Team: Los Angeles Angels
Justin Upton, B.J. Upton, Adrian Beltre, Andrew Jones, Edgar Renteria, Alex Rodriguez, Ivan Rodriguez, Ken Griffey Jr., Juan Gonzalez, and Gary Sheffield. Along with Trout, those 10 players are the entirety of an exclusive club of players who hit a homerun during their respective age 19 seasons. Excluding the Upton brothers, who are still in the midst of their careers, Trout will end up with at least 38.7 fWAR as long as he doesn’t finish as the ‘worst’ player on this list, behind Juan Gonzalez. Using the same list of players (excluding the Upton brothers again), if Trout becomes an ‘average’ player, he will end his career with 67.9 fWAR. Granted, hitting a homerun at a certain age is a seemingly arbitrary statistic, and it is to a degree, but getting to the majors that fast is impressive and indicative of incredible talent. Trout managed to do that on the back of his impressive hit tool, good plate discipline, and blazing speed that allows him to be an elite defensive centerfielder. As absurd as it sounds, 67.9 fWAR doesn’t seem too much of a stretch.
2. Matt Moore
Team: Tampa Bay Rays
40 million dollars. That’s the total amount of money the Rays will have to pay Moore over the next eight years if they so choose. There is risk involved, namely an injury, but a decade from now this deal will look like an incredible steal for Tampa Bay. That speaks to how impressive Moore is, even though he’s only pitched 9.1 career innings at the major league level. His arsenal is insane, especially for a lefty and features three pitches – a fastball, slider, and changeup – that grade as a 70. The only semi-knock on Moore is that his command is only above-average but that could certainly improve considering Moore’s incredibly effortless delivery and clean mechanics.
3. Bryce Harper
Team: Washington Nationals
There’s an incredibly good chance Harper will join Trout and become the 12th player on the age 19 season homerun club. In fact, Harper’s power is so tremendous that it’s earned a 85 grade. Harper also has a second 80 grade tool, his arm. Beyond that though, Harper has some limitations. While there is some speculation he may play some centerfield, I personally doubt it. A below-average runner, Harper should be relegated to a corner outfield position soon, which will hurt his value, despite the cannon attached to his right shoulder. While he can certainly sting the ball, Harper does have issues at the plate. They are far from a red flag that will cause him to bust, but he will never be an elite contact guy. I see a peak tripleslashes of something like .260/.360/.620 rather than .310/.420/.670.
4. Jurickson Profar
Team: Texas Rangers
Well-rounded is the perfect phrase to describe Profar. I’m also not talking about average or above-average tools across the board either. I’m talking plus tools. His pretty swing and the fact that he hit .286 last year with a neutral BABIP are indicative of a plus hit tool. He stole 23 bases and although he got caught 9 times, his speed and instincts should allow him to be a plus baserunner. He hit 12 homeruns and posted an impressive .207 ISO, indicative of future plus power, despite his size. Offense aside, Profar also shines. He has plus range and a plus arm which makes him, wait for it, a plus defensive shortstop. The knock on Profar is his that his aforementioned size – he only stands at 5’11 – will limit his ceiling, but that’s unfair to him. Factor all his tools together, especially his ability to play shortstop, and it translates to a very high ceiling. Combine that with his incredible polish, highlighted by the fact that he walked more than he struck out last year, and Profar is quite the prospect.
5. Shelby Miller
Team: St. Louis Cardinals
Being a Pirates fan, this name sickens me a bit. I have nothing personally against Miller, but he could be a Pirate along with Taillon and Cole had the Pirates selected him instead of Tony Sanchez in 2009. Granted, the same could be said for my #1 prospect Mike Trout, but he came out of nowhere. Miller on the other hand was a well-regarded draft prospect with impressive talent but also the significant risk associated with prep pitchers. Thus far, Miller has beaten the odds and is now one of the top pitching prospects in baseball.
6. Manny Machado
Team: Baltimore Orioles
In 2010, Bryce Harper was the consensus #1 overall pick. After that the Pirates had a tough decision at #2 leaving Baltimore with an easy one at #3. With two prep players to pick from – one hitter and one pitcher – the Pirates chose Jameson Taillon leaving Machado for the Orioles. They have to be thrilled as they got a shortstop with an elite offense ceiling. Machado had a quick start to his pro career – he managed to earn a promotion to A+ ball while still eighteen years old. The big question about Machado involves his future defensive position. He may outgrow shortstop and be forced to move to third, but he has more than enough bat to play that position. If Machado is instead able to build on his first year and show promise to stick at short he would be on the short list to be the #1 overall prospect after next year’s graduations.
7. Julio Teheran
Team: Atlanta Braves
Detractors will cite Teheran’s slight frame – he’s 6’2, 170 lbs – and lack of elite secondaries. Supporters will instead point to Teheran’s fastball, which is a plus pitch and his impressive command. They will also point out that he was able to post a 2.55 ERA and 3.06 FIP in AAA at the tender age of 20 last year. While Teheran may not offer an insanely high ceiling, he’s young enough that his secondaries can develop enough to make him an ace. Even if he doesn’t reach that level, he’s a #2 starter who’s ready to start in major leagues as a 21 year-old. That’s quite impressive.
8. Jesus Montero
Team: Seattle Mariners
As controversial as Juilo Teheran’s prospect status is, Montero may be able to top him in the controversy department. Essentially all of the debate centers around Montero’s defense. If he is able to stick at catcher, his offense will make him one of the best backstops in baseball. Owner of a career minor league OPS of .867 – all compiled while playing at an extremely young age for each level – Montero put up an OPS of .996 in the major leagues in a 19-game small sample size late last year. Now a Mariner, Montero will be given every chance to be a catcher and his bat will still do just fine even if he’s forced to move to 1B or even DH.
9. Jameson Taillon
Team: Pittsburgh Pirates
I’ll probably be ranking Taillon higher than most. It’s not because of his numbers pitching at Low-A, because those were largely pedestrian (although he did show excellent control). It’s because of glowing scouting reports about Taillon’s arsenal, namely his curveball. Simply put, it’s one of the best pitches in baseball and that includes the major leagues. It’s a true 80 pitch and when combined with a elite fastball that touched as high as 99 last year and a promising changeup, it gives Taillon one of the most impressive pitch repertoires in baseball. That’s even more eye-opening considering Taillon was still a teenage as he concluded last season.
10. Dylan Bundy
Team: Baltimore Orioles
If they had been in the same draft, I would have taken Bundy ahead of Taillon. Despite that, Taillon made it through his first professional year with solid numbers, glowing scouting reports, and perfect health, so I’ll keep him a spot above Bundy until Bundy proves himself professionally. That aside, Bundy, who only stands at 6 feet or 6’1, is 2 or 3 inches away from being the absolute perfect right handed prep pitcher. Bundy throws three fastballs, a 4-seamer that touches triple digits, a 2-seamer with impressive life, and a cutter that may be his best pitch. He also has a very good curveball and a promising changeup, somewhat similar to Taillon. Bundy also overcomes his physical “shortcomings” by being a workout warrior as his commitment to conditioning and physical training has already become legendary.