Oscar Taveras recently spent a month on the disabled list with a sprained ankle.
In the wake of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft in early June, I re-worked my preseason top 50 prospects rankings to include several of the top draft picks. Additionally, because so many of the players on that list had already been promoted to the major leagues, I decided to include only prospects still active in the minor leagues. The result was a new and improved top 50 with a host of fresh faces cracking the top 10.
Here’s an updated look at how Prospect Pipeline’s top prospects have fared since the unveiling of the new rankings at the beginning of last week.
1. Oscar Taveras, OF, St. Louis Cardinals
2013 Stats: .309/.348/.456, 22 R, 14 XBH (4 HR), 5 SB, 21/9 K/BB (39 G)
Widely regarded as the best pure hitter in the minor leagues, Taveras continues to do what he does best: rake. Although his numbers this season at Triple-A Memphis aren’t as gaudy as many expected, it’s important to remember that the soon-to-be 21-year-old was recently sidelined for a month with a sprained ankle. While he’s batted only .269 over eight games since returning to action, it’s a safe assumption that Taveras’ insanely good bat will heat up as he settles in.
2. Byron Buxton, OF, Minnesota Twins
2013 Stats: .344/.431/.561, 65 R, 31 XBH (8 HR), 52 RBI, 29 SB, 51/40 K/BB (64 G)
I honestly don’t even know where to begin with Buxton. The No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 draft, the 19-year-old has taken baseball by storm in his full-season debut for Low-A Cedar Rapids and continues to drop jaws with his performance on both sides of the ball. At the dish, he’s arguably been the most productive—not to mention impressive—hitter in the minor leagues, showing advanced plate discipline, a consistent hit tool, plenty of raw power and plus-plus speed.
And as a result of his all-around dominance, Buxton has shot up the board to the No. 2 spot on my most recent rankings. While it’s doubtful that the Twins will rush him to the major leagues, expect them to challenge him with more aggressive assignments moving forward.
3. Xander Bogaerts, SS, Boston Red Sox
2013 Stats: .305/.399/.498, 42 R, 25 XBH (7 HR), 6 SB, 57/36 K/BB (60 G)
After a sluggish first two weeks of the season at Double-A Portland, Bogaerts has been on a tear over the last two months hitting for both average and power. But perhaps the most impressive aspect of the 20-year-old’s current season is his vastly improved plate discipline. In addition to trimming his strikeout total at a more advanced level, Bogaerts has also shown the ability to coax walks with consistency.
Already on the fast track to the major leagues, the Red Sox promoted him Triple-A Pawtucket late last week. Through his first four games at the new level, Bogaerts is batting .214 (3-for-14) with one home run and six strikeouts.
4. Christian Yelich, OF, Miami Marlins
2013 Stats: .262/.342/.518, 24 XBH (6 HR), 4 SB, 47/20 K/BB (41 G)
Arguably the best pure hitter in the minor leagues not named Oscar Taveras, Yelich—who features an absolutely gorgeous left-handed swing—opened the 2013 season on the disabled list due to a foot injury suffered at the end of spring training. After returning to the field in late April, the 21-year-old was promoted to Double-A as expected, but struggled to establish consistency at the plate—though he did post a .955 OPS with 18 extra-base hits in May—with a .262 batting average and 47 strikeouts in 41 games. Yelich recently was placed back on the disabled list on June 4 due to an oblique injury.
5. Miguel Sano, 3B, Minnesota Twins
2013 Stats: .318/.420/.627, 53 R, 33 XBH (16 HR), 51 RBI, 9 SB, 64/35 K/BB (61 G)
In possession of the best power in the minor leagues, Sano’s across-the-board improvements this season on both sides of the ball have led to his emergence as the top corner infield prospect in the game. Moving up the Florida State League for the 2013 season—a league that’s notoriously tough on hitters—many expected Sano to struggle at the more advanced level. However, that simply wasn’t the case. Through his first 56 games, the 20-year-old batted .330/.424/.655 with 51 runs scored, 33 extra-base hits (16 home runs), nine stolen bases and 61/29 K/BB.
And as a result of his overwhelming success, the Twins handed him an ahead-of-schedule promotion to Double-A New Britain. Through his first five games, Sano is batting .091/.368/.091 with more walks (six) than strikeouts (three).
6. Taijuan Walker, RHP, Seattle Mariners
2013 Stats: 3-7, 77.1 IP, 2.56 ERA, .190 BAA, 84/30 K/BB (13 GS)
After struggling at times last season as a 19-year-old in Double-A, Walker’s command and execution of his entire arsenal—including a low-90s cutter that he adopted in late 2012—has vastly improved in his second tour of the level. Since his start on April 20, the projectable right-hander is yet to issue more than two walks in a game, and he's allowed four hits or less in seven of his last 10 starts.
Walker has been especially sharp over his last two starts, allowing three earned runs on six hits with 16/1 K/BB in 13.1 innings.
7. Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians
2013 Stats: .300/.375/.400, 19 XBH (14 2B), 18 SB, 29/29 K/BB (65 G)
Already regarded as the top defensive shortstop in the minor leagues, the development of Lindor’s bat this season has helped him vault into the top 10. As one of the younger everyday players at the High-A level, Lindor’s mature plate discipline this season (29 strikeouts, 29 walks) has led to an improved hit tool. The switch hitter has been especially impressive from the left side of the plate, batting .323/.401/.424 with 15 extra-base hits in 198 at-bats.
8. Wil Myers, OF, Tampa Bay Rays
2013 Stats: .286/.356/.520, 29 XBH (14 HR), 57 RBI, 7 SB, 71/29 K/BB (64 G)
After a solid opening month of the season in which he posted an .839 OPS, Myers’ production hit a lull in May as he batted .255/.322/.481 with six home run and 31 strikeouts in 27 games. However, he finally started to heat up at the end of the month and had it carry over into June, posting a .339/.377/.696 with nine extra-base hits (five home runs) through 14 games.
Like Zack Wheeler—who you will read about momentarily—Myers will be called up to make is big-league debut on Tuesday on the road against the Boston Red Sox.
9. Zack Wheeler, RHP, New York Mets
2013 Stats: 4-2, 68.2 IP, 3.93 ERA, .236 BAA, 73/27 K/BB (13 GS)
Wheeler’s performance for Triple-A Las Vegas has been up and down this season, as he pitched through a pair of minor injuries (blister, sore clavicle) and was plagued by the home run in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. However, his performance in the minor leagues this season will become irrelevant within the next 24 hours. Wheeler will make his highly anticipated major-league debut on Tuesday when he starts Game 2 of the Mets’ double-header against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field.
10. Archie Bradley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
2013 Stats: 7-2, 82.2 IP, 1.42 ERA, .202 BAA, 97/36 K/BB (14 GS)
After dominating at High-A Visalia in the hitter-friendly California League to open the season, Bradley was promoted to Double-A Mobile in early May. Despite moving up to the more advanced level, the 20-year-old right-hander has thrived and is yet to allow more than two earned runs in a start. And even though he’s been tough to barrel and has continued to miss bats with regularity, Bradley’s command hasn’t been quite as sharp lately with 18 walks over his last five starts.