Around the MinorsAugust 28, 2008
Rating the Prospects: AL East
By Marc Hulet

Prospect rating season is just about upon us with the Minor League Baseball season in its last full week (Where did the time go?). Over the next six weeks (one division a week), with your help, I am going to pick the Top 15 prospects in each organization's stable.

After that, the next six weeks will be devoted to ranking those prospects that people helped choose in the comments section of the articles. Things to consider when choosing the prospects are 1) tools, 2) statistics, 3) history, and 4) level of competition/age. The players also must still be rookie eligible, which means pitchers cannot have exceed 50 big league innings and hitters cannot have exceeded 130 at-bats at the MLB level.

Feel free to also comment on who you think is the best prospect in the division, as well as which team has the best minor league system.

The AL East

The Baltimore Orioles
The Pitchers: Jake Arrieta (Double-A, right-hander), Chorye Spoone (Double-A, right-hander), Pedro Beato (High-A, right-hander), Brandon Erbe (High-A, right-hander), David Hernandez (Double-A, right-hander), Brian Matusz (2008 No. 1 pick, left-hander), Brad Bergesen (Double-A, right-hander), Chris Tillman (Double-A, right-hander), Kam Mickolio (MLB, right-hander), Tim Bascom (High-A, right-hander), Zach Britton (left-hander, A-ball), Luis Noel (right-hander, A-ball), Tony Butler (A-ball, left-hander)

The Hitters: Matt Wieters (Double-A, catcher), Nolan Reimold (Double-A, outfielder), Mike Costanza (Triple-A, third baseman), Billy Rowell (High-A third baseman), Brandon Snyder (High-A, first baseman), Miguel Abreu (High-A, second baseman), Chris Vinyard (High-A, designated hitter), Ryan Adams (A-ball, second baseman), Matt Angle (A-ball, outfielder), Tyler Kolodny (Short season, third baseman)

Comments: OK, so who did I forget that should be in the Top 15? Is Wieters or Tillman worthy of the coveted No. 1 overall spot... or is there a dark horse candidate? The pitching certainly seems stronger in the system than the hitting, with the exception of Wieters. If you look at the pitching coming up the pipe in this system, it's not hard to envision Baltimore becoming pretty successful in a few years if Erbe, Tillman and Arrieta can stay healthy.

The Toronto Blue Jays
The Pitchers: David Purcey (MLB, left-hander), Brad Mills (Double-A, left-hander), Scott Richmond (Triple-A, right-hander), Brett Cecil (Triple-A, left-hander), Ricky Romero (Triple-A, left-hander), Luis Perez (A-ball, left-hander), Marc Rzepczynski (A-ball, left-hander), Robert Ray (Double-A, right-hander), Tim Collins (A-ball, left-hander)

The Hitters: Travis Snider (Triple-A, outfielder), J.P. Arencibia (Double-A, catcher), Brian Jeroloman (Triple-A, catcher), David Cooper (2008 No. 1 pick, first baseman), Kevin Ahrens (A-ball, third baseman), Justin Jackson (A-ball, shortstop), John Tolisano (A-ball, second baseman), Eric Eiland (A-ball, outfielder), Brad Emaus (High-A, second baseman), Balbino Fuenmayor (Rookie, third baseman), Scott Campbell (Double-A, second baseman)

Comments: OK, so who did I forget that should be in the Top 15? The Blue Jays are absolutely loaded in left-handed pitching, which is always an extremely valuable commodity. At first blush, I would say the hitting is stronger overall than the pitching but a lot of the really interesting hitters are raw and toolsy (wait, is this Toronto?)

The Tampa Bay Rays
The Pitchers: David Price (Triple-A, left-hander), Jacob McGee (Injured, left-hander), Wade Davis (Triple-A, right-hander), Jeff Neimann (Triple-A, right-hander), Jeremy Hellickson (Double-A, right-hander), James Houser (Double-A, left-hander), Heath Rollins (Double-A, right-hander), Kyle Lobstein (2008 2nd round pick, left-hander), Alex Cobb (A-ball, right-hander), Nick Barnese (Short season, right-hander)

The Hitters: Reid Brignac (Triple-A, shortstop), Desmond Jennings (High-A, outfielder), Ryan Royster (High-A, outfielder), Tim Beckham (2008 First Overall Pick, shortstop), John Jaso (Triple-A, catcher), Rhyne Hughes (Double-A, first baseman)

Comments: OK, so who did I forget that should be in the Top 15? The Rays have definitely focused harder on drafting pitching in recent years than hitting, or perhaps the organization has just been lucky? A lot of its top-ranked pitchers were not even first round draft picks and they definitely found good value in pitchers such as Davis, Hellickson and Rollins.

