We released our Tigers Top 20 Prospects list today. As I’ll do for each of the 10 Top 20s that I wrote, I’ll blog about five more prospects who were in the running to make the list:
21. Jose Alvarez, lhp. A minor league free-agent signing after the 2012 season, Alvarez made his big league debut and cracked Detroit’s postseason roster in 2013. A finesse lefty who could be a back-of-the-rotation starter, he relies on commanding his 88-92 four-seam fastball and mixing in a good changeup with sink.
22. Wilsen Palacios, rhp. Palacios has a promising 90-94 mph with life. He has been slow to refine his secondary pitches, the best of which is a so-so splitter, so he may be destined for the bullpen.
23. Jordan Lennerton, 1b. Though he’s older than most prospects at age 28, Lennerton did play in the 2013 Futures Game and won MVP honors in the Puerto Rican winter league this offseason. More of a batting average/on-base guy than a slugger in the mold of a James Loney or Lyle Overbay, he handles himself well around the bag.
24. Austin Schotts, of. The top hitter (third round) the Tigers drafted in 2012, Schotts struggled though a miserable .212/.278/.277 first full pro season. A well above-average runner with strength and defensive skills, he has Shane Victorino upside if he can make some adjustments at the plate.
25. Kyle Lobstein, lhp. Signed by the Rays for $1.5 million as a second-round pick in 2008, Lobstein came to the Tigers in the 2012 major league Rule 5 draft and stayed after Detroit traded catcher Curt Casali to Tampa Bay. A possible No. 5 starter, Lobstein misses enough bats by commanding and mixing four fringy pitches.
My favorite deep sleeper: Willy Adames, ss/3b. The double-play partner of Domingo Leyba (No. 8 on the Top 20) in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League in 2013, Adames should make his U.S. debut this year. With a patient approach and average power potential and speed, he profiles best at third base.
Teddy Cahill, Jonathan Mayo and I divided up the responsibilities of writing the Top 20 Prospects lists for each organization. For each of the 10 clubs I handled, I’ll use my blog to give you five more prospects whom I strongly considered for the list.
First up, the Cardinals. Their Top 20 can be found here.
21. Cory Jones, rhp. Blister problems limited him to 11 starts in low Class A last year, but he was very good (8-2, 2.04, 3.3 K/BB, .196 opponent average) when he took the mound. He possesses a low-90s fastball and a hard curveball, as well as a ceiling of a No. 3 starter.
22. Kenny Peoples-Walls, of. One of the better athletes in the system, he’ll move from shortstop to center field in 2014. He showed off his offensive potential by batting .300/.352/.468 at Rookie-level Johnson City last year.
23. Greg Garcia, ss. A steady if unspectacular defender at shortstop, he could help the Cardinals in a utility role in the near future. He doesn’t offer a lot of power and speed, but he does have a knack for getting on base.
24. Breyvic Valera, of/2b/3b. Like Garcia, Valera profiles best as a utilityman. A career .313 hitter in the Minors, he has good hands and has played everywhere but pitcher, catcher and first base as a pro.
25. Jacob Wilson, 2b. Like Dan Uggla, Wilson is a power-hitting second baseman from the University of Memphis. He doesn’t have Uggla’s power ceiling, though Wilson hit 18 homers in Class A last year and is a much better defender than Uggla ever was.
My favorite deep sleeper: Nick Petree, rhp. Petree isn’t imposing with his 6-foot-1, 195-pound build and a fastball that operates at 87-88 mph. But his exquisite command of four pitches, including a plus changeup, allowed him to carve up college hitters. He led NCAA Division I with a 1.01 ERA in 2012, when he went 73 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run, and ranked 15th with a 1.61 ERA last spring. After signing for $40,000 as a ninth-round pick, he continued to work his magic, as his 1.62 ERA would have topped the short-season New York-Penn League if he hadn’t fallen just short of qualifying.
