MLB Trade Speculation: Every Team's 5 Most Untouchable Prospects
If you would have asked me before the 2010 season ended who the most untouchable prospects in baseball were, I likely would have included guys like Chicago's Chris Archer and Hak-Ju Lee, Milwaukee's Brett Lawrie and Boston's Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo and Reymond Fuentes.
Of course, we all know that I would have been dead wrong, and Chicago's Chris Archer is now Tampa Bay's Chris Archer, while Boston's talented threesome now belongs to San Diego. And, Milwaukee's Lawrie is now property of the Toronto Blue Jays.
That just shows you how little the word "untouchable" actually means in baseball speak. To a degree, everyone is untouchable...until you find the right price.
Take those words of wisdom/caution under advisement as I try to sort through which guys really are indispensable to their current organizations, and who isn't going anywhere unless the perfect trade comes along.
To make matters more interesting, I removed most players who have had any sort of taste of the big leagues.
1) Jarrod Parker, RHP
Parker is one of the few true "No. 1" starters in the minors. He suffered a setback with Tommy John surgery and missed the entire 2010 season. He's now back, healthy and pitching at Double-A. The team likely won't push him too hard too fast.
2) Tyler Skaggs, LHP
The prized piece from the trade that sent Dan Haren to L.A., Skaggs is the best lefty in the D-Backs system. His ceiling is very high, and the only reason he won't be the future ace of this team is due to the presence of Parker.
3) Chris Owings, SS
There are scouts out there who feel that Owings is the best shortstop prospect in the minors. I'm not in that camp, but Owings is an undeniable talent nonetheless. He'll stay at shortstop, at least until he reaches the big leagues, where the position is blocked by Stephen Drew. He'll start 2011 in High-A, however, so any decision regarding his future is still years away.
4) Matt Davidson, 3B
By dealing Mark Reynolds this offseason, the D-Backs ushered in the Davidson era. The 20-year-old has great power, should hit for a decent average and has a better shot to stick at third base than fellow prospect Bobby Borchering. Davidson will also play at High-A this year.
5) Wagner Mateo, OF
Mateo was the darling of the Cardinals' 2009 international class, but once issues with his vision surfaced, St. Louis voided the contract and Mateo struggled to find a deal. Arizona scooped him up for $512,000 and watched him put together a stellar campaign in the DSL last year.
He has great power and should be a solid defender in one of the corner spots. He's still at least four or five years away from reaching the majors.
1) Julio Teheran, RHP
Owner of the most electric arm in the minors, Teheran is as "untouchable" as they come. The scrawny righty throws in the mid-to-high 90s and has two other above-average pitches. Teheran rocketed through the minors in 2010 and could reach Atlanta sometime in 2011.
2) Randall Delgado, RHP
The second in Atlanta's new trio of stud pitchers, Delgado is one of the top prospects ever signed out of Panama. Like Teheran, he throws in the mid-to-high 90s, and has a great curveball. His command is behind Teheran's, but he's still a top-of-the-rotation starter.
Unfortunately, he pitches for the Braves, which means he'll have to scratch and claw his way to a rotation spot.
3) Matt Lipka, SS
The Braves have spent multiple draft picks on shortstops over the years, and Lipka represents the best of their class. The Braves' top pick last year, Lipka has the tools to stick at shortstop, but isn't as seasoned as some of their other players. That could force a move to the outfield, but for now, he'll stay.
His bat is solid, but it's his speed that will scare opposing squads. Lipka stole 21 bases in 52 games last season.
4) Arodys Vizcaino, RHP
Vizcaino represents the final part of the Braves' trio of young, international pitchers. He too features a great fastball with excellent velocity and has the best curveball in the system. Acquired from the Yankees for Javier Vazquez, Vizcaino will start the season in High-A, where his main goal will be to stay healthy, something he's struggled to do since signing back in 2007.
5) Carlos Perez, LHP
Another candidate to take a huge step forward in 2011, Perez ranked as the Appy League's top prospect last year. He was easily the best pitcher in the league, striking out 27 batters in 32 innings, allowing only 20 hits and no homers.
It was rare for any hitter to make solid contact against him, thanks to his low-to-mid-90s fastball and his great changeup. Perez can still get a whole lot better, and could rank ahead of both Delgado and Vizcaino next year.
1) Manny Machado, SS
Fresh off a stellar debut on Thursday, Machado is the definition of "untouchable." Premium position...check. Great bat...check. Potential above-average power...check. Rocket arm...check. And, last but not least, solid defensive ability...check. Next!
2) Xavier Avery, OF
The Orioles have put all of their athletic, toolsy eggs in one basket...Avery. While he may be one of the better athletes in the minors, he's still incredibly raw. He's got as much raw speed as anyone in their system, but the question is if he'll ever make enough contact to utilize it. He's also an above-average defender, thanks in part to his excellent speed.
He's the kind of player that would be enticing to a team looking to deal a veteran come September, which means he's exactly the kind of player the team can't afford to lose.
3) Daniel Klein, RHP
Once a starter, Klein will begin his ascension through the system as a reliever. He was amazing as UCLA's closer in 2010, and the O's are hoping he's still got it. A switch back to starting could be in his future, but for the time being, he's stuck in the 'pen. He's good enough that he could theoretically reach the majors sometime this year. He won't, though, as the O's just want to get him some innings.
4) L.J. Hoes, 2B
One of the team's best hitters, Hoes has solid tools all around. He isn't a natural second baseman, but nobody in the system is. He has enough defensive chops to play center, so he should be able to handle 2B. His plate discipline is what puts him above most others in the system. He also flashes great speed, and occasional power.
5) Mychal Givens, 2B/SS
The team's future shortstop before they won the "Machado sweepstakes," Givens is still a useful piece. He's not necessarily the best fit at second base, but the O's could use some depth there. A Machado-Givens double-play combo could be the best in baseball...and certainly the most athletic. Givens was also a first-round talent on the mound, throwing 97 mph back in high-school.
Boston Red Sox
1) Jose Iglesias, SS
Iglesias is the top defender in the Boston organization, and despite the fact that he might not ever hit above .250 as a big leaguer, the team isn't going to part with him.
