|FIVE YEARS AGO|
|1. J.J. Johnson, of, Boise (Cubs)|
|2. *Jesse Foppert, rhp, Salem-Keizer (Giants)|
|3. Julian Benavidez, 3b, Salem-Keizer (Giants)|
|4. *Angel Guzman, rhp, Boise (Cubs)|
|5. Jake Gautreau, 3b, Eugene (Padres)|
|6. *Dontrelle Willis, rhp, Boise (Cubs)|
|7. Corey Slavik, 3b, Boise (Cubs)|
|8. Matt Allegra, of, Vancouver (Athletics)|
|9. *Jason Bartlett, ss, Eugene (Padres)|
|10. *Jose Lopez, ss, Everett (Mariners)|
|*Has played in major leagues|
|1.||Tyler Colvin, of, Boise (Cubs)|
|B-T: L-L Ht: 6-3 Wt: 190 Age: 21
Drafted: Cubs '06 (1)|
|A surprise first-round pick in June, Colvin already is making the Cubs' scouting look good. He showed power (13 home runs) and speed (23 stolen bases in 27 attempts) while leading Clemson to the College World Series, and he had enough left in the tank to reach double digits in both categories again in the NWL.|
Colvin is a loose, rangy athlete who earns physical comparisons to Shawn Green, another lefthanded-hitting outfielder drafted by Chicago scouting director Tim Wilken. He owns a tantalizing package of five average or better tools, and he should develop plus power as he fills out his wiry frame.
As he learns to lay off high fastballs and refine his free-swinging approach, Colvin figures to hit for average as well, because he has quick hands and the ability to drive the ball with authority to all fields. He's a plus runner once he gets under way, and he should have enough instincts and arm strength to play any outfield position.
|2.||Shane Lindsay, rhp, Tri-City (Rockies)|
|B-T: R-R Ht: 6-1 Wt: 205 Age: 18 Signed: Rockies FA '03|
|A year after racking up 107 strikeouts in 67 NWL innings as a 20-year-old, Lindsay began 2006 in extended spring training to recover from a partially torn rotator cuff and a lingering illness that was never diagnosed. He showed no effects by the time he returned to Tri-City, flashing the same explosive stuff that landed him atop this list a year ago.|
Lindsay can be overwhelming with a plus fastball that sits in the mid-90s and touches 97. He complements it with an above-average curveball that arrives at 82-85 mph and has a hard break. He has some feel for a changeup, though he still needs to refine it in order to stick as a starter.
He also needs better command of all of his pitches. Lindsay worked deeper into counts than he should have this summer, though he often bailed himself out by getting a strikeout. Most of all, he needs to stay healthy, and he has a sturdy build that should help him do so.
|3.||Matt Sulentic, of, Vancouver (Athletics)|
|B-T: L-R Ht: 5-10 Wt: 170 Age: 18
Drafted: Athletics '06 (3)|
|Sulentic's draft stock skyrocketed along with his numbers for Dallas' Hillcrest High this spring, when he won the Dallas area triple crown by hitting .654-20-59. The Athletics were thrilled to snatch him in the third round, and they challenged him with an assignment to the NWL. He answered the call and even held his own after a late-season promotion to low Class A.|
"Everybody else here is three to four years older than him and much more experienced," Vancouver manager Rick Magnante said. "You take a kid right out of a high school in Dallas, put him in a collegiate-based league, and he left hitting .354, hitting lefties and righties, and as time went on he became more selective as a hitter. He has an innate ability to hit, just a pure hitter."
Sulentic doesn't have the most projectable frame at 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds, but he has surprising raw power in his tightly wound body and could develop average power as he matures. He has an advanced approach for his age, with the ability to work the count and wait for his pitch. He consistently squares the ball up and makes hard contact to all fields, and he can hit fastballs and stay back on offspeed pitches.
Sulentic is a fringe-average runner who needs to quicken up his actions in the outfield and be more aggressive going after balls hit in front of him. His arm will limit him to left field, and second base could become another option.
|4.||Emmanuel Burriss, ss, Salem-Keizer (Giants)|
|B-T: B-R Ht: 6-0 Wt: 170 Age: 21
Drafted: Giants '06 (1)|
|Burriss earned second-team All-America honors for Kent State this spring, when he walked more than he struck out and led the Mid-American Conference with 42 stolen bases. After the Giants drafted him in the supplemental first round, Burriss did more of the same, drawing more walks than strikeouts and topping the NWL with 35 steals for league champion Salem-Keizer. That's his game in a nutshell: make contact, get on base and wreak havoc with his plus-plus speed.|
"When you first see him he looks like a slap hitter, but he has enough pop to drive it by you at first or third and you have to play him honestly," Yakima manager Jay Gainer said. "He is obviously going to be a leadoff guy, and he has a good idea how to get on base. If you play back he'll bunt, and if you play in he'll slap it by you or pull it."
