MLB Power Rankings: Each Team's Recent Draft Pick Who's Rising Fast
If you're a Major League Baseball prospect in today's game, you're best bet is to start as young as you can and move as quick as possible once a team drafts you.
The 2010 rookie landscape was littered with former prospects who played very little in the minors. Atlanta's Jason Heyward needed only 238 games of seasoning to prepare for his breakout campaign, despite being drafted out of high school. San Francisco's sensation, Buster Posey, was a three-year starter for FSU, but still required only 172 games in the minor leagues. Heyward's late-season teammate, Mike Minor, needed only 25 starts to prove he was ready to take on big-league hitters.
And then there was the uberprospect of them all, Stephen Strasburg. "Stras" probably could have started his pro career in the Majors, but the Nationals took the cautious approach with him...aka 11 starts in the minors.
Despite the big names, there really isn't any rhyme or reason to who moves through the minors quicker. Sometimes it's elite high schoolers like Heyward and sometimes it's seasoned college vets like Strasburg and Matt Wieters.
Either way, your favorite team will most likely employ the services of one of these types of players, the fast-riser and the quick-mover.
Here are the best bets (for each team) for that honor in 2011.
Pat Corbin, LHP, 20-years old (2nd-round, 2009)
Corbin isn't a homegrown D-Back, but he's moving fast nonetheless.
A product of Chipola Junior College in Florida, a program that has churned out Jose Bautista, Russell Martin, Adam Loewen, Mat Gamel and Tyler Flowers, Corbin was a second-round pick of the Angels in 2009, and was shipped to Arizona as a part of the trade that sent Dan Haren to Anaheim.
Corbin has yet to meet any kind of difficulty in the minors, posting a 17-6 record in 40 appearances (40 starts). He has a tremendous feel for his pitches and his above-average control shows in his K-to-BB rate of 182-to-48.
Corbin finished 2010 in High-A Visalia and even though he only made eight starts, he will likely begin 2011 in Double-A, with an eye on the D-Backs rotation sometime in 2012.
Mike Minor, LHP, 23-years old (1st-round, 2009)
The Braves knew Minor was advanced enough when they drafted him with the seventh overall pick in the 2009 draft.
What they couldn't have foreseen is that he would add a few more ticks to his velocity, sharpen his secondary pitches and reach Atlanta a little more than a year after signing. That's exactly what happened for the former Commodore ace and now Minor is in a battle for the Braves number five starter spot.
If he doesn't secure the spot with a solid spring, he'll head back to Triple-A, where he'll just be biding his time, waiting for a rotation spot to open up, via injury or trade.
Tyler Townsend, 1B, 22-years old (3rd-round, 2009)
The O's had high hopes for Townsend, a former .400 hitter at Florida International and the team's third-round pick in 2009.
Unfortunately, he's only been healthy enough to play in 83 games, due to hand and hamstring injuries. In those 83 contests, however, he's looked as good as advertised. Subtract his abysmal debut in 2009 and Townsend is a career .325 hitter, with solid power and great plate discipline.
He reached High-A in his first full-season, if you can call his 2010 campaign that. After all, it only lasted 52 games. Despite his limited playing time, he should be a fixture at High-A Frederick in 2011, and he could be a quick mover if he continues to show an advanced feel at the plate.
Double-A by mid-season isn't out of the question.
Boston Red Sox
Jose Iglesias, SS, 21-years old (Cuba, 2009)
One of the best defensive shortstops in the minor leagues, Iglesias is a Cuban defector, who joined Boston in 2009.
Since signing a $8.25 million Major League deal, Iglesias has shown to be as good as advertised, and possibly even better. While the Sox knew they were getting a polished defender with plenty of arm for the position, they couldn't have foreseen that Iglesias would perform as well at the plate.
In 70 contests, the 21-year old hit .295, mostly at Double-A Portland. Iglesias offers virtually no power, and slightly more speed, but he'll get a shot in the bigs, as early as 2011, thanks to his stellar defensive ability.
Brett Jackson, OF, 22-years old (1st-round, 2009)
The Cubs got a huge steal when they scooped up Jackson with the 31st overall pick in the 2009 draft.
Since signing for a measly $972k bonus, Jackson has rocketed from rookie-ball all the way to Double-A in only 181 games. He split time between High-A and Double-A in 2010, and showed all-around great ability. He hit .297 in just under 500 at-bats, hit 32 doubles, 14 triples, 12 homers and drove in 66 runs. He scored a system high 103 runs and stole 30 bases.
Jackson played mostly center field last season, but his future is likely in one of the corners, where he'll get lots of experience in 2011, in Triple-A.
