WTNYJuly 25, 2004
Final 'Midseason' 100
By Bryan Smith

A reader in a previous post suggested putting all 100 together, and while a little tedious, I agreed. So, below are my top 100 prospects in baseball. Please note that this list denies access to any player with Major League experience before the 2004 All-Star Break, save Rickie Weeks.

On Wednesday, I will get to the mailbag that I have promised. This will include questions about Matt Peterson, Jonathan Broxton, Melky Cabrera, Jose Lopez, Aaron Baldiris, Brett Harper, and the Red Sox system depth. Please, leave any other at the end of this post. Thanks!

1. B.J. Upton- Tampa Bay Devil Rays- SS

There really is no question about this one. Upton is everything you want in a premium prospect: hes young, advanced, plays a premium position, has plate discipline and power. He can steal a base, and when he gets focused, can field. The last comment will no doubt be debated by some, but Wait Til Next Year correspondent Daniel Feinstein assures me that highlight reel plays come as often as errors with this kid. Upton will reach the Majors by years end, and the Devil Rays slow advancement to a legitimate team will take a huge growth.

2. David Wright- New York Mets- 3B

No player has vaulted himself so far forward as David Wright has since the end of the 2003 season. A great Arizona Fall League put Wright into the top five for third base prospects, and his insane .363/.467/.619 line in AA makes him the top. Like the man in front of him, Wright has all the tools, but the most amazing fact is that he already has 48 extra-base hits, 47 walks and 22 stolen bases. Wright will be changing the scope of the Mets lineup by August, and comparisons to Scott Rolen and Howard Johnson are still valid.

3. Felix Hernandez- Seattle Mariners- SP

King Felix made great impressions in a brief stint as a 17-year-old last season, and nothing has changed this year. Seattle thought moving Hernandez to high-A would be a challenge, similar to what Bill Bavasi had done with players like Greg Miller in Los Angeles, but Hernandez was more than enough for California League hitters. Hernandez struck out 114 batters in just 92 innings, while only allowing 85 hits, five home runs and 26 walks. His first start in the Texas League was impressive, but the Mariners might think about shutting Hernandez down the closer he gets to 150 innings. Waiting until mid-2005 for his debut would be a smart move.

4. Dallas McPherson- Anaheim Angels- 3B

I admit, I didnt buy much into the McPherson hype before the season, remembering it was a huge hot streak that made his numbers last year, as opposed to a consistent hot streak. That all changed this year, and McPherson has already earned a promotion to AAA following his 20 home runs and 1.064 OPS in the Texas League. Hes off to a hot start at Salt Lake, hitting five homers in his first ten games. McPherson will help replace Troy Glaus for the rest of the year, and also make him expendable in 2005.

5. Andy Marte- Atlanta Braves- 3B

I said before the season that Marte was likely to have a catastrophic rise to the Majors similar to Miguel Cabrera in 2003, but a severe ankle sprain has prevented that from becoming truth. His numbers werent jaw-dropping before the injury, but a .237 ISO is enough for me. Marte is still only twenty years old, and it is probable that Marte and Chipper Jones will make up the 2005 Braves corners.

6. Grady Sizemore- Cleveland Indians- OF

Dont be thrown by Gradys numbers, they are among the most deceiving in the minor leagues. A bad wrist hindered his numbers for April and May, but a June average near .400 took the overall line to .306/.372/.462. Sure, these arent bad numbers, but my argument is they are hardly indicative of where Sizemore stands as a player. He profiles to be a perennial .300 hitter, and with the Indians weakest position being centerfield, his path is clear as day.

7. Jeff Francis- Colorado Rockies- SP

There is nothing Im more proud of about my first prospect ranking than putting Jeff Francis in the top fifty. This was an extremely controversial choice, but the way Francis finished the season convinced me that he was primed to break out. And that he has done, so much so that if the season ended today, Francis would have the Texas League pitching triple crown. Twelve wins, 2.11 ERA, 133 strikeouts. When you consider hes only walked 22 in 106.2 innings, you might think hes perfect. But like any other prospect, he doesnt come without flaws. Francis has allowed nine home runs this year, and his future currently stands to be in Coors Field, which does more than a little to his projectability.

8. Prince Fielder- Milwaukee Brewers- 1B

Another controversial choice here, as Fielders .801 OPS is well below others on this list. But remember, Prince is still just a baby in prospect terms, and hes doing this well for a guy in the Southern League. Cecils son has lost weight, but has also slipped considerably since a red-hot April. Fielder still has a .192 ISO, plays a decent first base, and should hit thirty home runs before 2004 ends. Hell also take a little longer than expected, not debuting until 2006, or becoming a permanent mainstay until 2007. Thats a recurring trend around a lot of the Brewer prospects, a system that has taken a bit of a hurt this year.

9. Jeff Mathis- Anaheim Angels- C

This may be a little high for Mathis, but the top ranked catcher gets a little boost in my mind. Mathis has slowly become a very good defensive catcher, and while Angel pitchers might miss Bengie Molina, Jeffs bat will make them forget quickly. His .788 OPS is hardly anything to brag about, but he has an ISO of .176 and is on pace for about 70 walks. Few teams can put their catchers towards the middle of the order, but it wont be long before that luxury is available to the Angels. Mathis will need one more year in the minors, but I really believe hes ready.

10. Scott Kazmir- New York Mets- SP

Trust me, Im being generous ranking Kazmir this high, as everytime he pitches, I think the inevitable move to the bullpen is coming the next day. Hes been hurt most of this season, but since coming back has hardly dominated the Florida State League that we thought he mastered a year ago. Maybe Kazmir will be able to turn into Billy Wagner, but I find it hard to believe hell make it as a starting pitcher. For now, we wait, amazed that a southpaw so small can generate such hard power on his pitches. Kazmir needs to turn his season around in the second half, or his ranking wont be so generous the next time.

11. Franklin Gutierrez- Cleveland Indians- OF

Sure, Gutierrez is hardly hitting home runs like he did last season, but I wouldnt count those kind of numbers out in the future. Gutierrez hit so well in AA this season that he was recently moved up to the International League, though it appears his immediate future is blocked by the Indians outfield of Lawton-Sizemore-Gerut. Gutierrez still managed 30 extra-base hits in 249 Eastern League at-bats, and while only five were home runs, Id expect more to start going over the fence soon. I have only two real complaints about Franklin: first, his stolen base numbers are down significantly this year, and he also doesnt walk enough yet, not even on pace to reach 50 walks.

