Baseball Instinct 360° | Top Prospects 40° to 1°

At last, we’ve come down to it. It is time to cast the ring into the fire and blow the Death Star up. Deciding the final 40 players for The Baseball Instinct 360° was not as easy as the first 40 were. Some of these guys will soon be your children’s or grandchildren’s favorite players. Some will be like Crash Davis, getting a cup of coffee in the big show, but finish stellar minor league careers never getting their fifteen minutes of fame. Others will go on to have huge careers and drive contenders, break records and a few even may see their name in the Hall Of Fame on fine day. We understand those of you who feel that some players should be on this final list, so we welcome and expect your comments. But, enough with the chit-chat, here are the final 40 of The Baseball Instinct 360°.

40°. Nick Franklin, SS, Mariners, 3/2/1991 – If he adds weight and becomes a 25+ HR type with SS actions at the hot corner, he’ll fit very well with the Mariners. If not, then the Mariners will force the issue and try to keep him at shortstop, pairing him with Ackley at second. Franklin is still young and there is development time that he is going to need before that decision needs to be made. He’ll start the 2012 season at Double-A and probably spend the whole season there. If a defensive transition needs to be made, it should be started next year.ETA 2013.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim39°. Jean Segura, SS, Angels, 3/17/1990 – He should be able to make his way to Anaheim as their starting SS and team up with second baseman Howie Kendrick for a couple of years. Over the longer term, I still think the Segura will be the player that replaces Kendrick should he leave via free agency in the future. That’s simply because Segura is not a classic SS, but fits well there with the Angels based on need. Upside: .300/20/ 30 SB SS. Downside: Utility IF with .280/10/30 potential. Either way, he’s an exciting prospect. Now if he can just stay healthy to polish his game. ETA 2014.

Colorado Rockies38°. Drew Pomeranz, LHP, Rockies, 11/22/1988 – In Pomeranz, Colorado netted themselves a top of the rotation guy. Unfortunately, in October, Pomeranz was arrested for disturbing the peace while leaving a bar with his friends at 1:45 a.m. Not sure how this behavior will affect the fast-track he’s been traveling since becoming a professional. This may be a case of too much success too soon. So the Rockies shouldn’t rush him. Pomeranz did make it to the majors in 2011, but was very hittable when he faced to a big league line-up. So he’ll still need some seasoning in the minors to further develop that change-up. Hopefully, he will have a chance to mature a little bit too. ETA 2012.

Boston Red Sox37°Garin Cecchini, 3B, Red Sox, 4/20/1991 – There’s quite a bit to like with Cecchini. His bat gives him a chance to be above average offensively, and defensively he should be able to handle 3b. The Red Sox took it cautiously with him in 2011, so he wasn’t challenged with his short season assignment. We’ve been talking up Garin Cecchini since our coverage prior to the 2010 draft.  While we think ranking him at #2 in the system and #37 overall will raise some eyebrows, our love for him is well documented and we here at Baseball Instinct endorse this position across the board. He’s healthy for 2012 and some big noise should be in store. You’ll probably see him ranked around this spot in other venues. Next year. ETA 2015.

New York Mets36°Zack Wheeler, RHP, Mets, 5/30/1990 – Ah yes, the debate.  Polish vs Upside.  You really can’t lose either way.  What a problem to have for Mets’ fans.  It’s true, guys like Tom Seaver, Doc Gooden, and Jerry Koosman were all original Mets.  Fortunately for Wheeler, Mets’ fans, like most fans, are a fickle bunch.  David Cone, Ron Darling, and Al Leiter all started their careers elsewhere, but they were loved winners in New York.   You can check out the Prospect Instinct | Zack Wheeler article that our own Aaron Bentley and Tom Belmont wrote about him back and July.  On the page, you can find a video that we took that includes Tom’s radar readings. ETA 2014.

35°Christian Yelich, OF/1B, Marlins, 12/5/1991 – Yelich should open at Jupiter where we’ll be able to see him first hand on an almost daily basis. But in short looks last Spring Training, he looked like a future #3 hitter. He’ll slot in LF and be athletic enough to handle the OF. His power potential probably won’t start to show until he reaches Double-A. That might happen in 2012 as well. He’s going to need some time to develop defensively but his bat will be ready soon. ETA 2013.

