2012 Top 100 Prospects


Jim Callis Column:
Seeing where unsigned players would fit in the Top 100
We ask scouts for comps on this year’s Terrific Trio
Hard To Pick:
We ask front office officials to tell us who they’d put No. 1
By The Numbers: Breaking down the Top 100 by position, age and other categories
Looking Back:
In previous top trios, two usually star, one usually falters

This year’s Top 100 Prospects list is a tribute to the power of three.

Our 23rd annual list features an amazing trio of prospects leading the way, with outfielders Bryce Harper and Mike Trout and lefthander Matt Moore. Any of the three could make a legitimate claim to the No. 1 spot this year, so in addition to our ranking of the players, we also turned to a cadre of industry professionals to see how they would line the trio up (see facing page). And we looked back at past power trios to find out how those players worked out.

Our Top 100 Prospects list is the definitive annual ranking of the best professional talent in baseball below the major league level and the culmination of our offseason prospect coverage. Eligibility for the list follows our standard prospect guidelines, which means any player who has not exceeded 130 at-bats, 50 innings or 30 appearances in the major leagues (without regard to service time) is eligible.

Eight people contributed to the voting this year: co-editors Will Lingo and John Manuel, executive editor Jim Callis, managing editor J.J. Cooper, associate editor Matt Eddy, assistant editors Conor Glassey and Nathan Rode, and contributor Matt Forman. Each person compiled a personal top 150, and we reviewed the composite numbers and made adjustments before locking down the final list.

Rk. Player Pos., Team Age ETA
1 Bryce  Harper of, Nationals Age: 19. ETA: 2012.
He should get to the majors as a teenager; settle in and enjoy it.
2 Matt  Moore lhp, Rays Age: 22. ETA: 2012.
He makes it look so easy, and he’s so good he’ll make David Price a No. 2 starter.
3 Mike  Trout of, Angels Age: 20. ETA: 2012.
His signing scout, Greg Mohrhardt, has since been promoted to Angels crosschecker.
4 Yu  Darvish rhp, Rangers Age: 25. ETA: 2012.
It’s hard to moderate expectations for proven Japanese ace, but he should definitely surpass the Dice-K bar.
5 Julio  Teheran rhp, Braves Age: 21. ETA: 2012.
There’s absolutely no link between his last name and Darvish’s Iranian heritage.
6 Jesus  Montero c, Mariners Age: 22. ETA: 2012.
He should face less pressure replacing Miguel Olivo rather than Jorge Posada.
7 Jurickson  Profar ss, Rangers Age: 19. ETA: 2013
He should beat out golf, cheesy theme parks as Myrtle Beach’s top 2012 attraction.
8 Shelby  Miller rhp, Cardinals Age: 21. ETA: 2013
He’s looking to become the first big leaguer named Shelby, and it should happen soon.
9 Trevor  Bauer rhp, Diamondbacks Age: 21. ETA: 2012
The unique ones are the hardest to project, and no one’s as unique as Bauer.
10 Dylan  Bundy rhp, Orioles Age: 19. ETA: 2013.
First goal: Beat big brother Bobby to Baltimore. Next: Make the Orioles relevant.
11 Manny  Machado ss, Orioles Age: 19. ETA: 2013
Power-hitting shortstop can restore honor to the phrase “Manny being Manny.”
12 Gerrit  Cole rhp, Pirates Age: 21. ETA: 2013.
UCLA’s second-best pitcher in 2011 still was good enough to go No. 1 in the draft.
13 Tyler  Skaggs lhp, Diamondbacks Age: 20. ETA: 2012.
He didn’t get the 200-strikeout memo in 2011 and thought his 198 would be enough.
14 Yoenis  Cespedes of, Athletics Age: 26. ETA: 2012.
Athletics hope he works out better than their last blockbuster Cuban, Ariel Prieto.
15 Jameson  Taillon rhp, Pirates Age: 20. ETA: 2014.
Ready to throw Pitch 76 as a pro for the first time as Pirates should remove the bubble wrap in 2012.
16 Devin  Mesoraco c, Reds Age: 23. ETA: 2012.
The Punxsutawney, Pa., native expects to deliver at least six more years of slugging in Cincinnati.
17 Travis  d’Arnaud c, Blue Jays Age: 23. ETA: 2013.
Brother Chase beat him to the big leagues, but Travis’ ceiling is higher.
18 Miguel  Sano 3b/ss, Twins Age: 18. ETA: 2014.
You could see more errors than home runs in his first full season, but over time homers will go up and errors will come down.
