02 November, 2002
And now moving to the head of the rookie charts
... Hideki Matsui :
... The 28-year-old outfielder, considered the best hitter in Japan, announced
his intention Friday to leave the Yomiuri Giants and open talks with U.S. teams.
Matsui is eligible for free agency because he has nine years of service in the
Japanese major leagues. "I thought about this issue in my own
way," he said. "It pains me to think about it. But I personally think
it can't be helped. I'm proud to have played in Japanese baseball and I think it
will reinvigorate Japanese baseball if I go over there and play well. I also
think new stars will emerge in Japan." ... Friday, Matsui was named the
Central League's MVP, picking up the honor a third time. Matsui, who was MVP
also in 1996 and 2000, hit a league-high 50 homers this season along with 107
RBIs and a .334 batting average, just missing out on the triple crown."
Sickels, ESPN, on Dontrelle Willis
... Willis may be the best left-handed prospect in the game. He's in the Top
Three if he's not No. 1. He started the year 10-2 with a 1.89 ERA in the Midwest
League, then went 2-0, 1.80 in five starts after moving up to Jupiter. His K/BB
on the year was 128/24, including 27/3 at Jupiter, in 158 innings. His strikeout
rate is just a touch lower than I'd like, but his command is outstanding, his
velocity is increasing, he is physically projectable, and he already knows how
to pitch. He has one of the best curves in the minor leagues, and his changeup
is improving as well. I think he's a top-notch prospect, but I wouldn't look for
him before 2004."
04 November, 2002
The once highly acclaimed TOR farm system isn't
down in BAL terrirtory but is missing much of the "star" quality
usually evident. That's the summary in Kevin Goldstein's (The Prospect
Report) latest team review. A relative unknown grabs the #1 spot on
the chart :
McGowan " ... In his first full season, McGowan blew away hitters
from day one, leading the league in strikeouts while making significant
improvement in his control throughout the campaign. McGowan is long, lean and
extremely projectable. He throws extreme heat, consistently hitting 94-96 on the
gun, a number that may even go up as he fills out and smooths his delivery. He
compliments the fastball with a sweeping curve and what is currently a usable
05 November, 2002
Troop movements ... Chris Gruler CIN
facing surgery :
... Gruler, the Reds' No. 1 draft choice, has a serious shoulder problem
that probably will need surgery ... .An MRI showed an injury similar to one
suffered by Reds right-hander John Riedling, which required surgery and nine
months of rehab ... Gruler experienced weakness in the shoulder during the
season and was put on a program of rest and strengthening. He came back and
pitched well, advancing to Single-A Dayton, considered high competition for an
18-year-old. He was 0-1 with a 5.60 ERA, but he allowed only 23 hits and struck
out 31 in 27 innings. Gruler was the third overall pick in the draft. " (John
Fay The Cincinnati Enquirer)
Chris Reed, ProspectReport, has Casey
Kotchman ANA atop his top picks for 1B :
... looks like a future All-Star. He's got the sweet lefty swing, patience at
the plate and a strong glove in the field. He hasn't shown a ton of power yet,
but it will come."
Morneau & Choi rank 2-3, then
it's Prince Fielder MIL :
... In his debut for R-Ogden, Prince hit .390 BA / .531 OBP / .638 SLG in 146 at
bats before being promoted to Low-A Beloit. Prince will fight off concerns about
his weight for his entire career, much like his father, but he has the stick and
the patience to be one of the top sluggers in baseball."
Kazmir = hype. And, it's just
beginning. Baseball America, in it's team-by-team review of the
2002 draft, has Kazmir all over the place.
Pro Debut: LHP Scott Kazmir (1) signed late and pitched just 18 innings
in the short-season New York-Penn League. Nevertheless he produced spectacular
numbers: 1 ER (0.50 ERA), 5 H, 7 BB, 34 SO
Fastball: Kazmir had the most electric arm of any pitcher who signed out of the
draft. He sat at 93-94 mph all year and touched 96-97 with regularity. And
remember, he’s lefthanded.
Breaking Ball: Kazmir’s slider gives him a second plus-plus pitch, and he can
change speeds off of it. He also has a feel for a changeup. The only knock on
him is that he’s just 6 feet tall. Ron Guidry, whose size never worked against
him, was a similar pitcher.
To The Majors: The Mets will do everything they can to avoid zipping Kazmir
through the minors, but he’s not going to make it easy on them. Would anyone
be surprised if he’s pitching at Shea Stadium next September?
06 November, 2002
Jason Stokes FLO named Topps Minor League
Player of the Year :
... Stokes, a 6-foot-4, 225-pounder with Class A Kane County, is the winner of
the J.G. Taylor Spink Award as the Topps/Minor League Player of the Year. Stokes
led the Midwest League in batting average (.341), home runs (27) and slugging
percentage (.645). Already this off-season, Stokes has been recognized as the
Marlins Organizational Player of the Year, The Sporting News Minor League Player
of the Year and Midwest League MVP ... The first baseman missed some time
late in the season with a right wrist injury. He was in a cast until recently,
but is expected to be healthy for the start of Spring Training." (MLB.com)
At Bill Mitchell's AFL site, Ryan
Williams has been looking at some of the top prospects, including CLE
infielder Brandon Phillips.
... strike zone judgment is not good, although he is working on it in the
Fall League ... has a LONG way to go, but could develop into an Omar
Vizquel type of hitter with .300 potential ... isn’t big or strong
enough to hit more than 15 homers in the majors, but has some gap power and
generates pretty good bat speed without jumping out of his shoes ... a superior
athlete. He plays with such enthusiasm that he’s just fun to watch. Good range
to either side that will be augmented as he gets more comfy at second and
develops more instincts for the position ... arm is good even for a shortstop
and will be even more effective, once again, as he gets more comfortable at
second ... the consummate tools player. He is one of the best athletes I’ve
ever seen ... Keep in mind, he’s only 21 and still somewhat raw, but he does
have tremendous potential."
07 November, 2002
Sickels, ESPN.com, on middle infield
prospects, including :
... Brandon Phillips ... Can do anything ... hit for average, hit
for power, draw the occasional walk. Also potentially outstanding defensively at
either shortstop or second base, though he still has to work out a few minor
details ... Resembles Barry Larkin physically and possibly statistically."
... Hanley Ramirez ... Scouts are raving about his tools, although he
hasn't yet reached full-season ball, so we don't know how good he really is or
isn't just yet. But based solely on his scouting reports, he could be the best
player on this list, a Nomar or A-Rod type. We'll see."
... Wilson Betemit ... salvaged his season by hitting well
in the last six weeks. Still only 20 years old. Will need another year in the
minors, but the offensive and defensive potential to be a star is still
... Jose Castillo ... ,just starting to get attention after
hitting .300 with 16 homers and 26 steals for Lynchburg in the Carolina League.
Already has excellent defensive skills, and his offense has proven better than
advertised. Will have to show strike zone judgment at higher levels to keep
producing at this pace, but he's only 21, and has plenty of development
Maybe he's major league material after all.
