|FIVE YEARS AGO|
|1. Mike Jones, rhp, Ogden (Brewers)|
|2. Jesus Cota, 1b, Missoula (Diamondbacks)|
|3. *Josh Barfield, 2b, Idaho Falls (Padres)|
|4. *Brandon League, rhp, Medicine Hat (Blue Jays)|
|5. *Dallas McPherson, 3b, Provo (Angels)|
|6. Jose Diaz, c, Great Falls (Dodgers)|
|7. *Scott Hairston, 2b, Missoula (Diamondbacks)|
|8. Jose Garcia, of, Great Falls (Dodgers)|
|9. Jon Steitz, rhp, Ogden (Brewers)|
|10. *J.J. Hardy, ss, Ogden (Brewers)|
|*Has played in major leagues|
|1.||Bryan Morris, rhp, Ogden (Dodgers)|
|B-T: L-R Ht: 6-3 Wt: 200 Age: 19 Drafted: Dodgers '06 (1)|
agreed to a $1.4 million bonus after the Devil Rays took him in the
third round in 2005, but the team dragged its feet closing it and it
fell apart. After starring this spring at Motlow State (Tenn.) CC,
where his dad Ricky is an assistant coach, he signed for $1.325 million
as the 26th overall choice by the Dodgers. |
Control issues marred Morris' debut, but he showcased elite stuff. His arsenal starts with a 92-96 mph fastball, which is generated from his quick, loose arm action. His delivery is a little unconventional, although he seems to find a way to repeat it. With two strikes, Morris generates whiffs with a hard, 12-to-6 curveball with good bite. His breaking ball was the league's best.
Morris hasn't developed a third pitch because he hasn't needed one much to this point. If he can make progress with his changeup and develop a more consistent delivery, he could take off in 2007.
|2.||Josh Bell, 3b, Ogden (Dodgers)|
|B-T: B-R Ht: 6-3 Wt: 205 Age: 19 Drafted: Dodgers '05 (4)|
Dodgers' 2005 draft was marred by unsuccessful negotiations with
supplemental first-rounder Luke Hochevar, who became the No. 1 overall
pick in 2006. But they believe they may have gotten a fourth-round
steal in Bell, who blossomed after spending the first half of the
season in extended spring training.|
Bell showed prototypical third-base tools. His strength helps produce good power from both sides of the plate, and he has leverage and balance in his stroke. However, he tends to swing from his heels, leaving him vulnerable to breaking balls and prone to strikeouts.
Bell has a plus arm at third base, though many of his errors were a result of overthrows. He's also learning the footwork at a new position after playing shortstop in high school.
|3.||Hector Gomez, ss/3b, Casper (Rockies)|
|B-T: R-R Ht: 6-1 Wt: 157 Age: 18 Signed: Rockies FA|
was one of the youngest (18) and scrawniest (157 pounds) players in the
league, but managers around the league raved about his ability to play
beyond his years. Armed with high baseball intelligence, he rarely was
fooled at the plate, striking out just 26 times in 50 games with Casper.|
Gomez is a very aggressive free swinger, but he makes contact and produces gap power thanks to his fantastic hand-eye coordination. He has solid bat speed, and as he adds muscle to his 6-foot-1 frame, the Rockies think he could hit 15-25 homers annually.
A smooth shortstop, Gomez has the plus hands and arm strength to stay there. The only knock on his defense is his ordinary range, and he did spend some time at third base.
|4.||Sean O'Sullivan, rhp, Orem (Angels)|
|B-T: R-R Ht: 6-1 Wt: 220 Age: 19 Drafted: Angels D/F '05 (3)|
top 2005 draft-and-follow to sign with his original organization,
O'Sullivan was a fourth-rounder who received $500,000 after a big
spring at Grossmont (Calif.) JC. A strict 60-80 pitch count limited his
win total but didn't prevent him from leading the league with a 2.14
ERA. His best trait is his pitchability, as no other Pioneer League
pitcher could match his control of four pitches.|
His fastball has plus movement at 88-91 mph, and the Angels expect him to regain his former 91-94 mph velocity now that he's adapting to pro ball and a bigger workload. He has a feel for his changeup and will throw it in any count. O'Sullivan's two breaking pitches also can be weapons, though they lack outstanding bite.
