I know there have been lists posted about the top 25 under 25 right now. It’s tough to agree on and there is no right answer, it’s just a compilation of names of players that are really good. If you do this at the start of the year and at the end of the year, players will have risen and fallen. Some will be added, some will be removed but most of the same players will be included. This is what I have right now.
1. Evan Longoria , 3B , TB
2. Jason Heyward , RF , ATL
3. Justin Upton , RF , ARI
4. Andrew McCutchen , CF , PIT
5. Troy Tulowitzki , SS , COL
6. Carlos Gonzalez , LF , COL
7. Jesus Montero , C , NYY
8. Buster Posey , C , SF
9. Mike Trout , OF , LAA
10. Michael Stanton , RF , FLA
11. Bryce Harper , OF , WSH
12. Matt Wieters , C , BAL
13. Mike Moustakas , 3B , KC
14. Carlos Santana , C , CLE
15. Colby Rasmus , CF , STL
16. Billy Butler , 1B , KC
17. Dustin Ackley , 2B , SEA
18. Eric Hosmer , 1B , KC
19. Wil Myers , C , KC
20. Domonic Brown , OF , PHI
21. Manny Machado , SS , BAL
22. Pedro Alvarez , 3B , PIT
23. Starlin Castro , SS , CHC
24. Jay Bruce , RF , CIN
25. Freddie Freeman , 1B , ATL
With this list there is still a lot of projection. A lot of these players are still in their formative years as MLB players and many are just starting to show their potential in the minors. #17, Dustin Ackley, has struggled in his pro debut. The conversion to 2B has caused him to hit less than he should, but he was still promoted to AAA by Seattle and did well in after his poor April start and is hitting well in the Arizona Fall League currently. No one is sure if he will succeed or not, but I still think he's one of the best young players in baseball.
As hard as the current top 25 list is to compile, the top 25 for 2015 is tougher. This is sheer projection and if I get 5 from each right, I will be happy, but I hope for better. My guess here is that there will be 6 or 7 players on each list that will be drafted and signed in 2013 and 2014 and I don’t have a lot of names for that far out. I’ve seen some video of guys out that far, but it is a total reach to name those guys. I went with guys that are recent draft picks instead. I like to inform my readers of names to watch for and this is one way I can do it. These are the guys that I think could be the best of the best up and coming players. You have probably heard of many of these guys, but this is how I project them to be in 5 years.
1. Anthony Rendon, 3B, Rice University
Where he came from: Rendon will play the 2011 season at Rice University and will likely be the 1st overall pick in the 2011 draft by the Pirates.
Why he’s here: Rendon has huge power and that is what sets him apart. His numbers at Rice have been elite and I can only see that continuing.
Where he’s headed: Rendon will debut in 2013 in the Majors and make his mark with the Pirates, I assume, sending Pedro Alvarez to 1B. Rendon will stick at 3B and be the next stud 3B after Evan Longoria. He has solid tools all around. He could hit .300 with 25-30 HR's and be an impact bat.
2. Jesus Montero, C/1B, NYY
Where he came from: Montero was signed out of Venezuela in 2006 for $1.65 million.
Why he’s here: Montero has great contact ability and great power. He started slowly this year but still hit 21 HR's as a 20 Year old in AAA. He had a slash line of .289/.353/.517 and that would be stunning, even for the Pacific Coast League.
Where he’s headed: Montero is a future 1B or DH in the long run and will debut in 2011. He will be one of the best hitters in the majors for years to come. He could hit .320 and hit 40 HR's at his peak.
3. Mike Trout, CF, LAA
Where he came from: Trout was a 1st round draft pick, 25th overall in 2009 out of high school in New Jersey.
Why he’s here: Trout has the physical ability to be a Hall of Fame type talent. His current skills show that he could reach that ceiling. He hit .362/.454/.526 in the MWL before being promoted to the California League and holding his own as an 18 year old.
Where he’s headed: Trout will debut in CF for the Angels in 2011 and be a star. He can hit, run and play defense. He will be one of the most exciting players in the league when he gets there. He could be a .300+ hitter with 20 HR's and 40 SB as a gold glove caliber CF.
4. Bryce Harper, RF, WSH
Where he came from: Harper took an unique route getting a GED to opt out of his last two years in high school to go Junior College in Nevada. He dominated and was drafted 1st overall by the Washington Nationals in the 2010 draft.
