I am shamelessly stealing this idea off of Keith Law’s Top Prospect Update by making this list but I absolutely loved the idea and our staff here talked about doing a weekly prospect roundup before the season started. Since some of our staff is on hiatus I figured I would take a number from the master but expand my list beyond the 10 he did and do my top 25 prospects. Here you go:
1. Mike Trout (OF – LAA) – Trout doesn’t turn 20 until my birthday, August 7th, but is already in Double-A and hitting .293/.361/.547 with 3 doubles, 2 triples, 4 homeruns, 4 steals, in 86 plate appearances with a 8:17 BB:K rate. We could see Trout in the Majors this year and be their starting center fielder on Opening Day 2012.
2. Bryce Harper (OF – WAS) – Playing in the Sally League at the age of 18 (he should be a senior in high school) and hitting a robust .358/.453/.679 with 8 doubles, 6 homeruns, 5 stolen bases, in 95 PAs with a 14:20 BB:K rate. Harper has seen time in both center and right field and if he can hold his own in center then he could pass Trout as the #1 prospect on my list.
3. Eric Hosmer (1B – KC) – Hosmer is playing in Triple-A and will be 21 through the entire season. Most 21 year olds in Triple-A struggle but Hosmer is killing it to the tune of .430/.518/.581 with 5 doubles, 3 homeruns, 3 steals, in 112 PAs with a 18:15 BB:K rate. The guy is hitting like he’s a 21 year old in short season ball.
4. Domonic Brown (OF – PHI) – Brown has been recovering from a broken hamate bone which is usually a hard road to recovery. He has only logged 9 at-bats in Triple-A after 21 in a rehab assignment in High-A ball. He crushed two homeruns in the Florida State League, a good pitcher’s league, proving that the power is there after an injury that kills ones power. Brown should be up in the Majors no later than next month and will have enough playing time to remove himself from this list next season.
5. Jesus Montero (C – NYY) – Like Hosmer, Montero is playing the entire Triple-A season at the age of 21 and more than holding his own hitting .373/.384/.470 with 5 doubles and a homerun in 86 PAs. His 2:16 BB:K rate is poor and he did not walk until just a few days ago when he received both free passes in the same game. Montero may be trying to prove that he can hit his way into the Yankee lineup, and he probably can, but there is no room until an injury or trade occurs.
6. Julio Teheran (RHP – ATL) – Teheran is playing the entire Triple-A season at the age of 20 (take that Hosmer and Montero!) and pitching like he belongs in Atlanta. He has a 1.80 ERA to go with a 25:8 K:BB rate and no homeruns allowed in 30 innings. Atlanta has a loaded rotation so we may not see Teheran until September at the earliest unless they trade a Major League starter for a bat, which is very likely.
7. Jeremy Hellickson (RHP – TB) – Hellickson is holding his own as a member of an AL East rotation, posting a 4.31 ERA with a 23:12 K:BB (which was killed due to a 1 strikeout 5 walk performance at Boston) in 31.1 innings. Having gone an average of 7 innings over his last three starts he is getting a rest to keep his rookie innings down and that should help him keep his numbers in check. Hellickson is already beyond the inning total allowed for a rookie and he will be graduating from this list.
8. Dustin Ackley (2B – SEA) – Off to yet another slow start, Ackley is hitting .211/.333/.303 with 4 doubles, 2 homeruns, and 4 steals in 130 PAs but is showing good patience with a 20:20 K:BB rate. He absolutely raked in the Arizona Fall league, leading the league in all three triple-slash categories, hitting .424/.581/.758 with 20 walks against just 11 strikeouts and was named the AFL MVP. I wouldn’t worry about his slow start; he’ll rebound.
9. Wil Myers (OF – KC) – Myers is young for Double-A, playing the entire year at the age of 20, and is struggling a bit hitting .245/.296/.408 with 2 doubles, 2 homeruns, and 2 steals in 54 PAs. His 4:14 BB:K rate leaves a little to be desired as well. He is transitioning to the outfield, playing 9 games in RF, 1 game in CF, and 2 games in LF but it’s a much easier transition than moving from the outfield to catcher. The sample sizes are small so I wouldn’t worry too much.
