2012 Midseason Prospect Rankings: Outfield

Mar. 12, 2012; Mesa, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs center fielder Brett Jackson (59) swings at a pitch during the first inning against the Cincinnati Reds at HoHoKam Park. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE

With the amateur draft completed last week, we figured now would be a great time to revisit our positional prospect rankings. Over the next two weeks, the staff here at Fake Teams will be providing their top 20 prospects in the minors at each of the infield positions (C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS), and their top 50 outfielders and starting pitchers. Here's a bit of how our determinations were made:

- Each player ranked at a position is either currently playing there, or widely anticipated to end up there by the time they reach the major leagues. As an example, Billy Hamilton is not expected to remain at shortstop long-term based on the opinions of others within the field. As a result, he can be ranked at shortstop since he currently plays the position, and will also be ranked at second base, as he is most likely to end up at that position.

- Primarily, we are viewing prospects who remain in the minor leagues, or who have been up in the majors for less than one month at most. As a result of this, players like Bryce Harper and Mike Trout will not appear on the outfield rankings.

- Draftees are not necessarily being included within the main rankings, but each position will have a few players from the draft mentioned as players who potentially could be in the top 20/50 lists created during the upcoming offseason.

- In many cases, prospects ranked within a spot of each other could likely be switched and still be fine in my rankings. As with all rankings, they are a good look at how I see the group of players at the time of the list preparation.

Position Overview

Graduates in 2012 So Far: Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Yonder Alonso

Each player will be listed with their name, their organization, and their current level in the minor leagues.

1. Wil Myers (KC) - AAA (Profile)

Myers was my #3 outfield prospect at the start of the season behind Harper and Trout, and has done nothing to give any reason to drop him below anyone. He is a top 5 prospect overall right now, and has already clubbed 23 home runs between AA and AAA despite playing in just 63 games. He is currently blocked by Jeff Francoeur, but it appears that there may be some discussion about trying to trade Francoeur. I'm not honestly sure if Myers has too much more to prove in the minors.

2. Oscar Taveras (STL) - AA (Profile 1, Profile 2)

Probably the biggest jumper in my outfield rankings, Taveras has been amazing at AA despite being just 19 years old. I keep waiting for that vicious swing of his to hurt his ability to make good contact, and it just isn't happening. He legitimately looks like he will be able to hit .300 with power in the majors, and potentially as soon as 2013. If he is not owned in your keeper league, he is THE guy to target.

3. Jorge Soler (CHC) - Unassigned (Profile)

The recently signed Soler is all scouting reports and no statistics thus far, as he only signed in the past few weeks. Soler is 20 years old, and it sounds like he will be sent to one of the Cubs' Low-A affiliates soon, and it will be interesting to see how he performs. The upside I keep reading about is a high batting average, solid to above-average power, and the potential to keep some of the plus speed he possesses currently. He could be a few years away though unfortunately.

4. Brett Jackson (CHC) - AAA

Jackson clearly marks the changing of a tier between the elite prospects and the solid prospects. Jackson has performed about to the level we expected from him at the start of the season: decent batting average (won't crush you), provide some solid power (8 HR, 31 XBH in 63 games), and decent speed (13/16 on stolen bases). Whenever the Cubs can create a starting spot for Jackson to play in every day, he'll likely be up.

5. Anthony Gose (TOR) - AAA (Profile)

As with nearly every other player in the PCL, Gose's numbers should probably be taken with a grain of salt. He is not showing as much power this season despite being in much more friendly environments, but is still on pace for 6 home runs to go with 50 stolen bases. His batting average so far is a bit inflated due to a .370 BABIP, but he still could be a .260/10 HR/50 SB type in the Majors, and I think he'll be up during the 2013 season.

6. Bubba Starling (KC) - XST

Starling has yet to make his professional debut, although it sounds like he will be sent to Rookie Ball for this season. The reports on his tools rave about the potential ceiling of a fantasy monster. But Starling is already 20 years old, and has not played a single professional game yet. For me, this ranking has more to do with the fact that the upside is immense still, but we should have a better indication of what he can do once he debuts.

7. Jake Marisnick (TOR) - High-A

Marisnick is the type of player that I really want to like a lot. He hit for power last season (14 HR), stole a bunch of bases (37/45), and hit .320 in the Midwest League. The performance in High-A hasn't been nearly as good, but I have to remind myself that the Florida State League is a pitchers' league. The power should return as long as his contact rates return to 2011 levels, as his ISO is on pace with last year. The only number of his that is really all that far off of last season is his FB rate, as that has risen to 33% from 25% last year.

8. Rymer Liriano (SD) - High-A (Partial Profile)

Liriano is doing much better in his second attempt at High-A, hitting .299 with 4 home runs and 20 stolen bases in 65 games. He doesn't appear to be very likely to steal 65+ bases for a second straight season, but I could see him getting to 45 or so with around 10 home runs. Liriano profiles to me as a year-per-level player, so we may not see him in San Diego until 2015.

9. Christian Yelich (MIA) - High-A

Yelich isn't hitting quite as well as he did last year in Low-A, but he is still on pace for around a 20 HR/20 SB season with a solid batting average. The biggest thing that Yelich has done to improve his value this season is that it appears a lot more likely that he will be able to stick not only in the outfield, but in center field. Considered likely a 1B only prospect when drafted, that would be a huge boost if it holds true as he moves up the levels.

