2014 Top 50 MLB Prospects

In case you’re wondering why I haven’t posted anything in a while, it’s because I’ve been busy finishing up my 2014 Baseball Preview. And school, of course. That.

In the mean time though, I’m releasing a sneak peak of the preview, which should come in around 70 pages this year. Just like the last three years, I’m releasing my top 50 prospect list with scouting reports for each player. The actual preview will feature top 10 lists for each team–as always–along with individual grades

I’m not sure yet if the preview will be out by the 22nd, when the Dodgers and Diamondbacks play two games in Sydney, Australia, but it will definitely be out in advanced of Opening Night on the 31st. Until then, enjoy looking at the future stars of baseball. There’s some hope for you, Astros, Twins, and Cubs fans.

Notes:

  • 29 players return from last year’s top 50 prospects list, three more than last year.
  • 13 players graduated to the majors.
  • 9 players fell off the top 50 list from last year, and the three highest-rated ones were Red Sox or Yankees.
  • Of the 21 new players to the list, 7 were selected in the 2013 draft.
  • 12 of the top prospects were taken in the first round of the 2012 draft, the most among any draft.
  • Only six of the 41 players who were drafted were taken outside the first round: Tyler Glasnow (5th round), Joc Pederson (11th), Garin Cecchini (4th), Jonathan Singleton (8th), Austin Hedges (2nd), and Billy Hamilton (2nd round).
  • Just like Jurickson Profar made the leap from 9 to 1 last season, Byron Buxton went from 9 to 1 this year. Taijuan Walker probably won’t make the leap next year because he’ll almost certainly lose his rookie eligibility.
  • Javier Baez made the biggest jump, going from 27 to 4.
  • Despite the fact that they are technically rookies, I did not include Masahiro Tanaka or Jose Abreu because they’ve already played in professional leagues for several years.

Positional Breakdown

  • 2 Catchers
  • 1 First Baseman
  • 5 Third Basemen
  • 7 Shortstops
  • 9 Center Fielders
  • 2 Right Fielders
  • 21 Right-Handed Pitchers
  • 3 Left-Handed Pitchers

Team Breakdowns

  • The Astros, Cubs, Pirates, and Red Sox each had four players.
  • The Dodgers, Indians, Orioles, Royals, and Twins each had three players.
  • The Mets, Reds, and Rockies each had two players.
  • The Athletics, Blue Jays, Braves, Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Giants, Mariners, Marlins, Nationals, Padres, Phillies, Rays, and Tigers, each had one players
  • The Angels, Brewers, Rangers, White Sox, and Yankees need a better farm systems.

1. Byron Buxton

CF Twins mlb_buxton_byron_65
H/W: 6’2″ 189 2013 Ranking: 9 Age: 20 Level: High-A
Buxton has a sky-high ceiling with all five tools ranging from plus to plus plus. He displays plus raw power, which should come in, considering his great approach at the plate, too. With all of that at a premium position, he’s the best prospect in baseball.

2. Xander Bogaerts

SS Red Sox mlb_bogaerts_xander_65
H/W: 6’3″ 185 2013 Ranking: 5 Age: 21 Level: MLB
What makes Bogaerts special isn’t just his elite bat (both the hit and power tools), it’s also great approach at the plate. He has every tool except speed, which is just average. With his athleticism, he’ll be good enough defensively to stick at short for most of his career.

3. Carlos Correa

SS Astros mlb_correa_carlos_65
H/W: 6’4″ 205 2013 Ranking: 10 Age: 19 Level: A
One of the youngest players in the 2012 draft when he was taken #1 overall, Correa has an incredibly advanced approach considering his age and is a great fielder. His bat is plus and he’ll develop bigger power as he fills out, although his size may bump him to third.

4. Javier Baez

SS Cubs mlb_baez_javier_65
H/W: 6′ 195 2013 Ranking: 27 Age: 21 Level: AA
Baez’s calling card is his incredible bat speed, which leads to his big-time power. He’s solid defensively, and his strong arm can play at thid. Because he lacks much patience, he probably will never hit for a very high average.

5. Oscar Taveras

CF Cardinals mlb_tavares_oscar_65
H/W: 6’2″ 200 2013 Ranking: 3 Age: 21 Level: AAA
Taveras’ 2013 was mostly lost due to an ankle injury that never fully healed. When healthy, he’s got plus power with a bat that should hit .300. He’s a free swinger that rarely strikes out or walks, and he’s solid defensively, but probably best suited for right field.

