MLB Prospect Rankings: Breaking Down the Top Slugger from Each Organization
With the advent of technology, baseball scouts now have at their disposal a variety of tools with which to better evaluate talent at the high school, college and international.
But no tool can accurately measure a prospect's ability to hit the stuffing out of a ball.
Every MLB team has a bevy of prospects with a variety of skill sets, but the ability to hit a baseball long and far is not a skill in abundance. ln fact, many of the sluggers on this list aren't even among MLB.com's list of Top 100 prospects.
With pitching being the major focus of many teams, they are atop many of their team's top rankings. But that doesn't mean the boys who can hit a baseball a country mile are hidden within their depths.
Note: All statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted. Prospect rankings courtesy of MLB.com.
30. Mitch Nay, Toronto Blue Jays
The Toronto Blue Jays have what might appear to be a barren farm system after an offseason that saw many of the top-ranked prospects offered up to other teams in a series of trades.
As a result, their best slugging prospect may now be a youngster who has yet to play his first professional game.
Third-base prospect Mitch Nay was selected by the Blue Jays in the supplemental round of last year's MLB draft. Nay was drafted out of Hamilton High School in Chandler, Ariz.
Nay hit 11 home runs in 32 games as a senior after hitting 14 the year before. He won the 2012 Arizona Baseball Player of the Year presented by Gatorade and is described as a "dead-red" power hitter.
Unfortunately it will be quite a while before that power gets unleashed at the Rogers Centre, if Nay makes it that far.
29. Adam Duvall, San Francisco Giants
San Francisco Giants prospect Adam Duvall may not be among his organization's list of top 20 prospects, but there's no question he's got a power bat.
Duvall clubbed 30 home runs with 100 RBI last season at Advanced Single-A San Jose, a year after hitting 22 home runs at the lower-A level.
Duvall is off to a solid start this year as he climbs another, with two home runs and a .757 slugging percentage in his first 11 games for Double-A Richmond.
28. Neftali Soto, Cincinnati Reds
Neftali Soto has been in the Cincinnati Reds' system since 2007 and has now spent parts of three seasons at the Triple-A level. He has yet to climb that final mountain, however.
Soto totaled 31 home runs with a .576 slugging percentage in 2011, giving the hope that maybe he was finally ready for a breakthrough.
He took a step backward last season, however, hitting just 14 home runs with a .400 slugging percentage at Triple-A Louisville.
Soto impressed at Reds' camp with a .346 average this spring, but once again found himself back in Louisville. His path to the majors via the Reds is blocked with Joey Votto and Todd Frazier blocking at the corner infield positions.
27. Jesus Aguilar, Cleveland Indians
Jesus Aguilar is another who has taken a somewhat slow path in his rise through the Cleveland Indians system. Signed as a youngster out of Venezuela back in 2008, Aguilar is now the No. 12 prospect in the organization.
At 6'3" and 250 pounds, Aguilar has tremendous raw power. That strength at the plate didn't manifest itself until the last couple of years—Aguilar hit 21 home runs in 2011 and 15 last year.
He's only hit one long ball in his team's first 15 games this season, but has contributed 21 RBI to lead the Akron Aeros.
If Aguilar can harness that power this year, he could well figure into the Indians' plans for the 2014 season.
26. Jonathan Schoop, Baltimore Orioles
Baltimore Orioles No. 4 prospect Jonathan Schoop is off to a bit of a slow start at Triple-A Norfolk, hitting just .172 with one home run in his first 16 games.
But Schoop is expected to be in Baltimore full time by next season and could even make an appearance later this season.
The power isn't nearly as obvious for Schoop as it may be for others on this list, but at 6'2" and 210 pounds, that power could be a plus.
25. Joey Terdoslavich, Atlanta Braves
With former top-slugging prospect Evan Gattis now bashing for the Atlanta Braves, that leaves Joey Terdoslavich.
Terdoslavich is transitioning to the outfield at Triple-A Gwinnett after being drafted as a first baseman back in 2010. After an outstanding season at Advanced Single-A Lynchburg in 2011, the Braves sent him directly to Triple-A last year.
Terdoslavich took a step back, eventually making his way to Double-A and finishing the season with just nine home runs and a .394 slugging percentage.
He's back at Triple-A Gwinnett and seems more well-adjusted, hitting three home runs with 13 RBI and a .592 slugging percentage in his first 17 games.
Ironically, MLB.com listed Terdoslavich as the No.15-ranked prospect in the organization—one spot directly ahead of Gattis.
24. Hunter Morris, Milwaukee Brewers
Considering the issues the Milwaukee Brewers had with injuries to first basemen this spring, they would have loved it if prospect Hunter Morris had showed them something at camp.
