Under the warm sun of Arizona, it’s already starting to feel like spring. Although the mornings and evenings have slight chill to them allowing you to see your breath, the days are sunny and bright with a hint of baseball in the air. One of the reasons I live inArizona(and there are many) is that I have full access to all Spring Training games and Arizona Fall League games. This allows me to not only watch the Major Leaguers, but also the up and coming super stars. So with that in mind and after much debate/research, I am proud to unveil my top 100 prospects for the 2012 season. I do want to disclose that none of the international free agents will be on this list. MLB.com did not have them on their list and neither will I. Many of those players will be contributing to Major League teams next year and should be considered prospects, but I want you to be able to compare my list next to that of MLB.com’s in addition to others. So here it is…the 2012 Top 100 prospects in baseball!
The list takes into account: what level the player is at currently, ceiling potential, floor potential, and risk factor in reaching their ceiling. A ceiling is what the player would do if everything worked out perfectly and all his tools developed to their full potential. I tried to keep the ceiling potential key as simple as possible so there are no + or – signs to worry about.
A = All-Star ceiling
B = Above-average everyday player ceiling
C = Average everyday player ceiling
D = Reliever/Bench/Role player ceiling
- Matt Moore – SP – Rays – A
Moore showed everyone what he was capable of last season by breezing through Double-A and Triple-A just in time to win the first game of the 2011 ALDS against the Texas Rangers.Moore should be a shoe-in for a spot in the rotation this season and with his stuff, he might be the ace on most other teams.
- Mike Trout – OF – Angels – B
Trout got in to 40 games last year at the MLB level and made the most of it. Although he only batted .220, he stole 4 bases and his 5 HRs while playing all three outfield positions. The outfield is crowded inAnaheimbut with his skills, he should find a spot and be productive.
- Bryce Harper – OF – Nationals – A
The Holy Grail of prospects hit a few speed bumps last year as he moved through Single-A and up to Double-A but the fact is, the kid can rake. He hit 17 HRs in 109 games and really broke out his power in the AFL. Expect to see Harper inWashingtonas soon as June but definitely by September.
- Nolan Arenado – 3B –Rockies– A
I was able to observe Arenado during the AFL this year and he is absolutely the real deal. Arenado has great plate discipline and the ability to develop some real power. His footwork at third is good and his arm is plus. This is the kind of third baseman everyone looks for.
- Jesus Montero – C/DH – Mariners – A
Montero proved that he can hit Major League pitching after his call up last season to the tune of a .328 BA with four homeruns and 12 RBIs in 18 games. He should be an excellent DH inSeattlealthough the Mariners still think he can contribute behind the plate and will have him catching a few days a week.
- Trevor Bauer – SP – Diamondbacks – A
This is probably the highest you will see Bauer ranked anywhere, but let’s be honest, he was the ace for the Bruins and he will be an ace in AZ. He struggled a bit last season at Double-A but after all the innings he threw in college, I’m sure his arm was dead. He has a unique delivery and training regimen that should make him durable and effective in AZ this year.
- Jurickson Profar – SS – Rangers – A
Defensively Profar will be one of the best once he reaches the majors. Even more impressive is that he led Low-A in extra-base hits. He was once a highly touted pitching prospect but he wanted to hit amd the Rangers gave him that chance. The extra-base hits should turn into HRs. This guy could be a perennial all-star with his tools.
- Danny Hultzen – SP – Mariners – A
Hultzen turned in a top-notch performance this year in the Rising Stars Game commanding three above average pitches. He wasn’t throwing his hardest but it didn’t matter. His command is above average and his arsenal is MLB ready. He probably wont skip the minors but expect him to be inSeattlesoon to replace Pineda.
- Manny Machado – SS – Orioles – A
Machado is a minor league shortstop who will actually stick at shortstop. His footwork and glove will be average if not a little better but it’s his bat that will get him to the majors. His power is ridiculous for a shortstop and he walks more than he strikes out. Machado is an elite prospect and should soar through the minors this year.
- Shelby Miller – SP – Cardinals – A
When Shelby Miller joins the Cardinals rotation, they will have three aces. Miller has great command at his young age (21 years old). He dominated Double-A and should move up ti Triple-A this season if not joining the rotation right out of Spring Training.
