Bleacher Report's Updated Top 50 MLB Prospects After Spring Training

Mike RosenbaumMLB Prospects Lead WriterMarch 28, 2013

Bleacher Report's Updated Top 50 MLB Prospects After Spring Training

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    With an accelerated start to spring training due to the participation of MLB players in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, many of baseball’s top prospects have received extensive playing time in major league camp.

    In addition to offering every organization a unique, firsthand look at their young talent, the unusual spring schedule also created an unprecedented opportunity to scout the game’s top prospects against established big league players.

    Since unveiling Prospect Pipeline’s Top 100 Prospects in early February, a large contingent of prospects have improved their overall ranking with a strong showing this spring. That said, it’s also imperative that fans and scouts don't form strong opinions based on a small sample size.

    Therefore, I only considered a prospect’s numbers in a positive light. No blossoming player should be penalized for a lackluster performance against considerably advanced competition.

    At the same time, that doesn’t mean a player warrants a surge up the ranks with an impressive showing over the course of the spring. Rather, a more favorable ranking in this installment is a product of the player's spring performance relative to their overall development and future projection.

    Here’s a look at Prospect Pipeline’s top 50 prospects headed into the 2013 season.

Methodology

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    Hitters

    —Athleticism

    —Speed

    —Hitting mechanics

    —Injury history

    —Statistical trends

    —Age vs. level: How well a player fared at a certain level relative to his age and that of the competition

    —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

    —Age vs. level

    —Injury history (durability)

    —Statistical trends

    —Arsenal: Quality vs. depth

    —Control: 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, why?

     

    Resources

    —Firsthand scouting

    —Video analysis

    —Industry contacts

50. Kaleb Cowart, 3B, Los Angeles Angels

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    Position: 3B

    DOB: 6/2/1992 (Age: 20)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 195

    Bats/Throws: S/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2010 (Cook HS, Ga.)

    ETA: 2014

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: Cowart improved as much as any prospect last season, posting an .827 OPS in 66 games for Low-A Cedar Rapids before a midseason promotion to High-A Inland Empire. Despite the bump to the more advanced level, the switch-hitter still posted a .792 OPS despite noticeably wearing down over the final few months of the season.

    Overall, the 20-year-old’s full-season debut couldn’t have gone better, as he batted .276/.358/.452 with 54 extra-base hits (16 home runs), 103 RBI and 111/67 K/BB in 135 games across both levels.

    Offense: 6’3” switch-hitter has excellent bat speed from both sides of the plate; left-handed swing developed in a big way last season; showcases raw plus-power; natural right-handed swing is more consistent and direct to the ball; plate discipline was vastly improved last season and gives him a chance to hit for average at higher levels; approach was more consistent and sustained over the course of the season.

    Defense: Excellent athlete who received heavy consideration as a pitcher due to his mid-90s heat on the mound as an amateur; good reactions and actions at the hot corner; continually working to improve defense; soft hands; impressive range and focus; throwing motion has some length, but he compensates with plus-velocity across the diamond.

    Spring Update: Invited to his first big league camp, Cowart received extensive playing time early in the spring before he was ultimately reassigned to minor league spring training during the second week of March.

    Since then, however, the 20-year-old has seen additional playing time in major league camp and has thoroughly impressed the entire organization by batting .348/.346/.522 with three extra-base hits and eight RBI through 12 games. The Angels’ top prospect will open the 2013 season in Double-A but shouldn’t be expected to move quickly. With Alberto Callaspo now signed through the 2014 season, the organization will make sure that their future third baseman receives extensive seasoning in the high minors. 


    2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A 

49. 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 plus hit tool; impressive hand-eye coordination and barrel-to-ball ability; left-handed hitter with a quick, compact stroke; advanced barrel control and feel for strike zone; balanced setup and swing; quiet hands; comfortable 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.

    Spring Update: Dahl has spent the entire spring in minor league camp as he prepares for his full-season debut in 2013. Likely to open the year in Low-A, Dahl’s combination of tools and mature secondary skills should warrant a promotion to High-A later this season and make him a candidate to be fast-tracked to the major leagues in upcoming seasons.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Low-A

48. Jake Odorizzi, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 3/27/1990 (Age: 23)

    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; agile on the mound; repeats his mechanics well; still learning to use his lower half, which 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 sits 92-95 mph with sink and action to the arm side; occasionally will get under the pitch and pipe it up in the zone with minimal movement; needs to throw on a downhill 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; will need to refine the command of his four-pitch mix, but he should be able to reach his ceiling as a mid-rotation starter.

    Spring Update: One of several young, pitching prospects in consideration for the final spot in the Rays’ starting rotation, Odorizzi was ultimately optioned to Triple-A in early March after struggling in back-to-back outings. Overall, the right-hander registered an 11.25 ERA and .444 BAA with 6/2 K/BB over four innings.

