Top Baseball Prospects for 2013
Now updated for 2013'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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Victor Sanchez, the prize of the international free agent market in 2011, is a big-armed righthander who's growing up in a Seattle system that's positively overflowing with that particular blessing. A gifted athlete with a loose, easy motion and natural movement on his ball, he was a star in Venezuela from the time he was 12 years old, dominating hitters four years older than that with a 90mph fastball and a downright unfair curve. As a sixteen year old in showcases, Sanchez demonstrated he could hit 92 with that heater, not to mention the beginnings of a slider that has since blossomed into a genuine plus pitch. He's even shown indications of a working changeup, which is remarkable in such a young pitcher.
In his first taste of American ball at low-A Everett in 2012, Sanchez went 6-2, 3.18 over fifteen starts, striking out 69 hitters in 85 innings of work. He's still very young, of course, and his body will need to grow in just the right way to support the workload his arm is about to encounter. But right now he looks like the best Latin American pitching prospect we've seen since Julio Teheran, who was himself probably the best since some guy you may remember named Felix.
More Scouting Book Info on Victor Sanchez
SB 141 BA SC BP SN ES ML
Now an outfielder for the Athletics, ex-USC shortstop Grant Green had a chance to be the #1 overall draft pick in 2009 until Stephen Strasburg's moment carried him into the top ranking. Green has an above average arm and plus range, and he seems to have taken to the outfield very well, though of course his prospect status takes a hit from the move to a less-valuable position.
From grass or dirt, though, remains a big but agile fielder with leadership skills, superior plate discipline and the makings of above-average power. Green hit .291/.343/.408 in AA two years ago and an even better .296/.338/.458 in AAA last season, which means he's ready to become one of the many moving parts in Bob Melvin's complex Athletic machinery at any time. He's still got a couple of rough edges, both in the new business of outfielding and the old business of baserunning smarts, but the biggest pieces of his game are already well in place, which means it's full steam ahead for Oakland in 2013.
More Scouting Book Info on Grant Green
SB 142 BA SC BP SN ES ML
A polished college shortstop from St. John's, Joe Panik is the closest thing to MLB-ready in the Giants system today, though he's more likely than not to be deployed at second base for the big club. After signing with the team in 2011, he went straight to low-A Salem, where he promptly hammered out a nifty .341/.401/.467 line with six homers and thirteen stolen bases, all in only 270 at-bats. Last year's .297/.368/.402 line might look like a step back, but considering it came along with a promotion to high-A San Jose, it's very good production. As long as he plays up to his level, he'll be all set as a fixture in SF sometime in 2014, with a callup in late 2013 not out of the question.
More Scouting Book Info on Joe Panik
SB 143 BA SC BP SN ES ML
The Mets top infield prospect, Wilmer Flores is on a trajectory for Flushing that will be difficult to derail. Flores's reached AA in 2012, slashing .311/.361/.494 in 66 Binghamton games that included 8 homers and 18 doubles. He's still a year or so away from Flushing, and it's possible he could outgrow shortstop, but right now he looks like he could be a slightly-dimmer East Coast version of Starlin Castro by early 2014.
More Scouting Book Info on Wilmer Flores
SB 144 BA SC BP SN ES ML
One of the lesser-known arms being sharpened in Doctor Ryan's No-Whining Pitching Clinic, righthander Neil Ramirez took another step forward in 2012, working at both double and triple A and racking up 108 strikeouts in 123 innings of work (28 starts).
The thin and wiry Ramirez has always had great stuff, but only recently has shown that he can command it, too. The 92mph fastball he's always featured has become more effective over the past two seasons, as he's sharpened his location, and the small improvements coaches squeezed from his curve and change make him look ready for MLB now. Ramirez would be a more highly-coveted prospect today if he hadn't struggled with vague shoulder soreness issues throughout 2011 and a little of 2012, but if that passes into history without further incident, he should zip up everyone's list very quickly now. We could see him in Arlington sometime this year, for at least a look-see, and depending on how the rearranged Ranger rotation pans out, maybe for a whole lot more than that.
