01 February, 2003
John Sickels, ESPN.com, had one of the better farm systems to dissect in
his Minor League Report on the Mariners. SEA boosts strength both on the hill and
in the field. However, there's just a single farmhand who is expected to
make some major league noise this season :
" ... Rafael Soriano ... Still
technically a rookie. Blistering stuff, posts high strikeout rates with decent
control, and should develop into a Freddy Garcia-type if his shoulder stays
For 2004 and beyond, SEA offers lots of choices :
" ... Shin-Soo Choo ... Future
leadoff man, drew 79 walks while stealing 37 bases and hitting .303 in Class A.
Has some power, too, could be good for 10-15 homers with maturity."
" ... Jose Lopez ...
.324 at San Bernadino, with 31 steals and 39 doubles. Excellent defense, and did
extremely well considering his age (19) in the advanced California League."
" ... Clint Nageotte ...
May have the best slider in the minor leagues. Also throws a 93 mph fastball,
though he doesn't use it enough. Fanned 214 in 165 innings in the Cal League,
but also walked 68 and posted a 4.54 ERA."
" ... Chris Snelling ...
Raked the ball in Double-A, hitting .326 through 89 at-bats, earning a brief
promotion to the majors, where he blew out his knee. Injury-plagued, at least
partially due to his all-out style of play, but a fine all-around hitter when
" ... Rett Johnson ...
13-5 with 3.63 ERA in 28 starts last year, fanning 138 in 154 innings, mostly in
Double-A. Works with 90-93 mph sinker, with a nasty slider. Usually throws
strikes, but will need to improve his change."
Manuel, Baseball America, on Adam Loewen the Canadian kid (4th
overall pick in the 2002 draft) who didn't like the O's offer and headed back to
school. He's already made quite an impression at Chipola Junior College in
" ... A season in junior college may also
give scouts more opportunity to decide what Loewen is: a pitcher or hitter.
Besides being an impressive physical specimen with amazing athleticism in his
6-foot-6, 220-pound frame, Loewen has continued to show mid-90s velocity from an
easy, clean delivery while displaying his customary thunder from the left side
of the plate. "We don’t really keep stats in the fall, but he had a
great, great, great fall," Chipola coach Jeff Johnson said. "He’s
just very, very athletic. He plays the game so easily." Johnson said Loewen’s
fastball was consistently clocked at 92-93 mph and regularly jumped to 95 or 96,
as needed ... spent the fall hitting cleanup for the Indians. He continued to
show the power that has many scouts wondering whether he may project better as a
pitcher or as a power-hitting outfielder. "He would be our best center
fielder by a lot if we used him there, but because he’s pitching, we’ve
limited him to first base and DH," Johnson said. "He’s got great
hand-eye coordination and can really swing it. He’s just a special
Jim Callis, Baseball America, on Jeremy Brown OAK :
... Brown is an interesting prospect, but the hype that's starting to swirl
around him reminds me of what happened with A.J. Hinch ... Brown went 35th
overall mainly because he was willing to sign for $350,000 ... Before the
draft, many scouts projected Brown as a backup catcher. He looks better than
that now and it's easier to envision him becoming a big league regular, though
I'm not ready to call him a star yet. He has some power and plate discipline,
which endears him to the Athletics, but he also has to keep his stocky body in
shape and improve his footwork and agility. He struck out in one-fourth of his
pro at-bats, so he'll have to make more contact as well."
04 February, 2003
The Boston farm needs a lot of talent, but at least there's new management
dedicated to rebuilding. So, there's hope for the future. John
Sickels, ESPN.com, sees a couple of prospects ready to help a little this
... Freddy Sanchez ... .328 at Double-A Trenton, then
.301 after promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket. Doesn't have a ton of power, but
will hit for average, get on base at a decent clip, steal some bases, and
provide adequate defense at second base."
... Kevin Youkilis ... On-base machine, thanks to incredible
strike zone judgment. Has gap power, and defense is better than
This top long-term prospect is shortstop Hanley
... Scouts love this guy, comparing him to Nomar and A-Rod at the same stage.
Hit .341 in rookie ball, then .371 in a brief promotion to the New York-Penn
League. Has power, speed, defensive ability. Will need more patience, and his
work ethic has been questioned."
Don't expect a bountiful prospect harvest from the second base crop. Matthew
Pouliot, RotoWorld, tackles the keystoners in his latest posting and finds
just a couple who might contribute in 2003. Bobby Hill CHN is rated
as the 12th best 2B overall, with a projection of .280, .360, .415 (AVE, OBA,
... he goes into spring training as the Cubs’ starting second baseman, and if
he plays well, he should spend the entire season as the team’s leadoff hitter.
Hill hit .314 with an 809 OPS in 102 AB in his second stint with the Cubs last
season, and he’s capable of putting up those numbers over a full year."
... Joe Thurston ... .285-.335-.405 ability to hit for average
should keep him in the Dodger lineup even though he doesn’t figure to be all
that productive as a rookie ... In a best-case scenario, Thurston would continue
to hit .300 and eventually get moved up to the No. 2 spot in the lineup."
... Pablo Ozuna ... .250-.320-.430 ... the early
favorite to be Colorado’s second baseman, but he hasn’t really done anything
to justify the spot. If given the chance to play, Ozuna could hit .300 and steal
bases at a nice rate, but he probably wouldn’t be very productive while doing
... Orlando Hudson ... .290-.345-.440 ... Although Hudson looked
pretty good in his debut, Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi still isn’t sold on him,
and it’s very possible that the former 43rd-round pick will be elsewhere by
this time next year. In the meantime, Hudson will be a solid hitter at the
bottom of the Toronto lineup."
... Brandon Phillips ... .265-.310-.425 ... isn’t guaranteed to
be Cleveland’s second baseman this season, but the team would love to see him
step up and win the job. I expect it to happen, especially since John McDonald
is the alternative. However, Phillips might end up being overhyped for this
year. Phillips looks like a future All-Star, but he’s a 21-year-old who wasn’t
all that great in his half season in Triple-A."
Over at Strike Three, David Cameron follows up his Top 100 with a look
towards his 2004 list selecting 10 prospects likely to show up prominently on
next year's charts.
Riding atop the "looking to 2004" list
is PIT righthander Bryan Bullington :
... the Pirates are ecstatic to have him in the fold. His command is exceptional
and he has three above average pitches. The Pirates won't hurry him, but
Bullington may not need a full season in the minors. Expect to hear his name
often at this time next year."
CIN's Edwin Encarnacion also
received recognition :
... has the potential to make an impact. Originally traded by the Texas
Rangers, he's spent most of his career at third base, although the Reds tested
him at shortstop the last few weeks of the season. He's an extremely athletic
player who does the exciting things but hasn't mastered the nuances of the game.
