For my scout’s eye blog this week I decided to do an updated midseason top 10 prospects with a write up on each player. Enjoy, and as always all questions and comments are greatly appreciated.
1. Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins CF
Byron Buxton has exploded onto the scene after being drafted 2nd overall by the twins in the 2012 draft. Buxton always had a chance to display five tool potential but no one, not even the Twins expected him to hit the way he has thus far this season. Buxton has plus plus speed, a plus-plus bat and glove and the chance to hit for at least average power. He also has shown that he has the plus plate discipline and approach that even Billy Beane would be a fan of. In terms of the future while I do think Buxton is at least 3 years away from making a major league impact I honestly believe that given the lack of top-end talent in the minor leagues right now that Bryan Buxton is the single best prospect in all of baseball and therefore he retains his normal leadoff spot on this list.
2. Miguel Sano, Minnesota Twins 3B
Shockingly, the Twins also own the rights to my number two prospect, Miguel Sano. Sano signed with the Twins out of the Dominican Republic in 2009 for 3.1 million dollars, which to this day is still one of the 5 biggest contracts ever given to a Latin American prospect. Since he has gotten to the minor leagues, Sano has done nothing but tear the cover off the baseball to the tune of .287 with 71 home runs in less then 1500 at bats. Sano has a 80-grade power and a 60-grade hit tool and I would be shocked if we didn’t see him mashing in the big leagues in the very near future.
3. Oscar Taveras, St. Louis Cardinals CF
Despite a very unorthodox swing, Oscar Taveras is widely considered the best pure hitter in the entire minor league, showing at least a 70 grade hit tool and above average power. I believe Taveras has gotten very bored toiling in Triple A waiting for the Cardinals to call him up. I would not be surprised if and when the Cardinals finally do call him up (which should be no later then September) that Taveras destroys the living crap out of the ball and earns a starting outfield spot next season.
4. Christian Yelich, Miami Marlins CF
While the consensus is that Taveras is the best natural hitter in the minor leagues, my money would be on Yelich. Yelich doesn’t quite have the bat speed of Taveras but his swing plane and hip rotation are so clean and fluid that I would be shocked if he doesn’t hit for a high average at the big league level. Combine that massive hit tool with average or above power, speed and center field defense and you have a superstar in the making, something the lowly Marlins desperately need.
5. Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs 3B
Javier Baez is probably the prospect I am the highest on in relation to the industry consensus. I love Baez for one main reason, his bat speed. Baez has easy 80-bat speed and contact ability and despite the fact that he still has a very raw approach at the plate shows plus power already. Baez’s bat could potentially produce two 70- grade tools. Add in average defense or better at third led by a plus arm and you have a superstar player who is definitely worthy of making my top 5 overall prospect.
6. Archie Bradley, Arizona Diamondbacks SP
Archie Bradley at just 19 years old is already the top pitcher in all of the minor leagues. Bradley has an elite fastball that regularly touches 100 mph that he pairs with a curveball that is such a big hammer Thor couldn’t even wield it. Bradley is tall, athletic, powerful and has the perfect combination of present and future stuff that projects to be an ace at the big league level very soon.
7. Wil Myers, Tampa Bay Rays OF
Myers had one of the worst starts of any player on this list by striking out nearly a third of the time while hitting for very little power, but he is finally coming around hitting .341 with 4 home runs in his last ten games. He shows plus to plus- plus power with at least an above average hit tool, arm and approach. Myers should be a staple in the middle of the Rays lineup as soon as his super two clock expires.
8. Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians SS
Francisco Lindor is the type of prospect that makes you say wow the second he hits the field. He is a super slick defender displaying plus glove, range and throwing arm at the premium position of shortstop. Lindor is far from a glove-only prospect, however, as he shows a plus hit tool and a very mature approach for a 19 year old in his second full season in pro ball. Lindor may never develop the power he needs to be a superstar but he should be a very good player for a long time in the major leagues.
9. Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox SS
While I have never been the biggest Bogaerts believer it is getting pretty hard to ignore the explosive power potential from him. For a player who has an increasingly good chance to stay at shortstop defensively, Bogaerts will supply premium power and an above average hit tool. If Bogaerts can cut down on his strikeouts and improve his approach he could easily jump into the top five on this list by the end of the season.
10. Jameson Taillon, Pittsburgh Pirates SP
Taillon is arguably better then 2012 number 1 overall draft pick and recent call-up Gerrit Cole. Taillon regularly hits 98 mph on a fastball that he both commands very well and has fantastic late arm side run. Taillon also has a wipeout slider, plus change and a very repeatable and smooth delivery. If Taillon can learn to throw a few more quality strikes instead of just throwing strikes he has all of the tools to be an ace at the major league level very soon.
Charles Kurz is a co-founder of RotoAnalysis and scouting “aficionado.” Look for his work all season long regarding prospects and follow him on Twitter @NoLimits16423!
Photo Credit: http://www.milb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20110816&content_id=23311342&fext=.jsp&vkey=news_milb