In honor of Thursday's opening day in the minor leagues, I thought I'd put out what has to be the final prospect list of the 2010/2011 off-season. I kept putting it off because I wanted to keep adding to it - seeing more players -etc. Well, what are you gonna do? Everybody has players they know more or less about and, its never going to be perfect. Prospecting is always a work in progress right? Anyways, what matters is how I see these kids and getting it "on the record" as they say.
A couple of things about my list A) The order of the listed players is important. I always here that the order of a list isn't important on here and it annoys me. Why number the list at all if it doesn't matter? Specifically, each player is better than the next player and If I was drafting, this is the order I'd take them in. B) I did only top 50 for a reason. In any given year considerably less than 50 players make it as major leaguers regulars so, If your favorite player isn't in my top 50 it's beacuse I don't think he is good enough or, I just don't know as much about him as you.
I'm excited about the minor league season, as wll as the big leagues. I can't wait too see how wrong all of of us will be about certain players in just a few short months. Enjoy the year everybody and, enjoy critiquing my list.
1) Bryce Harper, of, Nationals: 18 and ½ years - The Kid-Sensation began his professional career Thursday at Rome for Hagerstown. I expect more of the miraculous for this kid who has yet to be challenged by anything thus far. As a big leaguer I expect sort of a Carlos Delgado and Reggie Jackson hybrid. I foresee a smart and complete hitter who works the count and looks for pitches to crush as well as a big-time clutch performer who occasionally ticks people off along the way.
2) Mike Trout, of, Angels - 19 and ¾ years – I’m a huge fan. I like how Trout says he wants to be a leadoff man but, I believe a modern and deluxe version of one. Let’s see here . . . a line to line hitter who will take a pitch, wreak havoc on the sacks, have good power for a leadoff guy, and plays defense? Here’s a comp for kid trout you may or may not have thought of – Rickey Henderson! He stars his AA season for Arkansas in the TL.
3) Aroldis Chapman, lhp, Reds - 23 years, 1 month – As much as there are many things to question about him- his role, his command – he also deals 103 gas, has the great slider and the makings of a good change, and possesses the size and durability of a major league starter. I still think he puts it all together and becomes a front of the rotation horse – Vida Blue baby.
4) Julio Teheran, rhp, Braves - 20 years old – Holy shit, I didn’t realize until just now that Julio will be dealing at AAA Gwinnett to start the season. If it were any team other than the Braves I might question this but, this organization has itself a way of knowing when a kid can handle this, as well as developing ones that have that sort of talent. Teheran’s size, aggressiveness, and arsenal reminds me of a young Pedro Martinez combined with some of the flair of young Liriano- must see TV when he cracks the show.
5) Will Myers, of/c, Royals - 20 and ½ years – As much as I love the Moose, Will Myers does everything he does at the plate, a year earlier than Mike does. Will’s numbers and swing look better the more you look. He has what I call an "infallible" swing and I think he will only get better after shedding the "tools of ignorance". He’s starting his AA season today for NW Arkansas. For his future I see a Derek Jeter playing right field and, if you can’t see what high praise that it, I don’t know what to tell you.
6) Jameson Taillon, rhp, Pirates - 19 years old – I almost took Shelby over big Jameson because of the Pirates cursed franchise but, this kid may have what it takes to survive the Pirates coaching and lead them to the ‘Promised Land" or, maybe, the magical 80 win mark or something? When I have seen him his size and curve have reminded me of Justin Verlander and his fastball had movement like Fausto Carmona’s.
7) Nick Franklin, ss, Mariners - 20 years, 1 month – Why not? This is where middle of the order bats that play Shortstop should rank, isn’t it? I think all of the talk about Franklin’s power being some kind of fluke is ridiculous to me. You do not "run into" a bunch of homers in a tough league to hit, when you are also one of the youngest players in the league. I’m happy to be the guy who ranked him the highest of anybody. Franklin opens his Cal League season today for High Desert. Wow, that should be fun to watch huh? – My comp? Dustin Pedroia at Shortstop . . . who bats left vs. righties . . . and hits more home runs.
