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Top 51 AL East Prospects

1. Brian Matusz, 23.2, LHS- He may not have the velocity of an ace, but his 4 pitch repertoire, command, and makeup make him a rare pitching prospect. Comes into 2010 as one of the frontrunners for the AL ROY. May not ever be a true number 1, but should be a 2 for a long time. Grade A

2. Desmond Jennings, 23.5, CF- Finally healthy in 2009, Jennings put up a huge season. He is a rare 5 tool/ 7 skill player that should impact the game in a lot of ways. Depending upon when he is brought to the big leagues he could challenge Matusz for AL ROY. Grade A

3. Jesus Montero, 20.4, C/DH- May be the best hitter in the minors right now. He absolutely dominated the Eastern League as a teenager. He projects to hit for both average and power, and while his plate discipline isn't great it is not a concern due to his youth. The only thing that holds him back from an A grade is his lack of a position. Grade A-

4. Casey Kelly, 20.6, RHS- Now that he has devoted himself to pitching full time he could be scary good. He has pretty much everything you look for in a pitching prospect- athleticism, command, he generates, ground balls, and there is still projection remaining in his frame. The only thing he doesn't yet have is post big strikeout numbers, but I have no reason to believe he can't/won't be able to strike guys out down the road. I'm not sure he has the pure stuff of a number one, but he could definitely be a solid number 2. Grade A-

5. Ryan Westmoreland, 20.0, CF- Westmoreland's $2 million dollar bonus looks like a bargain right now. Like Jennings Westmoreland is a 5 tool/7 skill player. Unfortunately, like Jennings he has battled injuries throughout his pro career. If he stays healthy he could be a Grady Sizemore like impact player. Grade A-

6. Jeremy Hellickson, 23.0, RHS- Doesn't have an elite fastball, but his secondary stuff is plus and he doesn't walk guys. I love the K/BB ratio. My one concern is that he will be hurt by the longball in the majors. I see him as a 2/3 starter. Seems ready for the big leagues in 2010, but Rays' starting pitching depth will allow him to get some more work in AAA. Grade A-

7. Kyle Drabek, 22.4, RHS- I think he may have gotten a little overrated in all the trade talks over the last year, but he is still an extremely good prospect. Solid fastball and swing-and-miss curve should rack up ks, but he will need to improve his change to be a front of the rotation starter (lefties posted a 924 OPS against him in 09). I think he can, but I think it may take him a year+ to do so. Grade A-

8. Matt Moore, 20.9, LHS- Unbelievable K/9 rates the last two years, and he gets some ground balls too. If he can improve his command he could become a number 1 starter. Grade B+

9. Wade Davis, 24.7, RHS- Davis has good stuff, and no doubt projects as a major league starter, but I think he has been overrated due to his impressive major league debut. But a close look at his AAA peripherals doesn't suggest a #2 starter- only a 2.34 K/BB ratio and .74 GO/AO ratio for a guy repeating the league. I think he is a 3rd starter long-term, but I would caution those who expect him to replicate his exceptional debut in 2010. Grade B+

10. Jake Arrieta, 24.1, RHS- I might be higher on Arrieta than most, but I believe in the stuff. He reminds me a lot of Kevin Millwood- big fastball, plus slider, a serviceable change, and durable starters frame- and I think his career could look very similar to Millwood's. Grade B+

11. Josh Bell, 23.5, 3B- Huge year for Bell in 2009. He answered questions about his ability to play 3rd long-term, cut his strikeout rate, and turned his raw power into game power. The real question with Bell is whether he will have to give up switch-hitting. Even if he doesn't make big strides from the right side I think he profiles as a very productive third baseman. Grade B+

12. Zach Britton, 22.4, LHS- He's underrated nationally. Gets ground ball after ground ball, and improved his strikout numbers in 2009. If he can improve his fastball command and polish his change he could be a front of the rotation starter. I don't think his command will ever be good enough to reach his ceiling, but I think he should have a long career as a third starter. Grade B+

