Rougned Odor has become one of Texas’ top prospects. (Scott Lucas)
Welcome back to the 2014 RotoRob MLB Draft Kit, as we wrap things up with one more cheat sheet and our annual top prospects list. So as you Wilson Ramos owners curse your luck, let’s kick off our Top 65 Prospects with a look at prospects 65 through 51.
In this, our 10th annual list, we’ve again beefed things up this – going 65 deep for the first time. As we’ve done the past couple of years, we’re breaking this file up to make it easier to digest – and to build drama!
This season, we’re up to 35 returnees from our 2013 rankings (an increase of one from last year), while a robust 18 from last year’s Top 60 prospects graduated from the bigs (up from 16 grads last year). The number of prospects that fell off the list this year rose from five to seven. The upshot is a whopping 30 newcomers (compared to just 26 last year) -– not surprising given that we have expanded from 60 to 65 prospects this season.
Graduating from last year’s top 60 list: Jurickson Profar, SS, Texas Rangers (1); Wil Myers, OF, Tampa Bay Rays (3); Gerrit Cole, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates (5); Zack Wheeler, SP, New York Mets (7); Tyler Skaggs, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks/Los Angeles Angels (8); Jose Fernandez, SP, Miami Marlins (12); Christian Yelich, OF, Miami Marlins (14); Shelby Miller, SP, St. Louis Cardinals (16); Julio Teheran, SP, Atlanta Braves (21); Nolan Arenado, 3B, Colorado Rockies (25); Anthony Rendon, 2B, Washington Nationals (32); Nick Franklin, 2B, Seattle Mariners (33); Mike Zunino, C, Seattle Mariners (35); Martin Perez, SP, Texas Rangers (40); Jedd Gyorko, 2B, San Diego Padres (42); Dan Straily, SP, Oakland A’s (55); Tony Cingrani, SP, Cincinnati Reds (56); and Aaron Hicks, OF, Minnesota Twins (60).
Dropping off the list this season: Hak-Ju Lee, SS, Tampa Bay Rays (38); Gary Brown, OF, San Francisco Giants (41); Brett Jackson, OF, Chicago Cubs (44); Zach Lee, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers (48); Michael Choice, OF, Oakland A’s/Texas Rangers (49); Casey Kelly, SP, San Diego Padres (53); and James Paxton, SP, Seattle Mariners (58).
Now go get yourself a huge ass coffee and then sit down to enjoy Part I of our tome of prospects.
Last year’s rankings are in parentheses.
65. Rougned Odor, 2B, Texas Rangers (NR): No. 10 on our Texas Rangers Top Prospects list last season, Odor has moved into the national consciousness after a huge season in which he hit .305 in 100 games at High-A before moving up to Double-A, where he was even better, racking up 20 runs in 30 games. With Jurickson Profar out to start the season, there was some speculation that Odor would move right to the majors to start 2014, however Texas has wisely opted to groom Odor further despite his nice spring with both the bat (.294) and glove. Odor will likely start the season at Double-A, but don’t be shocked if he sees time in the bigs at some point this season — especially if he continues his trajectory from last year. Of course, the fact remains that he’s blocked long-term by Profar, so he could very well be moved for much-needed pitching help. Some argue that Odor is the Rangers’ top prospect, but we’ll need to see what he can do for a full season at Double-A before crowning him such. He’s expected to top out at a Martin Prado level of production — which is definitely nothing to sneeze at. Signed out of Venezuela in 2011, Odor was an MILB Organization All-Star last year, and while he’s proved durable for his size, we’d like to see him improve his patience before he moves to the next level (in the video below, he jumps on the first offering with his wide open stance; he’s the second batter in the vid). We love Odor’s speed, and would love it even more if he drew more walks. However, let’s put things in perspective — he was the youngest player in his league last year and likely will be again this season, so there is time for this skill to develop.
64. C.J. Edwards, SP, Chicago Cubs (NR): Edwards was also among our Texas Rangers Top Prospects last year before getting dealt to the Cubs in July in the Matt Garza deal. Edwards was the Minor League Pitcher of the Year after giving up exactly zero homers in 18 starts in the Sally League before shifting over after the trade to the FSL, where he failed to record a decision, but remained nearly as stingy. All told, Edwards racked up a whopping 155 strikeouts in 116 1/3 IP. Part of a suddenly exciting cadre of young Cubs’ talent getting ready to descend upon the majors, he needs to add weight if he’s going to have the durability to last as a starter, but we still like him a bit more than some prospect experts. We love that Edwards has a nice groundball rate, as that will stead him well as he moves up the ladder and is unable to blow the ball by more advanced hitters as often. Obviously, he can’t be fully judged until he fills out, but we will learn a lot more about this kid this year when he tackles Double-A. Still, so far he looks like a serious steal considering the Rangers nabbed the righty in the 48th round in 2011. A Baseball America Minor League All-Star last year, Edwards is a very solid prospect, but certainly not a future top-of-the-rotation arm.