2) Anthony Ranaudo, RHP
Ranaudo was the key piece to the LSU Tiger's 2009 CWS championship run. After a down year, he wowed scouts and critics in the Cape Cod League. Luckily, the Red Sox had already secured his rights. They paid him top-15 money, but got a future top-of-the-rotation starter, who throws in the mid 90s and has an excellent curveball.
3) Drake Britton, LHP
Don't sleep on Britton. He is arguably the most talented pitcher that you've never heard of. (Must be something to that Britton name.) The lefty would be a top prospect in many organizations, but injuries have limited him to only 121 innings in three seasons. Finally healthy, he could shoot up the Red Sox depth chart.
4) Will Middlebrooks, 3B
Middlebrooks could be the backup plan if something happens to Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Youkilis is forced to return to first base. His above-average defensive chops would qualify him as big-league ready, while his bat has some sneaky power in it. He could be an average big-league third baseman, and he's already at Double-A, while most of the Red Sox's other corner infield prospects are still three or four years away.
5) Ryan Westmoreland, OF
You can't give up on a guy like Westmoreland. A year after being tabbed as the team's top prospect, Westmoreland underwent brain surgery to remove a malformation. It took some time for him to return to walking and talking, but he's finally healthy. When he's likely to return to the field is a question mark, but you can't give up a guy with his story.
1) Brett Jackson, OF
With the departures of Chris Archer and Hak-Ju Lee, Jackson becomes the new prized possession of the Cubs farm system. Jackson has great speed, solid power and enough defensive chops to survive in center field for the time being. Jackson starts the season in Triple-A and could spend a good chunk of the season with the big-league club.
2) Trey McNutt, RHP
McNutt inherits the title of top pitcher in the system, which is surprising considering he was a 32nd-round pick back in 2009. He throws hard (92–98 mph) and compliments his fastball with a curveball that is the best in the organization. McNutt pitched in Low-A, High-A and Double-A in 2010 and could reach the majors this season.
3) Josh Vitters, 3B
While many have soured on the former No. 3 overall pick, the Cubs still believe in Vitters' talent, despite his abysmal performance at Double-A Tennessee last season. He has great pop and should hit for a decent average. He should also be able to stick at third, despite his propensity for errors.
4) Matt Szczur, OF
Szczur is a multi-sport talent who excelled on the gridiron, leading Villanova to a NCAA championship in 2009, and was impressive enough to warrant a fifth-round pick in last year's draft. The Cubs finally succeeded in luring him away from football, so it's now baseball full-time.
He's easily the best athlete in the system, and one that could be a five-tool talent once he develops his raw skills. His speed is off the charts, and his power is prodigious.
5) D.J. LeMahieu, 2B/SS/3B
Capable of playing almost every position on the diamond, LeMaheiu is indispensable. Following in the footsteps of great Cubs utility guys like Mark DeRosa and Ryan Theriot, the former LSU slugger will go as far as his bat can carry him, and so far he's doing great.
He has little-to-no power, but makes up for it with a solid line-drive approach that resulted in 24 doubles last year and 73 RBI. He's got decent speed too and is nearly big-league ready.
Chicago White Sox
1) Dayan Viciedo, 1B
The heir apparent to Paul Konerko at first base, Viciedo missed out on an opportunity to make the big-league club when he was sidelined with a fractured thumb. Instead, he'll start the season in Triple-A, but with his power and surprising ability to hit for average, he could be back in the majors very soon.
2) Jared Mitchell, OF
Mitchell was the darling of the White Sox's 2009 draft class, making a huge impression in the AFL and instructional-league play before suffering an ankle injury that sidelined him for the entire 2010 season. Now fully healthy, Mitchell is back on the field, currently in High-A ball. He could move really fast.
3) Gregori Infante, RHP
You don't give up on a guy capable of touching triple digits with his fastball, so you know the Sox will refuse to deal Infante, who has come on nicely since switching to the bullpen from the rotation. His curveball is also a great pitch. His control is spotty but, like I said, you don't give up a guy who throws 100 mph.
4) Jacob Petricka, RHP
What don't you give up? Certainly not another guy who can throw in the high 90s and touch 100 mph. Petricka wowed the club by upping his velocity after signing as a second-round pick, and while he's probably more suited to a bullpen role, he'll remain a starter in order to get more innings.
5) Mike Blanke, C
A.J. Pierzynski is only one bad season away from retiring (for good), and the Tyler Flowers experiment doesn't look as promising as it did in 2010, so it looks like it's time for a new White Sox catcher.
Blanke could be just the guy. He is solid defensively, despite his size (6'4", 220 lbs), and looked like the complete package at the plate in the Pioneer League last year, hitting .329 with 20 doubles, seven HR and 43 RBI in 62 games.
1) Billy Hamilton, 2B/SS
One of the most exciting players in the minors, Hamilton is also one of the fastest. He stole 48 bases last year in only 69 games. His swing is very Ichiro-like, and he's usually already running by the time his bat makes contact. That leads to a good amount of strikeouts, but he still managed to hit .318 in the Pioneer League last year.
Hamilton is still a few years away from the big leagues, but he's the Reds No. 1 prospect according to Baseball America.
2) Yorman Rodriguez, OF
Rodriguez was, once upon a time, the typical Reds outfielder—five tools, plenty of speed and decent pop. He's breaking the mold now, and has begun to develop into a solid, power-hitting corner outfielder. He has as much raw power as anyone in the Reds system, and he'll head to full-season ball for the first time in 2011 to see if it translates into games.
3) Zack Cozart, SS
For a team that has utilized a defense-first shortstop for the past few years, it's a wonder that the Reds haven't turned the reigns over to Cozart already. He has much more in his bat than Paul Janish or Edgar Renteria, and his defensive value is a tad bit under that of Janish's. Cozart hit 17 homers last season in Triple-A, and was forced to return to Louisville for the second consecutive season.
4) Yasmani Grandal, C
You don't hear much talk about the Reds' other catching prospect, Grandal, whom the team handed a major-league contact to last June. That has left Devin Mesoraco as the subject of trade talks.
