2011 Top 50 MLB Prospects

With pitchers and catchers ready to report in less than three weeks, it’s time to look at the future for many teams, especially those who don’t have much to look forward to this year. I’m looking at you, Royals.

Young talent is exciting in all sports, especially in baseball. Twenty-nine of my top fifty this season were number one picks, but drafting high isn’t the only way to collect elite talent. Look no further than Domonic Brown. Brown, the overall prospect in 2011, was the 607th pick in the 2006 draft and only received a $350K signing bonus. Many more gems can be found across the international market and in the later rounds of the draft.

For those teams with little to look forward to this year, help is on the way — at least for most of them. The Royals have six high-quality prospects, four of which are on in the top twenty-seven. The Rays have another four in the Top 40. Even the Nationals have some talent!

This season will be very exciting for big market teams like Boston, Philadelphia, and New York, but every team has some reason for hope. Unless of course you’re a Pirates fan, but then you have Steelers. Maybe not so much either if you’re an Indians fans, but at least they have the Cava– I mean at least there’s nice weath– I mean at least you’re not living in Arkansas.

Without further ado, here are my Top 50 MLB prospects. My rankings are based on film I’ve seen, production, and scouting reports from trusted sources. Each player has a short scouting report straight out of my 2011 MLB Preview, which is due to be released in late March. If you missed last year’s issue, here is a medium resolution version of it. If you want the high-resolution version, comment on the bottom, and I’ll send it to you. Enjoy.

1. Bryce Harper

OF Nationals mlb_a_harper_65
Height: 6’2” Weight: 245 Age: 18 B/T: R/R
Unheard of power with plus plus athleticism, discipline, arm strength, and overall bat. Future superstar.

2. Mike Trout

OF Angels mlb_u_trout_65
Height: 6’1” Weight: 217 Age: 19 B/T: R/R
Star-in-the-making. Athletic, very fast, strong, great defender with solid arm strength. Great on-base skills.

3. Mike Moustakas

3B Royals mlb_moustakas_mike_65
Height: 5’11” Weight: 230 Age: 22 B/T: R/R
Elite power hitter and great arm. Smooth swing, slow, but incredibly strong. Solid fielder, should stick at third.

4. Aroldis Chapman

LHP Reds mlb_g_chapman_65
Height: 6’4” Weight: 185 Age: 22 B/T: L/L
Absolutely incredible stuff, fantastic fastball, slider. Stamina is in question, could be ace or shutdown closer.

5. Jeremy Hellickson

RHP Rays 95654343NL391_Tampa_Bay_Ray
Height: 6’1” Weight: 185 Age: 23 B/T: R/R
Effortless release with shocking velocity. Three plus off-speed pitches and great intangibles.

Notes: At the top, Harper has the biggest upside, but Trout will hit the show much sooner. Moustakas is the one most likely to be a bust, but he also has incredible upside. It’ll be interesting to see how Chapman and Hellickson will be used this upcoming season; Cincy will want to determine whether they want to stretch out Chapman into a starter or make him a closer, while Tampa will want to limit Hellickson’s innings to prevent future injury. All of the top five players will be a star in this league.

6. Jesus Montero

C Yankees 95659428NL263_New_York_Yank
Height: 6’4” Weight: 225 Age: 21 B/T: R/R
One of the best power hitting prospects. Can hit well for average, too. Defense is defective, will settle at DH.

7. Domonic Brown

OF Phillies mlb_g_dbrown_65
Height: 6’5” Weight: 200 Age: 23 B/T: L/L
Plus in all five categories with much more power to fill out. Athletic, great defender, plus speed.

8. Dustin Ackley

2B Mariners mlb_g_ackley_65
Height: 6’1” Weight: 185 Age: 22 B/T: L/R
Polished hitter with great discipline, speed, and a fantastic bat. Excellent pure hitter, versatile in the field.

9. Kyle Drabek

RHP Blue Jays Blue Jays Orioles Baseball
Height: 6’1” Weight: 190 Age: 23 B/T: R/R
Ace-type stuff, hard fastball and a knockout curve. Great command poise, and toughness.

