Richie MartinCliff Welch/Icon SportswireUniversity of Florida's Richie Martin is solid defensively, but it appears his swing needs some work.
Florida shortstop Richie Martin raked in the Cape Cod league last summer, hitting .364/.432/.469 for Bourne, finishing second in the league in average, fifth in OBP and eighth in slugging. He's a true shortstop and is very likely to stay at the position in the long run, but despite that performance last summer in the nation's best wood-bat collegiate league, I think there are real questions about his hit tool in the long term.

Martin's swing is very short and direct, with no load, just a slight trigger before he moves his hands forward, making a lot of contact without much loft. He does have some hip rotation to drive the ball with his lower half, but lacking any sort of load cuts off the potentially average or fringe-average power he might have. On Tuesday night at Central Florida, he looked extremely uncomfortable against anything thrown on the inner third or inside, both in approach and in his body language, flinching even at some pitches thrown for inside strikes.
Kyler MurrayCal Sport Media via AP ImagesKyler Murray signed to play football at Texas A&M last month but could be lured to the pro diamond.
Shortstop Kyler Murray of Allen (Texas) High School is the nephew of former Giants outfielder Calvin Murray, the son of former Texas A&M quarterback Kevin Murray and the top dual-threat quarterback prospect in this year's recruiting class. He committed to the Aggies earlier this winter, but before he gets to College Station, he is going to get some serious offers from Major League Baseball teams looking to capitalize on his tremendous athletic ability on the diamond.

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Top 20 impact prospects for 2015 

February, 24, 2015
Feb 24
10:51
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 Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, Chicago CubsAP Photo, Getty ImagesTwo Cubs prospects, Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler, top Keith's list of top prospects for 2015 production.
When I put together my ranking of the top 100 prospects in baseball each winter (here's the complete guide to the prospects package), I base it on the overall potential I see from each player over the course of his first six years of service in the majors -- the length of time he'd spend with his parent club before reaching free agency -- and apply a discount to players who are further away from the majors. The prospects' potential production strictly in 2015 is only a minor consideration, because weighing it more heavily would lead to a list more populated with low-ceiling players rather than the potential All-Stars I think have more asset value.

To balance that out, I produced another list, this one ranking the top 20 prospects in baseball based solely on how much value I think they might produce in 2015. This list includes one of my least favorite kinds of forecasting (because I don't do it well and have no idea how to do it well): estimating playing time for the next seven months. So you're getting my best guesses -- guesses is the operative term here -- for probably 30 or 40 players underlying the rankings below and my decisions on which players to include. If a prospect you like isn't listed here, it might be only because I don't think he gets the playing time in 2015 to make the list.

I don't consider Boston outfielder Rusney Castillo or Arizona outfielder-maybe-third-baseman Yasmany Tomas as "prospects" due to their ages (27 and 24, respectively) and lengthy experience in Cuba's Serie Nacional, but were I to rank them, I'd have Castillo third on this list and Tomas sixth. I believe more in Castillo's athleticism and glove; Tomas is bigger and stronger, but he's not a great athlete and doesn't have Rusney's bat speed.

With that, let's look at the top impact prospects for 2015:

1. Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs

Bryant probably won't head north with the Cubs on April 5, but he'll be at Wrigley Field maybe two weeks later as the Cubs look to push off his eventual free agency by a year. He's my pick right now to win NL Rookie of the Year, likely to hit 20-plus homers and get on base at a strong clip even with a strikeout rate that will probably top 25 percent.

2. Jorge Soler, RF, Chicago Cubs

If Bryant doesn't win the ROY award, maybe his teammate will. Soler hit the majors like he was fusing deuterium and tritium nuclei, but it lasted only about a week before he discovered the travails of a hitter facing the major league strike zone.

