League Top 20 Prospects

Gulf Coast League Top 20 Prospects With Scouting Reports

Bethancourt stands out among GCL stars




FIVE YEARS AGO
(Click here for the complete list)
1. Luis Soto, ss, Red Sox
2. Gaby Hernandez, rhp, Mets
3. *Greg Golson, of, Phillies
4. Kyle Waldrop, rhp, Twins
5. *Neil Walker, c, Pirates
6. Christian Garcia, rhp, Yankees
7. Marcos Vecchionacci, 3b, Yankees
8. Jay Rainville, rhp, Twins
9. Christian Lara, ss, Red Sox
10. Greg Burns, of, Marlins
*Has played in major leagues.
As usual, the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League was filled with young, raw prospects who flashed impressive tools but still needed plenty of seasoning. International position players dominated our GCL Top 20 list, starting with Braves catcher Christian Bethancourt, Yankees outfielder Kelvin DeLeon and Red Sox outfielder Reymond Fuentes.

Bethancourt, a Panamanian, was the top catcher on the international market in 2008, while DeLeon signed for $1.1 million out of the Dominican Republic in 2007. Fuentes, a Puerto Rican, was subject to the draft, and Boston selected him 28th overall in June.

The Phillies have an affinity for signing raw athletes who offer projection but require plenty of polish, so it was no surprise that they led all organizations with four players on our GCL list: righthander Jarred Cosart, first baseman Jonathan Singleton, outfielder Domingo Santana and shortstop Jonathan Villar. Philadelphia's top pick (second round) in the 2009 draft, outfielder Kelly Dugan, didn't make the Top 20 but showed some potential as a switch-hitter with a solid frame and average speed.

Several 2009 draftees played well in the GCL but didn't log enough playing time to qualify for our rankings. Yankees catcher J.R. Murphy (second round), Pirates righthander Trent Stevenson (seventh) and Orioles lefty Aaron Wirsch (seventh) fell into that group.

1. Christian Bethancourt, c, Braves
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 175 Age: 17 Signed: Panama '08
Four years after Bethancourt starred for Panama in the 2004 Little League World Series, he signed for $600,000. He played well offensively and defensively in the GCL, then performed just as well after a promotion to the Rookie-advanced Appalachian League, where he helped Danville win the championship.

Bethancourt is a bit of a free swinger, but he has a short stroke and looks like he'll develop some power. He's starting to add strength, adding 15 pounds in the last year to now carry 175 on his 6-foot-2 frame. He's athletic for a catcher but not an asset on the basepaths.

He has good hands and a plus arm behind the plate, though his receiving needs some polishing. Bethancourt caught only 27 percent of basestealers, but the blame lies mostly with the GCL Braves' pitchers, because he consistently displays 1.8 pop times on throws to second.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
116 22 33 9 1 2 19 11 22 22 7 .284 .344 .431
 
2. Kelvin De Leon, of, Yankees
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 180 Age: 18 Signed: Dominican Republic '07
When DeLeon signed for $1.1 million two years ago, he gave $100,000 to his signing scouts, Carlos Rios and Ramon Valdivia. The Yankees since have fired the scouts, but DeLeon is making good on the investment so far. He ranked fourth in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer league with nine homers in his 2008 pro debut and third in the GCL with seven homers this summer.

DeLeon has a short, quick swing and is making strides with his strike-zone discipline, a point of emphasis for him. He has obvious power to his pull side but can drive the ball the other way as well.

"He knows how to hit," Blue Jays manager John Schneider said. "He hunts for his pitch. If it's a fastball count, he doesn't miss. I didn't want any part of him."

A lean, athletic 6-foot-2, 180-pounder, DeLeon runs well. He has average defensive tools with a strong arm in right field, though he's still learning to harness his arm strength and align his throws with the cutoff man.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
201 28 54 13 0 7 31 16
61 5 1 .269 .330 .438
 
3. Reymond Fuentes, of, Red Sox
B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 160 Age: 18 Drafted: Red Sox '09 (1)
The 28th overall pick in the 2009 draft, Fuentes signed quickly for $1.134 million and was on the field impressing managers less than a month after the Red Sox selected him. He's a cousin of Carlos Beltran and has similar athleticism, if not yet the same power. Fuentes hits line drives with authority to all fields thanks to his flat swing path and exceptional bat-to-ball skills, then uses his well above-average speed.