12. Matt Cain- San Francisco Giants- SP

With Cain, the numbers speak for themselves. I can try to justify my pick by telling you that Cain mixes a mid-90s fastball with one of the games best curveballs, or I can just give his California League numbers: 7-1, 1.86 ERA, 58H, 17BB, and 89K in just 72.2 IP. The dominance has continued since being moved up to the Texas League, where Cain has allowed just five earned runs in his first four starts, good for a 1.88 ERA. San Francisco could use some rotation depth, so Cain will be given a shot as early as next Spring Training.

13. Dan Meyer- Atlanta Braves- SP

More astounding numbers come from the top Atlanta pitching prospect, a compliment considering that as many as six Brave pitching prospects made good arguments for this list. Meyer, who doesnt throw spectacularly hard, was the Southern League ace in the first half, with a WHIP below 1.00 and a K/BB above seven. He struck out 86 batters in sixty-five innings, proving that he can mix control with good stuff like few other players can boast. His ceiling may not be as high as the previous four pitchers, but of the group, Im most sure Meyer will reach his.

14. Jeff Francoeur- Atlanta Braves- OF

Yes, the Braves are back to having the games best minor league system. Francoeur, their former first round pick, is having a great season in a park not exactly fit for hitting. Hes the best of the three high-A outfield prospects youll see in the top twenty, merely based on potential. He already has 36 extra-base hits, giving him an ISO of .209. He walks about as much as Franklin Gutierrez does, numbers we hope improve as he goes up the ladder. Andruw Jones is rumored to be on the trade block, and if he goes, Francoeur will eventually replace him in centerfield. But as the Cubs have learned with Corey Pattersons slow development, there is simply no reason to rush him.

15. Clint Everts- Montreal Expos- SP

Expos first round picks are not always justifiable, but Everts is an exception to the rule. After not pitching much last year, Everts has exploded to the tune of a 1.99 ERA. Last years top pick, Delmon Young, referred to him as the best pitcher he had faced yet. Everts has only given up three homers this year, and his K/BB is well over five. Ive heard great things about his breaking ball, and there is no question that he is the jewel of a rather dry Expos system.

16. Michael Aubrey- Cleveland Indians- 1B

Its possible that if the Indians had the first pick in last years draft, they still would have selected Michael Aubrey. After a fantastic college career, the Indians though high-A would be a good destination this year. They were wrong. Aubrey tore up the Carolina League, walking more than he struck out, and showing enough power to give him a .988 OPS. Aubrey was promoted to AA after only 60 games, a fantastic compliment for a position player a year removed from college. The Eastern League has proven to be a challenge, but I have no doubt that with one more years work, the Indians will have a new first basemen in 2006.

17. Gavin Floyd- Philadelphia Phillies- SP

No one has ever questioned the curveball of Gavin Floyd. But the Phillies, worried their prized right-hander might fall in love with the pitch, set quotas on just how often he could throw it. This is my explanation for why his numbers have never been that good, until this year. By the looks of him numbers, I would guess the right-hander can throw the curve whenever he pleases now, helping him to land a 2.86 ERA. His strikeout numbers, only 74 in 92 innings, are still a bit concerning, but his low H/9 and HR/9 numbers combat that quite nicely.

18. Delmon Young- Tampa Bay Devil Rays- OF

More than any other player on this list, this choice was made due to projectability rather than a deserving ranking based on their numbers. Youngs .334 OBP would be laughed at by some players on this list, but considering his age, an ISO just below .200 is fantastic. Youngs power is immense, and his second half will determine if he makes it higher than 28 (and I think he will) when my end of year rankings come out. Young likely wont be a D-Ray until 2008, but who knows, maybe hell have Josh Hamilton to join him by then.

19. Merkin Valdez- San Francisco Giants- SP

After an early season injury, El Mago started to justify the hype he garnered all of last season. Formerly Manuel Mateo, Valdez was traded from the Braves, and the deal keeps paying dividends for San Francisco. Valdez joined Matt Cain in San Jose for awhile, forming the top 1-2 combination in the minor leagues. Valdez has recently been promoted to AAA, after walking only five in the 33.2 innings he pitched in the California League. Valdez also mixes in pinpoint control, a trait that should serve him well as he beats Cain to the Majors.

20. Jeremy Hermida- Florida Marlins- OF

Of Francoeur, Pie and Hermida, there is no question who is the most polished. Hermida has the best eye, the best ability to make contact, the cleanest defense, and the best baserunning. His stolen base numbers are down this year, but ending up with thirty stolen bases still isnt out of the question. Power is not his defining trait, but Hermidas .494 SLG more than holds his own for players on this list. My guess is that Hermida will follow Juan Pierre as the Marlins leadoff hitter, proving to be one of the best in the business.

21. Cole Hamels- Philadelphia Phillies- SP

I ranked B.J. Upton first on this list for a reason. I think hes going to be an All-Star, bringing back the numbers that A-Rod, Jeter and Nomar touted in their hey-days. So, when reading Upton say that Cole Hamels was the best pitcher he had faced, I was shocked. Hamels, when healthy, has control of one of the games best change ups, and it wont be long before that reaches the Major Leagues. Problem is, Hamels has only made four starts this season, and no matter how well they have gone, we cant get a great read of where hes at. This is my riskiest ranking, but instincts will allow him to round out my top ten.

22. Jeff Salazar- Colorado Rockies- OF

Last year it was Jeremy Reed that appeared out of nowhere, rising from Long Beach State all the way to hitting .400 in a second half promotion to AA. This year it has been another left-handed hitting corner outfielder that has surprised us with his contact and discipline at high-A. Salazar, formerly an Oklahoma State Cowboy, has now become the best Rockie position prospect, and for good reason. Salazar has a .347 average, more runs than games and more walks than strikeouts. He has 40 extra-base hits, and seventeen stolen bases, in only nineteen attempts. He looks perfect, much like Reed did last year, but Im going to try to learn my lesson and wait before thrusting him into my top ten.

23. Jose Capellan- Atlanta Braves- SP

The fourth Brave in the top 25 is Capellan, a hard-throwing right-hander that made a mockery of high-A hitters before a promotion. Capellan, who can hit 100 mph on a radar gun, allowed only 27 hits and 11 walks in 46.1 innings at Myrtle Beach before rising to the Southern League. Capellan has stayed relatively consistent in terms of ERA and K/9 since the promotion, striking out 40 in 33.1 innings with a 2.70 ERA. There is still a possibility that Capellan will end up in the bullpen, hes the kind that often turns into a closer, but first the Braves are going to have for Jose to slow down.

24. Felix Pie- Chicago Cubs- OF

Pies story is a good one, a small Dominican boy who walked into tryouts with no hype, and walked out with a contract. The Cubs continue to thank their lucky stars, as Pie has continued from where he left off last year. Still a little raw, its near impossible to conceive what kind of player Felix will turn into. His raw power is still just that, but its the great speed and defense that lands Pie on this list. Common thought is that an outfield of Patterson, Pie and Ryan Harvey will be in Wrigley shortly after Sosas retirement, but Ill have to see that to believe it. One thing I do believe, is that Felix Pie is going to become one darn good ballplayer, whether he develops the power or not.