    While the 23-year-old should still spend a portion of the 2013 season in the major leagues, he’ll have to showcase the ability to work down in the zone with more consistency and simultaneously outgrow his reputation as a fly-ball pitcher.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Triple-A

47. 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, will come with experience and physical development; 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, which he can be at times; average arm strength is ideal for center field.

    Spring Update: Fully recovered from the shoulder surgery that prematurely ended his 2012 campaign, Williams received his first at-bats in major league camp on Wednesday, as the 21-year-old went 1-for-2 with a double and two RBI. Provided there are no lingering effects from the injury, the toolsy outfielder will open the 2013 season back at High-A and could spend the second half of the year in Double-A with a strong showing over the first few months.

    2013 Opening Day Level: High-A

46. Jorge Soler, OF, Chicago Cubs

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    Position: OF

    DOB: 2/25/1992 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6’4”, 215

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: June, 2012 (Cuba)

    ETA: 2014

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: After signing a monster contract with the Cubs last June, Soler impressed in his professional debut. Albeit in 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 6’4”, 215 pounds; mature frame requires little projection; ball absolutely jumps off his bat; dynamic bat speed and plus-plus raw power; extension and lift after contact; 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.

    Spring Update: In his greatest challenge to date as a professional, Soler turned plenty of heads this spring with his outstanding athleticism and raw ability. Although he showcased plus raw power and better-than-expected instincts in the outfield, the 21-year-old struggled against quality secondary pitches and ultimately batted .222 with 13 strikeouts in 17 games.

    In need of more experience in the minor leagues, Soler was optioned to Low-A to begin the 2013 season. But if he begins to make adjustments and narrows the gap between his natural ability and baseball skills, he could hop on the fast track to the major leagues. 

    Still, I wouldn’t expect him to arrive anytime before late 2014. 

    2013 Opening Day Level: Low-A

45. 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 draft pick out of 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 and scored 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; aggressive, all-out mentality in center field; accurate, plus arm that ranks among the best at the position; quick feet; above-average range; solid closing speed; sacrifices body.

    Spring Update: One of the few prospects considered a lock for an Opening Day roster, Eaton once again demonstrated his tremendous value as a leadoff hitter by batting .390/.403/.542 with 12 runs and 23 hits over 20 games this spring.

    Unfortunately, the undersized center fielder suffered a sprained UCL (left elbow) last week while sliding into third base. As a result, the 24-year-old will be sidelined until early May.

    Provided that the injury heals with standard rehabilitation and does not require surgery, Eaton should still turn in a Rookie of the Year-caliber season at the top of the Diamondbacks lineup upon his return.

    2013 Opening Day Level: MLB

44. Jake Marisnick, OF, Miami Marlins

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    Position: OF

    DOB: 3/30/1991 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6’4”, 225

    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 moved 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”, 225 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 give him legitimate 20-20 potential.

    Defense: Has the speed and actions to remain in center field; plus range in all directions 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.

    Spring Update: Participating in his first spring training with the Marlins, Marisnick was off to a hot start (5-for-11) before he was drilled on the left hand by a Trevor Rosenthal fastball. While initial X-rays came back negative, a follow-up exam on March 11 revealed that he had actually suffered a broken hand. Luckily, he’s only expected to miss about four weeks.

    Upon his return, Marisnick will head back to Double-A to open the 2013 season, and much like fellow outfield prospect Christian Yelich, he could potentially reach the major leagues by the end of the year. 

    2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A

43. 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 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”, 205-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.

    Spring Update: After wearing down over the second half of the 2012 season with High-A Salem, the Red Sox decided not to invite Barnes to major league camp. Instead, they assigned the right-hander to the minor league side with the hope of building endurance and improving his secondary offerings before embarking on his second full season as a professional.

    Whether he opens the season back at High-A or receives a bump to Double-A, Barnes is in need of another full year in the minors before reaching the major leagues sometime in 2014.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A

42. Yasiel Puig, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Position: OF

    DOB: 12/7/1990 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 245

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: June, 2012 (Cuba)

    ETA: 2014

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: After signing a massive $42 million contract last summer, Puig enjoyed an impressive professional debut by batting .354/.442/.634 with five home runs, eight stolen bases and 15/12 K/BB over 23 games between the rookie-level Arizona League and High-A Rancho Cucamonga.

    Offense: Muscular and physical frame at 6’3”, 245 pounds; lots of lean and quick-twitch muscles despite thicker appearance; strong wrists and forearms help generate plus bat speed to whip the barrel through the zone; impressive hand-eye coordination allows him to barrel tough pitches and suggests the potential for an above-average hit tool.

    Possesses a relatively lofty swing with plus raw power to all fields, though it may take some time for him to truly tap into it; there’s some swing-and-miss to his game caused by a hyper-aggressive approach and inconsistent load; tends to get out on his front side too often, which hinders his pitch recognition; lack of experience is evident in his propensity to chase breaking balls out of the strike zone; needs to learn to work more counts in his favor and employ a consistent approach.