In center field, Fuentes' quickness allows him to easily track down fly balls, and he has an average arm. He needs work on some baserunning nuances and on managing his at-bats a little better, but that should come as he continues to gain more pro experience. One manager said Fuentes also could improve reading the ball off the bat.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
145 16 42 6 2 1 14 7 24 9 5 .290 .331 .379
 
4. Jarred Cosart, rhp, Phillies
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 180 Age: 19 Drafted: Phillies '08 (38)
Cosart fell to the 38th round of the 2008 draft after asking for third-round money, and the Phillies signed him late in the summer for $550,000. Though he broke Jay Buhner's Clear Creek High (League City, Texas) record for batting average with a .506 mark as a senior, Philadelphia was more interested in Cosart's loose, quick arm that produced mid-90s fastballs.

Cosart made his pro debut this summer while battling minor shoulder issues. He didn't have any trouble dominating GCL hitters with a fastball that sat at 93-94 mph and a true 12-to-6 curveball. He has a lean 6-foot-3, 180-pound build and works from a three-quarters arm slot.

He's still learning to throw a changeup. Other than that, he simply needs more experience and consistency.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
7 5 2 2 0 2.22 24 12 8 6 0 7 25 .143
 
5. Carlos Perez, c, Blue Jays
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 193 Age: 18 Signed: Venezuela '08
Like Bethancourt, Perez shows the potential to become an all-around catcher. He has a consistent approach at the plate and keeps his bat in the strike zone for a long time. More of a contact hitter at this point, he should develop some gap-to-gap power once he learns to better incorporate his lower half in his swing. He has good plate discipline for a youngster and doesn't panic with two strikes.

Defense is where Perez really shines. He consistently posts 1.9-second pop times and led all GCL catchers by throwing out 49 percent of basestealers. His receiving improved significantly this year, and his blocking skills also have gotten better. He's a good runner for a catcher and smart on the bases.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
138 17 40 11 3 1 20 15 23 2 5 .290 .361 .435
 
6. Adrian Salcedo, rhp, Twins
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 175 Age: 18 Signed: Dominican Republic '07
The Twins led the GCL with a 2.47 ERA, and B.J. Hermsen and Salcedo were two big reasons why. A lanky 18-year-old, Salcedo posted a 1.46 ERA and 58-3 K-BB ratio in 62 innings. Early on, he tried to strike everyone out, but Twins manager Jake Mauer said Hermsen's approach of attacking hitters rubbed off on Salcedo.

Salcedo has a loose arm that generates a 90-94 mph fastball with late, sinking movement that results in groundouts. He also mixes in a hard breaking ball that sits at 84-85 mph and he maintains good arm speed with it, making it a nasty offering. His changeup also has potential, as it features good deception and fade.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
11 10 3 2 0 1.46 62 59 25 10 1 3 58 .237
 
7. Jonathan Singleton, 1b, Phillies
B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 215 Age: 17 Drafted: Phillies '09 (8)
In high school, Singleton drew the attention of scouts with his raw power and sweet swing. He dropped to the eighth round in the 2009 draft, where the Phillies nabbed him for $200,000, because the results didn't quite match the tools.

That wasn't a problem in the GCL, where he took a balanced approach at the plate and made consistent hard contact. He walked (18) more than he struck out (13 times in 100 at-bats) and showed the ability to hit the ball to all fields with backspin. He's also a very good defender at first base and runs well for a 6-foot-2, 215-pounder.

"He has a great idea at the plate," Phillies manager Roly de Armas said. "He's the best young hitter I've had out of high school."
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
100 12 29 9 0 2 12 18 13 1 0 .290
.395 .440
 
8. Destin Hood, of, Nationals
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 225 Age: 19 Drafted: Nationals '08 (2)
A raw, athletic two-sport prospect, Hood signed for $1.1 million in 2008 instead of heading to Alabama for football. He was a shortstop in high school but moved to left field as soon as he arrived in the GCL last season. He returned and tore up the league for a month this summer before earning a promotion to the short-season New York-Penn League.

Hood has tremendous bat speed, giving him above-average raw power, and he has adopted a more balanced approach after getting out on his front too often in his pro debut. He also has added strength and now carries 225 pounds on his 6-foot-1 frame.

Hood is an average runner but is limited to left field because of his below-average arm. He has improved his jumps and routes on fly balls, and continues to work on his arm strength.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
88 18 29 10 3 3 24 8 19 3 0 .330 .388 .614
 
9. Tanner Bushue, rhp, Astros
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 180 Age: 18 Drafted: Astros '09 (2)
Bushue pitched his way into the second round with a strong predraft workout for the Astros. He signed quickly for $530,000 and made a smooth transition to pro ball before back problems ended his debut at the end of July. His health isn't a long-term concern, however, and he was expected to participate in instructional league.