Chris Haft, MLB.com, on Dane Sardinha, (2-4 Tuesday, .312) catcher, CIN :
... Sardinha has begun to display the offensive potential to match his
considerable defensive skills, batting .301 with four home runs and 21 RBIs in
his first 19 games for the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League. The
Reds knew Sardinha, 23, needed more seasoning at the plate rather than behind it
when they selected him in the second round of the 2000 amateur draft. So the
organization wasn't alarmed when he hit .235 last year with Mudville in high
Single-A and .206 this season for Double-A Chattanooga. The club's talent
evaluators continued to believe Sardinha eventually will hit well enough to
complement his solid defense. This fall, he has done exactly that. "He's
playing with a lot of confidence," said Scottsdale bench coach Brook
Jacoby, who is also hitting coach for Cincinnati's Triple-A Louisville
affiliate. "He's working the ball more toward the gaps instead of trying to
pull everything. He's shown some opposite-field power."
Kevin Goldstein, The Prospect Report,
likes Joe Borchard as the best of theprospects in the now-thin
... Borchard is a big man with a big swing. He strikes out a ton, but when he
hits the ball, he hits it hard, with nearly half of his hits going for extra
bases, including 20 of his final 30 hits at AAA Charlotte. Lefties in particular
can give him problems by jamming him inside. He has shown decent plate
discipline throughout his career, despite walking just once in his stint with
the White Sox. The key to Borchard's value at this point could be his defense,
primarily his ability to remain in centerfield. He's played there primarily in
the minors, and has surprised most experts with his ability there, but his
skills may be better suited to a corner."
Big righthander Jon Rauch claimed
the #4 spot (after Miguel Olivo & Kris Honel) :
... Rauch features a 92-94 mph fastball that could improve, as he hit 95-96
before the shoulder problems. His slider, curve and changeup are all potentially
plus pitches, and with his incredible height, he delivers all of them from
release points that are almost unfathomable ... Rauch seemed to find his stuff
and his confidence once again towards the end of 2002. He'll go to spring
training as a leading candidate for a slot in the White Sox rotation. He's most
definitely still a potential ace."
08 November, 2002
Santillo, SportsTicker, on HeeSeop
Choi CHN :
... Choi has been doing much more than just blasting home runs. He ranks
second in the loop in hitting with a .403 average, is tied for the league lead
in runs scored with 19 and ranks second in on-base percentage (.500). This past
week, he garnered his second consecutive Player of the Week honor after batting
8-for-16 with two longballs, four RBI and six runs scored in five games. Choi
has also displayed above-average skills at first base. He moves extremely well
around the bag and has excellent instincts for the game. However, it is with his
bat that will allow him to make his mark in the majors, and after Chicago
recently decided not to pick up the option year on the contract with McGriff,
the Cubs appear ready to give him a try."
10 November, 2002
Here's where it begins to get really interesting
-- the picks for the top pitching prospects. Jesse Foppert takes
the top spot among righty starters in David Cameron's preview at Strike Three
... With a classic power pitcher's build and a pair of strikeout pitches,
Foppert blitzed his way through the Texas League and found himself in AAA in his
first full season of pro ball. He tired down the stretch and he lacks a good
third pitch, so some speculate he may eventually end up in the bullpen. He's not
quite in the same league as Josh Beckett or Mark Prior, but he is the class of
this year's pitching prospects."
Jerome Williams was the runnerup
(see Sickels' review below) and SF placed three in the top 10 as Kurt Ainsworth took the #5
slot. A guy who's been getting a little more attention as of late, Aaron
Heilman NYN, rated #10 :
... lacks the impressive fastball or big breaking pitch that most of the other
players here have, but he finds success through other methods. His control is
impeccable and he mixes his pitches as well as anyone in the game. This isn't to
imply that he doesn't have solid stuff, as his fastball has good sink and sits
in the low 90s. Heilman isn't going to be a big-time strikeout pitcher, but he's
extremely polished and durable. While he profiles as more of a number-three
starter than an ace, he's also the safest bet on this list to have a viable
major-league career. He won't be spectacular, but he'll get the job done
effectively, and that is an underrated commodity."
Talk about hype. Hanley Ramirez BOS
continues to grab the headlines. He's the top prospect in the BOS system
(well, that's not really hard to do) in Kevin Goldstein's latest review at
The Prospect Report :
... clearly possesses immense talent. He generates tremendous batspeed with a
powerful fluid swing, rarely striking out while hitting line drives all over the
field. He doesn't walk much, but so far in his career he has been able to hit
any pitch hard, eliminating the need to work counts. In the field, he has a
strong arm and excellent range, and is capable of making eye-popping plays on
balls hit to his left or right. The only negative may be a perceived arrogance,
but he has yet to experience anything even resembling failure at any level. It's
possible that he'll fill out as his body matures, which could force a move to
third. There's no doubt that he has offensive and defensive skills to play there
... established himself as a five-tool middle infielder with one of the highest
ceilings in baseball. While Red Sox personnel try to temper their excitement,
whispers from those who have seen him play are already comparing him to the
elite shortstops in the American League."
11 November, 2002
Kimmey, Baseball America, on Hideki
... MLB has never seen a Japanese power hitter. It's been said that he
might not be used to the extra three or four mph on fastballs and the bigger
parks here might drop that HR total a bit. An AL international scout says he's
bigger and stronger than any other Japanese players, calling him the Japanese
Jason Giambi. He also hits for average. I'll say he can hit 280-20-75 out of the
six hole in the Bronx next year."
On Gavin Floyd PHI :
... there's little he can't do at this point. The Phils will be cautious with
him, moving him one level at a time. But there's no reason he can't be a front
of the rotation pitcher with his three plus offerings. He really came on with
his changeup this year as the Phils deemphasized his plus curve and forced him
to make that change an above average offering."
On Bobby Jenks ANA :
... Maybe this is the time when Jenkity Jenks has finally heard that click and
has figured it out. More important than all those numbers, as BA prospect maven
Josh Boyd will have you know, is that Bobby is throwing strikes, something he
has often struggled to do. If he can keep it in the zone and keeps his head out
of the clouds, Jenks could be quite special."
On Kris Honel CHA :
... Honel can be a stud. A lot of the WSox pitchers lost velocity. One of their
prospect's fathers told me it was because of the throwing and weight programs
they are on between starts. He has a high ceiling, and should be able to regain
that velo to go with his knuckle curve and plus change. He should be ranked No.
2 on that team's list this year."
12 November, 2002
Rafael Soriano tops the SEA list of
prospects in Kevin Goldstein's latest installment at The Prospect
... A converted outfielder, Soriano has made remarkable progress considering
that he's only been pitching for four years. The ball absolutely explodes out
his hand, consistently hitting 95-97 on the gun. He compliments his fastball
with a powerful slider and a changeup which has improved every year as he's
learned to throw it with greater deception. 2002 was the second straight season
he's encountered shoulder problems, but he pitched better than ever after
returning from the D ... Soriano is all but a lock to spend 2003 in Seattle,
most likely in the rotation."
Clint Nageotte finished just behind
Soriano on the list and ahead of shortstop Jose Lopez :
... consistently stings the ball to the gaps with a line drive swing, and could
develop 15-20 HR power as he matures. He needs to draw more walks to take
advantage of his speed and base-stealing skills. Defensively, he's a natural
shortstop with plus range, a plus arm and excellent fundamentals. The fact that
he was the youngest player in the Northwest League in 2001 and skipped the low-A
Midwest League has some questioning his true age ... Because of his excellent
season at such a young age, Lopez could be compared to Mets über-prospect Jose
18 November, 2002
A big hand for David Cameron at Strike Three.