    Defense: Defense in right field is currently his weakest attribute; struggles to get consistent reads; steadily improving first step and angles; more experience and reps should lead to more direct routes with less of a need to track to the ball; even if he gets bulkier, athleticism will keep him in the outfield; prototypical plus arm strength for a right fielder but lacks accuracy; speed is presently above-average and plays up a grade once he hits full stride; has the potential to lose a grade as he matures and adds strength to lower half.

    Spring Update: After playing in only 23 games last season, Puig wasn’t even on the big league radar headed into spring training. However, with Carl Crawford still working his way back following elbow surgery, the Dodgers decided to give the 22-year-old an extended look in major league camp.

    To say that Puig made the most of his opportunities is a gross understatement; the outfielder emerged as a human highlight reel seemingly incapable of making outs.

    At the time L.A. optioned him to Double-A Chattanooga on Tuesday, Puig had batted .526/.508/.842 with 30 hits (10 for extra bases), 11 RBI and four stolen bases through 26 games. Already on the team’s 40-man roster, his stay in the minor leagues may be short-lived, as his explosive bat could force the Dodgers to promote him earlier than expected this season.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A

41. 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 garnered recognition 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; 6’2”, 180-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.

    Spring Update: Almora’s first spring with the Cubs did not unfold as expected, as the 18-year-old broke the hamate bone in his left hand during a swing in mid-March. Although it’s not a serious injury by any means, it required surgery to remove the bone. Expected to be out until mid-May, Almora will likely head to Low-A to open the season, where he’ll patrol the outfield alongside Jorge Soler. If all goes as planned, he could finish his first full season in High-A.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Low-A

40. 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. The Cardinals promoted Martinez to the Double-A Springfield starting rotation upon his return, and he 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 throws it from a consistent release point; plus changeup is a major asset given his excellent velocity and blinding arm speed.

    Spring Update: Due to an issue with Martinez’s work visa that prevented him from leaving the Dominican Republic, the 21-year-old was ultimately denied the experience of his first major league spring training.

    However, now that it’s been approved, the right-hander may be able to make at least one appearance in a minor league game. That said, the Cardinals could decide to hold Martinez in extended spring training to ensure he’s ready for the upcoming season. After that, he’s likely headed back to Double-A rotation with the potential for a late-season promotion to Triple-A or the major leagues—maybe even both.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A

39. 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 Noah 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. Toronto traded the 20-year-old 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.

    Spring Update: Although Syndergaard wasn’t invited to major league camp, there’s a chance he would have been moved up for an outing or two toward the end of spring training. However, the right-hander was hampered by a strained muscle in his side in early March and has since been monitored closely in minor league camp. Provided that he’s healthy, the 20-year-old will open the 2013 season in High-A and could even receive a promotion to Double-A at some point after the All-Star break.     

    2013 Opening Day Level: High-A

38. 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.

    Spring Update: Hanson has spent nearly the entire spring in minor league camp, and it’s obvious that the Pirates are proceeding cautiously with their only legitimate middle infield prospect. Therefore, he’s spent the spring refining his swing and approach from both sides of the plate as well as his defense at both shortstop and second base.

    Ticketed for High-A to open the 2013 season, Hanson could force the organization to move him up the ladder if he produces as he did in 2012 at Low-A.

    2013 Opening Day Level: High-A

37. 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 .186 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; velocity was down a few ticks last season; two-seam fastball is an excellent pitch in the low 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 95-96 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.

    Spring Update: As is the case with all Rays pitching prospects drafted out of high school, Guerrieri’s development has been slow and steady. Therefore, due the right-hander’s lack of experience at a full-season level, inviting him to major league spring training simply was not an option.

    Instead, the 20-year-old has prepared for his full-season debut, which will presumably begin in Low-A. Considering that the Rays already boast one of the best starting rotations in the game and have several other promising young arms waiting patiently for their chance in Triple-A, the organization will remain steadfast in its gradual development of Guerrieri. 

    2013 Opening Day Level: Low-A

36. 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 had a limited workload 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; not afraid to challenge hitters on inner half; changeup in the low-to-mid-80s is nearly a plus-plus offering; highly advanced for his age; mixes in a curveball and slider—the latter draws more whiffs and projects to be an average pitch; refined command could make it a weapon in relation to his fastball-changeup combo; development of effective third pitch could have him in Baltimore ahead of schedule.

    Spring Update: Gausman survived major league camp much longer than expected this spring, as the Orioles coaching staff decided to take an extended look at their first-round draft pick. Appearing in seven games, including two starts, the 21-year-old registered a 3.94 ERA with 17/6 K/BB in 16 innings and also showcased a big league-ready fastball and changeup.

    While he’s in need of a more reliable breaking ball, Gausman’s raw stuff justifies his assignment to Double-A to open the 2013 season. From that point on, it will seemingly be a race to the major leagues between he and Dylan Bundy.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A

35. Gregory Polanco, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates

17 of 51

    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.