When Ray Guy became the first punter elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, I blogged about his baseball exploits earlier this month. The short version, for those of you to lazy to click that link: Guy was a natural athlete and a very talented pitcher who was drafted four times from 1969-73 by Major League teams, once out of high school and three times out of Southern Mississippi.
I tried to contact Guy before I wrote about him, but was unsuccessful. It turns out that he was deluged by Hall of Fame-related responsibilities and media requests. He did get back to me last Friday, and it was a pleasure reminiscing about his baseball days.
Did you ever consider signing with any of the teams that drafted you?
Ray Guy: “I kind of did coming out of high school but I already had signed a scholarship with Southern when I was drafted by Cincinnati. I was brought up in my family to fulfill my commitments, plus I knew I could play baseball and football at Southern. I think the Reds offered me $500 a month to play in Florida and to pay for my schooling.
“I thought at times during the years I might sign. I wanted to finish my schooling first and then see what the future held at that point. I didn’t dwell on it. I just loved to play and I was going to cross that bridge when I got to it.
“When I got drafted by the Raiders, one of the scouts from Cincinnati came down to talk to me. He said, ‘We were thinking of drafting you high, but since you were drafted No. 1 by the Raiders, we’re going to let you negotiate with the Raiders, then move you down in the draft. If you feel like you’re not getting what you need, then we’ll talk.’ I just let Bud Holmes, my attorney, handle it.
“I always thought about what it would be like to play major league baseball. But you never know how long you’d have to stay in the farm leagues.”
Did you prefer one sport over the other?
Ray Guy: “I just played whatever sport its season was. It didn’t matter which one. I loved both of them. That’s why I didn’t weigh one against another back then.”
How difficult was it juggling baseball and football in college?
Ray Guy: “It worked out. During the spring, I’d practice football for a little while and then I’d come back and practice baseball. Most of our games were in the early afternoon, so I’d pitch in the baseball game and then when it was over, I’d go straight across the street to the dressing room for football for spring practice. It wasn’t a big deal. I enjoyed it.
“I loved playing baseball. I just loved to compete.”
Scouts who saw you pitch still talk about how talented you were on the mound. What kind of stuff did you have? Radar guns weren’t as prevalent back then, but did anyone ever tell you how hard you threw?
Ray Guy:“The scout in high school did have a radar gun and he told me he clocked me at 98. That comes from growing up on a farm, throwing rocks at birds all the time.
“I had a fastball, two different kinds of curveball. I had what I called a screwball, others called it a slider, it would break down and in on righthanders.
“The deal was, even throwing 98, I knew where it was going. Inside, outside, I’d throw depending on where the batter was standing and what he wanted to do.”
Corky Palmer, who later played and coached at Southern Miss, said you were quite the hitter too. Did you consider playing both ways?
“Coach [Pete] Taylor wanted me to concentrate on pitching. We only had about three pitchers on the team. I did what I was told.
“I would have rather played the outfield, though. I had a good bat, believe me.”
Did you ever think about baseball while you were in the NFL?
Ray Guy: “Oh yeah, I did, a lot of times in the offseason. One year I stayed in the Bay Area, and later on, after I retired, I got to thinking one day, why didn’t I go over to the A’s practice facility and just throw batting practice? It would have been fun.
“It wasn’t like it was after Bo [Jackson] came out. In my situation, I probably could have done both but we’ll never know.
“As a punter, it would have been a lot easier for me to play two sports. Though one of the reasons I went with the Raiders was I was more than a punter. I was also the third-string quarterback. I got involved with our offense. That’s what I wanted to do.
“Now I sit down sometimes and wonder, ‘What if?’ “
The NCAA Division I baseball season starts today. To celebrate the fact that they’re playing games that count, many with future big leaguers, in those parts of the nation not blanketed by ice and snow, I present an alternative All-America team.
If MLB followed the NFL’s lead and made players spend three years in college before signing, professional and college baseball would look radically different.
