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Bleacher Report's Top 100 MLB Prospects Rankings, Spring Training Edition

Mike RosenbaumMLB Prospects Lead WriterFebruary 13, 2013

Bleacher Report's Top 100 MLB Prospects Rankings, Spring Training Edition

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    At long last, after a busy offseason of blockbuster trades involving high-ceiling prospects, spring training is finally upon us. However, in the prospect realm, the arrival of pitchers and catchers also means that the ranking season is underway.

    There’s nothing easy about putting together a top-50 or top-100 prospect list; it’s admittedly a massive undertaking. After all, the nature of ranking prospects is completely subjective—as it always will be. Furthermore, it’s imperative to keep in mind that all of these young players are constantly evolving. Every prospect is uniquely different and deserves to be evaluated with an open mind.

    Although I will always stand by my rankings, I also expect to be wrong about many of the players on the list. In reality, it’s not a matter of being “right” or “wrong” about a prospect’s development and future potential. I’m sure that there will be numerous players left off my list who excel in 2013 and finish toward the top of the end-of-year rankings.

    However, that’s all part of the process. If anything, underestimating or overlooking a prospect’s upside serves as a valuable learning experience and tool for future scouting work and player analysis.

    For those who are interested in talking about my rankings or anything else prospect-related, please feel free to reach out to me at any time on Twitter (@GoldenSombrero), or just shoot me an email.

    Without further delay, here’s a look at Prospect Pipeline’s Top 100 prospects headed into spring training.

Methodology

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    Hitters

    —Athleticism
    —Speed
    —Hitting mechanics
    —Age vs. level: How well a player fared at a certain level relative to his age and that of the competition
    —Injury history
    —Statistical trends
    —Tools: number of impact tools a player possesses in relation to his position, age and competition
    —Hit tool: In the evolution of the prospect landscape, the hit tool is the most important but also the hardest to project
    —On-base skills: How frequently does the player gets on base and why
    —Whether he has a clear path to the major leagues
    —Whether he currently plays a premium position and can remain there. If not, what separates him from other prospects at the same position?

     

    Pitchers

    —Body type
    —Mechanics/Delivery
    —Age vs. level
    —Injury history (durability)
    —Statistical trends
    —Arsenal: Quality vs. depth
    —Control/Command: Does he effectively command his stuff, or is he in need of refinement?
    —Pitchability: The number of above-average pitches in a pitcher's arsenal
    —Projection: Does he project as a starter? If so, what type? Or will he ultimately be utilized out of the bullpen? If so, then why?

     

    Resources

    —First-hand scouting
    —Video
    —Industry contacts

The Next 50 (Nos. 100-51)

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    100. Jorge Alfaro, C, Texas Rangers

    99. Gary Brown, OF, San Francisco Giants

    98. Jarred Cosart, RHP, Houston Astros

    97. Allen Webster, RHP, Boston Red Sox

    96. Tony Cingrani, LHP, Cincinnati Reds

    95. Roman Quinn, SS, Philadelphia Phillies

    94. Michael Wacha, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals

    93. Aaron Hicks, OF, Minnesota Twins

    92. Andrew Heaney, LHP, Miami Marlins

    91. Yordano Ventura, RHP, Kansas City Royals

    90. Lucas Giolito, RHP, Washington Nationals

    89. A.J. Cole, RHP, Washington Nationals

    88. Wily Peralta, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers

    87. Clayton Blackburn, RHP, San Francisco Giants

    86. Henry Owens, LHP, Boston Red Sox

    85. Roberto Osuna, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays

    84. Delino DeShields, Jr., 2B, Houston Astros

    83. Cody Buckel, RHP, Texas Rangers

    82. Joc Pederson, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers

    81. Didi Gregorius, SS, Arizona Diamondbacks

    80. J.R. Graham, RHP, Atlanta Braves

    79. Courtney Hawkins, OF, Chicago White Sox

    78. Nolan Arenado, 3B, Colorado Rockies

    77. James Paxton, LHP, Seattle Mariners

    76. Jedd Gyorko, 2B-3B, San Diego Padres

    75. Corey Seager, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers

    74. Chris Archer, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays

    73. George Springer, OF, Houston Astros

    72. Zach Lee, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers

    71. Kolten Wong, 2B, St. Louis Cardinals

    70. Robert Stephenson, RHP, Cincinnati Reds

    69. Nick Franklin, SS-2B, Seattle Mariners

    68. Brian Goodwin, OF, Washington Nationals

    67. Max Fried, LHP, San Diego Padres

    66. Jon Schoop, 2B-3B, Baltimore Orioles

    65. Tyler Austin, OF, New York Yankees

    64. Hak-Ju Lee, SS, Tampa Bay Rays

    63. Bubba Starling, OF, Kansas City Royals

    62. Dan Straily, RHP, Oakland Athletics

    61. Gary Sanchez, C-DH, New York Yankees

    60. Kyle Crick, RHP, San Francisco Giants

    59. Yasiel Puig, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers

    58. Rymer Liriano, OF, San Diego Padres

    57. Trevor Rosenthal, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals

    56. Matt Davidson, 3B, Arizona Diamondbacks

    55. Austin Hedges, C, San Diego Padres

    54. Luis Heredia, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates

    53. Martin Perez, LHP, Texas Rangers

    52. Kaleb Cowart, 3B, Los Angeles Angels

    51. Alex Meyer, RHP, Minnesota Twins

50. David Dahl, OF, Colorado Rockies

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    Position: OF

    DOB: 4/1/1994 (Age: 18)

    Height/Weight: 6’2”, 185

    Bats/Throws: L/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2012 (Oak Mountain HS, Ala.)

    ETA: 2015

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: The 10th overall draft pick in 2012, Dahl made a big impression during his professional debut with rookie-level Grand Junction last summer. The 18-year-old outfielder was named the Pioneer League MVP after batting .379/.423/.625 with 106 hits (41 extra-base hits), 12 stolen bases and 42/21 K/BB in only 67 games.

    Offense: Chance for a true plus hit tool; tremendous hand-eye coordination and barrel-to-ball ability; left-handed hitter with plus bat speed; advanced barrel control and feel for strike zone; balanced setup and swing; comfortable hitting all pitches and using entire field; refined approach relative to age; could develop better-than-expected power; consistent source of doubles and triples; plus runner, but not an aggressive base-stealer.

    Defense: Speed translates better in center field than on basepaths; plays position with confidence; potential to be above-average defensively; smooth actions; takes good angles; more than enough arm strength for the position; room for improvement in his jumps and routes.

    Final Thought: Dahl offers a combination of raw tools and baseball skills are that are rare among players his age. Assuming that he rakes in his full-season debut this year, he could potentially hop on the fast track to the major leagues.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Low-A

49. Jesse Biddle, LHP, Philadelphia Phillies

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    Position: LHP

    DOB: 10/22/1991 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6’4”, 225

    Bats/Throws: L/L

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2010 (Germantown Friends HS, Pa.)

    ETA: 2014

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: Biddle thrived as a 20-year-old at High-A last season in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League, as he registered a 3.22 ERA with 151/54 K/BB in 142.2 innings for High-A Clearwater. 

    Mechanics/Delivery: Projectable 6’4” frame with broad shoulders; balanced delivery; minimum effort; durable innings eater; throws on a downward plane; eliminated some of the cross-body delivery that hindered his command in 2011.

    Arsenal/Control: Fastball sits 90-93 mph and he works it to both sides of the plate; vastly improved control/command compared to previous season; curveball features tight spin and late, downer bite; comfortable throwing it for a strike; spots it out of zone to induce whiffs; changeup improved steadily last season; gives him a chance to have three at least above-average offerings; secondary offerings in need of seasoning and refinement; overall pitchability.

    Final Thought: Biddle may be challenged this season as he advances to Double-A for the first time in his career.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A

48. Mason Williams, OF, New York Yankees

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    Position: OF

    DOB: 8/21/1991 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6’0", 150 lbs.

    Bats/Throws: L/R

    Drafted/Signed: Fourth round, 2010 (West Orange HS, Fla.)

    ETA: 2014

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: Williams turned in a strong follow-up campaign after batting .349/.395/.468 in 2011 as the New York-Penn League’s top prospect. Playing in 91 games between both Class-A affiliates in 2012, the outfielder batted .298/.346/.474 with 37 extra-base hits and 20 stolen bases. However, he suffered a dislocated left shoulder in late July that required season-ending surgery.

    Offense: Has more power than 6’0”, 150-pound frame suggests; arms and wrists loaded with quick-twitch muscles; makes a lot of contact but could stand to be more patient; solid hand-eye coordination and bat speed; barrels the ball to all fields; excellent plate coverage; too much weak contact at times; needs to focus more on his on-base skills rather than power utilization; power will come with experience and physical development; left-handed hitter gets out of the box quickly; raw base-stealer.

    Defense: Excellent defensive center fielder; plus speed and above-average range; covers lots of ground; reaches max speed quickly; actions are so natural it makes him appear lazy at times; sometimes he is lazy, however; average arm strength is ideal for center field. 

    Final Thought: Williams’ shoulder injury couldn’t have come at a worse time last season, as the then-20-year-old was beginning to settle in at High-A Tampa. Provided that he’s healthy on Opening Day, the toolsy outfielder could spend the second half of the 2013 season in Double-A with a strong showing over the first few months.

