League Top 20 Prospects

Pioneer League Top 20 Prospects With Scouting Reports

Rockies' Rosario impresses offensive and defensively




FIVE YEARS AGO
(Click here for the complete list)
1. *Ian Stewart, 3b, Casper (Rockies)
2. *Chad Billingsley, rhp, Ogden (Dodgers)
3. Lou Palmisano, c, Helena (Brewers)
4. Bobby Wilson, c, Provo (Angels)
5. Xavier Paul, of, Ogden (Dodgers)
6. Habelito Hernandez, 2b, Billings (Reds)
7. *Warner Madrigal, of, Provo (Angels)
8. Mike Megrew, lhp, Ogden (Dodgers)
9. *Dana Eveland, lhp, Helena (Brewers)
10. *Joey Votto, 1b, Billings (Reds)
*Has played in major leagues.
The Rookie-level Pioneer League is always a tricky league to evaluate, as it's somewhat of a tweener circuit. The Diamondbacks and Rockies don't have complex-based teams so their PL club serves as their lowest-level U.S. affiliate. By contrast, the other six organizations in the league don't have teams in the New-York Penn or Northwest leagues, so their PL clubs are their highest-level half-season affiliates.

The dichotomy creates an interesting mix of talent in the hitter-friendly league, with players ranging from raw Latin American prospects to much more polished college draft picks.

The top prospect this year was a position player from the worst offense and one of the worst teams in the league. In his second season in Casper, catcher Wilin Rosario excelled offensively and defensively.

There was a heavy junior college influence in the league, as two of the best pitching prospects (Orem's Will Smith and Missoula's Trevor Harden) and two of the better position prospects (Ogden shortstop Devaris Gordon and Casper outfielder Delta Cleary) came from the juco ranks.

Billings third baseman Neftali Soto would have ranked prominently if he hadn't fallen just short of qualifying for the list. Soto hit .388/.423/.746 in 15 games, showing intriguing power potential and plus arm strength.

1. Wilin Rosario, c, Casper Ghosts (Rockies)
B-T: R-R Ht.: 5-11 Wt.: 180 Age: 19 Signed: Dominican Republic '06
Wilin Rosario
Rosario made monumental improvement from a year ago, when he was overmatched as an 18-year-old making his U.S. debut. In his return to Casper, he learned to harness his aggression and play more under control.

He has above-average bat speed and raw power. Predominantly a pull hitter last year, he began using the whole field more, though he still gears up to turn on pitches.

"With the power he has," Casper manager Tony Diaz said, "he doesn't even have to barrel balls up all the time for the balls to just travel."

Rosario's athleticism, plus arm and quick release and helped him throw out a league-best 46 percent of basestealers. His receiving skills have improved but still need work, as does his game-calling.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
263 48 83 15 3 12 49 24 57 4 3 .316 .371 .532
 
2. Cutter Dykstra, of, Helena Brewers
B-T: R-R Ht.: 5-11 Wt.: 180 Age: 19 Drafted: Brewers '08 (2)
A second-rounder in June, Dykstra was the highest draft pick to qualify for this list. He has excellent athleticism and is an advanced hitter for a teenager, which isn't surprising because he's the son of former all-star Lenny Dykstra.

Dykstra has plus bat speed and good power with loft in his swing. He has a balanced stance with a high hand position and a short, compact backswing. Most of his power is to left and center field, as he hammers pitches from the middle in but isn't as effective with pitches on the outer half.

Though he was slowed by a groin injury this summer, Dykstra has plus speed and is aggressive in all aspects of the game—just like his father was. He's still getting used to playing center field after moving from shortstop as a high school senior last spring.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
144
24 39 9 0 5 17 21 30 4
4 .271 .367 .438
 
3. Will Smith, lhp, Orem Owlz (Angels)
B-T: R-L Ht.: 6-5 Wt.: 215 Age: 19 Drafted: Angels '08 (7)
At 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, Smith is a projectable lefthander who already has an outstanding feel for his craft. He commands all of his pitches for strikes, working both sides of the plate and changing speeds effectively with good downward plane. His 76-6 K-BB ratio was the best in the league.

Smith works off a four-seam fastball that ranges from 87-93 mph. His curveball is a plus pitch at times, and he can add and subtract velocity from it, reaching as high as the low 80s. He also throws a changeup that has improved to become at least an average pitch.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
16 14
8 2 0 3.08 73 73 28 25 6 6 76 .253
 
4. Devaris Gordon, ss, Ogden Raptors (Dodgers)
B-T: R-R Ht.: 5-11 Wt.: 150 Age: 20 Drafted: Dodgers '08 (4)
Gordon failed to qualify academically at Seminole (Fla.) Community College and couldn't play this spring, but the Dodgers drafted him in the fourth round anyway. Once he stepped onto the field in the Pioneer League, it was apparent why.