25. Conor Jackson- Arizona Diamondbacks- OF

Doubles machine. This is what Jackson was last year after being chosen by the Diamondbacks in the draft. He was one of three corner college players chosen by the Diamondbacks, a group that Baseball America has called the Tres Amigos. Jackson is the better prospect of Carlos Quentin and Jamie DAntona, thanks in large part to his amazing numbers this season. Before a promotion to AA, Jackson hit .345/.438/.562 in 258 at-bats. The slugging has decreased a bit since moving to the Texas League, but Jacksons eye looks unbeatable, as his OBP is .476 after ten AA games. Jackson plays left field, and it wont be long before the Diamondbacks firesale allows the team to trade icon Luis Gonzalez, Jacksons lone roadblock.

26. Jeremy Reed- Seattle Mariners- OF

The aforementioned Reed has slowed down this year, and the fact that scouts have yet to buy into the sabermatricians dream led to Reeds trade from the Chicago White Sox organization. Mariner bloggers have been more than pleased to land Reed, who has 38 walks against 34 strikeouts so far this year. Reeds contact skills have diminished a bit this year, though I look for his average to pick up a bit in the Pacific Coast League. Reeds power numbers have increased this year, giving more hope that hell be able to have the numbers that corner outfielders should have. Next year Seattle will put Raul Ibanez at first base, and Reed will have every opportunity in the world to take over in left field.

27. Ervin Santana- Anaheim Angels- SP

Like many of the pitchers on this list, Santana was hurt to start the season, but has been dynamite since returning to the minor leagues. Ervin was sent back to the Texas League, where he finished out his 2003 season, and has been the Travelers ace through his first eight starts. I admitted in my WTNY 50 that I didnt buy into the Santana hype much, but his numbers support the claims that people as respected as Peter Gammons have made.

28. Jeff Baker- Colorado Rockies- 3B

Taken alongside Jeff Francis in the draft, Bakers breakout has been clouded by Francis AA greatness. But dont forget Baker, who joins Ian Stewart and Jeff Salazar in one of the best three position player combinations in the minor leagues. His OPS is also over 1.000, thanks to 30 home run power and a great batting eye. Hes very prone to strikeouts, there is no doubt that total will reach 100 (if not 120) by seasons close. Also, Baker has already made 20 errors at the hot corner, and while I dont have a report on him, my guess is last years first round pick Stewart will force a move at some point. The idea of having Helton, Stewart, Baker and Salazar on the corners just might be enough for Dan ODowd to hang onto his job a little longer.

29. Tim Stauffer- San Diego Padres- SP

I didnt like this pick by the Padres last year, thinking Stauffers numbers were hardly good enough to deserve a top five selection. But Stauffer has proven differently, as he is currently pitching in the Pacific Coast League, his third league of the season. While the Padres have drawn much criticism for their handling of the top pick this year, give the team some credit for identifying Stauffer last year. The right-hander had a 1.78 ERA in the California League after six starts, and a 2.63 ERA in eight Southern League starts. His peripheral numbers arent great, but the guy can pitch, and hell undoubtedly be the first starting pitcher chosen last year to make the Majors this September.

30. Ian Kinsler- Texas Rangers- SS

A lot of the people on this list I could have envisioned breaking out before the season started, but not Kinsler. According to Baseball America, the former University of Missouri shortstop was chosen based on his defense, not his bat. But it was the bat that convinced Ranger brass that the former 17th round choice could handle a move from the Midwest League, to the Texas League. After hitting .400 as a Clinton Lumberking, Kinslers OPS is again above 1.000 through his first seventeen games as a Roughrider. Texas infield is pretty blocked, but moving Soriano to center and Michael Young to second would be a great idea to make room for their new gem.

31. Ian Stewart- Colorado Rockies- 3B

The tenth pick in last years frat, Stewart has already displayed the most power from the 2003 draft. That kind of raw power, mixed with the thin air of Colorado, just might produce some freakish results. Stewart has more upside than Jeff Salazar and Jeff Baker, with a lot less polish. Ian will surely force Baker to pick up another glove, perhaps learning the art of left field. Stewarts Sally League numbers are excellent, but just that, low-A numbers. I always try to take it with a grain of salt, but if he tops thirty home runs, that may not be an option.

32. Joe Blanton- Oakland Athletics- SP

Like I said with Delmon Young, Blanton doesnt necessarily have the numbers to hang with other guys on this list. His ERA is nearing 4.00, and (gasp!) hes allowed more hits than innings pitched. This is danger territory, but Im intrigued by good control, and the ability to keep the ball out of the park, even in the Pacific Coast League. His top 40 selection is also due to the fact that even without Rick Peterson, I trust the As ability to develop pitchers. Billy Beane loved this guy out of Kentucky, and hell definitely be one of the favorites for Rookie of the Year in 2005.

33. Angel Guzman- Chicago Cubs- SP

Another pitcher rehabbing from injury, youll likely be taken back after reading Guzmans rehab numbers from the Florida State League. The Cubs, who have done a good job handling sore arms of late, sent Guzman to the FSL to keep that arm warm an extra few months upon his return. While the top prospects 4.20 ERA is anything but amazing considering he was repeating the level, its his peripherals that astound me. In thirty innings, the right-hander allowed 27 hits, struck out 40, and walked zero. Once again, Guzman had a 40/0 K/BB in high-A, before being moved up to the Southern League. His high ERA tells me that his pitchability isnt great, but expectations are still sky-high for the Cubs Angel.

34. Justin Huber- New York Mets- C

Being a catcher is great for a prospect, because you dont have to have the numbers that most hitting prospects carry. Huber has slumped recently of late, but his season line of .272/.408/.460 is fantastic for a catching prospect. Hubers defense is a bit lacking, but the Mets will concede that when considering his power and plate discipline. The Australian still must improve all facets of his game to stay on this list, because a poor second half will not only make him drop, but will cause a drop clear off the list.

35. Jason Kubel- Minnesota Twins- OF

Think Jeremy Reed 2003, without the plate discipline. Instead, Kubel has fantastic contact skills that led to a .377 average in the Eastern League before being promoted to AAA. Being an outfielder in the Twins organization is a death penalty, but Kubels 41 extra-base hits gives Terry Ryan one great piece of trade bait. This is another player on the list I forecast will drop by years end, but for now, I gotta give the kid his due.

