League Top 20 Prospects

California League Top 20 Prospects With Scouting Reports

A's place three pitchers in top 10




FIVE YEARS AGO
(Click here for the complete list)
1. *Casey Kotchman, 1b, Rancho Cucamonga (Angels)
2. *Ervin Santana, rhp, Rancho Cucamonga (Angels)
3. *Jeff Mathis, c, Rancho Cucamonga (Angels)
4. *Dallas McPherson, 3b, Rancho Cucamonga (Angels)
5. *Josh Barfield, 2b, Lake Elsinore (Padres)
6. *Brad Nelson, 1b/of, High Desert (Brewers)
7. *Joey Gathright, of, Bakersfield (Devil Rays)
8. Sergio Santos, ss, Lancaster (Diamondbacks)
9. *Juan Dominguez, rhp, Stockton (Rangers)
10. *Jayson Nix, 2b, Visalia (Rockies)
*Has played in major leagues.
While the high Class A California League didn't open the season with a true ├╝berprospect on any of its rosters—at No. 36, Stockton lefthander Brett Anderson was the highest-ranked player in BA's Top 100 Prospects—it still had plenty of talent. Several players made progress that should give them more prominent places in the next Top 100.

The league's most talented team was Stockton, which won the 11th Cal League title in franchise history and the first since 2002. The Ports reflected a resurgent Athletics farm system, placing five players on this Top 20 list, including the two best pitching prospects in the league, Trevor Cahill and Anderson. Several other Ports earned considerations as well, such as catcher Josh Donaldson and outfielders Corey Brown and Matt Sulentic.

In addition to pitching for the Ports, Anderson and Cahill also pitched for Team USA in the Beijing Olympics. Like many of the players on this list, they were gone by season's end, on to bigger and better things.

1. Trevor Cahill, rhp, Stockton (Athletics)
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 195 Age: 20 Drafted: Athletics '06 (2)
Trevor Cahill
One scout said Cahill could have dominated in the big leagues on his best days this season and regarded him as a potential No. 1 starter, and he garnered Brandon Webb comparisons because of his power sinker. Cahill offers everything teams want in a pitcher: a big, strong frame with athleticism and a live arm, good deception, strong makeup and a feel for pitching.

Cahill's best pitch is his fastball, which touched 96 mph this summer and has good running life. He offers two good breaking balls as well, an 11-to-5 curveball and a hard slider, which he can also throw from different angles. His changeup should be an average pitch.

With his repertoire and command, hitters often had to guess which pitch was coming next, slowing down their bats and rarely resulting in good contact. He easily handled the jump to Double-A as a 20-year-old as well as the pressure of pitching in the Olympics.

G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
14
13
5 4
0 2.78
87 52 29 27 3
31 103 .174
 
2. Carlos Santana, c, Inland Empire (Dodgers)
B-T: B-R Ht.: 5-11 Wt.: 188 Age: 22 Signed: Dominican Republic '04
Converted to catching after the 2006 season, Santana made a swift defensive transition last year but raised questions about his bat by hitting .223 in low Class A. Consider those questions answered after he led the Cal League with a .431 on-base percentage and a .993 OPS. He won league MVP honors despite playing in just 99 games before getting traded to the Indians in the Casey Blake deal.

Santana proved himself a threat with the bat from both sides of the plate, and scouts think he could hit 15-20 homers a year in the majors as he grows into his power. Managers loved his swing and said they couldn't find a way to consistently get him out.

He has the tools to be a strong catcher, though he's still rough around the edges. He had good agility and athleticism but rushes himself at times. He also has a well-above-average arm but needs to improve his accuracy after throwing out 23 percent of basestealers.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
350 88 113 34 4
14 96 69 59 7 4 .323 .431 .563
 
3. Lars Anderson, 1b, Lancaster (Red Sox)
B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 215 Age: 20 Drafted: Red Sox '06 (18)
Another dividend from the Red Sox's recent investments in the draft, Anderson signed for $825,000 as an 18th-round pick in 2006. He impressed scouts and managers despite a wrist injury that kept him out for a couple of weeks at the end of May. He was even better after a promotion, batting .316/.436/.526 in the Double-A Eastern League.

