MLB Draft Report Cards: Atlanta Braves

Top Pick: Matt Lipka – SS – McKinney HS, TX. 1s – 35 Overall. H.S. teammate in both football and baseball to LA Dodger 1st round draft pick (28th overall) Zach Lee, Lipka will focus on baseball as a professional. Having lost their 1st round pick (#20 overall), as a result of signing Billy Wagner, the Braves quickly signed Lipka to an $800,000.00 bonus.

Closest to Majors: Todd Cunningham – 3B – Jacksonville State. 2nd – 53 Overall. Cunningham performed well with wood bats in the Cape last summer, and he’s a switch hitter. While I think he’s more of an outfielder than a 3B, his bat will cause him to move quickly.

Long Shot to Sign: Stefan Sabol – C – Aliso Niguel HS, (CA) (17th Round) and Zach Alvord – 2B – South Forsyth HS (GA) (18th Round). Sabol has 1st round talent, and while he may not have the arm to remain at catcher, he’ll likely get the chance to prove me wrong at Oregon next season. Alvord is committed to Auburn and he’s unlikely to sign. One of the more advanced prep bats in the draft, Alvord should become an immediate offensive producer in the SEC next spring. While both are long shots to sign, I applaud the Braves for taking a shot at premium talent this late in the draft.

Overall: The Braves played it pretty conservative early in the draft and they’re already seeing the benefits of their draft strategy, with each of their first 10 selections already signed (and 32 of 50 thus far). Major College veterans Phil Gosselin – 2B – UVA (5th Round) and Joey Terdoslavich – 3B – Long Beach State (6th Round), will add depth to a system that has graduated premiere prospects Tommy Hanson and Jason Heyward in recent years. Grade: B

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Top 100 Baseball Prospects

Every prospecting outlet releases a Top 100 Prospect List and we at Prospect Junkies are no exception. I’m the first to admit that there is quite a bit of subjectivity in the list below. I’m quite biased in that I value a player’s ceiling more than I do his probability of reaching that ceiling. Some of the rankings listed below might contradict previous positional rankings that I’ve posted over the past view months but I have a very good explanation. I changed my mind.

It’s also important to note that this list was finalized before the brain surgery of Ryan Westmoreland or the season ending injury to Jared Mitchell. Westmoreland would have been moved down, but the extent of which is not yet known. Mitchell likely would have stayed close to his original ranking.

Enough of this palaver, lets get this show on the road.