Here it is, not even December, and he's run through his top prospects,
position-by-position (well, there's a report coming I suspect on relievers, but
not too many pay much attention to reliever prospects). Up today, the best
of the leftties with CLE's Cliff Lee at the top of the chart :
... Lee was relatively unknown heading into the season, but since has
established himself as the premier southpaw arm in the game. He made his
major-league debut with Cleveland in September and is pretty much major-league
ready. His mid-90's fastball sets him apart from the "crafty lefty"
mold, and his buckling curve helps him set down hitters with relative ease. His
command is still not where it needs to be, and he'll likely go through normal
young-pitcher struggles at first. Whoever is patient enough to let Lee develop
should find a very nice arm as their reward."
Scott Kazmir NYN grabbed the runnerup slot
... Most will probably argue that based solely on his potential, Scott Kazmir
should be at the top of this list. After being selected 15th overall (and behind
his high school teammate Clint Everts) in the June draft, Kazmir set the
predominantly college-aged New York-Penn League on its ear. He only threw 18
innings, but they were the best 18 innings anyone had all year. His stuff draws
comparison to former phenom Josh Beckett, and he's got the potential to have
three good major-league pitches. However, Kazmir is not without fault. He's not
a very big kid, and his endurance is still in question. He fell to 15th in the
draft for a reason, and it wasn't signability. He's a good talent with a lot of
potential, but he's also a very long way from Shea Stadium."
Big Andy Sisco CHN rated #6 :
... When the Cubs grabbed 6'7"
Andy Sisco in the second round of the 2001 draft, many called it a reach.
Sisco's mechanics needed an overhaul and he had only marginal success in high
school. However, his large frame and powerful fastball convinced the Cubs to
take a chance on him. He rewarded them with a dominating season in the Northwest
League this year, putting his name firmly on the map. He's
still a work in progress who can get wild at times, but he has top-drawer stuff.
The potential is there for him to be a number-two starter in the big leagues."
19 November, 2002
Thanks to an infusion of talent from the Yankees,
OAK again sports a reasonable Top 10 with Canadian righthander Rich Harden
ranked at the top in Kevin Goldstein's prospect preview.
... Harden added a cutter to compliment his 93-95 mph fastball, tightened the
control on his curveball and developed a potentially plus changeup. The results
were outstanding. After just 12 starts in the California League, where he
limited opposing batters to a .201 average, he was promoted to the AA Texas
League where he didn't miss a beat. His last start of the season was his best,
as he allowed just two hits over seven shutout innings, striking out 11. His
lack of control can be troubling at times, but he rebounded well from a tough
July when he walked over a man per inning. His size and funky delivery create
some concern about his durability over the long-term."
Jason Arnold took the #2 spot :
... Moving from the pitching-friendly Eastern League to the hitting-friendly
Texas League didn't seem to faze Arnold, as he went 5-1 at Midland to finish the
year a combined 13-4 with three teams. Arnold has the body and the arm to
generate mid-90s heat, but prefers to work in the 90-92 range where he has much
better command and natural movement. His slider and splitter are both effective
pitches, as is his rapidly developing changeup. Scouts wince when watching his
delivery, which is anything but smooth and makes him easy to run on."
Goldstein also likes the chances of catcher Jeremy
Brown, ranked #4 :
... Brown was challenged in his pro debut with an early assignment to Visalia
and showed surprising power to go with already rock solid on-base skills. He
drove in 40 runs in just in just 55 games, smacked ten homers and drew bases on
balls at an amazing rate. Behind the plate he has excellent skills (just one
error in his final two college seasons), and his arm is above average. He has a
squat, pudgy build that turned some off and he runs about as fast as you'd
expect from a 5-10, 210 lb. catcher. Oakland officials absolutely rave about his
20 November, 2002
Sickels, ESPN.com, on Joe Mauer
... Mauer is a better athlete than some shortstops. He has excellent mobility
behind the plate, a very strong arm, and terrific hand-eye coordination. He
still needs experience calling a game, but he is intelligent and is picking that
up. He could be a Gold Glove catcher in time. Offensively, he hits a lot to the
opposite field, but has enough bat speed, quickness through the zone, and
physical strength to hit for power as he matures. He already hits for average.
His strike zone judgment is stellar: he draws lots of walks, seldom strikes out,
and projects as a .300+ hitter up the ladder. Scouts and coaches rave about his
work ethic and personality makeup ... Expect him to spend most of 2003 at
upper-level Class A Fort Myers in the Florida State League. That's not a great
park for power hitting, so it may not be until 2004 that his power starts to
manifest. Mauer won't provide any help for fantasy owners looking for a catching
boost soon. But for fantasy owners in long-term leagues with deep farm systems,
for just general baseball prospect fans, Mauer is a true blue chip."
Magruder, Baseball America,
with a feature on Bobby Jenks ANA :
... "The kid has a great arm,'' Pedrique (AFL manager Al Pedrique) said.
"He just needs to learn how to pitch.'' Jenks, 21, had hoped to refine his
curveball while maintaining his physical conditioning this fall, two missions
that appear accomplished. "I knew I needed to be able to throw my curveball
for strikes, and I needed to do it in any count, in fastball counts,'' said
Jenks ... "Now I'm really consistent with it. I'm throwing it any
time I want to." ... With his ability to throw breaking balls for
strikes, Jenks' control has markedly improved. After walking 90 in 123 innings
this summer, he has only 17 walks here. His AFL success is encouraging to parent
Anaheim, which demoted Jenks from Double-A Arkansas to Class A Rancho Cucamonga
after he violated a team rule on a bus ride in the middle of the year ...
"I'm not going to go into detail, but I understand now what the
organization was trying to do,'' Jenks said. "From their standpoint, I
probably would have done the same thing.'' Jenks said the incident provoked
"kind of a head change,'' where something in his mind just clicked. "I
knew what I had to do, and it helped,'' he said. His AFL results have been a
spectacular testimony to the adjustment. "He's very coachable,'' Pedrique
said. "He takes his mechanics very seriously. He's doing his running. When
you have a player like that, you love to take a chance with him."
22 November, 2002
Callis, Baseball America, on Colt Griffin KC
" ... Griffin certainly has a high ceiling,
but he has struggled so much that it's hard to see him reaching it. He spent
most of this year at low Class A Burlington and Midwest League observers were
generally unimpressed with him beyond his arm strength and athleticism. The
Royals have taught him that command matters more than velocity, so Griffin has
dialed his fastball down to 93-94 mph. He still had lots of trouble throwing
strikes, and his secondary pitches need plenty of refinement ... Though Griffin
is just 20 and still has lots of time to figure out how to pitch, the odds of
him becoming a frontline starter in the majors aren't good."
24 November, 2002
Sickels, ESPN.com, doesn't think Chase
Utley is the PHI 3B of the future :
... saw him play there in Arizona a couple of weeks ago, and he looked awful,
playing the corner with an awkward flow, poor footwork, and a general lack of
grace. He's not good at second, either, but at least he has more experience
there. It's true the Phils could use a third baseman, but would his shaky
hot-corner defense satisfy the coaching staff? It's hard to know. His bat is in
the "solid" category. He won't be the batting champion envisioned when
he was at UCLA, but he should develop into a .280/.330/.450 kind of guy."