    Spring Update: Although he spent most of the spring in minor league camp, Polanco did appear in four exhibition games off the Pirates bench and even collected his first spring-training knock in the process. One of the more toolsy outfielders in the low minors, the 21-year-old will open the 2013 season in High-A and could conceivably reach Double-A by the end of the year.

    By the time he arrives during the 2015 season, the Pirates may boast the fastest and one of the more athletic outfields in the game with Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen and Polanco.

    2013 Opening Day Level: High-A

34. 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, Addison Russell proved that he could stick at shortstop and ultimately earned a selection at 11th overall 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; maintains balance throughout swing; 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.

    Spring Update: Russell’s insanely good professional debut last season earned him an invitation to major league spring training in his first year with the organization. The 19-year-old played in six games during the first half of camp and turned lots of heads by batting .250/.294/.313 over 17 plate appearances.

    While he’ll likely open the 2013 season back in Low-A, Russell’s potential for upward mobility, both through the A’s system and in the overall rankings, is unlimited. Furthermore, his power-speed combination and perceived ability to remain at shortstop suggest the ceiling of a near-elite major leaguer. If there's one prospect capable of jumping into the top 10 for the 2014 season, it's Russell.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Low-A

33. Kyle Zimmer, RHP, Kansas City Royals

19 of 51

    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 Kyle 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.

    Spring Update: After undergoing relatively minor elbow surgery this offseason, Zimmer was held out of major league spring training so as to ensure he builds endurance and regains a feel for his impressive arsenal prior to the start of the 2013 season. So far he’s done just that, as his fastball velocity is as crisp as ever and the feel for secondary offerings better than expected.

    While he’ll likely open the season in either Low- or High-A, there’s a decent chance that the 21-year-old right-hander will make a case for a call-up in September. 

    2013 Opening Day Level: Low-A/High-A

32. Danny Hultzen, LHP, Seattle Mariners

20 of 51

    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 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.

    Spring Update: Hultzen entered camp as one of several in-house candidates vying for a spot at the back end of the Mariners’ Opening Day rotation.

    However, the left-hander pitched only four innings over three appearances this spring, as a hip injury forced him to miss roughly a week of camp. Still, the 23-year-old showed well in his opportunities, as he fanned six batters over four scoreless frames.

    Hultzen will open the 2013 season back at Triple-A, though his presence on the team’s 40-man roster makes him a likely candidate for a promotion if either Blake Beavan or Brandon Maurer struggles.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Triple-A

31. Jonathan Singleton, 1B, Houston Astros

21 of 51

    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: Jonathan Singleton spent the entire 2012 season as a 20-year-old at Double-A Corpus Christi, where he posted an .893 OPS with 52 extra-base hits (21 home runs) and 131/88 K/BB in 131 games. Unfortunately, the first baseman received 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 same-side 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 to make more offensive adjustments.

    Spring Update: With his 50-game suspension set to begin at the onset of the 2013 season, Singleton has received a handful of at-bats in major league camp over the last week. Once he’s returned from the suspension, the 21-year-old will likely be assigned to Triple-A. While he still has a relatively clear path to playing time in the major leagues, a debut in 2013 may ultimately depend on a September call-up.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Triple-A

30. Julio Teheran, RHP, Atlanta Braves

22 of 51

    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, Julio 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 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; occasional arm drag and cross-body delivery may still lead to occasional control problems.

    Arsenal/Control: Fastball was flatter last season; still in the 91-95 mph range to both sides of the plate; excellent run on two-seamer; changeup is still a plus pitch; speed differential; deceptive arm speed; tons of late fade to the arm side; breaking ball has been substantially better this spring; should serve as a legitimate third pitch in major leagues; will help keep hitters off fastball-changeup combination. 

    Spring Update: Regarded as the preseason favorite for the final spot in the Braves’ Opening Day rotation, Teheran has pitched more like his 2011 self this spring and has arguably been the most dominant pitcher in big league camp. Over six starts, the 22-year-old has solidified his spot in the rotation by registering a 1.04 ERA and .082 BAA with 35/9 K/BB over 26 innings.

    Assuming his spring success carries over into the regular season, Teheran should finally emerge as one of the top rookie pitchers in the game. 

    2013 Opening Day Level: MLB

29. Trevor Story, SS, Colorado Rockies

23 of 51

    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: Trevor 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 iron 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.

    Spring Update: Surprisingly, the Rockies decided not to invite Story to major league camp this season after his monster 2012 campaign in Low-A. However, that shouldn’t be interpreted the wrong way. Story will still open the 2013 season in the hitter-friendly California League, where he has the potential to post even gaudier numbers than he did last season. Don’t be surprised if the 20-year-old finishes the year in Double-A.

    2013 Opening Day Level: High-A

28. Jackie Bradley, OF, Boston Red Sox

24 of 51

    Position: OF

    DOB: 4/19/1990 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 5’10”, 195

    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, Jackie 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.

