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Will Oscar Taveras retain his title as the No. 1 prospect in baseball?
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

At long last, Prospect Pipeline’s Midseason Top 50 Prospects has arrived.

If it feels as though it’s been a long time since we published the preseason rankings, well, that’s probably because it has been a long time—a little more than three months to be exact. Since then, many of the previously top-ranked prospects have graduated to the major leagues while others have simply fallen off the radar.

Compared to lists published before the start of the season, this ranking is specifically geared toward highlighting the future of baseball. Therefore, any prospect who has exhausted rookie eligibility (130 at-bats or 50 innings) in the major leagues has been excluded. Similarly, prospects who have retained eligibility but are currently on the 25-man roster (or playing in the major leagues) have also been omitted from the ranking.

As one might have inferred from reading the above paragraph, the midseason ranking is absolutely loaded with new names and faces.

With that said, I hope everyone enjoys Prospect Pipeline’s Midseason Top 50 Prospects.

Close Calls


RHP Kyle Crick / Courtesy of GIANT Potential

Prospects that just missed the cut:

Eddie Butler, RHP, Colorado Rockies

Anthony Ranaudo, RHP, Boston Red Sox

Kyle Crick, RHP, San Francisco Giants

Eddie Rosario, 2B, Minnesota Twins

Jesse Biddle, LHP, Philadelphia Phillies

Lucas Sims, RHP, Atlanta Braves

Miguel Almonte, RHP, Kansas City Royals

50. Clint Frazier, OF, Cleveland Indians


Courtesy of Baseball America

Position: OF

DOB: 9/6/1994 (Age: 18)

Height/Weight: 6’0”/190

Bats/Throws: R/R

Drafted: First round, 2013 (Loganville HS, Ga.)

ETA: 2016

Preseason Rank: N/A

 

2013 Stats

 

Midseason Update

Selected by the Indians with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2013 draft, Frazier was assigned to the rookie-level Arizona League after signing for slot value. The 18-year-old outfielder began his career on a positive note by hitting both a triple and home run in his first professional game and has been on a tear since. Through his first 10 contests, Frazier is batting .389/.419/.694 with six extra-base hits, 12 RBI and 11/3 K/BB and will likely finish his inaugural campaign at the short-season level.

Scouting Report

The 6'1", 190-pounder owned the best bat speed in the 2013 draft class; wrists and forearms are loaded with strong, quick-twitch muscles; compact, explosive swing; drives the ball off of a firm front side; clean, direct bat path; gets off backside and through baseball with ease; aggressive hitter who attacks the ball; potential above-average or better hit tool; can struggle to recognize spin; some swing and miss to game.

Plus-plus raw power potential; advanced power utility; more thump to center and pull side; ball absolutely jumps off the barrel; generates tons of backspin carry; hits everything out in front; keeps head down on contact.

Above-average runner with quick feet; gets out of the box; speed plays better on the basepaths than in the field; will steal some bases, but likely will never be a base stealer. Fringy center field profile; has the athleticism and tools to handle the position as an amateur; takes aggressive routes; may be forced to move to a corner at the next level. Arm fatigue and mild tendinitis have detracted from overall arm strength; merely an average tool at the moment. 

49. Maikel Franco, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies


Courtesy of Baseball Instinct

Position: 3B

DOB: 8/26/1992 (Age: 20)

Height/Weight: 6’1”/180

Bats/Throws: R/R

Signed: January 2010 (Dominican Republic)

ETA: 2014

Preseason Rank: N/A

 

2013 Stats

 

Midseason Update

Although he posted only a .775 OPS last season for Low-A Lakewood, Franco batted .280 and showcased power potential with 32 doubles and 14 home runs in 132 games. Promoted to High-A Clearwater in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League for the 2013 season, the 20-year-old responded in a big way by batting .299/.349/.576 with 40 extra-base hits while significantly reducing his strikeout rate. As a result, Franco was handed a promotion to Double-A Reading, where he’s posted a 1.128 OPS with five home runs and only three strikeouts through 18 games.

 

Scouting Report

Already physically strong at 6’1”, 180 pounds with room to add strength; really strong wrists; plus bat speed; feasts on fastballs; has made consistent, hard contact this season; still tends to overswing at times; aggressive hitter who controls the barrel; doesn’t expand the strike zone as often as 2012; improved secondary recognition.

Below-average speed; makes the routine plays at the hot corner; some fluidity to actions; struggles with body control; lacks instinctual first step; above-average arm strength; has offensive potential to handle shift across infield (if necessary).

48. Joc Pederson, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers


Courtesy of Mike Newman (ROTOscouting)

Position: OF

DOB: 4/21/1992 (Age: 21)

Height/Weight: 6’1”, 185

Bats/Throws: L/L

Drafted: 11th round, 2010 (Palo Alto HS, Calif.)

ETA: 2014

Preseason Rank: N/R

 

2013 Stats

 

Midseason Update

After posting a .913 OPS with 18 home runs and 26 stolen bases for High-A Rancho Cucamonga in 2012, Pederson, 21, has solidified his prospect stock this season with an impressive follow-up campaign at Double-A Chattanooga. Through 82 games at the more advanced level, the outfielder is batting .299/.388/.522 with 19 doubles, 14 home runs and 25 stolen bases and, more importantly, has done so without sacrificing his plate discipline (74/41 K/BB). Although the Dodgers’ outfield is already overloaded with talent, Pederson would presumably serve as the team’s go-to option (even if only in a reserve role) if there’s a significant injury.

 

Scouting Report

The 21-year-old possesses quiet strength at 6’1”, 185 pounds; showcases an all-around impressive set of tools and athleticism. Speed is only average, but his hard-nosed, aggressive mentality makes it play up a grade. He has been developed as a center fielder over the past three seasons and may be able to stick there; both his reads and routes have an element of rawness; present athleticism and tremendous work ethic suggest that they will continue to improve; above-average arm strength is more than enough for the position and will translate if he moves to a corner spot.

Has continued to hit for power this season outside of California League; average or better power potential; tracks the ball well and fires hands at the last minute; bat enters the zone on a nice downward angle, which results in backspin carry to all fields. Potential for slightly above-average hit tool thanks to mature plate discipline and line drive-oriented swing.

47. Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates


Courtesy of Josh Norris

Position: RHP

DOB: 8/23/1993 (Age: 19)

Height/Weight: 6’7”, 195

Bats/Throws: L/R

Drafted: Fifth round, 2011 (Hart HS, Calif.)

ETA: 2016

Preseason Rank: N/R

 

2013 Stats 

 

Midseason Update

After selecting him in the fifth round of the 2011 draft, the Pirates delayed Glasnow’s professional debut until 2012 so as to carefully regulate his workload. This season—in his full-season debut—the 19-year-old has emerged as one of the more high-ceiling young arms in the minor leagues. Through 17 starts for Low-A West Virginia, the right-hander owns a 2.48 ERA and .153 BAA and currently leads all qualified pitchers in the South Atlantic League with 110 strikeouts. Considering that Glasnow has now doubled his career innings total (38.1 IP in 2012; 76.1 IP in 2013), expect the organization to shut him down in the near future.

 

Scouting Report

The 6’7”, 195-pound right-hander throws fastball on a steep downhill plane; improved velocity has him sitting in the mid-90s with a chance for even more. Curveball can be a hammer with plus potential but is inconsistent at the moment; doesn’t always stay on top and execute pitch; flashes excellent shape; potential out-pitch. Changeup is a work-in-progress offering that has noticeably improved this season. Command of entire arsenal has taken a significant step forward in full-season debut; developing into more of a pitcher than thrower.

46. Alen Hanson, 2B/SS, Pittsburgh Pirates


Courtesy of BP Prospect Team

Position: 2B/SS

DOB: 10/22/1992 (Age: 20)

Height/Weight: 5’11”, 152

Bats/Throws: S/R

Signed: July 2009 (Dominican Republic)

ETA: 2015

Preseason Rank: 38

 

2013 Stats 

 

Midseason Update

Coming off of a breakout 2012 season that placed him firmly on the prospect radar, Hanson hasn’t taken the Florida State League by storm but is quietly having an impressive follow-up campaign. The switch-hitter has seen his average steadily tick up after a rough opening month and has now batted .288/.345/.441 with 30 extra-base hits and 21 stolen bases through 75 games. More importantly, the 20-year-old has made noticeable improvements over the course of the season, especially in terms of his plate discipline and approach.

 

Scouting Report

Switch-hitter has the potential for above-average hit tool; quick bat from both sides; drives the ball from line to line; extra-base machine with slightly above-average power potential; showcases more consistency and over-the-fence pop from left side; hits the ball on the nose with consistency; handsy swing at times but still barrels the ball; vulnerable to quality off-speed; struggles to keep weight back; strikeouts can be an issue from right side of the plate; improved ability to control strike zone this season.

Plus runner; raw base stealer with shaky instincts; relies on pure speed. Smooth defensive actions; range and arm better suited for second base but will be developed as a shortstop for as long as possible. Sound glove; smooth transfer; arm strength is only average.

