When will we see the stars of tomorrow in the major leagues? Are they worth stashing until the arrive (potentially) at some point during the 2014 season? While some on this list will likely see big league action at some point this year, here are 10 prospects who I believe deserve to — and I wish would — make their respective rosters from Day 1.
Excluded from this list are guys like Billy Hamilton, Nick Castellanos, Yordano Ventura, Xander Bogaerts, and Kolten Wong as each has already made their MLB debut even though they are all still technically “prospects.”
10. Jameson Taillon, SP, PIT
Taillon is considered one of the game’s best pitching prospects and after three years in the minor leagues, this 22-year-old is ready to make a splash in the big leagues. We all know Wandy Rodriguez is injury-prone and due for free agency after 2014, plus the combination of Jeff Locke and Charlie Morton at the back end of the rotation isn’t forcing opposing managers to lose sleep at night. Oh, and they have Edinson Volquez, too.
Why not give the reins to a rookie who in 2010 was drafted between Bryce Harper and Manny Machado? We all know how good those guys are. There’s no reason why we should have to wait for Taillon to take the mound and form a formidable one-two punch with Gerrit Cole that leads the Bucs to more playoff berths.
9. Alex Meyer, SP, MIN
Byron Buxton this and Miguel Sano that — no one is talking about Meyer! He’s 12’2 and 220 pounds — okay he’s just 6’9, but that’s still freakin’ tall. Imagine him on the mound throwing mid-to-high 90s heat.
Sure, the Twins signed Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes this offseason, but those guys are both back end guys. The Twins rotation is rounded out by Vance Worley, Kevin Correia, and Samuel Deduno, which means Meyer could jump in right away and be the ace this staff desperately needs.
Young hurlers can make an immediate impact in both real life and fantasy and Meyer could very well be the next one if given the chance. It’s hard to believe that he was acquired in the Denard Span trade last offseason.
8. Gregory Polanco, OF, PIT
Last year, Starling Marte made an impact as a rookie and Andrew McCutchen won the NL MVP. If they allow Polanco to play for a full season in 2014 they could very well have one of the more exciting outfields in all of baseball.
He rose through the ranks last year starting the season in A-ball and finishing in AAA. He has that special combination of power and speed that both McCutchen and Marte possess, and it’s not crazy to think that he could make his MLB debut early in 2014.
Currently, the third outfield spot is manned by a platoon of Travis Snider and Jose Tabata. We all know Tabata is prone to injury and Snider is a journeyman who projects better as a platoon hitter. In my eyes, Polanco should win the job on his talent alone, but because the 22-year-old is raw we are having this conversation.
7. Maikel Franco, 3B, PHI
Raise your hand if you are excited to draft Cody Asche and/or Kevin Frandsen this year. [Enter silence.] Oh what, you’re not excited to draft a player who has a .265 BA and 14 HR over a seven-year career (Frandsen) nor a rookie who hit .235 with 5 HR in 50 games last year (Asche)?
Meanwhile, all Franco did last year was dominate both AA and AAA pitching to the tune of a .300 BA, 31 HR, and 103 RBI. He projects as a plus-power, middle-of-the-order guy and while that probably won’t come in his rookie year, he’s a lot better than the alternative.
6. Francisco Lindor, SS, CLE
Asdrubal Cabrera is set to be a free agent and we’ve seen what he has to offer — .275 BA, 15 HR, and 70 RBI. The Indians know they aren’t getting the 2011 version again. Maybe they give Lindor a chance to shine? I sure hope so.
It’s likely the Indians will play it safe and keep the 19-year-old down in the minors for another year, but man, wouldn’t it be nice to see a changing of the guards? The good news is Lindor’s defense is his strength and as long as he can hold his own at the plate, we could see him called up before the year’s end.
Overall, Lindor projects as a plus hitter, who can steal 20+ bases as well. That’s nothing to sneeze at, especially given the lack of offense at the shortstop position in today’s game.
5. Javier Baez, SS, CHC
Like the Incubus song, the Cubs are going “Nowhere Fast.” That’s not going to change in 2014, but the Cubs have a nice group of prospects on the cusp. That group is lead by Baez.
Few hitter have generated as much as Baez this spring as he’s hit 3 HR in 32 AB. There are plenty of scenarios that will allow Baez to play full time in 2014:
- Stick him at third base where Donnie Murphy and Luis Valbuena are locked in a heated position battle
- Move their disappointing ex-prospect Starlin Castro to make room for Baez at shortstop
- Supplant defensive specialist Darwin Barney at second base
Wherever it is, Baez needs to play. Hr has a lot of raw talent but needs to become more polished at the plate before we see his true star potential shine. He can definitely get by offensively with what he has going now, and it’s not like the Cubs are making a title run in 2014.
4. Oscar Taveras, OF, STL
Unlike most of the prospects on this list, Taveras is on a team with serious World Series aspirations. This isn’t a good thing as it means the team will gladly preach patience with its top prospect due to an embarrassment of OF riches.
We’ve been hearing about Taveras for so long it almost seems as if he were already a veteran player and not a 21-year-old prospect. His 2013 season was killed by an ankle injury, but he seems to be fully recovered from that injury and onto his next.
Not helping matters is the fact that the Cardinals have a bit of a logjam in the outfield with Matt Holliday, Jon Jay, Peter Bourjos, and Allen Craig. Craig is by no means the poster boy for health,Jay is an uninspiring talent at the plate, and Bourjos has injury concerns himself, so you would think Taveras should have no problem getting on the field…sometime.
3. Jonathan Singleton, 1B, HOU
Singleton may have some points to earn back after a suspension and overall laziness ruined his 2013 season. However, he’s about as close to major-league ready as you’ll find and his skill set — that sweet, sweet power — is just about as valuable as you’ll find in this year’s rookie class.
He does struggle against left-handed pitching and strikes out a lot, but the power is undeniable. What does Houston have to lose? He should be a big part of the Astros’ future and they should be starting the youth movement sooner rather than later.
His ceiling definitely projects as higher than Brett Wallace‘s and you could say that he’s already on the same level as Chris Carter. We should see Singleton manning first base in Houston before the All-Star Break.
2. Archie Bradley, SP, ARI
With Patrick Corbin likely out for the 2014 season, the Diamondbacks starting rotation is left with a gaping hole. The quartet of Trevor Cahill, Wade Miley, Bronson Arroyo, and Brandon McCarthy is a nice compliment of pitchers for the back of a rotation, but unfortunately those guys are leading the pack.
This brings us to top prospect Bradley, who features a fastball, slider, and curveball that are all MLB-ready. With the addition of Mark Trumbo this offseason, Arizona made a statement that they are playing to win in 2014 and it’s likely they will need Bradley’s arm to bolster their rotation.
He projects as a #1 starter and while we may not see that right away, it’s likely that Bradley will be the team’s top starter right out the gates. At least if the D’backs have any prayer of keeping up with the Dodge-Dashians, then they better hope so.
1. George Springer, OF, HOU
In 2013, Springer nearly had the first 40/40 season in the minors in almost 50 years. That just shows the type of ability he possesses and it’s something that the Astros — and plenty other teams — lack.
While Springer struggles to make consistent contact, he gets by with superior raw talent. Until he improves those contact skills it’s likely we’ll see some ups and downs, but the future looks bright. There’s no other player that I’m more excited to see make his MLB debut than this guy.