The reigning National League Rookie of the Year would be a rising college junior. Mark Appel would have been the No. 1 overall pick a year earlier, though he’d still be an Astro. And the defending College World Series champions would be ridiculously loaded.
Here’s what the preseason All-America team would look like in this altered reality:
Austin Hedges, c, UCLA (Padres). It took $3 million in the second round to lure him away from the Bruins, who also lost three first-rounders (Max Fried/Nationals, Lucas Giolito/Nationals, Joe Ross/Padres) and two sandwich picks (Daniel Robertson/Athletics, Tyler Goeddel/Rays) in the last three Drafts. They managed to survive, winning the 2013 College World Series.
Dan Vogelbach, 1b, Florida (Cubs). The Gators would have extended their streak of consecutive CWS appearances to four last year if they had Vogelbach to go with prime 2012 recruits Lance McCullers Jr. (Astros), Jesse Winker (Reds), Lewis Brinson (Rangers) and Avery Romero (Marlins).
Mookie Betts, 2b, Tennessee (Red Sox). Would have the best all-around tools of any college second baseman since Southern’s Rickie Weeks went No. 2 overall in the 2003 Draft.
Javier Baez, 3b, Jacksonville (Cubs). After 48 Drafts without a first-rounder, the Dolphins would have two in consecutive years with Chris Anderson (Dodgers) and Baez.
Francisco Lindor, ss, Florida State (Indians). How strong is the shortstop crop? I had to squeeze Baez and Carlos Correa on here at other positions, and still had no room for Addison Russell (Auburn/Athletics) and Corey Seager (South Carolina/Dodgers).
Byron Buxton, of, Georgia (Twins). The Bulldogs outfield would include the game’s No. 1 prospect in Buxton and the No. 5 overall pick in the 2013 Draft (Clint Frazier/Indians).
Albert Almora, of, Miami (Cubs). Chicago currently has the best crop of position prospects in baseball, but that wouldn’t be true without Baez, Almora and Vogelbach.
David Dahl, of, Auburn (Rockies). Wouldn’t win the Heisman Trophy, but would be the Tigers’ best five-tool prospect since Bo Jackson.
Carlos Correa, dh, Miami (Astros). The Hurricanes lost three of the top 14 picks (Correa, Almora, Nick Travieso/Reds) and two sandwich-rounders (Keon Barnum/White Sox, Walker Weickel/Padres)
in the 2012 Draft. Miami also missed out on Henry Owens (Red Sox) in 2011.
Joey Gallo, ut, Louisiana State (Rangers). Led the Minors with 40 homers last summer, hit 98 mph with his fastball in high school.
Jose Fernandez, p, South Florida (Marlins). How would a 2.19 ERA, 9.8 K/9 and .182 opponent average translate from MLB to the college level?
Carlos Rodon, p, North Carolina State. The lone actual collegian on this team, he’s a heavy favorite to go No. 1 overall in the 2014 Draft.
Archie Bradley, p, Oklahoma (Diamondbacks). Would have gone to Norman on a football scholarship and might have become the Sooners’ starting quarterback.
Robert Stephenson, p, Washington (Reds). Could have made a run at Tim Lincecum as the Huskies’ most dominant arm ever.
Tyler Glasnow, p, Portland (Pirates). Would be a lock to be the second-highest pick in Pilots history, behind only Ken Dayley (No. 3 overall in 1980).
Today’s Pipeline Perspective focuses on the best prospect trios in a single farm system. I went with the Twins’ Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano and Alex Meyer, and I’ll list the top 15 in order below (MLBPipeline.com Top 100 rankings in parentheses):
1. OF Byron Buxton (1), 3B Miguel Sano (4) & RHP Alex Meyer (28), Twins. My reasoning is here.
2. SS Javier Baez (7), 3B Kris Bryant (9) & OF Albert Almora (18), Cubs. This was Jonathan Mayo’s No. 1 choice and a close second for me.