1. Jason Heyward – OF – ATL. Looks like he may have played his last minor league game.
2. Stephen Strasburg – RHP – WAS. The best draft prospect to come along in ages, if reaches half of his ceiling, he’ll be a perennial all star.
3. Desmond Jennings – OF – TB. Has there ever been a faster outfield than Carl Crawford, B.J. Upton, and Jennings?
4. Carlos Santana – C – CLE. A switch hitting catcher with power, OBP skills and a strong arm. What’s not to like?
5. Brian Matusz – LHP – BAL. I think Baseball Prospectus’ Kevin Goldstein put it perfectly when he stated that Matusz’ greatest strength is his lack of weaknesses.
6. Jesus Montero – C – NYY. A truly special bat with zero chance to stick at catcher.
7. Neftali Feliz – RHP – TEX. Even his floor – a power relief pitcher, is pretty high.
8. Buster Posey – C – SF. Kills left handed pitching, strong plate discipline and the quick feet and strong arm to become a plus defender.
9. Pedro Alvarez – 3B – PIT. The 28% K rate is not ideal, but the 1.009 OPS he posted in AA is.
10. Dustin Ackley – OF/2B – SEA. A future batting champion and Silver Slugger at whatever defensive position he ends up calling home.
11. Justin Smoak – 1B – TEX. Matt Wieters HS teammate is a switch hitting power hitter who walks as much as he Ks.
12. Mike Stanton – OF – FLA. More power than Alvarez, but also a higher AA K rate (33.1%) and a much lower BB rate (9.1%).
13. Madison Bumgarner – LHP – SF. A one pitch pitcher, but you can’t argue with the results. I’m anxious and skeptical to see how he’ll do with a large sample size of MLB starts.
14. Domonic Brown – OF – PHI. Is this the year his stat line will match his talent?
15. Aroldis Chapman – LHP – CIN. Showing better command than I anticipated.
16. Martin Perez – LHP – TEX. Strong 3 pitch mix for this 19 year old.
17. Alcides Escobar – SS – MIL. Could have a better year than Elvis Andrus did in ’09.
18. Tyler Matzek – LHP – COL. Was #2 player on draft board for several teams in 2009.
19. Aaron Hicks – OF – MIN. 5 tool player in every sense of the word.
20. Michael Taylor – OF – OAK. The Stanford product should shine in Oakland.
21. Ryan Westmorland – OF – BOS. Scary speed power combination for such a young kid. Scary brain surgery.
22. Logan Morrison – 1B – FLA. 18% walk rate in AA stint last season.
23. Jeremy Hellickson – RHP – TB. His numbers suggest dominance rare for his small stature.
24. Casey Kelly – RHP – BOS. Red Sox let him fail at SS so he’d realize his future is on the mound.
25. Wade Davis – RHP – TB. Earned #5 spot in rotation of a contending team.
26. Brett Wallace – 3B – TOR. I can’t see a scenario where he sticks at 3B but bat can be special.
27. Kyle Drabek – RHP – TOR. His ceiling depends on his ability to refine his change up.
28. Christian Friedrich – LHP – COL. Who would have guessed that the Rockies would gain a reputation for developing pitching?
29. Jarrod Parker – RHP – ARI. Tommy John surgery doesn’t diminish elite status.
30. Jacob Turner – RHP – DET. It worked the last time the Tigers took a HS pitcher in the 1st round. (Rick Porcello – 2007)
31. Casey Crosby – LHP – DET. Strikeout potential who could thrive as he uses his change up more.
32. Lonnie Chisenhall – 3B – CLE. Once batted #3 on a South Carolina team that included future 1st rounders Justin Smoak and Reese Havens. Then got kicked off the team.
33. Michael Montgomery – LHP – KC. A 6’5 lefty who throws in the high 90s. What’s not to love?
34. Josh Bell – 3B – BAL. Needs to hit lefties better but the Orioles got a steal in exchange for George Sherrill. Fitting I guess since they stole him for Eric Bedard.
35. Miguel Sano – SS – MIN. Long shot to reach his ceiling, but his ceiling is as high as anyone on this list.
36. Starlin Castro – SS – CHC. More power potential than Escobar but not the same guy with the glove.
37. Chris Carter – 1B – OAK. Big power, but not a fan of the swing.
38. Derek Norris – C – WAS. Love his OPS potential.
39. Zach Britton – LHP – BAL. If you haven’t figured it out, I love lefties with a good feel for a change up.
40. Jaff Decker – OF – SD. Bad bodied outfielder with Power and OBP skills.
41. Yonder Alonso – 1B – CIN. If he can learn to hit lefties, he could be a star. If not, he’s still be good.
42. Freddie Freeman – 1B – ATL. Hoping be be closer to the ’08 version than the ’09 version.
43. Jhoulys Chacin – RHP – COL. Reminds me a little of Yovanni Gallardo. But ultimately, just not as good.
44. Matt Moore – LHP – TB. Big time K potential, but needs to overcome some control issues.
45. Zack Wheeler – RHP – SF. 6th overall pick in the 2009 draft has more polish out of HS than Madison Bumgarner did at this age.
46. James Darnell – 3B – SD. Walks as much as he K’s, posted .468 OBP in Low A, and hit 20 HR last year.
47. Brett Lawrie – 2B – MIL. Not a strong defender, but the bat is advanced.
48. Jared Mitchell – OF – CWS. Ankle surgery will derail his season, but his future is still bright.
