League Top 20 Prospects

Eastern League Top 20 Prospects With Scouting Reports

Scouting reports on the EL's top prospects




FIVE YEARS AGO
(Click here for the complete list)
1. *Joe Mauer, c, New Britain (Twins)
2. *Alex Rios, of, New Haven (Blue Jays)
3. *Grady Sizemore, of, Akron (Indians)
4. *Guillermo Quiroz, c, New Haven (Blue Jays)
5. *Dustin McGowan, rhp, New Haven (Blue Jays)
6. *J.D. Durbin, rhp, New Britain (Twins)
7. *Dioner Navarro, c, Trenton (Yankees)
8. *Taylor Buchholz, rhp, Reading (Phillies)
9. *Jason Bartlett, ss, New Britain (Twins)
10. *John VanBenschoten, rhp, Altoona (Pirates)
*Has played in major leagues.
Bowie didn't win the Double-A Eastern League championship, in part because it ran into a rehabbing Travis Hafner and Matt LaPorta on Akron's roster in the semifinals. But the Baysox left the biggest impression on scouts, as they featured the league's two best prospects. Catcher Matt Wieters earned our Minor League Player of the Year award, while No. 2 prospect Chris Tillman, acquired from the Mariners in the Erik Bedard bonanza, was the league's most talented arm.

Bowie didn't place any other player in the top 20, but that's only because of the depth of the league. Other Baysox receiving support included outfielders Nolan Reimold, who homered four times against Akron in the playoffs, and Lou Montanez, who rejuvenated his career by winning the EL triple crown and MVP award at age 26; and righthanders Brad Bergesen (the EL pitcher of the year), Jason Berken and David Hernandez (the league strikeout leader).

1. Matt Wieters, c, Bowie (Orioles)
B-T: B-R Ht.: 6-5 Wt.: 230 Age: 22 Drafted: Orioles '07 (1)
Matt Wieters
Wieters made everything look easy, and scouts agreed that it was difficult to find a glaring weakness in his game. If he had enough at-bats to qualify, he would have led the EL in batting (.365), on-base percentage (.460) and slugging percentage (.625).

His patience and pitch recognition puts him in hitter's counts regularly, and he has above-average bat speed and strength that generate plus power. His bat stays in the hitting zone a long time, so he should hit for high average as well. Defensively, he threw out 32 percent of basestealers and didn't commit a passed ball thanks to soft hands, a 70 arm on the 20-80 scouting scale and excellent athletic ability despite being 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds.

"He plays a premium position and though he's big, he's very limber, receives quietly and blocks well," Altoona manager Tim Leiper said. "It's hard to find holes in his swing."

"For me, no one in the league compares," Bowie manager Brad Komminsk said. "He was the best batter in the league and the best power hitter. He eventually will be as good as any catcher in the league defensively, and he can throw with anybody."

AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
208
41
76
14 2
12
51
38 29
1
0
.365 .460 .625
 
2. Chris Tillman, rhp, Bowie (Orioles)
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-5 Wt.: 195 Age: 20 Drafted: Mariners '06 (2)
Tillman has the prospect resume from central casting: size (6-foot-5, 195 pounds), stuff and youth, as he debuted in the league as a 19-year-old. He threw five no-hit innings in his second start and finished strong, striking out 51 in 35 August innings.

Tillman regularly reaches 93-94 mph with his fastball and sits at 90-93. His curveball has developed into an above-average pitch with 12-to-6 break, and he made significant progress with a changeup. He has the velocity to work up with his four-seam fastball and down with his change and curve. He also impressed scouts by staying tall in his delivery and creating difficult angles for the hitter.

"He's a future stud," a scout with an American League organization said. "He's sitting in the low 90s and throwing consistent strikes with it. He's got good poise. He's got a chance to be a No. 1 or No. 2 starter."
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
28
28
11
4
0
3.18
135.2
115
53
48
10
65
154
.227
 
3. Travis Snider, of, New Hampshire (Blue Jays)
B-T: L-L Ht.: 5-11 Wt.: 245 Age: 20 Drafted: Blue Jays '06 (1)
Snider had a right elbow injury that hampered him this spring, limiting him to DH duty and affecting his swing path. As he got healthy, he showed his hitting aptitude, smoothing his stroke and improving his plate discipline. His raw power began translating more consistently to home run production in games.

