Kansas City Royals general manager Dayton Moore has a peculiar allegiance to 28-year-old right fielder Jeff Francoeur. Though the perennially rebuilding ballclub is 54-67 and Francouer is hitting .240 with a .661 OPS, Moore refuses to promote 21-year-old super prospect Wil Myers.
A third round pick out of high school in 2009, the right-handed hitting Myers was rated the No. 3 on Baseball America’s 2012 Mid-Season Top 50 Prospects List and is considered the game’s 14th-best prospect by MLB.com.
At Triple-A Omaha, he is batting .297 with 21 home runs, 69 RBI, a .553 slugging percentage and a .930 OPS in 333 at-bats. He opened the year at Double-A Nrothwest Arkansas, where he produced a .343 average with 13 homer uns, 30 RBI and a 1.146 OPS in 134 at-bats. Overall, he has 34 home runs, 99 RBI, a .388 on-base percentage and a .992 OPS between the two stops.
When he was drafted, Myers was a catcher. He has also spent time at third base and center field, but the Royals believe he is best suited for right field in the majors.
Including Myers, here are five of the best outfield prospects in baseball:
Wil Myers, Royals
Bubba Starling, a 20-year-old outfielder who was the fifth overall pick of the 2011 draft and was signed away from his commitment to be quarterback at the University of Nebraska is the game’s top outfield prospect, according to MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo, but it is far too early to call him better than Myers.
Perhaps before all is said and done in 2012, Moore will give Myers his Major League debut when rosters expand on September 1. Though Francouer is under contract for $6.5 million next season, it would be a surprise if Myers is not on Kansas City’s opening day roster, joining other young standouts like Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Billy Butler.
Christian Yelich, Marlins
A first round pick out of high school by the Marlins in 2010, Yelich was No. 21 on the Baseball America mid-season list and is No. 27 in MLB.com’s rankings.
The left-handed hitter has a .324 average with 12 home runs, 47 RBI, 27 doubles, 19 stolen bases, a .401 on-base percentage, a .524 slugging percentage and a .925 OPS at advanced Single-A Jupiter in the Florida State League. Simply put, Yelich can do it all.
Starling Marte, Pirates
Marte is rated No. 30 overall by MLB.com and was No. 36 on Baseball America’s mid-season list, but unlike Myers and Yelich he finds himself in the midst of a playoff chase in the Major Leagues.
The 23-year-old Marte was placed on the 15-day disabled list with an oblique strain last weekend, and he is hitting .253 with four home runs and 10 RBI over 95 at-bats in his first taste of the bigs.
The Dominican Republic native was called up to Pittsburgh after batting .286 with 12 home runs, 62 RBI, 13 triples, 21 doubles, 21 stolen bases, a .500 slugging percentage and a .847 OPS.
Oscar Taveras, Cardinals
Astonishingly, the 20-year-old Taveras gets little love from Mayo in MLB.com’s rankings. Showing the varying opinions of some prospects by well-known outlets like Baseball America and MLB.com, Taveras was No. 18 on Baseball America’s 2012 mid-season list and finds himself No. 82 in MLB.com’s current rankings.
In this case, Baseball America appears more accurate. Taveras hits everywhere he does. In four minor league seasons, he has a .321 average, including a .386 mark in 347 plate appearances at low Single-A Quad Cities last year.
In 2012, he is showing power with 21 home runs, 85 RBI, 34 doubles, seven triples and a .567 slugging percentage at Double-A Springfield. The left-handed hitter’s likely Major League position will be right field.
Anthony Gose, Blue Jays
Philadelphia and Houston might wish that Anthony Gose was still in their respective farm systems. A second round pick of the Phillies out of high school in 2008, Gose was packaged for Roy Oswalt in 2010 and then the Astros turned around and dealt him to Toronto for slugger Brett Wallace.
Though he is struggling in his first Major League experience with a .203 average and 31 strikeouts in 74 at-bats, the 22-year-old Gose has the Blue Jays envisioning a speedy and athletic outfield that also includes current center fielder Colby Rasmus and fellow top prospect Jake Marisnick.
Gose was No. 38 on Baseball America’s 2012 mid-season list and is No. 45 overall in MLB.com’s rankings. He batted .292 with 29 stolen bases and 10 triples while working 47 walks and posting a .375 on-base percentage in 436 plate appearances at Triple-A Las Vegas.
Last year at Double-A New Hampshire, he ripped 16 home runs and stole 70 bases, so does have some power to accompany his speed.