FanPost

2014 Risers

Want this season's Mookie Betts, Devon Travis, Rafael Montero, Michael Wacha, or George Springer? Here is a collection of guys that I have targeted for quick rises in the prospect rankings this season:

1) Justin Williams, 3B, Arz --- 351/397/452 in 224 PA debut. Was drafted in the second round of the 2013 draft and has unquestionably the best power of any prep prospect from this class. He has a plus hit tool and potentially plus plus power tool. His athleticism should allow him to stick at 3B, making him a potentially elite prospect. I am not at all discouraged by his power tapering off after the draft--it was his first full season of baseball and he was a 17 year old playing against guys 2-4 years older. I fully expect him to hit the snot out of the ball in South Bend and turn into the next Mike Stanton over the course of the summer.
2) Lewis Thorpe, SP, MIN --- 2.05 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 64 K in 44 IP as a 17 yr old in rookie ball. This Australian pitcher has the makings to be a really good one. Solid fastball with killer movement, a strong curve, and an exceptional change-up. Despite being just 17, he is poised, mature, and deceptive. With another great season he could be recognized as one of the top pitching prospects in baseball.
3) Franchy Cordero, SS, SD --- 333/381/511 in rookie ball as 2nd season 18 yr old. He might not stick at SS, but he has great bat speed, hand eye-coordination, speed, and a very projectable body (6'3" with plenty of room to fill out). I haven't seen him on any Padres top 10 lists, but that won't last long. He has all the ingredients for a fast riser. He could end up a 300 hitter with 25/20 stuff some day at the hot corner.
4) Micker Zapata, OF, CHW --- This 16 yr old international star might end up with more power than Joey Gallo. He makes consistent hard contact and scouts believe he can stick at CF. This is one guy on this list who could end up the #1 overall prospect. It would take 3 years to happen, but keep a close eye on him. If he gets enough state side at bats he could leap into the national discussion quickly.
5) Kohl Stewart, SP, MIN --- 1.35 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, 24 K in 20 IP during his rookie ball debut. If he wasn't committed to A&M to replace Johnny Football next season he would have been the clear #1 pick in the 2013 draft. We were all surprised when he signed, but then no one charts him above Appel, Grey, or Bryant. He has ability that cannot be taught and will be a all-star. It is only a matter of time before he climbs to the top of everyone's rankings.
6) Bubba Starling, OF, KC --- 241/329/398 in 2nd full season. He has plummeted off the top rankings. Now is the time to buy low. His tools are comparable to Byron Buxton: Plus speed, Plus power, Plus Plus arm...He had eye problems this season, but had surgery, which has caused several players to realize their full potential. A prospect is useless without good eyes. I expect his bat to wake up in a major way and launch him back into the 25 prospect discussion within a year.
7) Franklin Barreto, SS, TOR --- 276/343/482 as 17 yr old in rookie ball. Yes, he has snuck into a few top 100 lists already, and he is only 5'9", but this guy has the makings to stick at shortstop and maybe even win a few batting titles. His hand eye coordination is virtually unrivaled, and his power potential is strong. He could end up a consensus all-star and it is only a matter of time until everyone starts talking about him.
8) Lucas Giolito, SP, WAS --- 1.96 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 39 K in 36 IP as 18 yr old in RK/A ball. I have seen him anywhere from 15 to 60 on prospect lists. Even 15 isn't good enough for me. He has the best stuff of any pitcher in the minor leagues and is only ranked low because of minimal experience and injury concerns that he is clearly beyond. If he is not the #1 prospect this time next year I'll eat my own socks.
9) Luis Heredia, SP, PIT --- 3.05 ERA in 65 innings of A ball as an 18 year old. I can't imagine many (or any) high schoolers would have been able to pitch as well as he has the past two seasons. He is another international bonus baby with great stuff. He is 6'7", 240 with a strong fastball and one of the best curves in the minors. I have no idea why he hasn't received more attention, but maybe he will after another season of crushing guys 2 or 3 years older than him.
10) Nick Williams, OF, TEX --- 293/337/543 as a 19 yr old in his 400+ PA of A ball. Once labeled a top prep prospect with Griffey comps, but fell in the draft after a mediocre senior season. The tools are there and he can handle the stick. The dude could morph into an elite prospect. I am not telling you to count on it, but his bat speed, size, power, and bat control suggest he could have a similar career to Gary Sheffield if he quits hacking at balls out of the strike zone.