10. Gary Brown (SF) - AA

I'm not ready to move him further down than this yet, but his performance so far would definitely have warranted it. My biggest concern with Brown coming into the season was whether or not his performance was a California League mirage. Unless he starts showing more power this season, that part of his game definitely looks like a mirage. He has been a bit unlucky in terms of BABIP (.280), at least for someone with his speed, but I'm not sure it will show much this year.

11. Josh Bell (PIT) - Low-A

Bell has missed time this season due to an injury, but the upside of his power remains extremely high. His age could be concerning to some, as he will be 20 by the end of the season and has not played above Low-A yet. That said, a lot of 20 year olds will not have played above Low-A, and at this point I would just like to see him return from the injury.

12. Michael Choice (OAK) - AA

Choice has struggled in AA this season, and has not shown the power numbers he did in the California League last year. I still believe at this point, but the strikeout rate is definitely a concern for Choice.

13. George Springer (HOU) - High-A

Springer has been cruising in High-A Lancaster, showing both power and speed. However, I want to see what he can do in AA before I can move him up too much more than this.

14. Leonys Martin (TEX) - AAA

Martin's performance this year has eased some of the concerns I had at the start of the season, but I would like to see some more reports or game footage on how he is actually getting those numbers.

15. Starling Marte (PIT) - AAA

16. Mason Williams (NYY) - Low-A

The one thing I have seen out of Williams' performance thus far is the low strikeout rate (just 8% so far this season). He is hitting for a high average (.306), decent power (23 XBH, 4 HR), and solid speed (17/25 on SB).

17. Jackie Bradley Jr (BOS) - High-A

Bradley has been destroying the Carolina League, hitting .359/.483/.529 with a 17.6% BB rate and 16/23 SB. The biggest concern I see is that Bradley has just a 10% LD rate, and is hitting nearly 44% of all contact for fly balls. A promotion to AA after the High-A All-Star Game would make sense to me.

18. Jorge Bonifacio (KC) - Low-A

There are a number of rave reports about Bonifacio so far in the Midwest League, and I like seeing that he is keeping his strikeout rate down while still keeping his walk rate up (16% K, 8% BB) despite being just 19 years old. It sounds like both power and speed could be coming for Bonifacio, and I'm really interested to see him play.

19. Brian Goodwin (WAS) - Low-A

Goodwin has been showing an excellent eye, along with solid speed for Low-A. He has missed time this season, appearing in just 32 games so far, but has 11 stolen bases and a .293/.415/.440 slash line so far.

20. Robbie Grossman (PIT) - AA

21. Adam Eaton (ARI) - AAA

22. Bryce Brentz (BOS) - AA

23. Matt Szczur (CHC) - High-A

24. Marcell Ozuna (MIA) - High-A

25. Grant Green (OAK) - AAA

26. Tim Wheeler (COL) - AAA

27. Oswaldo Arcia (MIN) - High-A

28. Mikie Mahtook (TAM) - High-A

29. Michael Taylor (OAK) - AAA

30. Brandon Jacobs (BOS) - High-A

31. Domingo Santana (HOU) - High-A

32. Ravel Santana (NYY) - Rookie

33. Brandon Nimmo (NYM) - SS

34. Keenyn Walker (CHW) - Low-A

35. Bobby Borchering (ARI) - High-A

36. Luigi Rodriguez (CLE) - Low-A

37. Josh Sale (TAM) - Low-A

38. Drew Vettleson (TAM) - Low-A

39. Joc Pederson (LAD) - Low-A

40. Avisail Garcia (DET) - Low-A

41. Ronald Guzman (TEX) - SS

42. Marc Krauss (ARI) - AA

43. Logan Schafer (MIL) - AAA

44. Jared Mitchell (CHW) - AA

45. Jacob Anderson (TOR) - SS

46. Caleb Gindl (MIL) - AAA

47. Matt Lipka (ATL) - High-A

48. Randal Grichuk (LAA) - High-A

49. Max Kepler (MIN) - SS

50. Jabari Blash (SEA) - Low-A

2012 Draftees

The following players were all drafted in the amateur draft June 4-6, and are discussed here regardless of whether they have signed a contract or are likely to sign a contract. At this point, these are just some of the more interesting names drafted, and we will hopefully be learning more about each of them as they start to sign contracts. These names are shown in order of draft pick, and do not necessarily note their ranking among draftees.

2. Byron Buxton (MIN) - SIGNED

There was a number of the experts who thought Buxton was the best player available in the draft completely, so the Twins must have been pretty excited to get their choice of him or Appel at #2. The reports on Buxton point toward a potential five-tool player, but he is still a high-school draftee, so it could be a few years from now.

6. Albert Almora (CHC)

10. David Dahl (COL) - SIGNED

13. Courtney Hawkins (CHW) - SIGNED

15. Tyler Naquin (CLE) - SIGNED

17. D.J. Davis (TOR) - SIGNED

23. James Ramsey (STL) - SIGNED

28. Victor Roache (MIL) - SIGNED

29. Lewis Brinson (TEX) - Brinson could be one of the most interesting outfielders drafted this year, but he is extremely raw.

You can read more about the draftees over at Minor League Ball and search for John Sickels' draft recaps by division.

Sources:

Baseball Reference
MILB.com
MLB.com/Draft
Minor League Central
Baseball America

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