Today we wrapped up our top 20 prospect countdown, finishing off with Gregory Polanco ranked as the top prospect in the system this year. If you enjoyed the countdown, and the reports that went with each prospect, I recommend buying the 2014 Prospect Guide. It includes the full top 50 prospects, along with a report on each player. What the countdown didn’t include were the stats, height, weight, bio information, and our grade and risk factors for each player. The book includes all of that for every player in the system, along with write-ups for any prospect outside of the top 50 that projects to reach the majors. Not only is the book a great resource, but it also helps the site grow, allowing us to provide all of the great coverage on the site for free.
The 2014 season will see the top two prospects in the system graduate. Gregory Polanco is expected to arrive in the second half, and Jameson Taillon could be up by mid-June, just like Gerrit Cole. Beyond those two, there are a lot of candidates for the top spot in 2015, with no clear front runner. The good part about this is that the “no clear front runner” aspect isn’t because no one has stepped up as a top prospect. It’s because so many have stepped up as top prospects.
Leading the way are Tyler Glasnow and Austin Meadows. I think both players could be top prospects in other organizations. In fact, Keith Law had Glasnow rated 20th overall in his top 100 prospects. There were 13 teams with prospects ahead of Glasnow. That means, according to Law, Glasnow would currently be the top prospect for 17 teams in the league. Law had Austin Meadows rated 35th. Using the same criteria, Law would have Meadows as the top prospect for nine Major League teams. That’s just Law’s ranking. You could do the same with other top 100 lists and find where Glasnow or Meadows would rank in other systems.
Behind those two are several guys who have the potential to jump to the top spot with a big breakout season. There are questions about Alen Hanson’s defensive skills, but not many questions about his hitting. He’s been getting more recognition as a guy who can stick at shortstop. If he starts hitting in the upper levels, and shows he can handle shortstop, then you’re talking about a good candidate for number one overall.
Nick Kingham has some excellent stuff, and seems to get better each year. Right now it’s safe to project him as a strong middle of the rotation workhorse, or possibly a weaker number two starter. That assumes he won’t continue to get stronger and add velocity or improve his off-speed stuff. He’s done that each year, and if he continues once again in 2014, he could see that upside improve, with his already high floor serving as a benefit to his status.
Reese McGuire is an outstanding defensive catcher, with a very strong chance that he will stick at the position over the long-term. That’s rare for a prep catcher. His hitting skills have been put in question, but he did show some promise in his debut in the GCL. If he goes to West Virginia this year and displays strong offense to go with the defense, he could be a contender for the top spot. Maybe not in 2015, but definitely in a future year.
Josh Bell has a lot of upside with his bat. His defense will limit him to a corner, and I think he best fits at first base over the long-run with the Pirates. We saw a glimpse of his power potential, but we haven’t seen the bat fully break out. If that happens in 2014, then he could spend the season in high-A/Double-A, with Triple-A/MLB on the horizon in 2015. That would also put him in position to be one of the system’s top prospects.
Luis Heredia is another wild card. He’s got a ton of potential, and he recently got in much better shape compared to last year. It would take a massive breakout season for him to take the top spot in 2015, but I think he could climb the ranks and be the top guy in a future year. You could also say the same about Harold Ramirez, who has a lot of upside, and could be a breakout candidate in West Virginia.
Right now it’s impossible to say who could be the top prospect next year. If I’m just going with the site rankings, and removing Taillon and Polanco, then Tyler Glasnow would be my pick. But that same approach last year had Taillon over Polanco, and the 2013 season saw Polanco take a step forward in the rankings. It’s possible that someone could step forward ahead of everyone else and take the top spot in 2015. Who would your choice be? Vote in the poll below, and feel free to leave your opinion in the comments below.