After some delays, I am now starting work on the 2015 Baseball Prospect Book. We will start taking pre-orders for the book in a day or two and I will make a special announcement and provide an ordering link at that time.
This means that the Top 20 Prospect Lists per organization, which are based on the research conducted for the book each year, will start showing up here at Minor League Ball, hopefully with the first list (the Minnesota Twins) about this time next week.
The first step of the process is reviewing the Top 50 Hitters and Top 50 Pitchers prospect lists that were in the 2014 edition of the book.
THIS IS THE PRE-SEASON LIST!!!!! THIS IS NOT A NEW LIST!!
This is a review of the old list, which I do every fall in order to see how things turned out and to help improve the analytical method. These are the hitters, the pitchers will be posted tomorrow morning.
As with any prospect list, it will take five years or so before we know how things turn out. There was some bad injury luck in the top section this year, and even some healthy-and-promising prospects such as Xander Bogaerts and Gregory Polanco didn't live up to their hype. However, I think most of them will eventually.
Top 50 Hitting Prospects for 2014 (Review)
1) Byron Buxton, OF, Minnesota Twins, Grade A: Plagued with injuries, hit just .234/.307/.395 in 124 at-bats mostly in High-A. Scouting reports remain strong but he couldn’t stay healthy last year.
2) Xander Bogaerts, 3B, Boston Red Sox, Grade A: Held job in Red Sox lineup all year, hitting disappointing .240/.297/.362 with 12 homers, 39 walks, 138 strikeouts in 538 at-bats. I still believe in him.
3) Oscar Taveras, OF, St. Louis Cardinals, Grade A: Perished along with his girlfriend Edilia Arvelo in an automobile accident in the Dominican Republic, October 26, 2014.
4) Addison Russell, SS, Oakland Athletics, Grade A: Traded to Chicago Cubs, hit combined .295/.350/.508 in 68 games on the season, remains one of the top prospects in baseball.
5) Gregory Polanco, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates, Grade A: Hit .235/.307/.343 in 277 at-bats for the Pirates, sort of the Xander Bogaerts of the National League in that he didn’t live up to the hype but wasn’t a failure either. And like Bogaerts, I think he’ll figure it out eventually.
6) Javier Baez, SS, Chicago Cubs, Grade A: Hit .260/.323/.510 with 23 homers in Triple-A, but serious (and anticipated) contact problems resulted in .169/.227/.324 in the majors, 95 strikeouts in 213 at-bats (read that again) as well as nine homers. Enormous natural talent is obvious, open question whether he lives up to it or not. I’m not as confident that he’ll figure it out as I am with Bogaerts and Polanco.
7) Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians, Grade A: Hit .276/.338/.389 with 28 steals, 11 homers in 507 at-bats between Double-A and Triple-A. Reports on glove remain excellent, still a top prospect.
8) Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs, Grade A: Hit a tremendous .325/.438/.661 with 43 homers, 86 walks,15 steals and 162 strikeouts in 492 at-bats between Double-A and Triple-A. Strikeouts are there but he draws walks too and his pure hitting skills are solid enough that I don’t think he’ll scuffle like Baez.
9) Carlos Correa, SS, Houston Astros, Grade A: Hit .325/.416/.510 with 20 steals in 249 at-bats in High-A until suffering a broken leg. Recovery going well, still a top prospect.
10) George Springer, OF, Houston Astros, Grade A-: Hit .231/.336/.468 with 20 homers, 39 walks, 114 strikeouts in 295 at-bats for the Astros. This was very much as expected, exciting power and defense with contact issues. I expect steady improvement.
11) Jose Abreu, 1B, Chicago White Sox, Grade A-: Outstanding major league debut, hit .317/.376/.581 with 36 homers, 51 walks, 131 strikeouts in 556 at-bats for the White Sox, fully justifying expense of singing Cuban defector.
12) Miguel Sano, 3B, Minnesota Twins, Grade A-: Missed season with Tommy John surgery.
13) Albert Almora, OF, Chicago Cubs, Grade A-: Hit .270/.291/.392 with nine homers, 14 walks, 69 strikeouts in 508 at-bats between High-A and Double-A. Stock down some, but still just 20 years old.
14) Nick Castellanos, 3B, Detroit Tigers, Grade B+: Hit .259/.308/.394 with 11 homers,36 walks,140 strikeouts in 533 at-bats for the Tigers. Not a great debut by any means, but held his job and is still just 22.
15) Maikel Franco, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies, Grade B+: Hit .257/.300/.428 with 16 homers, 30 walks, 81 strikeouts in 521 at-bats in Triple-A at age 21. Erratic season but hit better in the second half, I still like him.
