additionally, Bogaerts will have to make an alteration in his swing to hit for a respectable average at higher levels. Despite his impressive numbers at High-A this season, the right-handed hitter has only a 9.1 percent line-drive rate, which is well below the 13.6 percent league average. There’s currently too much length and uppercut in his swing, resulting in more fly-ball outs and swing-and-misses than desired in a young hitter.
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.
The youngster is on pace to post career highs in nearly every offensive category this season and has seen his power re-emerge after a slow start. Last month, Bogaerts was named the starting shortstop for the Carolina League All-Star team and recently participated in the XM Futures Game.
Height/Weight: 6'2", 175
DOB: 1/27/1991 (Age: 21)
Drafted/Signed: 2007, Colombia
Triple-A: 6-5, 91 IP, 5.34 ERA, 5.45 FIP, .290 BAA, 64 K/32 BB (19 GS)
MLB: 4.1 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 5 K/1 BB (1 GS)
Teheran has absolutely nothing left to prove in the minor leagues after dominating Triple-A hitters in 2011—or so we thought. Since receiving a call-up last season, the right-hander has lacked consistency and seen his stats trend in the wrong direction.
His fastball sits in the 93-97 mph range, and he’s aggressive with its placement, working both sides of the plate and pounding the lower half of the strike zone. However, he’s been missing with the pitch far too often over the last year, which has led to fewer strikeouts (6.47 K/9) and more home runs allowed (16) this season at Triple-A Gwinnett.
Also in his arsenal is a plus changeup with excellent fade, as well as a curveball and slider. Both pitches grade as above-average with potential to be plus offerings down the road. He has showcased improved command of all pitches since 2010, but clearly needs more refinement to be successful at the big league level.
With the injuries to the Braves rotation this season, the fact that they’ve opted not to use Teheran speaks volumes about their confidence in him. While the upside and pure stuff is still there, he’s taken a step in the wrong direction this season and may be trade bait at the deadline.
Height/Weight: 6'4", 210
DOB: 3/4/1992 (Age: 20)
Drafted/Signed: 2010, first round (HS: Archbishop McCarthy, Fla.)
High-A: .405/.461/.553, 23 XBH (17 2B), 32 RBI, 42 K/22 BB (55 G)
Double-A: .316/.333/.485, 16 XBH (6 HR), 18 RBI, 37 K/5 BB (43 G)
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/.436 while playing in 135 games.
Even though he swatted only seven home runs, the right-handed hitter did tally 36 doubles. Given his ability to barrel up the baseball, adding a little loft to his swing should yield more home runs. He also struck out 130 times compared to 45 walks, but his plate discipline has noticeably this season.
Castellanos is still learning how to play at third, but his range, instincts and above-average arm work well there. He’s tall (6'4") with wiry strength and lots of room to fill out, and having such a phenomenal season only raises his ceiling. Blocked at third base in Detroit by Miguel Cabrera, Castellanos has even seen some action in right field since the bump up to Double-A.
The 20-year-old starred at the XM Futures Game, going 3-for-4 with a home run, three runs scored and three RBI as he was named the contest’s Most Valuable Player.
Height/Weight: 5'11", 175
DOB: 11/14/1993 (Age: 18)
Drafted/Signed: 2011, first round (HS: Montverde Academy, Fla.)
Low-A: .267/.360/.384, 28 XBH (20 2B), 32 RBI, 20 SB, 53 K/44 BB (87 G)
One of the most promising young shortstops in the game, Lindor is already on the fast track to the major leagues.
The best defensive shortstop out of the 2011 draft, he has drawn rave reviews for his athleticism and actions at short, making plays that are unexpected of an 18-year-old. The combination of his excellent range and plus arm has the Indians convinced that Lindor will be able to stick at shortstop for the duration of his career.
A switch-hitter, Lindor’s offensive value will come from his hit tool. He’s already showing the ability get on base at a decent clip thanks to plate discipline well beyond his years. He’ll 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 aggressiveness, instincts and high baseball IQ.
Height/Weight: 6'4", 189
DOB: 12/5/1991 (Age: 20)
Drafted/Signed: 2010, first round (HS: Westlake, Calif.)