45. Chris Owings, SS, Arizona Diamondbacks


Courtesy of Mike Rosenbaum

Position: SS

DOB: 8/12/1991 (Age: 21)

Height/Weight: 5’10”, 180

Bats/Throws: R/R

Drafted: First round, 2009 (Gilbert HS, S.C.)

ETA: 2014

Preseason Rank: N/R

 

2013 Stats 

 

Midseason Update

Even though Owings posted a .668 OPS with 69/11 K/BB in 69 games at Double-A Mobile in 2012, the Diamondbacks’ influx of up-the-middle talent via offseason trades led to his promotion to Triple-A Reno for the 2013 season. So far, the 21-year-old has thrived as one of the younger everyday players at the level and emerged as one of the more consistent hitters in the minors. Through 92 games this season, he’s batting a robust .355/.375/.509 with 23 doubles, 11 home runs, 15 stolen bases and 76/12 K/BB. However, unless the organization decides to play him over the slick-fielding Didi Gregorius this season, Owings seems more likely to end up on the trade block than reach the major leagues.

 

Scouting Report

Owings is only 5’10”, 180 pounds, but his tools play much louder. Right-handed hitter employs a compact swing thanks to strong hands and above-average bat speed. Understands how to maximize power; can turn around good velocity; improved pitch recognition; needs to work deeper counts and coax more walks to be a top-of-the-order hitter. Improved on-base skills should result in more stolen bases. Bat has some serious juice and could yield 15-20 home runs in the major leagues; key to his development will be consistency.

One of the better defensive shortstops in the minor leagues; instinctual defender with quick feet; showcases excellent body control in all directions; smooth actions; plays through the baseball; plus arm strength more than enough for the position. Could reach the major leagues as a second baseman due to presence of Didi Gregorius.

44. Danny Hultzen, LHP, Seattle Mariners

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H. Darr Beiser-USA TODAY

Position: LHP

DOB: 11/28/1989 (Age: 23)

Height/Weight: 6’3”, 200

Bats/Throws: L/L

Drafted: First round, 2011 (Virginia)

ETA: 2013

Preseason Rank: 32

 

2013 Stats

 

Midseason Update

After struggling mightily at Triple-A Tacoma during the second half of the 2012 season, Hultzen looked like his old self in spring training and seemed poised for a big year. However, after a strong first month of the season (2.78 ERA, 25/6 K/BB in 22.2 IP), the left-hander landed on the disabled list with a left rotator cuff strain—an injury that kept him out for more than two months. The 23-year-old ultimately worked his way back and turned in a scoreless outing in late June, but lingering shoulder soreness resulted in a return to the disabled list.

 

Scouting Report

Left-hander has pitchability and polish; should be able to regain the command that made him a top draft pick. Features classic Virginia crouched, cross-body delivery; natural deception; doesn’t always extend toward the plate and will get around the ball. Displays feel for changing eye levels.

Fastball registers in the low 90s with plenty of arm-side movement; reaches back for 94-95 mph at times; spots pitch to both sides of the plate; attacks both right- and left-handed hitters. Changeup plays well off of his fastball, which is a 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; most hittable secondary offering.

43. Julio Urias, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers


Courtesy of lildun34

Position: LHP

DOB: 8/12/1996 (Age: 16)

Height/Weight: 5’11”/160

Bats/Throws: L/L

Signed: August 2012 (Mexico)

ETA: 2016

 

2013 Stats

 

Midseason Update

After signing Urias out of Mexico late last summer, the Dodgers decided to assign the 16-year-old to a full-season league for his professional debut—a decision that seemed questionable at the time. Despite being the youngest player at the Low-A level, the gifted left-hander has registered a 2.78 ERA with 38/13 K/BB in 32.1 innings against considerably more advanced hitters. He’s technically only a high school sophomore, so expect the organization to exercise extreme caution early in his development. But with that said, there’s a very realistic chance that Urias will pitch in the major leagues as a teenager.

 

Scouting Report

The 5’11” left-hander already has projectable frame and is literally growing; special combination of stuff and pitchability at a young age; Employs smooth, repeatable delivery; consistently uses lower half; easy arm action. Fastball sits in the low 90s and bumps 94-95 mph; Potential plus curveball; has feel for throwing it in any count; present feel for changeup. Ridiculously bright future; front-of-the-rotation upside.

42. Raul Adalberto Mondesi, SS, Kansas City Royals


Courtesy of Mike Rosenbaum

Position: SS

DOB: 7/27/1995 (Age: 17)

Height/Weight: 6’1”, 165

Bats/Throws: S/R

Signed: July 2011 (Dominican Republic)

ETA: 2017

Preseason Rank: N/R

 

2013 Stats

 

Midseason Update

As expected from a 17-year-old playing at a full-season level, Mondesi’s professional debut has been full of ups and downs on both sides of the ball. However, the fact that he’s holding his own, let alone enjoying periods of considerable success, against advanced competition is remarkable. Through 76 games this season, the switch-hitter owns a .269/.313/.393 batting line with 21 extra-base hits and 13 stolen bases. And if his development goes as planned, there’s a realistic chance Mondesi reaches the major leagues before his 21st birthday.

 

Scouting Report

Son of former big-leaguer Raul Mondesi; projectable 6’1”, 165-pound frame leaves room to add strength; switch-hitter who’s understandably raw from both sides of the plate; approach is advanced for his age and gives him a chance for an above-average-to-plus hit tool. Above-average bat speed; hard to get a read on his power potential at the moment; shows in-game gap power and has above-average speed to be consistent extra-base threat.

Mondesi is raw at shortstop but has the athleticism and defensive skills to thrive at the position; intuitive player with an instinctual first step; excellent glove; slick transfer and quick release; needs to improve his body control; plus range leads to high error total, though it’s nothing concerning; plus arm should only get stronger.

41. Max Fried, LHP, San Diego Padres


Courtesy of Christopher Blessing (Bullpen Banter)

Position: LHP

DOB: 1/18/1994 (Age: 19)

Height/Weight: 6’4", 185

Bats/Throws: L/L

Drafted: First round, 2012 (Harvard-Westlake HS, Calif.)

ETA: 2016

 

2013 Stats

 

Midseason Update

Coming off an impressive professional debut last summer in the Arizona League, Fried has continued to open eyes this season by showcasing a promising blend of polish and advanced stuff for Low-A Fort Wayne. Through 14 starts, the 19-year-old has registered a 3.62 ERA while generating a high number of ground ball outs (2.15 GO/AO) and missing 66 bats in 69.2 innings.

 

Scouting Report

The 6'4", 185-pound left-hander is athletic with a projectable build and considerable polish for his age; has a smooth delivery and fluid arm action. Fastball ranges anywhere from 88-93 mph with arm-side action; left-hander’s curveball is easily his best offering with a big break and the potential to draw lots of swing-and-misses; changeup also flashes at least above-average potential and is thrown with deceptive arm speed; given his three-pitch mix and overall polish relative to his age, it’s easy to envision Fried as a No. 2 starter in a few years, especially in pitcher-friendly Petco Park.

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

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Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

Position: 2B

DOB: 10/10/1990 (Age: 22)

Height/Weight: 5’9”, 190

Bats/Throws: L/R

Drafted: First round, 2011 (Hawaii)

ETA: 2013

 

2013 Stats

 

Midseason Update

If it weren't for Matt Carpenter’s success this season, Wong would likely already be in the major leagues. Instead, the 22-year-old has waited patiently at Triple-A Memphis and put together an all-around impressive season in the process. Through 81 games, the second baseman is batting .299/.354/.459 with 16 doubles, seven triples, seven home runs and 12 stolen bases. Compared to last season, Wong has significantly improved his ability to hit same-side pitching (.312 BA in 109 AB) and showcased more consistent extra-base pop. He may be blocked at the major league level for the foreseeable future, but there’s a decent chance he’ll see time as a September call-up later this season.

 

Scouting Report 

Potential top-of-the-order, left-handed bat capable of hitting for average and getting on base; understands the strike zone and drives the ball from line to line with a direct bat path; may need to simplify his load/timing mechanism, but it hasn’t hindered his production thus far; hit tool projects to be above average while his power should be good for 10-15 home runs per season; doesn’t possesses typical up-the-middle speed, but is a smart baserunner; high baseball IQ allows him to make in-game adjustments, which should aid his success as a major leaguer.

Defense at second base is big league-ready; have never been impressed by his range at the position, but he compensates with true instincts and a good first step; hands and actions are smooth and consistent; can be weak and tentative to the backhand; lack of arm strength limits him to a career at second base. 

39. Andrew Heaney, LHP, Miami Marlins


Courtesy of Baseball Instinct

Position: LHP

DOB: 6/5/1991 (Age: 22)

Height/Weight: 6’3”, 180

Bats/Throws: L/L

Drafted: First round, 2012 (Oklahoma State)

ETA: 2014

 

2013 Stats

 

Midseason Update

After reaching a full-season level during his professional debut last summer, Heaney opened the 2013 season on the disabled list with a lat strain. Upon returning to the mound in late May, the 22-year-old left-hander was placed on a strict pitch count by the organization. Luckily, that hasn’t prevented him from dominating opposing hitters in the Florida State League, as Heaney has registered a stellar 1.33 ERA with 51 strikeouts in 40.2 innings during his High-A debut. He may not be long for the level considering his combination of stuff and pitchability, but don’t expect the left-hander to move beyond Double-A this season.

