Here is my list of the top 10 prospects still in the minors (meaning guys like Stephen Strasburg, Jason Heyward, Carlos Santana, Buster Posey, Starlin Castro, anyone in the majors cannot be included). I tend to favor ceiling over floor, but I will take a floor player every once in a while over an extreme high risk-high reward player. Ready? Here we go.
1. Mike Trout- I said I will favor ceiling, and this guy is all about ceiling. If the 2009 draft were to be redone he would go no lower than third (Strasburg is still taken ahead of him, and maybe Ackley too) but make no mistake, the southern New Jersey star is an unbelievable player. Trout keeps rocketing up the ranks, and while he is in the top five on most lists, he is rarely (if ever) number one, but I’m deciding to go one step ahead of everyone else and put Trout at number one before someone else does. Trout plays center field and it is not looking that he will move from there anytime soon. This guy is a star, and we are really witnessing something special in this toolsy high school draftee.
2. Domonic Brown- I see what all the fuss is about Brown, but while he is number one on a lot of prospect lists right now, I don’t see the same enormous ceiling that most scouts do. Make no mistake Brown is a star, but to be honest if he wasn’t so highly regarded by everyone else, he probably wouldn’t even be in the top five. While he is a fantastic athlete, there have been many a great athlete who never panned out in baseball. His numbers this year have been fantastic, but I still get a bad feeling when watching Brown swing. I might be missing something here, but Brown is not the number one prospect.
3.Dustin Ackley- The aformentioned Ackley plays 2nd base and after an awful April has shown what he is really about. The only knock on Ackley is that he might not hit for power, which is what keeps him from being in the top two spots. However, the former UNC star has a chance to be the best player on this list.
4. Demsond Jennings- I debated swapping Jennings with Ackley, but with Ackley being the slightly younger player and probably having a higher ceiling Jennings is moved down to fourth. The former 10th ROUND PICK is showing what he is all about with Tampa, and projects be an advanced version of Carl Crawford. Jennings can play centerfield, and might stay there, although it is likely he will play left (or maybe right) field in the majors.
5. Jesus Montero- Don’t let his line fool you, Montero has been on a tear the last month after a very slow start. He is also incredibly young for AAA, but still there is no denying that Montero is still coming around. If you believe Montero stays at catcher, then he’s probably a top two prospect, if you don’t then he’s still probably in the top ten, and if you’re like me and are still not sure, you just stick him at number five.
6. Jeremy Hellickson- The first pitcher on this list, the Tampa Bay Rays right hander has been absolutely destroying the Minor Leagues. Hellickson could step into a big league rotation right now and be effective, and the Tampa Bay Rays might actually be better off with Hellickson than their top pitching prospect from last year, Wade Davis.
7. Tyler Matzek- The Rockies lefty has some control issues, but his fastball-curve combo is so good that I am putting life and limb on the line by placing Matzek this high. I understand that this is probably an overranking, and no, I am not a Rockies fan, but show me three pitching prospects with higher ceilings than Matzek, and I’ll show you Ardolis Chapman and then two guys who are just great pitching prospects, but you’re trying to convince me have a higher ceiling.
8. Arodys Vizciano- Wonder if the Yankees are upset because they traded Vizciano for Vazquez? Like Matzek I might be slightly overranking Vizciano, but like Trout, I believe that Vizciano will keep shooting up lists, so why not put him here before someone else does? This guy has put up outstanding numbers, and looked good doing it with his practically no effort delivery and fantastic fastball and curve.
9. Aaron Hicks- The Twins outfielder has a plus arm, a plus bat, and the eternal Minesoata lovable quality. Only problem is if the Twins are really serious about acquiring Lee, and Wilson Ramos won’t cut it being the centerpiece, it’s possible Hicks could be off to Seattle, joining Dustin Ackley in destroying the Minor Leagues.
10. Martin Perez- I might be underranking Perez a bit, but he has not put up great numbers this year, and unlike most of the hitters who haven’t, Perez is not coming on hard now. He’s very polished and has a great ceiling, so why am I ranking him so low? I don’t believe this Rangers lefty to be as good as some people are making him out to be.
Just missed the list- Ardolis Chapman, still too risky. Casey Kelly, not putting up the stats I thought he would. Julio Teharen, big gamble. Brett Wallace/ Logan Morrison, at first base neither of them will provide great defensive value, and the other guys are just bettter players. Shelby Miller/ Zack Britton/ Kyle Gibson, pitching prospects are incredibly risky, and these guys don’t show me the same, “I won’t get injured and I have a ceiling higher than most small airplanes fly” quality. Austin Romine, projects to be an above average catcher, so if floor is your thing put him on it, but doesn’t have the same ceiling.
Note: You can see my writeups of some of these players