League Top 20 Prospects

Eastern League Top 20 Prospects With Scouting Reports




FIVE YEARS AGO
(Click here for the complete list)
1. *David Wright, 3b, Binghamton (Mets)
2. *Jason Kubel, of, New Britain (Twins)
3. *Matt Cain, rhp, Norwich (Giants)
4. *Mike Hinckley, lhp, Harrisburg (Expos)
5. *Gavin Floyd, rhp, Reading (Phillies)
6. *Zach Duke, lhp, Altoona (Pirates)
7. *Curtis Granderson, of, Erie (Tigers)
8. *Ryan Howard, 1b, Reading (Phillies)
9. *J.D. Durbin, rhp, New Britain (Twins)
10. *Franklin Gutierrez, of, Akron (Indians)
*Has played in major leagues
Akron led the Eastern League virtually from start to finish, winning 89 games and then claiming the league championship by beating Connecticut in four games. The Aeros had a solid crop of prospects, with league MVP Carlos Santana leading the way. Santana hit three home runs in seven playoff games, supporting an offense boosted by third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall, who hit .467 in the postseason.

Chisenhall didn't have enough plate appearances to qualify for this list, and neither did the league's best pitcher, Bowie lefthander Brian Matusz. Had he qualified, Matusz would have ranked first, but he fell an inning short en route to the major leagues. The only way Matusz took a back seat to the other top pitchers in the EL is at the plate, as Madison Bumgarner, Kyle Drabek and Brad Lincoln all are excellent hitting-pitchers.

Pedro Alvarez stuck around long enough following a promotion from high Class A Lynchburg and before helping Team USA win the World Cup to claim the top spot for himself.

1. Pedro Alvarez, 3b, Altoona (Pirates)
Age: 22. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 235. Drafted: Pirates '08 (1).
Alvarez had an eventful calendar year, signing late last September after a dispute with the Pirates. After an offseason of rumored conditioning issues, he started slowly at high Class A Lynchburg, striking out in 25 percent of his at-bats. But after his promotion to Altoona, he showed the talent that made him the No. 2 overall pick in the 2008 draft.

Alvarez used his strength and "serious raw power," as one manager put it, to punish league pitchers who caught too much of the plate. Alvarez's bat made him an elite prospect even back to high school, but EL managers also were cautiously optimistic about his defense at third base. He's no Gold Glover, but he has a plus arm and good hands, compensating for modest range and agility. Scouts agreed Alvarez should be able to stay at third at least for the early part of his big league career.

"He took what we gave him, hit our lefthanders, made adjustments‚ he was a monster," said Portland manager Arnie Beyelor. "He reminded me a little bit of (Kevin) Youkilis in that he's a better athlete than he looks."
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
222 42 74 18 0
13 40 34 59
1 0 .333 .419 .590
 
2. Madison Bumgarner, lhp, Connecticut (Giants)
Age: 20. B-T: R-L. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 215. Drafted: Giants '07 (1).
Bumgarner pitched most of the season as a 19-year-old who dominated the Eastern League primarily with one pitch. His fastball was the subject of much speculation late in the year, when he earned a big league promotion and sat in the upper 80s with his fastball. Scouts who had seen him as an amateur thought he'd lost a bit of arm and hand speed since high school.

Scouts and managers agree that Bumgarner's velocity started above-average, in the 90-94 mph range, before settling in at 88-92 mph and then dipping even lower, at times into the mid-80s, by August. Bumgarner's secondary pitches don't inspire awe, either, as he gets on the side of his slider and doesn't have a great feel for his changeup, which he throws infrequently.

That said, his fastball earns plenty of praise. He has above-average command of the pitch, which has late life due in part to a cross-body delivery that creates deception. "He has presence, poise and late life that you can't teach," a scout with an American League organization said. Another AL scout added, "It's still a 60 fastball because of that life, angle and command, and I think he'll still be 93-94 on his best days."
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
20
19 9 1 0 1.93
107
80
28 23
6 30
69 .209
 
3. Kyle Drabek, rhp, Reading (Phillies)
Age: 21. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 185. Drafted: Phillies '06 (1).
The Phillies threw Drabek's name around in midseason trade talks but kept him as he emerged as their top pitching prospect. The son of 1990 Cy Young Award winner Doug Drabek, Kyle overcame Tommy John surgery and threw a career-best 158 innings this season. He tired late as the workload caught up to him, but at his best he showed a tantalizing mix of three plus pitches to go with athleticism that makes him a dangerous hitter and adept fielder.