6. Addison Russell

SS Athletics mlb_russell_addison1_65
H/W: 6′ 195 2013 Ranking: 21 Age: 20 Level: AAA
Russell has one of the best bats in the minor leagues with above-average power and speed to go with it. He’s got great hands defensively and lost bulk so that he can stick at shortstop, although that hasn’t affected his bat. Excellent approach at the plate.

7. Archie Bradley

RHP D-Backs mlb_bradley_archie_65
H/W: 6’4″ 225 2013 Ranking: 23 Age: 21 Level: AA
Bradley is exactly what you want in a pitching prospect: he’s got a hulking frame–he had a scholarship offer to play quarterback at Oklahoma–with a plus plus fastball and curveball. Although he’s close to the majors, his changeup and command could use sharpening.

8. Francisco Lindor

SS Indians mlb_lindor_francisco_65
H/W: 5’11” 175 2013 Ranking: 25 Age: 20 Level: AA
Lindor has four of the tools, although his power tool is non-existant right now (he may end up with solid gap power eventually). With one of the best gloves in the minors, great on-base skills, and an excellent approach beyond his years, he’s close to Majors.

9. Taijuan Walker

RHP Mariners mlb_walker_taijuan_65
H/W: 6’4″ 210 2013 Ranking: 17 Age: 21 Level: MLB
His upside is tremendous with his big frame and great athleticism. His motion is easy with a fastball into the upper-90s and a knockout cutter. His curveball didn’t look quite as sharp as it did the year before, and his new motion has not been very effective.

10. Kris Bryant

3B Cubs mlb_bryant_kris_65
H/W: 6’5″ 215 2013 Ranking: IE Age: 22 Level: High-A
Bryant has monstrous power from the right side and should be able to hit for average too. Few third basemen are as big as him, so he may end up in right field, where his strong arm would play well. With a fairly polished bat, he’s not too far from the majors.

11. Miguel Sano

3B Twins mlb_sano_miguel_65
H/W: 6’3″ 195 2013 Ranking: 13 Age: 20 Level: AA
His volume of strikeouts will limit batting average, but Sano has light tower power. That, along with good patience make him a stud. Sadly, he had to have Tommy John surgery, keeping him out for most if not all of this season, which may signal a move to first.

12. Dylan Bundy

RHP Orioles mlb_bundy_dylan_65
H/W: 6’1″ 195 2013 Ranking: 4 Age: 21 Level: MLB
After reaching the majors in his first year and being the top pitching prospect in the game, he missed 2013 with Tommy John Surgery. Bundy should return to form with 99 mph heat and outstanding off-speeds and command, but total recovery isn’t guaranteed.

13. Jameson Taillon

RHP Pirates mlb_taillon_jameson_65
H/W: 6’6″ 235 2013 Ranking: 8 Age: 22 Level: AAA
With great size, plus velocity, a knockout breaking ball, and plus control, Taillon has the makings of a top-of-the-rotation pitcher. Unfortunately, without much deception, batters have an easier time seeing his the ball out of his hands, and his overthrows his changeup.

14. Gregory Polanco

CF Pirates mlb_polanco_gregory_65
H/W: 6’4″ 220 2013 Ranking: 36 Age: 22 Level: AAA
Polanco possesses all five tools, headlined by plus plus defense and speed. His shortened swing still has the same power, and has an excellent approach at the plate, maintaining high contact rates. He’s getting better reads on balls in the outfield this year.

15. George Springer

CF Astros mlb_springer_george_65
H/W: 6’3″ 200 2013 Ranking: 22 Age: 24 Level: AAA
Springer is a true five-tool player with supreme power and speed with great center field defense. Not only that, but he takes plenty walk, although he gets in trouble with whiffs. The only reasons he isn’t ranked higher is because of his age and two-strike approach.

16. Mark Appel

RHP Astros mlb_appel_mark_65
H/W: 6’5″ 190 2013 Ranking: IE Age: 21 Level: A
The top pick in the 2013 draft, Appel has three plus pitches with solid command of each and great projection. In his extra year in college, he became more willing to attack the inside part of the plate; he’s nearly MLB-ready and a future top-of-the-rotation starter.

