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Mid-Season Top 25 Baseball Prospect Rankings

My Midseason Top 25 Prospects List
by J.P. Schwartz
Twitter: @Jaypers413

Greetings, fellow prospectors.

As we approach the Futures Game, a.k.a. the All-Star game for minor leaguers, many are already making lists and checking them more than twice to see which prospects have gone above and beyond during the first half.

Here is my own personal list, based upon both potential and performance. Must currently be playing in the minors to rank. Note: there are no 2013 draft picks.

1) Byron Buxton (Twins) – Really, was there any doubt? He has destroyed the Midwest League and gotten a promotion to High-A already in a system known for not rushing their top guys. Shows everything you want in a 5-tool prospect.

2) Xander Bogaerts (Red Sox) – His abilities defy his youth, especially his power. Might force a call to Fenway this year if he keeps it up.

3) Miguel Sano (Twins) – I’d say the Twins have the top system overall, and he’s a big reason why, literally. Best power in the minors plus improved plate discipline make him more dangerous than ever.

4) Archie Bradley (Diamondbacks) – Made the hitter-friendly California league look like child’s play, and is the minors’ top arm right now, in my opinion.

5) Taijuan Walker (Mariners) – Very close debate between him and Bradley for top arm, and he’s off to a terrific year so far, including an excellent debut in AAA Tacoma.

6) Nick Castellanos (Tigers) – Improved plate discipline in AA Erie led to a promotion where his power is showing up. Only a matter of time before he’s up to the D.

7) Carlos Correa (Astros) – An all around performer, a slow start is all but forgotten as he’s leading his team in hitting and could soon be promoted to an even friendlier hitting environment at High-A Lancaster.

8 ) Oscar Taveras (Cardinals) – Injuries kept him off the top five, but when he’s healthy, he simply can’t be kept off the basepaths.

9) Robert Stephenson (Reds) – Prior to his injury, he was the Midwest League’s top arm, with both amazing heat and secondary stuff. I believe he’s worthy of a two level bump to AA Pensacola after he returns.

10) Francisco Lindor (Indians) – Can do it all, save power, especially in the field. Best hitter in the Carolina League for me, and I don’t see him staying there much longer.

11) Gregory Polanco (Pirates) – True 5-tool potential, with great hitting ability and speed. I could see him playing alongside McCutchen as early as next year.

12) Noah Syndergaard (Mets) – With Wheeler now in the bigs, this is their top arm. The Florida State League wasn’t much of a challenge, and the Eastern League doesn’t seem to be, either.

13) Javier Baez (Cubs) – Once he cuts back on the K’s, he’s going to be practically unstoppable at the plate. Awesome power, as the four-in-one-game earlier this year showed.

14) Maikel Franco (Phillies) – Showed flashes of brilliance in the second half of last year, and has gotten even better this year, in all areas.

15) George Springer (Astros) – One of the minors’ top power hitters, and is now just a phone call from Houston. I have a feeling we’ll see him there later this year.

16) Christian Yelich (Marlins) – When healthy, he has perhaps the best swing in the minors and at least average power. Easily their best prospect who has yet to get the call.

17) Gary Sanchez (Yankees) – I think he’ll turn out to be the guy Montero should have been for their system.

18) Jameson Taillon (Pirates) – Has everything necessary to succeed in Pittsburgh – except a free opening. Will likely need to try out AAA Indianapolis for a while first.

19) Henry Owens (Red Sox) – Went through a makeover in the offseason, including improved velocity and secondary pitches, and definitely impressed Cherrington himself recently. Portland beckons.

20) Taylor Guerrieri (Rays) – Proof you don’t need to strike everyone out to succeed. Currently has a 22 IP scoreless streak going, with great stuff in his arsenal.

21) Garin Cecchini (Red Sox) – Speed, both on the bases and in his bat, lead to success for him.

22) Jonathan Singleton (Astros) – After his 50-game suspension, it’s as if he never left. Breezed through two levels and will likely see Houston very soon.

23) Tyler Glasnow (Pirates) – The less talked-about arm in their system, he can strike batters out at will when his command is on point.