 

Scouting Report

Projectable 6’2”, 190-pound frame; athletic build with long limbs; smooth delivery requires minimum effort; loose, whippy arm; pitchability; needs to get stronger to avoid future injuries. Boasts a three-pitch mix of average-to-plus pitches; plus fastball works in the low to-mid-90s with late life; has touched mid-90s more consistently since returning from injury; breaking ball is at least above average and a legitimate swing-and-miss offering; has demonstrated more consistent feel for pitch this season; less slurvy; changeup is average and continues to improve; effective against right-handed hitters; advanced feel for entire arsenal could have him in the major leagues quickly.

38. Jake Marisnick, OF, Miami Marlins


Courtesy of pwardell06

Position: OF

DOB: 3/30/1991 (Age: 22)

Height/Weight: 6’4”, 225

Bats/Throws: R/R

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

ETA: 2014

Preseason Rank: 44

 

2013 Stats

 

Midseason Update

Acquired by the Marlins during the offseason, Marisnick opened the 2013 season on the disabled list after suffering a fractured hand during spring training. And while he returned to action in early May, the 22-year-old struggled throughout his delayed first month of the season to the tune of .248/.304/.434 with 36 strikeouts in 28 games. But since the beginning of June, Marisnick has been on fire and raised his overall batting line to .295/.362/.498 through 57 games. More importantly, the toolsy outfielder’s improved plate discipline has enabled the consistent utilization of his raw power.

 

Scouting Report 

Right-handed hitter possesses a highly projectable frame with present strength at 6’4”, 225 pounds; ridiculous athlete; passes the eye test with flying colors; raw ability suggests potential for above-average hit and power tool; streaky hitter; lanky frame and upright setup create too much movement during swing; can fall into bad habit of employing the same swing and bat path regardless of pitch type, location and count; less weak contact and whiffs this season; bat path can be long; collapses backside in an effort to meet the ball and force contact; pitch recognition and plate discipline steadily improving; plus speed and base stealing aptitude give him legitimate 20-20 potential.

Has the speed and actions to remain in center field; plus range in all directions aided by natural instincts; glides to cover large distances; graceful actions; plus arm can play at all three outfield positions; more than enough for center; position will ultimately be tied to his offensive production; has been aggressively ushered up the ladder with both organizations; athleticism and tools give him a high ceiling despite previous struggles.

37. Billy Hamilton, OF, Cincinnati Reds


Courtesy of Alex Lovern

Position: OF

DOB: 9/9/1990 (Age: 22)

Height/Weight: 6'0", 160

Bats/Throws: S/R

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

ETA: 2013

Preseason Rank: 18

 

2013 Stats

 

Midseason Update

After a monster 2012 campaign in which he posted an .830 OPS with 112 runs scored, 159 hits and a record-breaking 155 stolen bases across two levels, the expectations for Billy Hamilton’s highly anticipated follow-up effort were lofty and unattainable. Moved up to Triple-A Louisville for the 2013 season, the 22-year-old has taken a step back in terms of his hit tool and secondary skills. And even though the speedster has been successful in 50-for-61 stolen base attempts, his .248/.300/.339 batting line through 80 games reflects a reduced number of opportunities on the basepaths. At the same time, Hamilton has quickly developed into an above-average defender in center field and should see playing time in the majors later this season as a reserve/spot starter. 

 

Scouting Report

Has struggled to put ball in play consistently compared to 2012 season; always puts pressure on opposing defense; feet never stop moving on the baseball field, especially on the basepaths. Development of hit tool and approach has regressed this season; lack of consistent contact; natural extra-base power from left side thanks to more leveraged swing. 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 at maturity; secondary skills need ongoing refinement.

Developed as a shortstop until fall of 2012; elite speed gives him tons of range and closing speed. Arm stroke that was awkward at shortstop plays well in center field given his length on the backside. Speed allows him to compensate for poor reads; he’ll get to even more balls as his jumps and instincts improve; still learning to sprint to spots rather than track balls.

36. Mike Foltynewicz, RHP, Houston Astros


Courtesy of Baseball Instinct

Position: RHP

DOB: 10/7/1991 (Age: 21)

Height/Weight: 6’4”, 200

Bats/Throws: R/R

Drafted: First round, 2011 (Minooka High School, Ill.) 

ETA: 2014

Preseason Rank: N/R

 

2013 Stats

 

Midseason Update

After back-to-back years in the South Atlantic League, Foltynewicz’s prospect stock has taken off this season thanks a combination of improved velocity and continued success at higher minor league levels. Behind a strong, durable frame and a fastball that now routinely hits triple digits, the 21-year-old—arguably the most underrated pitching prospect in the minor leagues—has been outstanding following an early-season promotion to Double-A Corpus Christi, registering a 2.33 ERA and .199 BAA with 61/32 K/BB in 58 innings. And considering that he logged 152 innings in 2012, it’ll be interesting to see whether the organization decides to promote Foltynewicz to the major leagues in September or send him to extended to ensure he receives the necessary workload.

 

Scouting Report

The 6’4” right-hander has durable frame with present strength; capable of eating innings and working deep into games; mechanics and delivery have been more consistent since start of the 2012 season; consistently utilizes core and lower half.

Fastball has elite velocity; consistently works in the upper 90s; eclipses triple digits every time he takes the mound; throws pitch on downhill plane to induce weak, ground ball outs; uses pitch to overpower hitters throughout the strike zone; breaking ball has been more consistent this season but still inconsistent overall; devastating swing-and-miss offering that flashes plus potential; changeup is currently below average and lags behind other two pitches; struggles to replicate fastball arm speed; tends to push it toward the plate; will be crucial in his development as a starter.

35. Garin Cecchini, 3B, Boston Red Sox


Courtesy of Ryan Kelly

Position: 3B

DOB: 4/20/1991 (Age: 22)

Height/Weight: 6’2”, 200

Bats/Throws: L/R

Drafted: Fourth round, 2010 (Alfred M. Barbe HS, La.)

ETA: 2014

Preseason Rank: N/R

 

2013 Stats

 

Midseason Update

Plagued by various injuries to begin his professional career, Cecchini has emerged as one of the best pure hitters in the minor leagues over the past two years. As a result, the 22-year-old has started to move up the ladder this season with a promotion to Double-A after a blistering first half at High-A Salem. Between both levels, Cecchini has batted .364/.480/.555 in 79 games with 99 hits, 36 extra-base hits, 15 stolen bases and more walks (56) than strikeouts (48). The third baseman’s lack of power isn’t a clean fit for the position (especially in the AL East), but his polished hit tool, on-base skills and speed could make him a big-league regular in some capacity by next season.

 

Scouting Report

The 6’2” left-handed hitter has projectable frame and should continue to add strength as he fills out. Love his swing; one of the more impressive hitters I’ve seen in person this season. Plus-bat speed and superb bat-to-ball ability gives him the potential for an above-average-to-plus hit tool. Compact swing yields consistent, hard contact; gets extension after deep point of contact, which allows him to drive the ball from line to line. Present gap power could evolve into solidly average power in big leagues; plate discipline and pitch recognition are highly advanced and polished. Possesses slightly above-average speed but is an instinctual and adept base stealer; isn’t afraid to earn the extra base on a knock.

Background of a middle infielder in high school; shifted to third base upon turning pro and has adjusted quickly to new position. Has giving hands and solid defensive actions; can be a bit choppy and boxy at times, but good instincts give him slightly above-average range; solid body control; Plus arm is best defensive tool and will allow him to stick at the position. Still learning intricacies at the hot corner and will need to make adjustments.

34. Corey Seager, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers


Courtesy of lildun34

Position: SS

DOB: 4/27/1994 (Age: 19)

Height/Weight: 6’4”, 215

Bats/Throws: L/R

Drafted: First round, 2012 (Northwest Cabarrus, N.C)

ETA: 2015

Preseason Rank: N/R

 

2013 Stats 

 

Midseason Update

The Dodgers handed Seager, their 2012 first-round pick, a promotion to Low-A Great Lakes for the 2013 season following an impressive showing in the rookie-level Pioneer League last summer. After getting off to a slow start that included nearly a month on the disabled list with a hamstring injury, the 19-year-old has been on a tear since the beginning of June. Overall, he’s batting .299/.375/.492 with eight home runs, 41 RBI, eight stolen bases and 43/23 K/BB in 54 games. Seager is one of the purest hitters in the low minors with a decent chance to stick at shortstop, so expect him to start moving up the ladder starting in 2014.

 

Scouting Report

At 6’4”, 215 pounds, Seager has present physicality with room to tack on additional strength. He has a highly impressive left-handed bat with the potential for above-average hit and power tools; exhibits all-around good habits that are uncommon in an 19-year-old. Has an easy, direct swing that allows him to sting the ball from line to line with impressive power to the opposite field. Noticeably employs a consistent approach at the plate and doesn’t get himself out; selective, but it doesn’t impede his ability to attack and drive the ball.