8) Mike Moustakas, 3b, Royals – 22 and ½ - I think he could be even better than this but, I admit I may be biased, I love the kid. He gets a little bit too aggressive at times but if he turns into "The Panda" + PLUS as a big leaguer, that isn’t too shabby, is it? By the way, he’s a good third baseman as well – great arm, solid range, and starts the double play really well. He’ll debut at AAA today but, he’ll hit the show soon.
9) Manny Machado, ss, Orioles – 19 in July – He was ranked 26th by Mr. Law, 24th by MLB and 14th by BA - high praise indeed for a kid with 36 pro abs. I’m going to go a tad higher because I don’t have to worry about being wrong. I’m more worried he’ll be great and I’ll have ranked him below someone who is ordinary. I think everything I see about him screams – great makeup, and solid skills across the board, and thats a nice mix. I think he’ll have a big year and a big career but, I still don’t like him as much as Mr. Franklin. He makes his full-season today with the Delmarva Shorebirds in the Sally League.
10) Eric Hosmer, 1b, Royals – 21 and ½ - Man, is he quick and lethal on an inside ball. The biggest question about Hosmer as a prospect for me is will he hit more than Moustakas enough to make up for Mouse’s value as a third baseman. It’s possible. I admit that as high as I have Hosmer ranked, I could be selling him short.
11) Michael Pineda, rhp, Mariners – 22 years old – I guess I’m supposed to feel like I’m going out on a limb or something with this ranking but the other night I saw a kid with a nice slider, decent change, good command, to go along with the nice pitchers build frame and 97 mph fastball. I don’t even think he’s more of any injury risk than Jeremy Hellickson. So, the question for me is – why does everybody think Hellickson is better?
12) Shelby Miller, rhp, Cardinals – 20 and ½ - He's older than Teheran yet the Cards are taking it slower with their mound jewel. He’s starting today for Palm Beach in the FSL. He has some command issues and is still mastering a changeup so, why rush? He reminds me some of AJ Burnett- size, fastball, breaking stuff. In other words he’s a great, young talent.
13) Jeremy Hellickson, rhp, Rays – 24 years old – It almost feels like cheating ranking Hellickson at this late stage in his development. I almost miss the days when he was an underrated prospect. Now, he looks like the next Mike Mussina – if he can stay healthy. I think his pitch-ability is that good, and his arsenal is almost as good but, I’m not so sure about his delivery.
14) Brett Lawrie, 2b, Blue Jays – 21 years old – Lawrie over Ackley? Why wouldn’t he be? Lawrie was better, and much younger, in the same league last year. He had a nice year with the bat despite playing a position that was very tough for him- which is a plus in my eyes. The only reason Ackley should be ranked higher is if Ackley were a far better athlete, and he isn’t. I think Lawrie will settle in at third-base, and will have defensive value to go along with a sweet bat – reminds me of Aaron Hill some.
15) Hak-Ju Lee, ss, Rays – 20 and ½ - Lee is 92 on BA and 87 on Bullpen banter and I say, why? They both love Profar more and the BB guys say they don’t love Profar because of tools or production. What then? Projection or intuition I guess. I can understand that but Lee is an even better athlete than Profar, out hit him at the same level a year ago, and has zero questions with the glove, like Profar. Its splitting hairs really, Ilike both more than anybody I know of. Lee though, to me, is the Korean Jose Reyes and a potential super
star player. He'll play for Charlotte in the FSL this year for his new club, the Tampa Rays
16) Gary Sanchez, c, Yankees – 18 years old – Really young and, apparently, a supernaturally gifted hitter with a similar approach at the plate. I really have no idea who to believe about the development of his defense behind the dish (the numbers are awful) but, again, he’s young and very raw. He’s at Charleston in the SAL, a very interesting full-season debut to watch indeed.
