Ranking The Top 10 MLB Outfielder Prospects Heading Into 2014
Top 10 Outfield Prospects
It’s a funny thing what happens with prospects.
While some of these players receive a lot of hype even before taking their first at-bat in the Majors, the truth is that all the organizations have them on their minor league systems. Some teams have better farms than others, but all of them have, at least, one legitimate prospect.
The different organizations take different stances towards their younger players. A ready-to-win team like the Los Angeles Dodgers or the Detroit Tigers could be able to flip their young players to get MLB-ready talent while rebuilding franchises. The Houston Astros or the Chicago Cubs do the exact opposite to stock their farm with talent, hoping to lay a foundation for continuous success.
Some positions are very offense-depending, like first base or the corner outfielders, while others like center field or shortstop rely heavily on the defensive side of the ball. The outfield can often mix those things. Center fielders usually have some pop, but their main asset is the defense, while the ones standing on the corners are expected to provide offense with, at least, average defensive skills.
The 10 players listed on this article are very valuable pieces for their respective organizations, and while some might end being used as trade-bait due to being in winning teams, they are legitimate difference makers that should be poised to have solid MLB careers when given the chance.
Without further ado, join me through this slideshow as we check the Top 10 Outfielder prospects in all of baseball heading into the next season.
10. Bubba Starling - Kansas City Royals
Despite the fact that Bubba Starling only played at the A+ level this year, he’s a highly touted prospect thanks to his incredible raw tools. A former first-round pick, Starling has tremendous, raw power, a good arm, and a lot of speed, but in order to get into the next level, he needs to work on his overall approach.
9. Jorge Soler - Chicago Cubs
A Cuban defector in 2011, the Chicago Cubs signed Jorge Soler to a nine-year, $30 million deal that could turn out to be a bargain if he's able to reach his potential. He has a cannon arm and a great hitting approach, despite not playing in almost two years. He also has plus bat speed and a ton of raw power, but he needs to polish his game, as he's still a few years away from the Majors.
8. Jackie Bradley Jr. - Boston Red Sox
Jackie Bradley Jr. has climbed the ladder of the Boston Red Sox organization and was able to crack the Opening Day Roster, but he ended up back at Triple A where he continued his development. Bradley has solid OBP skills and very good instincts that make him a threat on the bases. He’s also offers plus defense on center field.
7. George Springer - Houston Astros
George Springer has two calling cards in his game: incredible raw power and lightning speed to run the bases. He had a great season across two levels, where he hit .303 with 37 HR and 108 RBI, and he’s definitively a big piece moving forward for the rebuilding Houston Astros.
6. Billy Hamilton - Cincinnati Reds
Billy Hamilton already arrived to The Show this year, as he was used as a speed weapon down the stretch for the Cincinnati Reds, but he hasn’t lost his prospect status yet. Hamilton’s calling card is his stealing ability, and he plays a more than adequate defense at center field, but he needs to make more contact to be able to put his tools into play.
5. Gregory Polanco - Pittsburgh Pirates
Gregory Polanco has a legitimate chance to put on play his five tools on the field. He’s a very good hitter who offers power, and he also has plus speed that allows him to be a threat running the bases. He's also an outstanding defensive outfielder, and as he learns to be a more disciplined hitter, he should be an even more dangerous player.
4. Albert Almora - Chicago Cubs
Albert Almora gets constant high praise due to his off-the-charts instincts and make up, but he’s also a solid ballplayer all around. He’s a solid center field that makes contact on a consistent rate, and despite being injured for a big part of the season, he hit .329 at Class A and has held his own in the Arizona Fall League. He doesn’t seem to have any weakness in his game, but the fact that he hasn’t played above 'A' ball is clearly something against him to be ranked higher.
3. Nick Castellanos - Detroit Tigers
A former Futures Game MVP in 2012, Nick Castellanos can flat out hit, and he also has solid plate discipline. He started his career as playing at third, but moved to the outfield due to the presence of Miguel Cabrera in the Detroit Tigers' system. He has the chance to be an average defender at a corner outfield, but the calling of his game is his bat. He should reach the big leagues as soon as next year.
2. Oscar Taveras - St. Louis Cardinals
Oscar Taveras has the chance to be an All-Star caliber outfielder if he ends up developing the way he's expected. He's been able to hit in every level he's played, and the fact that he's turning into a more disciplined hitter makes him an even more dangerous player. His future in the big leagues might be in right field, but he's equally adept to play at a decent level at center field.
1. Byron Buxton - Minnesota Twins
Byron Buxton is arguably the best prospect in all of baseball due to his impressive raw tools and the way he's able to put them into play consistently. He's a very patient hitter with pop and a good approach that should allow him to hit for average and power as he develops. He's a threat on the base paths and he already plays a Gold Glove caliber defense in center field. He should move quickly through the Minnesota Twins' system.