Morris, the No. 5 prospect in the farm system, hit .303 with 28 home runs and 113 RBI with a .563 slugging percentage at Double-A Huntsville last season.
But during spring training, Morris fizzled, hitting just .115 with one homer in 12 Cactus League contests.
Morris is at Triple-A Nashville with three home runs and a .220 average in 14 games. If he can continue developing the bat at the upper levels, Morris could get his shot next season.
23. Matt Skole, Washington Nationals
The Washington Nationals are blessed with several excellent hitting prospects, but No. 11-ranked Matt Skole impressed everyone in the organization with his play last season.
Skole hit 27 home runs with 104 RBI and a .574 slugging percentage last season, mostly for the Single-A Hagerstown Suns.
Skole got a look in spring training and did nothing to embarrass himself, hitting .250 before being re-assigned to Double-A Harrisburg.
Skole's 2013 season took a nasty turn early in the season, however. In just his second game, Skole was involved in a collision at first base that severed the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow and a fracture in his left wrist. Skole underwent surgery last week and is looking at a lengthy recovery.
Still, Skole could be a rising star if the surgery doesn't sap any of his prodigious power.
22. Darin Ruf, Philadelphia Phillies
After hitting 38 home runs with 104 RBI and a .620 slugging percentage at Double-A Reading last year, Darin Ruf was called up in September by the Philadelphia Phillies.
Ruf impressed in a brief showing, hitting .333 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 12 games. With the upheaval in the Phillies outfield, Ruf had a real shot at cracking the roster heading into the 2013 season.
Ruf didn't necessarily disappoint offensively, hitting two home runs with nine RBI in 19 games. But the defense was atrocious, meaning that Ruf would be sent to Triple-A. No question, the power is there for Ruf, but his transition from first base to the outfield has been rocky.
21. Daniel Vogelbach, Chicago Cubs
At six feet and 250 pounds, Chicago Cubs prospect Daniel Vogelbach resembles a youngster who could look comfortable in the middle of a Chicago Bears 3-4 defense.
Vogelbach's incredible power allows him to hit the ball out of any park. Opposite-field blasts aren't an issue either.
While the Cubs have emerging prospects in Jorge Soler and Albert Almora, neither of them offer the sheer power of Vogelbach, and the Cubs are certainly hoping that power develops in time.
20. C.J. Cron, Los Angeles Angels
The Los Angeles Angels knew that they had selected a special hitter when they drafted C.J. Cron with the 17th pick in the first round of the 2011 MLB draft.
Their original belief turned out to be right.
Cron tore through Rookie League ball in 2011, hitting .308 with 13 home runs and 41 RBI in just 34 games. Jumping to the Advanced Single-A level last year, Cron kept right on slugging, hitting .293 with 27 home runs, 123 RBI and a .516 slugging percentage.
He's off to a good start at Double-A Arkansas, as well, with a .327 average, one home run and 11 RBI in his first 15 games.
Cron's path to the majors could be blocked by Albert Pujols. But at some point, the Angels will have to do something if Cron continues to display the ability to hit and slug at any level.
19. Kyle Parker: Colorado Rockies
The Colorado Rockies have three exceptional hitting prospects at the top of their farm-system rankings with David Dahl, Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story.
But No. 5 prospect Kyle Parker may be more powerful than any of them.
Parker, selected in the first round of the 2010 MLB draft, has already delivered two minor league seasons with at least 20 home runs. He's off to another good start with the Double-A Tulsa Drillers, hitting four home runs in his first 14 games.
Parker's power is, by far, his biggest asset, and that power at Coors Field would no doubt be of huge benefit.
18. Joey Gallo, Texas Rangers
The Texas Rangers may have two exciting prospects in Jurickson Profar and Mike Olt, but the raw power of No. 9 prospect Joey Gallo is simply immense.
Gallo, selected in the supplemental round of last year's MLB draft, set an all-time, single-season home run record with 18 bombs in 43 games in the Arizona Rookie League.
Gallo continues to open eyes with six home runs in his first 16 games at Single-A Hickory this season. At just 19 years old, he's only just tapping into his overall power potential, and it could be special to watch at the major league level in the not-so-distant future.
17. Marcell Ozuna, Miami Marlins
With the purging of their major league roster that began last July, the Miami Marlins haven't left their fans with much hope for the 2013 season.
But their could be glimmer of light with several prospects on the horizon, including young slugger Marcell Ozuna.
Ozuna, the No. 6 prospect in the organization, was signed as a 17-year-old out of the Dominican Republic back in 2008. While slow to develop, Ozuna's power is his clear strength. He's put together three straight seasons with at least 20 home runs, and the pitch selection is finally starting to show some improvement as well.
