Half of the starting quarterbacks remaining in the NFL playoffs have baseball draft connections, though only one actually played pro ball.
Russell Wilson (Seahawks) signed with the Rockies for $200,000 in 2010 as a fourth-round pick. He hit .229/.354/.356 in two summers as a second baseman while continuing to play football, and it became apparent that his future was brighter on the gridiron. He tied the NFL rookie record with 26 touchdowns this season and beat the Redskins in a wild-card game yesterday.
The Expos drafted Tom Brady (Patriots) in the 18th round out of high school in 1995, and the Cubs selected Colin Kaepernick (49ers) in the 43rd round in the midst of his college career at Nevada-Reno in 2009, though neither had any inclination to play baseball professionally. The Orioles signed Joe Flacco's (Ravens) brother Michael in the 31st round of the 2008 draft, and he reached Double-A last year as a first baseman.
A quick disclaimer: These are my ratings and not Baseball America's preliminary talent rankings from the 2013 Prospect Handbook (which should ship from our Durham, N.C., headquarters in the next few weeks). The Handbook ratings are a group effort, and were subject to our Dec. 10 transaction deadline, so they didn't reflect the Shin-Soo Choo and R.A. Dickey trades. As always, we'll issue the final BA talent rankings during spring training.
Here's my Top 10:
Loaded big league club awaits Oscar Taveras, Shelby Miller and Trevor Rosenthal.
Their best prospects, even 2012 first-rounder Mike Zunino, have had Double-A success.
Blockbuster trade with Blue Jays propelled this system from middle of the pack.
No organization has more high-ceiling prospects, or one better than Jurickson Profar.
5. Red Sox
Help is on the way with Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley, Matt Barnes and Allen Webster.
Dealing for Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi helps to make up for recent lackluster drafts.
The best collection of bats in the minors, led by Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano.
System isn't deep but has impressive trios of arms and bats that most can't match.
No. 6 on my list before subtracting Trevor Bauer and adding Didi Gregorius.
Rebuilding will take time, but trades and 2012 draft are steps in the right direction.
No team has gone more all-in this offseason than the Blue Jays, who have dealt most of their best and most advanced prospects to acquire Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson and Jose Reyes from the Marlins and R.A. Dickey from the Mets. Here's how their Top 10 has changed:
Travis d'Arnaud, c
Baseball's second-best catching prospect went to Mets in Dickey deal.
Jake Marisnick, of
Another toolsy CF (Anthony Gose) made this one expendable in the Marlins trade.
Noah Syndegaard, rhp
Potential No. 2 starter also headed to New York in exchange for Dickey.
1. Aaron Sanchez, rhp
Originally fourth and now first on this list, he's raw but has frontline stuff.
Justin Nicolino, lhp
Extremely polished southpaw is now a Marlin.
2. Robert Osuna, rhp
Antonio Osuna's nephew hits 96 mph and is very advanced for a 17-year-old.
3. Marcus Stroman, rhp
Duke first-ever first-rounder had the best slider in the 2012 draft and should move fast.
Adeiny Hechavarria, ss
Slick fielder with iffy bat will replace Reyes at shortstop in Miami.
4. D.J. Davis, of
Some scouts say he's even faster than fellow Mississippi prep product Billy Hamilton.
5. John Stilson, rhp
Like Stroman, he has the stuff to start but could advance more quickly as a reliever.
6. Daniel Norris, lhp
Posted an 8.44 ERA in pro debut but he's still a lefty who can reach 96 and spin the ball.
7. Matt Smoral, lhp
Would have been a mid-first-rounder last June if he hadn't broken a bone in his foot.
8. Anthony Alford, of
The best athlete in the 2012 draft also played quarterback at Southern Miss this fall.
9. A.J. Jimenez, c
Shows all-around promise but must bounce back from Tommy John surgery.
10. Tyler Gonzales, rhp
Another 2012 draftee, he can overpower hitters with either his fastball or slider.
Heading into their junior seasons, Kubitza and Wagner are potential third- to fifth-rounders. Kubitza seemed to be on the path to becoming a first-round pick after a strong freshman year at Rice, but his control regressed last spring and he struggled terribly in the Cape Cod League. He still has a big body (6-foot-5, 202 pounds) and throws his fastball in the low 90s, but he needs to improve his slider and changeup and do a better job of locating his pitches.
Wagner finished second in NCAA Division I with 19 saves last spring and will make the transition to starting in 2013. He looked good in that role in the Cape, showing a solid fastball and slider and the potential for an effective changeup. He's big and strong enough (6-foot-4, 200 pounds) to start, though he needs to do a more consistent job of staying on top of his slder.
In our fall installment of our College Top 100 Prospects , Wagner checked in at No. 49 and Kubitza was No. 71. Coming out of high school three years ago, Kubitza went in the seventh round to the Pirates and Wagner was picked in the 28th round by the Red Sox.