League Top 20 Prospects

Florida State League Top 20 Prospects With Scouting Reports




FIVE YEARS AGO
(Click here for the complete list)
1. *Joel Guzman, ss, Vero Beach (Dodgers)
2. *Chad Billingsley, rhp, Vero Beach (Dodgers)
3. *Hanley Ramirez, ss, Sarasota (Red Sox)
4. *Scott Kazmir, lhp, St. Lucie (Mets)
5. *Scott Olsen, lhp, Jupiter (Marlins)
6. *Felix Pie, of, Daytona (Cubs)
7. *Mike Hinckley, lhp, Brevard County (Expos)
8. *Jeremy Hermida, of, Jupiter (Marlins)
9. Tony Girratano, ss, Lakeland (Tigers)
10. Eric Duncan, 3b, Tampa (Yankees)
*Has played in major leagues
The teams may play in front of smaller crowds and in bigger parks than most minor leaguers. But the combination of good weather and proximity to team's training bases means that the high Class A Florida State League usually is well stocked with talent, especially early in the year when the weather is still cool elsewhere in the country.

It was no different in 2009. The league's elite prospects—Jupiter outfielder Mike Stanton, Tampa catcher Jesus Montero, Clearwater outfielder Domonic Brown, Sarasota first baseman Yonder Alonso, Clearwater righthander Kyle Drabek—rank among the best of the minors. They tore up the FSL in April and May before departing with promotions in early June.

While Stanton, Montero and Co. packed plenty of power, speed also was a prevailing theme in the FSL. Four of the top eight basestealers in the minors—Brevard County second baseman Eric Farris, Dunedin outfielder Darin Mastroianni, Daytona outfielder Tony Campana, Dunedin shortstop Tyler Pastronicky—spent all or most of the season in the league. None of them made our Top 20 list, but they kept FSL catchers and pitchers on their toes.

The league also had it share of talented arms, though quick promotions kept many of them from qualifying for this list. Sarasota's Zach Stewart, Daytona's Andrew Cashner and Jay Jackson, St. Lucie's Brad Holt and Lakeland's Mauricio Robles all would have made the Top 20 had they pitched enough innings.

1. Mike Stanton, of, Jupiter (Marlins)

Age: 19. B-T: R-R. HT.: 6-5. WT.: 240. Drafted: Marlins '07 (2).

Managers loved to talk about Stanton's power, which allows him to hit the ball out to all parts of the park. They discussed his physicality and his ability to make adjustments, but more than anything they liked to talk about his work ethic.

Many noted Stanton's willingness to improve and put in his work on humid Florida afternoons. He showed the eagerness to learn of a struggling utility infielder despite having the ability to get by on his sheer talent.

Stanton doesn't have to cheat to hit for power, instead staying back and trusting his hands. He'll always strike out frequently because his long arms and power-oriented swing creates holes, but he makes adjustments well. He has plus speed, above-average range for an outfielder and a strong arm.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
180 27 53 9 3
12 39 28 45 2 2 .294 .390 .578
 
2. Jesus Montero, c, Tampa (Yankees)
Age: 19. B-T: R-R. HT.: 6-4. WT.: 225. Signed: Venezuela (2006).
For a second straight season, the Yankees paired catchers Montero and Andrew Romine, sending both to Tampa to start 2009. It's hard to argue with the results, as Montero quickly played his way to Double-A while Romine stayed in Tampa and won league MVP honors. Montero has huge power to all fields, but FSL observers were just as impressed by his controlled swing, which enables him to make consistent hard contact. He was the toughest out in the league.

Montero's work behind the plate didn't garner many favorable reviews. He has an adequate arm, but his footwork is poor and he rushes his throws, which causes even more problems. He gave up 56 steals and threw out just eight runners (13 percent) in 26 games.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
180 26 64 15 1 8 37 14 26 0 0 .356 .406 .583
 
3. Domonic Brown, of, Clearwater (Phillies)
Age: 21. B-T: L-L. HT.: 6-5. WT.: 205. Drafted: Phillies '06 (20).
Trying to find a flaw in Brown's game is very difficult. Montero may have hit for a better average and Stanton may have more power, but neither can match Brown's all-around brilliance.