The Boston Red Sox
The Pitchers: Michael Bowden (Triple-A, right-hander), Charlie Zink (Triple-A, right-hander), Daniel Bard (Double-A, right-hander), Kris Johnson (Double-A, left-hander), Casey Kelly (2008 No.1 pick, right-hander), Bryan Price (2008 No. 1 supplemental, right-hander), Felix Doubront (High-A, left-hander), Brock Huntzinger (A-ball, right-hander)

The Hitters: George Kottaras (Triple-A, catcher), Chris Carter (Triple-A, OF-1B), Lars Anderson (Double-A, first baseman), Aaron Bates (Double-A, first baseman), Argenis Diaz (Double-A, shortstop), Josh Reddick (Double-A, outfielder), Jon Still (High-A, catcher), Chih-Hsien Chiang (High-A, second baseman), Yamaico Navarro (High-A, shortstop), Ryan Kalish (High-A, outfielder), Jason Place (High-A, outfielder), Will Middlebrooks (Short season, third baseman), Ryan Dent (Short season, shortstop), Michael Almanzar (A-ball, third baseman), Oscar Tejeda (A-ball, shortstop)

Comments: OK, so who did I forget that should be in the Top 15? Boston's draft spending spree has been well publicized as of late but I think it is a great thing. I like to see talented players get drafted and enter the pro ranks. I'll admit I think the draft system needs an overhaul - well, a salary cap of some sort for sure... But I don't blame Boston for throwing around the money; I'd do the same thing. The club also does really well in the foreign markets, doesn't it? There are at least six interesting foreign-signed players above... Boston is definitely covering all the bases.

The New York Yankees
The Pitchers: J.B. Cox (Triple-A, right-hander), Mark Melancon (Triple-A, right-hander), Alan Horne (Triple-A, right-hander), George Kontos (Double-A, right-hander), Christian Garcia (High-A, right-hander), Humberto Sanchez (High-A, right-hander), Andrew Brackman (Injured, right-hander), Dellin Betances (A-ball, right-hander), Jeremy Bleich (2008 supplemental first pick, left-hander)

The Hitters: Austin Jackson (Double-A, outfielder), Frank Cervelli (Double-A, catcher), Matt Cusick (High-A, second baseman), Damon Sublett (High-A, second baseman), Eduardo Nunez (High-A, shortstop), Luis Nunez (High-A, infielder), Jesus Montero (A-ball, 1B/C), Austin Romine (A-ball, catcher), Brad Suttle (A-ball, third baseman)

Comments: OK, so who did I forget that should be in the Top 15? With all the money New York has, the organization has kind of let the system fall into disrepair. There are some intriguing prospects, but none that really wow... although Jackson and Montero could be near wow. That said, New York has always had an uncanny ability to turn OK prospects into really good players, such as Robinson Cano. Overall, between the two powerhouses, Boston seems to have a better run minor league system and scouting department than New York.

Next Week: The NL West


Kelvin De Leon of the Yankees?

New York has let their system fall into disrepair? Nothing could be farther from the truth. They've had a number of graduations this year, and they just traded Jose Tabata, who was one of their better hitting prospects.

You didn't list Jeff Marquez (pitcher that's battled injuries this year), Wilkins De La Rosa (lefty converted OF), Zach McAllister (sinker guy in Tampa) Kevin Whelan (relief from Shef trade), Jairo Heredia (young control guy), Alfredo Aceves (back end starter), or Phil Coke (another lefty who's had a good year).

I don't see why you listed Matt Cusick at all, and neither of the Nunezes are major prospects at this point. There are a couple of flawed guys - Juan Miranda (DH that destroys righties, terrible fielder and can't hit lefties), Colin Curtis (hasn't lived up to the hype), Ramiro Pena (next Alberto Gonzalez) in the high minors. Charleston has most of the team's hitting prospects. Justin Snyder seems like a decent OBP, jack of all trades guy. Abe Almonte and Carmen Angelini are mostly tools at this point, but are considered good prospects. Eduardo Sosa and Kelvin DeLeon are big ceiling OFs who will come to the United States next year.