Anderson uses his hands well in his swing and shows loft power with the ability to drive the ball to both gaps. He has a great idea of the strike zone, and his smooth swing keeps the barrel of his bat in the hitting zone for a long time. Managers also liked his poise, both at the plate and in the field.

Anderson played a solid first base, with good hands but not enough first-step quickness to have anything other than average range. He's a below-average runner though not a bad athlete.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
306
58
97 19
1 13
50 46 64 0 0
.317 .408 .921
 
4. Brett Anderson, lhp, Stockton (Athletics)
B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 215 Age: 20 Drafted: Diamondbacks '06 (2)
Anderson was a key piece in the Dan Haren trade with the Diamondbacks last winter, and he and Cahill showed in Stockton, Midland and Beijing why they'll soon team up in the A's rotation. Anderson won the bronze-medal game against Japan.

Some Cal League observers preferred Anderson to Cahill because he's lefthanded, though the consensus was that Cahill has a better chance to become a frontline starter. Anderson could as well, as his feel for pitching and strong command amplify his pure stuff.

Anderson's fastball sat at 92-93 mph this season and he touched 95. He throws two breaking balls, using his slider more often than his curveball, and a changeup. All three of his secondary offerings rate as plus pitches at times, and he controls the running game featuring a top-shelf pickoff move.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
14
13
9 4
0 4.14
74 68 35 34 5
18 80
.238
 
5. Jhoulys Chacin, rhp, Modesto (Rockies)
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 168 Age: 20 Signed: Venezuela '04
Chacin was as good as any pitcher in the minors this season, dominating in low Class A and continuing to impress after his promotion to Modesto. He thrived in hitter-friendly environments, led the minors with 18 wins and ranked sixth in both ERA (2.03) and strikeouts (160 in 178 innings).

Chacin has good stuff, but it was the way he handled himself on the mound that most impressed scouts and managers. He has a businesslike approach with "high lows and low highs," according to Nuts manager Jerry Weinstein, as well as good command and an ability to add and subtract velocity.

His best pitch is probably his changeup, which has two-plane break. He pitches off an 88-90 mph two-seamer with good sink, and he can dial his four-seamer up to 93-94. His downer curveball was much improved this year, and he's working on a cutter as well.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
12
12
8 2
0 2.31
66 61 20 17 3
12 62 .247
 
6. Tim Alderson, rhp, San Jose (Giants)
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-6 Wt.: 217 Age: 19 Drafted: Giants '07 (1)
The 22nd overall pick in the 2007 draft, Alderson skipped past low Class A in his first full season and led the Cal League with a 2.79 ERA as the ace of a strong San Jose staff.

Alderson's best attribute is his impeccable command, which allowed him to dominate without overpowering stuff. He has a good idea of how to get hitters out, which allowed him to pile up innings even though San Francisco controlled his pitch counts.

His fastball sits at 88-92 mph. It has nice sink, and he's aggressive and willing to work inside with it. His command also lets his curveball play up. His changeup is developing but showed flashes of being a solid pitch.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
26
26
13 4
0 2.79
145 125 48 45 4
34 124 .235
 
7. Pablo Sandoval, c/1b, San Jose (Giants)
B-T: B-R Ht.: 5-11 Wt.: 245 Age: 22 Signed: Venezuela '03
No player in the Cal League this year raised his profile more than Sandoval. He dominated in a return to the league, then was selected for the Futures Game before earning a promotion to Double-A and eventually San Francisco.

Sandoval is equally adept from either side of the plate, and he can pull the ball to hit for power or take pitches the other way. He shows a willingness to take what pitchers give him, and though he swings hard he shows good plate discipline.