Though he's 5-foot-11 and 230 pounds, he's a decent athlete with enough arm for right field. Snider impressed his manager Gary Cathcart with his work ethic and leadership skills. His biggest issues are getting better at identifying breaking balls from lefthanders and maintaining his fitness.

"I thought he was pull-happy early, and when I'd seen him in the Arizona Fall League, what I liked best was how he drove the ball to the opposite field," another AL scout said. "He got back to staying inside the ball, and his bat stopped being in and out of the zone so quickly. It's a different sound when he squares it up."
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
362
65
95
21
0
17 67
52
116 1
1
.262 .357 .461
 
4. Lars Anderson, 1b, Portland (Red Sox)
B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 215 Age: 21 Drafted: Red Sox '06 (18)
Just 20, Anderson started the year in the high Class A California League, where he was expected to put up huge numbers at Lancaster. Instead, he was fairly solid but not spectacular. He was more impressive in the EL, posting the highest OPS among Portland's regulars at .962.

Anderson has plus raw power and an advanced, patient approach for such a young hitter. He generally swings at strikes and isn't afraid to go deep in counts. His defense around the bag also impressed one scout, who liked how he scooped balls in the dirt to save errors.

"He's got some length in his swing, but his hands are really good," Leiper said. "His hands get to the ball, he's got quick wrists and he uses his lower half fairly well. He's got size and the leverage in the swing to hit for real power."
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
133
27
42
13
0
5
30
29
43
1
0
.316 .436 .526
 
5. Jordan Zimmermann, rhp, Harrisburg (Nationals)
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 200 Age: 22 Drafted: Nationals '07 (2)
Zimmermann had no trouble making the jump to Double-A 11 months after the Nationals drafted him in the second round. His athleticism stood out to scouts and allowed him to command four pitches for strikes, including a fastball that sits at 93 mph and reaches 95. He locates his fastball to both sides of the plate and pitches inside aggressively.

Zimmermann also throws both a power slider and hard curveball to go with a straight changeup that has made progress to become an average pitch. He'll need to refine his command at higher levels to keep the ball in the park more often, but he isn't far from being able to help in the big leagues.

"He's very athletic, and I liked his tempo," a National League scout said. "He uses his fastball to both sides. I really liked his mound presence."
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
20
20
7
2
0
3.21
106.2
89
42
38
9
39
103 .226
 
6. Carlos Carrasco, rhp, Reading (Phillies)
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 215 Age: 21 Signed: Venezuela '03
Carrasco threw 70 innings with Reading in 2007, and he was better for the experience. He still didn't dominate the league, and in the words of one manager, he still had a tendency to "fold up" in stressful situations. Yet scouts and managers and scouts liked his combination of size, athleticism and stuff.

Carrasco reaches 95 mph with his fastball but has more control and life when he keeps it down around 92. He needs to pitch off his heater more often, however. His changeup remains an average-to-plus pitch with nasty sink and makes him more effective against lefthanders than righties.

He worked to improve his direction to the plate, smoothing out his delivery a bit and aiding his command. Carrasco's curveball also improved and grades out as solid-average.

Scouts agreed that he made "tons of progress." But one NL scout added, "He needs to use his fastball more; it's a good fastball and he doesn't pitch off it enough."
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
20
19
7
7
0 4.32
114.2
109
58
55
13
45
109
.254
 
7. Fernando Martinez, of, Binghamton (Mets)
B-T: L-R Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 190 Age: 19 Signed: Dominican Republic '05
Martinez continues to elicit a range of reactions. He played his second season in the EL as a teenager, hit for average and did a better job of making use of his raw power. He was more consistent, particularly in center field, where he has solid-average range and a decent arm.

Still, some managers and scouts have their doubts. One AL scout called him a below-average runner with a tweener profile, lacking the impact bat for an outfield corner. A manager who said he liked Martinez's bat last year believed that he'd lost some explosiveness in his swing.

"I like him a lot better than I did last year," one AL scout summarized, "but he's not Carlos Beltran."
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
352
48
101
19
4
8
43
27
73 6
2
.287 .340 .432
 
8. J.P. Arencibia, c, New Hampshire (Blue Jays)
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 215 Age: 22 Signed: Blue Jays '07 (1)
Arencibia had little trouble jumping to Double-A in the second half of his first full season. He showed his power-and-defense combination right away in the EL, with three doubles and two home runs in his first week. He also threw out his first basestealer and 34 percent overall.

