|FIVE YEARS AGO|
|1. *Jeff Francouer, of, Danville (Braves)|
|2. Wes Bankston, of, Princeton (Devil Rays)|
|3. Matt Whitney, 3b, Burlington (Indians)|
|4. Dusty Gomon, 1b, Elizabethton (Twins)|
|5. Jason Pridie, of, Princeton (Devil Rays)|
|6. *Anthony Lerew, rhp, Danville (Braves)|
|7. Blake Hawksworth, rhp, Johnson City (Cardinals)|
|8. *Dan Meyer, lhp, Danville (Braves)|
|9. Scott Tyler, rhp, Elizabethton (Twins)|
|10. Anthony Webster, of, Bristol (White Sox)|
|*Has played in major leagues|
|1.||Cole Rohrbough, lhp, Danville (Braves)|
|B-T: L-L Ht: 6-3 Wt: 205 Age: 20 Drafted: Braves '06 (1)|
became one of the last draft-and-follow signees ever, agreeing to a
$675,000 bonus shortly after Western Nevada was eliminated at the
Junior College World Series in June.|
After just flashing intriguing stuff on occasion when the Braves took him in 22nd round out of high school in 2006, he did so on a more consistent basis this year.Rohrbough pitched at 88-90 mph with his fastball in the Appy League, and he's capable of touching 94. He dominated Appy hitters with his fastball and power curveball, and he had no problem making the jump to low Class A in August.
Though Rohrbough easily threw strikes out with a low three-quarters delivery, he raised his slot one night when he got into a bases-loaded jam. After he escaped, Danville pitching coach Jim Czajkowski encouraged him to keep throwing from the higher slot.
|2.||Cody Johnson, of, Danville (Braves)|
|B-T: L-L Ht: 6-4 Wt: 195 Age: 19 Drafted: Braves '06 (1)|
|A year ago,
Johnson looked like the biggest bust in 2006's first round. Other
clubs were surprised when Atlanta made him the 24th overall pick
because of his inability to make consistent contact, and those
worries were exacerbated when he hit .184 with 49 strikeouts in 32
games in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League.|
But the raw power that made Johnson attracted to the Braves came out in force this year. He led the Appy League in homers (17, seven more than his closest competitor), extra-base hits (40) and slugging percentage (.630). He can drive the ball out to all fields.
"Every time we face him, it seems like he hits a home run," Greeneville manager Rodney Linares said. "He's full of intangibles and promise. He has a chance to be an impact player in the big leagues."Johnson still strikes out too much, but he did make more contact. His defense is another question, as he was drafted as a first baseman and has moved to left field. His agility and arm strength are below average.
|3.||David Bromberg, rhp, Elizabethton (Twins)|
|B-T: L-R Ht: 6-5 Wt: 230 Age: 19 Drafted: Twins '05 (32)|
signed as a 32nd-round pick in 2005 and still hasn't made it out of
Rookie ball. But he also was 19 all season and made a huge jump
forward working with Elizabethton pitching coach Jim Shellenback.
Bromberg won the league's pitcher of the year award after ranking
first in wins (nine) and strikeouts (81 in 58 innings).|
He throws a heavy 90-92 mph fastball and locates it well to both sides of the plate. He also works with a 77-80 mph curveball, which he sometimes throws too hard, and a rudimentary changeup. Intimidating at 6-foot-5 and 230, he uses a high three-quarters delivery.
|4.||Neftali Feliz, rhp, Danville (Braves)|
|B-T: R-R Ht: 6-3 Wt: 180 Age: 19 Drafted: Braves FA '05|
wasn't a big name in the five-prospect package the Braves sent to the
Rangers to acquire Mark Teixeira in July. But he had one of the best
arms in Atlanta's system and could prove to be a key pickup for
Texas, which always is on the lookout for pitching.|
Feliz' fastball consistently sits between 93-95 mph and tops out at 98. His mechanics are usually loose and fluid, but sometimes he slows down his delivery, which messes with his command. His secondary pitches are both works in progress, though his curveball has good downward action when he finishes the pitch properly.
