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Last Wednesday, I joined Rudy and Nick for the Razzball Baseball Podcast.  On the show, we counted down my top 15 prospects, but truth be told, I was fully prepared to discuss my top 20.  So, with the MiLB season winding down and all, I thought now would be a good opportunity to put the entire list out there in written form.  This is a preliminary ranking — I’ll roll out more official and specific ranks during the off-season, once the dust has settled and I’ve had a chance to gather more intel.  Please keep in mind that this list is limited to prospects still in the minors prior to September 1st call-ups.  Also, in the interest of not being too farsighted, I included only guys who’ll be making their impacts within the next year or two (which is certainly a matter up for debate).  Anyway, my top 20:

1.  Jurickson Profar, SS, Rangers – Current Level: MLB Age: 19 – Five-tool shortstop projects to go 20/20 annually, and he’s certainly gifted enough to do more.

2.  Oscar Taveras, OF, Cardinals – AA, 20 – Taveras is the best pure hitter in the minors.  He swings a lot, but hits everything.  He’s posted a .953 OPS over a full season at Double-A Springfield.

3.  Wil Myers, OF, Royals – AAA, 21 – Myers got healthy and discovered his power stroke in 2012:  37 HR between Double-A and Triple-A.

4.  Dylan Bundy, RHP, Orioles – AA, 19 – Bundy is the unanimous choice for top arm in the minors.  He climbed from Low-A to Double-A in his first year of pro ball, posting a 2.08 ERA along the way.

5.  Taijuan Walker, RHP, Mariners – AA, 20 – Spent the entire year at Double-A and didn’t turn 20 ‘til 8/13.  Walker’s numbers aren’t wonderful, but scouting reports are still glowing.

6.  Nick Castellanos, 3B, Tigers – AA, 20 – Hit .405 through 55 games at High-A before promotion to Double-A, where he’s come back to earth somewhat.  A tall, lean 3B, Castellanos should build ample power as he matures.

7.  Jose Fernandez, RHP, Marlins – HiA, 20 – This Cuban defector has broken out in 2012 and in a big way:  1.75 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 158 SO in 135 IP.  There is legitimate ace potential here.

8.  Shelby Miller, RHP, Cardinals – MLB, 21 – Miller struggled during the 1st half of 2012, but has returned to form of late:  64/4 K/BB through his last nine outings with Triple-A Memphis.

9.  Travis d’Arnaud, C, Blue Jays – AAA, 23 – d’Arnaud was having a monster year in Las Vegas (.333/.380/.595, 16 HR in 279 PA) before a knee injury ended his season.

10.  Javier Baez, SS, Cubs – HiA, 19 – Speed, power, and ability to hit for AVG will make Baez a major fantasy asset.  Though, he probably moves to 3B before big league arrival.

11. Gerrit Cole, RHP, Pirates – AAA, 21 – 2011 No. 1 overall pick has had a solid first year of pro ball.  He should bring his big time heat to the bigs next year.

12.  Jameson Taillon, RHP Pirates – AA, 20 – Numbers don’t quite match the hype, but he’s reached Double-A at age 20, and he’s been quite impressive thus since his arrival in the high-minors.  Massive ceiling here.

13.  Xander Bogaerts, SS, Red Sox – AA, 19 – .307/.373/.523 with 20 HR between High-A and Double-A.  His tools at the plate are very real, but Bogaerts figures to move to 3B or outfield defensively.

14.  Trevor Bauer, RHP, D’Backs – AAA, 21 – Bauer has finished strong in Triple-A and still has huge potential.

15.  Billy Hamilton, SS, Reds – AA, 21 – Crazy speed and great approach to go with very limited power.

16.  Zack Wheeler, RHP, Mets – AAA, 22 – Plus fastball and plus curve have wheeler projecting as a front-of-the-rotation arm.  He should offer plenty of value pitching out of Citi Field too.

17.  Christian Yelich, OF, Marlins – HiA, 20 – He’ll help in all five categories.

18.  Mike Zunino, C, Mariners – AA, 21 – The 2012 No. 3 overall pick has already reached Double-A.  He’s hit 13 homers through his first 44 games as a pro.

19.  Danny Hultzen, LHP, Mariners – AAA, 22 – Hultzen continues to struggle with command since his promotion to Triple-A, but still has a great shot to start 2013 in the bigs.  It’s also tough to ignore the Safeco factor.

20.  Julio Teheran, RHP, Braves – MLB, 21 – 2011’s 2.55 ERA at AAA ballooned to 5.08 in 2012.  Teheran’s stock has certainly slipped somewhat, but he still has enormous potential.

Five more who’re a little further out:

Francisco Lindor, SS, Indiants – LoA, 18; Miguel Sano, 3B, Twins – LoA, 19; Bubba Starling, OF, Royals – ssA, 20; Jorge Soler, OF, Cubs – LoA, 20; Archie Bradley, RHP, D’Backs – LoA, 20

  1. Beau says:
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    Where does Machado fall into this? I realize he was called up so he doesnt really qualify but where would he be? Considering if I would keep Profar over Machado or something along those lines.

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      @Beau, Machado would rank #2, behind Profar, ahead of Taveras. I’d lean toward keeping him rather than Profar, however, as immediate opportunity for Profar is not necessarily there.

      • A Hill O' Beans says:
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        @Scott Evans, Happy to hear that ranking. I’ll be keeping Profar in the 19th round and Machado in the 20th round in my keeper league. The future is bright.

  2. El Famous Burrito says:
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    What do you think of Yusiel Paig (sp?) guy? Power has been compared to Cespedes.

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      @El Famous Burrito, He’s athletic & built & yes he profiles similarly to Cespedes. But frankly, I haven’t/heard seen enough of him to give a firm projection. His numbers look great, though the sample is pretty limited… Puig will be a guy that I’ll have to dig into this off-season in order to see where he might fall on a list such as this one.

  3. Eric says:
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    You listed Bubba Starling on your 5 more that are further out. I know he signed late and then was delayed by injury. After having a decent, but not spectacular, short season do you think the Royals speed him up a little and start him at Hi-A?

    Do you still think he’s got elite potential? I’ve seen some guys at Fangraphs and other sites really destroy Starling with their evaluations.

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      @Eric, Starling has outrageous tools & I’m not overly discouraged by his 2012. 20 XBH in 234 PA ain’t bad… Still, I don’t think the Royals skip him over LoA, but they’d certainly like to see him reach HiA before 2013 is through. Elite OF potential absolutely remains.

  4. Chris J says:
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    My team is dead last, but takes Votto, Braun, Aroldis, Cain, Gio into next season. What do you think of me drafting that entire list of prospects next season?

    • Eric says:
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      @Chris J, I think you’d still be dead last.

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      @Chris J, I must concur with Eric.

  5. Cbass says:
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    What about Gary Brown, Travis D’Arnaud and Anthony Rendon? I know injuries but I’m thinking keeper league.

  6. Cbass says:
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    Just saw D’Arnaud. What about Gary Brown and Anthony Rendon?

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      @Cbass, Brown took a big step back this year. Never really got things going at AA. He needs to improve baserunning skills — 35% CS rate is alarming. I still like Rendon, but he’ll have to prove he can stay on the field before I can justify ranking him on a list such as this. Here’s a little something I wrote on him a few weeks ago: http://razzball.com/anthony-rendon-scouting-the-unknown/

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