MLB.com Top 100 Prospects: NL Central Review

Shelby Miller (STL), #5 overall on MLB's Top 100 Prospects

On Wednesday night, MLB.com released Jonathan Mayo's top 100 MLB prospects going into the 2012 season, and it has its fair share of surprises, as one would expect. But most fans don't delve into these lists just to look for rankings that look a tad wonky; most fans are simply trying to figure out where their favorite team's prospects are ranked.

Considering that, we thought that it might be helpful to break these lists down on a team-by-team basis to give you guys a look. Here's a breakdown of MLB.com's Top 100 prospect list for the NL Central.

Chicago Cubs

No. 33, OF Brett Jackson: Generally speaking, Jackson is the consensus top prospect in the Cubs' system. Mayo noted that he has 20-20 potential. Honestly, he reminds me a bit of Mike Cameron with the power/speed combination, solid defense in center field and iffy hitting skills.

No. 37, 1B Anthony Rizzo: Recently acquired from the San Diego Padres, Mayo ranked Rizzo as the best prospect at first base in the entire game. Even after struggling in the majors in 2011, he still sees Rizzo as an impact middle-of-the-order bat.

No. 62, SS Javier Baez: The Cubs' first-round pick in 2011, Baez has more upside than any other player in the Cubs' farm system. He might even have more upside than anyone in the organization that's not named Starlin Castro. Most evaluators don't expect him to stick at shortstop, but he's not a lock to move and he's got major offensive upside.

Cincinnati Reds

No. 14, C Devin Mesoraco: A potential impact bat at a premium defensive position that's nearly MLB-ready. It's pretty much the definition of a top prospect, and Mesoraco is rated as the best catching prospect in the game.

No. 34, SS Billy Hamilton: There are a variety of opinions on Hamilton's ultimate upside, but one thing is certain: the guy has 80 speed. Described as one of the fastest players to ever take the field, Hamilton also showed improvement as a shortstop and a hitter over the course of the 2011 season. The speed is what makes him special, but that's not all he has.

Houston Astros

No. 44, 1B Jonathan Singleton: The big bat acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies in last year's Hunter Pence trade, Singleton is considered one of the best hitting prospects in the game. Considered the third-best first base prospect in the game, he'll probably need more than one more year of seasoning, though.

No. 61, RHP Jarred Cosart: The other big name acquired in the Pence trade, Cosart's biggest concerns are related to his mechanics and how they'll impact his durability. He's got a big-time arm with a fastball that sits in the high 90's, but there's concern that he'll end up being nudged into the bullpen.

No. 84, OF George Springer: The Astros' first-round pick in 2011, Springer has huge upside but still needs to refine a few parts of his game. A rare five-tool player, he's got legit 20-20 potential and could end up sticking in center field. Honestly, he's somewhat similar to Brett Jackson.

Milwaukee Brewers

No. 49, RHP Wily Peralta: Here's one of those rankings that might seem unusually high. His prospect stock has been all over the place, but it's way up after a 2011 season in the upper minors that saw him post a 3.17 ERA with 157 strikeouts in 150 innings.

No. 97, RHP Jed Bradley: A power lefty that could end up moving quickly after being drafted out of Georgia Tech last year, he still hasn't made his professional debut yet. Once he does, expect him to flash an impressive mid-90's heater and a slider that often flashes plus.

Pittsburgh Pirates

No. 8, RHP Jameson Taillon: Only three other pitchers rank ahead of Taillon, an absolute beast on the mound with legit ace potential. He's flashed three plus pitches over the past year even while the Pirates have limited his workload, reflecting just how good he might become once he really can let it rip.

No. 11, RHP Gerrit Cole: The other half of Pittsburgh's projected two-headed monster atop the rotation, Cole is another man about boys when he stands on the mound. Armed with the fastball that sits 95-96 deep into games and two plus secondary offerings, Cole has the makings of an ace that won't take long to reach the majors.

No. 40, OF Starling Marte: A big-time athlete that's loaded with tools, Marte has been a work-in-progress for a while now. Always a speedster with good range in center and a solid throwing arm, he's also shown increasing power production over years. Now he just needs to refine his approach as a hitter, considering his unwillingness to take pitches at this point.

No. 69, OF Josh Bell: Pittsburgh's second-round pick in 2011, he got paid like a guy drafted in the upper half of the first round. Most teams didn't believe he'd sign at any price, though, so Pittsburgh was happy to fork up for an athlete with legit impact potential offensively.

St. Louis Cardinals

No. 5, RHP Shelby Miller: Considering the third-best pitching prospect in the game, Miller has been considered an elite prospect for a while. His upside as an ace hasn't changed, so expect him to ranked around this area in essentially every top 100 list.

No. 30, RHP Carlos Martinez: He's basically where Miller was a couple years ago, as a highly intriguing power arm with the potential for multiple plus secondary pitches and the ability to take on 200+ innings annually. Martinez is still quite far away from the majors, but he's the kind of guy that could be ranked in the top 5 on a list like this one before he's there.

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