Breaking Down Baseball America's Midseason Top 50 Prospects
Baseball America released their midseason edition of their Top 50 prospect rankings for Major League Baseball about a week ago. You can find the list here, although you'll have to subscribe in order to view the expanded rankings with minor blips about each player.
While the list is comprised of some players who are pretty much household names by now (guys like Bryce Harper, Mike Trout and Julio Teheran), there are also plenty of surprises. Like Mariners right-handed pitcher Taijuan Walker, for example, who snuck into the Top 40. Or Leonys Martin, who wasn't even signed by Texas until early May and then managed to jump all the way to No. 25 on the list.
The rankings are also missing some pretty big names, like lefty Tyler Matzek, who the Rockies spent their first-round pick on two-years ago. Matzek has suffered with some terrible control issues, leading to the team shutting him down and allowing him to return to California to work with his high school training coach.
It also features some guys who are suffering from what I like to call "prospect fatigue." That means they've simply been around in the Minors long enough to actually warrant a drop in the rankings because of the influx of new talent via the draft or international signings. The two most notable players suffering from this deadly ailment are New York's Jesus Montero and Tampa Bay's Desmond Jennings.
Without further ado, let's get into the list...
Prospects Broken Down by Team/Division/League/Position
Breaking the list down by team (multiple prospects only):
Texas Rangers (4)
Arizona Diamondbacks (3)
Toronto Blue Jays (3)
Kansas City Royals (3)
Atlanta Braves (3)
Los Angeles Dodgers (3)
New York Yankees (3)
Tampa Bay Rays (3)
Washington Nationals (2)
Chicago Cubs (2)
St. Louis Cardinals (2)
Colorado Rockies (2)
Philadelphia Phillies (2)
Cleveland Indians (2)
Minnesota Twins (2)
San Francisco Giants (2)
Breaking the list down by division:
A.L. East (11)
N.L. West (11)
A.L. Central (8)
N.L. East (8)
A.L. West (6)
N.L. Central (6)
Breaking the list down by league:
American League (25)
National League (25)
Breaking the list down by position:
Right-handed pitcher (19)
Left-handed pitcher (7)
Third baseman (3)
First baseman (2)
Second baseman (1)
1) Bryce Harper, OF, Washington Nationals
Like Matt Wieters before him, Bryce Harper has blown away all the expectations about his first season. He tore through the South Atlantic League, hitting at a .318/.423/.554 clip, crushing 14 home runs and racking up 46 RBI.
Those numbers were good enough to warrant a promotion, straight past High-A ball to Double-A Harrisburg, where Harper racked up five hits in his first 10 at-bats.
The right fielder has shown five tools during his debut season, including great speed (20 steals) and a cannon arm that was introduced to the baseball world at the Futures Game (where he fired a 330-foot rocket from the warning track in left field to home plate on one bounce).
2) Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels
The Angels rewarded Trout for a year-and-a-half's worth of stellar play with a promotion to the Majors just before the All-Star break. Whether or not he sticks around Anaheim for the remainder of the big-league season is still up in the air, but without a doubt, Trout assured fans and experts alike that his dream season of 2010 was no fluke. He hit .324 with 12 doubles, 11 triples and nine homers in 290 at-bats for the Angels' Double-A affiliate, swiping 28 bases in the process.
3) Matt Moore, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays
Moore has led the Minor Leagues in strikeouts each of the past two seasons. And with 125 more this year, in just 96.2 innings, he's well within striking distance of the top spot once again.
This year has been more about pitching to contact for Moore, and he's improved his off-speed stuff dramatically. His stuff is so wicked that he's only allowed 61 hits all season long; his ERA of 2.14 is one of the best anywhere. Moore further showcased his talents at the Futures Game, showing easy 94-98 mph heat and quality breaking stuff.
4) Julio Teheran, RHP, Atlanta Braves
Teheran exploded onto the scene last year, jumping from Low-A to Double-A in just 17 starts. He finished the season with a 9-8 record, a 2.59 ERA and 159 strikeouts in 142.2 innings.