The biggest knock against Arencibia is his overly aggressive offensive approach. He'll also need to polish his receiving skills after committing 33 passed balls in his first 159 pro games.

"He's outstanding defensively and he's going to catch in the big leagues," an AL scout said. "He threw as easily as anyone I saw all year— easy, accurate and strong. He gave away a lot of at-bats when I saw him, but the bat will play."
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
262
32
74
14
0
14
43
7
55
0
0
.282 .302 .496
 
9. Daniel Bard, rhp, Portland (Red Sox)
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 195 Age: 23 Drafted: Red Sox '06 (1)
Bard was a starter in college and during his disastrous pro debut in 2007, when he posted a 7.08 ERA at two Class A stops. He started to right himself last offseason in Hawaii Winter Baseball, working with pitching coach Mike Cather, and reunited with Cather at Portland this season. The Red Sox used Bard in longer stints as a middle reliever for most of the season and he dominated, and he showed he could handle closing in the season's final month.

Bard averaged 11.6 strikeouts per nine innings, gave up just three home runs and had more than two groundouts for every fly out. He was unhittable when his stuff was down in the zone, and he was the league's hardest thrower, regularly hitting 99-100 mph. Even with his velocity, he has to keep his fastball and hard slider down because his delivery lacks deception.

"He's sitting at 97 mph with his four-seamer, and his two-seamer is sitting around 92," said New Hampshire manager Gary Cathcart. "He was throwing an 80 mph hard breaking ball for strikes and commanding it." Connecticut manager Bien Figueroa added, "When he's throwing strikes, he's got better stuff than (Jonathan) Papelbon."
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
31
0
4
1
7
1.99
49.2
30 14
11
3 26 64
.173
 
10. Austin Jackson, of, Trenton (Yankees)
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 185 Age: 21 Drafted: Yankees '05 (8)
Jackson finished last season with Trenton in the EL playoffs and helped the Thunder win the league title again this year, earning postseason MVP honors. Several managers cited him as one of the league's most feared clutch hitters, while also acknowledging his tools, which grade out as average across the board.

While the former Georgia Tech basketball recruit has obvious athleticism, he isn't a classic five-tool player who makes it all look easy. Observers disagree about his running speed—one scout called him fringe average with poor running mechanics, and some scouts consider Jackson a tweener, while others believe he's a solid center fielder with average speed and an average-to-plus arm.

"He has a flair for the dramatic," Portland manager Arnie Beyeler said. "He makes every big play and gets every big hit. If he's a tweener, give me three of them for my outfield and I'll win."
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
520
75
148
33
5
9
69
56
113
19 6
.285 .354 .419
 
11. David Huff, lhp, Akron (Indians)
B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 190 Age: 24 Drafted: Indians '06 (1s)
Huff pitched just 59 innings in his first full pro season before elbow soreness shut him down in May 2007. He made up for lost time this year by logging 146 innings and finishing the season in Triple-A. He thrived by showing the ability to throw four pitches for strikes.

Huff's best pitch is his changeup, and his fastball sits at 87-91 mph, touching 92. He also throws a curveball and slider, both of which improved this season. His superior fastball velocity gave him an edge over former Akron teammate Scott Lewis, who pitched 14 scoreless innings over his first two big league starts in September.

"I like how he pitches inside to both sides of the plate," said Leiper, whose Altoona club faced Huff four times in April and May. "He pays attention to details and makes in-game adjustments."
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
11 10
5
1
0
1.92
65.2
44
17
14
5
14
62
.189
 
12. Jose Tabata, of, Trenton (Yankees)/Altoona (Pirates)
B-T: R-R Ht.: 5-11 Wt.: 160 Age: 20 Signed: Venezuela '05
No player in the EL generated more split opinion than Tabata, who had a miserable first half with Trenton. He seemed overmatched by Double-A pitching and was disciplined twice for detrimental content. Scouts derided him for his lack of hustle and general negative body language, and many thought he couldn't handle the pressure of being a top Yankees prospect.

Then he went to the Pirates in a deal for Damaso Marte and Xavier Nady. After missing a month with a hamstring injury, Tabata returned in August with Altoona and went on a season-ending tear that salvaged his season. Managers who saw him in the final month raved about his tools (including average to a tick above-average speed), emerging power, hustle and even his defense, as he played well in center field. "He drives it and he's not a hacker," Beyeler said.

