Tracking the Top Prospects: 11-20

Peter SchillerCorrespondent IMay 28, 2009

NEW YORK - APRIL 22:  Brett Anderson #49 of The Oakland Athletics pitches against The New York Yankees during their game on April 22, 2009 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx Borough of New York.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

This story was written by Stan Whyte, currently a writer for Baseball Reflections.com.

No lengthy introduction needed here as we continue with the second half of the top 20 prospects in baseball thanks again to Keith Law of Scouts, Inc. We will start now with No. 11.

11. Tim Beckham, SS, Tampa Bay Rays organization

Last year’s No. 1 overall pick in the MLB first-year player draft went to the best team in the AL last season. It is almost scary to think that in about two or three years Beckham could be playing alongside Evan Longoria in Tropicana Field.

It seems almost unfair to have those two on the left side of the infield on the same team. Kind of like Jeter and A-Rod in the Bronx.

Currently, Beckham is playing for the Bowling Green Hot Rods of the Class-A South Atlantic League. He’s hitting at a .277 clip with 23 RBIs, 6 doubles, and 2 triples on the year. However, he has not had a successful time on the base paths, successfully stealing just one base in five attempts.

His on-base percentage has suffered as well with a mark of .317 and what has hurt that percentage is his 34 strike outs versus just 8 walks. Improved technique at the plate and developing discipline is the key for Beckham’s offensive progression.

12. Colby Rasmus, CF, St. Louis Cardinals

This is another situation where a combination of injuries and the presentation of raw skill and talent allowed the 22-year-old Rasmus to make his big league debut this April. He has fared just as you would expect any rookie would as he is hitting .248 through May 19 with 13 RBI.

He was filling in for the injured Rick Ankiel who was due to come back May 19th. However, that does not mean that Rasmus will get immediately sent down. Left fielder Ryan Ludwick has been the latest Cards’ outfielder casualty to the disabled list with a strained right hamstring. He is due to return from the DL later this month.

In the meanwhile, Rasmus will hopefully continue to get playing time and continue his development in the majors as a top prospect.

13. Carlos Santana, C, Cleveland Indians organization

Good catching prospects are hard to come by simply because it is such a tough position to play. Santana is the third highest rated catcher in Baseball America’s Top 100 list and is currently playing for Double-A Akron in the Eastern League.

His on-base percentage is at a lofty .420 which is almost unheard of for a catcher. He also has a great strikeout-to-walk ratio of 18-26 and is second on the team in RBI with 25.

The Indians have a great catcher at the big league level with Victor Martinez handling the pitching staff. But with Martinez at 30, the Indians are not exactly forced to deal Santana as they will continue to be patient with him as he develops.

From Sandy Alomar, Jr., to Martinez, Santana looks to be next in a line of great catchers for the Tribe.

14. Josh Vitters, 3B, Chicago Cubs organization

How long before this kid gets the call to the next level? The answer: not long as he was called up due to the injury to Aramis Ramirez. Vitters was just tearing up the Class-A Midwest League, hitting .357 for the Peoria Chiefs.

That is good enough for fourth best in the entire league. His on-base plus slugging percentage of .978 is good for third-best in the Midwest League. The only worry about Vitters is his low walk total.

He has walked just three times in 140 at-bats this year and while he consistently makes contact at the plate, his aggressiveness just might do him in at the more advanced levels. Still, there’s a lot to like about the man the Cubs hope to have manning the hot corner on the North Side in the future.

15. Justin Smoak, 1B, Texas Rangers organization

Talk about putting pressure on a guy. Early comparisons have Smoak being mentioned with former Ranger Mark Teixeira. Try living up to that hype. But the comparisons do make some sense as Smoak resembles Big Tex in how they’re both slugging, switch-hitting first baseman with soft hands and good fielding ability.

Currently, Smoak is playing for the Frisco RoughRiders of the Double-A Texas League. He has a great on-base percentage just like most power hitters with a mark of .443 through 148 at-bats.