This year, as hard as it is to believe, he's gotten better. His ERA of 1.79 ranks fourth in all of Minor League Baseball, and his .900 winning percentage (9-1) is the best in the International League.
Teheran has produced less strikeouts this season, which has allowed him to go deeper into games. His last two outings of just five innings a piece were his shortest since early May. He also made two big-league outings (the first of his career) earlier in the year, although the results were much worse than his minor league domination.
5) Manny Machado, SS, Baltimore Orioles
Machado tore the cover off the ball for Low-A Delmarva, although a rough finish after his return from the DL dropped his average down to a pedestrian .276. He's only hitting .222 with Frederick, but he does have more walks (nine) than strikeouts (eight).
He's also coming off of his two best performances since his promotion. On July 7th, he was walked four times after doubling in his only official at-bat. The next night he earned two more walks, but not before hitting a solo home run—his eighth of the season.
6) Martin Perez, LHP, Texas Rangers
Despite his mediocre performances over the past two seasons, Perez has maintained his place among the top prospects in the game, thanks to his incredible stuff. This year he's starting to put forth some better results, including a 3.16 ERA and an 83:36 K:BB ratio. Perez was especially strong during May, posting an ERA under 1.50 and striking out a batter an inning.
7) Shelby Miller, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals
Miller is frequently mentioned in the discussion for top right-handed pitcher in the Minor Leagues. He not only has the stuff, but the stats to back that assertion up.
Ever since taking a month-long sabbatical last summer, Miller has been nonstop awesome. He finished the 2010 campaign on a tear and has carried that momentum over into the 2011 season. He's already jumped from High-A to Double-A and seems to have gotten stronger.
In seven Double-A starts, he's 4-1 with a 1.90 ERA and 43 strikeouts in 42.2 innings. He's only surrendered three home runs all season long. For the season, he's 6-4 with a 2.45 ERA and a 124:30 K:BB ratio.
8) Jesus Montero, C, New York Yankees
It seems like Montero has been waiting for his chance to break in with the Yankees for years now, but while a little something called "prospect fatigue" seems to have set in with him, he's still an incredibly talented minor leaguer who has little left to prove.
He spent the entire season with the Yankees' Triple-A club, where he hit .289 with seven homers and 33 RBI in 70 games. It looks like he's finally starting to heat up, as he hit .357 during the month of July.
9) Jameson Taillon, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
Since he didn't make his debut as early as Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, very little attention has been paid to the No. 2 overall pick from last year's draft. That hasn't stopped Taillon from looking incredibly sharp in his first 13 starts with Low-A West Virginia. He hasn't gone past the fourth inning in many starts, but he's still managed to post a 49:8 K:BB ratio in 51.2 innings, while posting a 3.66 ERA. During four starts in June, Taillon posted a 2.70 ERA, struck out 18 batters and walked none.
10) Brett Lawrie, 3B, Toronto Blue Jays
It's hard to envision a world where Lawrie isn't manning third base for the Blue Jays come September. In fact, if it hadn't been for a fracture in his left hand, he might be playing for them right now. Instead, he'll have to settle for working his way back, logging some more at-bats in Triple-A and waiting for his turn. It's clear that he's too advanced a hitter for Triple-A, as he hit .354 with 15 home runs and 49 RBI in 52 PCL contests.
11) Jacob Turner, RHP, Detroit Tigers
Turner was selected exactly 10 picks before Miller and has followed a similar career path since signing with the Tigers. He spent the entire 2011 season in Double-A, and while he hasn't looked as dominant as his draft counterpart, he's still been very impressive. Batters are only hitting .233 off of him, and he has a 79:29 K:BB ratio in 100.2 innings. Turner is pretty much a safe bet to go at least six-plus innings every time out.