The son of Phillies righthander Tom Gordon, Gordon has outstanding athleticism and 65 speed on the 20-80 scouting scale. He's extremely skinny with wide shoulders, so he has plenty of room to add strength to his wiry frame. Despite his slender build, he swings the bat with surprising authority and drives balls to the gaps.

With excellent range and good first-step quickness, Gordon has the tools to stick at shortstop. Some of the rust from not getting live game action this spring showed, as he made 28 errors in 60 games, but the miscues should be correctable once he learns to play more under control.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
251 45 83 13 3 2 27 16 29 18 5 .331
.371 .430
 
5. Luis Jimenez, 3b, Orem Owlz (Angels)
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 170 Age: 20 Signed: Dominican Republic '05
After leading the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League with 11 homers in 2007, Jimenez added his second straight home run crown by hitting 15 with Orem in his U.S. debut. He also led the league in doubles (28) and extra-base hits (49) and was part of a core of Latin Americans who propelled the Owlz to the Pioneer League finals.

Jimenez has a good body with present strength, though he still has room to fill out some more. He has a quick bat that generates plus power. Though he's quiet and balanced at the plate, he also has an aggressive approach that leads him to chase too many pitches out of the strike zone. When he swings at strikes, he squares up balls and uses the middle of the field well.

"He seems to square everything up," Diaz said. "Even when he makes outs, he's hitting the ball hard."

Jimenez is an asset at third base, where he has a strong arm. He spent August at DH while nursing a tender shoulder.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
284
57 94 28 6
15 65 11 45 6 2 .331 .361 .630
 
6. Delta Cleary, of, Casper Ghosts (Rockies)
B-T: B-R Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 180 Age: 19 Drafted: Rockies '08 (37)
Like Gordon, Cleary is still raw but blessed with phenomenal athleticism. A cousin of NBA star Shawn Marion, he was a three-sport star at his Arkansas high school, quarterbacking the football team and helping the basketball team win the 6-A state championship. This spring he was part of a Louisiana State-Eunice team that captured its second Division II Junior College World Series title in the last three years.

Cleary has plus power to all fields and good hand-eye coordination, but he's still raw at the plate. He still gets caught out on his front foot at times, leaving him off balance. He has average speed out of the box and plus speed underway, covers plenty of ground in center field and has a slightly above-average arm.

"You could tell that he's an athlete," Great Falls manager Chris Cron said. "It's just really good to see an athlete like that playing our sport."
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
105 22 29 2 1 3 9 6 19
4 0 .276 .321 .400
 
7. Bryan Shaw, rhp, Missoula Osprey (Diamondbacks)
B-T: B-R Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 210 Age: 20 Drafted: Diamondbacks '08 (2)
Shaw's stuff was much more impressive than his 6.75 ERA in the Pioneer League, though that mark was inflated when he gave up five runs in his first pro outing. His fastball sits at 92-94 mph and touches 96, his hard slider is a solid-average pitch with plus potential, and he also has a splitter. He does a good job of working down in the zone and generating groundballs.

Shaw runs into trouble with his command at times, getting knocked around when he doesn't locate his pitches well. He was a reliever at Long Beach State, and the Diamondbacks are debating whether to keep him in that role and move him through the system quickly or to take more time to develop him as a starter.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
10
0
0 1 2 6.75 17 24 19 13 2
7 17 .316
 
8. Trevor Harden, rhp, Missoula Osprey (Diamondbacks)
B-T: B-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 215 Age: 20 Drafted: Diamondbacks '08 (14)
A product of New Mexico JC, Harden would have transferred to Miami and become the Hurricanes' closer had he not signed as a 14th-rounder. He began his pro career in Missoula's bullpen before moving into the rotation, where he went 1-3, 2.05 with a 48-6 K-BB ratio in 31 innings.

Harden has a low-90s fastball that touches 94 mph and gets nice sink. His low-80s slider was a plus pitch at times, and he also mixed in a changeup. He has a durable body and a good delivery.

"His mentality, his demeanor and approach on the mound are A-plus," Diamondbacks farm director A.J. Hinch said.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
12 6
1 3 2 1.91 42 34 14 9 2
11 64 .224
 
9. Dexter Carter, rhp, Great Falls Voyagers (White Sox)
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-6 Wt.: 195 Age: 21 Drafted: White Sox '08 (14)
Carter had a disastrous junior season at Old Dominion, posting an 8.76 ERA and walking nearly a batter per inning. After drafting him in the 14th round, the White Sox made some minor tweaks to his delivery, giving him a more consistent landing point and getting him on a straighter line to the plate. The changes worked wonders, as he led the league with a 2.23 ERA and finished second to college and pro teammate Dan Hudson in the strikeout race with 89 in 69 innings.