Boston Red Sox34°Xander Bogaerts, SS/3B, Red Sox, 10/1/1992 – Bogaerts’ power potential makes him a player with a high offensive ceiling. Going into 2012, what I would want to see is how his hit tool will develop. Judging by this year alone, his hit tool doesn’t look to be more than average. But he has an impressive ability to drive balls to all fields, and if he can cut down on his strikeouts, he might be able to have an average to above-average hit tool, which would make him a special player. Though he’s athletic, and this season made huge improvements defensively, most of us believe his future isn’t at SS. He’ll most likely end up at one of the corner positions with 3B being a good profile or a move to an OF corner. ETA 2015.

33°Oscar Taveras, OF, Cardinals, 6/19/1992 – Elite hit tool, but still not developed into the finished product. He should see High-A Palm Beach to start the 2012 season and I wouldn’t expect his power to develop there. But right around his 20th birthday I think he’ll make a jump to Double-A where his power should get a boost. He could be a .300 hitter with 15-20 HR power and solid corner defense. His arm would play in RF if needed. ETA 2014.

Texas Rangers32°Martin Perez, LHP, Rangers, 4/4/1991 – He’s still a talented young pitcher, but a lack of size and poor development path have put him in a tough position. So much has been expected of him at such a young age and placing the potential Ace tag on a kid this young without him having at least two plus pitches isn’t fair for him. Can he gain the additional development on the fastball to make it plus? Yes. The Changeup is right there as well. But an Ace is able to put together 3 plus pitches and above average or better command. He’ll be close. But this is more about time than it is talent. He should make his debut some time in 2012. But it may be 2015 before we see him hit his stride as a dominant starter. ETA 2012.

Oakland Athletics31°Jarrod Parker, RHP, Athletics, 11/24/1988 – He has a mid-90s fastball and, before the surgery, his command graded out as above average. Even though his fastball is plus, his slider grades out as even better. His changeup is close to a plus pitch as well. Only his command is holding him back from making the jump to the next level. He’ll be two years removed from TJ in 2012. Expect his arrival in Oakland in 2012 to be permanent situation as he makes the Diamondbacks regret the trade all by himself. ETA 2012.

Chicago Cubs30°Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Cubs, 8/8/1989 – Rizzo had an excellent season in Triple A. Hitting for an average of .331 and slugging .652, with 26 HR’s and 101 rbi’s, what is not to like? Unfortunately, that didn’t translate into the Major leagues where he turned into a strikeout machine. However, it is completely reasonable that he needs time to adjust to the major league caliber pitching. While playing a good glove and showing fine plate skills, there is every reason to believe that the best is yet to come for Rizzo. He came in at #46 on last years top 100 prospects and he has done nothing to invalidate that by his 2011 performance. With the move from the LH hitter graveyard to a park friendly to LH power hitter, Theo and Hoyer did Rizzo a huge favor. ETA 2012.

Arizona Diamondbacks29°. Archie Bradley, RHP, Diamondbacks, 8/10/1992 – Bradley has a high enough ceiling where he would place #1 in some organizations. A high 90s fastball and near plus curveball as a teenager. He has plenty of work to do in order to become a complete pitcher but his pitches and frame make him a very high ceiling prospect. At 19 years old, for all of the 2012 season, and combined with the pitching depth in this organization, there won’t be any reason to rush him.  Expect him to start the 2012 season with the Low-A Yakima Bears of the Northwest League. How fast he moves will be dependent upon how mature his approach to the game is. The tools are there. ETA 2015.

Philadelphia Phillies28°Trevor May, RHP, Phillies, 9/23/1989 – I think at this point, Trevor May has the upside of a #2 starter if his pitches all max out, leaving him with two plus pitches in his fastball and curveball and an above average changeup. It’s more likely that he slots in as a #3 starter with high K rates. He’s a pitcher that I really like at this point and I stick with my 2011 preseason determination that he was the best in this system and is now one of the premier RHP prospects in the game. ETA 2013.