12) Jurickson Profar, SS, Texas Rangers
Profar is one of the top position prospects in all of baseball after putting together a solid first half of the season for Low-A Hickory. After a solid pro debut in 2010, Profar has built on that momentum and carried a .272/.383/.492 line through the first 68 games of the season. He's shown good power (20 doubles and eight home runs), great speed (six triples and 10 steals) and incredible plate discipline (40:35 BB:K ratio). Profar has been especially impressive in July, hitting .333.
13) Manny Banuelos, LHP, New York Yankees
Banuelos looked sharp enough in spring training to make many think he had a legit shot at making the Yankees rotation to start the season. Instead, the team played it safe with the tiny lefty, sending him back to Double-A, where he's looked every bit as good as he's been touted. He's averaged more than a strikeout per inning, and aside from some control issues (40 BB in 79 IP), he's done everything the Yanks have asked of him.
14) Drew Pomeranz, LHP, Cleveland Indians
Pomeranz is getting his first taste of pro ball this year and has responded nicely so far. Through 15 starts for High-A Kinston, he's posted a Top 10 ERA of 1.87. He's also whiffed 95 batters in just 77 innings. More impressive, he's only surrendered two home runs the entire year.
Despite his dominance, Pomeranz has just three wins to his name, and somehow, despite posting a 1.38 ERA over five starts in June, he only picked up one victory during the month. Don't let Pomeranz's rough showing in the Futures Game fool you, he's going to be a stud.
15) Devin Mesoraco, C, Cincinnati Reds
Mesoraco has been a revelation for the Reds the past two seasons. After failing to live up to his promise the first few seasons of his pro career, he's been hitting at a torrid pace for almost a season and a half now.
Last year he was arguably the most productive catcher in baseball, slugging 26 home runs while maintaining a .302 average, splitting time between High-A, Double-A and Triple-A. This year, the 23-year-old has spent the entire season at Triple-A and has looked very strong, hitting .303 with nine home runs and 49 RBI in 79 games.
In addition to his offensive production, Mesoraco is also pretty good behind the plate. He threw out 41 percent of attempted base stealers last season. And while that number has dropped to 22 percent this season, his career average has hovered around 30 percent, which would put him right in the middle of the pack in the Majors.
16) Arodys Vizcanio, RHP, Atlanta Braves
Vizcaino usually checks in behind Randall Delgado on the Braves prospect rankings, but it was he, and not Delgado, who was named to the Futures Game roster. Vizcaino earned a midseason promotion to Double-A after a strong start at High-A Lynchburg, where he posted a 2.45 ERA and struck out 37 batters in 40.1 innings. So far in Double-A he has struck out 46 batters in 43.2 innings, while posting a 4.12 ERA.
17) Wil Myers, OF, Kansas City Royals
Myers is another guy who had a dream season in 2010. He worked his way up from Low-A to High-A and seemingly got better and better each day of the season. He finished with a .315/.429/.506 line, hit 14 homers and drove in 83 runs in 126 games. He also posted an 85:94 BB:K ratio, an incredible number for a guy who hadn't even turned 20 years old.
This year, he's fallen back to earth, something the Royals didn't expect when they went ahead and transitioned him from behind the plate to the outfield. His average is still a respectable .271, but he only has 16 extra-base hits (including just three HR), a year after combining for 54. Myers is still just 20 years old and already in Double-A, so we shouldn't be too harsh on him.
18) Carlos Martinez, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals
Martinez has been a revelation this year, carrying over the momentum from his stellar run in the Dominican Summer League last year. Pitching in full-season ball definitely agrees with the 19-year-old, who posted a 2.33 ERA in eight starts before a promotion to High-A Palm Beach.
Martinez has been kept on a short leash, and, as such, has only thrown 49.1 innings—but he has 60 strikeouts in that period. He's only given up 36 hits and surrendered only one home run. During his one-inning stint at the Futures Game, Martinez consistently showed the best velocity, touching 98-mph on more than one occasion.