Encarnacion's got rare power for a kid who can handle the middle infield, but
his plate discipline leaves quite a bit to be desired."
Another is PHI righty Taylor Buchholz
... didn't turn 21 until after last season, but he was making big strides in the
Florida State League at the end of the year. Despite an average performance, his
stuff gets everyone excited and the Phillies love his future. He's been pushed
quickly so far, but there are some who think he'll get to Philadelphia ahead of
Gavin Floyd, who receives more attention among Philadelphia hurlers."
05 February, 2003
Kevin Wheeler, The Sporting News, is out with his Top 100 prospect list
(not to be confused with an earlier TSN Top 100). No surprise at #1 -- Mark
Teixeira TEX, but perhaps at the runnerup slot -- Jason Stokes
" ... Stokes, the 2002 Sporting News Minor
League Player of the Year, is on the verge of big things. Despite a painful
wrist injury and very little protection in the lineup, Stokes hit .341 with 27
home runs and 75 RBIs in just 349 at-bats for Class A Kane County. The Marlins
love his attitude, and with his size (6-4, 220) he has the potential to hit 40
to 50 home runs in a season. Now that his wrist has healed, he could advance
It's a 100 list with a fair bit of divergence
from the lists presented so far. SF righty Jesse Foppert,
generally viewed as the best of the pitching prospects, comes in at #18 (ranking
#7 among the pitchers). Francisco Rodriguez (at #4 overall)
was the top rated moundsman followed by Jerome Williams SF (#10), Aaron
Heilman (#12), Adam Wainwright (#13), Rafael Soriano
(#14) and Gavin Floyd PHI (#17).
Joe Mauer MIN finished a
surprising #19 well behind CLE's Victor Martinez :
" ... a most valuable commodity-a catcher
who can mash. He has been his league's MVP and batting leader the past two
seasons, so there is no question about his offense. Martinez also has plenty of
power. He is a good receiver, but needs to improve his throwing skills before he
can be a big-league regular. New manager Eric Wedge, a former catcher, is the
right man to bring him along."
COL's Jack Cust, at #45, finished a
spot ahead of SEA's Chris Snelling :
" ... Cust has amazing patience and
power, but he strikes out far too often and is a liability in the outfield.
He'll get on base and hit homers if he plays every day, but he may need to be a
designated hitter to get regular at-bats."
" ... Snelling probably will never be
a true power hitter, but he has hit .300 everywhere he has played and showed
occasional power. He should do the same in the majors."
Mets' phenom Scott Kazmir, rated as
high as #2 on another of the charts, was well down at #62. Yankees former
phenom, Drew Henson, was the final entry on the list -- #100.
06 February, 2003
bit of a surprise to see the HOU farm as middle of the road after a run where
the club had one of the best systems in baseball. However, Jim Callis, Baseball America, still had some prime talent from which to
choose his Top 10 Astros youngsters. Catcher John Buck topped the
... Few catching prospects can match Buck’s all-around package. He projects as
a .275 hitter with 20 homers now that he has learned to turn on fastballs and
recognize breaking pitches. His defense grades out better than his offense. Buck
has plus arm strength and threw out 36 percent of basestealers last year. His
receiving skills are solid ... Somehow while catching games in the Texas
heat, Buck put on 15 pounds, which made him sluggish in August and in the
Arizona Fall League, where his swing lengthened and his offense tapered off. He’s
starting to become a baseclogger and spent the offseason working on his
flexibility and agility."
Outfielder Jason Lane was the runnerup :
... the system's top offensive talent, projecting as a .275-.280 hitter with
25-30 homers. He has enough power and bat speed to take good fastballs out of
the park. Lane has improved all facets of his outfield play and has a solid
average arm that's also accurate."
To keep Buck alert, another of HOU's top guns
(ranked #8) is a catcher who has begun to attract a fair bit of attention -- Hector
... Some Astros officials think Gimenez is a better defensive catcher than John
Buck, though that's not the consensus opinion. Gimenez, who threw out 32 percent
of basestealers in 2002, has at least as much arm strength and a better release.
He also receives and moves well. Gimenez' strong wrists and quick bat give him
power from both sides of the plate ... has a lot to learn about plate
Joe Barbieri, SportsTicker, rates the BOS farm as among the also-rans given the years
of farm system abuse. Among the ready-to-help guys are a pair of
infielders and a rehabbing catcher :
" ... the best hitter in the Red Sox organization
... A career .319 hitter since selected in the 11th round of the 2000
draft, Sanchez is offensively ready for the next step. He has excellent hand-eye
coordination and can hit the ball to all fields ... A converted shortstop,
Sanchez needs more seasoning turning the double play at second base. The
25-year-old, who has demonstrated good range and a strong arm at shortstop, has
only played 27 professional games at second, including five in Boston last
Youkilis " ... Demonstrating advanced plate discipline and
an ability to make consistent contact, Youkilis shot through three levels in his
first full professional season ... Though he spent some time at first base ...
Youkilis has good hands, an accurate throwing arm and better agility than his
stocky 6-1, 220 frame would indicate. With trade winds swirling around Shea
Hillenbrand of late, Youkilis could be earmarked as Boston's third baseman
sooner than expected."
Shoppach " ... exhibited strong defensive skills to go with
good pop and patience at the plate to earn Class A Florida State League all-star
notoriety in his first pro season ... While not blessed with a particularly
strong throwing arm, he has a very quick release which enabled him to gun down
33 percent of attempting basestealers last year ... led all Florida State League
catchers in fielding percentage ... batted .271 with 10 homers and 35 doubles
... displayed a good eye as evidenced by 59 walks in 480 plate appearances ...
had shoulder surgery in the offseason, will likely begin this season as a
designated hitter at Class AA Portland."
The Prospect Report, Kevin Goldstein continues to churn out the prospect
info with, among other things, his picks for breakout seasons and the rooks most
likely to help at the MLB level in 2003.
In the NL East, the Braves, with a boatload of
pitching, have some position players as breakout candidates :
... 3B Andy Marte hit 21 homers and drove in 105 runs as an 18-year old,
yet Florida's Miguel Cabrera gets all the attention as the best
young third baseman. People are already wondering how OF Jeff Francouer
lasted 23 picks in last year's draft."
" ... Venezuelan RHP Victor Prieto
allowed just 14 hits in 31.1 GCL innings and sits consistently at 92-94 mph.
2002 1st round pick OF Jeremy Hermida failed to homer in his pro
debut (181 ABs), but has a strong, athletic frame that projects for 20+ homers
" ... The 5th overall pick in the 2002 draft, LHP Clint Everts
will make his professional debut in 2003, and should be one of the better
pitchers in the Sally League."
