Here is a mid-season update for my top prospects list. The list back in March went to 150, but 75 will suffice for our purposes here. I could tinker with this list indefinitely, but at some point you have to publish.
As with any prospect list, I try to find a balance between long-term upside, short-term potential, physical tools, and current skills. Mixing hitters and pitchers on the same list is also philosophically problematic, but everyone does it so I'll jump off the cliff too.
There were about 50 other guys I looked at, including Clayton Blackburn and Jose Berrios among others. You can ask about your favorite non-listed player in the comments section if you like and I'll give you an approximate ranking.
The list does NOT Include 2013 draftees, nor does it include players who have exceeded rookie limits or are a good risk to do so. There were a few guys I wasn't sure about, Allen Webster and Jake Odorizzi, who may actually not push past 50 innings, so I went ahead and put them on though it could be the last time. I will have a separate post with all the guys who graduated off the list.
1) Byron Buxton, OF, Minnesota Twins. Previous ranking 37th. Top prospect in baseball without a doubt for me. First-class tools and his skills proved much stronger than advertised. Outstanding makeup as well.
2) Xander Bogaerts , SS, Boston Red Sox, Previous ranking 4th. Does anyone remember or care that he got off to a slow start? I didn't think so.
3) Miguel Sano, 3B, Minnesota Twins, Previous ranking 10th. Not hitting for average yet in Double-A, but power remains intact and I trust his ability to figure out what he needs to know.
4) Oscar Taveras , OF, St. Louis Cardinals, Previous ranking 2nd. He's fought injuries all spring but has continued to hit well when healthy.
5) Taijuan Walker, RHP, Seattle Mariners. Previous ranking 19th. The best pitching prospect is either Walker or Archie Bradley. I'll go with Walker since I think he's closer to being ready. Both have the upside of a number one starter.
6) Archie Bradley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks. Previous ranking 21st. He still has some command issues to work out, but you have to love the stuff, the build, and the delivery.
7) Carlos Correa, SS, Houston Astros. Previous ranking 24th. He's hitting .324/.421/.455 in Low-A at age 18, and I think he can stick at shortstop. He's younger than Buxton.
8) Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians. Previous ranking 31st. He can field, run, hit for average, and get on base. I suspect he will show more power than expected eventually.
9) Carlos Martinez, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals. Previous ranking 20th. I'm not sure he'll push past the rookie innings limit, so I will go ahead and slot him. Seems to get lost in the shuffle sometimes when top pitching prospects are discussed, but he should thrive in any role. Gerrit Cole would slot here if eligible. It would go Cole/Martinez/Wheeler/Taillon.
10) Jameson Taillon, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates. Previous ranking 17th. Zach Wheeler would slot about here if he doesn't exceed innings limit. Taillon's slot here assumes that his horrific July 13th start (13 hits, 10 runs in 3.1 innings) was an aberration. That one start has trashed his stats, shooting his ERA up to 3.75, but otherwise he's been very effective.
11) Noah Syndergaard, RHP, New York Mets. Previously 22nd. His breaking ball looks good enough to me. The stats are there, the stuff is there, the body is there. Kevin Gausman will go right here after Syndergaard, if he remains eligible. It is possible Syndergaard could move past Taillon.
12) Christian Yelich, OF, Miami Marlins. Previously 12th. No change in stock. He just needs to stay healthy.
13) Nick Castellanos, OF-3B, Detroit Tigers. Previously 67th. Big surge in stock due to production boost in Triple-A at age 21.
14) Javier Baez, SS, Chicago Cubs. Previously 18th. Combination of huge power, youth, with poor plate discipline makes him a Dangerous player, to pitchers and analysts.
15) George Springer, OF, Houston Astros. Previously 72nd. Strikeouts, shmikeouts. He'll work a count, unlike Baez, has fewer makeup questions, and more immediate fantasy viability. Might end up ahead of Baez by September.
16) Addison Russell, SS, Oakland Athletics. Previously 30th. Does anyone remember or care that he got off to a slow start? I didn't think so. Strong finish could push him past Yelich, Castellanos into Top 10.
17) Michael Wacha, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals. Previously 34. Like Syndergaard, I think the breaking ball issue will resolve in his favor.
18) Albert Almora, OF, Chicago Cubs. Previously 44. Could need work with the strike zone at higher levels, but overall he's been excellent.
19) Gregory Polanco, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates. Previously 50th. He has some work to do adapting to Double-A, but overall I'm a believer.
20) Jackie Bradley, OF, Boston Red Sox. Previously 45. I don't think he'll be eligible for the next version of this list.
21) Dylan Bundy, RHP, Baltimore Orioles. Previously 3. I never know what to do with guys like this. Has all the talent in the world, but Tommy John recovery is not a sure thing and he'll miss a year of development. You can make a case to put him anywhere from 10 to 50 in my view.
22) Travis D'Arnaud, C, New York Mets. Previously 13. Staying healthy is a tool (or a skill); either way it is a factor, especially for a player in a demanding defensive position.