19 Anthony  Rendon 3b, Nationals Age: 21. ETA: 2013.
Even with one good shoulder, he was the top hitter in last year’s draft.
20 Taijuan  Walker rhp, Mariners Age: 19. ETA: 2014.
Legitimate comparisons to Dwight Gooden (the good, pitching part)? Sign us up.
21 Danny  Hultzen lhp, Mariners Age: 22. ETA: 2012.
He’s apples to Walker’s oranges as a polished college lefty, but he offers plenty of upside himself.
22 Jacob  Turner rhp, Tigers Age: 20. ETA: 2012.
Already a graduate of the Rick Porcello school of accelerated Tigers timetables.
23 Mike  Montgomery lhp, Royals Age: 22. ETA: 2012.
Bauer’s former prep teammate has to beat Bauer to the big leagues, doesn’t he?
24 Bubba  Starling of, Royals Age: 19. ETA: 2015.
Won’t even have to reach his ceiling to be baseball’s best-ever Bubba (sorry, Bubba Smith).
25 Archie  Bradley rhp, Diamondbacks Age: 19. ETA: 2014
Which Oklahoma prep product will get to the majors Sooner, Bradley or Bundy?
26 Jarrod  Parker rhp, Athletics Age: 23. ETA: 2012.
Could be the next great A’s pitcher to be traded away in three years.
27 Carlos  Martinez rhp, Cardinals Age: 20. ETA: 2014.
No matter what his name is, his fastball’s one of the minors’ best.
28 Wil  Myers of, Royals Age: 21. ETA: 2013.
Gets a mulligan for his injury-plagued 2011 after posting a 1.156 OPS in the AFL.
29 Manny  Banuelos lhp, Yankees Age: 21. ETA: 2012.
Yankees player-development boss Mark Newman compared his poise to Whitey Ford—when Banuelos was 18.
30 Drew  Pomeranz lhp, Rockies Age: 23. ETA: 2012.
Walk rate keeps dropping, from college (4.38 BB/9) to minors (3.74) to majors (2.45).
31 Martin  Perez lhp, Rangers Age: 21. ETA: 2013.
His stuff is special enough that he ranks 31st in spite of a career 20-24, 4.22 record, including a 6.43 ERA in Triple-A last year.
32 Brett  Jackson of, Cubs Age: 23. ETA: 2012.
Steadily moving up the charts (38th on last year’s Top 100) like a Foo Fighters song.
33 Yonder  Alonso of/1b, Padres Age: 24. ETA: 2012.
Must be happy to leave left field and backing up Joey Votto behind, even for Petco.
34 Jonathan  Singleton 1b/of, Astros Age: 20. ETA: 2013.
Will move back to first base now that he’s no longer stuck behind Ryan Howard.
35 Zack  Wheeler rhp, Mets Age: 21. ETA: 2013.
Will have to pay Paul DePodesta to dress up like Dick Tidrow now that he’s a Met.
36 Brad  Peacock rhp, Athletics Age: 24. ETA: 2012.
Joined Parker and other trade acquisitions to make over Athletics farm system in days.
37 Francisco  Lindor ss, Indians Age: 18. ETA: 2014.
Shockingly, he’s the fifth Francisco in Top 100 history, but the first hitter (following Cordero, Liriano, Rodriguez and Rosario).
38 Gary  Brown of, Giants Age: 23. ETA: 2013.
He has speed and defense to spare. Now he just has to perform outside the California League.
39 Anthony  Gose of, Blue Jays Age: 21. ETA: 2013.
Physical dead-ringer for Nyjer Morgan has bigger tools than T-Plush.
40 Arodys  Vizcaino rhp, Braves Age: 21. ETA: 2012.
Third trip to the Top 100 for the first Arodys should be the last.
41 Christian  Yelich of, Marlins Age: 20. ETA: 2013.
No one cares how you throw when you can hit and run like Yelich.
42 Nolan  Arenado 3b, Rockies Age: 20. ETA: 2013.
Should be a better version of former Rockies prospect Ian Stewart—less power but more contact.
43 Mike  Olt 3b, Rangers Age: 23. ETA: 2013.
See, not all the Rangers’ top prospects are international signees.
44 Hak-Ju  Lee ss, Rays Age: 21. ETA: 2013.
Rays might reverse policy of moving prospects slowly, considering their big league shortstops posted a .539 OPS in 2011.
45 Nick  Castellanos 3b, Tigers Age: 20. ETA: 2014.
No one will be more interested in the results of Miguel Cabrera’s move back to third.
46 Randall  Delgado rhp, Braves Age: 22. ETA: 2012.
It feels like the mid-1990s with Atlanta’s young pitching depth.