Sickels on Chris Burke HOU :
... '02, Burke was basically awful, hitting .264 but with weak production, a
.330 OBP and a .356 SLG. His walk rate dropped sharply. He stole 16 bases, but
was caught 15 times. He was erratic defensively. I saw him play early in the
summer, and was not at all impressed. He looked like he was trying too hard to
hit the ball in the air; he hit just three homers, so if that's what he was
doing, it didn't work ... He doesn't turn 23 until March, so just purely on age,
he is too young to give up on."
Sickels on ... Xavier Nady
or Tagg Bozied ?
... Nady has a more complete approach to hitting, and should be able to hit for
both power and average, but he's also had a lot of injury problems which have
held him back somewhat. Bozied may have more raw power, but is less polished in
other ways. He hit just .214 in 60 games after moving up to Double-A this year,
and he tends to swing for the fences too often and get himself out. My guess at
this point is that Nady will have a better career."
Kevin Goldstein, The Prospect Report, tackes the Angels system.
... Francisco Rodriguez ... there's no reason to believe he won't
be the next great closer ... Rodriguez won't turn 21 until January, and with
Troy Percival still effective, there's no need to rush F-Rod into the closer
role. He'll spend 2003 as the best set-up man in baseball."
Casy Kotchman is the runnerup :
... , he shows an excellent understanding of the strike zone along with one of
the prettiest left-handed swings in baseball. As a 19 year-old, he walked more
than he struck out. His 30 doubles in half a season are an excellent indication
of the power to come, and there's every reason to believe he'll be a consistent
.300+ hitter ... The Angels are incredibly excited about Kotchman, but would
like to see him stay healthy for the entire season. He's poised for a breakout
season in the Cal League for 2003."
And, at No. 3, catcher Jeff Mathis
... same age as Joe Mauer, same position, same league, same OPS (actually .005
higher), just as good defensively. Excited? You should be ... an aggressive
hitter who generates gap power against both lefties and righties. He needs to be
more patient at the plate and projects to hit for average power at best.
Defensively, he is one of the most athletic catchers in the minors with a
25 November, 2002
A little more on Hanley Ramirez BOS from the
Boston Herald :
" ... Shortstop Hanley Ramirez, the club's most promising prospect, was
sent home early from Instructional League in Fort Myers last month for a
combination of reasons. Ramirez was tiring after playing for nearly 12 months
straight and had shown some disrespect to coaches. The club does not believe
Ramirez is at all a problem child, but wanted to make sure that he and his peers
got the message about appropriate on- and off-field behavior."
27 November, 2002
Baseball America has begun its
team-by-team prospect reviews with the worst of the lot -- Baltimore. An
injured Canadian lefty, Erik Bedard, tops the sorry list :
... When healthy, Bedard has the stuff to be a top-of-the-rotation starter. His
fastball sits at 92 mph, and his snappy curveball is his best pitch. It was how
he got hitters out as a youngster, when he was considered a runt ... was
on a path toward starting 2003 in the Baltimore rotation but now is on the list
of Orioles pitching casualties. While Tommy John surgery shouldn’t threaten
his career, it does significantly alter his timetable. If everything goes well,
he’ll be back in 2004."
28 November, 2002
Chris Reed, Prospect Report, with his take
on the top shortstop prospects, views Jose Reyes of the Mets over Brandon
Phillips CLE as the best of the crop :
... Reyes received the press that the Yankees' Alfonso Soriano and more recently
Atlanta's Wilson Betemit enjoyed after impressing scouts and flashing tremendous
potential in front of the country in the Futures Game. Reyes isn't near
polished, at the plate or on the basepaths, but he has the talent to be one of
the top shortstops in the game not named Alex, Nomar, Derek or Miguel. He's a
multi-talented threat whose lone skill which isn't better than average is his
In a talented group, Reed has SD's Khalil Greene
as the #9 :
... the type of polished college hitter that Billy Beane and J.P.
Ricciardi would have loved to get their hands on. However, Padres GM Kevin
Towers snapped him up early in the first round. There are questions about
whether Greene will be able to stay at shortstop or whether he'll be forced to
switch to second. He has the stick to be an above average offensive middle
infielder and the Padres will likely promote him aggressively up the system if
he continues to hit."
29 November, 2002
Kevin Goldstein, The Prospect Report, has
the MIL top ten with Prince Fielder at the top :
... He had an home run and five RBIs in his first professional game and put on
an offensive show of Ruthian proportions in the Pioneer League, reaching base
over 100 times in just 41 games and batting .421 in his final 30 games there. He
encountered some struggles after a promotion to Beloit in the Midwest League,
going 4-for-31 in his first 10 games before hitting .284 for the remainder of
the season. Fielder is an offensive machine, generating immense power to all
fields with excellent plate discipline. The biggest concern will continue to be
his size -- he has already put on 30+ pounds from his early spring weight. He is
surprisingly nimble for his size, but will be limited to a DH-only position at
an early age if he can't stay under three spins on the scale."
30 November, 2002
Sickels, ESPN.com, on Angel Berroa
... I think Berroa will be fine defensively, perhaps making a sloppy error on
occasion, but also flashing excellent range and a strong arm. His bat ... I
don't know. I can see him hitting .270+ with some power, as implied by his 2001
numbers. I can see him hitting .200 with no secondary contributions at all, as
implied by his '02 performance. I'll say this: even if Berroa is as bad as Perez
was last year, he doesn't cost nearly as much, and is thus an automatic upgrade.
My expectation for his bat, based on a combination of watching him play a lot,
looking at his numbers, and psychic manipulation of the quantum subspace ether,
is that he'll hit .258 with nine homers and 16 steals, but he won't draw many
walks or post a good OBP."
Sickels on ATL OF Jeff Francouer :
... He's a terrific athlete ... his initial performance in the Appy League
was very good ... the Braves think he'll move up fast. They compare him to a
young Dale Murphy, due to his power/speed combination. The biggest hole in
Francouer's stat line at Danville were his walk and strikeout rates. He drew 15
free passes in 162 plate appearances, while fanning 34 times. Those are not
awful numbers by any means, but they aren't great, either, and a sign that he
may need some adjustment time at higher levels. Normally I wouldn't worry about
it too much, but Atlanta does not have a good track record over the last few
years in helping similar prospects develop their hitting skills. I think
Francouer is an excellent prospect, but I want to see what he does in
full-season ball before projecting quick advancement. He is worth an investment
in a deep fantasy league with a big farm system structure, but don't expect a
Josh Barfield SD named co-winner of the SD minor
leaguer of the year :
... Barfield, 19, a second baseman and the son of former Major Leaguer Jesse
Barfield, spent the vast majority of the season with the Single-A Fort Wayne
Wizards, batting .306 with 22 doubles, three triples, eight homers and 57 RBIs.
He also stole 26 bases in 129 Midwest League games ... Barfield, 6-foot-0, 185,
ranked third among Padres minor leaguers in batting at .297 ... also led
the Midwest League with 164 hits and his .306 batting mark ranked sixth among
league leaders. He was signed out of Klein (Texas) High School in June 2001 and
went to Idaho Falls, where he batted .310 and was named the Pioneer League's No.