3. SS Carlos Correa (8), RHP Mark Appel (17) & OF George Springer (21), Astros. Three major reasons why Houston has the game’s best farm system.
4. OF Gregory Polanco (13), RHP Jameson Taillon (16) & RHP Tyler Glasnow (27), Pirates. If this were all-pitcher trios, Pittsburgh would rank atop this list with Taillon, Glasnow and Nick Kingham.
5. SS/3B Xander Bogaerts (2), LHP Henry Owens (30) & OF Jackie Bradley Jr. (33), Red Sox. Boston led all organizations with nine prospects on our Top 100.
6. RHP Kyle Zimmer (25), RHP Yordano Ventura (35) & SS Raul Adalberto Mondesi (38), Royals. Kansas City hasn’t had a homegrown All-Star shortstop since . . . ever.
7. RHP Jon Gray (14), RHP Eddie Butler (41) & OF David Dahl (71), Rockies. Look for Dahl to rebound in a huge way this season.
8. RHP Noah Syndergaard (11), C Travis d’Arnaud (22) & RHP Rafael Montero (85), Mets. Syndergaard and d’Arnaud came from the Blue Jays in the R.A. Dickey trade.
9. SS Francisco Lindor (10), OF Clint Frazier (48) & RHP Trevor Bauer (73), Indians. All three were taken in the top eight overall picks in the 2011 or 2013 Drafts.
10. SS Corey Seager (34), OF Joc Pederson (36) & LHP Julio Urias (64), Dodgers. I like Urias more than RHP Zach Lee, who’s No. 63 on our Top 100.
11. LHP Andrew Heaney (29), 3B Colin Moran (51) & OF Jake Marisnick (65), Marlins. Miami is on a roll with its last four first-round picks: Christian Yelich, Jose Fernandez, Heaney and Moran.
12. RHP Dylan Bundy (20), RHP Kevin Gausman (31) & LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (68), Orioles. Baltimore’s future No. 1, 2 and 3 starters, and the future fast approaches.
13. OF Oscar Taveras (3), 2B Kolten Wong (58) & OF Stephen Piscotty (98), Cardinals. Not sure how St. Louis will find room, but Taveras and Wong are ready now and Piscotty is close.
14. RHP Archie Bradley (5), SS Chris Owings (77) & RHP Braden Shipley (79), Diamondbacks. Shipley at No. 15 in the 2013 Draft could be a steal of Wachaesque proportions.
15. C Jorge Alfaro (39), 2B Rougned Odor (59) & SS Luis Sardinas (76), Rangers. The only all-international trio on this list; I like Sardinas more than OF Michael Choice, No. 72 on our Top 100.
Ray Guy is famous for his booming right leg. It made him the first pure punter ever selected in the first round of the National Football League draft and, on Saturday, the first one elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Guy’s right arm isn’t as celebrated but was just as strong. He pitched three seasons at Southern Mississippi and was drafted four times by Major League teams. Those who saw him on the mound don’t doubt that he could have succeeded in the big leagues if he had gone that route.
“He was a natural athlete,” says Jim “Crawdaddy” Crawford, a longtime scout now with the Cubs and a former assistant coach at South Alabama, which faced off with Southern Miss on an annual basis. “He had a great arm that worked great. To the day I die, I think he was the best college pitcher I ever saw.
“This guy was tough. I’d say he threw 93-95 mph. We didn’t use radar guns much back then but I’m pretty good with my eyes. His breaking pitch was OK and he’d throw inside on you. Just a wonderful, wonderful athlete.”
From 1970-72, Guy made 31 appearances for the Golden Eagles and completed 18 of his 28 starts. A lack of run support resulted in a 12-16 record, but his other statistics were more indicative of his talent: a 2.53 ERA, just 173 hits and 70 walks allowed in 220 2/3 innings, 266 strikeouts.
