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Ten Potential Pop-Up Prospects

by Matthew Foreman
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:09 pm ET

The fundamental problem with any sort of prospect rank is that you have to cut off the ranking at some arbitrary value, which will always leave a few prospects off the list. On a top 100 list, the 80th prospect is often not much “better” of a prospect than the 110th, so there are many prospects who are cut who have the substantial potential.  This list is not a ranking (nor should it be read as 101-110), but comprises five hitters and five pitchers who could take a big step in 2014 and end up on Rotoworld’s Top 100 list in 2015.  Also, this list is in alphabetical order, so don’t read into who is first or fifth.


Hitter Position Team
Nick Ciuffo Catcher Tampa Bay Rays
Phillip Ervin Outfielder Cincinnati Reds
Aaron Judge Outfielder New York Yankees
Harold Ramirez Outfielder Pirates
Amed Rosario Shortstop New York Mets



Pitcher Position Team
Chris Anderson Right-Handed Pitcher Los Angeles Dodgers
Trey Ball Left-Handed Pitcher Boston Red Sox
Rob Kaminsky Left-Handed Pitcher St. Louis Cardinals
Adalberto Mejia Left-Handed Pitcher San Francisco Giants
Lewis Thorpe Left-Handed Pitcher Minnesota Twins





Nick Ciuffo, Catcher, Tampa Bay Rays


How he was acquired:  2013 draft, 1st round, 21st pick (Lexington (SC) HS)


Future Potential:  Ciuffo has all of the tools to become an above-average defensive catcher who hits .280 with 15 home runs.  As with many catching prospects that are drafted out of high school, he has a long way to go before he can reach his offensive or defensive potential.


What to watch in 2014: Ciuffo will open 2014 in extended spring training and will likely be assigned to the Hudson Valley Renegades of the short-season A New York-Penn League.  Watch for how he handles pitchers as well as his offensive production.



Phillip Ervin, Outfielder, Cincinnati Reds


How he was acquired:  2013 draft, 1st round, 27th pick (Samford University)


Future Potential:  Ervin has the potential to hit at least .270 with 20+ home runs and 15+ stolen bases while playing solid defense in one of the corner outfield positions.  If your league takes into account OBP, he could be even more valuable.


What to watch in 2014:  He should open 2014 with the Bakersfield Blaze of the High-A California League, so look for him to take advantage of one of the most offense-friendly ballparks in one of the most offense-friendly leagues.



Aaron Judge, Outfielder, New York Yankees


How he was acquired: 2013 draft, 1st round, 32nd pick (California State University – Fresno)


Future Potential:  A truly massive human being, Judge is 6’7” and weighs 230 pounds.  Despite this, Judge is a tremendous athlete who stole 36 bases during his three seasons at Fresno.   He has the potential to hit 30+ home runs, but serious questions persist regarding whether he will be able to reach the major leagues due to the amount of swing-and-miss in his swing.  However, if Judge can hit .260, he could hit 30 home runs with 10 stolen bases.


What to watch in 2014:  Judge should open the season with the Charleston RiverDogs of the full-season A South Atlantic League. Watch for how well he hits in a neutral offensive environment.



Harold Ramirez, Outfielder, Pittsburgh Pirates


How he was acquired:  2011 International Free Agent (Columbia)


Future Potential:  In a minor league system loaded with potential impact outfielders, Ramirez can get lost behind Gregory Polanco and Austin Meadows.  However, he has the talent to become a solid outfielder on a team that plays deep into October.  Polanco could be a .300 hitter with 10-15 home runs and 15-20 stolen bases.


What to watch in 2014:  With a full outfield and prospects ahead of him, Ramirez will likely be moved to left field to accommodate the Pirates 2013 first round pick, Austin Meadows, in West Virginia.



Amed Rosario, Shortstop, New York Mets (he went by his first name – “German” - when he signed, but now goes by his middle name)


How he was acquired: 2012 International Free Agent (Dominican Republic)


Future Potential:  While he hit only .241 with three home runs in 226 plate appearances as a 17-year old in 2013, Rosario projects as a .300 hitter who hits 15 home runs while playing above-average defensive shortstop.


