Top Baseball Prospects for 2014
Now updated for 2014's Top Prospects
Scouting Book's Top Prospects list is a Combined List, a calculated summary of the overall valuations of the entire prospect universe.
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He's clearly no shortstop anymore, as Scouting Book readers knew to expect, but that doesn't stop Miguel Sano from stepping into the number one prospect room in Minnesota. The biggest Latin American signing of 2009, Sano was a coup of sorts for the small market Minnesota Twins. A coveted athlete pursued by all the usual big-market teams, it was Minnesota's relentless (one might say 'piranha-like') tenacity that finally landed the youngster. While his bat is enticing, the rest of his game is more typical of a still-teenager: sloppy and inconsistent. He'll need to become a better fielder and baserunner, at the very least, before he's treated with proper respect in the big
More Scouting Book Info on Miguel Sano
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If anyone in baseball was unaware of Japanese phenom Masahiro Tanaka last year, the 24-0 record he posted in 27 starts for NPL's Rakuten Golden Eagles pretty much erased the last shreds of his anonymity. That record, while it certainly came with a little luck, wasn't undeserved: Takana's 1.27 ERA and 0.94 WHIP also led the league. He'll spend the entire 2014 season as a 25 year old, and while most scouts don't see quite the same dazzling array of weaponry, comparing young Tanaka to the 27-year old Yu Darvish are not without merit.
Ma's fastball is in the low-90's range with not much movement, though his superior command makes it effective enough, especially when used to set up two plus breaking balls: a split-fingered variant that generates grounders, and a wipeout slider that produces a great many swings and misses. (Tanaka averaged eight and a half strikeouts per innings in Japan, more or less, for his entire pro career.) His curve is more of a show-me offering, and he uses it primarily as a changeup to keep hitters from timing his delivery too finely. He may have adjustment periods in MLB, and that fastball almost certainly will be hammered a few times if he leans on it too hard, but other than that he looks like the real deal from here, and he should be able to hold his own against pretty much any pro lineup right now.
More Scouting Book Info on Masahiro Tanaka
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Seen by many as the best pitching prospect in the 2013 draft class, Oklahoma's Jonathan Gray is a towering righthander with high-90's heat that breaks 100mph from time to time. More often, he throws it at 94 or 95 with good late movement that busts righthanded hitters. His real showcase pitch, though, is the hard slurvy slider that comes in near 90mph but drops dramatically off and away, making even good hitters look like weak-kneed noodle-slappers. If Gray has a weakness, it's his not-there-at-all changeup, a pitch he may need if he's going to handle lefthanded hitters with as much skill as he deals with righties. Regardless, he's a top flight prospect who has the stuff and maturity to handle pitching, even at Coors Field.
More Scouting Book Info on Jonathan Gray
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The classic all-promise righthander, Arizona's Archie Bradley is a potentially outstanding pitcher who's only a changeup short of a major league career very soon. Of course, that's the pitching equivalent of a hitter who can handle everything except a curve ball, so this youngster's future will depend mighty heavily on how many MPH he can
subtract when called upon to do so. If he stumbles, his big fastball and plus curve should still serve his team well in relief, but we won't know for another year or two which road he'll be taking from South Bend to Mobile.
More Scouting Book Info on Archie Bradley
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A high-school shortstop from Puerto Rico with a live bat and a great batting eye from both sides of the plate, Cleveland's Franky Lindor is a young and talented all-around player who shows signs of all five major league tools. His glove is pretty shiny, and his baserunning smarts and instincts are already several years ahead of his age bracket. As he works his way through several hundred thousand practice swings in the next three or four years, we'll find out if that bat can live up to early reports and carry his future into MLB.
More Scouting Book Info on Francisco Lindor
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A lithe, athletic outfielder with enough speed to cover big terrain, Pirate outfield prospect Gregory Polanco really took a step into national attention in 2012, showing off a .325/.389/.516 slash line during his first taste of A-ball, a line that included 25 doubles and 15 homers. In 2013, he stepped up all aspects of his game, and while the raw numbers might not look as impressive, those are numbers accrued while rising through three levels of play all in one summer.
At the plate, Polanco is still a bit of a raw swinger, but he makes enough contact to get away with it most of the time, and his natural ability helps him put balls in play that others might foul off or miss altogether. As his skills improve, his talent could propel him into the upper tier of young hitters. His defense is very sloppy but should come along with the rest of his game, with good raw speed that should help him cover mistakes in the mean time. His arm is not special, but should be enough to handle a corner outfield assignment.
More Scouting Book Info on Gregory Polanco
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The fastest legs in red stockings, young Billy Hamilton should get a shot at locking down a long-term job in Cincinnati's young lineup this season. The Pioneer League's player of the year in 2010 stole 155 bases (not a typo) at an 80% success rate in 2012, and ended last season by swiping 13 bases in 13 games for the big-league Reds. The switch-hitting Hamilton really does look like a prototypical leadoff hitter thanks to his wheels and rapidly-developing on-base skills: a player doesn't even get 190 opportunities to steal unless one can get on base an awful lot in the first place. In the field, he's capable of shortstop (his natural position), but the Reds have spent the last year prepping him to play the outfield, better to fit into the current lineup.
More Scouting Book Info on Billy Hamilton
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A righthander with three possible plus pitches, righthander Lucas Giolito had a chance to be drafted #1 overall until he was sidelined by UCL problems. If he's really back at full strength, he's one of the best pitching prospects left in the Washington system, and the team's best bet to be a future ace. And considering the depth and quality of that system, that's really something to remember. With a stable of quality arms at all stages of development, the Nats are better-poised for the coming decade than any team in baseball.
More Scouting Book Info on Lucas Giolito
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The younger of Baltimore's Bouncing Baby Bundies, the growly-looking Dylan is a righthander with ace upside, but he remains relatively untested against pro hitters, and under professional pressure. His ungodly 0.25 ERA and 158 strikeouts in 71 innings as a high school senior earned him honors as the Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year, BA's High School Player of the Year Award and USA Today's National Player of the Year. That said, he's still what we in the business like to call
a high school pitching prospect, which is a term of art meant to indicate that this category of gamble is among the riskier bets in baseball. His fastball/cutter combination is a genuine plus combo, and he's been improving his command and control while working on improving his changeup in the minors. He'll need that to succeed. The Baltimore organization has done nothing in the last few years to suggest they're not one of the very best incubators for pitching talent, so overall, we're believers.
More Scouting Book Info on Dylan Bundy
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A high-profile 2010 pick for the Tigers, high-schooler Nick Castellanos was one of the best bats available in the draft. He shows very quick wrists and great natural hitting ability already, which means as he grows and fills out, he could become a certifiable monster. He has surprising speed for a big guy, too.
He played shortstop in high school, but Scouting Book readers know that we were pretty sure he would be a third baseman or corner outfielder as a pro from the moment the Tigers signed him. In a full season of A-ball in West Michigan, he was indeed primarily deployed at third base (we're so smrt), and he raked to the tune of .312/.367/.436. His AA debut in 2012 didn't go quite as swimmingly, but .264/.296/.382 is nothing to be ashamed of when you're only 20 years old and facing top flight pitching for the first time. Detroit, ever on the lookout for more ways to squeeze sluggers into the lineup, has also started testing young Nicky in right field, and on their OF-light MLB squad, that might be a better place for his debut, at least until Prince Fielder graduates to full-time DH status, leaving at least one of the corner infield spots vacant again.
More Scouting Book Info on Nick Castellanos
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10 to 20 of 750 Prospects
Top Prospects 2013