An athletic 6-foot-4, 180-pounder who also starred in basketball in high school, he repeats his low-effort delivery with ease. He holds his 89-90 mph fastball into the late innings and peaks at 93, and there's reason to believe there's more velocity in his projectable frame.

Bushue also throws an average curveball and messed around with a slider in high school. Like most high school pitchers, he'll need to develop a changeup to advance as a starter.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
5 5 1 0 0 2.42
22 18 8 6 2   5
19 .220
 
10. Domingo Santana, of, Phillies
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-5 Wt.: 200 Age: 17 Signed: Dominican Republic '09
Though he was eligible to sign when he turned 16 in August 2008, Santana didn't turn pro until the Phillies landed him for a $330,000 bonus in March. His most obvious attribute is power, as he has raw strength and a huge 6-foot-5, 200-pound frame. He homered six times in 118 at-bats, and though he struck out 44 times, he cut down on his whiffs as the season progressed.

"The ball comes off of his bat differently," Schneider said. "We've seen him hit some absolute bombs."

Santana's other plus tool is his arm, which fits nicely in right field. He's still learning the nuances of outfield defense, and he'll probably be a below-average runner once he fills out.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
118 17 34 6 1 6 28 15 44 3 1 .288 .388 .508
 
11. B.J. Hermsen, rhp, Twins
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-6 Wt.: 230 Age: 19 Drafted: Twins '08 (6)
Hermsen projected as a possible sandwich-round pick in 2008 before breaking his collarbone playing football. He fell to the Twins in the sixth round and didn't sign for $650,000 until August, so he made his pro debut in 2009.

Hermsen doesn't throw as hard as you might expect from a 6-foot-6, 230-pounder, but he commands his high-80s fastball to both sides of the plate. He also throws a slurvy breaking ball at 79 mph, and a 74-75 mph changeup with good sink and a little tailing action. While not overpowering, Hermsen has very good control and keeps the ball down in the zone, inducing a lot of grounders.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
10
10 6 2 0 1.35 53 32 12 8 0 4 42 .171
 
12. Roman Mendez, rhp, Red Sox
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 195 Age: 17 Signed: Dominican Republic '07
Though he's still skinny at 6-foot-2 and 180 pound, Mendez has a power arm. He throws his fastball in the low 90s and ran it up to 96-97 mph in his final GCL outing.

Signed for $125,000 two years ago, Mendez has good control for a young pitcher and promising secondary pitches. His slider has nice tilt and sits in the low 80s, while his changeup is more of a work in progress.

"The slider is a strikeout pitch," Mauer said. "He sets it up with his fastball. It has good bite with good arm speed."
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
12
10 2 3 0 1.99 50
33 11 11 1 8 47 .184
 
13. Billy Hamilton, ss, Reds
B-T: B-R Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 160 Age: 18 Drafted: Reds '09 (2)
A Mississippi State football recruit, Hamilton gave up the gridiron for a $623,600 bonus after the Reds popped him in the second round in June. He never was a full-time baseball player in high school, so his skills are raw, and he hasn't faced great competition. That was evident in the GCL, where he struggled with plate discipline and offspeed pitches.

He's a true 70 runner on the 20-80 scouting scale and is learning to switch-hit to take advantage of his quickness. A natural righthander, he's gaining more confidence in his lefthanded swing. Not surprisingly, he does a better job of driving the ball from the right side.

Defensively, Hamilton has plus range and arm strength. He doesn't always get the most out of his arm because he throws from different angles. He led GCL shortstops with a .955 fielding percentage.

"He's trying to work on his footwork being more consistent," Reds manager Pat Kelly said. "He's made great strides and improved a lot. I've been impressed."
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
166 19 34 6 3 0 11 11 47 13 3 .205 .253 .277
 
14. Eury Perez, of, Nationals
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 180 Age: 19 Signed: Dominican Republic '07
Perez led the Nationals to the GCL championship, topping the league in batting (.381), on-base percentage (.443) and hits (69) while ranking second in runs (38) and third in steals (16). He has a quick bat and occasionally can put a charge into the ball, but his game is more centered on putting the ball in play and legging out hits. He fits the profile of a leadoff man with his plus-plus speed and ability to make contact, though he's still learning how to steal bases.