Both catchers are very similar, and while Mesoraco has more power, Grandal has more polish. Grandal is also about two years behind Mesoraco, meaning the Reds will get to see what they have in the latter in the majors before deciding on the former.
5) Drew Cisco, RHP
One of the more polished pitchers in the 2010 high-school draft crop, Cisco slid to the Reds in the sixth round. He throws in the low 90s, but is already developed, so he'll have to rely on his command to make up for his subpar velocity. It helps that he has two above-average pitches, a curveball and a changeup; those should help him dominate the lower levels of the minors.
1) Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B
One of the best pure hitters in the minors, Chisenhall is going nowhere, and is ticketed as the Tribe's third baseman for the next decade.
2) Alex White, RHP
The Indians need a big boost from their pitching in order to claw their way back to respectability, and White will play a huge role in that. He reached Double-A in his first pro season and could make his debut this year.
3) Jason Kipnis, 2B
The switch to second base didn't affect Kipnis' offensive ability. He had arguably the most productive season of any player at the position in the minors, and enters the 2011 season one step away from Cleveland. His combo of power and defensive ability should make him one of the top second basemen in the majors in three-to-five years.
4) Drew Pomeranz, LHP
The team's first pick in last year's draft, Pomeranz was arguably the best pitcher available. He has two plus-pitches and throws in the mid 90s. He didn't make his debut last season, and will start 2011 in High-A ball. He could be on a track similar to White, pitching over two levels and ending in Double-A.
5) Jason Knapp, RHP
Even though Knapp has been a part of a major trade already (see: Cliff Lee to Philly), it likely won't happen again. Knapp throws about as hard as any minor leaguer, and when he's on, he's as un-hittable as they come. He's a strikeout machine and should be a front-of-the-rotation starter if he can stay healthy, something he's had trouble with in his three pro seasons.
1) Tyler Matzek, LHP
Matzek is arguably the top lefty in the minors, combining low-to-mid-90s velocity with three complementary pitches that should give him one of the best repertoires in the minors by the time he's big-league ready.
He's still pretty scrawny and could stand to add some weight; it would help him make it through a 162-game season and would allow him to develop his other pitches more effectively. Matzek is the team's future ace.
2) Wilin Rosario, C
Rosario could have been behind the plate for this year's season opener, but was sidelined with a torn ACL last August. That set him back a good bit, but doesn't diminish his talent. He has the tools to be a quality defender, while his bat should produce 20 homers per season.
3) Nolan Arenado, 3B
One of the unsung heroes of the 2010 season, Arenado mauled Sally League pitching. He hit .308 and 56 of his 115 base hits went for extra bases, including 41 doubles. For a high-school draftee (in 2009), Arenado has shown great polish and could move quickly if he continues to hit.
4) Christian Friedrich, LHP
It's tough to turn your back on a 6'4" lefty who throws in the mid 90s with a great curveball. Friedrich has had some trouble staying healthy, but when he's at 100 percent, he's one of the best pitchers in the game. His command needs some work, but he should slot in nicely behind Matzek in the team's rotation heading into the future.
5) Peter Tago, RHP
Another young fireballer, Tago could be one of the steals of the 2010 draft. He can touch 98 mph with his fastball and has the makings of a plus-curveball. He was a UCLA commit, so you know he's talented.
1) Jacob Turner, RHP
Turner is a stud who blew away hitters at two levels in 2010, finishing the season in High-A, generating huge strikeout numbers and showing control beyond his years. He'll start 2011 back in High-A, but a promotion to Double-A could be only a few starts away. He could reach Triple-A if he pitches really well, and will force his way into the team's plans for next season.
2) Nick Castellanos, 3B
One of the best pure hitters in the minors, Castellanos somehow lasted 44 picks in last year's draft. The Tigers scooped him up and inked him for $3.45 million, which could turn out to be a steal if he lives up to his billing. He has the potential to be a Miguel Cabrera-style hitter.
3) Casey Crosby, LHP
The Tigers don't have too much pitching depth, but aside from Turner, Crosby is the best. A hard-throwing lefty who lost the 2010 season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, he should be finally healthy for the 2011 season. His workload will be limited, but if he can regain the polish he had before T.J. surgery, he could move quickly
4) Chance Ruffin, RHP
Ruffin is a piece that could help the big-league club right now. A shutdown closer at Texas, the Tigers made him their second pick after Castellanos in last year's draft; he'll start the 2011 season in Double-A, but could be up in the majors by the All-Star break.
5) Bryan Holaday, C
The team was pleased to find Holaday in the sixth round of last year's draft, giving them some catching depth in a very poor catching system. Aside from V-Mart and Alex Avila in the big leagues, the team has very little help behind the plate, meaning Holaday will be very untouchable. An excellent leader who's intangibles far outweigh his ability, he has a solid bat, and good defensive ability.
1) Matt Dominguez, 3B
The future cornerstone at third base, Dominguez is the best prospect in the system. He's developing into a pretty fine young hitter, but it's his defense that makes him so valuable. He should be a perennial Gold Glove winner.
2) Chad James, LHP
James went to Florida with the 18th overall pick in the 2009 draft, and despite his terrible showing in 2010 (5-10, 5.12 ERA) he is still one of the top young left-handed pitchers in the minors.
He has excellent velocity (91–96 mph) and a curveball-slider pitch that is the best breaking ball in the system. James lost all control of his pitches last year and didn't trust his stuff. If he does better in 2011, he could be on the fast track.
3) Christian Yelich, OF
There's no deal that would convince the Marlins to part with Yelich. He's a great hitter with an advanced approach at the plate. He played first base in high school, but will move to the outfield as a pro, starting in CF this year in Low-A ball. His bat is as good as any in the system.
4) Jhan Marinez, RHP
A lanky right-hander from the Dominican, Marinez has really great stuff—good enough to reach the big leagues less than five years after signing. He combines a great fastball that scrapes the high 90s with a solid slider. He looks like the Marlins' closer of the future, but for now, he'll head back to Double-A.
5) Kyle Skipworth, C
The Marlins invested heavily ($2.3 million) in Skipworth, the second catcher taken in the 2008 draft, one pick after Buster Posey. They've had to watch as he's struggled to find his footing, having two of the worst seasons a top-10 pick has ever put together.