- Tyler Skaggs – SP – Diamondbacks – A
It’s good to be left-handed. Skaggs is not only left-handed but also has great command and some sick movement on his pitches. He reached Double-A this season at the ripe-old age of 19. Skaggs is a strikeout machine and should be a mid-season call-up this year. His arm action worries me a bit but if he can stay healthy he should anchor a young and dominantArizonarotation for years to come.
- Jameson Taillon – SP – Pirates – A
BaseballAmericaranked him #11 before last season after he was selected second overall in the draft. Taillon posted an ERA just under 4.00 in A-ball, which was a bit disappointing but he is young. The Pirates have no reason to rush him and when his tools develop, he could be a force on the mound.
- Julio Teheran – SP – Braves – A
Teheran worries me a bit but his upside is too good to pass up. In his short time in the majors last year he got hit around and didn’t have great command. Teheran dominated minor league hitting and at 20 years old he has lots of time to figure it out. The Braves rotation is pretty full but Teheran should still make an early appearance this year.
- Anthony Rendon – 3B – Nationals – B
Rendon was the best hitting prospect in the 2011 draft and should move quickly through the system in 2012. Although he is blocked at 3rd (see Ryan Zimmerman), he might be a nice trade piece. A different situation might see a Zimmerman trade and Rendon is promoted with the rest of the Nationals young talent to create contender for years to come.
- Randall Delgado – SP – Braves – B
Another young Braves pitcher who is blocked inAtlanta! Delgado pitched 35 innings in the majors last season and at least kept his ERA to a low 2.83. The strikeouts were mo where near where they were in the minors but his control and groundball rate looked good. Delgado may be a long reliever if he doesn’t make the rotation in 2012.
- Travis d’Arnaud – C – Blue Jays – B
D’Arnaud is an offensively minded catcher that should be a force in middle of the order for the Blue Jays as soon as this year. How he handles the pitching staff and catching everyday are yet to be seen but the kid can flat out hit.
- Devin Mesoraco – C – Reds – B
At 23 years old it’s time for Mesoraco to produce at the big league level. He got a late season call up last season and did not live up to the hype. I still have faith in his power and ability to hit for average. He should get a chance this year inCincinnati.
- Taijuan Walker – SP – Mariners – A
Another Mariners pitching prospect with huge upside? That’s right.Walkerhas wicked movement on his offerings and could be a strikeout king. He is only 18 but even if he doesn’t make the rotation he should still be a top reliever.
- Wil Myers – OF – Royals – B
2011 was sort of a lost year for Myers. He was moved from catcher to the outfield in an attempt to get his bat to the majors quicker. The move didn’t really work. His batting average dropped by 60 points and he lost the power from 2010. Expect him to start out the year at Double-A but he should regain his previous form and move quickly through the system.
- Arodys Vizcaino – SP/RP – Braves – B
The third Braves pitcher in the top 20. I know its crazy. Their system is deep and talented. Vizcaino will probably be a reliever for the foreseeable future and a darn good one at that. His velocity is very good and should rack up the strikeouts.
- Manny Banuelos – SP – Yankees – A
Banuelos has been dominant in the minor leagues and should definitely get a chance in the Yankees rotation this year. With his stuff and the Yankees offense, he could win a lot of games.
- Martin Perez – SP – Rangers – B
Although he struggled at Triple-A toward the end of last season, Perez still has great stuff. The Rangers rotation is a bit full but if there is an injury or a bullpen spot open, look for him to fill it. He strikes out almost eight batters per inning but still walks too many. With some better command he will an above-average starter or a stellar reliever.
- Anthony Rizzo – 1B – Cubs – B
Chicagois the perfect place for Rizzo to get a second chance. You can argue with his minor league numbers and the Cubs plan to play him every day at first base. While his defense is average or a little better, his bat should play well in Wrigley Field.
- Bubba Starling – OF – Royals – A
The tools and potential of Starling are off the charts. Can he live up to them? Only time will tell. He is the coveted 5-tool player but reminds me a bit of Billy Beane. If he can keep his head straight he could be a perennial all-star in a few years.
- Derek Norris – C – A’s – B
I saw Norris a couple times this year and now that he is in the A’s system, he should move quickly. He is blocked by Suzuki inOaklandbut the A’s have never shied away from moving players to let better ones come up. His bat could be one of the best for a catcher who will stay at catcher. He strikes out a ton and the batting average may never be there, but he has tons of power. I’m a believer.
|The remainder of the top 25 prospects|
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