Top 10 Minor League Prospects for 2012

Top 10 Minor League Prospects

6) Shelby Miller, SP - RHP, STL
Miller was St. Louis's first round draft pick in 2009. Miller made his professional debut in 2010 and is now very close to making his jump to the majors. Miller has a great fastball that is reported to have natural, late movement that can be wicked. He also has a curveball that frustrates batters and is working to perfect his two-seam fastball that sinks. Scouts seem to think that Miller will be a definite move to the majors in 2013 and likely will be seen this season. Miller needs to work on decreasing his number of walks, while continuing to build his strikeouts. Miller was striking out over a batter an inning in AA and now looks to test the waters in AAA before likely being called up in late summer or early fall.

7) Manny Machado, SS, BAL
I have moved Machado down the list a bit as Profar has moved up, but all in all, Machado is a top prospect. He is the second highest ranked shortstop to Profar as many are concerned. Machado played for Team USA's championship squad and is revered as a solid hitter. Machado suffered a knee injury in May 2011 and appears to be recovered, but will still need to work at getting back into top form.

Machado was all over the low A and High A pitching last season and looks to be on the road to AA and maybe AAA this season, but remember he is still very young. He is an offensive shortstop who has the hands and mindset to stick to the position. Scouts project a batting average around .300 and home run power for low twenties. Once Machado physically matures he will likely move up this list next year to one of the top few spots.

8) Gerrit Cole, SP - RHP, PIT
Cole was an ace on UCLA's team and a huge number one pick for Pittsburgh. The team did spend $8 million to get Cole, but it should pay off nicely. The high pay was likely a trade-off that might keep Cole in the minors longer for development because he did not demand a major league contract. The combination of Cole and Jameson Taillon gives Pittsburgh pitching prospects in the minors the added firepower it needs to challenge opponents. Cole is likely to prove that he belongs in the majors after starting the season in the minors, but Pittsburgh is rebuilding and might consider it smarter to keep Cole down a league and take it slow. Scouts believe that Cole needs to work on his walk rate, but everyone loves his 100+ fastball on the high side (average in the mid-90s), slider and developing change-up. I think we will probably see Cole get a call-up to the majors in early fall.

9) Trevor Bauer, SP - RHP, ARI
Bauer was the fourth overall pick in the draft and on the rotation at UCLA with number eight on this list Gerrit Cole. Some experts think that Bauer will be better than Cole in the big leagues. I guess I cannot argue with that. Bauer breezed through high A last season striking out 17 batters per nine innings and then struck out an average of 14 per nine innings in AA. I think I place Cole higher on this list because of the depth Arizona has on their roster. Cole will likely be called up earlier if not just for this fact. Scouts seem to consistently comment on Bauer's unconventional throwing motion, but his ability to throw 100mph and preference to stay around 94-95mph with control of movement on sliders and cutters is most impressive. Scouting reports state that Bauer could be a 9 strikeout per nine inning pitcher in the majors. Bauer may make it out of camp with Arizona, but again, the depth on the roster makes this hard to predict. Bauer will likely start down a level in AAA Reno and then jump up to the majors mid-season.

10) Devin Mesoraco, C, CIN
Mesoraco had a breakout season in 2010 and his performance last year confirmed that he is the future of catching in Cincinnati. Ryan Hanigan is still the starter, but this job is Mesoraco's in the near future. Mesoraco demonstrated his balance of power and patience in the minors with his numbers showing walks 10% of his at-bats and a low strikeout percentage around 17%. Mesoraco needs to work on his receiving and calling skills to out-pace Hanigan, but already has Hanigan beat in terms of offense. Dusty Baker does prefer to count on and play his veterans so Mesoraco will likely make the immediate jump to the majors and split time behind the plate. For fantasy owners, the upside to Mesoraco is his offensive abilities and his designation as a catcher.