    2013 Opening Day Level: High-A

47. Kevin Gausman, RHP, Baltimore Orioles

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 1/6/1991 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6’4”, 185

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2012 (Louisiana State)

    ETA: 2014

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: Selected with the fourth overall pick in the 2012 draft, Gausman’s workload was limited during his professional debut after a long and strenuous college season. Overall, the right-hander registered a 3.60 ERA with 13/1 K/BB in 15 innings over two levels and finished the season at High-A Frederick.

    Mechanics/Delivery: Excellent power pitcher’s frame at 6’4”, 185 pounds; room to fill out; wiry athleticism; repeats active delivery; maintains balance throughout; knows how to use his lower half; doesn’t rely on pure arm strength as much as he once did; collegiate pitcher that still involves projection; loose, fluid arm action; some effort involved.

    Arsenal/Control: Easy fastball velocity in the mid-90s; can run it up to 97-98 mph on occasion; two-seamer is a few ticks slower but features more arm-side action; offers nice contrast to crisp four-seam; changeup in the low-to-mid-80s is a second plus pitch; highly advanced for his age; mixes in a curveball and slider—the latter draws more whiffs and projects to be an above-average pitch; refined command could make it a weapon in relation to his fastball-changeup combo.

    Final Thought: Considering the Orioles’ lack of impact pitching prospects beyond Dylan Bundy, the organization could be aggressive with Gausman’s development. If he begins his full-season debut at Double-A, then there’s a strong chance that’ll reach the major leagues by the end of the year.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A

46. Adam Eaton, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Position: OF

    DOB: 12/6/1988 (Age: 24)

    Height/Weight: 5’8”, 185

    Bats/Throws: L/L

    Drafted/Signed: 19th round, 2010 (Miami University, Ohio)

    ETA: 2013

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: Eaton may be undersized at 5’8”, 185 pounds, but he has four above-average to plus tools that will translate in the major leagues. A 19th-round senior sign out Miami University in 2010, he has batted .355/.456/.510 over three minor league seasons and was named both the Rookie of the Year and MVP of the Pacific Coast League (Triple-A) last season after batting .381/.456/.539 with 58 extra-base hits, 119 runs, 38 stolen bases and 68/53 K/BB in 119 games.

    His overwhelming success in the high minors resulted in a September call-up, where he batted .259/.382/.412 with 19 runs in 22 games.

    Offense: Left-handed hitter has a plus hit tool; adept at working deep counts in a leadoff role; makes loud contact to all fields; below-average power potential; could conceivably amass 50 doubles in a given season; puts ball in play and utilizes top-of-the-line speed; smart base-stealer; always looks to take an extra base; advanced secondary skills; polished plate discipline; understands limitations as a hitter; should always score a ton of runs.

    Defense: Plus speed is apparent in all his actions on the field; excellent instincts, speed and all-out mentality in center field; accurate, plus arm that plays anywhere in the outfield; above-average range; solid closing speed; sacrifices body.

    Final Thought: I spent the entire offseason trying to trade for him in my Ottoneu fantasy league.

    2013 Opening Day Level: MLB

45. Justin Nicolino, LHP, Miami Marlins

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    Position: LHP

    DOB: 11/22/1991 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 160

    Bats/Throws: L/L

    Drafted/Signed: Second round, 2010 (University HS, Fla.)

    ETA: 2015

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: As part of the Blue Jays’ outstanding Low-A, Nicolino showcased impressive pitchability and polish in full-season debut at last year. Overall, the left-hander registered a 2.46 ERA and .241 BAA with 119/21 K/BB in 124.1 innings. Along with fellow prospect Jake Marisnick, Nicolino was dealt to the Marlins this offseason as part of a blockbuster, 10-player trade.

    Mechanics/Delivery: Projectable 6’3”, 160-pound frame with room to grow; exceptional at repeating his mechanics; can make it look easy; always balanced; requires minimal effort; minor cross-body delivery creates deception; advanced feel for sequencing pitches; has a feel for when to add/subtract; high-floor, mid-rotation upside.

    Arsenal/Control: Fastball sits 88-92 mph; commands it to both sides of the plate; challenges hitters from both sides; changeup is a plus offering and easily his best pitch; thrown with deceptive arm speed relative to fastball; late fade out of the zone; comfortable throwing it in any count; mixes in a curveball that has improved over the last year; gets too loopy at times and hangs; confident demeanor; uses entire arsenal efficiently; keeps hitters off balance.

    Final Thought: Already polished for his age, Nicolino's profile of a command-oriented lefty projects well as a mid-rotation starter in the major leagues.

    2013 Opening Day Level: High-A

44. Addison Russell, SS, Oakland Athletics

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    Position: SS

    DOB: 1/23/1994 (Age: 19)

    Height/Weight: 6’0", 195

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2012 (Pace HS, Fla.)

    ETA: 2014

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: After shedding some bulk prior to his senior season, Russell proved that he could stick at shortstop and was ultimately selected with the 11th overall pick last June. He certainly didn’t disappoint in his busy professional debut, batting .415/.488/.717 with 15 extra-base hits and nine stolen bases in the Arizona League, .340/.386/.509 with Short-Season Vermont and .310/.369/.448 with Low-A Burlington.

    Overall, Russell posted a 1.027 OPS with 26 extra-base hits and 16 stolen bases in 55 games across three levels.

    Offense: Dynamic right-handed hitter; explosive wrists; strong hands; ropes line drives to all fields; demonstrates a knack for barreling the ball; present strength projects for above-average power; should always tally a high number of doubles and triples; over-the-fence power should begin to show itself in coming years; takes aggressive hacks; swings to strike the baseball rather than feel for contact; advanced bat control yields loud contact to all fields; smart base-stealer who picks his spots and gets good jumps.

    Defense: Plus runner; plenty of range; athleticism for any position on the field; slick glove was especially impressive during debut; plays through the ball and gets rid of it quickly; gathers momentum toward target; active and agile defender; above-average arm strength; throws pills across the infield with a fast arm and smooth transfer.

    Final Thought: Russell’s power-speed blend at a premium, up-the-middle position suggest a high ceiling as a borderline elite big leaguer. 

    2013 Opening Day Level: Low-A

43. Jake Marisnick, OF, Miami Marlins

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    Position: OF

    DOB: 3/30/1991 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6’4”, 200

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: Third round, 2009 (Riverside Poly HS, Calif.)

    ETA: 2014

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: Marisnick batted .263/.349/.451 in 65 games at High-A Dunedin to open the 2012 season, followed by .233/.286/.336 in 55 games after an unexpected promotion to Double-A New Hampshire. The 21-year-old ultimately held his own at the dish while at the same time enduring his share of struggles, amassing 100/37 K/BB in 120 games between the two new levels.

    Along with fellow prospect Justin Nicolino, Marisnick was dealt to the Marlins this offseason as part of a blockbuster, 10-player trade.

    Offense: Right-handed hitter possesses a highly projectable frame with present strength at 6’4”, 200 pounds; raw ability suggests potential for above-average hit and power tool; streaky hitter; lanky frame and upright setup create too much movement during swing; same swing and bat path regardless of pitch type, location and count; too much weak contact and whiffs; bat path can be long; collapses backside in an effort to meet the ball and force contact; has struggled against above-average velocity and advanced secondary stuff; plus speed and base-stealing aptitude gives him legitimate 20-20 potential.

    Defense: Has the speed and actions to remain in center field; plus range in all directions is aided by natural instincts; glides to cover large distance in the outfield; plus arm would play at all three outfield positions and is more than enough for center; his position will ultimately be tied to his production, or lack thereof; athleticism and tools give him a high ceiling despite previous struggles.

    Final Thought: Marisnick is a premium athlete still attempting to narrow the gap between his overwhelming natural ability and raw baseball skills. With the potential for five average-to-plus tools, the outfielder should be an impact player once he puts everything together.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A

42. Jorge Soler, OF, Chicago Cubs

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    Position: OF

    DOB: 2/25/1992 (Age: 20)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 205

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: June, 2012 (Cuba)

    ETA: 2015

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: After signing a monster contract with the Cubs last June, Soler, 20, impressed in his professional debut. Albeit a small sample, the Cuban defector batted .299/.369/.463 with 12 extra-base hits, 12 stolen bases and 19/12 K/BB in 34 games between the rookie-level Arizona League and Low-A Peoria.

    Offense: Strong, physical player at 6’3”, 205 pounds; mature frame requires little projection; ball absolutely jumps off his right-handed bat; dynamic bat speed and plus-plus raw power; extension and lift after contact; true power frequency yet to be determined; comfortable driving the ball with authority to all fields; approach was more developed than expected in pro debut; comfortable hitting when behind in the count; decent pitch recognition relative to stateside experience; swing can be rushed and choppy; timing mechanism and load will be simplified; premium velocity may exploit weaknesses at higher levels.

    Defense: Above-average runner who moves well despite size; range will be at least average and more than enough for a corner outfield position; plus arm is second-strongest attribute; ideal for right field; routes and reads improved during stateside debut this past season; still very raw regardless of the impressive small sample size.

    Final Thought: Soler may prove to be more advanced than expected this year in his full-season debut.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Low-A

41. Jake Odorizzi, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 3/27/1990 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6’2”, 185

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2008 (Highland HS, Ill.)