|5.||Gerardo Parra, of, Missoula (Diamondbacks)|
|B-T: L-L Ht: 6-1 Wt: 186 Age: 19 Signed: Diamondbacks FA|
young outfielders are plentiful in the Diamondbacks system, and they
have another now that Parra has emerged. He ranked among the Pioneer
League batting and stolen-base leaders as a 19-year-old, while also
toting the circuit's best outfield arm. |
He's very refined for his age, controlling the strike zone well and using his speed well on the bases. The only thing currently missing from his right-field package is power, but he centers the ball so easily on the bat that he should become a home run threat once he strengthens his 6-foot-1, 188-pound frame. He has a good approach, though he did struggle with inside pitches.
|6.||Peter Bourjos, of, Orem (Angels)|
|B-T: R-R Ht: 6-1 Wt: 175 Age: 19 Drafted: Angels '05 (10)|
son of former big leaguer and current Brewers scout Chris Bourjos,
Peter lasted until the 10th round of the 2005 draft because he was raw,
and had committed to attend Grand Canyon (Ariz.) CC. The Angels gave
him $325,000, which looks like money well spent after he blossomed this
Bourjos has plus-plus speed that should make him a dangerous basestealing threat once he gains more experience, and it already plays well in center fielder. Not only was Bourjos the top defensive outfielder in the league, but Orem manager Tom Kotchman called him the best he had coached since Devon White two decades ago.
While he held his own against older pitchers, Bourjos has plenty of adjustments to make. His natural stroke provides average power from gap to gap, but his swing gets long at times. He also needs to improve his on-base and bunting ability to truly flourish as a leadoff hitter.
|7.||Drew Stubbs, of, Billings (Reds)|
|B-T: R-R Ht: 6-5 Wt: 190 Age: 21 Drafted: Reds '06 (1)|
showed first-round talent in high school and went eighth overall in
June after three years at Texas. His inability to make consistent
contact has raised questions about his bat, and he didn't answer them
in his pro debut by hitting .252 with 64 strikeouts in 56 games. He had
trouble with pitch recognition and let his swing get too long at times.|
Though scouts wonders how much Stubbs will hit at higher levels, he's capable of hitting mistakes out to any part of the park. The rest of him game is beyond reproach, as he used his well above-average speed to steal 19 bases in 23 tries and play a Gold Glove-caliber center field. His arm is average.
|8.||Andrew Fie, 3b, Missoula (Diamondbacks)|
|B-T: R-R Ht: 6-3 Wt: 205 Age: 18 Drafted: Diamondbacks '06 (12)|
of the youngest players in the league at 18, Fie already looks like a
steal from the 12th round of this year's draft. He flew under the
scouting radar as a Texas high school senior this spring but showed
classic third-base tools in his pro debut.|
Already 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds, Fie currently hits for gap power and should have plenty of over-the-fence pop once he adds more extension to his swing and improves his pitch recognition to cut down on his strikeouts. He's still raw defensively, but he has the arm and agility to remain at third base.
|9.||Jeremy Haynes, rhp, Orem (Angels)|
|B-T: R-R Ht: 6-2 Wt: 180 Age: 20 Drafted: Angels D/F '05 (37)|
failed center fielder at Tallahassee (Fla.) CC, Haynes took off when he
moved to the mound. A 37th-round pick in 2005, he signed as a
draft-and-follow after his stuff improved late in the spring.|
Arm strength and athleticism were always Haynes' biggest strengths as an outfielder, and they've transferred well to the mound. His fastball sits in the low 90s and touches 95. His out pitch is a hard, low-80s curveball that has two-plane break and produces plenty of strikeouts, and his changeup is making progress.
Haynes has a tendency to become a thrower more than a pitcher, and the Angels are working with him on learning the nuances of his craft. He finished strong after the club altered his delivery, improving his control. If he can't develop the consistency necessary to become a starter, his fastball and curveball could make him a late-inning reliever.
|10.||Ryan Mount, ss, Orem (Angels)|
|B-T: L-R Ht: 6-1 Wt: 180 Age: 20 Drafted: Angels '05 (2)|
the spring of 2005, Mount went from a lightly recruited high school
player to a second-round pick. He batted just .216 in the Rookie-level
Arizona League but bounced back with a strong encore in the Pioneer
Mount has good plate discipline and pitch recognition for a player his age. He has solid power, though he profiles to hit more doubles than homers at higher levels. His biggest need is to make adjustments against lefthanders, who held him to a .173 average and 21 strikeouts in 52 at-bats.