24) Addison Russell (A’s) – Started off slow after a lofty promotion, his tools are all above average across the board, and they’re showing now.

25) Kyle Crick (Giants) – Now healthy, he will be the latest in a line of home-grown arms in their system to succeed. Been compared to a young Cain already.

Helium Alert – Julio Urias (Dodgers) – a 16-year old in full season ball is rare enough, but his pitches are causing some serious chatter. One to watch, intently.

25 More Honorable Mentions – Dylan Bundy, Tyler Skaggs, Jorge Soler, Kevin Gausman, Alex Meyer, Aaron Sanchez, Carlos Martinez, Max Fried, Yordano Ventura, Raul Adalberto Mondesi, Michael Wacha, Albert Almora, Eddie Rosario, Jesse Biddle, Alen Hansen, Rafael DePaula, Kyle Zimmer, Jake Marisnick, Lance McCullers, Andrew Heaney, Justin Nicolino, Mike Foltynewicz, Eddie Butler, Jesse Winker, Sonny Gray.

2013 MLB Draft Results with Links to their Baseball Cards

The first 2 rounds of the 2013 MLB Draft were last night. Here are all of the picks who currently have cards with links to those cards.

#Astros get Mark Appel P Stanford with the 1st Pick of the 2013 #MLBDraft. Check out his cards & autographs

#Cubs get Kris Bryant 3B San Diego with 2nd Pick of #MLBDraft. Check out his cards & autographs

#Twins get Kohl Stewart RHP High School with 4th Pick of the 2013 #MLBDraft Check out his cards & autographs

#Indians get Clint Frazier OF High School with 5th Pick of 2013 #MLBDraft. Check out his cards

#RedSox get Trey Ball LHP High School with #7 pick of 2013 #MLBDraft. Check out his cards

#Pirates get Austin Meadows OF High School with 9th Pick of the 2013 #MLBDraft. Check out his cards & autographs

#Mets get Dominic Smith 1B High School with 11th Pick of 2013 #MLBDraft. Check out his cards

#Mariners get D J Peterson 3B New Mexico with 12th Pick of the 2013 #MLBDraft. Check out his cards & autographs

#Pirates get Reese McGuire C High School with 14th Pick of 2013 #MLBDraft. Check out his cards & autographs

#Phillies get JP Crawford SS High School with 16th Pick of the 2013 #MLBDraft. Check out his cards

#STLCards get Marco Gonzalez LHP Gonzaga with 19th Pick of the 2013 #MLBDraft. Check out his cards & autographs

#Tigers get Jonathan Crawford RHP Florida with 20th Pick of the 2013 #MLBDraft. Check out his cards & autographs

#Rays get Nick Ciuffo C High School with 21st Pick of the 2013 #MLBDraft. Check out his cards & autographs

#Orioles get Hunter Harvey RHP High School with 22nd Pick of the 2013 #MLBDraft Check out his cards

#Athletics get Billy McKinney OF High School with 24th Pick of the 2013 #MLBDraft Check out his cards

#SFGiants get Christian Arroyo SS High School with 25th Pick of 2013 #MLBDraft Check out his cards & autographs

#STLCards get Rob Kaminsky RHP High School with 28th Pick of the 2013 #MLBDraft Check out his cards & autographs

#Rays get Ryne Stanek RHP Arkansas with 29th Pick of the 2013 #MLBDraft Check out his cards & autographs

#Rangers get Travis DeMeritte SS High School with 30th pick of the 2013 #MLBDraft Check out his cards

#Yankees get Ian Clarkin LHP High School with 33rd Pick of the 2013 #MLBDraft Check out his cards & autographs

#Orioles get Josh Hart OF High School with 37th Pick of 2013 #MLBDraft Check out his cards

#Reds get Michael Lorenzen RHP Cal St Fullerton with 38th Pick 2013 #MLBDraft Check out his cards & autographs

#Tigers get Corey Knebel RHP Texas with the 39th Pick of 2013 #MLBDraft Check out his cards