While he has hit a bit of a slide by hitting just .237 through his last 10 games, (from May 12-23), he has still managed a way to score nine runs and drive in five more during that span. He’ll have to avoid any extended slides though if he expects to reach Triple-A this season.

16. Fernando Martinez, LF, New York Mets organization

The Mets are one of few teams in the majors who have deep pockets and have a recent history of making big trades for and/or signing All-Star caliber players. The downside is that you lose potential top prospects through operating this way, which is why we have only just now seen the Mets make an appearance on this list.

Martinez was recently playing for Triple-A Buffalo of the International League and has put together solid numbers through his first 40 games. He has 86 total bases, 2 triples, to accompany a .295 batting average and 26 RBI.

The only drawback in his numbers is his lack of walks with just 11 in 156 at-bats. Martinez is another Mets’ outfield casualty away from playing in Queens instead of Buffalo. Since this was written, that casualty has brought him to Queens.

17. Eric Hosmer, 1B, Kansas City Royals organization

You might have seen this name late last summer amidst the negotiations controversy with Scott Boras, Pedro Alvarez, and the Pittsburgh Pirates. Fortunately, Hosmer and the Royals are past all of that and Hosmer has started his first full season of professional baseball.

Unfortunately, for the high school draftee, his first year has not been a memorable one as he is hitting just .240 for Class-A Burlington of the Midwest League. Even with the low average, Hosmer’s on-base percentage of .359 shows a potential to reach base consistently.

Hosmer is having a better May than April, with an even higher on-base percentage of .377 and has hit his first two home runs of the season. With that said, the Cooper City, FL native’s numbers should take off as he gets more at-bats.

18. Andrew McCutchen, CF, Pittsburgh Pirates organization

The first two sentences from Law’s outlook on McCutchen tells you all that you need to know about the talented center fielder’s development while coming up through the Pirates’ farm system.

“Andrew McCutchen has been rushed. Repeat after me: He...has...been...rushed.” While the description of McCutchen’s development is a bit comical, the sad part of this is that it was another example of major mismanagement by the previous Bucos’ regime.

Fortunately for McCutchen, he has put together a pretty solid season in Triple-A Indianapolis of the International League. He has 8 triples and 9 steals through 39 games, displaying that same speed which has made scouts and fans drool for the past several seasons.

It has only gotten better for McCutchen as he has put together a solid past 10 games, (May 12-23rd), posting a mark of .341 with 7 of his 16 total RBIs during that span.

19. Brett Wallace, 3B, St. Louis Cardinals organization

Aside from whatever detractors might say about his fielding ability, the main thing to remember about Wallace is that he can flat out hit and will make his mark in the majors because of it.

The former Arizona State Sun Devil standout has been working on his fielding with the Cards’ to determine where he will be most comfortable. For right now, the Redbirds feel that this is at the hot corner.

Though Wallace was just drafted last year’s first-year player draft, he has already been moved up to Triple-A Memphis of the Pacific Coast League. Through his first seven games, he’s hitting .387 with a home run but only one walk for the prospect who is said to have amazing plate discipline.

This is, however, just a small sample size of what Wallace can do with advanced pitching staffs. It’ll be interesting to see if those walks, and subsequently his on-base percentage, increase later this summer.

20. Brett Anderson, LHP, Oakland Athletics organization

Any time that the pitching-thin A’s have any talented starters in their farm system, it is most likely that they will see action immediately with the big club. They just do not have the depth like they used to when they rolled out Barry Zito, Tim Hudson, and Rich Harden three of the five days in the week.

Since they were forced to part with that luxury and do not have the means to acquire even low-quality veterans, they rely on their youngsters to carry the slack.

Before his last start, Anderson’s performances left A’s supporters asking for more than what they had seen from the 21-year-old. His ERA for May sits at a squeamish 6.43 even after giving up just two earned through six innings at Tampa Bay.

His 2.7 walks-per-nine innings has been part of his struggles. But all in all, it must be remembered that this is his first time ever in the majors and will suffer through some growing pains as he continues to develop.


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