MLB.com Top 100 Prospects Review

On Friday night, Jonathan Mayo, Jim Callis, John Hart and Greg Amsinger broke down the top prospects in the game going into the 2014 season. The show annually marks the start of a new season, at least it does for me. Young players have more value in baseball today then they ever had before, with a new crop of young stars breaking into the majors every year. Here, I will break down the top 100 as well as add my input on what I think of some of the players.

100. Pierce Johnson – RHP, Cubs

99. Rosell Herrera – SS, Rockies

98. Stephen Piscotty – OF, Cardinals

97. Robbie Ray – LHP, Tigers

96. Trey Ball – LHP, Red Sox

95. Edwin Escobar – LHP, Giants

94. Taylor Guerrieri – RHP, Rays

93. Roberto Osuna – RHP, Blue Jays

92. Joey Gallo – 3B, Rangers

91. Jorge Bonifacio – OF, Royals

Not many players in the minors have raw power like Joey Gallo, who hit 40 homeruns in 2013, most of them coming in the low-A South Atlantic League. He does have holes in his swing, evident by his 172 strikeouts, but he only hit .251 and still managed to hit 40 homers. If he could become an average hitter, his power will play up big time in Texas in a few years. I was also a big fan of Taylor Guerrieri  coming into the season, but Tommy John and a drug suspension ruined his season. He posted good numbers in the Midwest League, going 6-2 with a 2.01 ERA before going down. You just never know with Tommy John guys and the suspension is another gray area, but Guerrieri still has front-line upside if he gets back on track.

90. Jose Berrios – RHP, Twins

89. Arismendy Alcantara – 2B, Cubs

88. D.J. Peterson – 3B, Mariners

87. Casey Kelly – RHP, Padres

86. Matt Barnes – RHP, Red Sox

85. Rafael Montero – RHP, Mets

84. Hak-Ju Lee – SS, Rays

83. Jimmy Nelson – RHP, Brewers

82. Christian Bethancourt – C, Braves

81. Justin Nicolino – LHP, Marlins

While they might get criticized for their fire sale, I applaud the Marlins for doing the right thing for their organization. They got back a bunch of young, talented players. Justin Nicolino is one of them, and he has a chance to be a very good pitcher that can sit in the middle of a rotation. He has an advanced feel for pitching and gets guys out without overpowering stuff. He could be in the Marlins’ rotation towards the end of 2014. Hak-Ju Lee came to the Rays from the Cubs in the Matt Garza trade and has the chance to be an excellent defensive shortstop who can also hit for a good average (.290 career hitter in the minors). Jose Berrios was the 32nd overall pick in 2012 and became the highest drafted pitcher out of Puerto Rico. He is very polished for his age and has a chance to advance rapidly up the Twins system, and a big year in 2014 could shoot him into the top 50 in 2015.

80. Matt Davidson – 3B, White Sox

79. Braden Shipley – RHP, Diamondbacks

78. Matt Wisler – RHP, Padres

77. Chris Owings – SS, Diamondbacks

76. Luis Sardinas – SS, Rangers

75. Mason Williams – OF, Yankees

74. Josh Bell – OF, Pirates

73. Trevor Bauer – RHP, Indians

72. Michael Choice – OF, Rangers

71. David Dahl – OF, Rockies

David Dahl gets Johnny Damon comparisons all the time, and he fits them perfectly. He is above average across the board and if he recovers from an injury-plagued 2013, he could hop on the fast track to Colorado. Another shortstop prospect for the Rangers, Luis Sardinas has a chance to be a great defensive player at a premium position. He also has the chance to hit for a solid average, and he will play most of 2014 in AA Frisco and could be big league ready as a 21-year-old in 2015. Matt Davidson is a perfect fit for the White Sox. They need to get younger and he will man the hot corner on the south side for years to come. He could be an early rookie of the year candidate heading into 2014.