47 Anthony  Rizzo 1b, Cubs Age: 22. ETA: 2012.
No prospect made as good a ballpark move as Rizzo’s in going from Petco to Wrigley.
48 Billy  Hamilton ss, Reds Age: 21. ETA: 2014.
Posted the first 100-steal year in the minors in a decade; can he continue to do it at higher levels?
49 Rymer  Liriano of, Padres Age: 20. ETA: 2014.
The best ratio of talent to hype in the minors will put up loud Cal League numbers this season.
50 Jarred  Cosart rhp, Astros Age: 21. ETA: 2013.
Another key trade piece helping to make over the Astros farm system, he seeks to marry consistency with one of the minors’ most electric arms.
51 Will  Middlebrooks 3b, Red Sox Age: 23. ETA: 2013.
“Middle”brooks was No. 50 before Yoenis Cespedes signed. Pure coincidence.
52 James  Paxton lhp, Mariners Age: 23. ETA: 2012.
Long wait for him to begin his professional career was worth it, as fresh Canadian arm was better in 2011 than he had ever been as an amateur.
53 Yasmani  Grandal c, Padres Age: 23. ETA: 2013.
Sticks with former Hurricanes teammate Yonder Alonso in moving to San Diego, and likewise avoids a major league roadblock in Mesoraco.
54 Matt  Harvey rhp, Mets Age: 23. ETA: 2012.
He has the stuff to outperform recent Tar Heels alumni in a major league rotation, with the bullpen a good fallback option.
55 Jean  Segura ss, Angels Age: 22. ETA: 2013.
Premium tools, but just two spots higher than he ranked last year, thanks to hamstring problems.
56 Wily  Peralta rhp, Brewers Age: 22. ETA: 2012.
Best Brewers international signing since Juan Nieves? Maybe, though there’s not much competition for the honor.
57 A.J.  Cole rhp, Athletics Age: 20. ETA: 2014.
Projectable 6-foot-4, 190-pounder came over in trade with the Nationals and now will play the jeans salesman in “Moneyball II.”
58 Xander  Bogaerts ss, Red Sox Age: 19. ETA: 2014.
An Aruba native, Bogaerts apparently is Papiamento for “jaw-dropping, precocious power.”
59 George  Springer of, Astros Age: 22. ETA: 2013.
Figures to battle Rangers’ Mike Olt for title of best UConn position player in the big leagues.
60 Josh  Bell of, Pirates Age: 19. ETA: 2014.
Still waiting for the addendum to his mom’s letter to major league clubs that says, ” . . . unless you offer us $5 million.”
61 Javier  Baez ss, Cubs Age: 19. ETA: 2014.
Bat speed, Florida high school shortstop background . . . let the Gary Sheffield comparisons begin.
62 Zach  Lee rhp, Dodgers Age: 20. ETA: 2014.
Would he have made the difference as Les Miles’ quarterback against Alabama? Unfortunately for Louisiana State, he really knows how to pitch.
63 Dellin  Betances rhp, Yankees Age: 24. ETA: 2013.
Last year he became the 10th member of New York’s 2006 draft class to reach the majors.
64 Matt  Szczur of, Cubs Age: 22. ETA: 2013.
Exciting high-risk, high-reward talent who should take off with football in his rearview mirror.
65 Sonny  Gray rhp, Athletics Age: 22. ETA: 2013.
Following David Price and Mike Minor, Gray should be next Commodore to sail on to the majors.
66 Addison  Reed rhp, White Sox Age: 23. ETA: 2012.
Making his own way after being known as Stephen Strasburg’s closer in college.
67 Jake  Marisnick of, Blue Jays Age: 21. ETA: 2014.
Scouts doubted his bat as an amateur, but he’s putting those doubts to rest.
68 Jake  Odorizzi rhp, Royals Age: 22. ETA: 2013.
Part of the Royals’ “next wave,” which would be really their first wave of arms.
69 Trevor  May rhp, Phillies Age: 22. ETA: 2014.
While he’s not a finished product, you just can’t ignore 11.88 SO/9 IP over his career. At least we can’t.
70 Taylor  Jungmann rhp, Brewers Age: 22. ETA: 2013.
His career 1.85 college ERA could double and he’d still be an effective pro.
71 Jed  Bradley lhp, Brewers Age: 21. ETA: 2013.
Jungmann’s wing man was drafted three spots later and sticks with him in Top 100 as well.
72 Blake  Swihart c, Red Sox Age: 20. ETA: 2014.
He’d be on the list even if he couldn’t catch thanks to his hitting ability.
73 Starling  Marte of, Pirates Age: 23. ETA: 2013.
Good enough defensively to spur talk of pushing Andrew McCutchen to a corner.