Possesses slightly above-average speed on both sides of the ball that tends to play up due to his instincts; range is only average but enough to remain at shortstop for the time being; plus arm is suitable for either left side of the infield position; there’s a chance he outgrows the position as he matures and shifts to third base.

33. Yordano Ventura, RHP, Kansas City Royals


Courtesy of lucasrundown

Position: RHP

DOB: 6/3/1991 (Age: 22)

Height/Weight: 5’11”, 180

Bats/Throws: R/R

Signed: October 2008 (Dominican Republic)

ETA: 2013

Preseason Rank: N/R

  

2013 Stats

 

Midseason Update

Ventura struggled last year at Double-A Northwest Arkansas to conclude an otherwise successful campaign, but his quick work of the level this season led to an early promotion to Triple-A Omaha. While the 22-year-old has registered a 3.31 ERA and .215 BAA while missing 110 bats in 92.1 innings between both levels, his command and execution has been challenged at the more advanced level. There’s no question that Ventura has the pure stuff to pitch in the major leagues, but the ongoing development of his command and secondary offerings will ultimately dictate whether he is used as a starter or reliever. 

 

Scouting Report

Right-hander has wiry frame at 5’11”, 180 pounds with room to add even more strength; lightning-quick arm that pumps fastballs in the mid- to high 90s; capable of reaching triple digits earlier in starts and in shorter stints. Curveball has the makings of a second plus pitch with sharp downer break; comfortable throwing it in any count; legitimate out pitch but still needs slight refinement. Changeup is fringy but could be a weapon if it develops as hoped; potential to be highly effective considering his arm speed. Both command and control are raw but have improved this season; has shown a more consistent feel for arsenal.

32. Alex Meyer, RHP, Minnesota Twins


Courtesy of alskor (Bullpen Banter)

Position: RHP

DOB: 1/3/1990 (Age: 23)

Height/Weight: 6’9”, 220

Bats/Throws: R/R

Drafted: First round, 2011 by Nationals (Kentucky)

ETA: 2014

Preseason Rank: N/R

 

2013 Stats

 

Midseason Update

Acquired by the Twins during the offseason, Meyer was moved up to Double-A after an impressive full-season debut last season in the Nationals’ system between both Class-A levels. The 23-year-old got off to a great start with a 3.69 ERA and 73/23 K/BB through his first 61 innings but has been sidelined since early June with shoulder soreness. Given his enormous upside, the organization will monitor his workload closely over the second half of the season. However, it wouldn’t be surprising if they offer him a taste of Triple-A in anticipation of a potential mid-2014 arrival in the major leagues.

 

Scouting Report

This 6’9” right-hander has a massive frame and long limbs; shows body control and repeatable mechanics uncommon in players his size. Throws everything on a steep downhill plane; continues to surprise with command.

Fastball is difficult to barrel; registers between 93-97 mph and can flirt with triple digits in shorter stints; plus slider has a sharp, wipe-out break; changeup shows signs of being at least average. Third pitch will be crucial to development as a starter.

31. Gary Sanchez, C, New York Yankees


Courtesy of BP Prospect Team

Position: C

DOB: 12/2/1992 (Age: 20)

Height/Weight: 6’2”, 220

Bats/Throws: R/R

Signed: 2009, Dominican Republic

ETA: 2015

Preseason Rank: N/R

 

2013 Stats

 

Midseason Update

After a good but not great performance at High-A Tampa during the second half of the 2012 season, Sanchez has made impressive strides at the plate this year while repeating the level. Through 74 games, the 20-year-old is batting .269/.330/.476 with 20 doubles, 13 home runs and 59 RBI and has shown a more consistent and patient approach (57/25 K/BB). Because his ability to stick behind the plate is questionable, Sanchez’s upside will always be tied to his bat. Luckily he has a good one.

 

Scouting Report

Has improved plate discipline and contact rate this season; above-average power potential from a well-balanced swing; plus bat speed; feel for striking the ball; has some serious thump in bat. Overaggressive approach; ability to control strike zone is better but still has plenty of room to improve. Impressive young hitter; bat will play regardless of future position.

Defense and work ethic has significantly improved since start of 2012; possesses underrated athleticism and agility; blocking and receiving skills leave room for improvement; arm strength is biggest asset; game-calling and leadership improving with experience; not a guarantee to remain behind the plate.

30. Jonathan Gray, RHP, Colorado Rockies


Courtesy of Steve Fiorindo (Bullpen Banter)

Position: RHP

DOB: 11/5/1991 (Age: 21)

Height/Weight: 6’4”/255

Bats/Throws: R/R

Drafted: First round, 2013 (Oklahoma)

ETA: 2014

Preseason Rank: N/A

 

2013 Stats

 

Midseason Update

Gray shot up the draft boards this spring thanks to a velocity spike into the elite range and vastly improved command of his secondary pitches, and he was ultimately selected No. 3 overall by the Rockies. But after enduring a heavy workload this season as Oklahoma’s ace, the 21-year-old has yet to make his professional debut. Once he’s ready, Gray will likely begin his career at one of the rookie levels before receiving a brief, full-season assignment to finish the year.

 

Scouting Report

Classic power-pitcher frame at 6’4”, 240 pounds; broad shoulders; strong lower half and core with a knowledge of how to use both. Drives off the rubber; power doesn’t require maximum effort; fast and fluid arm action. Explosive; can appear stiff at times; will still get underneath the ball and drag arm; has a feel for his mechanics and understands when to make adjustments.

Possesses the stamina to work deep into starts; demonstrates body control overall; rarely rushes delivery; can pull open with front shoulder at times and lose pitches up and to the arm-side. Will occasionally lose the feel for his release point from the stretch; can offer left-handed hitters too good of a look at the ball at time of release.

Effortless plus-plus fastball velocity; borderline elite; registers in the 94-98 mph range deep into games; will crack triple digits early in starts; has topped out at 102 mph this spring. Fastball is reliant upon velocity and explosiveness; lacks movement; doesn’t shy away from challenging hitters. Plus slider sits consistently between 85-88 mph; late, wipe-out break; sharp tilt with great pace; present plus offering; will need to bury it more as a professional.

Straight changeup is weakest of his offerings and is an average pitch with the chance to improve a grade; 81-84 mph; thrown with convincing fastball-like arm speed; some fading action to the arm side.

29. Jorge Soler, OF, Chicago Cubs


Courtesy of Tim Sheridan *Fast forward to 6:15 mark for massive Soler bomb*

Position: OF

DOB: 2/25/1992 (Age: 21)

Height/Weight: 6’4”, 215

Bats/Throws: R/R

Signed: June 2012 (Cuba)

ETA: 2014

Preseason Rank: 46

 

2013 Stats

 

Midseason Update

After reaching Low-A last summer during his professional debut, the Cubs challenged Soler with a promotion to High-A Daytona for the 2013 season. The 21-year-old responded by batting .281/.343/.467 with eight home runs and 38/21 K/BB in 55 games, though there was also that whole psychotic bat-wielding incident that led to a five-game suspension. Unfortunately, Soler’s season was put in jeopardy in mid-June when a foul ball off his leg resulted in a shin fracture. While he’s expected to miss at least two months recovering from the injury, Cubs president Theo Epstein believes the outfielder will return before the end of the minor league season. At worst, Soler should be fully healthy in time for the Arizona Fall League.

 

Scouting Report

Strong, physical player at 6’4”, 215 pounds; mature frame requires little projection. Ball absolutely jumps off his bat; dynamic bat speed and 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.

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 have improved since beginning professional career.

28. Jonathan Singleton, 1B, Houston Astros

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Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Position: 1B

DOB: 9/18/1991 (Age: 21)

Height/Weight: 6’2”, 235

Bats/Throws: L/L

Drafted: Eighth round, 2009 by Phillies (Millikan HS, Calif.)

ETA: 2013

Preseason Rank: 31

 

2013 Stats 

 

Midseason Update

Coming off of a breakout season for Double-A Corpus Christi in 2012, Singleton was hit with a 50-game suspension during the offseason in the wake of a second positive test for a drug of abuse. Once he was eligible to return, the Astros eased the 21-year-old back into action with stops at Low-A and High-A before an eventual promotion to Triple-A Oklahoma City. Since reaching the more advanced level, Singleton has struggled to find his rhythm with a .602 OPS and 37 strikeouts in 24 games. And with nobody blocking his path at first base or designated hitter at the major league level, expect the organization to give him as much time as need to develop.  

 

Scouting Report

Physically strong player at 6’2”, 235 pounds. Plus raw power from the left side; hit tool survived the jump to Double-A in 2012; potential to be above average in the major leagues. Feel for the strike zone but 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.

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 that should improve; bat should continue to outweigh defensive concerns; clear path to playing time in the major leagues with DH now in play.

27. Kyle Zimmer, RHP, Kansas City Royals


Courtesy of BPProspectTeam

Position: RHP

DOB: 9/13/1991 (Age: 21)

Height/Weight: 6’3”, 215

Bats/Throws: R/R

Drafted: First round, 2012 (San Francisco)

ETA: 2014

Preseason Rank: 33

 

2013 Stats

 

Midseason Update

Expected to move quickly through the Royals system, Zimmer has struggled with his command and execution this season for High-A Wilmington. Even though the 21-year-old has showcased impressive stuff with 103/30 K/BB in 84.2 innings, his 5.00 ERA is a product of too many pitches left up in the zone. That being said, the right-hander has shown signs of turning the corner over the past two weeks and would likely finish the season at Double-A if he can build upon the recent success.