Mount has a very good feel for the shortstop position, moving well to both sides. His arm is adequate for the position, and if he had to move, he'd make a good second baseman.
|11.||Cole Gillespie, of, Helena|
|B-T: R-R Ht: 6-1 Wt: 205 Age: 22 Drafted: Brewers '06 (3)|
Oregon State lost Jacoby Ellsbury to the first round of the 2005 draft,
Gillespie stepped up to drive the Beavers’ offense—all the way to the
College World Series championship. He played the same role for Helena
after arriving three weeks into the season, leading the league with a
.464 on-base percentage.|
Gillespie brings a solid approach to every at-bat and was among the PL’s most polished hitters. His power produces more doubles than homers, though he could hit 20 homers annually. His tools are solid across the board, with the exception of a below-average arm that will limit him to left field. He’s an average runner.
Gillespie’s makeup, experience and leadership all grade off the charts. He could start to move quickly next season.
|12.||Kenneth Herndon, rhp, Orem (Angels)|
|B-T: R-R Ht: 6-5 Wt: 220 Age: 21 Drafted: Angels '06 (5)|
the Twins didn't sign Herndon as a 23rd-round draft-and-follow
selection from 2005, the Angels took him in the fifth round this year
and signed him for $157,500. Though his velocity was down a little
after he pitched 99 innings at Gulf Coast (Fla.) CC, he still was able
to finish second to O’Sullivan in the ERA race.|
With a perfect pitcher’s body, the 6-foot-5, 200-pound Herndon is capable of eating a lot of innings. The Angels didn’t let him go deep into games in the Pioneer League, but he should be at full strength next year. Herndon pitched at 90-92 mph as a pro, down from 91-94 in the spring, and his fastball has exceptional sinking movement that induces ground balls and prompts comparisons to Brandon Webb.
Herndon still must make progress with his secondary offerings. His slider is inconsistent, though a plus pitch at times, and he’s developing a changeup with late fade.
|13.||Chris Valaika, ss, Billings (Reds)|
|B-T: R-R Ht: 6-0 Wt: 190 Age: 21 Drafted: Reds '06 (3)|
looked like a possible first-round pick as a freshman at UC Santa
Barbara, but he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee
as a sophomore and his stock never fully recovered. He did play himself
back into the third round, however, and had an outstanding debut with a
league-record 32-game hitting streak and the Pioneer League MVP award.|
Valaika’s strength is the ability to make contact. He has quick hands, a consistent stroke and good pitch recognition. It’s doubtful he’ll add much home run power to his arsenal, though he hits plenty of balls into the gaps.
Several managers though that Valaika’s fringy range eventually would result in a shift to third base. He has enough arm for the position, though the Reds have no immediate plans to move him.
|14.||Chris Carter, 1b, Great Falls (White Sox)|
|B-T: R-R Ht: 6-4 Wt: 210 Age: 19 Drafted: White Sox '05 (15)|
White Sox gave Carter a quick hook when he struggled in low Class A in
April, reassigning him to extended spring training after just 13 games.
After improving his plate discipline and shortening his swing at the
club’s Arizona base, he exploded onto the Pioneer League scene by
clubbing 10 homers in his first 24 games. He led the league in both
homers (15) and extra-base hits (37).|
Carter’s huge 6-foot-4 frame reminded some managers of Frank Thomas, and his strength provides plus natural power. While he takes more than his share of walks, he also strikes out often because he’s vulnerable to good breaking pitches.
What Carter has in power he lacks in athleticism, as the White Sox quickly moved him from third to base after drafting him a year ago. He has made progress softening his hands, but he probably won’t ever be more than an average defender.
|15.||Steven Johnson, rhp, Ogden (Dodgers)|
|B-T: R-R Ht: 6-1 Wt: 185 Age: 19 Drafted: Dodgers '05 (13)|
son of former big league pitcher Dave Johnson, Steve pitches like
someone who grew up around the game and always keeps his poise on the
mound. While his stuff isn’t overwhelming, he led the Pioneer League
with 86 strikeouts in 79 innings, a testament to his baseball IQ. He
also pitched five scoreless innings in Double-A when the Dodgers
promoted him to plug a hole in the bullpen.|
Johnson’s out pitch had been a big, slow curveball in the past, but when he had a hard time throwing it for strikes this summer, he relied more often on an improved slider. He sets hitters up by pinpointing the location of his 89-91 mph fastball. As he matures physically, he could pick up more velocity.
