If you're interested in my recent rankings for the 2014 MLB Draft, here's the Top 50. Plus, here's a look back at all the content from the 2013 MLB Draft.
This is the second part of the two-part reveal of my MLB prospect list, with a twist relative to other industry lists. Like many others, I rank current minor leaguers (with rookie eligibility still intact; sorry Tyler Skaggs) based on their upside, chance to reach it and distance to the big leagues. The twist is that this is a true MLB prospect ranking in that everyone not currently in the big leagues is listed, including domestic amateurs and professionals from the Japanese and Cuban leagues. Active MLBers with rookie eligibility that would make the list if demoted are ranked in part one, with players ranked 26-50 and a number of bonus names.
Some of these international players are in their mid-to-late 20's, but it's important to list all the top potential impact big leaguers rather than just the ones of a certain experience still in the minors. The likelihood of being posted/defecting for foreign pros is not factored in their ranking (but noted in the comments). They are ranked purely on prospect value, like the minor leaguers. Once the season ends, I'll start ranking many more prospects, first by organization, working up to a Top 111, integrating the BUBBA System to put a dollar value on every prospect.
Top MLB Prospects, Ranked 1-25
1. Byron Buxton, CF, Twins (Hi-A - Fort Myers)
6'2/190, R/R, Age: 19.69, Acquired: 2012 1-2, HS - Georgia
I'll admit I underrated him a bit out of high school and thought he'd have some trouble hitting out of the gate but no one, including the Twins, saw this debut season coming; he's got potential for five above average tools, 80 speed and a plus-plus arm.
2. Oscar Taveras, RF, Cardinals (AAA - Memphis - DL)
6'2/200, L/L, Age: 21.19, Acquired: IFA, Dominican Republic
It's funny how scouts will start mentioning little quibbles they've always had with a player once they stop hitting but in Taveras' case, he's been out all year with an ankle injury; plus-plus bat is big league ready as is above average power.
3. Carlos Correa, SS, Astros (Lo-A - Quad Cities)
6'4/205, R/R, Age: 18.93, Acquired: 2012 1-1, HS - Puerto Rico
Another guy from the 2012 draft that I thought had a more advanced bat than Buxton but would have some trouble in his debut has had zero trouble torching the Midwest League; may move to 3B due to size but plus raw power and bat speed play anywhere.
4. Carlos Rodon, LHP, North Carolina State (College - Junior)
6'0/235, L/L, Age: 20.71
The top prospect for the 2014 Draft flashes two 70 pitches (fastball/slider) on the 20-80 scouting scale with at least an average changeup, command and a track record to match; ranking him this high with no pro experience gives you a good idea of how much scouts like him.
5. Francisco Lindor, SS, Indians (AA - Akron)
5'11/175, B/R, Age: 19.79, Acquired: 2011 1-8, HS - Florida
Lindor checks all the boxes in what clubs are looking for in a shortstop of the future as a very young, athletic, above average defender with a standout bat and excellent plate discipline.
6. Masahiro Tanaka, RHP, Japan (NPB - Rakuten)
6'2/205, R/R, Age: 24.82
Cuban 1B Jose Abreu has received some hype as the international prize of the offseason but scouts are far more enthusiastic about Tanaka, who has consistently commanded his plus stuff and one international director said I couldn't put him too high on this list.
7. Albert Almora, CF, Cubs (Lo-A - Kane County)
6'2/180, R/R, Age: 19.36, Acquired: 2012 1-6, HS - Florida
My #1 player in the 2012 draft is technically behind Buxton and Correa, my 2nd & 3rd prospects from that draft, but Almora is getting over a broken hamate bone and scouts are saying he looks like a future batting champ with an elite glove.
8. Addison Russell, SS, A's (Hi-A - Stockton)
6'0/195, R/R, Age: 19.59, Acquired: 2012 1-11, HS - Florida
Russell went third in a loaded group of elite prospects from Florida in the 2012 draft, behind Mike Zunino and Almora; being the 8th prospect in the world a year after going 11th in the draft is a pretty good consolation prize.
9. Archie Bradley, RHP, Diamondbacks (AA - Mobile)
6'4/225, R/R, Age: 21.05, Acquired: 2011 1-7, HS - Oklahoma
Much like Lindor checks the boxes for shortstop, Bradley checks them all for frontline starter; plus-plus fastball and curveball with great athleticism and improving changeup, command and feel.
10. Jeff Hoffman, RHP, East Carolina (College - Junior)
6'5/190, R/R, Age: 20.64
The breakout star of the Cape this summer has made the 1-1 conversation for the 2014 draft an interesting one and while he doesn't have the track record of domination of Rodon, Hoffman isn't done improving, flashing Adam Wainwright or even Justin Verlander upside at times.
11. Taijuan Walker, RHP, Mariners (AAA - Tacoma)
6'4/210, R/R, Age: 21.04, Acquired: 2010 1S-43, HS - California
Walker is a big athlete that's consistently been young for his level and shows plus stuff but still needs to make small mental and mechanical adjustments before he can reach his #2 starter potential.