13. Tim Beckham, 20.2, SS- It would be unfair to say that Beckham has been a disappointment, but he certainly has not set the world on fire. He hit 33 doubles in 09 and scouts like his bat speed and swing, so I am confident that power will come. The concerning thing about Beckham are reports that he may have to move off of short, especially considering he was a relatively safe bet to remain there coming out of the draft. I think reports of his deteriorating athleticism are overblown, and while he may never win any gold gloves he should be a productive bat first shortstop. Grade B+

14. Zach Stewart, 23.6, RHP- If I was convinced that Stewart was a starter I would grade him a touch higher, but I think he is better suited for the bullpen. When he started his strikeout rate was pretty low. Now, with his command and sink I think he could be a starter (most likely a 4). But I think he is better suited for the pen- fastball plays up, and he wouldn't need to worry about his change as much. Grade B

15. Brett Wallace, 23.7, 3B- General consensus has him graded higher, but I'm not a big fan. He is likely going to wind up at first, and while his bat is plus at third it seems fringe-average at first. He has risen through the minors quickly, but he hasn't shown the exceptional plate discipline many say he has. While he is still young, with his "bad" body I can't see him growing into more power. A safe pick to be a major leaguer, but not an impact guy for me. Grade B

16. Matt Hobgood, 19.8, RHS- He certainly didn't distinguish himself in his pro debut, but it isn't unusual for high school pitchers to experience a drop in velocity after a long high school season. I think the velocity will come back and he will turn some heads with his performance in 2010. The perception that Hobgood was a "signability" pick has caused him to be underrated IMO. He's athletic, and he has a bulldog mindset that is perfect for the AL East. I see him as a 2/3 when all is said and done. Grade B

17. Josh Reddick, 23.1, RF- He wasn't ready for the big leagues last year, but with his tool set it shouldn't be long before he is. He may not ever post big OBP numbers, but he is a plus defender in right with the power for the bat to profile there. Grade B

18. Reid Brignac, 24.3, SS- Because he has been on prospect radars for so long I think people forget how young he still is. He'll play all of 2010 at 24, and while I think his development would benefit significantly by starting at AAA, he'll likely be a utility guy at the big league level. Originally thought to be a bat first shortstop, he has improved his defense to the point that he is now regarded as one of the better defensive prospects in the game. Should provide enough power and defense to be a league average short stop. Grade B

19. Brandon Snyder, 23.5, 1B- It was a tale of three seasons for Snyder in 09. He dominated the Eastern League before struggling in the International League, and then he bounced back with a very strong performance in the AFL. The main question surrounding Snyder is whether he will have the power to profile as a major league first baseman. He hit 37 doubles last year, and I think he will begin to hit enough of those over the fence to be a productive first baseman. Grade B

20. Anthony Rizzo, 20.8, 1B- In my view one of the most underrated prospects in the game. He was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2008, but he came back in 2009 and put up huge numbers. I love the plate discipline, but like Snyder the question with Rizzo is whether he will develop homerun power. Considering his youth, his fight with cancer, and the gap power he has shown, I think he will have plenty of power down the road. Grade B

21. Travis D'Arnaud, 21.2, C- On the surface D'Arnaud's 2009 season was not that impressive, but his peripherals remained solid- he continued to walk and actually cut his K rate, but he was hurt by a 279 BABIP. He only hit 13 homeruns, but he led the Sally League in doubles with 38. He has good defensive tools, and his overall package suggests that he should be a very good cacher at the big league level. Grade B

22. Brandon Erbe, 22.4, RHP- Erbe suffered from some shoulder fatigue in 2009, but the injury is not expected to have any effect in 2010. Peripherals were not that strong, but a lot of that can be attributed to the injury. Scouts love his pure stuff, but there are concerns that he may profile better in the bullpen. I'm also concerned about his flyball tendancy, but I believe in the stuff. Grade B

23. Junichi Tazawa, 23.10, RHP- Tazawa wasn't ready for the big leagues in 2009, but his repertoire suggests that he should be a 4th starter long-term (although that doesn't get it done with the Sawx). I think Tazawa pretty much is what he is. He'll have to get by with command rather than blowing away big league hitters, and he'll be hurt by the longball, but he has the stuff to be a starter. Grade B

