2011 Top 10 First Basemen Prospects



1. Freddie Freeman – Bats: L Throws: R – 6’5″ 220 – ATL – 9.12.89. I don’t think I’ve ever truly understood how good Freddie Freeman has actually been. Maybe it’s the fact that he was a second round pick of the same Braves draft class that produced Jason Heyward that I viewed Freeman as somewhat of an afterthought. While I still don’t think he’s as good as Heyward, very few humans are, so I shouldn’t hold him responsible. Freeman has been one of the youngest players at each level he’s played at as a professional and has still produced each step of the way. When a 20 year old posts an .898 OPS in AAA I guess it gets my attention. Congrats kid, you’re my number #1 first baseman. Your parents must be proud.

Year

LG

Level

G

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

SB

BB

K

AVE

OBP

SLG

2010

IL

AAA

124

461

73

147

35

2

18

87

6

43

84

.319

.378

.521

2010

NL

MLB

20

24

3

4

1

0

1

1

0

0

8

.167

.167

.333

2. Eric HosmerBats: L Throws: L – 6’4″ 215 – KC – 10.24.89. Hosmer was the #2 ranked prospect in the Texas League behind only his Northwest Arkansas teammate Mike Moustakas. Following a horrible 2009 season Hosmer was ranked #7 on this list last year, and treated himself to off-season laser eye surgery. The results have been nothing short of spectacular as Hosmer had a near 1.00 BB/K% and posted a .977 OPS.

Year

LG

Level

G

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

SB

BB

K

AVE

OBP

SLG

2010

CAR

A+

87

325

48

115

29

6

7

51

11

44

39

.354

.429

.545

2010

TEX

AA

50

195

39

61

14

3

13

35

3

15

27

.313

.365

.615

2010

TOT

2 Lgs

137

520

87

176

43

9

26

86

14

59

66

.338

.406

.571

3. Brandon Belt – Bats: L Throws: L – 6’5″ 195 – SF – 4.20.88. As a college baseball fan, I’m partial to professional guys that I was able to follow in their college years, and while Belt was a good college player he wasn’t supposed to be this good as a professional. The 5th round pick out of Texas wasn’t even included in the top 30 Giants prospects prior to the 2010 season by Baseball America. Belt got off to a great start in the hitters heaven that is the California League but he produced at all three levels last season, finishing with a 13 game stay the AAA Pacific Coast League. On top of the 40+ doubles, 10 triples, 23 HR, 22 steals, 1.00 BB/K ratio and 1.075 OPS, he’s an excellent defensive first baseman. There’s a lot to love about that last sentence if you’re into metrics and commas.

Year

LG

Level

G

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

SB

BB

K

AVE

OBP

SLG

2010

CAL

A+

77

269

62

103

28

4

10

62

18

58

50

.383

.492

.628

2010

EL

AA

46

175

26

59

11

6

9

40

2

22

34

.337

.413

.623

2010

PCL

AAA

13

48

11

11

4

0

4

10

2

13

15

.229

.393

.563

2010

TOT

3 Lgs

136

492

99

173

43

10

23

112

22

93

99

.352

.455

.620



4. Jonathan Singleton – Bats: L Throws: L – 6’2″ 215 – PHI – 9.18.91. First he writes and directs a great film like Boyz N the Hood then he takes up baseball and becomes a promising prospect. OK different John Singleton. Regarded as the top prospect in the South Atlantic League, Singleton possesses power and patience at the plate reminiscent of Ryan Howard. With Howard in front of him, Singleton has experimented in LF but with his anticipated MLB debut being years away, it’s too early to be talking about a position change.

Year

LG

Level

G

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

SB

BB

K

AVE

OBP

SLG

2010

SAL

A-

104

376

64

109

25

2

14

77

9

62

74

.290

.393

.479

5. Yonder Alonso – Bats: L Throws: R – 6’2″ 210 – CIN – 4.8.87. Like Singleton, Yonder is blocked by an All-Star in Joey Votto but it’s much closer to decision time for the Reds with regard to the Cuban born Alonso. Yonder did play 30 games in LF last season and he can’t be much worse defensively than Johnny Gomes but it’s unclear that he can match Gomes in the ever so crucial mohawk category. Another go at AAA wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world for Alonso as his pitch recognition was exposed in a late season call up.

