TOP MAJOR LEAGUE PROSPECTS IN 2014
March 20, 2014INDIANA SPORTS PAGE
The 2014 Major League Baseball season gets underway within the next two weeks and fans will be looking for the next phenom. Many of the following players may be on major league rosters while others are knocking on the door to stardom. Here are the best of the best in no particular order:
3B Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs. Bryant is on a fast track to the Cubs after hitting .346 with 15 HR’s and 49 RBI in only 56 games in the Arizona Fall League. Bryant is looking like a 35 HR guy once he learns pitching patterns at the major league level.
P Kyle Zimmer, Kansas City Royals. Zimmer has a mid-90’s fastball but his health is a concern. He has had elbow surgery and had shoulder issues in 2013 that cut his season short. Zimmer has a 12-6 curveball, a hard slider and an excellent change-up. If he can stay healthy, he may be with the Royals soon.
OF George Springer, Houston Astros. Springer could develop into a 30/30 player after hitting .303 37 HR’s 108 RBI in the high minors last season. Springer also had 45 stolen bases and an OBP of .411. He is a true center fielder with a strong arm. Springer may be in Houston’s line-up opening day.
RHP Alex Meyer, Minnesota Twins. Meyer is 6’9” and can throw at 100 mph on occasion. He missed time in 2013 because of a sore shoulder. Meyer’s fastball has tremendous sink and he throws a hard slider. He has good pitching mechanics and could be used as a starter or closer.
RHP Jameson Taillon, Pittsburgh Pirates. Tallion is a power pitcher with excellent size (6’6” 235). When he doesn’t overthrow, he can be overpowering. Taillon has a mid-90’s fastball and a hard-biting curveball. If he can trust his change-up, Taillon may help the Pirates in 2014.
OF Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins. Perhaps baseball’s top prospect after hitting .334, 109 R, 49 XBH, 12 HR’s and 77 RBI in Single A. Buxton also stole 55 bases. Buxton has a smooth, simple swing and drives the ball. He has a strong arm and is expected to be a 30 HR and 50 SB player for the Twins when he is ready.
SS-3B Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox. Bogaerts joined the Red Sox in August and he may not leave anytime soon. He still has to develop his body (6-3 185) and once he does, scouts feel he can hit 30 HR’s per season. Bogaerts has excellent bat speed and has been able to adjust to good pitching at every level. Third base may be the better position because he lacks the quick feet for better range.
RHP Archie Bradley, Arizona Diamondbacks. Some scouts are comparing Bradley to Detroit ace Justin Verlander because of his presence on the mound. Bradley has good size (6-4 225) and throws a heavy fastball. Bradley’s curveball can buckle the knees of opposing hitters and his change-up is starting to develop. His ERA (1.84) was third best in the minors in 2013 and his strikeout total (162) was fifth best. Arizona could use him now.
SS Addison Russell, Oakland A’s. Russell went from Single-A to Triple-A and handled the jump very well. Russell has shown all the tools to be an excellent hitter with above average power. He can turn on any fastball and has proven to be a patient hitter. Is developing into a good base-stealer.
RHP Robert Stevenson, Cincinnati Reds. Stevenson is a power pitcher who will be a #1 or #2 starter one day. His fastball is in the mid-to-upper 90’s with a fading change-up and a 12-6 curveball. At three levels in 2013, Stevenson had a combined ERA of 2.99 and averaged 10.7 strikeouts per nine innings.
SS Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians. Excellent defensive shortstop that will one day make him a Gold Glove winner. Lindor’s downfall may be hit lack of pop at the plate. He is a switch-hitting, slap hitter who runs well but power won’t be his trademark. Some are comparing Lindor to Omar Vizquel.
3B Nick Castellanos, Detroit Tigers. Castellanos is getting a long look this spring at 3B or LF. Castellanos is a natural hitter who makes contact consistently (.276 18 HR’s in Triple-A). Many MLB scouts believe he can be a .300 hitter and will hit for power. Where to play him defensively is the question but he does have a strong arm.
RHP Lucas Giolito, Washington Nationals. An elbow injury his senior season may have cost him the #1 pick in the draft. Giolito has good size (6-6 225) and after having Tommy John surgery, he appears to be back on track to the big leagues. He has a good fastball that has at times reached 100 mph. Giolito also throws a knee-buckling curve ball and a change-up that is coming along.
RHP Noah Syndergaard, NY Mets. Syndergaard is a huge right-hander (6-6 240) who will challenge hitters with a big fastball (95-97 mph). He also has an excellent curve and slider but his change-up needs some work. It will be a surprise if Syndergaard isn’t in the rotation soon.
SS Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs. Another young prospect in the Cubs organization. He has great bat speed and has already produced in the minors with 111 RBI, 75 XBH and 37 HR’s. Baez can hit the ball to all fields. One downfall is his lack of patience at the plate. Baez is also a liability in the field after committing 44 errors last season. His best position may be 3B.
3B Miguel Sano, Minnesota Twins. Sano is another excellent prospect waiting to get his chance at the big league level. Some scouts regard Sano as the best power prospect in the minors (35 HR’s 103 RBI .992 OPS last season). His potential may be unlimited because of his quick hands and his ability to turn on all pitches. His ability to recognize pitch patterns is uncanny. Sano may be in the Twins line-up on opening day because experts feel he is a 40 HR guy.
OF Oscar Taveras, St. Louis Cardinals. Another great hitting prospect in the Cardinals system. Taveras is a strong left-handed hitter who makes contact and has a natural lift in his swing. He is rarely fooled and isn’t afraid to face left-handed pitching. Many scouts believe Taveras will be a 30 HR player who is a very adequate outfielder.]
SS Carlos Correa, Houston Astros. One advantage of being a bad baseball team (Houston) is you get the chance to draft a lot of good prospects. Correa is a very talented shortstop who can hit and field. In low Class A last season, Correa hit .320, 9 HR’s and 86 RBI. He has good bat speed and understands the strike zone. Many scouts feel he can be a .300 hitter at the major league level and when he matures, could hit 25 HR’s per year. His defense is without question, one of the best in baseball. Correa has great range, soft hands and a very strong arm.
RHP Taijuan Walker, Seattle Mariners. Walker is projected to be a #1 or #2 starter. He is a hard throwing right-hander who can bring it at 98 mph. His change-up is combined with his curveball and cutter/slider. Once he becomes more consistent, he can dominate hitters. Walker had a good 2013 in the high minors (2.93 ERA, 160 K’s in 141 IP) and got a chance to shine with the Mariners in September. Don’t be surprised if Walker is in the rotation.
OF Greg Polanco, Pittsburgh Pirates. Polanco is starting to mature and now scouts are taking notice. He hit 12 HR’s with 38 SB’s last season in three levels of minor league baseball. At 6’4” he can eat up a lot of ground on the bases and in the field. Polanco has a good arm which may make him a good right-fielder in Pittsburgh. A great athlete with good speed.