"That guy is off the charts," St. Lucie manager Tim Teufel said. "We saw him as a Darryl Strawberry type. He doesn't show that mammoth power that Straw had, at least yet. But he makes all the plays, plus he'll throw you out in a heartbeat."

Brown also drew some comparisons to a young Jermaine Dye, with the same cannon arm. Unlike Dye at the same age, Brown shows an advanced feel for the strike zone. He has an excellent line-drive swing and is starting to show the power that scouts have been projecting for him once he fills out. He's also a plus runner and fine right fielder.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
238
41 72 12 3
11 44 34 45 15 8 .303 .386 .517
 
4. Yonder Alonso, 1b, Sarasota (Reds)
Age: 22. B-T: L-R. HT.: 6-2. WT.: 215. Drafted: Reds '08 (1).
Alonso may have entered 2009 with just 19 pro at-bats to his credit, but he showed the approach of a veteran. He has a strong knowledge of the strike zone, works counts and drives the ball with power to all fields. He understands his swing more than most Class A hitters.

"He has a good eye as a hitter," Palm Beach manager Tom Spencer said. "He reminds me of Will Clark. He has good power to all fields and his strike-zone discipline is good."

Alonso should hit for power and average, and he'll have to. He lacks speed and agility, so he's limited to first base, where he's an adequate defender.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
175 21 53 13 0 7
38 24 30 0 1 .303 .383 .497
 
5. Kyle Drabek, rhp, Clearwater (Phillies)
Age: 21. B-T: R-R. HT.: 6-0. WT.: 185. Drafted: Phillies '06 (1).
Between his 93-94 mph fastball that touched 96 mph whenever he needed and a promising changeup and curveball that both project to be plus pitches, Drabek had the three-pitch repertoire to be a future No. 2 starter.

He also has excellent athleticism for a pitcher, no surprise for someone who could have been a top-three-rounds pick as a shortstop. He fields his position well, holds runners and has the ability to make adjustments to his delivery on the fly.

Drabek's biggest flaws are mainly minor issues. He sometimes relies too much on his secondary stuff instead of blowing hitters away with his fastball. Some managers believed he struggled to maintain his composure when he got into jams, but others thought his fiery mound presence worked to his advantage.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
10
9 4 1 0 2.48
62
49 19
17
0 19 74 .218
 
6. Starlin Castro, ss, Daytona (Cubs)
Age: 19. B-T: R-R. HT.: 6-1. WT.: 160. Signed: Dominican Republic '06.
Castro not only made the jump from Rookie ball last year to high Class A at age 19, but he also played just as well following a promotion to Double-A in August. While he was at Daytona, he stood head and shoulders above the rest of the FSL's shortstops.

Castro has excellent range to both sides to go with a strong, accurate arm. His bat isn't as advanced as his glove, but he has the ability to square up balls—he finished third in the league in hitting at .302—and has enough strength in his wrists to eventually hit for some power.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
358 45 108 17 3 3 35 19 41 22 11 .302 .340 .391
 
7. Jenrry Mejia, rhp, St. Lucie (Mets)
Age: 19. B-T: R-R. HT.: 6-0. WT.: 162. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2007.
The Mets often push their international signees to see if they can handle advanced leagues at young ages. That philosophy has met with mixed results, but Mejia is one prospect who was thrown into the deep end and showed he could swim.

Mejia has a 94-95 mph fastball, and he can cut or sink it depending on the situation. He flashes a plus curveball, though it's inconsistent and he struggles to locate it at times. Unlike a lot of young pitchers, he's willing to throw his changeup, but it has too much velocity and only rates as an adequate pitch at this point.

