With only a few more weeks left in the year, it's time we finally rolled out our Top 30 prospect list and podcast. If you stayed up Saturday evening, you've already heard the list discussed and seen the names.
One of the reasons we've delayed things is that we're ramping it up this year. In addition to the podcast posts, we'll also be putting up capsules on each player in the Top 30, complete with notes and a dissenting opinion from one of the TCB graders.
As we did last year, the TCB readers also got to grade their prospects and influence our rankings. Here's how that Reader Top 30 list looked, after we averaged out over 100 responses.
Reader Top 30
3) Mark Appel
4) Lance McCullers
5) Mike Foltynewicz
7) Delino DeShields, Jr.
8) Vincent Velasquez
10) Rio Ruiz
11) Michael Feliz
13) Josh Hader
14) Preston Tucker
15) Andrew Thurman
16) Max Stassi
17) Danry Vasquez
18) Nolan Fontana
19) Carlos Perez
20) Andrew Aplin
21) Aaron West
22) Tyler Heineman
23) Brady Rodgers
24) Tony Kemp
25) Japhet Amador
26) Kyle Smith
27) Chia-jen Lo
28) M.P. Cokinos
29) Jonathan Meyer
30) Leo Heras
Next year's List Crashers
Who are the guys who make this list next year? Which players will surprise everyone and move up into a crowded Top 30 for 2014? We asked the TCB staff for answers and this is what we got:
German had a brief, yet tough short season following a layoff after he was drafted in the 11th round. Although, he possesses great size and reportedly has the stuff to make him a a very interesting prospect. He's likely to get a short-season assignment next season, but with a good season, he could vault into top 30 status.
Nicely may have the highest upside for a lefty in the system, but limited professional experience and data make it hard to give him an aggressive grade. With his athleticism and stuff from the left side, he could fight his way into top 30 prospects next season.
Matthew Duffy - 3B - RHB
Don't believe the small sample at Corpus last year; LD% was unsustainably-bad at 10.4% (career number is 20.9%, and that's with that terrible sample at AA included). BAbip was also much lower than his career (.274 compared to .339). Actually hits better vs. RHP than LHP despite being a righty, but splits are good both ways. 20+ HR power is legit, and Jeff Luhnow described his glove to me as being well-above-average in the past.
Kent Emanuel - LHP
North Carolina's Friday Night ace has the weapon that, in my eyes, can most easily help a left-handed pitcher meet and exceed expectations; a good change up. As a southpaw with that weapon in his arsenal, I'm a heavy believer in a high floor for him as an effective reliever, and not just a LOOGY. His curve ball improved this year in college, and if it continues to do so, his floor gets another bump. He's not likely to ever wow anyone, but there's real potential for a #3 starter here. He was already just into our Top 40, and if he has a big year, I fully expect him to move up at least the ten spots or so he'll need to make the Top 30 following 2014.
Carlos Rodon, LHP
Yep, I'm cheating. But, he's totally going to be there. Heck, if there is anyone who might unseat Carlos Correa for the top spot on next year's list, it's Rodon. The draft hasn't seen his level of prospect in quite a while. He's more of a sure thing that Gerrit Cole at this point and is at the same level with guys like David Price and Justin Verlander. As a prospect. He's not there yet and there is no guarantee he'll turn out like those guys. But, you could absolutely make a case that even if Correa does what we assume he will this year, Rodon would still be the better prospect. He's a true ace-level pitcher. We just have to wait until June to add him to the Astros system.
Before being traded from the Diamondbacks in 2012, Borchering was good power prospect. He struggled with strikeouts, but walked at a decent clip. The big thing is his power. He hit 24 home runs in 2011 and followed that up with 26 in 2012. He'd have to put up a monster year to vault back into the Top 30 (he was #26 following the 2012 season), but he certainly has the ability to do that. Given the relatively-shallow 1B position in the Astros farm, Borchering has a chance to shoot up the system depth chart. 2014 will literally be the make-or-break season for Borchering that will determine if he makes the major leagues at all, In my opinion. And he's only 23 years old.
Two stat lines put up by seventeen-year-old Astros prospects in the Gulf Coast League:
Player A: 214 PA, 11 SB, 13.6 BB%, 14.5 K%, .302 BABIP, .257/.357/.341, 114 wRC+
Player B: 163 PA, 5 SB, 4.3 BB%, 22.1 K%, .291 BABIP, .232/.270/.355, 87 wRC+
Player A is Jason Martin, in his 2013 campaign, all of which was played before his 18th birthday. Player B is Carlos Correa in 2012.
Martin combines a patient approach from the left side, good speed on the basepaths, and outstanding center field defense in a package that is as exceptional as it is raw. Thus far in his career, he looks like a prototypical leadoff hitter. And while he may be lacking in the power department, having hit zero home runs, he does have game-changing speed and exceptional plate discipline for a seventeen-year-old. Martin's speed has yet to play up as much as you'd like to see in game situations, but that's where the Astros' developmental staff, led in this case by speed coach Vince Coleman, comes in. Don't be surprised if Martin finds himself on a full-season roster in 2014, but even if he goes through a short season level, I don't think people are going to be able to continue to ignore him for much longer. As it stands, I can't figure out why there isn't much love for him. Maybe it's the boring name.