17) Jurickson Profar, ss, Rangers - 18 years old – If this kid is really this young, and I’ve seen him in person and he looks like he is, man is he going to be some kind of player. He’s a natural at SS, with a sweet line drive stroke from the left side, great baseball instincts everywhere, and tons of development to go. My question to prospectors is this – If you like him, why do you rank him so low?? What is the disconnect? I don’t like him as much as Lee but, I see the value of a good big league SS. Ranking him below a guy like Dee Gordon seems sad, and weird, to me. Profar joins the SAL’s embarrassment of riches this year, Harper, Machado, Gary Sanchez, Profar, etc, wow.
18) Domonic Brown, of, Phillies – 23 and a1/2 – Does anybody else realize that 23 and a half is kinda old for a superstar talent to still be in the minors? I think people would maybe stop saying this year’s prospects weren’t as good as recent years if they would quit ranking lower upside players quite as highly. Brown is a good prospect but, I see him more as a solid regular than a star. Darryl Strawberry? Hardly. Shin-Soo Choo? Maybe.
19) Jonathan Singleton, 1b/of, Phillies – 19 and ½ - What a nice crop of first-base prospects in the minors, and majors, right now huh? Personally, I think that Singleton could rank even higher than this but, he is already placed higher than on most any list, I believe. The common thought on Singleton is "Let’s wait to see how he does in the upper minors", and to that I say that teenagers who are excellent in full-season ball are among the most reliable of player types to rank – certainly ranking well above mediocre, 22 year old, AA players that many have comically, ranked higher than Singleton.
20) Brandon Belt, 1b, Giants – 23 on April 20th – I know he’s hitting .118 but, he’s another kid who just feels like a big leaguer already. I think he’ll be the NL rookie of the year and have a fine career. I slot him in right here, ahead of Feeeman and Montero. I don’t even feel that apprehensive about it. I feel Belt could be the one whose offensive value I am selling short more so than Montero’s.
21) Freddie Freeman, 1b, Braves - 21 and ½ - I admit that ranking Freeman over Montero is more to make a point but, why, logically, should Montero be ranked so much higher? Or even higher at all? If Montero were really a Catcher I would understand but, I don’t believe he is, not for long anyways. Then, even if Montero actually hit better than Freeman, which he hasn’t, we’d still be left with Freeman’s advantages of being left-handed and actually contributing something with the glove. Honestly, I think they turn out to be similar players, at least in value.
22) Jesus Montero, c, Yankees – 21 years old – I keep trying to figure out what it is I don’t like about Montero ranking in the top 5 of nearly every list I saw this off-season. Answer? Nothing really, I guess I just don’t like him as much as you guys do. I don’t think he’s a Catcher for one and, for two, the more I watch him hit I think he is excellent – like, Billy Butler excellent. Billy Butler is a hell of a hitter but, I think Montero falls closer to that than Manny Ramirez and there is a difference there. He’s back at AAA Scranton, If you’ve been under a rock all spring.
23) Jaff Decker, LF. Padres - 21 years old - My Pal Pookie Johnstone "Aka, Worlds Greatest Scout" and Decker's blazing start to the AA year, reminded me how much I believe in Deckers bat. I always liked Jaffy and had him in my 50-60 range initially - higher than almost all. My two major feeling on him were that A) His Cal League season had about two months of great hitting lopped of at the beginning and end of the season and B) Concearns about his body, and or defense were way overblown. Jaff is an advanced young hitter in the Jason Kubel, Matt Stairs, John Kruk mold and I thought I'd show my love better late than never :) He also reminds me of the WHITEWASHING of Pablo Sandoval. He couldn't SNIFF a top 100 list, and it was ALL because of his appearance. We are 1464 PAs into his career and hes a .306 .358 .487 line and some people STILL are debating if he can hit or not... comical. I see similarities in Decker.
