This is the first of the two part reveal of my MLB prospect list, with a twist relative to other industry lists. Like many other lists, I rank current minor leaguers (with rookie eligibility still in tact; sorry Tyler Skaggs) based on their upside, chance to reach it and distance to the big leagues. The twist is that this is a true MLB prospect ranking in that everyone not currently in the big leagues is listed, including domestic amateurs and professionals from the Japanese and Cuban leagues. Active MLBers with rookie eligibility that would make the list if demoted are ranked below.
Some of these international players are in their mid-to-late 20's but I thought it was more important to list all the top potential impact big leaguers rather than just the ones of a certain experience still in the minor leagues. The likelihood of being posted/defecting for foreign pros is not factored in their ranking (but noted in the comments), they are ranked purely on prospect value, like the minor leaguers. Once the season ends, I'll start ranking many more prospects, first by organization, working up to a Top 111, integrating the BUBBA System to put a dollar value on every prospect.
Top MLB Prospects, Ranked 26-50
26. Henry Owens, LHP, Red Sox (AA - Portland)
6'6/205, L/L, Age: 21.10, Acquired: 2011 1S-36, HS - California
6'6 lefty is moving quicker than expected, bumping 98 mph with three pitch mix and striking out more than one batter per inning.
27. Jonathan Gray, RHP, Rockies (Hi-A - Modesto)
6'4/255, R/R, Age: 21.81, Acquired: 2013 1-3, U of Oklahoma
Recent #3 overall pick flashes plus-plus fastball/slider combo and worst case scenario, barring injury, looks like dominating closer.
28. Max Fried, LHP, Padres (Lo-A - Fort Wayne)
6'4/185, L/L, Age: 19.61, Acquired: 2012 1-7, HS - California
Lefty has made solid progress this year and is flashing above average stuff across the board; could take a big step forward if command improves as expected.
29. Lucas Giolito, RHP, Nationals (SS - Auburn)
6'6/225, R/R, Age: 19.12, Acquired: 2012 1-16, HS - California
Fried's prep teammate will always be compared to him and is just a hair behind right now, just getting back on the mound from Tommy John, but ceiling is higher and velocity is already back.
6'0/190, R/R, Age: 18.97, Acquired: 2013 1-5, HS - Georgia
Recent #5 overall pick is true outlier with no obvious MLB comparables; plus-plus bat speed and raw power along with plus speed reminds me of Gary Sheffield.
31. Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Pirates (Lo-A - West Virginia)
6'7/195, R/R, Age: 20.01, Acquired: 2011 5-152, HS - California
The most improved prospect in baseball this season is shooting up prospect boards with fastball that regularly hits 97 mph, plus hook and solid changeup; has 32 K in last 14 IP.
32. Robert Stephenson, RHP, Reds (AA - Pensacola)
6'2/190, R/R, Age: 20.51, Acquired: 2011 1-27, HS - California
Fireballing, athletic righty is in upper 90's in every start with plus curveball and was recently promoted to Double-A at age 20.
33. Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, RHP, Cuba (Free Agent)
6'2/185, R/R, Age: 26.93
One of a handful of Cuban standouts that have recently defected, Gonzalez is already a free agent and signed a deal with the Phillies for over $50 million in July; it was voided reportedly over elbow issues, but Gonzalez still has mid-rotation potential.
34. Kohl Stewart, RHP, Twins (SS - Elizabethtown)
6'3/195, R/R, Age: 18.89, Acquired: 2013 1-4, HS - Texas
Recent #4 overall pick has frontline potential but focus on football has him behind some of the other recent elite prep pitchers at the same stage.
35. Nick Castellanos, RF, Tigers (AAA- Toledo)
6'4/210, R/R, Age: 21.48, Acquired: 2010 1S-44 HS - Florida
Game power still hasn't come around as hoped and he's moved to right field as feared but advanced feel to hit and elite bat control give Castellanos clear MLB regular future.
36. Eddie Butler, RHP, Rockies (AA - Tulsa)
6'2/180, R/R, Age: 22.45, Acquired: 2012 1S-46, Radford U.
Righty had above average stuff and good command out of college but took step forward this year, working 95-99 mph with above average off-speed in Futures Game.
37. Erik Johnson, RHP, White Sox (AAA - Charlotte)
6'3/235, R/R, Age: 23.66, Acquired: 2011 2-80, California U.
Under-the-radar sinker/slider righty stands out in terrible White Sox system for his MLB-ready mid-rotation potential via above average stuff and command.
38. David Dahl, CF, Rockies (Lo-A - Asheville - DL)
6'2/185, L/R, Age: 19.40, Acquired: 2012 1-10, HS - Alabama
Elite prep bat has had up-and-down first full pro season but flashes five above average tools and advanced feel to hit.
39. Lance McCullers, RHP, Astros (Lo-A - Quad Cities)
6'2/205, L/R, Age: 19.90, Acquired: 2012 1S - 42, HS - Florida
Power righty has less-than-ideal size but flashes plus-plus fastball/curve combo and is racking up K's and GB's in first full pro season.
40. Shohei Otani, RHP, Japan (NPB - Nippon)
6'4/190, R/R, Age: 19.14
Hailed by many as the successor to Yu Darvish's throne as the next elite Japanese arm, he passed on MLB out of high school last year and won't be posted for a long time, but athletic 6'4 righty is into upper 90's with projection, athleticism and nasty off-speed.
41. Aaron Sanchez, RHP, Blue Jays (Hi-A - Dunedin)
6'4/190, R/R, Age: 21.15, Acquired: 2010 1S - 34, HS - California
Power righty sits 95-98 mph and flashes above average secondary stuff but consistency and command is all that's holding him back from being above average MLB starter.