He looks considerably less comfortable on defense. Though he has arm strength and threw out 46 percent of basestealers with San Jose, his hands and lack of agility work against him at catcher. San Francisco also played him at both infield corners, but his squat body and limited athleticism don't profile well there either.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
273
61 98 25 2 12 59 23 39 2 1 .359 .412 .597
 
8. Josh Reddick, of, Lancaster (Red Sox)
B-T: L-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 180 Age: 21 Drafted: Red Sox '06 (17)
The Red Sox got Reddick one round before they took Anderson in the 2006 draft. While Anderson draws more attention, some Cal League observers regarded Reddick as a better all-around player. He made the league's postseason all-star team despite playing just 76 games before moving up to Double-A.

Reddick is wiry at 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds, but the ball jumps off his bat and he should have good power. He controls the strike zone but is a very aggressive hitter, and the Red Sox have worked with him to become more selective and wait for pitches he can drive.

Reddick also has good defensive skills, running well and showing plenty of arm for right field. An exceptionally accurate thrower, he has recorded 41 assists in two pro seasons.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
312 60 107 11 8 17 57 17 49 9 1 .343 .375 .593
 
9. Henry Rodriguez, rhp, Stockton (Athletics)
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 175 Age: 21 Signed: Venezuela '03
Standing out among all the talent at the Futures Game is rare, but so is Rodriguez's fastball. His heater sat at 98-99 mph and touched 100, making a definite impression on anyone who saw him at Yankee Stadium in July. That same outing also showed that he still needs polish. He reared back for something extra on one fastball and ended up on his rear end after his follow-through.

Rodriguez's fastball has not only velocity but also good life, and his slider showed progress this season. He needs to refine his pitches and control to make the jump to the big leagues. While he throws a changeup as a starter, most people think he'll end up as a reliever, and he has the pure stuff to work as a closer.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
20
13
2 3
2 3.96
75 57 38 33 5
40 104 .208
 
10. Cedric Hunter, of, Rancho Cucamonga (Padres)
B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 185 Age: 20 Drafted: Padres '06 (3)
Hunter batted .282/.344/.373 in low Class A last year, struggling with his swing and selectivity. He came back strong this season, adjusting his setup at the plate, cutting down his stroke and making better contact.

He remains an aggressive hitter, but Hunter consistently puts the barrel on the ball thanks to his hand-eye coordination. He also swung at better pitches this year. His power potential is limited but he hits line drives to all fields.

Hunter has the raw speed for center field and covers a fair amount of ground. He still takes funny routes at times, however, and his arm might be marginal for center, so he could wind up in left field.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
584
98
186 33
3 11 84 42 47
12 5 .318 .362 .442
 
11. Julio Borbon, of, Bakersfield (Rangers)
B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 180 Age: 22 Drafted: Rangers '07 (1s)
Borbon opened his first full season in Bakersfield and earned a promotion to Double-A after just 66 games. He actually put up better numbers after the promotion, adding 98 points to his OPS. While Cal League scouts and managers thought he can become a big league regular, they weren't blown away by his performance.

Borbon's tools suggest an ideal leadoff profile, but there were questions about how much he'll get the bat on the ball as he moves up. He needs to tighten his strike zone, walk more and strike out less. He shows gap power but is better off keeping the ball on the ground to take advantage of his speed.

While Borbon is an above-average runner, he didn't always show that speed in the Cal League, and one manager called him a "sloppy player." His speed does give him the ability to be an above-average defender in center field, and he has enough arm for the position.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
286 46 88 20 0 2 36
15 30 36 7 .308 .349 .399
 
12. Jordan Walden, rhp, Rancho Cucamonga (Angels)
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-5 Wt.: 220 Age: 20 Drafted: Angels '06 D/F (12)
Walden was scheduled to spend his first full season in the low Class A Midwest League, but he performed so well that he earned a promotion to Rancho in mid-July. Those who saw him in his nine Cal League starts were impressed.

Walden had the highest ceiling on the Rancho Cucamonga staff, with the potential to be a No. 2 big league starter. He features an above-average fastball that touched 96 mph in the Cal League, and a good breaking ball that was alternately identified as a slider or a curve.

