The 100 Best Prospects in Baseball Heading into 2013
Human Lottery Ticket
Trying to figure which prospects are for real or not is probably the hardest job in all of baseball to do efficiently. Like I said above, it truly is a human lottery ticket. For every Mike Trout or Bryce Harper, there is a Bryan Bullington or Matt Bush that reminds us how fragile top prospects really are. But if it wasn’t for prospects, in particular prospect rankings, a lot of the trades we see during the off-season and trading deadline would never happen.
When it comes to baseball fandom, prospects are easily one more the most volatile subjects to discuss and debate. On one hand, many fans don’t really care about prospects as long as a trade would help their team win now. On the other hand, however, many fans would rather see their team build from within, even if there is no guarantee that these guys will pan out.
Having said all that, here is my list for the top 100 prospects in all of baseball. Considering how tedious this process was, I’m sure I am forgetting some obvious ones, so don’t curse my name too much.
Alas, the 100 best MLB prospects heading into the 2013 season. Let’s hope these human lottery tickets pay off a little better than Tim Beckham did, eh? Note: To avoid the confusion that has arisen in the comment, it is in reverse order.
Corey Spangenberg (San Diego Padres)
Spangenberg is a speedster who can play all over the infield. Even if he is weak with the stick, he has some value.
Yordano Ventura (Kansas City Royals)
Pitchers aren't supposed to throw their weight, but the 140-pound Ventura throws over 100 MPH.
Manny Banuelos (New York Yankees)
Banuelos will miss the 2013 season due to Tommy John surgery, but he's still a very, very talented arm to have.
Grant Green (Oakland Athletics)
Grant Green is an OOTP 6.5 hall of famer. But that was as a shortstop, not a centerfielder, where Green is now.
Jeurys Familia (New York Mets)
It took me about 15 tries to spell this guy's name right, but once Jeurys needs to find some control before he's moves up the top 100 list. A 1.59 WHIP just won't cut it.
David Dahl (Colorado Rockies)
Dahl might not reach the Majors for quite some time, but he has a lot of skills many scouts covet. And no matter what level it is, a .423 on-base percentage is impressive.
Daniel Norris (Toronto Blue Jays)
With a 7.97 ERA in rookie league, there might be a cause for concern, but he's still very raw and talented. He's too young to panic yet.
Tyler Austin (New York Yankees)
Austin had a .400 on-base percentage last season, which is something that should always make scouts happy.
Tyler Thornburg (Milwaukee Brewers)
Thornburg is a guy who doesn't have the tools for being a great pitcher, yet he has had success throughout his career. The Brewers used him briefly in 2012, where he had a 4.50 ERA in 22 innings.
Wily Peralta (Milwaukee Brewers)
Peralta is a tricky one to figure out. He was pretty average in AAA, but he was awesome in his five starters for the Brewers in 2012. It's safe to assume he has a chance to be a backend starter in 2013.
AJ Cole (Oakland Athletics)
Cole was the big piece in the Gio Gonzalez trade, and for good reason. The tall, lanky right-hander has a great fastball, but is lacking the secondary stuff that makes him a viable starter in the Majors right now.
Austin Hedges (San Diego Padres)
Hedges is better known for his defensive abilities, but it's not like he's a slouch at the plate; plus, who could hit well in San Diego anyways?
Addison Russell (Oakland Athletics)
Although Russell had some issues, the A's feel their 2012 first round pick will be a staple for years to come.
Carlos Sanchez (Chicago White Sox)
If the White Sox move Gordon Beckham, Carlos Sanchez might start for the White Sox in 2013, seeing as the 20-year old hit .323 at three different levels in 2012.
Gregory Polanco (Pittsburgh Pirates)
Polanco shot up the ranks due to a marvelous 2012 season, where he had an OPS in the higher 900s.
Chris Archer (Tampa Bay Rays)
Archer could be another version of Wade Davis: a pitcher who was okay as a starter, but would be electric as a reliever.