Year

LG

Level

G

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

SB

BB

K

AVE

OBP

SLG

2010

SO

AA

31

101

19

27

5

0

3

13

4

19

16

.267

.388

.406

2010

IL

AAA

101

406

50

120

31

2

12

56

9

37

76

.296

.355

.470

2010

TOT

2 Lgs

132

507

69

147

36

2

15

69

13

56

92

.290

.362

.458

2010

NL

MLB

22

29

2

6

2

0

0

3

0

0

10

.207

.207

.276


6. Chris Carter – Bats: R Throws: R – 6’5″ 230 – OAK – 12.18.86. Look out Crash Davis, Carter has 149 career minor league HR, but he won’t get enough minor league time to accumulate the 100 or so needed to break Crash’s fictional record. A first basemen by trade, Carter didn’t play a single game at the position upon his August 9th promotion to Oakland as all 22 of his MLB appearances came at either LF or DH. You know what you’re going to get with Carter; a lot of HR’s and a lot of K’s but he does take his fair share of walks (13.2 BB% last season). If he can win a spot in Oakland this year he could produce enough power numbers to be an All Rookie Team selection.

Year

LG

Level

G

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

SB

BB

K

AVE

OBP

SLG

2010

PCL

AAA

125

465

92

120

29

2

31

94

1

73

138

.258

.365

.529

2010

AL

MLB

24

70

8

13

1

0

3

7

1

7

21

.186

.256

.329

7. Jerry Sands – Bats: R Throws R – 6’4″ 225 – LAD – 9.28.87. Sands was so impressive in A ball I had to do a double take to verify that he was doing it in the frigid Midwest League and not the California League. Sands, the NCAA DII product, has a power/athleticism combo that is rare for a 1B. He’s spent significant time at all 3 OF positions over the past 2 years and even played a game at 3B last season. Frankly it doesn’t matter where he plays as long as he’s posting a .981 OPS.

Year

LG

Level

G

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

SB

BB

K

AVE

OBP

SLG

2010

MW

A-

69

243

48

48

16

3

18

46

14

40

61

.333

.432

.646

2010

SOU

AA

68

259

54

54

12

2

17

47

4

33

62

.270

.360

.529

2010

TOT

2 Lgs

137

502

102

151

28

5

35

93

18

73

123

.301

.395

.586

8. Anthony Rizzo – Bats: L Throws: L – 6’3″ 220 – SD – 8.8.89. Rizzo, along with RHP Casey Kelly and OF Reymond Fuentes were dealt to San Diego this off-season for Adrian Gonzalez. While in AA last year, the Eastern League managers voted him as the best defensive first baseman in the league. Rizzo could get the opportunity to play every day with the departure of Gonzalez but he’d have to beat out my very close personal friend Mike Baxter whom I’ve met once and newly acquired Brad Hawpe. Rizzo wi

ll likey start the season in AAA Portland.

Year

LG

Level

G

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

SB

BB

K

AVE

OBP

SLG

2010

CAR

A+

29

117

26

29

12

0

5

20

3

16

32

.248

.333

.479

2010

EL

AA

107

414

66

109

30

0

20

80

7

45

100

.263

.334

.481

2010

TOT

2Lgs

136

531

92

138

42

0

25

100

10

61

132

.260

.334

.480

9. Lars Anderson – Bats: L Throws L – 6’4″ 215 – BOS – 9.25.87. Lars may have been the top first base prospect in baseball entering the 2009 season and that’s probably the primary reason why he’s still hanging around my top 10. With Rizzo out of town, Lars has reasserted himself as the first baseman of the future in Boston. After an awful 2009 he had a less awful 2010 and made his MLB debut at age 22 so that’s something.