10. Shelby Miller (RHP – STL) – Miller has dominated 4 of his 5 starts High-A ball and is playing the entire year at the age of 20. His one bad start, and I do mean bad, saw him walk 7, throw 4 wild pitches, and hit a batter. His other 4 starts combined have him with a 38:6 K:BB rate in 23.2 innings and a 2.28 ERA. His overall numbers are still good, sitting at a 3.21 ERA and a 42:13 K:BB over 28 innings. Miller has the stuff to challenge for a top 3 spot on next year’s list but it’ll be hard to get there with the talent at the top.
11. Aroldis Chapman (LHP – CIN) – Chapman is being solely used in relief and has been near unhittable in 12.1 innings. Chapman has only allowed 5 hits and struck out 15 but has allowed a ridiculous 11 walks. He has pitched 26 career MLB innings and will likely graduate from this list. He has been wild in his short MLB career with 16 walks in 26 innings but he also has 34 strikeouts and has not allowed a homerun. Chapman, in my opinion, is being wasted in the pen since I believe he can hold up as a starter but if he were a multi inning reliever then his value would still hold. Sadly, he is not that, having pitched less than an inning per outing.
12. Brandon Belt (1B – SF) – Belt made the Gaints’ opening day roster but failed to hit enough to stay on. In 60 PAs he hit .192/.300/.269 with a homerun and 2 steals. It wasn’t enough evidence for me to believe he did not belong and he has done nothing but hit in Triple-A. In 41 PAs Belt is hitting an absurd .500/.610/.833 with 4 doubles, 2 homeruns, 3 steals, and a 10:8 BB:K. Belt is getting time in LF to help boost his chances of making back to the Majors but that bat alone is reason enough to call him up. He is another that will likely graduate from this list.
13. Michael Pineda (RHP – SEA) – Pineda made the team out of Spring Training and earned a spot in the rotation at the age of 22. He has been lights out for the Big League club posting a 2.01 ERA and 2.20 FIP in 31.1 innings with a 30:12 K:BB rate. His fastball is averaging 95.8 mph, tops in the Majors. Pineda is another that will likely graduate from this list and do it with some serious Major League success.
14. Jacob Turner (RHP – DET) – Turner is a guy that I struggled with ranking. I initially had him in my top 10 with Miller at 9 and Myers outside the top 10 but thought he didn’t have enough experience to place him in the top 10. I was wrong. Turner is already in Double-A and won’t be 20 until the end of this month. He has a 2.70 ERA and a ridiculous 24:4 K:BB rate in 26.2 innings so far. I love command/control guys, especially ones with big time stuff like Turner has. Turner will no doubt be in my top 5-9 prospects next season with an outside shot at top 5 if Hosmer is called up and graduates from the list.
15. Matt Moore (LHP – TB) – Moore is 21 and posting some weird numbers in Double-A. He has a 5.18 ERA in 24.1 innings but an insane 32:4 K:BB rate. Moore has uncharacteristically allowed 6 homeruns so far after only allowing 7 last year in 144.2 innings last year and 6 in 123 innings the year before that. Moore has lead the minors in strikeouts two years in a row and has the ability to do that again this year. I expect things to correct themselves and Moore stands to be a potential top 10 guy on next year’s list.
16. Manny Banuelos (LHP – NYY) – Banuelos had scouts and spectators buzzing about his stuff and even had a few people wondering if he was the answer to the Yankees 5th starter conundrum. Banuelos just turned 20 in the spring and the Yanks started him out in Double-A where is performing quite well. In 17.1 innings he has a 1.56 ERA and a 13:7 K:BB. The rate is a bit off but expected from a young pitcher in Double-A. The sample size is small but he has kept the ball in the park and other than the walks has been very good. Banuelos has no where to go put up this list.
17. Aaron Hicks (OF – MIN) – Hicks has the best case among prospects on this list to take a big drop. He is hitting a poor .205/.298/.307 but it may be due to some bad luck. His walk (12.5%) and K (23.9%) rates are close to his career rates but his BABIP is 100 points lower than last year at .258. He is playing the entire year at 21 and is in a good pitcher’s league but the numbers have to come up for him to at least maintain a top 25 spot next year, which may be generous since Baseball America has him #45 even after an impressive 2010.
18. Kyle Drabek (RHP – TOR) – Another graduate candidate, Drabek has held his own as a starter in the AL East posting a 4.45 ERA with 25 strikeouts in 32.1 innings. He has been a bit wild with 21 walks, a hit batter, and 2 wild pitches. His stuff has been great but the command comes and goes. This season is going to be a great learning curve for him and he should be at least a very good #3 starter once he settles in.