He could see time as a late-season call-up if he continues to perform at a high level, and could become a fixture on the big-league club by 2012.
Chicago White Sox
Tyler Saladino, SS, 21-years old (7th-round, 2010)
Despite his amazing one-year career at Oral Roberts, not too much was expected out of Saladino, the Sox seventh-round pick last year.
They expected his defensive ability to allow him to handle Low-A ball, but they certainly didn't expect that he would play as well as he did, showing a solid batting eye, great bat speed, decent speed running the bases, and of course, great defensive skills. His .305 average in 213 at-bats validated that his bat is much better than it was regarded coming out of the draft.
The belief is that Saladino's glove is enough to get him to the big leagues, and that several parts of his defensive skill-set are already Major League ready. Scouts question his hitting ability. If he continues to play as well as he did in 2010, he could continue to rise through the ranks quickly.
Brad Boxberger, RHP, 22-years old (1st-round supplemental, 2009)
Boxberger took a half-and-half approach to the 2010 season.
He began the year in the High-A Lynchburg rotation, striking out 70 batters in only 62 innings and posting a 3.19 ERA, looking every bit worth his 1st-round supplemental bonus. The second half of the season saw him head to Double-A Carolina, where he joined the bullpen to limit his workload. Pitching as a reliever didn't agree with him, as he walked two more batters out of the pen than he did as a starter in 32 fewer innings.
In all, his line out of the bullpen looked like this: 1-4, 8.49 ERA. He maintained his solid strikeout rate, but appeared to become too fastball happy, leading to his destruction at the hands of Double-A hitters.
The Reds aren't going to go the same route with Boxberger in 2011, and they'll simply let him pitch out of the rotation, starting back in Double-A. If he pitches as well as he did to start the 2010 season, he could be in Triple-A by mid-season.
Alex White, RHP, 22-years old (1st-round, 2009)
White looked every bit as good as his $2.25 million bonus in 2010, blowing through High-A ball, and pitching even better once he was promoted to Double-A.
On the season, he went 10-10, but posted a 2.45 ERA, striking out 117 batters in 151 innings. He flashed the same low 90s fastball that he utilized at UNC-Chapel Hill, as well as his above-average splitter and his improving slider.
Originally, the Indians thought White was going to be more successful as a reliever, thanks to his fastball, which can touch 95-mph, and his lack of above-average breaking pitches, but now that he's had success as a starter, it looks like they're going to continue to let him pitch out of the rotation.
He'll start next season in Triple-A and could spend a good chunk of the season pitching out of the big-league rotation.
Rex Brothers, LHP, 23-years old (1st-round supplemental, 2009)
From a "shoulda-been" reliever to a starter-turned-reliever.
When the Rockies took Brothers with their 2009 supplemental pick after the first round, they planned on shifting him from the rotation to the bullpen, in the hopes that he would move more quickly than their first-round pick, Tyler Matzek.
It didn't take long for Brothers to reach full-season ball (eight games), and only nine outings in Low-A to reach High-A. He began the 2010 season with Modesto, and after shutting down hitters in the extremely offense-oriented Cal League, he got a bump to Double-A Tulsa, where he continued his breakout season.
He finished the season with a 3.15 ERA in 57 outings, seven saves, and 70 strikeouts in 60 innings. He racked up a few too many walks (37) for the team's liking, but considering the progress he's made, I take it they won't do much complaining.
Not enough to prevent him from starting at Triple-A Colorado Springs, where he'll try to fine-tune his duties as the team's closer of the future.
Chance Ruffin, RHP, 22-years old (1st-round supplemental, 2010)
Ruffin has yet to throw a pitch professionally, and he's still the Tigers fastest moving prospect.
Drafted after a sensational season for the Texas Longhorns in which he led the nation in strikeouts per nine innings, Ruffin fell to the Tigers in the supplemental first-round. The Tigers loved his low-to-mid 90s heat and his way above-average slider.
He'll start the year in Double-A, but could move quickly. The combination of his two great pitches, and his makeup make him a shoe-in for a big-league bullpen job by the end of 2011.
Christian Yelich, OF, 19-years old (1st-round, 2010)
Yelich is one of the youngest players on this list, but considering he has arguably the best bat in the Florida system, and he's only had 47 minor league at-bats. Yelich was widely regarded as one of the most polished high-school hitters coming out of the 2010 draft, so it's no wonder that he was able to hold his own, to the tune of a .348 average in 23 Low-A at-bats.
Yelich could start 2011 in High-A, speeding up his timetable considerably. The Marlins won't treat him with the same kid gloves they've been forced to treat former first-round pick Kyle Skipworth with.