Year

LG

Level

G

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

SB

BB

K

AVE

OBP

SLG

2010

EL

AA

17

62

13

22

5

0

5

16

1

7

16

.355

.408

.677

2010

IL

AAA

113

409

49

107

32

3

10

53

2

44

109

.262

.340

.428

2010

TOT

2 Lgs

130

471

62

129

37

3

15

69

3

51

125

.274

.349

.461

2010

AL

MLB

18

35

4

7

1

9

9

4

9

7

8

.200

.326

.229

10. Paul Goldschmidt – 1B – ARI. Bats: R Throws R – 6’4″ 220 – ARI – 9.10.87. A high school teammate of Blue Jays pitching prospect Kyle Drabek, Goldschmidt put up such spectacular numbers in the California League that it’s tough for me to ignore. Because of the historical statistical inflation of said league, Goldschmidt’s very appearance on this list could be really be interchanged with other first basemen of the notorious hitter’s league such as Seattle’s Rich Poythress or Washington’s Tyler Moore but suppose I think Goldschmidt’s numbers are slightly less inflated than the other guys.

Year

LG

Level

G

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

SB

BB

K

AVE

OBP

SLG

2010

CAL

A+

138

525

102

165

42

3

35

108

5

57

161

.314

.384

.606



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2011 Top 10 Catcher Prospects

Jesus Montero

Jesus Montero Photo from a blog post by Mike McCann


The 2011 catching class isn’t as talented as it was in 2010 with the prospect graduation of Buster Posey and Carlos Santana, but last year’s MLB draft brought in some fresh meat. I limited this list to just 10 (down from 15 last year) in the hopes that I may actually finish ranking all positions this year. An unanticipated consequence of this decision is that I’m leaving off a lot of good players and possibly pissing off Blue Jays fans for dissing both J.P. Arencibia and Travis d’Arnaud. It’s important to note that these rankings are a snapshot in time and are subject to change. They are however an accurate representation of how I feel right now, so that’s something.

1. Jesus Montero – Bats: R Throws: R – 6’4″ 225 – NYY – 11.28.89. The Venezuelan born Montero ranked second on this list a year ago behind only Carlos Santana and right in front of NL Rookie of the Year Buster Posey. While I have my doubts that Montero will catch in the major leagues, his bat should play anywhere. And by anywhere, let’s be honest when we say we’re talking about 1B or DH. Montero saw his K% rise from 13% to 20% in 2010 but I’m not alarmed given the fact that he was one of the younger players in the International League and he still posted an .870 OPS. He should get an opportunity to battle for the DH spot in NY in 2011 but when defensively challenged Jorge Posada is your number 1, I’d want a better defender than Montero as my #2.

Year

LG

Level

G

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

SB

BB

K

AVE

OBP

SLG

2010

IL

AAA

123

453

66

131

34

3

21

75

0

46

91

.289

.353

.517

2. Wil Myers – Bats: R Throws: R – 6’3″ 190 – KC – 12.10.90. In a leap of faith, I listed Myers as the #4 catcher heading into last season he didn’t disappoint, but even I didn’t anticipate a monster 2010 that would include a 15.6 BB%, 0.90 BB/K% and .935 OPS. Like Montero, the offensively minded Myers may be best suited for DH. The Royals have the best farm system in the league and Baseball America has ranked Myers as the #2 Royals prospect behind only Eric Hosmer. Myers was also named as the #4 prospect in the Carolina League and the #3 prospect in the Midwest League.

Year

LG

Level

G

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

SB

BB

K

AVE

OBP

SLG

2010

MW

A-

68

242

42

70

19

1

10

45

10

48

55

.289

.408

.500

2010

CAR

A+

58

205

28

71

18

2

4

38

2

37

39

.346

.453

.512

2010

TOT

2 Lgs

126

447

70

141

37

3

14

83

12

85

94

.315

.429

.506

3. Wilin Rosario – Bats: R Throws: R- 5’11” 190 – COL – 2.23.89. Rosario was the #4 prospect in the AA Texas League where the managers voted him the best defensive catcher. In compiling this list, it’s become alarming to me that there are surprisingly few catchers with offensive firepower and defensive skills to match. Rosario might be the exception as his .894 OPS would suggest.