    ETA: 2013

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: Opening the season at Double-A Northwest Arkansas, Odorizzi was promoted to Triple-A Omaha at the same time as Wil Myers. Overall, the right-hander registered a 3.03 ERA with 135/50 K/BB in 145.1 innings and made two unimpressive starts for the Royals in late September. Along with Myers, Odorizzi was dealt to the Rays this offseason in exchange for James Shields and Wade Davis.

    Mechanics/Delivery: Excellent athlete; wiry frame; loose body; was headed to the University of Louisville for both baseball and football; 6’2” right-hander is agile on the mound; repeats his mechanics well; still learning to use his lower half; should help him keep the ball down in the zone; induces too many fly balls; clean, fluid arm action; doesn’t always finish delivery; loses pitches to the arm side.

    Arsenal/Control: Fastball will range 92 to 95 mph with sink and action to the arm side; occasionally will get under the pitch and pipe up in the zone with minimal movement; needs to throw on a downward plane with more consistency; curveball has an impressive top-to-bottom shape and will freeze right-handed hitters; also throws a slider and changeup, though neither are as advanced as the curveball; he’ll need to refine the command of his four-pitch mix, but he should be able to reach his ceiling as a mid-rotation starter.

    Final Thought: I love Odorizzi’s athleticism and arm action, though his evolution into a fly-ball pitcher has me slightly worried.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Triple-A

40. Matt Barnes, RHP, Boston Red Sox

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 6/17/1990 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6’4”, 205

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2011 (Connecticut)

    ETA: 2014

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: Beginning his career at Low-A Greenville last season, Barnes was absolutely dominant, as he posted a 0.34 ERA with 42/4 K/BB over his first five starts. Although he was noticeably worn down over the final two months of the season, the right-hander still registered a 3.58 ERA with 91/25 K/BB in 93 innings following a promotion to High-A Salem.

    Mechanics/Delivery: 6’4”, 200-pound right-hander has a tall, durable frame; built for innings; clean, repeatable mechanics that result in effortless velocity; high three-quarter arm slot creates good downward plane on all his pitches; pounds lower half of strike zone to generate ground-ball outs; consistently finishes his pitches, which enables above-average command of entire arsenal.

    Arsenal/Control: Best pitch is his plus fastball, which sits around 94-95 mph; holds velocity deep into starts; command of the pitch is above-average and was key to success in 2012; relies on the pitch too much; appears to throw it exclusively at times; curveball has excellent shape and late, downer bite; command of the pitch needs refinement; flashes above-average potential when thrown with consistency; development of changeup will be crucial towards overall development.

    Final Thought: Depending on the improvement of his curveball and changeup, Barnes could be challenged for the first time in his young career next season at Double-A.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A

39. Albert Almora, OF, Chicago Cubs

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    Position: OF

    DOB: 4/16/1994 (Age: 18)

    Height/Weight: 6’2”, 180

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2012 (Mater Academy, Fla.)

    ETA: 2015

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: Selected with the sixth overall pick last June, Almora was regarded as one of the more well-rounded and advanced high school players in the 2012 draft class. The outfielder surpassed expectations during his professional debut late last summer, as he batted .321/.331/.464 with 27 runs scored and 15 extra-base hits in 33 games and finished the season playing for Short-Season Boise in the Northwest League.

    Offense: Premium athlete who showcases all five tools; mature work ethic and advanced baseball skills; 6’1”, 170-pound frame leaves room for projection; above-average bat speed results in consistent, hard contact to all fields; quiet and efficient swing with little wasted movement; power will develop as he matures; should be above average by the time he reaches the major leagues; all-around offensive skill set highly advanced for his age; 20-20 offensive upside with above-average hit tool.

    Defense: Slightly above-average runner; demonstrates excellent instincts in center field through his reads, jumps and positioning; average arm strength that’s best suited for center field; above-average defensive outfielder with natural ability and an all-out style; high baseball IQ; mature on-field demeanor.

    Final Thought:  The Cubs certainly won’t rush Almora up the ladder, though it may not take him long to reach the major leagues relative to other class of 2012 draft picks.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Low-A

38. Carlos Martinez, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 9/21/1991 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6’0", 165

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: April, 2010 (Dominican Republic)

    ETA: 2014

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: The 21-year-old opened the season at High-A before landing on the disabled list with shoulder tendinitis. Martinez was promoted to the Double-A Springfield starting rotation upon his return and experienced no lingering issues, as he registered a 2.90 ERA with 58/22 K/BB in 71.1 innings with sharp command.

    Mechanics/Delivery: Undersized at 6’0”, 165 pounds; limited physical projection; high-effort delivery; power arm; lightning-quick arm action; ball explodes out of his hand; pitch trajectory is inconsistent; release point varies.

    Arsenal/Control: Plus fastball in the mid-90s with some sink; pumps four-seamer in the high-90s; should be able to touch triple digits in shorter stints; secondary pitches are still on the raw side but flash above-average-to-plus potential; curveball is a hammer when he’s throwing it from a consistent release point; plus changeup is a major asset given his excellent velocity and blinding arm speed. 

    Final Thoughts: Martinez's future role will ultimately depend on his healthy and durability. However, expect the Cardinals to remain steadfast in their development of the right-hander as a starter.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A

37. Noah Syndergaard, RHP, New York Mets

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 8/29/1992 (Age: 20)

    Height/Weight: 6’5”, 200

    Bats/Throws: L/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2010 (Legacy HS, Texas)

    ETA: 2014

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: The Blue Jays finally scaled back the caution during his full-season debut at Low-A Lansing in 2012, and Syndergaard responded by posting a 2.60 ERA with 122/31 K/BB in 103.2 innings. Not only was he difficult for opposing hitters to barrel, but he also showed a knack for missing bats with an advanced arsenal. The 20-year-old was traded this offseason, along with Travis d’Arnaud, to the Mets in exchange for R.A Dickey.

    Mechanics/Delivery: 6’5” right-hander has a power pitcher’s frame; physical presence on the bump; throws everything on a solid downward plane; pounds lower portion of strike zone; still learning to use legs; fast arm; repeats mechanics well given his size; strong core; moderate effort involved in delivery.

    Arsenal/Control: Fastball sits in the mid-90s with late, arm-side life; flirts with triple digits in shorter stints; amasses a healthy mix of strikeouts and ground-ball outs; curveball has plus potential; tight-breaker with late, downward bite; command of the pitch is inconsistent and will be challenged at higher levels; features better command of his changeup; not as dynamic of a pitch; thrown with deceptive arm speed; if breaking ball doesn’t develop as planned, he still has an incredibly high ceiling as a late-inning reliever.

    Final Thought:  Given his plus fastball-curveball combination, Syndergaard could conceivably reach Double-A by the All-Star break.

    2013 Opening Day Level: High-A

36. Alen Hanson, SS-2B, Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Position: SS-2B

    DOB: 10/22/1992 (Age: 20)

    Height/Weight: 5’11”, 152

    Bats/Throws: S/R

    Drafted/Signed: July, 2009 (Dominican Republic)

    ETA: 2015

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: Hanson enjoyed an unexpected breakout season in 2012 at Low-A West Virginia, as he batted .309/.381/.528 with 62 extra-base hits (16 home runs), 35 stolen bases and 105/55 K/BB.

    Offense: Switch hitter has the potential for a plus hit tool; quick bat from both sides; drives the ball from line to line; extra-base machine; hits the ball on the nose with consistency; average power potential; vulnerable to quality off-speed; struggles to keep weight back; handsy swing at times, but still barrels the ball.

    Defense: Plus runner; defensive actions and range to remain at shortstop; sound glove; smooth transfer; arm strength is only average; more projectable as a second baseman; bat will always serve as calling card and should get him to the major leagues at one of the middle-infield positions.

    Final Thought: It’s unlikely that Hanson will show significant power in the major leagues, but his bat and speed should give him a chance to be an impact player at a premium position.

    2013 Opening Day Level: High-A

35. Kyle Zimmer, RHP, Kansas City Royals

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 9/13/1991 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 215

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2012 (San Francisco)

    ETA: 2014

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: After the Royals selected Zimmer with the fifth overall pick in the 2012 draft, the 6’3” right-hander ultimately reached Low-A Kane County and registered a 2.04 ERA with 42/8 K/BB in 39.2 innings across two levels. 

    Mechanics/Delivery: Projectable frame at 6’3”, 215 pounds; had surgery following the season to remove bone chips in his elbow; clean, repeatable mechanics; fast, fluid arm action; lack of mileage after moving to the mound as a college sophomore; works on consistent downhill plane.

    Arsenal/Control: Zimmer’s fastball sits in the low-to-mid-90s with late life; jumps out of his hand thanks to quick arm; can reach back for 96-98 mph at times; curveball projects to be a second plus pitch with sharp downer break; also throws an average slider with tight rotation; changeup has come along nicely and gives him a deep, four-pitch mix; gets into trouble when he throws too many strikes; should correct itself with experience.

    Final Thoughts: Provided that he’s healthy, Zimmer is a strong candidate to move quickly through the Royals’ system. However, he’ll need to improve his changeup along the way.

    2013 Opening Day Level: High-A

34. Taylor Guerrieri, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 12/1/1992 (Age: 20)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 195

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2011 (Spring Valley HS, S.C.)

    ETA: 2015

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: Guerrieri signed just before the Aug. 15 deadline and didn’t make his professional debut until 2012, where the right-hander was the top pitcher in the Short-Season New York-Penn League. Overall, he registered a 1.04 ERA and .185 BAA with 45/5 K/BB in 52 innings.

