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.
Remember: this page is the result of an automatic process that re-sorts and re-ranks players often.
If you think you have found a mistake, please read
this blog entry before telling us. Then tell us. The Best Southpaw Prospects for 2013
Overall SB ranking shown in parentheses.
The number two overall pick in 2011, Seattle pitching prospect Danny Hultzen is a solid lefthander who draws more than his share of Cliff Lee comparisons. With a fastball that drops in around 94mph and a no-nonsense workmanlike approach to the game, the comparison isn't far off base, either. In three seasons of duty at the University of Virginia, Hultzen went 32-5 with a 2.08 ERA. The Cavs ace also struck out a nasty 148 batters in 103 innings in his final season.
In addition to the well-advertised pinpoint fastball, he showed advanced ability to find and locate a nifty cutter, a decent change, and an occasionally-wicked slider, though he may back-shelf that one for awhile. He looked ready for MLB last season, but with not much to play for, the Mariners erred on the discretionary side, which should keep their soon-to-be-stellar rotation affordable a little bit longer. Look for him this season.
Full Scouting Report for Danny Hultzen
SB 20 BA 29 SC 11 BP 50 SN ES 66 ML 18
Two years from now, the Seattle Mariners might just have one of the very best rotations in all of baseball. Yes, really. In addition to solid and near-ready Danny Hultzen and phenom Taijuan Walker, the Mariners also own James Paxton, a tall, athletic Canadian lefthander. Paxton rose to national attention at U Kentucky, and was selected in the 2009 Draft's supplemental round by the Toronto Blue Jays. He did not sign, however, and quickly became embroiled in a hubbub and eventual lawsuit when it was revealed that his 'family adviser' Scott Boras may have negotiated with the Blue Jays on his behalf, which is against NCAA rules. He thus became ineligible to play NCAA ball in 2010, and instead parked himself in independent ball to await the next draft, when he was selected by the Mariners much later, at #132nd overall.
His mid-nineties stuff and sick breaking ball hasn't yet translated to many overpowering performances, but he looked solid enough in a full season of AA ball in 2012, striking out 110 in 106 innings while posting a 3.05 ERA. His 54 walks (and concomitant 1.411 WHIP) should give touts pause, however: he needs to rein in that control if he's going to excel in MLB anytime soon.
Full Scouting Report for James Paxton
SB 41 BA 87 SC 82 BP 92 SN ES ML 61
One of the bundle of top prospects sent to Miami for Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson and company in November, Justin Nicolino is a finessey lefty in the Tom Glavine fashion. Nicolino can dial his fastball up to 92 or 93, but not much more than that. It's more than enough, though. Nicolino had what might be the best debut by a Jays prospect ever in 2011, and has continued to blossom since. If he makes the big leagues in 2013, which is possible, he'll do it on the strength of an easy, repeatable throwing motion (balls will come down, down, down on hitters from his tall frame and overhand motion) and a propensity to throw strikes, strikes and more strikes.
Full Scouting Report for Justin Nicolino
SB 43 BA 86 SC 39 BP 73 SN ES 62 ML 72
A quality lefthander who looks close to MLB ready, San Diego pitcher Max Fried should see Petco sooner rather than later. Fried's fastball doesn't exceed 92mph very often, though he can add a bit more when he really needs it and gets more outs thanks to its sinking nature than its velocity, anyway. His cutter and change are average pitches already, and should be better than average by the time he's anchored into the Padre rotation.
Full Scouting Report for Max Fried
SB 62 BA 46 SC 68 BP 61 SN ES 51 ML 53
A big, strong strikeout artist who's been held back thus far by control issues, homegrown Phillies lefty Jesse Biddle still gets a very high nod thanks to his crazy-good stuff. He struck out a batter per inning at low-A Lakewood last year, which is enough to give him a pass (for now) on the fact that he also walked exactly one batter per odd inning.
Full Scouting Report for Jesse Biddle
SB 76 BA 89 SC 88 BP 67 SN ES 95 ML 60
A smallish but smart-throwing lefthander from Oklahoma, Marlin prospect Andrew Heany is the proud owner of a quality three-pitch arm. On a Marlin club shallow in the pitching department, Heany could move quickly: we wouldn't be surprised to see him arrive in 2014, a year ahead of schedule.