Ozuna's season just started after suffering a broken hand during spring training. He may have a bit of catching up to do, but at just 22 years of age, there's still plenty of time for the power to continue developing and the plate discipline to continue improving as well.
16. Rymer Liriano, San Diego Padres
Much like Marcell Ozuma before him on this list, Rymer Liriano was also signed as a 17-year-old out of the Dominican Republic.
And much like Ozuma, Liriano's ascent through the system has been slow and methodical.
With Jedd Gyorko now with the big club, Liriano is the top hitting prospect in the organization. The power hasn't quite developed as of yet, and the San Diego Padres will have to wait another year to see if that power does, in fact, develop at well.
Liriano underwent Tommy John surgery after tearing the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow while playing catch in the Dominican Republic in December.
15. Avisail Garcia, Detroit Tigers
The Detroit Tigers got a taste of what Avisail Garcia could deliver late last season.
Garcia, the No. 3 prospect in the organization, hit .299 with 14 home runs and 58 RBI at the minor league level last year before earning his callup. He hit .318 in 23 games for the Tigers, as they surged past the Chicago White Sox to capture the AL Central title.
Garcia delivered a .261 average in the postseason as well, giving him an excellent chance to be considered for a roster spot in the spring.
However, Garcia simply didn't get it done, hitting just .206 in Grapefruit League play before bruising his heel and landing on the disabled list.
Garcia finally began playing again last week, but will likely be back in Triple-A while rehabbing, biding his time for the right moment to come once again.
14. Gregory Polanco, Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pittsburgh Pirates love the possible power potential of top hitting prospect Josh Bell, but it has yet to make an appearance early in his baseball career.
For now at least, Gregory Polanco represents their best slugging prospect.
Polanco is another of a few on this list signed as a 17-year-old out of the Dominican Republic. Last year, the power potential for Polanco finally showed its head as he hit .325 with 16 home runs and 85 RBI for Single-A West Virginia.
The Pirates fully expect that power to continue developing. At 6'4" and 170 pounds, Polanco is lean with a solid swing and tremendous bat speed, almost reminiscent of Ben Oglivie.
13. Matt Davidson, Arizona Diamondbacks
With Didi Gregorius now starring at shortstop for the foreseeable future, Matt Davidson represents the Arizona Diamondbacks best hitting prospect—and their best slugger as well.
Davidson has put together back-to-back 20-home runs in the minors and he's already hit three homers in his first 14 games with the Triple-A Reno Aces.
The question, at this point, is where Davidson fits in Arizona's future, considering they recently signed Martin Prado to a four-year contract.
If he continues raking, the Diamondbacks will have a major decision to make.
12. Courtney Hawkins, Chicago White Sox
Considering the start to his professional career, the Chicago White Sox have to be thrilled at the prospects of prospect Courtney Hawkins—so to speak.
Hawkins delivered a .284 average with eight home runs and 33 RBI in 59 games. He's backed up that promise with five home runs and 12 RBI in his 14 games at Advanced Single-A Winston Salem this season as well.
Hawkins won't be ready for the White Sox until at least the 2015 season, but they certainly have a lot in terms of power to look forward to when he gets there.
11. Michael Choice, Oakland Athletics
Michael Choice took a slight step backward after a fabulous season in 2011 in which he hit 30 home runs with 82 RBI and a .542 slugging percentage.
Choice hit just 10 home runs last year while still hitting .287 at Double-A Midland. This season, Choice is off to an excellent start at Triple-A Sacramento with four home runs and 18 RBI in his first 17 games.
Choice clearly has a future in Oakland at some point, and that future could be somewhere in the middle of the batting order.
10. Gary Sanchez, New York Yankees
Not too many prospects are given a future power grade of seven in the MLB.com rankings, but New York Yankees' catching prospect Gary Sanchez is one of the very few.
Sanchez has hit 35 home runs in the past two seasons along with the ability to hit for high average—a trait not often found in catchers.
Sanchez is the future behind the plate for the Yankees, and at just 20 years of age, his bat could get him to the Big Apple quicker than he thinks.
9. Bubba Starling, Kansas City Royals
The Kansas City Royals may have lost a top slugging prospect in Wil Myers in their trade with the Tampa Bay Rays during the offseason, but they have another one in waiting in Bubba Starling.
Taken with the fifth overall pick in the 2011 MLB draft, Starling hit 10 home runs with 33 RBI and a .485 slugging percentage in Rookie League ball last year.
With very little professional experience under his belt, the Royals expect that Starling's raw power will emerge as he develops better plate discipline and a consistent approach.
8. Jonathan Singleton, Houston Astros
He may be missing the first 50 games of the season for sheer stupidity, but it doesn't take away from the fact that Jonathan Singleton can hit "the snot out" of a baseball.