24) Lonnie Chisenhall, 3b, Indians – 22 and ½ - The Chiz Kid almost made the Tribe out of camp but, I guess they know something I don’t. I know, I know arbitration clock, blah, blah, blah – fine – just don’t complain when 8000 fans show up for your second game of the season okay? But, I digress. I think Chiz will be the next Travis Fryman. Chisenhall will begin the year at AAA
25) Zach Britton, lhp, Orioles – 23 years old – I don’t like his stuff as much as Oliver’s or Turners for that matter but, I do like it. He certainly has a more complete arsenal with the fastball, the sinking fastball, the slider, the change. I’m probably selling him short as he’s already doing well in the show but, predicting the future ain’t easy main.
26) Andy Oliver, lhp, Tigers – 23 years old – Sometimes I wonder what I am missing. How does a healthy armed lefty with a fastball between 93-97, that he commands well and combines with a very good change up – Johan Santana stuff basically – get completely overlooked by almost every major list this off-season? I don’t know but, I’m not going along with the groupthink. He excelled at AA and AA in his pro debut and returns to Toledo to start the season
27) Matt Moore, lhp, Rays - 22 in June - I admit I could be underranking this kid here but, clips of Matt Moore seem hard to come by. I find an interesting contrast between Moore and Oliver. One is ranked 15 by BA and one is ranked 87 or, usually, not at all. Moore has struck out all sorts of people, and appears to developing nicely, if a bit slowly. Meanwhile Oliver just rolled into AA and got hitters out, and struck out a decent amount of people, and throws just as hard. Is there THAT much difference between them really? Maybe there is but, I'd sure like to see Moore pitch to be sure. He could be the guy I'm wrong about the most
28) Jacob Turner, rhp, Tigers – 20 in May – This kid gets talked about less than newer, "shinier" kids like Shelby Miller and guys like that but, he is a special young pitcher. Like Martin Perez, he’ll be starting the year in AA ball at age 20. Unlike Perez, he has not struggled with command thus far in his pro career - 1.8 walks per nine. The only question for him, and it is a serious one, is health.
29) Yonder Alonso, 1b/of, Reds – 24 years old - I heard him described by one list maker this off-season as a player who will be a "plus hitter, with plus power", yet he ranked him out of the top 100 players. This is a familiar theme in prospect rankings this off-season, it seems. It’s a pet peeve of mine but, then again, it’s simple math that isn’t going to be 100+ good big league players in this class unless you believe it’s the greatest prospect class in the history of the game. I think Yonder is better than his minor league numbers have shown thus far but, he’s going to need a chance to show it soon here. I think he’ll surprise most when he does.
30) Drew Pomeranz, lhp, Indians -22 years old – No pro data, ‘til Friday night that is. It seems a lot of astute prospect hounds are discovering just how good Pom looks, despite the long layoff, and trusting thier own scouting instincts and ranking him highly. I have a sneaking suspicion this big lefty with the sweet, power delivery, might end up as better than the 29thbest player in this class but, I’ll stick him here for now – just hedging a little. He debuted for Kinston in the Carolina League last night and was sensational.
31) Kyle Drabek, rhp, Blue Jays – 23 years old – I probably don’t show enough faith in this kid as I should but, even if he has a solid career as a .500 caliber pitcher, that’ll still be easily one of the top 50 players in this class.
32) Wilin Rosario - 22 years old - I think hes going to be a very good big legue Catcher if he can keep his knees healthy. He's back at Tulsa to start 2011 - big year for him.
33) Mike Minor, lhp, Braves – 23 years old – I feel similarly about Minor as I do about Drabek – solid, mid –rotation starters.