Cody Buckel (Texas Rangers)
If MiLB numbers were any indication, the Rangers have someone special on their hands.
Trayce Thompson (Chicago White Sox)
After OPSing .899 in AA, Trayce Thompson shot up Chicago's prospect list.
Daniel Vogelbach (Chicago Cubs)
When John Sickels says you can be the next Prince Fielder, then you will make my Top 100 list. Vogelbach mashes for a 19-year old, slugging over .641 last season.
Kyle Crick (San Francisco Giants)
Just what the Giants need -- another awesome pitcher.
Jesse Biddle (Philadelphia Phillies)
Biddle, once he finds his stuff, has a chance to be a lethal force for the Phillies.
Delino DeShields (Houston Astros)
If DeShields can get on base like he does in the Minors, he could be a valuable leadoff hitter for the Astros, who need all the help they can get.
Daniel Corcino (Cincinnati Reds)
Corcino has had some success as a starting pitcher, but his future may be in the bullpen.
Yasiel Puig (Los Angeles Dodgers)
With all the spending the Dodgers have done in the past few months, it's easy to forget about the $42 million they spent on a prospect. Just imagine if this guy pans out...
Trevor Story (Colorado Rockies)
Story is a future big league shortstop, which is the one thing the Rockies do not need, sadly.
Gary Brown (San Francisco Giants)
Brown could be a future leadoff hitter for the defending World Series champions, thanks to his great speed and his ability to get on base at a decent clip.
Allen Webster (Boston Red Sox)
Webster was the big prospect that was shipped to Boston in the megadeal with the Dodgers. It's quite possible we could see Webster with Boston as soon as this upcoming season.
James Paxton (Seattle Mariners)
With a newly developed changeup, Paxton could see the Mariners' rotation sooner rather than later.
Jared Cosart (Houston Astros)
Given his numbers in the Minors and the Astros' desperate need for some pitching, we could see Cosart starting this season. In case you didn't know, Cosart was the main piece of the Hunter Pence deal that the Astros did with the Phillies a couple of years ago.
Aaron Hicks (Minnesota Twins)
Meet your replacement for Ben Revere and Denard Span.
Christian Bethancourt (Atlanta Braves)
Bethancourt's offensive numbers are pretty dicey, but his value comes from behind the plate.
Dan Straily (Oakland Athletics)
It almost seems like the Athletics have some factory where they can create pitchers. Straily was a surprise in 2012, but succeeded at every level he pitched at, including 39 quality innings for the Athletics.
Eddie Rosario (Minnesota Twins)
Rosario has moved from the outfield to second base, where he could be a starter for many years to come due to his offensive prowess.
Taylor Guerrieri (Tampa Bay Rays)
Although the level isn't the best, Guerrieri had a 1.04 ERA in 12 starts in 2012, including only five walks. Studly.
Luis Heredia (Pittsburgh Pirates)
Heredia is only 18 years old, and had a 2.71 ERA in the Minors in 2012. When I was 18, I did not have a 2.71 ERA in the Minors.
Bryce Brentz (Boston Red Sox)
Brentz's plate disclipine leaves something to be desired, but if the Red Sox rebuild, Brentz might be with the big club as early as this upcoming season.
Michael Choice (Oakland Athletics)
Before he broke his hand, Choice was showing just how deadly he could be with the bat. He is a lot like Oakland's own Chris Carter.
Jorge Soler (Chicago Cubs)
Soler is as much as human lottery ticket as a player could be.
Alen Hanson (Pittsburgh Pirates)
A five-tool prospect at shortstop? Giddy up!
Brett Jackson (Chicago Cubs)
Brett Jackson strikes out a lot, which is why the Cubs are going to tinker with his swing during the off-season. If he could consistently make contact, Jackson has the potential to start in the outfield for a long time.