49. Jiovanni Mier – SS – HOU. Strong professional debut provided glimpse at potential.
50. Todd Frazier – 2B – CIN. If he finds a permanent defensive home (it won’t be 2B) his bat will make him a success.
51. Tyler Flowers – C – CHW. Could be #2 catcher in Chicago now, but he needs to play every day and refine his defensive skills.
52. Mike Leake – RHP – CIN. Straight from Arizona State to the Reds rotation. Insane to me, but he did have the second most polish (Strasburg) of any college pitcher in the 2009 draft.
53. Mike Trout – OF – ANA. I think he’ll have a better career than Donovan Tate.
54. Ben Revere – OF – MIN. Speed and hit tools are advanced, and he shows some patience too.
55. Will Myers – C – KC. In a deep HS catching class of 2009, he’s the best.
56. Tanner Scheppers – RHP – TEX. He throws 99 now. But shoulder injury past scares me.
57. Aaron Crow – RHP – KC. There once was debate as to who was better: Crow or Matusz.
58. Julio Teheran – RHP – ATL. Pencil thin righty throws 3 has 3 potential plus pitches.
59. Mike Moustakas – 3B – KC. Take a pitch!
60. Tony Sanchez – C – PIT. Still not the 4th best talent in the 2009 draft, but better than expected.
61. Simon Castro – RHP – SD. A strikeout pitcher who cut his BB rate in half in 2009.
62. Lars Anderson – 1B – BOS. I still believe he’ll hit, thanks to his selectivity, but he’ll need to prove it this year.
63. Fernando Martinez – OF – NYM. I once thought he was overrated, now I’m thinking he’s underrated.
64. Dee Gordon – SS – LAD. A slap hitter who will struggle as he plays against better defenses.
65. Donovan Tate – OF – SD. Pretty raw but the athletic ability is there.
66. Ike Davis – 1B – NYM. Should be starting in New York by year end.
67. Jose Tabata – OF – PIT. He’s 21. His wife is 44. Not judging, I just find it interesting.
68. Michael Saunders – OF – SEA. Rookie of the Year sleeper once Milton Bradley gets kicked off the team.
69. Dan Hudson – RHP – CWS. The first call up to the South Side this year.
70. Grant Green – SS – OAK. Short stroke and power, with a good enough glove to stick at SS.
71. Kyle Gibson – RHP – MIN. Could be steal of 2009 draft if arm is healthy.
72. Arodys Vizcaino – RHP – ATL. A product of the Javier Vasquez trade, I’m interested to see how he’ll perform in his first year of full season professional baseball.
73. Alex White – RHP – CLE. A power pitcher with a plus splitter.
74. Jose Iglesias – SS – BOS. Gaining a legendary reputation for his glove work.
75. Chad James – LHP – FLA. The 2009 HS pitching draftee that not enough people talk about.
76. Jason Castro – C – HOU. Solid after being a surprise top 10 pick in the 2008 draft.
77. Jenrry Mejia – RHP – NYM. Will we get a look at him in an 8th inning role this year?
78. Shelby Miller – RHP – STL. I think three years at Texas A&M would have been good for him.
79. Drew Storen – RHP – WAS. May close out both of Washington’s September wins this year.
80. Austin Jackson – OF – DET. Does everything just a tick above average.
81. Chris Withrow – RHP – LAD. Control is sometimes an issue for this live arm.
82. Phillipe Aumont – RHP – PHI. Reminds me a little of top 2010 prep pitcher Jameson Taillon. But not as good.
83. Matt Dominguez – 3B – FLA. Future Gold Glover if he can hit enough to make it to the Show.
84. Jordan Lyles – RHP – HOU. Advanced feel for his change up. May struggle in the hitters paradise that is the High A California League.
85. Wilmer Flores – SS – NYM. He won’t end up at SS, but the bat has some serious pop.
86. Michael Brantley – OF – CLE. A prospect with the ability to lead off is more rare than I would have guessed.
87. Christian Bethancourt – C – ATL. Decent plate discipline for such a young kid.
88. Josh Vitters – 3B – CHC. Needs to take a walk.
89. Tim Beckham – SS – TB. Any move off of SS will hurt his value.
90. Jake Arrieta – RHP – BAL. Underrated. Overshadowed by Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman, and Zach Britton.
91. Hank Conger – C – ANA. A full healthy season could land him in the top 50 on this list next year. Or in Anaheim.
92. Eric Hosmer – 1B – KC. Was not good last year. Not giving up yet.
93. Jay Jackson – RHP – CHC. A two way stud at Furman, a one way star as a pro.
94. Noel Arguelles – LHP – KC. 20 year old Cuban lacks polish.
95. Brett Jackson – OF – CHC. Scary athletic ability.
96. Josh Reddick – OF – BOS. The Mike Cameron acquisition will delay his arrival but he could get a decent amount of playing time later this season.
97. Mike Minor – LHP – ATL. Polish but not a particularly high ceiling.
98. Michael Inoa – RHP – OAK. We’ll finally get to see some professional innings this year.
99. Gaby Sanchez – 1B – FLA. Beat out Logan Morrison for now. Has pop and patience.
100. Nick Weglarz – OF – CLE. Reminds me a little of Adam Dunn. Takes walks and can drive the ball out of the park to the opposite field.

