Prospects are often overhyped in organizations starved for talent. Every player listed occupies a spot on MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospects list, with none ranking lower than #64. Here is Grading on the Curve’s 2014 Most Overrated Prospect List: expect to be surprised.
Francisco Lindor has created serious buzz as the future shortstop of the Cleveland Indians. And while the young Puerto Rican offers plenty of promise, Indians fans should be cautious handing Lindor the keys to the shortstop role. Over his 357-game minor league career, Lindor sports a mediocre .278/.355/.381 slash line. And if you zero in on Lindor’s 2014 season in Triple-A, you realize his bat might not be that special after all: a .273 average and .307 OBP are nothing to write home about. Sure, Lindor may have the best glove in the minor leagues, but don’t get your hopes up on this prospect developing an elite bat any time soon.
Joey Gallo has been hailed as the future third baseman of the Texas Rangers, even earning the #6 spot on MLB.com’s Top 100 list by midseason. He destroyed High-A pitching in the first half of 2014, hitting a scorching .323 with 21 home runs in only 58 games. However, upon promotion to Double-A, Gallo struggled mightily. Although the big lefty launched 21 bombs for the Double-A Frisco RoughRiders, his batting average dropped nearly 100 points from his High-A numbers and his OPS over 300. Furthermore, Gallo struck out almost two times per game on average, ridiculous for a top 10 prospect in baseball. Despite these struggles, there is plenty of hope for the Rangers’ top prospect. Gallo was over four years younger than the average Double-A ball player, and expectedly struggled in his first attempt at advanced pitching. Joey Gallo sports immense power, but the young first baseman must hit for more contact and decrease his insane strikeout levels if he wants to be successful in the major leagues.
Dylan Bundy endured a rough season in 2014. Although, the Orioles’ top prospect finished out the year with a decent 3.27 ERA, his performance was buoyed by 15 dominant innings in Low-A. Take away those three starts, and Bundy is left with an unimpressive 4.78 mark. Furthermore, the righty’s once-blazing fastball topped out at 89 MPH in his last start of the season, making it clear that Bundy is far from his pre-Tommy John form. Add it all up, and Bundy does not look like #12 Prospect in baseball, where Baseball America ranked him entering the season.
The #6 overall pick in the 2013 draft, Colin Moran was drafted with sky-high expectations. And while a cursory look at his minor league numbers suggest there’s little to worry about, a deeper examination shows Moran’s flaws. The lefty has hit .297 over his first two professional seasons, but the third baseman slugged only11 total home runs in 690 Plate Appearances over the last two years. This power outage may not seem like a huge issue for a normal prospect, but major league teams need power at the hot corner. Furthemore, Moran career MiLB OBP stands at .346, not the solid approach expected from the UNC product. Moran’s batting average and contact ability will get him to the big leagues, but a lack of power will doom this top prospect to becoming an average third baseman at best.
As the most major league ready prospect in a barren Phillies’ farm system, Maikel Franco has been called the future third baseman of the Phillies. However, after posting a .257/.428/.727 slash line in Triple-A, it will be a steep hill to climb for the 22 year-old to live up this tremendous billing. On a more positive note, struggles should have been expected in the Dominican’s first season in Triple-A, where he was nearly six years younger than the average ballplayer. However, when looking past the hype, Franco’s potential screams average, not star, at third base going forward.