16) Jonathan Singleton, 1B, Houston Astros, Grade B+: Hit .168/.285/.335 with 13 homers, 50 walks, 134 strikeouts in 310 at-bats for the Astros. Another guy with big power potential but a scary-high strikeout rate and time on the clock to improve at age 22. However, I must admit to some trepidation about how this one will turn out.
17) Rougned Odor, 2B, Texas Rangers, Grade B+: Promoted to majors ahead of schedule, youngest regular in the league, hit .259/.298/.402 with nine homers, 17 walks, 71 strikeouts in 386 at-bats. I think he’ll have an excellent career.
18) Gary Sanchez, C, New York Yankees, Grade B+: Hit .270/.340/.406 with 13 homers, 43 walks, 91 strikeouts in 429 at-bats in Double-A. Not a bad season, still just 21, but not a breakthrough either.
19) Corey Seager, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers, Grade B+: Now, this was a breakthrough: .349/.402/.602 with 20 homers, 50 doubles, 40 walks, 115 strikeouts in 475 at-bats between High-A and Double-A. Pushes him to the very top tier of the prospect rankings for 2015.
20) Joc Pederson, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers, Grade B+: Hit .303/.435/.582 with 33 homers, 30 steals, 100 walks, 149 strikeouts in 445 at-bats in Triple-A. PCL/Albuquerque helped but he has nothing left to prove in the minors now.
21) Jesse Winker, OF, Cincinnati Reds, Grade B+: Hit .317/.426/.580 in High-A over 53 games, then just .208/.326/.351 in 21 games of Double-A before going down with a wrist injury. Strong season overall, stock level.
22) Clint Frazier, OF, Cleveland Indians, Grade B+: Hit .266/.351/.411 with 13 homers, 56 walks, 161 strikeouts in 474 at-bats in Low-A at age 19. Erratic, brilliant at times but would also have long cold spells.
23) Austin Meadows, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates, Grade B+: Hit .322/.388/.486 in 146 at-bats in Low-A, injured much of the year but excellent when healthy. Moving ahead of Frazier at this point.
24) Jackie Bradley Jr, OF, Boston Red Sox, Grade B+: Strong defender but bat was even worse than his doubters expected: .198/.265/.266 with just one homer, 31 walks, 121 strikeouts in 384 at-bats. Obviously unacceptable and he’s older than most of these guys at age 24.
25) Austin Hedges, C, San Diego Padres, Grade B+: Continues to show first-class defensive ability and a steerage bat, hit just .225/.268/.321 with 23 walks, 89 strikeouts in 427 at-bats in Double-A.
26) Kolten Wong, 2B, St. Louis Cardinals, Grade B+: Hit .249/.291/.388 with 12 homers, 20 steals, 21 walks, 71 strikeouts in 402 at-bats in the majors. He should continue to improve.
27) J.P. Crawford, SS, Philadelphia Phillies, Grade B+: Hit .285/.375/.406 with 11 homers, 24 steals, 65 walks, 74 strikeouts in 463 at-bats in Low-A and High-A. Reports are excellent, stock continues to rise.
28) Raul Mondesi, SS, Kansas City Royals, Grade B+: Hit .211/.256/.354 with eight homers, 17 steals, 24 walks, 122 strikeouts in 435 at-bats in High-A. Numbers were mostly terrible, but he’s only 19 and scouting reports remain excellent.
29) Jorge Soler, OF, Chicago Cubs, Grade B+: Fought injuries but excellent when healthy, hit .340/.432/.700 in 200 at-bats in the minors, .292/.330/.573 in 89 at-bats in the majors. Not a fluke.
30) Travis d’Arnaud, C, New York Mets, Grade B+: Hit .242/.302/.416 with 13 homers, 32 walks, 64 strikeouts in 385 at-bats in the majors. Should be a steady producer.
31) David Dahl, OF, Colorado Rockies, Grade B+: Hit combined .299/.335/.492 with 14 homers, 41 doubles, 28 walks, 92 strikeouts, 21 steals in 512 at-bats between Low-A and High-A. Excellent rebound season after lost ’13.
32) Colin Moran, 3B, Miami Marlins, Grade B+: Traded to Houston Astros, hit combined .296/.344/.397 with seven homers, 37 walks, 76 strikeouts in 473 at-bats between High-A and Double-A. Everyone wants to see more power.
33) Ryan McMahon, 3B, Colorado Rockies, Grade B+: Hit .282/.358/.502 with 46 doubles, 18 homers, 102 RBI, 54 walks, 143 strikeouts in 482 at-bats in Low-A. I want to see him outside the Sally League but it was a strong season.