#Marlins get Trevor Williams RHP Arizona State with 44th Pick of 2013 #MLBDraft Check out his cards & autographs

#BlueJays get Clinton Hollon RHP High School with 47th Pick of 2013 #MLBDraft Check out his cards

#Mariners get Austin Wilson OF Standford with 49th Pick of 2013 #MLBDraft Check out his cards

#DBacks get Justin Williams SS High School with 52nd Pick of the 2013 #MLBDraft Check out his cards

#STLCards get Oscar Mercado SS High School with 57th Pick of 2013 #MLBDraft Check out his cards

#Rays get Riley Unroe SS High School with 60th Pick of the 2013 #MLBDraft Check out his cards & autographs

#Yankees get Gosuke Katoh 2B High School with 66th Pick of 2013 #MLBDraft Check out his cards

#Reds get Kevin Franklin 3B High School with 67th Pick of 2013 #MLBDraft Check out his cards

Video of Cubs Prospect Jorge Soler Bat Incident

Our twitter follower @BradleyEmery2 was at last night’s Daytona Cubs vs Clearwater Threshers game in which Chicago Cubs prospect Jorge Soler charged the Clearwater dugout with a bat in hand. He got video of the end of the incident which you can watch below. If you increase to Full Screen. You can see a coach or player take the bat from Soler and run away with it from the pile.

Be sure to follow @BradleyEmery2 on Twitter.

Interview With Pittsburgh Pirates Pitching Prospect Nick Kingham

By: Andrew Martin
Twitter: @HistorianAndrew
BaseballHistorian.Blogspot.com

Stockpiling quality young pitching is always a priority for a losing team trying to change their fortunes and culture. The Pittsburgh Pirates, who last had a winning season in 1992, have recently drafted highly touted arms like Jameson Taillon and Gerrit Cole to jumpstart their rebuilding process. However, the team is also high on Nick Kingham, another recent draftee, who they believe has a bright future in Pittsburgh.
Kingham, a tall right-handed starter, was taken in the fourth round of the 2010 MLB Draft out of high school in Las Vegas. According to Pirates prospect site Buried Treasure, Kingham was planning to attend the University of Oregon, but was convinced to turn pro when Pittsburgh offered him a generous signing bonus.
About to turn 21 later this week, Kingham possesses a low-nineties fastball and promising secondary pitches. He impressed in his first two professional seasons in short-season ball, combining for a 2.07 ERA. This past year he made 27 starts in Class-A, and held his own, posting a 6-8 record and 4.39 ERA, while striking out nearly a batter an inning.
Last year I had a chance to interview Kingham and get to know the up-and-coming Pirates prospect a little better.

How did you first become interested in baseball? My parents; my Dad grew up playing high school ball. He never played college, but he got me my first interest in it. I started playing it and stuck with it.

Did you have a favorite team or player when you were growing up?
Nope. No favorite team and no favorite player. I was just a fan of the game.

Do you model yourself after any current player?
(Josh) Beckett would be the closest now. I mean it is who I like the most now, but it is pretty hard to emulate somebody that great. I try.

How did you know the Pirates were interested in drafting you?
My scout called me when I was at work with my Dad. He called to tell me that they had drafted me and that they would be in touch. I heard from them two weeks later.

After you signed, did you do anything special for yourself or your family?
We had a few people over two nights before I left, but nothing too special.

What type of pitches do you throw?
Just a fastball, curve and change right now. The fastball is definitely the most important pitch. It’s sitting 91, 92, but reaching 94 or 94.

How has minor league life been?
It’s different. It’s a grind, but no complaints at all. You have to love what you do.

Be sure to check out Nick Kingham’s Baseball Cards

Interview With USA Baseball Alum and 2013 MLB Draft Prospect Christian Pelaez

By Andrew Martin
Twitter: @HistorianAndrew
BaseballHistorian.Blogspot.com

Most high school baseball players struggle to make varsity and get into college, where if they are lucky they might continue being able to play ball. Two months into his senior year, left-handed pitcher Christian Pelaez not only has all of that under control, he’s developed renown so great that he has already been featured on an assortment of baseball cards. Needless to say, he is not your average high school baseball player.