19) Tyler Skaggs, LHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
Skaggs got a lot of love at the Futures Game because he's a Diamondback farmhand, but don't fool yourself into thinking he didn't deserve to be there, much less be the guy who started for Team USA.
Skaggs has been one of the most impressive pitchers in baseball this season, and he's practically a shoe-in to be named Arizona's Minor League Pitcher of the Year, which is saying something, because they've had a ton of pitchers perform at their very best this season. Skaggs has a ridiculous 125 strikeouts in 100.2 innings and has allowed a .219 average against him.
20) Desmond Jennings, OF, Tampa Bay Rays
Like Montero, Jennings has been hit with a bit of "prospect fatigue." Thanks to the incredible offensive play of Matt Joyce and the sterling defense they've gotten from Sam Fuld, the Rays haven't had to turn to Jennings quite yet. Instead, he's been exiled to Triple-A, where he's looked very good, even getting back a bit of the power he showed during the 2009 season. He's already set a career-high in homers (12), and he's looked good on the basepaths (17 steals in 18 attempts) and in the field.
21) Dee Gordon, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers
Everyone knows Gordon is the Dodgers' shortstop of the future, but for the time being he's still stuck in Triple-A, trying to polish up his baserunning and fielding. He's having no problem hitting for average (.332) and he's showing his usual above-average speed (five triples, 24 steals). Gordon should be a top-of-the-order anchor in L.A. for many years to come.
22) Hak-Ju Lee, SS, Tampa Bay Rays
Lee has been one of the breakout stars of the 2011 season, showing off for his new franchise. He has shown four tools for High-A Charlotte, including stellar fielding and great speed (20 steals). His baserunning needs some refinement (he's been caught stealing 11 times), but overall it's hard to find a complete package like Lee in the Minors. He's hitting .330 with 10 doubles and nine triples and he ranks near the top of the Florida State League leader-board with 58 runs scored.
23) Jake Odorizzi, RHP, Kansas City Royals
Nobody expected Odorizzi, who came over in the Zack Greinke trade, to outshine all of the Royals' other pitchers, but that's exactly what he's done, pitching well enough in the Carolina League to earn a promotion to Double-A right before the All-Star break. The right-hander posted insane numbers, like a 103:22 K:BB ratio and a 2.87 ERA, during his time with Wilmington, and he looked very good in his first start with Northwest Arkansas.
24) Aaron Hicks, OF, Minnesota Twins
Hicks has taken some heat for not forcing a move out of the Midwest League last year, but once again he has put together a very consistent campaign, this time for the Twins' High-A affiliate. His average (.271) is on pace with his career norm, and he's still showing some of the best plate discipline (51:64 BB:K ratio) in the Minor Leagues.
25) Leonys Martin, OF, Texas Rangers
Martin has only appeared in 34 games and logged just 131 at-bats, but he's already made a great impression on members of the organization. Scouts too. After dominating in the Texas League (.348, nine 2B, four HR, 24 RBI in 29 games), the Rangers gave him a boost to Triple-A, where he made his debut a few nights ago. Martin, who defected from Cuba and earned a $5 million signing bonus from the Rangers, is a five-tool player who could be in Arlington before the end of the year.
26) Dellin Betances, RHP, New York Yankees
One-third of the Yankees "Killer B's," Betances has quietly put together a fine season, further establishing himself as one of the team's top pitching prospects. He has everything you would look for in a right-hander, including great size (6'8", 260 lbs.) and quality stuff. He's been incredibly consistent this season, going at least five or six innings in almost every start. He has a 2.62 ERA and 86 strikeouts in 75.2 innings. He was especially filthy during April and May, when he pitched to a combined 1.82 ERA during eight starts.
27) Mike Montgomery, LHP, Kansas City Royals
Montgomery came into the season hopeful that he would be one of the first Royals pitching prospects to get the call to K.C. Instead, he's struggled immensely and has looked very little like the guy who posted a 2.61 ERA in 20 starts in 2010. He's looked much better in two July starts, allowing only one earned run in 11.2 innings, but his season ERA is still over 5.00 and he's walked 49 batters in 90.1 innings.