Year

League

Level

G

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

SB

BB

K

AVE

OBP

SLG

2010

TEX

AA

73

297

42

77

13

1

19

52

1

21

57

.285

.342

.552

4. Yasmani Grandal – Bats: B Throws: R – 6’2″ 215 – CIN. 11.8.88. Grandal and Devin Mesoraco were two of the top rated prep catchers in the 2007 draft and now the Reds have spent 1st round picks on both of them. Grandal slid to Boston in the 27th round that year but honored his college commitment to Miami (FL). He started as a freshman on an Omaha bound 2008 team that included fellow first rounders Yonder Alonso and Jemile Weeks. He came to his own in a 2010 All-American season and the Reds used the 12th overall pick on him. As a professional Grandal should produce a high OBP with above average power while providing above average defense behind the plate.

Year

League

Level

G

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

SB

BB

K

AVE

OBP

SLG

2010

ARI

RK

8

28

4

8

1

0

0

1

0

4

4

.286

.394

.321

5. Gary Sanchez – Bats: R Throws: R – 6’2″ 195 – NYY – 12.2.92. A $3 million bonus baby of the 2009 International signing period, Sanchez draws comparisons to fellow “Pinstriper” Jesus Montero. While Sanchez’ arm strength should make him better defensively than Montero, its his offense that gets your attention with his power as his best tool. Baseball America ranked Sanchez as the #1 prospect in the Gulf Coast League, and he could move up to the Low A South Atlantic league in 2011.

Year

LG

Level

G

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

SB

BB

K

AVE

OBP

SLG

2010

GLF

RK

31

119

25

42

11

0

6

36

1

11

28

.353

.419

.597

2010

NYP

SS

16

54

8

15

2

0

2

7

1

3

16

.278

.333

.426

2010

TOT

2 Lgs

47

173

33

57

13

0

8

43

2

14

44

.329

.393

.543

6. Devin Mesoraco – Bats: R Throws: R – 6’1″ 220 – CIN – 6.19.88. The 15th overall pick in the 2007 draft, Mesoraco has been a disappointment year after year. From 2007 to 2009 he didn’t post an OPS over .710 but 2010 was his coming out party as he produced a mammoth .964 OPS through three levels. The #6 prospect in the Southern League and #5 prospect in the High A Carolina League will likely spend 2010 in AAA Louisville. He still strikes out at a near 20% clip so while I can’t ignore his monster 2010, I’m still a little skeptical.

Year

LG

Level

G

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

SB

BB

K

AVE

OBP

SLG

2010

CAR

A+

43

158

24

53

11

2

10

31

2

19

29

.335

.414

.620

2010

SOU

AA

56

187

42

55

11

3

13

31

1

18

37

.294

.363

.594

2010

IL

AAA

14

52

5

12

3

0

3

13

0

6

14

.231

.310

.462

2010

TOT

3 Lgs

113

397

71

120

25

5

26

75

3

43

80

.302

.377

.587

7. Derek Norris – Bats: R Throws: R – 6’0″ 210 – WAS – 2.14.89. The #2 Nationals prospect behind only uber phenom Bryce Harper, Norris battled a broken hamate bone and a fastball to the noggin on his way to a disappointing 2010. Despite his struggles, his 22% BB% still led to an impressive .419 OBP. He’s always had a problem with K’s but last year’s 31.5 K% was a career high.

Year

League

Level

G

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

SB

BB

K

AVE

OBP

SLG

2010

CAR

A+

94

298

67

125

19

0

12

49

6

89

94

.235

.419

.419

8. Tony Sanchez – Bats: R Throws R – 6’0″ 215 – PIT – 5.20.88. Sanchez was limited to just 59 games last season thanks to a Brad Holt fastball to the head. The best defender on this list, Sanchez is a great bet to make the major leagues and have a productive career but his ceiling is limited. Despite his defensive prowess and above average arm strength, Sanchez only threw out 15% of base runners last season indicating that adjustments need to be made.

Year

League

Level

G

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

SB

BB

K

AVE

OBP

SLG

2010

FSL

A+

59

207

31

65

17

9

4

35

2

28

41

.314

.416

.454

9. Hank Conger – Bats: B Throws: R. 6’1″ 220 – LAA. 1.29.88. I feel like Hank Conger has been one of the top Angles prospect since Wally Joyner broke into the league. That’s probably not accurate though. In the past I’ve been both too low and too high on him, so I’m confident I have him just right this time. He gets on base, has power and has a shot to win AL rookie of the year in 2011.