70. Erik Johnson – RHP, White Sox

69. A.J. Cole – RHP, Nationals

68. Eduardo Rodriguez – LHP, Orioles

67. Alen Hanson – SS, Pirates

66. Delino DeShields – OF, Astros

65. Jake Marisnick – OF, Marlins

64. Julio Urias – LHP, Dodgers

63. Zach Lee – LHP, Dodgers

62. Mookie Betts – 2B, Red Sox

61. Blake Swihart – C, Red Sox

Julio Urias is an intriguing prospect. He pitched in the Midwest League as a sixteen-year-old in 2013 and posted a 2.48 ERA in 54.1 innings. He’s only 5’11”, but he is very advanced for his age and the Dodgers will keep him a starter for as long as they can. Alen Hanson has the chance to be the Pirates shortstop of the future. He has above average offensive tools, but is still a work in progress defensively. He reached AA Altoona in 2013 and will play all of 2014 at twenty-one.

60. Lucas Sims – RHP, Braves

59. Rougned Odor – 2B, Rangers

58. Kolten Wong – 2B, Cardinals

57. Garin Cecchini – 3B, Red Sox

56. Jake Odorizzi – RHP, Rays

55. Marcus Stroman – RHP, Blue Jays

54. Mike Foltynewicz – RHP, Astros

53. Jesse Biddle – LHP, Phillies

52. Lance McCullers – RHP, Astros

51. Colin Moran – 3B, Marlins

If the Astros selected Byron Buxton rather than Carlos Correa number one overall in 2012, they probably would not have Lance McCullers, who is the son of the pitcher of the same name. The younger McCullers has a power arm and an above average curveball. His command and change-up are behind his fastball and curve and if he can improve in those areas, he would have a chance to remain a starter. Another middle infield prospect in the Rangers’ system, Rougned Odor fits the profile at second base. He hits for average, has some pop and has good range and instincts at second. He is only nineteen and has already played a month at AA Frisco and could be ready for a big league trial in 2015.

50. Jonathan Singleton – 1B, Astros

49. Jorge Soler – OF, Cubs

48. Clint Frazier – OF, Indians

47. Gary Sanchez – C, Yankees

46. Allen Webster – RHP, Red Sox

45. Austin Meadows – OF, Pirates

44. Lucas Giolito – RHP, Nationals

43. Max Fried – LHP, Padres

42. C.J. Edwards – RHP, Cubs

41. Eddie Butler – RHP, Rockies

Clint Frazier and Austin Meadows both attended high school in the town of Loganville, Georgia, albiet attending different schools, and were both top ten picks in 2013. Both also have the potential to have all five tools, though Meadows is more of a pure hitter and Frazier has more power. Both play the game hard and play the right way and both have the potential to become impact players. While those two might generate more buzz when it comes to coming from the same hometown, Max Fried and Lucas Giolito were teammates at Harvard-Westlake High School in Los Angeles. Giolito entered the 2012 season as a potential number one overall pick, but a strained UCL that eventually led to Tommy John surgery knocked him down to the Nationals at sixteen, and they may have hit the jackpot. Giolito has the potential to be a number one starter if he fully recovers from Tommy John, and his performance in rookie ball and Low-A showed that he is back. A big year could shoot him into the top ten for next season. Fried on the other hand could have three above average pitches and could be a durable mid-rotation starter.

40. Kohl Stewart – RHP, Twins

39. Jorge Alfaro – C, Rangers

38. Raul Adalberto Mondesi – SS, Royals

37. Billy Hamilton – OF, Reds

36. Joc Pederson – OF, Dodgers

35. Yordano Ventura – RHP, Royals

34. Corey Seager – 3B, Dodgers

33. Jackie Bradley Jr. – OF, Red Sox

32. Kyle Crick – RHP, Giants

31. Kevin Gausman – RHP, Orioles

Yordano Ventura could have as much arm strength as anyone in the minors. He also has the makings of a plus curveball and an above average change-up. Despite his size, he should remain a starter long-term and could crack the Royals’ opening day rotation. Billy Hamilton is the fastest person I have ever seen on a baseball field. His speed should make him a fine defensive center fielder and he will tear it up on the bases. People worry if he will get on base enough, but he had a .410 OBP in 2012 and has a career .350 OBP in the minors. He should also be an above average hitter as he hit .280 in the minors. I think he will fun to watch for a long time. If Adalberto Mondesi has a big year, he could fly up lists next year as he has a chance to have all five tools as a shortstop. Kohl Stewart made the right choice to sign with the Twins as he has front line potential. He has a plus fastball and an above average slider right now and has the potential to have four above average pitches.