Lanky, loose and athletic, Carter has fine command of a lively 88-93 mph fastball. His high-70s curveball worked well for him this summer. His changeup is inconsistent at this point, but he has feel for it and could turn it into an average pitch in the future.

Carter leverages his 6-foot-6 size well, getting good downward plane by coming almost straight over the top. While he was able to open up his delivery, he still throws somewhat across his body.

"Whoever the scout was that drafted him needs to be given a bonus," Orem manager Tom Kotchman said, "because that's a heck of a 14th-round pick right there."
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
15
12 6 1 0 2.23 69 44 23 17 3 25
89 .179
 
10. Kyle Russell, of, Ogden Raptors (Dodgers)
B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-5 Wt.: 190 Age: 22 Drafted: Dodgers '08 (3)
Russell led NCAA Division I with 28 homers as a draft-eligible sophomore in 2007, then turned down a reported $800,000 offer from the Cardinals as a fourth-rounder. He went one round higher this June, though he had to settle for $410,000.

Russell has long arms but still gets the bat head through the zone well and gets good leverage in his swing, which helps him generate tremendous power. However, his swing and pull-oriented approach lead scouts to question how much he'll hit with wood bats. With Ogden, he continued his track record of hitting homers (11) and striking out with great frequency (82 times in 219 at-bats). A good athlete, he has a strong arm and fits best in right field.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
219 46 61 13 5 11 46 27 82 4 0 .279 .365 .534
 
11. Pedro Baez, 3b, Ogden Raptors (Dodgers)
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 195 Age: 20 Signed: Dominican Republic '07
The Dodgers pushed Baez to low Class A to start the season, but after he hit .178/.244/.259, they sent him down to Ogden to regroup. While he continued to struggle with breaking balls and plate discipline, he was one of the more dangerous power hitters in the league.

"I've seen him hit some balls 500 feet," Diaz said. "He's got cartoon-shot power."

Baez has a strong, durable frame with a diverse set of above-average tools. He has plus power that could grade out even higher in the future, but his approach doesn't always allow his pop to translate in game situations. At times he lacks rhythm at the plate, which causes him to start chasing pitches.

At third base, Baez shows soft hands and a plus arm. His feet get tangled up at times, which leads to some erratic throws, but he generally moves well around the bag. He's a below-average runner.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
247 37 66 20 1 12 50 18 69
2 2 .267 .317 .502
 
12. Jose Perez, rhp, Orem Olwz (Angels)
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 180 Age: 20 Signed: Venezuela '06
Orem featured the pitchers with the three best K-BB ratios in the league in Smith, soft-tossing lefthander Jayson Miller (68-7 in 81 innings) and Perez (77-8 in 58 innings). Perez works with quick tempo and commands three pitches.

His best offering is a hard breaking ball that breaks down at times and more laterally at others. He overthrows the pitch at times, which causes it to flatten out. He also has an 89-94 mph fastball that sits around 91 with heavy life.

Perez will need to improve his changeup in order to remain a starter as he advances to higher levels. He also is working on smoothing out his mechanics.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
11 11
5 2 0 4.17 58 58 30 27 7 8 77 .251
 
13. Efrain Nieves, lhp, Helena Brewers
B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 169 Age: 18 Drafted: Brewers '07 (7)
Nieves threw 86-88 mph when the Brewers drafted him as a 17-year-old out of Puerto Rico in the seventh round last year, and his velocity spiked to 90-91 this summer. He still has the same controlled delivery with tempo and rhythm, which allows him to throw plenty of strikes. His mound composure is well beyond his years.

He's still working on the rest of his arsenal. His slider has potential and gives him a good weapon against lefties, and he needs to improve his changeup to give him a better option against righties.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
16 11
6 3 0 4.48 76 78 40 38 9
10 66 .264
 
14. Rossmel Perez, c, Missoula Osprey (Diamondbacks)
B-T: B-R Ht.: 5-10 Wt.: 180 Age: 19 Signed: Venezuela '06
His performance didn't blow anyone away, but it wouldn't be a surprise if Perez followed Rosario's path and had a breakout next year.

Perez, who signed for $150,000 out of Venezuela in 2006, has a good approach at the plate and puts the barrel on the ball. He has a quick bat and a line-drive swing. A switch-hitter who's better from the left side, he has some strength in his hands but needs to fill out his frame in order to hit the ball with more authority.

Defensively, he has soft hands, a quick release and a 55 arm on the 20-80 scouting scale, which helped him throw out 40 percent of basestealers. He blocks balls well and has good instincts.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
144 15 35 8 0 0 11 16 13
0 0 .243 .323 .299
 
15. Angel Castillo, of, Orem Owlz (Angels)
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 190 Age: 20 Signed: Venezuela '05
While he doesn't have the same overall feel for hitting as his teammate Luis Jimenez, Castillo has the edge in raw power. His rates as plus-plus, and the ball makes a different sound coming off his bat.