Burriss never will be a power hitter, and he doesn't try to be. The major question is whether he'll be able to hit line drives into the outfield and occasionally knock balls into the gaps, because his thin frame lacks strength. There are questions about whether he'll have enough arm for shortstop, but it looked fine in his pro debut and his range and instincts are good.
|5.||Cyle Hankerd, of, Yakima (Diamondbacks)|
|B-T: R-R Ht: 6-3 Wt: 180 Age: 21
Drafted: Diamondbacks '06 (3)|
|After batting .298 with one homer as a sophomore, Hankerd showed significant improvement at the plate this spring for Southern California. Then he terrorized NWL pitchers, winning the batting title by 41 points on his way to league MVP honors. He was promoted to high Class A Lancaster for the stretch run.|
Hankerd is an outstanding pure hitter who peppers the middle of the field with line drives. He can pull the ball with authority early in the count and go to the opposite field with two strikes. He has a rather flat swing plane and gap power now, but he could develop average home run power as he fills out and develops more loft.
"He didn't really demonstrate power on an everyday basis, but the homers he did hit, they were big-man home runs," Gainer said. "It's pure and natural, you can tell he loves to hit, been doing it for a while. Even when his timing is off a little bit, he stays through the ball really well."
Hankerd is a fringy defender and runner with a below-average arm. That relegates him to left field, but his bat should carry him.
|6.||Tony Butler, lhp, Everett (Mariners)|
|B-T: L-L Ht: 6-7 Wt: 205 Age: 18
Drafted: Mariners '06 (3)|
|Butler seemed destined to attend Arkansas when he spent most of his high school senior season pitching at 86-87 mph and topping out at 90. Then he started popping some 94s and 95s right before the draft, prompting the Mariners to grab him in the third round. He mowed down hitters in the Rookie-level Arizona League and was just as effective following a promotion to Everett. |
Butler continued to show better stuff and mechanics than he did for most of his Wisconsin high school career. He generates plenty of leverage with his strong 6-foot-7 frame, getting good extension out front in his fluid delivery, though he needs to improve his timing with his leg drive. Butler pitches in the 89-92 range with his fastball and touches 93-95, and he projects to throw even harder as he continues to mature.
His 76-80 mph curveball should also be at least an average pitch, with three-quarters break and tight rotation. Butler has a feel for a changeup with late fade and deception. With his combination of size, stuff and feel for pitching at a young age, he profiles as a possible No. 2 starter.
|7.||Kasey Kiker, lhp, Spokane (Rangers)|
|B-T: L-L Ht: 5-11 Wt: 181 Age: 18
Drafted: Rangers '06 (1)|
|Kiker's heavy prep workload this spring, when he struck out 143 and walked just 24 in 70 innings, mandated a strict pitch count in his pro debut. He seldom pitched enough innings to qualify for a win--accounting for his 0-7 record--but he easily held his own against older competition in the NWL.|
Kiker has a quick arm and a strong lower half, helping him rev his lively fastball as high as 94 mph and keep it at 90-92. His changeup is his second-best pitch, though his 12-to-6 curveball also has tight rotation and hard break. He struggled to command all of his pitches at times this summer, but he was better down the stretch.
Mechanically, Kiker has a clean arm action from a high three-quarters slot, but he tends to over-rotate and spin off some pitches. He also needs to work on holding runners and fielding his position, as he mostly neglected those aspects of the game and focused on fastball command in his pro debut. Kiker lacks projection at 5-foot-11 and 181 pounds, but he could have three average or better pitches and wind up in the middle of a big league rotation.
|8.||Matt Antonelli, 3b, Eugene (Padres)|
|B-T: R-R Ht: 6-1 Wt: 190 Age: 21
Drafted: Padres '06 (1)|
|Antonelli boosted his stock all the way into the first round with a solid junior season at Wake Forest, and he continued to show speed and athleticism in his pro debut. He didn't show any power, though, with no home runs and just 15 extra-base hits in 60 games. As a result, scouts and managers agreed that he profiles better as a second baseman.|
That's not to say there isn't strength in Antonelli's compact build, because there is. He should develop gap power thanks to his quick hands and ability to spray line drives all over the field. He has a disciplined approach at the plate and should become a run-producing top-of-the-order second baseman.