42. Lucas Sims, RHP, Braves (Lo-A - Rome)
6'2/195, R/R, Age: 19.29, Acquired: 2012 1-21, HS - Georgia
Power righty has less-than-ideal size but already flashes three above average pitches with some feel and could move quickly.
43. Andrew Heaney, LHP, Marlins (AA - Jacksonville)
6'2/190, L/L, Age: 22.23, Acquired: 2012 1-9, Oklahoma State U.
Advanced lefty doesn't blow you away with stuff or size but everything he does is above average and could be ready to contribute in 2014.
44. C.J. Edwards, RHP, Cubs (Hi-A - Daytona)
6'2/155, R/R, Age: 21.98, Acquired: 2011 48-1464, HS - South Carolina
Signed for $50,000 as a 48th round pick two years ago and took a giant step forward this season before being traded for Matt Garza; super athletic righty is just scratching the surface with 91-95 mph heater and potential plus curve.
45. Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP, Orioles (AA - Bowie)
6'2/200, L/L, Age: 20.39, Acquired: IFA - Venezuela
Formerly projectable lefty has steadily added weight, velocity and polish since signing at 16, now works with three above average pitches, flashing mid-rotation upside.
46. Colin Moran, 3B, Marlins (Lo-A - Greensboro)
6'4/190, L/R, Age: 20.90, Acquired: 2013 1-6, U. North Carolina
Recent #6 overall pick isn't a sexy prospect but flashes a 60+ bat with some power projection and ability to stay at third base long-term.
47. Alex Meyer, RHP, Twins (AA - New Britain)
6'9/220, R/R, Age: 23.65, Acquired: 2011 1-23, U. Kentucky
Massive righty has had trouble with injuries, command and consistency and may still end up in the bullpen but, this week was sitting 95-100 mph with a plus slider.
48. Kyle Crick, RHP, Giants (Hi-A - San Jose)
6'4/220, L/R, Age: 20.74, Acquired: 2011 1S-49, HS - Texas
Big, Texas-bred fireballing righty flashes shades of Matt Cain and has mid-90's fastball with potential plus curve, but feel to pitch and changeup have been spotty this year.
49. Joc Pederson, OF, Dodgers (AA - Chattanooga)
6'1/185, L/L, Age: 21.35, Acquired: 2010 11-352, HS - California
Less-exciting OF counterpart to Yasiel Puig at AA Chattanooga this season brings less bat flips to the table but has five average or better tools, headlined but a plus bat and great makeup.
50. Jonathan Singleton, 1B, Astros (AAA - Oklahoma City)
6'2/235, L/L, Age: 21.94, Acquired: 2009 8-257, HS - California
Suspended for first 50 games of 2013 for smoking weed, but is back on the field and above average bat/power are almost ready to start contributing for historically-putrid Astros lineup.
Next 7 Domestic Prospects
1. Mike Foltynewicz, RHP, Astros (AA - Corpus Christi)
2. Allen Webster, RHP, Red Sox (AAA - Pawtucket)
3. Tyler Kolek, RHP, Shepherd HS (TX) (HS - Senior)
4. Christian Bethancourt, C, Braves (AA - Mississippi)
5. Rafael DePaula, RHP, Yankees (Hi-A - Tampa)
6. Eddie Rosario, 2B, Twins (AA - New Britain)
7. Franklin Barreto, 2B, Blue Jays (SS - Bluefield)
Next 7 International Prospects
Another Cuban player that has defected and will likely be a free agent this winter (once he clears OFAC) is more hype (rumored price tag higher than Yasiel Puig) than substance to scouts I talked to; they said husky 6'3/250 slugger is big league ready but much more Kendrys Morales than Prince Fielder.
2. Shintaro Fujinama, RHP, Japan (Hanshin)
Some scouts preferred Fujinama to Otani in last year's top-heavy Japanese high school class; the 6'5 teenage righty runs it up to 97 with advanced slider and splitter but also won't come to the MLB for awhile.
3. Kenta Maeda, RHP, Japan (Hiroshima)
His Japanese club has told teams he definitely will be posted this offseason and while it's only #4 starter type stuff and he isn't a huge guy, he's MLB-ready, the track record is great and the command helps stuff play up.
4. Alexander Guerrero, 2B, Cuba (Free Agent)
Defected and was subject of wild rumors of a deal with Dodgers; could play 2B in the pros and has some hit/power tools but has more of a solid everyday player upside.
5. Jose Fernandez, 2B, Cuba (Matanzas)
Best hitting prospect on the Cuban team that recently played a 5-game set vs College Team USA, Fernandez can stick at 2B and flashes above average raw power but is more of a line drive game hitter that struggled at times against top shelf college arms, though he's put up big numbers in Cuba.
6. Yusei Kikuchi, LHP, Japan (Seibu)
Passed on MLB out of high school but not without rumors he could spurn NPB; lefty with solid-average stuff and good command won't move across the Pacific for awhile.
7. Yulieski Gourriel, 3B, Cuba (Sancti Spiritus)
Long-known and scouted player has faded in recent years from being considered the top player on the island, but still has good hands and hitting tools to be MLB regular if he ever surprises clubs and decides to defect.
Rookie Eligible, In MLB & Top 50 Prospect Caliber
1. Xander Bogaerts, SS, Red Sox
2. Christian Yelich, OF, Marlins
3. Mike Zunino, C, Mariners
4. Carlos Martinez, RHP, Cardinals
5. Michael Wacha, RHP, Cardinals
6. Travis D'Arnaud, C, Mets
7. Danny Salazar, RHP, Indians
8. Matt Davidson, 3B, Diamondbacks
9. Casey Kelly, RHP, Padres
10. Jake Marisnick, CF, Marlins
11. Sonny Gray, RHP, A's
12. Jarred Cosart, RHP, Astros