The American League Near-Miss Prospect List
CHICAGO—Robbie Ross had everything it took to make a Top 10 Prospects list a year ago.
He had pedigree, as a 2008 second-round pick who had signed for $1.575 million. He had tools, including a solid three-pitch repertoire and good control. He had performance, having recorded a 2.34 ERA and 134 strikeouts in 161 innings while reaching Double-A.
Ross had everything, except for the right organization. He was part of a loaded Rangers system that would top our organization rankings for the second time in four years. So he had to settle for No. 14 on our Texas Top 30 in the Prospect Handbook and recognition on our annual team of the best American Leaguers left off Top 10s.
He stepped out of the shadows in 2012, making the Rangers out of spring training despite having just six starts above Class A on his résumé. Ross went 6-0, 2.22 in 58 appearances, becoming the latest big league standout from our AL all-not-Top-10s, which date to 2003 and have included future all-stars such as Josh Hamilton, Howie Kendrick and Mark Trumbo.
Here's our latest group of players who couldn't crack AL Top 10s but still bear watching:
Max Stassi, c, Athletics:
Signed for $1.5 million, a fourth-round record at the time in 2009, Stassi has played just 239 pro games because of injuries. He put two years of shoulder issues behind him in 2012 but still missed time with ankle and oblique ailments. When healthy, he has shown above-average power potential to go with solid defensive skills behind the plate.
Adam Brett Walker, 1b, Twins:
Minnesota thought Walker had the most pure power in the 2012 draft and was thrilled to grab him in the third round. He smacked 14 homers in 58 games at Rookie-level Elizabethton, but also demonstrated his propensity to swing and miss with 76 strikeouts. Though he has enough athleticism to begin his pro career in the outfield, he'll likely wind up at first base.
Rougned Odor, 2b, Rangers:
Exceptional instincts have allowed Odor to thrive despite being the youngest player in his league in each of his two pro seasons. His tools aren't bad either, as he could develop into a solid hitter with decent power while providing quality defense.
Tyler Goeddel, 3b, Rays:
Among Tampa Bay's six supplemental first-round picks in 2011, Goeddel received the biggest bonus ($1.5 million) and may have the brightest future. He won't take off until he adds strength, but he has the athleticism, bat speed and arm strength to do it all at the hot corner.
Tzu-Wei Lin, ss, Red Sox:
Boston added to its deep stock of shortstop prospects when it signed Lin in June for $2.05 million, a record for a Taiwanese position player. His plus-plus speed is his best tool, and he possesses a quick bat, advanced offensive approach and solid range and arm strength.
Marc Krauss, lf, Astros:
Hapless Houston's sole goal for now is to acquire talent, which led to several in-season trades, including one that sent Chris Johnson to the Diamondbacks for Krauss and outfielder/third baseman Bobby Borchering. Krauss showed off his on-base and power skills by leading the Double-A Southern League in OBP (.413) and ranking third in slugging (.506) this year.
Lewis Brinson, cf, Rangers:
Texas loves tools, so it didn't worry about Brinson's lackluster high school senior season when it spent the 29th overall pick in June and $1.625 million on him. He has outstanding bat speed but is still raw at the plate, as evidenced by him pacing the Rookie-level Arizona League in extra-base hits (36) and strikeouts (74). He also offers plus speed, range and arm strength.
Domingo Santana, rf, Astros:
Another Houston trade acquisition, he was part of the 2011 Hunter Pence deal with the Phillies. Though Santana's 2012 numbers were inflated by Lancaster and the high Class A California League, it's hard not to love .302/.385/.536 from a 19-year-old. He draws comparisons to Jermaine Dye because he's a solid hitter with plus power and arm strength.
Drake Britton, lhp, Red Sox:
Britton has gone 11-30, 4.68 since signing for $700,000 as a 23rd-round pick in 2007, and he had Tommy John surgery in 2008. He remains intriguing because his fastball can reach 97 mph and his slider and changeup have their moments. His strong finish in Double-A this year encourages Boston that he can remain a starter.
Bryan Mitchell, rhp, Yankees:
Like Britton, Mitchell got big money ($800,000) in the late rounds (16th, 2009) and has had only sporadic success (12-16, 4.32). Yet it's impossible to ignore his 92-97 mph fastball and power 12-to-6 curveball, both of which could become plus-plus pitches if he refines his mechanics and command.
Mark Montgomery, rp, Yankees:
Originally recruited by Longwood as a shortstop, Montgomery thrived when he became a full-time reliever as a sophomore. An 11th-round pick in 2011, he has averaged 14.6 strikeouts per nine innings in pro ball because he has an unhittable slider. He also features a 90-93 mph fastball and a deceptive crossfire delivery.