74 Oscar  Taveras of, Cardinals Age: 19. ETA: 2014.
Granted, it was only the Midwest League, but the highest average (.386) in the loop since 1956 is enough to get your attention.
75 Zack  Cozart ss, Reds Age: 26. ETA: 2012.
Big league ready for most of the last two years; just needs to stay healthy.
76 Casey  Kelly rhp, Padres Age: 22. ETA: 2013.
No longer young for his age, his stuff is fine, but it’s time for him to produce.
77 Nick  Franklin ss/2b, Mariners Age: 21. ETA: 2013.
Switch-hitting middle infielder with power needs to show 2011 was the fluke, not 2010.
78 Cory  Spangenberg 2b, Padres Age: 21. ETA: 2013.
Athleticism, speed, hitting ability and a strong pro debut make him the minors’ best second-base prospect.
79 Leonys  Martin of, Rangers Age: 24. ETA: 2012.
He’s likely good enough to beat out Julio Borbon, David Murphy in Texas, but will he be a star or just solid?
80 Michael  Choice of, Athletics Age: 22. ETA: 2013.
Presents the classic tradeoff of huge strikeout totals for large home run totals.
81 Gary  Sanchez c, Yankees Age: 19. ETA: 2014.
Took hits for his defensive ability and makeup in his first full season, but dished them out with his bat.
82 Jonathan  Schoop inf, Orioles Age: 20. ETA: 2014.
His power potential and infield actions are far beyond his brother Sharlon’s.
83 Garrett  Richards rhp, Angels Age: 23. ETA: 2012.
He has the stuff for the front of a rotation, if not yet the command or polish.
84 Cheslor  Cuthbert 3b, Royals Age: 19. ETA: 2014.
Hit his way from Nicaragua’s Corn Islands to our Top 100; if he stays at third, he’ll be special.
85 Mason  Williams of, Yankees Age: 20. ETA: 2014.
Heads up a deep, athletic group of Yankees prospects headed to low Class A Charleston.
86 Chad  Bettis rhp, Rockies Age: 22. ETA: 2013.
Tyler Matzek and other premium Colorado draft arms need to figure out what Bettis is doing.
87 Wilin  Rosario c, Rockies Age: 23. ETA: 2013.
His prospect stock took a tumble when his performance slipped post-knee surgery, but he still offers power and defense.
88 Zack  Cox 3b, Cardinals Age: 22. ETA: 2013.
Should be a steady performer at third at a minimum, but will need to to show more power to be a premium player.
89 Chris  Archer rhp, Rays Age: 23. ETA: 2013.
Still needs to prove his 2010 breakout wasn’t a fluke, and might have more impact in the bullpen.
90 Taylor  Guerrieri rhp, Rays Age: 19. ETA: 2015.
High risk, but brings substantial upside to an organization known for developing pitchers.
91 Daniel  Norris lhp, Blue Jays Age: 18. ETA: 2015.
Toronto has tremendous pitching depth, and even though power lefty Norris hasn’t debuted yet he still tops the list.
92 Andrelton  Simmons ss, Braves Age: 22. ETA: 2014.
Age-appropriate Carolina League batting champs who can defend are good bets.
93 Kolten  Wong 2b, Cardinals Age: 21. ETA: 2013.
Similar profile to Cory Spangenberg, with less speed but perhaps more polish.
94 Tyrell  Jenkins rhp, Cardinals Age: 19. ETA: 2014.
One of Jeff Luhnow’s parting gifts to St. Louis was drafting this premium athlete in 2010.
95 Allen  Webster rhp, Dodgers Age: 22. ETA: 2013.
Despite low budgets, the Dodgers have scored in the draft with under-the-radar finds like Webster.
96 Nate  Eovaldi rhp, Dodgers Age: 22. ETA: 2012.
Dodgers have intriguing arms to build around, if new ownership gives them the money to do so.
97 Matt  Davidson 3b/1b, Diamondbacks Age: 21. ETA: 2013.
Pushing his way past Diamondbacks draft peer Bobby Borchering as a power-hitting third baseman.
98 Jedd  Gyorko 3b, Padres Age: 23. ETA: 2013.
Could be the best hitter from the state of West Virginia since Nick Swisher posted a .909 OPS in the minors.
99 Joe  Benson of, Twins Age: 24. ETA: 2012.
Ready for his Target Field closeup . . . so he’s probably headed to Rochester.
100 Christian  Villanueva 3b, Rangers Age: 20. ETA: 2014.
Best Hickory Crawdads third baseman since Jose Bautista in 2002.