MLB - Top 10 Minor League Prospects
Naming baseball's top prospects and prioritizing the list is a formidable task. Many fantasy sites will tackle a list of the top 50 or top 100 prospects. For this article we have chosen to focus on our rankings for the top 10 prospects of 2013. On this ranking you will note some players with no big league experience and others with limited time up. The players listed below should have significant opportunities this season and we will have to see if they make the best of it. You might also note some familiar names. A few players from last season's list are here again and for good cause. Case-in-point, Jurickson Profar. Profar was ranked at number five last season and by most expert picks, a hands down number one this season. Two new names come in at second and third - Dylan Bundy and Oscar Taveras. Both of these guys could arguably make the number one spot given that they each play different positions and have great potential to making an impact in the majors this season. In my ranking Bundy makes second and Taveras rounds out the top three. Last season, my top three of Trout, Harper and Moore made solid contributions to their major league team. The rest of the list plays out with Wil Myers, Taijuan Walker, Gerrit Cole, Xander Bogaerts, Zack Wheeler, Travis d'Arnaud and Billy Hamilton.
1) Jurickson Profar SS/2B TEX - Profar was ranked fifth on last season's list. He played 126 games for Double-A Frisco and produced some impressive stats. His 47 extra-base hits, 14 home runs, 62 RBI, 16 stolen bases and .281 batting average launched him into the big leagues in September 2012. He played nine games up last season and had three hits in 17 at bats - two doubles and a home run. He will likely see split time between short stop and second base as he did last season. Jurickson is a switch-hitter who has power and speed in his swing from either batter's box. Most are impressed with his natural ability to gauge the strike zone. Defensively, Profar exhibits great accuracy in his throwing and is able to cover much ground with his quickness and agility. Most rankings this season will seat Profar either at the top or down one spot. He will likely open the season in Triple-A and move up quickly.
2) Dylan Bundy P BAL - Bundy was another player to find the top spot on some prospect rankings. He falls into place at number two on my list. He reached the big league last season after starting 23 games from Low-A Delmarva to Double-A Bowie. Bundy pitched a total of 1.2 innings in the Majors, but his minor league stats were impressive; 2.08 ERA, 119 Ks, 103 2/3 innings pitched and .186 batting average of opponents. Bundy is by far the best pitcher among prospects this season. He impresses scouts and experts with his four-pitch arsenal. Bundy's two-seam and four-seam fast balls vary between mid to high range 90mph and his consistent change-up and developing breaking ball add value. Bundy will get his call-up sooner than later this season and justifiably, some who read this will feel Bundy deserves the top spot.
3) Oscar Taveras OF STL - Some readers might also think Oscar Taveras should find his way to the top of this ranking. Taveras was the third name to push the top of some prospect lists and you could easily support the argument. Taveras demonstrated his pure hitting ability last season in the minors. He was named the MVP of the Double-A Texas League posting 67 extra-base hits and a .321 batting average. Scouts report of Taveras's balanced swing and pitch recognition. His potential to compete in the big leagues in the batters box is going to be something to watch. Defensively, Taveras can play any outfield position. This helps get his bat in the line-up. He will start the season in Double-A, but the jump could be quick and impactful.
4) Taijuan Walker P SEA - Walker makes it at number four on my list because his fastball is scary fast on average at 93-96mph and as high as 98mph. He should throw with some velocity given he is 6'4" and weighs 210 lbs. Walker's explosive delivery and ability to work in his curveball and developing changeup make him interesting. Seattle also is reported to have him working on a cutter that could surprise this season after a season of experimentation. Some might worry about Walker's stats from 2012, but he pitched an entire Double-A season. Walker should see the big leagues this season for as few games and maybe more depending. Walker will begin the season in Triple-A.
5) Wil Myers RF TB - Myers could be called a fairly consistent fourth pick on prospect rankings for this season. He falls to fifth on my list.He is a season behind his anticpated big league debut because of a knee injury in 2011, but showed everyone last season in Double-A and Triple-A that he could produce big stats. His 37 home runs in 134 games and .314 batting average were impressive. Myers falls a spot on my list becuase of his trade and recent 2011 defensive position change from catcher to outfield. I do think he will find his place in Tampa Bay and see some games in the majors. His bat is his greatest weapon. Myers will start in Triple-A and move up from there.
6) Gerrit Cole P PIT - Cole was another player who made this list last season. He ended up not seeing the majors, but moving from High-A to Double-A with a short stint in Triple-A. Cole's Double-A ERA of 2.55 and Triple-A ERA of 2.90 are appealing. Cole is another monster pitcher. He has ten pounds on Taijuan Walker and throws even faster. Cole's fastball is high 90s and can go over 100. He also keeps a slider and changeup polished. Cole should be in the big league early on this season after starting in Triple-A. He falls down the list a bit as his impact might not be as great compared to the top five.
7) Xander Bogaerts SS BOS - Bogaerts is one of those guys who could surprise this season. I started with him down the list between nine and eleven, but decided to make the move up the list after some additional research and convincing from a student (RJP). After being promoted to Double-A Portland last season, Bogaerts hit .326 and showed that he has a great upside - being his bat. Boston has been searching for a short stop to make a significant impact since losing Garciaparra to retirement. Despite the buzz surrounding Jose Iglesias, Bogaerts is getting looks for that position and is a fit in the corner outfield or third base. Bogaerts is a better hitter than Iglesias and casn compete with him defensively. Bogaerts will start the season in Double-A and it appears he will see the big league around September.
8) Zack Wheeler P NYM - Wheeler is another fast-throwing, powerful pitcher with an upside of a potentially deadly four-pitch mix. His fastball comes in around 93-96mph while his curveball, slider and change-up complete the arsenal. Do not let Wheeler's small number of Triple-A starts last season scare you. He is going to start in Triple-A this season and make it to the show by July, if most predictions arde correct. This puts Wheeler on a similar timetable compared to Matt Harvey, who New York moved up in July 2012.
9) Travis d'Arnaud C NYM - d'Arnaud is the only catcher to make this list. He was on track last season to get first big league call in Toronto, but he injured his knee and ended his season in June. His .333 batting average and 16 home runs over 67 games last season in Triple-A Las Vegas were solid. Most experts and scouts agree that d'Arnaud is the highest-ranked catching prospect in the league. Defensively, his arm is his strength, but his skills are improving across the board. He will start in Triple-A, but find his way up this season before too long.
10) Billy Hamilton SS/OF CIN - One word describes Billy Hamilton - Fast. Hamilton stole 155 bases in 132 games. Yes, more bases than games played. Hamilton's .311 batting average, 48 extra-base hits and 112 runs last season across High-A and Double-A were also impressive. He entered the league as a short stop and is still listed as such, but it appears he will find more playing room for the time being in the outfield. The outfield suits him given his natural speed. Hamilton will start in Triple-A and find himself in the big leagues before September. His speed skills and improvements across his game should create a role for him in the majors. Hamilton's speed is the key to his leap.