Starting pitcher Rob Rasmussen of the UCLA Bruins, drafted by the Florida Marlins in the second round of the 2010 draft. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
All grades are EXTREMELY PRELIMINARY and subject to change. Don't get too concerned about exact rankings at this point, especially once you get past the Top 10. Grade C+/C guys are pretty interchangeable depending on what you want to emphasize.
Feel free to critique the list, but use logic and reason rather than polemics to do to. The list and grades are a blending of present performance and long-term potential. Full reports on all of players can be found in the 2011 Baseball Prospect Book. We are now taking pre-orders. Order early and order often!
QUICK PRIMER ON GRADE MEANINGS:
Grade A prospects are the elite. They have a good chance of becoming stars or superstars. Almost all Grade A prospects develop into major league regulars, if injuries or other problems don't intervene. Note that is a major "if" in some cases.
Grade B prospects have a good chance to enjoy successful careers. Some will develop into stars, some will not. Most end up spending several years in the majors, at the very least in a marginal role.
Grade C prospects are the most common type. These are guys who have something positive going for them, but who may have a question mark or three, or who are just too far away from the majors to get an accurate feel for. A few Grade C guys, especially at the lower levels, do develop into stars. Many end up as role players or bench guys. Some don't make it at all.
A major point to remember is that grades for pitchers do NOT correspond directly to grades for hitters. Many Grade A pitching prospects fail to develop, often due to injuries. Some Grade C pitching prospects turn out much better than expected.
Also note that there is diversity within each category. I'm a tough grader; Grade C+ is actually good praise coming from me, and some C+ prospects turn out very well indeed.
Finally, keep in mind that all grades are shorthand. You have to read the full comment for my full opinion about a player, the letter grade only tells you so much. A Grade C prospect in rookie ball could end up being very impressive, while a Grade C prospect in Triple-A is likely just a future role player.
Florida Marlins Top 20 Prospects for 2011
1) Matt Dominguez, 3B, Grade B: Love the glove. . .if he can hit .250 with 15 homers the glove is good enough that he'll play.
2) Christian Yelich, OF-1B, Grade B-: Grade is conservative until we get more data, but the "high school first baseman who might develop more power" motif makes me uncomfortable. Word is that he'll move to the outfield.
3) Chad James, LHP, Grade B-: Has a very good arm, but showed lack of polish in the Sally League which makes me concerned. Could do better in friendlier FSL.
4) Michael Dunn, LHP, Grade B-: Power arm over from Braves system in Uggla trade can help in relief immediately.
5) Brad Hand, LHP, Grade B-: I seem to like him more than other people do, maybe it is Midwestern bias. He took a step forward this year and I expect another.
6) Rob Rasmussen, LHP, Grade B-: Good mix of pitches, college success track record should help him move through system quickly.
7) Osvaldo Martinez, SS, Grade C+: A good year, I can see him as a steady contributor, don't be deceived by small sample size success in the majors. He's more of a .250-.270 hitter with a fair OBP.
8) Scott Cousins, OF, Grade C+: Perfect fourth outfielder who does a little of everything.
9) Jose Ceda, RHP, Grade C+: Throws really hard. The Marlins have several live arms vying for bullpen spots who have question marks.
10) Jhan Marinez, RHP, Grade C+: Another fireball guy to fill out the pen.
11) Marcell Ozuna, OF, Grade C+: Amazing power in the New York-Penn League, with an amazing strikeout rate to go with it.
12) Tom Koehler, RHP, Grade C+: All he ever does is throw strikes and win games. Stuff isn't bad either, he isn't a total finesse artist. Underrate him at your own peril.
13) Kyle Skipworth, C, Grade C: Hard to rank him any higher. Power is getting better, but swing is still very long, defense still needs work, can't hit for average.
14) Arquimedes Caminero, RHP, Grade C: Another hard-throwing reliever with some command issues.
15) Edgar Olmos, LHP, Grade C: Very projectable lefty, has a chance to break through in friendly Florida State League.
16) Evan Reed, RHP, Grade C: Another potentially solid relief arm, acquired from Rangers in Cantu deal.
17) Sandy Rosario, RHP, Grade C: Always threw strikes, but vaulted to majors after relief conversion added 5 MPH to his fastball. Needs consolidation period.
18) Mark Canha, OF, Grade C: Overlooked bat from 2010 draft has good power potential.
19) Bryan Petersen OF, Grade C: Can he overcome blah year in Triple-A to reinstate status as possible fourth outfielder?
20) J.T. Realmuto, C, Grade C: 2010 draftee moving from shortstop to catcher, hit great in high school, will have to see how fast defense comes around.
OTHERS OF NOTE: Ramon Benjamin, LHP; Austin Brice, RHP; Steve Cishek, RHP; Isaac Galloway, OF; Dan Jennings, LHP; Matt Montgomery, RHP; Robert Morey, RHP; Zach Neal, RHP; Alan Oaks, RHP; Omar Poveda, RHP; Jake Smolinski, 3B; Rett Varner, RHP; Elih Villanueva, RHP (a sleeper!)
This system has seen better days, thanks to the graduations of other players in 2010. The top level of talent has been sheared off, and there are literally no sure-fire position player stars on the horizon. Dominguez should be a good player due to his glove, and Yelich should at least hit for average, but things get very thing after that.
There is more on the pitching side, with a trio of lefties (James, Hand, Rasmussen) standing out as future rotation candidates, plus a huge batch of bullpen arms. But even here, the top guys have some questions. Watch out for Tom Koehler, who could end up having a better career than several of the more heralded arms.