How frequently that power will show up in games at higher levels is a different story, as Castillo struggles with pitch recognition, especially with breaking balls. While his upside is considerable, his flameout potential is just as big.

Castillo is a solid-average runner out of the box and a tick better underway. He projects as a right fielder with a plus arm.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
270
53 76 20 3 14 47 18 85
7 2 .281 .345 .533
 
16. Wily Peralta, rhp, Helena Brewers
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 225 Age: 19 Signed: Dominican Republic '05
Peralta signed in 2006 for $450,000 and missed 2007 after having Tommy John surgery, but he returned this year and showed perhaps the most electric arm in the league. His fastball ranged from 93-97 mph, and he mixed in a solid-average slider that could be a plus pitch down the road. He also has a changeup, though he rarely used it while pitching exclusively in relief.

Peralta didn't walk many batters, but his command is still below average. At 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds, he has a thick build and will have to watch his weight as he matures.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
15 2
1 1 2 3.07 29 23 14 10 4
8 36 .209
 
17. Erik Komatsu, of, Helena Brewers
B-T: L-L Ht.: 5-10 Wt.: 190 Age: 20 Drafted: Brewers '08 (8)
After being Cal State Fullerton's top offensive player this spring, the 5-foot-10 Komatsu made a big impression on Pioneer League managers. They liked his swing and approach and were impressed at how well he hung in against southpaws.

Komatsu has a short, quick stroke from the left side with a slight uppercut at the finish. He has some pop to the gaps and uses the whole park well, driving the ball to all fields. He's a decent athlete with slightly above-average speed and arm strength.

While he played regularly at all three outfield positions for Helena, he probably fits best in right field, where his bat won't profile as well as it would in center.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
277
61
89 19 4 11 47
30 42 8 4 .321 .394 .538
 
18. Dan Hudson, rhp, Great Falls Voyagers
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 220 Age: 21 Drafted: White Sox '08 (5)
After pitching together at Old Dominion, Hudson and Carter roomed together in Great Falls and formed a dynamic 1-2 punch on the mound for the league-champion Voyagers. Hudson led the league in strikeouts with 90 in 70 innings, then fanned 12 over six innings in the championship clincher against Orem.

Hudson throws strikes while operating from a low three-quarters angle with a long arm stroke in the back. His fastball has average velocity and exceptional life, riding in on righties and tailing away from lefties. He gets strikeouts by throwing his slider down in the zone and he also mixes in an occasional changeup.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
14 14
5 4 0 3.36 70 52 30 26 6
22 90 .202
 
19. Tony Delmonico, 2b, Dodgers
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 194 Age: 21 Drafted: Dodgers '08 (6)
The son of former Tennessee head coach Rod Delmonico, Tony Delmonico showed an aggressive approach, swung the bat well and used the whole field in his pro debut. Though he hit 11 homers while playing his home games in the Pioneer League's coziest ballpark (Ogden's Lindquist Field), he doesn't project to have huge power.

Defense has been a challenge for Delmonico, whose range and hands are both limited. A shortstop in college, he moved to second base with the Raptors but still looked rough there. He might end up moving to third base or an outfield corner, and his bat doesn't profile well at those positions.

The buzz around the league was that Delmonico might move behind the plate, which wouldn't be something new for a Dodgers organization that has converted Russell Martin and Carlos Santana, among others, to catcher. It's a switch that others have considered in the past, considering Delmonico's arm strength and athleticism.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
141 38 48 20 0 11 39 18 28 0 0 .340 .443 .716
 
20. Michael Kohn, rhp, Orem Olwz (Angels)
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 200 Age: 22. Drafted: Angels '08 (13)
Your typical 22-year-old college senior drafted in the 13th round normally wouldn't sniff a Top 20 Prospects list, but Kohn is far from typical. Originally a first baseman at College of Charleston, he pitched just 13 innings this spring because he had a bruised shoulder.

The early returns in pro ball were promising. He struck out 44 batters in 23 innings, using a 90-95 mph fastball that jumps out of his hand and an average to plus slider. He also has an 80-84 mph changeup, though he rarely needed it.

Kohn has an extremely short arm stroke in the back, which should limit him to a bullpen role but also adds deception. He reminds Orem manager Tom Kotchman of Troy Percival for his body at the same age and his demeanor on the mound.

"He's not your classic full-arm-action guy, but it's a sneaky 94," Kotchman said. "There's a lot of bad swings off that."
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
16
0
2 0 0 1.93 23 11 5 5 1
11 44 .134