3 prospect by Baseball America." (MLB.com)
04 December, 2002
Shortstop Khalil Greene jumps to the head
of the class on the SD farm in Kevin Goldstein's latest team preview at The
Prospect Report :
... As a middle infielder, Greene is an offensive force, capable of hitting for
a high average with significant power that should turn out 20+ home runs
annually. He showed a solid understanding of the strike zone in college and
should draw more walks as he progresses. Defensively, scouts are mixed on his
future. Some think he'd be better suited to second base, yet his range and arm
during his debut were seen as solid, if unspectacular. The Padres have two other
second baseman on this list, so he'll stay at shortstop until he proves beyond
the shadow of a doubt that he needs to move ... shortstop picture at the
big league level has been a mess for San Diego in recent times, and Greene
seeing playing time with the Padres as early as this season is not out of the
Lefty Mark Phillips rated just behind
... a classic power pitcher with the added benefit of being left-handed. He
fires his hard driving fastball consistently at 93-95 mph and dials it up as
high as 97 on occasion. His excellent curveball gives him a second out pitch,
but he'll need to develop a changeup as he moves into the high minors. His
biggest problem has been finding consistency in his mechanics. He led the minor
leagues in walks in 2002, but was doing a good job repeating his delivery in the
second half of the season, walking just nine in his final five starts (32
06 December, 2002
Big Andy Sisco is No. 1 as Kevin
Goldstein previews the Cubs' top prospects at The Prospect Report.
... At 6-9 and 260 pounds, he's provides one of the more massive presences in
all of baseball. He has a smooth delivery with his fastball generally sitting at
92-94 mph. He can dial it up to 96 and the Cubs think he could push into the
high 90s as he develops. His height and arm angle give him a significant
downward plane on the fastball, and he is nearly untouchable against left-handed
hitters. Like any 19-year old who throws hard, he needs to work on his secondary
pitches and tighten his delivery ... has one of the highest ceilings of any
pitcher in baseball, but is at least three years away from seeing Wrigley
Hee Seop Choi finished behind Sisco with Felix
Pie at #3 :
... 17-year old Dominican signee, Pie absolutely burst onto the scene in the
Arizona League, finishing in the league's top five in runs, hits, RBIs,
slugging, doubles, triples and stolen bases while being named the league's top
prospect by Baseball America ... every reason to believe that he'll
develop solid HR power as his body fills out, which along with his speed makes
him a potential 20 HR/40 SB player. He has good pitch recognition for such a
young player, and the Cubs would like to see him develop that skill greater to
become a prototypical leadoff man ... needs to prove himself against better
The Cubs' system is so deep (especially in
pitching) that Luke Hagerty (6-7, 230) 1.13 in his pro debut ranked down
at #7 and tiny (6-4, 180) Justin Jones was at #10 in spite of a
1.80 (67 Ks in 55 IP) pro beginning. And, there's Angel Guzman #4, and Jae-kuk
Ryu at #6.
Sickels, ESPN, on Ricardo
Rogriduez CLE :
... Rodriguez is compared by some scouts to Pedro Astacio. He has a fastball
that ranges anywhere from 90 to 95 mph, depending on what grip he uses. His
curveball is his best pitch ... also has a decent changeup that he'll need to
use more at the major league level. Left-handers hit .342 against him in the
majors last year, right-handers just .121, so he may need to change his approach
when pitching against lefties. He has the pitching aptitude to do so. Rodriguez
throws strikes, and does a fine job of mixing his pitches and keeping hitters
off stride. He is also competitive and intelligent. Rodriguez is reasonably
athletic, and handles the general chores of mound work like a veteran ...
had no health problems until 2002, when he missed the first few weeks of the
season with a sore shoulder ... Barring a return of the shoulder problem or a
total spring training collapse, Rodriguez should be in the Cleveland rotation to
start the year ... .we should expect numbers around league average, perhaps
slightly better as he adjusts to his new environment. In the long run, Rodriguez
should be a reliable No. 2 starter in a major league rotation."
08 December, 2002
Callis, Baseball America, on Cole Hamels PHI :
... He's very polished—the Phillies say he's more advanced than Brett Myers
and Gavin Floyd were at the same stage—so his relative inactivity isn't really
a setback. Hamels should open 2003 at low Class A Lakewood. Hamels is loaded
with potential, so much so that at least one club though the was the best
pitching prospect in the 2002 draft. He lasted 17 picks only because he broke
the humerus in his left (throwing) arm while pitching as a San Diego high school
sophomore. Unlike Tom Browning, Dave Dravecky and Tony Saunders, Hamels didn't
break his arm as a result of pitching. He had hurt it while playing football in
the street ... His command of his pitches is another asset, as is his advanced
knowledge of pitching. "
Jason Collette, RotoJunkie, has some
thoughts on prospects in ANA and OAK :
... Johan Santana (not to be confused with the Johan Santana on
the Twins) will probably be the highest ranked pitching prospect for the Angels
in most publications this season and with good reason. The 19 year old went 14-8
with a 1.23 WHIP, 4.16 ERA, and 146 K's in 147 innings pitched last season,
great numbers for an 18 year old (turned 19 after the season) in low A ball.
When you think of Santana, think Ramon Ortiz with less of a changeup."
... Jeff Mathis ... Take the athleticism necessary to play
quarterback and put it behind the plate and you have the makings of one heck of
a catcher. Offensively, you have to love a catcher that hits 41 doubles and 10
homers along with a .287 average. Right now, the one knack on him is that his 6
foot 180 pound frame doesn't bode well for catching, but he should fill out as
he ages. He reminds me of Mike Lieberthal as he was coming up in the Phillies
Collette on Rich Harden OAK :
... Harden was known for his ability rack up strikeouts in bunches. Before the
A's drafted him, he led junior college pitchers in strikeouts and struck out 100
in 74 innings in 2001. This past season, he continued that, striking out 187
guys in 152 innings. Harden throws a mid 90's fastball, hard curve, and an
improving changeup. One thing he needs to work on this season is his control. He
has averaged right around five walks per nine innings pitched."
Collette on Jeremy Brown OAK :
... Brown was one of the top catchers in college the last two seasons. At
5'10" and 210 pounds, he's made to be a catcher. He is surprisingly solid
at catcher for only playing the position for two seasons; he pitched in High
School and started out as a third baseman at Alabama. He had a great offensive
debut in the minors this year. In 187 at bats in High A ball, Brown hit .310
with a 989 OBPS."
10 December, 2002
His winter ball season is nothing special, but Joe
Borchard has retained his crown as the best of the CHA prospects. Phil
Rogers handled the WSox review for Baseball America :
... hasn't smoothed all the rough ends of his game as fast as Chicago had
hoped but still shows tremendous potential ... is a superior athlete who has
serious power from both sides of the plate ... Strikeouts are a part of the
package with Borchard, who struggled at times with breaking pitches in 2002.
He'll almost certainly strike out 150-plus times if he's a regular and could
lead the league in whiffs if he doesn't get a better idea of the strike zone. He
has played center field for two seasons but is considered a marginal
11 December, 2002
Pouliot, RotoWorld, has hit the
ground running with his 2003 prospect previews. In his 1st edition he's
covered both the AL East & NL West. Lots to chew on as Pouliot's picks
differ a fair amount from the Baseball America & The Prospect Review picks.
