MLB's Top 25 Can't-Miss Hitting Prospects for 2014

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistJanuary 31, 2014

MLB's Top 25 Can't-Miss Hitting Prospects for 2014

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    Winslow Townson/Associated Press

    Chicks dig the long ball; at least that's what the old commercial featuring Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine told us. 

    Even though Major League Baseball has shifted toward a pitching and defense game, it's still exciting to see a hitter step in the box and launch balls over the fence. After all, the best part of the All-Star festivities is the Home Run Derby. 

    As we prepare for the start of spring training in February, there is a wave of hitting prospects coming through the minors who will be starring in a few of those Home Run Derby events and taking part in many All-Star games. 

    Pitching is also plentiful in the minors right now, but the hitting talent that is on the way has the potential to bring offense back to the forefront. 

    There are a lot more than 25 hitting prospects for fans to pay close attention to in 2014, but to avoid information overload, these are the players you should go out of your way to watch at least once this season. 

    Some of these names will be very familiar, especially if you follow the minor leagues. Others are slowly moving up the prospect ladder, but all of them have the potential to be special with a bat in their hands. 

    Here are the minor league hitters with the potential to change games when they step into the box or get on base.

    All stats courtesy of unless otherwise noted. 

Ranking Methodology

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    Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
    • Athleticism
    • Speed
    • Hitting mechanics
    • Injury history
    • Statistical trends
    • Age vs. level: How well a player fared at a certain level relative to his age and that of the competition
    • Hit tool: In the evolution of the prospect landscape, the hit tool is the most important, but also the hardest to project
    • On-base skills: How frequently the player gets on base and why
    • Power: Will the player be a home run threat in the big leagues?

    Since we are focusing strictly on offensive upside, positional value isn't taken into consideration. That's why you will see certain players rank much higher or lower on this particular list than they would in an overall ranking of best prospects. 

    For instance, Minnesota Twins outfielder Byron Buxton is considered by most the No. 1 prospect in baseball because of his offensive and defensive skills. But just evaluating him with the bat, he slides down the list. 

    The likelihood of a player reaching his offensive ceiling has also been taken into consideration. A player with explosive raw tools that don't always play in Low-A isn't likely to rank ahead of a player with slightly lesser tools who has performed well in Double-A. 

No. 25 Jonathan Singleton, 1B, Houston Astros

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    Age: 22

    2013 Stats: 90 G, .230/.351/.401, 17 2B, 1 3B, 11 HR, 44 RBI, 59 BB, 110 K, 1 SB

    Why Singleton is must-see

    Houston's top prospect entering the 2013 season, Jonathan Singleton had a brutal year that started with a 50-game suspension after testing positive for marijuana. He returned after the layoff and didn't look like the hitter we once knew. 

    Singleton has never been a small man, currently listed at 6'2", 235 pounds, so he will have to work harder in order to avoid falling into Ryan Howard territory and wearing down late in the season. 

    The news is not all bad, as Singleton is still one of the top first base prospects in baseball. He's got huge raw power, 70-grade on the 20-80 scale, and has shown flashes of it during games throughout his minor league career. 

    Arm-side pitching and velocity on the inner half give Singleton problems, limiting his ability to hit for average. He's always been a patient hitter with a good approach, works deep counts and is willing to take walks. His worst OBP in the minors was .351 last season. 

    As long as he makes enough contact and continues to pick apart right-handed pitching, the 22-year-old will be an above-average regular because the power is so prodigious. Given a full offseason to prepare and focus on baseball, expect big things from Houston's first baseman in 2014. 

    Video via MLB Prospect Portal

No. 24 Mookie Betts, 2B, Boston Red Sox

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    Age: 21

    2013 Stats: 127 G, .314/.417/.506, 36 2B, 4 3B, 15 HR, 65 RBI, 81 BB, 57 K, 38 SB

    Why Betts is must-see

    It takes a lot for a 5'9", 156-pound second baseman to project as a big leaguer, let alone a potential star in the sport. 

    Mookie Betts isn't your typical undersized player. He's got raw power that sneaks up on you because of his slight frame, with a short path to the ball and excellent bat speed that isn't hindered by a lot of early excess movement/load in his swing. 

    The 21-year-old also boasts above-average running speed that will help him turn some singles into doubles and doubles into triples. He's an excellent baserunner who should have no problems stealing 20 bags per season. 