Scott Richmond of the Blue Jays is a non-prospect. He turns 29 later this week, and in 89.2 innings at AA this year he had an ERA of 4.92 and allowed 14 HR's. This year was also he first year in a Major League organization. The only reason that he reached the majors is that he is Canadian and he pitches for the last remaining Canadian franchise. He was a publicity stunt, if anything (and I say that as both a proud Canadian and a not-so-proud Jays fan).

I think you've done a pretty good job with the Rays. You might consider Mitch Talbot and Fernando Perez, both at AAA this year. Neither is a high ceiling prospect, but both have had some success just one step away. Talbot's change-up has been ranked the best in the league and he has had an excellent second half. Perez seems to be an excellent defensive outfielder with great speed and good plate discipline as well as some gap power.

I tend to downgrade players in the lowest rungs of the minors unless they are somehow extra special. And I think Royster is a very limited player. I would probably replace Royster and Hughes with Talbot and Perez.

Nice article, research. Casey Kelly is being allowed to play SS as per his preference; Boston would have prefered him as a pitcher.

I agree that Scott Richmond is a non-prospect. A player that I think you overlooked was Brian Dopirak, he is only 23 and is absolutely mashing it in A+/AA this year.

Actually, Dopirak is 24 -- 25 in December. And the Cubs already gave up on him, which is why he landed in Toronto. This is his fifth year in A ball.

Dopirak may be 24 but I think he lost a year or more to injury somewhere along the line. He's moved up to AA and is hitting a combined 308/372/561 (with 29 HR) at high A/AA. He's still a bit of a fringy prospect, but he has a chance to regain legitimate prospect status - based on his numbers, anyway.

Interestingly, another late-bloomer, Joe Inglett - a 30-year-old with 470 career AB in the majors - has replaced the injured Aaron Hill at 2B this year and is hitting 308/358/420 in the leadoff spot for the Blue Jays. I think Ricciardi deserves some credit for unearthing these guys.

Wow, your Yankee section is misinformed. And by a large amount.

Richmond is an interesting story in that he worked for a few years to make money before attending college, so he got started late. As a result, teams did not draft him due to his age and he had to prove himself in independent baseball. The fact he soared through the system in less than a year shows that he does have some talent... and his stuff isn't bad.

Dopirak will be a minor league free agent at the end of the year unless the Jays add him to the 40-man roster... and I'm not sure if they would take that gamble given his age.

As for the Yankees, you can tell me I am misinformed, but please back it up. Tell me which prospects I am missing... which is the whole point of this exercise - to have you help.

"As for the Yankees, you can tell me I am misinformed, but please back it up."

Well, for one thing, Bleich is a lefty

Hitters: Nunez and Nunez are non-prospects, while Angelini and Snyder are potential prospects. Kevin DeLeon is a good outfield prospect. Not a bad list; New York does not have many position playing prospects outside of Low and Hi A ball.

Pitchers: There are more arms, but the ones listed are the best if you throw in Wilkins De La Rosa and recently added Brett Marshall.

Overall: System was left in disrepair shortly after the 2001 world series. Brian Cashman has done a great job overhauling the minors, turning a horrible system into a top five system (from BA's rankings last year). The system had some set backs this year with Brackman and Sanchez being hurt, as well as Hughes. The loss of Cole is devastating, as it cost them a potential ace arm to go with Brackman, Joba, Hughes, Betances. The farm system is not as good as Boston or Tampa, and Cashman admits as much. New York started taking the draft seriously much later than Boston thanks to meddling ownership. But the system is not in disrepair, especially when compared to three years ago.

You cannot assemble a list of the Yankees' top pitching prospects and leave off Zach McAllister; he'll be starting in Trenton as a 21-year-old next year after making very quick work across two levels of single-A ball. He doesn't have overpowering stuff, but he has a good sinker, great command, and a fantastic K/BB ratio this season.

And I know someone else pointed it out, but just wanted to emphasize (again) that Bleich is a lefty, not a righty.

You completely forgot Zach McAllister, who will be starting in AA Trenton as a 21 year old next year. The Nunez's and Cusick are organizational filler.

