The top prospects are always something people enjoy looking at and thinking about. I also enjoy taking a look at the top prospects and making predictions on their future success. I'd like to rank my top 15 prospects and inform you on how they might translate into the Major Leagues. Without further ado, let's take a look at Cover Those Bases' 2014 top 15 prospects.
15. Noah Syndergaard, Pitcher, New York Mets
Noah Syndergaard is one of the primer pitching prospects in the Major Leagues. Syndergaard's fastball can routinely reach 98 miles per hour, which is part of the reason he struck out 10.2 hitters per nine innings in 2013. He's got a plus 12-6 curveball, which he can use in off-balance counts. And, he's got a change-up that could develop as well. In 2013, Syndergaard posted a 9-4 record with a 3.06 ERA in 117 2/3 innings pitched. Him, Zach Wheeler, and Matt Harvey could be a very scary rotation in New York.
14. Gregory Polanco, Outfielder, Pittsburgh Pirates
After having a fantastic season in 2012, Polanco made another stride in reaching the Major Leagues in 2013. He reached Triple-A for the first time in his career, appearing in 2 games with the Indianapolis Indians. Regardless, Polanco hit a triple-slash line of .285/.356/.434 with 38 stolen bases in 49 attempts. He also smacked 12 homers and drove in 71 RBI. He gets on base, has good power, and a good throwing arm, which should make him the right fielder in PNC Park in not too long.
13. Jonathan Gray, Pitcher, Colorado Rockies
Gray was just picked in the 2013 draft, but he has the potential to be something very good in the Major Leagues. He has a mid to upper 90s fastball, and has excellent command, which made the Rockies nab him at number 3 overall. He impressed many people by going 4-0 with a 1.93 ERA in 37 1/3 innings at the Rockies' Rookie and Single-A levels. What was most impressive about Gray is that he posted a 12.3 K/9 ratio while only posting a 1.9 BB/9 ratio. His excellent command and overpowering stuff should put him at the top of the Rockies rotation into the future.
12. George Springer, Outfielder, Houston Astros
I am excited to see what the future holds for George Springer. Coming off of a season the minor-leagues has only seen three times in the past 30 years, Springer hit 37 home runs while also stealing 45 bases. Springer wasn't just a pop-up, out of nowhere prospect. He was a first round pick in 2011, and hit 24 homers and stole 32 in 2012. Springer adds a nice average, and a very good OBP to his arsenal, and also covers a lot of ground in the outfield, while adding a very promising arm. Expect Springer to make his MLB debut in 2014.
11. Francisco Lindor, Shortstop, Cleveland Indians
Francisco Lindor is my most underrated prospect. I feel he's the least known on this list. But he's got serious talent. The 20-year-old reached Double-A last season, and he's getting ready to make in impact for the Indians. He is a fantastic defender, and many think he's the best defender in the minor-leagues. He stole 25 bases in 2013, while also adding a .787 OPS. Lindor's power is minimal, but his leadership earns praise. He seems like he could be a very good Major Leaguer in just a few years.
10. Addison Russell, Shortstop, Oakland Athletics
Addison Russell is ranked 10th because of his closeness to the Major Leagues. Russell reached Triple-A in 2013, and the the Oakland Athletics' 2011 first round pick should be close to the Major Leagues. He hit a triple-slash of .269/.369/.495 with 17 homers and 60 RBI. The free-swinger also stole 21 bases. He's got good defensive range, good hands, and could be a primer defender when he gets to the MLB. His pop comes at a surprise, but it seems like it's here to stay. Russell is a very solid shortstop and will be playing in Oakland this season.
9. Kris Bryant, Third Base, Chicago Cubs
Kris Bryant crushed everything he could see in 2013. He started it off by winning the Golden Spikes Award at the University of San Diego, then was drafted number 2 overall by the Cubs, and won the MVP of the Arizona Fall League. In 36 minor-league games, Bryant hit a triple-slash line of .336/.390/.688 with 9 home runs and 32 RBI. These numbers came in just 128 at bats. Bryant is a decent fielder and has an above-average arm. Being 22-years-old, Bryant should speed through the minors and will likely be playing at Wrigely Field in 2015.
8. Miguel Sano, Third Base, Minnesota Twins
Sano's stock took a hit when the Twins determined that he would need Tommy John surgery this season. Sano had a blinding bright future. He has unbelievable power and posted a good on-base percentage. The only issue with Sano is his strikeout rate, which resides in the mid to high 20s. That's comparable to Ryan Howard's strikeout rate. In 2013, Sano hit a triple-slash line of .280/.382/.610 while crushing 35 homers and driving in 103. He played as high as Double-A -- many thought that he could be in a Twins uniform this season. That'll have to wait, which is why he's this low at number eight.