    Some of Betts' impressive strikeout-to-walk ratio last year can be attributed to a small strike zone, but he also has a tremendous eye at the plate and won't chase balls out of the zone. Go figure, a Red Sox prospect who understands the strike zone and will take walks. 

    Video via Bleacher Report Lead MLB Writer Mike Rosenbaum

No. 23 Austin Meadows, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Age: 19

    2013 Stats: 48 G, .316/.424/.554, 11 2B, 5 3B, 7 HR, 22 RBI, 29 BB, 46 K, 3 SB

    Why Meadows is must-see

    Austin Meadows would rank much higher with more experience, but since we still have to see how Pittsburgh's 2013 first-round pick does in a full-season league, he slots in as the No. 23 offensive prospect. 

    Loaded with loud, explosive tools, Meadows could be one of the breakout prospects in 2014. He is about as smooth as it gets on a baseball field, playing the game with an almost effortless ease that leads to such lofty projections. 

    Meadows is still incredibly raw and years away from being a top-10 prospect, though he has that kind of upside as a center fielder with above-average bat speed and good hip rotation to drive the ball. 

    Already an impressive physical specimen at 6'3", 200 pounds, Meadows will add more bulk and, as a result, power to his game. He's got all the ingredients to be a star, though it could be a slow burn to see them all play in games. 

    Video via Baseball Factory TV

No. 22 Garin Cecchini, 3B, Boston Red Sox

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    Age: 21

    2013 Stats: 129 G, .322/.443/.471, 33 2B, 7 3B, 7 HR, 61 RBI, 94 BB, 86 K, 23 SB

    Why Cecchini is must-see

    Garin Cecchini is a player whose minor league stat line looks better than his overall talent, though he's still an impressive offensive prospect with some impact potential. 

    The first thing you notice about Cecchini is how advanced his approach is. Once again, we see another Boston prospect with a keen eye and ability to lay off close pitches. 

    Elements of his swing don't work, at least for my evaluating eye. Cecchini is a switch-hitter with a similar stance from both sides, utilizing no stride at all and spraying line drives all over the field. It helps him hit for average but doesn't let him tap into above-average raw power. 

    It's a question of what you prefer, as Cecchini could be a 20-homer guy if he sacrificed some batting average. He could also end up as a .300 hitter with a lot of doubles and fringe home run power. 

    Given his track record, Cecchini prefers to go with the latter. It's worked for him so far and will likely carry him to a long, successful MLB career. 

    Video via Bleacher Report Lead MLB Writer Mike Rosenbaum

No. 21 Maikel Franco, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies

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    Age: 21

    2013 Stats: 134 G, .320/.356/.569, 36 2B, 3 3B, 31 HR, 103 RBI, 30 BB, 70 K, 1 SB

    Why Franco is must-see

    Philadelphia's breakout prospect in 2013, Maikel Franco checks a lot of boxes to be an impact offensive player but lacks in a few areas, which keeps him from projecting as a star. 

    Franco's best asset is bat control. He is still learning to refine his hit tool but has such a strong feel for the zone and gets the bat to the ball, so it doesn't hurt him. The bat speed is just OK and the averages aren't likely to be high because of a big load and hand positioning. 

    The 21-year-old does have tremendous raw strength and projects to hit 15-20 homers, with the potential for more with some swing adjustments. He's not quick at all, showing well-below-average times out of the box and around the bases, so all of his value has to come out of the batter's box. 

    There's a ton of pressure on Franco's bat to play for him to project as an above-average regular, but the strides made across two levels in 2013 give hope for the future. 

    Video via Baseball Instinct

No. 20 Dominic Smith, 1B, New York Mets

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    Age: 19

    2013 Stats: 51 G, .301/.398/.439, 13 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 26 RBI, 26 BB, 37 K, 2 SB

    Why Smith is must-see

    If you are curious why Dominic Smith ranks ahead of fellow 2013 draftee Austin Meadows, even though the latter has more upside, it's because Smith is the more polished offensive player at this point in their still-young development cycles. 

    Possessing the most polished high school bat in the 2013 draft, Smith overcame the stigma attached to first base-only prospects by making consistently hard contact with a simple, balanced swing. He does get out on his front foot too often, but timing against better pitching should help fix that issue. 