Why he’s here: Harper's power is off the charts. No one that I can remember has had his power at his age. His other skills are yet to be determined at the pro level, but his defense should be above average in RF. His arm will be plus and his speed will be average. His biggest weakness is contact. He will strike out a lot.
Where he’s headed: Harper will debut in 2013 or sooner and will hit a ton of HR's. He will be another cornerstone in the rebuilding Nats team. He will hit .260-.270 with 40-50 HR's and play very good defense in RF. Even if he has an attitude that comes with continual success, he is still a franchise player.
5. Mike Stanton, RF, FLA
Where he came from: Stanton was a 2nd round pick in 2007 by the Marlins out of high school in California.
Why he’s here: Like the players ahead of him, Stanton has big power. He may be the only player here who could rival Harper's power, if not exceed it. Stanton is not a one trick pony. He is a stellar athlete and will hold his own in RF. He hit 43 HR's combined between AA and the majors after hitting 28 last season and 39 in his first full pro season.
Where he’s headed: Debuting in 2010 and hitting 22 HR's in his rookie season, this is only the start. Stanton looks like he will be an elite HR hitter for years to come, with 40 HR's being the norm and the ceiling nearly limitless.
6. Eric Hosmer, 1B, KC
Where he came from: Hosmer was a 1st round pick, 3rd overall to the Royals in 2008 out of high school in Florida.
Why he’s here: Hosmer can hit. He had some vision issues last season and had Lasik surgery before the 2010 season and it really helped. 72 of his 176 hits were for extra bases and he hit .338/.406/.571 between High A ball and AA. He actually hit for more power in AA to end the season and that was one of the biggest knocks against him.
Where he’s headed: Hosmer should land in Kansas City in 2012 and could be a gold glove 1B. He has the bat to hit .300+ with 20 HR's and his power will grow as he does. He even could steal a dozen bases due to his good instincts.
7. Wil Myers, RF, KC
Where he came from: Myers was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2009 draft out of high school in North Carolina.
Why he’s here: Myers can hit a ton. He hit well in the pitcher friendly Midwest League and hit even better in the Carolina League with a .346/.453/.512 slash line. He is a good defender behind the plate but will need time to develop there. I don't think his bat will wait.
Where he’s headed: Myers is headed for RF, where he can take advantage of his plus arm, good athletecism and he will hit enough for the position. He will make it to KC in 2013 and will be a .280 hitter with 25 HR power.
8. Brett Lawrie, 2B, MIL
Where he came from: Lawrie was drafted in the 1st round, 16th overall in 2008 out of high school in British Colombia.
Why he’s here: Lawrie has hit well since his debut. Position has always been a concern for him and still is, but he has played adequately at 2B and has the athletecism to improve to average. His hitting ability and speed are his main assets.
Where he’s headed: Lawrie should debut in Milwaukee in 2011 and make an impact immediately. He is deceptively fast and will steal 20+ bases, hit .270 and hit a lot of doubles along with 10-15 HR's. This will make him one of the better offensive 2B in the league.
9. Manny Machado, SS, BAL
Where he came from: Machado was chosen 3rd overall by the Orioles in the 2010 draft.
Why he’s here: Machado has the skills to be an offensive shortstop and stay there. He may outgrow the position, but many say he can stay there. His power will be above average, as will his hitting ability, for a shortstop. His arm is strong and his speed is average.
Where he’s headed: Machado will debut in Baltimore in 2014 and step in as an offensive SS, which has been a strength for the organization over the years. He won't be Cal but a player similar to Miguel Tejada with less power is a good comparison. He'll be a .300 hitter with a pile of doubles and 20 HR's and a dozen steals.
10. Yorman Rodriguez, RF, CIN
Where he came from: Rodriguez was signed out of Venezuela in 2008 for $2.5 Million.
Why he’s here: Rodriguez looked a little shaky in his debut in 2009 but that was expected a a 16 year old in a new culture facing much older competition. This year he cut his K's down a ton and hit .339/.361/.456 while facing much older competition. He is an above average defensive outfielder who could stay in CF or be well above average in RF. He has a ton of potential with the bat and his power will come.
Where he’s headed: Rodriguez will be the best prospect in baseball heading into 2015 and will make his big league debut. He will be either a power hitting RF or a well rounded CF, it depends on how quickly he grows, but either way, he will be really good.