On April 6, 1972, Guy threw a no-hitter against William Carey (Miss.). He didn’t play baseball as a senior in the spring of 1973, when the Oakland Raiders made him the 23rd overall pick in the NFL draft.
Corky Palmer just missed playing with Guy at Southern Miss, lettering in 1974-77 before later becoming an assistant coach and head coach of the Golden Eagles. But Palmer did grow up in Hattiesburg, so he saw him pitch several times.
“He was as good an athlete as came through there in the early 1970s,” Palmer says. “He was 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds and he threw hard. I’d say 90-93 if I were guessing, and that was pretty good back in the day. He had a pretty good curveball. He was good hitter, too, on the days when he pitched.”
Guy’s amateur exploits are still legendary in Georgia and Mississippi. At Thomson (Ga.) High, he starred in football, baseball, basketball and track. He excelled not only as a punter at Southern Miss, but also as a defensive back. He still holds the school record for interceptions in a season (eight in 1972) and ranks second in career picks (18). He kicked a 61-yard field goal in 1972, an NCAA record at the time, and served as a backup quarterback as well.
The Reds tried to sign Ray out of Thomson, drafting him in the 14th round in June 1969. After he went to Southern Miss, the Astros selected him in the third round of the secondary phase of the June 1971 Draft, the Braves chose him in the 17th round of the June 1972 Draft and Cincinnati took another shot at him in the third round of the secondary phase of the January 1973 Draft.
Palmer says Guy once told him that he felt like he could have played professionally in either sport but his path seemed set once the Raiders took him in the first round. It’s impossible to argue with his NFL success, but Guy might have starred in the Majors had he gone that route.
In today’s Pipeline Perspective, I tabbed the Rockies’ Jon Gray and Eddie Butler as the top pair of pitching prospects in the same system. They’re far from the only talented duo on our MLBPipeline.com Top 100 Prospects list, however.
I’ve ranked the 15 best pitching tandems below, with their Top 100 rankings in parentheses:
1. Jon Gray (14) & Eddie Butler (41), Rockies. The two best fastball/slider combinations in the Minors.
2. Dylan Bundy (20) & Kevin Gausman (31), Orioles. If Bundy didn’t have Tommy John surgery, this duo would rank No. 1 — or Bundy might already have lost his rookie/prospect eligibility.
3. Jameson Taillon (16) & Tyler Glasnow (27), Pirates. Jonathan Mayo’s choice for the top tandem.
4. Kyle Zimmer (25) & Yordano Ventura (35), Royals. Their development is crucial for an organization that has struggled to grow its own starters.
5. Archie Bradley (5) & Braden Shipley (79), Diamondbacks. Bradley went seventh overall in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft and Shipley was the No. 15 overall choice in 2013 — and both could be steals.
6. Alex Meyer (28) & Kohl Stewart (40), Twins. Another organization waylaid by its inability to find frontline starters, Minnesota addressed that shortcoming by trading for Meyer and drafting Stewart seven months apart.
7. Mark Appel (17) & Lance McCullers Jr. (52), Astros. Along with Carlos Correa, Appel is part of baseball’s best hitter/pitcher prospect combination.
8. Aaron Sanchez (23) & Marcus Stroman (55), Blue Jays. We graded 14 pitchers on the Top 100 as having a 65 or better (on the 20-80 scouting scale) fastball and breaking ball; the Rockies, Twins, Astros and Blue Jays were the only teams with two of them.
9. Noah Syndergaard (11) & Rafael Montero (85), Mets. No duo on this list has better control and command (at least not until Bundy makes a full recovery).
10. Henry Owens (30) & Allen Webster (46), Red Sox. If these two can learn to harness their swing-and-miss stuff, the defending World Series champs are going to be even more formidable.
11. Kyle Crick (32) & Edwin Escobar (95), Giants. A contrast in styles, with a raw but overpowering righty (Crick) and a polished lefty (Escobar).