Full Scouting Report for Andrew Heaney
SB 85 BA 43 SC BP SN ES ML 81
A tall lefthander from California, Boston prospect Henry Owens is a raw but high-ceilinged pitcher who many project as a future relief specialist, though he's shown the durability and maturity to survive as a starter, and the Sox are expected to keep him in that role as long as possible. Owens fastball is a low-90's offering with movement, though it could pick up a few ticks as he grows and gains strength. He mixes in two curves, one hard and one soft, with varying degrees of effectiveness, and a weak changeup that does almost no good whatsoever at present.
With command to improve and strength to build, Owens won't be an All-Star anytime soon, but his raw ability shouldn't be overlooked, either. Given a couple of years of good guidance and hard work, he could find himself taking an MLB mound every fifth day, or at least for an inning or two twice a week.
Full Scouting Report for Henry Owens
SB 94 BA 91 SC BP SN ES ML 94
A flamethrowing lefthander, Montgomery was grabbed early by the Royals in the 2008 draft. Four minor league seasons later, he's still looking pretty legitimate, if unspectacular. He's assembled a 4.17 ERA, a 1.34 WHIP and a 460:212 collection of strikeouts versus walks over 546 innings that have propelled him to AAA and the major league doorstep. Traded to the Rays during the 2012 winter, he'll be looked to sooner than he might have been in KC. He's only 23 years old, and suffered some flameout control issues at times last season, but we still expect to see him in the majors this season. A new coaching staff might be all that it takes to restore his onetime shine.
Full Scouting Report for Mike Montgomery
SB 106 BA SC BP SN ES ML
It's not often that a college pitcher's best weapon is a changeup, but that's how it is for Gonzaga's Marco Gonzales. It's also why he's a top pitching prospect: the change is usually the hardest and last pitch for any professional to master. More traditionally. Marco commands a low-90's fastball well and leans on a good slider against lefthanded hitters. A two-way player while in college, he's no slouch with a bat, which could be extra-attractive to his future in the National League. In a Cardinal system adept at getting the most from smart pitchers, Gonzales has a very bright future.
Full Scouting Report for Marco Gonzales
SB 119 BA SC BP SN ES ML
A top pitching prospect from the 2013 draft, Sean Manaea (rhymes with pariah) went 5-3 with a 3.34 ERA in 17 starts for Indiana State in 2012, striking out 115 batters in 105 innings while walking only 32. The son of proud parents Opal and Faaloloi (yes, he's Samoan), Sean brings a mid-90's fastball to the plate that should improve as he fills out further. His secondary offerings, a nasty slider and a developing change, aren't good enough for the Show just yet, but they're advanced for his age. Sean is also known for having a Pettitte-like pickoff move that holds even talented baserunners at bay.
Full Scouting Report for Sean Manaea
SB 122 BA SC BP SN ES ML
A workhorse lefty with a quality curveball, Holmberg was the 71st pick overall in the 2008 draft. He's not an overpowering pitcher, but he's pretty well-developed, setting up his almost MLB-ready hammer with a 90mph fastball that features tricksy late movement: it cuts in on righthanded hitters in an especially nasty way. He's a year or so away from everyday usefulness at an MLB level, but he should move quickly. He'll break more than his share of bats along the way.
Full Scouting Report for David Holmberg
SB 124 BA SC BP SN ES ML
With a nickname that sounds like something out of a Radical Feminist Manifesto, Manny Banuelos is a young and tiny lefthander signed out of Mexico who's already being heralded as a shining success story for the Yankees international scouting team. Man-Ban's fastball is an easy 92mph, while his changeup already looks like a plus pitch, remarkable in such a young player. He's been working on adding a curve and/or slider to his mix, which would silence those calling him a bullpen-only piece, but even his existing two-pitch arsenal has been effective so far. He'll be brought along slowly, as the ever-conservative Yankees have no need to rush him, but if his next year is as good as his last, he'll have to be considered one of the top young arms in the minor leagues.
Full Scouting Report for Manny Banuelos
SB 125 BA SC 89 BP SN ES ML
A lightly-built lefthanded starter from Venezuela, Oriole prospect Eduardo Rodriguez is a steadily-developing pitcher who could help out the Orioles of the near future. He's risen smoothly through the minors so far, and after a full-season 3.70/1.24 performance in 22 starts for A-level Delmarva in the Sally League, should taste AA ball for the first time in 2013.
Rodriguez isn't a strikeout artist, at least not yet, but his excellent control and quality slider do seem to inspire poor contact from hitters, giving him excellent ground ball ability. His fastball, which can touch 95mph, is good enough thanks to its natural movement, but his changeup isn't special yet. Keep an eye on him when he starts to face more advanced hitters to see if they're fooled as easily as low-level ones have been.