36. Daric Barton- St. Louis Cardinals- C

Boy, Ive never seen a high school kid so advanced in his first full year of professional play. Barton, about a year after being the first Cardinal drafted, is hitting an insane .331/.465/.566 in the Midwest League. Recent slumps have taken the average below .400 and the OBP below .500, but those numbers are the kind that makes someone a top prospect. Ive heard pretty good things about his defense, but an early season injury has forced Barton to only play half of his 40 games behind the plate. Like everyone else here, well have a much better feel for Barton in September, but two thumbs up so far.

37. John Danks- Texas Rangers- SP

Im trying to be very hesitant with low-A pitchers this year, considering the early season struggles that Cole Hamels and Scott Kazmir have seen. Danks is pretty comparable to the latter, but I just cant see not putting him on my top 40 list. The hard-throwing southpaw ate up the Midwest League in fourteen appearances, thriving off the four-man rotation style format that Grady Fuson uses in the minor leagues. Last years ninth overall selection has a 3.39 ERA in three starts for the Stockton Ports, but barring injury, Danks is probably a better prospect than Kinsler.

38. Yusmeiro Petit- New York Mets- SP

Soothsayers have compared Petit to Sid Fernandez, a former Major League pitcher that had fantastic numbers in the minor leagues. The reason this comparison works is Petit, like Fernandez, had unreal numbers in fifteen low-A starts. In 83 innings, Petit allowed only 47 hits and 22 walks, against an insane 122 strikeouts. For those of you scoring at home, thats a WHIP below 1.00, a K/BB above 5.00, and a K/9 nearing 13.50. Petit finds himself below a lot of Met prospects, but if these numbers continue, hell head the list in the winter.

39. Bobby Brownlie- Chicago Cubs- SP

Another forecast Im proud of, I saw very good things from Brownlie this season, and he hasnt let me down. Like Tim Stauffer, Brownlie doesnt have great numbers, but I guess the better comparison is Gavin Floyd. Like Floyd, Brownlie has a great curveball that has led to a high HR/9 and low K/9, but a darn good ERA. If Matt Clement leaves Chicago next winter, and thats a very likely scenario, Brownlie will be in a race with Guzman, Ryan Dempster, and many other Cub pitchers for the fifth spot in that vaunted rotation.

40. Jesse Crain- Minnesota Twins- RP

Relief prospects are generally overrated, but Crain deserves the hype hes gotten. After rising through three levels last season, Crain has had a home in Rochester this year, appearing in 33 games as the Red Wings closer. But, Crain should be preparing for a move, as the Twins could no doubt use some help in the bullpen towards the end of the year. Crain might not be the immediate closer, but setting up Joe Nathan will be a wonderful way to start what will likely be a great career.

41. Edwin Encarnacion- Cincinnati Reds- 3B

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 wont be stealing 25 bases like he did in 2002, he runs fairly well. Its 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.

42. Joel Guzman- Los Angeles Dodgers- SS

Looking at Joel Guzmans past numbers, you might be shocked at the year hes having. But ask the Dodgers, who signed him for millions at age 16, and theyll say it was only a matter of time. Its hard to say where Guzman fits in as a prospect, hes always looked overmatched until May of this year. His numbers seem similar to Franklin Gutierrez of 2003, meaning his .530 SLG will evaporate at higher levels. This hardly eliminates him from prospect status, as good contact, fielding and baserunning shortstops are hard to find. Few second halves will have more of a bearing on winter rankings than Guzmans.

43. Jake Stevens- Atlanta Braves- SP

Brad Thompson, who will appear later on this list, was hyped more than many minor leaguers ever see with his 50+ IP scoreless streak earlier this season. Jake Stevens didnt get the same attention, but between May 21 and July 10, Stevens didnt give up a run either. In fact, the game that ended in was a five inning start in which the southpaw gave up one run, while striking out eight batters. His numbers have been superior to teammate Chuck James, and given Stevens age, his prospect status is rising.

44. Rickie Weeks- Milwaukee Brewers- 2B

Life cant be easy for Rickie Weeks. Now dont get me wrong, Im not making excuses for what has thus far been a sorry season, but his life has been non-stop ever since being chosen second in last years draft. A sensational player at Southern University, Weeks has struggled a bit in the Southern League, with a season line of .253/.369/.379. The Isolated Power is a little bad, but Weeks is a middle infielder, and he does have 25 extra-base hits. Things are going to click in the second half for Rickie Weeks, and I bet hes in my top 30 at seasons end.

45. Guillermo Quiroz- Toronto Blue Jays- C

Since falling victim to a collasped lung at the end of last season, Quiroz hasnt had the best health, falling victim to yet another injury this year. It doesnt effect his long-term status, and he should have a fine second half. Kevin Cash, who had been projected to give Quiroz competition for PT, has been terrible for the Jays, basically handing the job to Guillermo. With Alexis Rios, Gabe Gross, and Quiroz projected to be in their lineup next year, and possibly Russ Adams and Aaron Hill as well, the Jays rebuilding can begin right now.

46. Chris Burke- Houston Astros- 2B

Is there a dreamier leadoff prospect out there than Chris Burke right now? The Astros will almost surely let Jeff Kent leave in 2005, letting their top prospect take the job up the middle. They are right in believing hes ready for the job, as evidenced by his .325/.403/.507 line in the PCL this year. I dont think the power surge will last in the Majors, but he might get to about 40 doubles some season, which aint bad either. Throw in the fact that he stole 22 bases before being called up, and youve got the 2005 Astros leadoff man.

47. Kyle Davies- Atlanta Braves- SP

I asked my friend Brad Dowdy about his thoughts on the three Braves pitchers in this list, and this is what he said of Davies:


I could argue Davies ahead of Stevens after his two solid outings since being promoted to Double-A as a 20 year old. Everyone in the system has always known he has the stuff, it was just a matter of getting innings under his belt and the old clich of learning how to pitch. Well, this is the season where he put it all together. He didnt even blink when he moved up a level, and I dont see any reason why that wont continue.

48. Dioner Navarro- New York Yankees- C

Despite some power struggles this year, its hard to make a claim that someone other than Dioner Navarro is the top Yankees prospect. 2004 numbers explain why hes behind Justin Huber and Daric Barton in terms of catching prospects, though that is very subject to change. In contrast, Navarro is behind Jeff Mathis and Guillermo Quiroz because of potentialparticularly power potential. I like Navarros discipline, I think more of his contact abilities than a .271 average suggests, and have heard him to be an average defender. Power isnt essential for a top 50 prospect, but a better ISO than .098 would be big here.