He certainly can handle the hot corner with an average arm and good infield actions, though he needs to quicken his reactions a bit. He's athletic enough to move to second base, where he played briefly in low Class A.
|9.||Mark Pawelek, lhp, Boise (Cubs)|
|B-T: L-L Ht: 6-3 Wt: 190 Age: 20
Drafted: Cubs '05 (1)|
|The Cubs had high expectations for Pawelek entering this season, following an impressive 2005 pro debut spent mostly in the Arizona League. But he arrived at spring training out of throwing shape and was held back in extended spring training before being sent to Boise. Once there, he more than held his own against competition that was still mostly older than him.|
"I had him last year in Rookie ball, and right now he is understanding that command is an issue," Boise manager Steve McFarland said. "He's starting to throw more strikes, pitch a little more rather than just throw."
Pawelek has improved his mound awareness but remains raw in many areas. If it all comes together for him, he's got the chance for three plus pitches, but he seldom has command of all three at the same time. He has an awkward delivery with a lot of moving parts and a long casting motion, and he seems to pitch better from the stretch.
He relies on his fastball, which didn't touch 96 mph as it did in high school, but it does sit at 89-92 range and touches 93-94. He came out of high school with a curveball, slider and a splitter, but the Cubs are trying to reduce his arsenal to a fastball/curveball/straight changeup mix.
|10.||Jermaine Mitchell, of, Vancouver (Athletics)|
|B-T: L-L Ht: 6-0 Wt: 200 Age: 21
Drafted: Athletics '06 (5)|
|Mitchell's fine debut was interrupted when he was hit by a pitch and broke a bone in his right foot, but he returned to action late in the season. When healthy, he showed off prototype center-field and top-of-the-order tools. One of the best athletes in the league, he's a 65 runner on the 20-80 scouting scale and knows how to use his speed in all facets of the game.|
"He's a very good, complete athlete, and he could be an everyday center fielder," Salem-Keizer manager Steve Decker said. "He has a good two-strike approach, good instincts on the bases, he's aggressive, cocky--everything you're looking for. And there's no question his bat is going to be there."
Mitchell does a good job putting the ball in play, either by spraying line drives around the field or putting the ball on the ground and using his speed to get aboard. He has a strong frame and could translate his gap power into 10-15 homers annually if he learns to stay back and drive the ball more. He's an above-average defender in center with incredible first-step quickness and an average arm.
|11.||Josh Sullivan, rhp, Tri-City (Rockies)|
|B-T: R-R Ht: 6-4 Wt: 205 Age: 22
Drafted: Rockies '05 (5)|
|A former quarterback at Auburn, Sullivan pitched just one inning in his 2005 pro debut in 2005 before being shut down and having surgery to repair a torn labrum. He was kept on a 75-pitch limit for most of this summer, but he showed the same electric stuff that convinced the Rockies to draft him in the fifth round.|
Sullivan has strong shoulders and legs and long arms, allowing him to pitch on a good downhill plane. He attacks hitters with a pair of plus pitches: a 92-94 mph fastball that he can run up to 95-96 mph fairly frequently, and a mid-80s slider with late tilt. He commands both pitches very well and works all corners of the zone.
If he wants to be a starter, Sullivan will need to develop his changeup, which he only threw about three or four times per game this summer. His two power pitches and excellent poise could make him a weapon out of the bullpen down the road.
|12.||Chris Davis, of/1b, Spokane (Rangers)|
|B-T: L-R Ht: 6-3 Wt: 210 Age: 20
Drafted: Rangers '06 (5)|
|A two-way star in high school, Davis slugged 17 home runs for Navarro (Texas) Junior College this spring but was limited on the mound because of a sore back. But he still boosted his draft stock significantly, going in the fifth round a year after the Angels took him in the 35th.|
Davis' best tool is his above-average power from the left side. A streaky hitter, he's downright scary when he's locked in. He hit four consecutive homers against Vancouver and just missed a fifth, backing the right fielder up against the wall.
"That was the most impressive display of power that I have personally seen by any one player," Magnante said. "He's got serious power. And it's not a bad swing. For the most part he was taking fastballs out against us, then he started taking changeups out, then breaking balls out. Everything we threw him, he hit."
