Mid Season Top 50 Prospects (1-25)

Our Mid Season Top 50 prospect list is comprised of players who are were in the minor leagues at the time of publication (6/21/13) and who still have rookie of the year eligibility.  That excludes such recently promoted players such as Wil Myers, Jurickson Profar, Gerrit Cole, and Zack Wheeler.  Additionally, no players from the 2013 first year player draft were included.

What I found interesting in doing the list was the number of prospects from my pre-season list that have already been promoted to the big leagues.  18 of my top 100 prospects at the start of the season have been promoted including six out of the Top 10.  Additionally, many of the players on the Mid Season Top 50 list are in the upper minors.  In analyzing the list, it would appear that the influx of talent that started with the promotion of Mike Trout should continue for at least another year before things get back to a more normal cadence of prospect promotions.

1. Oscar Taveras (OF)

Team: St. Louis Cardinals, League: PCL – Triple-A
Previous Ranking:  3

Injuries have limited Taveras to 149 at-bats in Triple-A and while his .456 slugging percentage is the lowest in his professional career, he continues to make elite hard contact.  While most Cardinals fans expected Taveras to already be in St. Louis, Carlos Beltran’s healthy slash line of .306/.337/.537 has kept the 21-year-old down on the farm.

2. Byron Buxton (OF)

Team: Minnesota Twins, League: Midwest – Low-A
Previous Ranking:  21

When Byron Buxton was drafted by the Twins as the number two overall player in 2012, we knew that he was a toolshed player but the question was…”Could he hit”?  It took about three weeks to eliminate those concerns and thrust Buxton as the best prospect since…well, Mike Trout.  The speed is playing just fine with 29 stolen bases in 40 attempts and he’s making great contact at 80% and showing excellent plate discipline of 16%.  While his eight home runs might not seem impressive, the power is still developing and historically, the Midwest League has not been a power league.

3. Xander Bogaerts (SS)

Team: Boston Red Sox, League: International – Triple-A
Previous Ranking:  11

Earlier this month, Xander Bogaerts was promoted to Triple-A after posting a .306/.403/.489 in Double-A.  Bogaerts is showing an advance hit-tool with the ability to make hard solid contact with excellent plate discipline.  While the power has yet to develop, the combination of Bogaerts bat speed and the fact that he has yet to grow into his body, still gives hope of plus future power.  Bogaerts has an all-star ceiling and at least early in his career, he should be able to remain at shortstop allowing him to maximize his value for the Red Sox.

4. Miguel Sano (3B)

Team: Minnesota Twins, League: Eastern – Double-A
Previous Ranking:  16

It’s rare that one team has two top-5 prospects, but the Minnesota Twins are the proud owners of both Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano.  While Buxton posses all five-tools, Sano is your typical power slugging corner infielder.  After hitting 16 home runs in the Florida State League, a traditional pitchers league, he was promoted earlier this month to Double-A.  While there is likely to be some swing and miss in his game, Sano’s plate discipline and ability to take a walk should help keep his OBP at a .350+ level; which should be more than adequate.  Expect Sano to make an appearance sometime in 2014 in Minneapolis.

5. Taijuan Walker (RHP)

Team: Seattle Mariners, League: Southern – Double-A
Previous Ranking: 6

As a 19-year-old, Taijuan Walker pitched the entire 2012 season in Double-A.  While his 4.69 ERA and 1.37 WHIP didn’t scream future pitching-stud, the arsenal, mechanics and athleticism do.  Walker continues to pitch well and has improved his command and I would expect a promotion to Triple-A will be in order in the second half of 2013.  While he is still a few years away from reaching his potential, that potential is enormous and could be a huge reward for all those who hung in as Walker goes through the development process.

6. Christian Yelich (OF)

Team: Florida Marlins, League: Southern – Double-A
Previous Ranking:  9

If it weren’t for injuries, Christian Yelich might be manning center field in Miami instead of riding the busses across the Southern League.  Yes, Yelich has been slowed by injuries, but he can flat-out hit and is starting to grow into his power.  While ultimately he might move to left field once Jake Marisnick emerges, he has the ceiling of a 20/20/.300 player with the upside for more power.

7. Archie Bradley (RHP)

Team: Arizona Diamondbacks, League: Southern – Double-A
Previous Ranking:  17

I’ve been very bullish on Archie Bradley since he was selected by the Diamondbacks with the seventh overall pick in the 2011 draft.  At 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, he has the ideal pitching body with the arsenal, mechanics, and athleticism to project him as a top-of-the-rotation starter.  I’ll grant you that his 2012 stat line that included a 3.84 ERA with a  5.56 BB/9 was less than impressive, however, this year, he has put it together by showing much better control and the ability to miss plenty of bats.

