|Harrisburg Senators (Double-A/Nationals)|
Born: June 6, 1986. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 190. Drafted: HS–Huntington Beach, Calif., 2004 (4th round). Signed by: Tony Arango.
The surfer turned pitcher has risen rapidly through the minors and is one of the centerpieces as Washington looks to rebuild its farm system. Balester throws a low- to mid-90s fastball and an above-average curveball and is working to develop a changeup as a third out pitch. He still needs to improve location of his pitches to break through to the big leagues.
|Portland Sea Dogs (Double-A/Red Sox)|
Born: Aug. 14, 1984. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 190. Drafted: Angelina (Texas) JC, 2005 (1st round supplemental). Signed by: Cesar Santiago.
Buchholz has established himself as one of the top pitching prospects in baseball this season, using a fastball that tops out at 97 mph, a 12-to-6 curveball and an excellent changeup to retire hitters. He even outdueled Roger Clemens during his minor league warm-up tour, striking out eight without surrendering a walk in six innings.
|Trenton Thunder (Double-A/Yankees)|
Born: Sept. 23, 1985. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 230. Drafted: Nebraska, 2006 (1st round supplemental). Signed by: Steve Lemke/Tim Kelly.
Chamberlain hasn’t looked back since bursting onto the scene last offseason at Hawaii Winter Baseball, where he was named the league’s top prospect. Behind an often overpowering fastball that sits in the 94-97 mph range, Chamberlain made quick work of the Florida State League, striking out 51 in just 40 innings, and has found early success since being promoted to Trenton.
|Wichita Wranglers (Double-A/Royals)|
Born: Sept. 15, 1983. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 205. Drafted: Forth Worth (independent American Association), 2006 (1st round). Signed by: Phil Huffman/Gerald Turner.
The top pick in the 2006 draft, Hochevar has struck out more than one batter per inning and has maintained a strikeout-to-walk ratio of better than 4:1 this season. His combination of a lively fastball that reaches 95 mph and an excellent curveball are two of the primary reasons why Hochevar misses so many bats.
|Great Lakes Loons (Low A/Dodgers)|
Born: March 19, 1988. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 210. Drafted: HS–Dallas, 2006 (1st round). Signed by: Calvin Jones.
The first high school pitcher selected in the 2006 draft, Kershaw has lived up to the hype by mowing down minor league hitters in his first two seasons. One of the top lefthanded pitching prospects in baseball, Kershaw has a 96 mph heater and a plus curveball. He has struck out at least one batter per inning in every start.
|Akron Aeros (Double-A/Indians)|
Born: Jan. 29, 1986. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 200. Drafted: HS–San Mateo, Calif., 2004 (4th round). Signed by: Don Lyle.
Considered a better outfield prospect by many teams coming out of high school in Northern California, the Indians chose to keep Lofgren on the mound and he hasn’t disappointed. Armed with a fastball that tops out at 95 mph, Lofgren tied for the minor league lead in wins and ranked second in the Carolina League in ERA and strikeouts in his second full pro season last year.
|Midland RockHounds (Double-A/Athletics)|
Born:Nov. 29, 1982 B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 160. Drafted: Ohio State, 2005 (21st round). Signed by: Rich Sparks.
An unheralded late college pick by the Athletics out of Ohio State, Madsen had a 5.18 ERA coming into the season but had worked hard in the offseason to get stronger and improve his secondary pitches. It paid off as he blossomed in Double-A, showing a fastball that tops out at 93 mph with a plus changeup and improving slider.
Born: May 26, 1985. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1.
Wt.: 175. Drafted: Villanova, 2006
(second round). Signed by:
Mulvey jumped right into the fire
signing as a second-rounder last season, beginning his pro career in
the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and was promoted straight to
Double-A after just one start. After finishing up last season in the
prospect-laden Arizona Fall League, Mulvey went back to Binghamton
where he went 6-8, 3.40 through 93 innings. Mulvey’s fastball sits in
the 90-93 mph range, topping out at 96, and also throws a hard
slider, curveball and changeup.
|Durham Bulls (Triple-A/Devil Rays)|
Born: Feb. 28, 1983. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-9. Wt.: 280. Drafted: Rice, 2004 (1st round). Signed by: Jonathan Bonifay.
