January 2014

Other Hitting/Pitching Prospect Duos

Jim Callis and I just duked it out in our most recent Pipeline Perspectives (I hope you guys are enjoying this series as much as we are writing them). The topic: The best hitting/pitching prospect duo in baseball. In case you missed it, I picked the Twins’ combination of Byron Buxton and Alex Meyer. Jim chose the Astros’ Carlos Correa and Mark Appel.

Here’s the video version of our debate:

Obviously, I’m right.

In all seriousness, that’s a very close call. And there are a number of other very interesting duos around baseball that should be exciting to watch in the future:

Gregory Polanco (OF) and Jameson Taillon (RHP), Pirates: Polanco is No. 13 on the Top 100; Taillon is No. 16. They’re the only other tandem in the Top 20.

Travis d’Arnaud (C) and Noah Syndergaard (RHP), Mets: d’Arnaud is the highest rated catcher, at No. 22; Syndergaard is No. 11 overall.

Xander Bogaerts (SS) and Henry Owens (LHP), Red Sox: Bogaerts, complete with his World Series experience, is No. 2. Owens is the 2nd-highest rated lefty on the list at No. 30.

Others in the Top 100 (taking the top hitting and pitching prospect from each organization, and only listing one pairing per system):

Chris Owings, SS (77) and Archie Bradley, RHP (5), D-backs
D.J. Peterson, 3B (88) and Taijuan Walker, RHP (6), Mariners
Javier Baez, SS (7) and C.J. Edwards, RHP (42), Cubs
Francisco Lindor, SS (10) and Trevor Bauer, RHP (73), Indians
David Dahl, OF (71) and Jon Gray, RHP (14), Rockies
Nick Castellanos, 3B (15) and Robbie Ray, LHP (97), Tigers
Billy Hamilton, OF (37) and Robert Stephenson, RHP (19), Reds
Austin Hedges, C (24) and Max Fried, LHP (43), Padres
Adalberto Raul Mondesi, SS (38) and Kyle Zimmer, RHP (25), Royals
Maikel Franco, 3B (26) and Jesse Biddle, LHP (53), Phillies
Colin Moran, 3B (51) and Andrew Heaney, LHP (29), Marlins
Corey Seager, SS (34) and Zach Lee, RHP (63), Dodgers
Hak-Ju Lee, SS (84) and Jake Odorizzi, RHP (56), Rays
Christian Bethancourt, C (82) and Lucas Sims, RHP (60), Braves
Matt Davidson, 3B (80) and Erik Johnson, RHP (70), White Sox


Beyond the Top 100

As most of you hopefully know, we released the MLBPipeline.com Top 100 Prospects list on Thursday night. Check it out, peruse it, pick it apart, if you haven’t already done so.

As is always the case, a number of players don’t make it that you could make a case for inclusion. And then there are some you may feel you like, or want to see what they do this year (having the potential to jump onto the list). Jim Callis has created his own list over at Callis’ Corner. I’m going to do the same (without looking at his first).

Keep in mind, this should not be regarded as a ranking for 101-115. It’s really more of a “guys I like” list (lots o’ 2013 draftees) — many of them could end up in the Top 100 as others graduate out, but this certainly isn’t a guarantee of who’s next.

J.P. Crawford, SS, Phillies: The Phillies’ top pick at No. 16 overall, if Crawford goes out this year and shows he can hit like he did in his pro debut, he’ll make believers out of all who weren’t 100 percent sure about the bat.

Rafael De Paula, RHP, Yankees: Just missed the cut of this year’s Top 100, has gotten past all the identity nonsense, missed a ton of bats in 2013. He has the chance to have three average or better pitches and could start moving fast.

Hunter Dozier, 3B, Royals: I know what you’re thinking: I’m doing this just to get back in the good graces of the Royals after many felt I buried this pick at the Draft. Not so (well, not entirely). He had a terrific debut with the bat and should hit for average and power while playing a solid third base.

Marco Gonzales, LHP, Cardinals: The No. 19 pick in last year’s Draft, not only is the Gonzaga product as media savvy as they come, he has the kind of feel for pitching (especially since he’s not hitting anymore) that could allow him to move quickly to St. Louis.

Brian Goodwin, OF, Nationals: I’m a sucker for toolsy outfielders (as you’ll see). I will say this, though: It’s time for him to start matching performance with his raw tools. The clock is ticking.

Courtney Hawkins, OF, White Sox: Toolsy, outfielder, see? After a tremendous summer debut post Draft backflip, a lot went wrong for Hawkins in 2013, though Chicago aggressively pushed him to the Carolina League. I think he bounces back in 2014 and shows why he was worthy of going No. 13 overall in 2012.

Nick Kingham, RHP, Pirates: More good news for the Pirates. He’s a big, strong right-hander who reached Double-A in 2013 (meaning he could be ready to contribute this season)  while finishing second in the system in strikeouts, fourth in ERA, third in WHIP and second in batting average against.

Reese McGuire, C, Pirates: Fellow high school first-round pick by the Pirates Austin Meadows made the Top 100, but McGuire isn’t far behind. Good chance to be an excellent all-around receiver; can’t wait to see how he follows up on his stirring pro debut.

Dorssys Paulino, SS, Indians: Paulino cracked the Top 100 late last year, just missed (in my opinion) this time around. He’ll play all of 2014 at age 19. He might end up at 2B, but he could be a good one there.