More Scouting Book Info on Neil Ramirez
SB 145 BA SC BP SN ES ML
Bad from the bullpen (7.72 ERA). Great in the rotation (2.12). That's the short version of John Hellweg's 2010 tour at high-A Inland Empire. That's enough to get him a lot of asterisks and scribbled marginalia, but it was also enough to inspire the Angels to commit to the big enigma as a starter going forward, at least provisionally.
With a high-90's fastball that looks even faster coming from his huge 6-8 frame and a serviceable change, he's definitely got the raw talent to succeed, assuming his body can obey. Hellweg's breaking ball, a developing slider, is still an angry inch away from big-league ready, so he's probably not that close yet. His experiences so far make him an interesting story to watch.
More Scouting Book Info on John Hellweg
SB 146 BA SC BP SN ES ML
An unsexy pickup by the Rangers at the bottom of the second round of the 2010 Draft, California righthander Cody Buckel was overlooked by many scouts due to his small stature, but he certainly shows pitching ability. His real ability was on display at AA Frisco in 2012, however, as he struck out 68 hitters in 69 innings of work, (10 starts) while walking only 23. Not bad for a 20-year old.
Buckel's fastball picked up a tick or two, but still seems to max out at not much more than 94mph, though he controls it well and mixes in three other pitches that are all pretty advanced for his age: even his proto-change looks better than you'd expect from such a young pitcher. Of course, he's still a small guy with a whiplike delivery and a high strikeout rate, so no matter how well he does, you know what most scouts are thinking: future closer.
More Scouting Book Info on Cody Buckel
SB 147 BA SC BP SN ES 90 ML 87
The A's first round pick in the 2011 draft, righthander Sonny Gray is a small, stocky pitcher with big stuff. His 95mph fastball has great natural movement, and he's already complementing it with a quality curve. As can be said of 99% of all amateurs (and new professionals), though, his changeup isn't really all there yet, and that'll be what matters most to his future. Until now, his stuff has been good enough to allow him to succeed even when pitching up in the zone. That might not work out so well at higher levels of play, especially if the architects for that new San Jose ballpark give Sonny Gray real estate that's a little less forgiving than the Oakland version.
More Scouting Book Info on Sonny Gray
SB 148 BA SC BP SN ES ML
A smallish lefty drafted in 2009's third round and traded to San Diego in mid-2011, Robbie Erlin has risen very quickly through the farm system and could even get to the majors as early as 2013. Working through three levels of play in 2011, Erlin did the bulk of his work at AA Frisco after outclassing A hitters in the Carolina League. His 2012 numbers (2.82, 1.25, 80:16), racked up mainly at AA San Antonio, are so good that he might get an opportunity in San Diego this season. If he's among the Texas League's better starters by midseason, which is quite possible, expect to see him in San Diego by the second half.
More Scouting Book Info on Robbie Erlin
SB 149 BA SC BP SN ES ML
A Stony Brook alumnus taken by the Houston Astros in the fifth round of the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft, righthander Nick Tropeano is a raw but high-ceiling pitching prospect. Moving from low to high-A last year, Tropeano posted a combined 12-7, 2.85, 1.23 season, striking out 166 hitters and walking 47 in 158 innings.
As a starter, he projects as a solid workhorse with smarts, since he outperforms his stuff on a regular basis thanks to an advanced feel for pitching and a very high quality, deceptive changeup. His makeup is very good, and 2013 will be a very good test as he tries to move up to AA and its more advanced hitters. If he can keep AA batters honest with a fastball that seldom reaches the 90's, he'll be doing the same in MLB next season.
More Scouting Book Info on Nick Tropeano
SB 150 BA SC BP SN ES ML
140 to 150 of 650 Prospects
Top Prospects 2013