Taking a Look at Possible #1 Prospect Candidates for 2013
To be named the top prospect in baseball is quite a prestigious honor. If you are named one, you join the likes of Chipper Jones, Alex Rodgriuez, and Joe Mauer. Many, including myself, turn to well-known prospect mavens such as Keith Law, Baseball America, John Sickels, and Kevin Goldstein to get valuable information that helps to influence our decision. This past year, there wasn’t a consensus on the top prospect, as Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, and Matt Moore were all well-loved among the prospect community. But Trout, Harper, and Moore are all likely to exhaust their rookie eligibility in 2012, meaning they won’t be included on any top prospect lists come 2013. The race for the 2013 top prospect is wide open at the moment and includes a number of names. Here are a few players that could be honored with the title of being the top prospect in all of baseball come this time next year.
Taijuan Walker, RHP – Seattle Mariners
Walker is the type of athlete that scouts dream on. He has a top of the line fastball, and has the potential to be one of the best starters in the game. Most places listed him in the 15-30 range this year. Walker will play much of 2012 in Double-A and he is already playing fantastically. If he can continue to dominate and work on his secondary stuff, Walker should be an easy top 10 prospect in 2013, with a slight chance at getting top honors.
Bubba Starling, Outfield – Kansas City Royals
Starling, the former Oklahoma Sooners quarterback recruit, is another player with supreme athleticism. If he reaches his potential, then Starling is a 5 tool player capable of hitting .300 with 30 home runs and plus defense in centerfield. The problem is Starling is very raw, and it may take a while before the Royals really know what they have. The Royals are not likely to rush Starling, making him being the top prospect next year a long shot. But if Starling can go out and show he is making the proper improvements, he very well may rocket up most lists. He’s a true boom or bust prospect.
Gerritt Cole, RHP – Pittsburgh Pirates
Cole wasn’t as advanced as some of his other fellow draftees, but his insane pure stuff convinced the Pirates to take him with the number 1 overall choice. Given a full season, Cole could probably pitch his way to the top of any list, but the Pirates will likely follow the same plan with him as they did with Jameson Taillon last season. That could diminish his chances of moving quicker.
Manny Machado, Shortstop – Baltimore Orioles
At just 19, Machado has already reached Double-A. He is a big bodied shortstop that may have to move to third base, but the bat has the potential to be something special. If Machado can show enough prowess to stay at short, he is a potential MVP caliber player. A strong 2012 season at Double-A could vault Machado to best prospect in the game status.
Archie Bradley, RHP – Arizona Diamondbacks
Bradley is nowhere near as polished as his 2011 draft counterpart, Dylan Bundy, but he has the pure stuff to potentially be better than Bundy. He has a monster fastball that sits in the mid to upper 90’s to go along with a plus-plus curveball. If he can properly develop a changeup, we could be looking at a future ace. Bradley has made great strides already so far this season. He has struck out 38 batters in 35 innings so far this season, but he is showing some control problems as he has walked 21. I’m not sure if Bradley could top a list in 2013, but barring any setbacks, he could be the best pitching prospect in baseball coming into 2014.
Jurickson Profar, Shortstop – Texas Rangers
I ranked Profar as the 4th best prospect entering the season, and now that Trout, Harper, and Moore have graduated, he may very well be the best prospect in baseball. Unlike Machado, Profar is a lock to stick at short. He is a potential game changer along the lines of Jose Reyes, but with better defense and less steals. Right now Profar appears to be the one of the if not the most likely candidate to top prospect lists come spring 2013.
Dylan Bundy, RHP – Baltimore Orioles
There is a very good chance that the top 2 prospects in all of baseball next year will belong to the Orioles organization. The legend that is Dylan Bundy has already begun wrecking havoc on the South Atlantic League, and could be moved up at any moment. In just 20 innings so far this season, he has struck out 33 and allowed just 4 baserunners. I’d put Bundy as the best pitching prospect in baseball right now, and he could potentially be the best prospect in baseball all positions accounted for. As high as it is, success at a higher level such as Double-A could truly raise his stock even further.
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