Year

LG

Level

G

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

SB

BB

K

AVE

OBP

SLG

2010

PCL

AAA

108

387

56

116

26

2

11

49

0

55

58

.300

.385

.463

2010

AL

MLB

13

29

2

5

1

1

0

5

0

5

9

.172

.294

.276

2010

TOT

2 Lgs

121

416

58

121

27

3

11

54

0

60

67

.291

.372

10. Justin O’Conner – Bats: R Throws: R- 6’0″ 190 – TB – 3.31.92. Drafted by the Rays in the 1st round out of an Indiana HS (31st overall) last year, O’Conner was able to sign quickly enough to qualify as the #3 prospect in the Gulf Coast League according to Baseball America. I’m taking a Wil Myers like leap of faith that O’Connor will produce in 2011. While Myers he’s not, O’Conner does have similar plus raw power. O’Conner is raw behind the plate having not caught full time until his senior year but the former pitcher/infielder has the arm strength and athleticism to become a plus defender.

Year

League

Level

G

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

SB

BB

K

AVE

OBP

SLG

2010

GCL

RK

48

161

18

34

13

0

3

29

1

18

46

.211

.301

.348


Aroldis Chapman

Ham Schmitmeyer,

Guest Columnist

Follow Ham on Twitter

When a friend of mine told me the Reds had signed Aroldis Chapman, my immediate response was, “Okay, who is that?” I don’t really keep up with prospects. I probably shouldn’t admit that on this particular site, and perhaps it will be edited out, but the future talent isn’t what interests me about baseball. I don’t have that kind of attention span. This is why I watch television on hulu.com while I simultaneously view movies on my actual television, and why I play yahoo euchre during my Grad School classes. It’s probably also why my grades could be better, and it’s definitely why after writing for a solid 4 minutes, I’m going to take a break.

Okay, I’m back. When I heard Aroldis was an untested, unpolished flamethrower, with a fastball that reaches well beyond 100mph, I thought it was a joke. When I finally realized that he actually throws that hard, I thought it was a terrific signing by the Reds. With that kind of stuff, if Aroldis had proven to have control of his pitches, there’s no way the Reds could have acquired him. The Yankees or Red Sox would probably have outbid everyone. The Reds, and clubs in a similar financial situation, need to allocate their money to the farm system, to develop cheap talent, and take risks on free agents that the large market clubs aren’t willing to do. After Aroldis’s 6-year, $30.25 million deal expires and he’s reached his potential, then the Yankees will get him. Apparently, the Nationals felt the same way I did, since they finished 2nd in the Aroldis sweepstakes (think about Strasburg, Chapman and Bryce Harper on the same team in 3 years).

After hearing so much about Chapman’s stuff, it was frustrating to wait for him to “find it” in the minors and come up to the bigs. It was worth the wait, however, as Aroldis has been better than advertised. He’s still painfully raw, featuring only two pitches, but his role out of the bullpen has been unparalleled over the final month of the season. I don’t think he’ll be ready to start next season, and I’m okay with that.

Aroldis has been exactly what the Reds have needed late in the season. As Arthur Rhodes deteriorates with plantar fasciitis, Aroldis filled in, before the void even developed. Statistically, the Reds have had around the 12th best bullpen in baseball this year. I don’t care about that number, because Aroldis hasn’t been around all season. In October, there may not be a better bullpen throwing every game than Aroldis Chapman, Nick Masset and, gulp, Francisco Cordero.

I hate to use this cliché, but I’m going to do it. I can’t believe I actually think it’s valid. When Aroldis enters a ballgame from the bullpen, an almost tangible energy is immediately infused to the game. The number 1 reason to watch the Phillies and Reds in the NLDS is for Aroldis Chapman. He’ll change the energy as you watch the game on your couch, and it’s incredible what he’ll do to a game you’re actually attending (I was present at the Reds game when they clinched).

If you’re the type of person that believes a great defensive play to end an inning can spark the offense in the following half inning, Aroldis can do this to the 10th degree. He’ll enter stagnant, regular season games in Cincinnati and a few times, the Reds scored runs in their subsequent at-bat. His energy and talent isn’t just exciting for the fans, his teammates have never seen this either.