 

Scouting Report

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; lack of deception can give hitters too good of a look at times.

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; stuff plays lighter and soft-ish when left up in the zone.

26. Travis D'Arnaud, C, New York Mets

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Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

Position: C

DOB: 2/10/1989 (Age: 24)

Height/Weight: 6’2”, 195

Bats/Throws: R/R

Drafted: First round, 2007 by Phillies (Lakewood HS, Calif.)

ETA: 2013

Preseason Rank: 11

 

2013 Stats 

 

Midseason Update

Acquired by the Mets through the offseason trade that sent R.A. Dickey to Toronto, d’Arnaud was off to a solid start at Triple-A Las Vegas when he suffered a fracture in his left foot while catching a foul ball on April 17. Expected to be sidelined at least until mid- to late June, the 24-year-old has yet to resume baseball activities after experiencing lingering discomfort while running on flat ground last week. Considering d’Arnaud represents the organization’s future behind the dish, they’ll continue to handle his rehab cautiously. And if he’s able to spend at least a month in the minor leagues during the second half of the season, then he could still conceivably serve as a September call-up.

 

Scouting Report

The 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 has vastly improved over past 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; foot fracture that sidelined him this season shouldn't impact mobility behind the plate.

25. Taylor Guerrieri, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays


Courtesy of Christopher Blessing (Bullpen Banter)

Position: RHP

DOB: 12/1/1992 (Age: 20)

Height/Weight: 6’3”, 195

Bats/Throws: R/R

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

ETA: 2015

Preseason Rank: 37

 

2013 Stats 

 

Midseason Update

Selected by the Rays with the No. 24 overall pick in the 2011 draft, Guerrieri earned a promotion to Low-A Bowling Green this season with a dominant performance in the New York-Penn League last summer. While he hasn’t missed a significant numbers of bats like some of his highly regarded peers in the low minors, the 20-year-old has demonstrated an advanced feel for his full arsenal while generating excessive ground ball outs. Like most young pitchers in the Rays’ system, the right-hander has been limited to only 53 innings this season but has still posted an impressive 2.08 ERA with 50/11 K/BB through 13 starts. At the time of this ranking, Guerrieri had thrown 22 consecutive scoreless innings.

 

Scouting Report

The 6’3”, 195-pounder possesses present physical strength and quiet athleticism. Strong upper body and broad shoulders leave room for favorable projection. Arms work 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.

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.

24. Aaron Sanchez, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays


Courtesy of MLB Prospect Portal

Position: RHP

DOB: 7/1/1992 (Age: 21)

Height/Weight: 6’4”, 190

Bats/Throws: R/R

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

ETA: 2015

Preseason Rank: 26

 

2013 Stats

 

Midseason Update

Coming off of an outstanding full-season debut at Low-A Lansing in 2012, Sanchez had already made a smooth transition to the Florida State League this spring when he landed on disabled list with arm fatigue in mid-May. After nearly a month of rest, the 21-year-old returned to his early-season form and has wisely been held to a strict pitch count in each start. While Sanchez’s plus fastball-curveball combination is among the best in the minor leagues, the aforementioned injury, as well as his fringy changeup and overall lack of consistency, will presumably result in a season-long stay at the High-A level.

 

Scouting Report

Highly athletic and projectable 6’4” frame; will add more strength. Effortless and fluid delivery with a quick arm; clean arm action. 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.

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; currently lacks consistency to retire left-handed hitters at more advanced levels. Both secondary pitches are raw; will need to refine command as he continues to move up the ladder.

23. Carlos Martinez, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals

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Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

Position: RHP

DOB: 9/21/1991 (Age: 21)

Height/Weight: 6’0", 185

Bats/Throws: R/R

Signed: April 2010 (Dominican Republic)

ETA: 2013

Preseason Rank: 40

 

2013 Stats 

 

Midseason Update

After a trio of impressive starts at Double-A Springfield to begin the 2013 season, the Cardinals promoted Martinez to the major leagues to shore up their then-struggling bullpen. But after appearing in seven games, the 21-year-old was optioned to Triple-A Memphis where he’s registered a 1.98 ERA with 35 strikeouts in 41 innings as a member of the starting rotation. With an arsenal that’s highlighted by a plus-plus fastball and devastating changeup, Martinez undoubtedly will be called upon later in the season. The only question is whether he’ll be used as a starter or reliever in his return to the major leagues.

 

Scouting Report

Undersized at 6’0”, 165 pounds; limited physical projection. Some effort to delivery; power arm; lightning-quick arm action; almost Pedro Martinez-like. Ball explodes out of his hand; pitch trajectory is inconsistent; release point varies.

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 (bullpen) 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.

22. George Springer, OF, Houston Astros


Courtesy of MLB Prospect Portal

Position: OF

DOB: 9/18/1989 (Age: 23)

Height/Weight: 6’3”, 200

Bats/Throws: R/R

Drafted: First round, 2011 (Connecticut)

ETA: 2013

Preseason Rank: N/R

 

2013 Stats 

 

Midseason Update

After posting monster numbers in the California League for a majority of the 2012 season, Springer struggled mightily over the final month following a promotion to Double-A Corpus Christi. Assigned back to the level to begin the 2013 season, the 23-year-old has taken a huge step forward and was recently rewarded with a promotion to Triple-A Oklahoma City. While high strikeout totals will always be part of his game, the toolsy outfielder’s adjustments at the plate has led to an improved contact and walk rates, and he’s now batting .314/.416/.623 with 21 doubles, 25 home runs, 28 stolen bases and 109/49 K/BB in 86 games this season across both levels. The Astros have no need to rush Springer to the major leagues, but it will be difficult to contain him in the minors for much longer at his current pace.   

 

Scouting Report

The 6'3", 200-pounder has the potential for five average-to-plus tools in the major leagues. Hit tool is lacking; struggles to showcase consistent approach; borders between too passive and overly aggressive. Pitch recognition needs refinement, especially against breaking balls. Long swing inhibits consistent contact. Plus raw power to all fields; still needs to dial back max-effort swing.

Has the athleticism and defensive skills to remain in center field; above-average speed lends to his range; adept base stealer. Projects to be at least an above-average defender in the major leagues; strong arm plays anywhere in the outfield. He's 23 but still has a high ceiling; the development of hit tool will determine whether he comes close to reaching it.

21. Robert Stephenson, RHP, Cincinnati Reds


Courtesy of Reds Minor Leagues

Position: RHP

DOB: 2/24/1993 (Age: 20)

Height/Weight: 6’2”, 190

Bats/Throws: R/R

Drafted: First round, 2011 (Alhambra HS, Calif.)

ETA: 2015

Preseason Rank: N/R

 

2013 Stats 

 

Midseason Update

Assigned to Low-A Dayton to open the season after reaching the level for the first time in late 2012, Stephenson struggled out of the gate but eventually heated up along with the weather. Although a minor hamstring injury sidelined the 20-year-old for a month in early June, he extended his streak of starts without allowing an earned run to three in his return to the mound this week. Overall, the right-hander is having a phenomenal season at Dayton with a 2.82 ERA and 88/19 K/BB in 70.1 innings. More importantly, he owns one of the highest ceilings among all pitching prospects.

 

Scouting Report

Stephenson is a durable, 6’2” right-hander with a projectable frame and elite arm strength. Fastball is a plus pitch with effortless 94-98 mph velocity; consistently bumps triple digits; commands pitch well to both sides of the plate; attacks opposing hitters; will overthrow at times. Has an advanced feel for fading changeup and sells it with fastball-like arm speed. His breaking ball will need to be cleaned up, but its present pace and shape suggests it’ll be another plus offering. Secondary offerings lack consistency, though that should improve with experience against advanced competition. Should have no problem reaching his ceiling as a front-line starter.

20. Austin Hedges, C, San Diego Padres


Fastest. Pop Time. Ever. Courtesy of Jason Cole

Position: C

DOB: 8/18/1992 (Age: 20)

Height/Weight: 6’1”, 190

Bats/Throws: R/R

Drafted: Second round, 2011 (Junipero Serra Catholic HS, Calif.)

Previous Rank: N/R

ETA: 2015 

 

2013 Stats 

 

Midseason Update

Coming off of a highly impressive full-season debut in 2012, Hedges was limited to only 20 games at High-A Lake Elsinore over the first two months of the season due to injury. Upon returning to action in late May, the 20-year-old promptly heated up at the plate while showcasing his usual stellar defense. Although he’s batted only .267/.352/.430 with 21 extra-base hits through 49 games, Hedges’ plate discipline has continued to mature this season, while his power numbers will inevitably improve with a healthy half-season in the hitter-friendly California League. Even if Hedges were batting .200 at this point in the season, his defensive prowess would still warrant a ranking as baseball’s top catching prospect.  