Yelich won't be making an appearance in the big-leagues anytime soon, but he's certainly going to be an impact player once he does.
J.D. Martinez, OF, 23-years old (20th-round, 2009)
In two short seasons with the Astros, the former Nova Southeastern star, has ascended from rookie ball to Double-A, where he spent a good chunk of the 2010 season.
And he wasn't just sightseeing. Martinez was doing some serious damage. Hit hit .302 in 50-games for Corpus Christi, after tearing the cover off the ball to a .362 line in 88 games in the South Atlantic League.
Martinez is arguably the best hitter in the Astros system, and he plays solid enough defense that he'll continue to move on the effectiveness of his bat.
He should begin the 2011 season as a 23-year old in Triple-A, and will likely make his debut sometime during the season.
Kansas City Royals
Wil Myers, OF, 20-years old (3rd-round, 2009)
You could make an argument for Myers as the quickest moving prospect on this list.
Myers has rocketed through pro-ball, despite defensive liabilities that forced a full-time move to the outfield this off-season. In just two seasons, Myers has established himself as one of the best hitters in the minors. This past season he hit .289 with ten homers and 45 RBI in 68 games for Low-A Burlington.
After receiving a promotion, Myers got even better, hitting .346 with a 37-to-39 BB-to-K rate for High-A Wilmington.
Myers will play the entire 2011 season at age 20, most likely in Double-A. And now that his long-term position has been determined, he could easily make it to Triple-A sometime this year.
Los Angeles Angels
Garrett Richards, RHP, 22-years old (1st-round supplemental, 2009)
Mike Trout may get all the love, but he's not the only Angel shooting through Los Angeles' system.
Richards was the Angels best pitcher in 2010, posting a 12-5 record, a 3.52 ERA and 149 strikeouts in 143 innings. He allowed only 130 hits, splitting time between Low- and High-A.
Richards is a pretty savvy pitcher, who combines a few great pitches, with a great demeanor on the mound. He'll most likely head back to High-A ball, where he only got seven starts in last season, but could see himself splitting time between levels again, this time ending in Double-A.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Aaron Miller, LHP, 23-years old (1st-round supplemental, 2009)
Miller was already 21-years old when the Dodgers inked him the 2009 supplemental first-round.
He's been impressive enough that he reached Double-A before his 23rd birthday, pitching to so-so reviews. Pitching in High-A ball, though Miller dominated, striking out 99 batters in 101.2 innings.
For the season, Miller finished 7-8 with a 3.68 ERA and 121 Ks in 124.2 innings. He should return to High-A to start the 2011 season, but could finish in Double-A.
Kentrail Davis, OF, 22-years old (1st-round supplemental, 2009)
Davis lost some helium prior to the 2009 draft, and as a result, slipped to the Brewers in the supplemental round.
Since signing, he's proven to be one of the best all-around players in the Milwaukee system, even counting his less-than-impressive finish to the 2010 season.
What's important for Davis, and inspiring for Brewers fans, is that Davis ended the year in High-A ball, progressing nicely, and priming himself for a run for the big-league roster by 2013. Before his promotion, Davis was a one-man wrecking crew for Low-A Wisconsin, hitting .335 with 26 doubles, 44 runs and 46 RBI in 64 games.
Davis will return to High-A for 2011, but could end the year in Double-A.
Billy Bullock, RHP, 23-years old (2nd-round, 2009)
While Bullock doesn't necessarily fit the classic Twins profile (control and command minded pitcher), it hasn't prevented him from shooting through the minors, gearing up for a possible 2011 big-league debut.
Initially a starter at the University of Florida, Bullock ditched the rotation for the closer's role and saved 11 games his junior year. He continued in the role upon entering pro ball, and saved an additional 11 games splitting time between rookie ball and Low-A.
Bullock entered 2010 as one of the top closing prospects in the minors, and didn't disappoint, saving 27 games, including 13 for the Twins Double-A affiliate.
A strikeout machine, Bullock K'd 105 batters in 74 innings, and has a career strikeout rate of 12.5 per nine innings.
He should take over closing duties for the Twins Triple-A club, and could see a good amount of time with the big-league club.
New York Mets
Matt den Dekker, OF, 23-years old (5th-round, 2010)
The Mets probably under-challenged their fifth-round pick in this past year's draft, but den Dekker did his best to remind the Mets why he was one of the top producing college hitters in 2010.
The 23-year old outfielder only got in 104 at-bats for Low-A Savannah, but he made them count, hitting .346 and driving in 15 runs, scoring 21 of his own. He looked like he had a good handle of hitting in the lower levels, so look for the Mets to challenge him, potentially by letting him spend a good chunk of the season at Double-A.