    Mechanics/Delivery: The 6’3”, 195-pounder possesses present physical strength; quiet athleticism; strong upper body and broad shoulders leave room for favorable projection; arms works well; clean release; can get a little long on the backside; works against his body, though it does create cross-body deception in his delivery.

    Arsenal/Control: Flashes the potential for four above-average-to-plus pitches; pitchability; two-seam fastball is an excellent pitch in the low-to-mid-90s; considerable weight and late life to the arm side; commands the pitch effectively to both sides of plate; isn’t afraid to challenge both right- and left-handed hitters middle-in; will mix in the occasional four-seam fastball that scrapes 96 to 97 mph.

    Plus curveball is a second viable weapon with tight spin; consistent shape and late, downward bite; advanced enough to locate the pitch for strikes and bury it to induce whiffs; changeup is coming along; raw feel.

    Final Thought: Although Guerrieri has the potential to rise quickly through the Rays’ system, it’s more likely that he’ll be eased along as they tend to do with a majority of their young arms.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Low-A

33. Gregory Polanco, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Position: OF

    DOB: 9/14/1991 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6’4”, 170

    Bats/Throws: L/L

    Drafted/Signed: April, 2009 (Dominican Republic)

    ETA: 2015

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: Polanco had a breakout 2012 season at Low-A West Virginia, as he batted .325/.388/.522 with 48 extra-base hits (16 home runs), 40 stolen bases and 64/44 K/BB in 116 games as a 20-year-old.

    Offense: Raw but athletic prospect; projectable 6’4”, 170-pound frame; plenty of room to add strength; outstanding tools and secondary skills; the left-handed hitter has the potential for an above-average hit tool in the major leagues; showcases excellent bat speed and bat-to-ball ability; already comfortable driving the ball to all fields; swings to drive the ball, which helps explain his improved power utility; effortlessly generates backspin carry; bat can get long when he overloads; may get beat by velocity at higher levels.

    Defense: Plus athleticism, speed and range could make him a force in center field; long strides; rangy; gets good jumps; routes are still improving; may lose a step or two as he fills out.

    Final Thought: Expect his performance and production in 2013 at High-A to be heavily scrutinized as scouts and fans come from all over to get a look, myself included.

    2013 Opening Day Level: High-A

32. Julio Teheran, RHP, Atlanta Braves

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 1/27/1991 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6’2”, 175

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: July, 2007 (Colombia)

    ETA: 2013

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: After registering a 2.55 ERA at Triple-A Gwinnett in 2011 as a 20-year-old, Teheran entered the 2012 season as one of the top pitching prospects in the game. However, the right-hander regressed across the board while repeating the level, posting a 5.08 ERA with 97/43 K/BB in 131 innings.

    Mechanics/Delivery: Organization tinkered with his mechanics throughout the 2012 season; reverted back to original mechanics this winter and pitched well in the Dominican Winter League; outstanding arm speed; clean arm action; loose body; can open up with his front side at times.

    Arsenal/Control: Fastball was flatter last season; still in the 91-95 mph range to both sides of the plate; left up in the zone too often; changeup is still a plus pitch; speed differential; deceptive arm speed; lack of a third legitimate pitch continues to impede the final stages of development; both curveball and slider are fringe-y.

    Final Thought: Expect Teheran to get back on track at 2013 as he breaks camp as the Braves’ fifth starter.

    2013 Opening Day Level: MLB

31. Byron Buxton, OF, Minnesota Twins

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    Position: OF

    DOB: 12/18/1993 (Age: 19)

    Height/Weight: 6’1”, 188

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2012 (Appling County HS, Ga.)

    ETA: 2016

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: The No. 2 overall draft pick in 2012, Buxton had a good, but not great professional debut across two rookie levels, as he batted .248/.344/.448 with 19 extra-base hits, 11 stolen bases and 41/19 K/BB in 48 games.

    Offense: 6’1”, 188-pounder has tapered build with wiry strength; strong wrists; plus bat speed; above-average raw power potential; quick-twitch muscles; approach and hit tool are both raw; may need a few additional years of experience in the low minors; he’ll have to simplify his swing to handle better velocity and sequencing.

    Defense: Plus-plus speed gives him excellent range; safe bet to stick in center field; plus arm strength is more than enough for the position; above-average defensive profile in center; reads and routes are still raw; lauded for his makeup; needs experience

    Final Thought: Buxton’s elite athleticism and monster collection of tools gives him one of the highest ceilings among all prospects.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Low-A

30. Danny Hultzen, LHP, Seattle Mariners

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    Position: LHP

    DOB: 11/28/1989 (Age: 23)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 200 lbs

    Bats/Throws: L/L

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2011 (Virginia)

    ETA: 2013

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: The second overall selection in the 2011 draft, Hultzen had a solid overall professional debut in which he reached Triple-A and flirted with a September call-up. The left-hander was outstanding in 13 starts at Double-A (1.19 ERA, .144 BAA, 79/32 K/BB) but then struggled mightily upon reaching Triple-A (5.92 ERA, .251 BAA, 57/43 K/BB).

    Mechanics/Delivery: Left-hander is loaded with polish relative to his age and experience; should be able to regain the command that made him a top draft pick; features the classic Virginia delivery; cross-body delivery; doesn’t always extend towards the plate; varying release point; creates deception.

    Arsenal/Control: Fastball registers in the low-90s with plenty of arm-side movement; reaches back for 94-95 at times; spots pitch to both sides of the plate; attacks both right- and left-handed hitters; changeup plays well off his fastball; plus offering; consistent feel; can catch too much plate at times; throws 80-84 mph slider with confidence; lacks bite; can flatten out and linger up in the zone.

    Final Thought: Hultzen’s still a safe bet to reach the major leagues in 2013, but he has a lot to prove before then.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Triple-A

29. Trevor Story, SS, Colorado Rockies

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    Position: SS

    DOB: 11/15/1992 (Age: 20)

    Height/Weight: 6’1”, 175

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2011 (Irving HS, Texas)

    ETA: 2015

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: Story turned in a monster full-season debut at Low-A Asheville as a 19-year-old in 2012, as he batted .277/.367/.505 with 67 extra-base hits (18 home runs) and 15 stolen bases. In addition to the potential for at least above-average tools across the board, Story has considerably more athleticism than his size portends, while his baseball skills are mature for his age.

    Offense: 6’1”, 175-pound shortstop has a smooth, effortless right-handed swing; plus bat speed results in loud contact; drives the ball to right-center; understands how to drive through the baseball; above-average-to-plus raw power with developing power frequency; mashes fastballs; potential for above-average hit tool; needs to improve against southpaws; present swing-and-miss tendency should be ironed out over time.

    Defense: Shortstop does everything on the field; above-average speed results in similar range in all directions; already showcases big league defensive actions; intuitive player who positions himself according to in-game scenarios; can stick at the position and handle it at the highest level; accurate, plus; has the tools and skill set to play third base if he’s blocked at shortstop.

    Final Thought: Expect Story to post gaudy numbers once again as he opens the 2013 season in the hitter-friendly California League (High-A).

    2013 Opening Day Level: High-A

28. Jackie Bradley, OF, Boston Red Sox

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    Position: OF

    DOB: 4/19/1990 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 5’10”, 180

    Bats/Throws: L/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2011 (South Carolina)

    ETA: 2013

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: After a wrist injury prevented him from making his professional debut in 2011, Bradley batted .315/.430/.482 with 146 hits, 55 extra-base hits, 24 stolen bases and 89/87 K/BB in 128 games between High-A and Double-A.

    Offense: Left-handed hitter flashes potential for an above-average-to-plus hit tool; compact bat path; uses whole field; tremendous feel for the strike zone; top-of-the-order bat and secondary skills; advanced pitch recognition; above-average speed should result in 20-plus stolen bases annually.

    Defense: Profiles as a legitimate center fielder; gets excellent reads; has a quick first step; above-average range in all directions, especially laterally; arm strength is slightly above average; ideal for center field, but would suffice at a corner spot if necessary; bat is better suited for center field.

    Final Thought: Bradley will likely open the year back at Double-A. However, the combination of his hit tool, plate discipline and above-average defense at a premium position could have him in the big leagues ahead of schedule.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A

27. Carlos Correa, SS, Houston Astros

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    Position: SS

    DOB: 9/22/1994 (Age: 18)

    Height/Weight: 6’4”, 190

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2012 (PR Baseball Academy, P.R.)

    ETA: 2016

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: No. 1 overall selection in 2012 draft out of Puerto Rico, Correa posted a .625 OPS in 39 games in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League and finished the season on a strong note with a 1.050 OPS in 11 games in Appalachian League. One of the younger players in the 2012 draft class, Correa just turned 18 in September.

    Offense: Physically blessed shortstop at 6’4”, 190 pounds; five average-to-plus tools; phenomenal athleticism and baseball skills give him superstar potential; hit tool will be a work in progress for several years; above-average potential; should add serious strength; plus bat speed projects for 20-plus-home run potential; swing is inconsistent; will benefit from work with professional instruction.

    Defense: Fluid actions despite size; excellent instincts with above-average speed; needs to improve body control; arm is legit plus-plus and an absolute cannon; soft hands with a smooth transfer; needs more reps in game situations; will likely graduate to Low-A at some point next season; still incredibly raw with a large gap between present and future.