Up till now, Aroldis has not gone longer than 4 outs in an MLB game. I hope this role is expanded against the lefty-laden Phillies. I would love to see him go two innings Wednesday and Friday, because he has the stuff to do something legendary. Not to mention, I don’t think it’d be wise to shove Bronson out on the mound for the third time through the lefty-heavy Phils, when the Reds could easily go Aroldis, Aroldis, Masset, Cordero to close out the final four innings.

I’m a fan of baseball and I’m excited Aroldis will be in the national spotlight to try to infuse some excitement back into my favorite sport. Don’t be surprised if you end up watching a Reds game this postseason that you’ll never forget. I can only wish the rest of the Reds afford Aroldis the opportunity to do something incredible.

Scouting Report: Jeremy Hellickson – RHP – TB.

Jeremy Hellickson – RHP – Tampa Bay Rays. 6’1″ 185. R-R. DOB: 4.8.87

Scouted: Durham Bulls @ Columbus Clippers 5.14.10 (In Person).

Selected in the 4th round of the 2005 draft out of Hoover High School in Des Moines Iowa, Hellickson is an undersized right handed pitcher who has developed a reputation early in his professional career as a guy who’s statistical success exceeded his perceived talent. In 6 minor league seasons, he’s amassed an impressive 43-15 record, with 562 strikeouts in 511 innings while yielding just 420 hits. Ranked as my #23rd best prospect in baseball entering the 2010 season, opponents have still not figured him out and prospectors like me are now believers. Thus far in 2010, “Hellboy” is 6-2 with 3.24 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 55K’s in 50IP and he’s holding opponents to just 2BB/9IP.

It goes without saying that watching a pitcher throw one game doesn’t provide enough information for a complete scouting report, but that’s not going to stop me from reporting the relevant observations from the game. On the evening Hellickson produced a line of: 6IP 6H 0ER 0BB 11K.

REPERTOIRE:

Fastball: Hellickson was effective with his fastball all night long as he used the pitch to get ahead in the count to set up his curveball. It sat anywhere from 89-93 on the stadium gun and he moved it to both sides of the plate. Despite surrenduring a double to Indians uber-prospect Carlos Santana on an inside fastball, he wasn’t afraid to challenge him inside in the next at bat to set up a strikeout on a curveball away.

Curveball: If Hellickson owns a plus curveball, I didn’t see it but he did generate a high percentage of swings and misses on this pitch. The curveball is adequate and it’s augmented by his superior command and by using the same arm action with each different offering.

Changeup: Hellickson possesses a plus changeup with late fade that he commands to both sides of the plate. He used the pitch to start several left handed hitters and didn’t surrender a hit on the pitch.

DELIVERY

In the video above, the lack of effort needed by Hellickson to be effective stands out. Compare his delivery with 2010 MLB Draft Prospect Alex Wimmers. They’re similar in stature and in velocity, yet Wimmers puts almost everything he has into each pitch whereas Hellickson looks like he’s throwing batting practice. Hellickson repeats his delivery very well and that’s a major contributing factor to his success.

FUTURE

Hellickson has enough polish and talent to help the Rays now. The only problem is that there’s simply no room for him at the major league level. The Rays own the best record in baseball and their pitching staff owns an MLB best 2.80 ERA. While I don’t think Hellickson will ever be a star, he’s shown enough at the minor league level to indicate he can be a successful major league starter. He should be able to contribute as a #3 pitcher on a contending team. It’s unlikely he’ll generate the same strikeout numbers that he has in the minor leagues but his command is advanced enough to generate ground balls and be effective.

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.

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.

Top 15 Second Basemen Prospects

Second base is perhaps the weakest position in the minor leagues but I still see several MLB regulars in this list. The issue with ranking second base prospects parallels that of ranking first baseman in that it’s quite possible that the top 2 or 3 minor league prospects at this position may currently be playing another position in the minor leagues. Several of the top shortstops in minor league baseball will have long and productive careers at second base in the Majors, but you won’t find them on this list as I attempted to stay pretty loyal to where each prospect is currently playing.