 

Scouting Report

The top defensive catcher in the minor leagues; it’s nearly impossible to identify a flaw in Hedges’ defensive package; he stifles opponents’ running game with a plus arm and quick catch and release; has also received praise from both his pitchers and managers for his game-calling skills and ability to slow down the game. Even if he never hits, there’s still a strong chance Hedges will reach the major leagues; plenty of gap power with emerging game power; hit tool projects to be average to above-average; mature approach for his age; shows willingness to coax walks; more speed and athleticism than typical catcher; instincts should allow him to approach double-digit stolen bases totals; high-level prospect with All-Star potential.

19. Noah Syndergaard, RHP, New York Mets


Courtesy of Baseball Instinct

Position: RHP

DOB: 8/29/1992 (Age: 20)

Height/Weight: 6’6”, 240

Bats/Throws: L/R

Drafted: First round, 2010 by Blue Jays (Legacy HS, Texas)

ETA: 2014

Preseason Rank: 39

 

2013 Stats

 

Midseason Update

Acquired in the offseason trade that sent R.A. Dickey to Toronto, Syndergaard has exceeded expectations during his first year in the Mets’ system. Assigned to High-A St. Lucie for the 2013 season, the 20-year-old made quick work of the Florida State League hitters and ultimately forced an ahead-of-schedule promotion to Double-A Binghamton in late June. Despite moving up to the most challenging level in the minor leagues, the right-hander has been a model of consistency; through 15 starts this season between both affiliates, he has registered a 2.76 ERA with 87/20 K/BB in 81.2 innings. And while he’s likely to remain at the level for the remainder of the season, Syndergaard should be knocking at the door of the major leagues at this time next year.  

 

Scouting Report

The 6’6” right-hander has a power pitcher’s frame; physical presence on the bump. Throws everything on a solid downhill plane; pounds lower portion of strike zone. Repeats mechanics well for his size; delivery requires minimal effort; consistently lands square to the plate; fast arm. Strong core; moderate effort involved in delivery.

Fastball sits in the mid-90s with late, arm-side life; will scrape 96-97 mph; flirts with triple digits in shorter stints (and may do so when he starts the Futures Game for U.S. squad); amasses a healthy mix of strikeouts and ground ball outs thanks to steep plane. Curveball has plus potential in the upper 70s; tight breaker with sharp downward bite; command of the pitch has improved this season; stays on top of the pitch consistently. Added an above-average slider this season that has helped regulate the arm speed on the curveball. Improved control of his changeup but still only an average offering; thrown with deceptive arm speed; should serve as a weapon against left-handed hitters. Has improved both control and command in every minor league season.

18. Michael Wacha, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals

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Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sport

Position: RHP

DOB: 7/1/1991 (Age: 22)

Height/Weight: 6’6”, 195

Bats/Throws: R/R

Drafted: First round, 2012 (Texas A&M)

ETA: 2014

Preseason Rank: N/R

 

2013 Stats 

 

Midseason Update

Selected by the Cardinals with the No. 19 overall pick in 2012, Wacha was lights-out across three levels during his professional debut last summer with a 0.86 ERA and 40/4 K/BB in 21 innings. And even though the 22-year-old’s dominant showing in spring training nearly earned him a spot in the Opening Day starting rotation, the organization ultimately assigned him to Triple-A Memphis to begin the 2013 season. After a hot start at the level, the Cardinals promoted him to the major leagues in late May, where the right-hander registered a 4.58 ERA with 14/4 K/BB over three starts before returning to the minor leagues. And don’t read too far into Wacha’s reduced workload in the coming weeks; the organization is simply trying to keep him fresh in anticipation of a late-season return to the major leagues.  

 

Scouting Report

At 6’6”, 195 pounds, Wacha has an ideal pitcher’s frame that should allow him to add strength without sacrificing athleticism; was dominant in his professional debut after signing, registering a 0.86 ERA, 3.4 H/9, 17.1 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9 over 21 innings; fanned 17 batters in eight innings upon reaching Double-A.

Despite his lankiness, Wacha repeats his delivery well with minimal wasted movement; fastball was clocking mid- to upper 90s this past summer out of the bullpen; more of a low-to-mid-90s guy as a starter; changeup continues to be his best pitch and could be a legitimate plus-plus offering by the time he’s big league-ready; was repeatedly criticized for lack of a true third pitch at time of draft, but curveball was much better than expected in pro debut and flashes potential to be an average-to-above-average pitch, significantly improving the chances he reaches his ceiling as a No. 2 starter.

17. Mark Appel, RHP, Houston Astros


Courtesy of Steve Fiorindo (Bullpen Banter)

Position: RHP

DOB: 7/15/1991 (Age: 21) 

Height/Weight: 6’5”, 215

Bats/Throws: R/R

Drafted: First round, 2013 (Stanford)

ETA: 2014

Preseason Rank: N/A

 

2013 Stats

 

Midseason Update

Drafted by the Pirates with the No. 8 overall pick in the 2012 draft, Appel opted to return to Stanford for his senior season rather than sign and begin his professional career. The right-hander’s decision clearly paid off, as the Astros selected him with the No. 1 pick in the draft and ultimately agreed to terms on a $6.35 million signing bonus. And after allowing two earned runs with six strikeouts over two starts for short-season Tri-City this month, the 22-year-old was recently promoted to Low-A Quad City. Given his enormous workload as Stanford’s ace, Appel’s innings presumably will be limited over the second half of the season. However, there’s no telling how quickly he ascends to the major leagues next year during his first full professional campaign.

 

Scouting Report

Physically stronger and in better shape than 2012.  More durable; delivery still involves some effort, but easier and smoother this season. Generates extension toward plate with long limbs and consistent release point over front side; utilization of strong lower half and core has resulted in cleaner mid-three-quarter arm action; allows him to create a consistent plane toward the plate. Can almost be too smooth at times, which limits his natural deception; near-elite combination of size, athleticism and arm strength.

Fastball sits consistently in the 93-97 mph range; comes out of his hand cleanly and can jump on opposing hitters. Holds mid-90s velocity deep into his starts; lacks plus movement; tends to flatten out when elevated; flashes some sink and arm-side run when located down in the strike zone; needs more consistent extension to generate consistent life. Control has always been sharp; command is average but plays up against college hitters. Pitch should naturally improve in more competitive environment and against professional hitters.

Mid-three-quarter arm angle inhibits his ability to throw slider with consistent shape and pace; registers in 84-88 mph range; slurve-like spin gives the offering some glove-slide slice; too much sweeping action as he pushes it to the plate; offering will need to be cleaned up upon turning pro. Changeup vastly improved pitch in terms of its movement, effectiveness and usage.

Legitimate plus offering with chance for future plus-plus grade; thrown in the 83-85 mph range with fastball-like arm speed; demonstrates natural feel for turning it over; generates late sinking action with steep fade to the arm side; confidence throwing it in any count; true out-pitch at the next level; needs to create a more distinct speed differential relative to slider.

16. Albert Almora, OF, Chicago Cubs


Courtesy of Boise Hawks Media

Position: OF

DOB: 4/16/1994 (Age: 19)

Height/Weight: 6’2”, 180

Bats/Throws: R/R

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

ETA: 2015

Preseason Rank: 41

 

2013 Stats

 

Midseason Update

The sixth overall pick in the 2012 draft, Almora’s highly anticipated full-season debut was delayed until late May after he suffered a broken hamate bone in his hand that required surgery. Since returning, however, the 19-year-old has led an assault on Midwest League pitching with a .353/.387/.519 batting line, 55 hits, 17 extra-base hits and 20/7 K/BB in 38 games. Widely regarded as one of the more advanced prospects in the low minors, the outfielder is loaded with above-average-to-plus tools and possesses a feel for the game well beyond his years. Almora won’t be long for the Low-A level at his current pace and seems destined to finish the season at High-A Daytona. And depending on his performance (at both levels) over the remainder of the season, there’s a realistic chance that the Cubs may challenge Almora with an Opening Day assignment to Double-A in 2014.

 

Scouting Report

Premium athlete who showcases all five tools, mature work ethic and advanced baseball skills. His 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.

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. He also has high baseball IQ and mature on-field demeanor.

15. Nick Castellanos, OF, Detroit Tigers

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Position: OF

DOB: 3/4/1992 (Age: 21)

Height/Weight: 6’4”, 210

Bats/Throws: R/R

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

ETA: 2013

Preseason Rank: 21

 

2013 Stats

 

Midseason Update

Even though Castellanos only posted a .678 OPS in 79 games last year for Double-A Erie, the Tigers aggressively promoted their top prospect to Triple-A Toledo to begin the 2013 season. After struggling for most of April at the more advanced level (.755 OPS), the 21-year-old’s production has improved considerably with each subsequent month (.814 OPS in May; 1.024 OPS in June), and he’s now batted .288/.363/.462 with 28 doubles, 11 home runs and 64/44 K/BB this season through 93 games. While his defense is in need of further refinement in the minor leagues, Castellanos’ bat is nearly ready for a big-league audition. So expect him to serve as at least a platoon option in the Tigers’ outfield during the final months of the 2013 season.

 

Scouting Report

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; has barrel control to be an above-average hitter in the major leagues; noticeably improved approach and pitch recognition this season at Triple-A. 