    Final Thought: It will likely take him additional time to fully develop, but once he does, Correa has the ceiling of a superstar-caliber player.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Short Season

26. Aaron Sanchez, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 7/1/1992 (Age: 20)

    Height/Weight: 6’4”, 190

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2010 (Barstow HS, Calif.)

    ETA: 2015

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: A first-round draft pick in 2010, the Blue Jays finally turned him loose this last season at Low-A Lansing, where he registered a 2.49 ERA with 97/51 K/BB in 90.1 innings. Although his overall command was understandably raw, the right-hander showcased outstanding stuff with the ability to consistently evade bats.

    Mechanics/Delivery: Highly athletic and projectable 6’4” frame; will add more strength; effortless and fluid delivery with a quick arm; clean arm action; effortless delivery; still learning how to repeat arm slot with consistency; can overthrow at times; doesn’t always finish; pushes pitches to the arm side; timing can be inconsistent; occasionally leads to an arm drag.

    Arsenal/Control: Pure stuff is excellent and sets him apart from most pitching prospects; fastball registers at an easy 94-98 mph and explodes out of his hand; one of the best in the minors; plus curveball has tight spin and sharp downer break; showed an improved feel for it this past season; changeup has some nice fade and is a viable third pitch; both secondary pitches are raw; will need to refine command as he begins to move up the ladder.

    Final Thought: With improved command at a more advanced level (High-A) in 2013, Sanchez has the potential for serious upward mobility in the rankings.

    2013 Opening Day Level: High-A

25. Archie Bradley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 8/10/1992 (Age: 20)

    Height/Weight: 6’4”, 225

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2011 (Broken Arrow HS, Okla.)

    ETA: 2015

    2012 Stats 

     

    Overview: Bradley was arguably the top arm in the Midwest League (Low-A) during his impressive full-season debut in 2012, as the right-hander registered a 3.84 ERA and .181 BAA with 152/84 K/BB and 87 hits allowed in 136 innings.

    Mechanics/Delivery: 6’4”, 225-pound right-hander has excellent athleticism for his size; was recruited as a quarterback by University of Oklahoma out of high school; athletic delivery that includes a momentum-building leg kick; impedes his control at times but is nothing that can’t be ironed out; live arm; throws everything on downhill plane.

    Arsenal/Control: Right-hander’s fastball sits in the low-to-mid-90s; heavy pitch that is thrown consistently on a downhill plane; holds velocity deep into starts; can scrape 95-96 mph when needed; curveball is a hammer with sharp, downward bite; plus offering that should be a legitimate out pitch in the big leagues; changeup flashes above-average potential with late fade; command of pitch varies, but he shows a solid feel for it relative to his experience; could move very quickly once control/command improve.

    Final Thought: Once he cleans up his mechanics and develops a true feel for his arsenal, Bradley should rank as one of the top pitchers in the minors.

    2013 Opening Day Level: High-A

24. Jonathan Singleton, 1B, Houston Astros

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    Position: 1B

    DOB: 9/18/1991 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6’2”, 235

    Bats/Throws: L/L

    Drafted/Signed: Eighth round, 2009 (Millikan HS, Calif.)

    ETA: 2013

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: Singleton spent the entire 2012 season as a 20-year-old at Double-A Corpus Christi, where he posted an .893 OPS with 51 extra-base hits (21 home runs) and 131/88 K/BB in 131 games. Unfortunately, the first baseman was slapped with a 50-game suspension this offseason after a second positive test for a drug of abuse (marijuana).

    Offense: Physically strong player at 6’2”, 235; plus raw power from the left side; emerged in a big way in 2012; hit tool survived the jump to Double-A; potential to be above average in the major leagues; feel for the strike zone; whiffs his fair share; also is adept to working counts and drawing walks; plus bat speed; quick-twitch wrists; natural up-the-middle approach; struggles against left-handed pitching.

    Defense: First base-only prospect; size limits overall athleticism; weak arm counters any notion of stashing him in left field; decent footwork around the bag; average glove; bat should continue to outweigh defensive concerns; clear path to playing time in the major leagues once he’s eligible, especially with DH now in play; will need make more offensive adjustments.

    Final Thought: Singleton had a clear shot to playing time in the majors leagues—well, I guess that he still does—until he chose to be an idiot.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Triple-A

23. Mike Olt, 3B, Texas Rangers

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    Position: 3B

    DOB: 8/27/1988 (Age: 24)

    Height/Weight: 6’2”, 210

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2010 (Connecticut)

    ETA: 2013

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: After posting a .977 OPS with 28 home runs in 95 games at Double-A Frisco, Olt was promoted directly to the major leagues in early August. Hampered by plantar fasciitis, Olt appeared in only 16 games with Rangers and batted .152/.250/.182.

    Offense: At 6’2”, 210 pounds, Olt possesses tons of present strength; plus raw power to all fields; the right-handed hitter is adept to working deep counts; patient approach; sits on pitches; punishes mistakes; hit tool may turn out to be better than expected; ball really jumps off his bat.

    Defense: Natural third base skill set; surprising athleticism for his size; should lead to extra reps at first base and in right field; above-average defensive profile; average lateral range; takes an instinctual first step; relatively smooth actions; above-average-to-plus arm strength; more than enough to remain at the position.

    Final Thought: I love his power and proximity to the major leagues, but I’m not as sold on the utility of his hit tool compared to others.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Triple-A

22. Trevor Bauer, RHP, Cleveland Indians

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 1/17/1991 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6’1”, 185

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2011 (UCLA)

    ETA: 2013

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: The third overall selection in the 2011 draft, Bauer opened the 2012 season at Double-A Mobile and posted a 1.68 ERA with 60 strikeouts in 48.1 innings. He was promptly promoted to Triple-A Reno in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, where he registered a 2.82 ERA over eight starts.

    Bauer was called up to the majors in late June and registered a 6.06 ERA with 13 walks in 16.1 innings. Command issues and general tentativeness, as well his unwillingness to make changes requested by the Diamondbacks, resulted in a trade to Indians this offseason.

    Mechanics/Delivery: 6’1”, 185-pound right-hander who’s limber and athletic; employs an unorthodox, torque-oriented delivery; well-documented training regimen including pole-to-pole long toss before starts; cerebral hurler who utilizes physics to optimize delivery; head pulls off to glove side and prevents consistent release point; explosive, quick arm; everything is masked with deception.

    Arsenal/Control: Fastball sits in the low-to-mid-90s with some late arm-side action; flattens out when left up in the zone; curveball is an absolute hammer and a second plus pitch; delivery makes it especially deceptive and difficult to recognize out of his hand; loaded arsenal also features a tumbling splitter, slider and above-average changeup.

    Struggled in majors as he tried to nibble at the strike zone; didn’t trust his pure stuff; tried to fool hitters with deep arsenal; more concerned about executing perfect pitches; concerns about his makeup and coachability, shaky relationship with organization contributed to disappointing showing.

    Final Thought: While the Diamondbacks’ decision to trade Bauer after a year in their system is questionable, it puts the right-hander in a position to break camp in the Tribe’s starting rotation.

    2013 Opening Day Level: MLB

21. Anthony Rendon, 3B, Washington Nationals

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    Position: 3B

    DOB: 6/6/1990 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6'0'', 195

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2011 (Rice)

    ETA: 2013

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: The top bat in the 2011 draft class, Rendon played in only 43 games last season after fracturing his ankle in the second game of the year. He has now suffered three serious ankle injuries as well as a shoulder injury over last four years. He ultimately returned late in the season and reached Double-A; however, he never found a groove at the plate and batted only .233/.363/.489 with 18 extra-base hits and 29/23 K/BB.

    Offense: A right-handed hitter, Rendon has explosive bat speed thanks quick-twitch muscles; relaxed wrists; loose, quick hands; can track pitches deep and still make loud contact; chance for a plus hit tool if he can stay healthy; power is yet to be seen due to lack of experience; should be at least average; one NL evaluator I spoke with mentioned that he’s skeptical of Rendon’s ability to hit with wood at higher levels; biggest asset is plate discipline, which ranks among the best in the game; advanced pitch recognition; patient hitter who rarely wastes at-bats.

    Defense: At 6'0'', 195 pounds, Rendon isn’t a physical third baseman; range has understandably decreased after ankle injuries; relies on excellent instincts, clean footwork and above-average glove; defensive actions are solid; develop slowly at times; arm used to be stronger prior to shoulder injury at Rice; still above average and enough for the hot corner; would like to see the Nats give him more reps at second base.

    Final Thought: Rendon’s offensive package is special and should translate in the major leagues. However, he first needs an avenue to regular playing time.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A

20. Mike Zunino, C, Seattle Mariners

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    Position: C

    DOB: 3/25/1991 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6’2”, 220

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2012 (Florida)

    ETA: 2013

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: Third overall pick in the 2012 draft, Zunino won every individual accolade during his career at Florida and guided the Gators to three College World Series titles. The 21-year-old made quite the impression in his professional debut last summer, as he batted .360/.447/.689 with 13 home runs and finished the season at Double-A Jackson.

    Offense: Power is lone outstanding tool; drives the ball with backspin carry to all fields; doesn’t rely on exceptional pull power, but isn’t afraid to turn it loose; swing can get a little long at times; still finds a way to barrel and drive through the baseball; lots of extension after contact; power to right-center; advanced approach at the plate; may continue to exploit minor league pitching until challenged in the majors; given approach and hand-eye coordination, his hit tool may ultimately be better than expected.