63. Colin Moran, 3B, Miami Marlins (NR): This former UNC star will one day soon fill what’s been a long-standing black hole at third base for the Marlins. The 21-year-old was taken sixth overall in last year’s draft and was immediately sent to Class-A, where he gained some valuable pro experience. Moran failed to flash any power at the AFL, but that’s not shocking as he’s never expected to be a 25-homer man. However, he is likely to be a high average hitter, so perhaps Wade Boggs Lite is his ceiling (Bill Mueller, perhaps?). Despite his less than stellar showing in the AFL (.230), he did play in the Rising Stars game. So far, Moran has shown he’s durable, but he’s not blessed with much speed (just four steals in his three-year tenure with the Tar Heels). He had perhaps the most advanced bat in the draft last year, so don’t be shocked if this kid moves pretty damn fast.
62. Mike Olt, 3B, Chicago Cubs (19): Olt, ranked 43rd in our Third Base Rankings, hit well this spring and flashed some solid leather at the hot corner as well. A shoulder injury had many concerned he wouldn’t be able to handle the position this year, but so far, so good as he earned the right to stick with the Cubs for Opening Day. Last year, Olt dealt with a concussion, so health issues have really plagued this kid since Texas dealt to him to Chicago in the Garza deal (yes, another Ranger-produced prospect — taken 49th overall in 2010). The concussion affected his vision, so now that he’s free and clear of that worry, consider him a bit of a sleeper. Olt’s modest speed disappeared last season and his power seemed to go AWOL after he was sent to the Cubs’ organization. Don’t give up on him yet, however, as he mashed dingers like mad this spring. And after he managed a paltry 75 hits in 102 games in the minors last year, we needed to see some positive signs. Still, just two years ago, Olt was an MiLB Organization All-Star who smoked 28 homers in just 95 games at Triple-A, so while his stock fell dramatically in the last year, he isn’t exactly off our radar yet. Ultimately, expect elite power with poor contact skills. Just don’t get him confused for this dude.
61. Mike Foltynewicz, SP, Houston Astros (NR): Foltynewicz has been off the Fantasy radar until now, which is fine, because the amount of energy expelled merely in typing his name has us gasping. The hard-throwing kid (who can reach triple digits on the gun) excelled this spring, announcing himself as a part of the Astros’ very near-term future. Foltynewicz has already been reassigned to minoe league camp, and assumedly he’ll begin the season at Triple-A, having already proved he can win at Double-A. We love his improving ground ball rates and so far he’s been very durable, but he will need to sharpen his control before he’s ready to face big league hitters. Should the 22-year-old with the nice pitcher’s build (6′4″, 200) improve that area of his game, there’s no reason he shouldn’t make his MLB debut later this year, at the very least as a September call-up.
60. Matt Barnes, SP, Boston Red Sox (31): Part of a nicely stocked Boston system, Barnes slipped last year as he looked far more hittable in his first taste of Double-A. Still, many believe he could help the Red Sox this season even though he was battling some shoulder issues this spring. We actually rank Barnes higher within the Boston system than most, but there’s no doubt that he is not yet a finished product. We think a full season of Triple-A is in order, and we’ll be watching to see if he can maintain that superb strikeout rate while improving his bottom line results. Barnes has all the tools to become a very successful big league pitcher, and once he proves he can win at the higher levels, he’ll become an important part of the Red Sox for years to come. Durability should not be an issue here, but we’ll need to see that walk rate reduced to where he had it in High-A. The right-handed Barnes can comfortably throw in the 91-95 mph range, but has been known to reach 98 at times.
59. Matt Davidson, 3B, Chicago White Sox (43): We slotted Davidson 24th in our Third Base Rankings so believe he will still have plenty of value this year despite being farmed out to begin the season. He came into camp as the favourite to land the third base job in Chicago, but given his struggles to make contact, the team thought it prudent he get a wee bit more seasoning first. Make no mistake: Davidson is definitely the third baseman of the future for the Pale Hose, and that future could be just a few weeks away. After hitting .280 with a .350 OBP at Triple-A in the Arizona system last year, he was dealt to Chicago in the Addison Reed trade. We find it hard to imagine Davidson will need much more Triple-A time before he overtakes Connor Gillaspie in Chicago. Taken 35th overall in 2009 by the D-Backs, Davidson has remained durable, but don’t expect any steals out of him. He has a decent glove, but ultimately power will be his calling card.
