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EL Prospects: Top picks head east04/04/2013 6:00 AM ET
By Danny Wild / MLB.com
Here's a ranking of the 10 prospects we're most excited to see light up the Eastern League in 2013:
No 1. Dylan Bundy (RHP, Bowie Baysox): Although mild elbow stiffness means Bundy won't be Bowie's Opening Day starter, he's still the biggest name in the league and probably the best pitching prospect in baseball right now. The buzz around the first-round pick grew almost on a pitch-by-pitch basis last season, especially after his dominant debut at Class A Delmarva. The 20-year-old right-hander ascended all the way to Baltimore after 23 Minor League starts. This year, he figures to spend a few months in Bowie, if only to delay his arbitration clock. Bundy is as talented as they come and worth the price of admission when he's healthy this spring.
No. 2 Jameson Taillon (RHP, Altoona Curve): Taillon enters a pivotal year in his development, and he'll likely spend a good chunk of it at Altoona. The 6-foot-6 righty, usually mentioned in the same breath as Bucs' No. 1 prospect Gerrit Cole, owns a high-90s fastball and has gained confidence working in his curve, a pitch he had a chance to feature when he wrapped up his summer with three Eastern League starts. Pittsburgh's first-round pick in 2010 and MLB.com's No. 15 prospect went 9-8 with a 3.55 ERA in 26 games across two levels last year and will probably finish the year at Triple-A Indianapolis.
No. 3 Xander Bogaerts (SS, Portland Sea Dogs): Like Taillon, Bogaerts -- MLB.com's No. 20 prospect -- managed to reach Double-A at the end of 2012 and figures to make the full adjustment this spring in Portland. The Red Sox's No. 1 prospect hit .326 in 23 Eastern League games last year and has quickly gathered awards and accomplishments -- he played for The Netherlands at the World Baseball Classic this spring and was named the Red Sox's 2012 Minor League Offensive Player of the Year.
No. 4 Anthony Rendon (3B, Harrisburg Senators): Rendon assumes title that's recently been bestowed on baseball royalty: the Nationals' top prospect. It may be a tough act to follow Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper -- both former Senators -- but Rendon looks poised to do it. After getting 68 at-bats with Harrisburg last year and logging time in the Arizona Fall League, the 22-year-old will try to stay healthy as he works his way through the Nats system. Adjusting to Double-A pitching will be the first task before fans start wondering how he'll fit into a hot corner occupied by Ryan Zimmerman.
No. 5 Kevin Gausman (RHP, Bowie Baysox): As if Bowie fans weren't spoiled last summer by Bundy, they'll get to see Gausman -- MLB.com's No. 37 prospect -- move into the Baysox's rotation this spring. Baltimore's No. 2 prospect and a 2012 first-round pick out of LSU, Gausman brings the heat with a plus fastball and nasty changeup that will have Eastern Leaguers guessing. He got a healthy taste of Major League camp this spring, sticking around even after Bundy was reassigned, and after logging only 15 innings in his pro debut, O's fans are eager to see what he can do.
No. 6 Matt Barnes (RHP, Portland Sea Dogs): Barnes joins a Portland staff that includes Daniel Bard, the hard-throwing project optioned to work with Sea Dogs pitching coach Bob Kipper. What's good for Bard is probably good for Barnes, who led Red Sox farmhands in ERA, strikeouts and opponents' average in 2012.
No. 7 Alex Meyer (RHP, New Britain): Meyer, a 6-foot-9 righty, was acquired over the winter from Washington for outfielder Denard Span. The Nats' first-round pick in 2011 out of Kentucky became the Twins' No. 3 prospect and gets his first taste of Double-A after finishing 10-6 with a 2.86 ERA in 25 games last year, mostly at Class A. He's a strikeout pitcher with a big fastball and a developing slider.
No. 8 Brian Goodwin (CF, Harrisburg Senators): Yet another Nationals first-round pick, Goodwin -- Washington's No. 2 prospect behind Rendon -- returns to Double-A after working his way up from Class A Hagerstown in his first full Minor League season last year. The lefty-hitting outfielder's numbers took a hit after the promotion (he skipped Class A Advanced Potomac), but with Span manning center in Washington, there's no rush for Goodwin to develop at a Harper-like pace.
No. 9 Jesse Biddle (LHP, Reading Fightin Phils): Reading has a new nickname this season and a new ace in Biddle, the Phillies' No. 1 prospect. A lefty who won 10 games and recorded 151 strikeouts for Class A Advanced Clearwater last year, Biddle comes to Reading with a nice resume -- he led the Florida State League in strikeouts, tied for second in wins, ranked third in ERA and fourth in innings pitched and complete games in 2012.
No. 10 Tyler Austin (OF, Trenton Thunder): Austin briefly played in Trenton at the end of 2012 but should see at least half a season in New Jersey. A Futures Game selection last summer, he was named the Yankees' Minor League Player of the Year after leading the system in batting for the second season in a row. He ranked third in RBIs and fourth in stolen bases and figures to share an outfield with Slade Heathcott, New York's No. 4 prospect.