The mid-season Top 50 prospects list is here as we celebrate the most exciting players at the minor league level. There is lots of room for debate and I’m excited to hear what others have to say about the players listed below. For a refresher, check out the pre-season Top 100 prospects list here.
Prospects considered for this list must not have exceeded 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched at the big league level. Players selected in the 2013 amateur draft were not considered for this list.
Buxton takes the top spot on the mid-season top prospects list after ranking 16th overall on the preseason Top 100. The hype surrounding the young outfielder is justified and he projects to develop into a true five-tool player — even though he has yet to fully develop over-the-fence pop. You can’t ask much more from a 19 year old in his first full pro season.
Prior to the 2012 amateur draft, I ranked the first round based on where I would have selected the players. I chose Houston’s Carlos Correa first, followed by Buxton (which is the order they happened to go in). At that time, this is what I said about the Twins prospect: “Buxton oozes athleticism and has an effortless, smooth swing. He’s raw, though, and has holes in his game.”
Well, Buxton closed those holes.
The 20-year-old Aruba native has already reached Triple-A and has seven home runs in just 29 games at that level. Even with fellow young shortstop Jose Iglesias playing well, the Red Sox will find a spot for him at the big league level in 2014. Bogaerts has a chance to hit 25-30 home runs and with more than .300 at the big league level.
Taveras is still one of the purest hitters in the minors, even if he hasn’t been able to show it much in 2013. Injuries have limited him to just 46 games and he’s been dogged by a high ankle sprain. Just 20, he’s more than held his own at the Triple-A level and is close to competing in the big league with the Cardinals.
A high school friend of Baltimore’s Dylan Bunny, Bradley’s breakout 2013 season helped him surpass his fellow Oklahoma native in terms of prospect value. The 20-year-old pitcher has logged 13 games at the Double-A level this season and he should be ready for The Show in ’14 where he’ll join an exciting young Diamondbacks staff that could also include Tyler Skaggs, who recently lost his eligibility for this list, but would have ranked in the Top 10.
The 20-year-old Louisiana native spent the majority of the first half of 2013 in Double-A but he’s held his own in three starts at the Triple-A level since a recent promotion. Walker should be ready to join Felix Hernandez in Seattle’s starting rotation in 2014 and he has the upside of a No. 1 or 2 starter.
One of the youngest player on this list behind Byron Buxton and ahead of Raul Mondesi of the Royals, Lindor was recently promoted to Double-A in just his third pro season after signing as the eighth overall selection in the 2011 draft. The Puerto Rico native has the makings of a plus defensive shortstop for the Indians and the only thing keeping him from being a five-tool player is his lack of power.
It’s been a dream season for the Pittsburgh Pirates, who are legitimately in the playoff race in the National League Central. With a young starting rotation that can be built around Gerrit Cole and Taillon — as well as an exciting wave of offensive prospects on the way — the club is sure to be competitive for years to come.
Bundy was the undisputed top pitching prospect in the game until his career trajectory was sent off course by Tommy John surgery. The right-hander won’t return to action until mid-2014 and probably won’t see the Majors with the Orioles again until 2015 at the earliest. There is no reason to rush to talented arm, who won’t turn 21 until November.
Of the Top 5 pitchers on this list, Stephenson may have the least recognizable name but his stuff is just as good. The Reds organization has been cautious with this valuable commodity and spent the first half of 2013 in Low-A ball level where he’s whiffed 96 batters in 77 innings of work. A promotion to High-A was just announced this week on the heels of a 1.51 ERA in his last 10 starts.
Sano’s 80-grade power (20-80 scouting scale) is arguably the best in the minor leagues, and he’s an extremely dangerous hitter despite being just 20 years old. The Twins’ third base prospect hit .330 with 16 home runs in 56 games to earn a promotion from High-A to Double-A ball. He has yet to adjust to the more advanced pitchers and is hitting just .202 with six homers in his first 28 games.
Houston’s Correa isn’t as far along in his development as Bogaerts or Lindor but he has a chance to be as good or better than his fellow shortstop prospects. After a slow first month to the 2013 season, the Puerto Rico native has been on fire and could probably handle the jump from Low-A to High-A ball but he’s just 18 so there’s no reason to rush him.
Yelich, 21, has a nice swing from the left side of the plate and should produce a high average but injuries have not been his friend. He’s turned himself into a solid defensive center-fielder but questions remain about how much power the Marlins prospect will develop despite his 6’4” 195 lbs frame.
The 20-year-old Baez flashed some real power during his stay in High-A ball. Forty of his 82 hits went for extra bases, including 17 home runs. The Cubs prospect earned a recent promotion to Double-A but his aggressive ways at the plate will certainly create a speed bump.
The 6’6” Wacha has breezed through the minors and made three MLB starts earlier this season. He’s spent the majority of the year at the Triple-A level. The development of a consistent breaking ball is the only thing holding this Cardinals prospect back.
The Rays organization really knows how to develop pitching, but it’s also quite conservative in its development plan. As a result, Guerrieri is still at the Low-A ball level despite being selected in the first round of the 2011 amateur draft. He’s shown the ability to strike out a healthy number of batters while also inducing a plethora of ground-ball outs.
