Ranking Major League prospects is an inexact science, much like filling out an NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament bracket for your office pool. Sometimes, a sure thing is a sure thing. And other times, the can’t miss choice is a bust.
Baseball America is a well-respected resource for prospect forecasts. To get a varied perspective on predictions and projections, let’s take a look at the top 10 players on Baseball America’s 2012 Top 100 Prospects List before the season and see how they are currently faring.
Last February, Baseball America rated the game’s top 10 prospects as:
At 19, Harper is having a respectable season, batting .260 with 10 home runs, 30 RBI, 13 stolen bases and a .758 OPS in 339 at-bats.
He has cooled off lately, hitting .184 (7-for-38) over his last 10 games.
Still, the teenage outfielder expects to get better with experience and has the ceiling of a perennial All-Star. In fact, he made his first All-Star appearance last month.
That won’t happen this season with Price battling with Jered Weaver for American League Cy Young Award recognition, but like Price, Moore is a hard-throwing left-hander with an arsenal of plus pitches.
Moore is 8-7 with a 3.84 ERA and 1.39 WHIP in 21 starts and 124.1 innings.
Walks have been a problem as he has issued 60 free passes, but opposing hitters have a .242 average against him, and he is 6-2 with a 3.21 ERA over his last 10 outings for a Rays team that has trouble scoring runs.
3. Mike Trout, Angels – Not only is the soon-to-be 21-year-old Trout the clear-cut American League Rookie of the Year, but the exceptional center fielder is also a candidate for AL Most Valuable Player with a .346 average, 19 home runs, 58 RBI, 33 stolen bases and a 1.004 OPS in 350 at-bats.
Who will be the best player among Trout and Harper when their careers are finished is still a subject for debate, but so far this year, Trout gets the honor.
Nolan Ryan says that the soon-to-be 26-year-old right-hander needs to establish his fast ball.
Entering Monday night’s start at Boston, Darvish was 11-7 with a 4.38 ERA in 20 starts. He had allowed 110 hits in 127.1 innings and owned 145 strikeouts, but he also had 70 walks and a 1.41 WHIP.
When he locates his pitches, Darvish is effective, as his .229 batting average against suggests.Developing consistency is the key to his success.
If he was pitching better at Triple-A Gwinnett, perhaps Atlanta would have called the right-hander up for the stretch run, but he is currently 6-6 with a 5.12 ERA, a 1.49 WHIP and a .292 batting average against in 21 starts.
Still, he is projected to be a top of the rotation arm for the Braves.
Pineda has missed the season with a shoulder injury while the 22-year-old Montero has hit .262 with 10 home runs and 42 RBI with Seattle.
Like the Yankees, Seattle intends to mostly use Montero as a designated hitter since his defense is suspect.
The switch-hitting shortstop has a .281 average with 13 home runs, 56 RBI, 13 stolen bases and a .821 OPS at Double-A Frisco this season.
Profar was No. 2 on Baseball America’s 2012 Mid-Season Top 50 Prospects List.
In 106.1 innings, he has walked 46 and has permitted 114 hits for a 1.505 WHIP.
He is 7-9 with a 5.35 ERA in 22 starts.
Like Teheran, the hard-throwing Miller has top of the rotation potential as long as he develops command.
9. Trevor Bauer, Diamondbacks – A first round pick (third overall) in 2011, the 21-year-old Bauer is thriving at Triple-A Reno where the righty is 4-0 with a 2.90 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 49.2 innings.
He has been plagued with walks, issuing 25 and logging a 1.49 WHIP.
Bauer has been compared to San Francisco’s Tim Lincecum because of his unorthodox delivery.
Bauer has ace potential like Lincecum, too.
A first round pick (fourth overall) in 2011, the 19-year-old right-hander earned an in-season promotion to advanced Single-A Frederick where he is 5-3 with a 2.57 ERA in 10 starts.
Unlike the other pitching prospects in the top 10 list, Bundy is not struggling with command, posting a 1.14 WHIP in 49 innings and holding hitters to a .232 average.