49. John Van Benschoten- Pittsburgh Pirates- SP

After obviously passing the Eastern League test, I was a little worried when John Van Benschoten struggled when reaching AAA. But things have picked up lately (excluding his last start), and John has an ERA sitting right around 4.00. Van Benschoten will have every opportunity in the world to make it with the Pirates, and given the right patience, I think he will. Unless VB has a big August, I doubt theyll call him up, waiting for mid-2005 for his arrival.

50. Lastings Milledge- New York Mets- OF

By years end, Milledge could be sitting alongside Delmon Young as two of the best outfield prospects in the game. Milledge has five-tool capabilities that few can match, as seen in his combination of 27 XBH and 16 SB, in just 47 games. Some might be alarmed at the seven errors (high for an OF), but hes young, and easily has the ability for centerfield. But, the problem with Milledge is his plate discipline, seeing as though his BB/K is an abysmal 5/42 this season. Corey Patterson, version 2.0?

51. Carlos Quentin- Arizona Diamondbacks- OF

One of the Tres Amigos, Quentin has seperated himself from the third member, Jamie DAntona, with a disgusting performance since their group promotion. Well, hes hit .357/.425/.529, which is very consistent with his California League line of .310/.428/.562. Quentin had Tommy John surgery last offseason, and it hasnt appeared to slow him down one bit. Imagine this lineup card in Arizona coming soon:

C- Robby Hammock
1B- Jamie DAntona
2B- Scott Hairston
SS- Sergio Santos
3B- Chad Tracy
LF- Conor Jackson
CF- Stephen Drew
RF- Carlos Quentin

Jeez, maybe theyll be back in the World Series before we thought!

52. Josh Anderson- Houston Astros- OF

While us sabermatricians try to act as scouts by analyzing numbers, it takes a Josh Anderson type to respect the real scouts. In last years draft, Anderson lasted until the fourth round, hardly the spot for a top 50 prospect. This is a situation when power isnt key, when a .101 ISO on a .324 average will more than suffice. Why? At centerfield, Anderson is being groomed for the leadoff spot, where a .402 OBP and nearly fifty steals will pay off. Anderson, currently on the Reed path, should be ready for Houston in 2006, so dont blame him for wanting Carlos Beltran to change addresses.

53. John Hudgins- Texas Rangers- SP

This convinced me: Ive never seen a better pitching performance in the minor leagues. Hudgins put every pitch where he wanted it, commanding a fastball that sat around 90 most of the night, mixing in a decent curve, and showing San Antonio hitters as dirty a changeup as those of them who eventually get to the majors might ever see. He dealt. He orchestrated. He was Greg Maddux.

- Jamey Newberg, Newberg Report (7/2/04)

54. Mike Hinckley- Montreal Expos- SP

Think Travis Blackley, without the strikeouts. While Hinckley has decent stuff, its hardly comparable to other guys on this list, but he always gets it done. After a 2.61 ERA in 10 Florida State League starts, Hinckley was moved to Harrisburg, where his ERA is a near-identical 2.58. His K/BB is more than 3.00, and his WHIP is 1.04. In my opinion, this is a time where pure stuff is just not going to win, and Hinckleys pitchability makes him a good prospect.

55. Chris Seddon- Tampa Bay Devil Rays- SP

Dan Feinstein, a reader who also owns Montgomery Biscuits season tickets, wrote up this great scouting report on Seddon:

Seddon pitched against the Greenville Braves here on Thursday night [ed. Note: May 27]. I went to the game. Seddon was much smaller than I expected. He is listed at 63 170, but if I had to guess, I would have pegged him at 60 and even lighter than the program had him. He worked from the third base side of the rubber and used a lot of 12 to 6 breaking curve balls to befuddle the Braves, striking out 12 in 6 innings. His fastball was well targeted, but not too quick.

56. Robinson Cano- New York Yankees- 2B

In the comments section, reader Fabian tried to convince me to place Cano in front of Chris Burke. It didnt work, but I thought his argument was definitely good enough to post:

I dont see how you can have Burke ahead of Cano. Burke is 24 and Cano is 21. Burke has been at AAA all year, and Cano was at AA for the first half before being promoted to AAA a few weeks ago. On the season Burke is hitting .325 with 30 extra base hits and a 33:36 BB:K ratio in 286 at bats. Cano is hitting .306 with 39 extra base hits and a 30:44 strikeout ratio in 337 at bats. Has Burke outperformed Cano? Sure. However, given the HUGE difference in age, I think Cano is easily ahead of Burke. Were it not for Rickie Weeks track record, I would be tempted to call Cano the No. 1 2B prospect in baseball.

57. John Maine- Baltimore Orioles- SP

Sort of like John Van Benschoten, in the respect that after posting insane numbers last year, Maine was more than qualified for the International League. Just to test it, the Orioles sent Maine to AA, where he went 4-0 in five starts, allowing 16 hits in 28 innings. It was obvious he was ready for the IL, but during his stay, Maine hasnt been the pitcher of old. A 4.52 ERA and BB/9 upwards of 4.00 are some scary statistics, but the Oriole right-hander has been turning it up lately, so well see how long this good pitching lasts.

58. Eric Duncan- New York Yankees- 3B

There is a lot to like about Eric Duncan, who has a Ryan Howard-like block up the line, almost assured of landing in a different organization at some point. Duncan was great in the Midwest League this year, and considering he had 37 extra-base hits and 38 walks in 78 low-A games, expectations are going to start raising about the teenager. But take caution, Duncan also struck out upwards of 80 times, and I have a feeling the FSL might be a little much for him.

59. Chuck James- Atlanta Braves- SP

Twenty-two is a bit old for the Sally League, and that was evident in the numbers for Chuck James. Before being moved up to Myrtle Beach, James was 8-2, with a 1.90 ERA, good for third in the league. James walked a bit too many considering his age, something to look for in higher levels. Also concerning is the fact that James has been suspended for much of the last month for unknown reasons. According to No Pepper, the ban was lifted yesterday, and well see if the Braves ever leak out just why this happened.

60. Adam Loewen- Baltimore Orioles- SP

I said it when I put him in the top fifty last winter, and Ill say it again, this pick is based solely on potential. But, if Loewen doesnt get his act together soon, hes going to keep falling, right off any prospect list. Im sure people will hassle me with this pick, but just wait and see on this kid, he might jump out and surprise you. By the looks of things, it seems as though the Orioles Major League control problems are falling down to the minors as well.

61. Josh Banks- Toronto Blue Jays- SP

Like John Maine, Josh Banks has seen his BB/9 rise at a higher level, and its much of the reason Banks has a 5.77 AA ERA. And like Adam Loewen, if Banks doesnt get his act together, hes gone. But, its hard to ignore that Banks was one of the FSLs best pitchers before getting sent up, largely due to a 7.50 K/BB. Its now below 2.00, and without that, Banks is just another pitcher. This is something to watch in the second half, because the Blue Jays system has taken a bit of a hit since this winter.