11. Austin Maddox, C/1B/3B, University of Florida
Where he came from: Maddox was a 37th round pick in 2009 and will be a 1st rounder in 2012.
Why he’s here: Maddox has great power and will have to move to 1B down the line, but he will have the power for it. Maddox hit 17 HR's in his freshman season and that is just scrapping the surface. Maddox will not blow anyone away with his defensive prowess, but he hits the ball hard every time he hits it.
Where he’s headed: Maddox will debut in 2015 and will hit for power right away. He will strike out a lot and won't walk enough for some but he could be an elite hitting 1B for a long time.
12. Gary Sanchez, C, NYY
Where he came from: Sanchez signed out of the Dominican in 2009 for $3 million.
Why he’s here: Sanchez has great hitting ability and showed very good power in his first pro season. His power was very impressive hitting .329/.393/.543 in the GCL before being promoted to the New York Penn League and hitting .278/.333/.426 against much older competition. He even gunned down 51% of would be base stealers after the promotion. He needs plenty of work behind the plate but he is very young.
Where he’s headed: Sanchez will make his debut in 2014 after being one of the top prospects in all the minors. His catching skills will be average but his bat is what will get him to the top of the game. Sanchez' will force the move of Montero to 1B permanently and the Yankees will have a Catcher who can hit .300 and 25 HR's to go along with Montero at 1st.
13. Miguel Sano, RF, MIN
Where he came from: Sano signed out of the Dominican for $3.15 million.
Why he’s here: Sano is a long lean hitter who can really hit. He dominated the Dominican Summer League, as he should have, and was promoted to the GCL where he hit .307/.379/.491. Sano is just scrapping the surface of his power potential and his contact ability is better than I expected so far.
Where he’s headed: Sano will debut in 2015 after being the 2nd best prospect in the off season. Minnesota will have a hitter capable of playing an above average RF with 40 HR potential even if he strikes out 25% of the time.
14. Jonathan Singleton, 1B, PHI
Where he came from: Singleton slid to the 8th round in 2009 and signed for a mere $200,000.
Why he’s here: While Singleton had a really good season in the Gulf Coast League, he essentially replicated it in the South Atlantic League this year hitting .290/.393/.479.
Where he’s headed: Oddly, Singleton may be headed to LF. He should make it to the Majors in 2014 and with Ryan Howard signed thru 2016, Singleton may need to head to LF. He is athletic enough to play the outfield. His offensive potential is big. He could be a .300/.380/.550 kind of guy in the majors at his peak but may need a few years int he majors before he reaches it.
15. Travis Harrison, 3B/OF, Tustin HS, CA
Where he came from: Harrison is a high schooler in California eligible for the 2011 draft.
Why he’s here: Harrison swings stiff some times but so did Harmon Killebrew. He is the best power hitting prep in the 2011 class. He's a good athlete so his mechanical issues should get ironed out quickly.
Where he’s headed: The top prospect still in the Minors on this list, Harrison should debut in 2016. At his peak, he should be a .280/.380/.515 kind of guy along with playing a solid LF. If he could stick at 3B, it would move him up this list, but I don't think he will.
16. Max Kepler, LF, MIN
Where he came from: Kepler signed for $750,000 out of Germany in 2009.
Why he’s here: Kepler's entrance to baseball on this side of the pond went very well. He hit .286/.346/.343 while showing fantastic athleticism and a lot of skill from someone who has never faced great competition on a regular basis.
Where he’s headed: On the opposite side of the Outfield from Sano will be an amazing athlete in Kepler. He could play CF but he'll be an above average LF. He will hit .300 and have 15-20 HR power and maybe more with age. He is a superior athlete and could steal a 20 bases with ease. Kepler could really help in opening up baseball in Europe, showing that the sport is not just out national pasttime, but an international pasttime.
17. Austin Wilson, RF, Stanford University
Where he came from: Wilson could have been a top 10 pick in the 2010 draft if not for a solid commitment to Stanford. The Cardinals rolled the dice on him, but he opted to choose the Stanford Cardinals.
Why he’s here: Wilson is an athlete that is really projectable. He is a muscular hitter with a ton of power potential. The Stanford swing could hinder him but I think he can succeed anyway.