Slowly, but surely, he's creeping his way back, and last season he showed some good power (17 HR). He's only 21, but he'll just now be taking his first stab at High-A ball in 2011.
1) Jordan Lyles, RHP
Lyles threatened to become the first teenager to reach the majors in a very long time last year, before his final few starts at Triple-A slowed him down. Still, Lyles will be pitching this season at the highest level of the minors as a 20-year-old. Lyles throws in the low 90s and has an excellent changeup that has allowed him to have instant success in the minors. He should get a call-up sometime during the 2011 season.
2) Delino DeShields Jr., 2B
DeShields featured arguably the best speed of any player drafted last year, and the Astros were thrilled to snag him with the eighth overall pick. They were also happy because he looks like he could develop into a pretty solid hitter. He has the bloodlines, as his dad, Delino Sr., racked up 463 stolen bases over a 13-year career.
3) Mike Foltynewicz, RHP
You knew the Astros were serious about getting a hold of Foltynewicz when they shelled out $1.3 million to sign him, the second-highest bonus Houston has ever paid a pitcher and the team's sixth-highest bonus ever. He looks like he'll be worth it, with his mid-90s fastball and potential above-average changeup and curveball.
4) Jio Mier, SS
Mier gets the nod over Villar because the latter has already been a part of a major trade (Roy Oswalt to Philly), making him more likely to be moved again. Mier was the stud of the system after a terrific 2009 debut, but he took some steps backward last season, playing in Low-A ball. His batting average dipped and his strikeout number more than doubled.
Still, he's got solid batting and defensive tools and Baseball America compares him favorably to J.J. Hardy.
5) Ariel Ovando, OF
If you haven't heard the name, keep an eye on Ovando in 2011. The Astros top international signee from 2010, Ovando signed for a team record $2.6 million after flashing tools that earned him comps to Cliff Floyd, Jason Heyward and Darryl Strawberry.
Ovando is pretty much all bat, though, and doesn't figure to be an impact player defensively. Still, he projects as a middle-of-the-order bat, which makes him pretty darn untouchable.
Kansas City Royals
1) Eric Hosmer, 1B
Hosmer is arguably the best all-around hitter in the minors, and as such, he's not going anywhere. He's a major part of the Royals rebuilding plan and figures to impact the big-league club sometime in late 2011, securing a long-term spot for 2012.
2) Wil Myers, OF
The Royals moved Myers to the outfield for the 2011 season, accelerating his path to the majors, which is now solely contingent on his ability to produce at the plate. He'll start 2011 in Double-A, but could reach Triple-A. Like Hosmer, Myers has a special bat.
3) Mike Moustakas, 3B
From two of the best hitters in the minors to the guy with the best power anywhere—"Moose" is a beast who crushed 36 homers last season, striking out only 67 times all year. He showed a good ability to hit for average last year as well, and that would be an added bonus for the Royals future cleanup hitter.
4) Mike Montgomery, LHP
Despite having to compete with John Lamb, Danny Duffy and Chris Dwyer in his own organization, Montgomery is easily the most untouchable of the bunch. His easy, left-handed heat is great, and he complements his fastball with a solid curveball and a good changeup. He's ticketed for Double-A in 2011, but could make his big-league debut come September.
5) Christian Colon, SS/2B
Despite playing shortstop for his entire high-school and college careers, Colon's long-term future with K.C. is at second base, where he'll hopefully get some playing time in 2011. The team drafted Colon, however, for his bat, which should be capable of producing 15–25 homers and a .290–.310 average annually.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
1) Mike Trout, OF
If you're a baseball fan and you haven't heard of Trout's awesome talents, then turn in your card. There's no way the team is trading the No. 1 prospect in baseball.
2) Tyler Chatwood, RHP
Chatwood moved incredibly fast for a high-school draft pick, shooting up from rookie ball to Triple-A in less than three full seasons. The right-hander breezed through High-A and Double-A in 2010, utilizing a mid-90s fastball and a great curve. If Chatwood can sharpen his command, he could be a front-of-the-rotation kind of guy.
3) Jean Segura, 2B/SS
Segura is the prized possession of the team's 2007 international class. In his first full season last year, he hit .313 and stole 50 bases, earning rave reviews for his hitting ability and speed on the basepaths. He also rapped 24 doubles, racked up 12 triples and hit 10 homers, driving in 79 runs.
And, to make his season even more impressive, he compiled a decent BB-to-K ratio. Segura will jump to High-A in 2011, and will try his hand at shortstop for the first time.
4) Hank Conger, C
When the Angels dealt Mike Napoli, that sealed Conger's status as an "untouchable." Conger scraped the line between Triple-A and the majors several times over the past few seasons, but there was always an injury that kept him from taking over full-time at the big-league level. Now the job is his.
5) Randal Grichuk, OF
The player taken one pick before Trout in the 2009 draft, Grichuk is still quite the prospect for the Angels. While he hasn't developed as nicely, or as quickly, as Trout, he's still one of the best power hitters in the system. He was struck with some bad luck in the form of multiple injuries, but he should be healthy enough to start the 2011 season in Low-A ball.
Los Angeles Dodgers
1) Dee Gordon, SS
Gordon is arguably the most exciting player in the minors right now, and with the entire organization in a state of confusion due to the owner's divorce trial, Gordon isn't going anywhere, which is great for the team, considering he's the best hitter in the system, not to mention it's fastest player. Gordon stole 53 bases last year and stole a whopping 73 the year before, and he has a .297 career average.
2) Zach Lee, RHP
The Dodgers sure as heck aren't parting with a guy they shelled out $5.2 million to sign. Lee has future No. 1 stuff.
3) Rubby de la Rosa, RHP
De la Rosa is another one of those guys who can light up a radar gun like nobody's business. He had a breakout 2010 season, racking up strikeouts by the truckload, and he's worked his way into the team's long-term plans.
