MLB Prospects Most Likely to Hit 50 Home Runs, Throw a No-Hitter and More
As I prepared my re-ranking of every team’s farm system on Wednesday, I started thinking about what my updated top 50 prospects might look like headed into the 2013 season.
Inevitably, I began asking myself questions such as: “which player is most likely to win a batting title?” and “who has the tools to be a 40-40 player?”
So, rather thank keeping the answers to myself any longer, I decided that I’d answer them out loud (on paper, technically) for you, the readers.
Here are my thoughts on some of baseball’s top prospects.
Hit 50 Home Runs: Miguel Sano, 3B, Minnesota Twins
With the graduation of Bryce Harper from a 19-year-old prospect to everyday outfielder in the major leagues, Sano now owns the title as the top power-hitting prospect.
At 6’3”, 195 pounds, Sano swings hard—really, really hard—all the time, and is capable of jumping the yard to all fields with ease. While this has resulted in big-time power numbers over the last two seasons, it’s also led to high strikeout totals. However, he does draw his share of walks, so there’s a chance that his plate discipline improves as he gains experience.
Steal 100 Bases: Billy Hamilton, SS, Cincinnati Reds
In case you’ve had your head buried in sand since late March, Billy Hamilton is the fastest man in baseball. In his age-21 season, the 6’1”, 160-pound shortstop broke Vince Coleman’s 1983 record of 145 by stealing 155 in 132 games.
He also made impressive strides at the plate as a switch-hitter, employing a more patient approach and making more hard contact. The Reds considered calling him up to serve as the team’s pinch-runner in the postseason, but ultimately decided against it.
Regardless, with his mind-blowing speed, Hamilton’s not far away.
Win a Gold Glove: Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians
Regarded as the top shortstop in the 2011 draft class, Lindor has exceeded all expectations this season as an 18-year-old in the Midwest League (Low-A). While his plate discipline and bat from both sides of the plate were impressive, he received the most praise for his defense.
Simply put: The kid makes plays that an 18-year-old is not supposed to make. Once he reaches the major leagues, expect Lindor to stay there for a long, long time.
Win a Batting Title: Christian Yelich, OF, Miami Marlins
A lanky 6’4”, 189-pound left-handed hitter, Yelich has continued to hit despite aggressive promotions by the Marlins. He batted .330 this year as a 20-year-old in High-A, and flashed more frequent power.
Yelich has a smooth and balanced swing as well as a mature approach that should make him an annual contender for the National League batting title.
Win a Batting Title: Oscar Taveras, OF, St. Louis Cardinals
Taveras, a left-handed hitter, posted a .953 OPS this season as a 20-year-old in Double-A. Thanks to his excellent hand-eye coordination and ability to barrel the baseball, he ranks as one of the best—if not the best—pure hitter in the minor leagues.
He’s seemingly able to hit everything, and hits it very, very hard. He continues to draw more walks and rarely strikes out, and his power emerged in a big way this season.
Throw a No Hitter: Jose Fernandez, RHP, Miami Marlins
In his age-19 season, Fernandez turned in arguably the most dominant season of all minor league pitchers. Already featuring a plus fastball and slider, Fernandez has a chance for two additional above-average pitches in his curveball and changeup.
His command is advanced beyond his years, and after excelling at High-A this season, Fernandez could potentially pitch his way to the big leagues by this time next year.
Win the Triple Crown: Wil Myers, OF, Kansas City Royals
After an injury plagued 2011 season, Myers came back with a vengeance this year. Exploding from an upright stance and getting excellent extension after contact, Myers posted a .987 OPS with 26 doubles and 37 home runs in 134 games between Double-A and Triple-A this season.
He nearly reached the major leagues in September, and should be a big-time run-producer in the middle of the Royals order in the near future.
Join the 40-40 Club: Bubba Starling, OF, Kansas City Royals
There are few players in the minor leagues with the overall athleticism and ceiling of Bubba Starling. With the legitimate potential to be a five-tool talent at the highest level, he’ll have some kinks to iron out along the way—primarily with this lengthy swing and pitch selection. However, once everything comes together, Starling has the potential to be an elite player.
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