10. Eric Hosmer

1B Royals mlb_u_hosmer_65
Height: 6’4” Weight: 215 Age: 21 B/T: L/L
Quick wrists, great feel for the strike zone. Plus power, fantastic total bat. Good defender.

Notes: Montero and Ackley could both win starting jobs in Spring Training depending on how well they can play against major league competition. Montero’s value will largely be based on where he plays; he can hit his way into any lineup, but his value will be doubled if he can catch every day. Brown won’t have the power of Jayson Werth, but he will be a mainstay in Philly’s lineup for a long time.

11. Desmond Jennings

OF Rays 95654343NL299_Tampa_Bay_Ray
Height: 6’2” Weight: 200 Age: 24 B/T: R/R
Very athletic and can absolutely fly. Great fielder, highly disciplined, hits well for average, okay power.

12. Julio Teheran

RHP Braves mlb_i_teheran_65
Height: 6’2” Weight: 150 Age: 20 B/T: R/R
Electric stuff, specifically blazing fastball. Easy motion with high velocity, ace ceiling.

13. Manny Machado

SS Orioles mlb_i_machado_65
Height: 6’3” Weight: 185 Age: 18 B/T: R/R
True 5-tool potential, a future superstar. Very athletic with real no holes to speak of.

14. Casey Kelly

RHP Padres mlb_g_kelly_65
Height: 6’3” Weight: 195 Age: 21 B/T: R/R
Great command, velocity with plus curve and nice changeup. Athletic with great poise and delivery.

15. Jameson Taillon

RHP Pirates mlb_a_taillon_65
Height: 6’6” Weight: 225 Age: 19 B/T: R/R
Quick delivery, great poise and control. Explosive fastball, hard curve, very young with room to grow.

16. Martin Perez

LHP Rangers mlb_e_perez_65
Height: 6’0” Weight: 178 Age: 19 B/T: L/L
Big deceptive lefty with great changeup, curve. Very crafty, high ceiling. Struggled at upper levels.

17. Jacob Turner

RHP Tigers mlb_a_turner_65
Height: 6’5” Weight: 210 Age: 19 B/T: R/R
Big frame with above average fastball, plus curve and changeup. Slightly injury-prone.

18. Michael Pineda

RHP Mariners mlb_e_pineda_65
Height: 6’5” Weight: 245 Age: 22 B/T: R/R
Plus fastball and slider, Number 2 starter potential. Swing-and-miss off-speed pitches.

19. Aaron Hicks

OF Twins MLB: MAR 21 Minnesota Twins - Top Minor League Prospects
Height: 6’2” Weight: 185 Age: 21 B/T: S/R
5-tool potential with great plate discipline, more power to come. Very athletic with scary fast speed.

20. Mike Montgomery

LHP Royals mlb_a_montgomery_65
Height: 6’5” Weight: 180 Age: 21 B/T: L/L
Tall, lean frame with great potential as a starter. Plus fastball and changeup. Dominates his competition.

Notes: A lot of these players are high upside/high risk players (Taillon, Turner, and Hicks), but I feel that each and every one of them can make several All-Star games. Not all will make it big, but they all have fantastic tools and great potential. It’s getting about time for Desmond Jennings to step up after spending five years in the minors, and he should be presented a great opportunity with Carl Crawford’s departure. Martin Perez and Aaron Hicks are due for bounceback seasons after average years.

21. Zach Britton

LHP Orioles mlb_u_britton_65
Height: 6’3” Weight: 195 Age: 23 B/T: L/L
Plus fastball and slider along with great command. Elite potential as a starter, especially valuable as a lefty.

22. Brett Lawrie

2B Blue Jays mlb_i_lawrie_65
Height: 6’0” Weight: 213 Age: 20 B/T: R/R
High-quality bat with great power. Goes all-out, great athleticism, bat speed. May end up playing third or at a corner outfield position.