    He's got an excellent feel for the strike zone and will make a lot of contact. Pitch recognition is also an area of weakness right now, though that's not a huge problem given his age and swing mechanics. 

    Eventually Smith will grow into a plus-plus hitter with plus power, which is more than enough to project him as a first-division (playoff team) starter. 

    Video via Bullpen Factory TV

No. 19 Jorge Alfaro, C, Texas Rangers

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    Age: 20

    2013 Stats: 113 G, .265/.346/.463, 24 2B, 1 3B, 18 HR, 61 RBI, 32 BB, 122 K, 18 SB

    Why Alfaro is must-see

    Catching prospects rarely come with the kind of offensive package that Jorge Alfaro has, though we are fortunate to have two on this particular list (the second appears shortly). 

    What makes Alfaro so unique is tremendous raw power. If you have the opportunity to watch the 20-year-old in batting practice, take it, because he's very impressive. It doesn't always play in games because of a poor approach at the plate, where he will chase anything close to the strike zone. 

    The good news is Alfaro has gotten better at working counts, doubling his walk total from 16 in 2012 to 32 last season. He's still not where he needs to be in order to consistently show off his power in games, but it's coming along.

    If everything comes together, Alfaro is a superstar. Even if it doesn't, which is often the case with prospects, he's still a very good big leaguer because of the power potential and defensive acumen behind the plate. 

    Video via Bleacher Report MLB Lead Writer Mike Rosenbaum

No. 18 Clint Frazier, OF, Cleveland Indians

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    Age: 19

    2013 Stats: 44 G, .297/.362/.506, 11 2B, 5 3B, 5 HR, 28 RBI, 17 BB, 61 K, 3 SB

    Why Frazier is must-see

    Some players come pre-packaged with gifts that make them exciting to watch. Clint Frazier, Cleveland's first-round pick in 2013, fits that mold with some of the best bat speed in the minors. 

    The 19-year-old Georgia high school star generates tremendous raw power through his upper body and wrist acceleration. Balls jump off his barrel in batting practice, making it easy to see plus power developing in time. 

    Frazier is a long way from coming close to his ceiling. He's got to prove capable of hitting breaking stuff, even the mediocre kind you will see in A-ball, before we have any idea what his ceiling will be. 

    It's an exciting offensive skill set, though Frazier's limited size and physical projection (6'1", 190 pounds) do present some problems about how much better he will get. He's also an above-average runner who will steal bases, so he can add value on the bases. 

    The Indians should challenge Frazier with an assignment at Low-A to start the season, just to find out how much work the approach and pitch recognition needs. 

    Video via Brian Mauer

No. 17 Gary Sanchez, C, New York Yankees

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    Age: 21

    2013 Stats: 117 G, .253/.324/.412, 27 2B, 15 HR, 71 RBI, 41 BB, 87 K, 3 SB

    Why Sanchez is must-see

    I am still willing to give Gary Sanchez the benefit of the doubt based on his raw talents, even though his 2013 season was a massive disappointment in every way imaginable. He has always been skittish behind the plate, but the bat was never a problem until last year. 

    Sanchez, like fellow catching prospect Jorge Alfaro, boasts incredible raw power. He has a powerful upper body with quick wrists and explosive bat speed, but a big load and poor pitch recognition prevent him from showing it consistently. 

    Pitchers can exploit Sanchez's aggressive nature by attacking him inside with fastballs or quality off-speed stuff. He will have to start driving those pitches in order to reach his full potential as a hitter. 

    The package is outstanding when it's playing, but Sanchez is running out of time to prove he can make those adjustments. 

    Video via Bleacher Report MLB Lead Writer Mike Rosenbaum

No. 16 George Springer, OF, Houston Astros

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    Age: 24

    2013 Stats: 135 G, .303/.411/.600, 27 2B, 4 3B, 37 HR, 108 RBI, 83 BB, 161 K, 45 SB

    Why Springer is must-see

    The one big knock against George Springer that has been present even before Houston drafted him in 2011 was a long swing that led to high strikeout totals. 

    Three years later, those problems haven't subsided. He's punched out 317 times the last two years, yet the performance never wavers because the other tools are so explosive. 