" ... RHP Matt Peterson is moving to the pitching-friendly
Florida State League after limiting Sally League hitters to a .221 average while
striking out 10 per nine innings."
" ...: SS Andy Machado has speed, plate discipline and
developing power. An increase in batting average could put him on pace for a
starting job (and a move to second base) by 2004."
Reed, Prospect Report, has begun his team-by-team prospect reviews
(after wrapping up a position-by-position rookie analysis) with a look at ANA
where Casey Kotchman tops the list :
... 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. Others will have him at the top of their list next year after
he crushes Single-A pitching."
Johan Santana was 4th :
... dominated the Midwest League in 2002 at only 18-years old. While his ERA was
an unimpressive 4.16, he struck out nearly a batter an inning while walking 48
in 147 innings pitched. A string bean at 6' 2" and 150 lbs, Santana
projects to throw in the mid-90's as he fills out his lanky frame. He will head
to the California League where he should post numbers similar to those of Jeremy
Bonderman this past year. His ERA will be solid with high strikeouts. He needs
to further refine his secondary pitches, but he has top of the rotation
07 February, 2003
Simpson, Baseball America, with an early look at the 2003 draft has second
baseman Richie Weeks atop the chart :
" ... Weeks is a prolific hitter. He led the
nation in batting (.495) and slugging (.995) a year ago and projects as an
offensive player with a wood bat. He hasn’t settled on one position in his
college career ... but will play second base exclusively this spring. "His
bat will play anywhere, and I think he’ll be fine at second," said a
scout who has watched Weeks closely throughout his college career. "With
the benefits of pro teaching and a lot of repetitions at the position, he’ll
be ready to play there. There’s no question he can get to balls and he has
plenty of arm strength." Weeks has been described by one scout as a Willie
Randolph type—with a lot more power."
Simpson has a Top 25 online with high schooler Delmon
Young as the runnerup :
" ... BA’s 2002 Youth Player of the Year
has exceptional power and arm strength, and is mature beyond his years."
Lefty Adam Loewen is #3, ahead of 6-5
righthander Kyle Sleeth and outfielder Lastings Milledge.
on potential breakout candidates, NL Central, from Kevin Goldstein at The Prospect Report :
" ... LHP Justin Jones had a monster debut in rookie-ball and has
good velocity and an outstanding breaking ball. A strong spring will have him
spending his first full season at Lansing in the Midwest League."
" ... SS Edwin Encarnacion will probably move back to third
base before he reaches the majors, but he's still one of the better teenage bats
around ... RHP Bobby Basham, who seemingly came out of
nowhere in 2002, continues his meteoric rise -- starting the year at AA
Chattanooga and making his major league debut in September."
" ... C Hector Jimenez is a young power-hitting catcher with
solid defensive skills."
" ... RHP Mike Jones put up impressive numbers in the 2nd
half and could be poised for a big year in the California League."
" ... Already highly regarded, SS Jose Castillo is a pure
shortstop who projects as a 20/20 man offensively. A big year at AA Altoona
could move him into elite status."
" ... C Yadier Molina hit .323-5-30 over last season's final
two months and is already among the best defensive catchers in the minors."
08 February, 2003
The Cubs, already loaded on the hill with young(er) talent -- Prior, Cruz, Wood,
Clement, Zambrano -- can look forward to further riches from the farm. Jim
Callis surveyed the Cubbies for Baseball America and picked a hitter
at #1 (Hee Seop Choi) but soon came the pitchers. Angel Guzman
vaulted into the runnerup slot :
... In his first taste of full-season ball, he breezed through two Class A
leagues and led Chicago minor leaguers in wins (11) and ERA (2.19) ... After his
promotion to high Class A Daytona, Guzman regained the curveball he had when he
signed three years earlier. At times, all three of pitches graded as 70 on the
20-80 scouting scale. He also throws a 91-96 mph fastball with explosive sinking
life and the best changeup in the system. He’s athletic, throws strikes and
has a feel for pitching. His delivery is effortless."
Lefty Andy Sisco ranked #3 :
... the short-season Northwest League’s No. 1 prospect and strikeout leader in
2002 ... an intimidating 6-foot-9 lefthander, Sisco draws comparisons to Randy
Johnson–and he’s more polished than Johnson at the same age. Sisco made
strides with his mechanics last year, when he regularly threw 90-96 mph. Besides
his arm, he also earns high marks for his athleticism, feel, poise and work
Down at #8, an intriguing infield prospect, Brendan
Harris, who's been getting more and more coverage :
... has supplanted David Kelton as the system’s top pure hitter and best
hope to end the Curse of Ron Santo. He hits for gap power and, unlike Kelton,
has demonstrated the ability to play the hot corner. Managers rated Harris the
Florida State League’s best defensive third baseman ... He’ll begin 2003 as
a Double-A third baseman but could push for a quick promotion and be in Chicago
by the end of 2004."
09 February, 2003
Mark Jerkatis, Top Prospect Alert, ranks BOS as the second-worst farm system in
baseball. However, there is quality at the top of the prospect list :
... Hanley Ramirez ... There is absolutely no doubt that Ramirez is for
real. He was the DSLs best player in 2001 and was unquestionably Short Season
Ball’s best player in 2002. All as a mere 19yo. His 6’1” frame is capable
of holding another 20lbs and that would allow his current line drive power to
eventually hit 30+ HRs ... While he has drawn comparisons to Arod and Nomar, you
need to realize he is only six months younger than Jose Reyes who played 2
levels higher, and Arod made his major league debut at his age. So while I am
willing to recognize Ramirez as one of the games better SS prospects, we will
have to at least watch his first full-season performance before we deify
Catcher Kelly Shoppach ranked #3 :
... Hi-A debut this season showed some reasonable offensive skills
to complement his advanced defense skills. Defensively there are no questions
about his arm, footwork, or ability to guide a pitching staff, so if he
continues to show some offense at AA this season, Shoppach will make a solid
leap up the very thin list of minor league catching prospects."
Goldstein, The Prospect Report, with his picks as minor league breakout candidates in the
NL West :
" ... RHP Brian Bruney has all the makings of a classic
closer. He'll face a gargantuan test at AA El Paso ... SS Sergio Santos
produces big numbers at the plate, but is converted to the outfield at some
point before the 2004 season."
" ... OF Tony Miller is just 5-9, but has one of the most exciting
power/speed packages around and adds excellent on-base skills (88 walks) as
" ... So many young players. RHPs Jonathan Figueroa and Edwin
Jackson, 1B James Loney, and SS Joel Guzman
are all capable of huge numbers."
" ... RHP Mike Nicholas dials it up in the high 90s and
struck out 121 in 77.1 innings in the California League."
