To answer some questions I've had, no, I'm not done. On Thursday, I will present prospects 76-100, rounding out my 'midseason' list. The more and more we get into July, the further we are from the halfway point, but I think it is still fair to keep ranking prospects. After that, I will rank all the Major League organizations, as one reader requested.
For now, I wanted to clean up the mess around here, take a second to breath. Ranking prospects is a difficult art, one that generates lots of criticism. Most of the time I have an answer for critics, a reason why my list reads how it does. But, this list is not perfect. I can explain why Gabe Gross or Jose Lopez didn't make my list, but I have a harder time explaining Edwin Encarnacion.
I can't explain how Edwin Encarnacion is behind James Loney (#75), or a worse 3B prospect than Eric Duncan (#58). An early season injury eliminated Encarnacion from my memory, but watching him in the Futures Game made me realize he should be on the list. After hitting .282/.339/.458 in the Midwest League as a 19-year-old, he spent 2003 hitting .321/.387/.484 in high-A. Encarnacion, once traded for Rob Bell, is back to his old self, with a line of .305/.379/.465 in AA thus far.
These are fairly consistent lines, considering the ISOs (.176, .163, .160) and his Isolated Patience numbers (.059, .066, .074). At the age of twenty-one, Encarnacion is still young for the Southern League. His defense is said to be good at third, and while he won't be stealing 25 bases like he did in 2002, he runs fairly well. It's safe to say that Encarnacion will solve the Reds' hot corner problem before too long, and even more so that he belongs in the top 75.
Also, after further consideration, I have more prospect tweaking that has been decided on. First of all, Delmon Young has been vastly underrated on my list. I now feel that Young is a better outfield prospect than Jeremy Hermida, Felix Pie, Jeff Salazar, Jeremy Reed and Conor Jackson, all of whom were once ranked ahead of him. And in good time, I believe that Young will pass Jeff Francouer, Franklin Gutierrez and Grady Sizemore to be first on the list.
Injuries to Cole Hamels, and a breakout by Scott Kazmir has led to the decision to flop the two on my list. For the season, Kazmir has only allowed three home runs in 61 innings, and has pitched well in two AA starts. It sounds that Hamels' arm injury was more serious than Kazmir's, which also has a large bearing on the decision. I'm still skeptical that Kazmir will end up in the bullpen, and his second half will be closely watched.
A little farther down the list, decisions have been made on Chuck James, Lastings Milledge and Carlos Quentin. While James' numbers are impressive, dominating the Sally League at 22 is almost expected. He's just been activated from a questionable suspension, and we'll see how the southpaw fares at high-A Myrtle Beach. Milledge was a top 10 pick in last year's draft, and proved it with a .225 ISO in low-A. While the five walks in 196 at-bats were concerning, power mixed with 16 steals was enough for the Mets to promote Milledge.
After thinking Conor Jackson was a much better prospect than both Quentin and Jamie D'Antona, Quentin's play has reversed that opinion. Quentin is closing fast, and has hit .393/.464/.583 with the El Paso Diablos of the Texas League. An outfield of Jackson, Drew or Santos, and Quentin is not too far away. Give Joe Garigiola some credit, he's gone all college players of late, and it's quickly transforming his system into one of the game's best.
With those two moving up, Ryan Howard will also be pushed back a little on the list. Fabian has written in previous comments about how far off I am, and Howard's 112 strikeouts in 89 games prove that. Not only might he break the minor league home run record, but also the strikeout record.
Check back on Thursday for installment #3.