I hate when people who have limited knowledge of farm systems talk about it and try to tell others about it, it just makes everyone look stupid.

I'm offended that you have Sublett, nunez, Cusick and E. Nunez on the top 15 list. I won't have them on my top 30 list. Where's De Leon? Where's Suttle? Where's McAllister? Where's Wilkes De La Rosa?

By listing the players that I did, I certainly am not trying to say they would be on my list and certainly not in that order... I am merely trying to get the ball rolling so everyone can have a nice debate over who ends up where.

I do apologize for the typo on Bleich's arm.

We are all friends here working towards the common goal.

This post is stupid...You should rename it LIST the prospects instead of RATE the prospects. All you do is list them and not in any particular order. I could do that in my sleep

All Marc did was identify 15 prospects in each organization and asked the readers to suggest other names. He makes it clear that the ranking itself will occur over the next 6 weeks. So we are being invited to help. Why the nastiness? If you think someone has been left out or should not have been included, why not simply say so and why? Obviously Marc considers the lists he has offered as provisional, a kind of initial brainstorming.

Actually it seems to me that for an introduction to the process, the lists are pretty good and ought to stimulate discussion. I also think there are some reasonable alterations that could be made, which is exactly the point of the article.

The Baltimore Orioles

1) Matt Wieters - toss up between him and Price as best prospect in baseball.

2) Chris Tillman - as a Mariners fan, it makes me sick to write this.

3) Brian Matusz - best pitcher in 08 draft.

4) Jake Arrieta - My knowledge of Orioles prospects starts to dwinder after the first three...but from everything I've heard is that turned in a pretty good year. Good pick up in the 5th rd.

5) Brandon Erbe - Numbers aren't great, but if you delve deeper, he's had some dominating performances. Can't argue with the fastball and he's young enough to get over his command problems.

6) Nolan Reimold - I've always liked him. Has big power and has decent K rate. Has torn up AA the last two years, but kinda old (24?) and has dealt with injury problems in the past. Septembder call-up?

7) David Hernandez - Don't know much about him. He should probably be rated higher.

8) Brandon Snyder - Use to be a catcher (I think) now moved to first base. Don't know if he has the power to be ideal there.

9) Bill Rowell - Another disappointing year for the 9th overall pick. If they wanted to go prep position player...Travis Snider was available (I'm bias though being from Washington).

10) Xavier Avery - BA compared him to Carl Crawford...has a long way to go to reach that.

Other guys in no particular order: Chorye Spoone, Pedro Beato (disappointment), Tony Butler (as a Mariner fan, we loved this guy and in his first year had him rated heads and shoulders over Tillman. Very intelligent and great makeup, when we compared him to Tillman, his facebook page is a plus. Obviously Tillman's surpased him and pitching in his homestate didn't do him anygood his first full year. Injury prone, but he's a tall guy. Anyway, it really pissed me off that Bavasi included him in the Bedard trade if you haven't noticed), Kam Mickolio (Bavasi I hate you).

Sorry Marc...didn't know you this was a warmup to the actual ratings. Bob put me in my place.

The Toronto Blue Jays

There aren't any real surprises in the Blue Jays system. Ranking's pretty much stayed the same in my opinion. Again, don't know too much about this system, as my team's in the Northwest.

1) Travis Snider - Really like this guy, but I'm bias being from the same state. Recent call-up was a surprise. From everything I've read is that he still has strike zone

2) Brett Cecil - Closer turned starter. Obviously Toronto's had success with this philosophy. Good stuff (fastball has good movement and sits in the low 90's, plus slider, good command) and good statistical year equals pretty good prospect. Could move pretty fast.

3)J.P. Arencibia - One of the top 5 catching prospects in baseball. And unlike some (Ramirez,, will actually stay at his position.

4) David Cooper - Another college first baseman drafted in the first rd. of the 08 draft behind Alonso and Smoak and ahead of Dykstra and Davis (did I get the order right? Don't want to look it up) Reports are that he's going to have to make it to the bigs through his bat as his defense and baserunning are subpar. Looks good though so far.

5) David Purcey - Has had a bounce back year at AAA. Not huge upside though and seems like he gets rocked evertime he gets called up. Blue Jays fans would know better. May be over ranking him, but from here all the Blue Jays prospects are at the lower levels and not much to choose from.