" ... LHP Ryan Hannaman had an enormous second half as he
gained confidence in his power arsenal. It's difficult to find lefties who can
touch the high 90s."
Srinivasan, The Sporting News, on Jason Arnold TOR :
" ... Arnold is very smart. He has a
hard-moving fastball that hits 90 to 93 mph, a good slider and a palmball he
uses as a changeup. Between high Single-A and Double-A, Arnold was 13-4 with a
2.61 ERA in 155.1 innings ... will get a clear shot at a spot in the Jays' iffy
rotation this year. If he shows command this spring, be prepared to grab
10 February, 2003
Kevin Goldstein, The Prospect Report, breakout possibilities in the AL East :
BAL " ... A pair of
John Maine and
Rommie Lewis bear close watching at A Frederick."
BOS " ... Local product RHP
had a strong finish to the 2002 season, and may have the best stuff of any
righty in the system."
NYA " ... OF
Bronson Sardihna can focus on
his considerable offensive skills now that he's been moved out of the
TB " ... OF
Jason Pridie led all
short-season players with 116 hits in 75 games and was being tried in the
infield during instructional league play."
TOR " ... There is power in OF
6-6 frame, but it has yet to manifest itself in game situations. An escape from
the Florida State League and a fully healed wrist should help."
Reed, Prospect Report, has the ARZ Top 10 online with second baseman Scott
Hairston the choice as #1, followed by starters John Patterson
and Mike Gosling.
Down at #6, shortstop Sergio Santos
... went from overrated to underrated to one of the bigger surprises of the
Pioneer League. He showed excellent patience and power in his debut. He's still
a long way off but he already has many excited over him. He was a shortstop in
high school but his future lies at third base."
Oscar Villarreal won a spot at #7 :
... had a breakout season in 2002 for AA-El Paso after missing time after
getting hit with a batted ball. His performance for AAA-Tucson however was
unimpressive. He has inconsistent stuff that can be dominating at times and
leave him extremely hittable others. If he continues to mature on the mound and
maintains focus he could develop into a solid #3-#5 pitcher."
Edgar Gonzalez failed to grab a Top
Edgar did garner a good review in Sports Weekly's
prospect report :
... is only a tick behind Gosling for the system's best pitching prospect.
At 19 he led the organization in ERA and was second in wins ... throws a
fastball in the low-to-mid-90s and a power slider ... has enough of a curveball
to keep hitters off-balance, and has shown great feel for the changeup he's been
Sinha Team One (via The Newberg Report) on Laynce Nix TEX :
... Would be the best pure hitting prospect for a lot of organizations and with
the lumber-laden Rangers, he's second only to Mark Teixeir ... has always had a
pure, compact lefthanded stroke. . . reminiscent of a young J.D. Drew's swing
... generates above-average bat-speed and has a lot of pop on contact ...
right now, he's a dead pull-hitter. . . . Really struggled against lefties in
the past, especially good lefthanded curveballs. He improved last year, but
still has a lot of work to do before he hits the major league versions. . . .
Has a good radar in the outfield, too. He can actually handle center field if
needed and would have above-average range for a corner. But Nix's arm has never
been strong and I don't know that I can project it beyond playable."
11 February, 2003
Righthander Adam Wainwright is the choice of Chris Reed, Prospect
Report, as the best of the ATL prospects :
... has posted great strikeout rates throughout his career. In pitchers' haven
High A-Myrtle Beach, Wainwright put up a 3.31 ERA to go along with more
strikeouts than innings pitched ... has a plus curveball which he uses to
punch out batters after he's buried them in the count. He'll head to
AA-Greenville in 2003 and should finish the season in AAA-Richmond. He has the
potential to be a good #1/#2 starter."
and Wilson Betemit
finished 2-3. Lefty Macay McBride was 4th :
... has a three pitch repetoire, headlined by a nasty slider. He struck out 7.9
batters per inning in the Low A-SAL, a solid rate for a southpaw. His fastball
has good velocity but his off-speed deliveries need further refinement. He'll
head to High A-Myrtle Beach in 2003 and enjoy pitching half his games in an
extreme pitcher's park. He has the upside of a #2 starter."
Possible CF, Jeff Francoeur rounded
out the top five :
... The athletic Francoeur was an excellent pickup by the Braves in the first
round of the 2002 draft. Starting in R-Danville, Francoeur hit .327 with a .585
SLG in 147 at bats. With only 15 walks on the season he could obviously use a
little more patience at the plate, but that is his only true weakness ... has
the potential to be a top centerfielder and simply needs to prove himself at a
higher level to shoot to the top of this list."
America is back with more prospect previews, this time with Will Lingo
looking at the Cardinals. Righthander Dan Haren sits atop the STL
Top 10 :
... At 6-foot-4 he has the frame of a workhorse and clean mechanics. He has
three solid pitches and can command them all, and his big body allows him to
generate a good downward plane on his pitches ... .tired at the end of the
season, understandable under a 194-inning workload. The organization says its
goal is to protect arms while getting pitchers to the big leagues, and Haren’s
frame and mechanics allowed him to pile up more innings than another pitcher
might. Given the organization’s injury history, his health will bear watching
... projects as a middle-of-the-rotation starter, but it looks like Haren
will reach that goal more quickly than expected. He’ll open in Double-A and
move up if he pitches well."
12 February, 2003
Some notes on Delmon Young :
... Clearly, Delmon Young is the best position player in the country," said
assistant coach Mark Wasikowski, the Wildcats' recruiting coordinator.
"He's a freak of nature. Such a special talent. He's a tremendous baseball
... Highlighting the class is outfielder/pitcher Delmon Young from Camarillo,
Calif. Rated as the top high school player in California, he is also ranked
second nationally by Baseball America. The CalHiSports 2002 Mr. Baseball State
Player of the Year, Young hit .542 with 17 home runs, 56 RBI and 55 runs scored
as a junior at Camarillo High School. On
the mound, the right-hander tossed 6.1 innings of four-hit ball in the CIF
Southern Section Division I semifinals against Long Beach Poly. He finished 2002
with a 5-1 record and a 1.67 ERA. He also had three saves and struck out 51
hitters in 46 innings.
... As member of the USA Junior National Team, Young demolished the offensive
record book. In 39 at bats at the 2002 IBAF World Junior Championships in
Sherbrooke, Canada, he had 20 hits for a team-leading .513 average. He hit nine
home runs in eight games and drove in and scored 18 runs each. He also tossed
one inning of relief and struck out two of the four batters he faced." (On
Young signing a letter of intent to attend Arizona)
... The team is highlighted by All-American Delmon Young, who played in the
series two years ago at the age of 15. He's also a second generation participant
as his older brother, Dmitri Young, now with the Detroit Tigers, also played. (When
named to USA's Goodwill team in 2002)
... Little brother of the Detroit Tigers' Dmitri Young. Overall, more athletic
than his big brother, and shouldn't be an embarassment in the field. An advanced
hitter with a good knowledge of the strike zone & great power potential.
