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.
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 4 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 9 BA 9 SC BP SN ES ML
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 11 BA 11 SC BP SN ES ML
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 12 BA 12 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.
Full Scouting Report for Dylan Bundy
SB 15 BA 15 SC BP SN ES ML
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 16 BA 16 SC BP SN ES ML
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 20 SC BP SN ES ML
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.
Full Scouting Report for Lucas Giolito
SB 21 BA 21 SC BP SN ES ML
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. He'll try to work up to high-A ball in 2013.
Full Scouting Report for Robert Stephenson
SB 22 BA 19 SC BP SN ES ML
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 23 BA 22 SC BP SN ES ML
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 skipped past rookie ball in 2012 and spent most of the season with A-level Spokane, racking up a combined 5-3 season with a stellar 1.48 ERA and an eye-popping 0.85 WHIP. His 85:25 ratio of strikeouts to walks was enough to earn him a promotion to Sally League Hickory to open 2013.
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 24 BA 28 SC BP SN ES ML
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 25 BA 24 SC BP SN ES ML
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 26 BA 23 SC BP SN ES ML
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 the full season before shows off Ventura's good and bad parts well enough. That 4-6, 4.27 ERA that he accrued in his first season of A-ball might look pretty uninteresting, but the eyeballs-in-seats part of our research department would like to emphasize that the second half of Ventura's season was markedly better than the first, and he finished strongly enough to gain a few notches on the Kansas City prospect ladder. (Our math nerds would also like to chime in by pointing out that all year long, in good times and bad, he maintained a solid 3:1 ratio of strikeouts to walks.)
Full Scouting Report for Yordano Ventura
SB 28 BA 26 SC BP SN ES ML
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 32 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. 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 34 BA 32 SC BP SN ES ML
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 and looked even better in the Sally League last season. 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 128 strikeouts in only 111 innings of work is his highlight stat, but that 1.28 WHIP shows he's better rounded than the average strikeout artist. He'll try to climb to AA in 2013, 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 35 BA 33 SC BP SN ES ML
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.
Full Scouting Report for Mark Appel
SB 40 BA 39 SC BP SN ES ML
A tall, thin pitcher being developed in the Padres system, Ohio native Matt Wisler looks every bit a future rotation anchor. In 23 A-ball 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 should grant Wisler a promotion for 2013.
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. Give him another couple of years to build up some confidence, and he could be pitching in MLB.
Full Scouting Report for Matt Wisler
SB 43 BA 44 SC BP SN ES 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.
Full Scouting Report for Alex Meyer
SB 44 BA 45 SC BP SN ES ML
Top Prospects 2013