30. Henry Owens – LHP, Red Sox

29. Andrew Heaney – LHP, Marlins

28. Alex Meyer – RHP, Twins

27. Tyler Glasnow – RHP, Pirates

26. Maikel Franco – 3B, Phillies

25. Kyle Zimmer – Royals

24. Austin Hedges – C, Padres

23. Aaron Sanchez – RHP, Blue Jays

22. Travis d’Arnaud – C, Mets

21. George Springer – OF, Astros

You can’t go wrong with either Travis d’Arnaud or Austin Hedges behind the plate, but I personally like Hedges more. Catching is a defensive position, and Hedges is one of the best defensive catchers to come through a system in a long time. He really knows how to call a game, pitchers love throwing to him, has great mobility and a cannon for an arm. He also has the chance to be an average hitter and I believe he can become that. Add it all up and you have an all-star catcher for years to come. As for d’Arnaud, he has above average offensive skills and is solid behind the plate, but at some point the injuries need to become a concern. The Mets are not going to contend so they can be patient with d’Arnaud, which they need to be, but he needs to stay healthy for a full season.

20. Dylan Bundy – RHP, Orioles

19. Robert Stephenson – RHP, Reds

18. Albert Almora – OF, Cubs

17. Mark Appel – RHP, Astros

16. Jameson Tallion – RHP, Pirates

15. Nick Castellanos – 3B, Tigers

14. Jonathan Gray – RHP, Rockies

13. Gregory Polanco – OF, Pirates

12. Addison Russell – SS, A’s

11. Noah Syndergaard – RHP, Mets

While most of the attention was placed on d’Arnaud when the Mets traded R.A. Dickey to the Blue Jays, I knew that Noah Syndergaard was going to be the best guy they received. I have been a fan of Syndergaard since he was drafted in the supplemental round in 2010 out of high school in Texas. He has an excellent pitchers frame, standing at 6’6″, 240, and has a plus fastball and curveball, and above average command right now. He has the chance to be an ace, and the Blue Jays will regret trading him away. Jonathan Gray also has ace potential, but his stuff is ridiculous. He might have the best fastball and slider in the minors and has a solid change-up. His stuff is perfect for Colorado, and he could be the ace that the Rockies desperately need in the not too distant future.

10. Francisco Lindor – SS, Indians

9. Kris Bryant – 3B, Cubs

8. Carlos Correa – SS, Astros

7. Javier Baez – SS, Cubs

6. Taijuan Walker – RHP, Mariners

5. Archie Bradley – RHP, Diamondbacks

4. Miguel Sano – 3B, Twins

3. Oscar Taveras – OF, Cardinals

2. Xander Bogaerts – SS, Red Sox

Francisco Lindor could be the best defensive player in all of minor league baseball. He has a cannon for an arm and excellent range, making him a perennial gold glove candidate in the future. Lindor is also an above average hitter and has an advanced approach at the plate. His makeup is off the charts and he will be manning shortstop in Cleveland sometime in the very near future. Taijuan Walker or Archie Bradley? Archie Bradley or Taijuan Walker? It’s hard to tell which one is better. Both guys are future aces. Both guys have ideal pitcher’s frames. Both guys have power arms and both guys should impact their team’s rotations in 2014.

1. Byron Buxton – OF, Twins

While this is an extremely deep class, Byron Buxton is the clear cut number one guy. Far and away the most electric player in all of minor league baseball. Buxton is on a level of his own. He is a true five tool player and has makeup off the charts. He will be a plus hitter, plus-plus speed and defense, has a cannon for an arm and should develop at least 25 homerun power in his prime. He has future superstar written all over him and he should be fun to watch for years to come.

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