4) Jerry Sands, OF/1B
Think what you will about Sands. Yes, maybe he overachieved last year, or maybe he took advantage of the opportunity to play against much younger players, but the guy can still hit. His outburst of power, with a little dash of speed, could be a perfect fit for this club, and the Dodgers aren't going to get rid of him until they see if he's the real deal.
5) Ethan Martin, RHP
The team's first-rounder in 2008, Martin struggled to stay healthy after signing. Now, he's just struggling to survive. He lost his last seven starts in 2010, and finished with a 9-14 record and an ERA of 6.35. That's bad no matter how you look at it.
Luckily for him, he has a mid-90s fastball and an assortment of pitches that make him a legit No. 2 or 3 starter.
1) Mark Rogers, RHP
Rogers ranked as the team's top prospect, which isn't saying much, because at his best, he's a back-end starter. Still, with the state that the Brewers system is in, they simply can't afford to deal Rogers.
What if something happens to Greinke or Marcum? Rogers is big-league ready, so he isn't going anywhere.
2) Cody Scarpetta, RHP
Scarpetta is still a few years away from Milwaukee, but like Rogers, he's one of a few quality starting pitching prospects.
3) Wily Peralta, RHP
4) Tyler Thormburg, RHP
5) Cody Hawn, 1B
With the uncertainty that is Prince Fielder's expiring contract, the Brewers have got to have a backup plan in place. That could be Hawn, who tore up the Pioneer League last season and is the most powerful hitter the team has. Hawn will start 2011 in High-A ball, and if he hits, he could be in Double-A by the end of the year.
1) Kyle Gibson, RHP
At the forefront of the next wave of great Twins prospects is Gibson. Many passed on Gibson out of the 2009 draft, but the Twins did not, scooping him up at pick No. 22 and then watching him blossom into a No. 1 starter. Gibson reached Triple-A last season and should factor heavily into the team's plans for this season.
2) Aaron Hicks, OF
Don't read too much into Hicks' two-year exile to Low-A ball. He's still one of the team's top prospects, and arguably their best all-around talent. An incredible athlete, Hicks is a potential Gold Glove talent in the outfield, and has a very even approach at the plate. He's good for 15–25 homers and a .280–.300 average, as well as 20 steals.
3) Miguel Sano, 3B
Sano was the talk of the 2009 international signing class, and finally agreed with the Twins for $3.15 million. His power is the best in the system, and if he is developed properly, he could be good for 35–40 homers per season. He's already outgrown shortstop, and if he gets too much bigger, he could be destined for a corner outfield spot.
4) Ben Revere, OF
It's not too often you see teams willing to deal guys who put up .379 season averages in the minors. That means Revere is likely safe for the time being.
The most polished hitter in the system, he doesn't offer any power, but has great speed and would profile well at the top of the lineup. He too has reached Triple-A, making a brief debut in Minnesota last season.
5) Oswaldo Arcia, OF
One of the toolsiest players in the system, Arcia put up video-game numbers last season in the Appy League. He hit .375 with 21 doubles, seven triples, 14 homers and 51 RBI, shattering all sorts of records. His power is for real, even if his ability to maintain a high average isn't. He's a future middle-of-the-lineup bat for the Twins.
New York Mets
1) Jenrry Mejia, RHP
With Johan Santana on the shelf, Mejia has become more valuable than ever. The team tried, and failed, to turn him into a reliever to speed his rise to the majors, but now he's coming back as a starter. He'll start the season at Triple-A, but could be up sometime during the summer, bringing his mid-90s heat and plus-curveball.
2) Wilmer Flores, SS/3B
It's not too often you see a hitter of Flores' caliber moved, and for a team like New York that isn't expected to do much contending this season, he seems like a surefire bet to stick around. After all, he's a major piece of their rebuilding effort.
Flores has the ability to hit for a very high average with solid pop. His only question mark is his defense.
3) Cesar Puello, OF
Puello is one of the most talented, unknown hitters in the minors. He has shown the ability to hit for average, and has as much raw power as anyone in the system, even though it hasn't shown through in games yet. And, oh yeah, he also stole 45 bases last year. He also has a rocket for an arm that would fit well in one of the outfield corners.
4) Matt Harvey, RHP
At the rate that the Mets cycle through starting pitchers, it's comforting to see pitchers like Harvey making their way through the system. Armed with a mid-90s fastball and an awesome curveball, Harvey should move quickly through the minors.
5) Jeurys Familia, RHP
One of the Mets' top relief prospects, even though he's still starting in the minors, Familia has the stuff (94–98 mph fastball, high-80s slider) to close games for the Mets. His lack of a true third pitch has hurt him in the minors, and is another reason he'd fit well in the bullpen. For the time being, though, the Mets will try to mold him as a starter, this time at Double-A.
New York Yankees
1) Gary Sanchez, C
The Yankees may have the best catching depth in the minors, but at the end of the day, the only two players who have the skills to stick at the position are Austin Romine and Sanchez. Of the two, Sanchez has the vastly superior bat-skills.
He tore up the GCL and held his own in the NYPL as an 18-year-old and will get his first taste of full-season ball this year.
2) Dellin Betances, RHP
Gone are the days of the Yankees winning every free-agent battle (see: Cliff Lee), and as such, the team is going to have to fall back on its own homegrown pitching, and it all starts with Betances. He might not be the first to get a crack at the rotation, but he probably has the best chance to stick.
3) Manny Banuelos, LHP
The team's best lefty pitching prospect, Banuelos looks to be as untouchable as Betances, which could mean something...or nothing.
4) Andrew Brackman, RHP
5) Slade Heathcott, OF
As you can clearly see, the Yankees seem to have a thing for toolsy outfielders (Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson, etc.), and the best young player they have in the system is Heathcott, the team's first-round pick from 2009. Scouts seem to agree that Heathcott is a more powerful version of Gardner, with slightly less speed.
1) Grant Green, SS
Green is the toast of the A's system, and out of their group of position players, he's likely the most big-league ready. He hit 20 homers last season for the team's High-A club, and should be good for that many in the big leagues as well. His defense might force a switch to second base, but he'd still be one of the better offensive second basemen around.