34) Dayan Viciedo, rf, White Sox – 22 years old – I’m going to get killed for this one. Dayan is almost universally looked at as a bust and was left off of virtually every list. I say, look at his stats and the context of them, a little bit. Even some of your favorite top prospects might not have fared to well if they were shoved right into AA ball to start the 2009 season, or when they were 20, with no pro experience! Dominic Brown and Mike Moustakas weren’t even great A+ players in 2009, let alone ready for AA. I don’t even want to speculate on what Dustin Ackley would have hit in AA when he was 20 - gruesome. So when the "Cuban Tank" has a big year at AAA Charlotte this season, playing RF now, could we maybe not complain that he is repeating the league?
35) Jason Kipnis, 2b, Indians – 24 years old – Kipnis went to college, he hit just as well at Arizona State as Ackley did at UNC didn’t he? Jason also had to adjust to playing 2b in 2010. Kip has had no trouble hitting the baseball since he’s been a pro. He’s going to be a solid little second sacker for the Tribe. He joins Chisenhall at Columbus to start the season.
36) Randall Delgado, rhp, Braves – 21 years old - Another very good, young starter in the Braves player making machine they call their minor league system. A fastball with nice sink, a good change, good command and feel beyond his age. He’ll start the season in AA ball Mississippi.
37) Dustin Ackley, 2b, Mariners – 23 years old - I have a friend I trust, Pookie Johnstone, who makes a pretty compelling argument that Ackley is not only overrated but, that he isn’t even very good. I’ll admit that there sure seems to be a lot of hype surrounding a guy who neither contributed a good batting average (.267), good power (.404 slugging), nor good defense. I think his contact ability, batting eye, and hard work learning second base will make him a solid big leaguer. The next Adam Kennedy maybe? A tad better? Right now, he’s a Tacoma Rainier.
38) Jose Iglesias, ss, Red Sox – 21 years old – Those aren’t exactly great numbers from last year in the EL but, from watching him he just looks like a lot better hitter than that. Jose looks like kind of an old-school type of shortstop who chips in a lot of rallies and makes every play in the field. He’s 21 but, he’s playing at AAA already
39) Wilson Ramos, c, Nationals – 23 and ½ - To me he’s a been criminally underrated with the bat and his behind the dish skills are solid as a rock. He’s actually hit at every stop but one, and most everybody looking at focuses on his 2010 AAA stats for the Twins when looking at him. He’s a better hitter than he showed there.
40) Grant Green, ss, Athletics – 23 and a1/2- He’s a little old to be just starting AA but, he looks like a major league SS with the bat anyways. Maybe the A’s are commited to letting him grow into a decent SS in the field, If he can do it.
41) Tyler Matzek, lhp, Rockies – 20 and ½ - Tyler was severely reprimanded by the masses for – I don’t know what exactly – not being perfect I guess. He had a temporary dead arm spell and had some pretty predictable command issues but, hey only one of his peripherals were bad. He has his risks like most kid hurlers but, I’d roll the dice on him. Enjoy pitching in the Cal League kid!
42) Nolan Arenado, 3b, Rockies – 20 in a week – There are questions about this kid’s ability to play 3b but, little of the same about his contact ability, or power, or his selectiveness – he has little of that yet. Enjoy hitting in the Cal League kid!
43) Rubby de la Rosa, rhp, Dodgers – 22 years old – I was blown away watching Rubby pitch the Dodgers final spring game. I know it was the Mariners but, he moved through their lineup efficiently and confidently andtouched 99 occasionally. If he stays healthy . . . if he doesn’t end up in the pen . . .
44) Brett Jackson, of, Cubs – 22 and ½ - I may be selling Brett short but, he just doesn’t look like a CF to me and I’m just not sure he’s a star at the big league level. I like the Cubs decision to send him back to AA- give him a chance to have a big year.
45) Engel Beltre, cf, Rangers – 21 years – I know his hitting record doesn’t look like a future big leaguer. I know he hacks away mercilessly at almost every pitch but, he also glides out in CF, has a ton of natural athletic ability and is starting the year at AA Frisco at the age of 21. He’s come along way baby. Even if he doesn’t seriously break out this season he still has a chance to be as good as Julio Borbon doesn’t he?