Projected to be a future RF, but has played CF in high school. Also accomplished
as a RHP, which also tells you something about his arm in the OF." (From
on minor league breakout candidates from Kevin Goldstein, The Prospect
Report, as he looks at clubs in the AL Central :
" ...Diminutive LHP Arnie Munoz struck out 74 batters in just 40.2
innings this winter in the Dominican. He'll start the year at AAA
" ... OF Grady Sizemore has a career .385 OBP and hit
.343/.451/.483 in 47 games for Kinston after being acquired in the Bartolo Colon
deal. There's power in his frame, but he needs to learn how to use his legs to
gain more leverage in his swing."
" ... LHP Matt Coenen is a 6-6 lefty who throws strikes and
can touch the low 90s."
" ... Straight out of high school, 2002 1st rounder RHP Zach Greinke
held his own against far more advanced hitters in a shocking performance this
winter in Puerto Rico."
" ... RHP Scott Tyler has been brought along slowly and will
make his full-season debut at A Quad City. He limited Appy league hitters to a
.161 average in 2002 while striking out 12.2 per nine innings"
Shuttlesworth, MLB.com, on Jesse Foppert SF :
once in a while, you'll find a player that'll come along that will exceed the
normal trip to the Major Leagues," said Jack Hiatt, director of player
development for the Giants. "It's kind of a shock when a guy goes clear
through the whole system in one year. It takes a special talent -- not only
physical but mental tools, and he has those things."
... Foppert ascended to Triple-A almost exactly one year after being picked in
the second round of the 2001 First-Year Player Draft and struck out a remarkable
109 batters in 79 innings with Fresno despite tiring late in the season. His
11.7 strikeouts per nine innings led the minors ... What
makes his achievements even more astounding is that he didn't even become a
pitcher until his final year at the University of San Francisco. Originally a
third baseman but moved to first when Taggert Bozied (now a Padres prospect)
took over the hot corner."
... Fate intervened, however. Sent to play summer ball with the Harrisonburg
(Va.) Turks of the Valley Baseball League, Foppert was pressed into pitching
because several of his team's pitchers were still competing in the College World
"If you see him pitch, he does it so beautifully and effortlessly,"
said Hiatt. "It's an absolute effortless delivery; it's very smooth. You
kind of see the delivery, the long, tall, loose-armed action, very smooth, and
then all of sudden, the ball's by you.
"He's going to come into Spring Training and ... he'll impress
people," said Hiatt, who mentions Foppert's maturity and confidence as
often as his arm. "He'll make it awful tough for them to send him back [to
14 February, 2003
we await the book. John Sickels has wrapped up his team-by-team
rookie previews on ESPN.com with comments on the "below average" LA
farm. But, that doesn't include the team's 2003 draft which produced first
baseman James Loney :
... outstanding results. He hit .371 in the Pioneer League, then held his own
against much older competition in the Florida State League, hitting .299 before
hurting his wrist. He has good power and outstanding strike zone judgment. If
the wrist heals properly, he'll be one of the best prospects in baseball by
Joe Barbieri and Amy K. Nelson
continue the team-by-team series
with a look at TB's kids :
Promising arms such as Dewon Brazelton
and Seth McClung,
who both spent most of last season at Class AA Orlando, could be strong
candidates to join a rotation that already includes youngsters Joe Kennedy and
... Lefty Nick Bierbrodt,
a former first-round pick of the Diamondbacks, could also be in the mix.
Bierbrodt struggled mightily in spring training but that turned out to be the
least of his problems last year. The 24-year-old had a brush with death after
being shot twice in early June. After two months of rehabilitation, Bierbrodt is
on the road back should be ready for spring training this season."
" ... (Rocco)
Baldelli has a tremendous tool set
that features great speed and developing power. The 6-4, 190-pounder has
exceptional bat speed and can hit to all fields His plate discipline lags behind
his other offensive skills as
evidenced by just 58 walks in 1,222 career plate appearances. Defensively,
Baldelli's speed gives him great range. While his arm is not considered to be
especially strong, he has compiled 18 outfield assists over the past two seasons
largely due to his throwing accuracy."
Josh Hamilton .... The lefthanded-hitting Hamilton has complete baseball instincts and tools,
highlighted by an explosive throwing arm and improved plate discipline. In his
most complete season, Hamilton hit .302 and drove in 61 runs in 92 games in the
Class A South Atlantic League and was a member
of SportsTicker's All-Prospect team in 2000 ... The 6-4 Hamilton is just
22 years old and, though a long shot, could become the third Devil Ray to jump
from Class A to the majors if he can impress in spring training."
Kevin T. Czerwinski,MLB.com, on
a couple of prime prospects on the Mets :
Jose Reyes -- With the kind of hype and buildup this kid is receiving, one
would expect to see Nomar Garciaparra, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez all rolled
into one player. He's still a teenager, though,
and odds are he won't even begin the year with the parent club. Expect to see
him in Queens by the All-Star break."
... Aaron Heilman -- The big right-hander has been one of the most
coveted prospects on the trade front this winter. He's expected
to start the season in Triple-A but not before he gets a shot at earning the
fifth spot in New York's rotation. If he doesn't make the club out of Spring
Training, expect his arrival in the big leagues sometime over the summer."
15 February, 2003
Perrotto, Baseball America, sees some long-range hope for the Pirates with
the promise of players such as John VanBenchoten :
... Pittsburgh has made sure not to overextend VanBenschoten but believes he’ll
develop into a workhorse by the time he gets to the majors. While he won’t get
a chance to swing a bat again until he reaches Double-A, VanBenschoten’s power
stroke figures to make him one of the game’s better-hitting pitchers. He’s
intelligent and takes instruction well. One Pirates executive calls
VanBenschoten "the total package, everything you would want in a pitching
prospect." ... VanBenschoten was an NCAA Division I prospect as a
pitcher in high school but hasn’t faced many advanced hitters. He tends to
give up too many hits for a pitcher with his stuff, though the Pirates feel that
will change as he gains more experience."
20-year-old lefty Sean Burnett grabbed the
runnerup slot, with newcomer Bryan Bullington at #3 :
... was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2002 draft. He signed in late
October ... missed the minor league season and instructional league while
negotiating ... Bullington dominated college hitters by throwing a heavy 95 mph
fastball. He also has a sharp slider to complement his heater ... remains to be
seen how much of an effect sitting out all of last summer will have on
Bullington in 2003 ... Pirates will start Bullington off in low Class A. He
could be on the fast track and likely will be ready to break into majors in
2005, along with touted prospects John VanBenschoten and Sean Burnett."
