December 4, 2012
On the Brink of Elite
Among the seven clubs covered in the 2013 Top 10 before yesterday's talent-rich Royals rankings are 70 ranked prospects. Within that group, there are a few dozen very strong prospects that project to be above-average regulars with the potential for more. There isn't one truly elite prospect among them—despite several with superstar upside, the best of them lack the track record and probability of a premium prospect—and there aren't going to be many in the next 23 sets of by-team rankings either.
There are, however, a number of talents who have the combination of tools, legit baseball skill, and makeup to wear such a tag at this time next year. Using the 70 players already ranked as the canvas, here is a painting of a few I have identified that could join the ultra-small crop of elite prospects in 2013.
Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians
Lindor is a mature player with a great work ethic and polished game for his age, suggesting he's a candidate to develop above and beyond in some areas. He could reach the majors before he turns 22, and if the hit tool is one of those skills that develops, the Indians could have a perennial All-Star on their hands.
Lindor's power upside tops out in the average range—a 50 on the 20-80 scouting scale—but as he matures physically, some of the gap doubles could turn into long balls, potentially producing 15-18 home runs per season in a manner similar to that of current Tribe shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera.
A shortstop with a plus glove that hits .280 or better with 15-plus home run pop, 25 stolen bases, and a .340-.360 on-base mark—from both sides of the plate—is a superstar, and that isn't out of reach for this 2011 first-round draft pick.