27°. Taijuan Walker, RHP, Mariners, 10/13/1992 – When he was drafted Taijuan Walker was known as a hard throwing but very raw talent. He certainly can bring the heat throwing in the mid-nineties with his fastball. He spent 2011 with class A Clinton for the Mariners. He was able to garner 113k’s in 96 innings of work while only allowing 39 bb’s. He still has to improve on his secondary pitches and needs to prove that he can continue this kind of performance as he moves up to higher levels. He has the most talent in the M’s pitching ranks, but is not near as advanced as Hultzen or Paxton at this point. ETA 2015.

New York Mets26°. Matt Harvey, RHP, Mets, 3/27/1989 – We had the chance to see and meet Harvey during early FSL action and he hit every point we made of him in our 2011 Top 100. We probably had him higher than anyone else and that probably won’t change this season. His command and mound presence are impressive as well as a full pitch mix of FB, SL, CB and CU. He’s not far off and could be a front of the rotation starter with a mid-rotation floor. ETA 2012.

Cincinatti Reds25°. Devin Mesoraco, C, Reds, 6/19/1988 – He was called up in September and did get 50 major league at-bats with little success, but the previous data suggests that he has the raw skill-set to adapt to the big show. He likely starts 2012 with the Reds and doesn’t look back. Though there could be a little adjustment time as he adapts to the new level of competition, Mesoraco looks to be a high-end catcher and quite possibly an all-star catcher in the major leagues. ETA 2012.

Kansas City Royals24°. Bubba Starling, OF, Royals, 8/3/1992 – Starling is probably the best athlete out of the 2011 draft and is the top 5 tool talent in the draft. At 6-5 I think eventually he’ll need to move out of CF to a corner which is why he isn’t near the top of this list. Could he crash and burn? Sure. But only an advanced talent like Myers kept Starling from the #1 spot in the organization. That speaks to his immense 5 tool ability. He’s a long way out though. ETA 2015.

Minnesota Twins23°. Eddie Rosario, OF/2B, Twins, 9/28/1991 – Rosario had an impressive debut in 2010 as an 18-year-old in the Gulf Coast League.  He hit .294 with 5 HRs and 22 SB in 194 at bats in 2010. He followed up that impressive season by displaying an awesome power/speed combination in the Appalachian League by posting a triple slash of .337/.397/.670. It was one of, if not the, best minor league performances in 2011. He still has to prove he do it against advanced pitchers and the FSL will be his first true test. He may start 2011 in Fort Myers. ETA 2014.

22°. James Paxton, LHP, Mariners, 11/7/1988 – At this point he has the look of a #3 starter, possibly a #2 starter, in a major league rotation.  He will get a shot at a rotation spot this spring, and there is a great chance we see him in the majors at some point in 2012. His K’s make him an attractive fantasy option and I expect him to be a fast riser in the Mariners organization. ETA 2012.

21°. Jake Marisnick, OF, Blue Jays, 3/30/1991 – Marisnick has the ability to be a special player. He has an all around game that doesn’t come together often and he’s quietly maturing in the Jays system without much of the baseball community noticing how talented he is. His upside is a 30/30 RF in his prime. His downside is somewhere around a 4th OF with above average speed and 20 HR power as a platoon player. But the odd part is that he actually been better against right-handers although he’s hit well against both lefties and righties. So I don’t see him as a platoon player. I think the everyday player is there in this player profile. Whether he hits that 30/30 ceiling is still a few years away. High-A Dunedin of the FSL is his next stop. I’ll get to see a lot of him next season and look forward to even more indepth insights. ETA 2015.

20°. Danny Hultzen, LHP, Mariners, 11/28/1989 – As of yet, he has no pro experience being late signer from the draft. However, he pitched quite well in the Arizona Fall League and the word is that Mariners will bring him into spring training to compete for a starting job. Even if he doesn’t win a job going into the season, I would expect to see him pitching at Safeco Field before the end of the 2012 season. Baseball Instinct’s Geo Utter discusses his stuff and his mechanics in his Prospect Instinct | Danny Hultzen article that he wrote up earlier this off season. Hultzen has a very high probability of being a successful major league starter for a long time. Ace type? No. But in Seattle he probably won’t be asked to front the rotation. But a #2? I wouldn’t be surprised. ETA 2012.