7. Javier Baez, Shortstop, Chicago Cubs
Javier Baez is another top Chicago Cubs prospect that should make some noise in Wrigely sometime soon. Baez finished last year at Double-A Tennessee, so it wouldn't surprise me if he was called up to the big leagues this season. Baez has excellent power, posts a good average, and plays pretty good shortstop. In 2013, Baez hit a triple-slash line of .282/.381/.578 while smashing 37 home runs and driving in 111 between the Cubs' High Single-A and Double-A affiliates. I am excited to see what the future brings for Baez, especially while the wind is blowing out in Chicago.
6. Carlos Correa, Shortstop, Houston Astros
Carlos Correa is the top prospect in the Houston Astros organization. He's their shortstop of the future. Correa hit a triple-slash line of .320/.405/.467 with 9 home runs and 86 RBI in 519 plate appearances at Single-A quad cities in 2013. The 19-year-old is in Astros camp, but will likely have to wait until 2015 until he sees some action in the Major Leagues. The former number one overall pick has a good arm, is a decent fielder, and can really hit the ball. He could have well above average power when he makes the Major Leagues. Of Correa's 144 hits, 45 (31%) went for extra bases. That should develop into very good pop.
5. Taijuan Walker, Pitcher, Seattle Mariners
When I started writing this article, I listed Taijuan Walker at number three. I ranked him that high because of his proximity to the Major Leagues. (Walker's already racked up 15 MLB innings.) However, I like Bradley's curve better, and especially now that Walker's got an injury, he falls down to number five. Even though it's only shoulder inflammation, this could be the beginning of problems down the road. My advice to the Mariners, watch Walker very closely. In 2013, Walker went 9-10 with a 2.93 ERA and a 10.2 K/9 ratio.
4. Archie Bradley, Pitcher, Arizona Diamondbacks
Archie Bradley could be one of the better pitchers in the Major Leagues not too far from now. Picked number seven overall by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2011, Bradley has lived up to his expectations. He posted a 14-5 record with a 1.84 ERA a 9.6 K/9 ratio and a 4.1 BB/9. Bradley was thought to could have made the Diamondbacks rotation this season, but then they signed Bronson Arroyo. He has a very good fastball that can reach the upper 90s, a good curveball, and an average change-up that will add to his arsenal even more. Bradley will be in the big leagues this season, just the question is when will he be.
3. Oscar Taveras, Outfielder, St. Louis Cardinals
Oscar Taveras has all the tools to be an awesome player in the Major Leagues when he is all done developing. However, he had ankle surgery in 2013, only allowing him to play in 47 games and only getting 188 plate appearances. Regardless, Taveras was right back to strength, posting a .310/.348/.471 triple-slash line and hitting 5 home runs and 32 RBI. Taveras has great plate discipline, and only struck out 56 times in 531 plate appearances in 2012. His defense is good, but it's his offense that gives him the number three spot on my top prospects list. He will be in the Major Leagues this season.
2. Xander Bogaerts, Shortstop, Boston Red Sox
Bogaerts already has a World Series ring, and he's only 21-years-old. I've seen him compared to Derek Jeter, and he's got all the tools to be just that. He's more powerful, but probably won't be as good as Jeter defensively. In 50 Major League plate appearances, Bogaerts hit a triple-slash line of .250/.320/.364 with 1 home run and 5 RBI. He hit 15 homers in 515 plate appearances in the minors as well. He was the youngest player ever to start a postseason game for the Red Sox and went 8-for-27 with 3 doubles in the playoffs. He'll start 2014 in Boston without any doubt, and should excel there.
1. Byron Buxton, Outfielder, Minnesota Twins
How could Buxton not be number one? He's got all the tools to be a superb player in the Major Leagues, and should be in Minnesota in no time. He hit .334/.424/.520 with 12 home runs and 77 RBI in 574 plate appearances in 2013. He added 55 stolen bases in 74 attempts. He can hit, hit for power, has blazing speed, is a good fielder, and has a good arm. Buxton is a five-tool player, and will be fantastic in the Major Leagues. The Twins are known to keep players in the minor-leagues for an extended amount of time, but Buxton is not the average minor-leaguer. He is on the fast track to the MLB.