Where he’s headed: Wilson has a long swing and will strike out a bunch, but he will play really good RF defense with a plus arm. He will be a .260-.280 hitter with 20 HR potential. The only reason I don't project more is the history of Stanford hitters. If you really like him you could project another Dave Winfield.
18. Jaff Decker, LF, SD
Where he came from: Decker was drafted 42nd overall by the Padres out of high school in Arizona.
Why he’s here: Decker reached base over half of the time in his rookie league debut in 2008. He followed that up with a great season in the Midwest League in 2009. This year he struggled with injuries but had a very good second half to get to .262/.374/.500. The owner of a great plate approach, he will always reach base at a very good rate. His biggest knock is his weight and athletic ability.
Where he’s headed: Decker will never be known for his defense, but should be an average LF with work. The bat is his calling card. He should hit .300/.400/.525 annually.
19. Jackie Bradley, CF, South Carolina
Where he came from: Bradley will be one of the first bats off the board in the 2011 draft out of South Carolina.
Why he’s here: Bradley had an exceptional College World Series last year and could have 5 average or better tools. Bradley's main issue tight now is his power. He had some wrist problems last year, so he still has a chance to put that issue to bed.
Where he’s headed: Bradley could be an above average CF with the ability to hit .300, steal 25 bases and hit 15 HR's. A better version of Denard Span is what I envision, and that is not a knock against Span.
20. Nick Castellanos, 3B, DET
Where he came from: Castellanos was drafted in the supplemental round in 2010 and set a record for the highest signing bonus with $3.45 million.
Why he’s here: Castellanos is as polished of a bat that was available in the draft this year but slid due to high bonus demands. He doesn't have hughe current power but projects to hit for average and power while playing an average or better 3B.
Where he’s headed: He will likely debut in 2015 with the Tigers and have grown into his power by then. He could be a perennial .300/.380/.500 hitting 3B.
21. Nick Franklin, SS, SEA
Where he came from: Franklin was the 27th overall pick in the 2009 draft out of high school in Florida.
Why he’s here: Franklin was drafted as a defensive SS with minimal power. Then he came out and hit 23 HR's in the Midwest League, which is no small feat. He played a solid SS and stole 25 bases. At 6'1", 170 he should be stay at SS.
Where he’s headed: Franklin will always strike out a lot but could end up being a solid average defender at SS. He could hit be a .270/.320/.480 kind of guy.
22. Matt Davidson, 3B, ARZ
Where he came from: Davidson was taken 35th overall out of high school in California by the Diamondbacks.
Why he’s here: Davidson is athletic enough to play 3B and hit .289/.371/.504 in the Midwest League.
Where he’s headed: Davidson will be a power hitting 3B with at least average defensive skills. I expect him to be a .270 hitter with 25 HR's in a good year, but he could break out and be more.
23. Jake Marisnick, CF, TOR
Where he came from: Marisnick was taken in the 3rd round of the 2009 draft by the Blue Jays out of a high school in California.
Why he’s here: Marisnick signed too late last year to play in rookie ball but debuted in the GCL this season hitting .287/.373/.459. Not amazing numbers but the tools are there.
Where he’s headed: Marisnick could be an above average defensive CF with the ability to hit .280/.350/.440 and steal 30 bases.
24. Kenny Diekroger, SS/3B, Stanford
Where he came from: Diekroeger was drafted in the 2nd round by the Rays but couldn't be swayed from Stanford. He'll be eligible for the 2012 draft.
Why he’s here: As a Freshman he hit .356/.392/.491 as a freshman at Stanford and hit .324/.354/.446 this summer in the New England Collegeiate League.
Where he’s headed: Deikroeger will be a plus defensive 3B with a good bat. He should hit .300 with a lot of doubles and 15 HR's. The doubles should turn into HR's as he matures.
25. Max Stassi, C, OAK
Where he came from: Stassi was a 4th round pick in 2009 out of high school in California. The A's paid him $1.5 million.
Why he’s here: Stassi is a fantastic defender behind the dish already at 19 and is one of the better defensive catchers in the minors. Beyond that, he hit 21 doubles and 13 HR's in the pitcher friendly Midwest League. He struck out a lot but he is still ahead of the curve.
Where he’s headed: High school catchers are about as hard to project as anything in baseball, but I don't see any reason why Stassi can't be a power hitting, run stopping, rotation leading catcher.