League Top 20 Prospects

Pacific Coast League Top 20 Prospects With Scouting Reports

Colby Rasmus' stats don't impress, but his tools do




FIVE YEARS AGO
(Click here for the complete list)
1. *Rich Harden, rhp, Sacramento (Athletics)
2. *Rafael Soriano, rhp, Tacoma (Mariners)
3. *Bobby Crosby, ss, Sacramento (Athletics)
4. *Jerome Williams, rhp, Fresno (Giants)
5. *Jason Bay, of, Portland (Padres)
6. *Khalil Green, ss, Portland (Padres)
7. *Chad Tracy, 3b, Tucson (Diamondbacks)
8. *Garrett Atkins, 3b, Colorado Springs (Rockies)
9. *Jason Young, rhp, Colorado Springs (Rockies)
10. *Ryan Ludwick, of, Oklahoma (Rangers)
*Has played in major leagues.
This year's Triple-A Pacific Coast League Top 20 Prospects list looks a lot like last year's Double-A Texas League rankings. Outfielders Colby Rasmus (Memphis) and Chase Headley (Portland) ranked 1-2 on both lists and a total of nine players appeared on both Top 20s, including five of the seven best prospects in the TL from 2007.

The Top 20 also includes five familiar faces from last year's PCL rankings. Salt Lake shortstop Brandon Wood, Colorado Springs third baseman Ian Stewart and Las Vegas third baseman Andy LaRoche all cracked the top 10 on both lists. Tacoma catcher Jeff Clement and outfielder Wladimir Balentien joined them this year after ranking on the back half of the 2007 Top 20.

Most of the PCL's top offensive prospects enjoyed very productive seasons, while several of the most gifted arms struggled. After having little difficulty in the lower minors, Salt Lake's Nick Adenhart and Colorado Springs' Franklin Morales and Greg Reynolds got hammered in the majors and failed to get back on track in Triple-A.

Las Vegas second baseman Blake DeWitt would have factored prominently in the rankings had he not spent much more time in the majors and fallen just short of qualifying. Tacoma outfielder Michael Saunders also would have made a run at the Top 20 if he hadn't spent August with the Canadian Olympic team.

1. Colby Rasmus, of, Memphis (Cardinals)
B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 195 Age: 22 Drafted: Cardinals '05 (1)
Colby Rasmus
One of the top prospects in the game, Rasmus batted just .214/.313/.345 in the first two months but was starting to come around before straining his groin and later spraining his left knee in July. The injuries ended his season in the PCL and cost him a spot on the U.S. Olympic team.

Rasmus creates good leverage in his swing and was able to hit for power even when he wasn't going well at the plate. He has a good eye at the plate and he's an adept basestealer as well. With plus speed, he easily chases balls down in center field, and he complements his range with a strong arm.

The tools are all there for Rasmus, and he just needs a little more time to refine them. Noted in the past as both streaky and a slow starter, he took his lumps early as veteran Triple-A pitchers took advantage of his inexperience. But he played all season at 21, so he's well ahead of the normal development path.

AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
331
56
83
15
0
11
36
49
72
15
3
.251 .346 .396
 
2. Chase Headley, of/3b, Portland (Padres)
B-T: B-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 230 Age: 24 Drafted: Padres '05 (2)
One year after decimating the Texas League, Headley took a month to adjust to Triple-A and then did much the same in the PCL. After his big league promotion in mid-June, he was one of the few bright spots in the Padres' lineup.

Headley draws raves for his approach and consistency at the plate, looking for a pitch he can pound and accepting a walk if he doesn't get it. He uses the whole field and offers power from both sides of the plate. He's not immune to chasing pitches—and he expanded his strike zone in his first extended stint in the majors—but pitchers have to get ahead of him as he can hit anything over the plate.

Third base remains Headley's natural position, but he played left field all season because San Diego has Kevin Kouzmanoff at the hot corner; he lacks the speed be an above-average outfielder, but his arm is solid and he has the work ethic to improve.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
259
49
79
24
1
13
40
31
65
0
0
.305 .383 .556
 
3. Max Scherzer, rhp, Tucson (Diamondbacks)
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 215 Age: 24 Drafted: Diamondbacks '06 (1)
The most dominant starter in the league, Scherzer struck out 29 and didn't allow an earned run over 17 innings in his first three outings. He was just as overpowering in his big league debut in late April, pitching 4 1⁄3 perfect innings while fanning seven Astros.