"He really benefited from the hamstring injury," Leiper said. "It allowed him to step away and get back to basics. He showed an advanced approach. You can't really go to the same spot against him too much. He's just a real good hitter."
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
383
56
104
15
2
6
49
34
67
18 2
.272 .339 .368
 
13. Daniel Murphy, 3b/of, Binghamton (Mets)
B-T: L-R Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 210 Age: 23 Drafted: Mets '06 (13)
Scouts agree with the shorthand assessment of Murphy's Binghamton manager, Mako Oliveras: "He's a grinder who can hit." Murphy has hit at every level, a trend that continued in the EL and again after his big league promotion.

He does it with a polished gameplan and excellent two-strike approach. He has advanced offensive instincts that also translate onto the basepaths, where his average speed plays up, and his selectivity gives him average power.

He's less capable defensively, though he's decent at third base. He volunteered for left field and second-base duty, taking on extra work before games to work on the new positions. Scouts don't consider him capable of handling second base consistently, but he should continue to hit enough to fit in left field for New York long-term. He's headed to the Arizona Fall League to work on his play at second.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
357
56
110
26
1
13
67
39
46
14
5
.308 .374 .496
 
14. Lou Marson, c, Reading (Phillies)
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 200 Age: 22 Drafted: Phillies '04 (4)
Marson and Reading teammate Jason Donald were two of the dozen position players who played for USA Baseball's bronze-medal Olympic team. Donald's tools are solid and he's a prospect in his own right, but most scouts see him as best-suited for a utility role. They project Marson as an everyday player thanks to his athleticism, offensive ability and defensive skills behind the plate.

His biggest asset is his bat. Marson has gap power, excellent strike-zone judgment (he led the EL with a .433 on-base percentage) and a feel for hitting.

The biggest issue for Marson is his arm strength, which is fringy at best. He compensates for it with a quick release and accuracy, and threw out 36 percent of EL basestealers. He's a capable receiver and an intelligent player who keeps getting better at handling pitchers and running a staff.

"He's just a very solid player with a very solid approach to the game," Akron manager Mike Sarbaugh said. "He catches a good game and he can hit."
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
322
55
101
18
0
5
46
68
70 3
3
.314 .433 .416
 
15. Michael Bowden, rhp, Portland (Red Sox)
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 215 Age: 22 Signed: Red Sox '05 (1s)
Bowden doesn't have the loud tools that some of his Portland teammate flashed, such as Anderson, Bard and Justin Masterson (who left the EL too soon to qualify for this list). Instead, Bowden navigated Double-A in steady fashion, going 9-4, 2.33 in 19 starts before moving on to Triple-A at age 21. He won his first big league start in August.

While he's still doesn't have textbook mechanics, Bowden shortened his arm action a bit in the back, which in turn made it easier for him to repeat his delivery. That produced improved command, especially to the bottom of the strike zone, which scouts grade as solid average.

Bowden's 89-92 mph fastball, curveball and changeup all rate as average pitches. His delivery adds deception and helps him get a lot of swings and misses. Scouts and managers had a consensus that Bowden profiled as a No. 3 or No. 4 starter, but Beyeler, who managed him, doesn't see why he should be limited.

"You look up makeup in the dictionary, and his picture's next to it," Beyeler said. "He has a drive and desire that allow him to get after it every day. That's why he was the No. 1 pitcher in this league the first half of the season."
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
19
19
9
4
0
2.33
104.1
72
31
27
5
24
101
.192
 
16. Wes Hodges, 3b, Akron (Indians)
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 180 Age: 24 Drafted: Indians '06 (2)
Hodges long has been known as a player with a knack for hitting, such as when he taught himself to hit lefthanded after breaking his hand during his senior year in high school. After a strong three-year career at Georgia Tech, Hodges hit well again in his first year in Double-A, leading the EL for 97 RBIs. He showed a feel for the barrel and the ability to square up good pitching, and he has above-average raw power.