12. Lucas Giolito (44) & A.J. Cole (69), Nationals. Giolito has rebounded from Tommy John surgery out of high school and his ceiling rivals that of any of these prospects.
13. Max Fried (43) & Matt Wisler (78), Padres. Giolito and Fried formed a pretty nifty 1-2 punch at the Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles.
14. C.J. Edwards (42) & Pierce Johnson (100), Cubs. Though they’re overshadowed by a deep crop of hitting prospects in Chicago’s system, these guys could rank a lot higher on the Top 100 a year from now.
15. Zach Lee (63) & Julio Urias (64), Dodgers. Lee may have signed for $5 million, but it’s the precocious Urias who has the higher ceiling.
We’ve broken down MLBPipeline’s 2014 Top 100 Prospects list in a myriad of ways. We detail all of the phenoms’ physical attributes and statistics with their scouting reports, Jonathan Mayo looked at some of the demographics and I evaluated which tools were the best of the best.
Now it’s time for a financial report.
The Top 100 Prospects signed for a total of $201,070,100 in bonuses, and three of them landed Major League contracts that included a total of $27,275,000 in guaranteed money. That adds up to a total of $228,345,100, meaning that the average Top 100 Prospect received nearly $2.3 million to turn pro. Sixty-six of them received seven-figure bonuses, while nine got at least $5 million.
Some highlights, and some love for the scouts who got the most for their teams’ money:
The Five Highest Guarantees
1. Cubs OF Jorge Soler, No. 49 on the Top 100 ($6 million bonus, $30 million guarantee). Soler signed three weeks before his bonus would have been restricted by international spending limits in the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, so he was able to parlay his power into a nine-year big league contract. He already has collected $8 million.
2. Cubs 3B Kris Bryant, No. 9 ($6,708,400 bonus). Bryant topped Soler’s franchise bonus record and received more money than any player has in the two years under the new First-Year Player Draft rules.
3. Pirates RHP Jameson Taillon, No. 16 ($6.5 million). Four years later, Taillon still holds the records for the largest up-front bonus for a high schooler and the biggest bonus for a prep pitcher.
4. Astros RHP Mark Appel, No. 17 ($6.35 million). The No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 Draft, Appel destroyed the previous bonus record for a college senior ($2 million by Matt LaPorta in 2007).
5. Orioles RHP Dylan Bundy, No. 20 ($4 million bonus, $6,255,000 guarantee). He became the eighth — and final, unless the Draft rules change in the future — high school draftee to get a big league contract.
The Five Lowest Bonuses
1. Red Sox RHP Allen Webster, No. 46 ($20,000 bonus). More of a shortstop at a tiny North Carolina high school, he showed outstanding fastball sink when he did pitch and went to the Dodgers in the 18th round of the 2008 draft. Signing scout: Lon Joyce (Dodgers).
2. Cubs SS/2B Arismendy Alcantara, No. 89 ($27,000 bonus). Alcantara didn’t command a large bonus because he was undersized and lacked strength when he signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2008. He didn’t break out as a prospect until four years later. Signing scouts: Jose Serra, Marino Encarnacion, Carlos Reyes.
3. Royals RHP Yordano Ventura, No. 35 ($28,000 bonus). Though his fastball tops triple digits now, Ventura weighed 148 pounds and threw in the mid-80s when he signed out of the Dominican in 2008. Signing scout: Pedro Silverio.
4. Cubs RHP C.J. Edwards, No. 42 ($50,000 bonus). Area scout Chris Kemp had recruited Edwards, a South Carolina high schooler, when he was an assistant coach at Spartanburg Methodist (S.C.) JC. After Kemp joined the Rangers as an area scout, he grabbed him in the 48th round of the 2011 draft. Signing scout: Chris Kemp (Rangers).
5. Mets RHP Rafael Montero, No. 85 ($80,000 bonus). Most top Latin American prospects sign at age 16, but the small and skinny Montero had to weight until he was 20 to turn pro out of the Dominican in 2011. Signing scouts: Rafael Perez, Ismael Cruz, Gerardo Cabrera.