Junkie Glossary

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

1. Brett Lawrie – R-R – 5’11 200 – MIL – 1.18.90. Drafted as a prep catcher with the 16th overall pick in 2008, Lawrie was already a Canadian legend, making the Olympic team that same year at just 18. Lawrie’s pro career behind the plate didn’t last long and he moved to second base and it’s questionable that he’ll stay there. He hit 13 HR last season and he projects to hit for more power down the road. He stole 19 bags last year but considering that he was caught stealing 13 times, I’m guessing he’ll have a tighter leash on the base paths this season. He’s not quite as athletic as your typical 2B defensively, and he posted a below average .964 fielding percentage there in the Low A Midwest League last season. The true thunder in his bat aided by his large forearms makes him the top prospect at this position.

2. Todd Frazier – R-R – 6’3 215 – CIN – 2.12.86. If Todd Frazier were in 29 other organizations, I’m not sure any one of them would see him as a second basemen but Cincinnati does so I’ll respect their decision and rank him at this position. I recently read that the Redlegs will give him the opportunity to win a job in LF for the big league club this season and has played 87 games out there in the past 2 seasons. A doubles machine, Frazier smacked 45 two baggers between AA and AAA last season to go with his 16 HR and his .480 SLG. He doesn’t strike out at an alarming rate (15%) but I’d like to see him improve his 8.5% walk rate. I think he’ll start the season at AAA Louisville but his bat will force him into the Queen City sometime after the All Star Break.

3. Eric Young Jr. – B-R – 5’10 180 – COL – 5.25.85. EY Jr., like his father before him, uses his plus-plus speed as his calling card. Unlike many burners in the minor leagues, Jr. shows some true leadoff ability. He displayed a 12.8% BB rate in AA in 08 and a 10.1% rate in AAA in 09 while keeping his K’s in check. Three times in the past four seasons he’s maintained an OBP of over .385. He’s seen time in CF but his poor arm will keep him at 2B or possibly LF. He’ll begin the year as a bench player in Colorado.

4. Jemile Weeks – B-R – 5’10 175 – OAK – 1.26.87. Jemile’s brother Rickie holds the career NCAA DI record for batting average (.465), and Jemile was no slouch himself. He led a talent laden Miami team to Omaha in 2008 and became the 12th overall selection in that year’s draft. Weeks has battled injuries as a professional, totaling just 99 games over the past two seasons. When healthy, he shows the ability to draw walks and make consistent contact. He has plus speed, but that has not yet translated into high SB numbers. He should spend the majority of the 2010 season in AA Midland.

5. Scott Sizemore – R-R – 6’0 185 – DET – 1.4.85. Sizemore has an advanced bat and he’s ready to take over for Placido Polanco in Detroit and he may even take over the #2 spot in the batting order. He’s expected to be fully recovered by Spring Training from a broken ankle suffered in the Arizona Fall League. None of his tools are overly impressive, and his defense is below MLB average, but he showed good speed and power last season, hitting 17HR and stealing 21 bases. He shows above average OBP skills and doesn’t strike out at an alarming rate.

6. Reese Havens – L-R – 6’1 195 – NYM – 10.20.86. A teammate of top 1B prospect Justin Smoak at South Carolina, Havens joined him in the 1st round of the 2008 draft. There was some pre-draft buzz that some teams were interested in converting Havens to a catcher, he’s played SS thus far as a professional, but he’ll be moving to 2B this year. He’ll learn the position in the AA Eastern League where he’ll try to approve his .247 career batting average.

7. Adrian Cardenas – L-R – 6’0 185 – OAK – 10.10.87. The Phillies used a supplemental 1st round pick on Cardenas out of a Miami HS, then traded him to Oakland for Joe Blanton in 2008. Cardenas plays all over the infield and could help the A’s as a utility man right now. He walks at a decent rate and he doesn’t strike out a whole lot. He’s never going to hit for much power and he’s not much of a base stealer. While there is value in Cardenas’ defensive diversity, he’s not yet mastered any of his defensive positions.

8. Jeff Kobernus – R-R – 6’2 210 – WAS – 6.30.88. A UC Berkley product, Kobernus was regarded as the best collage 2B in the 2009 draft and the Nationals used the first pick in the 2nd round on him. Kobernus has solid average tools across the board. He has a patient approach, will flash occasional power, can steal bases and he’s athletic enough to stick at 2B. His mustache points will land him in the top 15, and I expect his talent to keep him there.