2) Michael Choice, OF
The team's 2010 first-round pick, Choice opened all sorts of eyes in spring training. He wowed teams and scouts alike with his athleticism and his powerful bat. He had some of the best power in the 2010 draft crop and complements it with a stellar batting eye. He's playing a little bit of center for now, but a move to a corner spot is inevitable.
3) Jemile Weeks, 2B
Jemile Weeks is the younger brother of Milwaukee's Rickie Weeks, and if Jemile has anything in common with his bro, it's his bat. Jemile has a solid game all around, from his ability to hit .300, to his surprising pop to his solid defensive ability. He might not be as good as his brother, but if he can come close, he's worth hanging onto.
4) Max Stassi, C
Despite the long-term deal the A's shelled out to Kurt Suzuki, Stassi is the team's catcher of the future. He should develop into at least an average hitter in the big leagues, but he'll rise up the charts thanks to his ability to handle a pitching staff and his rocket arm that cut down 34 percent of base-stealers last year.
Stassi, who will start the 2011 season in the hitter-friendly High-A Cal League, is still at least three years away from Oakland.
5) Yordy Cabrera, SS
Cabrera was the team's second-round pick in last year's draft, and even though he has the international look, he's been playing ball in the States since he was a teenager. He's more developed physically than most due to his early emigration, and has a chance for above-average power. He likely won't stick at shortstop, but could easily handle third base.
1) Jon Singleton, OF
Singleton is definitely untouchable. The team recently moved him to the outfield so that he wouldn't be blocked by Ryan Howard when it was time for him to reach the big leagues. A solid all-around player, he has good power and some surprising speed.
2) Brody Colvin, RHP
The Phillies are loaded with high-upside arms like Colvin, who throws in the mid 90s and has a solid changeup and curveball. Colvin performed well in the Low-A Sally League last year and will move up to High-A in 2011.
3) Jarred Cosart, RHP
Similar to Colvin, Cosart also offers mid-90s heat and a good curveball. Where he's lacking is in the development of his changeup. Cosart hasn't experienced too much failure as a pro, and could be a No. 1 guy, which, on a team that has Halladay and Lee, means he could end up in the bullpen.
4) Trevor May, RHP
The third of the team's top trio of righties, May looks to be the safest bet among the three. He too tosses in the mid 90s and has a very polished set of secondary pitches. His control isn't quite there all the time, leading to lots of walks, but he made some great strides after a demotion to Low-A ball last year. The team is hoping he's straightened out, and he'll pitch alongside Cosart and Colvin in High-A in 2011.
5) Sebastian Valle, C
The Phillies dealt their future backstop (Travis D'Arnaud) to the Jays last season, leaving Valle as the new guy. Valle made great improvements during the 2010 season, finally translating some of his raw power into games. The result was 16 homers and 74 RBI in 117 games. He also upped his average and sharpened his defense. He'll be the guy behind the plate to catch the three pitchers on this list at High-A Clearwater.
1) Jameson Taillon, RHP
The story on Taillon has been beaten to death. The Pirates preferred him to eventual No. 1 pick Bryce Harper, and ended up with a hard-throwing (93–99 mph) pitcher with two potential above-average breaking pitches.
2) Tony Sanchez, C
Sanchez was the first part of the Pirates rebuilding plan, drafted in 2009, and he's moved along nicely, reaching High-A ball. He'll start 2011 in Double-A, where the team is hoping he can continue to hit like he has. He's solid behind the plate and should have no problem remaining a catcher long-term.
3) Stetson Allie, RHP
Allie had arguably the best velocity of any pitcher in the 2010 draft besides Taillon, so the Pirates were obviously thrilled to pick him up in the second round. He has all the makings of a shutdown closer, but the Pirates will see if they can catch lightning in a bottle and develop him as a starter. If they can succeed, they'll arguably have two No. 1 starters.
4) Luis Heredia, RHP
The Pirates jumped into the international market and made a huge splash with Heredia, whom they inked for $2.6 million, shattering the team record of $400,000. Already 6'6" and 185 pounds, the right-hander pounds hitters with a low-to-mid-90s fastball and an amazing curveball.
He'll have to work on his control and develop a changeup to succeed as a starter, but he has all the tools to be a front-of-the-rotation starter.
5) Bryan Morris, RHP
Morris is arguably the safest pitcher in the system, as well as the closest to being big-league ready. He finished 2010 in Double-A and will start this year in Triple-A. He's had some injuries in the past, but managed to stay healthy last year, leading many to think he might be able to stick as a starter. He throws in the low 90s and has a bevy of other pitches that make him a hard guy to get a handle on.
St. Louis Cardinals
1) Shelby Miller, RHP
Miller is the team's best pitching prospect and might actually be called upon late this season to provide a boost to the team that many expected to be a major player in the N.L. Central this year. Miller dominated after returning from a break last season in Low-A ball, and could split this season between High-A and Double-A. With his mid-90s heat and two potentially above-average pitches, Miller is untouchable.
2) Zack Cox, 3B
After all the players that the team has plugged in at third base throughout the years, Cox should finally put an end to the cycle when he arrives in the big leagues. The owner of the best bat available in last year's draft class (aside from Bryce Harper), Cox has the ability to hit for average and power. His defense should be fine at third.
3) Carlos Martinez, RHP
Martinez exploded onto the scene in 2010, firing high-90s bullets and dominating hitters in the Dominican Summer League. He ended his tour there with a 0.76 ERA and 78 strikeouts in 59 innings. He'll come into the 2011 season as a full-season pitcher with a chance to become one of the best pitching prospects in baseball.
4) Tyrell Jenkins, RHP
One of the most incredible athletes in baseball, the Cardinals had to offer him $1.3 million to turn down a full-ride to Baylor, where he would have succeeded Robert Griffin at QB. Jenkins throws in the low 90s and throws three other pitches that all have potential to be at least average pitches. He's also one of the youngest players in their system, so he likely won't pitch until summer.
5) Matt Carpenter, 3B
Few members of the organization have improved their stock as much as Carpenter, who could be the stopgap at third until Zack Cox is ready. He hit 12 homers last season in Double-A and could have 20–30 HR potential hiding in his bat. He's also adept at hitting for average.