Johnson also has a cutter and a changeup in his arsenal. He pitches with clean mechanics and good control.
|16.||Trevor Bell, rhp, Orem (Angels)|
|B-T: L-R Ht: 6-2 Wt: 180 Age: 19 Drafted: Angels '05 (1s)|
supplemental first-round pick in 2005, Bell pitched just eight innings
last summer and drew more attention for his background than his mound
exploits. His grandfather Bob was a Chicago television institution as
Bozo the Clown, his mother Barbara is a casting director and Trevor has
acted in commercials.|
Bell started making more of a name for himself on the mound this year, leading the league in innings (82) while pitching at 90-91 mph and touching 94 with his fastball. He gets his heater inside on hitters quite easily, but relies on it too much because he lacks trust in his secondary offerings. His changeup is becoming an average pitch, and he’ll probably be better off when he picks between his slider and curveball and focuses on one breaking pitch.
|17.||Pedro Strop, rhp, Casper (Rockies)|
|B-T: B-R Ht: 6-0 Wt: 160 Age: 21 Signed: Rockies FA '02|
Rockies grew tired of Strop’s struggles with the bat, and after he hit
.212/.277/.299 in four seasons as an infielder, they decided a career
change was in order. They moved him to the mound this year, and he
immediately took to pitching. He dominated the Pioneer League in 11
appearances and continued to impress after a promotion to low Class A. |
As with many converted position players, arm strength is Strop’s forte. He threw 93-95 mph in spring training and has good control of his fastball, though he leans too heavily on the pitch. He also has a low-80s slider but must stay on top of it more often so it doesn’t flatten out, making him vulnerable to home runs.
“I’d try to start him next year to add some pitchability to his plus stuff,” Kotchman said. “If not, you know you have a solid reliever.”
|18.||Stephen Chapman, of, Helena (Brewers)|
|B-T: L-L Ht: 6-0 Wt: 180 Age: 19 Drafted: Brewers '04 (6)|
spent his third straight season in Rookie ball, but he showed enough
this year to earn a late-season promotion to low Class A. PL observers
liked his lefthanded bat, as he has good pitch recognition and uses the
entire field. He should have at least doubles power as he advances, and
he adjusted well after early-season struggles against southpaws.|
He’s just an average runner, but has good instincts and can steal a base. He plays too shallow in center field, as balls get over his head and he doesn’t always have enough speed to track them down.
|19.||Brandon Hynick, rhp, Casper (Rockies)|
|B-T: R-R Ht: 6-3 Wt: 205 Age: 21 Drafted: Rockies '06 (8)|
preseason appendectomy nearly derailed Hynick’s junior season at
Birmingham-Southern, but he rebounded to post a 2.59 ERA this spring.
The Rockies pounced on him in the eighth round, confident they could
help crispen his secondary stuff behind his 90-93 mph fastball. He
quickly bought into instruction and went on to capture the league’s
pitcher of the year award.|
Hynick has an unorthodox arm action, but it works for him and hasn’t hampered his ability to fill the strike zone. He made a lot of progress with a splitter that one coach said was the league’s best pitch. He still has more work to do with his curveball and changeup.
|20.||Hector Ambriz, rhp, Missoula (Diamondbacks)|
|B-T: L-R Ht: 6-1 Wt: 210 Age: 22 Drafted: Diamondbacks '06 (5)|
had shoulder surgery in 2004, then returned to star as a two-way player
for UCLA the last two seasons. The Diamondbacks drafted him solely as a
pitcher, and in his first pro summer he excelled as a swingman and
earned the save in the clinching game of the Pioneer League playoffs.|
Arizona wants Ambriz to pitch off his fastball, and when he worked in shorter outings than he did as a college starter, his heater sat at 91-93 mph and touched 95. He also did a better job of keeping the ball down in the strike zone than he did at UCLA, with his mid-80s splitter resulting in a lot of groundballs.
Ambriz also tightened his curveball. His curve and his changeup are still inconsistent, and he’ll need to further develop them to succeed when he becomes a full-time starter next season.