Mostly a pull hitter early in the season, Davis could be exploited on the outer half but began hitting with some authority to the opposite field as the year progressed. His swing has some length to it, but he has impressive bat speed and leverage. Davis played some outfield but is more comfortable at first base, where he's an adequate defender with a strong arm.
|13.||Chad Tracy, c, (Rangers)|
|B-T: R-R Ht: 6-3 Wt: 200 Age: 21
Drafted: Rangers '06 (3)|
|After winning West Coast Conference player-of-the-year honors in 2005, Tracy slumped as a junior this spring. He found his power stroke again in his pro debut before wearing down at the end of the season.|
The son of Pirates manager Jim Tracy, Chad has a solid baseball background and is receptive to instruction. It will take plenty of hard work for him to improve his catch-and-throw skills enough to make him a passable defender behind the plate. When he arrived in Spokane, he was putting his body in bad receiving position, struggling to block balls in the dirt and throwing across his body without putting any weight on his back foot. He made some progress correcting the flaws but still has a long way to go.
Even if Tracy can't stay behind the plate, he should have enough bat for first base. He has slightly above-average power and could get stronger if he can add about 15 pounds to his frame. Most of his pop is to left field, though he can drive the ball to the right-center when pitchers work him away.
|14.||Chad Huffman, of, Eugene (Padres)|
|B-T: R-R Ht: 6-1 Wt: 205 Age: 21
Drafted: Padres '06 (2)|
|Like his older brothers Scott and Royce, Huffman played baseball and football in college, earning a spot as a third-string quarterback for Texas Christian. On the baseball field, he hit .388/.498/.742 with 18 homers and 71 RBIs as a second baseman for the Horned Frogs this spring. The Padres drafted him in the second round and moved him to the outfield, and Huffman just kept on hitting.|
Huffman has a quiet, balanced stroke--albeit with a bit of a loop in it--and rarely swings and misses thanks to his good plate coverage. He has above-average raw power, though he's still learning how to use it. He led the league with a .439 on-base percentage.
"He gets an awful lot of carry on his balls, I don't know how he does it," Eugene manager Doug Dascenzo said. "There's been times he hit balls and I say, 'Man, I don't think he got that one,' and it just keeps going."
Huffman's inexperience in left field is apparent, but he has shown an aptitude for the position and should be a passable defender despite his below-average arm.
|15.||Daniel Mayora, ss/2b, Tri-City (Rockies)|
|B-T: R-R Ht: 5-11 Wt: 145 Age: 21 Signed: Rockies FA '03|
|Mayora took a major step forward in his second season in the United States, holding his own at shortstop before moving to second base late in the season when rangy 18-year-old shortstop Hector Gomez joined the Dust Devils. Mayora's fringy range makes him profile more as a second baseman down the road, but his smooth actions, soft hands and average arm should make him a solid defender there. He has good instincts but has to stay focused and avoid the occasional concentration lapses that hurt him a bit this year.|
Offensively, Mayora has a quick bat that allows him to make up for a swing that has a lot of movement as the pitch is delivered, his way of trying to generate more power. He needs to control his lower half better, rein in his big leg kick and add strength to his upper body. He projects for some gap power and occasional home run pop, but he needs to learn a more controlled offensive game.
"He just seems to get the job done. In a very tough hitter's park, he stayed over .300 all year," Everett manager Dave Myers said. "He's an aggressive hitter, he uses the whole field, made the plays. Nothing he does is overly impressive, he just gets job done."
|16.||Brooks Brown, rhp, Yakima (Diamondbacks)|
|B-T: L-R Ht: 6-3 Wt: 205 Age: 21
Drafted: Diamondbacks '06 (1)|
|A supplemental first-round pick who helped pitch Georgia to the College World Series, Brown was kept in the bullpen after pitching 111 innings in college. The Diamondbacks see Brown as a starter down the line, but some scouts believe he profiles better as a power reliever if he can keep his composure in tight spots.|
Brown has a solid sinker-slider repertoire but a history of inconsistency dating back to his freshman year for the Bulldogs. When he's right, he pumps 90-93 mph fastballs that touch 94-95 and have good downward movement, shows an above-average breaking ball and demonstrates good feel for his improving changeup.