8. Dylan Bundy (RHP)

Team: Baltimore Orioles, League: DNP
Previous Ranking:  2

It’s been a lost season so far for the best pitching prospect in the game, but there is encouraging words emanating from Baltimore that Dylan Bundy is starting to slowly ramp up baseball activities.  Assuming the elbow problems are behind him, Bundy has the same ceiling as he did before the season started.  However, you can’t ignore the risk that his elbow problems have caused and therefore, he has fallen slightly in my rankings.

9. Jameson Taillon (RHP)

Team: Pittsburgh Pirates, League: Eastern – Double-A
Previous Ranking:  12

I’ve seen Jameson Taillon pitch four times and have been impressed with each and every outing.  The arsenal is really good with his fastball sitting in the mid-90’s and his two-seamer, a nice complementary pitch to produce a lot of ground balls.  His two breaking pitches are flashing plus and I even liked his change-up.   For me, he’s just going through the learning process and improving his command and will emerge sometime in 2014 in the majors league, slotting behind (or maybe even in front) of Gerrit Cole at the top of the Pirates starting rotation.

10. Francisco Lindor (SS)

Team: Cleveland Indians, League: Carolina – High-A
Previous Ranking:  19

Francisco Lindor is going to be a very good major league baseball player.  He has a nice hit tool, plays excellent defense at a premium position and has the on-base skills to hit at the top of the lineup.  As a fantasy player, he will not be a monster due to his lack of power, but could easily translate into a Elvis Andrus type of quality player at a scarce position.

11. Addison Russell (SS)

Team: Oakland Athletics, League: California – High-A
Previous Ranking:  42

The A’s were extremely aggressive with 19-year-old Addison Russell by starting him in the hitter-friendly California League.  He responded with a whimper by batting .218 in April and May with a lousy 68% contact rate.  However, in June things have begun to click as Russell is making more contact and is sporting a .373 batting average through 51 at-bats.  With excellent bat speed, plate discipline, and growing power, Addison Russell could be a Top five prospect by the end of the year.

12. Carlos Correa (SS)

Team: Houston Astros, League: Midwest – Low-A
Previous Ranking:  27

Yes, Byron Buxton is a monster and yes, in hind-sight, the Astros should have taken him number one overall in 2012, but Carlos Correa has a chance to be a monster player in his own right.  As an 18-year-old, he has a .300/.400/.430 slash line in the Midwest League.   While he only has four home runs, the power will develop as he possesses the physical projection and the bat speed; the key ingredients for developing power.  There’s still a lot to like with Correa and while the Astros will likely move him methodically through the system, I would expect a promotion to Lancaster in the California League sometime in the second half.

13. Nick Castellanos (OF)

Team: Detroit Tigers, League: International – Triple-A
Previous Ranking:  14

There’s been a lot of speculation recently that Nick Castellanos will be used as trade bait to bring in a shutdown closer to shore up the backend of the Tigers bullpen.  While it’s clear this is a substantial need, solving it with Castellanos is a mistake of Zack Wheeler proportions.   Castellanos still projects to be an above-average major leaguer with a nice hit-tool and growing power.  In 283 at-bat in 2013, he’s already equaled his power output of 2012.

14. Travis d’Arnaud  (C)

Team: New York Mets, League: Pacific Coast – Triple-A
Previous Ranking:  13

Yes I’m worried about the multiple injuries that Travis d’Arnaud has had had over the last two-years, but I also believe that d’Arnaud is a special talent.  He has very good bat speed to accompany a natural lofted swing and while his 16 home runs in 279 at-bats last year were PCL inflated, there is plus power in the bat.  He swing is also compact, which is not always the case with right-handed hitters with power.  In fact, his swing mechanics should allow him to hit for both power and batting average.  I still expect to see d’Arnaud in New York sometime in the second half of the year.

15. Gregory Polanco (OF)

Team:  Pittsburgh Pirates, League: Eastern– Double-A
Previous Ranking:  34

I have had the chance to see Gregory Polanco play live several times and in my opinion, he’s has “Super star” potential.  While he has the defensive chops to stay in center field, I doubt he will un-seed Cutch, so he’s likely to move to a corner.  Offensively, Polanco should excel at the highest level as he has demonstrated the ability to make hard contact with excellent speed.  His 26 stolen bases rank 15th in the entire minor leagues and while his six home runs might appear disappointing; Polanco is still growing into his power.

16. Kevin Gausman (RHP)

Team: Baltimore Orioles, League: International – Triple-A
Previous Ranking: 47

Kevin Gausman got his chance in the Major Leagues and well…the results were not there as he struggled to a 7.66 ERA in five starts.  While his velocity was great as his four-seamer averaged 96.10 and his sinker averaged 94.99, his slider was not getting the swing and misses and he rarely threw his change-up.  He’s better than this and remember, a year ago he was pitching in the college.  There’s still a lot to like with Gausman and he still has a ceiling of a number two starter.