Shortstop Jose Castillo was #4 :
... Managers named him the Carolina League’s most exciting player and best
defensive infielder ... can hit for both average and power, with scouts
estimating he’ll hit 20-25 homers a year in the majors. He has plus range at
shortstop and an outstanding arm ...needs to improve his plate discipline and
cut down on trying to make too many flashy plays in the field. He has a thick
lower body, leaving some to wonder if he may eventually have to move to third
base ... However, Pete Mackanin, Castillo's manager at Lynchburg last season,
and Alvaro Espinoza, the Pirates' major-league infield coach, are convinced he
can play short in the majors. They should know as ex-big league
Keller, SportsTicker, had lots to choose from in his preview of the CLE farm
... Cliff Lee ... has a great deal of poise, four quality
pitches and nice movement on his 90-mph fastball ... tough to hit. He has
held opposing hitters to a .202 average the last two years and fellow
lefthanders to a .159 mark, including 60 strikeouts in 145 at-bats."
... Brian Tallet ... The 2000 second-round pick features
outstanding command of a low-90s fastball with a strong slider and changeup. He
reminds some in the organization of a young Frank Viola."
... Victor Martinez ... The switch-hitter seems to have no holes at the
plate. He's batted well over .300 with pop from both sides of the plate the last
two years and has batted .337 with runners on base. Defensively, the
native of Venezuela has soft hands and outstanding leadership ability. His main
deficiency is a weak arm. Despite a quick release, Martinez had his problems
controlling the running game, throwing out just 25 percent of attempted
... Travis Hafner ... Hafner, a 25-year-old slugger who has been compared
size-wise and approach-wise to Thome, is the favorite to replace the slugger he
so resembles ...
hit .342 -- third best in the Class AAA Pacific Coast League last season -- with
21 homers and 77 RBI in 110 games. Throw in 79 walks and the lefthanded swinger
had a minor league-best .463 on-base percentage."
... Brandon Phillips ... slated to move over from shortstop
and play second base for the Indians this season ... The 21-year-old has
all-star tools, which include a potent bat with power potential, speed, plus
range and a strong arm. However he does not show much patience at the plate,
evidenced by just 135 walks in 1,615 career at-bats."
... Billy Traber ... finished second in the minor leagues with 17
wins, including a 13-2 mark and a 2.76 ERA at Class AA Akron, to earn
SportsTicker All-Prospect Team honors ... not overpowering. Instead he relies
upon his changeup, breaking ball and ability to throw a first-pitch
... Ricardo Rodriguez ... 23-year-old with a 6-4 frame and power
arm ... made seven starts in the big leagues. He was 2-2, 5.66 ERA with
Cleveland ... Rodriguez emerged as the top pitching prospect in the
Dodgers organization after winning 24 games and fanning 283 batters in 250
innings in 2000-01."
16 February, 2003
Molony, MLB.com, on Tim Redding HOU :
... Redding had trouble controlling his pitches as well as his temper at
times last season and those two traits were instrumental in earning the talented
Houston right-hander a trip back to the minors."
... There's no question he has exceptional skills, the only question is will he
be able to put it all together?" Houston general manager Gerry Hunsicker
said. "Should (Redding win the fifth starting spot) it would give us a
pitcher with the ability of a No. 2 starter as our No. 5 starter."
... What Redding wants to do is pitch for Houston this year, preferably as a
starter. Everyone agrees Redding has the ability and the desire. This spring
might display whether he has conquered the twin demons that derailed his 2002
campaign. "He's a power pitcher with a good breaking ball and a Major
League arm," Williams said. "Can (he) harness it from a standpoint of
not only making consecutive pitches, consecutive innings and consecutive games
and build on that?" Redding and the Astros are about to find out."
Cameron, Strike Three, with his early look at the June draft gives another
vote for Rickie Weeks as the likely top pick.
... The second baseman from Southern University is the best athlete in the draft
and is considered by some to be one of the best athletes in any recent draft
... Nobody questions his ability to hit, though there has been talk that
he may end up in the outfield rather than at second base."
Cameron also goes for righthander Kyle Sleeth
as the runnerup :
... After being an 18th-round pick by the Orioles in 2000, he made the correct
decision and headed to school. He's filled out his 6'5" frame and become a
dominant starting pitcher. His fastball can get into the mid-90s and he's got an
advanced changeup for a pitcher his age. He gets high marks on projection and
work ethic, and he's had few problems with the top talent in the ACC. For a team
coveting a starting pitcher, Sleeth is likely their guy."
Two high school outfielders are touted as
... Heading into 2003, most people considered Lastings Milledge
to be the premier talent in the draft. He's a pure centerfielder with a bat that
will play quickly, but he's been downgraded somewhat by those who don't see him
adding much more than he already offers. For those into premium-sized players,
the 6'0" Milledge may not be your guy. If you prefer players who just help
win games, then I'd suggest that the man without a first name just may be that
... There's something to be said for having a good pedigree, and Delmon Young
(younger brother of Tigers "first baseman" Dmitri) comes from a
quality gene pool. At 6'3" and still with some growing to do, Young is the
guy who scores high on projectability, though he's not bad at the moment either.
He profiles as a right fielder, especially when he adds weight to his frame as
17 February, 2003
Chris Reed had to really dig to come up with ten names for the Boston preview,
Winter, SportsTicker, had a full crop from which to highlight prospects in
the MIN system although there's a noticeable lack of young guns to take over in
the middle infield.
Catcher Joe Mauer is ST's choice as the
best of the best :
... Arguably the best prospect in the game, Mauer has done nothing but impress
since being the first overall selection in the 2001 draft ... He generates
tremendous bat speed and covers the plate extremely well, which allows him to
hit to all fields. His terrific strike-zone management in high school, where he
fanned just once in four years, has followed him to the professional ranks.
Mauer has struck out only 52 times and drawn 80 walks in 606 career plate
appearances. Perhaps even more impressive than is offensive ability is his
defensive talent. Mauer's arm is particularly strong and accurate and his
footwork behind the plate is exceptional."
While Mauer is several years away from
challenging for a spot on the Twins, ST cited several who might help out this
... Michael Cuddyer ... appears to have the inside track for the
right field position ... The now 24-year-old Cuddyer generates tremendous bat
speed from the right side of the plate, evidenced by 52 doubles and 50 home runs
over his last two minor league seasons ... has outstanding plate coverage and
can spray the ball to all fields. He has excellent arm strength for right field."