Pelaez has become one of the top prep players in the country pitching for Florida Christian High School in Miami. Eliciting comparisons to Washington Nationals southpaw Gio Gonzalez, Pelaez committed to LSU for next year, but depending on what happens during the 2013 MLB Draft those plans could change. He already is better known than most high school players thanks to the baseball cards he’s had in Topps, Bowman, and Panini sets; a distinction many seasoned professionals can’t claim. But it is his skill as a player that will make him a top draft choice or one of the best college players in the country.

Even with his busy schedule as a student athlete, Pelaez recently took the time to answer some questions I had for him about baseball and what he sees in his future. Whether you pick up some of his cards or check out one of his games, Pelaez is definitely a prospect worth keeping tabs on.

Who is your favorite player, and why? My favorite ball player is Gio Gonzalez, just because he came from my hometown of Miami and is a lefty pitcher that I have gotten a lot of comparisons to!

What are your plans for college or the draft?
Right now I am committed to play ball at LSU. I sign in November, but when the draft comes we will climb that hurdle when it gets here. Depending on the money and where I am as a player I will see if I sign.

How difficult is it to balance school and the work it takes to maintain your status as a top baseball prospect?
It isn’t very hard at all; I just have to stay disciplined through the school year and be responsible because it won’t get any easier at LSU.

What was it like to have mainstream baseball cards while still in high school? What kind of reaction did you get from classmates?
It is kind of surreal. I get fan mail and stuff from fans wanting me to sign them all the time. My friends find it pretty cool; they always mess with me about them!
Check out Christian’s Baseball Cards By Clicking Here

Which pitches do you throw; and which is your best; and which do you believe needs the most work?
I throw four pitches; I have a fastball, curveball, changeup, and slider. No doubt my best pitch is my curveball. I feel like I can throw it at any time. My changeup needs the most work; I just need to be a little more consistent with it.

Can you talk a little bit about what the recruitment and scouting process has been like?
The process has been a little bit of a rollercoaster ride. It has been amazing and I’m blessed to be in this position. It is always fun for any player. I just want to have a solid senior year and see where it takes me.

Have you had the opportunity to get any instruction from current or former major league players?
I’ve gotten some instruction from Livan Hernandez. He trains in the off-season in Miami, and him and my dad are good friends, so I have tossed with him a couple times!

In a perfect world, Christian Pelaez will get drafted by…
In a perfect world Christian Pelaez will get drafted by the Boston Red Sox!

Interview With San Francisco Giants Prospect Chris Heston

By Andrew Martin
Twitter: @HistorianAndrew
BaseballHistorian.Blogspot.com

The San Francisco Giants advanced into this year’s NLCS in large part because of their strong starting rotation. The staff’s longterm outlook is good, as another young gun in the form of right-handed Chris Heston is poised to make his presence felt at AT&T Park in the near future.

Heston attended Bayside High School in Palm Bay, Florida before enrolling at Seminole Community College. He eventually transferred to Eastern Carolina University, where he finished his college career. He pitched consistently for both schools and was drafted by the Twins in 2007 (47th round) and Nationals in 2008 (29th round), but declined to sign. His patience was rewarded when the Giants made him their 12th round pick in 2009.

Heston spent the entire 2012 season in Double-A, and lived up to his reputation as a polished pitcher with three solid pitches. He has improved each year in the Giants system, highlighted by a 12-4 record and 3.16 ERA in 2011 and a 9-8 mark and 2.24 ERA in 2012.

Having shown consistent growth and ability, Heston is poised to pitch in San Francisco at some point next season. I recently had the opportunity to catch up with and find out a little more about the talented pitching prospect.

Who was your favorite player when you were growing up, and why?
Growing up I was always a big Chipper Jones fan, and still am. He was just the man at the time when I was growing up playing ball, and he was always a lot of fun to watch play. I wanted to do everything like him.