28) Wilin Rosario, C, Colorado Rockies
Rosario missed a good chunk of the 2010 season, but still put together a career-year, setting personal marks in home runs and RBI. He's also been nicked up this season, but he's already hit 12 home runs in just 64 games.
His average (.249) has struggled, and he's been a guaranteed double play every time he comes up with someone on first base, but he's still one of the top catchers in the Minor Leagues. Rosario likely would have been in Colorado already had it not been for his season-ending injury last year; he's very likely to get a call this September.
29) Travis d'Arnaud, C, Toronto Blue Jays
The Jays are still incredibly excited about d'Arnaud's prospects, even though they have slugger J.P. Arencibia currently playing well behind the plate in Toronto. There's no doubt that d'Arnaud is the better prospect defensively. This season, he's looked just as good at the plate, bouncing back from a tough 2010 campaign. He's currently hitting .315 with 12 homers and 37 RBI in 69 games. He's also been a doubles machine, cranking out 23.
30) Matt Harvey, RHP, New York Mets
Given the first half that Harvey had, it was surprising to see him not named to the Team USA roster for the Futures Game. Few prospects looked as good as he did in 14 Florida State League starts. He posted an 8-2 record, a 2.37 ERA and a 92:24 K:BB ratio in 76 innings before earning a well-deserved promotion to Double-A.
He's been hit pretty hard in three starts for Binghamton, giving up almost the same number of earned runs (13) in just 12.2 innings as he did in 14 starts for Port St. Lucie (20). Despite the early struggles in Double-A, Harvey still has a very bright future.
31) Jason Kipnis, 2B, Cleveland Indians
Kipnis should already be playing in Cleveland, where the Indians have had to deal with the offensive struggles of Orlando Cabrera. He cemented that belief with a first-inning solo HR off of one of the Minor League's best pitching prospects, Julio Teheran, in the Futures Game.
Down at Triple-A, Kipnis is hitting .297 with 19 doubles, nine triples, 11 home runs and 51 RBI. He also has a stellar 41:65 BB:K rate and hasn't been caught in 11 steal attempts. Kipnis is coming off of an incredible breakout season in which he hit .307 with 16 homers. The guy is an extra-base hit machine and has enough defensive chops to lock down the 2B job in Cleveland for the next decade.
32) Brett Jackson, OF, Chicago Cubs
Jackson is one of few elite prospects left in the Chicago system. He's a legit five-tool guy who has slightly above-average tools across the board. Riding the momentum that he generated with a breakout 2010 campaign, Jackson has put together a solid season for the Cubs' Double-A affiliate. He's hitting just .256, but he's slugged 10 homers, driven in 32 runs and swiped 15 bases. He's also shown a good approach at the plate and stellar defensive ability in center field.
33) Gary Brown, OF, San Francisco Giants
The Giants' first-round pick from last year, Brown is in the midst of a Mike Trout-like season. He's hitting at an incredible .316 clip, he's showing good power (21 doubles, seven HR) and he's got speed oozing out of his toenails (35 SB). The Giants expected him to hit the ground running, but nobody could have expected him to perform this well, especially after he struggled to a .159 start in rookie ball last year. Brown could be on his way to Double-A very soon after a very impressive showing in the Futures Game.
34) Robbie Erlin, LHP, Texas Rangers
Erlin doesn't get nearly as much attention as the Rangers' other lefty, Martin Perez, but statistically he's been better going on two years now. Erlin makes his living on his command, and it's been especially good this season. He's only walked 11 batters in 103.1 innings, after walking just 17 in 114.1 innings last year. He's 8-2, splitting time between High-A and Double-A, and has a combined 2.87 ERA to go with his disgusting 110:11 K:BB ratio.
