As another Fourth of July is cemented in history and baseball approaches its annual All-Star break, prospects continue to shine.
Baseball America has released an updated midseason top 50 list with half of the season complete, and a new prospect king reigns among the others.
There is talk of major league promotion for one of our top-10 prospects, and nine of the following youngsters have been selected to the Futures Game on All-Star Sunday, July 14.
Let's check in with the future stars.
1. Byron Buxton, OF, Minnesota Twins
2013 Stats: .341/.422/.543, 36 XBH (9 HR), 33 SB, 63/46 K/BB (79 G)
With the release of Baseball America's fresh top 50 list, Byron Buxton takes the top spot from the Cardinals' Oscar Taveras.
After his second full week at High-A Fort Myers in the Florida State League, Buxton continues to trend upward, batting at a .346 clip over his last six games, including three multi-hit games, as well as belting his first home run at High-A.
The 19-year old is mirroring his productivity level at Single-A Cedar Rapids, where he hit .341 with a .990 OPS in 68 games. Though a small sample size at Fort Myers, Buxton's .340 average in his first two weeks may already justify another promotion by the end of the 2013 season.
2. Oscar Taveras, OF, St. Louis Cardinals
2013 Stats: .306/.341/.462, 17 XBH (5 HR), 4 SB, 22/9 K/BB (46 G)
Taveras has not appeared in a game for Triple-A Memphis since June 23 due to a high ankle sprain. The original injury occurred May 12, he returned June 8 and played in 15 games before re-aggravating the injury.
The hard-hitting outfielder has been rehabbing at the team's facility in Jupiter, Fla., according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and has already begun performing baseball activities. However, the injury will keep him out of the Futures Game.
After impressive numbers in Double-A Springfield last year (.321, 23 HR, 94 RBI), Taveras has continued his success at the Triple-A level. He had a stellar May in which he hit .362 with two home runs and 13 RBI in 11 games.
The raw power and hitting ability may be enough reason for a September call-up.
3. Miguel Sano, 3B, Minnesota Twins
2013 Stats: .292/.385/.611, 44 XBH (22 HR), 9 SB, 90/41 K/BB (82 G)
Along with Buxton, Miguel Sano presents a bright future for the Twins organization. "Future" is the key word there.
Sano lit up the Florida State League in 56 games this season, batting .330 with 16 home runs, 48 RBI and a 1.079 OPS. Following his call-up to Double-A New Britain, Sano learned that as he moves higher up in the organization, the pitching gets better, too.
Other than a torrid stretch from June 25-28 when he went 7-for-15 with four home runs and eight RBI, there has been an adjustment period for the Dominican slugger. In the past week, Sano is just 2-for-20 and has struck out nine times.
By the end of the 2013 season, Sano will have dazzled baseball fans, but this past week has been a struggle.
4. Xander Bogaerts, SS, Boston Red Sox
2013 Stats: .295/.394/.482, 29 XBH (11 HR), 7 SB, 69/49 K/BB (80 G)
Xander Bogaerts may be the answer to the Red Sox shortstop carousel conundrum they've been facing since the departure of Nomar Garciaparra.
The shortstop phenom went 6-for-22 over the past week for Triple-A Pawtucket and has started to find his comfort zone after his call-up in mid-June. The batting average has dipped in Pawtucket (.256 as compared to .306 in Double-A Portland), but a bright spot is the translation of Bogaert's power.
He hit six home runs in 56 games in Portland and has already clobbered five in 23 games at the Triple-A level, including a monster three-run home run Sunday.
Don't be surprised if we see the kid at the major league level come September.
5. Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians
2013 Stats: .309/.377/.417, 26 XBH (1 HR), 19 SB, 38/34 K/BB (80 G)
The swift, switch-hitting Lindor, who is currently playing at High-A Carolina, is miles ahead of the development of a typical 19-year-old prospect.
Lindor was selected to the World roster of the Futures Game for the second straight year and has received high praise from the Indians' Vice President of Player Development, Ross Atkins, concerning his leadership, commitment and professionalism, as per R. Cory Smith of the Eastern Wake News.
A natural right-hander who has been more convincing from the left side of the plate (a .331 average opposed to a .236 average from the right side), Lindor went 7-for-23 in the past week, including three extra-base hits (two doubles and a triple) and four runs scored.