A physically intimidating presence on the mound, Niemann has battled an assortment of shoulder, elbow and groin injuries during his career but seems to have put those behind him now. He has been durable this season, throwing at least 90 pitches in 12 of his 15 starts. Niemann works both sides of the plate with his 92-96 mph fastball and low-80s slider.
|Norfolk Tides (Triple-A/Orioles)|
Born: Oct. 18, 1983. B-T: R-L. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 200. Drafted: Cal Poly, 2005 (1st round supplemental). Signed by: Gil Kubski.
Olson isn’t overpowering, but his feel for pitching is as good as anyone’s in the minors. He throws his fastball anywhere in the 89-93 mph range, and complements it with a hard breaking ball and improving changeup. He hasn’t produced a gaudy record this season, but his opponent average and baserunners per inning have actually been better than his career norms.
|Springfield Cardinals (Double-A/Cardinals)|
Born: Dec. 16, 1986. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 200. Drafted: HS–Simi Valley, Calif., 2005 (4th round). Signed by: Jay North.
Anderson hits the ball well and he has excellent plate discipline, resulting in a high batting average and a high on-base percentage for the 20-year-old catcher. Despite being young for his level, Anderson has received praised for his leadership ability and game-calling ability. He also has shown power potential.
|Corpus Christi Hooks (Double-A/Astros)|
Born: Feb. 11, 1984. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 195. Drafted:Drafted: North Central Texas JC, 2004 (20th round). Signed by: Pat Murphy.
A five-tool talent behind the plate, Towles has been impressive with his ability to handle the bat, his pitch recognition, his athleticism and great defense. His numbers since 2005 have been excellent, but the biggest obstacle for Towles has been staying healthy. He got off to a slow start in high Class A, but since his promotion to Double-A he has been superb.
|San Jose Giants (High A/Giants)|
Born: March 9, 1985. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 185. Drafted: Stetson, 2006 (9th round). Signed by: Glenn Tufts.
In an organization stockpiled with middle-infield speedsters, Bocock has emerged as perhaps the best this season. A solid defender with above-average range and a strong arm, he earned a promotion to the California League after stealing 26 bases in 34 attempts for low Class A Augusta. He’s remained solid in the field, going 23 games without an error between the two levels, while getting comfortable at the plate.
|Lakewood BlueClaws (Low A/Phillies)|
Born: Oct. 10, 1987. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 185. Drafted: HS–Miami, 2006 (1st round supplemental). Signed by: Miguel Machado.
Cardenas was Baseball America’s High School Player of the Year in 2006, and he has followed up a good professional debut last year with a fine season for a 19-year-old in the low Class A South Atlantic League. He has shown the ability to make hard, consistent contact, spraying the ball all over the field. A high school shortstop, he has moved to second base this season.
|Greensboro Grasshoppers (Low A/Marlins)|
Born: June 18, 1985. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.:Wt.:Wt.: 190. Drafted: Mississippi, 2006 (1st round supplemental). Signed by: Mark Willoughby.
After a decent rookie year, Coghlan has had a breakout season, hitting for average, drawing walks and hitting for power. With more walks than strikeouts, his plate discipline is a huge plus. The Marlins moved Coghlan from third base to second base this season, and he profiles better there because he doesn’t offer a lot of power.
|Richmond Braves (Triple-A/Braves)|
Born: Sept. 18, 1983. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 182. Drafted: Washington, 2005 (4th round). Signed by: Greg Hopkins (Pirates).
Acquired by the Braves in an offseason trade with the Pirates, Lillibridge has progressed from making his full-season debut a year ago to starting in Triple-A this season. His above-average speed, instincts and plate discipline are weapons, and he also gets positive reviews for his defensive ability in the middle of the infield.
|Montgomery Biscuits (Double-A/Devil Rays)|
Born: Oct. 7, 1985. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 213. Drafted: Long Beach State, 2006 (1st round). Signed by: Fred Repke.
Since he entered professional baseball last year, Longoria has mashed the ball everywhere he has been. He has quick hands, which allow him to get plenty of bat speed, and he has the ability to hit for both average and power. Longoria’s excellent plate discipline should also make him successful once he reaches the majors.
|Altoona Curve (Double-A/Pirates)|
Born: April 13, 1983. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 200.