Mejia has a solid pitcher's frame. His delivery and lack of secondary stuff could lead to an eventual move to the bullpen.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
9
9 4 1 0 1.97
50
41 18
11
0 16 44 .217
 
8. Ben Revere, of, Fort Myers (Twins)
Age: 21. B-T: L-R. HT.: 5-9. WT.: 166 Drafted: Twins '07 (1).
If you asked FSL managers, Revere's picture could be slapped onto a roll of Tums. He caused more heartburn than anyone else in the league because of his ability to scratch out base hits, then cause all kind of havoc on the bases. He led the league with 145 hits and stole 45 bases.

Revere has tremendous speed, though he's still learning to steal bases after getting caught a league-high 17 times. He uses his quickness to bunt for hits and beat out infield grounders, and he's nearly impossible to strike out. He showed gap power in the past but had only 19 extra-base hits in 121 FSL games.

Revere has gap-to-gap range in center field. He sometimes is slow to read the ball off the bat, but he takes good routes and has the speed to outrun mistakes. His arm is below average, though arm strength isn't a huge concern in center field.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
466 75 145 13 4 2 48 40 34 45 17 .311 .372 .369
 
9. Ike Davis, 1b, St. Lucie (Mets)
Age: 22. B-T: L-L. HT.: 6-5. WT.: 195. Drafted: Mets '08 (1).
Drafted in the first round in 2008 for his power, Davis went homerless in a disappointing pro debut. He put that behind him this year, smacking 20 homers between St. Lucie and Double-A Binghamton.

Thanks to his quick hands, Davis has plus power. He uses a squared-up stance that some managers felt left him too often hitting off his front foot, but in his defense, he's not bothered by breaking balls and offspeed stuff.

Along with his power, he stood out for his work at first base with good hands, solid agility around the bag and an above-average arm for the position.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
222 28 64 17 3 7 28 31
52 0
2 .288 .376 .486
 
10. Austin Romine, c, Tampa (Yankees)
Age: 20. B-T: R-R. HT.: 6-2. WT.: 210. Drafted: Yankees '07 (2).
Montero wowed people with his massive power. Romine's strength was his steadiness.

Romine doesn't have any single tool that stands out like Montero's raw power, but there also are very few weaknesses to his game. He shows average power with the ability to pull the ball for power as well as drive it the other way (five of his 13 homers traveled to right field).

Behind the plate, Romine calls a good game, moves well and has a strong arm. He improved his footwork in 2009, allowing him to throw out 30 percent of basestealers, though he still needs to get better at receiving and blocking balls in the dirt.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
442 61 122 28 3 13 72 29 78 11 5 .276 .322 .441
 
11. Carlos Gutierrez, rhp, Fort Myers (Twins)
Age: 22. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3 Wt. 205. Drafted: Twins '08 (1)
There wasn't much to relish about facing the Twins' 2008 first-round pick. When Gutierrez was on, hitting his sinking fastball felt like making contact with a shot put.

At his best, Gutierrez sits at 92-94 mph and piles up groundout after groundout. While at Fort Myers, he had a 4.5 groundout/airout ratio and allowed only one homer and eight extra-base hits in 55 innings. Hitters made contact against him, but very few barreled the ball.

On other days, Gutierrez's sinker parks at 89-91 mph. His slider and changeup still need work, so some scouts believe he'll end up working out of the bullpen. That was his role at Miami, where he was a closer on a College World Series team.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
11
10 2 3 0 1.32
55
37 20
8
1 22 33 .192
 
12. Matt Dominguez, 3b, Jupiter (Marlins)
Age: 20. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 210. Drafted: Marlins '07 (1)
There's little question that Dominguez will be an excellent defensive third baseman. He has soft hands and a strong, accurate arm. In fact, some FSL observers believe he'd be one of the better third basemen in the majors and even challenge for a Gold Glove right now.

"He's cool and collected over there," Teufel said. "No grounder gives him problems. He's got good footwork."

There are some concerns about Dominguez's bat, however. The only time he really has hit with authority was last year at low Class A Greensboro, where he benefited from an extremely favorable home ballpark.