Matt Riley, for example, grabs the #4 spot
on BAL after being ignored on the three BAL lists filed so far :
... Riley ... didn’t fare well in his first season back from Tommy John
surgery, but he still has as much talent as anyone in the system. Before getting
hurt, Riley was one of the game’s top prospects, throwing in the mid-90s and
featuring a great curve. At this point, he’s a long shot, but I’m rooting
for him. As soon as he begins to look good in the minors, the Orioles will give
him a callup."
On the Yankees, the much maligned Drew Henson
was rated #2 (behind Juan Rivera) :
... At this point, Drew Henson would probably be quite a bit better off if he
wasn’t Drew Henson. The only minor leaguer to receive more criticism last year
was John Henry Williams. Predictions of superstardom seem off, but Henson is
still a quality prospect, albeit one with some pretty noticeable flaws. Henson
lacks knowledge of the strike zone, and he’s struggled mightily at third base
lately, making 46 errors in 146 games between Triple-A and the AFL. However, the
positives still outweigh the negatives at this point. Henson has ability and
intelligence, and even though the NFL has to be in the back of his mind, he
seems dedicated to baseball. The Yankees will turn him into a player. It’s
just going to take longer than they thought it would."
Shortstop BJ Upton, from the 2002 draft,
was ranked 4th on TB (behind Baldelli, Hamilton & Brazelton)
... Upton, like the three players ahead of him on this list, was a top-six pick
in the MLB draft. The shortstop was taken first overall out of high a Virginia
high school in 2002. He signed too late to play last season, but he will still
crack the top 100. Upton is a quality defensive shortstop with plenty of
offensive ability. He could start for Tampa Bay as soon as 2006."
Pouliot went for Gabe Gross as the
best of the Blue Jays' kids :
... had a disappointing season in Double-A, but with Josh Phelps and Orlando
Hudson out of the picture, he’s Toronto’s No. 1 prospect. Gross did pick up
his game in the second half of last season, batting .300 with 4 HR over his
final 100 at-bats. He continued his turnaround with a decent AFL campaign. Gross
doesn’t look to have as much upside as he did a year ago, but I still see him
becoming a solid everyday right fielder. If he has a nice year in Triple-A, he’ll
have a starting job in 2004."
12 December, 2002
A lesson on how to restock the farm system.
Jim Ingraham, Baseball America, reviews the Cleveland Top 10. Five
of the first seven prospects were obtained in trades.
Brandon Phillips (from MON) jumped
to the front of the queue :
... Phillips is a premier athlete who projects as an all-star at either
middle-infield postion. As a shortstop, Phillips has drawn comparisons to a
young Barry Larkin or Derek Jeter. Hitting out of a Jeff Bagwell-style crouch,
Phillips has the bat speed and athletic skill to be a top-of-the-order hitter.
Few middle infielders offer his combination of hitting for average and power. He
has average range and plus arm strength at shortstop, and those tools play even
better at second base. Phillips also has a charisma about him that stamps him as
a special player."
Victor Martinez was right behind :
... a natural hitter with tremendous strike-zone discipline and an uncanny
ability to produce from either side of the plate ... power numbers jumped in
2002 as he got stronger ... skills at calling a game and blocking and receiving
pitches are also major league ready ... throwing needs work. It’s a
matter of getting his footwork and arm action aligned ... will battle Josh Bard
for a big league job. If Martinez doesn’t emerge as the starter, he’ll begin
the year in Triple-A. He’s Cleveland’s long-term catcher and a future
13 December, 2002
Josh Boyd, Baseball America, on KC's Zack Greinke :
... From what Hansen (pitching coach Guy Hansen) has seen so far, he doesn’t
think that will happen too often. "He’s got real
good stuff, but his poise has been the backbone of his success so far. He’s
been able to throw his pitches where he wants to, and that’s usually the
key." Greinke operates with a two- and four-seam fastball, slider,
curveball and changeup. His fastball has been clocked between 89-94 mph, and his
other pitchers are refined for his age. "The fastball is what he has to
concentrate on now," said Hansen who was with
the Royals when Bret Saberhagen was in his prime and likens Greinke to an
unpolished version of the two-time Cy Young award winner. "He’s got good
movement on both varieties of the fastball, and he can spot his breaking
pitches. How well he’s able to develop his changeup will be key."
14 December, 2002
Over at The Prospect Report, Kevin Goldstein
has a lefty phenom at the top of the Mets' Top 10 :
... Scott Kazmir ... showing in just five appearances in the New
York-Penn League was nothing short of stunning, as opposing batters went just
5-for-56 (.089) when facing him with 34 Ks. Simply put, Kazmir has more upside
than any pitcher in the minors. His fastball consistently sits at 95-96 mph and
he was reportedly touching 99 mph in the instructional league. His hard
curveball is downright nasty, with a late break that seemingly defies the laws
of physics. Brooklyn pitching coach Bobby Ojeda refined his changeup, and he was
already using it as an out pitch by his 4th game of the season. The only
criticism anybody could level at him is stamina concerns based on his relatively
Kazmir's rapid ascent pushed shortstop Jose
Reyes down to the #2 spot, with SP Aaron Heilman #4 and
catcher Justin Huber #4 :
... possesses excellent bat speed and good power, along with a surprising
understanding of the strike zone considering how little experience he has. The
Mets are also excited about his defense. He does an excellent job blocking balls
and has a good arm. Scouts love his take-charge attitude from behind the plate.
Huber wore down physically as the season progressed, and needs to prove he can
withstand the rigors of catching for a full season ... was clearly the
Mets' breakout player for 2002. He'll start the year in St. Lucie. He doesn't
turn 21 until mid-season, so there's no need to rush him."
16 December, 2002
Reed, Prospect Report, has a steller group in his Top 10 third base
picks. The already heavily hyped Mark Teixeira is, of
course, at the top of the pack with a young ATL farmhand a fair bit back in the
runnerup spot :
... Andy Marte ... As
long as Marte really is 19-years old, he is one of the best hitting prospects in
the game. He already has the power to put it in the bleachers and he is just
getting started. He has the potential to be a top slugger after coming out of
near obscurity. Most know his name now, but if they don't, they should."
turned third baseman Miguel Cabrera FLO finished behind Marte and
just ahead of David Wright NYN :
... Wright won't hit .330 and he won't hit
40 homeruns, but he could still develop into a solid starting third baseman.
Wright hit .266 with a .367 OBP and a .401 SLG in Low-A Columbia. Obviously, he
will need to improve his power output as he advances, but at only 19-years old
he has time to add to his 30 doubles and 11 homeruns. He does take plenty of
walks but he could stand to cut down on his strikeouts."