Den Dekker played four full seasons at UF, making him a little older than most college players coming out for the draft, but his bat is advanced enough to make up for lost time.
New York Yankees
Adam Warren, RHP, 23-years old (4th-round, 2009)
A product of the prestigious UNC baseball program, Warren has moved quite quickly through the minors, finishing the 2010 season in Double-A, posting altogether impressive numbers.
While Warren posted very low strikeout numbers in college, he's become quite hard to hit as a professional, holding hitters to only 170 hits in 192 career innings. He finished the 2010 season with an 11-7 record, a 2.59 ERA and 126 strikeouts in 135.1 innings.
Even more impressive, he allowed only four homers the entire season, including two in 81 innings for High-A Tampa.
Warren might spend some time back in Double-A, where he went 4-2 with a 3.15 ERA, but should spent the majority of the year in Triple-A, only an injury away from getting a shot in the Yankees rotation.
Steve Parker, 3B, 23-years old (5th-round, 2009)
Parker made his name at BYU as a run-producer with plenty of raw power and excellent plate discipline. And when the A's tabbed him in the 5th-round they were betting big that Parker would eventually grow into his raw power, and he did in a big way in 2010, much quicker than anyone expected.
Parker maintained his impressive batting eye (84 walks, 105 strikeouts), while finding his power stroke, swatting 21 homers and driving in 98 runs for the A's High-A affiliate.
This upcoming season, Parker will take on the less hitter friendly Double-A Texas League. If his power sticks there, he could be the guy who keeps Grant Green at shortstop.
Jonathan Singleton, 1B/OF, 19-years old (8th-round, 2009)
Singleton just finished up his first full-season of pro ball, and if the reviews are any indication, he's going to be a special player.
All the while playing nearly error-free first-base, Singleton has emerged as one of the better hitters to come out of the 2009 draft crop, college or high school. He hit an impressive .290 last season with 14 homers, 77 RBI and a 62-to-74 walk-to-strikeout rate.
Clearly there's no future at first-base for Singleton with the big-league club, so the Phillies are going to take a long, hard look at the 19-year old in the outfield.
He's such a great athlete that a change of position shouldn't hinder his progression too much.
He'll start 2011 in High-A as one of the younger players in the league, and if he has a season like 2010, he could see some time in Double-A as well.
Justin Wilson, LHP, 23-years old (5th-round, 2008)
Wilson was actually drafted in 2008, but didn't make his debut until 2009, giving him ample time to adjust to the life of a pro, so it's no surprise that he's already worked his way to Double-A, with an eye on Triple-A this season.
And while Wilson hasn't been overpowering, and isn't necessarily a top prospect in a suddenly top-heavy Pirates system, he still has some value.
Typical college baseball fans might recognize Wilson as the winning pitcher in Fresno State's improbable CWS clinching victory a few years ago.
In two seasons as a Pirate, Wilson has posted a 17-16 with a middling 3.72 ERA, good but not great. He racks up decent strikeout numbers, but still has some issues with his command, as his 71 walks in 142.2 innings last season showed.
He should start the season in Triple-A, and with most of Pittsburgh's elite talent still years away, Wilson could very well get a look, as early as later this season.
St. Louis Cardinals
Shelby Miller, RHP, 20-years old (1st-round, 2009)
Miller was supposed to be one of the most polished high-school arms in a deep 2009 crop, and now that he has a few speed bumps in his rear-view, he's back on track, and could be a fast riser in 2011.
Miller started the 2010 season terribly, and it was only after the Cardinals shelved him to work on his mechanics that he really began to look like the pitcher they drafted a year earlier. When Miller returned to the mound, he looked every bit as good as advertised and finished the season on a tear.
He posted a 7-5 record, but what really impressed were his 140 strikeouts in a mere 104.1 innings for Low-A Quad Cities.
Miller will take his mid 90s heat to High-A ball in 2011, but the sky is the limit for him now that his mechanics are back in sync.
A rise to Triple-A wouldn't be out of the question.
San Diego Padres
Matt Lollis, RHP, 20-years old (15th-round, 2009)
Lollis is one of those kind of high-schoolers that teams love taking a chance on, and luckily for the Padres, the 6'7", 230 pounder has really blossomed and in the process, turned into one of the team's top pitching prospects, despite his limited time on the mound.
Lollis has only pitched in 21 games, and only 15 of those have come in full-season ball. He started each of those 15 contests in 2010, and posted an impressive 2.12 ERA, that looks even more impressive with his 45-to-13 K-to-BB rate.
