Prospect Pulse: Prospects Position Rankings





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With a slight breather in the schedule, there's no better time to rank prospects by position, giving each position a ranking (from one to five stars)

The rating is based on future star depth according to each position, and prospect status, level of play, age and performance all were factors in determining each list.

So let's pull up our socks and really get after it, starting with the guys behind the dish:

CATCHER*** 1/2

It's hard not to rank either Iannetta, Suzuki or even Montero ahead of Clement or Saltalamacchia based solely on performance, but the last two have a better base of overall tools at the position. Clement also features light-tower power and jumped to Triple-A despite missing much of the year with injury problems. Saltalamacchia might not have been impressive with the bat, but he grew leaps and bounds in his game-calling through working with big league veteran Todd Pratt, and he finished strong before leaving to play for Team USA in Cuba. Conger, McBride and Sapp were the top catchers drafted in 2006.

1.    Jeff Clement, Mariners
2.    Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Braves
3.    Neil Walker, Pirates
4.    Kurt Suzuki, Athletics
5.    Chris Iannetta, Rockies
6.    Hank Conger, Angels
7.    Miguel Montero, Diamondbacks
8.    Shawn Riggans, Devil Rays
9.    Matt McBride, Indians
10.  Max Sapp, Astros

FIRST BASE** 1/2

Votto jumps to the top of the heap in a rather uninspiring list of first basemen after putting up the best numbers of his career. He hit for average and power in Double-A as a 22-year-old, playing solid defense with good range for Chattanooga. Loney might have edged out Indians third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff for the minor league batting title, but questions linger about his power. There are no such questions with Koshansky, who was among the minor league leaders in homers and became a much more complete hitter this season.

1.    Joey Votto, Reds
2.    James Loney, Dodgers
3.    Joe Koshansky, Rockies
4.    Daric Barton, Athletics
5.    Chris Carter, Diamondbacks
6.    Mark Hamilton, Cardinals
7.    Kyle Blanks, Padres
8.    Justin Huber, Royals
9.    Eric Duncan, Yankees
10.  Travis Ishikawa, Giants

SECOND BASE**

DeWitt might not have hit in Double-A like he did in the Florida State League, but the lefthanded-hitting second baseman has the most upside with power and the ability to make consistent contact. Contact is by far Callaspo's forte, whiffing only once every 20.52 plate appearances--tops in the minors for the third straight year. Reynolds plays all over the diamond but probably fits best at second base, and all he did was hit in his second full season--for both average and power.

1.    Blake DeWitt, Dodgers
2.    Alberto Callaspo, Diamondbacks
3.    Mark Reynolds, Diamondbacks
4.    Alexi Casilla, Twins
5.    Eric Patterson, Cubs
6.    Elliot Johnson, Devil Rays
7.    Yung-Chi Chen, Mariners
8.    Tony Abreu, Dodgers
9.    Kevin Melillo, Athletics
10.  Hernan Iribarren, Brewers

THIRD BASE**** 1/2

One of the deepest positions with star power in the minors, our Minor League Player of the Year leads the way with huge power, above-average speed and defense. There is no question Longoria proved himself as the most polished position player in the 2006 draft, playing his way to Double-A and helping Montgomery win the Southern League title. LaRoche has questions due to labrum surgery, but he has better power than Fields and is a better defender than Rowell, Braun or Stewart.

1.    Alex Gordon, Royals
2.    Evan Longoria, Devil Rays
3.    Andy LaRoche, Dodgers
4.    Josh Fields, White Sox
5.    Bill Rowell, Orioles
6.    Ryan Braun, Brewers
7.    Ian Stewart, Rockies
8.    Kevin Kouzmanoff, Indians
9.    Eric Campbell, Braves
10.  Van Pope, Braves

SHORTSTOP***

Wood strikes out too much, but the extra-base hits over the last two years are tougher to ignore. He's one of the premier power threats in the minors at age 21 in Double-A. Brignac is 1a. behind Wood, jumping to Double-A at age 20, and he might be better suited for the position. Tulowitzki is the complete package, playing Double-A in his first full season and getting a taste of the big leagues. And Andrus has a chance to be special, though he needs to perform; right now, his birth certificate rivals his tools.