Anthony Ranaudo, RHP, Red Sox: Just what we need, another Red Sox prospect, right? Ranaudo had a terrific 2013 and should be ready to contribute in the big leagues this year. He might be one of those guys who never is valued that highly on lists, but who goes on to be very productive as a Major Leaguer.

Hunter Renfroe, OF, Padres: I liked him as a rare toolsy college guy in the 2013 Draft. I’m very curious to see how he adjusts to more advanced pitching over the course of his first full season. But the tools are all there for him to be an exciting player to watch.

Marcus Semien, INF, White Sox: This isn’t a result of this tweet, which led to a longer back-and-forth:

While I still like Wong more, I do like Semien. Some power, some speed, has shown an ability to play three infield positions. And he’s going to help in Chicago this year.

Dom Smith, 1B, Mets: I think we got more questions about his proximity to the Top 100 than anyone else. The No. 11 pick in last year’s Draft had a solid pro debut and most feel the first baseman is going to hit. If he does as expected, look for him to be the next 1B to hit the Top 100.

Bubba Starling, OF, Royals: Even though he fell off the Top 100, I’m not ready to give up on him yet. He’s still only 21 and he has a ton of raw tools. He’s going to have to show he can hit advanced pitching, but I’m not going to throw in the towel just yet.

Jesse Winker, OF, Reds: This guy just hits. Period. He has the chance to be a batting leaders type of hitter with some pop and run-producing ability. His bat + the California League could equal big numbers, and I could see him finishing the year in Double-A.

It’s almost time for the Top 100…

It’s hard to believe that it’s here! But it is — MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospects list will be live on the site on Thursday (Jan. 23). Jim Callis and I will join Greg Amsinger and John Hart in the MLB Network studios for the now annual look at the Top 50 on that list. The show is airing on the Network and streaming on MLB.com at 10 p.m. ET.

That, of course, is just part of the coverage. We will be tweeting during the show and will be joined by a number of the top players as well. Use the hashtag #MLBPipeline to join us. Or, if you’re in NY, join Jim and I at Foley’s in the city. We’re doing a tweet up there and will be happy to discuss the list with you. Then, on Friday, at 2 p.m. ET, Jim and I will be doing a live video chat on MLB.com.

As I’m hoping you’ve already seen and checked out on MLBPipeline.com, we began the rollout with new Top 10 by position lists.  There’s been healthy voting on the polls and debate in the comments of these stories. And, of course, people claiming that there are missing names for the list. So I decided to pick who my No. 11 for each position would be (Jim did it as well over on Callis’ Corner). Here it goes and hope to see you on Twitter, at Foley’s and/or on MLB.com on Friday!  I went in reverse order of how they went live on the site.

Outfield: This is a deep position, so whoever comes next is still on the Top 100 list. But I think I’ll go with the Pirates’ Josh Bell, who missed nearly all of his first full season when he hurt his knee, then came back in 2013 and showed the kind of offensive potential that  made the Pirates give him a record bonus.

Third base: I’m a big Ryan McMahon fan. Have been since I saw him play in the National High School Invitational at USA Baseball. A former high school quarterback, McMahon had an impressive pro debut last summer with the Rockies and I can’t wait to see what he does in his first full season.

Second base: This list thins out as you go down , but there are some guys who intrigue me. And I’m going to go with a guy who’s actually spent more time playing shortstop than second thus far, though the Mariners’ Chris Taylor did split time between second and short in the Arizona Fall League (and has seen some time at second in the Minors). Most importantly, he’s hit: .316/.411/.449 since being a fifth-rounder in the 2012 Draft and .294/.351/.426 in the AFL.

First base: Speaking of weak lists…  Matt Skole might be the best one next, and we talked about him in “Next Up.” But I’m going to actually give the Brewers’ Hunter Morris some love. He’d previously been in the Top 10, but he kind of backed up a bit with his year in Triple-A in 2013. He’s 25, so the time is now, but the power is legit. He’s hit 52 homers the last two years and 20 or more in each of the last three seasons. Even in last year’s disappointment, he was not bad against right-handed pitching, so maybe there’s a platoon in his future.

Catcher: I like the options here, actually. I’m going to join Jim and go with Tom Murphy of the Rockies here. He’ll have to show that his .590 SLG  wasn’t just an Asheville mirage. He hit OK after a double-jump to Double-A and could move fairly quickly in 2014.

Right-handed pitcher: So many choices, but I think I’ll head to Toronto and Marcus Stroman. Last year was his first full one (and was suspension-shortened). But he was dominant in Double-A, then was solid in the AFL. He should help the Blue Jays out at some point in 2014 and I’m still a firm believer he can start.

Left-handed pitcher: It’s not quite as deep as the righties, but still some good names here. I want to see what the Mariners’ James Paxton does in 2014. He pitched fairly well in a brief look in the big leagues last year after a not-so great year in the Minors. Is he a starter or is he a reliever? That’s a big arm from the left side, so he’s going to have a role somewhere soon.

Shortstop: We’ve mentioned on more than one occasion that this is a renaissance at shortstop, and it’s deeper now than it’s ever been. Hak-Ju Lee of the Rays was off to a torrid start during his first taste of Triple-A when he tore up his knee. The question about the defensive whiz has always been how much he’ll hit… and if he can continue what he did last year pre-injury, he’ll be ready for the big leagues soon.


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