2013 top 50 MLB prospects countdown: 20-11
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Among last year’s top prospects, several failed to emerge as adequate big-league players when their numbers were called. While the sample size is too marginal to be taken for granted, this will be a make or break year for several MLB prospects ranked between number 20 and 11.
At any rate, the ceiling for these ball players remains high. It wasn’t too long ago when Mike Trout received his initial call-up and struggled tremendously. With plenty of experience to gain and talent to cultivate, this group of MLB prospects looks as if it could put a major dent into baseball in the coming years.
20. C Travis d’Arnaud – New York Mets
As one of the older MLB prospects to crack this list, questions concerning d’Arnaud’s health remain. In 2010, D’Arnaud missed plenty of time due to bulging discs in his back. He then tore his posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) in 2012 and missed most of the year. In a few quick seasons, d’Arnaud is now in his third organization but still carrying unlimited potential. At 23 years old, the window may be closing on d’Arnaud to make an impact on the big league level. Many suspect this heavy-hitting catcher needs to move to another position in order to maintain his health. Regardless, there is plenty to like about a catcher who can hit 16 home runs in just 303 plate appearances.
19. RHP Jameson Taillon – Pittsburgh Pirates
After striking out 116 batters in 142 innings between single-A advanced and double-A, people were wondering if Taillon was honing in on his skills or taking a step back. It’s smart for Taillon to adapt to what pitching at the major league level will be like. After all, he will not be able to blow the ball by the batter. Taillon’s curveball appears to be a solid number-two option, and watching how well his change-up develops in 2013 will be tantalizing. Still, Taillon is likely one year away from reaching the bigs, but when his number is called, he will immediately be slotted into the starting rotation.
18. RHP Trevor Bauer – Cleveland Indians
The buzz around Bauer leaves the impression scouts are down on him. While he does have a funky delivery that poses an increased risk for injury, there is a reason why Bauer has been an elite prospect since being drafted third overall in 2011. Remember, Bauer is just two years removed from collegiate ball. Don’t get down on him yet. The trade that sent Bauer to Cleveland will give him an opportunity to open 2013 with the big league club. A quick look at his MLB debut with Arizona last year will leave you unimpressed, but Bauer did post a 9.37 strikeout rate per nine innings pitched. While he is on the fringe of having ace potential, further development coupled with big-league experience should bode well for Bauer’s future.
17. 3B/1B Mike Olt – Texas Rangers
Olt also made his MLB debut in 2012. While it was much anticipated, he flopped on offense and with his glove. The problem for Olt is the lack of a clear pathway for him to land a fulltime gig in Arlington. Olt struck out one in every three at bats while showing a lack of power. Remember, Olt slugged 28 home runs in 420 plate appearances in double-A last season. That did not translate with the big-league club. However, it’s foolish to dismiss Olt’s potential due to a minute sample size. The probability of Olt being a solid bat in the majors still looms, but playing time may be hard to come by barring an array of injuries or trade. Still, the power surge Olt had in the minors is not negligible. However, the fact that Olt will turn 25 in August is a bit concerning.
16. OF Byron Buxton – Minnesota Twins
The second overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft, Buxton possesses a ton of obvious upside. With the current state of affairs in Minnesota, the Twins will take their time in ensuring he develops into their next Torii Hunter. Simply put, Buxton is an athlete. He has raw power and his defensive relies on his speed and glove. Buxton was labeled as a five-tool player coming out of high school. Regardless, he made his debut last year with the Gulf Coast League Twins and struggled in 102 plate appearances. He did hit four home runs, but those numbers are inconsequential until we see a full season of development for Buxton.
15. RHP Taijuan Walker – Seattle Mariners
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