Here is a look at my PRE-SEASON Top 50 Hitting Prospects List, spots one through 25. Remember this is the PRE-SEASON 2012 LIST, as it appeared in the 2012 Baseball Prospect Book, published in January 2012.
This is 1 through 25, 26 through 50 will follow in a later article. Once I get the lists reviewed, I will work on a new list for the post-season.
Top 50 Hitting Prospects for 2012 (Review)
1) Bryce Harper, OF, Washington Nationals, Grade A: Hit .270/.340/.477 with 22 homers, 18 steals, 56 walks, and 120 strikeouts in 533 major league at-bats. Amazing season for a 19-year-old, right up there with Mel Ott in 1928 and Ty Cobb in 1906.
2) Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels, Grade A: As good as Harper was, Trout was better, hitting .326/.399/.564 with 30 homers, 49 steals, 67 walks, 139 strikeouts in 559 at-bats. He's older at age 21 but it was a truly terrific campaign.
3) Jurickson Profar, SS, Texas Rangers, Grade A: Hit .281/.368/.452 with 14 homers, 16 steals, 66 walks, 79 strikeouts in 480 at-bats for Double-A Frisco. 3-for-17 in the majors. Outstanding prospect combines speed, growing power, and strong defense.
4) Manny Machado, SS, Baltimore Orioles, Grade A: Hit .266/.352/.438 with 11 homers, 48 walks, 70 strikeouts in 402 at-bats for Double-A Bowie, then provided stretch help for the Orioles with a .262/.294/.445 mark, seven homers in 191 at-bats. Still tying down the strike zone but a strong ahead-of-schedule debut.
5) Jesus Montero, C, Seattle Mariners, Grade A: Hit .260/.298/.386 with 15 homers, 29 walks, 99 strikeouts in 515 at-bats for the Mariners. Home park killed him, batted .295/.330/.438 on the road but just .227/.268/.337 at home. I think the road numbers are a better indicator of his talent.
6) Devin Mesoraco, C, Cincinnati Reds, Grade A-: Road the bench all year, frustrating fantasy owners to no end, hitting .212/.288/.352 with five homers, 17 walks, 33 strikeouts in 165 at-bats. I think he will improve if he gets to play.
7) Nolan Arenado, 3B, Colorado Rockies, Grade A-: Hit .285/.337/.428 with 12 homers, 39 walks, 58 strikeouts in 516 at-bats for Double-A Tulsa. Very hot late in the year, and his defense continued to improve.
8) Wil Myers, OF, Kansas City Royals, Grade A-: Hit .314/.387/.600 with 37 homers, 61 walks, 140 strikeouts in 522 at-bats between Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha. Blossomed after injury-hampered '11 season.
9) Anthony Rendon, 3B, Washington Nationals, Grade A-: More injuries, limited to just 43 games at four levels, hit .233/.363/.489 with 23 walks, 29 strikeouts in 133 at-bats. Hard to know what to make of him since he can't stay healthy.
10) Travis D'Arnaud, C, Toronto Blue Jays, Grade B+: Hit .333/.380/.595 with 16 homers, 19 walks, 59 strikeouts in 279 at-bats for Triple-A Las Vegas before going down with torn posterior cruciate ligament
11) Brett Jackson, OF, Chicago Cubs, Grade B+: Hit .256/.338/.479 with 15 homers, 27 steals in 407 at-bats for Triple-A Iowa, then .175/.303/.342 with 22 walks, 59 strikeouts in 120 at-bats for the Cubs. Whiff rate is dangerously high and could keep him from tapping his talent in the majors.
12) Yonder Alonso, 1B, San Diego Padres, Grade B+: Hit .273/.348/.393 with 39 doubles, nine homers, 62 walks, 101 strikeouts in 549 at-bats for the Padres. I think he can and will improve.
13) Xander Bogaerts, SS, Boston Red Sox, Grade B+: Hit combined .307/.373/.523 with 37 doubles, 20 homers, 44 walks, 106 strikeouts in 476 at-bats between High-A Salem and Double-A Portland. Walked just once in 23 Double-A games, but overall it was a very successful season.
14) Miguel Sano, 3B, Minnesota Twins, Grade B+: Hit .258/.373/.521 with 28 homers, 80 walks, 144 strikeouts in 457 at-bats for Low-A Beloit. May have the best raw power of any hitter in the minors. He strikes out a lot but he also draws some walks and is still just 19.
15) Christian Yelich, OF, Miami Marlins, Grade B+: Hit .329/.402/.516 with 12 homers, 49 walks, 85 strikeouts, 20 steals in 401 at-bats for High-A Jupiter. Rolling right along.
16) Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Chicago Cubs, Grade B+: Batted .342/.405/.696 in 70 Triple-A games, then .285/.342/.463 with 15 homers, 27 walks, 62 strikeouts in 337 major league at-bats. Doubts caused by poor 2011 showing with the Padres should be erased now.
17) Bubba Starling, OF, Kansas City Royals, Grade B+: Hit .275/.371/.485 with 10 homers, 10 steals, 28 walks, 70 strikeouts in 200 at-bats for Burlington in the Appalachian League. Power/speed stands out, but will he make enough contact?
18) Cheslor Cuthbert, 3B, Kansas City Royals, Grade B+: .240/.296/.322 with 37 walks, 80 strikeouts in 475 at-bats for High-A Wilmington. Gigantic disappointment. Still young, age 20 entering 2013, but he hasn't hit well in over a year now and has to get the bat going again.
19) Yasmani Grandal, C, San Diego Padres, Grade B+: Hit .335/.443/.521 in 56 Triple-A games, .297/.394/.469 in 192 major league at-bats. Not a fluke.
20) Gary Brown, OF, San Francisco Giants, Grade B+: Hit .279/.347/.385 with 40 walks, 87 strikeouts in 538 at-bats for Double-A Richmond. Stole 33 but was caught 18 times, way too many for a guy with his speed.
21) Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians, Grade B+: Hit .257/.352/.355 with 61 walks, 78 strikeouts in 490 at-bats for Low-A Lake County, stole 27 but caught 12 times. Glove looks very good and I think the bat will improve as he matures.
23) Jake Marisnick, OF, Toronto Blue Jays, Grade B+: Hit .263/.349/.451 in 65 High-A games, but just .233/.286/.336 in 55 Double-A contests. Combined for 24 steals. Scouting reports on his tools remain positive but he's still got a lot of work to do with the bat against advanced pitching.
24) Josh Bell, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates, Grade B+: Hit .274/.288/.403 with 21 strikeouts in 62 at-bats for Low-A West Virginia, going down with a knee injury in April and missing the rest of the season. He showed less polish than expected before getting hurt, so something of a question at this point.
25) Jedd Gyorko, 3B, San Diego Padres, Grade B+: Hit .311/.373/.547 with 30 homers, 51 walks, 95 strikeouts in 499 at-bats between Double-A San Antonio and Triple-A Tucson. Nothing left to prove in the minors, just needs a place to play.