WTNYJuly 19, 2004
By Bryan Smith

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.

So, with all those changes, it's time to shut up and unvail my final 75, for comments on all these players, see part one and two:

1. Upton 39. Brownlie
2. Wright 40. Crain
3. Hernandez 41. Encarnacion
4. McPherson 42. J. Guzman
5. Marte 43. Stevens
6. Sizemore 44. Weeks
7. Francis 45. Quiroz
8. Fielder 46. Burke
9. Mathis 47. Davies
10. Kazmir 48. Navarro
11. Gutierrez 49. Van Benschoten
12. Cain 50. Milledge
13. Meyer 51. Quentin
14. Francouer 52. J. Anderson
15. Everts 53. Hudgins
16. Aubrey 54. Hinckley
17. Floyd 55. Seddon
18. Young 56. Cano
19. Valdez 57. Maine
20. Hermida 58. Duncan
21. Hamels 59. James
22. Salazar 60. Loewen
23. Capellan 61. Banks
24. Pie 62. Duke
25. Jackson 63. Aybar
26. Reed 64. Santos
27. Santana 65. Thompson
28. Baker 66. Howard
29. Stauffer 67. Barfield
30. Kinsler 68. Palmisano
31. Stewart 69. Billingsley
32. Blanton 70. Moss
33. A. Guzman 71. B. Anderson
34. Huber 72. Alvarez
35. Kubel 73. Majewski
36. Barton 74. Bautista
37. Danks 75. Loney
38. Petit

Check back on Thursday for installment #3.


Sorry all, for the columns attempt gone wrong. I've been moving these around for a good 20 minutes, but to no avail. I've got to hit the hay, so I hope you'll all forgive me for now. Thanks!

Just wondering what you thought of my last post on the comments section previous to this. Also, Mathis is having a season similar to Dioner Navarro's, considering they were both highly thought of coming into the year and that Navarro is a year younger, why the 39 space difference in ranking?

Lastly, you seem to be under the impression that Scott Kazmir had arm troubles this year, but this is not true. He had a ribcage problem. Or, am I just misunderstanding you, because I don't see how a ribcage problem is anywhere near the urgency of an arm one (Hamels), and to the best of my knowledge, Kazmir has never had arm troubles (knock on wood).

First of all, the Ryan Howard comments in your last post helped convince me to take him down on the new 75. His plate discipline really isn't all that impressive, he's really just a Rob Deer swing-for-the-fences type. But oh, can he hit the ball hard.

As for Mathis, he's over Dioner because of defense and power. His performance may drop him out of the top 25 if he keeps a .250 average, but we'll see down the road. His ISO is .180, while Navarro's wasn't .100 in the Eastern League. And while reports were originally bad on defense, I read in Spring Training that coaches and pitchers alike were impressed by his D.

Well, I guess I should have said that scouts expect Kazmir to have problems down the road, more so than Hamels. But, he's pitched great of late, trying to convince people more and more that he could succeed as a starter.

Yeah, thanks for the Howard mention.

As far as Dioner and Mathis, I agree that his defense does help especially since while Navarro has good defensive tools he is still raw as his numbers attest. One thing I think Navarro definitely has over Mathis is plate discipline. Also, he has started hitting better as of late so I'm just hoping he can close the year out strong while remaining a Yankee.

Kazmir is a personal favorite of mine, just because scouts have said so many derogatory things about his ability to remain a starter. I tend to like the more flawed prospects I guess, or look for diamonds in the rought.

P.S.: I think the guy who may be the Yankees' top prospect does not even appear on this list, but I don't expect to get fully recognized for a little while longer anyway.

Kazmir's Tuesday Night Line:

8 IP 2H 0ER 1 BB 10K