62. Zach Duke- Pittsburgh Pirates- SP

Ill admit, didnt really know Zach Duke before starting this list, but I sure do now. A southpaw, Duke is the definition of a midseason All-Star, and like Joel Guzman, someone who could rise with a consistent second half. Duke has a Bob Gibson-like 1.39 ERA this year, a WHIP under 1.00, and is on pace to eclipse the 200 strikeout barrier. Maybe its Duke, and not Hinckley, who makes the better Travis Blackley comparison.

63. Erick Aybar- Anaheim Angels- SS

A recent power streak, six home runs in six days, has taken Aybars HR total to nine, and his XBH total to 31. Hes leading the California League with not only his .355 average, but also his 38 stolen bases. This is good and all, but Aybar has been caught 27 times, a total that has to lead the minor leagues. Aybar struggles like B.J. Upton does at short, but for the time being, he ranks first of the Angels middle infield trio of Alberto Callaspo, Brandon Wood and Aybar.

64. Sergio Santos- Arizona Diamondbacks- SS

Consider this my due for not giving Santos props last year. You have to respect Santos, a 2002 first-round pick, already with 30 extra-base hits. Shortstops with 25 HR power dont come around everyday, so Santos has become the prime Zona prospect. Hes also been iffy at shortstop, and with a growing body, there are concerns on whether he can stay there. I think Stephen Drews defense and rise through the system will determine if Santos moves elsewhere, because he probably has the bat for left field.

65. Brad Thompson- St. Louis Cardinals- SP

Ive already touched a bit on Brad Thompson, and his remarkable scoreless streak to start the season. Hes come out of nowhere, and may end up taking a every-fifth-day starting spot before former top prospect Dan Haren. After a 1.76 ERA in AA, Thompson has struggled a bit with the Memphis Redbirds, allowing three home runs in 14.2 innings. A sinkerballer, Thompsons second half will determine whether that streak was a fluke to be forgotten.

66. Ryan Howard- Philadelphia Phillies- 1B

Is there a better prospect in minor league baseball thats as blocked as Ryan Howard? While a perfect world wouldnt have the every prospect is trade bait mentality, I can understand if Ed Wade is willing to trade Howard, despite beind on his way to crushing the AA home run record. The power is unbelieveable, and unmatched by any prospects on this list. But, Howard strikes out a lot, and could reach the 150 plateau this year. He reminds me of a modern day Frank Thomas, not the 90s superversion: volatile average, lots o power and walks, and unlike Frank, tons of Ks.

67. Josh Barfield- San Diego Padres- 2B

Very susceptible to an irreplaceable drop from my prospect lists in the winter. The 2003 California League MVP, Barfield has been abysmal in the Southern League, with a line of .251/.316/.431. I actually have high hopes, because those numbers are up across the board in the last two weeks, so like Rickie Weeks, Barfield may be prime for a big second half.

68. Lou Palmisano- Milwaukee Brewers- C

Sweet Lou has not slowed down since being drafted by the Brewers last season. After taking home a short-season MVP trophy last year, Palmisano is making a strong bid to get his name on the Midwest League ballot with a .301/.383/.398 line. The sub-.100 ISO is always concerning, but as I said with Dioner Navarro, power isnt THAT important for a catcher anyway.

69. Chad Billingsley- Los Angeles Dodgers- SP

Logan White likes to ruffle feathers with first round picks, and thats what the team did by choosing Chad Billingsley in the first round last year. Generally considered a second rounder, the Los Angeles scouting team fell in love with Billingsley, and apparently for good reason. Hes been ridicuilous in the Florida State League this year, allowing 61 hits in 85 innings, while striking out 103. The 48 walks are a little high, but consider Chad on the Greg Miller pathhopefully that wont lead to injury.

70. Brandon Moss- Boston Red Sox- OF

And finally, a prospect from Beantown. I expect to see the Red Sox system start to improve from the bottom up, and it seems like Brandon Moss will be the first to make that happen. After struggling months after being drafted last year, Moss is in full-breakout mode in the Sally League, where he leads the league with a .366 average. Toss in the 41 walks, 35 extra-base hits and 17 steals, and you got one complete player. MVP! MVP! MVP!

71. Brian Anderson- Chicago White Sox- OF

Co-Prospect Ryan Sweeney got all the Chicago buzz this Spring Training, prompting rumors that the 19-year-old might land in AA, blah, blah, blah. But while Sweeney has been overmatched this year, it has been FIRST-round pick, Brian Anderson, that has emerged as the clubs top prospect. Anderson got promoted to AA following a .319/.394/.531 line as a Winston-Salem Warthog, hitting 22 doubles and stealing 10 bases. Anderson will be ready in 2006, when the White Sox are ready to start picking up the scraps that some call Joe Borchard.

72. Abe Alvarez- Boston Red Sox- SP

Every ranking I ever make, I gotta have a pick based on my instincts. This winter, I put Jeff Francis in my top 50 and Bobby Brownlie in my top 90, just because I thought they were ready for big years. In my mind, Abe Alvarez may never be a great #1 starter, but hell be a great innings-eater in the background. Alvarez has been unspectacular so far this year, but his H/9 is less than 9.00 and hes got a K/BB of more than 3.00. Maybe Ill be wrong here, but I really think the Red Sox should consider replacing Bronson Arroyo with Abe Alvarez in 2005.

73. Val Majewski- Baltimore Orioles- OF

Hes not going to end up in center, watching seven innings of the Futures Game could have told us that. But Majewski, as John Sickels predicted, has broken out this year, becoming the top Oriole position prospect. Majewski is hitting for average (.300), and power (12 HR), all while stealing some bases (10). Hes shooting up the system, and could be ready by mid-2005.

74. Denny Bautista- Kansas City Royals- SP

I was taken aback by Bautista at the 2003 Futures Game, where I saw him as the most intimidating pitcher out there. He was last years version of Jose Capellan, and I wont forget that anytime soon. Trading Bautista for Jason Grimsley is grounds for firing, because I think Bautista will turn out to be a good one, whether in the bullpen or the rotation. Hes been fantastic since joining the Royals, what with a 1.61 ERA in four starts, allowing just 18 hits in 28 innings.

75. James Loney- Los Angeles Dodgers- 1B

For his sake, I will let James Loney hang on by the thinnest of margins. He could turn into a great player, or he could be a complete bust, of which hell define further with his second half play.

