Assistant editor Conor Glassey sorted the players in our ongoing minor league Top 20 Prospects series by their current organization. There were 289 unique players (31 guys appeared on multiple lists), and here's how they break down by team:
|14||Cardinals, Mariners, Padres, Pirates, Red Sox|
|13||Blue Jays, Cubs, Rangers, Rays|
|12||Mets, Rockies, Royals|
|8||Indians, Marlins, Tigers|
|5||Angels, Brewers, Dodgers, Giants, Nationals, Yankees|
That chart correlates well with organization depth in most cases, though bear in mind that no distinction is draw between prospects in Triple-A vs. Rookie ball. I haven't tried to think through updated farm-system rankings—that's a project for the 2013 Prospect Handbook in December—but off the top of my head, the Rangers and Blue Jays would top that list.
For the most part, Bauer, Bundy and Miller developed as expected this year. I'm not saying that I thought Bauer would battle his command quite as much as he did, or that Bundy would be virtually untouchable in his first 30 pro innings, or that Miller would scuffle so much in the first half of the season. But all in all, they looked like the future aces they were projected to be entering this season
In the long term, I still rate them in the same order I had them at the outset of 2012: Bundy, Bauer, Miller. For next year, I think Miller is the most ready to enjoy big league success. His command came together at the end of the year and he has had more sustained success in the upper minors than Bauer or Bundy, who were top-four picks in the 2011 draft.
However, even if Kyle Lohse walks as a free agent, the Cardinals may not have an obvious opening for Miller in their rotation. Bauer may do more in the big leagues next year because he'll have a greater opportunity with the Diamondbacks, though he needs to be more efficient with his pitches. Bundy is still just 19 and has pitched only 18 innings above high Class A, so I expect the Orioles to keep him in the minors for the first half of next season.
As for the BA Grades, only Braves righthander Julio Teheran (70/Low) had a higher rating in the 2012 Handbook. Pirates righthanders Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon also received 70/Mediums. Bauer, Bundy and Miller continue to have No. 1 starter potential and some mild concerns, so I envision all three of them being 70/Mediums again in this year's book.
The first college player taken and the No. 3 overall pick in the 2012 draft, Zunino hit .360/.447/.689 in his pro debut while throwing out 43 percent of the basestealers who tested him. He looked exactly like what the Mariners hoped they were getting: a solid hitter and catcher with above-average power. He can make a case for being the best catching prospect in the minors already, and he won't need much time in the minors.
Yet I don't see Zunino in Seattle for Opening Day because there's no reason to rush him. The Mariners don't figure to contend in 2013, so why start his arbitration and free-agent clocks ticking? Even if Seattle declines to pick up Miguel Olivo's option, they could see if John Jaso could handle more work behind the plate and if Jesus Montero is going to be able to play regularly back there. (I'm guessing no to the second question.)
The most likely scenario is that Zunino will spend a couple of months in Double-A, a couple more in Triple-A and then get called up to the majors toward the end of the 2013 season.
I checked with MLB, and the answer is that only the first 10 picks are protected and that includes any compensation choices. So it will be the teams with the nine worst records in 2012—as of today, that's the Astros, Cubs, Rockies, Twins, Marlins, Indians, Red Sox, Blue Jays and Royals—as well as the Pirates with their Appel choice.
This is a change from the previous rules in two regards. First, the top 15 picks used to be protected. And second, the compensation selections didn't count toward that total.