24. Austin Romine, 21.4, C- No standout tool or skill, but looks like a solid catcher. Impressive that he has risen to AA at 21. Grade B

25. Jose Iglesias, 20.3, SS- It will be interesting to see where the Sox choose to start Iglesias. The glove is major league ready, but there are serious questions with the bat. He's not a speed or power guy, so his offensive value will be almost completely tied to his average. Because he plays a premium position, even if he only hits in the 260 range he should still have serious big league value. He reminds me of Jack Wilson. Grade B

26. Alex Colome, 21.3, RHS- Seems to be the forgotten man behind the likes of Hellickson, Moore, and Davis, but Colome is a very good prospect in his own right. He has a huge fastball, and promising secondary stuff. He has a long way to go shore up his command, but he has a world of potential. Grade B

27. Lars Anderson, 22.6, 1B- Lars is one of the toughest players to grade. He actually cut his strikeout rate significantly in 2009, but the numbers were obviously way down. A lot has been made of various injuries being the culprit for his slump. I'm sure they had an effect, but if he was really that hurt he shouldn't have been playing, and what does it say about Anderson's ability to handle failure that he let his initial struggles snowball? Lars still has big time tools, and great plate discipline, so the ceiling is still high, but he has obviously lost a lot of his prior luster. Grade B- 

28. Derrick Gibson, 20.4, SS/2B- One of my favorite prospects in the game. What's not to like when a guy shows great plate discipline, athleticism, base-running savvy, and power potential? While he doesn't figure to stay at short, he should be able to play either second or center well. Grade B-

29. Slade Heathcott, 19.6, CF/RF-  A potential 5 tool difference maker, it's tough to say what the Yankees have until we have some pro data. Tough not to like the tools, but he is raw and there are injury/makeup concerns. Grade B-

30. Chad Jenkins, 22.3, RHS- Joe Blanton comparisons are thrown around for Jenkins a lot, and that seems to fit. He's got a durable frame, and a solid fastball but his secondary stuff is raw so he figures to need more development than the typical college first rounder. Could be a 3rd starter. Grade B-

31. Jake McGee, 23.8, LHP- Worked his way back from TJ nicely in 2009. I'm not sure how the Rays see him, but his power stuff and struggled with control scream bullpen arm to me. I think he could be a dominant late inning arm if that is the route they choose, and with a lot of starters in the system that seems to be the likely choice. B-

32. David Renfroe, SS/3B- A favorite of mine in the 2009 draft. He's a great athlete with the potential to be an impact player in the field and and at the plate. Grade B-

33. Stolmy Pimentel, 20.2, RHS- A lot of projection remaining in Pimentel's skinny frame. If he adds some velo as he fills out he could open some eyes in 2010. Already has a plus change, and solid command. He needs to firm up his breaking ball, but he has the makings of a solid mid-rotation starter. Flyball rates are a concern, but certainly a promising arm. Grade B-

34. Nick Barnese, 21.3, RHS- Missed the first two moths of the season with shoulder tendonitis, but he pitched well when he returned to action. Seems like he has the classic repertoire of a 3/4 starter- low 90s fastball with a average breaking ball and a promising change. Grade B-

35. Kyle Lobstein, 20.8, LHS- Great delivery and a lot of projection remaining in his frame suggest there might be more to come from Lobstein. His curve could be an out-pitch, and his change is making progress. Could be a 2/3 starter if he continues to develop, but he is a long way away. Grade B-

36. Ryan Kalish, 22.0, OF- I'm lower on him than the general consensus, but he strikes me as a lower division regular rather than a true 5. Saw him play in the AFL and I'm not at all convinced he can play center. I like the plate discipline and he showed more power in 2009, but he's not a classic corner outfield bat. I think he is the type of player who offers traditionally undervalued things such as good defense and OBP, but Im not sure he'll do enough to profile for a contending team. He's still young, but seems pretty much maxed out physically. Grade B-