17. Gary Sanchez (C)

Team: New York Yankees, League: Florida State – High-A
Previous Ranking: 26

I continue to be extremely high on Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez as I believe he is starting to translate some of his 70-raw power into legitimate game power.  While there will always be swing and miss in his game, I maintain that his swing mechanics and plate discipline should help him maintain a solid .260-.270 batting average and allow him to tap into his plus-plus power potential.

18. Jorge Soler (OF)

Team: Chicago Cubs, League: Florida State – High-A
Previous Ranking:  58

Given the success of fellow Cubans Yoenis Cespedes and Yasiel Puig, maybe I should just put Jorge Soler as the number one prospect and call it a day.  Soler’s calling card is his power potential and that is starting to show in the pitcher-friendly FSL.  Through 210 at-bats, he’s hit eight bombs but has already showed an ability to take a walk (10%) and very good contact (82%).  While there is a chance that Soler could be promoted to Double-A in the second half, I would not be surprised if the Cubs kept him in High-A the entire year.

19. Garrin Cecchini (3B)

Team: Boston Red Sox, League: Carolina – High-A
Previous Ranking:  82

Candidly, I’m a little surprised with the ranking of Garrin Cecchini, but I’ve now seen him play three times and I’m sold.  This kid is going to hit and will eventually hit for power and although he’s not fast, he’s going to steal more bases than he should.  If you’re a fantasy owner, Garrin Cecchini is gold!  In 214 at-bats in High-A, he has a 34K/43BB strikeout-to-walk ratio which is helping him maintain a .355 batting average, which is 6th in all the minor leagues (200 minimum at-bats).  Cecchini should be moved up to Double-A at some point during the second half of 2013.

20. Javier Baez (SS)

Team: Chicago Cubs, League: Florida State – High-A
Previous Ranking:  24

Javier Baez has Rickie Weekesque bat speed and that should translate into 20+ home run power at the highest level.  He definitely likes to swing the pole as his walk rate is a paltry 6% and that aggressiveness could cause him batting average as he moves to the upper minors.  But you can’t teach that bat speed and ultimately that’s what will lead him to being an above average major league contributor.

21. Billy Hamilton (OF)

Team: Cincinnati Reds, League: International – Triple-A
Previous Ranking:  15

The follow-up to Billy Hamilton’s true breakout year where he stole 155 bases has been ok.  He’s on pace for nearly 90 stolen bases but the hit-tool has been a bit overwhelmed in Triple-A.  He is making contact but in many cases it’s weak contact and even with his speed, he’s making outs.   Will he be equally overwhelmed at the next level?  Possibly, but with his speed, he’s going to be an exciting “highlight reel” player and a fantasy players dream.

22. Jonathan Singleton (1B)

Team: Houston Astros, League: Pacific Coast – Triple-A
Previous Ranking:  29

Jon Singleton has returned to game action after serving his 50-game suspension for testing positive for Marijuana.   His carrying tool is his plus-plus raw power that is starting to translate into game power and should produce 30-plus home run power at the highest level.   There will be swing and miss in his game but his ability to take a walk should help him keep his OBP to an acceptable level.  Expect Singleton to make an appearance in Houston sometime during the second half of 2013.

23. Albert Almora (OF)

Team: Chicago Cubs, League: Midwest – Low-A
Previous Ranking:  39

Albert Almora spent the first six weeks of the season on the disable list after breaking his hamate bone during spring training.  Once he returned to game action, he’s made it look very easy as he’s batting .402 in 92 at-bats.  While Almora doesn’t have a true carrying tool, he has solid to plus skills across the board.  First, his glove and center field coverage is already major league ready and as with Javier Baez, Almora has plus bat speed that should generate above average power when he matures.  For now, his 170 lbs frame should generate hard contact that should yield a lot of doubles and his speed should turn some of those doubles into triples.

24. Allen Webster (RHP)

Team: Boston Red Sox, League:  International – Triple-A
Previous Ranking:  59

Allen Webster got two spot-starts in the majors and one went well and one didn’t.  In fact, his May 8th start was an utter disaster – 1.2 IP and eight earned runs.  One start does not make a pitcher and I’m still leading the Webster bandwagon.

He has great stuff and his command has improved greatly from 2012.  His sinking fastball is his carrying tool which will enable him to be an extreme ground ball pitcher but with the stuff to get strikeouts when needed.  It’s going to be a nasty combination and with his athleticism and the ability to repeat his mechanics, he has a top-of-the-rotation profile.  He’ll get another chance in 2013 and I’m betting that the results will look more like his April 21st start against the Royals where he pitched six innings, gave up two runs with 5K/1BB with seven ground outs to one fly out.