Scherzer has tremendous arm strength, allowing him to fire 95-98 mph four-seam fastballs that jump out of his hand and bore in on righthanders. He also has a 92-93 mph two-seamer. His slider has some tilt but flattens out at times. His changeup has some sink and fade, though it probably will be average at best.

Some scouts see Scherzer being more effective as a short reliever because of his violent delivery and inconsistent secondary pitches. He had success in both roles with the Diamondbacks.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
13 10
1
1
0
2.72
53
35
19
16
2
22
79
.182
 
4. Brandon Wood, ss/3b, Salt Lake (Angels)
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 190 Age: 23 Drafted: Angels '03 (1)
Wood had a so-so season (by his lofty standards) in the PCL in 2007, and he slumped at midseason before hitting .333 with 18 homers over the final two months. But he failed to control the strike zone in three separate trips to the majors, getting regular playing time only when injuries riddled the Angels at shortstop.

Wood's best tool is undoubtedly his power. He's a great mistake hitter and can hit the ball out of any part of any park. However, he still has trouble laying off breaking pitches and he still strikes out too much. He'll probably never hit for a high average in the majors and often gets too pull-conscious.

After converting to third base in 2007, Wood went back to shortstop this year, the position he'd played his entire career. He has good instincts and enough range and arm strength to stay at short. He's an average runner.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
395
82
117
21
2 31
84
45
104
6
5
.296 .375 .595
 
5. Carlos Gonzalez, of, Sacramento (Athletics)
B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 200 Age: 22 Signed: Venezuela '02
One of many top prospects to join the Athletics via trade in the last year, Gonzalez was part of the Dan Haren deal with the Diamondbacks. He didn't stay in Sacramento long, earning a ticket to the major leagues before the end of May. He returned to the River Cats at the end of the season and hit .406 in the PCL playoffs to help the River Cats win their fourth straight championship.

Gonzalez hits line drives from gap to gap with an easy swing that generates plenty of pop. He should develop more power as he improves his selectivity. He has the speed to steal bases, though he has been fairly conservative throughout his career.

Primarily a right fielder in 2007, when he played alongside Justin Upton in Double-A, he handled a shift to center field well this year. He takes good routes to balls and has a strong arm.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
173
23
49
9
1
4
28
16
35
1
1
.283 .344 .416
 
6. Jeff Clement, c, Tacoma (Mariners)
B-T: L-R Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 215 Age: 25 Drafted: Mariners '05 (1)
Clement rolled through the Mariners system, making his Triple-A debut in 2006, barely a year after being drafted. He had to bide his time for much of three seasons in Tacoma before Seattle gave him a shot to play regularly in the majors this June. He injured his left knee in September, requiring arthroscopic knee surgery that ended his season.

Clement decimated PCL pitching while waiting for his shot this year. Power is his calling card, but he also has matured as a hitter and uses the entire field. He continued improving his eye at the plate and waited for pitches he could drive.

He's a tireless worker, but scouts still doubt his defensive future and foresee him moving to first base. His throwing arm, receiving skills and agility are average at best, and he threw out just 22 percent of PCL basestealers. As usual for a catcher, he's a below-average runner.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
172
40
58
17
0
14
43
35
29
0
0
.337 .457 .680
 
7. Ian Stewart, 3b, Colorado Springs (Rockies)
B-T: L-R Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 205 Age: 23 Drafted: Rockies '03 (1)
Stewart's second trip through the PCL saw him increase his power output. He struggled following a callup in mid-May but fared much better after Todd Helton's strained back created an opening for him in the Rockies' lineup.

His power is legitimate, and Stewart hit more PCL homers this year on the road (13) than at home (six), despite playing his home games in Colorado Springs' Security Service Field, one of the minors' most hitter-friendly environments. He has a good idea of the strike zone, but his swing gets too long with too much uppercut at times, leaving him vulnerable to inside pitches.