37. Reymond Fuentes, 19.1, CF- He's raw but has a lot of talent. With his blazing speed he could be a future gold glove center fielder, and scouts think he will hit for power. Tough to tell exactly what the Red Sox have in him till we have more data to go on. Grade B-

38. Xavier Avery, 20.3, CF- One of the best athletes in the minors, before signing he was a 4 star running back recruit committed to Georgia. He is extremely raw and just learning the finer arts of the game, but the strides he has made are astounding considering his lack of baseball experience. Hasn't shown much power to date, but scouts think it's there. Grade B-

39. Alex Torres, 22.4, LHP- Of the three things a pitcher can control Torres does two very well- strike hitters out and keep the ball on the ground. Unfortunately, he has struggled with his control throughout his career. His troubles with control, coupled with his 5'10" 160 pound frame, make me think he profiles better in the pen. His plus sinker and two good breaking balls could make him a dynamite left-handed specialist. Grade B-

40. Luis Lebron, 25.1, RHR- One of the most underrated prospects in the game IMO. Lebron struggled with injuries early in his career, but he seems healthy now. His upper 90s heat and wipeout slider allowed him to strikeout a ridiculous 14.2 an then 12.8 per 9 in Hi A and AA. Hitters were obviously uncomfortable hitting against Lebron as his BAA was second best in the minors amongst relievers! Control is the question with Lebron, but his stuff is undeniable. He reminds me of Jose Arrendondo. Grade B-

41. Gary Sanchez, 17.4, C- Sanchez received the third highest bonus ever given to a Domincan Amatuer when the Yankees singed him for $3 million. The Yankees like his athleticism and offensive potential, but it is tough to grade him with absolutely no pro data. Grade B-

42. Manny Banuelos, 19.1, LHS- At only 5'10" 155 many question whether Banuelos will be able to handle a starters workload long-term, but the results were hard to argue with in 2009. You have to love the success that has come at such a young age, but guys who rely so heavily on command and pitchability often struggle as they climb the latter. He doesn't profile as a left-handed specialist because his best pitch is his change, but he figures to make a meaningful contribution in the bigs. Whether that comes as starter or reliever remains to be seen, but because of his youth and success I can't go any lower than a B-. Grade B-

43. Zach McAllister, 22.4, RHS- I think McAllister is generally overrated. He's not a big strikeout or ground ball guy. The only thing he really does well is limiting the walks. I think people get sucked in by the 6'6" frame, but his stuff is just solid. I think he figures as a back of the rotation starter, rather than a mid rotation guy. Grade B-

44. Mychal Givens, 19.11, SS- Obviously no pro data to go on, but I love to scouting reports on Givens. Hit 97 off the mound, so he obviously has the arm to go with plus range and solid hands at short. At the plate he is more raw, but he has bat speed and a patient approach. Big time sleeper IMO. Grade B-

45. Kam Mickolio, 25.11, RHR- Unique prospect in terms of size, delivery, and stuff. As anyone who has seen Mickolio pitch will tell you, hitters are not comfortable in the box against him (especially righties). Could be a set-up guy provided he is healthy in 2010. One concern is that after getting a good amount of ground balls in 2008 he was an extreme flyball pitcher in 2009. Grade B-

46. Mark Melancon, 25.0, RHR- Love the minor league numbers- struck guys out, showed good control, and got ground balls. But he really struggled in his big league debut. I think many have overreacted to that. He may not be a closer, but he should be a productive bullpen arm. Borderline B-. Grade C+

47. Michael Bowden, 23.7, RHS- I might be a little harsh on Bowden (anyone out there who wants to convince me go ahead), but I don't see him as more than a middle reliever or 5th starter. His peripherals were pretty bad in AAA- 1.87 K/BB and a .55 GO/AO ratio. Those kind of numbers are not going to play at the big level, especially in the AL East. In fairness, he was a lot better in 2008, but I'm not sure I believe in the stuff. Grade C+