    Springer has four plus tools that play consistently in games. He has 123 extra-base hits the last two seasons, including 68 in 2013. While his overall approach needs work, the 24-year-old is a patient hitter who works deep counts and will draw plenty of walks to keep his on-base percentage in the .340-.350 range. 

    Plus raw power and running speed make Springer one of the best dual-threat prospects in baseball. He's not likely to hit better than .250-.260 in the big leagues because of a poor two-strike approach, but a plus defensive center fielder who gets on base and hits 20-25 homers is a star. 

    Video via MLB Prospect Portal

No. 15 David Dahl, OF, Colorado Rockies

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    Age: 19

    2013 Stats: 10 G, .275/.310/.425, 4 2B, 1 3B, 7 RBI, 2 BB, 8 K, 2 SB

    Why Dahl is must-see

    A lot of prospect lists are going to be down on David Dahl entering this season, for legitimate reasons. He only played 10 games at Low-A Asheville before tearing his hamstring in early May. Those were critical at-bats for his development that won't come back. 

    However, based on what he was doing before the injury and youth being on his side, Dahl should shoot back up the rankings as the season moves on. He doesn't have one elite tool, but is a player who does everything well. 

    Dahl has a gorgeous swing from the left side, generating good bat speed and keeping the barrel in the zone long enough to smash line drives everywhere. He's still growing into an athletic 6'2", 185-pound frame and will add more power. 

    Optimistic projections put Dahl as a .280-.290 hitter with 20-25 homers and a handful of stolen bases per season. 

    Video via Reel Recruits

No. 14 Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians

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    Age: 20

    2013 Stats: 104 G, .303/.380/.407, 22 2B, 7 3B, 2 HR, 34 RBI, 49 BB, 46 K, 25 SB

    Why Lindor is must-see

    A lot of players on this list are going to have certain buzz words attached to their profile, like "explosive."

    Sometimes, though, a player comes along who does everything well and has no weakness, which is worthy of attention. Cleveland prospect Francisco Lindor fits into this category, as a 20-year-old shortstop who is excellent on both sides of the ball and will be a star for years. 

    Lindor isn't going to hit 20 home runs, but with an excellent approach, high baseball mentality and maturity beyond his years, he's going to be a .300 hitter who gets on base and hits a lot of doubles. 

    He's also got plus speed and baserunning instincts that will allow him to steal 20-plus bases per season. A switch-hitter, Lindor excels from both sides of the plate even though the right-handed swing looks a little better because there isn't as much movement prior to committing. 

    Video via Steve Fiorindo, Bullpen Banter

No. 13 Jorge Soler, OF, Chicago Cubs

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    Age: 22

    2013 Stats: 55 G,  .281/.343/.467, 13 2B, 1 3B, 8 HR, 35 RBI, 21 BB, 38 K, 5 SB

    Why Soler is must-see

    A season that started with a lot of promise for Jorge Soler ended in embarrassment. First came an ugly incident in which the Cuban sensation went after an opposing team's dugout waving a bat around like a mad man. 

    Soler followed that up by suffering a stress fracture in his left leg that ended his season prematurely before an appearance in the Arizona Fall League that showcased the good and bad sides of the 22-year-old. 

    On the plus side, Soler is as impressive as anyone you will see in a uniform. He's a monster at 6'4", 215 pounds with excellent raw power. His swing is a bit unorthodox, similar to fellow Cubs prospect Kris Bryant, starting with a wide base and utilizing a toe-tap timing mechanism before unloading. 

    Soler has tremendous upper-body strength and uses his hands well through the swing, though he can get caught off balance more than you want to see. He wants to destroy everything, which often leads to him pulling off the ball. 

    The raw ingredients are there and have been utilized more often than not, so expect a huge 2014 season for Soler now that he's healthy. 

    Video via Bleacher Report Lead MLB Writer Mike Rosenbaum

No. 12 Joc Pederson, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Age: 21

    2013 Stats: 123 G, .278/.381/.497, 24 2B, 3 3B, 22 HR, 58 RBI, 70 BB, 114 K, 31 SB

    Why Pederson is must-see

    Joc Pederson didn't enter Los Angeles' system with a lot of hype as an 11th-round pick in 2010, but he's continued to rake at every level in the minors and improved his tools to the point where he looks like an above-average right fielder. 