College Baseball Prospect Update – Hitters

Junior College

Bryce Harper – C – SoNV. 7-14 8RBI. 4HR (12). He’s living up to the hype with a wood bat.

Atlantic Coast Conference

Jarrett Parker – OF – UVA. 3-11.
Tyler Cannon – SS – UVA. 5-12 1RBI. HR (1). One of the better Sr. position players in the nation.
Kyle Parker – OF – CLEM. 4-12 1RBI. Clemson’s starting QB.
Tyler Holt – OF – FSU. 5-10 4RBI 2HR (4)
Derek Dietrich – SS – GTECH. 7-17 4RBI. 2HR (6). Check out some video at Orioleprospects.com
Yasmani Grandal – C – MIA. 9-14 6RBI. HR (2) He and LSU Catcher Michael Gibbs might both go in the first round.
Stephen Perez – SS – MIA. 3-10 1RBI. HR (2) Will battle ASU’s Deven Marrero and Stanford’s Kenny Diekroeger for Freshman All-American SS.
Austin Wates – OF – VATECH. 4-12 1RBI.
Brian Goodwin – OF – UNC. 2-12 1RBI. Will make the White Sox wish they could have signed him last year.

Southeastern Conference

Micah Gibbs – C – LSU. 5-14 4RBI.
Leon Landry – OF – LSU. 3-11 2RBI. HR (3)
Blake Dean – 1B – LSU. 4-13 1RBI.
Matt den Dekker – OF – FLA. 3-11 2RBI.
Austin Maddox – C – FLA. 6-14 6RBI. HR (7). Moves ahead of Goodwin in Freshman of the Year race.
Preston Tucker – 1B – FLA. 3-12.
Hunter Morris – 1B – AUB. 5-13 2 2B 0RBI
Brett Eibner – OF – ARK. 3-10 3RBI. HR(6). Also had a good outing on the mound on Saturday.
Zack Cox – 3B – ARK. 6-11 8RBI 2HR (5). Draft eligible Sophomore.
Ross Wilson – 2B – ALA. 3-15 3RBI. HR (5)
Jackie Bradley – OF – SOCAR. 3-12 2RBI.
Zach Cone – OF – UGA. 4-12 6RBI. HR (4). The lone bright spot on a struggling Georgia team.
Connor Powers – 1B – MISS ST. 2-9 2RBI.

Big 12 Conference

Cameron Rupp – C – TEX. 3-14 3RBI.
Brodie Greene – OF – A&M. 2-11 1RBI.
Tony Thompson – 3B – KAN. 6-10 3RBI. HR (1)

Pac 10 Conference

Deven Marrero – SS – ASU. 2-4 3RBI HR(1). Played 1 game and made the most of it.
Kenny Diekroeger – SS – STAN. 2-11.
Jake Stewart – OF – STAN. 3-7.
Mark Canha – 1B – CAL. 4-12 3RBI.

Big East

Jedd Gyorko – 2B – WVU. 4-13 1RBI.

Big West

Christian Colon – SS – CAL ST. FUL. 5-12 3RBI. HR (6)
Gary Brown – OF – CAL ST. FUL. 5-13 1RBI. 2SB (14)

Conference USA

Anthony Rendon – 3B – RICE. 5-13 4RBI. HR (10). Top prospect in 2011 draft class.
Rick Hague – SS – RICE. 3-12 0RBI. Struggling.
Steven Sulzbaugh – OF – RICE. 5-15 2RBI.
Diego Seastrunk – C – RICE. 4-14 4RBI. HR (2) Seastrunk and Sulzbaugh as Seniors need to turn Rice around.

MAC

Gauntlett Eldemire – OF – OHIO. 3-9 2RBI. HR (4) Again, best name in college baseball.

College Baseball Prospect Update

National Champion #1 LSU dropped the opener to Kansas 11-9 confirming that Anthony Ranaudo is the most missed man in College Baseball right now. The game of the night was the match-up between #2 Florida State and #4 Virginia with UVA winning 5-0. Check out how some of Division I baseball’s best players faired.

Pitchers:

Danny Hultzen – LHP – UVA. 6IP 2H 0ER 0BB 6K (W). Impressive in handing #2 FSU their 1st loss of the season.

Deck McGuire – RHP – GT. 9IP 3H 1ER 2BB 6K (W). 33K:5BB this season.

Taylor Jungmann – RHP – TEX. 7.1IP 5H 1ER 1BB 17K. Pitching performance of the night in a no decision.

