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 Righthanded Pitching Prospects for 2013
Overall SB ranking shown in parentheses.
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.
Full Scouting Report for Dylan Bundy
SB 4 BA 2 SC 2 BP 4 SN ES 3 ML 2
Spending $8M to sign number one pick Gerrit Cole might have seemed extravagant for a 'small market' team like the Pittsburgh Pirates, but when you keep finishing in last place year after year, you need to get something out of it, right? The net result is that the Pirates look very wise indeed: the righthanded Cole joins Jameson Taillon in what might be the best 1-2 punch on any prospect roster in the majors, and giving Cole such a high bonus kept him from demanding a major league contract, which increases the Pirates' flexibility and future control over his career path. Mr. Boras will spin it otherwise, but the Pirates definitely won the first round of Cole's Career Management Battle.
Away from the table and on the field, Cole was one of the best starters in UCLA history. He left the school firmly entrenched on pretty much every record and leader board, and he'll bring his 98mph cannon to bear in 2013 after blowing through the minors last season. Some will pressure Pittsburgh to start the season with him on the big league club, but unless the team is desperate, a June promotion would be smarter, fiscally-speaking.
Full Scouting Report for Gerrit Cole
SB 5 BA 7 SC 4 BP 3 SN ES 8 ML 9
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 looks to have taken a step back in 2012, as he struggled at times in Jackson, but once you account for his aggressive promotion, a 4.69 ERA / 1.374 WHIP doesn't look so bad for a nineteen year old in AA ball. He did carry a heavy workload for a teenager, pushing through 127 innings of work while striking out almost one hitter every inning. 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 potential. He needs to start the year back in AA, but if he makes progress, it's not unreasonable to expect a late-season look in Seattle. Mid-2014 looks like his real callup date, however.
Full Scouting Report for Taijuan Walker
SB 6 BA 18 SC 5 BP 9 SN ES 9 ML 5
The Cardinals first round pick in 2009, pitcher Shelby Miller is a raw but talented prospect with a wicked-hot fastball that has excellent and natural late movement. He's learning to rely on more than just his admittedly-great heat to excel in pro ball, too, so it's not surprising to see his nifty 12-6 curve frustrate batters. More exciting is the extra sink he's starting to trust on the less-explosive two-seam version of his fastball, a pitch that even good hitters will beat into the ground with abandon. With a projectable body that could probably add muscle in the years to come, he looks like a good workhorse candidate in St. Louis starting in 2013.
Full Scouting Report for Shelby Miller
SB 7 BA 6 SC 18 BP 16 SN ES 21 ML 25
A righthander most thought was taken a bit high in the first round of 2011's amateur draft, Miami's Jose Fernandez proved to be worth every penny, and he's now the highest-quality arm in a system that's desperate for pitching depth. The big Cuban defector chased big money all the way to Miami, braving sharks both literal and metaphorical, and has since hit 99mph on the radar gun and shown signs of a plus breaking pitch. He's getting closer to major league ready, but with Miami not exactly on the cusp of anything (other than a riot from unhappy fans), the team isn't likely to push him too fast.
Full Scouting Report for Jose Fernandez
SB 9 BA 5 SC 21 BP 6 SN ES 16 ML 7
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.
Full Scouting Report for Jameson Taillon
SB 10 BA 19 SC 7 BP 11 SN ES 20 ML 15
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.
Full Scouting Report for Trevor Bauer
SB 15 BA 14 SC 15 BP 24 SN ES 25 ML 17
It's always nice when you can trade away a fading veteran for a team's top prospect, and that's what the Mets did in acquiring Zack Wheeler from the Giants as the best move in their sudden fire sale rebuilding plan.
A flame-throwing righthander from Georgia, Wheeler mixes his 96mph fastball with a curve ball that's already a plus pitch. He's working now on adding a changeup, and if he can make it even a league-average offering, he can be a middle-rotation starter anywhere, anytime. Even without one, his fastball-curve combination is good enough for a major league bullpen today. He'll need some seasoning, of course, and most scouts would prefer to see that his pitcher-perfect body can hold up under a full season's workload before signing his ticket to Flushing. While he could pitch the Bigs right now, the Mets could benefit from showing a little patience: they won't be contenders in 2013 anyway, so it's probably better to bring an even-better Wheeler to the majors in 2014.