Kevin Gausman (Baltimore Orioles)
Gausman was the first pitcher taken in the 2012 Draft. Based on potential alone, the Orioles have to feel really good about the future of their rotation.
Max Fried (San Diego Padres)
The Padres have a lot of good, young talent, with Max Fried being a part of the future in San Diego. Considering he's fresh out of high school, it might be awhile before we see him, but he could be an ace in the future.
Jedd Gyorko (San Diego Padres)
Hey, another Padre! Gyorko can mash, seeing as he hit 30 bombs last season. He should get a chance to play with the Padres this season.
Matt Davidson (Arizona Diamondbacks)
He may have some growing pains this season, but Davidson will probably be Arizona's everyday third baseman coming into camp.
Robert Stephenson (Cincinnati Reds)
Considering Stephenson already has a 97 MPH fastball and a plus curveball, you could see why the Reds are optimistic about their future pitching staff.
Tony Cingrani (Cincinnati Reds)
Cingrani's numbers are ridiculous. In 25 starts last season in the Minors, Cingrani had a 1.73 ERA, striking out more than a batter an inning.
Rymer Liriano (San Diego Padres)
Liriano has the potential to reach the top 20 based on his raw abilities alone. Until then, however, I must stat conservative.
Kyle Zimmer (Kansas City Royals)
Zimmer has only pitched for two years and is already a top 100 prospect. I cannot wait to see who Dayton Moore acquires for him.
Casey Kelly (San Diego Padres)
Kelly should be a starter for the Padres in 2013, so we will know how good another piece is from the Adrian Gonzalez trade.
Brian Goodwin (Washington Nationals)
Goodwin has the potential to shine with the Nationals, or he might be a valuable trade chip, seeing as he has all five tools any team would want.
Aroyds Vizcaino (Chicago Cubs)
Vizcaino, who was ranked as one of Atlanta's top prospects before he was traded to the Cubs for Paul Maholm, is coming off a serious arm injury. It will be interesting to see how he is able to bounce back.
Mason Williams (New York Yankees)
Williams should be a fixture for years to come in the Bronx, but his torn labrum injury in August is concerning.
Kaleb Cowart (Los Angeles Angels)
Considering the Angels really have no future at third base, it's Cowart's to lose.
Kolten Wong (St. Louis Cardinals)
Kolten Wong is still the best name ever, and he's pretty good to boot.
George Springer (Houston Astros)
Unlike in year's past, the Astros actually have some decent prospects, with Springer being a legitimate five-tool guy.
Mike Zunino (Seattle Mariners)
Who doesn't like catchers who can mash? Zunino is exactly that, which should make Seattle fans very, very happy.
Martin Perez (Texas Rangers)
Although Perez struggled a bit last season, he's still too young to pass judgement on his future.
Zach Lee (Los Angeles Dodgers)
Dodger fans hope the touch of Clayton Kershaw can turn Lee into a superstar.
Aaron Sanchez (Toronto Blue Jays)
The Blue Jays have several good arms in their farm system. Sanchez is just another example, seeing as he had a 2.49 ERA in 90 innings last season.
Gary Sanchez (New York Yankees)
Sanchez fills the void that was left after the Yankees traded Jesus Montero. With the current catching situation in New York, don't be surprised if Sanchez is rushed to the Majors.
Jackie Bradley (Boston Red Sox)
Bradley had 52 walks in 286 plate appearances. That is drool worthy.
Alex Meyer (Minnesota Twins)
Meyer is great acquisition for the Minnesota Twins, a team that needs pitching in a big way.
Matt Barnes (Boston Red Sox)
Considering Barnes already has good command of his changeup, the Red Sox might have gotten a gem from the 2011 Draft. With that changeup, it will allow Barnes to get put on the fast track. And if you want to know how important a good changeup is, see Bard, Daniel.
Albert Almora (Chicago Cubs)
We won't see Almora for awhile, but he is a nice blue-chipper for Theo and company.