High-A: .3109/.384/.539, 36 XBH (11 HR), 36 RBI, 15 SB, 65 K/33 BB (72 G)
Still just 20 years old, Yelich’s hit tool already grades out as a plus and still has room to grow with improvement in his plate discipline. A left-handed hitter, his swing is incredibly smooth and fluid, as he keeps his bat in the zone for an extended period of time and attacks pitches throughout the entire strike zone.
Due to the level plane of his swing, Yelich will only hit for slightly above-average power, but if he's able to add some lift, he has the upside to produce 20 to 25 home runs annually. As of now, most of his power is to the pull side, but he’s started to drive the ball out the other way—something that will only improve with 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.
Height/Weight: 6'3", 195
DOB: 7/13/1991 (Age: 21)
Drafted/Signed: 2009, first round (HS: Santa Monica, Calif.)
Double-A: 5-4, 69.2 IP, 2.84 ERA, 3.46 FIP, .241 BAA, 71 K/21 BB (13 GS)
Triple-A: 3-1, 27.2 IP, 2.28 ERA, 4.21 FIP, .272 BAA, 16 K/7 BB (5 GS)
Over the last two seasons, Tyler Skaggs has emerged as one of the game’s premier left-handed pitching prospects. He’s tall and lanky with a smooth yet deceptive arm action, as well as repeatable mechanics that allow him to pound the knees with his 88-93 mph fastball.
Skaggs may have the best left-handed curveball in the minor leagues, a double-plus offering that keeps right-handed hitters off balance as much as it does lefties. He’ll occasionally rush his delivery and lose the pitch to his arm side, but even when he’s not throwing it well, it still has enough shape and downward action to generate swing-and-misses.
Skaggs also has a decent changeup that will get better with time, but it honestly doesn’t even matter when you have that good of a breaking ball.
It seems as though the Diamondbacks anticipate using him down the stretch of the season, as he was recently promoted to Triple-A for some final seasoning before a late-season big-league debut.
Height/Weight: 6'2", 195
DOB: 2/10/1989 (Age: 23)
Drafted/Signed: 2007, first round (HS: Lakewood, Calif.)
Triple-A: .333/.380/.595, 39 XBH (16 HR), 52 RBI, 59 K/19 BB (67 G)
It seemed as though Travis d’Arnaud would inevitably make his big league debut this season, adding even more firepower to an already potent Blue Jays lineup. However, the top catching prospect in baseball was recently sidelined for six to eight weeks with a torn PCL in his knee after breaking up a double play, ruining the remainder of his 2012 campaign and any shot at a big league call-up.
A right-handed hitter, d’Arnaud has plus power and should possess an above-average hit tool upon reaching the major leagues. Although there’s some swing-and-miss to his game, he’s traditionally had high line-drive rates. Therefore, his production this season shouldn’t just be attributed to the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.
His blocking and receiving skills have vastly improved over the last two seasons and have drawn rave reviews from both his coaches and pitching staff. He’s always had a strong arm, but refined footwork led to better accuracy this season, as he threw out 12 of 40 base stealers (30 percent) prior to the injury.
D'arnaud has all the makings of a future All-Star catcher, and once he’s healthy and given an everyday role with the Blue Jays, he should emerge as one of the top overall catchers in baseball. It’s hard to find offensive production like d’Arnaud’s in a catcher who also has the defensive skill set to stay behind the plate.
Height/Weight: 6'2", 180
DOB: 6/19/1992 (Age: 20)
Drafted/Signed: 2008, Dominican Republic
Double-A: .330/.388/.593, 52 XBH (19 HR), 75 RBI, 48 K/32 BB (93 G)
The left-handed hitter takes forceful hacks, but retains the ability to generate hard contact thanks to his ridiculous hand-eye coordination and knowledge of the strike zone. Albeit a violent one, his swing is balanced and smooth, as he generates exceptional torque and, in turn, the ability to unload on inner-half offerings.
There’s nothing more encouraging than a 20-year-old developing his power at Double-A while retaining a high batting average. It’s hard to predict which tool will ultimately be his best: hit or power. Although there’s a chance that neither ever grades out as a plus, both will at least be above-average.
His above-average speed has allowed him to play all three outfield positions so far, but his highest ceiling comes as a corner outfielder. Given his strong arm, I’d be surprised if he doesn’t end up in right field. His speed is slightly below-average, especially on the basepaths, but it plays up a grade in the outfield due to his instincts.