Singleton will make his way to Triple-A when his suspension ends in late May, and there is still a chance he could be seen in Houston late this season.
Singleton has hit close to .300 at every level and has slugged close to .500 as well. The power is clearly there as well as the solid approach at the plate.
7. Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers were understandably conflicted in figuring out what to do with Cuban hitting sensation Yasiel Puig at the end of spring training.
All Puig did was hit .517 with three home runs, 11 RBI and an .828 slugging percentage.
Puig had exactly 23 games of professional experience under his belt before impressing the Dodgers this past spring. But even that small body of work was impressive—he hit .354 with five home runs, 15 RBI and a .634 slugging percentage.
Puig was placed on the disabled list over the weekend with a sprained thumb. He had already gotten off to a solid start with a .333 average, three home runs and nine RBI at Double-A Chattanooga.
The power is already a five out of seven according to MLB.com, and considering his outstanding start to his professional career, Puig could well be in L.A. full time by next year.
6. Mike Zunino, Seattle Mariners
It's just a matter of time before Mike Zunino is raking at Safeco Field.
After an outstanding collegiate career at the University of Florida, Zunino is in his transition from amateur to professional ball.
Zunino completely mastered lower Single-A ball last year, hitting .373 with 10 home runs and 35 RBI in just 29 games. That earned him a triple-jump to Double-A ball, and Zunino showed he could master better competition as well. Zunino hit .333 with three home runs and eight RBI in 15 games.
Zunino has started at Triple-A this year, and he's again showing that the game comes easily to him, clubbing five home runs with 21 RBI in just 13 games. At this rate, he could be in Seattle by the All-Star break.
5. Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox
Xander Bogaerts got a good dose of pressure baseball this past March with his experience playing for the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic.
Bogaerts vaulted into the top 20 overall prospects with an outstanding 2012 season in which he hit .307 with 20 home runs and a .523 slugging percentage.
He's a bigger version of former Boston Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra, who burst onto the scene in 1996. His ascension to the majors was a bit quicker than Bogaerts, but the similarities are there, nonetheless.
4. Miguel Sano, Minnesota Twins
Minnesota Twins slugging prospect Miguel Sano is now the No. 12 prospect in baseball after showing impressive power numbers over the past two seasons.
Sano hit 28 home runs with 100 RBI last year for Single-A Beloit, and he's already off to a fast start at the next level with the Ft. Meyers Miracle in the Florida State League.
Sano is hitting a lofty .377 with five home runs and 15 RBI and a .705 slugging percentage in just 16 games.
The prodigious power is finally showing itself for Sano, who appears to be gaining more and more confidence as he continues climbing up the ladder for the Minnesota Twins.
3. Travis d'Arnaud, New York Mets
Hot catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud received some good news this past week.
Well, it was better than the alternative.
D'Arnaud, who missed three months of time last year with a knee injury, took a foul ball off his foot in a game last week. He did suffer a fracture, but he won't require surgery. He's expected to be out of action for close to two months.
It's certainly a blow to the New York Mets, but with John Buck currently leading the National League in RBI, the urgency for d'Arnaud to make his way to the majors isn't quite as prevalent.
D'Arnaud has clearly figured things out offensively over the past two years—he hit .311 with 21 home runs and 78 RBI at Double-A New Hampshire in 2011. He followed up with a .333 average, 16 home runs and 52 RBI in 67 games last year at Triple-A Las Vegas before his injury.
2. Oscar Taveras, St. Louis Cardinals
At some point soon, the St. Louis Cardinals are going to have to figure out what to do with top prospect Oscar Taveras.
Taveras hit .321 with 23 home runs and 94 RBI and a .572 slugging percentage at Double-A Springfield last year.
He impressed during spring training with the Cardinals, hitting .289 with two home runs and 10 RBI before being reassigned to Triple-A Memphis.
With Jon Jay currently manning center field, it would appear Taveras' path is blocked. With a great bat, solid plate discipline and a patient approach at the plate, it will be difficult for the Cardinals to keep him down for too long.
1. Wil Myers, Tampa Bay Rays
Top slugger Wil Myers was the toast of the town last year after an incredible season.
Myers hit 37 home runs with 109 RBI and a .600 slugging percentage, dominating at both the Double- and Triple-A levels.
He was the centerpiece of the deal between the Kansas City Royals and the Tampa Bay Rays, giving the Rays a potential power bat to complement third baseman Evan Longoria.
The Rays aren't inclined to rush Myers, not wanting to lose a year of service time in the process. But considering the Rays are hitting just .228 and 11th in the American League in runs scored, they may reconsider that approach.
Doug Mead is a Featured Columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.
Feel free to talk baseball with Doug anytime on Twitter.