6) Kevin Ahrens - Another high school prep player drafted in the first rd. that may bust. Not great numbers. I mean he's shown he can hit for a decent average in the MWL, but no power and striking out a ton. He's young so he can turn it around.

7) Justin Jackson - For lack of another prospect I'd put him here. Reports are that that he has below average batspeed. Comes from the same highschool as Cameron Maybin.

8) Ricky Romero - gets the nod just on the fact he was drafted so high. Has been a HUGE disappointment needless to say.

9) Marc Rzepcynski - Good numbers, lacks upside. Stuff is fringe, tops out at like 90.

10) You could put a number of fringe prospects here...I'd put Alan Farina. Good numbers before getting hurt.

Andrew Liebel - awesome pick, love undersized pitchers.

I don't know that much about the Blue Jays system, most of what I wrote is second hand knowledge reading scouting reports from various sites.

The Boston Red Sox

Alright, I'm ready to get ripped by the Sox nation on this listing. Just remember...WWJD (lol).

1) Lars Anderson - pisses me off that Sox can sign a player who was Cali's best prep position player just because they got the financial backing. Damn you've got two rings in the last 4 years, time to share the hardware. I hope Beckett's arm falls off, your preciously hyped Clay Clay falls on his face, and that your dethroned by a team who averages like 15,000 during their home games...oh wait. Just kidding.

2) Michael Bowden - Seriously, why did everyone fall off the bandwagon when he was promoted to AA last year. Dude was straight murder at Lancaster and I don't need to tell anyone about that ridiculous ballpark. Anyway, striking out a ton with low 90's fastball, plus curve, and funky delivery. Everyone jump back on.

3) Jed Lowrie - Has he exceeded 130 AB's? Looking pretty good thus far for Boston. Red Sox fans should mug Julio Lugo and kneecap him so he can't play next year, actually that was mean.

4) Michael Almanzar - The top international signee (in the eye's of Sox fan...Tehran, DeLeon, and DeJesus have similar upside) ummm...yeah. Pretty much figured out the GCL pretty quickly, scuffling in SAL, but upside puts him before anyone else.

5) Casey Kelly - Has Boston decided to turn him into a pitcher? Red Sox fans would know. Might do the whole Michael Main thing. Let him hit awhile his first year, then convert him full time to pitching. Anyway, BA says he pitches low to mid 90's, with a nasty curve.

6) Josh Reddick - how the hell do you guys find these guys. Drafted in the 17th rd., dude's looking pretty good as he tore up the CAL leauge to the tune of 343/375/593. Lancaster might have inflated these numbers just a bit as he's scuffling at AA. Reports are that he'll hit for average with good plate coverage with above-average power. Playes a good right field with a strong arm. I hate the Red Sox.

7) Daniel Bard - I mean you can't argue the numbers. Might put him ahead of Reddick. Good bounce back year for a guy everyone was prepared to write off. Maybe not the starter Boston dreamed up when they drafted him, but overpowering fastball even if he has no idea where it's going. His curve's a joke.

8) Anthony Rizzo - Maybe not the upside of Lars Anderson, but looking pretty good so far. Though small sample size. Think if they Red Sox signed Hunter Morris...that'd be ridiculous.

9) Stolmy Pimentel - Guy's been getting a lot of hype lately. He's only 18, and gotta love a guy with the name Stolmy. Don't have a scouting report so can only go by the numbers. Has a 3.03 FIP with a 23.4 K%.

10) Nick Hagadone - can't have a list if I don't include someone from the state of Washington. Got to see him pitch at UDUB alot. Pitched like 10 innings before he went on the DL. But when healthy pitches with above average velocity for a lefthander and a plus slider. He gets the nod ahead of Huntzinger and Doubront cause he's from Washington state and has a higher upside.

Other dudes: Ryan Kalish (had a pretty good year at Greenville 281/377/356, but no pop), Jason Place (pop, but no plate discipline...ummm supper athletic?) Will Middlebrooks - disappointment, Kris Johnson (having a really good year, could have breakout year next year), Brock Huntzinger (having a really good year...reasons he's not on the list: 1) name's not a cool as Stolmy Pimentel 2) Can't take anyone seriously with the name Brock 3) That's about it) Some other international guys: Che-Hsuan Lin and Oscar Tejeda (young...poor plate discipline, etc., Sox fans love these two guys, me not so much).