Lollis finished the 2010 season as a 19-year old in A-ball, and will most likely return to Fort Wayne of the Midwest League for a full run.
San Francisco Giants
Tommy Joseph, C/1B, 19-years old (2nd-round, 2009)
Joseph was one of the top high-school catchers available in 2009, and the Giants were lucky enough to scoop him up in the 2nd-round. They were even luckier to ink him for a relatively low $712k bonus. Especially considering what he's done for the team since signing.
Make no mistake, Joseph is no Buster Posey, but if the Giants didn't have Posey around, they'd be making their long-term catching plans around the 19-year-old.
Despite a relatively low average (.236), Joseph had a breakout season in 2010. He hit 16 homers and drove in 68 runs. His low average and poor BB-to-K rate (23-to-116) are evidence of a young hitter in slightly over his head, but the fact that Joseph was able to focus and show good pop are a great sign.
The fact that he did this in Low-A ball, as an 18-year old, is even more impressive.
Joseph will make the jump to High-A ball for 2011.
Nick Franklin, SS/2B, 19-years old (1st-round, 2009)
The Mariners hit big with Franklin, their first-round pick in 2009.
Not only has he progressed as a hitter, but he's managed to tap into some raw power that has helped him become one of the top hitting prospects in all of baseball. His 23 homers in 2010 were a revelation and maintaining his .283 average, while striking out 124 times, was almost as impressive.
Franklin is still a little raw at shortstop (see 22 errors), but the fact that he's looked as good as he has, and the Mariners willingness to move him up to Double-A near the end of the season, make it look like Franklin is on the fast track to Seattle.
Tampa Bay Rays
Zach Quate, RHP, 23-years old (14th-round, 2009)
Quate doesn't get the publicity or attention that a lot of other high-profile Rays pitchers does, but he has quietly gone about his business and has emerged as one of the Rays most effective throwers, while developing into quite the relief prospect.
Quate saved 13 games and compiled a 0.35 in 2009, his debut season, striking out 34, while walking only four batters, and followed up that impressive start with an even more amazing 2010 season. He saved 25 games for the Rays High-A affiliate, and posted a 1.49 ERA, striking out 90 batters in only 72.1 innings.
There isn't much room for starting pitchers on the Rays roster, so a guy like Quate could move very quickly, especially if he starts off the 2011 season, most likely at Double-A, quickly.
Robbie Erlin, LHP, 20-years old (3rd-round, 2009)
Few players can claim to have had as great a season as Erlin did in 2010.
The tiny lefty rose up the Rangers depth-chart and established himself as one of their top pitching prospects, which is saying something for a system that includes Martin Perez and Tanner Scheppers. Erlin made only three appearances in rookie ball before joining the Rangers Low-A club.
Splitting time between the rotation and bullpen, Erlin ranked near the top of the MiLB charts in ERA (2.12) and posted one of the more ridiculous K-to-BB rates in the minors at 134-to-18.
Erlin is now a starter for good and will begin 2011 in the High-A rotation.
Toronto Blue Jays
Adeiny Hechavarria, SS, 21-years old (Cuba, 2010)
Hechevarria joins fellow Cuban defector, Boston's Jose Iglesias at the top of minor league baseball's defensive charts.
An excellent defender, "Hech" signed a $4 million Major League deal in 2010, and did his part to reach the big-leagues as quick as possible. He played so-so at High-A Dunedin, but really rounded into form after a promotion to Double-A. He hit .273 for New Hampshire, with 11 doubles, one triple and three homers.
At both stops, Hech showed the same polish at shortstop that made him such a target during the international signing period of last year.
The 21-year old could start the season in Triple-A, but considering his bat and approach at the plate is still very raw, he could do well with more time in Double-A.
Hechavarria could break through in Toronto by 2012.
Rick Hague, SS, 22-years old (3rd-round, 2010)
A polished hitter that shared the same infield as probably 2011 top-pick Anthony Rendon, Hague is a talented prospect in his own right.
Baseball America ranks him as the Nats' 14th-best prospect, and projects him as a third-baseman long-term. He is a great hitter with an advanced feel at the plate.
Hague had first-round helium towards the beginning of the college season, but took a tumble when he suffered a meltdown defensively, making error after error. He finished the season with 23 of them. The Nationals were lucky enough to snag him in the third-round for less than $500k.
Hague immediately got to work and ended the season with Low-A Hagerstown, hitting .327 with 12 doubles, five triples, three homers and 27 RBI in 39 contests.
He'll probably make the jump to High-A for the 2011 season, and if his bat continues to look as good as it did last season, he could end the year in Double-A.