Originally written on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 7/4/12

L.J. Hoes, OF/2B, Baltimore Orioles
Current Level: AAA
2012 Top 15 Prospects Ranking: 13th
Current Value: Underrated

Hoes doesn’t have the highest ceiling but he could develop into a solid role player. A 2008 third round draft pick out of a Washington high school, the prospect has spent much of 2012 in center field but he can play all three outfield spots and has experience at both second and third base. Hoes, 25, doesn’t have much power at all but he can steal a few bases, takes walks and doesn’t strike out much. He’s split 2012 between double-A and triple-A and is nearly ready to contribute at the big league level.

Jeff Kobernus, 2B, Washington Nationals
Current Level: AA
2012 Top 15 Prospects Ranking: 15th
Current Value: Sleeper

Like Hoes, Kobernus could develop into a solid bench player but he also has a chance to grind out some regular playing time if he continues to develop. He has just 11 extra base hits in 62 games but he has 32 steals on the year and nabbed 53 in 2011. Kobernus, 24, needs to do a better job of getting on base and has taken just 16 walks in 62 games (and walked just 21 times in 124 games in ’11). With Danny Espinosa and Steve Lombardozzi already lined up at the keystone in Washington, Kobernus may end up as trade bait.

Rymer Liriano, OF, San Diego Padres
Current Level: AA
2012 Top 15 Prospects Ranking: 3rd
Current Value: Monitor Closely

Liriano, 21, recently received a promotion to double-A after a decent performance in high-A ball. The outfielder posted a 113 wRC+ and displayed his good speed with 22 steals (29 attempts) in 74 games. Liriano is off to a quick start in double-A but he’s probably about a year and a half away from helping the big league club. He displayed some good pop in the California League in 2011 but his power numbers are down a bit in 2012. Liriano could eventually find a home in right field with San Diego and he has a decent skill set to survive in his future home ball park.

Shelby Miller, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals
Current Level: AAA
2012 Top 15 Prospects Ranking: 1st
Current Value: Down Slightly

It’s been a down year for Miller, who entered the year as the Cardinals’ top prospect. Just 21 years old, the youngster has learned a valuable lesson about pitching up in the zone – and how dangerous it can be against veteran hitters (even if they are AAA or AAAA hitters). The right-handed, fly-ball pitcher has allowed 17 home runs in 16 starts. On the plus side, Miller has 86 Ks in 75.0 innings of work. With veteran starter Chris Carpenter now out for the year, the young Texan does not appear to be in a position to help the club this season so St. Louis will continue to utilize other young pitchers such as Joe Kelly and Lance Lynn. Miller still has a future as a top-of-the-rotation starter.

Bubba Starling, OF, Kansas City Royals
Current Level: Advanced Rookie
2012 Top 15 Prospects Ranking: 3rd
Current Value: Static

The Royals first round draft pick from 2011 has battled nagging injuries since turning pro but he finally got into some game action on June 28 and has now appeared in four games. He’s already flashing his potential with two home runs and three walks (but also six Ks). The teenaged Starling should reach full-season ball in 2013 and is probably about four or five years away from reaching the Majors but he could become the Royals best hitting prospect once fellow outfielder Wil Myers (currently in triple-A) receives the call to The Show.


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