Some scouts think Dominguez has a slider-speed bat and will struggle to catch up to good fastballs. He has a solid plan at the plate and draws some walks, and he did improve in the second half. But he also batted just .186/.292/.320 following an August promotion to Double-A, and he may have average power at best. He's a below-average runner.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
381 49 100 25 1 11 53 38 68 1 0 .262 .333 .420
 
13. Kirk Nieuwenhuis, of, St. Lucie (Mets)
Age: 22. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 210. Drafted: Mets '08 (3)
As a tall, rangy center fielder with power, Kirk Nieuwenhuis had FSL managers reaching back in their memory banks for a comparison. One skipper compared him to Dale Murphy because of his size and his tendency to dive for balls all over center field, though that projection definitely is on the high end.

When the season began, Nieuwenhuis was a high-ball, opposite-field hitter. Pitchers found they could bust him inside with fastballs, but he worked on shortening his swing and creating a better hand path, which made him much tougher to contend with. He started to pull the ball more often and batted .446 with six homers in his final 15 games in the FSL. He led the league in runs (91), doubles (35), extra-base hits (56) and slugging (.467).

While Nieuwenhuis did make some nice adjustments, there still are concerns that he swings and misses too much. Despite his size, he's a tick above-average runner who's even faster underway. Though he played center field in 2009, his lack of overwhelming speed eventually will force him to right field, where his strong, accurate arm will fit well.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
482 91 132 35 5 16 71 53 118 16 4 .274 .357 .467
 
14. Josh Vitters, 3b, Daytona (Cubs)
Age: 20. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 200. Drafted: Cubs '07 (1)
No player on this list was tougher to evaluate than Vitters. Promoted to Daytona at the end of June after an excellent start to the season in low Class A, he struggled at the plate and missed two weeks with a hand injury. He also showed a lack of urgency, seeming to cruise through games in one gear, though he seems to be a hard worker who doesn't shy away from spending time in the batting cage.

"Wherever you rank him will be too high and too low," said one scout, explaining that Vitters is a high-ceiling prospect but one with a high risk of not reaching his ceiling.

Vitters isn't very selective at the plate, but he has excellent hand-eye coordination and above-average bat speed. While he batted just .238/.260/.344 at Daytona, he did show he could turn on quality fastballs. One of his three homers came on a 93-mph heater.

At third base, Vitters shows a strong arm but there are concerns that he doesn't have the range to stick there long term. He has below-average speed.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
189 21 45 7 2 3 22 5 23 2 1 .238 .260 .344
 
15. David Bromberg, rhp, Fort Myers (Twins)
Age: 22. B-T: L-R. Ht: 6-5. Wt.: 241  Drafted: Twins '05 (32).
A 32nd-round pick in 2005, Bromberg established himself as a prospect by leading the minor leagues with 177 strikeouts last year. He followed that performance up by topping the FSL with 148 whiffs and winning the league's most valuable pitcher award in 2009.

Despite all the strikeouts, Bromberg isn't a power pitcher. He succeeds by pitching backwards, showing a willingness to throw his slightly above-average changeup and slurvy breaking ball in counts where hitters are looking for fastballs. His lively heater actually needs the most work of any of his pitches. He sat at 91-93 mph and touched 95 early in the season but struggled to command his fastball. After some mechanical changes, he worked at 88-91 mph with improved control later in the year.

Managers loved Bromberg's competitiveness. His expression is the same if he's working on a no-hitter or trying to get out of a bases-loaded jam. His stuff seems to get better when he's in pressure-packed situations.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
27
26 13 4 0 2.70
153
125 52
46
6 63 148 .224
 
16. Caleb Gindl, of, Brevard County (Brewers)
Age: 21. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 5-9 Wt.: 185. Drafted: Brewers '07 (5)
Bringing up Caleb Gindl's name to a scout or manager who follows the FSL usually brought back a smile or a laugh. They weren't laughing at Gindl, they were laughing with him.

"That little guy can hit," one scout said as he chuckled. "He doesn't look it at all."

Listed at 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds, Gindl has a physique best described as well-rounded. Despite his less than classic look, he can drive the ball into the gaps and sometimes out of the park, thanks to his compact swing and solid hand-eye coordination. He also has the patience to draw a walk when pitchers struggle to find his small strike zone.