Stewart's bat profiles at third base and he's a capable defender there, but his future at the position remains uncertain unless Colorado trades Garrett Atkins. Stewart has seen some time at second base, though his quickness and actions are lacking there.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
257
65
72
15
6
19
57
34
66
7
2
.280 .372 .607
 
8. Gio Gonzalez, lhp, Sacramento (Athletics)
B-T: R-L Ht.: 5-11 Wt.: 185 Age: 22 Drafted: White Sox '04 (1s)
Another trade acquisition by the A's, Gonzalez led the minors in strikeouts in 2007 before becoming part of the Nick Swisher deal with the White Sox. Despite being the second-youngest regular starter in the league at age 22, he led the PCL in whiffs per nine innings (9.4) and earned his first big league promotion in August.

Gonzalez is best known for his sharp curveball, which he commanded better late in the season. He also has a lively fastball that usually clocked in at 90-93 mph, but the pitch that made the biggest difference for him was his changeup. He began throwing it more once he realized how effective it could be, keeping hitters off balance and not allowing them to sit on his other two pitches. His biggest weakness is his spotty command, which was exposed in his first taste of the majors. Nevertheless, he has the stuff and mound presence to become a No. 2 starter.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
23
22
8
7
0
4.24
123
106
65
58
12
61
128
.233
 
9. Andy LaRoche, 3b, Las Vegas (Dodgers)
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 225 Age: 24 Drafted: Dodgers '03 (39)
Fifth on this list in 2006 and fourth in 2007, LaRoche again produced strong numbers in his third trip through the PCL. But after the Dodgers acquired Casey Blake from the Indians to bolster their struggling offense, they sent LaRoche to the Pirates in the Manny Ramirez deal.

LaRoche has an exceptional knowledge of the strike zone, though sometimes he's too selective. He has plus raw power, but he sometimes gets too pull-conscious and lengthens his swing. Scouts aren't as high on his offensive potential as they once were, saying he's more likely to be a solid regular rather than a star.

LaRoche is a serviceable defender, though he needs to clean up his fundamentals. He has enough arm for third base, but his speed and range are below average.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
123
35
36
3
0
5
28
37
14
2
1
.293 .452 .439
 
10. Wladimir Balentien, of, Tacoma (Mariners)
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 215 Age: 24 Signed: Curacao '00
In his return to the PCL, Balentien showed his usual prodigious power and improved plate discipline. He may never hit for a high average because he'll lapse into an all-out approach and his pitch recognition wavers, but when he connects, few players can hit a ball farther.

Balentien has more tools, too. He has average speed and some basestealing instincts. He has plus arm strength, and PCL runners rarely challenged him after he racked up 15 assists last year. He covers enough ground in the outfield that he occasionally played center field in both Tacoma and Seattle.

His maturity is still a question mark, as he'll get lackadaisical and play below his tools at times. But the bottom line is that if he provides consistent power, he'll find a place in a big league lineup.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
230
48
61
20
0
17
54
32
48
3
4
.265 .352 .574
 
11. Sean Rodriguez, 2b, Salt Lake (Angels)
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 215 Age: 23 Drafted: Angels '03 (3)
A key component in Salt Lake's historic 23-2 run to start the season, Rodriguez slugged .567 in April and earned a ticket to the big leagues. He returned to Salt Lake in mid-June and proceeded to put up a scalding hot month of July, hitting .340/.398/.738 with 10 home runs and 26 RBIs.

Rodriguez packs a lot of power in his stocky 6-foot-1, 215-pound frame. Opposing mangers praised his toughness at the plate, his ability to foul off good pitches and always be a difficult out. He was more consistent and disciplined at the plate than he had been in the past.

Though he has below-average speed, Rodriguez has enough range to play second base and has developed into a reliable defender, committing just four errors in 66 games with the Bees. He has played every position but pitcher, catcher and first base as a pro, and could become an offensive-minded regular who shuttles among several spots, in the mold of Tony Phillips.

"We didn't expect the ball to come off his bat like it does," Tacoma manager Darren Brown said. "He looks like he's going to be a good player both defensively and offensively."
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
248
68
76
19
1
21
52
29
45
4
1
.306 .397 .645
 
12. Chris Perez, rhp, Springfield (Cardinals)
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 225 Age: 23 Drafted: Cardinals '06 (1s)
Perez took the fast track to the major leagues, reaching St. Louis less than two years after the Cardinals made him the 42nd overall pick of the 2006 draft. He dominated PCL hitters before his callup, holding them to a .190 average and stringing together 12 straight scoreless appearances in April and May.

