|FIVE YEARS AGO|
|1. *Hanley Ramirez, ss, Red Sox|
|2. Rudy Guillen, of, Yankees.|
|3. *Merkin Valdez, rhp, Braves.|
|4. *Leo Nunez, rhp, Pirates.|
|5. Jose Diaz, rhp, Dodgers.|
|6. *Elizardo Ramirez, rhp, Phillies.|
|7. Joaquin Arias, ss, Yankees.|
|8. Alex Romero, of, Twins.|
|9. *Luis Hernandez, ss, Braves.|
|10. *Brent Clevlen, of, Tigers.|
|*Has played in major leagues.|
|1.||Michael Burgess, of, Nationals|
|B-T: L-L Ht: 6-0 Wt: 195 Age: 18 Drafted: Nationals '07 (1)|
| Burgess entered the year as one of the top high school position prospects in the draft, but clubs debated his worth because of his inconsistent performance in the spring--not to mention the legacy of his alma mater at Tampa's Hillsborough High, which produced talented yet troubled big leaguers Elijah Dukes, Carl Everett, Dwight Gooden and Gary Sheffield. But Burgess, put it all together in his pro debut, leading the GCL in on-base percentage (.442) and slugging (.617).|
Burgess' bat speed, strength and leverage produce huge raw power, and he has enough maturity to keep his hands back to square up quality breaking balls. Burgess shows advanced plate discipline and pitch recognition, and his long arms allow him to cover any part of the strike zone.
Though he didn't look as athletic as he did as an amateur, Burgess still displayed plus arm strength in right field. He's a slightly below-average runner and projects as a right fielder with classic tools.
"He doesn't run real well, but when you hit it as far as he does it doesn't matter," said one scout from a National League club. "He was very aggressive in all phases of the game. He had something to prove. Pitchers really went after him and challenged him, and he just ate that up."
|2.||Jesus Montero, c, Yankees|
|B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 225 Age: 17 Signed: Yankees FA '06|
|Montero got the second-highest bonus on the international market last year, signing for $1.6 million out of Venezuela. He missed the first three weeks of the GCL season with a right ankle sprain, but once he finally got rolling, he showed the top-of-the-line raw power that made him wealthy.|
Montero homered just three times during the regular season but added two more in the GCL playoffs. He doubled and homered off Dodgers 2007 second-rounder Michael Watt in the clincher to give the Yankees the league title.
Montero has a smooth stroke with impressive bat speed that produces easy pop. His swing can get long at times, but he has advanced plate discipline and strike zone awareness for a teenager.
The biggest question surrounding Montero is his ability to stay behind the plate. He was considered a defensive liability prior to making his U.S. debut, and he threw out just three of 32 basestealers (9 percent), the worst rate among GCL regulars. But he does have plus arm strength, average receiving skills and improved game-calling ability.
"He really made strides in all aspects of the game from the beginning of spring training until the end of the year," Yankees manager Jody Reed said. "And it wasn't just the offense. He vastly improved behind the plate and with making mental adjustments as the season wore on."
|3.||Ben Revere, of, Twins|
|B-T: L-R Ht.: 5-9 Wt.: 175 Age: 19 Drafted: Twins '07 (1)|
|Revere was the surprise choice of the first round of the 2007 draft, going 28th overall to Minnesota despite the consensus among other clubs that he was a third- to fifth-round talent. The Twins signed him for a below-market $750,000, but the reason they took him is that they loved his speed, athleticism and makeup, and they feared he might be gone by the time they chose again with the No. 92 pick.|
Revere did his best to justify Minnesota's faith in his pro debut, leading the league in runs (46) and triples (10) and finishing second in steals (21). Unlike some first-round picks, he doesn't play with any sense of self-entitlement.
"He looked like a walk-on trying to just make the team," another scout from an NL club said. "I mean, he was flying around everywhere every day. Someone needed to tell him that it's a thousand degrees here in the summer. But none of that seemed to matter. He did a little bit of everything."
Revere's plus-plus speed stands out the most, but he's more than a one-tool prospect. He taps his elbows together as he loads his swing quickly and unleashes a short, compact swing that generates gap power to all fields. He also showed an advanced approach at the plate, bunting well and delivering as a situational hitter.
While his arm is below average for a center fielder, Revere makes up for it with outstanding range and closing speed on balls hit into the gaps.
|4.||Che-Hsuan Lin, of, Red Sox|
|B-T: L-R Ht.: 5-9 Wt.: 175 Age: 18 Signed: Red Sox FA '07|
| Boston signed Lin out of Taiwan in late June for $400,000 and sent him straight to the GCL, where he was one of the most impressive outfielders in the league. He still has much to learn about the American style of the game, but he handled himself well in his pro debut.|
An above-average runner and solid-average defender in center, he's more than just a slap hitter who tries to get on base and utilize his wheels. He packs surprising power in his compact line-drive stroke, creating good backspin with the ability to take pitches on the outer half to the opposite field as well as to turn on inside fastballs. He does get too pull-conscious though and has trouble with breaking balls down and away.