23. Shelby Miller

RHP Cardinals mlb_g_miller_65
Height: 6’1” Weight: 190 Age: 20 B/T: R/R
Aggressive strikeout pitcher with a great fastball. Frontline starter in the making, hasn’t scratched his ceiling yet.

24. Tyler Matzek

LHP Rockies mlb_a_matzek_65
Height: 6’1” Weight: 230 Age: 20 B/T: L/L
Full arsenal of solid pitches, struggled with command. High ceiling, still young with room to improve.

25. Brandon Belt

1B Giants mlb_i_belt_65
Height: 6’1” Weight: 210 Age: 22 B/T: L/L
Great, smooth swing generating nice contact and elite power potential. Nice glove, but not much speed.

26. Matt Moore

LHP Rays mlb_e_moore_65
Height: 6’2” Weight: 205 Age: 23 B/T: L/L
Outstanding strikeout pitcher with plus fastball and curveball. Control can be his only issue.

27. Wil Myers

C Royals mlb_e_myers_65
Height: 6’3” Weight: 190 Age: 20 B/T: R/R
Great overall bat, plus plate discipline. Unclear where he’ll play in the majors, he may have to be moved to right field.

28. Kyle Gibson

RHP Twins mlb_a_gibson_65
Height: 6’6” Weight: 210 Age: 23 B/T: R/R
Bulldog type innings-eater with a plus slider and changeup. Top-of-the-rotation potential.

29. Grant Green

SS Athletics mlb_i_green_65
Height: 6’3” Weight: 180 Age: 23 B/T: R/R
Toolsy with nice power, above average speed and arm strength. Needs to improve plate discipline.

30. Lonnie Chisenhall

3B Indians 95688693JNF_D071648071.JPG
Height: 6’1” Weight: 200 Age: 22 B/T: L/R
Hits very well for average and has solid speed. Lanky frame, solid fielder with a plus arm. Big upside.

Notes: Lawrie and Green are personal favorites of mine. If Lawrie can stick at second, he’ll eventually be a Dan Uggla-type hitter, and any team could use that production out of a usually poor-hitting position. Green is another powerful middle infielder, something Oakland hasn’t had since Miguel Tejada left after the 2003 season. Gibson is also a nice sleeper to jump into the Top 20 next year; he fits in perfectly with the Twins’ pitching mantra.

31. Jarrod Parker

RHP Diamondbacks mlb_g_parker_65
Height: 6’1” Weight: 180 Age: 22 B/T: R/R
Outstanding stuff, particularly his slider and fastball. Coming off major shoulder surgery, should reach the majors soon.

32. Brett Jackson

OF Cubs 797051
Height: 6’2” Weight: 210 Age: 22 B/T: R/R
Plus across the board, but no one tool is exceptional. Nice power ceiling and speed, above-average fielder.

33. Chris Sale

LHP White Sox mlb_i_sale_65
Height: 6’5” Weight: 170 Age: 21 B/T: L/L
Dominating with funky motion and plus fastball, changeup, slider. Can start, close. Could be an injury concern if he throws too many innings

34. Jonathan Singleton

1B Phillies mlb_e_singleton_65
Height: 6’2” Weight: 215 Age: 19 B/T: L/L
Strong frame with great swing, plus power, and plate discipline. Eventually may be moved to the outfield.

35. Miguel Sano

SS Twins 61325789
Height: 6’3” Weight: 195 Age: 17 B/T: R/R
Raw, but has all the skills in the world. Great power potential, huge frame. Eventually will probably move to third base.

36. Jose Iglesias

SS Red Sox D071760024.JPG
Height: 5’11” Weight: 175 Age: 21 B/T: R/R
Ace defender with plus range and arm strength. Quick hands, compact swing, little more than gap power.

37. Dee Gordon

SS Dodgers mlb_e_gordon_65
Height: 5’11” Weight: 150 Age: 22 B/T: L/R
Fantastic speed and athleticism, but not much else. Power and glove haven’t come along quite as well.

38. Derek Norris

C Nationals mlb_g_norris_65
Height: 6’0” Weight: 210 Age: 21 B/T: R/R
Low batting average, but has great power and walks a lot. Poor defender, fairly slow, but has a great arm.