    Despite having a smaller 6'1", 185-pound frame, Pederson generates above-average power thanks to a short load and quick hip rotation that allows him to drive through the ball. He's also shown a keen eye at the plate, working deep counts and increasing his walk rate every year in the minors. 

    One area of concern is Pederson's huge platoon splits last season. Even in the Venezuelan Winter League, he had a 1.009 OPS against right-handed pitching and just .664 against lefties. 

    Pederson isn't a burner on the bases, but his baseball instincts allow him to be a threat there. He will likely end up stealing 10-15 bags in the big leagues. 

    Video via Christopher Blessing, Bullpen Banter

No. 11 Nick Castellanos, 3B, Detroit Tigers

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    Age: 21

    2013 MiLB Stats: 134 G, .276/.343/.450, 37 2B, 1 3B, 18 HR, 76 RBI, 54 BB, 100 K, 4 SB

    2013 MLB Stats: 11 G, .278/.278/.278, 5 H, 1 K

    Why Castellanos is must-see

    The Detroit Tigers need Nick Castellanos to live up to his hype, because the only things left in the system after him are right-handed relievers. 

    It's a good thing Castellanos is a natural hitter who will have little trouble adjusting to MLB pitching with experience. A very athletic 6'4", 210-pound third baseman, the 21-year-old's best attribute is plate coverage. 

    He has above-average raw power and uses it to drive the ball to all fields, though that also limits his home run power. Castellanos will likely end up being a .300 hitter with a ton of doubles and 18-20 homers per season. 

    The swing is very impressive and simple. He starts wide in the box with excellent balance, staying on his back foot prior to the pitch and transferring weight forward with ease and good hip rotation to generate power. 

    Video via Baseball Instinct

No. 10 Addison Russell, SS, Oakland Athletics

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    Age: 20

    2013 Stats: 110 G, .269/.369/.495, 29 2B, 10 3B, 17 HR, 60 RBI, 61 BB, 125 K, 21 SB

    Why Russell is must-see

    Lauded for his makeup after shedding weight in high school to show MLB teams he could stay at shortstop, Addison Russell has proven to be a better hitter than he was given credit for in the 2012 draft. 

    Listed at 6'0", 195 pounds, though looking bigger (in a good way) when I saw him in the Arizona Fall League, Russell makes some of the loudest contact you will hear from a minor leaguer. He's got tremendous bat speed with excellent hand acceleration through the zone. 

    The ball finds the barrel constantly, leading to high extra-base-hit totals. Russell is already showing above-average power in the minors, which could grow into plus power with more experience as his frame fills out. 

    Russell doesn't get the kind of loft at the end of his swing usually associated with a 20-25 homer player, but because the bat speed is so good and contact so loud, I see no reason to believe he won't get there. 

    He also runs well for a player his size and has excellent instincts on the bases to steal 12-15 bags per season. 

    Video via Steve Fiorindo, Bullpen Banter

No. 9 Corey Seager, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Age: 19

    2013 Stats: 101 G, .269/.351/.473, 20 2B, 4 3B, 16 HR, 72 RBI, 46 BB, 89 K, 10 SB

    Why Seager is must-see

    It's rare to find a teenager who comes into professional baseball looking more like a big leaguer than the 6'4", 215-pound Corey Seager. 

    That frame makes it unlikely Seager will ever play a game at shortstop for the Dodgers—he'll probably end up at third base—but his ability with the bat is incredible for a 19-year-old.

    Seager's got excellent rotation in his hips and plenty of bat speed, though when watching him in the Arizona Fall League, where he looked exhausted after his first full season, there were times he got out on his front foot and never drove the ball with consistency.

    Given his performance in Low-A before going to the AFL, Seager will be fine after having three months off to recharge his batteries. He's got all the tools to hit for average and power, with a solid approach to draw plenty of walks.  

    Video via Bleacher Report MLB Lead Writer Mike Rosenbaum

No. 8 Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs

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    Age: 22

    2013 Stats: 36 G, .336/.390/.688, 14 2B, 2 3B, 9 HR, 32 RBI, 11 BB, 35 K

    Why Bryant is must-see

    Do you like power? If the answer is yes, then you love Kris Bryant. The No. 2 pick in the 2013 draft boasts 70-grade raw power and has had no problems translating it to games thus far, including an incredible stint in the Arizona Fall League, where he hit six homers in 77 at-bats. 

