Here's a Thought: Nathaniel's Top 100 MLB Prospects #70-61
This is part four of 10 in my top 100 prospects series.
If you'd like to read other entries in this series, you can check them out below:
If you don't want to read the series, and just want to read this article, here's the series intro, to get you caught up to speed (if you've read the intro before, just skip to the next slide):
Last year, I got an extremely positive response to my article "The Top 102 Prospects Who Have Yet To Play in MLB."
I decided that it was time to do something similar, and rate the top 100 prospects this year.
Before we begin, a few notes:
These prospects aren't ranked purely statistically and they are not ranked purely on scouting reports. They are ranked based on both. If you'd like to read more on how I believe one should evaluate prospects, read this.
Also, I can never keep track of who has rookie eligibility in the majors, so I made this list entirely of players who did not debut in the majors before July 15, 2009. If someone debuts after that, however (like Mat Latos), they will still be included.
I'm a bit hazy on 2009 draftees, so just because your team's first-rounder isn't on the list doesn't mean they shouldn't be. I feel like I only have good enough knowledge of about 50 or so draftees this year, and a lot of them are the A's draftees.
So don't take offense, Padres fans, when you see Donavan Tate's not on the list.
Speaking of Tate, I only ranked players who have signed or are projected to sign. "Tough signs" like Tate and Matt Purke were excluded. I did, however, rank Stephen Strasburg, just because the hype on him is so huge.
I can also guarantee that pretty much everyone in the minors was considered. I made sure to carefully look at anyone performing well or rated well. If a prospect doesn't appear on this list, I can certainly tell you why.
I hope you like the rankings. Leave any questions or comments you have for me—I'll be more than happy to respond.
Let's take a look at prospects 70-61.
No. 70: Matt Hobgood
The common theme for prospects 80-71, if there was one, was underperforming top prospect position players, as Mike Moustakas, Tim Beckham, Greg Halman, and Pedro Alvarez made appearances on that list.
This particular group of 10 has nine right-handed pitchers, none of whom have reached Triple-A, so that's an even stronger theme.
Hobgood was taken fifth overall by the Orioles this year. He's a big, imposing righty built like a linebacker, and he throws two plus pitches: an 89-96 MPH fastball and a curve that ranked as arguably the best in his draft class.
Hobgood's slider and change need work, especially the changeup.
His control isn't a huge red flag, but it's not a big plus either. With very little pro experience, Hobgood isn't easy to gauge because there aren't many stats to go on. We'll have a much better idea of where he ranks at the end of the season, and certainly next year.
No. 69: Jhoulys Chacin
Chacin profiles as a classic No. 2 starter. He lacks the sheer dominance of an ace, but has several good pitches and knows how to use them.
He needs to improve his breaking stuff to match his fastball-change combo, but if he can, Chacin should be similar to Matt Garza, who proved huge last year in the Rays' run to the World Series.
No. 68: Wilmer Flores
The one position player in this particular group of 10 prospects, Flores hasn't turned 18 yet but has already shown excellent contact skills, hitting .287 in Low-A.
He doesn't rank higher than this because none of his other tools are there yet: he may have to move off of shortstop to a less challenging position, he doesn't take many walks, and he hasn't shown much power.
Flores is so young that he merits this ranking. After all, he's slightly younger but slightly more advanced than No. 75 Tim Beckham, who's a roughly comparable prospect.
Flores will need to show a lot more discipline and power if he's eventually going to be a good big leaguer, but it's so early on that there's no need to worry about that yet.
No. 67: Julio Teheran
Another really young guy (he's 18), Teheran is a lot like Chacin in that he has excellent command of a low-90's fastball and also has a plus change-up, but needs more consistency from his breaking stuff.
You don't see hard-throwing 18-year-olds that have impeccable command very often, and if Teheran can get a few more swings and misses, he could become a top 25 prospect. His upside, especially if he improves the curveball, is enormous.
No. 66: Jarrod Parker
The ninth overall pick in the 2007 draft, Parker is a flame-throwing short righty with two good breaking balls. He can run the fastball up in the mid-90's when he needs to.
For whatever reason, Parker seems to be a bit less than the sum of his parts. He walks a few too many hitters and strikes out fewer than one would expect. That leads to a pitcher who can be a real shutdown guy half the time and struggle the other half, ultimately leading to being merely above-average in the aggregate.
A great comparison is Javier Vazquez.
No. 65: Wily Peralta
Thought of as merely a reliever coming into the year, Peralta has taken off since being moved to the rotation. He can bring his fastball into the mid-90's and features one of the minors' best sliders.
He's only just now working on a change-up, since he didn't need it in the bullpen, and Peralta may eventually have to go back to relief. If he picks up the change-up, he could be an ace; if he doesn't, he'll make an excellent closer.
No. 64: Brandon Erbe
Erbe seems like he's been around forever, but he's still only 21 and was putting together his best pro season in Double-A before missing some time with an injury. He's on a rehab assignment right now, so he should be back to the Double-A rotation soon.
Erbe is yet another power pitcher, with a fastball that touches 97. What separates him from pitchers like Peralta and Kyle Drabek is his change-up, which is an average third pitch, complementing his fastball and plus slider.
Erbe still needs to refine his control to cement his future as a top-of-the-rotation starter, but he's only 21, so he's got some time to work on that.
If he can keep his walk rate average or better, he could be an ace, but even if it slips into the 4 BB/9 range, he'll be a nice No. 3 guy.
#63: Brad Holt
Another flame-throwing Double-A righty, Holt has one of the best fastballs in the minors. He throws 93-98 MPH with good late movement and good command.
The fastball has given him some obscene minor league strikeout numbers, but Holt needs to improve his slider and change-up to stay a starter. The slider is average, and the change-up is well-below-average.
If he can push them to average-plus and average-minus, he could be at least as good as current Mets righty Mike Pelfrey. If Holt can improve them even more than that, he could be an ace.
And if he can't improve the off-speed stuff, he'll wind up as a Heath Bell-type closer, which isn't exactly the worst fate in the world.
No. 62: Drew Storen
I saw Storen as the third-best pitcher in the draft, but I'm pushing him down to fourth-best because he's being used in relief.
A broad-shouldered righty, Storen signed quickly after being drafted 10th overall and then immediately became the best reliever in all of Low-A, striking out 26 batters while walking none in 14 2/3 innings.
Storen throws an excellent low-to-mid-90's fastball with a lot of movement. He uses it to set up a huge power curve-ball that seemingly nobody can hit. He also has a usable change-up, and could be an excellent starter if given the chance.
Storen's moved so quickly that he could be Washington's closer next season.
He could also develop into an excellent starter, which is why he ranks ahead of the other relievers on this list.
No. 61: Simon Castro
Castro doesn't get as much hype as guys like Parker or Kyle Drabek, but I'm not sure why.
Castro throws a 92-98 MPH fastball and a plus slider. His change-up isn't great, but it's not bad for a Low-A pitcher. He's got good control for a 21-year-old power pitcher, and his excellent strikeout numbers back up his stuff.
Castro could become the Padres' answer to Colorado's Ubaldo Jimenez.