Perez covers tons of ground in center field. He played errorless ball in his U.S. debut and finished second with seven outfield assists, showing average arm strength and flashing a plus arm at times.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
181 38 69 3 5 3 24 15 20 16 8 .381 .443 .503
 
15. Brooks Pounders, rhp, Pirates
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 225 Age: 18 Drafted: Pirates '09 (2)
Scouts were split on Pounders when they watched him in high school this spring, as he has a big frame at 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds but not a big fastball. A second-rounder who signed for $670,000, he doesn't offer much projection either, though he does have an advanced feel for his secondary pitches.

Pounders' fastball typically sits at 89-92 mph, though it sometimes dips to 86. His 78-82 mph is his best secondary pitch and has good armside fade. He hasn't used his curveball much, but the Pirates think he has good feel for it and believe he'll be a big league starter with advanced feel and command of three pitches.

"He walked a couple guys the first time we saw him," Yankees manager Tom Slater said. "Since then, he's been really solid. He looks like a horse to me. He threw the ball well and he's not a max-effort guy."
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
9
4 2 2 0 3.04 24 19 11 8 1 11 20 .218
 
16. Yorman Rodriguez, of, Reds
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 180 Age: 17 Signed: Venezuela '08
A potential five-tool outfielder, Rodriguez signed for a Venezuelan-record $2.5 million bonus in 2008. He's very athletic with plus-plus speed and the ability to glide to balls in center field. He also shows an above-average arm with good accuracy, but the question is how much he'll hit.

Rodriguez's bat and instincts are raw, and he struggles to recognize pitches. He has some natural power but it has yet to translate into games. His weaknesses were exposed after his promotion to the Rookie-level Pioneer League, where he hit .219 and struck out 61 times in 183 at-bats.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
84 9 23 2 1 0 2 10 23 5 0 .274 .347 .321
 
17. Caleb Brewer, rhp, Braves
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 205 Age: 20 Drafted: Braves '07 (14)
The oldest player on this list at age 20, Brewer had a solid pro debut in the GCL as a 14th-round pick in 2007 but missed all of last season with a hip injury. In his return, he stayed healthy all summer and led the league with 65 strikeouts in 45 innings.

Though he was old for the GCL, Brewer's stuff warrants attention. He has a plus fastball that sits 91-93 and touches 95. He also is able to spin a nifty curveball, a true downer coming from an overhand arm slot. He delivers his pitches on a good angle to the plate and throws downhill.

Developing a changeup and locating his pitches are his main needs at this point. He ranked second in the league with 31 walks.

"When he has his command, he's tough to hit," Slater said. "He was a bear for us. It's a young arm that shows potential."
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
12 10
3 3 0 2.82 45 20 14 14 0 31 65 .132
 
18. Jonathan Villar, ss, Phillies
B-T: B-R Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 180 Age: 18 Signed: Dominican Republic '08
After including Jason Donald in the Cliff Lee trade with the Indians this summer, the Phillies may have a similar player in the making in Villar. Signed for $105,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2008, Villar is a line-drive hitter with some gap power. He has a mature frame for an 18-year-old, playing at 6-foot-1 and 180 pounds.

Villar is an average runner out of the batter's box and better underway, and his instincts give him the ability to steal a few bases. He swiped six in his first six games after a promotion to the New York-Penn League. He has solid range, soft hands and a strong arm at shortstop.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
94
14 26 7 1 0 14 13 24 11 2 .277 .364
.372
 
19. Melvin Mercedes, rhp, Tigers
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 190 Age: 18 Signed: Dominican Republic '08
Mercedes led the GCL with 16 saves in 19 opportunities despite battling some command issues that made things interesting. He worked with two potential plus pitches, a heavy 92-93 mph fastball that touches 95 and a true slider with depth and tilt.

Mercedes had the resilience to pitch on consecutive days and recover quickly from bad outings. If he can do a better job of throwing strikes and locating his pitches, he has a future as a late-inning reliever.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
26
0 1 1 16 1.82 25 19 9 5 0 14 20 .221
 
20. Daniel Tuttle, rhp, Reds
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 175 Age: 19 Drafted: Reds '09 (5)
Tuttle bounced back from a serious car accident that nearly killed him at age 12 to go in the fourth round of the 2009 draft, signing for $200,000. After pitching at 90-93 mph and touching 97 as a high school senior, he worked at 89-91 mph and peaked at 94 in his pro debut. Though his velocity was down, he did show good armside run on his fastball.

Tuttle's secondary pitches are a sweeping breaking ball and a changeup, both of which need refinement. He's also searching for a consistent release point in order to improve his command.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
9
7 1 2 0 1.67 32 32 14 6 1 10 30 .258