1. Carlos Correa-SS-19
-Correa made his full season debut in 2013 and things went about as well as anyone could have expected for the former #1 overall pick. Correa flashes tremendous potential with the bat and made enough strides defensively that it’s no longer a reach that he sticks at SS. Correa’s hit tool is near elite and should end up as at least a grade 6 tool and has the potential to be better than that. Power is the tool that will determine whether Correa is an above average big leaguer or a superstar as Correa has the potential to develop 25+ HR pop. Correa doesn’t possess anything more than average speed but it plays up a bit due to his strong instincts.
-Outlook: Correa has the potential to be the kind of SS fantasy owners dream of with comps like Troy Tulowitzki already being thrown around. I have no doubt that Correa will be an above average hitter who consistently hits in the neighborhood of .300 with a lot of extra base hits. I am a little less bullish on Correa’s power than some (I have seen 3-40 HR projections from some analysts), I see a guy more likely to sit in the 15-25 HR range who mixes in 35+ doubles. Put that all together and you have a surefire top-5 fantasy SS for a long time to come.
ETA: Late 2015
2. Jorge Alfaro-C-20
-Alfaro had a breakthrough performance in 2013 that saw him play in a career high 113 games in A-ball and then turn heads with a tremendous showing in the AFL. If you like tools Alfaro is your man and he has a chance to be a true 5-tool player as a C. Forget about the 8 arm and improving glove since all they do is ensure he sticks at catcher and focus on the offensive weapons Alfaro provides. Alfaro’s power is already plus and has a chance to be plus-plus if he can improve his approach so that his hit tool plays up. If all that wasn’t enough Alfaro also shows well above average speed that will still play up even if catching everyday saps a little of his athleticism.
-Outlook: I had considered Alfaro for #1 on this list but went with Correa because of his incredible makeup compared to some concerns about Alfaro’s work ethic and approach. I feel like Alfaro did take a big step forward on both of those fronts in 2013 and if he keeps it up I see the sky as the limit for him. As it is right now I’m comfortable projecting Alfaro to settle in as a .270 or so hitter who hits 25+ bombs annually and chips in 15+ steals just for gravy.
3. Gregory Polanco-OF-22
-Polanco’s 2013 was a bit of a rollercoaster that ended up with him being considered a consensus top-20 prospect in all of baseball. Polanco tore thru Hi-A to start the season but he struggled some at AA before tearing up the Dominican Winter League. Polanco is a tremendous athlete with great hands who will no doubt hit at the higher levels. I see Polanco’s hit tool as plus with a chance to be plus-plus as he matures both physically and with his approach. Polanco’s power tool is more potential at this point with some seeing it as a potential plus tool and others thinking he’ll end up only with average power. Polanco has great instincts and runs the bases well and will definitely be a contributor in the running game.
-Outlook: I’m sure some are surprised to not see Polanco higher on this list but I just don’t see his tools matching up with Alfaro’s, especially when you consider position scarcity. I see Polanco ending up as a .300 hitter who hits 15 or so homers and swipes you 40 or so bags which would make him a very solid #2/3 OF in FBLO. In many ways Polanco is sort of a poor man’s Andrew McCutcheon or a rich man’s Starling Marte depending on how you prefer to look at life.
-ETA: July 2014
4. Corey Seager-SS/3B-19
-Seager got off to a torrid start in low-A in 2013 and showed why Dodger fans are so excited for his future. Seager struggled down the stretch in Hi-A and the AFL (where he had no business being due to age and fatigue) but those struggles don’t dampen his outlook. Seager can really hit and I would have no trouble putting a potential 6 grade on his hit tool as well as his power tool. Seager is a decent runner now but projects to be below average as his huge frame fills out, a fact that will probably prompt a move to 3B where his bat will play just fine.