Nolan Arenado (Colorado Rockies)
Arenado won the AFL MVP award in 2011, but struggled a bit in 2012. There really isn't a whole let left for Arenado to prove in the Minors, so we could see him with the Rockies in 2013.
Hak-Ju Lee (Tampa Bay Rays)
Lee doesn't get his recognition from the bat, it's his fielding that has scouts drooling. At worst, Lee could play in the majors as a defensive wizard, something the Rays value.
Jake Marisnick (Miami Marlins)
Marisnick was a part of the blockbuster deal that involved the Marlins and Blue Jays earlier in the off-season. Needless to say, if all things go according to plan, Marisnick will make some team really happy in about five seasons.
Xander Bogaerts (Boston Red Sox)
Ok, if Kolten Wong isn't the best name ever, Xander Bogaerts most definitely is. Bogaerts' future might not be at shortstop, but his bat allows him to play anywhere.
Miguel Sano (Minnesota Twins)
Sano is only 19 and still growing, which will cause him to switch from shortstop - - the position he signed with the Twins as. Sano should give Twins fans a lot of optimism, figuring he will be a stud at the hot corner for several seasons.
Archie Bradley (Arizona Diamondbacks)
At 6'4 and 225 pounds, you don't really have to worry too much about Bradley's durability. He is a true athlete, seeing as he played multiple sports in high schools, but he's got the pitching thing down pretty well.
Francisco Lindor (Cleveland Indians)
Want to know why the Indians want to deal Asdrubal Cabrera? Look no further than Francisco Lindor, who will be the Indians' shortstop of the future.
Trevor Rosenthal (St. Louis Cardinals)
Trevor Rosenthal took the baseball world by storm in the postseason, dominating out of the bullpen for the St. Louis Cardinals. In 2013, however, Rosenthal will likely be in the starting rotation, which is a scary thought for all of the NL Central teams.
Carlos Correa (Houston Astros)
Correa is very raw, seeing as he was the first pick of the 2012 Draft, but he still has all the tools to be an awesome big league shortstop.
Anthony Rendon (Washington Nationals)
With Ryan Zimmerman locked up, the Nationals might use Rendon as trade bait to net something big.
Jose Fernandez (Miami Marlins)
Fernandez has the body, the skills, and the stuff to be a legitimate number one for the Miami Marlins. In 25 starts last season, Fernandez went 14-1 with a 1.75 ERA.
Nick Franklin (Seattle Mariners)
The Mariners have good hitting prospects, but it seems like none of them can hit when they come to Safeco. It's quite perplexing.
Julio Teheran (Atlanta Braves)
It feels like we have been talking about Julio Teheran for several years now. I feel like it's put up or shut up time for Teheran, especially if the Braves use him in the rotation come 2013.
Carlos Martinez (St. Louis Cardinals)
Hey, if you're compared to Pedro Martinez, who is easily one of the most dominating pitchers of all-time, I'm sold on you.
Jake Odorizzi (Tampa Bay Rays)
Odorizzi, who has been passed around like a village bicycle, is now a member of the Tampa Bay Rays, where enjoy his services for years to come. Andrew Friedman >>>
Javier Baez (Chicago Cubs)
How does a future infield of Starlin Castro and Javier Baez sound, Cubs fans? To me, it sounds pretty darn good, too.
Byron Buxton (Minnesota Twins)
Buxton, who was supposed to be the number one pick over Correa, has the potential to be a major player for the Twins. He, as many others on this list, has all five tools to be a big star.
Bubba Starling (Kansas City Royals)
Bubba Starling seems like a name that would be used in a baseball movie - - just saying. Anyways, Starling is probably one of the most toolsy players in the Minors, considering he chose to play professional baseball over being a QB at Nebraska.
Jonathan Singleton (Houston Astros)
Oh, it's another top prospect from the Hunter Pence deal. Ruben Amaro FTL. Singleton is your prototypical first baseman, who might play for Houston in 2013.
