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) Dexter Fowler, OF, Grade A-: Great tools and skills are coming along nicely. Power is the main question…maybe a B+?
2) Jhoulys Chacin, RHP, Grade B+: Ground balls and strikeouts. I think he is still underrated to some extent, though Double-A will tell us a lot. If K/IP and K/BB remain strong, look out.
3) Christian Friedrich, LHP, Grade B: Borderline B-. Need to see at higher levels, but has a Zito-esque ceiling.
4) Wilin Rosario, C, Grade B-: Need to see how plate discipline stand up at higher levels. Grade could rise very quickly.
5) Connor Graham, RHP, Grade B-: Borderline C+. Excellent potential, but walk rate is too high.
6) Michael McKenry, C, Grade C+: Borderline B-. Is C+ too low? Like the power and the caught stealings, worried about contact and error rate.
7) Eric Young JR, 2B-OF, Grade C+: Borderline B-. Speed, walks, but defensive questions.
8) Aneury Rodriguez, RHP, Grade C+: What am I missing here? Why don’t other people like him? He’s young, has a live arm, and has pitched well.
9) Casey Weathers, RHP, Grade C+: Would rank third if not for Tommy John.
10) Charlie Blackmon, OF, Grade C+: Great tools, hit well in debut, need to see against better pitching.
11) Darin Holcomb, 3B, Grade C+: Excellent plate discipline. But power and defense need to show at higher levels.
12) Will Harris, RHP, Grade C+: Live arm, good track record in A-ball, need to see at higher levels. I like him more than most do.
13) Dan Mayora, INF; Grade C: Toolsy, athletic, but will he hit?
14) Hector Gomez, SS, Grade C: Missed year due to injury. Great tools, but his bat was pretty bad in 2007. Could turn into Angel Berroa. Is this too low? Most people would rank him much higher, but I’ve got big doubts about the bat.
15) Seth Smith, OF, Grade C: Too old to rank higher, but a very solid major league role player.
16) Chris Nelson, INF, Grade C: Who the hell knows? Awful at
17) Brandon Hynick, RHP, Grade C: He pitched much better in the second half, but lack of stuff precludes higher grade at this time.
18) Parker Frazier, RHP, Grade C: Very young, projectable, made big strides this year and is a sleeper for 2009.
19) Chaz Roe, RHP, Grade C: Mediocre numbers have never matched promising scouting reports. Still young enough to improve.
20) Delta Cleary, OF, Grade C: Uber-toolsy guy is very raw but stands out for high ceiling.
Others: Sam Deduno, RHP; Stephen Dodson, RHP; Thomas Field, SS; Jon Herrera, INF: Dan Houston, RHP; Shane Lindsay, RHP; Tyler Massey, OF; Matt Miller, OF; Brian Rike, OF; Kiel Roling, 1B-C; Aaron Weatherford, RHP; Keith Weiser, LHP; Corey Wimberly, OF-INF; Kurt Yacko, RHP.
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.
SYSTEM IN BRIEF:
This organization has really thinned out but there is still some talent here. I love both Fowler and Chacin, though both are right on the B+/A- edge. After that it gets murky, and there is a lot of uncertainty in the B-/C+ area. I might move Graham down and McKenry up a notch. Tools infielders with questionable bats like Gomez and Mayora are not easy to grade. I’ve seen so many of those guys fail over the years that my skepticism about them is pretty high at this point, at least until they show me something in Double-A. Chris Nelson is another enigma: he could hit .220 in Triple-A, or he could surprise everyone and end up contributing in the majors sooner than expected. The Grade C guys could move up and down the list easily and I just pointed out the ones who are most interesting to me.
Reports on these guys and over 1,000 others can be found in the 2009 Baseball Prospect Book. Pre-order for January 31st shipping now!