The Five Best Bargains Among Top 25 Prospects
1. Cardinals OF Oscar Taveras, No. 3 ($145,000 bonus). Signed in 2008 out of the Dominican, Taveras is the Cardinals’ best hitting prospect since Albert Pujols — one of the biggest bargains ever at $60,000 as a 13th-round Draft pick. Signing scout: Juan Mercado.
2. Pirates OF Gregory Polanco, No. 13 ($175,000 bonus). In the Dominican Republic in 2009, the Pirates nabbed not only Polanco but also got SS Alen Hanson, No. 67 on the Top 100, for $90,000. Signing scouts: Rene Gayo, Ellis Pena.
3. Red Sox SS Xander Bogaerts, No. 2 ($410,000 bonus). Boston’s 2013 World Series shares ($307,322.68) represented nearly as much as Bogaerts signed for out of Aruba in 2009. Signing scout: Mike Lord.
4. Mets RHP Noah Syndergaard, No. 11 ($600,000 bonus). Syndergaard’s velocity didn’t spike until late in the spring when he was a Texas high schooler, so the Blue Jays had enough leverage to sign him for $258,600 under MLB’s slot recommendation as the 38th overall pick in 2010. Signing scout: Steve Miller (Blue Jays).
5. Blue Jays RHP Aaron Sanchez, No. 23 ($775,000 bonus). Four picks before Syndergaard in 2010, Toronto struck again with Sanchez, a highly-rated California prepster who agreed to turn pro for $143,000 less than MLB’s slot recommendation. Signing scout: Blake Crosby.
In our latest installment of the Pipeline Perspective series today, Jonathan Mayo and I debate which organization has the best hitter/pitcher prospect combination. I extolled the virtues of shortstop Carlos Correa and right-hander Mark Appel of the Astros, while Jonathan talked up outfielder Byron Buxton and Alex Meyer of the Twins.
There are plenty of talented hitter/pitcher duos, which compelled me to rank the top 10 in order. Then I had trouble narrowing my list to just 10, so I decided to give you a baker’s dozen. Here goes, with our MLBPipeline.com Top 100 Prospects rankings in parentheses:
1. SS Carlos Correa (8) & RHP Mark Appel (17), Astros. The last two No. 1 overall picks in the First-Year Player Draft.
2. OF Byron Buxton (1) & RHP Alex Meyer (28), Twins. Minnesota’s backup duo of 3B Miguel Sano (4) & RHP Kohl Stewart (40) would rank sixth on my list.
3. RHP Noah Syndergaard (11) & C Travis d’Arnaud (22), Mets. Both these guys were products of the R.A. Dickey trade that the Blue Jays would like to have back.
4. OF Gregory Polanco (13) & RHP Jameson Taillon (16), Pirates. Scary to think they won’t be Pittsburgh’s best center fielder (Andrew McCutchen) or starter (Gerrit Cole) when they get to Pittsburgh in the near future.
5. SS/3B Xander Bogaerts (2) & LHP Henry Owens (30), Red Sox. The defending World Series champions have a deep system, led by the game’s best shortstop prospect and plenty of upper-level pitching depth.
6. SS Javier Baez (7) & RHP C.J. Edwards (42), Cubs. Baez led the Minors in extra-base hits (75) last year, while Edwards did so in strikeouts per nine innings (12.0).
7. RHP Robert Stephenson (19) & OF Billy Hamilton (37), Reds. In our breakdown of the best individual tools on the Top 100, Stephenson had the top curveball and Hamilton was the fastest runner.
8. RHP Kyle Zimmer (25) & SS Raul Adalberto Mondesi (38), Royals. A potential No. 1 starter and the most underhyped shortstop prospect around.
9. RHP Taijuan Walker (6) & 3B D.J. Peterson (88). Mariners. Walker challenges Archie Bradley (see below) for the distinction of baseball’s top pitching prospect, and Peterson might be the best all-around bat from the 2013 Draft.