Sickels, ESPN, on Travis Blackley SEA :
... an Australian, signed by the Mariners as a free agent in October of
2000. He made his debut in '01, pitching well in the Northwest League with a
3.32 ERA and 90/29 K/BB ratio in 14 starts. He moved all the way to the
California League in '02, and had another good year: 3.49 ERA in 20 starts, with
a 152/44 K/BB mark and just 102 hits given up in 121 innings. He hasn't gotten a
lot of attention yet, but certainly looks like a good prospect to me, with fine
control and strong power ratios. Plus he's just 19, and has already proven he
can handle A-ball. I'd keep him; he looks like a major sleeper prospect."
on Joel Guzman LA :
... signed out of the Dominican Republic in July of 2001 ... many scouts said
he's one of the best prospects ever to come out of that country. He was just 16
when he signed. He has all the athletic skills that scouts like: speed,
strength, balance. They think he'll develop top-notch skills on both the
offensive and defensive sides of the game. Guzman was assigned to the Pioneer
League this year, and hit just .252. He fanned 54 times in 43 games, obviously
an unacceptable ratio. On the other hand, he did draw 18 walks, and showed a bit
of power potential with eight doubles, two triples, and three homers. His
defense is very rough, but that's to be expected at this point. The key thing is
that Guzman did OK at age 17 in professional baseball. He's got a lot of work to
do to turn his tools into skills."
continues his prospect
previews with a look at SEA and Tex :
" ... dominating in his minor league career. Since 1999, he has
gone 23-16, averaging a strikeout per inning pitched, and has improved his
control each year. Soriano possesses a mid to upper 90's fastball, a hard
slider, and a developing changeup ... has had shoulder problems each of
the last two season so there is a question about how durable he is, but when
he's on, he's front of the rotation material."
Nageotte " ... a strike out
machine. The right-hander owns a moving low 90's fastball and a crunching slider
and has used those two pitches to rack up 401 strikeouts over the last two
seasons ... . has improved his control and as soon as he can better develop his
changeup, hitters are really in for trouble. Don't wait for him to develop his
changeup, you want to get your hands on this guy now."
Benoit " ... finally put it all
together in 2002, at least in the minors. In AAA he went 8-4 with a 3.56 ERA,
1.13 WHIP, and 103 K's in 98 IP. He did not have the same success in the majors
because he struggled mightily with his control ... an enigma for the
Rangers in that he has been hampered by little injuries here and there and has
only amassed 637 innings in the organization since 1996. He'll compete for the
5th spot in the rotation but would probably be better served returning to AAA to
work on the control."
Nix " ... tremendous 2002,
so much so that he was the MVP of the Florida State League. After having two
rather pedestrian statistical years in 2000 and 2001, Nix exploded in 2002,
doubling his walk total while combining for 51 extra base hits in the spacious
parks of the FSL. There are no complaints about him defensively, and he's moving
up to AA with a good shot of landing in Arlington in 2004."
18 December, 2002
At Baseball America, Will Kimmey has the
KC Top 10 with a new Royal recruit leaping to the front of the line :
... Zack Greinke
... Despite his inexperience on the mound, Greinke commands four above-average
pitches ... Because he has plenty of athleticism, a compact delivery and
easy arm action, Greinke may increase his velocity as he progresses. If that
happens, he would profile as a No. 1 starter. Greinke’s infield experience
makes him a good fielding pitcher who holds runners well ... While Greinke’s
stuff isn’t as overwhelming as 2001 first-rounder Colt Griffin’s, he’s a
workaholic who studies hitters and figures to succeed with his intellect and
Over at The Prospect Report, Kevin Goldstein
tabs Bobby Basham
as the best of the Reds' young guns :
... Basham's pure stuff is top drawer. He throws a 92-94 mph fastball with plus
movement along with a vicious slider that breaks hard and low in the zone. His
control is impeccable as he walked just 9 in 87.2 innings, including a streak of
37.1 straight innings without a walk during the middle of the year. He battled
through muscle strains throughout the season, an affliction which also bothered
him in college, so he still needs to prove he can withstand the rigors of a full
season ... .With a strong spring, Basham could skip High-A and begin the season
with AA Chattanooga."
19 December, 2002
Kevin Goldstein, The Prospect Report, on Wily
Mo Pena (#5 on his CIN Top 10) :
... Pena was nearly a 30-30 man in 2001, but struggled with hamstring and
quadricep problems throughout the 2002 season ... While he's not nearly
ready for the major leagues, Pena's raw tools still grade out as high as anyone
in the minors. He generates light-tower power with a muscular frame and a quick
bat. He can steal bases, and features good range in right field with a rocket
arm. He made some progress with his poor pitch recognition this year, drawing a
career high 36 walks despite playing just 105 games ... played just three games
in the Arizona Fall League before completely tearing his left hamstring and
requiring surgery. While the major injury hindered his development by keeping
him out of winter ball, it could be a blessing in disguise for Cincinnati, as
the Reds may be able to hide him on the disabled list to start the year as
opposed to being forced to place him on the 25-man roster. When he is healthy,
he'll be the Reds' 5th outfielder."
20 December, 2002
Callis, Baseball America ... who's on
first in FLO -- Jason Stokes, Adrian Gonzalez ?
... Stokes lived up to expectations,
winning the Midwest League MVP award with a .341-27-75 performance. He topped
the MWL in batting and homers, and the entire minor leagues in slugging (.645).
After batting .312-17-103 in the MWL in 2001, Gonzalez moved up two levels and
batted .266-17-96. Comparing them to each other, Gonzalez is the better pure
hitter and the slicker defender, while Stokes has more raw power. If I had to
pick between the two, I'd take Stokes."
... had wrist surgery in 2002. Stokes had a
cyst in his left wrist that ended his season in August. He'll move up to high
Class A Jupiter next year. Gonzalez had torn cartilage in his right wrist
repaired earlier this month and will wear a cast until late January. Because he
may miss the start of spring training, it's possible he could go back to
Double-A for a brief period if the Marlins decide to be conservative. If not,
he'll go to Triple-A."
played left field in 2001, and that will be the solution for Florida to get both
of them in the same lineup. Along with third baseman Miguel Cabrera,
they'll form the future heart of the Marlins' order."
21 December, 2002
Matthew Pouliot, RotoWorld, has zipped through reviews of the clubs in
the AL West and uncovered a treasure of top prospects and spiced his reports
with a few surprises and a Canadian (Rich Harden), Venezuelan (Francisco
Rodriguez) and Australian (Chris Snelling) among his #1
A few selected reviews :
Kotchman, #2 ANA " ... has star potential, but a wrist injury
limited him for the season straight season in 2002. When healthy, Kotchman was
pretty impressive, showing strong on-base skills and doubles power. The doubles
will start to become homers as he matures. The 13th overall pick in the 2001
draft has the potential to become Mike Sweeney with a better glove."
Jenks, #3 ANA " ... has the stuff to dominate, but he had never
really put it together until his nine starts in Arizona. Of course, of the top
30 or so pitching prospects in the minors, Jenks is one of the most likely not
to have any kind of career at all in the majors. He’s also one of the two or
three pitchers most likely to develop into a real ace."
McPherson, #9 ANA " ... Power (15 homers and more on the way) and
speed (30 SB) make McPherson an intriguing fantasy prospect, but he also got on
base 38 percent of the time for Single-A Cedar Rapids. Troy Glaus has little to
worry about, but McPherson should be a regular."