19. Mike Moustakas (3B – KC) – Moustakas is another I struggle ranking. The power and arm are legit but the discipline and defense leave much to be desired. After raking in Double-A he made it to Triple-A last year and posted a measly 3.4% BB rate. This year he is hitting .226/.294/.398 in 103 PAs. The good news is hit BB rate has risen to 8.7% and he has 2 double, 1 triple, and 4 homers but his K rate is the highest it has been since his pro debut and he has already committed 7 errors on the year. Moustakas is another that could see a small drop in my rankings if he does not improve or has to move to the outfield.
20. Casey Kelly (RHP – SD) – Kelly is playing the entire Double-A season at the age of 21 but is pitching a bit lower than I thought he would considering he is in a good pitcher’s park. He has a 4.10 ERA and a 19:9 K:BB in 26.1 innings but has allowed 30 hits. Those are not bad stats but not top 20 prospect stats in a pitcher’s park. Kelly has seen an increas in his walks rates since he only walked 32 in 190 innings in 2009. I am not sure if he is battling an arm issue or if his mechanics are off but I expected better walk rates than he has posted this year and last year. I still think he has the upside of a good #2 and he has time to figure it out still.
21. Desmond Jennings (OF – TB) - Jennings is now 24 and was supposed to be Carl Crawford‘s replacement but with the Rays being conscious of his Super-Two status and the emergence of Sam “The Legend” Fuld, Jennings got to hone his skills in Triple-A once again. He has always had good defense, good speed, and good on-base skills and nothing has changed. He is hitting .273/.397/.414 with 6 doubles, 1 triple, 2 homeruns, and 8 steals in as many tries to go with his 17:24 BB:K rate in 122 PAs. He has 4 outfield assists and no errors so far. Jennings will likely be up in July sometime and graduate from this list.
22. Zach Britton (LHP – BAL) – Speaking of rookie starters that are holding their own in the AL East, Britton is off to the best start of any. Britton leads all rookie starters in innings pitched (37.2) and groundball rate (54.5%). In fact, only 4 other starters in the AL have a better groundball rate. That high groundball rate has lead to allowing only 3 homeruns and 30 hits in those 37.2 innings for an ERA of 2.63. His only problem has been with his low K:BB rate of 20:15. I may have underestimated this kid’s sinker but I likely won’t get the chance to upgrade him since he will be graduating from this list in possibly two more starts.
23. Jarrod Parker (RHP – ARI) – My ranking of Parker may be aggressive, and I usually want evidence of a recovery from injury, but Parker’s stuff is too good to downgrade. He has had some control issues since coming back from Tommy John surgery, which is the norm, but he has also struck out 16 in the 17 innings he has worked. He has also walked 12 and hit 4 batters but the stuff is coming back, which is a great sign of recovery. Parker is still only 22 and playing the entire Double-A season at that age so he has time to work the kinks out. If he does work them out he could be up in September but I see a mid-June of 2012 ETA for him when he’s worked it all out.
24. James Taillon (RHP – PIT) – Taillon made his pro debut this year and has pitched 6 innings over two games, allowing one run on 5 hits and 2 walks while striking out 6. He is playing the season at the age of 19 and already in the Sally League. Taillon has the stuff to move up the prospect ladder and if he keeps the performance up all year he will shoot way up the ladder.
25. Manny Machado (SS – BAL) – I profiled Machado’s hot start in mid-April and he has kept the fire going. Machado is hitting .333/.445/.611 with 6 doubles, 2 triples, 5 homeruns, and 3 steals to go with a mature 18:14 BB:K rate in 110 PAs. He is also in the Sally League and does not turn 19 until early July. Machado has the tools to be a top 5 prospect in the next year or two.
Filed under: On the Farm - Prospects Tagged: | Aaron Hicks, Aroldis Chapman, Brandon Belt, Bryce Harper, Carl Crawford, Casey Kelly, Desmond Jennings, Devin Mesoraco, Domonic Brown, Dustin Ackley, Eric Hosmer, Jacob Turner, James Taillon, Jarrod Parker, Jeremy Hellickson, Jesus Montero, John Lamb, Julio Teheran, Kyle Drabek, Lonnie Chisenhall, Manny Banuelos, Manny Machado, Martin Perez, Matt Moore, Michael Pineda, Mike Montgomery, Mike Moustakas, Mike Trout, Oswaldo Arcia, Prospects, Sam Fuld, Shelby Miller, Wil Myers, Zach Britton