He's a good athlete and has a sound delivery from a three-quarters am slot. But NWL managers weren't impressed with his mound presence, citing a lack of poise and fluctuating control.
|17.||Andrew Bailey, rhp, Vancouver (Athletics)|
|B-T: R-R Ht: 6-3 Wt: 220 Age: 22
Drafted: Athletics '06 (6)|
|Bailey's workload at Wagner this spring was limited as he recovered from May 2005 Tommy John surgery, but the Athletics saw enough power stuff to draft him in the sixth round. He was very impressive in his pro debut despite his 2-5 record, and he would have ranked second in the NWL in ERA if he hadn't fallen three innings shy of qualifying.|
With a big, physical frame that invites comparisons to Joe Blanton, Bailey could develop into a workhorse as he gets further away from his surgery. His heavy sinker bores in on righthanders at 91-93 mph and touches 94-95. He also has a solid-average 11-to-5 curveball with good rotation and depth, and a developing changeup that could become an average pitch if he learns to command it more consistently.
Bailey has an aggressive approach but remains more of a thrower than a pitcher. He struggles to repeat his arm path and delivery, which has a lot of moving parts, making it difficult for him to command the strike zone and execute his pitches. He sometimes gets distracted and tries to pitch too quickly with speedsters on the basepaths.
|18.||Scott Deal, rhp, Vancouver (Athletics)|
|B-T: R-R Ht: 6-4 Wt: 180 Age: 19
Drafted: Athletics '05 (5)|
|A year after being drafted in the fifth round out of high school and spending a summer in the Arizona League, Deal handled the jump to the Northwest League well and emerged as Vancouver's top starter. He struck out just 35 in 76 innings of work, but he doesn't ever figure to be a strikeout pitcher. He's a sinkerballer who posted a 106-80 ground-fly ratio and allowed just three homers in 76 innings.|
Deal has a tall, skinny frame with plenty of room to fill out, so he could increase the velocity on his 87-89 mph fastball that touches 91-92. It's a heavy pitch with good sink and life, and he commands it well most of the time.
"He's very aggressive and he comes right at you," Gainer said. "Everyone knew he had that sinker and it didn't matter. He just got ground ball after ground ball."
Deal also has a slider and changeup that can be average at times. He has cleaned up his arm action quite a bit since high school, and he now does a good job of repeating his fluid, easy delivery.
|19.||Kam Mickolio, rhp, Everett (Mariners)|
|B-T: R-R Ht: 6-9 Wt: 256 Age: 22
Drafted: Mariners '06 (18)|
|A native of Montana, where there's no high school baseball, the 6-foot-9 Mickolio played only basketball until the summer before his senior year of high school, when he began playing American Legion ball. He showed enough promise in his first year at Eastern Utah JC in 2003 that the Cardinals drafted him in the 35th round, and he made even more progress after transferring to Utah Valley State.|
With his enormous size, Mickolio was an imposing bullpen arm for Everett this summer. His height allows him to pitch on a downward angle and induce plenty of groundballs, as evidenced by his 49-18 ground-fly ratio. He works in the low 90s with a heavy fastball that has plenty of life and touches 94 mph.
Mickolio also flashes a decent slider now and then, though he still has plenty of work to do on it and his changeup. His slider lacks tight rotation and doesn't miss many bats, and he needs to do a better job commanding his stuff within the strike zone. But considering how far Mickolio has come in his short pitching career, it's not a huge stretch to project him as a major league reliever.
|20.||Adam Cowart, rhp, Salem-Keizer (Giants)|
|B-T: R-R Ht: 6-2 Wt: 190 Age: 23
Drafted: Giants '06 (35)|
|Cowart took the NWL by storm in his pro debut after the Giants drafted him in the 35th round as a Kansas State senior. He didn't allow an earned run in his first four starts and 21 innings, then reeled off an even longer stretch of five starts and 28 innings without yielding an earned run. On his way to winning NWL pitcher of the year honors, Cowart won his first 10 professional decisions before losing in his final regular-season outing.|
Cowart, who led the league with 10 wins and a 1.08 ERA, has impeccable control of underwhelming stuff, walking just eight batters in 83 innings. He also does a great job keeping the ball on the ground. The key to his success was the deception he creates with his funky submarine arm angle.
He also has a very advanced feel for pitching, working both halves of the plate and leaving nothing above the knees. He has plenty of poise on the mound and fields his position well.
But Cowart works in the 80-83 mph range with his fastball, topping out at 85, and he lacks a plus pitch. He also uses a slurvy breaking ball and a changeup. Cowart's future is in the bullpen, and his best-case scenario is that he can become a right-on-right specialist in the big leagues. Scouts are skeptical he'll be able to get hitters out at higher levels.