Before being selecting by the Giants you had previously been drafted by the Nationals and Twins; what made you decide to not sign with them?
At the time I was drafted by the other teams I just didn’t feel like I was ready to take the next step to pro ball. I thought there was still some things I needed to learn and it ended up being a good decision because I got to go to ECU and that was a great learning experience.

Can you describe what your 2009 draft day experience with the Giants was like?
It was exciting and a little nerve racking waiting around for your name to get called, but I had done it a couple other times and kind of knew what to expect. I just tried to enjoy it and I couldn’t have ended up in a better place.

What are the main challenges faced by minor league baseball players?
It’s a grind; it really is. The travel is tough, and eating right is tough, so you just have to try and enjoy it with your teammates

Which pitches do you throw, and which is your best and which do you believe needs the most work?
I throw a sinker, curveball, slider and changeup. I think everyone kind of says it, but the fastball/sinker would have to be the go-to pitch. I think everything can use work; there is always room to get better, so that’s what you have to work at.

Have you had any opportunity to get any advice from Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, or Madison Bumgarner?
In the past some of those guys have came in and talked to us as a group, and I think it’s great. All those guys know what they’re doing, and do it at a high level. Hopefully I will have more opportunities to get more advice from them in the future.

Your production has gotten better every time you have been promoted; what do you attribute this to?
I think it’s just learning as much as possible and trying to apply it to your game. I have had the opportunity to work with some great pitching coaches, so I just try to take as much from them as possible and keep working to get better.

Be sure to Check Out These Chris Heston Baseball Cards

Interview With Chicago Cubs Prospect Dustin Geiger

By Andrew Martin
@HistorianAndrew
BaseballHistorian.Blogspot.com

The Chicago Cubs are known for their World Series futility and having fallen on particularly hard times of late. But better days are ahead, as boy-wonder Theo Epstein was brought in as President and the team has a number of intriguing prospects making their way through the minors. Although not a high draft pick, one of those prospects, Dustin Geiger, is starting to make a name for himself.

Geiger, a third baseman, was taken in the 24th round of the 2010 MLB Draft by the Cubs out of Merritt Island High School in Florida. He had contemplated attending college, but decided the opportunity to play professional ball was too good to pass up. The right-handed hitter was solid but unspectacular during his first two seasons. Despite battling injuries, he broke out in a major way in 2012, hitting 17 home runs and driving in 53 runs in just 75 games with A-level Peoria. More information on his statistics is available at http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=geiger001dus.

The Cubs still have a big hole at the hot corner, so the 20 year old Geiger may have a great opportunity in front of him if he continues developing at a rapid pace. I recently caught up with Geiger, who just wrapped up his season, and found out a little more about the Cubs prospect.

Who was your favorite player when you were growing up, and why?
Derek Jeter. My first major league game was a Marlins/Yankees game in spring training, and I was a big Yankees fan growing up. I loved, and still love, the way he plays the game and is active with his foundation, giving back to others.

How did you know that the Cubs were interested in you?
I had talked with my area scout Lukas McKnight and attended a pre-draft workout in Clearwater, Florida.

Can you describe what your draft day experience was like?
A dream come true. All of my hard work over the years paid off and helped me reach a big goal.

How difficult was the decision to sign with Chicago rather than attending the University of Central Florida?
It was a tough decision for sure. But in the end I chose to sign because of the opportunity that was in front of me, and I didn’t have a crystal ball telling me I would be blessed with another opportunity like it.

Besides the travel, what was the most difficult thing to become accustomed to during your first professional season?
Being away from family and friends. My first season, I was 18 and living 2,000 miles away with a 3 hour time difference.

You had a broken hamate bone earlier this year. Can you describe how that injury and subsequent rehab impacts a ballplayer?
The hamate bone is more a hassle than anything. You don’t need the bone, so they just went in there and took it out. Any player who has been on rehab will tell you they can’t stand it. Watching your teammates head out to the field everyday makes you want to get out there even more and you learn your true love for the game.

Not being a higher draft pick, what drives you to compete with and against other prospects who may be more well known?
My goal to make it to the big leagues. Worrying that someone got drafted higher or signed for more money is negative energy. You can only control so many things and that’s not one of them. I have to give 110% day in and day out to show others, as well as prove to myself that I’m good enough to play in the big leagues and help the Chicago Cubs win a World Series.