    Spring Update: A long shot to make the team’s Opening Day roster headed into the spring, Bradley is yet to be cut from camp with only a few games remaining. Besides batting .441/.521/.644 with seven extra-base hits and nine walks in 26 games, the 22-year-old’s chances of making the 25-man roster continue to improve with left-handed hitters David Ortiz and Stephen Drew questionable for Opening Day.

    While expectations should still be tempered, the fact that Bradley has seen increased playing time in left field over the last week suggests he may make the team after all.

    2013 Opening Day Level: MLB or Triple-A

27. Byron Buxton, OF, Minnesota Twins

25 of 51

    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 second 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.

    Spring Update: After spending most of the spring in minor league camp refining his baseball skills and gaining much-needed experience, Buxton made his highly anticipated Grapefruit League debut on Wednesday, going 1-for-4 with three runs scored, a walk and two stolen bases. Albeit one game, all of Buxton’s elite tools were on display in the contest, as he demonstrated exactly why he possesses one of the highest ceilings of all prospects.

    Even though he’ll open the 2013 season in Low-A, the Twins will presumably ease the 19-year-old outfielder through their farm system with an emphasis on development rather than results.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Low-A

26. Aaron Sanchez, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays

26 of 51

    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 Aaron Sanchez 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.

    Spring Update: Sanchez has spent the entire spring in minor league camp working on his fastball command and the development of his changeup. The right-hander will move up a level to High-A in 2013 and could conceivably dominate opposing hitters in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League.

    If he demonstrates improved command and a more consistent feel for his arsenal this season, the 20-year-old could get his first taste of Double-A later in the year. If that’s ultimately the case, Sanchez could rank as one of the top pitchers in the game headed into the 2014 season.

    2013 Opening Day Level: High-A

25. Archie Bradley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks

27 of 51

    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: Archie Bradley was arguably the top pitcher 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; 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 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.

    Spring Update: After struggling with both his control and command last year in his full-season debut, Bradley spent most of the spring in minor league camp cleaning up his mechanics and establishing a more consistent feel for his entire arsenal. However, the organization did offer the right-hander his first taste of major league spring training, as he allowed one earned run and fanned two batters in an appearance against the Royals on March 6.

    If the right-hander learns to be more efficient and get ahead of hitters with consistency, Bradley has the potential to emerge as one of the top pitching prospects in the game. He’ll open the year in High-A, but he could start to move quickly if he makes the necessary adjustments.

    2013 Opening Day Level: High-A

24. Mike Olt, 3B-1B-RF, Texas Rangers

28 of 51

    Position: 3B-1B-RF

    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, Mike 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 at 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.

    Spring Update: With Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz blocking his path to playing time in the major leagues, Olt was a long shot to make the Opening Day roster headed into spring training. Even though the 24-year-old struggled at the plate and batted .194 with 12 strikeouts in 19 games, he impressed the coaching staff with his athleticism and improvements in right field. Along with teammate Jurickson Profar, Olt will receive an everyday opportunity at Triple-A to open the 2013 season.

    Although he represents a cheap, in-house option to replace either Beltre or Cruz in the event of an injury, there’s a decent chance that the Rangers ultimately trade Olt during the season to address a specific need. 

    2013 Opening Day Level: Triple-A

23. Trevor Bauer, RHP, Cleveland Indians

29 of 51

    Position: RHP

    DOB: 1/17/1991 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6’1”, 190

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2011 (UCLA)

    ETA: 2013

    2012 Stats

     

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

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

    Mechanics/Delivery: 6’1”, 190-pound right-hander is limber and athletic; employs an unorthodox, torque-oriented delivery; well-documented training regimen includes 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 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.

    Spring Update: Receiving a fresh start with the Indians, Bauer entered camp as one of several candidates vying for a spot at the back end of the team’s starting rotation.

    However, because he spent the first portion of camp working to improve his endurance by eliminating some of the effort in his delivery, the organization ultimately decided to option the right-hander to Triple-A for further seasoning. With no need to rush him back to the major leagues, expect the Indians to proceed cautiously with their new top pitching prospect.  

    2013 Opening Day Level: Triple-A

22. Carlos Correa, SS, Houston Astros

30 of 51

    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: The No. 1 overall selection in 2012 draft out of Puerto Rico, Carlos 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.

    Spring Update: After spending most of the spring in minor league camp, Correa has appeared in two big league exhibition games over the last two weeks. The 18-year-old has been undeniably impressive, collecting a hit, RBI and stolen base in each contest.

    Based upon how the Astros have handled their prized prospect this spring, it seems more and more likely that Correa will make his full-season debut in Low-A Quad Cities to open the year.

    But don’t expect him to start moving quickly this season, as it’s in the Astros' best interest to thoroughly develop their future shortstop.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Low-A

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

31 of 51

    Position: OF/3B

    DOB: 3/4/1992 (Age: 21)

    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, Nick 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, which challenged his plate discipline, 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.