39. Jenrry Mejia

RHP Mets Mejia
Height: 6’0” Weight: 160 Age: 21 B/T: R/R
Great fastball that touches the high 90s with nice movement. Health and future role are unclear.

40. Chris Archer

RHP Rays mlb_a_archer_65
Height: 6’3” Weight: 180 Age: 22 B/T: R/R
Has a plus fastball and a great strikeout rate, but he often loses control. High upside starter.

Notes: Jarrod Parker is very intriguing because he would have been Top 25 last year had he not a year after his shoulder surgery. If he bounces back right on track, he could be D-Backs ace in not too long. The trio of shortstops at 35-36-37 are all very different, but very talented. Sano is by far the best hitter with a great overall bat and the most room to grow. Iglesias is by far the best fielder, by most accounts the best fielding prospect of the last decade. Dee Gordon, son of former closer Tom, is by far the fastest and most athletic but needs a big year after a solid-at-best 2010 campaign.

41. Anthony Ranaudo

RHP Red Sox mlb_i_ranaudo_65
Height: 6’7” Weight: 225 Age: 21 B/T: R/R
Huge-framed power pitcher with a great curveball. Dominating stuff, needs a little refinement.

42. Christian Friedrich

LHP Rockies mlb_a_friedrich_65
Height: 6’4” Weight: 215 Age: 23 B/T: L/L
Tall, aggressive starter with a nice four-pitch mix including a plus curve. Has had elbow issues.

43. Freddie Freeman

1B Braves mlb_g_freeman_65
Height: 6’4” Weight: 215 Age: 23 B/T: L/L
Big frame and solid all around. Put up great numbers at a young age, even at higher levels. Big bat, makes hard contact.

44. Yonder Alonso

1B Reds mlb_alonso_yonder_65
Height: 6’2” Weight: 210 Age: 23 B/T: L/R
Strong frame and very disciplined with a great bat. Still has some power to develop. Plays some outfield.

45. Tanner Scheppers

RHP Rangers Scheppers
Height: 6’4” Weight: 200 Age: 24 B/T: R/R
Has an electric fastball and plus curveball. Could be ace or shutdown closer if he can avoid the injury bug.

46. Nick Castellanos

3B Tigers castellanos_nick_display_image
Height: 6’4” Weight: 195 Age: 18 B/T: R/R
Great raw power with potential to be a great hitter. Solid fielder with great arm. High upside, but far from hitting the show.

47. Jared Mitchell

OF White Sox mlb_mitchell_jared_65
Height: 6’0” Weight: 205 Age: 22 B/T: L/L
Extremely athletic with solid power potential and great speed. Smooth in the field. Injuries are a concern.

48. Chris Carter

1B Athletics 61766608
Height: 6’5” Weight: 230 Age: 24 B/T: R/R
Large frame with elite power and on-base skills. Poor fielder, slow, and undisciplined. Likely will be relegated to DH.

49. Arodys Vizcaino

RHP Braves mlb_i_vizcaino_65
Height: 6’0” Weight: 189 Age: 20 B/T: R/R
Has a plus curveball and can crank up the heat, still with great control. Health is a concern, but otherwise has high upside.

50. Jordan Lyles

RHP Astros mlb_i_lyles_65
Height: 6’4” Weight: 215 Age: 20 B/T: R/R
Durable innings eater who consistently pounds the zone. Nice slider, changeup, and control.

Notes: Vizcaino is another favorite of mine because of his arsenal, high velocity, young age, and fantastic name (of course). If he stays healthy, he could be a lesser version of his teammate, Julio Teheran. Castellanos and Ranaudo, both supplemental first-rounders in 2010, are way more talented than their draft slots would dictate. Castellanos was one of the top prep bats, but his giant bonus demands pushed him down to the 44th pick. Ranaudo would have been a top-5 pick if he wasn’t injured for his last college season, but dominated the Cape Cod League during the summer before he signed for top-5 money.

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