    Defense: Aggressive backstop who takes control; surprisingly agile despite thicker frame; worked with solid core of Mariners pitching prospects in pro debut; game-calling ability vastly improved; needs to refine his blocking skills and scale back amount of passed balls; average arm strength plays up due to his consistent footwork and catch-and-throw skills; has drawn rave reviews from both pitchers and coaches for his ability to slow down the game; excellent baseball acumen and makeup; high baseball IQ should help get him to the big leagues in a hurry.

    Final Thought: After absolutely mashing during his professional debut, everyone is curious as to whether Zunino’s bat will carry over into 2013.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Triple-A

19. Nick Castellanos, OF-3B, Detroit Tigers

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    Position: OF/3B

    DOB: 3/4/1992 (Age: 20)

    Height/Weight: 6’4”, 210

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2010 (Archbishop McCarthy HS, Fla.)

    ETA: 2014

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: A supplemental first-round pick in 2010, Castellanos opened the 2012 season on a torrid pace, batting .405 through 55 games at High-A Lakeland. He received a midseason promotion to Double-A Erie where his plate discipline was challenged, and he saw his batting line dip to .264/.296/.382 in 79 games. Along the way, however, the 20-year-old was named the MVP of the XM Futures Game after going 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBI.

    Offense: Pure hitter with highly advanced bat-to-ball skills; ability to consistently barrel the ball; natural inside-out swing with lots of power to right-center field; quick hands and bat speed; loose wrists and a fluid swing; lots of extension after contact but not a lofty swing; not physically strong for his size but possesses plenty of wiry strength; power should continue to develop as he gains more experience at higher levels; should always be an extra-base machine; prone to chasing sliders low and off the plate; barrel control to be a plus hitter in the major leagues; needs to refine his approach and pitch recognition.

    Defense: Drafted and developed as a third baseman until mid-2012; moved to the outfield as a way to potentially expedite his arrival in the big leagues; has the arm strength and hands for the position, footwork and reads remain raw; has received playing time at both corner outfield positions; still needs to learn how to make consistent reads; actions can be stiff; not a particularly strong runner but moves well once he hits full stride; can’t rule out an eventual shift back to the hot corner.

    Final Thought: Even if he rakes as he did to open the 2012 season, the 20-year-old is still blocked at the major league level. Therefore, the table has been set for a potential midseason Castellanos-for-major-leaguers trade.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A

18. Tyler Skaggs, LHP, Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Position: LHP

    DOB: 7/13/1991 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 195

    Bats/Throws: L/L

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2009 [Angels] (Santa Monica HS, Calif.)

    ETA: 2013

    2012 Stats 

     

    Overview: The top left-handed pitching prospect in the game, Skaggs cruised through the minor leagues last season, registering a 2.87 ERA with 116/37 K/BB in 122.1 innings between Double-A and Triple-A in 2012. Called up to the major leagues in late August, the 21-year-old showcased good stuff but shaky command over six starts.

    Mechanics/Delivery: 6’3”, 195-pounder has a lanky and projectable frame; clean, repeatable mechanics; has bouts of inconsistency like any young pitcher; struggles usually stem from flying open with front shoulder; hips and core don’t explode and arms drag; stuff gets flat as a result; will lose too many fastballs to arm side; natural deception in delivery.

    Arsenal/Control: Fastball isn’t overpowering in the high-80s/low-90s, but it has some late life to the arm side; needs to spot it more aggressively; does a nice job throwing on a downhill plane; curveball is a hammer and one of my favorites among all minor league pitchers; features a tall shape with deceptive pace; legitimate 12-to-6 downer that should always draw tons of swing and misses; changeup is fringy at the moment, but has the potential to be a third above-average offering with further refinement; lacks feel for all three pitches at one time; consistency will come from experience.

    Final Thought: Skaggs proved last season that he’s ready for the major leagues, though he’s still raw in many regards—which, in this case, is a good thing.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Triple-A

17. Javier Baez, SS, Chicago Cubs

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    Position: SS

    DOB: 12/01/1992 (Age: 20)

    Height/Weight: 6’1”, 205

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2011 (Arlington Country Day HS, Fla.)

    ETA: 2015

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: Baez put up big numbers last year to begin his full-season debut at Low-A Peoria, batting .333/383/.596 with 27 extra-base hits (12 home runs) and 20 stolen bases in 57 games. The then 19-year-old’s performance resulted in a late-season promotion to High-A Daytona, where he was overmatched and posted a .644 OPS in 23 games. Even though he makes lots of hard contact, Baez is a free-swinger who whiffs too often, as evidenced by his 69/14 K/BB last season between both Class-A levels.

    Offense: Right-handed hitter with potential for above-average-to-plus hit tool; raw power is an easy plus attribute; elite, plus-plus bat speed yields loud contact to all fields; 20-20 potential; will jump on velocity; extremely strong wrists and top hand; max-effort swing every time; lacks a feel for the strike zone and will chase too many pitches; needs to show some restraint; will need to improve pitch recognition; chases too many breaking balls; can be beat by quality sequencing; needs to work more hitter counts; aggressive base-stealer; secondary skills leave something to be desired.

    Defense: 6’1”, 205-pounder is a shortstop at the moment; addition of too much strength may prompt a move to third base; above-average athlete with smooth, natural defensive actions; speed may lose a grade as he develops physically; should always be at least solid-average; plus arm ideal for left side of the infield; high-intensity player who needs to employ a more cognizant on-field mindset. 

    Final Thought: Baez’s bat gives him one of the highest offensive ceilings in the minor leagues, though it comes with a considerable amount of risk.

    2013 Opening Day Level: High-A

16. Miguel Sano, 3B, Minnesota Twins

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    Position: 3B

    DOB: 5/11/1993 (Age: 19)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 195

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: October 2009 (Dominican Republic)

    ETA: 2015

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: In his full-season debut at Low-A Beloit, Sano batted .258/.373/.521 in 129 games as a 19-year-old. Of his 118 hits, 60 were for extra bases, including 28 home runs. Even though he struck out 144 times, he also demonstrated on-base skills with 80 walks.

    Offense: Best raw power in the minor leagues and present power frequency; present six which should be an eight at maturity; powerful swing generates backspin carry to all fields; has some holes and results in too many swings-and-misses; has the bat speed and strength to still be successful; sketchy hit tool projection; vulnerable to sequence; utility will depend upon development of plate discipline and pitch recognition.

    Defense: His defense at the hot corner is rough; present athleticism despite his 6’3”, 230-pound frame; will likely lose a step as he fills out; glove and footwork will have to vastly improve to stick at the hot corner; should ultimately settle in right field or first base; slow, choppy feet; stiff actions; limited range; plus arm strength; footwork impedes accuracy; too many lazy throwing errors.

    Final Thought: Despite his elite power, Sano is still a very raw prospect with a substantial gap between the present and future. Don’t be surprised if the 19-year-old has an up-and-down season in the Florida State League (High-A) in 2013.

    2013 Opening Day Level: High-A

15. Billy Hamilton, OF, Cincinnati Reds

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    Position: CF

    DOB: 9/9/1990 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6’1”, 160

    Bats/Throws: S/R

    Drafted/Signed: Second round, 2009 (Taylorsville HS, Miss.)

    ETA: 2013

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: Hamilton’s prospect stock shot up this past season thanks to a vastly improved contact rate and approach from both sides of the plate. He batted .311/.410/.420 with 48 extra-base hits, 112 runs scored and 113/86 K/BB between High-A and Double-A. Oh yeah, he also shattered the professional stolen base record with 155 in 132 games. What?

    Offense: Did a much better job putting the ball in play; always puts pressure on opposing defense; feet never stop moving on the baseball field—especially on the basepaths; more of a slap hitter from natural right side; more extra-base power from left side; more leveraged swing; without a doubt the fastest player I’ve ever seen on a baseball field; best home-to-first time I’ve ever recorded or heard of; legitimate top-of-the-order potential; legendary, game-changing speed; vastly improved secondary skills

    Defense: Was developed as a shortstop up until this fall; Reds moved him to center field in the Arizona Fall League; showed speed and range to handle shortstop; arm strength was always lacking with an awkward stroke; actually plays well in center field given his length on the backside; speed should allow him to compensate for poor reads; has all of the tools to be a top-of-the-line defensive center fielder; he’ll get to even more balls as his jumps and instincts improve; will learn to sprint to spots rather than track balls.

    Final Thought: With the ability to change the outcome of a game in a multitude of ways, Hamilton’s speed is arguably the most dynamic tool in the minor leagues.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Triple-A

14. Shelby Miller, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 10/10/1990 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 195

    Bats/Throws: R/R

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

    ETA: 2013

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: Regarded as one of baseball’s top pitching prospects headed into the season, Miller had a frustrating first half at Triple-A Memphis. He left too many fastballs up in the zone without effectively mixing in secondary pitches.

    After posting a 7.91 ERA in June, the right-hander finally turned and registered a 2.91 ERA in August with 53/4 K/BB. Called up to the major leagues in early September, Miller was impressive out of the Cardinals bullpen, and he held Reds to one hit over six innings in his only big league start.