9. Ryan Flaherty – L-R – 6’3 200 – CHC – 7.27.86. A shortstop in college, Flaherty shared the left side of the infield with Pedro Alvarez at Vanderbilt where his little brother Regan, a blue chip prospect of his own, is getting ready for his Freshman season. A left-handed hitter with power, the elder Flaherty smacked 20 HR last season in Low A ball where he saw time at SS, 2B and 3B. No matter what position he settles into, he’ll have to keep his strikeouts in check as he’s had a K% over 20% in each of his first two seasons.

10. Johnny Giovatella – R-R – 5’8 185- KC – 7.10.87. If you’re going to be 5’8 and trying to reach the major leagues, you’d better do some things right and Johnny does just that, getting on base on such a high clip. He walked at a 11.8% rate last year and had an outstanding 1.22 BB/K ratio and stole 26 bags. He doesn’t have much power and projects as a below average defender.

11. Logan Watkins – R-R- 5’11 170 – CHC – 8.29.89. A 21st round pick in 2008 because of his strong college commitment to Wichita State, Watkins is a prototype of a guy I’d like my team. He’s shown an impressive 0.94 BB/K ratio as a professional, he’s got a good arm and he runs well. He has yet to hit a professional HR and he doesn’t project to develop much power in his slight frame. A move to the OF is possible as the Cubs have a plethora of 2B/SS types. He’ll get his first taste of full season ball in the Low A Midwest League.

12. Ryan Schimpf – L-R – 5’9 180 – TOR – 3.11.88. Part of the 2009 National Championship LSU team, Schimpf began the season as the double play companion of SS D.J. LaMahieu and ended it in LF when LaMahieu moved to 2B. Schimpf was one of my favorite college players in 2009 and at just 5’9 he’s one of my favorite scrappy minor leaguers. He uses a compact stroke to drive the ball to the opposite field and has slightly above average power for a 2B. He’ll struggle on defense but his offense could make him a MLB regular. He’ll open his first full professional season in High A.

13. Ruben Tejada – R-R- 6’0 160 – NYM – 10.27.89. Three years younger than Reese Havens, but one level in front of him, Tegada illustrates the difference in development between a teenage international signee and a prospect that spends three years in college. While a better defender than Havens, his bat is not as advanced. He lacks plate discipline and doesn’t have much power. He’ll advance to AAA Buffalo this season and could potentially challenge unpopular 2B Luis Castillo for playing time in the 2nd half.

14. D.J. LeMahieu – R-R – 6’4 185 – CHC – 7.13.88. LeMahieu began last season as the starting SS on the eventual National Champion LSU team but he moved to 2B half way through the year to improve the overall team defense. At his height and frame he doesn’t really look like a 2B and I don’t anticipate a long stay at that position. He’s yet to prove he can hit for power with a wood bat.

15. L.J. Hoes – R-R – 6’1 190 – BAL – 3.5.90. A 2008 second team High School All American as an outfielder, Hoes moved to 2B as a professional where he’s still raw. At the plate, Hoes appears to take a simple approach to his swing. It’s nothing more than a simple weight transfer and the hands stay level as he brings them through the zone. Hoes has good speed but is lacking in his other offensive tools. He refuses to take walks, strikes out too much and has well below average power. Defensively, he’s still very raw at 2B but he’s athletic enough to become above average at that position.

Sleeper – C.J Retherford – R-R – 5’11 190 – CWS – 8.14.85. An undrafted free agent from Arizona State, Retherford has worked his way up the prospect ladder into legitimacy. He has power that is a tick above average and he led the minor leagues in doubles last season with 46. He doesn’t do anything particularly well but I could see him helping a major league team as a utility infielder/pinch hitter.

Overrated – Corban Joseph – L-R – 6’0 170- NYY – 10.28.88. Corban’s brother Caleb is a catcher in the Baltimore organization who almost made my Top 15 Catcher Prospect List. Corban was drafted in the 4th round in 2008 out of HS. He fits the mold of many second basemen on this list. He gets on base, walks nearly as much as he strikes out, doesn’t have much power and has some questions on defense. It’s still early for Corban, but I view him more as a utility player at the MLB level.