35) Zack Wheeler, RHP, San Francisco Giants
The Giants don't have much in their farm system in terms of pitching, so it's a good thing that they have Wheeler, who has looked very strong pitching in the hitter-friendly Cal League. He's posted a 6-4 record, held down his ERA to 3.76 and struck out 88 batters in just 76.2 innings. His most impressive stat, by far, is the .206 that opponents are hitting against him. If Wheeler can cut back on his walks (45 in 76.2 IP), he could jump much higher up this list by the end of the 2011 campaign.
36) Kyle Gibson, RHP, Minnesota Twins
Like a few other players on this list, Gibson is just biding his time in Triple-A until the big-league club decides he is worthy enough to run out there every five or six days. Much like the big-league club, Gibson's team, Triple-A Rochester, is having an incredibly disappointing season; Gibson's win-loss record (3-7) reflects that.
His other numbers look great and are in line with the ones he put up last year. He has a solid 86:22 K:BB ratio and although batters are hitting him harder than they did last year (.272 TY vs .242 LY), he's still got a decent ERA of 4.17.
37) Anthony Ranaudo, RHP, Boston Red Sox
Ranaudo hasn't exploded in pro ball like everyone expected him to after a ridiculous run through the Cape Cod League last summer, but he's still been pretty good. After four victories in 10 starts in the Low-A South Atlantic League, the Sox gave him a bit of a challenge with a promotion to High-A Salem, where the going has been a bit tougher. His ERA has jumped more than a run to 4.46 and he's picked up four losses, but his other numbers still look strong. For the year, he's got 77 strikeouts in 84 innings and a 3.84 ERA.
38) Taijuan Walker, RHP, Seattle Mariners
If Walker can keep this up, he's going to be in the running for Mariners Pitcher of the Year honors, an amazing feat for a guy who pitched only seven innings last season. It's even more impressive when you consider that Walker was widely talked about as being one of the rawest picks from last year's first-round.
He has certainly blown everyone's socks off this season, striking out an amazing 83 batters in just 62 innings, while maintaining a 2.76 ERA through 12 starts for the Mariners' Low-A affiliate in the Midwest League. The right-hander has posted three games with 11 strikeouts, including his most recent, in which he only allowed one hit in six innings.
39) Zach Lee, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
Lee possessed one of the hottest arms in the Minors during April, posting a perfect 3-0 record, a microscopic 1.09 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 24.2 innings. He dropped off during May (9.45 ERA in two starts) before bouncing back with a strong June. His two starts in July have given the Dodgers hope that he's back in early season form. For the year, he's 5-3 with a 3.32 ERA and 57 strikeouts in 65 innings. Batters are only hitting .237 off of him.
40) Jarrod Parker, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
Parker's comeback from Tommy John surgery looked disastrous during the first month of the season. He posted a 9.00 ERA during four April starts and surrendered four homers in just 17 innings.
He got back into the swing of things during May—he only gave up three homers in 31 innings, spanning six starts, in which he posted a combined 3.19 ERA. He hasn't given up a long-ball since May and he's finally starting to look like the top pitching prospect he was before his surgery. For the year, he's 7-6 with a 4.38 ERA and 64 strikeouts in 76 innings.
41) Jonathan Singleton, 1B, Philadelphia Phillies
It's hard to put together the kind of season that Singleton did in 2010, much less repeat it with an equally impressive campaign in 2011, which is why Singleton's so-so performance for the Phillies' High-A affiliate hasn't been too shocking. He's still showing good tools across the board, but his average has dipped nearly 20 points from his career-line and his power numbers have fallen across the board. He's still showing an excellent eye at the plate.
42) Brad Peacock, RHP, Washington Nationals
Peacock came into the season as a guy who was projected as a back-of-the-rotation starter, but more likely a middle-reliever. He really took that to heart and has pitched his heart out so far in 2011.
He's already locked down 10 wins and has one of the best ERA's in the Minors, at 2.01. He's also racked up 129 strikeouts (to just 23 walks) in just 98.2 innings. Batters are hitting an astonishing .179 against him. It's hard to pick a "best" outing for Peacock, but it's hard to do better than his seven-inning, 14-strikeout five-hitter on May 13th. He also looked sharp during his one-inning stint in the Futures Game.