Have you noticed anything different organizationally since Theo Epstein was hired?
There’s a lot of positive energy. Everyone is buying into the program to be the last team standing at the end of the season. I’m excited for the future!

Be sure to Check Out Dustin Geiger’s Baseball Cards and follow him on Twitter @D_Geiger

VIDEO: Expanding The Traditional Organ Music You Hear At The Ballpark

I got a kick out of this. Singer/songwriter Nick Marzock posted this video after recently attending a baseball game and being bored with the traditional songs you always hear the organ player play at a ballgame. Give him a follow on twitter @NickMarzock

VIDEO: Howard Stern Show Staffers Take Over Somerset Patriots Indy League Game

If you are a Howard Stern fan you will enjoy this. Stern show staffers Jon Hein, J D Harmeyer and Scott DePace threw out the first pitch and took batting practice at a recent Somerset Patriots game. They may want to stick to their day jobs.

Interview with Cleveland Indians 1st Round Pick Tyler Naquin

By Andrew Martin
@HistorianAndrew
BaseballHistorian.Blogspot.com

Tyler Naquin grew up literally surrounded by baseball. When he was just getting interested in the game his father converted two acres of pasture at their Spring, Texas home into a baseball diamond. It proved to be a fortuitous decision, as Naquin has developed into one of the best young prospects in baseball.

Naquin is a left-handed hitting, right-handed throwing outfielder out of Texas A&M University, who was taken this year by the Cleveland Indians with the 15th overall pick in the first round of this year’s MLB Draft. He is considered an on-base machine and a plus defender, with a cannon for an arm. He hit .348 during his career as an Aggie and was tabbed by Baseball America the best hitter and having the best outfield arm of any player in this year’s draft. While he is not considered a power hitter, many believe he can eventually develop into a 15-20 home run lead-off guy down the road.

Assigned to short season Mahonging Valley in the New York-Penn League, Naquin is already off to an impressive start to his professional career. I was recently able to catch up with this exciting prospect prior a game and got him to open up about his background and baseball.

Who were your favorite team and player when you were growing up?
To be honest I just watched mainly the Astros. I really liked watching Craig Biggio and I also liked Ken Griffey, Jr. when he was with the Mariners. I had a jersey of Griffey, so probably him.

Is there a particular player you model your game after?
A lot of Ichiro, just from the throwing standpoint. A lot of Jacoby Ellsbury. Mainly those two guys.

How did you end up at Texas A&M?
I was recruited by Texas, Baylor, Arkansas, and schools like that. A&M was the closest one to my house and I hadn’t had any recruitment letters or anything from them, and my coach sent them an email and said, “Hey, Naquin hasn’t signed with anybody,” and they said “Alright, come on and visit,” and that’s how it ended up.

What was your draft experience like?
It was an emotional roller coaster to be honest. I was projected 20th to the 30th pick, and getting picked 15th, you just kind of… I didn’t really know what to say at that moment.

How far in advance of the pick did the Indians contact you to let you know you were being considered?
I had no clue.

How difficult is it to transition from metal to wooden bats?
It’s fine. It takes two or three weeks to really hone in and get back in the groove of things after not playing. With a wooden bat, you just find a model you like and start swinging.

What is one piece of advice you have received since starting your pro career that has helped the most?
Don’t be a numbers guy. I’ve never been a numbers guy and numbers will take care of themselves. Just go out there and stay healthy and let your ability take over. You’re here for a reason; to just play hard every day.

What was your experience like in Cleveland after they drafted you?
They flew me, my mom, and my dad up. My brother wasn’t able to go. They flew us three up and put us in a suite. We signed a contract and went to a game. I was on the radio, television, and types of great stuff. They took real good care of us. I did my physical up there in the big league complex and met a lot of guys like Johnny Damon, a bunch of guys like that, so it was awesome.

Be sure to check out Tyler Naquin’s Baseball Cards.