Drabek's fastball sits in the 90-93 mph range with life, and his curveball and changeup are inconsistent but both have flashed above-average, particularly his breaker. His curveball is sharp and late, but he needs to command both the fastball and curve better. He made great strides with his changeup while going through his Tommy John rehab, as well as with his maturity.

Scouts and managers generally lauded Drabek's competitiveness and fiery mound presence. They also admitted that it gets him in trouble at times. "He loves to compete," Reading manager Steve Roadcap said, "but he will have to learn to dial it back a bit."
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
15
14 8 2 0 3.64
96
92
40 39
9
31 76 .252
 
4. Carlos Santana, c, Akron (Indians)
Age: 23. B-T: B-R. Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 190. Signed: Dominican Republic '04 (Dodgers).
Santana was a fairly easy choice as the EL's MVP after ranking second in home runs, RBIs and OBP while leading the league in slugging and walks. He also has an ideal profile as a switch-hitting catcher with patience, power and defensive ability. A scout with a National League club called Santana's throwing arm "the best in the league," grading it a 70 on the 20-80 scale, and he threw out 30 percent of opposing baserunners and is agile behind the plate, though his receiving skills need polish. One manager went so far as to call him sloppy.

Offensively, Santana will have to show he can handle being pitched inside, as some managers noted he was more apt to spin away from those pitches, trying to get a call, rather than turning on those pitches. But he has above-average power from both sides of the plate, though it's primarily pull power. His pitch recognition puts him in hitter's counts consistently, and as Reading manager Steve Roadcap said, "When he gets his pitch, he puts a serious, aggressive swing on it. He's aggressive and patient at the same time.

"He's very good from both sides, but showed a little more pop from the right side. You're talking about a switch-hitting catcher with power and a plus arm. He is a special player."
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
428 91 124 30 2 23 97
90
83 2 2 .290 .413 .530
 
5. Jesus Montero, c, Trenton (Yankees)
Age: 19. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 225. Signed: Venezuela '06.
Montero earned a midseason promotion to Double-A as a teenager thanks to his unique hitting ability. It certainly didn't owe to his defense, as scouts and managers cast doubts on his catching skills. Montero is an acceptable receiver but is so big-bodied and stiff that he struggles significantly when blocking balls in the dirt. He also has a slow release that negates his average-to-plus arm strength. He did improve in the EL at throwing out baserunners, nabbing 32 percent (14 of 44).

It's his bat that separates Montero from the pack. One scout compared him to the Giants' Pablo Sandoval, who also tore up the EL last year offensively but gave scouts pause because of his lack of a defensive position and poor physique. He does not share Sandoval's unbridled enthusiasm or high energy, though. One manager compared him to Prince Fielder, as the high-end offensive comparison. "It's a major league bat," Beyelor said, "pure hit and pure power."

"He can really, really handle the bat and really hit," the AL scout said. "When he shows up to play, it's pretty good. I don't think he'll get away with showing up every other night in the big leagues, especially behind the plate, but it could just be youthful mistakes."
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
167
19
53 10 0 9 33 14 21 0 0
.317 .370 .539
 
6. Domonic Brown, of, Reading (Phillies)
Age: 22. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 204. Drafted: Phillies '06 (20)
Brown entered the season as the Phillies' top-ranked prospect, and built on that by having his best pro season despite a broken hand, which sidelined him for nearly a month in the Florida State League. He earned a promotion to Double-A for the season's last five weeks and impressed managers and scouts in his short stint. His lithe, athletic body still has room to fill out and add power, and he showed enough present power in the EL, especially considering his hand injury.

Power—whether he'll hit 15 home runs annually, or closer to 25—will be the ultimate question with Brown's ceiling, because he controls the strike zone fairly well, has good plate coverage and makes consistent contact. Also, his other tools are plus across the board. His defense could use some fine-tuning, in terms of better jumps, but managers routinely described his 70 arm as "outstanding," and he's a plus runner who should steal some bases in the big leagues.

"He's a pull hitter now, but he's got the bat speed to stay back and still catch up to good fastballs," Connecticut manager Steve Decker said. "When he swings at a fastball, he hits it, and he drives it."
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
238
41 72
12 3 11 44 34 48 15 8 .303 .386 .517
 
7. Junichi Tazawa, rhp, Portland (Red Sox)
Age: 23. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 180. Signed: Japan '08.
The Red Sox signed Tazawa out of Japan with a major league contract that included a $1.8 million bonus. In his first pro season, Tazawa showed plenty of polish and zipped to the big leagues after 20 minor league starts, beating the Tigers in his first big league start.