17. Lucas Giolito

RHP Nationals mlb_giolito_lucas_65
H/W: 6’6″ 225 2013 Ranking: 28 Age: 19 Level: Low-A
Giolito had the chance to be the first high school pitcher taken first overall last year before needing Tommy John surgery, and he’s fulfilling that promise now. With two plus plus pitches (fastball and curveball) he has ace potential. His changeup still needs work.

18. Jonathan Gray

RHP Rockies mlb_gray_jonathan_65
H/W: 6’4″ 255 2013 Ranking: IE Age: 22 Level: High-A
He consistently throws 100 mph and has a nasty slider, which should be enough to carry him to the majors. His changeup is improving, although his command needs work. With his size, long stride, and quick arm action, it’s hard not to see a top-of-the-rotation pitcher.

19. Robert Stephenson

RHP Reds mlb_stephenson_robert_65
H/W: 6’2″ 190 2013 Ranking: NR Age: 21 Level: AA
Stephenson bursted onto the scene last year as a future ace with an upper-90s fastball and plus plus curveball. He does have a slightly funky delivery, but despite that and missing time with a nagging hamstring injury, he displays great command.

20. Kevin Gausman

RHP Orioles mlb_gausman_kevin_65
H/W: 6’3″ 190 2013 Ranking: 32 Age: 23 Level: MLB
Gausman looks like a top-of-the-rotation starters purely beacuse of his great fastball and changeup, but his breaking ball still needs work. His numbers in the majors don’t match his tools because his command wasn’t quite ready for The Show yet.

21. Kyle Zimmer

RHP Royals mlb_zimmer_kyle_65
H/W: 6’3″ 215 2013 Ranking: 34 Age: 22 Level: AA
With two plus plus pitches in his fastball and curveball, along with a changeup and slider that could end up as plus, Zimmer has some of the best stuff in the minors. Last season was cut short by some shoulder issues, which shouldn’t be a huge deal going forward.

22. Eddie Butler

RHP Rockies mlb_butler_eddie_65
H/W: 6’2″ 180 2013 Ranking: NR Age: 23 Level: AA
Butler’s fastball rides up to 98 mph with both sink and tail to it. Matched up with a plus slider and hard screwball-like changeup at a three-quarters slot, and Butler is rather hard to hit. Butler’s stuff allows his to get a high number of both strikeouts and ground balls.

23. Noah Syndergaard

RHP Mets mlb_syndergaard_noah_65
H/W: 6’6″ 240 2013 Ranking: NR Age: 21 Level: AA
Syndergaard is consistently clocked up to 98 mph with a potentially plus changeup and slider. He has a great workhorse frame with a nice downward plane in his delivery. He has good control, although he’s struggled a bit against left-handed batters.

24. Corey Seager

SS Dodgers mlb_seager_corey_65
H/W: 6’4″ 215 2013 Ranking: NR Age: 20 Level: High-A
Seager hits for power thanks to great mechanics and a big frame. But that big frame may get in the way of playing short because it cuts down on his mobility, although he has good hands and arm strength. He’d be a plus defender at third, where his brother Kyle plays.

25. Aaron Sanchez

RHP Blue Jays mlb_sanchez_aaron_65
H/W: 6’4″ 190 2013 Ranking: 37 Age: 21 Level: High-A
Sanchez gets plenty of ground balls with plus sinker and curveball, although his strikeout numbers have consistently been dropping. He has ace potential because of his stuff, but he lacks good control or command, a problem which may stem from his delivery.

26. Albert Almora

CF Cubs mlb_almora_albert_65
H/W: 6’2″ 180 2013 Ranking: 41 Age: 19 Level: A
Almora is an outstanding defender in center, which has more to do with great instincts than speed. He has a great approach at the plate with a plus bat, and he may or may not develop more power later. Almora doesn’t have the biggest upside, but he’s very safe.

27. Andrew Heaney

LHP Marlins mlb_heaney_andrew_65
H/W: 6’2″ 190 2013 Ranking: NR Age: 22 Level: AA
Heaney’s arsenal has ticked up recently with a plus fastball and slider to go with a potentially plus changeup. He still has good command despite his slighlty-below three-quarters slot delivery that he doesn’t totally follow through on.