Drafted and developed as a third baseman until mid-2012 but moved to the outfield as a way to potentially expedite his arrival in the big leagues; has the arm strength for the position. Has shown noticeable improvements this season but has his bad days out there; 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.

14. Javier Baez, SS, Chicago Cubs


Courtesy of Tim Sheridan

Position: SS

DOB: 12/1/1992 (Age: 20)

Height/Weight: 6’0”, 195

Bats/Throws: R/R

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

ETA: 2014

Preseason Rank: 14

 

2013 Stats

 

Midseason Update

Returning to High-A Daytona for the 2013 season after struggling at the level last year following a late-season promotion, Baez put up the big numbers everyone expected during his second tour. Through 76 games, the 20-year-old batted .274/.338/.535 with 19 doubles, 17 home runs and 12 stolen bases and parlayed a red-hot June (1.068 OPS, 9 HR) into a promotion to Double-A Tennessee. Baez traditionally has been a slow starter at new levels during the season, so it’ll be interesting to follow what adjustments he makes during the second half. Regardless, things always seem to come together for him at the right time. Therefore, we’ll probably be discussing Baez in the context of a major league promotion at this point next season.

 

Scouting Report

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. 

The 6’0", 195-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 defensively; plus arm ideal for left side of the infield; high-intensity player who needs to employ a more cognizant on-field mindset.

13. Dylan Bundy, RHP, Baltimore Orioles


Courtesy of Kiley McDaniel

Position: RHP

DOB: 11/15/1992 (Age: 20)

Height/Weight: 6’1”, 195

Bats/Throws: S/R

Drafted: First round, 2011 (Owasso HS, Okla.)

ETA: 2013

Preseason Rank: 3

 

2013 Stats

 

Midseason Update

Coming off of a historic 2012 professional debut that began at Low-A Delmarva and concluded with two appearances out of the Orioles’ bullpen, the sky was the limit for Dylan Bundy—the sport’s top pitching prospect—headed into the 2013 season. But after a mediocre spring in major league camp, the 20-year-old landed on the disabled list with tightness/soreness in his right elbow. While there was no sign of structural damage (at least initially), Bundy failed to progress with his throwing program over the next three months and was ultimately diagnosed with a partial tear of his UCL in late June. Given his immense upside, don’t expect the right-hander to return from surgery ahead of schedule; the Orioles are going to protect the hell out of their investment. With that said, Bundy should still return to the mound during the second half of the 2014 season.      

 

Scouting Report

The 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. Has yet to take the mound this season due to minor elbow/forearm injury.

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. 

12. Gregory Polanco, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates


Courtesy of BP Prospect Team

Position: OF

DOB: 9/14/1991 (Age: 21)

Height/Weight: 6’4”, 170

Bats/Throws: L/L

Signed: April 2009 (Dominican Republic)

ETA: 2015

Preseason Rank: 35

 

2013 Stats 

 

Midseason Update

Polanco seemingly came out of nowhere last season to take the South Atlantic League by storm, posting a .910 OPS with 16 home runs and 40 stolen bases in 116 games for Low-A West Virginia. So, naturally, all eyes were on the 21-year-old this season heading into his follow-up campaign at High-A Bradenton. Polanco certainly hasn’t disappointed his supporters; he batted .312/.364/.472 with 23 extra-base hits and 24 stolen bases in 57 games before a promotion to Double-A Altoona in mid-June. Since arriving at the more advanced level, he’s batted .295/.375/.423 with 23 hits and 11/9 K/BB through 20 games. Although the Pirates’ major league outfield is currently at capacity, the Pirates will be forced to make room for Polanco at some point next season if he continues to develop at his current pace.

 

Scouting Report

Raw but athletic prospect; projectable 6’4”, 170-pound frame; plenty of room to add strength; outstanding tools and secondary skill. 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,

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.

11. Carlos Correa, SS, Houston Astros


Courtesy of Reds Minor Leagues

Position: SS

DOB: 9/22/1994 (Age: 18)

Height/Weight: 6’4”, 190

Bats/Throws: R/R

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

ETA: 2016

Preseason Rank: 22

 

2013 Stats 

 

Midseason Update

Selected by the Astros with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft, Correa has solidified his status as a future star this year during his full-season debut. Although he’s one of the younger everyday players in the Midwest League, the 18-year-old has batted .325/.416/.460 with 86 hits, 24 extra-base hits, eight stolen bases and 50/37 K/BB in 69 games for Low-A Quad Cities. Meanwhile, the fact that he finished April with a .221/.384/.397 batting line makes it all the more impressive. Despite his production this season, Correa will still need several years of refinement in the minor leagues. However, the finished product has the potential to be something truly special.  

 

Scouting Report

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.

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.

10. Jameson Taillon, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates

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Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Position: RHP

DOB: 11/18/1991 (Age: 21)

Height/Weight: 6’6”, 235

Bats/Throws: R/R

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

ETA: 2014

Preseason Rank: 16

 

2013 Stats

 

Midseason Update

With the success of Gerrit Cole in the major league starting rotation, people seem to have forgotten about the other half of the Pirates’ 1-2, prospect punch: Jameson Taillon (otherwise known as the guy drafted after Bryce Harper in the 2010 draft). In 2012 the 21-year-old was finally let off the leash (so to speak), as he logged a career-high 142 innings and finished the season at Double-A Altoona. This year, he’s received a lengthier exposure at the level and quietly put together an impressive first half with a 2.94 ERA and 91 strikeouts in 95 innings. As they do with all of their high-ceiling arms, the Pirates will remain cautious with Taillon. Therefore, expect them to hold off on promoting him to the major leagues until the appropriate time in late 2014.

 

Scouting Report

The 6’6” power-pitcher has a huge ceiling; long limbs give him exceptional reach; tall, lanky frame; loose arm. Can be long and 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.

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.

9. Addison Russell, SS, Oakland Athletics

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Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Position: SS

DOB: 1/23/1994 (Age: 19)

Height/Weight: 6’0", 195

Bats/Throws: R/R

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

ETA: 2014

Preseason Rank: 34

 

2013 Stats

 

Midseason Update

Selected by the A’s with the No. 11 overall pick in 2012, Russell had the best professional debut of any position player in the class. Appearing in 55 games across three levels, the shortstop batted .369/.432/.594 with 80 hits, 26 extra-base hits and 16 stolen bases while finishing the season at Low-A Burlington. As a result of his success, the 19-year-old received an aggressive assignment to High-A Stockton for his sophomore campaign. After battling a few pesky injuries and struggling to make contact during the first two months of the season (.749 OPS, 22 K in April; .705 OPS, 35 K in May), Russell finally caught fire in June and has shown no signs of slowing down. Overall, he’s batted .256/.337/.469 with 23 doubles, 7 triples, nine home runs, 12 stolen bases and 88 strikeouts in 74 games. And if he remains in the hitter-friendly California League for the second half of the season (which he should), then there’s a good chance the shortstop’s production will ultimately match the preseason expectations. 

 

Scouting Report

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.

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.

8. Christian Yelich, OF, Miami Marlins

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Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Position: OF

DOB: 12/5/1991 (Age: 21)

Height/Weight: 6’4”, 195

Bats/Throws: L/R

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

ETA: 2013

Preseason Rank: 10

 

2013 Stats

 

Midseason Update

One of the best pure hitters in the minor leagues, 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 his natural rhythm at the plate; he posted an .861 OPS with 24 extra-base hits but batted just .262 with 47 strikeouts in 41 games. The 21-year-old missed additional time last month when he was placed back on the disabled list in early June with an abdominal strain. The Marlins will obviously proceed cautiously with their top prospect, which is why they’ve now sent him on a pair of lengthy rehab assignments before returning him to Double-A Jacksonville. But as long as he remains healthy, the 21-year-old still has the potential to reach the major leagues later this season. 

 

Scouting Report

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. 

The 6’4”, 195-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.

7. Archie Bradley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks


Courtesy of Steve Fiorindo (Bullpen Banter)

Position: RHP

DOB: 8/10/1992 (Age: 20)

Height/Weight: 6’4”, 225

Bats/Throws: R/R

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

ETA: 2014

Preseason Rank: 25

 

2013 Stats 

 

Midseason Update

After his impressive full-season debut last year for Low-A South Bend, I considered Bradley to be one of a select few pitching prospects with the potential to jump into the top 10 in 2013. So far, the 20-year-old is the only player to live up to the lofty expectation.

Promoted to High-A Visalia to open the season, Bradley’s combination of stuff and refined command led to his utter domination in the hitter-friendly California League. And after only five starts at the level, the right-hander was promoted to Double-A Mobile. Despite the occasional shaky outing, Bradley has thrived against older hitters in an advanced league—typically the signature of genuine prospect. Between both levels, he has registered a 2.06 ERA with 115/44 K/BB in 104.2 innings spanning 18 starts. And even though the organization is already stacked with promising arms in the high minors, you better believe they’ll consider calling up Bradley if the timing is right later this season.

 

Scouting Report

6’4”, 225-pound right-hander has excellent athleticism for his size and was recruited as a quarterback by the University of Oklahoma out of high school; durable frame capable of eating innings. 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 with weight on downhill plane.