Chance Ruffin – RHP – TEX. 2IP 0H 0ER 0BB 3K (W). Last year’s Friday starter earns win in relief.

Matt Harvey – RHP – UNC. 5IP 7H 3ER 4BB 3K (W). Line looks closer to the 09 Harvey in a NC win v. Duke.

Chris Hernandez – LHP – MIA. 6IP 5H 1ER 2BB 5K (L). 2008 D1 Freshman of the year.

Gerrit Cole – RHP – UCLA. 7.2IP 5H 1ER 2BB 15K (W). He and Jungmann neck and neck for top college arm in 2011 draft.

Drew Pomeranz – LHP – MISS. 6.1IP 3H 1ER 3BB 12K. No decision.

Sonny Gray – RHP – VANDY. 8IP 6H 3ER 3BB 5K. Follow him on Twitter @SonnyGray2. Vanderbilt is 12-1! Only loss was to Gerrit Cole and UCLA.

Daniel Renken – RHP – CSF. 5.2 IP 2H 0ER 4BB 8K.

Hitters:

Jerrett Parker – CF – UVA 2-4 BB

Tyler Holt – CF – FSU 0-4

Derek Dietrich – SS – GT 1-5 2RBI

Brandon Loy – SS – TEX 2-4

Cameron Rupp – C – TEX 0-4 K

Matt den Dekker – CF – FLA 1-4 RBI, K

Austin Maddox – 1B – FLA 2-4 2R. Hitting cleanup as a freshman on a 10-2 team. Interested to find out why he’s not catching though.

Brian Goodwin – RF – UNC 4-4 4R 5RBI 2BB HR. Freshman. Unsigned 09 White Sox draftee and my early pick for D1 Freshman of the Year.

Levi Michael – 3B – UNC 2-4 2R 4RBI

Yasmani Grandal – DH – MIA 2-4 Strong defensive catcher getting a start at DH.

Harold Martinez – 3B – MIA 1-4 2K

Mickey Wiswall – 3B – BC 0-5

Zack Cox – 3B – ARK 3-6 2R 3RBI

Brett Eibner – CF – ARK 1-3 1R 1RBI

Anthony Rendon – 3B – RICE 2-2 HR 1R 2RBI 2BB

Rick Hague – SS – RICE 2-4 HR 1R 2RBI

Gauntlett Eldemire – CF – OHIO 2-3 BB Best name in college baseball – strong performance in loss to Sonny Gray and the Vanderbilt Commodores.

Christian Colon – SS – CSF 2-3 2R 1RBI SB

Michael Choice – OF – UTA 1-1 1RBI 2BB.

Brice Brentz – OF – MID TEN ST 1-5 1RBI 4K

Blake Dean – 1B – LSU 3-5 HR R

Micah Gibbs – C – LSU 0-3 2RBI R K

Leon Landry – DH – LSU 1-4 HR 3RBI K

Mikie Mahtook – RF – LSU 0-3 BB 3K

Top 15 Shortstop Prospects

In reviewing the shortstop prospects throughout minor league baseball I found it to be more difficult to narrow down a list of 15 than I did with the other positions I’ve ranked thus far. I think this position has both depth and star power and as I mentioned in my second baseman rankings, many of the players on this list will have MLB careers as second basemen. There were a lot of guys that I had to leave off the list that I can see having very significant careers and others that might rank in the top 5 on this list as early as next season.

Junkie Glossary

Bats – Throws – Height – Weight – D.O.B.

1. Alcides Escobar – R-R – 6’1 185 – MIL – 12.16.86. A master defenseman with plus range, soft hands and a good arm, the Escobar era in Milwaukee begins now with the departure of J.J. Hardy. While his glove has always been his calling card, Escobar’s offense has improved steadily over the past several years. In a brief stint in Milwaukee last season he posted a .304/.333/.368 line in 125 ABs. He stole a total of 48 bases last season with 25 doubles and 5 HR. He doesn’t walk enough (6.6%) for a man of his speed and lack of power, but he also makes pretty consistent contact evidenced by his 15.1 K%.

2. Starlin Castro – R-R- 6’1 175 – CHC – 2.24.90. While not quite the defender that Escobar is, Castro is still a plus defender and has more pop to his bat. Castro’s line between two levels (.299/.342./392) in 2009 won’t blow you away but he was the youngest player in the High A Florida State League and in the AA Southern League and still merged to stand out being named the best defensive shortstop in the former. He has a slight hitch in his swing where he drops then raises his hands instead of loading them back that will need to be corrected, but it’s not alarming. He stole 28 bases last season but was caught 11 times. Like Escobar, he doesn’t walk as much as he should. He should go back to AA to begin the year.