28. Kyle Crick

RHP Giants mlb_crick_kyle_65
H/W: 6’4″ 220 2013 Ranking: NR Age: 21 Level: High-A
Crick racks up a ton of strikeouts on his plus fastball and breaking ball, although his changeup is far behind his other two pitches. he has a great frame for throwing plenty of innings, but he has some command issues, potentially relategd to his high-effort delivery.

29. Jorge Soler

RF Cubs mlb_soler_jorge_65
H/W: 6’4 215 2013 Ranking: 45 Age: 22 Level: High-A
Soler signed with an MLB team less than three weeks before Yasiel Puig did, and they have similar skill sets. He’s very raw but possesses outstanding hand speed with plus power and a plus arm. Soler also tends to be aggressive to a fault at the plate.

30. Maikel Franco

3B Phillies mlb_franco_maikel_65
H/W: 6’1″ 180 2013 Ranking: NR Age: 21 Level: AA
Franco has excellent plate coverage and rarely strikes out, uncommon for a player with his power. His lack of walks isn’t good, but the bigger concern is that a lack of speed or lateral quickness may force him to move to first, where he can’t show off his strong arm.

31. Yordano Ventura

RHP Royals mlb_ventura_yordano_65
H/W: 5’11” 180 2013 Ranking: NR Age: 22 Level: MLB
Ventura has all sorts of upside with a fastball up to 100 mph and a plus power curve, but he also has lots of downside. His 5’10” size makes him rather home run-prone because of the lack of a downward plane on his delivery. His small stature also leads to iffy durability.

32. Tyler Glasnow

RHP Pirates mlb_glasnow_tyler_65
H/W: 6’7″ 195 2013 Ranking: NR Age: 20 Level: A
Glasnow’s velocity has reached the upper 90s now that he’s filling out his frame, and he has a pair of strong breaking balls to go with it. His command and control aren’t nearly at the same level as his off-speeds, and he’s only faced A-Ball hitters, but he’s got promise.

33. Jackie Bradley Jr.

CF Red Sox mlb_bradley_jackie_65
H/W: 5’10” 195 2013 Ranking: 33 Age: 23 Level: MLB
Bradley is top-notch defender because of great instincts and solid speed, and he also has a plus bat. He was overhyped after an outstanding 2013 Spring Training, but he’s patient with some power. He gets into trouble on inside pitches when he over-extends his swing.

34. Nick Castellanos

3B Tigers mlb_castellanos_nick_65
H/W: 6’4″ 210 2013 Ranking: 31 Age: 21 Level: MLB
After spending a year in the outfield, Castellanos gets to make the transition back to his natural third base, where he was at best average. His value comes in his bat, which is plus, and his plus raw power. Although he lacks speed, his bat will carry him.

35. Travis d’Arnaud

C Mets mlb_darnaud_travis_65
H/W: 6’2″ 195 2013 Ranking: 16 Age: 25 Level: MLB
With the bar so low for a starting Major League catcher, d’Arnaud looks like a future All-Star with great defense and intriguing power. His only issue is a complete inability to stay healthy. He’s only had more than 300 at-bats just twice in his seven-year pro career.

36. Austin Meadows

CF Pirates mlb_meadows_austin_65
H/W: 6’3″ 200 2013 Ranking: IE Age: 18 Level: 19
Big, athletic frame with shocking speed for his size. His swing is nice with good mechanics and fast wrists, and he should grow into big power. He has four of the five tools–his arm isn’t great, although it’s certainly adequate–and he has real star power.

37. Kohl Stewart

RHP Twins mlb_stewart_kohl_65
H/W: 6’3″ 195 2013 Ranking: IE Age: 19 Level: Rookie
Stewart was the top prep arm selected in the 2013 draft and almost went to Texas A&M, where he would have been a quarterback as well as a pitcher. He’s very athletic with a four-pitch mix featuring a plus slider and fastball, although his command still needs polish.

38. Joc Pederson

CF Dodgers mlb_pederson_joc_65
H/W: 6’1 185 2013 Ranking: NR Age: 21 Level: AA
Pederson has all five tools, although none of them are as good as those of players higher on this list. Power and speed are his two main calling cards, and he has the arm to play right field. He needs improve against left-handed hitters, but he’s a low-risk prospect.

39. Garin Cecchini

3B Red Sox mlb_cechhini_garin_65
H/W: 6’2″ 200 2013 Ranking: NR Age: 21 Level: AA
Above anything else, Cecchini can flat out hit. He’s got a great approach with great instincts both at the plate (leading to good plate discipline) and on the bases, which helps him out-performs his average tools. He’s improved defensively but will never be plus.