The only knock on Tazawa is his smallish frame. He has excellent command but when he misses, he often misses up, making him home run prone. While his knack for pitching and ability to throw quality strikes are his best attributes, Tazawa is no soft tosser. At times his fastball sat in the 90-94 mph range, and his slider, curveball and forkball all can be swing-and-miss pitches. His feel for pitching and confidence help him mix his pitches effectively, as he throws them all for strikes in any count. He also pitched efficiently; in one start just prior to the Futures Game, he needed just 49 pitches to log five innings and beat Binghamton.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
18
18 9 5 0 2.57
98
80
31 28
8 26 88 .222
 
8. Wilson Ramos, c, New Britain (Twins)
Age: 22. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 220. Signed: Venezuela '04.
Ramos missed half the season with two ailments. He missed a month early after breaking the middle finger on the tip of his middle finger on his left hand back in May, then missed nearly two months with a hamstring pull later in the season. A notorious slow starter earlier in his career, Ramos continued that trend in 2009, as he was just heating up in June when the hamstring pull sidelined him. He picked up where he left off and helped lead New Britain to the playoffs.

The leg injury likely will make him a liability on the basepaths, but Ramos' other tools grade out average or better. His sound, strong swing provides ample plate coverage, with plate discipline being his biggest weakness. He has plus raw power, receives well and has the arm strength to have thrown out 41 percent of opposing basestealers. His energy level and intensity also seemed to pick up as the season went on, bringing his tools into game situations more consistently.

"His hitting actions are very good," said Decker, a former big league catcher, "and he can defend. He's got the ability to be a frontline catcher."
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
205 31 65 16 0 4 29 6 23 0 0 .317 .341 .454
 
9. Michael Taylor, of, Reading (Phillies)
Age: 23. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-6. Wt.: 250. Drafted: Phillies '07 (6).
Taylor continues to hit his way toward the majors, and he certainly looks like a big leaguer physically. He's massive, yet moves well and is an average runner underway. Taylor has gotten in better shape as a pro than he was in college, which remains a challenge as he has to monitor his juvenile diabetes.

While Taylor has a big body, he keeps his swing short and has enough strength to drive the ball to any part of the ballpark, while also making consistent contact. His bat speed allows him to catch up to good fastballs, and He'll have to maintain his power production as he has moved to left field, where his arm strength and defensive ability are average.

"He's got bat control, size, power, he runs—lots of potential there," Walbeck said. "He can carry a team with his bat, and I thought he showed good instincts in the outfield."
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
318
59
106 22 4 15 65 35 51 18 4
.333 .408 .569
 
10. Brad Lincoln, rhp, Altoona (Pirates)
Age: 24. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 215. Drafted: Pirates '06 (1).
Lincoln and Drabek were both in the state of Texas in the 2006 draft class. While Lincoln is three years older, he has many similarities to Drabek in that both are athletic, have shorter, strong bodies and have had Tommy John surgery. Lincoln showed he's healthy by pitching 136 innings overall, then pitching well in Europe for Team USA. He pitched 23 innings overall and got the win in the gold-medal game against Cuba.

Two years removed from TJ, Lincoln threw more strikes this year and stood out with command of a fastball that touched 95 mph and sat at 90-93 mph. He threw quality strikes to both corners and showed the late life that allowed him to get swings and misses in the strike zone with fastballs. "He pitched inside for effect and for strikes," Walbeck said, "and his fastball and his curveball both have that little extra, that late life."

A National League scout said Lincoln's power curveball isn't quite what it was when he was an amateur, but it's still a plus pitch at times. His changeup is his third pitch but has made strides.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
13
13 1 5 0 2.28
75
63
22 19
4 18 65 .228
 
11. Hector Rondon, rhp, Akron (Indians)
Age: 21. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt. 180. Signed: Venezuela '04.
Rondon was the best pitcher on the league's best team. He won his first five decisions for the Aeros and stumbled only in May, when the Indians shifted him briefly to the bullpen in preparation for a big league promotion. The organization then changed its mind and Rondon had a bit of trouble rediscovering his rhythm until June, when he got rolling again and earned a promotion to Triple-A.

Rondon does it with power. Managers and scouts agreed he can overpower hitters by commanding his heater, which has late life through the strike zone, sits at 92 mph and touches 94. "Hitters just don't seem to pick his fastball up," Akron manager Mike Sarbaugh said. Rondon still has room to fill out physically and could throw a bit harder down the line.