1.    Brandon Wood, Angels
2.    Reid Brignac, Devil Rays
3.    Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies
4.    Erick Aybar, Angels
5.    Elvis Andrus, Braves
6.    Sean Rodriguez, Angels
7.    Jonathan Herrera, Rockies
8.    Alberto Gonzalez, Diamondbacks
9.    Chin-Lung Hu, Dodgers
10.  Chris Nelson, Rockies

CENTER FIELD*****

By far the best position in terms of depth, it's hard to argue that any one of the prospects in the top 10 won't make an impact in the big leagues in some way. That starts with Maybin, who played a huge role during low Class A West Michigan's title run. McCutchen is right behind him, ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the South Atlantic League and jumping from low Class A to Double-A in his first full season. And then there is Upton, who has a bigger toolbox than both of them. We'd just like to see him use those tools before he gets to Phoenix, and Young may block his path anyway.

1.    Cameron Maybin, Tigers
2.    Andrew McCutchen, Pirates
3.    Justin Upton, Diamondbacks
4.    Chris Young, Diamondbacks
5.    Matt Kemp, Dodgers
6.    Fernando Martinez, Mets
7.    Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox
8.    Carlos Gomez, Mets
9.    Colby Rasmus, Cardinals
10.  Dexter Fowler, Rockies

CORNER OUTFIELD**** 1/2

Delmon is Delmon, and we all know what he's capable of by now. Butler goes over Bruce by a hair based on performing at a higher level. A year older, Butler is the more polished hitter, and even though Bruce is the better defender, Butler's bat is major league ready. Carlos Gonzalez might have struggled in his brief exposure to Double-A, but there's no denying his quiet approach at the plate or his classic right field tools. Lind's bat makes him the best bet among left fielders.

1.    Delmon Young, Devil Rays
2.    Billy Butler, Royals
3.    Jay Bruce, Reds
4.    Carlos Gonzalez, Diamondbacks
5.    Jose Tabata, Yankees
6.    Adam Lind, Blue Jays
7.    Hunter Pence, Astros
8.    Travis Snider, Blue Jays
9.    Ryan Sweeney, White Sox
10.  Nolan Reimold, Orioles

RIGHTHANDED STARTERS*****

Hughes over Bailey by a whisker, and simply because Hughes shows more of the complete package by consistently locating his secondary pitches. Bailey might have more heat and he might command his fastball better, but until he proves he can rely on his curveball and changeup, he's going to have to settle for being No. 2.

1.    Philip Hughes, Yankees
2.    Homer Bailey, Reds
3.    Luke Hochevar, Royals
4.    Tim Lincecum, Giants
5.    Yovani Gallardo, Brewers
6.    Nick Adenhart, Angels
7.    Adam Miller, Indians
8.    Jeff Niemann, Devil Rays
9.    Mike Pelfrey, Mets
10.  Carlos Carrasco, Phillies
11.  Philip Humber, Mets
12.  Eric Hurley, Rangers
13.  Brad Lincoln, Pirates
14.  Micah Owings, Diamondbacks
15.  Kevin Slowey, Twins
16.  Clay Buchholz, Red Sox
17.  Chris Volstad, Marlins
18.  Jeremy Hellickson, Devil Rays
19.  Wade Davis, Devil Rays
20.  Mark Rogers, Brewers

LEFTHANDED STARTERS**** 1/2

We'll take the big leaguer over the Double-A lefty with command issues or the unproven Rookie-level Gulf Coast League arm who might have the most upside in the group. Morales and Patton also have power stuff, but Morales needs to cut down on those 89 walks in the California League this season, and Patton has to further refine his changeup to keep hitters guessing at the upper levels.

1.    Andrew Miller, Tigers
2.    Scott Elbert, Dodgers
3.    Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
4.    Franklin Morales, Rockies
5.    Troy Patton, Astros
6.    John Danks, Rangers
7.    Chuck Lofgren, Indians
8.    Tyler Lumsden, Royals
9.    Matt Harrison, Braves
10.  Jacob McGee, Devil Rays
11.  Sean West, Marlins
12.  Gio Gonzalez, Phillies

CLOSER**

It's difficult to gauge future closers, simply because there is no barometer to equal the pressure of closing out games in the minors compared to the majors, and the shelf life of a major league closer keeps getting shorter and shorter (see Eric Gagne or Brad Lidge). So we go with Erbe, a teenager with wicked stuff but a violent delivery, and Sipp, who could be similar to Eddie Guardado, as his slider and changeup give him weapons to attack hitters from either side. Liz and Arredondo are both still raw, but have electric stuff and have yet to master a third pitch. McBeth, a converted outfielder, is the only current closer to earn a spot.

1.    Brandon Erbe, rhp, Orioles
2.    Tony Sipp, lhp, Indians
3.    Radhames Liz, rhp, Orioles
4.    Jose Arredondo, rhp, Angels
5.    Marcus McBeth, rhp, Athletics