Like a lot of players from the Pacific Rim, Lin has a unique approach at the plate. He holds his hands high over his head, putting all his weight on his back leg. He incorporates a high left leg kick to get his quick hip turn started.
|5.||John Tolisano, 2b, Blue Jays|
|B-T: B-R Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 180 Age: 18 Drafted: Blue Jays '07 (2)|
| Tolisano has been on Baseball America's radar since 2003, when we named him the top 14-year-old player in the United States. Though his performance and stock slipped somewhat between then and the 2007 draft, he still went in the second round and his power was the talk of the GCL in his pro debut. The switch-hitter led the league with 10 homers.|
Tolisano's swing is more fluid from the left side, where the ball jumps off his bat to all fields. Though he didn't hit for a high average, his defense is a bigger question.
His arm strength grades out as average to plus, but his hands don't work particularly well and his footwork has a long way to go. Tolisano best profiles as a right fielder with enough arm and power to handle the position.
|6.||Pedro Baez, 3b, Dodgers|
|B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 200 Age: 19 Signed: Dodgers FA '07|
| A rehabbing Pedro Martinez met Baez' excellent raw power up close and personal when he served up a two-out, three-run homer to him in August. Baez has a smooth, strong stroke with outstanding leverage that produces plus power to all fields. He also established himself as the top defensive third baseman in the GCL.|
Signed for $200,000 out of the Dominican Republic just before his 19th birthday in March, Baez impressed Dodgers brass so much that they immediately brought him over for the last month of spring training. He handles balls on the inner half of the plate well, but he struggles mightily with soft breaking balls away and pulls off badly. He'll need to tighten his strike zone to truly unlock his full potential.
Baez has exceptional tools defensively, where his lateral movement allows him to get to balls on either side and he also charges balls well. He has one of the strongest infield arms in the Los Angeles system.
|7.||Oscar Tejeda, ss, Red Sox|
|B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 175 Age: 17 Signed: Red Sox FA '06|
| Tejeda first surfaced on the radar of several clubs at age 14, when he already was displaying a big league arm and exceptionally soft hands. Signed by Boston for $525,000 in July 2006, Tejeda wasn't nearly as raw at the plate as advertised and he finished the season by hitting .298 in the short-season New-York Penn League.|
Tejeda's tools give him a chance to be a star, beginning with his fluid, controlled swing that produces gap power. He profiles as a top-of-the-order catalyst. As his power emerges, he could be a major run producer in the middle of the diamond.
Tejeda has soft hands, good quickness and better range to his left than in the hole. He has trouble settling his body after making backhand plays in order to show off his arm strength.
|8.||Neftali Soto, ss, Reds|
|B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 180 Age: 18 Drafted: Reds '07 (3)|
| Soto broke Juan Gonzalez's youth home run record in Puerto Rico, hinting at the raw power potential he possesses. Slowed by minor elbow inflammation in August, he was shut down early and missed the last two weeks of the season.|
Soto hits for gap power now to all fields with a smooth, easily repeatable stroke. He has advanced plate discipline for his age, though he struggles with breaking balls at times. He tends to tuck his front shoulder in, which doesn't allow him to take advantage of his load on a consistent basis
He's a fringe-average runner who likely will have to move off of shortstop. Arm strength isn't a question, but he lacks first-step explosion and range. He might be better suited for second base or left field, especially if he makes adjustments offensively and taps into his power.
|9.||Luis de la Cruz, c, Cardinals|
|B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 175 Age: 18 Signed: Cardinals FA '06|
| Signed as a 17-year-old out of the Dominican in 2006, de la Cruz hit .293 in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League last summer. He made enough strides as a bat-first catcher defensively that he was a no-brainer visa choice to play his first season in the States this year.|
De la Cruz punishes balls all over the strike zone with above-average bat speed and an easy, line-drive swing. Several GCL managers compared his overall tools package to Ivan Rodriguez, though he has yet to show he can hit for power.