    Mechanics/Delivery: Rhythmic and repeatable delivery; power pitcher who pounds the zone with fastballs; explodes toward the plate following a modest foot strike; still needs to work down in the zone with more consistency; good finish; loose arm action.

    Arsenal/Control: Fastball is actually pretty straight, but it’s one of those rare swing-and-miss heaters that draws whiffs at 92-95 mph; commands the pitch well throughout the strike zone; works inside to both right- and left-handed hitters; curveball will need to get sharper, but offers a difficult look when thrown off his well-located fastball; with more refinement, his low-to-mid-80s changeup could emerge as a viable weapon next season.

    Final Thought: Barring an unexpectedly bad spring, Miller should break camp at the back end of the Cardinals starting rotation.

    2013 Opening Day Level: MLB

13. Christian Yelich, OF, Miami Marlins

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    Position: OF

    DOB: 12/5/1991 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6’4”, 189

    Bats/Throws: L/R

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

    ETA: 2014

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: Yelich, who’s developed into one of the better hitters in the minor leagues, batted .330/.404/.519 with 46 extra-base hits and 20 stolen bases for High-A Jupiter in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League. 

    Offense: Smooth, balanced left-handed swing; repeats bat path with consistency throughout the strike zone; no wasted movement; quick wrists; keeps weight back and drives ball to all fields; approach noticeably present in each at-bat; advanced pitch recognition; average runner who glides when he gets going; efficient base-stealer; development of usable power is only question mark; more of a line-drive hitter who clears fences; bat good enough to handle corner position even if power is only marginal.

    Defense: The 6’4”, 189-pound outfielder is an excellent athlete who’s been developed in center field; lacks range commonly associated with the position; above-average defender overall; only down tool is his arm, which is below average and could restrict him solely to center field; rangy thanks to long strides; instinctual; good first step.

    Final Thought: Yelich is one of the more well-rounded position prospects headed into the 2013 season, and he should receive a healthy challenge at Double-A.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A

12. Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians

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    Position: SS

    DOB: 11/14/1993 (Age: 19)

    Height/Weight: 5’11”, 175

    Bats/Throws: S/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2011 (Montverde HS, Fla.)

    ETA: 2014

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: Lindor received an aggressive promotion to Low-A for his full-season debut last season, where the switch hitter batted .257/.352/.355 with 24 doubles, 27 stolen bases and 78/61 K/BB in 122 games. His stats took a dive over the second half of the season, though, as he was noticeably worn down and running on fumes.

    Offense: Works deep counts and demonstrates feel for strike zone; advanced pitch recognition and approach; will collect plenty of extra-base hits, below-average power; potential for above-average hit tool from both sides; present bat control; above-average speed; advanced and instinctual base-stealer; mature secondary skills.

    Defense: Wizard in the field; potential to be elite defensive shortstop in the major leagues; does things at the position that no teenager should be able to do; plus glove; soft hands; above-average range; always gains momentum toward target; accurate, above-average arm; defense could play in the major leagues right now; could have a long career in majors even if bat doesn’t pan out; outstanding make-up and instincts.

    Final Thought: Lindor has a legitimate chance to be the Tribe’s everyday shortstop before turning 21.

    2013 Opening Day Level: High-A

11. Travis d'Arnaud, C, New York Mets

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    Position: C

    DOB: 2/10/1989 (Age: 24)

    Height/Weight: 6’2”, 195

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2007 [Phillies] (Lakewood HS, Calif.)

    ETA: 2013

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: Batting .333/.380/.595 with 16 home runs in 67 games at Triple-A Las Vegas, d'Arnaud would have likely served as a September call-up had he not suffered a season-ending knee injury in June. Regarded as the top catching prospect in the game, the 24-year-old was traded to the New York Mets this offseason in the R.A. Dickey deal.

    Offense: 6’2” right-handed hitter has above-average bat speed; impressive raw power; lift to stroke; generates backspin carry; power frequency continues to improve; short, compact swing; good feel for bat head relative to zone; makes loud contact to all fields; has some swing-and-miss in his game; will pull open with front side; needs to focus on driving the ball to right-center gap; keeps hands inside ball when in a groove.

    Defense: Defense has vastly improved over last two seasons; quiet athleticism; moves well laterally behind the plate; has become a more aggressive blocker; boxes fewer balls; receiving skills continue to improve; gives umpires a good look at pitches; has been lauded by pitchers and managers for putting down good fingers; plus arm is strongest defensive asset; footwork can get out of sync with arm; career-best 30 percent caught-stealing rate prior to injury.

    Final Thought: Will open the season at Triple-A, but it shouldn’t be long until he’s hitting in the middle of the Mets lineup.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Triple-A

10. Jameson Taillon, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 11/18/1991 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6’6”, 225

    Bats/Throws: R/R

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

    ETA: 2013

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: Taillon, the second overall selection in the 2010 draft, registered a 3.82 ERA with 98/37 K/BB in 125 innings at High-A Bradenton. He was dominant in three starts at Double-A Altoona to finish the season (17 IP, 1.59 ERA, 18/1 K/BB).

    Mechanics/Delivery: 6’6” power pitcher with a huge ceiling; long limbs gives him exceptional reach; tall, lanky frame; loose arm; can be tight on backside; hides ball well; difficult arm angle; more of a thrower; repeatable mechanics; still establishing a feel for delivery; needs to utilize height and work downhill; should improve as he learns to finish with consistency.

    Arsenal/Control: 6'6" right-hander’s fastball sits in the mid-to-high-90s with late movement to the arm side; velocity plays up due to extension; jumps out of his hand and on opposing hitters; curveball is a second plus pitch with sharp, two-plane break; development of changeup will be crucial toward overall progress; needs to iron out some minor issues with his mechanics and refine his overall command.

    Final Thought: Taillon may not have as high of a ceiling as teammate Gerrit Cole; however, he could still develop into an ace on a second-division team.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A

9. Xander Bogaerts, SS, Boston Red Sox

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    Position: SS

    DOB: 10/1/1992 (Age: 20)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 175

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: August 2009 (Aruba)

    ETA: 2013

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: Bogaerts exceeded all expectations as a 19-year-old last season, batting .307/.373/.523 with 60 extra-base hits (20 home runs) and 106/44 K/BB in 127 games between High-A Salem and Double-A Portland.

    Offense: At 6’3”, 175 pounds, Bogaerts is a right-handed hitter with one hell of a bat; employs an upright stance; big leg lift load; gets all of his weight to backside and then through the ball; vicious swing results in loud contact to all fields; possesses plus bat speed with exceptional raw power to all fields; backspin carry; lift to stroke and flight of ball; extension after contact; can turn around good velocity; hit tool has developed better than expected despite aggressive, free-swinging approach; plus potential with improved pitch recognition; has posted oddly low line-drive rates throughout minor league career; will have to cut down on strikeouts; chases too many breaking balls out of the zone; lunges and dips during takes.

    Defense: Will continue to be developed as a shortstop until he’s forced to move from position; clean fit as a third baseman or corner outfielder; solid hands; plus arm strength; lacks quick feet and explosiveness for up-the-middle future; still demonstrates excellent overall athleticism; slightly above-average speed with similar range; could lose a step as he matures; wouldn’t surprise me if he reaches the big leagues by September.

    Final Thought: If Bogaerts’ production this season is anything like 2012, then expect the 20-year-old to see some time in the major leagues in September.   

    2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A

8. Jose Fernandez, RHP, Miami Marlins

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 7/31/1992 (Age: 20)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 215

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2011 (Braulio Alonso HS, Fla.)

    ETA: 2013

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: Fernandez was one of the minor league's more impressive pitching prospects last season, registering a 1.59 ERA with 99/18 K/BB in 79 innings for Low-A Greensboro. The right-hander received a midseason promotion to High-A Jupiter where he continued to dominate despite the more advanced level, posting a 1.96 ERA with 59/17 K/BB in 55 innings.

    Mechanics/Delivery: At 6’3”, 215 pounds, the right-hander has a power frame; thick-bodied; built for innings; surprising athleticism for his size; endurance; excellent mound presence; oozes confidence; strong lower half allows him to repeat his mechanics; will have to keep his weight down as he develops physically; consistent arm slot; finishes delivery; some effort but fluid arm.

    Arsenal/Control: Fastball is an easy plus pitch; ranges anywhere between 92-97 mph with weight; was touching 97-99 mph in 2012 XM Futures Game; pitch explodes out of his hand with late life to his arm side; curveball is a second plus pitch in the mid-80s with excellent depth and pace; throws a hard slider with sharp, two-plane break; projects to be at least a third above-average offering; possesses a feel for his changeup; a lot to love in his raw pitchability; relied more on pure stuff in full-season debut.

    Final Thought: Granted he only has one year of professional experience under his belt, but Fernandez could find himself in the major leagues to finish the 2013 season with another dominant performance in the minor leagues. (It actually reminds me of Madison Bumgarner’s rapid ascent to the major leagues in 2009 and 2010.)

    2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A

7. Zack Wheeler, RHP, New York Mets

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 5/30/1990 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6’4”, 185

    Bats/Throws: L/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2009 [San Francisco Giants] (East Paulding HS, Ga.)

    ETA: 2013

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: Wheeler continued his ascent toward the major leagues in 2012, registering a 3.26 ERA with 117/43 K/BB in 116 innings at Double-A Binghamton to open the season. The Mets promoted the right-hander to Triple-A at the same time Matt Harvey was bumped to the major leagues. Although he made only six starts at the level, the 22-year-old posted a 3.27 ERA with 31/16 K/BB in 33 innings.