-Outlook: Coming in to the offseason, with the recent memories of his late season struggles, I was a little down on Seager and his future potential but the more I reviewed him the more I liked. I see a move to 3B as inevitable for Seager but he should have enough bat to play there. Look for Seager to hit .280 or so with 20 homers and develop into a solid fantay starter in FBLO.
5. Kohl Stewart-RHP-19
-The top high-school arm taken in the 2013 draft Stewart threw only 20 innings in 2013 but made quite an impression in rookie ball. Stewart has a lightning fast arm and his heater works in the low 90s and he can dial it up when necessary. Stewart’s secondary offering is a slider that shows plus potential but is inconsistent at this point. Stewart’s third offering is a changeup that has plus potential but is a rudimentary offering at this point as he rarely needed it in high-school. Some scouts have expressed concern about Stewart’s delivery, and called him more of a thrower than a pitcher, while others talk about his polish and poise being greater than his projection, confusing.
-Outlook: I am taking a bit of a wait and see approach with Stewart as the reports on him tend to vary greatly. Stuff wise he has a chance to have two plus or better offerings and if the change develops he has the potential to be an ace. Obviously, as with just about any HS arm, there are all kinds of risks and developmental hurdles in front of Stewart and if the reports about his delivery needing to be completely reworked are true (Keith Law), his path to the majors could be very slow moving.
6. Phillip Ervin-OF-21
-Ervin was the 27th pick in the 2013 draft out of Samford and he wasted little time in putting on a show with the bat after signing. Ervin tore up rookie ball and low-A (which a college bat should) and displayed a solid approach and a potential impact bat. Ervin seems a little underrated to me in prospect circles and while I don’t see a superstar I have no doubt he could turn into a .275 hitter who hits 20-25 bombs annually and ends up a pretty solid #3 OF in FBLO.
7. Hunter Harvey-RHP-19
-Harvey is yet another 2013 first rounder who burst on the scene after signing and well it was a very small sample size he looked very impressive. Harvey features a FB that sits in the low 90s with life and has some projection as he fills out. Harvey also throws a power CB and a developing changeup that both flash plus potential but also have a long way to go. Like Stewart 2014 will be our first chance to really get a feel for what Harvey is but all the potential is there to grow into a nice #2/3 starter type.
8. Jesse Biddle-LHP-22
-2013 was kind of like a big turd for Biddle in that it looks kind of impressive from afar but really stinks when you look at it up close. Biddle K’d more than a guy an inning but he also walked almost 5.5 hitters per 9 due to very poor FB command. Biddle’s FB sits around 90 and can get up to 92 or so but he doesn’t command it well and his delivery is inconsistent. Biddle has a CB that plays well in the low minors but lacks depth and bite to be successful against better hitters. He does show a promising changeup that gives him a chance to stick as a starter but as of now I don’t see much more than a 4/5 starter in MLB and a backup/spot starter type upside in FBLO.
9. Lance McCullers-RHP-20 (Note: McCullers was released by the Twins on 3/4)
-McCullers is a big guy with a fast arm action who throws a FB that sits in the low-mid 90s and he backs that up with a power CB. McCullers also has an inconsistent delivery and poor command and by all accounts will most likely end up as a let inning reliever in the bigs.
2013 Top Prospects:
1. Jose Fernandez-RHP
2. Addison Russell-SS
3. Kyle Zimmer-RHP
4. Carlos Correa-SS
5. Kyle Crick-RHP
-The Twins have done of good job recently of maintaining a strong farm system while also competing for championships as evident by their 2013 top-5 list above and the trophy sitting atop their mantle in Fargo right now. The 2014 Twins system is full of potential high ceiling guys who could be impact guys down the line. Polanco may be the only contributor at the big league level in 2014 but you can bet some of the other upside guys could impact the pennant race as trade chips if they take off in the low minors and they big league club has a hole to fill. The Twins also are guaranteed a top-2 pick in June’s draft (and are favorites for #1) which will net another high impact player. All in all it’s a good time to be a Twinkie as the present and future look bright.