... Mike Restovich ... considered to have the best power
potential of Minnesota's outfield prospects ... Built like a linebacker (6-4,
245), the 24-year-old Restovich was second in the organization with 29 homers at
Class AAA Edmonton last year and belted 23 in 2001 with Class AA New Britain.
The down side for the native of Minnesota is his high strikeout numbers. The
righthanded-hitting Restovich fanned over 100 times in each of the last four
seasons and struck out a career-high 151 times in 2002."
... Mike Ryan ... the organizational leader with a
career-high 31 home runs and 101 RBI in 2002, playing in his second full season
with the Trappers in the Pacific Coast League ... Like Restovich, Ryan's
chances of cracking the Opening Day roster are slim."
... Justin Morneau ... If Mauer were not a member of
the Twins organization, Morneau would be the prospect Twins' fans hear about
most frequently. The 21-year-old lefthanded-hitting Morneau has one of the
purest swings in all of baseball and has demonstrated the ability to cover the
plate, allowing him to spray the ball all around the ball park. He batted .298
in his first full Class AA season in 2002 and struck out just 88 times while
drawing 42 walks."
sure. Weight doesn't matter. It would be fascinating to know how
these guys think (or don't) :
... (Bobby) Jenks, one of the Angels' top pitching prospects,
reported to camp at 272 pounds, more than 30 pounds over his weight last year
... Jenks said the team has asked him to see a nutritionist, and they've
developed a training program for him to follow this spring ... Jenks doesn't see
his weight as that pressing of an issue. "
something we're working with," said Jenks, a 6-foot-3 right-hander. "I
don't know why it's such a big issue with you guys. I'm a good pitcher and it
doesn't matter if I'm 310 pounds. During spring, my (weight) is going to go
down. They know I can pitch if I'm heavy. They don't want me to get down to 220
pounds. I can't pitch at that weight."
... Indeed, everything about Jenks is naturally big, including his potential.
Jenks, who turns 22 next month, led the Arizona Fall League in strikeouts for
two consecutive seasons. He throws a fastball that has been clocked as fast as
102 mph, but his inability to spot it properly in the strike zone and his lack
of a third pitch has slowed his development ... There have been off-the-field
issues as well. He was demoted from Double-A Arkansas to Single-A Rancho
Cucamonga last season after violating team rules, and character questions forced
him to slip to the fifth round of the 2000 draft."
... But Jenks said he's changing. His second child is due this year, and he
knows he needs to show more consistency in this, his fourth professional season.
He will probably start the season at Double-A Arkansas or Triple-A Salt Lake.
Jenks has big plans for this season and hopes to earn a September call-up."
Ringolsby handled the COL Top 10 for Baseball America and selected
righthander Aaron Cook as the best of the lot :
... Cook is a power pitcher with excellent command. His calling card is a heavy
sinker that ranges from 93-96 mph ... an excellent athlete ... For a pitcher
with such electric stuff, Cook doesn’t miss as many bats as would be expected.
... Colorado is counting on Cook to fill a rotation spot and pick up where
Jason Jennings left off. The Rockies limited Cook to 36 innings in the majors
last season–keeping him eligible for the National League rookie of the year
award, which Jennings won in 2002. Cook eventually will take over as the Rockies’
No. 1 starter."
Tsao (#2) and Dragon Lo (unranked) :
... There is every expectation that Tsao will be in the big leagues by late in
the season. He showed in the second half last season that he is full recovered
from the elbow surgery. He has the ability to be recognized among the game's
elite, but face it, pitchers and awards are not synonymous with Colorado. I also
wouldn't be surprised if he wound up being a closer instead of a starter. Lo is
very highly regarded in the organization, but he not anywhere near as polished
as Tsao was when he signed. Lo has a live arm, but the first challenge for Lo is
to build up his body. The Rockies are taking a cautious approach to try and
avoid any arm problems with such a young pitcher."
A bit of a surprise at #3 :
... (Rene) Reyes has tremendous hitting instincts and power from both
sides of the plate. He’s athletic, which allows him to play all three outfield
positions as well as first base, and leads to speculation he could wind up at
third base ... Reyes hasn’t always put out and has to be challenged ...
could move into the big league mix at some point in 2003 after opening the year
in Triple-A. His versatility will enhance his chances."
#1 in 2002 to just about off the chart in 2003 -- Luis Terrero
ARZ. Jack Magruder, Baseball America, handled the D'Backs preview
and kept Terrero on the list, but at #10 :
... A gifted physical specimen, Terrero is long and chiseled. He has power to
all fields and runs like a deer ... has a strong arm and has been a major
league-ready center fielder since starring in the 2000 Hall of Fame Game
... has had trouble staying on the field long enough to develop a
consistent approach at the plate ... has all the tools to be a major league
center fielder for a decade. He has been on the radar screen so long, it's easy
to forget he's just 22. He should start the season at Triple-A Tucson."
The top four on the ARZ list are familiar -- Scott
Hairston, Mike Gosling, Lyle Overbay and John
At #5 is righthander Brandon Webb :
... After being shut down with a tired arm in his first pro summer, he has been
solid ever since. He ranked fourth in the Texas League in both ERA and
strikeouts last year ... With 40 hit batters and 23 wild pitches over the last
two seasons, Webb still has work to do to master his command ...has an outside
chance to make the Diamondbacks roster in 2003. He could be used as either a
starter or a long reliever. Whatever the case, he should be a major league
mainstay in the near future."
Edgar Gonzalez grabbed the #6 slot
... Unlike most four-pitch pitchers, Gonzalez can reach the mid-90s with his
fastball. He was clocked at 96 mph in the ninth inning of one of his starts at
South Bend. His slider is his second-best pitch, and he has a curveball and
changeup ... isn't lacking much beyond experience. If he can improve his
command within the strike zone, he has the stuff to dominate hitters. Counting
winter ball, he racked up 250 innings in a nine-month period, so Arizona should
monitor his workload carefully ... With his mid-90s fastball, slider and feel
for game situations, Edgar Gonzalez can a No. 2-3 starter."
Shortstop Sergio Santos ranked #7 :
... has prodigious power ... a compact swing and can make adjustments. His
instincts and makeup are solid, and they enhance his average speed and defensive
tools ... Considering his size and that he's still growing, he probably will
have to move to second or third base. His swing can get long ... has enough
power for any position and will be a middle-of-the-order hitter in the majors,
perhaps as early as 2005."