76. Nick Swisher- Oakland Athletics- OF

Spoken by Michael Lewis, via an interview given by the guys at Athletics Nation:


The stats tell you everything you need to know about him. If you look at his walks, it’s insane. He’s 23 YEARS OLD in a league filled with 30-year-old players who’ve spent time in the big leagues. And he’s got like 78 or 80 walks and the next closest guy has 60? How does that happen? It’s freakish. He’s got 16 bombs, who cares that he is hitting .260? Last time I checked, he was like sixth in the league in on-base percentage and that’s at 23 years old. When you go see him and you look at the numbers, what you see when you watch him just confirms the numbers in that he has a really amazing tendency/ability to control his encounters in the batter’s box. He does have a remarkable control over the encounter. He really does have a very, very good eye and just great discipline. He doesn’t mind taking his walks.

77. Scott Baker- Minnesota Twins- SP

The reason I love Baseball America? It’s the source where I find guys like Scott Baker, who recently struck out 12 batters in a game, and has given up a ridiculously low 44 hits in 70.1 innings in AA. His peripherals are the type that get turned into a reliever, especially the low average against that Kevin Goldstein recently cited. But, even if Baker ends up being Jesse Crain’s set-up man, the Twins succeeded.

78. Tony Giarratano- Detroit Tigers- SS

Despite an inauspicious debut with the West Michigan Whitecaps, Detroit had enough confidence in their young shortstop to promote him to the Florida State League. This is arguably been the promotion of the year, seeing that Tony has produced a 373/424/470 line there. I do have my concerns, because a .051 Isolated Patience and .097 Isolated Power are both not great numbers. But, a switch-hitting shortstop that runs well (24 SB thus far) and hits for contact has to land in any top 100.

79. Koyie Hill- Los Angeles Dodgers- C

Almost every prospect on the Dodgers has a lot of potential, and a lot of concern. The Greg Miller injury shed some light on that fact, which was good for Hill’s ranking in the organization: he’s the most for sure prospect they currently have. His .289/.345/.463 line is nothing special, but he’s succeeded in AAA, a spot where a lot of catching prospects falter. Consistency deserves a prize every once in a while too.

80. Anthony Lerew- Atlanta Braves- SP

Yes, you have read right, I have eight Braves in my top 80. The system is undoubtedly tops in the game right now, which should give recognition to the ‘scout only the South’ philosophy the team seems to employ. Lerew is one of my favorite prospects, a player I see putting in my top 50 come next March, and watching him fly to the top. At Myrtle Beach (high-A), Lerew has a 2.52 ERA, 7.56 H/9, 8.13 K/9, and 3.13 K/BB. But, one of my favorite statistics, is the 0.24 HR/9 stat. If you believe Dayn Perry’s work last year that HR/9 is a top forecasting stat, you have to buy into Lerew.

81. Dan Johnson- Oakland Athletics- 1B

Another guy you don’t hear a lot about, but all he does is hit. In AAA now, Johnson is far more worthy of a Major League spot than Blanton or Swisher. We talk about the injustice of Justin Morneau not having a job over Doug Mientkiewicz, but what about Johnson and Scott Hatteberg? Johnson is hitting .309/.411/.538 in the Pacific Coast League, all with only 48 strikeouts. If this guy doesn’t have a full-time job next year, than I will personally start a Free Dan Johnson! watch.

82. Mike Megrew- Los Angeles Dodgers- SP

There is undoubtedly projectablity, considering Megrew is a 6-6 southpaw weighing well over 200 pounds. And, one could argue there is polish, considering the 2.97 K/BB rate. While Jonathan Broxton and Chad Billingsley have seemingly received more publicity, keeping an eye on Megrew is a good idea. And the fact that he’s a fifth round choice is another example to file under the “Why do the Dodgers draft so well?” question.

83. Dave Krynzel- Milwaukee Brewers- OF

Scott Podsednik has been written about all over the place, but his numbers this year are way off what Doug Melvin was hoping for. Lucky for Milwaukee fans, but there is a better centerfielder waiting in the shadows. Krynzel has been hurt much of the season, but since returning, is now red-hot. The ISO is over .200, but the power has hardly been consistent through the minor leagues. This year, the steals are gone, with only five in 31 games. But, a 20/20 guy in center is better than what Scott Podsednik will provide, especially given Krynzel’s .383 OBP.

84. Melky Cabrera- New York Yankees- OF

The Yankees love to hype their prospects, so teams get excited to trade their veterans for a future ‘blue-chipper’. This has seldom come back to hurt the Yankees, so much so that I’m shocked Cabrera hasn’t been hyped. Is this intentional? It’s possible that in Cabrera, the Yankees see a potential replacement for Bernie Williams. I say this because Cabrera is hitting .309 in the Florida State League, after hitting .333 in the Midwest League. He’s a switch-hitter, takes a few walks, and just rakes doubles. Believe me, they won’t stay doubles forever...look at Bernie’s minor league stats. Cabrera won’t be 84 next time you see him, I can almost promise you that.

85. Ruben Gotay- Kansas City Royals- 2B

If you make it into the Futures Game, even by route of a weak position, you are a prospect that deserves to be watched. With Gotay and Mark Teahen behind him, the Royals believe that Ken Harvey, Gotay, Berrora and Teahen is their infield of the future. The switch-hitting second basemen might make a splash next year, but still should be in the running for AL Rookie of the Year 2006. With his patience and adequate power, I wouldn’t put it past him quite yet.

86. Mark Teahen- Kansas City Royals- 3B

After reading how affixed Allard Baird became on Teahen, I started to believe there really was something to the ex-Moneyball draft selection. He may never develop Giambi-esque power, but the Royals might even take a few years of cheap Joe Randa production. Teahen will never have the SLG he had in 53 AA games again, but he’s a much better player than his .262/.344/.414 AAA line suggests.

87. Jonathan Broxton- Los Angeles Dodgers- SP

Another big Dodger, with another big fastball. Broxton, listed at 240 pounds, is pitching well in the Florida State League after turning 20 just a month ago. His low HR/9 (below 1.00), and high K/9 (above 10.00), both suggest a future in the bullpen. Broxton’s ERA is much too high given his performance, something to pay attention to in the final 45 or so games.

88. Brian Dopirak- Chicago Cubs- 1B

I still don’t understand how a scout can look at a high school player, and say with certainty that he will hit for power. But whoever said it about Dopirak, and for whatever reasons, was definitely right. You’ve heard about the power numbers of Calvin Pickering and Ryan Howard, but Dopirak’s .606 SLG is something to pay attention to. The Cubs also have to be impressed by the .310 batting average, probably higher than what theat scout had guessed. Dopirak still doesn’t walk enough, strikes out too much, and plays bad defense. But, power is power.