25. Jackie Bradley (OF)

Team: Boston Red Sox, League: International – Triple-A
Previous Ranking:  22

I’m still holding the torch for Jackie Bradley but my confidence was shaken with his performance in his brief major league debut.  Let’s face it…he played tentative and wasn’t able to handle pitches on the inside.  Pitchers took advantage and the results were not good.  JBJ is an incredibly hard-worker and I’m holding out hope that he adjusts his approach at the plate.  If he does, the hit-tool should play and of course the defense could be special.   As a fantasy player, I still think he’s a Denard Span type player.  I know that comp doesn’t excite you, but I think that’s what we are looking at.

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21 comments on “Mid Season Top 50 Prospects (1-25)

  1. Admiring the hard work you put into your site and in depth information you provide.
    It’s good to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same unwanted rehashed material.
    Excellent read! I’ve bookmarked your site and I’m including your RSS
    feeds to my Google account.

  2. You talked me into trading Springer. Springer’s stat line for tonight 3 for 3 (1) triple, (2) HRs (5) RBI. Now batting .409 in AAA. 25 HR and 28 SB before the break. If you count the 2HR in the all star game, he has 27 HR. 30-30 before break is not out of line. Not sure I can remember ever seeing those #s. So what if he strikes out? Regretting it now. This kid just produces.

    • I hope I didn’t steer you to sell low. I still stand by my Chris Young comp; which is a very good player. 20/20/.240 player with upside on the HR and SB at his peak. It’s a good player but a player that will peak early and have a quick fall-off, much like Chris Young has had. He has holes in his swing that will be exploited once he is promoted to the big leagues but the power and speed are there; the question is whether he’ll make enough contact to get to both.

  3. This year’s draft was loaded with 3B prospects. Do you see anyone from the 2013 draft cracking the top 10 next year? Are any of the top 3bs in jeopardy of a position change?

  4. Not following the Springer k’s too much debate. Sano has 26 ks in 69 AA at bats and he is #4. And despite the Springer’s k’s, he walks at a much higher rate than #20 Baez. Springer’s production has been better than both at higher levels. Batting .346 at AAA and has a shot at 25 HRs and 30 sbs before the all-star break (unheard of). Best power/speed combo in minors right now not named Buxton.

    Not saying Springer is top 10 but if you are going to knock 1 guy for striking out too much knock down others for the same reason. The strike outs obviously have not hurt hs production. Maybe he is just swinging for the fence every time. In that case, a .300 avg is amazing.

    • I like Sano’s swing much better…the plane is better and given his age, I think he’ll hit for at least an average MLB BA. Springer’s swing is problematic and he’ll be 24 in September and I think it’ll be a challenge to fix. It’s my worry with him. From a power standpoint, there’s no comparison. Sano has 30+ potential and has the chance to lead the league by his mid-20’s. Springer doesn’t nearly have that potential. While I like Springer, I stil like my comp on Chris Young; who had some very good years in Arizona.

  5. I’m surprised that Joc Pederson didn’t make your top 50. He’s hitting .300 with 13 HR and 25 SB as a 21 year old in AA. Where would he rank on your list?

  6. George Springer, Andrew Heaney?

    • Springer reminds me of Chris Young…nice speed/power combo but is going to strikeout a lot. Andrew Heaney is a top 100 prospect and after getting started late is having a great season. Could see him in Double-AA later this year and a chance at the big leagues sometime in 2014. #2/#3 ceiling. Nice prospect.

  7. Hey Rich. Love the pod. Great work by you. I spread the word about your work to my bud’s who have interest in prospects. I can see your ranks above, but who do you see being the best hitter Bogarts, or Russell??

  8. Forgot to hit the notify me button on the last comment. Sorry

  9. Rich,

    Great list and excellent reviews of each player! I really enjoyed reading it. I find it so interesting learning about the up and coming prospects. I’m a life long twins fans and really hoping they put together a much better pitching staff in the next couple years!! Would love to see them get back into being a contending team again. I go to about 20 AAA Iowa Cubs games a year and just curious when you think Jorge Soler might be playing for them? 2015? I really enjoyed watching Anthony Rizzo play when he was here in Des Moines. I think the Cubs made a great deal locking him up this year to that extension. Having a blast playing in the champions league with u this year and listening in every Sunday to the podcast. Thanks again.

  10. Rich, thanks for doing this mid season. Looking for guys to add in NL keeper league, your input is always timely and thoughtful.

  11. A lot of excitement on Gonzalez and I’m anxious to see where he lands. Where does he fit? Honestly, no clue…but hopefully sometime later in the summer, we’ll get a chance to see him – maybe the fall instructs.

  12. Not that I’m saying he belongs on this list, but do you have an opinion on the hottest new Cuban, Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, and where he might belong on a prospect list?

    Thanks for the continued good work!

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