10. RHP Jon Gray (14) & OF David Dahl (71), Rockies. I ranked Gray as the 2013 Draft’s top prospect, and despite a rough year, Dahl is still brimming with five-tool potential.
11. C Austin Hedges (24) & LHP Max Fried (43), Padres. Hedges is the best all-around defensive catcher in the Minors, and Fried has as much upside as any lefty prospect.
12. 3B Maikel Franco (26) & LHP Jesse Biddle (53), Phillies. Philadelphia has a lot of holes to plug, but the good news is that both of these guys could be ready to help by midseason.
13. RHP Archie Bradley (5) & SS Chris Owings (77), Diamondbacks. Bradley is my top-rated pitching prospect, while Owings was MVP of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League last year.
We released MLBPipeline’s 2014 Top 100 Prospects list last Thursday night, and questions have been pouring in ever since. The most common one: How close did Player X come to making the Top 100?
With that in mind, here are 15 players I like who couldn’t crack our Top 100. Some of them made my personal Top 100, but fell by the wayside when Jonathan Mayo & I combined our two lists and started arm wrestling and soliciting scouting feedback. I’ve listed them in alphabetical order:
Miguel Almonte, RHP, Royals. Has advanced feel for pitching to go with plus fastball and changeup, would have made the Top 100 if he owned a better breaking ball.
J.P. Crawford, SS, Phillies. Clearly the top shortstop prospect in the 2013 Draft, he should have no problem sticking at the position and could develop into a top-of-the-order hitter.
Phillip Ervin, OF, Reds. A steal with the 27th overall pick in the 2013 Draft, he should hit for average and power and his above-average speed could keep him in center field.
Wilmer Flores, INF, Mets. Yes, he can hit, but he lacks a defensive home and still has to prove he has the pop to be a regular at first base or left field, his most likely destinations.
Luke Jackson, RHP, Rangers. Still must continue to refine his command, but he gets nice life on a fastball that reaches 96 mph and flashes good secondary stuff.
Nick Kingham, RHP, Pirates. As if the Pirates needed another talented young starter; this guy throws strikes with a plus fastball, promising changeup and a solid three-quarters breaking ball.
Sean Manaea, LHP, Royals. The last time he was fully healthy for an extended period, he showed a nearly-unhittable mid-90s fastball and flashes of an above-average slider in the Cape Cod League in the summer of 2012.
Reese McGuire, C, Pirates. The best catcher available in the 2013 Draft, he’s athletic, receives and throws well, and should hit for average and some power.
Kyle Parker, 1B/OF, Rockies. Colorado could replace Todd Helton with another former college quarterback; this one has topped 20 homers in each of his three pro seasons.
Anthony Ranaudo, RHP, Red Sox. Got back on track in 2013 while displaying a well above-average fastball and a plus curveball at times, though must prove he can stay healthy for consecutive seasons.
Enny Romero, LHP, Rays. Good build, easy arm action, lively fastball into the mid-90s, power slider . . . but he doesn’t miss as many bats as he should and might wind up a reliever.
Domingo Santana, OF, Astros. Hit 25 homers last year as a 20-year-old in Double-A, profiles well in right field with his strong arm, needs to get more consistent at the plate.
Marcus Semien, INF, White Sox. His tools aren’t as gaudy as his stats, but his 21 homers and .401 OBP last season look pretty good for a guy capable of playing second base, shortstop or third base.
Dominic Smith, 1B, Mets. My gut keeps telling me that he, and not the Astros’ Jonathan Singleton, is the game’s best first-base prospect (though Singleton obviously has a much longer track record of success).
Jesse Winker, OF, Reds. Posted an .842 OPS and controlled the strike zone well in the pitcher-friendly low Class A Midwest League at age 19, which bodes very well for his chance of hitting enough to make a difference as a left fielder.