ESPN's Keith Law released his Top 100 Prospects for 2014 on Wednesday, and there was no surprise with who he ranked at the top spot. Law ranked Byron Buxton as his #1 prospect for 2014, as he appears to be the unanimous #1 prospect in the game. I doubt we see him ranked any lower by the big 5-6 prospect experts.
What was a surprise, and Law usually does throw us a few curveballs with his rankings, was who he ranked at #3, Addison Russell. There were a few others, but here is his Top 10 prospects for 2014, with some excerpts below:
Keith Law Top 10 Prospects for 2014:
1. Byron Buxton, Twins
3. Addison Russell, Athletics
8. Miguel Sano, Twins
I think Law will end up the highest on a few of his top 10 including Russell, Lindor, and Zimmer.
Here are a few excerpts from his scouting reports on a few of the guys he ranked higher than expected:
Kyle Zimmer at #10:
Zimmer finished his season on fire, punching out 63 and walking eight in his last eight starts of the summer, half of them after a promotion to Double-A Northwest Arkansas, and as long as his shoulder is happy he should move quickly to Triple-A. He's the future ace the Royals have been trying to develop since they traded Zack Greinke.
Zimmer was dominant in 2013, striking out 140 and walking just 36 in 108.1 innings. He made 18 starts in High A before a promotion to AA, where he made 4 starts, where he went 2-1 with a 1.93 ERA, a 0.857 WHIP, and a 27-5 strikeout to walk rate in 18.2 innings.
This is why I liked Law's rankings so much. Not only is he aggressive in some of his rankings, but he offers the idea that Zimmer is a future ace. I don't recall seeing that label placed on him in the past.
Addison Russell at #3:
He had a slow start for high Class A Stockton in 2013, but from June 1 until his promotion to Triple-A, he hit .319/.421/.578 in 299 plate appearances as one of the youngest regulars in the California League. If the A's wanted to make him their everyday shortstop in 2014, it wouldn't be that far-fetched an idea. His hands and his eye are ready to play; his aptitude for the game is so good that the bat will catch up.
You should keep Russell on your radar this season on the chance that he is called up to the big league club around midseason. He will probably start the season in AAA, so the possibility exists that he actually does get a call.
Julio Urias at #14:
He has four pitches now, with a fastball up to 95 mph and a plus curveball, but stood out more for his feel for pitching, carving low Class A hitters up with his full assortment and by locating his fastball around the zone
Law ranked Urias ahead of Taijuan Walker, Eddie Butler, Lucas Giolito, Kevin Gausman, Noah Syndergaard and Jameson Taillon, just to name a few. Wow. I have to think he is highest on Urias amongst all other prospect experts in the industry. I have to say I was shocked with that ranking, but he did dominate Low A at the age of 16, striking out 67 and walking 16 in 54.1 innings. I see the Dodgers stretching him out to 5-6 innings per start in 2014, to see how he fares going through lineups 2-3 times per start.
Austin Meadows at #35:
Law's thoughts on Pirates outfield prospect Austin Meadows was probably the biggest newsworthy item from his rankings, in my opinion:
The Pirates have already made some minor tweaks, but were also thrilled to see that he had more feel at the plate and in center than anyone thought based on his spring.
He might have the best shot of anyone in the 2013 draft class to explode into an 8-WAR player, the way Mike Trout -- another huge, athletic center fielder who proved more polished than forecasted -- did after 2009.
Wow. Not exactly a Trout comp, but pretty close to it. It will be hard to compare anyone to Trout, but it allows us to dream on Meadows till the season starts, doesn't it?
Meadows should start in Low A ball this season, and he will be one to watch to see how he performs in full season ball.
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