Scouts agreed, however, that Hodges has become a below-average defender at third base. He made 28 errors, due mostly to poor footwork that led to errant throws. One AL scout didn't like his body language and lack of defensive confidence

"He has throwing issues and he may have lost some life in his lower half," an NL scout said, citing a leg injury that hampered Hodges in 2006. "I think he's better suited at first base, but he's going to be an offensive player. He could be an Aaron Boone kind of hitter."
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
504
70
146
29
3
18
97
52
105
3 1
.290 .354 .466
 
17. Brett Cecil, lhp, New Hampshire (Blue Jays)
B-T: R-L Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 220 Age: 22 Signed: Blue Jays '07 (1s)
Cecil and Daniel Moskos were the top two closers in the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2007, and both have become starting pitchers in pro ball. While Moskos, the fourth overall pick last year, had an awful year in the high Class A Carolina League, Cecil started in high A, pitched the bulk of his year in the EL and finished up in Triple-A. He could follow David Bush and Shaun Marcum as college closers that the Blue Jays have turned into effective starters.

"I liked him so much as a reliever as an amateur, and I think I may be in the minority because I still think he'd be better in the bullpen," an AL scout said. "His fastball was solid average when I saw him, 87-91 mph, and touches plus. His slider's still his best pitch, still a plus pitch, and he threw some solid curves too. To me, the fastball plays up in the bullpen, and his slider's a real swing-and-miss pitch."
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
18
18
6
2
0
2.55
77.2
66
24
22
4
23
87
.227
 
18. Jonathon Niese, lhp, Binghamton (Mets)
B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 215 Age: 21 Drafted: Mets '05 (7)
Niese finished the season trying to plug a hole in the Mets rotation, and he turned in eight scoreless innings against the Braves in his second start. Scouts project him as fourth or fifth starter in the short run, and as a No. 3 or 4 starter as he gains savvy and experience.

He made significant progress with the consistent quality of his overall stuff this season, pitching inside well with an 88-92 mph fastball that has cutting action. He commanded the pitch well, allowing him to handle righthanders. His best pitch remains his curveball, which comes at a 12-to-6 break from his straight-over-the-top delivery.

Some scouts were concerned with his delivery, as he lands with an open front shoulder and leans back in pronounced fashion toward third base. The delivery hinders Niese's control, though he has developed a slider that acts like a cutter to gives him another pitch he can throw for strikes.

"It's a funky delivery," an AL scout said, "but it's deceptive and helps him."
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
22
22
6 7
0
3.04
124.1
118
53
42
5
44
112
.253
 
19. Pablo Sandoval, c/1b, Connecticut (Giants)
B-T: B-R Ht.: 5-11 Wt.: 245 Age: 22 Signed: Venezuela '03
The Giants have liked Sandoval's swing for years, but until 2008, he never had gotten past Class A. After tearing up the California League for three months, he arrived in the EL in late June and left for the majors in mid-August. With a strong, compact frame and a powerful, short stroke from both sides of the plate, he produced at all three stops.

"He can really, really hit," an AL scout said. "I saw him again at the Futures Game, and he fit right in with the better hitters there."

He has a strong arm, but the scouts contacted for this list who had seen Sandoval catch didn't believe he could play there regularly in the major leagues. Two managers said Sandoval had problems just physically squatting behind the plate, while two AL scouts both used the same cliché: "He can't catch a cold."

Interestingly, Sandoval is an ambidextrous thrower with nearly as much arm strength throwing lefthanded as he has righthanded. He would profile better defensively at first base if he moved there and focused on throwing with his left hand. He has seen time at both corner infield positions.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
175
29
59
13
0
8
37 8
20
0
1
.337 .364 .549
 
20. Greg Golson, of, Reading (Phillies)
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 190 Age: 23 Drafted: Phillies '04 (1)
No one in the league, save Erie's Wilkin Ramirez, had tools that could compare to Golson's across the board. Both Ramirez and Golson struck out at least 100 times more than they walked, calling their hitting ability into question. Golson's struggles have gone on since he was a first-round pick in 2004, but scouts who have seen him throughout his pro career have discerned slow, steady improvement in his pitch recognition and ability to lay off breaking balls outside the strike zone.

While Ramirez has more hitting ability now, Golson's other tools give him the edge as a prospect, as he has much more defensive value. Golson's power plays as average even with his low contact rate, and he's a well above-average runner with excellent outfield range and a plus arm. Managers rated him as the EL's most exciting player.

"He swings like Ron Gant," Oliveras said. "If he learns to hit breaking balls, look out."
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
426
64
120
18 4
13
60
34
130
23
5
.282 .333 .434