89. J.D. Durbin- Minnesota Twins- SP

Again, injuries have stalled Durbin’s development, but he remains on the Twins’ blueprint more than any other Twins hurler, including Jesse Crain. Durbin has very solid numbers across the board in the Eastern League, and looks ready to become a Rochester Red Wing. The Twins need starting pitching like the Texas Rangers do, so there is nothing to indicate that Durbin won’t get his chance in the Twin Cities. And sometimes, opportunity is half the battle.

90. Brandon Wood- Anaheim Angels- SS

I guess I’ll never forget it, reading on Baseball America that the Angels’ 2003 first round pick was a high school shortstop named “Dick Wood.” The kid would later ask to be called Brandon, which is like asking Homer Bush to change his name to Carl. But, this didn’t take him off the radar screen, and he’s quickly become the Angels’ second-best middle infield prospect, ranking narrowly behind Erick Aybar. Tremendously bad defense and too many strikeouts hurt his argument to be the top dog. But, if that power remains in higher levels, Wood might be the shortstop position’s top dog...in all the minors.

91. Jairo Garcia- Oakland Athletics- RP

Jaw-dropping numbers in low-A are just that: jaw-dropping numbers in low-A. As a challenge, the A’s promoted Garcia to AA, to see if he really was that good. He’s not 0.30 ERA good, but even his Texas League numbers are pretty good. I wasn’t too impressed with him in the Futures Game, and the walks total has been spiking of late, but there is still a lot to like. For example, Garcia is yet to give up a home run this year in more than forty innings of work. He also has 75 strikeouts and only 26 hits allowed this season, so it would be a crime to not call him a prospect.

92. Joey Votto- Cincinnati Reds- 1B

It was almost a toss-up between Votto and Dopirak, a pair of 20-year-old first basemen in low levels. But, Votto is definitely behind the Cubs’ prospect, since he doesn’t have a .500 slugging, much less .600. But give Votto some credit, his OBP is .416 this year, making me think he might be the next Dan Johnson...but with a lot more strikeouts. The average seems to be staying consistent, and a .300 average with 80 annual walks is more than deserving of an everyday job.

93. Fernando Nieve- Houston Astros- SP

I’ve had my eye on Nieve for awhile, calling him the Astros’ breakout prospect before the season. While he’s still under the radar, Nieve has posted some fantastic numbers in high-A this year. A H/9 under nine, a K/BB over 3.00, and only five home runs allowed in over 100 innings is great. He’s easily the best Astros’ pitching prospect at the moment, beating out Taylor Buchholz by a mile. Keep your eye on this guy, he just can’t keep on this pace with no notice, it’s just not fair.

94. Andy Sisco- Chicago Cubs- SP

Plain and simple, it’s nice time to jump ship on Sisco quite yet. In fact, there are very few times when it is alright to jump ship on a 6-9 southpaw, as Mark Hendrickson has proven so far this season. Sisco’s ERA has never been consistent with his numbers, and that remains true this year, though he’s recently lowered the number to 4.13. The walks have to come down, but you gotta love everything else on this kid. If the Cubs have to choose any pitching prospect to hang onto, it might just be this guy, as there is still so much that Sisco can do.

95. Shin-Soo Choo- Seattle Mariners- OF

Sometimes, even bad Futures Game performances get you some notice. That’s what happened for Choo, who I had all but forgotten about before his disastrous performance in Houston. The same can’t be said of his season, as his current Texas League line reads .303/.371/.443. Choo can run like Hell, and his 25 stolen bases in 30 attempts tell that his baserunning talents are very strong. An outfield of Jeremy Reed, Choo and Ichiro seem to be in the cards, and while not powerful, they’ll be good at defense and on the bases. How far that gets them remains to be seen, though I don’t think it’s enough to win a division with.

96. Chris Roberson- Philadelphia Phillies- OF

Before this season, Roberson had a career .247 batting average, with an Isolated Power of .080. Those hideous numbers have improved this season, as Roberson is hitting .307/.371/.473 in the Florida State League. His baserunning talents that kept him on the prospect radar last year have vanished, and Roberson is still very raw in the field. But if he can cut down the strikeouts, Roberson still has a chance to be a success story...though I wouldn’t bet on it.

97. Adam Miller- Cleveland Indians- SP

I don’t know why I’m so biased against Sally League pitchers, but I just can’t buy into their numbers at all. Miller even more so, because his ERA would not be 3.36 if not for a great April. But, mixing good stuff with a K/BB nearing 4.00 is a good sign, though Miller’s timetable seems extremely slow. Given these numbers, why not give Miller the promotion?

98. Andy LaRoche- Los Angeles Dodgers- 3B

Despite his brother’s rookie struggles, I won’t let that effect my opinion of Dave LaRoche’s son Andy. I’m also ignoring LaRoche’s first 94 FSL at-bats, which were not up to par with his .283/.375/.525 low-A line. It seems to me that Andy has good patience, good power and good defense, all of which make up a good prospect. It was a toss-up between LaRoche and Hank Blalock’s little brother, who had fairly similar Sally League numbers.

99. Willy Taveras- Houston Astros- OF

After being acquired by the Astros in the Rule V draft, Taveras has blossomed over extra tutelage, and was hitting .340 before getting injured. Taveras walks and runs, and that’s it. He strikes out a little too much for a leadoff hitter, and has less power than the tag ‘Juan Pierre lite’ would imply...if that’s possible.

100. Alberto Callaspo- Anaheim Angels- 2B

Anaheim has been good on most of their prospect’s timetables, all of those except Callaspo. Alberto was Erick Aybar’s double-play teammate last year, but was promoted to the Texas League, while Aybar moved up one level to the California League. Aybar skyrocketed into the top 75, while Callaspo has dropped to hanging on by his fingernails. He’s flirting with getting kicked out for good, though I have a feeling Callaspo might turn things up a bit in the second half.

Comments

Something tells me that Kazmir will make you look very good by the end of the year. He was recently promoted to AA, and while he hasn't completely dominated, he's held his own: 1.73 ERA 26ip, 16h, no homers allowed, 9 walks, and 29 strikeouts.

BTW, since you are discussing him in your mailbag, maybe you'd like to know that Brett Harper will be finally promoted to AA this week.

Hey Bryan, good work as always. A few things:

It's Aarom Baldiris, not Aaron. He announced it earlier this season, and Studes brought it to my attention at my site.

About Brett Harper, a reader recently asked for some commentary in a minor league recap, and I'll have something on him tomorrow morning. Look forward to reading your thoughts.

awesome job man, Im currently in a fantasy league that uses a minor league system and this has helped me a ton, great job and keep up the good work

You probably have taken all the questions you can already, but I'm wondering what you think of Baseball Prospectus' projection system projecting Eric Duncan for an .850 OPS and Ian Stewart for an .800ish one. That's a sizable difference especially considering many people, including you, have Stewart ranked ahead of Duncan.