58. Eddie Butler, SP, Colorado Rockies (NR): Butler burst onto the Fantasy radar last season as the righty out of Radford University tore through three levels of the Rockies’ system. Armed with a big-time heater, he is being scooped up in dynasty leagues this spring and why not? Last year, he was a big winner at Class-A, forcing a promotion to High-A, where he averaged nearly a strikeout per inning. Finally, he finished up by going undefeated in a half dozen starts at Double-A. The finally tally? A paltry five losses through 28 starts with a brilliant 1.80 ERA. Butler was sent back to the minors a couple of weeks ago to complete his apprenticeship, but if he progresses anywhere nearly as quickly as he did last year, he’ll be at Coors Field by mid-season. Let’s face it, Colorado’s rotation has plenty of red flags, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Butler’s services will be required sooner rather than later. We absolutely love the fact that his control got better each step up the ladder last year, which is completely counterintuitive to normal patterns for young pitchers. Named to the Futures Game last year, Butler was taken 46th overall in 2012. Obviously, the usual Coors Field caveats apply to all pitchers, but with one of the top fastballs in the minors, improving control, and a propensity to get ground balls, he has the tools to overcome his home park handicap.
57. Jesse Biddle, SP, Philadelphia Phillies (NR): Biddle seems to have been around for a while, but always on the periphery of prospects. Well, he’s now forced his way onto our list, although some aren’t as high on this southpaw as we are. Biddle has that classic young wildness thing going on — tons of strikeouts, very hard to hit, but way too many walks. Still, he’s very close to the majors and has tremendous upside. Biddle will return to Double-A to begin 2014, and once he starts to trim that walk rate, his big league countdown will begin in earnest. We think that, psychologically at least, he needs to prove he can win at this level before taking the next step. Biddle is gifted with a nasty curve that he can throw for strikes, so once he learns to command his fastball more, he’ll move fast. We love how stingy he’s been with the long ball, which is a trait he better maintain considering how many free passes he hands out. Philadelphia’s 2010 first rounder has a wide range of tools and while his arrival in the Show was delayed by his control issues last year, we’d be surprised if he didn’t make his MLB debut at some point this season.
56. Austin Meadows, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates (NR): As we discussed in our 2013 MLB Draft First Round Review, Meadows didn’t exactly land in the right organization if he’s hoping to reach the bigs quick considering how much depth the Pirates have in the outfield. He immediately justified his status as the ninth overall pick by flashing nice power in the GCL before earning a five-game look in the NYPL, where he averaged three total bases per game. Meadows will likely move to full season ball this year at Class-A, and while he’s still some distance from the majors, he’s already exciting prospect hounds. A hamstring injury will cost him the first few weeks of the season, and that may be the only thing that slows him down. A clear-cut top five prospect in the Pirate system, this Georgia native is still just 18. In time, Meadows has a chance to be an extremely productive middle of the order bat. A GCL Post-Season All-Star last year, he had been healthy so far before this spring’s injury, but if there’s one area he needs to work on it’s his contact skills, having averaged nearly a strikeout per game in his pro debut. Still, Meadows was considered the most talented high school player available in last year’s draft for a reason.
55. Jake Marisnick, OF, Miami Marlins (37): Although he’s slipped this season in our prospect rankings, we still like Marisnick enough that we slotted him in the top 140 in our Outfield Rankings. His baserunning skills need work and there’s no doubt he looked a little overmatched in his 40-game stint with the Marlins last year (in fairness, he was probably rushed to the majors). Despite some serious raking this spring in which he proved his knee was sound in the wake of offseason surgery, Marisnick lost the CF job to Marcell Ozuna and will start the season at Triple-A. We still love Marisnick’s upside, and honestly, some fine-tuning at Triple-A is likely in his best interest. If Ozuna’s batting eye doesn’t improve, we’ll see Marisnick back in Miami sooner rather than later. Marisnick, who celebrated his 23rd birthday on Sunday, is the Marlins’ top batting prospect. He was tremendously productive at Double-A and has the skills to stick in the majors soon. The fact that the right-handed hitting Marisnick crushed righties with an OPS over 900 at Double-A last year bodes well and has helped him continue to rise up the Marlins’ top prospects list. Originally a third round pick by Toronto in 2009, the Florida native was sent to the Fish in that massive deal after the 2012 season. We’d like to see a bit more patience from Marisnick, although he did exhibit better numbers in this regard in the low minors, so we know he’s capable of it.
