As we continue our countdown of top MLB prospects , more household names will appear. Casual baseball fans may already know who Trevor Rosenthal or Chris Archer is, but then again, they may not. Regardless, this next crop of prospects is nearing the impact stage of minor league baseball. These guys have bats or arms or defensive capabilities suited to those of a big league-ready player. Without hesitation, here they are.
30. OF Mason Williams – New York Yankees
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The Yankees found a gem in the fourth round of the 2010 draft when they snatched Williams off the board. Despite not appearing to be a great prospect in any specific category, Williams is close to being an everyday outfielder at the big-league level should he see continued success with a promotion to double-A this season. Williams is a left-handed slugger who doesn’t strike out much, and he has shown he can hit for a respectable average. He lacks Curtis Granderson-like power, but at the same time could have the potential to steal 30 bases at the MLB level. All around, Williams will contribute as a much needed in-house solution to the Yankees newly considered fiscal woes. Consider a Williams call-up likely in 2014.
29. RHP Chris Archer – Tampa Bay Rays
Archer made his major league debut with Rays last season. While his initial stats may not look impressive, Archer showed improved control and the ability to whiff hitters with his 36 strikeouts in 29.1 innings pitched. On the other hand, Archer did give up nearly one home run per nine innings pitched. It is possible Archer will leave spring training with a job in Tampa to begin 2013. Jeff Niemann, Roberto Hernandez, Alex Cobb and Archer are competing for the final two spots within the Rays rotation. Either way, 2013 will be the year Archer is likely to get a prolonged look. He has the potential to be a Rookie of the Year candidate with his plus fastball and good secondary pitches.
28. SS Javier Baez – Chicago Cubs
Considered by many scouts to be the top prospect in the Cubs organization, Baez still faces a considerable roadblock with Starlin Castro in his way. However, Baez has a terrific glove and arm, which could mean Castro may be forced to another infield position in the near future. Despite the high remarks for Baez, a promotion to single-A advanced last season left onlookers with a sour taste. Baez struggled mightily. Still, with high upside and a swing for the ages, Baez is cut from the same cloth as Manny Machado but possibly with more power. His promotion could come sooner rather than later.
27. OF Jorge Soler – Chicago Cubs
Don’t expect to see Soler on a fast track to the majors. While Soler has drawn comparisons to Oakland Athletics outfielder, and fellow Cuban defector, Yoenis Cespedes, he is not as freakish physically as the A’s slugger. Still, Soler possesses enough projected power to slam many long balls over the ivy of Wrigley Field. Many think the Cubs need to rush the 21-year-old Soler to the majors. Consider this — Cespedes did not make his MLB debut until he was 26. Naturally, it took Cespedes a lot longer to defect from Cuba than Soler. Regardless, expecting Soler up before mid-2014 is foolish. But when Soler’s number is called, expect to see him produce at a notch lower than Alfonso Soriano. Soler has a serious bat with a decent glove to match.
26. 1B Jonathan Singleton – Houston Astros
Puffing on a little marijuana will cost Singleton the first 50 games of 2013. However, this suspension will not have an impact on his development as an elite-hitting first base prospect. Since coming to the Astros via Philadelphia, Singleton has lived up to expectations both power and strike out-wise. In his first stint with double-A Corpus Christi last season, Singleton obliterated the competition with 21 HR, 79 RBI and .284 AVG in 555 plate appearances. However, Singleton did have a strikeout rate of nearly 24 percent. Still, his suspension for marijuana use is unlikely to curtail his development, and it is still possible that we will see Singleton with the big league club by September.
25. RHP Trevor Rosenthal – St. Louis Cardinals
Rosenthal is big-league ready, but the crowded St. Louis organization does not have an easily accessible path to opportunity. Pitted in a competition for the fifth spot of the Cards’ starting rotation, Rosenthal isn’t expected to beat out Shelby Miller or Joe Kelly, but he is expected to be a full-time member of the rotation by 2014. With ace-like potential, the ceiling for Rosenthal is high. In 19 relief appearances last season, Rosenthal delivered with a 2.78 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 22.2 innings pitched. Some believe Rosenthal could start the 2013 season in the bullpen. While the immediate future is unknown, there is no doubt Rosenthal will have a positive impact for St. Louis.
24. OF Christian Yelich – Miami Marlins
Finding a more lucid hitter than Yelich will prove daunting. This California native has dominated the lower levels of the minors each of the past three seasons. While he is expected to begin the year in double-A, it is not a reach whatsoever to project an MLB sighting for Yelich in September. With the Marlins expected to be awful, Yelich is a bright spot for an organization lacking star power. He can slug with the best of them and could be exciting to watch in 2014 alongside Giancarlo Stanton.
23. RHP Kevin Gausman – Baltimore Orioles
Often overlooked because of fellow Oriole pitcher Dylan Bundy, Gausman has an ace-like ceiling despite being drafted less than one year ago. His small sample size from last season is not worthy of mentioning, therefore relying on his collegiate days at LSU is what is necessary. Gausman has a brilliant repertoire that consists of an excellent fastball and deceptive changeup. While he still needs to work on his third and fourth pitches, many believe Gausman could crack the majors by the end of 2013.
22. 3B Anthony Rendon – Washington Nationals
Many people soured on Rendon after his brief disappointment with double-A Harrisburg last season, where he hit a lowly .162 while striking out at a clip of 19.5 percent. Still, people overexaggerated their expectations of the youngster. After all, he was just drafted in 2011 as the sixth overall pick. Everyone needs to pump their brakes. Rendon has unlimited potential. To suggest he will not improve his numbers in the minors drastically this year is asinine. While he does face a roadblock at his position in the form of Ryan Zimmerman (signed through 2020), it is possible Rendon will eventually get work elsewhere. Until then, one has to consider the Nationals very lucky for having a precise eye in their scouting department. Like so many other of their prospects, it appears they didn’t miss with Rendon.
21. LHP Danny Hultzen – Seattle Mariners
Considered a prospect to watch last year, Hultzen has rather fallen from grace. Still, he is an elite pitching prospect with the upside of a number two or three in a rotation. Hultzen was on the fast track to the big league after being drafted second overall in 2011. In 2012, he debuted at double-A and eventually advanced to triple-A. The quick jump through the Mariners farm system might have temporarily hurt Hultzen. His adjustment time was not sufficient. Still, Hultzen maintained a 10.54 strikeout percentage per nine innings pitched in triple-A. The downside is his walk rate ballooned. With a decrease in walks expected in 2013, there is no doubt Hultzen will see the MLB diamond soon. Don’t expect him to break spring training with the big leaguers, but a July call-up is better expected.
The next installment of the 2013 top 50 MLB prospects continues the countdown with no. 20 through no. 11. It will feature a big question mark at pitcher in Cleveland and a pair of Mariners prospects.