    Spring Update: Even though Castellanos entered camp with an opportunity to win a spot in the Tigers’ outfield, it was doubtful that the 21-year-old would break camp with the parent club unless guaranteed an everyday job.

    Thus, despite Castellanos batting .360/.484/.560 with two doubles, a home run and six walks over 15 games, the organization decided not to tamper with his development and assigned him to Triple-A to open the 2013 season. Even if he rakes as he did to open the 2012 season, he is still blocked at the major league level.

    While he’s still likely to serve as a September call-up later in the season, the table has been set for a potential Castellanos-for-big-leaguers trade after the All-Star break.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Triple-A

20. Mike Zunino, C, Seattle Mariners

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    Position: C

    DOB: 3/25/1991 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6’2”, 220

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2012 (Florida)

    ETA: 2013

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: The third overall pick in the 2012 draft, Mike Zunino won every individual accolade during his career at Florida and guided the Gators to three College World Series appearances. The then-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 only 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 number 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.

    Spring Update: After nearly mashing his way to the major leagues during his professional debut last season, Zunino was regarded as a long shot to make the Mariners’ Opening Day roster this spring.

    After batting .227 with two home runs in 14 games, the organization ultimately reassigned him to minor league camp to ensure he receives sufficient playing time before opening the 2013 season at Double-A.

    If all goes as planned, Zunino should reach the major leagues sometime after the All-Star break and give the Mariners the star-caliber catcher they’ve sought for the last decade.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A

19. 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 by Angels (Santa Monica HS, Calif.)

    ETA: 2013

    2012 Stats 

     

    Overview: The top left-handed pitching prospect in the game, Tyler 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 isn't great 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.

    Spring Update: Competing with Patrick Corbin and Randall Delgado for the fifth spot in the Diamondbacks’ Opening Day rotation, Skaggs turned in his worst spring training to date, as the left-hander allowed 11 earned runs on 14 hits and eight walks over nine innings. His ongoing command issues ultimately led to him being cut from camp and optioned to Triple-A.

    That said, it shouldn’t take the organization’s top prospect long to right the ship in the minors, as he’s still likely to spend a majority of the 2013 season in the major leagues in the big league starting rotation.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Triple-A

18. Billy Hamilton, OF, Cincinnati Reds

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    Position: OF

    DOB: 9/9/1990 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6'0", 160

    Bats/Throws: S/R

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

    ETA: 2013

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: Billy 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 38 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: 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 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.

    Spring Update: Regarded as a long shot to make the Reds’ Opening Day roster, Hamilton’s playing time was limited this spring due to a hamstring injury sustained while stealing a base. Plus, the 22-year-old didn’t exactly help his cause by batting .174 with two triples and nine strikeouts in 12 games.

    Hamilton will report to Triple-A to open the 2013 season, where he’ll look to refine his defense in center field while eliminating some of the swing-and-miss from his game. Even if he has a terrible season in the minors, the speedster should still reach the major leagues at some point after the All-Star break. And even if he’s limited to pinch-running opportunities and the occasional start, there’s a legitimate possibility that Hamilton will rank among the major league leaders in stolen bases. 

    2013 Opening Day Level: Triple-A

17. 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, Anthony Rendon played in only 43 games last season due to 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 the 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 to 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 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.

    Spring Update: With Ryan Zimmerman eased back into action following offseason shoulder surgery, Rendon received extended playing time early in the spring at the hot corner. After missing a majority of the 2012 season with an ankle injury, the 22-year-old resuscitated his prospect stock by batting .375/.412/.875 with four doubles and four home runs in 13 games.

    However, because he’s blocked at literally every position at the big league level, the Nats optioned him to Double-A for further seasoning. Already on the 40-man roster, the Rice alumnus should at least reach the majors as a September call-up.

    If Zimmerman’s shoulder turns out to be an ongoing issue, though, the organization may not miss a beat by inserting Rendon in his place.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A

16. Jameson Taillon, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 11/18/1991 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6’6”, 235

    Bats/Throws: R/R

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

    ETA: 2013

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: Jameson 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 give 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: 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.

    Spring Update: Even though Taillon made just one start for the Pirates in big league camp, the 21-year-old right-hander offered a taste of his potential in his start for Team Canada against the United States in a WBC elimination game. Although he lasted only four innings, Taillon more than held his own against a star-studded USA lineup, allowing one earned run while fanning three batters.

    Slated to begin the 2013 season back at Double-A, he could still reach the major leagues as a September call-up and give Pirates fans their first glimpse of future in the rotation alongside Gerrit Cole.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A

15. Miguel Sano, 3B, Minnesota Twins

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    Position: 3B

    DOB: 5/11/1993 (Age: 19)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 230

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: October 2009 (Dominican Republic)

    ETA: 2015

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: In his full-season debut at Low-A Beloit, Miguel 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 that 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.