San Diego Padres
1) Casey Kelly, RHP
Kelly was the main centerpiece of the deal that sent Adrian Gonzalez to Boston. An athletic former two-way player, Kelly has developed into an ace on the mound, and is the Padres' top prospect after holding the same honor with the Red Sox. He throws in the low-to-mid 90s and has an advanced feel for his other two pitches, a changeup and a curveball.
2) Anthony Rizzo, 1B
Rizzo was the best hitter in the Boston system, and like Kelly, now holds that title in San Diego. As if coming back from a battle with lymphoma wasn't difficult enough, Rizzo has developed into a fine hitter, capable of hitting for a decent average and for a good amount of power. To top it all off, he has been consistently rated as the best defensive first baseman in each league he's played in.
3) Simon Castro, RHP
The Padres thrive off of pitching, and in Petco Park, quality pitching is key. That's why the team isn't likely to deal Castro, even if they're on the verge of contending. Heck, Castro could be the addition that puts the team over the top if they're even close to the top of the standings come August/September.
4) Reymond Fuentes, OF
The Red Sox's first-round pick in 2009, Fuentes is easily the most exciting player in the system. His outfield play is a thing of beauty and he should be able to call center field at Petco his home for a good amount of years.
At the plate, Fuentes is a line-drive kind of hitter, relying on his speed to rack up doubles and triples. He's also good for at least 30 steals a year.
5) Drew Cumberland, 2B/SS
Cumberland is one of the finest hitters in the minors, and yet, not too many people are in on him, solely because he's struggled to stay healthy. Part of that is because of his all-out playing style; it resulted in a leg laceration that prematurely ended his 2010 season.
Cumberland has a solid approach at the plate and is capable of hitting .300, and he showed some pretty good speed last season as well, leading many to believe he could find a home at the top of a lineup.
San Francisco Giants
1) Zack Wheeler, RHP
For a top-10 pick (No. 6 in 2009), Wheeler flew, remarkably, under the radar in 2010. His season was so-so, but the fact that he can generate easy 94–97 mph velocity makes him one of the best bets in the Giants system. He made great strides with his other pitches down the stretch last year, and enters 2011 as a breakout candidate.
2) Gary Brown, OF
Brown was the team's first-round pick last season, and while he doesn't seem like the kind of high-upside player you would expect a team to draft in the bottom of the first round, he is still a solid player who has everyday potential.
Brown is one of the fastest players in the minors and his advanced approach at the plate should allow him to get the most out of his speed. He's a future leadoff guy who can contribute on the defensive end with Gold Glove-caliber skills.
3) Francisco Peguero, OF
Peguero has done nothing but rake the past two seasons, and he's one of the team's only potential five-tool players. He hit .353 at two levels in 2009, and .329 last year at High-A San Jose. For the first time, he showed some real pop last year, hitting 10 homers and driving in 77 runs.
With above-average speed, he notched 19 doubles, 16 triples and ended up with a career-high 40 steals. Peguero will move up to Double-A in 2011.
4) Brandon Crawford, SS
Crawford is the team's future shortstop; the only question is when he's going to get his chance to start every day at the big-league level. The seasoned hitter from UCLA spent most of the 2010 season at Double-A Richmond and held his own, hitting .241 with seven homers in 79 games. His defensive skills are above average and he projects to be a Gold Glove candidate every year.
5) Tommy Joseph, C/1B
Despite the presence of Buster Posey (catcher) and Brandon Belt (first base), the Giants are still big-time believers in Joseph, who had an impressive debut season, hitting 16 homers in Low-A ball as an 18-year-old. He's off to a solid start in High-A ball this year, hitting one homer and driving in five runs in four games, notching a .412 average.
The best-case scenario is that Joseph arrives in the majors and splits time between catcher and first, with maybe a little outfield thrown in, spelling Posey and Belt. His bat is solid enough to make him an everyday player.
1) Nick Franklin, SS/2B
Franklin stated his case as the best offensive shortstop in baseball last year, hitting 23 homers while maintaining a .283 average. He also stole 25 bases and played solid enough defense to make the M's consider leaving him at shortstop. Franklin impressed everyone by reaching Double-A before his 20th birthday, but he'll actually start off this season in High-A ball.
2) Taijuan Walker, RHP
With the inevitable graduations of Michael Pineda and Dustin Ackley, the Mariners are pretty bereft of elite talent. Aside from Franklin, the team's best bet is Walker, who was the team's first selection in the 2010 draft.
He was one of the most raw pitchers taken in the first two rounds, and the M's will have their work cut out for them, but Walker has immense talent, including a mid-to-high-90s fastball and a plus-curveball, so things are looking promising.
3) Guillermo Pimentel, OF
Pimentel was the team's most heralded signing of the 2009 international class, and while he struggled in his debut, he flashed some of the best power to come along in Seattle's system in many, many years. He hit six homers in 51 games in the AZL, and has 30-HR potential going forward. His biggest drawback is his inability to recognize breaking pitches. He struck out a whopping 58 times in 184 at-bats in 2010.
4) Marcus Littlewood, SS
While Franklin might eventually have to move to second base, Littlewood has all the tools and polish to stick as the team's long-term shortstop. In addition to being solid on defense, Littlewood also has an advanced approach at the plate, has decent speed and is one of the hardest workers you'll find in the Mariners system. He is off to a good start in 2011, hitting .455 through three games at Low-A Clinton.
5) Alex Liddi, 3B/1B
The Mariners have been the biggest international player in baseball over the past decade and a half. They've produced big leaguers from all over the Caribbean, as well as the Far East. With Liddi, they're branching out into the Mediterranean.
Hailing from Italy, Liddi is one of the more polished players in the system. He hit 23 homers in 2009 and another 15 last year, adding 92 RBI. He's a polished hitter with a free-swinging attitude that results in big strikeout numbers, but he's also good for 20–25 homers per year as a big leaguer. Liddi's in Triple-A for the first time in 2011.
Tampa Bay Rays
1) Matt Moore, LHP
It's pretty much impossible to imagine the team getting rid of a pitcher who has led the minors in strikeouts in back-to-back seasons, especially when that same guy throws 92–96 mph and has two above-average pitches.
