2013 top 50 MLB prospects countdown: 40-31

MLB prospect Billy Hamilton stretches in the outfield.
Will Billy Hamilton do enough besides steal bases to earn a spot on the Cincinnati Reds roster? (Jamie Ramsey/Reds.com)

A correlation exists between MLB prospects and Wall Street. One bad stretch and a prospect’s stock will nosedive. On the other hand, a hot streak will get the adrenaline rushing, leading to much more value. At the end of the day when the bell rings, only the real deal will remain standing.

As we’ve seen with the MLB prospects ranked number 50 through 41, several have superfluous value while others stand on more shaky ground. For instance, there is a big difference between George Springer and Adam Eaton.

Regardless, this next batch of MLB prospects is just as intriguing as the last.

As the countdown continues, do not consider the higher ranked prospects more assuredly than the lower ranked prospects. Rather, look at them from a perspective of talent and value.

At any rate, let’s delve into the next batch of MLB prospects as we count down to number one:

40. RHP Casey Kelly – San Diego Padres

Kelly is the most MLB-ready of any pitchers we have yet to meet. He was called on by the Padres late last August, where he posted a respectable 2-3 record in six starts. In those starts, he nearly averaged a strikeout per inning while allowing 23 runs in 29 innings pitched. The downside is Kelly’s strikeout rate in his brief appearance was abnormally high when compared to his career numbers in the minors. Kelly has a knack for coaxing the hitter into groundballs. This is a plus for him since he has typically struggled with secondary out pitches. Not known to be too flashy, Kelly still has legitimate upside as a poor man’s version of Tim Hudson.

39. RHP Matt Barnes – Boston Red Sox

Selected in the first round of the 2011 MLB Draft, this Connecticut native excelled in single-A last season before getting a reality check in single-A advanced. In single-A for the Greenville Drive, Barnes posted a vicious 14.18 strikeout per nine innings pitched rate while posting an 0.34 ERA in just five starts. He was then shipped to the single-A advanced affiliate in Salem, where his competitive advantage waned. Barnes would maintain a fairly lofty K percentage rate while in Salem, but his ERA rose to 3.58 in 20 starts. His walk rate increased while his LOB percentage predictably decreased. Either way, Barnes must take a gigantic step forward in 2013 as he is expected to land at double-A before the season is over.

38. OF Jackie Bradley – Boston Red Sox

Bradley is waiting for Jacoby Ellsbury’s contract to expire so he can reach the majors. In two years of minor league experience, Bradley has shown he can hit for contact and be a legitimate threat on the base paths. The jump to double-A last season was not as kind as his average dipped from .357 to .275, but Bradley’s metrics suggest a positive adjustment in 2013. This outfielder prospect has Red Sox fans anticipating his call-up. While it is likely that injuries could force the organization’s hand at some point in 2013, a late-August call is more likely. With the talent Bradley possesses, he is expected to roam Fenway Park’s outfield for a long time beginning in 2014.

37. SS Francisco Lindor – Cleveland Indians

Considered by many to be the Indians top prospect (prior to the Trevor Bauer trade), this eighth overall pick of the 2011 MLB Draft displayed an incredible swing last year while maintaining a low strikeout rate at single-A Lake County. His .257 average is a cause for concern and many think it could get worse in 2013. If Lindor does indeed increase his contact rate, his value as a prospect could shoot through the roof. There is a consensus that suggests Lindor is too raw to reach the majors in the next couple of seasons, but he should be ready in 2015 if he progresses as expected. Coincidentally, that is the year Asdrubal Cabrera’s contract expires.

36. RHP Kyle Zimmer – Kansas City Royals

Like with so many young prospects, the jump from one rung of the farm system to the next is often challenging. Zimmer is no exception. A few starts in rookie league showed he was well worth the Royals’ first pick in the 2012 draft. The leap to single-A Kane County was more daunting. Zimmer had just one outing of more than seven strikeouts. However, he posted an impressively low walk rate. While his command can still be called into question, Zimmer’s biggest problem is with him being figured out. The longer he was in single-A the more adept opposing hitters were when facing him.

35. OF Albert Almora – Chicago Cubs

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Speed, speed, speed. This sixth overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft is exceptional defensively. Aside from that, he still remains a question mark offensively as his swing and mechanics are worked over. Between the rookie league and single-A last season, Almora managed to hit for a noticeable average. The downside is he had zero walks in 65 plate appearances at single-A. Almora is a work in progress. He is quite away from reaching the MLB level, but people are enamored with his skill set. Some have compared him to Dexter Fowler, while others think he has more ceiling. Regardless, Almora has the potential to be ranked even higher this time next year.

34. OF Bubba Starling – Kansas City Royals

Recruited heavily by Nebraska to play quarterback in the Big Ten, Starling elected to try his hand at baseball. Well, he wasn’t trying anything as he was already one of the top baseball prospects coming out of high school. In rookie league ball last season, Starling amazed. His .275 AVG, 10 HR, 33 RBI and 9 SB stand out, but his knack for whiffing needs to be toned down. Starling struck out nearly one in three at bats. While he maintained a respectable walk rate, don’t be surprised if Starling’s average dips considerably in 2013 unless appropriate adjustments are made.

33. OF/SS Billy Hamilton – Cincinnati Reds

Hamilton is known for stealing more than 100 bases in each of the last two seasons. Unfortunately, he lacks punch elsewhere. While the ceiling remains high for Hamilton, it may be visibly high, meaning he could be a tad overrated. As a raw talent with the best speed among the prospects ranked here, the transition from shortstop to center field he undertook late last season marks the hope the Reds organization has in him. Hamilton’s progression slowed when he reached double-A last season. While he has the potential to be a .300 hitter, 2013 will be decisive in his development as it will show how equipped he is in the other facets of his game. In five years, will we be asking “how many bases will Hamilton steal this year?” or “What happened to that guy who stole all those bases in the minor leagues?”

32. RHP Carlos Martinez – St. Louis Cardinals

Martinez is the lesser known of the Cardinals’ pitching prospects. While he is currently late to spring training due to a visa issue, he is expected to make a large enough impact that will bode well for his anticipated call-up in late 2013. After the transition to double-A last year, Martinez proved he was more than capable of holding his own as a starter. The upside is that of a borderline ace. He possesses a galvanizing fastball coupled with a serious curve. He is expected to add another pitch or two to his repertoire as well. The downside is his strikeout rate has dissipated at each successive layer of the minors.

31. RHP Archie Bradley – Arizona Diamondbacks

After drawing comparisons to Dylan Bundy following the 2011 MLB Draft, Bradley’s career has taken a much different path despite housing the same ace-like potential as the Orioles hurler. With a browbeating fastball and tantalizing curveball to match, Bradley is looking forward to further enhancing his change-up in 2013. It is unlikely we will see Bradley until 2014. Arizona’s rotational depth is astounding and Bradley does need to advance his command. Having him locked in the farm system made it easier for the Diamondbacks to part ways with Trevor Bauer.

The next installment of the 2013 top 50 MLB prospects continues the countdown with  no. 30 through no. 21.

2013 top 50 MLB prospects countdown: 50-41

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