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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SB 30 BA 34 SC 67 BP 36 SN ES 42 ML 42
Originally drafted out of high school in 2009, Seattle proto-catcher Mike Zunino (son of ex-Yankee Greg) was still the best catcher available when 2012 rolled around, and Seattle moved quickly to snap up some Jesus insurance by selecting him third overall. Zunino is a power hitter with a bit of a propensity to strike out, but his plus bat speed suggests he could become a better impact hitter with coaching and experience. Behind the plate, he's a strong-armed and very high-quality defensive catcher with significant leadership and game-calling skills, making him a bit of a natural to grow up with Seattle's cadre of young, developing arms. Catchers generally take an extra year or three to really develop, but Seattle is pushing Zunino fast, which makes a Buster Posey-style early ascension not just possible, but probable. He'll take some swings in Safeco this season... and quite possibly more than a few.
More Scouting Book Info on Mike Zunino
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A smallish, toolsy outfielder drafted in 2011's supplemental round by the Red Sox, Jackie Bradley has been zipping up the prospect charts ever since. Bradley outclassed high-A ball in his first season of work, showing off on-base skills and speed on the bases that could make him a legit leadoff threat in the majors soon. Perhaps most promising, though, is Bradley's patience at the plate: there are not many minor leaguers who walk more often than they strike out. After dominating high-A early in 2012, he found a better level in AA ball (.271/.373/.437).
Bradley continues to show patience and smarts, and his speed pays dividends in the field, where he looks capable of controlling the game from center without much challenge.
More Scouting Book Info on Jackie Bradley
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A nominal shortstop, Puerto Rican Cub Javier Baez also looks just fine at second and third, and has one of the highest overall upsides of any infield prospect in baseball. His ultimate position will probably come down to some mix of organizational need and how his body develops.
A solid all-around athlete, there's no reason to yet believe he won't stick at shortstop, thanks to a strong arm, soft hands and good feet. He hasn't yet shown the power for a corner, though, so his best route to the majors is definitely the middle of the diamond. He's not very widely known yet, but wait another year and Cubs fans will be clamoring for a Castro-Baez (or perhaps Baez-Castro) infield combination. They should have one or the other in 2014.
More Scouting Book Info on Javier Baez
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A so-so starter at Rice before he found his feet as an exceptional closer, Reds prospect Tony Cingrani might just be the long-term answer in the Cincinnati bullpen, either as a lefty specialist or future closer. While his plus fastball was already 95mph as a starter, it can touch 99 in relief, and he flashes just enough of a loopy slider and acceptable change to keep hitters more or less honest. Give him a few months in pro ball, and we should see him in Cincinnati this season to fill in wherever the Reds feel weak: whether it's to bolster the bullpen or retool the starting rotation. Since the Reds have already shown they don't much care for lefty-righty nonsense, Cingrani could compete for either a rotation spot
or the closer's role in 2014.
More Scouting Book Info on Tony Cingrani
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Great name, great tools, great upside. He even has the Good Face. Bubba Starling is a Royals proto-outfielder who has that mix of speed, power and grace that so few sluggers manage. Only Jason Heyward in recent years really matches the sweet swing and long stride of Starling. He's very young and very raw, of course, so don't get too excited too soon (do Royals fans ever get excited, really?), but he's probably one of the best offensive prospects in all of baseball already, and he's still one of the youngest.
More Scouting Book Info on Bubba Starling
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A rapidly-maturing slugger in the Rangers system, Mike Olt ('Mike Olt!') is a legit third-base candidate whose defense is already passable, though his first-step could use some improvement. Olt hit .288/.398/.579 with 28 dingers at AA Frisco in 2012, good enough to enter discussions as a 2013 starting possibility in Arlington, despite the lack of any clear position at which for him to play. A subject of trade rumors all winter long, he's still an attractive piece to many MLB teams, though the Rangers would probably prefer to keep him in-house.
More Scouting Book Info on Mike Olt
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The Chicago Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2010, power righthander Chris Archer was the premium prospect returned to Tampa Bay in the trade that sent Matt Garza to Chicago. While his command is still spotty, the wild life he gets on a 97mph fastball and his true plus slider are tantalizing. He looked good in limited use in Tampa last season, and will be angling for a permanent role this year. As long as he can command his pitches a bit better and mix in his sub-average (for now) change, he looks likely to be a near-ace starter sometime in 2013. If not, he can always fall back on being a merely-great closer who will remain under team control for awhile, which might be of high value to Tampa going forward.
More Scouting Book Info on Chris Archer
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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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While a slurry of trades last year left the Yankee farm as not quite the best-smelling in baseball, Mason Williams is still occupying the biggest stall in the stable, providing the sweet scent of offense-to-come. Mason, the son of former NFL receiver Derwin and the proud owner of a monicker that any power-suited New York attorney would be happy to carry, has already shamed the teams that passed him over four or five times each. The fourth-round pick arrived as a fiery, aggressive hitter and baserunner, with plus speed and solid defense in center. He's already looking like a better leadoff hitter and all-around player than Brett Gardner... and Curtis Granderson can play right field, can't he? Williams is rehabbing from an injurious 2012, but should be full strength and lighting up the minor leagues will full fury by midseason. He's still a couple of years away from the Stadium, but should spend a long career there.
More Scouting Book Info on Mason Williams
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A supplemental first round pick for the Brewers a few years back, Jake 'the Dog' Odorizzi is a tall righthander with a smooth and easy delivery that portends well for his future. Originally a part of the prospect package that moved Zack Greinke to Milwaukee, Odorizzi was a hot commodity again in 2012's offseason, as he was shipped to Tampa in favor of some more-seasoned veteran pitching. He's pretty much ready for action, though, and expectations will be high for him to fill that hole in the Rays' rotation ASAP. He'll enjoy the benefits of some nice pitching coaches, of course: Tampa is very very good at squeezing the best performance from young arms.
More Scouting Book Info on Jake Odorizzi
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30 to 40 of 650 Prospects
Top Prospects 2013