Minnesota Twins19°. Miguel Sano, 3B, Twins, 5/11/1993 – After a successful debut in 2010 in the Dominican Summer League, he made his way state side to finish off an impressive season as a 17-year-old in the Gulf Coast League.  In 2011, as an 18-year-old, Sano found himself in the Appalachian league against recently drafted college talent.  The result was nothing short of spectacular.  Sano had a triple slash of .292/.352/.637.  That gave him an outrageous .345 ISoP for the season.  His 77/23 K/BB rate needs some improvement, but it’s not bad for what you would expect from a kid from the Dominican learning to adjust to playing in the states.  He committed 26 errors in 54 games between shortstop and third base. He’s not a SS and he’ll end up at 3B if he doesn’t out grow it. Elite power. ETA 2015. 

Washington Nationals18°. Anthony Rendon, 3B, Nationals, 6/12/1990 – Rendon has had some injury troubles the past couple of years, but his medicals have come back clean. But there is still concern over his 2011 performance. When healthy, he’s a game changer with the bat and the glove in the Longoria mold. He’ll hit for above average power with an above average hit tool and handle the hot corner at an All Star level. Now, is he healthy and will the power translate to wood? We think so. ETA 2013.

Arizona Diamondbacks17°. Tyler Skaggs, LHP, Diamondbacks, 7/13/1991 - The big lefty was part of the haul for Dan Haren and the Dbacks can’t be disappointed. While he’s always had good strikeout stuff and projected as a big league starter, 2011 puts him on another level. His 198 K’s in 158.1 IP is good for a K rate over 30% which is elite. Match that with his 7.5% walk rate and you have a mix for high level success. He’s another starter with possible front end of the rotation projection.  Skaggs will likely get warmed up at Triple-A and get his chance in the majors at some point in 2012. ETA 2012.

16°. Manny Machado, SS, Orioles, 7/6/1992 – While Machado certainly has facets of his offensive game that he needs to refine, remember that he’s just 19 and has already tasted High-A. That’s where he should start 2012 and he’ll need to work hard to get his k/bb back in line. We’re not expecting him to be a 1/1 type but he will need to keep the K’s under control in order to succeed long-term. His contact ability is enough to project him as a .290-.300 hitter and if his power continues to blossom I think he could hit 20 HR annually with 10 SBs while playing a solid enough SS to stick long-term for the Orioles. All Star level? It’ll be close and I think that may be his ultimate peak level as he approaches his prime years. ETA 2014.

Detroit Tigers15°. Jacob Turner, RHP, Tigers, 5/21/1991 – Has elite make-up at such a young age, something, that in my opinion, isn’t talked about enough concerning him. He throws mid-90s heat with a terrific 12-to-6 curveball along with a change-up. The only question, right now, is when he will arrive to the big leagues to stay. In 2011, he got a taste of the majors with mixed results. Some say the 5th spot in the 2012 is his to lose. The biggest fear is that he hasn’t been given the opportunity to dominate and that can sometimes be a very cerebral part of a true Ace’s development. He’ll be in Detroit in 2012 either way. ETA 2012.

Colorado Rockies14°. Nolan Arenado, 3B, Rockies, 4/16/1991 – As one of the premier bat prospects in the minor leagues, Arenado has the ability to hit at a high level. He’ll be just 21 at the beginning of the 2012 season and isn’t far off from making his debut in Colorado. During the prime of his career, he’s a player capable of .300 seasons with near 30 HR power and high on base totals. He could be a prototypical 3-hitter during his prime. Again, his defense may never be more than average, even if he continues to work hard at it. So he isn’t a perennial All-Star candidate because of his lack of a plus defensive tool, but his bat alone could get him some votes. Overall, Arenado is probably the answer to 3B that the Rockies have been looking for and after a Futures Game nod in 2011, he has his sites set on the future now. ETA 2013.

Pittsburgh Pirates13°. Gerrit Cole, RHP, Pirates, 9/8/1990 – Cole is 1a to Taillon’s 1 and as I mentioned should remain just a step ahead on the road to Pittsburgh. Cole has electric stuff and its only a difficulty with repeating his delivery that keeps my reservations of him being a true ace alive. But a high-end #2 starter with high K rates and periods of dominance should be in the future and him becoming the staff ace and usurping Taillon can’t be written off either. He should get a short stint in the FSL to start the season, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see in the Altoona before June. ETA 2013.

