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.
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this blog entry before telling us. Then tell us. The Best Righthanded Pitching Prospects for 2013
Overall SB ranking shown in parentheses.
The Mariners' first round pick in 2010, righthander Taijuan Walker looks like a number one starter on almost any MLB team. On the Mariners, that probably makes him a number three, or maybe two-and-a-half. (This team's pitching depth in the minors is just plain sick.
Walker's progress took leaps and bounds forward after a step back in 2012, ending with a September in Safeco in which he looked more than capable of holding his own. Walker works mainly with a 94mph darting fastball that has great late movement, and when he mixes in a sometimes-effective straight change at 82mph, the fastball is nearly unhittable. His breaking pitch is a slurvy curve that isn't yet ready for regular use, but he'll have time to develop. Walker has higher upside (and higher risk) than either Hultzen or Paxton, but he's also a lot younger, and will probably take longer to realize his full potential. Still, there's not much left for him to learn, which means he stands a very good chance of breaking camp in the big leagues in 2014.
More Scouting Book Info on Taijuan Walker
SB 2 BA 18 SC 5 BP 9 SN ES 9 ML 5
Like a taller twin to Gerrit Cole, righty James Taillon is a geniune monster power arm from Texas (via Quebec), a very high-ceiling pitcher who has already cracked 100mph on many radar guns. If that's not enough to get your attention, note that while his slider and change are below average, his curveball has already been rated a plus pitch. If he can hold his arm together under increasing workloads and develop his command and control to pro levels, he could be a viable #2 or #3 starter by 2014 or so, with a shot at being a genuine ace somewhere down the road. If Pittsburgh can keep Taillon, Cole and Allie together and healthy, they could have a rotation that evokes 1990s-era Atlanta only a couple of years from now.
More Scouting Book Info on Jameson Taillon
SB 6 BA 19 SC 7 BP 11 SN ES 20 ML 15
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 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
SB 8 BA SC BP SN ES ML
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. He found a good level at AA Bowie in 2012, and should spend most or all of 2013 in the same uniform.
More Scouting Book Info on Dylan Bundy
SB 11 BA 2 SC 2 BP 4 SN ES 3 ML 2
The fourth overall pick in the draft, righthander Trevor Bauer was overshadowed by rotation mate Gerrit Cole while at UCLA, but after turning pro he became one of the most impressive young arms anywhere in the minors, and he's as hot a ticket in our book as Cole is today.
Bauer is a smallish pitcher, with a bit of an unconventional motion, but his quirks are not the flaky flamethrower type, they're more of a dazzling bag-of-tricks variety. While he can reach 100mph if he wishes (we promise), he doesn't actually pitch there, preferring to stay down around 94mph with great and varying movement on his selection of sliders and cutters. He's also got a good head for the game and shows an Ichiro-level commitment to stretching and conditioning exercise. Acquired as the main return for Shin Soo Choo in a threeway trade via Cincinnati, it's possible Bauer will break camp with the Indians, but his real prime time won't be until midseason or even 2014.
More Scouting Book Info on Trevor Bauer
SB 12 BA 14 SC 15 BP 24 SN ES 25 ML 17
The player formerly known as Carlos Matias is a high-risk, high-upside pitcher from the Dominican who brings an advanced fastball and pitchability to the US mound. He's a bit of a mystery, and there's some question about how well his stuff will translate to the US game, but his minor league performance in 2011 quelled any fears that he would be a bust, and his 2012 numbers at AA Springfield (2.90/1.18/58:22 in 71 innings) propelled him to the front of the pitching prospects pack. He could see some bullpen time in St Louis this year, but a 2014 rotation spot is the real target, here.
More Scouting Book Info on Carlos Martinez
SB 15 BA 38 SC 38 BP 43 SN ES 39 ML 33
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
SB 16 BA 25 SC 10 BP 31 SN ES 29 ML 24
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
SB 23 BA SC BP SN ES ML
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
SB 24 BA 92 SC 45 BP 83 SN ES 68 ML 45
The Dodgers liked righthander Kevin Gausman a lot back in 2010, but he turned down an above-slot offer to go to LSU instead. Picked up again in 2012 by the Orioles, he's looking just as promising now as he was then: a solid pitcher with a big fastball and promising (though inconsistent) breaking stuff who could develop quickly. He's a bit of a high-risk / high-reward player for the Orioles, but when you're trying to compete in the AL East, you have to take a few chances. So far, he's looking like a good gamble.
More Scouting Book Info on Kevin Gausman
SB 26 BA 26 SC 42 BP 13 SN ES 26 ML 37
The Red Sox first round pick in 2011, UConn's Matt Barnes was the 2011 Big East Pitcher of the Year. With a 98mph fastball and a curveball that's downright impossible on a good day, he already looks like he could be a part of a big-league rotation. Of course, those two pitches are really his entire bag right now, and it's pretty likely that no matter how good they are, a two pitch combo won't work very well the third or fourth time through an MLB order. To fix this shortcoming, he'll work on developing his all-important third pitch, a change that's sometimes reasonable-looking, but definitely still raw. He'll do that while working in the minors this year, while the Red Sox try to train him to their style of play and development. Watch for him in mid-to-late 2013.
More Scouting Book Info on Matt Barnes
SB 28 BA 40 SC 31 BP 38 SN ES 79 ML 38
Yes, he sounds like a character from snowy Skyrim, but Texan Noah Syndergaard is more of a dusty cowpoke than uppity Jarl. The Blue Jays thought highly enough of him to say 'no' to the Oakland A's when the Athletics were shopping Gio Gonzalez around in 2011, but they caved in 2012 when the Mets dangled Cy Young winner RA Dickey, making Noah one of the very top Mets pitching prospects today.