"He had a very loose, fluid arm that flat-out, God-given gasoline came out of," Czajkowski said. "It looked like he threw hard without even trying. Any high schooler that throws like that is a No. 1 pick. Our scouts did a great job of finding him."
|5.||Jeffrey Locke, lhp, Danville (Braves)|
|B-T: L-L Ht: 6-2 Wt: 180 Age: 19 Drafted: Braves '06 (2)|
drafted five lefthanders in the first five rounds of the 2006, and
Locke, a second-rounder, has the most promise in the bunch.|
Two more members of that group, Steve Evarts and Chad Rodgers, also had strong seasons for Danville.In his second season in pro ball, Locke did a much better job of translating his stuff into results. He attacked hitters with a 90-94 mph fastball and a hard curveball that features late break and good tilt. He has a clean, repeatable delivery with good arm-side movement on his pitches.He's still learning to trust his curveball, and he still has a ways to go to refine his changeup. But he's also just 19, so he has plenty of time to do so.
|6.||Nick Barnese, rhp, Princeton (Devil Rays)|
|B-T: R-R Ht: 6-2 Wt: 170 Age: 18 Drafted: Devil Rays '07 (3)|
pitched a 3-0 shutout in the first outing of his high school junior
season in 2006, then was suspended for the rest of the season for
violating an unspecified rule. He returned to the mound this spring
and pitched himself into the third round of the draft, and continued
to show a very focused attitude during his pro debut.|
Barnese's fastball sits at 91-93 mph with good life. His breaking ball is a hard slurve with good depth and late break, and it has a chance to become a 12-to-6 curveball. He's still working on his changeup, but his command is advanced for a high schooler.
"He has a sense of arrogance and cockiness, but he's focused and confident," Princeton manager Jamie Nelson said. "He goes out thinking, 'I want to be king of the hill.' "
|7.||Pete Kozma, ss, Johnson City (Cardinals)|
|B-T: R-R Ht: 6-0 Wt: 170 Age: 19 Drafted: Cardinals '07 (1)|
draft was thin on shortstops, and Kozma was the first one drafted,
going 18th overall. After signing for $1,395,000, he spent just four
days in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League before moving up to
Kozma isn't big, but he has some line-drive power in his bat and no glaring weaknesses. Despite making 12 errors in 30 games, he was one of the best defensive shortstops in the league. He can make all the plays with his impressive range, good hands and quick release.He also runs well and showed increased patience as he got more experience.
"He has a lot of things you look for in a middle infielder," Kingsport coach George Greer said. "I can see the ability in him."
|8.||Brandon Hicks, ss, Danville (Braves)|
|B-T: R-R Ht: 6-2 Wt: 200 Age: 21 Drafted: Braves '07 (3)|
barely qualified for this list, as he stayed only briefly in the Appy
League before moving up to low Class A, where he hit .313. Undrafted
out of San Jacinto (Texas) JC in 2006, he showed the all-around
talents that made him a third-round pick in June.|
Like Kozma, Hicks doesn't have an outstanding tool but he profiles as a big league shortstop with solid ability across the board. He can drive pitches, draw walks and steal bases. Clocked in the low 90s as a pitcher at San Jacinton, he has a strong arm, reliable hands and good instincts at shortstop.
|9.||Steve Evarts, lhp, Danville (Braves)|
|B-T: L-L Ht: 6-3 Wt: 180 Age: 180 Drafted: Braves '06 (1s)|
strongly considered sending Evarts to low Class A as a 19-year-old,
until police arrested him last December and charged him with damaging
a car with a baseball bat. Suspended for the first part of the Appy
League season, he pitched well once he joined Danville in mid-July
and had no further makeup issues. Locke has better present stuff, but
Evarts has a more projectable frame at 6-foot-3 and 180 pounds. He
pitches at 88-89 mph and reached 91 with his fastball, which has good
tailing action. He also throws a slurvy breaking ball and a changeup
that has screwball action.|
Evarts has good command control, as evidenced by the fact that he allowed no homers and just four walks in eight outings. He drew some Al Leiter comparisons from league observers.