12. Mark Appel, RHP, Astros (Lo-A - Quad Cities)
6'5/220, R/R, Age: 22.12, Acquired: 2013 1-1, Stanford U.
Appel was the third best college arm for me in the 2012 draft (behind Gausman and Zimmer) but he took a big step forward with his approach and command in 2013 while the other two have shown some warts of their own.
13. Kris Bryant, RF, Cubs (Hi-A - Daytona)
6'5/215, R/R, Age: 21.65, Acquired: 2013 1-2, U. San Diego
Bryant is a good example of why you don't dismiss the lanky swing-and-miss power bat out of high school as he grew into his swing, now has plus-plus game power and should hit enough to get to it in games.
14. Kyle Zimmer, RHP, Royals (AA - Northwest Arkansas)
6'3/215, R/R, Age: 21.96, Acquired: 2012 1-5, U. San Francisco
Zimmer flashes plus stuff just like Appel and has a higher upside as he's more athletic but hasn't quite put it all together, though these types of gifted arms can take suddenly figure it out and take off.
15. George Springer, CF, Astros (AAA - Oklahoma City)
6'3/200, R/R, Age: 23.94, Acquired: 2011 1-11, U. Connecticut
Springer is another example of the bigger, toolsy athlete with contact issues in games that grew out of it; he'll likely never hit for a great average but has made adjustments as sometimes bigger athletes take a little longer to do that.
16. Corey Seager, 3B, Dodgers (Hi-A - Rancho Cucamonga)
6'4/215, L/R, Age: 19.33, Acquired: 2012 1-18, HS - North Carolina
Seager was one of my favorite projection bets in the 2012 draft and surprised scouts with how quickly he was able to dismantle the Midwest League; there's a chance for four above average tools and average speed.
17. Greg Polanco, CF, Pirates (AAA - Indianapolis)
6'4/175, L/L, Age: 21.95, Acquired: IFA, Dominican Republic
You may be sensing a trend of big athletic hitters with power and just enough hit tool to make it all work; Polanco flashes five above average tools and a surprising amount of feel for age/size.
18. Miguel Sano, 3B, Twins (AA - New Britain)
6'3/230, R/R, Age: 20.29, Acquired: IFA, Dominican Republic
Sano has legit 80 power and could hit 40 homers in the big leagues but will likely end up playing first base at some point and while some hitters can maintain flexibility and hit for enough average at that size, there are very few Miguel Cabrera's (and Sano K's more than you'd like), so scouts are cautiously optimistic about Sano's MLB future.
19. Javier Baez, 3B, Cubs (AA - Tennessee)
6'0/195, R/R, Age: 20.74, Acquired: 2011 1-9, HS - Florida
True 80 bat speed reminiscent of Gary Sheffield, easy plus power and a future in the infield are all things to love about Baez but he can get out of control at the plate in both approach and mechanics, though he's made strides with his consistency this year.
20. Dylan Bundy, RHP, Orioles (AA - Bowie - DL)
6'1/195, B/R, Age: 20.78, Acquired: 2011 1-4, HS - Oklahoma
The best pitching prospect in baseball proved why you always have to discount pitching prospect projections as he recently underwent Tommy John surgery; there's a 75% or better chance of a full recovery and Bundy has true #1 starter upside.
21. Jorge Soler, RF, Cubs (Hi-A - Daytona - DL)
6'4/215, R/R, Age: 21.51, Acquired: IFA, Cuba
He's missed most of the season with a stress fracture in his shin but flashes 30 homer power with enough feel to hit to be an everyday player with a plus arm; the Cubs future lineup looks terrifying
22. Kevin Gausman, RHP, Orioles (AAA - Norfolk)
6'5/190, R/R, Age: 22.64, Acquired: 2012 1-4, LSU
I'm not concerned about his tough MLB stint (6.21 ERA in 33.1 IP) earlier this year as he wasn't quite ready and flyball-type pitchers can look bad in small samples if hitters square a few up; he's still got #2/3 starter upside and may be ready to contribute early in 2014.
23. Noah Syndergaard, RHP, Mets (AA - Binghamton)
6'6/240, L/R, Age: 20.99, Acquired: 2012 1S-38, HS - Texas
The massive righty worked 94-96 mph in his inning at the Futures Game at Citi Field and has flashed an above average changeup and curveball at times with his feel continuing to improve.
24. Jameson Taillon, RHP, Pirates (AAA - Indianapolis)
6'6/235, R/R, Age: 21.78, Acquired: 2010 1-2, HS - Texas
I've always been a little bearish relative to the industry on Taillon; the size and plus-plus fastball/curve combo is obvious but the changeup, feel and consistency vary enough that one scout I talked to now prefers Tyler Glasnow.
25. Raul Mondesi Jr, SS, Royals (Lo-A - Lexington)
6'1/170, B/R, Age: 18.08, Acquired: IFA, Dominican Republic
There's some of the same elements here as with Lindor (size, defense, age, switch hitter with limited power potential) but Mondesi has had some trouble at the plate in 2013, though at an obscenely young 17 for most of the year.