    Bryant is an unusual power hitter. His swing is unorthodox, starting with a wide base where his legs are as far apart as possible without doing splits, then taking no stride whatsoever to the mound and generating all his power from hip rotation and arm extension. 

    Whatever the 22-year-old is doing has been working; though, with modest bat speed, Bryant may have problems turning on inside velocity. Even with some strikeout concerns, he's a special offensive talent who can get away with hitting .260 thanks to 30-35 homer potential. 

    Video via Baseball Instinct

No. 7 Gregory Polanco, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Age: 22

    2013 Stats: 127 G, .285/.356/.434, 30 2B, 2 3B, 12 HR, 71 RBI, 52 BB, 73 K, 38 SB

    Why Polanco is must-see

    One of the great joys in baseball is watching prospects go from raw potential to impact talent. Few players epitomize this more than Pittsburgh's top prospect, Gregory Polanco. 

    The 22-year-old has gone from a lanky 160-pound teenager to an impressive 6'4", 220-pound man whose game has taken off in the last two years. He always had plus speed, which hasn't gone away as his frame filled out, stealing 38 bases last season. 

    All that added weight has allowed Polanco to develop plus in-game power, and a compact swing has led to higher contact rates the last two years. The biggest issue left to correct is reacting to off-speed pitches, though it hasn't prevented his tools from flourishing thus far.

    Polanco's going to be a star on both sides of the ball, though he will likely be forced to play right field in the big leagues since Andrew McCutchen doesn't seem willing to give up his spot anytime soon. 

    Video via Baseball Instinct

No. 6 Carlos Correa, SS, Houston Astros

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    Age: 19

    2013 Stats: 117 G, .320/.405/.467, 33 2B, 3 3B, 9 HR, 86 RBI, 58 BB, 83 K, 10 SB

    Why Correa is must-see

    Being one of the youngest players in the Midwest League was basically setting up Carlos Correa, the No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft, to have a poor statistical season. It's a brutal league to hit in, and he was at least two or three years younger than a lot of pitchers he was facing. 

    Sometimes, though, incredible talent shines through, especially when you combine it with a high baseball aptitude. Correa left little doubt that he will turn into a superstar for the Astros in time, showing a quiet swing and more power than expected. 

    Correa is still growing into his lanky 6'4" frame and will add more over-the-fence power in the next year. He's got a simple weight transfer, easy rotation through his swing and outstanding plate coverage. 

    Some elements of Correa's game are still raw, like running the bases, but the offensive package is among the best you will find in the minors. 

    Video via Reds Minor Leagues

No. 5 Byron Buxton, OF, Minnesota Twins

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    Age: 20

    2013 Stats: 125 G, .334/.424/.520, 19 2B, 18 3B, 12 HR, 77 RBI, 76 BB, 105 K, 55 SB

    Why Buxton is must-see

    It's hard to think of a better full-season debut than the one Byron Buxton had in 2013. He went from being all raw tools with question marks to the most exciting prospect in baseball since Mike Trout graduated three years ago. 

    The scary thing about Buxton is he will actually get better. He's still filling out a 6'2", 190-pound frame and hasn't tapped into the plus home run power he will show in batting practice. 

    Buxton is so easy and natural in the box, on the bases and in the field that it's almost not fair he plays the same game as everyone else. There's almost nothing to his swing—just a simple toe tap and tremendous wrist strength that allows him to drive the ball to all fields. 

    His approach at the plate is mature beyond his years, though he will get beat by quality off-speed stuff on occasion. The 20-year-old owns some of the best speed in the minors and will be a huge stolen-base threat in the big leagues. 

    Video via Baseball Instinct

No. 4 Javier Baez, SS, Chicago Cubs

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    Age: 21

    2013 Stats: 130 G, .282/.341/.578, 34 2B, 4 3B, 37 HR, 111 RBI, 40 BB, 147 K, 20 SB

    Why Baez is must-see

    When he is on, no one is more fun and exciting to watch hit than Chicago Cubs prospect Javier Baez. The 21-year-old has the best bat speed in baseball, regardless of level, evocative of Gary Sheffield at his peak. 

    He uses that bat speed to generate plus-plus raw power, turning it into game power with a late-season surge after a promotion to Double-A saw him hit 20 homers in just 54 games. 