There's still a question whether Gindl's natural hitting ability alone is enough to win him a regular job in the majors. He has some arm strength, but his below-average speed and adequate-at-best defense relegate him to left field.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
394 61 109 15 3 17 71 57 92 18 4 .277 .363 .459
 
17. Chris Parmelee, 1b, Fort Myers (Twins)
Age: 21. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 223. Drafted: Twins '06 (1).
Since the Twins drafted him in the first round in 2006, Parmelee has been on the slow track. After spending two full seasons in low Class A Beloit, Parmelee hit just .197 in April before finding his stride. He showed more willingness to start using the opposite field in the second half and hit .269/.382/.452 after the break.

"He was a big-swing guy who is now making an effort to go the other way," Spencer said. "It's a work in progress, but it will make him a better hitter."

Parmelee's best tool is his power, and he ranked third in the FSL with 16 homers. He's only a career .250 hitter, though he does draw walks. His bat is the key to his projection, as he's a below-average athlete, runner and defender at either first base or right field.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
422 61 109 27 1 16 73 65 109 2 2 .258 .359 .441
 
18. Shane Peterson, of, Palm Beach (Cardinals)
Age: 21. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 195. Drafted: Cardinals '08 (2)
The Cardinals sent two of their top three 2008 draft picks to the Athletics in a trade for Matt Holliday in July. First-rounder Brett Wallace was the headline prospect in the deal, and second-rounder Peterson also went to Oakland shortly after St. Louis had promoted him to Double-A.

After struggling to pull the ball in his 2008 pro debut, Peterson showed this year that he can yank inside pitches as well as serve line drives to the opposite field. He should hit for average and get on base, though he'll need to develop more power if he's to be an everyday player on an outfield corner. He stole 16 bases in 17 attempts between three minor league teams this year, a credit to his instincts as much as his slightly above-average speed.

Peterson played all three outfield positions for Palm Beach, displaying an average arm, but his defensive instincts aren't as good as his baserunning savvy. He also saw time at first base but lacks the raw power to profile at that position.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
285
32
85 11 4 6 39 21 52 10 1
.298 .367 .428
 
19. Freddy Galvis, ss, Clearwater (Phillies)
Age: 19. B-T: B-R. Ht.: 5-10. Wt.: 154. Signed: Venezuela '06
While Castro was the complete package at shortstop, Galvis fits the more traditional profile. He has a great glove and a lot of work to do at the plate.

Galvis has excellent range, soft hands and an average to plus arm at shortstop. Unlike many young shortstops who cover a lot of ground, he already knows how to play under control. After leading low Class A South Atlantic League shortstops with a .968 fielding percentage in 2008, he would have topped the FSL with a .969 marks this year if he had enough games to qualify. He missed two months with a broken finger.

At the plate, Galvis has solid hand-eye coordination and a knack for putting the barrel on the ball. The hope is that as he gets stronger, his groundouts will turn into base hits. He doesn't have any power and has yet to show an aptitude for drawing walks. His speed is just average, so he won't be a threat to steal.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
251 29 62 8 2 1 15 10 43 6 3 .247 .280 .307
 
20. Mark Rogers, rhp, Brevard County (Brewers)
Age: 23. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 225. Drafted: Brewers '04 (1).
Don't worry, you haven't all of a sudden stumbled upon the FSL Top 20 from 2006, when Rogers ranked seventh. After missing all of 2007 and 2008 with a shoulder injury, he stepped back on the mound in 2009 and showed that his stuff hadn't atrophied.

Where Rogers' fastball could flirt with 98-99 mph before the injury, he had to settle for blowing away hitters with 93-96 mph heat in his return. He showed a solid curveball and slider as well, though it was hard to get a good read on his secondary pitches because he pitched in such short stints. He worked as many as five innings just once in 23 starts, so he still has yet to prove his durability.

Rogers still throws across his body and his command will never be his strong suit. But if he can throw enough strikes, he has enough stuff to get big league hitters out.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
23
22 1 3 0 1.67
65
46 16
12
2 29 67 .201