34) Garin Cecchini, 3B, Boston Red Sox, Grade B+: Hit .263/.341/.371 with 44 walks, 99 strikeouts, 11 steals in 407 at-bats in Triple-A. Hit very well in August, could still live up to this slot eventually.
35) Stephen Piscotty, OF, St. Louis Cardinals, Grade B+: Hit .288/.355/.406 with nine homers, 32 doubles, 43 walks, 61 strikeouts in 500 at-bats in Triple-A. Decent season but doesn’t answer questions about if his home run power will improve.
36) D.J. Peterson, 3B, Seattle Mariners, Grade B+: Hit .297/.360/.552 with 31 homers, 45 walks, 116 strikeouts in 495 at-bats between High-A and Double-A. Showed the anticipated power.
37) Billy Hamilton, OF, Cincinnati Reds, Grade B+: Hit .250/.292/.355 with 56 steals (but 23 caught), 34 walks, 117 strikeouts in 563 at-bats for the Reds. Stellar outfield defense. I think the hitting will pick up gradually but glove will keep him employed.
38) Phillip Ervin, OF, Cincinnati Reds, Grade B+: Hit .237/.305/.376 with seven homers, 46 walks, 110 strikeouts, 30 steals in 498 at-bats in Low-A. Impressive athlete but power didn’t carry forward from college, not yet anyway.
39) Blake Swihart, C, Boston Red Sox, Grade B: Hit .293/.341/.469 with 13 homers, 31 walks, 80 strikeouts in 416 at-bats between Double-A and Triple-A. Very impressive defensive reports, bat is developing well, stock continues to climb steadily.
40) Andrew Susac, C, San Francisco Giants, Grade B: Hit .268/.379/.451 in 213 at-bats in Triple-A, .273/.326/.466 in 88 at-bats in the majors. I like him, success was not a fluke.
41) Jorge Alfaro, C, Texas Rangers, Grade B: Hit .261/.323/.440 with 17 homers, 29 walks, 123 strikeouts in 486 at-bats between High-A and Double-A. Continues to draw glowing scouting reports for defense and power potential, skills remain rather raw.
42) Hunter Dozier, 3B, Kansas City Royals, Grade B: Hit .295/.397/.429 in 224 at-bats in High-A, but just .209/.303/.312 in 234 at-bats in Double-A. Looks like he’s a year away.
43) Mookie Betts, 2B, Boston Red Sox, Grade B: Amazing season, .346/.431/.529 with 11 homers, 33 steals, 61/50 BB/K in 399 at-bats in the minors, then .291/.368/.444 in 189 at-bats in Boston. Not a fluke. Just needs to play.
44) Chris Owings, SS, Arizona Diamondbacks, Grade B: Hit .261/.300/.406 with 16 walks, 67 strikeouts in 310 at-bats. I’d love to see more OBP skills but defense, pop will keep him employed for years.
45) Arismendy Alcantara, INF, Chicago Cubs, Grade B: Hit .307/.353/.537 in 335 at-bats in Triple-A with 21 steals, then .205/.254/.367 with 10 homers in 278 at-bats in the majors. I think he will figure it out eventually. Broad base of potential skills remains in play.
46) Reese McGuire, C, Pittsburgh Pirates, Grade B: Hit .262/.307/.334 with 24 walks, 44 strikeouts, 389 at-bats in Low-A. Profile hasn’t changed: strong defender with questions about the bat, something like Austin Hedges I suppose.
47) Mitch Nay, 3B, Toronto Blue Jays, Grade B: Hit .278/.335/.376 with 35 doubles, three homers, 42 walks, 88 strikeouts in 510 at-bats between Low-A and High-A. I still think the homers will come eventually.
48) Marcus Semien, INF, Chicago White Sox, Grade B: Hit .234/.300/.372 in 231 at-bats in the majors, .267/.380/.502 with 15 homers in 303 at-bats in Triple-A. I still think he will succeed eventually.
49) Tom Murphy, C, Colorado Rockies, Grade B: Lost most of the season to injury, hit .213/.321/.415 in 94 at-bats in Double-A.
50) Joey Gallo, 3B, Texas Rangers, Grade B: Hit .271/.394/.615 with 42 homers, 87 walks, 179 strikeouts between High-A and Double-A, which included an incredible 115 strikeouts in 250 at-bats for Frisco. Certainly a unique and extreme talent, stock is much higher now than pre-season but there are still questions given the contact issue. Cross between Chris Davis and Russ Branyan?