Perez brings three potential plus offerings to the table, beginning with a 94-98 mph fastball that features natural sink. He complements it with a hard slider that might actually be his best pitch, and a curveball that also has plus potential. The Cardinals have little doubt that Perez has the stuff and mentality to become a big league closer.

Mechanical issues have plagued Perez in the past, hurting his command. He threw more strikes this year but still has room for more improvement. He has to make sure he stays on top of his pitches.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
26
0
1
1
11
3.20
25.1
18
9
9
3
12
38
.198
 
13. Nate Schierholtz, of, Fresno (Giants)
B-T: L-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 215 Age: 24 Drafted: Giants '03 (2)
Schierholtz has done nothing but hit at every level. He repeated Triple-A and produced stellar numbers for the second straight year, helping earn him a spot on the U.S. Olympic team. He also has hit well in short stints in the majors the last two seasons.

Schierholtz did a nice job of tailoring his approach this year, not trying to yank as many balls as he did in the lower minors and using the whole field more. Most of his power comes against righthanders, though he did hit .344 against lefties in Triple-A. He's more athletic than most 6-foot-2, 215-pounders, runs well enough to play center field in a pinch and can steal some bases.

"He's going to play good defense and throw the ball well and be a decent hitter, with a chance to be a good hitter," a scout with an American League team said. "I think there will be enough power there to go with everything else. I just like him. I think he can get better. He's a good competitor. He's a solid everyday right fielder, no more, no less."
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
350
62
112
22
10
18
73
21
51
9
3
.320 .363 .594
 
14. Bryan Anderson, c, Memphis (Cardinals)
B-T: L-R Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 200 Age: 21 Drafted: Cardinals '05  (4)
Anderson began the season with Double-A Springfield, but didn't stay long, earning a promotion before the end of April after hitting .388/.412/.525. He spent the rest of the year as the PCL's youngest regular at age 21, holding his own against veteran competition.

Anderson's mature approach served him well in Memphis. He did a good job of controlling the strike zone, staying inside the ball and spraying it to all fields. He might not hit for average power, but he should hit more homers as he matures physically. Another member of the new generation of athletic backstops, he runs well for a catcher.

Anderson draws praise for his game-calling and the work he puts in to learn his pitchers. His receiving skills still need work and are the biggest obstacle between him and the major leagues. His arm strength is serviceable, though he threw out 38 percent of basestealers this year, up from 27 percent in 2007.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
235
27
66
13
2
2
27
32
46
2
0
.281 .367 .379
 
15. Franklin Morales, lhp, Colorado Springs (Rockies)
B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 170 Age: 22 Signed: Venezuela '02
Morales was sensational in Colorado's run to the NL pennant in 2007, but this season wasn't as kind. He went 1-2, 6.39 in five April starts for the Rockies, earning a demotion, and never made it back to the majors. He had two PCL starts where he got touched for 10 or more runs and led the league with 82 walks, though he did make some progress after the all-star break.

Command issues have plagued Morales before, but rarely to the extent they did this year. A scout who saw him said he didn't appear to be injured or laboring, labeling his problems as mental.

His fastball was clocked at 87-91 mph early in the season but was back up to 90-93 with good deception in the second half. His curveball has the potential to give him a second plus pitch and his changeup has made progress. The raw stuff is still there, but he has to throw more strikes.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
21
21
10
5
0
5.47
110
108
72
67
14
82
83
.268
 
16. Jaime Garcia, lhp, Memphis (Cardinals)
B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 200 Age: 22 Drafted: Cardinals '05 (22)
Garcia started the season with Double-A Springfield but found himself in the big leagues by mid-July. A starter throughout his minor league career, he pitched primarily in middle relief for the Cardinals.

Garcia features a lively 88-92 mph four-seam fastball with some natural cutting action that helps him get a lot of groundballs. He mixes in a two-seamer with armside tail, and he complements his fastball with a plus 12-to-6 curveball that has good depth and bite. He has made progress with his changeup, but it still needs more consistency.