Walden still needs some polish. His mechanics sometimes get off kilter, meaning he can't command his pitches consistently. His changeup is a work in progress.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
9
9
5 2
0 4.04
49
42 30 22 4
24 50 .226
 
13. Greg Halman, of, High Desert (Mariners)
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 192 Age: 21 Signed: Netherlands '04
The Mariners have brought Halman along slowly since signing him out of the Netherlands in 2004, and he showed signs this season of translating his considerable tools into production. His .892 OPS would have ranked fifth in the Cal League if he had enough at-bats to qualify, but he moved up to Double-A after just 67 games.

Halman has strong tools, but what stood out the most was the way he improved as the season went on and performed at his best in important game situations. He has unbelievable bat speed and drove the ball as well as anybody in the league. He closed up some holes in his swing and improved his strikeout rate marginally, but he still needs to make more contact.

His arm and speed are both above-average and he covers ground well in center field. Halman eventually could shift to right field as his big frame fills out.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
257 52 69 15 3
19 53 16 76 23 1 .268 .320 .572
 
14. Chris Carter, 1b, Stockton (Athletics)
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 210 Age: 21 Drafted: White Sox '05 (15)
Few minor leaguers have as much pure power as Carter, who was traded from the White Sox to the Diamondbacks to the Athletics in a span of 11 days last December. He led the Cal League with 39 home runs in the regular season, then added five more in the playoffs, including a grand slam and a solo shot in the title clincher for Stockton. He also topped the league in runs (101), RBIs (104) and slugging percentage (.569).

Carter hits balls as hard as anyone and smashes line drives out of any part of any park. Weinstein compared him to Frank Thomas at a similar stage in their careers and said Carter more athletic. He's susceptible to breaking balls, but he showed improvement in controlling the strike zone as the year went on.

"He has holes in his swing but if you make a mistake, it's bye-bye," an American League scout said.

The problem with Carter is finding a place for him on defense. He split time between the infield corners for the Ports, and the consensus is his hands aren't good enough for first base and he's too big and slow to be effective at third base. He has also worked in the outfield and seems destined to end up as a DH.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
506 101 131 32 4
39 104 77 156 4 0 .259 .361 .569
 
15. Carlos Triunfel, ss, High Desert (Mariners)
B-T: R-R Ht.: 5-11 Wt.: 175 Age: 18 Signed: Dominican Republic '06
The outlook couldn't have been rosier for Triunfel coming into the season, after he reached high Class A at age 17 in his pro debut in 2007 and more than held his own. His return engagement in the Cal League, however, didn't go as well. He battled an abdominal strain early in the year, drew a 10-day suspension in May for violating team rules and earned generally bad reviews for his attitude and immaturity.

Triunfel has a good swing but isn't an effective situational hitter—part of general questions about his instincts—and while he can sting the ball it doesn't look like he'll be able to elevate it for over-the-fence power. On defense, he shows first-step quickness but not great range, and his body could get too big for shortstop. In fact, his only consensus plus tool this season was his throwing arm.

Triunfel's biggest strength at this point is his age. At 18 he was the youngest player in the league, and his youth left most people willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and hoping he learned lessons he can put into action next season.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
436 75 125 20 4 8 49 30 52 30 9 .287 .336 .406
 
16. Sean Doolittle, 1b, Stockton (Athletics)
B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 190 Age: 21 Drafted: Athletics '07 (1s)
Doolittle was a polished hitter when he came out of Virginia in the 2007 draft, but he upped the ante this season by showing power that hadn't been evident since his freshman year in college. He held down the No. 3 spot in a potent Stockton lineup before earning a promotion to Double-A in July.

Scouts always have been impressed by Doolittle's pure hitting and defense, and he gives pitchers headaches with his smooth stroke and patience. He swung and missed too much this year, but it was an acceptable tradeoff for the improved power he showed. While he will never be a masher, he should be able to hit 15-25 homers per season in the big leagues.