Bobby Crosby, #2 OAK " ... the top prospect among Oakland’s
outstanding group of middle infielders. The 2001 first-round pick isn’t an
elite talent, but he’s an adequate defensive shortstop with on-base skills and
improving power. I think he’ll bat .300 and hit 15 homers per season in the
Wood, #4 OAK " ... doesn’t throw hard, but he has gotten
great results with an 89-90 mph fastball and a strong split-fingered pitch.
Although it’s possible that his future could be in relief, I like him as a
potential No. 3 or No. 4 starter."
Anderson, #2 SEA " ... This would be Rafael Soriano’s spot
if the right-hander was still rookie eligible, but he spent too much time on
Seattle’s roster last season. Anderson has missed each of the last two
seasons with torn labrums. Although that type of thing will knock him off a lot
of prospects lists, he’ll have no trouble making my top 100 ... the
left-hander was awesome back when he was healthy and even if he comes back at 90
percent, he still might end up as a quality starter."
Choo, #3 SEA " ... Choo, signed out of Korea, didn’t need to
make many adjustments after arriving in the minors. He is getting on base nearly
43 percent of the time since making his debut in the second half of 2001, and
he’s starting to show power. He’s quickly emerging as one of the game’s
elite outfield prospects."
24 December, 2002
FutureAngels, Stephen Smith has some surprises in his ANA Top 10.
Catcher Jeff Mathis grabbed the top spot :
... Defensively, he is extremely advanced for his age and level of
experience, perhaps already the best defensive catcher in the system. His arm is
strong and accurate, his footwork good, his hands soft, and his body agile
behind the plate ... broke the Cedar Rapids record for doubles, hitting 41 in
128 games. He also added 10 HR, an unanticipated burst of power. His .346 OBP is
not stellar but acceptable for a catcher ... The Angels will face some difficult
decisions come spring training. Not only will they be sorely tempted to
accelerate Jeff's progress by leapfrogging him to Double-A ... Catchers need to
spend more time in the minors than any other defensive position because they
need to learn how to quarterback the game, but Mathis' field smarts and natural
physical ability may override that."
26 December, 2002
Casey Tefertiller, Baseball America, cites Canadian kid Rich Harden
as the best of the OAK prospects :
... With a fastball that hits 95 mph and a deceptive changeup, Harden has two
outstanding pitches as the foundation of his arsenal. He also throws the slider
and a splitter, which can be above-average at times ... .has a calm demeanor on
the mound and is rarely flustered with runners on base. He has shown the ability
to work out of jams ... pitch counts are too high. He has yet to learn to
retire batters early in the count to allow him to go deeper into games. He
sometimes reaches his pitch limit in the fifth or sixth inning ... .combination
of power and deception is intriguing. He has the potential to become a
legitimate No. 1 starter. Harden is ticketed to begin 2003 at Triple-A
Sacramento and could contribute in the majors by season's end."
27 December, 2002
Oh my, what a woeful system, BAL. The Orioles'
Hangout takes a peak at the leading prospects and comes away with an empty
Luis Matos looks about the best bet for an
early trial in BAL :
... After missing the first two months of 2002 to a major wrist injury, Matos
had an encouraging half-year at Bowie that indicated he is nearly ready for the
majors. His Double-A hitting numbers were strong across the board. Not only did
he retain his ability to drive the ball, but he also drew a walk for every eight
trips to the plate and continued to exhibit a knack for basestealing ...
His glove has been major-league ready for years; the only question is how his
bat will respond to the test. Last year's success in AA is a positive omen,
particularly his control of the strike zone ... has a good chance of being
Baltimore's starting center fielder next season—and beyond."
28 December, 2002
Maybe the Yanks got a bargain. John
Sickels, ESPN, thinks Jose Contreras just might be the real thing :
... A highly-placed front office contact from another team, who wishes to remain
anonymous, tells me that Contreras is definitely the top talent to come out of
Cuba since the island began to open up, and is possibly the best
"mature" foreign free agent signing of the last 10 years. He's a
complete package, experienced and talented. He would be the No. 1 starter for
"20 or 22 of the 30 teams in the game" right now according to this
source, and that may be a conservative estimate. I've only seen Contreras on TV
a few times, but nothing I've seen or heard indicates that this guy is anything
but the real deal."
Righthander Rafael Soriano tops the latest
(Jim Callis, Baseball America) list of SEA's top prospects.
... he pitched well enough at Double-A ... to earn his first big league
promotion in early May. After two scoreless relief appearances, he pitched well
in five of his first six starts. Then he strained his shoulder and landed on the
disabled list for three weeks. Sent back to Double-A once he was healthy,
Soriano won the Texas League championship game. He allowed one run and two hits
in seven innings while striking out 14 ... When he made the transition to the
mound, Soriano quickly demonstrated polish and smooth mechanics. He is a true
power pitcher, and his fastball/slider combination would allow him to close
games if Seattle needs him in that role ... has yet to prove he can handle a
full-season grind. Soriano needs more consistency and trust in his changeup. He
doesn't beat himself with walks but needs better command in the strike zone ...
Mariners have two openings in their rotation, and Soriano is a prime candidate
to fill one of them."
Centrefielder Chris Snelling ranked
#2 with shortstop Jose Lopez #3 :
... bat took a quantum leap last year in the California League, where he was the
second-youngest regular. He led all minor league shortstops in hitting and
topped the Cal League in hits and doubles. He was Seattle’s minor league
player of the year ... defensive abilities have been apparent since he made his
pro debut. Managers said he had the best infield arm in the Cal League, and he
has fine hands, range and actions at shortstop. He has excellent instincts in
all phases of the game, making him an adept hitter and a threat on the bases. He
has plenty of pop for a middle infielder ... Doctors have discovered an extra
bone in Lopez’ right foot, which may require surgery. Barring a major setback,
he’ll play in Double-A this year at 19."
30 December, 2002
Clint Everts ? He has no pro
experience, but jumps right to the top of the MON Top 10 in Kevin Goldstein's
review at The Prospect Report :
... Everts already sits in the low 90s, and his flawless mechanics, loose body,
and young age (just 17 when drafted) make him extremely projectable. His
curveball was among the best of any high school player in the draft, and his
mature changeup gives him a third plus pitch. Teaming with Kazmir in high school
proved a benefit, as they both took a highly competitive approach to the mound,
trying to top the other's previous performance. For what it's worth, he also had
first round potential as a switch-hitting middle infielder, but he is definitely
a pitcher for now. 2003 Outlook: Everts is extremely young, and could start 2003
in extended spring training, making his debut with Vermont in the New York-Penn
League. If he proves this spring that he is ready for full-season ball, he'll
spend the year with the Expos' new Sally League affiliate in Savannah."
The Expos' top pick in the 2001 draft, Josh
Karp, fits into the #2 spot :
... Karp signed too late to make his professional debut until 2002.
Considered one of the more advanced pitchers in the draft, the Expos started him
in the Florida State League, where he didn't allow an earned run in his first
three professional games, spanning 19 innings. He made just seven starts before
earning a promotion to Harrisburg in the AA Eastern League, and continued to
pitch well, allowing just one hit over 7.2 innings in his final start. Karp's
fastball is in the 91-93 mph range and has good late life. His hard curveball
also breaks late and he keeps opposing hitters off balance with a solid circle
change ... will start the year with Edmonton, Montreal's new AAA affiliate in
the Pacific Coast League. He almost certainly will see some time with the big
league squad this year."