12°. Carlos Martinez, RHP, Cardinals, 9/21/1991 – Not near as refined as Shelby Miller, but his stuff is electric and not something often seen in this game. Martinez will start the 2011 back in the FSL where he’ll continue to work with pitching legend, Dennis Martinez, on his transition from flamethrower to pitcher. Martinez is just a half season away from making another jump in game. Upside is a co-Ace to Miller and the downside is an elite level closer. Check out the Prospect Instinct | Carlos Martinez for more details. ETA 2013.

Kansas City Royals11°. Wil Myers, OF, Royals, 12/10/1990 – Myers was high on this last season and despite a struggle in 2011 due to some injuries, he’s still here. He tore up the AFL, cementing himself as one of the top bats in the minor leagues. He should see some Double-A action again in 2012 before heading to Omaha. He could get a call up late in the season. He’s a .300 type with 20 HR power and an arm for RF. ETA 2013. 

Texas Rangers10°. Jurickson Profar, SS, Rangers, 2/20/1993 – I’m of the mindset that Profar will replace Ian Kinsler in a  few years at 2B and that will give the Rangers a potent double play combo up the middle. Profar should be a .285+ hitter with 20+ HR power and 20+ SB speed. His frame is currently so underdeveloped that it’s a difficult proposition to say what his ultimate upside is. But one of the largest pluses for Profar is his approach to the game. It’s a characteristic that has me comfortable saying that he’ll be a high floor player. He’s one of the few 18 year old players that is almost a surefire major leaguer at least a utility player and with the ceiling of an All-Star. ETA 2014.

9°. Dylan Bundy, RHP, Orioles, 11/15/1992 – Bundy throws a mid-90s fastball that touched 97-98 MPH during the instructional league and 100 MPH multiple times in high school. His best offspeed delivery is a hammer of a curveball that is considered a plus out-pitch already. His slider has been graded out above average and his change is projected to be an average pitch as well. On top of the entire arsenal is his above average command, after all, the kid walked just five batters his senior year of high school. Bundy has a huge upside and seems to have the make up to get there. His frame is solid and his mechanics are clean. A high rank for such a young player. We know. ETA 2015.

Pittsburgh Pirates8°. Jameson Taillon, RHP, Pirates, 11/18/1991 – Taillon and Cole were scored so close by us, and we went back and forth on it, but in the end game we just think that right now, Taillon has more upside. His frame and pitch mix are that of a future ace and if he stays healthy we’re looking at a very special pitcher. His command projects as a notch above Cole’s, while his stuff is on par. He’s going to be a step behind Cole, but should start in the FSL and spend about a half of a season there before moving up to Double-A. The Pirates are not far off from being a serious contender if Taillon stays healthy with Cole. ETA 2014.

Arizona Diamondbacks7°. Trevor Bauer, RHP, Diamondbacks, 1/17/1991 – Trevor Bauer was selected in the 1st round of the 2011 draft by the Dbacks and vaulted straight to the top of the system. At UCLA he struck 203 in only 136 IP and wasted little time getting going in the minors. He struck out 43 in 25.2 innings. He ran into some trouble at Double-A, but it’s of no concern. He might get a shot at the rotation in the Spring, but could use a half season in minors if only to make sure his mechanics are in sync before making his 2012 debut. He could be the future Ace of the staff and has high front end starter stuff and projection. ETA 2012.

Atlanta Braves6°. Julio Teheran, RHP, Braves, 1/27/1991 – After the Braves shipped Derek Lowe off to Cleveland, a 2012 rotation spot opened up. Mike Minor deserves the spot for now, but Teheran should unquestionably deserve a midseason call up. Once promoted, Teheran could be here to stay. He already got his feet wet in 2011, so hopefully the nerves are gone. He might get hit a bit hard if he can’t gain a complete feel for his curveball, but I believe he’s ready to be tested by MLB bats. I would, however, like to see more strike outs next year as his K-rate dropped to 7.59 this year. With a few tweaks, especially for his curveball, Teheran could be the Braves’ bonafide ace in the next few years. ETA 2012.