Full Scouting Report for Zack Wheeler
SB 18 BA 11 SC 17 BP 5 SN ES 13 ML 8
As expected by Scouting Book readers, rake-thin Colombian righthander Julio Teheran forced his way onto the Braves roster ahead of schedule, and he should be considered one of the very best prospects in all of baseball despite some erratic results in 2012. Unless he falls off the rails, this will be the last time he qualifies as a prospect: he should be be toeing the rubber every fifth day for the Braves this season.
The man scouts have called 'the best Latin American pitcher since Felix Hernandez' has a lot of pressure to handle, but he's in the best possible system to nurture his development while also containing his ego. His tribulations in 2012 stemmed from a failure to locate his fastball consistently, a problem that always causes a cascade of secondary issues for any pitcher, but he seemed to re-find his handle in the winter DSL, making him a very high upside pick for 2013, though the risk of another frustrating regression is real.
Full Scouting Report for Julio Teheran
SB 19 BA 44 SC 32 BP 52 SN ES 28 ML 31
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.
Full Scouting Report for Kevin Gausman
SB 20 BA 26 SC 42 BP 13 SN ES 26 ML 37
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.
Full Scouting Report for Archie Bradley
SB 27 BA 25 SC 10 BP 31 SN ES 29 ML 24
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.
Full Scouting Report for Carlos Martinez
SB 28 BA 38 SC 38 BP 43 SN ES 39 ML 33
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.
Full Scouting Report for Chris Archer
SB 37 BA 36 SC 59 BP 29 SN ES 53 ML 46
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.
Full Scouting Report for Jake Odorizzi
SB 40 BA 92 SC 45 BP 83 SN ES 68 ML 45
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.
Full Scouting Report for Kyle Zimmer
SB 42 BA 24 SC 33 BP 41 SN ES 27 ML 34
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.
Full Scouting Report for Matt Barnes
SB 46 BA 40 SC 31 BP 38 SN ES 79 ML 38
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.
Full Scouting Report for Aaron Sanchez
SB 48 BA 65 SC 49 BP 32 SN ES 19 ML 35
Wily Peralta is a gutsy young righthander in the Brewer system who should probably be considered the team's best pitching prospect today. Currently a two-pitch flinger who flashes an occasionally plus curve, Peralta looked awfully good at AA Huntsville in 2011, going 9-7, 3.46 with a 1.29 WHIP.
He looked even better when moved up to AAA Nashville. As a Sound, he went 2-0 in five starts with a shimmering 2.03 ERA and 40 strikeouts in only 31 innings of work. While he's still in the habit of working his way deep into counts with even iffy hitters, he's also still young ,and has been improving in this department lately. He looked solid enough during a short MLB stint in 2012 (2.48, 1.21, 23:11) and should be even better in 2013, now that those big league jitters are out of the way.
Full Scouting Report for Wily Peralta
SB 51 BA 69 SC 73 BP 68 SN ES 73 ML 64
The best college arm available from Texas, St. Louis's Michael Wacha draws a lot of Jon Garland comparisons thanks to his size and bulldog approach, but he's probably got a higher ceiling due to his excellent stuff. Expected to move slowly in the Cardinal system, he's outplayed expectations and could be ready sooner than originally planned. That said, he probably needs a full season of minor league ball before anyone will really have a handle on how good he could be. Unless MLB injuries accelerate his path, that's how the Cardinals are likely to handle him.
Full Scouting Report for Michael Wacha
SB 53 BA 76 SC 94 BP 56 SN ES ML 83
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.
Full Scouting Report for Noah Syndergaard
SB 55 BA 54 SC 46 BP 28 SN ES 97 ML 29
Top Prospects 2013