Earlier today, ESPN's Keith Law published his updated Top 25 Prospects for 2014, and a few prospects have made big jumps in his rankings through the first two months of the 2014 MiLB season. Every January, Law publishes his Top 100 prospects, and then follows that up with his updated Top 25 prospects in late May and his updated Top 50 prospects around the MLB Futures game.
Before we take a look at some of the prospects who made big jumps, here is what his Top 10 looks like:
1. Byron Buxton, Twins
2. Carlos Correa, Astros
3. Gregory Polanco, Pirates
4. Oscar Taveras, Cardinals
5. Addison Russell, Athletics
6. Francisco Lindor, Indians
7. Jonathan Gray, Rockies
8. Kris Bryant, Cubs
9. Javier Baez, Cubs
10. Hunter Harvey, Orioles
Correa made the jump from # 4 to #2 in Law's rankings, and he will probably be there at #2 heading into the 2015 season. The real surprise is seeing Orioles pitching prospect Hunter Harvey not only ahead of two other excellent Orioles pitching prospects, Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman, but he made Law's top 10 through the first two months of the season.
Other prospects making big jumps include Phillies shortstop prospect J.P. Crawford, who jumped from #46 in Law's preseason Top 100 to #19 in his updated Top 25 prospects. Here is what he had to say about Crawford:
After Bryant, Crawford is having the best 2014 of any player drafted in last year's first round, showing an outstanding approach at the plate and surprising doubles power along with very promising work at shortstop.
Law was higher on Crawford than other prospect experts in the preseason, and is showing more love for him now.
Another prospect making a high jump was Red Sox second base prospect Mookie Betts, who moved from # 61 in Law's Top 100 rankings in the preseason to #22 in his Top 25 rankings. Here is an excerpt from Law's Top 25 prospect rankings:
He's second in the league in walks behind a 29-year-old who's in his 10th year in pro ball, and seventh in slugging behind six players all at least 18 months older than he is. The really interesting part is that Betts, a natural middle infielder, has made seven of his past 10 non-DH starts in center field, a position he's fast and athletic enough to handle -- and where the Red Sox may have a need.
Betts was getting lots of love and hype back in April during his long hitting streak, but as Law points out, he is not as good as he showed up during the streak.
Finally, Rangers third base prospect Joey Gallo jumped into Law's Top 25 rankings after not being ranked in his preseason Top 100. Law is pleased with Gallo's improved plate discipline, but he still thinks he will be a high strikeout hitter as he moves up to the highest level. Here is an excerpt from his rankings that should get fantasy owners excited:
Even if he strikes out 180-200 times a year, he's a very good bet to hit 40 homers and draw 80-100 walks, numbers that will play just fine even if he ends up at first base.
That is lofty praise for a guy who many did not think would make it to the big leagues due to his strikeout issues back in the preseason. Gallo will have to continue to show the improved plate discipline, and reduced strikeout rate, as he moves up to AA and AAA in the next year or so.
Update on Gallo from Lone Star Ball, SB Nation's Rangers fan site:
Gallo will likely be promoted to AA in the next few weeks. There were three players younger than Gallo on AA rosters on Opening Day.— Adam J. Morris (@lonestarball) May 31, 2014
He will certainly be challenged in AA.