Drafted: South Carolina, 2005 (8th round). Signed by: Jack Powell.
Pearce began 2007 in his second tour of the Carolina League, in spite of a strong showing last year. He didn’t stick around long after hitting .347 with 11 homers in just 75 at-bats. The hard-swinging Pearce has shown no signs of slowing down since moving up to Double-A, ranking atop the Eastern League leaderboard in slugging percentage.
|Colorado Springs Sky Sox (Triple-A/Rockies)|
Born: April 5, 1985. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 205. Drafted: HS–Garden Grove, Calif., 2003 (1st round). Signed by: Todd Blyleven.
His performance took a slight dip in Double-A last season, but Stewart was coming off injuries and still was just 21. He has responded to a promotion to Triple-A by improving his batting average, on-base percentage and slugging average. Stewart can drive the ball, shows the ability to hit for power, has a quick bat and excellent plate coverage.
Rochester Red Wings
Born: May 4,
1982. B-T: B-R.
Wt.: 180. Drafted: Mississippi, 2004,
Signed by: Mark
Tolbert was a four-year starter, mostly
at shortstop, at Mississippi (preceding 2007 Reds second-round pick
Zack Cozart), and never hit better than .301 for the Rebels. However,
his slick glove and versatility (he can play any infield position)
earned him a jump to Double-A New Britain in 2006, where he began and
ended the season. He raised eyebrows by hitting .311 in the Arizona
Fall League, and his contact-oriented approach from both sides of the
plate had him ranked third in the International League in batting as
the Futures Game approached.
|Clinton Lumberkings (Low Class A/Rangers)|
Born: Feb. 11, 1987.B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 195. Drafted: HS–Kingwood, Texas, 2005 (2nd round). Signed by: Randy Taylor.
Whittleman struggled in low Class A in 2006, his first full season, but he never got down on himself and performed well in Hawaii Winter Baseball, setting the stage for a breakout performance this year in Clinton. A football and baseball star in high school in Texas, his pure hitting ability could allow him to move quickly now that he is in a groove.
|Chattanooga Lookouts (Double-A/Reds)|
Born: April 3, 1987. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 218. Drafted: HS–Beaumont, Texas, 2005 (1st round). Signed by: Brian Wilson.
Bruce has followed up his stellar first full professional season, when he was named the low Class A Midwest League’s top prospect, by making a run at similar honors this year, potentially in two leagues. A quick and smooth swing helped Bruce lead the high Class A Florida State League in slugging and extra-base hits and earned him a promotion to Double-A.
|Lakeland Flying Tigers (High Class A/Tigers)|
Born: April 4, 1987. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 205. Drafted: HS–Asheville, N.C., 2005 (1st Round). Signed by: Bill Buck.
The 10th overall pick in the 2005 draft has the potential to mix power and speed to become a multi-threat hitter at the top or in the middle of a batting order. Maybin was voted by managers the Midwest League’s best and fastest baserunner as one of the circuit’s youngest players last year and has followed it up with another stellar season. He ranked among the Florida State League leaders in hitting, steals and on-base percentage.
|Springfield Cardinals (Double-A/Cardinals)|
Born: Aug. 11, 1986. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 175. Drafted: HS–Phenix City, Ala., 2005 (1st round). Signed by: Scott Nichols.
Rasmus offers a well-rounded set of tools that he’s still polishing, and he has held his own as a 20-year-old in Double-A this season after blazing through Class A in his first full season in 2006. While his average isn’t impressive, Rasmus’ on-base and slugging percentage show the potential of both his plate discipline and power.
|Mobile BayBears (Double-A/Diamondbacks)|
Born: Aug. 25, 1987. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 195. Drafted: HS–Chesapeake, Va., 2005 (1st round). Signed by: Greg Lonigro.
Upton’s tools are unsurpassed in the minor leagues, and he has matched them with an overwhelming performance this season. His first full year was nothing to write home about, but the Diamondbacks said he was simply adjusting to pro ball and he has proven them right. He does everything well, but the skill that stands out the most is his bat speed.