    Spring Update: After spending most of the spring on the minor league side, Sano received his first taste of big league camp over the last week and even collected a pair of hits in his first game. More importantly, after working on his defense extensively this spring with Paul Molitor, the 19-year-old impressed the coaching staff in his limited opportunities at the hot corner.

    Sano will move up to the pitcher-friendly Florida State League (High-A) this season, where his plate discipline will presumably be challenged. Enduring a “learning year” in the low minors may actually be the best thing for his overall development.

    2013 Opening Day Level: High-A

14. Javier Baez, SS, Chicago Cubs

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    Position: SS

    DOB: 12/1/1992 (Age: 20)

    Height/Weight: 6’1”, 205

    Bats/Throws: R/R

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

    ETA: 2015

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: Javier 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.

    Spring Update: With Starlin Castro sidelined with a hamstring injury for most of the spring, the Cubs gave Baez a longer-than-expected opportunity to impress in major league camp—and impress is exactly what he did.

    Appearing in 17 games, the 20-year-old batted .298/.313/.596 with four home runs and 10 RBI. He also showcased his robust power with back-to-back two-homer games, the first of which included a walk-off shot in a WBC warmup game against Japan. Because his approach and defense need considerable seasoning, Baez is likely to open the upcoming season back at High-A with the chance for a quick promotion to Double-A if he makes the necessary adjustments.

    Either way, his potent bat should warrant a taste of the major leagues at some point in 2014.

    2013 Opening Day Level: High-A

13. Shelby Miller, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 10/10/1990 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 215

    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, Shelby 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 it around 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 stride; 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. 

    Spring Update: After a drawn-out competition with fellow right-handers Joe Kelly and Trevor Rosenthal for the fifth and final spot in the Opening Day starting rotation, the Cardinals announced on Monday that Miller had officially won the job. Given a full season in the majors, the 22-year-old should emerge as a Rookie of the Year candidate, not to mention one of the best young starters in the game.

    2013 Opening Day Level: MLB

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: Francisco 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.

    Spring Update: After spending his entire full-season debut as an 18-year-old in Low-A, Lindor has turned in an impressive spring in his first major league camp. Although he’s appeared in only 10 games thus far, the switch-hitting shortstop has made the most of his three starts, going 6-for-14 with a double and triple.

    Ticketed to open his age-19 season in High-A, Lindor is already on the fast track to the major leagues and should arrive before celebrating his 21st birthday.

    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 by 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, Travis 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 moved 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 in swing 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. 

    Spring Update: Travis d’Arnaud offered Mets fans a glimpse of the future with an impressive showing on both sides of the ball in major league camp this spring. Overall, he batted .343 with four doubles in 35 at-bats, and more importantly, he proved the knee injury that prematurely ended his promising 2012 campaign is no longer a concern.

    With John Buck and Anthony Recker expected to serve as the team’s primary and backup catchers to open the season, respectively, d’Arnaud will receive additional seasoning in Triple-A before debuting around the All-Star break.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Triple-A

10. 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: Christian 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.

    Spring Update: Although he’s never played a game above High-A in his young career, one would have never assumed that much by watching Yelich this spring.

    Of all prospects invited to major league camp, the left-handed hitting outfielder was, in my opinion, the most impressive. Receiving substantial playing time at numerous outfield positions thanks to Giancarlo Stanton’s participation in the World Baseball Classic, Yelich batted .364/.451/.818 with five home runs and 14 RBI over 22 games this spring before he was reassigned to minor league camp on March 22.

    The Marlins will send the 21-year-old to Double-A to open the season, but given his mature plate discipline and outstanding projectable tool, they may promote him directly to the major leagues sometime after the All-Star break.

    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”, 185

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: August 2009 (Aruba)

    ETA: 2013

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: Xander 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”, 185 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 develop 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.

    Spring Update: Playing for the upstart Kingdom of the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic, Bogaerts got only seven at-bats in major league camp this spring. As expected, he was inevitably cut on Monday and reassigned to minor league camp.

    Bogaerts will open the 2013 season in Double-A, and the 20-year-old is seemingly in line to spend September in the major leagues.

    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”, 240

    Bats/Throws: R/R

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

    ETA: 2013

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: Jose Fernandez was one of the minor leagues' 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.

    Overall, he led all the minors in WHIP (0.93), finished second with a 1.75 ERA and fourth with a .191 BAA.

    Mechanics/Delivery: At 6’3”, 240 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; touched 97-99 mph in 2012 XM Futures Game; pitch explodes out of his hand with late life to his arm side; sustains velo well into starts; 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 combination of stuff and pitchability; relied more on pure stuff in full-season debut; still learning to be a pitcher and not a thrower.

    Spring Update: Even though he made only one appearance in a Grapefruit League game, Fernandez still made an indelible impression on the Marlins’ coaching staff, drawing rave reviews for both his stuff and makeup. 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, provided that he excels in the Double-A rotation to begin the year. 