54. Jorge Alfaro, C, Texas Rangers (NR): Yes, another Ranger prospect. Alfaro ranked in the top 10 for Texas last year, and this season he’s graduated to the big board, although some rank him even higher than we do. This Columbian won’t turn 21 for a couple of months and he’s already shown nice power, with 39 extra-base hits (including 16 homers) at 104 games at Low-A last year. Alfaro will play at High-A to begin the season, and although his AFL time was shortened by a hand injury, he still managed 80 at-bats and hit extremely well. Some prefer Odor as the Rangers’ top prospect, but for our money, we’ll take a catcher that has power/BA potential. We’d like to see Alfaro improve his batting eye, but he has plenty of time to address that as he moves up the ladder. Over three levels last year, he hit .265, and then flashed even more glimpses of his upside in the AFL, where he was named to the All-Prospect Team. He really needs to improve his contact skills, but catchers with this kind of power potential are worth taking a chance on for Fantasy purposes. Texas gave Alfaro a whopping $1.3 million signing bonus when he was 16, but at his current pace, he seems poised to soon starting offering a return on that investment.
53. Mason Williams, OF, New York Yankees (36): A year ago, when we had Williams 36th on this list, we pumped him up as the top Yankees prospect. Well, after struggling last season, we have amended that assertion and dropped him out of the top 50 in the process. In fact, some experts have dropped Williams out of the top 85, perhaps placing a lot of stock in his legal issues (DUI) as a major character flaw. We’ll give him a small mulligan for 2013 — as mentioned, we dropped Williams nearly 20 spots, but we’re not ready to completely jettison him from the list. He was given a chance to redeem himself at the AFL, but failed to flash any power there. As a result, some have dropped Williams to as low as fourth on the Yankee prospect list, but he’s still a top three for us. Still, there is no sugar coating what a disappointing year it was for him. He did improve his walk rate, which is a good sign for a speedster, but the rest of the news was bad, raising concerns about the sluggish nature of his development. Williams spent most of the season at High-A, stealing just 15 bases in 100 games while his slugging went AWOL. He was still promoted to Double-A for the final few weeks and he failed to steal a single base at the higher level. All told, Williams’ BA free fall continued (combined .245) and everything else (except for his walk total) dropped as well. He did a slightly better job of getting on base at the AFL (somehow making the Rising Stars game), but his extra-base power was nearly invisible. The Yankees’ fourth rounder in 2010 has generally been a good contact hitter in his career, but that changed with his new found patience and higher strikeout rate. A year ago, Williams looked like the heir apparent to Brett Gardner; now, we’ll see if he can get back on track in 2014, before assigning him to the bin of overhyped Yankee prospects.
52. Bubba Starling, OF, Kansas City Royals (28): Starling is another prospect that has slid significantly from last year. The fifth overall pick in the 2011 draft tied for the Class-A Lexington team lead with 13 homers in 125 games last year, but he was just 105-for-435 (.241) overall. Clearly, Starling’s mechanics could use a bit of a makeover, and the fact that he only got one at-bat this spring speaks volumes about how much work he has ahead of him. Some have dropped Starling way down the Royals’ prospect list, but we’re keeping him among the top three for now. Still, last year — his first in full season ball — was a setback. If we’re looking for a glimmer of hope, Starling finished the season very well (973 OPS, .322 BA, four homers, 15 RBI), so perhaps he’s ready to take the next step after all. He’s going to remain under a ton of scrutiny because of the $7.5 million it took to sign him, but right now, his rawness continues to overshadow his skills. Starling has proved durable so far, but we desperately need to see better contact skills before considering moving him back up this list.
51. Henry Owens, SP, Boston Red Sox (NR): Part of a pretty stacked Red Sox farm system, Owens is a towering southpaw picked 36th overall out of a California high school in 2011 — what is shaping up three years later as a very strong draft. We rank him higher on the Red Sox prospect list than most based on how hard he was to hit at High-A. Owens’ record at this level wasn’t as impressive as his pro debut, but he was aided by a higher strand rate to earn better bottom line results. The Sox moved him up to Double-A for a half dozen starts to the end the season and his K rate was significantly better at the higher level. All told, he worked 135 IP combined at the two levels, shaving 2.2 runs off his ERA from 2012. No qualifying minor league starter was tougher to hit last year, earning Owens another MiLB.com Organization All-Star nod. He’s been very durable so far, but we need to see him show more significant improvement in his control before considering moving him into the top 50. Once Owens adds more strength to his 6′7″, 200-pound frame, he’ll be an absolute horse.
Now it’s your turn. Let us know in the comments below which of these prospects you’re bullish on.
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