Top Baseball Prospects for 2014
Now updated for 2014'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 2014
Overall SB ranking shown in parentheses.
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 quite 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.
Full Scouting Report for Masahiro Tanaka
SB 2 BA 4 SC BP SN ES ML
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 6 BA 9 SC 7 BP 9 SN ES 9 ML 5
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.
Full Scouting Report for Taijuan Walker
SB 9 BA 11 SC 9 BP 8 SN ES 16 ML 6
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.
Full Scouting Report for Jonathan Gray
SB 11 BA 12 SC 22 BP 16 SN ES 12 ML 14
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.
Full Scouting Report for Dylan Bundy
SB 16 BA 15 SC 18 BP 15 SN ES 31 ML 20
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 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 very close to ready.
Full Scouting Report for Noah Syndergaard
SB 18 BA 16 SC 16 BP 11 SN ES 24 ML 11
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 very good gamble indeed: he's one of the fastest risers on every pitching chart in the business.
Full Scouting Report for Kevin Gausman
SB 21 BA 20 SC 15 BP 10 SN ES 23 ML 31
A righthander with three possible plus pitches, righthander Lucas 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. With a stable of quality arms at all stages of development, the Nats are better-poised for the coming decade than any team in baseball.
Full Scouting Report for Lucas Giolito
SB 22 BA 21 SC 17 BP 13 SN ES 21 ML 44
A very small guy with a very big arm, Royal's righty Yordano Ventura invites easy comparisons to his countrymate Pedro Martinez, though he doesn't come with quite the colorful personality. Ventura complements a plus fastball with rapidly-improving curves and changeups so well that the Royals may need to accelerate his development. His 2012 was a bit of a rebuilding effort, but his strong finish led into a powerful 2013 in which he proved that he's most definitely all the way back to premium status. He should see action in KC this season.
Full Scouting Report for Yordano Ventura
SB 23 BA 26 SC 23 BP 12 SN ES 50 ML 35
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.
Full Scouting Report for Jameson Taillon
SB 24 BA 22 SC 32 BP 19 SN ES 27 ML 16
Selected by Cincinnati in the first round of the 2011 Draft (27th overall), righthander Robert Stephenson was a rare high-school choice from the usually conservative Reds franchise. The tall Californian overpowered his peers in his senior high school season, posting a 1.19 ERA in 76 innings that included not one but two no-hitters. A power pitcher in the classic mould, he can already top 98mph with his fastball. As always, though, it's how well his secondary pitches develop that will determine his fate in pro baseball. So far, all signs point to a 2014 opportunity
Full Scouting Report for Robert Stephenson
SB 25 BA 19 SC 29 BP 22 SN ES 29 ML 19
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 27 BA 23 SC 11 BP 34 SN ES 10 ML 25
A sometimes-dominating college starter who struggled with control issues from time to time, Colorado prospect Eddie Butler was drafted in 2012's supplemental round on the strength of his best performances, in which he looked downright unhittable. Butler somehow produces a 98mph sinking fastball from a smallish and lightweight frame, managing to command it well to both sides of the plate despite (or thanks to) its late life. His breaking balls are less reliable, but if the Rockies can help him to add even average command to his toolset, he'll be a powerful starter or reliever in the near future.
Full Scouting Report for Eddie Butler
SB 28 BA 24 SC 28 BP 26 SN ES 17 ML 41
A sleeper prospect in from the Rangers' system, right-hander Carl (CJ) Edwards was drafted as an afterthought in 2011's 48th round, but rose quickly enough through the ranks to gain the attention of the rebuilding regime in Chicago.
Edwards derives a quality mid-90's fastball (somehow) from his slight frame, complementing it with quality off-speed pitches. His plus curve has thus far infuriated lower-level pro batters. While it'll be awhile before he shows the stamina to get deep into ballgames, his ability to handle heavy workloads is really the only question mark here. He's one of the best under-hyped prospects in baseball.
Full Scouting Report for CJ Edwards
SB 32 BA 28 SC 44 BP 81 SN ES 67 ML 42
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 2013 performance in the minors earned him a gig in St Louis. He's capable of both bullpen and rotation work, and given the Cardinals' usual way of handling pitchers, he's likely to be used in both ways this season.
Full Scouting Report for Carlos Martinez
SB 33 BA 31 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. Spending all of last year at high-A Dunedin, Sanchez posted a 1.19 WHIP in 86 innings while racking up a satisfactory 75:40 strikeout-to-walk ratio. His mid-90's fastball can reach the high-90's on occasion, though it moves better when thrown at less than maximum velocity. 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 once again. The sign everyone is watching for is improving control: if he can further reduce his walk rate, he'll be big-league ready late this season or early next.
Full Scouting Report for Aaron Sanchez
SB 34 BA 32 SC 45 BP 31 SN ES 30 ML 23
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 to play behind him.
Full Scouting Report for Mark Appel
SB 36 BA 39 SC 12 BP 21 SN ES 11 ML 17
A very big kid from Texas with a pretty big arm, righthander Kyle Crick was the his district's 4A pitcher of the year in 2011. He brings a typical power heavy fastball from a high arm angle, and complements it with a slider that shows serious promise.
By all reports his change and curve are very much works in progress, though, so don't get too excited about this kid too soon. Crick's 95 strikeouts in only 68 innings of work last year shows his key ability, but that 1.27 WHIP shows he's better rounded than the average strikeout artist, too. He'll try to climb to AA in 2014, and if he looks as wicked there, he'll probably receive a rewarding cup of coffee come September.
Full Scouting Report for Kyle Crick
SB 37 BA 33 SC 33 BP 38 SN ES 69 ML 32
With a lively fastball that can touch 95mph, native Georgian Lucas Sims is the latest entry in the Atlanta pitching derby. He's raw, but he the righthander already gets so much life on his pitches that there's little doubt he'll be effective in some role or other.
Full Scouting Report for Lucas Sims
SB 42 BA 57 SC 30 BP 40 SN ES 40 ML 60
A tall, thin pitcher being developed in the Padres system, Ohio native Matt Wisler looks every bit a future rotation anchor. In 20 AA starts last season, Wisler struck out almost exactly one batter per inning while walking barely more than one per game. That's exactly the sort of performance that the control-obsessed Padres love to see, and it's enough to put him in the mix for MLB consideration in mid-to-late 2014.
Wisler works a couple of different low-90's fastballs with accuracy to both sides of the plate, but it's his slow curve that turns heads and misses bats most often. How he'll perform against better opponents is an open question, but if he continues his careful, clever approach while trusting his stuff, he should succeed.
Full Scouting Report for Matt Wisler
SB 43 BA 44 SC 49 BP 47 SN ES 39 ML 78
Top Prospects 2013