Behind the plate, de la Cruz has become a solid catch-and-throw backstop with leadership abilities, advanced game-calling skills and plus arm strength. He led the league by throwing out 51 percent of basestealers, and he also blocks ball well. His biggest need defensively is to improve at handling a pitching staff over the course of a full season.
|10.||Andrew Lambo, of/1b, Dodgers|
|B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 190 Age: 19 Drafted: Dodgers '07 (4)|
| Lambo would have gone earlier in the 2007 draft is clubs hadn't worried about his makeup. He got kicked out of his first high school and he turned scouts off with his immaturity in predraft interviews. Los Angeles decided it couldn't pass up his bat in the fourth round, and it continued to speak loudly in his first season as a pro as he finished third in the GCL in batting (.343) and second in on-base percentage (.440).|
The Dodgers compare Lambo's hitting style to that of James Loney because he has a sweet lefthanded swing that produces consistent hard contact and should allow him to hit for a high average. As a bonus, Lambo has more power than Loney had at the same stage of his development.
"He plays much older than he is, and you forget how old he is," a scout from an American League club said. "He's confident, and he knows it's only a matter of time before he gets his hits every day."
A natural first baseman with plus defensive tools, Lambo played the majority of the season out of position in right field. He has a fringe-average arm and below-average speed.
|11.||Devin Mesoraco, c, Reds|
|B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 200 Age: 19 Drafted: Reds '07 (1)|
| Mesoraco injured his elbow as a high school sophomore in 2005, which led to Tommy John surgery. But he rebounded quickly, regaining his well above-average arm strength and playing his way into getting drafted 14th overall in June. He didn't put up big numbers in his first pro experience, but the Florida heat certainly played a part in his performance as he looked worn out by the end of the summer.|
Mesoraco has a slightly closed stance and will drop his back shoulder and pull off pitches. Still, he has plus bat speed and slightly above-average power and projects to be a .250-.275 hitter with 20 homers annually. Though he’s a below-average runner, he won’t clog up the bases.
He has good size and strength for a catcher, and the Reds rave about his makeup and leadership ability. Mesoraco went through Game-Calling 101 in the GCL and emerged as an honor student. He also threw out 35 percent of basestealers.
|12.||Kevin Ahrens, 3b/ss, Blue Jays|
|B-T: B-R Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 190 Age: 18 Drafted: Blue Jays '07 (1)|
| Drafted two picks after Mesoraco, Ahrens played shortstop throughout his high school career, but the Blue Jays moved him to third base in mid-July. Often compared to Chipper Jones, he's a switch-hitter with power and little effort in his swing from both sides of the plate.|
He was better as a righthanded hitter this summer, as his swing was more fluid and he made hard contact and recognized pitches much more consistently. Though he didn’t have much success at the plate in his first taste of pro ball, the Jays are content to bring Ahrens along slowly and believe his power will come as he gets more experience with wood bats.
Defensively, Ahrens was at least an average defender at his new position. His plus arm profiles well at third base, and he showed good lateral movement with the ability to charge in on balls and make throws on the run. His hands and footwork are both adequate.
|13.||Kyle Lotzkar, rhp, Reds|
|B-T: L-R Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 200 Age: 17 Drafted: Reds '07 (1s)|
| Lotzkar’s body began to develop last summer, as he added 15 pounds of muscle and two inches before his senior year of high school in British Columbia. Now 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, he has a fastball that reached 95 mph in the GCL before a late promotion to the Rookie-level Pioneer League.|
His heater sits at 91-93 mph and he also owns a hard, downer curveball and a changeup that has a chance to be a plus pitch. Command remains Lotzkar’s biggest downfall. His fastball has good movement, with such late explosion and tail that it sometimes gets away from him. His breaking ball and changeup also have outstanding life, and it’s just a matter of making adjustments in his delivery to get his pitches more under control.
Lotzkar is very mature for his age, which adds to his projection as a big-bodied righthander with the potential for three plus pitches.
|14.||Scott Moviel, rhp, Mets|
|B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-11 Wt.: 235 Age: 19 Drafted: Mets '07 (2)|
| The tallest pitcher in the GCL at 6-foot-10, Moviel also has stuff to back up his height advantage. He consistently threw 92-93 mph and touched 95 with his fastball. He draws comparisons to Yankees first-round pick Andrew Brackman because both are huge Ohio natives who committed to North Carolina State (Brackman played for the Wolfpack but Moviel turned pro).|
Though Brackman is three years older, Moviel may be more polished. Scouts raved about his ability to not only repeat his delivery, but his secondary pitches as well. He'll pitch inside with his fastball with no fear, and his 82-83 mph hammer curveball really keeps opposing hitters at bay.
Moviel also has a workable changeup, though it lags behind his other two offerings. There are concerns about his long arm action, but he’s athletic and fields his position well for a big man.
|15.||Jairo Heredia, rhp, Yankees|
|B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 190 Age: 17 Signed: Yankees FA '06|
| The Yankees signed Heredia out of the Dominican Republic last year. He didn’t pitch in the Dominican Summer League in 2006 and made his pro debut in the States this summer.|
Not big but wiry strong, Heredia pumps out fastballs from 91-93 mph, touching some 94s along the way. He has a loose, easy delivery and adds and subtracts from his fastball, which he commands to all four quadrants of the strike zone. His slurvy breaking ball needs to get tighter, though it shows flashes of being a plus pitch with solid downward rotation.