An injury kept Almora on the shelf until late May but he’s been on fire with the bat since taking the field. The Cubs prospect has a chance to be a plus defensive player at the big league level and his bat looks better than advertised.
Russell had a rough introduction to High-A ball when he was rushed to the level by the A’s to begin the 2013 season. He struck out 57 times in the first two months but has done a nice job of making adjustments. He’s also flashed some solid pop with 42 extra base hits in 77 games. The shortstop has a chance to be a solid defender.
Sanchez has electric stuff but he’s struggled to command it at times. He also went down with a shoulder injury in May and concerns remain about his body’s ability to hold up to his mid-to-high-90s fastball. The Jays’ top pitching prospect has the chance to be a frontline starter if he can avoid the knife and continue to refine his changeup.
Polanco is still learning to tap into his raw power on a consistent basis but he has the potential to develop above-average, in-game power. He’s also a good base runner despite his size (6’4”, 170 lbs) and should be a solid defender. The Pirates organization is no doubt excited to have him as their right-fielder of the future.
With Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum and Barry Zito all aging noticeably, the Giants’ starting rotation could use an infusion of youth to help support Madison Bumgarner. The hard-throwing Crick, 20, is the highest-ceiling arm in the system and he’s neutered the High-A California League since returning from the disabled list. He could see Double-A by the end of the year.
Syndergaard, who has been known to tickle triple digits with his fastball, recently received the start for the U.S. club at the annual Futures Game, which features the top prospects from around the game. He’s been as good as advertised since coming over to the Mets from the Jays in the off-season trade of R.A. Dickey. The development of his breaking ball is the only thing holding him back at this point.
Detroit fans keep asking: “When is Castellanos getting the call?” The 21-year-old prospect has spent the entire season in Triple-A while producing respectable numbers but he’s scuffled in July. The third baseman-turned-outfielder was moved due to the presence of Miguel Cabrera but the prospect’s versatility could be of value to the Tigers in the second half of the year — especially if the club wants to rest its all-star for the playoffs.
Hultzen would probably be higher on this list if not for the worrisome shoulder injury that currently has him on the disabled list. The talented lefty has made just one appearance since April and he’ll want to do everything he can to avoid the knife because shoulder surgery ends a lot more careers than elbow surgery. When healthy, the Mariners prospect has the ceiling of a No. 2 starter.
Like Danny Hultzen above him, d’Arnaud has missed a great deal of the season due to injury. Now 24 and in his seventh season (second at Triple-A), the catcher is almost MLB ready despite the missed time and should develop into a solid big league regular, if not a star.
Soler, of the Cubs, and Yasiel Puig of the Dodgers are both Cuban natives that were signed midway through the 2012 season. Puig has risen to national acclaim but Soler has toiled away in the High-A Florida State League. The Cubs prospect has all the tools to be a star at the big league level and the slower developmental pace should not be seen as a detractor.
Coveted for his bat as an amateur, Hedges has also shown a competent offensive game. He probably won’t ever hit for big power but he shows solid line-drive pop and a good eye at the plate.
Hanson was the breakout star in the Pirates’ system in 2012 but his solid play has been overshadowed by Gregory Polanco, who has been the surprise player in ’13. Hanson is currently playing shortstop but he’s expect to slide over to second base in the Majors. The switch-hitter has solid line-drive pop, the ability to hit for average and good speed.
Zimmer, Baltimore’s Kevin Gausman and Houston’s Mark Appel (who went unsigned when selected by the Pirates after his junior year at Stanford) were the consensus Top 3 college arms in the 2012 amateur draft — and all three were selected within the first eight picks. The Orioles product has already reached the Majors but the Royals right-hander has moved at a slower pace thanks to a rough first three months of the year at the High-A level. The right-hander’s mechanics kicked in during the month of July when he struck out 30 batters with just one walk in 18 innings of work. He was just promoted to Double-A.
Springer offers an intriguing combination of speed and power — and his game has taken a big step forward in 2013, even though he may strike out 150 or more times in a full big league season. All ready a 20-20 (HR-SB) player in 2013, the Astros prospect is a true threat to become a 30-30 player and is currently hitting .404 with seven home runs in his first 17 Triple-A games.
Martinez has a plus fastball and good breaking ball but there are questions about his ability to develop a third reliable pitch and about his durability because of his smallish frame. The Dominican right-hander received his first taste of big league action in 2013 with eight bullpen appearances but the Cardinals clearly hope his long-term role is in the starting rotation.
A suspension ensured that Singleton’s season did not begin until June but he’s already played and three levels this year, topping out at Triple-A. The Astros prospect has spent a little time in the outfield during his career but his long-term home should be first base. He has the talent necessary to settle into the middle of Houston’s lineup for years to come.
Another smallish right-hander, Ventura is working hard to shake the stigma that causes some prospect watchers to doubt that his future lies in a big league starting rotation. The Royals prospect has split the 2013 season between Double-A and Triple-A, and should be ready for big league action once he harnesses his fastball command and polishes his secondary offerings.