Christian Yelich (Miami Marlins)
Yelich is a talented, young outfielder that could be with Miami as early as this season. He will definitely be a nice hitter to have at the top of the Marlins' order.
Oscar Taveras (St. Louis Cardinals)
Whenever Carlos Beltran decides to stop being awesome, Oscar Taveras will be there for the St. Louis Cardinals. In 477 at-bats, he had a .953 OPS for St. Louis' AA team.
Jameson Taillon (Pittsburgh Pirates)
At 6'6, Taillon is an intimidating guy to look at on the bump. He should start for the Pirates at some point in 2013, figuring that he has four plus pitches at his disposal.
Nick Castellanos (Detroit Tigers)
The lone Tiger that is on my top 100 list is a good one. Castellanos won the Futures' Game MVP this year, which should be a harbinger for things to come.
Shelby Miller (St. Louis Cardinals)
Between Miller and Rosenthal, the Cardinals will have no problems replacing Kyle Lohse, and they might have one of the best rotations in the National League.
Taijuan Walker (Seattle Mariners)
Walker reminds me a lot of a young Edwin Jackson. He has a lot of things that make you "ooh and ahh", but it's a little early to declare him a top 10 prospect right now. If he improves further, then it's feasible that he's a top 10 talent.
Billy Hamilton (Cincinnati Reds)
If Billy Hamilton has a .340 on-base percentage, he could probably steal 100 bases. He truly is a special talent to have. At worst, he can be like Benny "The Jet" Rodriguez and steal home in a pinch.
Danny Hultzen (Seattle Mariners)
Hultzen and Walker should be forces to be reckon with for multiple seasons in the Pacific Northwest. Just imagine if the Mariners have both of those guys and Felix Hernandez in the same rotation. Yikes.
Mike Olt (Texas Rangers)
MIKE OLT! If you don't get this reference, then that's a shame. Considering the Angels signed Josh Hamilton, I almost expect Olt to be on a new team pretty soon.
Travis D'Arnaud (Toronto Blue Jays)
I love Travis D'Arnaud. If healthy, there's really no reason for the Jays not to start him next season.
Trevor Bauer (Cleveland Indians)
It's a tad bit concerning that the Diamondbacks basically dumped the guy. His attitude is a bit brash, but Bauer should succeed at the big league level. No matter what happens, it was a great trade for the Indians.
Tyler Skaggs (Arizona Diamondbacks)
Although the Diamondbacks did dump Bauer, it's not like they don't have other incredible pitching prospects - - Tyler Skaggs is proof of that. Although he struggled in his six starts with Arizona, Skaggs dominated at two levels last season. He should be a fixture in Arizona's rotation for several seasons.
Gerrit Cole (Pittsburgh Pirates)
With Gerrit Cole and the previously mentioned Jameson Taillon, the Pirates should have a scary 1-2 punch for many, many seasons.
Zack Wheeler (New York Mets)
Zack Wheeler for Carlos Beltran might be one of the worst trades in the past decade. We should see Wheeler in 2013, but the Mets might want to delay his start to aid them during his arbitration years.
Dylan Bundy (Baltimore Orioles)
Who are the five best pitching prospects in all of baseball? Dy-lan, Dy-lan, Dy-lan, Dy-lan, and Dy-lan, he pitches hot fire. For real, though, Bundy is everything and a bag of chips, seeing as he had a 2.08 ERA in 23 starts last season.
Jurickson Profar (Texas Rangers)
With Michael Young off the roster, Profar might find his way on the big league roster this season. If not, he won't be too far off from playing everyday in Arlington. Profar does everything one would want at shortstop: hit, field, run, and do all of it extremely well.
Wil Myers (Tampa Bay Rays)
If Andrew Freidman had his own meme, it would be something like this: Top Prospect in Baseball; Trade for Him. The first three prospects are pretty interchangeable, but I can't argue against a guy who has a .600 slugging percentage.