“He just reminds me of Pedro Martinez when I was with the Dodgers in ’93,” Reed said. “You see the frame and wonder where it all comes from. This guy is the same way.”
His changeup is still a work in progress, as he’s refining his arm action and grip to command it more consistently. Heredia morphed into a two-pitch pitcher at times, and he’ll have to gain more confidence in his changeup if he’s going to profile as a starter.
|16.||D’Marcus Ingram, of, Cardinals|
|B-T: R-R Ht.: 5-9 Wt.: 170 Age: 19 Drafted: Cardinals '06 (25)|
| Ingram signed this spring as a draft-and-follow after the Cardinals drafted him in the 25th round in 2006, and he immediately made an impact in pro ball. He hit .325 and and utilizing his plus speed and instincts on the bases, swiping 17 bags in 22 attempts.|
Ingram shows some pop in batting practice, though it isn’t quite game-ready. Right now, he’s a line-drive hitter with gap power and a strong ability to get on base and make things happen. He walked more than he struck out, an encouraging sign for a potential leadoff hitter.
Small and stocky, he drew several comparisons to a young Kirby Puckett. Ingram has a plus arm in center field, where he covers a lot of ground and has good closing speed on balls hit into the gaps.
|17.||Deryk Hooker, rhp, Cardinals|
|B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 190 Age: 18 Drafted: Cardinals '07 (7)|
| Hooker's projectable 6-foot-4 frame, his stuff and his performance make him look like a seventh-round steal. Signed for $100,000, he provided the highlight of his debut summer when he struck out 11 over four innings in his final start of the year.|
Hooker produces easy velocity from a steep, downhill plane, with a fastball that sits at 90-93 mph and tops out at 94. He commands his heater to both sides of the plate and complements it with a true 12-to-6 curveball. His changeup also has the potential to be a plus pitch.
He’s mechanical at times in his delivery, and when he gets too deliberate he’ll fly open on his front side. But that’s an easily correctable flaw.
|18.||Daniel Berlind, rhp, Twins|
|B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-7 Wt.: 210 Age: 19 Drafted: Twins '07 (7)|
| The Cubs drafted Berlind out of a California high school in the 44th round in 2006, but he opted to attend Cal Poly instead. After last fall, he transferred to Pierce (Calif.) Junior College and went in the seventh round in June.|
Berlind has an intimidating 6-foot-7 frame and he uses it to his advantage, working on a downhill plane with good angle to his 87-89 mph fastball. He also throws a cutter, a 77-81 mph slider that has a chance to develop into a true out pitch and a changeup that presently grades out as well below average.
There are a lot of moving parts in Berlind’s delivery and yet he still repeats his mechanics well for a big man. He has very long arms and sometimes struggles to maintain a consistent release point simply because of the length of his limbs. Berlind started to wear down late in the year, but most scouts think he’ll gain more control in his delivery and add some velocity with better core strength training.
|19.||Angel Morales, of, Twins|
|B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 180 Age: 17 Drafted: Twins '07 (3)|
|Considered one of the top talents in a strong Puerto Rican draft crop this year, Morales went in the third round of the draft. While he played center field as an amateur, he played the bulk of the season in right because the Twins aren't completely sold on his speed and also because Revere was in center.|
An average runner with above-average arm strength, Morales projects to hit for average power in the future. He needs to get bigger and stronger if he’s going to hang on an outfield corner, however.
His approach at the plate also needs work. Morales holds his hands too close too his body, which inhibits his ability to get a proper load. He also leaks too much on his front side and has too much hand movement, which doesn’t enable him to take advantage of his lower half.
|20.||Tyler Kolodny, 3b, Orioles|
|B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 210 Age: 19 Drafted: Orioles '07 (16)|
| Signed as a 16th-rounder out of a California high school, Kolodny was the GCL’s best underdog story. A high-energy player who religiously breaks down his swing path as well as his defense, he quickly became a favorite of scouts and managers.|
“He never puts the bat down,” a scout with a NL team said. “He’ll come in from an inning in the field, in 100-plus-degree heat, and just stand there swinging, trying to time his hacks. He never slowed down and he was always dirty from the neck down by the end of every game. That’s some kind of energy.”
Kolodny makes consistent hard contact with a line-drive stroke that produces good backspin and loft power. He works counts well for a young player. His bat will be his ticket as he moves up the ladder.
Kolodny grades out as average defensively. His arm strength is a tick above average, but he sometimes has trouble moving laterally and he struggles coming in on balls.