46) Mike Montgomery, lhp, Royals – 22 in July – I know he’s had some injury issues but, I love kids who pitch off of the fast ball, especially when they have a good one like Montgomery does. He has a workable change and a usable curve but, he commands and knows how to use his bread and butter, his heat, which will serve him well in the big leagues in my opinion. He’s opening the year as the AAA club’s ace so we’ll find out how good, and how tough, he is this year. If it wasn’t this feeling I have about his arm health, he’d rank higher but, I’m rooting for him.
47) Tyler Chatwood, rsp, Angels - 21 years old- Last minute change here as Chatwood makes his big league debut tonigt ( 4/11/11). Im almost ranking him on GP, as he has top stufff in a compact, Roy Oswalt -like frame, yet has been almost completely IGNORED by prospect evaluators He keeps the ball low, attacks hitters, has great stuff and will learn to strike out hitters. I believe in the kid a lot.
48) Chris Sale, lhp, White Sox – 22 years old – I like everything about Chris Sale. The moxy, the three pitch mix, the human gumby body. I even like his much maligned delivery but, he just looks like he’s going to be too good, and too physically and mentally suited for his current relief role. This is NOT a bad thing at all. He’ll likely make millions doing it. He probably should be ranked higher actually but, it’s tough to overlook upside.
49) Zack Wheeler, rhp, Giants – 21 in May – It’d be real easy for the Giants to y enough send this thin kid with the great arm speed, and durability issues to the pen – and let him excel there. Regardless, he’s an arm you want to get a hold of.
50) Jerry Sands, of, Dodgers - 23 years old - I'm making my, one and only, change to my original list here with Sands. I'm not usually reactionary enough to change something based on a week of hot hitting but, his blazing start at Alqequerque reminded me of how much I like him. I think he becomes a power-hitting RF in the Corey Hart mold and, is a seriously underrated defender there as well. I won't make another change to this 'til mid-season but, Sands could be the rare player who goes from off peoples lists pre-season - to big league regular by mid-season.
Next guys: Paul Goldschmidt, 1b, DBacks, Aaron Crow, rsp, Royals, Manny Banuelos, lhp, Yankees, Craig Kimbrel, rhp, Braves, Ben Revere, cf, Twins, John Lamb, lsp, Royals, Danny Duffy, lsp, Royals, Simon Castro, sp, Padres, Tim Collins, lhp, Royals, Chris Archer, rhp, Rays, Derek Norris, c, Nationals, Martin Perez, lhp, Rangers, Micheal Choice, cf, Oakland, Dellin Betances, rhp, Yankees, Matt Davidson, 1b, Diamondbacks, Arodys Vizcaino, rhp, Braves, Jenrry Mejia, rhp, Mets, Desmond Jennings, of, Rays, Tony Sanchez, c, Pirates, Chris Carter, 1b/of, Athletics, Trey McNutt, rhp, Cubs, Christian Colon, ss, Royals, Kyle Gibson, rhp, Twins , Drew Cumberland, 2b, Padres, Jean Segura, 2b/ss, Angels, Anthony Rizzo, 1b, Padres, Wilmer Flores, ss, mets, Jared Cosart, sp, Phils, Tyler Pastornicky, ss, Braves, Chrisian Bethancourt, c, Braves, Jerrod Parker, sp, Dbacks, Neil Ramirez, rhp, rangers, Matt Harvey, rsp, mets, Mike Olt, 3b, Rangers, Jose Altuve, 2b, Astros, Jemile Weeks, 2b, A's, Brad hand, lsp, Marlins, James Darnell, 3b, Padres
The most overrated or players I do not think are going to be big leaguers: Casey Kelly, sp, Padres, Dee Gordon, ss, Dodgers, Trayvon Robinson, cf, Dodgers, Joe Benson, cf, Twins, Aaron Hicks, of, Twins