    What made Baez's 2013 season even more impressive were the adjustments made. His approach got better, leading to a better walk rate in Double-A (19 times in 218 at-bats) than High-A (21 in 299 at-bats). 

    He's still a free swinger with fringy pitch recognition skills and has an inability to lay off breaking balls in the dirt, so the gap between present and future is still wide, but with a few more adjustments, Baez will be one of the best power hitters in the big leagues. 

    Video via Tennessee Smokies

No. 3 Miguel Sano, 3B, Minnesota Twins

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    Age: 20

    2013 Stats: 123 G, .280/.382/.610, 30 2B, 5 3B, 35 HR, 103 RBI, 65 BB, 142 K, 11 SB

    Why Sano is must-see

    Right-handed power is one of the most precious commodities in baseball. It's likely a big reason the Chicago Cubs opted to draft Kris Bryant over Jonathan Gray in last year's draft. 

    The Minnesota Twins boast a system that has the majors' top prospect (Byron Buxton) and best power hitter, Miguel Sano. The 20-year-old Dominican is a massive human being at 6'4", 235 pounds, but he carries every pound well and has rare athleticism given his size. 

    Sano was recently quoted as saying that he expects to hit between 45 and 55 home runs in 2014, per Phil Miller of the Star-Tribune (h/t As optimistic as that sounds, he's not crazy for saying it. That's how strong he is and how well the power plays in games. 

    His swing is very rotational with a lot of torque, which causes it to get long at times and leads to high strikeout totals. But a refined approach that leads to high on-base totals and excellent bat speed leads to incredible power numbers. 

    You don't find a lot of 80-grade tools thrown on prospects, but Sano has true 80 power that will play in the big leagues very soon. He may not hit better than .260, but high walk totals and 35-40 homers makes Sano a potential MVP candidate. 

    Video via Bleacher Report MLB Lead Writer Mike Rosenbaum

No. 2 Oscar Taveras, OF, St. Louis Cardinals

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    Age: 21

    2013 Stats: 47 G, .310/.348/.471, 13 2B, 5 HR, 32 RBI, 10 BB, 22 K, 5 SB

    Why Taveras is must-see

    The only reason Oscar Taveras remains on prospect lists is because of an ankle injury that required surgery in August. 

    Taveras had surgery as planned Wed: ligament addressed, cartilage cleaned out. Will be in boot for 8 weeks. Winter ball unlikely. #stlcards

    — Derrick Goold (@dgoold) August 22, 2013

    That hiccup aside, Taveras is still one of the most exciting hitters in the minors. He's not the most mechanically sound player, having a wild, out-of-control swing that shouldn't work, yet he finds a way to hold it all together. 

    Taveras has excellent bat speed and the best plate coverage in the minors, and is able to drive pitches far off the plate to the opposite field with more authority than should be possible. He's got plus raw power and has shown it in games when healthy. 

    Even though he will likely start the season in the minors to get his timing back, Taveras will soon take over as St. Louis' everyday right fielder. 

    Video via MLB Prospect Portal

No. 1 Xander Bogaerts, SS, Boston Red Sox

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    Age: 21

    2013 MiLB Stats: 116 G, .297/.388/.477, 23 2B, 6 3B, 15 HR, 67 RBI, 63 BB, 95 K, 7 SB

    2013 MLB Stats: 18 G, .250/.320/.364, 2 2B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 5 BB, 13 K, 1 SB

    Why Bogaerts is must-see

    The world got a small glimpse of what Xander Bogaerts is capable of in the postseason. Barring some unforeseen event in spring training, Boston's 21-year-old stud will put on a show that makes October look like child's play. 

    Everything that you could want in a young hitter, Bogaerts possesses. He's got one of the best approaches you will see from a player his age, taking borderline pitches and waiting for exactly what he wants and not trying to mash everything. If a pitch is on the outer half of the plate, he's more than willing to hit a single to right field. 

    Bogaerts is one of those players with a natural ability to barrel the ball whenever he swings a bat. He generates excellent bat speed, mostly from his upper body, with a sturdy lower half and rotation through the zone. 

    Listed at 6'3", 185 pounds, Bogaerts is still growing into his power but projects at least plus in the future. His feel for the game is incredible and makes it easy to see a lot of .300/.380/.500 lines down the road. 

    Video via MLB Advanced Media

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