If he continues to produce at this rate, he may be in store for a promotion to Triple-A later this season and have an everyday job in the Cardinals outfield by 2013.
Height/Weight: 6'4", 185
DOB: 5/30/1990 (Age: 22)
Drafted/Signed: 2009, first round (HS: East Paulding, Ga.)
Double-A: 9-6, 109.1 IP, 3.29 ERA, 2.75 FIP, .227 BAA, 106 K/39 BB (18 GS)
Prior to the season, I believed that Wheeler had the potential to take a huge step forward to become one of the top pitching prospects in the game—and he’s done exactly that. Some scouts have set his ceiling at a No. 2 starter on a first-division team, but I think that may be selling him short.
Wheeler has a lean 6'4" frame, a quick arm and clean mechanics. His fastball runs as high as 97-98 mph; however, he usually works in the low to mid 90s with explosive sidearm action on his two-seamer. His curveball has sharp downward break that buckles right-handed hitters, and he also throws a solid-average changeup that should be at least his third above-average offering by the time he reaches the major leagues.
While his command still needs some refinement, he’s excelled this season at Double-A and worked deep into games. Consistently working down in the zone while proving to be difficult to barrel up, Wheeler’s allowed only one home run while registering a 1.16 GB/FB rate.
Height/Weight: 6'4", 220
DOB: 9/8/1990 (Age: 21)
Drafted/Signed: 2011, first round (UCLA)
High-A: 5-1, 67 IP, 2.55 ERA, 3.05 FIP, .217 BAA, 69 K/21 BB (13 GS)
Double-A: 2-4, 26 IP, 4.85 ERA, 3.24 FIP, .290 BAA, 26 K/7 BB (6 GS)
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 draft, Gerrit Cole is your classic power pitcher with an electric arsenal. His fastball can flash triple digits on the radar gun, though he typically sits in the upper 90s. When he’s efficient enough to work his slider off his fastball, it’s a legitimate strikeout pitch. Given his double-plus velocity, Cole also has a decent changeup when he’s able to mix it in.
There’s no denying that Cole has ace potential, but I just don’t think he will breeze through the minors as others do. Although he doesn’t walk a lot of hitters, the right-hander still falls behind too many hitters and leaves hittable pitches up in the zone. Furthermore, when pitching from the stack, he struggles to repeat his mechanics, ripping open with his glove side and throwing from a slightly lower arm slot.
Still, his arsenal is exceptional, as we all witnessed firsthand in the XM Futures Game, and he has the potential to be a front-line starter for years to come.
Having only made four starts for Double-A this season, he’ll likely spend more time at the level before a possible late-season exposure at Triple-A. At the same time, if the Pirates are still in the hunt come September and in need of additional starting pitching, his estimated time of arrival may get bumped up. The right-hander has some of the most explosive and electric pitches in the minor leagues and may be hard to hold back.
Height/Weight: 6'4", 210
DOB: 8/13/1992 (Age: 19)
Drafted/Signed: 2010, first round (HS: Yucaipa, Calif.)
Double-A: 6-5, 82 IP, 4.39 ERA, 3.88 FIP, .250 BAA, 80 K/32 BB (17 GS)
As an 18-year-old, 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’s struggled with it at times this season, especially as of late; however, it’s nothing to worry about. The fact he’s continued to make adjustments as a 19-year-old at an advanced level speaks volumes about his potential.
Coming out of high school, Walker’s breaking ball was a slider. Since turning pro, the Mariners have eliminated it from his arsenal, replacing it with a sharp downer curveball instead. He also throws a circle change with convincing arm speed and fading action and should be effective against both right- and left-handed hitters.
Walker’s raw athleticism distinguishes him from the other pitching prospects and only makes his potential that much greater. He's the Mariners' future ace with one of the highest ceilings of any pitching prospect in the game. Even with Felix Hernandez heading the rotation, Walker has the type of stuff and upside that will one day make him expendable.
Height/Weight: 6'3", 205
DOB: 12/10/1990 (Age: 21)
Drafted/Signed: 2009, third round (HS: Wesleyan Academy, N.C.)
