WTNYSeptember 10, 2003
Positional Prospect Rankings
By Bryan Smith

Next couple of days you're going to see a lot of rankings from me. Be prepared. Today, we'll go with positions, and tomorrow I'll make an attempt on pitchers. Here we go:

1. Joe Mauer- MIN
2. Jeff Mathis- ANA
3. Guillermo Quiroz- TOR
4. Dioner Navarro- NYY
5. Justin Huber- NYM
6. Kelly Shoppach- BOS
7. Lou Palmisano- MIL
8. Ryan Doumit- PIT
9. Koyie Hill- LA
10. Hector Gimenez- HOU

The top five players on this list have very high potential. Mauer hasn't hit for power yet, but may post Pudge numbers in the Majors. Mathis seems to be more like Mike Piazza offensively, and is raw defensively. Quiroz had a great year, even playing through a collapsed lung. Navarro may end up being the top performer, but needs to prove that .350 in AA isn't a joke. And Huber got off to a slow start, but should move Piazza to first by 2005.

1. Prince Fielder- MIL
2. Casey Kotchman- ANA
3. Jason Stokes- FLA
4. Brad Nelson- MIL
5. James Loney- LA
6. Adrian Gonzalez- TEX
7. Larry Broadway- MON
8. Ryan Howard- PHI
9. Criag Brazell- NYM
10. Adam LaRoche- ATL

This group was really bit by the wrist injury bug. Five of the top six players had wrist injuries that truly effected their seasons. Power potential is the reason that Fielder, Stokes, and Howard have high rankings. I love Kotchman, but Fielder simply has more potential. LaRoche will be the first of the group to hit the Majors, getting an everyday job next year.

1. Richie Weeks- MIL
2. Josh Barfield- SD
3. Scott Hairston- ARI
4. Jayson Nix- COL
5. Jason Bourgeois- TEX
6. Robinson Cano- NYY
7. Chris Burke- HOU
8. Alberto Callaspo- ANA
9. Victor Diaz- NYM
10. Mike Fontenot- BAL

Second straight number one for Milwaukee. Barfield proved it this season, but Weeks could fly through the minors. Its a good group of players, and I think Cano tends to be largely overrated. The Yankees will probably use that to snag some awesome Major League talent, and then Cano will show he's still just a .260 hitter. Nix in Coors Field could be a mean mix, and he should start hitting his stride in 2006.

1. B.J. Upton- TB
2. Khalil Greene- SD
3. J.J. Hardy- MIL
4. Bobby Crosby- OAK
5. Sergio Santos- ARI
6. Freddy Sanchez- PIT
7. Hanley Ramirez- BOS
8. Russ Adams- TOR
9. Jose Lopez- SEA
10. Jason Bartlett- MIN

Upton is by far the best of the bunch. He draws walks, and showed improved defense as the year went on. A mix between Jeter and Nomar is the guess right now, and he has tons of potenial. Upton should be the favorite for the 2005 Rookie of the Year award. Notice its the second, 2nd place finish for a Padres middle infield prospect, and the third straight Brewer in the top 3. I think Hanley Ramirez is overrated, and most likely to fall in the Wilson Betemit hole. Theo Epstein will probably wait one more season before using Hanley wisely.

1. Andy Marte- ATL
2. Dallas McPherson- ANA
3. Corey Hart- MIL
4. David Wright- NYM
5. Chad Tracy- ARI
6. Ian Stewart- COL
7. Jeff Baker- COL
8. Garrett Atkins- COL
9. Kevin Youkilis- BOS
10. Mark Teahen- OAK

Not the greatest group. I really like Andy Marte, who is a more powerful, but slower, version of Upton. He understands the strike zone, and has been young for his level. McPherson caught fire at the end of the year, and the Angels may allow high-priced Troy Glaus to leave to make way for this kid. Ian Stewart, a top-15 pick in this year's draft, hit more than 10 HR in less than 250AB in Short-Season league, and gets the top Rockie vote. Colorado has three players in the top 10!

1. Jeremy Reed- CWS
2. Alexis Rios- TOR
3. Franklin Gutierrez- LA
4. Grady Sizemore- CLE
5. Jeff Salazar- COL
6. Felix Pie- CHC
7. Jeff Francoeur- ATL
8. Delmon Young- TB
9. Jeffrey Hermida- FLA
10. Dave Krynzel- MIL

Reed gets the top-place vote for keeping his AA average over .400 for almost 250 at-bats. He's a smart hitter, smart runner, and smart fielder. If he makes the White Sox out of Spring Training, he's the favorite for Rookie of the Year. Rios and Sizemore are good hitters who haven't quite developed their power. Their teams won't rush them, and they'll likely debut in 2005. Notice the Brewers have a spot on every offensive list.

Come back tomorrow when I'll try the pitchers....