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Big money for Moncada; big implications 

February, 23, 2015
Feb 23
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Boston's deal with Cuban shortstop Yoan Moncada destroys the previous record for an international amateur free agent, the $8.25 million Arizona gave to right-hander Yoan Lopez earlier this winter. It's a reflection of Moncada's potential upside as an All-Star bat at second or third base and the hope that

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Funkhouser a potential top-10 pick 

February, 14, 2015
Feb 14
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Kyle FunkhouserLeslie Plaza Johnson/Icon SMIKyle Funkhouser displayed a crude delivery that will benefit from professional instruction.
Louisville right-hander Kyle Funkhouser came out of the chute very strong with his outing on Friday against Alabama State, held at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Florida, showing four pitches with a dominant performance that showed why he's a likely mid-first round pick, with a chance to go in the top 10 with a few tweaks along the way.

Funkhouser dominated the Hornets just with his fastball,

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Jacob Nix showing first-round potential 

February, 13, 2015
Feb 13
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Pitcher Jacob Nix was caught up in the Brady Aiken imbroglio last summer through no fault of his own; the Astros drafted both players, backed out of a reported agreement with Aiken on terms because they didn't like something in his medicals, and then backed out of an agreement with Nix because honoring that deal would have put them well over their bonus cap for the year, costing them two draft picks this year. Nix won a settlement from the Astros for some portion of the $1.5 million he was promised, and rather than go to a four-year college he chose to enroll at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida and pitch for their post-graduate team, which faces a number of collegiate JV and junior college squads.

Nix threw on Thursday night in front of about 50 scouts, his second outing already this spring, and he's already improved his stock since last year. Nix has added about 25 pounds of muscle, and he looks perfectly built for major league workloads. He came out firing bullets, 93 to 96 in the first inning, throwing all fastballs, gradually losing velocity and sitting 90-92 in his last inning, the fifth. He threw a handful of off-speed pitches, with the mid-80s changeup average or a tick better, the 76-78 mph curveball anywhere from below-average to solid-average, with decent spin and good angle. His control was fine, but his command was below-average for reasons I'll detail in a moment. If he builds up his arm strength to where he can hold 92-94 for six innings by the end of the spring, he's got a good chance to go in the back of the first round thanks to his size, stuff and the fact that he's already a bit famous. (It never hurts you in the draft to be well-known.)

Nix's mechanics have also improved since high school, largely the result of his added core strength and better body control, but he's still inconsistent from the point when he pronates through his landing and finish, which he's going to have to tighten up to have average or better command. Nix's release point varied, as he'd drop down just enough to get on the side of the ball and start yanking it to his glove side from time to time -- a bit too often overall -- and he spins off when he lands on his heel, which causes a similar problem. His arm swing itself from separation to pronation is clean and simple, while fixing his landing and working to get him to keep his arm up just slightly more than he does shouldn't be difficult, whether it happens now at IMG or after he signs.

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Shields gives Padres a pitching surplus 

February, 9, 2015
Feb 9
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The San Diego Padres are now in a strange position, but one that gives them significant power to do something more to improve their roster before the season starts: They have too many starting pitchers.

Signing James Shields -- more on the contract itself in a moment -- gives them six pitchers who are capable of handling 150 or so innings in a major league rotation and three others who might contribute something less than that this year. That should be enough to get them 1,000 innings from their starters even if they choose to deal one of them.

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Top MLB prospects by position 

February, 4, 2015
Feb 4
12:51
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Blake Swihart and Jose PerazaIcon SportswireCatcher Blake Swihart and middle infielder Jose Peraza are top prospects at their respective positions.
After today, we will have hit the top MLB prospects from every angle.

We've laid out the top 100 prospects, with profiles, heading into the 2015 season, plus a "just missed" list. We've ranked every farm system, with the Cubs and Twins topping the list. We've ranked the top-10 prospects for all 30 teams, and there are three prospect videos.

Now it's time to rank them by position, adding players to fill out a position's top 10 when it's warranted, and offering up a few sentences on the status/depth of that position right now.

Catcher

Catcher seems deep in players who can handle the position defensively, in part a reflection of the industry's greater emphasis on catchers who can frame pitches well and steal extra strikes. That said, the attrition rate at the position is always high, due to injuries and nondevelopment. Nine of these 10 prospects are good to great defenders; Kyle Schwarber is the only one likely to move off the position. Kevin Plawecki and Andrew Susac should appear in the majors this year, but the remainder are further away.