What to watch in 2014:  Rosario has a long way to go to reach his potential, but if he can hit .280 in 2014 his prospect stock could take a meteoric rise.  Likely to open the season with the rookie-level GCL Mets, Rosario could also spend some time with the short-season A Brooklyn Cyclones of the New York-Penn League, which would be amazing for someone the age of many high school seniors.






Chris Anderson, Right-handed Pitcher, Los Angeles Dodgers


How he was acquired:  2013 draft, 1st round, 32nd pick (Jacksonville University)


Future Potential:  Anderson’s likely outcome is a mid-rotation innings-eater, which is likely why he was left off many lists of top prospects.  An above-average fastball coupled with his above-average slider and projectable changeup gives him a good chance to become a solid pitcher in the major leagues.


What to watch in 2014:  He will open 2014 at High-A Rancho Cucamonga, one of the worst ballparks for pitchers in one of the worst leagues for pitchers, so if he puts up a mid-3 ERA with decent peripherals, it could be a harbinger of great things to come.



Trey Ball, Left-handed Pitcher, Boston Red Sox


How he was acquired: 2013 draft, 1st round, 7th pick (New Castle Chrysler (IN) HS)


Future Potential:  A fantastic athlete whose fastball sits at 92-94, Ball projects to be an elite pitcher whose fastball velocity could improve as he fills out.  He has the athleticism and projection to become a solid second-tier pitcher in the mold of Jordan Zimmermann or Mike Minor.


What to watch in 2014:  Ball will likely open 2014 with the rookie-level GCL Red Sox, but could be promoted to the short-season A Lowell Spinners of the New York-Penn League if he does well.



Rob Kaminsky, Left-handed Pitcher, St. Louis Cardinals


How he was acquired:  2013 draft, 1st round, 28th pick (St. Joseph Regional (NJ) HS)


Future Potential:  Kaminsky is considered short at only 5’11”, which likely hurt his draft status and allowed the Cardinals to select him with the 28th pick.  His fastball sits at 90, but can be dialed up to 94 when necessary, which pairs perfectly with his dive-bombing curveball.  He also projects to have an average changeup, which will make him a solid #3 starter with high strikeout totals.


What to watch in 2014:  Kaminsky should be assigned to the full-season A Peoria Chiefs of the Midwest League, which will give him the opportunity to show what he can do against older competition.  Watch his strikeout and walk rates, as he could get fast-tracked if he is able to keep up his strikeout rate up while keeping his walk rate down.



Adalberto Mejia, Left-handed Pitcher, San Francisco Giants


How he was acquired: 2011 International Free Agent (Dominican Republic)


Future Potential:  Mejia is armed with a fastball that sits at 92-93 and the potential to have an above-average slider and changeup, which, coupled with his smooth throwing motion, could make him a solid frontline pitcher.


What to watch in 2014:  He won’t turn 21 until the end of June, so he will be one of the youngest players in AA in 2014.  As long as he keeps up doing what he’s doing – mid-3 ERA, 8 K/9, and a sub-3 BB/9, Mejia could vault up the prospect ranks due to his high floor and proximity to the major leagues.



Lewis Thorpe, Left-handed Pitcher, Minnesota Twins


How he was acquired:  2012 International Free Agent (Australia)


Future Potential:  Thorpe’s fastball sat at 90 and touched 94 during his time in the GCL, and many believe he could add another 2-3 mph as he fills out.  He has good command of his pitches, and his curveball and changeup have the potential to be above average as well.  He throws a “show me” slider which will likely function as a rarely-used fourth pitch.  He has the potential to be a solid #2 pitcher to slot behind Kohl Stewart.


What to watch in 2014:  Despite only turning 18 in November of 2013, Thorpe will likely open 2014 playing for the Cedar Rapids Kernels of the full-season A Midwest League, where he will likely be the youngest player on the roster.  Watch his K/9 rate, as if he continues to dominate older hitters he could catapult to the top of prospect lists in a manner similar to Tyler Glasnow or Julio Urias.

Matthew Foreman
Matthew Foreman is a baseball prospect writer for Rotoworld. He can also be found on Twitter.