3. Jose Iglesias – R-R- 5’11 175 – BOS – 1.5.90. The 2nd most hyped Cuban defector to sign in the past year behind Aroldis Chapman, Iglesias is quickly growing a legendary reputation for his glove work. Signed to a 4 year – $8.25MM contract, he got his first taste of pro ball at the Arizona Fall League. Although he’s just 20 years old there is no question that Iglesias will remain at SS as he progresses and he should be a gold glove caliber player when he arrives in the major leagues. At the plate he has a very short and compact line drive stroke. At this point the major question mark for me will be his selectivity at the plate. Just as it’s an adjustment for Cuban pitchers to recognize that hitters don’t chase as many balls out of the zone in this country, Cuban hitters must make the same adjustment by not swinging at bad balls. He could start in AA and I’m anxious to start watching his box scores to see if he’s drawing walks.

4. Jiovanni Mier – R-R – 6’2 175 – HOU – 8.26.90. Mier and Mychal Givens were regarded as the clear top two prep shortstops in the 2009 draft. Houston selected Mier in the 1st round, signed him quickly and Jio started backing up his reputation up at the pro level. Mier showed power, patience, speed and defensive ability in his debut. He smacked 7 HR and posted a .484 SLG. He walked 13.1% of the time and he stole 10 bags. He’ll get his first taste of full season ball in the Low A South Atlantic League and could advance quickly.

5. Grant Green – R-R – 6’3 170 – OAK – 9.27.87. The University of Southern California product was regarded as the second best position player (behind Dustin Ackley) in the draft heading into the 2009 college season, but he may have been looking ahead and his stock dropped significantly during a disappointing first half of the season. He would later recover and Oakland used the 13th pick on him and signed him to an above slot $2.75MM bonus. At the plate he has good balance and a simple compact stroke that should lead to above average power numbers. While he doesn’t project to be a gold glover at shortstop, he should be able to remain at the position long term.

6. Devaris Gordon – L-R – 5’11 150 – LAD – 4.22.88. The son of MLB pitcher Tom “Flash” Gordon, the younger Gordon might earn the same nickname but for his foot speed rather than his fastball. He stole 73 bases last season in the Low A Midwest League where he was the co-MVP. Despite his MLB bloodlines, Gordon didn’t play baseball until his senior year in HS, so his game needs years of refinement. He’s a good contact hitter though he’s too much of a slapper and he also doesn’t walk as much as he should. He’s posted very high BABIP numbers over the past two seasons (.368 and .357) but that’s not too unusual for a ground ball hitter with his speed. I expect the infield hits and batting average to decrease as he progresses and faces better pitching and defense. He could put up another good offensive season for Inland Empire in the High A California League.

7. Miguel Sano – R-R – 6’3 195 – MIN – 5.11.93. Sano was rated as the top prospect on the international amateur market last summer and was paid like it too, signing with the Twins for $3.15MM. It’s doubtful he’ll stick at SS, but he has the arm strength and raw power to move to 3B or RF. At just 16 he’ll continue to get bigger and while that will prove to be his demise at short, it will likely improve his already high ceiling power potential.

8. Derrik Gibson – R-R- 6’1 170 – BOS – 12.5.89. Gibson was a 2nd round pick out of HS in 2008 and while I don’t think he’ll stick at SS (especially with Jose Iglesias now in the organization) he’s being ranked as one. With patience at he plate and speed, Gibson looks like a true leadoff hitter. He maintained a BB% of at least 12.4% in his three minor league stops, and had 0.93 BB/K ratio last season while stealing 28 bases. He’s yet to hit his first professional HR and he doesn’t project to develop much power as he matures.

9. Chase D’Arnaud – R-R- 6’1 175 – PIT – 1.21.87. Chase’s brother Travis ranked 12th on my Top 15 Catchers List and like his brother, he doesn’t possess much power. I do like his approach though as he walks at an above average rate and he walks nearly has much as he strikes out. Defensively, D’Arnaud holds his own, being voted as the best defensive shortstop in the Carolina League by the league’s managers.