43) Jarred Cosart, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies
Cosart is just one of many talented arms that the Phillies have pitching for their High-A affiliate. Cosart, however, is having arguably the best season and looks like the safest bet to reach his ceiling. Although he has struggled this year with high walk rates, batters are only hitting .220 off the right-hander, allowing him to maintain his solid 3.23 ERA through 16 starts.
Cosart's top outing this year came in the form of seven, one-hit innings in which he struck out eight and walked one. Like Peacock, he looked incredible during his Futures Game inning, in which he struck out two batters and showed excellent velocity.
44) Randall Delgado, RHP, Atlanta Braves
Delgado came into the year as the No. 2 guy in the Teheran-Delgado-Vizcaino trio, but it looks like he's slipped to No. 3, with the strong year the latter has had. That's not to say that Delgado hasn't had an impressive year, though. The right-hander looked great during 17 Double-A starts and even warranted a big-league spot start. He's kept a solid ERA (3.50), compiled a good K:BB ratio (90:35) and tossed two complete games.
45) Anthony Gose, OF, Toronto Blue Jays
You knew the Jays were serious about their belief in Gose's potential when they gladly swapped Brett Wallace for him. Wallace was a proven commodity, a solid big-league bat, while Gose was a supremely talented athlete with little polish.
More than a year later, it looks like the deal has worked out for both sides. Wallace is in the big-leagues, and Gose has blossomed into one of the top position prospects in the Jays system. He's churning out triples (five) and steals (41) at an awesome pace, and he's even shown the capability to turn some of his raw power into playable power, setting a new career-high with nine home runs in 316 at-bats.
46) Nolan Arenado, 3B, Colorado Rockies
Arenado has built upon the momentum from his breakout 2010 campaign, and he's on pace to shatter career-highs in just about every offensive category. He's already only two homers away from setting a new mark, and has already topped his previous total in RBI. The guy who many people view as Todd Helton's eventual replacement at first base in Colorado has also sharpened his play at third base, making everyone wonder if he might be a better fit in the hot corner.
47) Allen Webster, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
Webster has quietly put together a fine season for the Dodgers, splitting time between High-A and Double-A. He struck out 62 batters in just 54 innings during his time in the Cal League, and while he's struggled a bit in the Southern League, he's still 7-3 on the season with a 2.96 ERA and a 92:39 K:BB ratio in 100.1 innings.
48) Matt Szczur, OF, Chicago Cubs
Szczur gave up his jet-setting football ways and a chance at the NFL in order to begin a pro-baseball career with the Cubs. If the early returns are any indication, he could be a poor man's Mike Trout. During his first full pro season, he's hitting .314 in High-A ball. He's shown some good pop (15 doubles, five homers) and excellent speed (17 steals). He's also been a beast in the outfield.
49) Jedd Gyorko, 3B, San Diego Padres
Gyorko had an exceptional debut for the Padres after signing as their second-round pick from last year's class. Interestingly enough, that was just an appetizer for his 2011 campaign that has seen him earn a promotion to Double-A after crushing Cal League pitching to the tune of a .365/.429/.638 line. He also slugged 18 homers and drove in 74 runs. Since getting the bump to Double-A, he's hit .323 with two homers and nine RBI in eight games.
50) Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks
It's hard to have a better season than the one that Goldschmidt is having. He's practically a shoe-in for Southern League MVP honors and there's still two months left to play in the season. That's what hitting .312 with 25 homers and driving in 79 runs in 87 games can do for you.
Goldschmidt has been working towards a promotion since day one of the 2011 season, and he's been fighting scouts and the consensus opinion that it's hard to be a productive right-handed-hitting first baseman. He's winning over a few, but not enough to warrant a higher ranking than the last spot on BA's list.
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