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. Improved control/command has already led to a promotion to Double-A.

6. Miguel Sano, 3B, Minnesota Twins


Courtesy of Baseball Instinct

Position: 3B

DOB: 5/11/1993 (Age: 20)

Height/Weight: 6’3”, 195

Bats/Throws: R/R

Signed: October 2009 (Dominican Republic)

ETA: 2014

Preseason Rank: 15

 

2013 Stats 

 

Midseason Update

In possession of the best power in the minor leagues, Sano’s across-the-board improvements this season on both sides of the ball has led to his emergence as the top corner infield prospect in the game. Moving up to 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 never happened. 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 torrid start, the Twins handed him an ahead-of-schedule promotion to Double-A New Britain in June. While Sano is batting just .195/.289/.500 with six home runs and 29 strikeouts in 26 games, the right-handed hitter’s robust power has been on display, as 11 of his 16 hits have gone for extra bases. Even though the batting average at Double-A may not be pretty, the third baseman undoubtedly earned the promotion with his early-season production. It’ll be interesting to see which Twins prospect makes it to the major leagues first next year, Sano or Byron Buxton.

 

Scouting Report

Best raw power (80-grade) in the minor leagues with best power frequency. 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. Hit tool could also be a plus at maturity; vulnerable to sequence. Utility will depend on the continued development of plate discipline and pitch recognition.

Defense at the hot corner has improved over past year. Present athleticism despite his 6’3”, 195-pound frame; will likely lose a step as he fills out. Glove and footwork have become cleaner and consistent; showcasing better range. Actions can be stiff at times. Average range; plus-arm strength. Accuracy of throws has noticeably improved this season; fewer lazy/careless errors overall.

5. Taijuan Walker, RHP, Seattle Mariners

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Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Position: RHP

DOB: 8/13/1992 (Age: 20)

Height/Weight: 6’4”, 210

Bats/Throws: R/R

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

ETA: 2014

Preseason Rank: 5

 

2013 Stats 

 

Midseason Update

After an up-and-down 2012 season at Double-A, Walker’s command and overall execution of his electric arsenal has developed rapidly during his second tour of the level. Beyond the obvious improvements in his stuff and command, the right-hander’s ability to make adjustments this season has separated him from every other pitching prospect. And after mastering the Southern League with a 2.46 ERA and 96/30 K/BB in 84 innings at Double-A Jackson, the 20-year-old has been even more impressive following a promotion to Triple-A Tacoma in late June.

Through his first three starts at the more advanced level, the right-hander has allowed one earned over 16 frames while posting a 16/5 K/BB. However, it’s difficult to predict how the Mariners will handle his development during the second half of the season; there’s no need to overexpose him in the Pacific Coast League, but at the same time, it won’t be easy for the organization to hold him in the minors when he’s pitching so well.

 

Scouting Report

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.

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 over-grip and spike it on occasion. Changeup has come a long way over the past 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.

4. Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians


Courtesy of Josh Sussman

Position: SS

DOB: 11/14/1993 (Age: 19)

Height/Weight: 5’11”, 175

Bats/Throws: S/R

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

ETA: 2014

Preseason Rank: 12

 

2013 Stats 

 

Midseason Update

Already regarded as the top defensive shortstop in the minor leagues, the development of Lindor’s bat this season has helped him jump into the top 10. As one of the younger everyday players at the High-A level, Lindor’s mature plate discipline this season (39 strikeouts, 34 walks) has led to an improved hit tool. After opening the season on a tear with a .911 OPS in April, Lindor cooled off over the subsequent months with a .738 OPS in May and .728 OPS in June. Regardless, the 19-year-old’s overall body of work is amazing.

A switch-hitter, Lindor has thrived from the left side of the plate this season with a .329/.400/.443 batting line in 246 at-bats. But from his natural right side, he’s batted just .236/.286/.319 in 72 at-bats. Both his instincts and ability to control the pace of the game are special and have really stood out this season through the improvement of his secondary skills. The young man will should have the chance to be a major league shortstop for a long, long time. 

 

Scouting Report

Switch-hitter works deep counts and demonstrates feel for strike zone; advanced pitch recognition and approach; will collect plenty of extra-base hits. Below-average power; more pop from left side; potential for above-average hit tool from both sides. Present bat control; above-average speed; advanced and instinctual base stealer; mature secondary skills.

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 makeup and instincts.

3. Xander Bogaerts, SS, Boston Red Sox


Courtesy of Sox Prospects

Position: SS

DOB: 10/1/1992 (Age: 20)

Height/Weight: 6’3”, 185

Bats/Throws: R/R

Signed: August 2009 (Aruba)

ETA: 2013

Preseason Rank: 8

 

2013 Stats

 

Midseason Update

After a sluggish first two weeks of the season, Bogaerts finally caught fire at Double-A Portland and showcased a pair of future plus tools in his bat and power. And after posting a .909 OPS 24 extra-base hits through his first 56 games while repeating the level, the Red Sox promoted the 20-year-old to Triple-A Pawtucket in early June. Following a brief adjustment period, the shortstop once again found his stroke and has batted .269/.364/.430 with five home runs and 18/14 K/BB through 26 games.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Bogaerts’ current season is his vastly improved plate discipline and ability to control the strike zone. In addition to trimming his strikeout total against advanced competition, Bogaerts has also shown the ability to work deeper counts and make consistent, hard contact without always selling out for power. More significantly, it seems more and more likely that he’ll contribute in the major leagues later this season. 

 

Scouting Report

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 every field; 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.

Will continue to develop as a shortstop unless he’s forced to move from position; also profiles as a third baseman or corner outfielder. Solid hands; plus arm strength; lacks quick feet and explosiveness for surefire up-the-middle future. Still demonstrates excellent overall athleticism; slightly above-average speed with similar range; could lose a step as he matures.

2. Oscar Taveras, OF, St. Louis Cardinals

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USA TODAY Sports

Position: OF

DOB: 6/19/1992 (Age: 21)

Height/Weight: 6’2”, 200

Bats/Throws: L/L

Signed: November 2008 (Dominican Republic)

ETA: 2013

Preseason Rank: 2

 

2013 Stats

 

Midseason Update

Coming off of a monster 2012 campaign at Double-A Springfield in which he posted a .953 OPS with 37 doubles, 23 home runs and 56/42 K/BB in 124 games, Taveras was widely regarded as the best pure hitter in the minor leagues entering the 2013 season. And you know what? He still is in my book. However, I’ll also be the first to admit that the 21-year-old has only been pretty good this year rather than otherworldly good like he was last season.

After spending roughly a month of the disabled listed with an ankle sprain, Taveras returned to action on June 8 but was noticeably playing through lingering pain. The injury also impacted his production, as the 21-year-old posted a .735 OPS with five extra-base hits over his next 15 games. On June 23, Taveras left Triple-A Memphis’ game after aggravating the injury while returning to second base on a pickoff attempt. At the time of the injury, the outfielder was batting .306/.341/.462 with 12 doubles, five home runs and 32 RBI for Memphis. Luckily, the Cardinals are in a position where they can offer him additional time to rest and rehab in anticipation of a likely call-up later in the season.

 

Scouting Report

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. Has 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; base-running can be overaggressive.

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 past year; still has plenty to gain from experience.

1. Byron Buxton, OF, Minnesota Twins


Courtesy of Baseball Instinct

Position: OF

DOB: 12/18/1993 (Age: 19)

Height/Weight: 6’2”, 189

Bats/Throws: R/R

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

ETA: 2015

Preseason Rank: 27

 

2013 Stats 

 

Midseason Update

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, as he’s relentlessly melted faces with his performance this year on both sides of the ball. At the dish, he’s arguably been the most productive—not to mention the most impressive—hitter in the minor leagues, showing advanced plate discipline, a consistent hit tool, plenty of raw power and plus-plus speed.

After destroying the Midwest League to the tune of .341/.431/.559 with 15 doubles, 10 triples, eight home runs, 32 stolen bases and 56/44 K/BB through 68 games, the Twins promoted Buxton to High-A Fort Myers in late June. Clearly he doesn’t buy into the stigma that the Florida State League favors pitchers, as the outfielder has batted .333/.377/.480 with 17 hits and eight RBI through 12 games.

While it’s doubtful the Twins will rush him to the major leagues, expect them to challenge him with more aggressive assignments moving forward. And considering his development and success this season as a teenager, there’s a realistic chance that Buxton makes his debut before the end of the 2014 season.

 

Scouting Report

The 6’2”, 189-pounder has tapered build with wiry strength; strong wrists; plus bat speed; above-average raw power potential; ridiculous quick-twitch muscles. Approach and hit tool have been better than expected; advanced beyond his years. Simple, compact stroke with a short bat path; maintains balance throughout swing; works to achieve favorable point of contact; showcases effortless ability to explode through the baseball.

Plus-plus speed gives him excellent range. Lock to remain in center field; plus arm strength is more than enough for the position. Above-average defensive profile in center; reads and routes have improved. Lauded for his makeup and work ethic; still needs experience despite outstanding start to professional career; has the tools, athleticism and baseball skills to reach the major leagues in a hurry.

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