23) Jorge Soler , OF, Chicago Cubs. Previously 25. OK, so he's not Yasiel Puig. He's still really good. Just needs health.
24) Robert Stephenson, RHP, Cincinnati Reds. Previously 55. Another guy with great stuff and great numbers, just promoted to High-A. Future number two starter?
25) Yordano Ventura, RHP, Kansas City Royals. Previously 93. I'd put him in the top 20 if not for remaining command issues.
26) Trevor Bauer, RHP, Cleveland Indians. Previously 11. There is a certain "stickiness" in my rankings in that I'm often reluctant to move guys down too quicky.I don't like the reverse bandwagon effect, and it has become trendy to bash Bauer. I defended Bauer in the past and while I retain a measure of patience, his performance has been too spotty to remain in Top 20 and he could fall further. He needs to turn things around in August to stay in this vicinity. I'd hate to see natural talent like his go to waste due to over-thinking and over-tinkering.
27) Danny Hultzen, LHP, Seattle Mariners. Previously 28. I'm not sure what I'm more afraid of, Bauer's weird issues with coaching and over-intellectualizing, or Hultzen's rotator cuff trouble. If Hultzen is healthy in August he will move ahead of Bauer. Whatever his problem with walks was last year has gone away.
28) Taylor Guerrieri RHP, Tampa Bay Rays. Previously 56. Now we have questions about his health too. If he's seriously hurt, he'll have to move down.
29) Kyle Zimmer, RHP, Kansas City Royals. Previously 43. This is about 10-15 spots higher than he would have ranked a few weeks ago, but recent dominating starts have boosted his stock. If he maintains this progress, he'll soon move ahead of TG even if TG isn't hurt.
30) Garin Cecchini, 3B, Boston Red Sox. Previously 117. I'm mad at myself on this one actually. I had him rated as a Grade B+ and on fringes of top 50 in January but let myself get talked down to a Grade B and out of the top 50 after reading too many scouting reports and not trusting my own eyes and instincts. Well, screw that. He kicks ass and many people are still too low on him.
31) Joc Pederson, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers. Previously 114. The Garin Cecchini of outfielders.
32) Maikel Franco, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies. Previously unranked. I had him at a Grade B- pre-season and had mentioned him as a sleeper for a year or two. He woke up.
33) Austin Hedges, C, San Diego Padres. Previously 32. No change in stock for me though I still wonder some about his bat.
34) Mike Foltynewicz, RHP, Houston Astros. Previously unranked. I had him as a Grade B pre-season although not in the Top 150, he would have been in the 160-range. Stock way up, although command is still work-in-progress.
35) Gary Sanchez, C, New York Yankees. Previously ranked 46. Glove coming around and he's always been able to hit.
36) Jarred Cosart, RHP, Houston Astros. Previously 106. Looks like a world-beater on his best days, and those days are starting to get more frequent. Volatile ranking due to remaining command issues.
37) Corey Seager, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers. Previously 70. Is it just me, or is he being overlooked amidst all the hoopla over Buxton and Correa in the Midwest League?
38) Billy Hamilton, OF, Cincinnati Reds. Previously 14th. Like with Bauer, this is a "sticky" ranking due to his continually amazing speed, but enough questions have been raised about his bat to move him down.
39) Kolten Wong, 2B, St. Louis Cardinals. Previously ranked 85-A. Was as high as 30 on earlier versions of this, but seems to be wilting a bit in the heat. I still like him as a solid all-around prospect.
40) Andrew Heaney, LHP, Miami Marlins. Previously ranked 115th. I'd like to see how he adapts to Double-A, but overall he's been excellent and stock is moving up.
41) Kyle Crick, RHP, San Francisco Giants. Previously 52. A healthy August could gain him 10 spots, if not more depending on what other guys do.
42) Alen Hanson, SS, Pittsburgh Pirates. Previously 49. His stock has stayed more or less level for me.
43) Lance McCullers, RHP, Houston Astros. Previously 66. Has some command issues but stuff is first-class, reports from Midwest League observers very positive.
44) Jesse Biddle, LHP, Philadelphia Phillies. Previously 61. A bit erratic, but I love the terrific strikeout rate.
45) Max Fried, LHP, San Diego Padres. Previously 54. Reasonably good year in the Midwest League, though as with fellow '12 first-rounder Seager he's done it without huge press.
46) Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates. Not ranked previously. High-upside Grade C+ prospect with a "sleeper alert" tag pre-season, he's now among the best pitching prospects in baseball in my view.
47) Marcus Stroman, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays. Previously 111. No problems in Double-A. Another one who seems oddly overlooked when top pitching prospects are discussed.
48) Rafael De Paula, RHP, New York Yankees. Not ranked previously. High-upside Grade C+ pre-season, has proven the more optimistic scouting reports to be correct.
49) Matt Wisler, RHP, San Diego Padres. Previously 94. The Garin Cecchini of pitchers.
50) Rafael Montero, RHP, New York Mets. Not ranked previously. Grade B- pre-season, has boosted his stock by maintaining command in Double-A and not getting killed after moving up to Triple-A Las Vegas.