    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 by Giants (East Paulding HS, Ga.)

    ETA: 2013

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: Zack 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.

    Spring Update: Wheeler’s electric arm and deep arsenal were on display in his lone start this spring, when he fired two scoreless frames against the Nationals on February 23.

    However, before his next scheduled start, the right-hander tweaked an oblique muscle during batting practice and was subsequently reassigned to minor league camp to ensure he received enough time on the mound.

    While his stuff is good enough to warrant a spot in the Opening Day rotation, the Mets know there’s no need to rush their top prospect. Therefore, Wheeler will begin the 2013 season back in the Triple-A rotation with the potential to reach the major leagues around the same time Matt Harvey did last season, if not sooner.

    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”, 240

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2011 (UCLA)

    ETA: 2013

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: In his professional debut last season, Gerrit 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 the 2012 season.

    Mechanics/Delivery: Large, durable, 6’4”, 240-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 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. 

    Spring Update: Continuing to groom Cole as their future ace, the Pirates allowed the hard-throwing right-hander to work side-by-side with their veteran starters this spring. While his pure stuff already ranks among the best in the organization, he still has a few issues to iron out in the minor leagues.

    He’ll presumably marinate in the Triple-A starting rotation over the first few months of the season. He's a prime candidate to be called up once he’s clear of service-time concerns in June.

    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: Taijuan 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.

    Spring Update: While his pure stuff looked great this spring, including a vastly improved cutter in the low 90s that projects to be yet another plus offering, Walker’s command was shaky and varied between appearances. As a result, the 20-year-old right-hander was reassigned to minor-league camp during the second week of March. He will presumably open the 2013 season in the team’s Triple-A starting rotation. 

    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 by Royals (Wesleyan Christian Academy, N.C.)

    ETA: 2013

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: After battling through a knee injury in 2011, Wil 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 over-commit 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.

    Spring Update: Even though Myers batted only .286 with four extra-base hits in 17 Grapefruit League games, his bat speed and consistent loud contact impressed manager Joe Maddon and the rest of the Rays coaching staff.

    The organization may try to delay his service time for as long as possible by stashing him in Triple-A, but with an everyday spot waiting for him in the team’s outfield, it shouldn’t be long before he makes his highly anticipated debut in the major leagues.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Triple-A

3. 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 (Owasso HS, Okla.)

    ETA: 2013

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: The unanimous top pitching prospect in the game, Dylan 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. 

    Spring Update: Had Bundy not been hampered by a groin spasm early in the spring, he might have made a legitimate case to break camp in the Orioles’ starting rotation. Because the organization needed to evaluate several candidates for the back end of the rotation, the right-hander was cut in mid-March so as to get him the necessary innings in minor league camp.

    Even though he’ll open the season in the Double-A starting rotation, the 20-year-old will still spend a majority of the year in the major leagues. 

    2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A

2. Oscar Taveras, OF, St. Louis Cardinals

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    Position: OF

    DOB: 6/19/1992 (Age: 20)

    Height/Weight: 6’2”, 200

    Bats/Throws: L/L

    Drafted/Signed: November, 2008 (Dominican Republic)

    ETA: 2013

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: The best hitter in all the minor leagues, Oscar 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: Left-handed hitter who 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; outstanding plate coverage; 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; still has plenty to gain from experience. 

    Spring Update: Thanks to Carlos Beltran’s participation in the World Baseball Classic, Taveras has received a long look in the Cardinals outfield this spring at each outfield position.

    Yet to be cut from camp, the 20-year-old has continued to impress at the plate.

    As a result, he’s now moved ahead of Dylan Bundy in the overall rankings. While he’s still likely to open the 2013 season in Triple-A, Taveras could arrive ahead of schedule in the event of an injury to one of the Cardinals’ big league regulars. If not, he’s still likely to force an ahead-of-schedule promotion later this season.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Triple-A

1. Jurickson Profar, SS-2B, 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 (Curacao)

    ETA: 2013

    2012 Stats

     

    Overview: Jurickson 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 his first big league plate appearance.

    Offense: The 6’0”, 165-pound switch-hitter has wiry strength; plus bat speed from both sides of the plate; short, consistent swing should give him an easy above-average-to-plus hit tool; right-handed swing is more line-drive-oriented; more raw power and lift from the left side; leveraged swing; loftier extension after contact; 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; quick release and arm stroke; exhibits plus range in all directions thanks to quick feet and tremendous instincts; moxie grades through the roof, and he’s adept at handling himself in high-pressure situations.

    Spring Update: No matter how well Profar played this spring, it seemed inevitable that the 20-year-old would open the 2013 season in the minors, as he’s blocked by Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler at both middle infield positions in the major leagues.

    Although he’s ready for an everyday role with the Rangers, the organization would prefer he receives regular at-bats in Triple-A rather than potentially impede his overall development with a reserve role in the majors.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Triple-A

     

    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).