His defense is terrific at first base, and he's athletic enough to play in the outfield. San Jose manager Steve Decker compared him to J.T. Snow with a better bat.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
334
64 102 25 3
18 61 46 99 7 3 .303 .385 .560
 
17. Peter Bourjos, of, Rancho Cucamonga (Angels)
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 175 Age: 21 Drafted: Angels '05 (10)
The Angels gave Bourjos $325,000 as a 10th-round pick in 2005 based on his speed and defense. He has shown a much more well-rounded game over the past couple of seasons and now looks like he could be an everyday center fielder in the big leagues.

Most of Bourjos' tools compare favorably with the outfielders listed above him, such as Hunter or Borbon. He has great range and a good arm in center field, and his above-average speed allows him to steal bases easily—though he does need to improve on the nuances on the craft. He led the Cal League with 50 steals.

The biggest question mark is Bourjos' bat. His swing and lack of discipline can both be problematic, and he strikes out too much for the leadoff profile his tools would suggest. And when he goes bad, he goes very bad and struggles to make adjustments.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
509 83 150 26 10 9 51
19
96
50 10 .295 .326 .444
 
18. Sean O'Sullivan, rhp, Rancho Cucamonga (Angels)
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 220 Age: 20 Drafted: Angels '05 D/F (3)
O'Sullivan was a fireballer until his senior year of high school, when his velocity dropped. He has remade himself into a steady innings-eater, winning league ERA titles in his first two pro seasons before topping the Cal League with 16 wins and ranking third with 158 innings.

O'Sullivan has at three average or slightly better pitches in his fastball, curveball and changeup. More important, he shows good command of each of them. His aggressiveness in the strike zone and pitchability allow his stuff to play up, though there are questions about how he'll get more advanced hitters out.

While he piled up a lot of innings and has a big body that should be durable, O'Sullivan tended to lose a little something on his pitches the second and third time through the order. That suggests he could be best as a middle reliever who could shut down a lineup for two or three innings at a time.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
28
25
16 8
0 4.73
158 167 94 83 8
50 111 .268
 
19. Josh Donaldson, c, Stockton (Athletics)
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 215 Age: 22 Drafted: Cubs '07 (1s)
A converted third baseman who ideally profiles as an offense-first catcher, Donaldson was hitting just .217/.276/.349 in low Class A when the Cubs traded him to the Athletics in the Rich Harden deal in July. He got his bat jump-started in the more hitter-friendly Cal League, hitting .330/.391/.564 during the regular season and smashing four doubles and four homers in the playoffs.

Donaldson has good plate discipline and should have at least average power, though some scouts question whether he'll hit enough to play every day in the big leagues. He does a good job of using the whole field and runs better than most catchers.

Donaldson still needs to work on the nuances of catching. He showed his raw ability by throwing out 35 percent of basestealers in the Cal League, but his receiving skills are still developing. He committed 12 passed balls in 42 games, bringing his career total to 29 in 139 pro contests.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
188 37 62 13 2 9 39 17
29 0 2 .330 .391 .564
 
20. Kellen Kulbacki, of, Lake Elsinore (Padres)
B-T: L-L Ht.: 5-11 Wt.: 185 Age: 22. Drafted: Padres '07 (1s)
Kulbacki made some adjustments to his swing in instructional league last fall and began this season on the disabled list with a sprained ankle, so a slow start was perhaps to be expected. He hit .164/.260/.295 in low Class A and didn't initially fare much better after a May promotion to Lake Elsinore, with his average bottoming out at .242 in mid-June. He was on fire afterward, however. His final .589 slugging percentage would have been best in the league had he qualified, and his .332 average and .428 on-base percentage each would have ranked second.

At first glance, some saw Kulbacki as no more than an extra guy who feasted on mediocre stuff, but he won over skeptics as the season wore on. He has a knack for making good contact and hits the ball all over the yard. He showed power to all fields in the Cal League, though some still whether he has the bat speed to hit for enough power as he moves up.

Kulbacki will need work on his outfield play as well, as all his defensive tools are fringe-average at best. With work he should be an adequate corner outfielder, and he played in right field for Lake Elsinore.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
304 62 101 18
0 20 66 47 52 1 2 .332 .428 .589