2) Josh Sale, OF
The team's first-round pick from the other side of the nation (Seattle), Sale was arguably the top high-school hitter in the 2010 draft class. His raw power is tops in the Rays system, and for a high-schooler, he could move really quickly thanks to his polished ability.
He could probably handle full-season ball, but the Rays are not known for rushing their prospects, so he'll most likely start out in rookie ball.
3) Justin O'Connor, C
O'Connor was the team's second first-round pick last year, and now represents the future of the Rays behind the plate. O'Connor was viewed as one of the top power bats in the draft, and the team was somewhat disappointed that he only went deep three times in 48 games during his debut, but he's still so young, and so good behind the plate, that they wouldn't dare part with him.
4) Enny Romero, LHP
Romero is my pick for breakout star of the Rays system in 2011. Signed out of the D.R. in 2008, Romero has steadily progressed and made his NYPL debut late last season. He put up huge strikeout numbers in the Appy League, where he ranked as the No. 2 prospect.
He debuted this season in Low-A, striking out eight batters in five innings, allowing only one hit. Romero throws 92–96 mph and does a great job of mixing up his pitches, each of which he commands better than most 20-year-olds.
5) Chris Archer, RHP
A late addition to the system, Archer slots in nicely behind Moore as the team's best starting-pitcher prospect. It's taken some time for Archer to develop, but he made it to Double-A in 2010, and started there this season. He pitched four innings of one-run ball in his Rays debut and looks to be a major part of their plans heading forward, even if that includes a move to the 'pen to speed his rise to the majors.
1) Martin Perez, LHP
Despite so-so results the past two seasons, Perez is still one of the top lefty pitchers in the minors. He just recently turned 20 and is getting his second shot at Double-A.
2) Jurickson Profar, SS
One of the top international position players in the minors, Profar offers an intriguing blend of offense and defense. At shortstop, he profiles as a potential Gold Glover, while at the plate, he has a solid mix of average and power. Best of all, he's one of the hardest workers in the system, so there's a good bet he'll reach, or get close to, his full potential.
3) Tanner Scheppers, RHP
If you've learned anything about the guys on this list, you should have learned that you don't give up guys who can light up a radar gun with triple digits. Scheppers is another one of those guys.
4) David Perez, RHP
Another intriguing international prospect who could be on the verge of a breakout season, Perez has a very advanced feel for pitching, and a big-league ready frame that should allow him to move quickly through the minors. His fastball sits at 91–96, and he complements it with a potentially above-average curve and an improving changeup.
5) Kellin Deglan, C
For all the top-notch catching prospects that have passed through Texas over the years, it's a guy who came from outside the organization that holds the position currently for the Rangers (Mike Napoli). Still, the team is going to need a guy for the future, and Deglan is that guy.
The team reached for him with one of its first-round picks last year, due in large part to his skills as a catcher. His bat lags behind his defensive ability, but he could hit enough to be a solid, everyday backstop.
Toronto Blue Jays
1) Brett Lawrie, 3B
With one more trade, Lawrie will have as many of those as he's had position changes. His most recent swap (to third base) comes with a new squad, his home-country Toronto Blue Jays.
Despite his defensive indecision, Lawrie is already knocking on the big-league door, and even a quandary like his won't keep him from impacting the big-league squad sometime this season. He's one of the best hitters in the minors.
2) Deck McGuire, RHP
The team's first-round pick in 2010, McGuire is the most polished pitcher in the organization, and should be a quick mover through the minors.
3) Anthony Gose, OF
Gose's skills were so intriguing to the organization that it handed over Brett Wallace to the Astros in exchange for him. Gose has tools coming out of his you-know-what, and he's a potential 50-plus steal player, who has shown decent hitting ability since signing as a second-round pick in 2008. If he can up his average into the .280–.290 range, he could be a beast.
4) Carlos Perez, C
The Blue Jays system is flush with catching talent (Arencibia, D'Arnaud and Perez), and Perez very well may be the best of them all. The 20-year-old has hit .302 in three short seasons, and has the best plate discipline in the system, despite his relatively young age. He's making his first full-season appearance this season and his debut was awesome. He went three-for-five with two runs and an RBI.
5) Aaron Sanchez, RHP
Another candidate to break out in 2011, Sanchez was one of the best high-school pitchers of the 2010 draft class. He slipped to the Blue Jays at pick No. 34, and the team quickly inked him to a $775,000 deal, allowing him to get some starts in before the season ended. He pitched well enough, and showed enough polish to warrant full-season consideration for 2011.
1) Bryce Harper, OF
2) Derek Norris, C
The team has a solid collection of catchers, but none have the offensive potential that Norris offers. He struggled in 2010, but hit 23 homers in 2009, while maintaining a .285 average. He hasn't been very good at the plate so far in 2011 (.200 in eight ABs), and has been even worse behind it, allowing six stolen bases in his first two contests, but his bat should get him to the big leagues.
3) A.J. Cole, RHP
If the Nats are going to turn things around, it's going to be on the strength of their pitching, which means Cole is going to have to play a huge role. He was a potential top-10 pick heading into 2010, but slipped to the team in the fourth round after his velocity dipped and rumors about his out-of-control bonus demands broke.
He ended up signing for $2 million and the Nats added another first-round talent to their collection. Cole's velocity returned after signing and the team couldn't be happier.
4) Cole Kimball, RHP
Kimball didn't work as a starter, so the Nats moved him to the bullpen, where he has flourished, so much, in fact, that he earned the closer's role for the team's Triple-A affiliate. There's no question that he'll be one of the first names they call if they need some help in the big-league 'pen.
Pitching as a reliever has allowed Kimball's velocity to rise to the high 90s, making him nearly un-hittable. He'll likely spend a good chunk of the season with the big-league club.
5) Brad Peacock, RHP
A bona fide starting prospect, Peacock led all Nats pitchers with 148 strikeouts last season, splitting time between High-A and Double-A. He's a tiny guy, but he has solid velocity, reaching 96 mph, and he has a pair of potentially above-average pitches in a knuckle-curve and a changeup. If he can continue to develop them, he could be a back-end guy for the Nats.