In addition, Rondon threw his secondary pitches more consistently for strikes this year. His slider has become a solid-average pitch, and his changeup is improving steadily. He also earns kudos for his mound presence.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
15
13 7 5 0 2.75
72
60 23
22
3 16 73 .227
 
12. Josh Reddick, of, Portland (Red Sox)
Age: 22. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 180. Drafted: Red Sox '06 (17).
The Red Sox paraded several toolsy outfielders through Portland this season. Most EL observers preferred Reddick over Ryan Kalish. While Kalish had his backers and drew comparisons to David DeJesus and Mark Kotsay, Reddick has more athleticism and a bigger upside.

Reddick has an impressive combination of power and speed. When he first came to the league at the end of 2008, pitchers exploited his aggressiveness, so the Red Sox batted him in the leadoff spot this year to improve his plate discipline. He took to his new role, drawing more walks and faring better against lefthanders than he had in the past.

Reddick's plus speed plays better on defense, where he's a solid center fielder, than it does on the bases, where he needs more polish. He should have enough power to play a corner in the big leagues if the opportunity arises.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
256 47 71 17 3 13 29 30 62 5 5 .277 .352 .520
 
13. Ike Davis, 1b, Binghamton (Mets)
Age: 22. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 195. Drafted: Mets '08 (1).
The son of former all-star pitcher Ron Davis reached the EL in mid-June, barely a year after the Mets drafted him 18th overall. Whereas fellow Mets '08 draftee Brad Holt stumbled in Binghamton, Davis thrived. He led the B-Mets with 13 homers in just 55 games before joining Team USA for the World Cup.

Davis has true plus power from the left side. He sells out to reach it at times, spinning off balls in an attempt to jerk the ball out of the park, and it costs him plate coverage. Lefthanders took advantage of that tendency, and he struck out 25 times in 71 at-bats against them (though he did his .262/.342/.465).

Davis isn't afraid to go deep in counts and showed the ability to make adjustments. He has the bat speed to turn on good fastballs inside.

A potential plus defender at first base, Davis has good hands but needs a bit more focus with the glove. He has above-average arm strength—he pitched some at Arizona State—and got a brief trial in the outfield with Binghamton.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
207 30 64 14 0 13 43
26 60 0 0 .309 .386 .565
 
14. Marc Rzepczynski, lhp, New Hampshire (Blue Jays)
Age: 24. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 205. Drafted: Blue Jays '07 (5).
The Fisher Cats had a rough season, in part because their best players didn't stick around for long. In just his second full pro season, Rzepczynski earned a promotion to Toronto and posted a 3.67 ERA in 11 starts.

Rzepczynski has a basic repertoire. His four-seam fastball sits in the upper 80s and peaks at 91, and his two-seamer helps him get plenty of groundballs. He has a solid changeup with good sink, and his bread-and-butter pitch is his hard slider, a plus pitch with depth that sometimes reaches 87 mph.

"It's a pretty good fastball, but the slider is the separator," Sarbaugh said. "That's a big-time out pitch, and he knows how to pitch with his stuff."
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
14
14 7 5 0 2.93
77
80
38 25
1 36 88 .266
 
15. Jose Tabata, of, Altoona (Pirates)
Age: 21. B-T: R-R. Ht: 5-11. Wt.: 215. Signed: Venezuela '04 (Yankees)
Tabata has been a fixture on prospect lists since he was a 17-year-old in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2005. Since then, he has been traded (by the Yankees to the Pirates), endured questions about his makeup and effort, and had a controversy in spring training when his wife—who's more than twice his age—was arrested for kidnapping.

Through it all, Tabata has maintained impressive tools. He has an above-average bat with good offensive instincts, the ability to stay inside the ball and a willingness to use the whole field. He's a slightly above-average runner, but his ultimate value will depend on how much power he develops, as he totaled just five homers in 2009. He's an average defender in center field with a strong arm, and once Gorkys Hernandez arrived in the Pirates system, Tabata saw more time in right field.

"He's a corner guy, and I believe the power will come," Walbeck said. "He has the swing and an ability to raise his level of play against better competition. The last piece is learning to backspin the ball."
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
228
31
69 15 1 2 25 20 25
7 6
.303 .370 .404
 
16. Scott Sizemore, 2b, Erie (Tigers)
Age: 24. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 185. Drafted: Tigers '06 (5).
The Tigers had several interesting hitters at Erie, and catcher Alex Avila reached the major leagues after a solid season with the SeaWolves. However, league observers agreed Sizemore was Erie's best prospect, even though his tools are mostly fringe-average to average across the board.