Garcia's command is generally solid but still has room for improvement. Lauded for his mound presence and showing maturity beyond his age, he has the potential to be a No. 3 starter.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
13
12
4
4
0
4.44
71
74
41
35
6
26
59
.270
 
17. Mitchell Boggs, rhp, Memphis (Cardinals)
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 215 Age: 24 Drafted: Cardinals '05 (5)
Boggs lacks the prospect profile of fellow Redbirds Garcia and Perez, despite having won the PCL's ERA title (3.45). He attacks hitters with two- and four-seam fastballs, usually operating in the low 90s and featuring good sink and natural cutting action. He isn't afraid to pitch inside and pounds both sides of the plate.

Boggs' sharp-breaking slider is an out pitch, and he improved his command of it this season. He also throws a changeup, but it's not as effective as his other offerings. Managers raved about his pitching IQ and he continued to live up to his reputation as an outstanding competitor.

A reliever in college, Boggs may yet wind up back in the bullpen if he doesn't refine his changeup so he can be more effective against lefthanders. He struggled in his first taste of the majors this summer, with big league lefties batting .321/.419/.641 against him.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
21
21
9
3
0
3.45
125.1
107
52
48
11
46
81
.235
 
18. Carlos Rosa, rhp, Omaha (Royals)
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 185 Age: 23 Signed: Dominican Republic '01
Rosa nearly jumped from high Class A in 2006 to the majors out of spring training in 2007. He has developed rapidly over the last two seasons, earning a brief big league callup in June, with the only roadblock a tender arm that caused the Royals to shut him down in mid-August as a precaution.

Rosa's fastball is his best weapon, usually sitting around 93 mph and topping out at 95-96 when he needs it. He generates good downward plane with his fastball and pounds the strike zone with it. He backs it up with a late-breaking 11-to-5 curveball, a hard slider and a changeup. The changeup showed improvement and was a big reason he was more effective against lefthanders than righthanders.

Though his season ended prematurely, the Royals don't believe he has any health concerns going forward because he throws with an easy motion. He has made a full recovery from Tommy John surgery in 2004.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
11
11
4
3
0
4.09
50.2
51
24
23
3
12
44
.267
 
19. Nick Adenhart, rhp, Salt Lake (Angels)
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 185 Age: 22 Drafted: Angels '04 (14)
Adenhart went 4-0, 0.87 in his first five Triple-A starts before the Angels made a much-debated decision to give him a big league start on only three days of rest. He lasted just two innings against the Athletics, got hit hard in two subsequent major league starts and then struggled for the remainder of the season in Triple-A.

When he's on, Adenhart pounds the lower half of the strike zone with a 90-94 mph fastball, a hard-breaking slider and a sinking changeup. Most PCL observers remained positive about his upside, even after his command deserted him when he came back from the majors.

Pitching in the altitude at Salt Lake's Covey Field didn't help him, but too often he simply wasn't able to execute enough pitches to get himself out of jams. One scout who saw Adenhart during his struggles said he needed to pitch to contact more, and that he got too predictable whenever he fell behind in the count.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
26
26
9
13
0
5.76
145.1
173
99
93
15
75
110
.306
 
20. Greg Reynolds, rhp, Colorado Springs (Rockies)
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-7 Wt.: 225 Age: 23 Drafted: Rockies '06 (1)
Drafted second overall in 2006—one pick ahead of Evan Longoria—Reynolds rebounded from rotator-cuff inflammation last year to make his major league debut this July. However, he went just 2-8, 8.31 with the Rockies, prompting questions as to whether his true ceiling is as a No. 4 or 5 starter, rather than a No. 3.

Reynolds' best asset is his athletic 6-foot-7 frame, which enables him to generate a good downhill plane for his pitches. He also repeats his delivery very easily for a pitcher his size. His fastball was clocked in the 88-91 mph range, down from the 91-93 mph velocity he had before his minor shoulder surgery last year.

Reynolds lacks a pitch that allows him to miss bats on a consistent basis. His curveball, a plus offering in the past, was viewed as only average this year, and his changeup was ordinary as well. Major leaguers hit .285 against him, and PCL hitters battered him at a staggering .328 clip.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
13
13
1
3
0
4.26
63.1
84
38
30
4
22
37
.328