|10.||Mike McCardell, rhp, Elizabtethton (Twins)|
|B-T: R-R Ht: 6-5 Wt: 220 Age: 22 Drafted: Twins '07 (6)|
led Kutztown (Pa.) to the Division II College World Series as a
two-way star in the spring, doubling as a first baseman and
righthander. The Twins took him in the sixth round as a pitcher, and
he overmatched Appy hitters all summer. He average 14 strikeouts per
nine innings and limited opponents to a .179 average during the
regular season, then won the clincher in the playoffs with six
His age and experience were factors, but he has legitimate stuff. McCardell has a strong 6-foot-5, 220-pound frame and an 89-92 mph fastball with late movement. His command is more impressive than his secondary pitches, which play up because of his ability to locate them. He repeats his high three-quarters delivery well for a big man who didn't concentrate on pitching full-time as an amateur.
|11.||Michael Fisher, ss, Danville (Braves)|
|B-T: B-R Ht: 6-2 Wt: 188 Age: 22 Drafted: Braves '07 (6)|
rounds after Hicks, the Braves found another college shortstop with
promise. Fisher established himself as one of the best hitters in the
league by showing the ability to turn on inside pitches and square
the ball up. He also does a good job of staying back on offspeed
pitches and of using the whole field.|
Fisher's best tool is his plus speed, and he brings energy to the ballpark everyday. He's a steady defender but his arm is below average for a shortstop, so he'll probably move to second base down the road.
|12.||Jose Martinez, of, Bristol (White Sox)|
|B-T: R-R Ht: 6-5 Wt: 170 Age: 19 Drafted: White Sox FA|
Sox system contains very few position players of promise, and
Martinez has more upside than most of them. He has the room to add
much more strength to his 6-foot-5, 170-pound frame, making it easy
to project him attaining above-average power. He can put on a show in
batting practice, though he tends to overswing in games.|
Martinez has athleticism as well. He has good speed and stole 12 bases in 14 attempts. He tracks the ball well and has a plus arm in right field, and he also saw some action in center.
|13.||Estarlin de los Santos, ss, Elizabethton (Twins)|
|B-T: B-R Ht: 5-10 Wt: 155 Age: 20 Drafted: Twins FA '05|
switch-hitter, de los Santos struggled with the bat but shone
elsewhere. He ranked third in the league with 27 stolen bases in 34
attempts and was the most dazzling defensive shortstop in the
"He made some plays that are just God-given ability plays, in the hole, off balance, throwing a laser across the diamond," Nelson said. "I can see it like it happened yesterday. That will forever stick out in my mind."
De los Santos reads balls off the bat well, and he has quick hands and a plus arm. He needs to figure out his offensive identity, as he struck out too much and hit too many flyballs when he did make contact. A better approach and improved bunting ability would allow him to make better use of his speed.
|14.||Loek Van Mil, rhp, Elizabethton (Twins)|
|B-T: R-R Ht: 7-1 Wt: 225 Age: 22 Drafted: Twins FA '05|
|If Van Mil
makes it all the way up, he'll be the tallest pitcher in major league
history at 7-foot-1. By the time he follows through, he's practically
standing on home plate.|
His velocity is closer to Chris Young's than Randy Johnson's, however. Van Mil's fastball settles in around 91 mph and tops out at 95. His height gives him a downward plane that's tough on hitters. He's athletic and agile for his size.
A product of the Netherlands, Van Mil lacks pitching instincts and profiles more as a reliever than as a starter. He's working on a slider that has some tilt, but he sometimes slows down his arm when he throws it. He also lacks control.Van Mil came down with elbow soreness, which sidelined him for three weeks in August.
|15.||Deibinson Romero, 3b, Elizabethton (Twins)|
|B-T: R-R Ht: 6-1 Wt: 170 Age: 20 Drafted: Twins FA '04|
finished third in the league in batting (.316) and homers (nine).
