Top 10 MLB Prospects for 2011

Ryan SmithCorrespondent IJanuary 12, 2011

Top 10 MLB Prospects for 2011

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    One of the most exciting parts of a baseball season is watching young dynamic players make an impact on the game.

    Last year, Buster Posey, Stephen Strasburg, Neftali Feliz and Jayson Heyward were just a few of the many players that made huge impressions on the game.

    Next year, there will surely be another great assortment of players to make it to the show. At this point though, many are still in the minors, trying to find a way to earn a spot on the big league roster.

    Spring training will be a chance for all of us to witness baseball's top prospects, but for now, here's the top 10 prospects of 2011.

10. Yonder Alonso (CIN)

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    The Cincinati Reds were one of the best teams last year, and they got some help down the stretch from flamethrowing lefty Aroldis Chapman, who was one of the top prospects last year.

    This year, Yonder Alonso is in the top 10.

    23 years-old, he's a power hitting first baseman who made his major league debut last year. He played in 22 games and batted only .207 in 29 at-bats.

    He wasn't able to flash some of the power he had developed in the minors during his stint, but he hit for 15 home runs and 69 RBIs in the minors last year.

    Unfortunately, the Reds have NL MVP Joey Votto at first base. As a result, the organization has tried him out in left field and hope he makes a smooth transition.

    Next year, Alonso will be 24 years-old. If he develops into a solid hitter in the bigs, the Reds will have one of the best lineups in baseball.

9. Martin Perez (TEX)

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    Martin Perez is one of the youngest player on this list. He's a 19-year-old lefty out of Venezuela with a nice curveball and 92 mph fastball.

    He had a rough year last year, posting a 5.96 ERA in 99.2 innings, but the year before he had a sub-3.00 ERA.

    After last season, the Rangers probably won't consider calling him up to the majors any time soon. He still needs time to develop and mature.

    Maybe in seven years or so, he could be the ace of the Rangers staff.

    For now, he's not close, but at his age and with his ability, he makes this list.

8. Freddie Freeman (ATL)

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    Freddie Freeman played in 20 games last year for the Braves and struggled, but he did manage to hit his first big league homer.

    In the minors, he's shined brightly. Freeman hit .319 with 18 homers last year in Triple-A and could take over the first base job later this year.

    He's not the best defensively, but offensively, he could quickly develop into a threat (plus, he's only 20 years-old).

    Freddie Freeman and Jayson Heyward would make one helluva duo for many years to come.

7. Jeremy Hellickson (TB)

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    Hellickson has been a strikeout pitcher during his entire career in the minors. The right-hander had a call-up last season and made the most of it, posting a 3.47 ERA in 36 innings.

    He could have a shot at making the Rays' rotation this year if he has a good spring training. Last season in the minors, he threw 119.1 innings and had a 2.72 ERA and 123 K's.

    Hellickson definitely is a power pitcher and with a little more seasoning, he could explode like David Price and form a formidable one-two punch in Tampa's rotation.

6. Julio Teheran (ATL)

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    At 19 years-old, Teheran made seven starts in Double-A last year.

    And cumulatively, he posted a 2.59 ERA in 142.2 innings at Class-A, High-A, and Double-A ball. He also struck out 159 batters last year.

    With those kind of stats, he could be in the majors by the end of next season.

    He has great control and complements his fastball with a changeup and two good breaking pitches.  He's still very young, but he could force the Braves to call him up if he performs well.

5. Domonic Brown (PHI)

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    Brown is one of the best position prospects in baseball. He's a five-tool player: He can run, hit for average, hit for power, has a terrific arm and is a good fielder.

    He had a rough time in the majors last year, batting .210 in 35 games. After batting .327 with 20 homers and 17 stolen bases, the Phillies were forced to call him up however, as Shane Victorino had suffered an injury.

    Brown has a good shot at making the Phillies starting lineup this year, but he may be put in a platoon role at the start of the season.

    By 2012 (and after Ibanez leaves), Brown will definitely be a fixture in the lineup.

4. Desmond Jennings (TB)

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    Jennings hit well last year in Triple-A with a .278 batting average. Speed is the best aspect of his game, but he has been projected to be a much better hitter.

    He's stolen 171 bases over the past five minor league seasons and flashed some power in the minors. Jennings could develop into a 20 homer, 50 stolen bases player, just like Carl Crawford almost was (remember, Crawford never reached 20 home runs).

    In the majors last year, he struggled, batting .170 in 17 games.

    Still, he could very well make the Rays' starting lineup this year now that Crawford has left.

3. Jesus Montero (NYY)

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    Right now, Montero is probably in one of the best positions to make a move into the lineup. With Jorge Posade shifting to DH, Montero could very easily play his way into the starting catcher position.

    The Yankee's are still trying to develop his play-calling ability, but he's been an excellent hitter in the minor leagues. Last season, he hit .289 with 21 homeruns, all at Triple-A, and throughout his short career, he's flashed power.

    The only problem is that, recently, the Yankees have viewed Montero as expendable. It could very well be possible that Montero makes it into the big leagues with a uniform other than pinstripes.

2. Bryce Harper (WAS)

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    Yes, you read correctly. Bryce Harper is No. 2. There's simple logic to explain why:

    1) He has yet to play a full minor league season; and

    2) He's a phenom, which history has not been kind to.

    Josh Hamilton was a phenom who didn't break into the majors until eight years after he was drafted.

    Stephen Strasburg, who's probably the biggest phenom ever, won't be pitching until 2012.

    Kerry Wood is still clawing his way back from the doldrums of baseball's former stars.

    And Mark Prior?

    There just isn't enough substantial facts and stats to back Harper up yet. He had a very successful college career, but those number don't translate into minor league numbers.

    Next year, he could very well be No. 1. But not this year.

1. Mike Trout (LAA)

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    Mike Trout is without a doubt the No. 1 prospect in my mind for a few reasons:

    1) His .344 batting average the past two seasons;

    2) His 56 stolen bases last year;

    3) His 173 hits, including 10 home runs; and

    4) He's only 18 years-old.

    He will most likely start at Double-A this season at the age of 19. If he continues at this rate, he could possibly make the majors as a late season call-up in 2011, but that is pushing it.

    He'll at least be in the majors by 2012 at some point.

    He was the Minor League Player of the Year last year and that sums it all up nicely.


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