10. Wilmer Flores – R-R – 6’3 175 – NYM – 8.6.91. When reading about Mets prospects, you see a similar phrase in many scouting reports. Because they’re aggressive with signing teenagers in the international signing period and with promoting them later, you often see, “he was the youngest player in his league last year.” It was true of blue chip pitcher Jenrry Mejia, and with outfielder Fernando Martinez. Unless you’ve seen these guys with your own eyes and I haven’t, it makes it difficult to evaluate them because their stats are usually just OK while they try to hold their own against older competition. Flores is no exception being the youngest player in the Low A South Atlantic League last year. Flores won’t be a shortstop much longer and a move to third base is probable. He flashed power in 2008 but hit just 3 HR and slugged a weak .332 last season.

11. Danny Espinosa – B-R – 6’0 190 – WAS – 4.25.87. While he won’t come close to matching other former Dirtbag shortstops Troy Tulowitzki or Evan Longoria, Espinosa is a legit prospect in his own right. He boasts an above average walk rate but he also has a red flag in his 27.2 K%. He did hit 18 HR and stole 29 bases and plays a good shortstop. He’s a good bet to have an MLB career, and his contact issues will dictate whether it will be as an everyday player or as a utility guy.

12. Reid Brignac – L-R – 6’3 180 – TB – 1.16.86. Once considered a prolific offensive prospect, Brignac has been rated as the top defensive shortstop in each of the past two seasons by the managers of the International League while his bat seems to have regressed slightly. His plate discipline is below average and he no longer appears to have the plus power that he showed in 2006 when he hit 24 HR and slugged .557 in the California League. With no openings in the Tampa Bay lineup, he may make the team as a bench contributor.

13. Tim Beckham – R-R – 6’0 190 – TB – 1.27.90. The first overall pick in the 2008 draft, ahead of Pedro Alverez, Buster Posey, and Gordon Beckham, Tim was expected to remain at shortstop. A thick lower half and poor footwork, however, have spurred rumblings that a move to 3B or OF is possible. A move off of shortstop would severely damage Beckham’s prospect status, as his bat was simply not advanced enough to warrant the top overall pick if he were a high school 3B or LF. At the plate he showed some power, hitting 33 doubles and 5 HR last season while stealing 13 bases. The 116 K’s compared to just 34 BB’s is a concern and he’ll need to cut down on that difference in the High A Florida State League to rebuild his reputation.

14. Mychal Givens – R-R – 6’1 190 – BAL – 5.13.90. A 2nd round prep pick out of baseball rich Tampa FL, Givens signed late so there was less opportunity for him to show what kind of player he’s going to be. Givens was a 2-way player in HS and pitched in the mid 90s so his arm at SS is plus-plus. He’s not perceived to be as polished defensively as Jiovanni Mier and I simply don’t know enough about him as a hitter to know where he might need improvement. I don’t see any major flaws with his swing in this small sample.

15. Hak-Ju Lee – L-R- 6’2 170 – CHC – 11.4.90. An international signee from Korea in 2008, Lee is impressive in several facets of his game. He flashed speed (25 SB), patience (10.2 BB%), batting average (.330) in his professional debut last season. It wasn’t all roses, as he committed 27 errors in just 68 games and he has not shown much power. He’ll get his first taste of full season ball this season in the Low A Midwest League in 2010.

Sleeper – Ivan DeJesus Jr. – R-R – 5’11 190 – LAD – 5.1.87. I don’t understand why DeJesus doesn’t get more love. His dad was an MLB shortstop, and he plays like the son of an MLB veteran. He missed most of last season with a broken leg and while he’s good enough defensively to stay at SS, there’s already talk of him moving to 2B so he can play along side Devaris Gordon in Los Angeles when they both arrive. I love his plate discipline. In his last 3 full seasons, he walked at least 11% of the time while posting a BB/K ratio near 1.00 and stealing double digit bases. I think he’s a good bet to become an MLB regular.

Overrated – Carlos Triunfel – R-R – 5’11 205 – SEA – 2.27.90. While Tim Beckham received some strong consideration for this spot, I think he deserves a spot on the back end of my top 15 while Triunfel does not. Another member of this list to receive a seven figure bonus as an international signee, this time from 2006. He’s been disappointing as a professional – refusing to take walks, battling issues with his weight, and having a perceived poor attitude. He does possess a strong arm that will give him options defensively but a move to second base will most likely be the first move. A broken leg held him to just 42 AB’s last season. While he’s still just 20, he has plenty time to restore his blue chip prospect status, but I’m betting against it.