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.