Double-A: .343/.414/.731, 25 XBH (13 HR), 30 RBI, 42 K/16 BB (35 G)
Triple-A: .285/.373/.579, 32 XBH (16 HR), 49 RBI, 63 K/30 BB (61 G)
Since entering the Royals system in 2009, Wil Myers has absolutely raked at every stop—excluding his injury-plagued 2011 campaign. Exploding from an upright, balanced stance, the right-handed hitter has quick wrists with outstanding bat control as well as plate coverage that allows him to effortlessly drive the ball to all fields. He has considerably more power to the pull side but keeps his weight back long enough to still jump the yard to the opposite field.
Myers' plate discipline is advanced beyond his years, and he’s comfortable hitting any pitch in any count. Although he’s capable of drawing walks, Myers has focused on driving the ball this season, and the results speak for themselves. He’ll be nothing more than an average defensive outfielder, although the plus arm that made him a highly touted catching prospect is still there.
Myers is close—extremely close—to a big league call-up. He’s been knocking on the door all season and, despite Jeff Francoeur's struggles and Lorenzo Cain’s clean bill of health, may force the Royals’ hand very soon. He's such a pure hitter whose adaptation to major league pitching should be smooth.
Height/Weight: 6'1", 200
DOB: 11/15/1992 (Age: 19)
Drafted/Signed: 2011, first round (HS: Owasso, Okla.)
Low-A: 1-0, 30 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.39 FIP, 0.53 BAA, 40 K/2 BB (8 GS)
High-A: 4-3, 42.1 IP, 2.98 ERA, 3.15 FIP, .252 BAA, 48 K/13 BB (9 GS)
The No. 4 overall pick in 2011, Bundy’s professional career got off to a legendary start at Low-A Delmarva, firing 30 scoreless innings with 40 strikeouts and two walks.
He features a 94-98 mph four-seam fastball that has scraped triple digits, as well as a low 90s two-seamer and cutter. Unlike most 19-year-old pitchers, Bundy already has both a feel for and knowledge of how to manipulate his fastball, working both sides of the plate and changing the hitter’s eye level.
However, the Orioles have asked him to not throw the cutter—easily his best overall pitch. It’s a pitch that will still be there when he’s asked to revive it, but until then, he’ll work on refining his off-speed offerings.
The right-hander’s secondary arsenal consists of a deuce that consistently shows plus shape and break, though his command of the pitch has been challenged at High-A. Lastly, he mixes in an advanced changeup that should be yet another plus offering in time.
A physical and athletic pitcher, Bundy has repeatable mechanics and can handle a greater workload than expected from a prep arm. As the top pitching prospect in the minor leagues, the Orioles know that they have a special player on their hands in Bundy. He has the potential to reach the major leagues much quicker than the other prep arms out of the 2011 draft class, as well as the potential to be an immediate star.
Height/Weight: 5'11", 165
DOB: 2/20/1993 (Age: 19)
Drafted/Signed: 2009, Curacao
Double-A: .288/.361/.488, 42 XBH (13 HR), 51 RBI, 11 SB, 62 K/45 BB (95 G)
Halfway through the season, Profar has shown exactly why he’s the top prospect in all of baseball. The 19-year-old is thriving at Double-A, making easy adjustments without showing any flaws in his game. He possesses an above-average hit tool from both sides of the plate that’s highlighted by quick wrists and an advanced feel for the strike zone. As we all saw in the XM Futures Game, Profar has surprising pop for his size that, when bundled with his quick wrists, could yield 15-20 home runs in his prime.
He also made strides as a base stealer in 2011—his first full season—although his speed only grades out as above-average. It’s more noticeable on defense, as Profar has excellent range at shortstop and has clean actions through the baseball. He is a plus defender with soft hands and also possesses a strong arm that will allow him to remain at the position.
After a slow start, including batting .253 in April, Profar posted nearly a .900 OPS in May and continues to demonstrate plate discipline well beyond his years. Recently, the switch-hitting youngster was named a Texas League Midseason All-Star and turned in a jaw-dropping performance—he homered form the left side, singled from the right side—in his second XM Futures Game.
The top position prospect in the minor leagues, Profar has the potential to be a superstar given his natural ability as a switch-hitter and defensive prowess at short. While he’s still young and would benefit from considerable experience, it’s conceivable that he’ll be big-league-ready by late 2013.