48.  Cameron Coffey, LHS- Recovering from Tommy John surgery, but the Orioles liked him enough to dole out a $990,000 bonus. Great 6'4" projectable frame, could be a monster if he comes back from the surgery strong. Grade C+

49. Madison Younginer, 19.5, RHP- Big time fastball, and a ton of potential, but a lot of questions. I imagine he will be used very cautiously in his pro debut. Grade C+

50. Stephen Fife, 23.6, RHS- He put up real solid numbers in 2009, largely under the radar. It will be interesting to see if he can maintain his K and BB rates in AA this year. I think he could find himself as an innings eating 4th starter for the right team (read NL). But in the AL he probably fits in more as a middle reliever. Grade C+

51. JR Murphy, 18.10, C- Murphy only began catching his senior year of high school, so it will be interesting to see whether or not he can stick behind the plate. He has the tools to, and the bat should certainly play there. Grade C+

Honorable Mentions (in no particular order):

Aaron Wirsch, LHP, Baltimore- Very little pro experience, but a ton of projection remaining in his frame and he already has a the makings of an exceptional curve

JP Arencibia, C, Toronto- Power is there, but questions about the length in his swing prevent him from cracking the top 50

Drake Britton, LHR, Boston- Reports out of instructional league had him hitting 97. If he can maintain that throughout the season he could be an impact reliever along the lines of Matt Thorton

Roman Mendez, RHS, Boston- Intriguing combination of stuff, polish, and projection

Matt Sweeney, 3B/1B/LF, Tampa- Huge raw power, but big time problems against lefties and questions over his position keep him out of the top 50. 

 

System Rankings:

1. Tampa Bay Rays- Tough not to pick the Rays when you consider the amount of potential impact talent they have, and the fact that the majority of it is close to major league ready. I love the potential of their young pitchers like Lobstein, Colome, Moore, Barnese, Cruz, and Rodriguez. While they failed to sign their 1st or 2nd pick in 2009, they still found some talent by going over-slot for Glaesmann, Bailey, Malm, and James. I don't love any of those four, but they all have a chance. 5 Star System

2. Boston Red Sox- Going just 51 players deep doesn't show the Sawx's incredible depth. As it was they had 15 players crack the top 51, but their system easily has 40 legitimate prospects. They've been smart in the draft, targeting high upside high school talent and paying to get it. The result is a stacked system. Most of the talent is in the low minors, but with the major league roster stacked their is no rush. Although they struggled the last year I wouldn't sleep on guys like Michael Almanzar and Oscar Tejada. This system doesn't have the close to the majors impact talent like the Rays and Orioles, but the depth pushes them in front of the Orioles. 5 Star System

3. Baltimore Orioles- I like the Orioles' system a lot. Like the Rays the Orioles have a lot of talent stockpiled at the upper levels of the system. Matusz, Bell, Arrieta, and Snyder should all see major league action in 2010, and I'm a huge fan of their 2009 draft. They went out and got a lot of high upside pitchers that could create the next wave of talent to Baltimore. While this system doesn't have the depth of the Sox's, it has more depth than it is given credit for. Jesse Beal, Pedro Florimon, Brandon Waring, and Caleb Joseph could all make significant contributions in the coming years. 4 Star System

4. Toronto Blue Jays- Can you imagine what this system would look like without the Halladay and Rolen trades? Wow. With Drabek, Stewart, Wallace, D'Arnaud, and Roenicke the system looks a lot better, but there is not much depth outside of the top 6. There are some big time upside guys in Jackson, Marisnick, and Gustavo Pierre, but they are all very raw. 3 Star System

5. New York Yankees- This system was looking pretty good before the Granderson and Vasquez trades gutted it, but it is tough to argue with either of those deals. Montero is a stud, but the system doesn't have much depth. Leon, Sanchez, and Jose Ramirez offer some high upside potential, but all three are very raw. The Yankees have spent on some over-slot guys the last couple years but the early returns have been minimal. I want to go 2 stars, but Montero and amount of potential impact talents prevents me from doing so. 3 Star System

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