Sizemore does have one plus tool: his bat. He's a consistent hitter who controls the strike zone, stays short to the ball and has above-average instincts at the plate. He has enough pull power for scouts to project him to consistently reach double figures in homers, and he's a smart baserunner. One scout compared him to former batting champion Freddy Sanchez, only with better power and plate discipline.

"He's not particularly athletic or rangy, but he makes plays with the glove, and he's a baseball player who can hit," a NL scout said. "He's getting better turning the double play and he has enough arm for it."
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
228
39 70 17
4 9 33 35 46 7 3 .307 .402 .535
 
17. Jake Arrieta, rhp, Bowie (Orioles)
Age: 23. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 225. Drafted: Orioles '07 (5).
Arrieta is a step behind Brian Matusz and Chris Tillman among the Orioles' high-ceiling pitchers, and he pulled ahead of Bowie teammate Brandon Erbe with a promotion to Triple-A Norfolk in the second half. Some scouts believe both Arrieta and Erbe will end up in the bullpen, though others believe Arrieta's fastball should be good enough for him to start.

The Orioles worked to shorten Arrieta's stride to give his pitches a better finish and keep him from leaving his fastball up in the zone too often. He responded well and was able to get swings and misses with his fastball, which sat at 93 mph much of the season. His slider gives him a second plus pitch at times, though it's inconsistent, and his changeup has its moments.

While he has big stuff, Arrieta lacks the command to be a front-of-the-rotation starter and profiles more as an innings eater in the No. 3 or 4 slot.


G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
11
11 6 3 0 2.59
59
45 21
17
4 23 70 .208
 
18. Nick Weglarz, of, Akron (Indians)
Age: 21. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 245. Drafted: Indians '05 (3)
A Canadian national team stalwart, Weglarz played in the Olympics last summer and the World Baseball Classic this spring. Injuries, including back soreness and shin splints, slowed him later in the season and kept him out of the EL playoffs and World Cup. His body is his biggest obstacle, as he's a massive slugger who needs to carry less weight in order to stay healthy, keep from being a complete base-clogger and give him a chance to stay in the outfield.

Offensively, he's a three-true-outcomes player who takes plenty of walks and has the power to hit 30 homers annually. Scouts and managers mentioned a lower-end Jim Thome as a comparison for Weglarz, though at Weglarz's age, Thome was athletic enough to play the infield.

"He's so big and muscular, at times he misses good fastballs," a NL scout said, "But he's got such good discipline at the plate, and he's got real power and bat control."
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
339
69
77 17 2 16 65 75
78 2 3
.227 .377 .431
 
19. Zach McAllister, rhp, Trenton (Yankees)
Age: 21. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-6. Wt.: 230. Drafted: Yankees '06 (3).
McAllister had as good a season statistically as any EL pitcher, leading the league with a 2.23 ERA, despite missing a month with shoulder soreness. He returned in August and continued to pitch well, including winning a playoff start with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

The Yankees have fiddled with McAllister's delivery since drafting him out of an Illinois high school in 2006, and EL observers said he was back to a mostly over-the-top delivery this season, using a higher arm slot and a curveball rather than a lower slot and a slider. He's not overpowering, but he commands his upper-80s fastball, curve, slider/cutter and changeup very well and keeps the ball in the ballpark, giving up just four homers all season.

Despite his size, scouts don't see McAllister throwing much harder in the future. As a result, he profiles more as a back-of-the-rotation starter.

"He was tough because he threw so many strikes," Roadcap said. "He competed and threw four pitches for strikes, and both the breaking balls were tough to handle."
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
22
22 7 5 0 2.23
121
98 39
30
4 33 96 .220
 
20. Brandon Snyder, 1b, Bowie (Orioles)
Age: 22. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 215. Drafted: Orioles '05 (1).
Snyder has put together a strong professional resume since pushing past shoulder problems that cost him development time and forced him to move down the defensive spectrum, to first base. While he's unlikely to move back to catcher or third base, he's a solid defender at first base and is getting better as he gains more experience at the position.

The son of ex-big league pitcher Brian Snyder, he lacks the typical power of a first baseman but didn't have any problems driving the ball in the EL, slugging a robust .597 before a promotion to Triple-A. He projects to hit 15-20 home runs annually as he continues to figure out which pitches he can drive. An above-average hitter who shows improved plate discipline, he covers the plate well and uses an all-fields approach.

"He's not afraid to go deep in a count, not afraid to take a walk," Bowie manager Brad Komminsk said. "He's got polish and there's no question he can hit, because he can hit quality pitching."
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
201
24
69 19 1 10 45 27 45 0 1
.343 .421 .597