    Mechanics/Delivery: The 6’4” right-hander has a very projectable frame; present strength; loose body; athletic delivery; lightning-quick arm; creates excellent shoulder angle and downhill trajectory toward plate; results in overall deception; arm whips through window; consistent release point; good finish in extension; falls off to third base side; throws each of his pitches with tilt and depth; adept at stifling running game; quick to the plate; varies looks.

    Arsenal/Control: Plus fastball sits 93-96 mph with explosive arm-side run; effortless velocity overwhelms hitters; pitch is difficult to barrel; lots of helpless swings from right-handed hitters; curveball is a hammer and a second plus offering; mixes in a slider and changeup; potential four-pitch mix of above-average-to-plus offerings.

    Final Thought: Expect Wheeler to reached the major leagues around the same time that Matt Harvey did last season.   

    2013 Opening Day Level: Triple-A

6. Gerrit Cole, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 9/8/1990 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6’4”, 220

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2011 (UCLA)

    ETA: 2013

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: In his professional debut last season, Cole, the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2011, registered a 2.55 ERA with 69/21 K/BB in 67 games at High-A Bradenton. The right-hander received a midseason promotion to Double-A Altoona, where he posted a 2.90 ERA with 60/23 K/BB. He then fanned seven in his lone Triple-A start to conclude 2012 season.

    Mechanics/Delivery: Large, durable, 6’4”, 220-pound frame; physically strong; epitome of a power pitcher; athletic for size; repeated his mechanics and delivery during his professional debut; extends toward plate; effortless; loose arm action; bouts of inconsistency and wildness; will still land open on occasion.

    Arsenal/Control: Power arsenal is highlighted by a plus-plus fastball that sits in the high-90s; routinely touches triple digits; fairly straight; relies on velocity; needs to establish early in games; complements heater with a plus slider; thrown in the high-80s; features a devastating, wipeout break; completes elite arsenal with an above-average changeup; excellent speed differential; filthy when around the zone; shouldn't take him long to reach the major leagues.

    Final Thought: Cole has the potential to be a legitimate No. 1 starter and perennial Cy Young contender in his prime.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Triple-A

5. Taijuan Walker, RHP, Seattle Mariners

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 8/13/1992 (Age: 20)

    Height/Weight: 6’4”, 210

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2010 (Yucaipa HS, Calif.)

    ETA: 2014

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: Walker pitched the entire 2012 season as a 19-year-old at Double-A, so don’t read too far into his 4.69 ERA in 126.2 innings. He still demonstrated the ability to miss bats (8.4 K/9) with consistency without sacrificing his command (3.6 BB/9).

    Mechanics/Delivery: Walker has a highly projectable frame at 6’4”, 210 pounds; excellent athleticism; little mileage on his arm; still learning to be a pitcher and not a thrower; improved use of lower half; needs to finish with more consistency, extension and follow through; easy, fluid mechanics that he repeats well; love his smooth yet explosive arm.

    Arsenal/Control: Fastball consistently registers at 93-96 mph; jumps on opposing hitters; dials it up to 97-98 mph on occasion; sustains velocity well into his starts; plus curveball has great shape and a late, downward bite; will overgrip and spike it on occasion; changeup has come a long way over the last season; looks to be a third viable above-average offering; Mariners introduced a cutter into his arsenal last season; should offer a tough look; knows how to make in-game improvements.

    Final Thought: Remember the buzz that Felix Hernandez generated in his ascent toward the majors? Well, get ready for Round 2.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Triple-A

4. Wil Myers, OF, Tampa Bay Rays

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    Position: OF

    DOB: 12/10/1990 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 205

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: Third round, 2009 (Wesleyan Christian Academy, N.C.)

    ETA: 2013

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: After battling through a knee injury in 2011, Myers turned in a monster season at the plate last season, batting .314/.387/.600 with 37 home runs in 134 games between Double-A and Triple-A. Despite the huge numbers and his proximity to the major leagues, the Royals traded Myers to the Rays as part of a prospect package for James Shields and Wade Davis.

    Offense: At 6’3”, 205 pounds, Myers' upper body is loaded with quick-twitch muscles; seemingly flicks his wrists at the ball without sacrificing hard contact; setup is upright and slightly open; allows him to clear his hips and tap into his plus pull-side power; excellent bat-to-ball skills; has a tendency to drop his back shoulder; swing can get long; streaky at times; gets out on his front foot; can overcommit against offspeed; cast hands around ball; mechanical/timing issues that will be ironed out with experience.

    Defense: Developed as a catcher up until the 2011 season; surprisingly athletic for his size; showcases smooth, natural actions in the outfield; good instincts; average range; plus arm strength that will play at any outfield position; played 87 games in center field last season; will likely play a corner position in the major leagues.

    Final Thought: Knowing the Rays, don’t be surprised if they offer Myers a new, team-friendly contract extension after the 2013 season. 

    2013 Opening Day Level: Triple-A

3. Oscar Taveras, OF, St. Louis Cardinals

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    Position: OF

    DOB: 6/19/1992 (Age: 20)

    Height/Weight: 6’2”, 180

    Bats/Throws: L/L

    Drafted/Signed: November 2008 (Dominican Republic)

    ETA: 2013

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: The best hitter in all the minor leagues, Taveras was named the MVP of the Texas League last year in his age-20 season. He led the Texas League (Double-A) with a .321 batting average and 67 extra-base hits. He has all the makings of a future superstar with an outstanding hit tool, plate discipline beyond his years and unparalleled barrel-to-ball ability.

    Offense: A left-handed hitter, Taveras employs a powerful yet balanced swing; keeps bat head in the zone for an extended period of time; strong hands, forearms; always gets head through the zone; extends arms; successful even when forced to muscle the ball; began to tap into his power last season against advanced competition; 25-plus home run potential; lift to swing; ball has carry; extra-base machine; hits same-side pitching; makes loud contact to all fields; comfortable hitting any pitch in any count; doesn’t walk a ton; strikeouts will always be minimal given his pitch recognition and excellent hand-eye coordination; baserunning can be overaggressive.

    Defense: Capable of playing all three outfield positions; has seen a majority of time in center field; nothing flashy, but makes the plays; solid actions; slightly above-average range; tracks ball well; bat profiles best at whatever position will get him in the lineup; average runner; routes in the outfield have improved over the last year. 

    Final Thought: If there’s one hitter I believe can make a successful jump from Double-A to the major leagues, it’s Oscar Taveras. Get excited, folks.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Triple-A

2. Dylan Bundy, RHP, Baltimore Orioles

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 11/15/1992 (Age: 20)

    Height/Weight: 6’1”, 195

    Bats/Throws: S/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2011 (Oswasso HS, Okla.)

    ETA: 2013

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: The unanimous top pitching prospect in the game, Bundy began his professional career with 30 scoreless frames at Low-A Delmarva. His dominance resulted in a bump to High-A Frederick (2.84 ERA, 10.42 K/9), followed by a late-season promotion to Double-A Bowie (3.24 ERA). Bundy’s professional debut ended with a big league call-up to the in mid-September, where he made two appearances out of the Orioles bullpen.

    Mechanics/Delivery: 6’1” right-hander is physically strong; broad shoulders; utilizes lower half and core strength; finishes well out front; minimal effort; repeats delivery; durable; quick arm; hard to pick up out of hand; poised from the stretch; possesses a feel for his mechanics well beyond his years.

    Arsenal/Control: Bundy boasts an advanced four-pitch mix highlighted by a mid-90s two-seam fastball with exceptional run; blows hitters away with a four-seamer that reaches the high 90s; breaking ball is a hammer and plus pitch; tight rotation; still developing command of the pitch; occasionally leaves it up in the zone; changeup is his most consistent secondary pitch; potential to be another above-average offering; also has a slider but primary breaking ball is the curve.

    Final Thought: Bundy is one of the more mature and polished young pitchers I’ve ever seen.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A

1. Jurickson Profar, SS, Texas Rangers

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    Position: SS-2B

    DOB: 2/2/1993 (Age: 20)

    Height/Weight: 6’0", 165

    Bats/Throws: S/R

    Drafted/Signed: July 2009 (Dominican Republic)

    ETA: 2013

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: Profar emerged as baseball’s top prospect last season after batting .281/.368/.452 with 47 extra-base hits, 16 stolen bases and 79/66 K/BB in 126 games for Double-A Frisco. The then-19-year-old was promoted to the major leagues in early September and launched a no-doubt home run in is first big league plate appearance.

    Offense: The 6’0”, 165-pound switch-hitter has wiry strength; showcases plus bat speed from both sides of the plate; short, compact swing should give him an easy above-average-to-plus hit tool; right-handed swing is more line-drive oriented; shows exciting raw power and lift from the left side; more of a leverage swing; loftier extension after contact; possesses an advanced knowledge of the strike zone that’s uncommon for players his age.

    Defense: Excellent defensive middle infielder with fluid actions and a strong, accurate arm; exhibits plus range in all directions due to quick feet and tremendous instincts; moxie grades through the roof, and he’s adept to handling himself in high-pressure situations.

    Final Thought: It’s scary to think just how good Profar will be. Now he just needs a path to everyday playing time in the major leagues.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Triple-A

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