11) David Dahl, OF, COL --- 275/310/425 in 42 plate appearances. Injured and suspended last year, so there could be some lingering issues or character concerns, but his tools are loud. He destroyed the pioneer league in 2012, and will be playing in hitter friendly Asheville this year. If he stays healthy and out of trouble I foresee his bat putting him legitimatley in the minor league player of the year discussion. We are talking 350/430/570 splits with half his games in Asheville. The bat is for real--the kid will win batting titles one day, and has enough athleticism and power to launch into the top 10 prospects one day.
12) Chance Sisco, C, BAL --- 371/475/464 in a 124 PA debut. Another 2nd round pick in this year's draft. A left handed hitting catcher with a possible 70 hit tool. He should be able to stick at catcher, and if he does, I expect him to fly up the rankings board.
13) Elier Hernandez, OF, KC --- 301/350/439 as an 18 yr old in rookie ball. Elier was a 3 million dollar international signing that started to realize his talent last year. He has a big body with plus future power and solid all around skills. If he hits again, and he should, we are looking at a guy who could vault even into the top 50 during his first full season in the Midwest league
14) Greg Bird, 1B, NYY --- 288/428/511 in 1st full season (20 yr old in A ball). While I am not surprised to see a great hitting first basemen miss out on top 100 lists, I have to say that I am surprised. His eye is the best in the minor leagues, his hit tool is solid, and his power is plus. This guy may never appear as a top 50 prospect, but he looks like a John Olerud replica if you ask me.
15) Edwin Diaz, SP, SEA --- 1.43 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 79 K, 69 IP as 19 yr old in rookie ball. His slider is dominant, and as he adds weight to his projectable frame the fastball can also become a plus pitch. I like him to beat up on older hitters in the Midwest league this season.
16) Rob Kaminsky, SP, STL --- 3.68 ERA, 28 K in a 22 IP rookie ball debut. He will be a quick riser (see Wacha, Greinke, Ankiel). The lefty is very polished with strong pitchability, a great demeanor, and an unhittable repitore. I love him to fly up the rankings in his first full season of pro ball.
17) Clint Frazier, OF, CLE --- 297/362/506 in about 200 PA of rookie ball debut. He is a good kid who breathes baseball and has elite tools. He is a rare specimen that could prove a 5 tool player with 40 HR power. If he shows signs of moving closer that direction this season he will be a top 10, maybe top 5 prospect.
18) Ryne Stanek, SP, TB --- Dropped to #29 in 2013 draft and didn't log any professional innings. 18 months ago he was considered a strong option for the #1 pick, and many scouts favored him to Kevin Gausman. He was a bit inconsistent, thus the fall in the draft, but his stuff is still very good. He commands his fastball well and has some deception to his delivery. If he has a strong season, many will remember why he was so highly regarded just last year.
19) Alex Reyes, SP, STL --- 3.39 ERA with 68 K in 58 innings as 19 yr old in Appy League. His command needs work, but he has a fantastic fastball to go with a potential plus curve and change up. The Cardinals develop pitch command and mound presence as well as anyone so I believe he will tune into his potential.
20) Jorge Alfaro, C, TEX --- 265/346/463 as 20 yr old in A+ ball. It is hard to rise when a lot of people already think he gets too much hype, and most lists have him in the top 50, but I'm a major believer in Alfaro. He is about to turn into the best catching prospect in baseball with D'Arnaud graduating. His bat speed and power trump even Willin Rosario's for catcher. Add on one of the best catcher arms in the minor league, and the possibility of him stealing 20-25 bases as a catcher and I see him jumping into the top 15 with another strong offensive season.
21) Courtney Hawkins, OF, CHW --- 178/249/384 in 400+ PA of A ball. The White Sox rushed him, per usual, and the stats are abysmal, but he has a very high ceiling. I am in the party that believe he will make significant strides towards that ceiling this season (Andruw Jones). He improved his terrible contact rate over the course of the season, and is supposedly a great young kid. If he can learn to utilize his tools, he has the makings of a really exciting big league player.
22) Andrew Toles, OF, TB --- 326/359/466 as a 21 yr old in A ball. Toles also had 62 SB, which if added to his total bases (considering he gained those bases) it would bring his OPS to 945. I don't care if he has projection or tools, the guy can flat out play. He will created runs at the top of the Rays offense within 2 or 3 seasons.
23) Steven Matz, SP, NYM --- 2.62 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 121 K, 106 IP as 22 yr old in A ball. He took two years to come back from TJ surgery, but he is real sharp. The lefty reminds me of Brandon Webb with great sink and poise. He should move fast and see the Big Apple by the end of the year.
