All grades are EXTREMELY PRELIMINARY and subject to change. Don’t get too worried about exact rankings at this point, especially once you get out of the top 10. Grade C+/C guys are pretty interchangeable depending on what you are looking for.
1) Matt Wieters, C, Grade A: Best prospect in baseball. Mutant cross between Mauer and Piazza.
2) Chris Tillman, RHP, Grade B+: Want to see sharper command, but I’m very impressed overall, especially given his age.
3) Brian Matusz, LHP, Grade B+: Not David Price, but should advance quickly due to sharp command of solid stuff.
4) Jake Arrieta, RHP, Grade B+: Very high ceiling, command still an issue at times, but can dominate.
5) Brandon Erbe, RHP, Grade B: Made progress after difficult ’07 season. Double-A transition critical.
6) Nolan Reimold, OF, Grade B-: A bit old for a prospect now, but power bat should carry forward.
7) Zach Britton, LHP, Grade B-: Love the groundballs this guy gets, young, good stuff, a sleeper.
8) Brandon Snyder, 1B, Grade B-: Horrible glove, but bat took a big step forward last year.
9) David Hernandez, RHP, Grade B-: I still think people are underrating this guy. Needs to lower walks.
10) Troy Patton, LHP, Grade C+: If health reports are accurate, he should rebound. Useful pitcher but not likely a star.
11) Kam "The Almighty" Mickolio, RHP, Grade C+: I am Mickolio. I need control for my fastball. Waahhooo…arrruuddicacacaa
12) Bill Rowell, 3B, Grade C+: I will cut him slack due to youth, but at some point he needs to hit. Bad reports about makeup are troublesome.
13) Ryan Adams, 2B, Grade C+: Interesting bat, raw, needs better discipline.
14) Xavier Avery, OF, Grade C+: Very fast, very young, raw, won’t move fast.
15) Oliver Drake, RHP, Grade C+: For some reason, this guy stands out as a sleeper to me.
16) Brad Bergesen, RHP, Grade C+: Polished strike-thrower type. For some reason I like him. Maybe a Grade C?
17) Pedro Beato, RHP, Grade C: Velocity down, mechanics a mess, reportedly did well in instructional league.
18) Caleb Joseph, C, Grade C: Good glove, power bat, but plate discipline a question.
19) Lou Montanez, OF, Grade C: Too old for higher grade, could rank higher on this list if you want immediate impact.
20) L.J. Hoes, 2B, Grade C: Fast, gets on base, athletic, a long way away.
Others include Colin Allen, Matt Angle, Jose Barajas, Tim Bascom, Jesse Beal, Jason Berken, Bobby Bundy, Tony Butler, Mike Costanzo, Tyler Henson, Kyle Hudson, Bob McCrory, Greg Miclat, Nathan Moreau, Wilfrido Perez, Felix Romero, Chorye Spoone, and Richard Zagone are also included and should be considered interchangeable with the Grade Cs above depending on what you want to emphasize.
If there is someone else that you really think should be included, make your case. I always miss someone. Space is limited and some of the players above will probably get cut if I have to add someone else.
Grade-wise, I think I like Hernandez more than most people, but that’s been true for three years. The guys 13-20 are all pretty tentative with the grades, lots of Cs I considered for C+ in this group, and some of that will change.
SYSTEM IN BRIEF: This organization has rapidly improved over the last couple of years. Drafting early has helped that, but willingness to actually spend money on good players (Wieters, Arrrieta, Matusz) is a key factor that some other early-drafting teams have missed. Trades have helped bring additional depth, and they’ve shown some ability to develop sleeper types. High school bats such as Snyder and Rowell have brought mixed results, but overall the level of talent in the farm system is something that
Reports on these guys and over 1,000 others can be found in the 2009 Baseball Prospect Book. Pre-order now for January 31st shipping.