Full Scouting Report for Eduardo Rodriguez
SB 132 BA SC BP SN ES 100 ML
A college ace at Georgia Tech, lefthander Jedidiah Custer Bradley compiled a three year record of 18-11, 4.62, though it was his 7-3, 3.49 final season that got him a ticket to the first round of the MLB draft, when he was selected 15th overall by Milwaukee. While his 94mph heater isn't anything special, his advanced command of the changeup is what moved him to the highest levels of the draft, and it's that same change that will get him to MLB sooner or later. Probably sooner.
Full Scouting Report for Jed Bradley
SB 142 BA SC BP SN ES ML
A lefty who can touch 96mph with a sizzling fastball, Toronto's Daniel Norris is a bit of a sleeper who should be gaining a lot more attention in the months and years to come. Norris already complements his heat with a hammer curve that can be devastating, and if he manages to get a third pitch up to even major-league average, he'll be an ace on a team known for discovering gems.
Full Scouting Report for Dan Norris
SB 149 BA SC BP SN ES ML
A big power lefty from Kent State who's already had TJ surgery, Diamondback prospect Andrew Chafin was an A-round selection in the 2011 draft, though many expected him to go sooner than that. His fastball is a 94mph offering with a nice natural sink, perfect for Chase Field, and he locates it well inside and out to frustrate all types of batter. His secondary pitches, a curve and slider, are average and a bit erratic, but he'll have time to refine those, along with his underused and underdeveloped change. While he closed during his early days in college, he should now be considered a middle-rotation candidate as long as his bionic arm stays attached.
Full Scouting Report for Andrew Chafin
SB 150 BA SC BP SN ES ML
A smallish lefty drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the third round of the 2011 MLB Draft, Georgia native Adam C. Morgan is a quality pitcher on his way to Citizens Bank in the near future. After spending most of the year in high-A Clearwater, Morgan enjoyed a late-season promotion to AA Reading, where he struck out 29 batters in 35 innings and turned in a 1.27 WHIP. He's likely to return to Reading for most or all of 2013, during which time he'll work on sharpening his already-plus change and trying to get some repeatable movement on his 92mph fastball, which can flatten out at times. Some scouts cringe at his stiff-legged high-effort delivery, but when you're only six feet tall, you need to generate power somehow. While a bit risky going forward, he seems to have the smarts and work ethic to succeed. Pencil him in as bullpen help next year and a fifth-starter competitor the year after that.
Full Scouting Report for Adam Morgan
SB 151 BA SC BP SN ES 92 ML
A lefthander with wicked stuff and an unfathomable strikeout rate, Mets prospect Jack Leathersich is on a fast track to join the team's relief corps. Leathersich struck out 113 in only 72 Florida League innings, using his fastball-curve combo exclusively from the bullpen. He's got closer stuff, and if he rises that far, his small size will inspire many Billy Wagner comparisons.
Full Scouting Report for Jack Leathersich
SB 154 BA SC BP SN ES ML
A devasting lefthander who has struck out more than one batter per inning throughout his college career, Texan Matt Purke signed with the Nats after being drafted in 2011's third round. The man who went 16-0 as a college freshman is one of several Nats youngsters who could rise to dominate as a closer, though his lefthandedness should tempt the Nationals to at least explore using him in longer outings before committing him to a 9th inning future. Short action in 2012 showed the filthiness of Purke's stuff but also the risks inherent in banking on young pitchers: the youngster was shut down after only three starts due to shoulder problems that eventually required surgery. He'll be kid-gloved for the next little while, making him an easy-to-forget-about sleeper for 2015 or so.
Full Scouting Report for Matt Purke
SB 159 BA SC BP SN ES ML
A big, strong lefthander who has already mastered the don't-mess-with-me look so important to mound presence, the Angels' own Nick Maronde found college success after transforming into a closer at the University of Florida. After being drafted by the Angels, he rocketed through the minors and wound up as a surprise LOOGY specialist in Anaheim before the end of year. He's the best lefty prospect in the Angels system today. If he returns to starting duty, he could be very good in another year or so. If the team leaves him in the bullpen, on the other hand, he could be great.
Full Scouting Report for Nick Maronde
SB 164 BA SC BP SN ES ML
Top Prospects 2013