Picking AL Players Who Just Missed The Top 10
CHICAGO—There's never enough room on a Top 10 Prospects list. We just concluded our organization Top 10 coverage with the American League West, and some tough cuts had to be made.
The Rangers have more high-ceiling youngsters than any system, and we couldn't fit all of them. The Athletics aren't nearly as deep, but their Gio Gonzalez trade brought back four Nationals prospects who knocked other players off our Oakland Top 10.
Those are just two good reasons why we produce the annual Prospect Handbook, which contains 30 Top 30 Prospects lists and is shipping from our Durham headquarters. Those are also two motivations for our annual column of the best AL prospects who couldn't quite make Top 10s.
Last year's edition included Royals reliever Tim Collins and Blue Jays outfielder Eric Thames, who went on to have fine rookie seasons, and Royals third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert and Twins second baseman/outfielder Eddie Rosario, who were no-doubt Top 10 selections this time around. Cuthbert had a solid year in low Class A at age 18, while Rosario was the co-MVP and home run leader in the Rookie-level Appalachian League.
Below are 11 not-quite-ready-for-prime-time prospects you should be hearing a lot more about in the future:
A.J. Jimenez, c, Blue Jays:
J.P. Arencibia and Travis d'Arnaud overshadow him, but Jimenez gives Toronto another potential everyday catcher. He's the best defender of that group, with quality receiving skills and a strong, accurate arm. He can hit too, though he'll produce more line drives than homers.
Andy Wilkins, 1b, White Sox:
There weren't exactly a lot of prime first-base candidates, which is how baseball's worst farm system is represented on this list. Wilkins hit 23 homers in high Class A in his first full pro season, and he has the most usable power among Chisox prospects. Some scouts don't like his bat wrap and think he's more platoon player than regular.
Christian Colon, 2b, Royals:
The fourth overall pick in the 2010 draft had a disappointing first full pro season, batting .257/.325/.342 in Double-A. Yet, he's going to hit for a high average with solid gap power while providing fine defense at second base. I still think he's better than Johnny Giavotella, who made this list three years ago.
Matt Dean, 3b, Blue Jays:
Dean might have been a sandwich pick last June if not for his college commitment to Texas, which dropped him to the 13th round. Signed for $737,500 at the Aug. 15 deadline, he has all the prototype tools for third base with plus raw power and arm strength, a solid swing and good agility.
Luis Sardinas, ss, Rangers:
Signed in the same international class as Jurickson Profar, Sardinas gives Texas another possible stud shortstopĂ'albeit one who hasn't been able to stay healthy. He has more speed and range than Profar, though not as much pop. Sardinas has played just 40 games in two seasons because of finger and shoulder injuries.
Tyler Collins, lf, Tigers:
A sixth-round pick in June, Collins hit .404 at Baylor in 2010, .488 at Howard (Texas) JC to win the national juco batting title last spring, .310 while ranking as the top prospect in the Texas Collegiate League last summer and .313 in his pro debut. Suffice it to say that he can hit, and he also offers average power and plus speed.
Aaron Shipman, cf, Athletics:
Pushed off our A's Top 10 by the Gonzalez trade, Shipman is the best athlete in the Oakland system. He's a quality center fielder with plus-plus speed, potential gap power and solid arm strength. He also has the advanced plate discipline that the A's covet.
Jordan Akins, rf, Rangers:
Texas loves its athletes, and Akins could have played wide receiver at Georgia or both football and baseball at Central Florida if he hadn't signed for $350,000 as a 2010 third-rounder. He's inexperienced and will need time to develop, but he's also a 6-foot-4, 192-pounder with well above-average speed and raw power, not to mention a plus arm.
Robbie Ross, lhp, Rangers:
He may be undersized at 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds, but Ross isn't a finesse lefty. He has a deceptive delivery that helps his 88-93 mph fastball play up, and he flashes a plus slider and average changeup. He led the high Class A Carolina League in ERA (2.26) and opponent average (.227) last year.
Jose Campos, rhp, Yankees:
The Jesus Montero/Michael Pineda trade came too late for Campos to make the Top 10 with his new organization (New York) and too early for him to make it with his old one (Seattle). The short-season Northwest League leader in ERA (2.32) and strikeouts (85) in his 2011 U.S. debut would have ranked fifth on either list. Only 19, he already has reached 98 mph with his fastball and shows signs of a plus curveball and changeup.
Alex Wilson, rp, Red Sox:
Boston's 2011 minor league pitcher of the year can overpower hitters with a 93-96 mph fastball that peaks at 98 and a hard slider that verges on unhittable at times. He has had success as a starter, but his stuff and competitiveness may fit best in a late-inning relief role.