24) Lewis Brinson, OF, TEX --- 237/322/427 as 19 yr old in A ball. If anyone in the minor leagues (yes, including Byron Buxton) has a chance to be a 40/40 guy, it is Lewis Brinson. He hit 21 HRs against much older pitchers in 122 games this season, and stole 24 bases despite the low OBP. He is uber-toolsy, which typically concerns me, but the ceiling is unreal.
25) Luis Gohara, SP, SEA --- 4.15 ERA, 11.22 K/9 as a 16 year old against 21-23 year olds! He is very far away, but the big lefty has three potential plus pitches with maturity and athleticism on top of it.
26) Victor Roache OF, MIL --- 248/322/440 in first full season (21 yr old in A ball). Had the best power of anyone in the 2012 draft, but was out for the season with a broken wrist. Expect the bat to explode this year. He has a chance to hit 40, or maybe even 50 homers in a season one day folks. His hit tool isn't great, but if he can hit 250/340/560 that is a really productive outfielder.
27) Keon Barnum, 1B, CHW --- 254/315/403 as 20 yr old in A ball. The dude has HUGE pop. He is built like Travis Hafner, and might just have a similar career if the White Sox don't rush him along too much. Keon has been limited by shoulder injuries his first two seasons---this year if he stays healthy he will be able to show us all of that potential.
28) Ronald Guzman, 1B, TEX --- 272/325/387 as an 18 yr old in A ball. Guzman is a 6'5" lefty with a great feel for hitting. The power will come, and if it does this season, he may soon be recognized as the best 1B prospect in the game. If everything goes right, he could have a similar career to Dante Bichette.
29) Nick Petree, SP, STL --- 1.62 ERA in 55 inning A ball debut. 1.76 ERA in 311 NCAA IP. He doesn't have a great arsenal, but his pitchibility is unrivaled in the minor leagues. He is already 23 years old, but could get batters out in the Cardinals bullpen today. He will continue to allow soft balls to be put in play, and keep HRs to a minimum. Prospect rankers won't always ignore him when he keeps his ERA below 2.00.
30) Jake Lamb, 3B, ARZ --- 302/421/548 as a 22 year old in A ball. Need I say much more than to look at the stat line? He was drafted in 2012 out of the University of Washington and has done nothing but hit since. He should stick at 3B and has the hit/power tools to fly through the system.
31) Kyle Parker, OF, COL --- 288/345/492 as a 22 yr old in AA. Here is your surprise rookie for this season (see Kole Calhoun, Scooter Gennett, etc). His bat has been talked about since his college days, yet he has never recieved any praise on prospect rankings. He will make an immediate impact, and stick in the majors as a Jason Kubel type player.
32) Edwin Escobar, SP, SF --- 2.80 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 146 K in 128 IP as 21 yr old between A and AA. He is a durable guy with sneaky movement of his fastball. With a few more good months he will be called up to the big leagues as a 22 yr old. I like him to log 60 strong innings next season for the Giants in his MLB debut next year.
33) Yorman Rodriguez, OF, CIN --- 259/324/427 as 20 yr old in AA. He was an international bonus baby 4 years ago, and has be unspectacular since. Last season the power started to progress as he hit 35 doubles. The tools are there, and he will likely repeat AA. I like his odds to bust out and destroy the league.
34) Michael Ynoa, SP, OAK --- 3.69 ERA in 75 innings of A ball. He is already 22 years old, but should finally be fully recovered from surgery going into next year. The 6'7" righty still has great stuff and if he stays healthy I could see him having the breakout season we have all been waiting for a end up pitching out of the bullpen in October for the A's.
35) Ryan McMahon, 3B, COL --- 321/402/583 in 251 PA as an 18 yr old in rookie ball. I am not sure that I believe in McMahon's long term future, but I know he will benefit in a major way by playing a full season in Asheville. If you buy him now, he will crack the top 100 and be worth substantially more at the end of the season than he was at the start.
Bonus: In the 2014 draft I love Kyle Schwarber to move into the top 5 after winning the Golden Spikes award. The guy can rake and has a shot to stick at catcher if he cuts a few pounds. Kodi Medeiros may not be a top of the draft type of player, but his unbelieveable pitch movement paired with a funky delivery should help him be a very quick moving prospect once he hits the minor leagues (unless a very patient team drafts him). Rodon should immediatley be a top 5 prospect upon signing--maybe even #1. Jacob Gatewood is my favorite player in the draft--he is big so he could end up moving to 3B, but he has legit power and some scouts believe he can stick up the middle--that is a very rare talent.
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