The towering Syndergaard spent all of 2012 in A-level Lansing, striking out 122 batters in 103 innings while racking up an eye-opening 1.08 WHIP. The move to New York means he's no longer a sleeper candidate, and now that he's an NL talent, he's even more appealing. When this imposing righthander arrives, it'll be thanks to the plus command he shows with his decent 94mph fastball and near-plus curve. Of course, as with any young pitcher, it'll be the quality of his developing change that will determine whether he's an ace or a middle-of-the-pack starter a year or two from now. He's close, and should see AA action in 2013.
More Scouting Book Info on Noah Syndergaard
SB 30 BA 54 SC 46 BP 28 SN ES 97 ML 29
A big, strong strike thrower, Appel was selected eighth overall (Pirates) in the 2012 draft, but didn't sign, allowing him to reenter the 2013 draft, where his hometown Astros flattered him with the #1 overall selection. One of the best pitching prospects in the last few years, he should provide the big anchor the rebuilding Astros so desperately need. He'll be ready in 2014 -- heck, he's ready right now -- but the Astros will do their best to slow down his arbitration clock while they assemble the rest of a competitive team.
More Scouting Book Info on Mark Appel
SB 31 BA SC BP SN ES ML
A righthander buried a bit too deep in the Blue Jays refreshed farm system, Aaron Sanchez struck out a batter per inning while moving from rookie ball to low-A Vancouver in 2011, then looked even better at A-level Lansing in 2012. Execution-wise, we'd like to see him rein in the walks further and find a way to pitch to weak contact on occasion, but there's not much to dislike in his stuff. The mid-90's fastball can reach the high-90's on occasion, though it moves better below max. When located well it can be quite devastating, making his second pitch (a quality curve) not very necessary. The changeup isn't all there yet, but that's typical in young arms. Sanchez will be working on repeating the delivery of all three pitches this year, mainly at Dunedin.
More Scouting Book Info on Aaron Sanchez
SB 32 BA 65 SC 49 BP 32 SN ES 19 ML 35
A square, powerful righthander from the University of San Francisco, KC pitcher Kyle Zimmer's calling card is his 98mph fastball, which he brings from a great rock-solid arm angle. It dazzles hitters from either side of the plate thanks to late life and movement. It's Zimmer's selection of other pitches, though, all of which look to be near-MLB ready, that will get him to the Show to stay. Give him another year or so, and you'll have a quality pitcher on your hands.
More Scouting Book Info on Kyle Zimmer
SB 34 BA 24 SC 33 BP 41 SN ES 27 ML 34
A Washington draftee who made a detour to Oakland in 2012, re-Nationalized pitcher AJ Cole is a six-foot-five, lanky righthander who can touch 95mph with his fastball. Cole also mixes in a power curve and passable changeup that could develop into plus pitches with good coaching and support. He's already drawing comparisons to Justin Verlander, who was a similar pitcher at the same age, complete with the erratic control that's still holding Cole back from a breakout. Give him time and watch his peripherals. Trading a couple of MPH for greater control could accelerate his timeline.
More Scouting Book Info on AJ Cole
SB 40 BA SC 100 BP SN ES 89 ML 91
You know what the Atlanta Braves really need? More overpowering pitchers with electric stuff. No, wait, actually, they already have more of those than they know what to do with. No matter, JR Graham is exactly that kind of righthanded prospect, and he won't let a niggling thing like a logjam stop his 100mph sizzler.
A fourth round pick who has already surpassed the expectations of most scouts (you clever, clever Braves, you) Graham mixes his nasty fastball with a diving slider and a proto-cutter that he's still struggling to keep down and under control, but he's in exactly the right system to learn that. Still young, he probably won't be an MLB factor as an every-fifth-day starter for another couple of seasons, but if he stays healthy, he could be a quicker bullpen phenom in Atlanta. He's certainly got the stuff.
More Scouting Book Info on JR Graham
SB 44 BA 93 SC 87 BP 63 SN ES 94 ML
First drafted by the Red Sox way back in 2008, righthander Alex Meyer passed on an alleged $2M signing bonus to go attend U Kentucky, in order to reenter the draft in 2011. Apparently, he spent his time in school eating well: the youngster now tips the scales at 6-10 and 230lbs.
A power pitcher (no kidding) with a high-90's fastball and a wicked slider, he's got stuff to burn, but a sometimes-wonky delivery and spotty command have plagued him through his young career. The Nats, flush with confidence at the depth of their rotation, parted with him in a trade to Minnesota in exchange for Denard Span, but that's no indication of any dodgy quality: he simply moves from being a top Washington pitching prospect to being a top Minnesota number one pitching prospect... and the Twins have shown a great ability to develop young arms. So while the move to Nicetown might slow his debut by a couple of years (the Twins are notoriously slow and cautious with young arms), it might also improve his chances of being solid and polished when he does arrive.
More Scouting Book Info on Alex Meyer
SB 49 BA 59 SC 61 BP 88 SN ES 61 ML 40
A righthander with three possible plus pitches, righthander Luca 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.
More Scouting Book Info on Lucas Giolito
SB 51 BA 67 SC BP 70 SN ES 77 ML 74
The Yankees top international signee back in 2007, righthander Arodys Vizcaino got a taste of MLB ball in 2011 and was looking like he would be back to stay in 2012, at least until x-rays found irreparable damage in his elbow, necessitating TJ surgery to replace his shredded ligaments. Pre-surgery, his fastball hovered in the low 90s, but could get even harder once he is fully recovered. He is known to complement his heat with an already-superb curve and a developing change, which he'll hopefully remember how to throw come 2014.
He's special enough to not write off, and may end up looking like a steal for the Cubs one day.
More Scouting Book Info on Arodys Vizcaino
SB 52 BA 83 SC BP 54 SN ES 64 ML
Top Prospects 2013