A promotion to Double-A is in the near future.
6. Archie Bradley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
2013 Stats: 104.2 IP, 2.06 ERA, .220 BAA, 115/44 K/BB (18 GS)
After Archie Bradley's only truly bad outing June 22, in which he allowed six earned runs in five innings pitched, the right-hander responded with a win June 27, throwing 7.2 innings, allowing just three hits and striking out seven.
In his latest two starts during the past week, however, Bradley is 0-1 with a 4.82 ERA.
He threw four innings of one-run ball against the Mississippi Braves but was yanked with a pitch count up to 82 due to jams in the first and fourth innings.
On Monday, Bradley notched his first loss since June 22 against the Montgomery Biscuits (Tampa Bay Rays affiliate) as he struggled with his command (four walks) and allowed four runs in 5.1 innings pitched.
Injuries and poor performances have plagued the Diamondbacks starting rotation in 2013, and there are talks in the organization to promote Bradley to the majors sometime this year, according to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic (h/t Nathan Aderhold of SB Nation).
7. Taijuan Walker, RHP, Seattle Mariners
2013 Stats: 100 IP, 2.16 ERA, .193 BAA, 112/35 K/BB (17 GS)
Taijuan Walker has made steady adjustments over the course of the season and is arguably one of the more major league ready players in the top 10.
Command issues got him into a little trouble with Double-A Jackson in the early part of the season, but he managed to depart from the Southern League with a 2.46 ERA and 96 strikeouts in 84 innings pitched.
Incredibly, Walker has been even better for Triple-A Tacoma, sporting a 0.56 ERA in three starts, allowing just 11 hits and striking out 16 batters in 16 innings thrown.
If the Mariners tank it in the second half, Walker will make his MLB debut. Hitters beware.
8. Christian Yelich, OF, Miami Marlins
2013 Stats: .261/.340/.502, 27 XBH (8 HR), 4 SB, 60/25 K/BB (53 G)
Christian Yelich has been hampered by injuries in 2013—plantar fasciitis kept him out of the first half of April and an abdominal strain he sustained June 2 caused him to miss over three weeks of baseball.
The outfielder began the season at Double-A Jacksonville where he hit .262 with six home runs and 28 RBI, featuring a healthy dose of power and finesse with his swing.
Yelich is currently rehabbing with High-A Jupiter where he is 5-for-24 over the past week but did jack a couple home runs in back-to-back games July 4 and 5.
The 21-year-old should be back with the Jacksonville squad later this week and will likely see some major league playing time by the end of the year, especially if the Marlins sell at the trade deadline.
9. Carlos Correa, SS, Houston Astros
2013 Stats: .326/.416/.460, 24 XBH (5 HR), 8 SB, 50/37 K/BB (69 G)
After a strong June in which Carlos Correa hit .370 with two home runs, 15 RBI and a .923 OPS for Low-A Quad Cities, he was named the starting shortstop in the Midwest League All-Star game and was granted a spot in the Futures Game.
In three games over the past week, Correa is 4-for-11 with a couple doubles, a couple runs scored and three walks. The 18-year-old is reaching base at a fantastic rate, supported by a 12.0 percent walk rate and has proven difficult to strikeout (16.2 percent K rate).
Correa has a very bright future considering how polished he's been at the plate despite his age.
10. Javier Baez, SS, Chicago Cubs
2013 Stats: .268/.330/.529, 41 XBH (18 HR), 12 SB, 81/24 K/BB (79 G)
Javier Baez made his Double-A Tennessee debut July 6 and hit a home run in his very first at-bat. It currently stands as his only hit at that level.
Through 76 games at High-A Daytona, Baez hit .274 with 17 home runs, 54 RBI and 12 steals. In three games for Tennessee, he is 1-for-11 with three strikeouts.
Baez's home run in his first at-bat at Double-A struck a chord with Cubs manager Dale Sveum, according to Doug Padilla of ESPN Chicago.
Keeping things to realistic standards, Sveum urged patience in waiting for the 20-year-old shortstop to completely develop. He marked the developmental milestone around 1,500 to 2,000 minor league at-bats. Baez has 310 at-bats in 2013 giving him just 621 in three years of professional play.
The Cubs will be cautious.
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