10 prospects ready to surge in 2017

December 28th, 2016

Prospects develop at different times and on different schedules. Some start out on a fast path to the big leagues and never stop. Some begin like that and then stall at the upper levels.

Other prospects develop slowly, taking longer for everything to click, but then they really turn into stars. This is a big reason why ranking prospects is such a dynamic activity. There are things happening constantly that make it worthwhile to change who is on a list and how the players are ordered on it.

MLBPipeline.com's new Top 100 list doesn't come out until the end of January, but the Pipeline crew is hard at work trying to sort out who should go where. The list will undoubtedly include players who weren't previously Top 100-type prospects. There might be others who don't start the year on the list, but they could make a jump that could land them there down the line.

Here are 10 such names, players not currently on the Top 100 prospects list, who are ready to surge in 2017.

, OF, White Sox No. 9: Part of the big haul Chicago got from Boston in the deal, Basabe might be a bit more under-the-radar because he came over with top prospect and flame-thrower . He's a switch-hitter who has the chance to play up the middle in center field. He's a basestealing threat who should continue to add more power. And he turned just 20 at the end of August.

Walker Buehler, RHP, Dodgers' No. 7: The 2015 first-round Draft pick out of Vanderbilt dropped off radars because he needed Tommy John surgery the August after he was drafted. He worked his way back to throw five regular-season innings at the end of '16, followed by five more -- all of the shutout variety -- in the Midwest League playoffs. A full healthy season should remind people why many thought he could be a top-half-of-the-first-round pick had he been healthy in '15.

Ryan Castellani, RHP, Rockies' No. 12: A second-round pick in 2014 out of the Arizona high school ranks, Castellani was on a very short leash innings-wise during his first full season in '15. He showed he has the chance to be a workhorse while logging 167 2/3 frames in 2016 and lowering his hit rate. He kept his strikeout rate intact and got a lot of ground-ball outs, all while pitching in the hitting-friendly California League (finishing sixth in ERA). A move to the Double-A Eastern League could be very good for him.

, LHP, Braves' No. 11: Fried missed nearly two years of competitive baseball following Tommy John surgery, first with the Padres and then finishing the rehab process with the Braves after coming over in the trade. Fried topped 100 IP in 2016, missed a lot of bats and got a lot of ground-ball outs. The gloves could come off for the lefty in '17, and he could start showing why he was a Top 10 pick back in '12.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B, Blue Jays' No. 7: How cool would it be to have Junior hit full-season ball and become an elite-level prospect in the same year his dad gets enshrined in the Hall of Fame? It remains to be seen if the second part will happen, but Vlad Jr. does appear ready to take off, already displaying an advanced approach at the plate with the chance to hit for both average and power, which was apparent during his United States debut in 2016.

Jahmai Jones, OF, Angels' No. 2: Athleticism and raw tools, plus makeup, plus a feel for the game usually adds up to a future big leaguer. Jones has all of those attributes, and it started to translate on the field for him in the Pioneer League this past season. He got a late promotion to full-season ball and should be ready to take the Midwest League by storm in 2017, with a future as a speedy table-setting center fielder ahead of him.

James Kaprielian, RHP, Yankees' No. 9: When you draft a college pitcher in the middle of the first round, the hope is to get more than three Minor League starts out of him in his first full season. However, Kaprielian missed nearly all of 2016 due to a strained flexor muscle in his forearm. The good news is that he looked very good in the Arizona Fall League, and if he stays healthy in '17, there should be more of that to come.

, C, Cardinals' No. 11: A very good argument could be made that Kelly is now the best all-around catching prospect in the game. The converted infielder looks very comfortable behind the plate and has the natural leadership teams covet at the position. At the same time, his offensive game has improved as well. Considering is only signed through 2017, Kelly may be ready just in time.

Thomas Szapucki, LHP, Mets' No. 8: Szapucki already made a huge jump onto radar screens in 2016, earning a promotion from the Appalachian League to the New York-Penn League and hardly skipping a beat. His velocity took a significant jump forward, and it combines nicely with his very effective breaking ball. His command needs to be refined, but the Mets are excited to see if he can keep missing bats and eliciting weak contact in full-season ball in 2017.

Leody Taveras, OF, Rangers' No. 3: Signed in 2015 for $2.1 million, Taveras began his pro debut in the Dominican Summer League and ended it all the way up in the short-season Northwest League, where he was four years younger than the average player. The switch-hitter has plenty of speed, which will serve him well on the bases and in the outfield as he learns more about his craft. There's also room for power to come as he matures.