Just 20 years old, Franco is one of the breakout prospects of 2013. The Phillies’ third baseman of the future, he had more extra base hits than strikeouts in 65 games at the High-A ball level. Since being promoted to Double-A, he’s hitting .392 with 10 extra base hits in 19 games. Holes remain in his game, and his defense is questionable, but he has lots of time to iron out his wrinkles.
Sanchez’s bat has stalled a bit at the High-A ball level but he’s still young and has shown enough potential to suggest that he’ll develop into an above-average player at the big league level. With a lack of catching depth in the system, the Yankees are probably hoping that he’ll jump on the fast track.
The third overall selection in the 2011 amateur draft by Arizona, Bauer has experienced a tumultuous career to date. Now a product of the Cleveland Indians, the right-hander’s talent is still without question but maturity issues continue to cloud his results. Despite that, he has the talent to be a solid No. 2 or 3 starter at the big league level.
Traded from Washington to Minnesota in the offseason for talented outfielder Denard Span, Meyer become one of the top arms in the Twins system. He suffered a shoulder injury in June but it’s not considered serious but the organization will be cautious with the talented 6’9” right-hander, who has a bright future.
The Marlins’ 2012 first round draft pick, Heaney did not begin his 2013 season until May but he’s been lights-out since that time. The southpaw should be due for a promotion from High-A to Double-A any day now and could eventually slide into the No. 2 or 3 slot in a big league rotation.
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Bradley earned a spot on the big league roster with a strong spring but he has yet to secure a full-time gig at that level and he’s spent most of the year back in Triple-A. He has a chance to be a plus defender and top-of-the-order threat if realizes his potential. Bradley could be a key player for the Red Sox in 2014 if Jacoby Ellsbury leaves through free agency.
Biddle continues to struggle with his control but the southpaw has struck out 107 batters in 97.1 innings of work. Once he becomes more consistent, the Phillies pitcher could develop into a durable No. 2 or 3 starter.
Foltynewicz needed two season in Low-A ball but he’s split the 2013 season between High-A and Double-A. The right-hander’s 100-mph fastball is his meal ticket and the development of his secondary stuff will go a long way to determining his future role: starter or reliever.
Still a teenager at 19, Fried is advanced for his age and has produced excellent numbers in Low-A ball. The Padres organization is brimming with intriguing pitching talent and the southpaw leads the way.
Like Gregory Polanco, Glasnow has been one of the top breakout prospects in 2013 — not just for the Pirates, but for all of Major League Baseball. The tall right-hander has 110 strikeouts in 76.1 innings of work and could eventually settle in at the top of a big league rotation if his secondary stuff rounds into shape.
The son of former Dodgers’ outfielder Raul Mondesi Sr., this Royals shortstop prospect is the youngest player on the Top 50 and doesn’t turn 18 until later this month but he’s more than held his own in full-season ball. He has a chance to develop into both an impact hitter and fielder.
The brother of Seattle’s Kyle Seager, Corey could end up being even more successful. Just 19, he’s an advanced hitter for his age, although it remains to be seen if he can stick at shortstop as he moves up through the Dodgers’ system.
Cecchini doesn’t have the power that teams typically covet from a third baseman but he certainly knows how to hit — not unlike a former Red Sox great named Wade Boggs. The left-handed hitter has split the 2013 season between High-A and Double-A, and is hitting .353 with more walks than strikeouts in 82 games.
An injury prevented Marisnick from playing until May and he got off to a slow start but has heated up since then. The plus defender is hitting more than .300 on the year even though his approach at the plate still needs some work. He has the potential to develop into a 20-20 threat.
The son of Lance McCullers Sr., a talented reliever from the ’80s and ’90s, McCullers Jr. is slowly proving to his doubters that his future belongs in the starting rotation. Just 19, he’s dominated the older competition in Low-A ball with a plethora of ground balls and strikeout. He’s a true rising star in the Astros organization.
The Reds prospect shattered records by stealing 155 bases in 132 games in 2012, invoking memories of past speedsters such as Rickey Henderson and Vince Coleman. The Reds prospect has nabbed another 55 bases in 83 games in 2013 but he’s shown holes in his game that his 80 speed just can’t hide. His outfield defense is coming along nicely after he moved off shortstop at the end of 2012.
One of the top arms in the 2010 amateur draft, injuries have plagued Ranaudo throughout his amateur and pro career. After making just nine appearances in 2012, the right-hander has broken through for the Red Sox system in ’13 with a strong showing at the Double-A level. He could turn into a No. 3 starter the MLB level.
It was a tough decision for the final spot on the Top 50 list and Owens narrowly beat out the likes of third baseman Mike Olt (Rangers), outfielder Joc Pederson (Dodgers) and pitcher Rafael De Paula (Yankees). The Red Sox southpaw has flashed an above-average fastball for a left-hander and he’s posted solid results in Low-A ball. His command and control both remain a work-in-progress, but that’s to be expected from a pitcher that stands 6’6”.
Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.