First base

First-base prospects have steadily lost value in the industry over the past 5-10 years because their failure rate has turned out to be so high; the offensive standard at first is very high, and it's often the position where teams put players who can hit but can't handle another position.

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Chicago Cubs: Top 10 prospects 

January, 30, 2015
Jan 30
9:30
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Organization Ranking: 1


I've ranked every farm system, as well as the top 100 MLB prospects for 2015. Below, I've ranked at least the top 10 Cubs prospects, plus an overview of the system and any other names of note beyond the top 10. I also discuss any prospects who might help the big league club in 2015, one or two prospects whose stock has taken a big hit in the past year, and a sleeper prospect who I think can jump into the main top-100 list for 2016.

Non-Insider subscribers: Check out the free Tampa Bay Rays top-10 prospects report to see what these entail

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Minnesota Twins: Top 10 prospects 

January, 30, 2015
Jan 30
9:29
AM ET

Organization Ranking: 2


I've ranked every farm system, as well as the top 100 MLB prospects for 2015. Below, I've ranked at least the top 10 Twins prospects, plus an overview of the system and any other names of note beyond the top 10. I also discuss any prospects who might help the big league club in 2015, one or two prospects whose stock has taken a big hit in the past year, and a sleeper prospect who I think can jump into the main top-100 list for 2016.

Non-Insider subscribers: Check out the free Tampa Bay Rays top-10 prospects report to see what these entail

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Houston Astros: Top 10 prospects 

January, 30, 2015
Jan 30
9:28
AM ET

Organization Ranking: 3


I've ranked every farm system, as well as the top 100 MLB prospects for 2015. Below, I've ranked at least the top 10 Astros prospects, plus an overview of the system and any other names of note beyond the top 10. I also discuss any prospects who might help the big league club in 2015, one or two prospects whose stock has taken a big hit in the past year, and a sleeper prospect who I think can jump into the main top-100 list for 2016.

Non-Insider subscribers: Check out the free Tampa Bay Rays top-10 prospects report to see what these entail

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

New York Mets: Top 10 prospects 

January, 30, 2015
Jan 30
9:27
AM ET

Organization Ranking: 4


I've ranked every farm system, as well as the top 100 MLB prospects for 2015. Below, I've ranked at least the top 10 Mets prospects, plus an overview of the system and any other names of note beyond the top 10. I also discuss any prospects who might help the big league club in 2015, one or two prospects whose stock has taken a big hit in the past year, and a sleeper prospect who I think can jump into the main top-100 list for 2016.

Non-Insider subscribers: Check out the free Tampa Bay Rays top-10 prospects report to see what these entail

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Boston Red Sox: Top 10 prospects 

January, 30, 2015
Jan 30
9:26
AM ET

Organization Ranking: 5


I've ranked every farm system, as well as the top 100 MLB prospects for 2015. Below, I've ranked at least the top 10 prospects, plus an overview of the system and any other names of note beyond the top 10. I also discuss any prospects who might help the big league club in 2015, one or two prospects whose stock has taken a big hit in the past year, and a sleeper prospect who I think can jump into the main top-100 list for 2016.

Non-Insider subscribers: Check out the free Tampa Bay Rays top-10 prospects report to see what these entail

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Atlanta Braves: Top 10 prospects 

January, 30, 2015
Jan 30
9:25
AM ET

Organization Ranking: 6


I've ranked every farm system, as well as the top 100 MLB prospects for 2015. Below, I've ranked at least the top 10 Braves prospects, plus an overview of the system and any other names of note beyond the top 10. I also discuss any prospects who might help the big league club in 2015, one or two prospects whose stock has taken a big hit in the past year, and a sleeper prospect who I think can jump into the main top-100 list for 2016.

Non-Insider subscribers: Check out the free Tampa Bay Rays top-10 prospects report to see what these entail

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

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