51) Alex Meyer, RHP, Minnesota Twins. Previously ranked 63rd. Having a very solid season; shoulder problem is supposed to be minor and you can make a case to rank him higher.
52) Lucas Giolito, RHP, Washington Nationals. Previously 104. Stuff appears back from Tommy John rehab. We'll see about his command, but a good August will keep his momentum upward. This may seem high but my gut says to put him here. We'll see how that looks in two months.
53) Raul Mondesi, SS, Kansas City Royals. Previously 109. He's not even 18 yet and holding his own in full-season ball. Wide range of possible outcomes but upside is very high.
54) Anthony Ranaudo, RHP, Boston Red Sox. Not ranked previously. Problem here was always staying healthy. I still wonder if his arm will fall off someday, but he's been very good in Double-A. Mid-rotation starter I think.
55) Aaron Sanchez, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays. Previously 42. No question about the stuff, command is still wobbly and he's had some arm trouble.
56) Eddie Rosario, 2B, Minnesota Twins. Previously 79. I have liked this guy since high school as a hitter, and he's figuring out second base.
57) Arismendy Alcantara, SS, Chicago Cubs. Not previously ranked. High-ceiling C+ pre-season who "needed to be watched closely." I think this is a real breakout.
58) Sonny Gray, RHP, Oakland Athletics. Previously 139. I think he's turned a corner this year in Triple-A. This may end up looking too low.
59) Allen Webster, RHP Boston Red Sox. Previously 88. I'm not sure he'll get past 50 major league innings, so here he is. Obviously has taken some command steps forward in Triple-A, even if not reflected in bigs yet.
60) Jonathan Singleton, 1B, Houston Astros. Previously 57. I've never been quite as high on him as some folks are. Natural talent is clearly here but there's still more rawness in his approach than there should be, exploited by Triple-A pitchers.
61) Zach Lee, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers. Previously 120. Impressive season in Double-A, but for some reason he is actually getting less hype than in previous seasons, when his performance didn't quite match the press clippings. The performance has caught up with his reputation, but odd lack of buzz about it.
62) Delino DeShields, 2B, Houston Astros. Previously 77. Cal League numbers aren't eye-popping, but he is still only 20.
63) Henry Owens, LHP, Boston Red Sox. Previously 137. Breakout season for Boston lefty; you can make a case for a higher ranking than this although from 137 to 63 is still quite a leap.
64) Miguel Almonte, RHP, Kansas City Royals. Previously not ranked. High-ceiling Grade B- pre-season who has broken through at age 20 in Low-A.
65) Jake Odorizzi, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays. Previously 80th. Kolten Wong of pitchers. Probably won't qualify for subsequent lists.
66) Rougned Odor, INF, Texas Rangers. Previously 122. The Rangers just clone these guys. Hitting .299 with 25 steals in High-A at age 19. In a thinner system, he'd get a lot more attention.
67) Lucas Sims, RHP, Atlanta Braves. Previously not ranked. 2012 first-rounder is living up to his draft pedigree with strong campaign in Low-A. Another one who hasn't received quite the attention he deserves outside of Braves circles.
68) Jake Marisnick, OF, Miami Marlins. Previously not ranked. Tough rating for me. He is hitting much better this year and has a great glove to go with it, but his plate discipline remains very questionable. I considered him as early as 40 and also considered not having him here at all.
69) A.J. Cole, RHP, Washington Nationals. Previously 89. Seems a half-step from putting everything together.
70) Eddie Butler, RHP, Colorado Rockies. Previously not ranked. Strong debut for 2012 supplemental first rounder out of Radford. I considered him as high as 50.
71) Wilmer Flores, INF, New York Mets. Previously 118. Las Vegas inflates his numbers to some extent, but I think he continues to make steady progress.
72) Matt Davidson, 3B, Arizona Diamondbacks. Previously 101. More power potential than Flores, but much higher strikeout rate is a caution flag.
73) C.J. Edwards, RHP, Texas Rangers. Previously not ranked. Deep sleeper prospect woke up, blowing away Low-A. I originally had him about 100 but he deserves to be higher than that.
74) Rosell Herrera, SS, Colorado Rockies. Previously not ranked. Pros: overall performance, speed, power, controls zone, performing in full-season ball at age 20. Cons: future position uncertain, plus Asheville boosts his numbers; beware Ian Stewart/Trevor Story effect, although Herrera has still been good on the road.
75) Julio Urias, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers. Previously not ranked. Two years older than my son, which freaks me out. Urias has dominated full-season ball at age 16 which is just about unheard of. I really don't know where to put him just yet but he needs to be mentioned, so here he is.
76) Erik Johnson, RHP, Chicago White Sox: Suffers from Boring Name Syndrome and gets overlooked, but he's got good stuff and is performing very well in AA/AAA this season. I considered him as high as 60 and that might actually not be high enough.
TOP 150 PRE-SEASON PROSPECTS FOR 2013
PLAYERS GRADUATED FROM LIST