40. Henry Owens

LHP Red Sox mlb_owens_henry_65
H/W: 6’6″ 205 2013 Ranking: NR Age: 21 Level: AA
Owens has a big, lanky frame and is fairly projectable with a chance to add more weight. His stock got a big boost with his velocity ticking up for his fastball and curveball in addition to already having a knockout changeup. He does, however lack great command.

41. Austin Hedges

C Padres mlb_hedges_austin_65
H/W: 6’1″ 190 2013 Ranking: 46 Age: 21 Level: AA
Few catchers in the minors are as strong defensively as Hedges is. That alone makes him a high-probability prospect, and he’s shown big raw power, as well. How well that translates into games will determine his value, although he already has high contact rates.

42. Clint Frazier

RF Indians mlb_frazier_clint_65
H/W: 6’1″ 190 2013 Ranking: IE Age: 19 Level: Rookie
Frazier was one of the two big prep bats from Georgia along with Meadows, and he has more power, thanks to outstanding bat speed. While he eclipses Meadows in power, he’s an average runner and below-average fielder, so his value is all in the bat.

43. Billy Hamilton

CF Reds mlb_hamilton_billy_65
H/W: 6′ 160 2013 Ranking: 24 Age: 23 Level: MLB
Billy Hamilton is the fastest to ever play baseball. He’s had 356 steals in the last three seasons, including going 13-for-14 in the pros. His bat was average in the minors and hasn’t fared well against top pitching, and he has no power, although he’s a plus fielder.

44. Raul Mondesi

SS Royals mlb_mondesi_raul_65
H/W: 6’1″ 165 2013 Ranking: NR Age: 18 Level: A
Despite being 16 years old for half the season, Mondesi held his own in a league with everyone much older than him. He doesn’t have his dad’s power, but he’s very toolsy. He’s already a great defender and should develop a plus bat from both sides of the plate.

45. Julio Urias

LHP Dodgers mlb_urias_julio_65
H/W: 5’11” 160 2013 Ranking: NR Age: 17 Level: A
Urias was already throwing 95 mph at age 16 with plenty of time to grow vertically and horizontally. Even at his young age, he has plus control and a plus curveball, although he may become fly ball prone if he doesn’t outgrow his small frame. High-risk high-reward.

46. Trevor Bauer

RHP Indians mlb_bauer_trevor_65
H/W: 6’1″ 190 2013 Ranking: 14 Age: 23 Level: MLB
Bauer’s stock plummeted as he lost all his control last year, but he has the stuff to be a top-of-the-rotation starter. His fastball consistently sits 96-97 with three off-speeds ranging from average to plus. There are makeup questions, but fixing his command is key.

47. Lucas Sims

RHP Braves mlb_sims_lucas_65
H/W: 6’2″ 195 2013 Ranking: NR Age: 19 Level: A
Sims already has a plus fastball and curve after his first full season in pro ball with an improving changeup to go with it. He still has room to add a little more weight, which could lead to a boost in velocity. He has a quick arm action, despite atypical delivery.

48. Jonathan Singleton

1B Astros mlb_singleton_jon_65
H/W: 6’2 235 2013 Ranking: 30 Age: 22 Level: AAA
2013 was lost for Singleton because he missed the first 50 games with a suspension for marijuana use and came back in poor shape. He still has a similar upside with massive power and an intriguing bat. Assuming he’s back in shape, he has soft hands on defense.

49. Hunter Harvey

RHP Orioles mlb_harvey_hunter_65
H/W: 6’3″ 195 2013 Ranking: IE Age: 19 Level: Low-A
Harvey was the 21st pick in the 2013 draft, but he looks like one of the better picks now. He has projectable velocity and promising off-speeds but a ways to go in terms of development before he makes it to the Majors. He has bloodlines; his dad, Bryan, was a closer.

50. Taylor Guerrieri

RHP Rays mlb_guerrieri_taylor_65
H/W: 6’3″ 195 2013 Ranking: 41 Age: 21 Level: A
Tommy John surgery will keep Guerrieri out for most of this season, but when he’s healthy, he’s absolutely dominant with a fastball up to 97, a plus curveball, and great control. Recovery from surgery is never assured, but he has the makings of an ace.

_

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