Here's a Thought: Nathaniel's Top 100 MLB Prospects: #30-21
This is part eight 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 Donovan 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 30-21.
30. Dexter Carter
Organization: White Sox
A 13th-round draft pick last season, Carter was viewed as a guy with good stuff but bad command.
Then, the White Sox got Carter on a straight line to the plate, which cleaned up his command, and one year later, here he is.
Carter has struck out a whopping 129 batters this year and walked just 30. He throws a 92-98 mph fastball and excellent curveball. His change-up isn't bad for a Low-A pitcher.
At the very least, Carter should be a great reliever. He could be an ace if he keeps his new-found command and his change-up continues to improve.
29. Chris Withrow
If you've heard of Withrow, you probably are surprised he's this high, as he has a 4.82 ERA in High-A.
However, look beyond the ERA, and you can see Withrow's high BABIP and low strand rate: he actually has a FIP around 3.00.
Withrow's only allowed 3 homers in 80 1/3 innings in the Cal League, which is stellar. He also has 100 strikeouts.
Withrow has the same stuff as Carter: a 92-98 mph fastball, plus curve, and workable change-up.
Withrow has some control issues. With 44 walks this year, he'll need to improve his command and change-up to be a front-line starter.
He ranks one spot ahead of Carter because he's one level higher and two years younger.
28. Casey Crosby
This lanky lefty was a fifth-rounder in 2007 and has dominated the Midwest League this year. He threw five no-hit innings in his last start and has a 2.99 ERA on the year, with 94 Ks in 81 1/3 innings.
Crosby has incredible velocity for a lefty, as his fastball goes 94-97 mph with good movement. He also throws a good change-up.
Improving his breaking pitches (a curve and a slider) will be important for Crosby, who also needs some command refinement (42 walks). However, he's young, left-handed, and hard-throwing.
Crosby could be next year's Madison Bumgarner, but he's not quite at that level yet.
27. Travis Wood
The owner of the minors' best change-up, Wood has a ridiculous 1.21 ERA in Double-A this year. His fastball and curveball are just average, but he spots them well.
Wood should at least be as good as Dallas Braden, and could be better.
26. Mat Latos
Recently promoted to the majors after I made this list, Latos has two great pitches: a mid-90's fastball and low-80's slider. He has excellent command of both.
Latos doesn't have too much of a change-up, and there are a lot of character questions with him, as scouts question his dedication to pitching.
Two incredible pitches, rarely-thrown changeup, and possible attitude issues? That sounds like Erik Bedard, which isn't a bad upside. Latos will need to take his career more seriously to become better than Bedard, however.
P.S. If you have a problem with me questioning Latos' dedication, don't blame me, blame the reputable sources like Baseball America that gave me that impression.
25. Jordan Lyles
Lyles was thought to be a huge overdraft at the 38th pick last year, and many teams thought he was a 10th-15th round pick.
The Astros got it right.
Lyles is the classic idea of a great pitcher. He has clean mechanics, mid-90's velocity, and two good off-speed pitches, a curve and change. He throws strikes with all three pitches.
He's also just 18 and dominating Low-A, with a 121/27 K/BB ratio in 99 2/3 innings.
Lyles doesn't have one great pitch, as his three pitches are just somewhere between average and plus.
He'll need to refine his command in the strike zone and improve his curve, which flattens out at times. However, there's no question that he's a grade-A prospect.
24. Chris Carter
The only position player in this particular group of 10, Carter is a slugging first baseman with a good approach at the plate.
Carter has 40-HR power, and while he'll strike out quite a bit, he makes good contact and takes a lot of walks. He should be a .290/.390/.550 hitter in the majors.
With little defensive ability, Carter can't really rank much higher than this, but only a handful of players project to be better hitters.
23. Mike Leake
Level: N/A (unsigned)
In my opinion, Leake was the best player not named Strasburg in the draft class. With four great pitches and exceptional command, there's nothing not to like.
Oh, except the fact that he's 5'11". I don't care about that, to be honest. If he can pitch, he can pitch. Pedro Martinez was short, too, and he had arguably the greatest peak of any pitcher ever.
Leake could get to the majors quickly, and has true ace potential with plus-plus command of a low-90's fastball, 80ish slider, low-70's curve, and excellent changeup.
22. Matt Moore
Moore is a lefty who just turned 20. He has three plus pitches, and has 12.63 K/9 at High-A. Need I say more?
I will anyway, just because.
Moore's fastball goes in the 91-96 mph range with good run and sink, his curve has excellent late break and gets plenty of swings and misses, and his change-up acts like a screwball with a ton of movement down and away from righties.
The only negative with Moore is a high walk rate, which has less to do with a lack of command than with his pitches moving all over the place.
At his age, Moore has plenty of time to work on keeping the ball in the zone. If he makes any improvement at all, he could be a truly scary pitcher to face.
21. Dan Hudson
Organization: White Sox
Hudson and Dexter Carter were teammates at Old Dominion and were drafted in the early-to-middle rounds of the 2008 draft by the White Sox (Hudson in the fifth, Carter in the 13th).
Even they couldn't have imagined that they'd be ranked No. 21 and No. 30 on a prospect list just a year later.
Carter has stayed in Low-A, while Hudson has shot through three levels this year, and hitters just can't figure out his fastball. Hudson isn't a really hard thrower, sitting at 89-92 mph, but the pitch has Greg Maddux-esque run on it that flusters lefties and righties alike.
His slider and change-up don't look that special, but Hudson spots them well and keeps the ball down in the zone.
While his stuff doesn't really jump out, Hudson's results certainly do. He might not have classic ace stuff, but that didn't stop Maddux, and there's no guarantee it will stop Hudson.