5°. Jesus Montero, C/DH, Yankees, 11/28/1989 – Montero came in at #1 on our 2011 Top 100 List based on his advanced bat at a young age and making it all the way to Triple-A as a catcher. As we said in his Prospect Instinct, a perfect storm of events have led to him being in line for a shot at the catchers position in the Bronx. His contact ability is elite regardless of where he plays. He’ll have above average power as a 20-something and elite level power in his prime. How long he actually sticks at catcher is dependent of how well Joe Girardi and Tony Pena are able to cultivate him. But those two are the reason for my optimism of a future average regular on defense and glowing reviews on offense. ETA 2012.

4°. Shelby Miller, RHP, Cardinals, 10/10/1990 – The top overall RHP prospect in the game and right there with Moore as the best overall pitcher. Expect Miller to spend another spring with the big league club before some additional minor league seasoning. This future Cardinals ace could see the #4 slot in the Cardinals rotation before the end of the 2012 season. Check out the Prospect Instinct | Shelby Miller for even more detail and video. ETA 2012.

Tampa Bay Rays. Matt Moore, LHP, Rays, 6/18/1989  – At this point of Moore’s development, I feel safe saying that he is an elite pitcher with Ace potential and a very high floor. Worst case scenario is a very good #3 starter with high K rates. He may find some troubles with the long ball early in his MLB career, but he’s proven that he’s more than just tools. He’s willing to learn and adjust. So he’ll adjust at the next level and have a successful career. Those 200 K seasons in the minors. They could very well translate in the Show. So a sub-3.50 ERA and 180-200 K’s per season. That sounds about right to me. ETA Now.

Washington Nationals. Bryce Harper, OF, Nationals, 10/16/1992 – I think people take for granted that Harper was just 18 for the entire 2011 season, and started his career with the Single-A Hagerstown Suns of the SAL, where the pitchers where older and quite sure of who he was. He posted an impressive .318/423/.554 which translated to an outstanding .236 ISoP. After 72 games he earned a promotion to the Double-A Harrisburg Senators of the Eastern League, completely skipping over High-A and the Carolina League. There is already talk in Washington that he’ll be getting first cracks at the RF job in the spring after he had a very successful AFL run. One of the top hitting coaches in the country told me “he has the talent and skill to be the best player in baseball – hands down” but, “has a big hole in his swing.” So while he’s being pushed aggressively I think there is still some time for the learning curve to come into play. But he is an elite talent and at this age the future is bright. ETA 2012.

Los Angeles Angels of AnaheimMike Trout, OF, Angels, 8/7/1991 – Trout is already seeing major league at bats. He’s still only 20 years old. So there is a slight chance that the Angels, currently stuck in a logjam for the 2012 outfield, could give him a little time in Triple-A. But I don’t think it’s needed, and I think he gives them the best solution for one of the outfield spots. We said in our 2010 Prospect Instinct| Mike Trout that “Trout’s ETA is late season 2011 as a 20-year-old and then full-time in 2012. At his peak, he could be a 20 HR, 40+ SB threat and hit around .300-.315 for a long stretch.”  While things are changing in L.A., we’ve been right so far and we don’t see any reason to change our opinion now. ETA Now.




We hope you’ve enjoyed Baseball Instinct 360° as much as we enjoyed bringing it to you. The best advice for any of these players that might come across this list and see their name, wondering what it will take to get to The Show, might want to take a line from the movie Bull Durham when Ebby Calvin LaLoosh says , “A good friend of mine used to say, “This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains.” Think about that for a while.”. If you have different takes, praise and/or pizza and beer, drop us a note. The pizza and beer will be cold and warm in the wrong ways, so words will do. Check out a friend of ours for all of your fantasy sports needs. Fantasy Rundown is updated religiously and is truly an awesome resource. Thanks for checking Baseball Instinct. We’re working hard to bring you the best of the minor leagues and make the site the best experience it can be. So don’t hesitate to tell us what you would like to read about. Email us now at

Other articles in this series:

360° to 321°

320° to 281°

280° to 241°

240° to 201°

200° to 161°

160° to 121°

120° to 81°

80° to 41°


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