Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Javier Baez, SS, Chicago Cubs
.282/.341/.578, 98 R, 75 XBH (37 HR), 111 RBI, 20 SB, 147/40 K/BB (130 G)
Baez got off to a slow start at Double-A Tennessee following a promotion in late June, but he eventually settled in and emerged as one of the hottest hitters in the minor leagues after the All-Star break. In 45 games, the 21-year-old batted .310/.363/.668 with 15 doubles, 17 home runs and 49 RBI. He was especially hot during August, as he posted a 1.059 OPS with 11 doubles and eight home runs in 29 games.
Joc Pederson, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
.278/.381/.497, 81 R, 49 XBH (22 HR), 31 SB, 114/70 K/BB (123 G)
Fresh off a breakout season at High-A Rancho Cucamonga, there was some doubt as to whether Pederson would offer similar production outside of the hitter-friendly California League. But now, after posting an .878 OPS with 22 home runs and 31 stolen bases in 123 games at Double-A Chattanooga, the 21-year-old outfielder has forced us to reconsider his ceiling. He lacks a clear path to playing time with the Dodgers, but Pederson has the potential to be a solid everyday outfielder in the major leagues.
Maikel Franco, 3B-1B, Philadelphia Phillies
.320/.356/.569, 173 H, 70 XBH (31 HR), 103 RBI, 70/30 K/BB (134 G)
Franco offered a preview of his power last season with a .775 OPS and 14 home runs as a 19-year-old in the Low-A South Atlantic League. This year, however, he emerged as one of the premier sluggers in the minors and, more importantly, demonstrated the ability to make adjustments against advanced pitching.
Franco was shifted from third to first base for the final month of the season, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s developed at the position moving forward. Yes, the move puts more pressure on his bat; but it could also get him to the major leagues by the end of the 2014 season.
Rougned Odor, 2B, Texas Rangers
.305/.365/.474, 156 H, 58 XBH (41 2B), 32 SB, 91/35 K/BB (130 G)
Despite having a name like Rougned Odor, the 19-year-old second baseman has been overshadowed by some of the Rangers’ other infield prospects and has flown beneath the radar as a result.
After posting an .822 OPS with 27 steals in 100 games at High-A Myrtle Beach, Odor was promoted to Double-A Frisco in early August. Despite being the third-youngest everyday player at the level, the left-handed hitter didn’t skip a beat at the plate, batting .306/.354/.530 with 16 extra-base hits in 30 games.
Kaleb Cowart, 3B, Los Angeles Angels
.221/.279/.301, 27 XBH (6 HR), 14 SB, 124/38 K/BB (132 G)
Cowart ranked as the Angels’ top prospect heading into the season after an unexpectedly good full-season debut across both Class-A levels in 2012. However, the 21-year-old switch-hitter’s struggles at the plate persisted throughout the season, as he failed to bat above .240 in any month. But what I find most concerning is his .202/.263/.277 triple-slash line against right-handed pitching after posting an .828 OPS against it in 2012.