24, February, 2003
It'll be a couple of years, but Justin Huber might be worth the wait :
... Though Huber's only 20 years old, it's easy to see why he's such a hot
commodity. New York brass already has him penciled in as Mike Piazza's heir
apparent. He's only been playing pro ball for two seasons but in that short time
has proven to the baseball community that he's one of the best prospects in the
... continues to work with Gary Carter, the organization's roving catching
instructor, and John Stearns, who will manage this season at Double-A Binghamton
in the Eastern League. Stearns, a former All-Star catcher himself, would love
for Huber to spend time with him this season but doesn't want to rush him out of
the Florida State League. ... "Naturally I would like to have him
this year but I don't think there's any need to rush the kid. I don't want to
put a lot of expectations on him, but if you project what the kid can do, he has
a high ceiling." (MLB.com)
Reed, Prospect Report, and Mark Jerkatis, Top Prospect Alert, both have CHA Top 10s with uniformity at the
top -- Joe Borchard :
... Along with Mark Teixeira, Borchard is one of the top power prospects in the
game. There is no doubt he will hit, and hit with authority, despite his 139
strikeouts ... a good chance he will be pushed to a corner outfield spot ...
likely push his way into Chicago by the end of the year. He has the potential to
be one of the top hitters in the baseball and at the very least should be an
above average slugger." (Prospect Report)
also featured a preview of the Toronto system and picked Jayson Werth for
the top spot followed by righthander Dustin McGowan :
... has the best raw "stuff" in the organization. His fastball
consistently sits in the mid-90s and he has a plus power curve. This allowed him
to fan nearly 10 batters per IP, while leading the SAL in strikeouts, in 2002.
The downside is he struggles with his control at times, he still doesn't have a
major league quality third pitch ... ,While he has the stuff to eventually be
big league front of the rotation material he still has a tremendous amount of
work to do to get there."
obtained from OAK, rates #4 :
...sits in the low-90s with his fastball, and has an adequate slider. His
splitter and change up are improving pitches. While there is absolutely no
question about Arnold's productivity at this point, he has consistently been
nearly two years older than ideal prospect age for each of his stops and that
has to be factored in. Look for Arnold to return briefly to AA before moving on
and spending most of his season in AAA ...My expectation is that he will become
a solid mid-rotation starter."
Boyd handled BA's latest team preview, Los Angeles, and picked first sacker James
Loney as the best of the Dodgers' prospects :
... Loney possesses outstanding bat control, and his picturesque stroke reminds
scouts of Shawn Green's ... He's still growing, having added four inches since
his junior year, and projects to hit 35-plus home runs in the majors. He
generates natural loft and raw power already. He's also a future Gold Glover as
a first baseman. His instincts for the position make up for average range, and
his soft hands will help save wild throws ... Loney jumped on the fast
track and only injury can slow him."
As evidence of the turnaround of the LA farm, Chin-Feng
Chen (rated at or near the top for the last couple of years) barely made
the list at # 10.
Teenage lefty Jonathan Figueroa was
Boyd's choice as #2 :
... fires an 89-94 mph fastball from a deceptive three-quarters slot,
creating outstanding arm-side run. His curveball is the best in the organization
... honed his changeup and toned his developing body in instructional
league ... could get lefties out in the big leagues right now, and the Dodgers
will move him along aggressively."
At #4, is outfielder Reggie Abercrombie
(who had a horrible start to 2002) :
... doesn’t just have above-average
tools; he grades out near the top of the charts for his power, speed, arm
strength and defense. He’s an aggressive hitter with a lightning-quick bat. He
prompts comparisons ranging from Preston Wilson to Torii Hunter to Reggie
Sanders to Eric Davis ... Some say Abercrombie won’t hit because his plate
discipline is so unrefined ... was Double-A Jacksonville’s top hitter in the
postseason, with a .303 average and five strikeouts in 33 at-bats."
Shortstop Joel Guzman made the
chart at #9 :
... Guzman exhibits rare light-tower power in batting practice. He has the
potential for five above-average tools, though his only present pluses are arm
strength and raw pop. He has the bat speed and strength to develop well
above-average game power in time ... has yet to adjust to breaking pitches. He
bails and his knees buckle at the sight of the slightest wrinkle ... might
not have the quickness to stay at shortstop."
trio of first baseman top the MIL Top 10 as Mark
Jerkatis, Top Prospect Alert, continues his team-by-team previews.
Mark pulled a little surprise ranking both Corey Hart and Brad Nelson ahead of
the more celebrated Prince Fielder :
" ... 1)
Corey Hart ...
has the greatest likelihood
to successfully play a position other than 1B, and given the current Brewer
logjam at 1B that gives him the nod ... While he posted some of the best power numbers in the California league as a
20yo, there is every reason to believe that there
is more power on the way,
making him eventually a 35+HR threat. His profile is also one that has the
expectation of one of these years in the not too distance future his strike zone
management will make a leap ... will begin 2003 in AA and
if he makes strides on his plate discipline, the sky is the limit for him."
Nelson ... Given his
limited mobility, Nelson also is pretty much destined to play either
LF or 1B. Nonetheless, like Hart, power is Nelsons calling card and he
could be teaming up with Hart at some point this season in what would be a
fairly potent AA attack."
... arguably has a higher ceiling than either Hart or
Nelson, it comes with a greater risk. Fielder absolutely destroyed Pioneer
League pitching after signing in 2002, posting the best age adjusted performance
ratios of any hitter in the minor leagues. The Brewers moved him to the
MWL to finish the season, where he struggled a bit, but remember he was a mere
18yo. He has a power stroke that could yield 45+ HRs one day, and an
advanced batting eye to go along with it. The only question
really is his weight. He has already been on the wrong side of 300lbs at
times and this will constantly be a personal struggle for him. His lack of
mobility limit him to 1B, and the likelihood is that his career length will be
somewhat limited as well."
Harden rated #1 among the OAK prospects
in Mark Jerkatis' A's preview at Top Prospect Alert :
" ... I can’t say enough good about this 17th round 2000 draft and follow. I
watch him and see a Tim Hudson (physically, his headiness, and complete
repertoire) with more ability to dominate a hitter (and sans the sinker)
... A’s are loaded at
the front of their rotation, so they have no reason to push Harden, but I
can’t see them being able to hold him back more than another half of a season.
As good as their top 3 are (Zito, Hudson, and Mulder), Harden has the potential
to match any one of them."
Catcher Jeremy Brown
zoomed to #2 on the chart :
" ... surprised many with strong offensive performances in
two A-levels in his debut. He has solid receiving skills and a plus arm,
but his 1:1 BB/K ratio and unexpected power display (10HRs in 187 Hi-A ABs) are
what made people take notice ... likely to begin 2003 at AA and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him
advance to the big league roster out of the gate in 2004. While he
doesn’t posses tremendous athleticism and thereby isn’t a scout favorite, it
appears now that he could be a very adequate Paul LoDuca like big league
Rookies 2003 Page Three