He's a gap-to-gap hitter who can drive the ball hard the other way,
and he should have even more power as he gets stronger and turns on
Defensively, Romero has limited range at third base but he does have soft hands, arm strength and a quick release. He sometimes overthrows, but he's fairly steady and led Appy League third baseman with a .929 fielding percentage. His biggest need is to find an even keel, as he gets down on himself and lets his emotions affect his play.
"He's got it in him," Elizabethton manager Ray Smith said. "He's a tools guy and he can hit it as far as anybody. He's got it in him, but we need to get it out of him."
|16.||Ozzie Lewis, of, Elizabethton (Twins)|
|B-T: R-R Ht: 6-4 Wt: 193 Age: 21 Drafted: Twins '07 (21)|
teammate McCardell, Lewis was another college draftee who was
advanced for the Appy league. A 21st-rounder, he toyed with pitchers,
winning MVP honors after finishing second in hitting (.323) and third
in homers (nine). He has a quick bat, uses the whole field and has
For a hitter with college experience, Lewis is still raw. He needs to control the strike zone better and Elizabethton coaches tried to get him to develop a less pull-oriented approach. The also worked with him on the other aspects of his game, as his speed, arm and left-field defense are just fringe tools.
"Good players aren't just one-dimensional," Smith said. "For him to be one of the guys, he's going to have to continue to learn how to play defense. He's worked hard at first-step quickness, on his throwing, base unning and sliding."
|17.||Ebert Rosario, 3b, Greeneville (Astros)|
|B-T: R-R Ht: 6-3 Wt: 165 Age: 20 Drafted: Astros FA '05|
far from a finished product, as he packs just 175 pounds on his wiry
6-foot-3 frame, walked just four times in 59 games and topped the
league with 28 errors. But there's still a lot to like about him.|
The ball jumps off his bat, and he could have plus power once he gets stronger and more disciplined at the plate. A former shortstop, he's an athletic third baseman with a strong if erratic arm. He lets his defensive struggles affect the other parts of his game, and he might benefit from a move to right field.
|18.||Bradley Tippett, rhp, Elizabethton (Twins)|
|B-T: R-R Ht: 6-2 Wt: 176 Age: 19 Drafted: Twins FA '06|
a righty, Tippett was deadly against lefthanders. In 36 plate
appearances, they didn't reach base once and struck out 19 times.
Righties didn't have much more success, batting .215 with 32
strikeouts in 93 at-bats.|
Tippett isn't overpowering, but he has very good control and hides the ball well in his delivery, making it tough for hitters to pick up his pitches. His best offering is a curveball that he'll throw in any count, and he also has an 85-88 mph fastball and an average changeup.
The Twins have used Tippett solely as a reliever since signing him out of Australia, but they have pondered the idea of turning him into a starter. When he signed, they compared him to Brad Radke.
|19.||Kraig Binick, of, Bluefield (Orioles)|
|B-T: R-L Ht: 5-10 Wt: 180 Age: 22 Drafted: Orioles '07 (27)|
|Just one of
three non-Danville or Elizabethton players on the league's postseason
all-star team, Binick was a favorite of league managers. At
5-foot-10, 180 pounds and age 22, he's not projectable, but he did
nothing but hit. After batting .406 at New York Tech in the spring,
he hit .292 for Bluefield and .409 after a late promotion to
Binick shows gap power to all fields and a willingness to draw walks. He has some speed and good instincts, which allowed him to swipe 15 bases in 16 tries. He also gets the job done in center field, where he has a playable arm.
|20.||Kyle Greenwalt, rhp, Greeneville (Astros)|
|B-T: R-R Ht: 6-0 Wt: 200 Age: 18 Drafted: Astros '07 (20)|
spent less on the 2007 draft than any club and didn't exceed MLB's
bonus recommendations for any of their picks. But they did push the
slot envelope on Greenwalt, who fell to the 20th round because of
signability and a lackluster spring, snagging him for
Greenwalt struggled in his debut, but he never hung his head and his arsenal is promising. He has a fastball that sits at 88-92 mph, along with a good slider and an average curveball. Working out of a high three-quarters arm slot, he keeps his pitches down. Improving his changeup is a must after lefties batted .396 against him.