League Top 20 Prospects

Gulf Coast League Top 20 Prospects With Scouting Reports





FIVE YEARS AGO
(Click here for the complete list)
*1. Andrew McCutchen, of, Pirates
*2. Jay Bruce, of, Reds
*3. Chris Volstad, rhp, Marlins
*4. Elvis Andrus, ss, Braves
*5. Travis Wood, lhp, Reds
6. Beau Jones, lhp, Braves
*7. Jose Tabata, of, Yankees
*8. Sean West, lhp, Marlins
*9. Ryan Tucker, rhp, Marlins
10. C.J. Henry, ss, Yankees
*11. Austin Jackson, of, Yankees
12. Paul Kelly, ss, Twins
13. Aaron Thompson, lhp, Marlins
14. Ivan De Jesus Jr., ss, Dodgers
15. Jon Egan, c, Red Sox
*16. Jordan Schafer, of, Braves
17. Drew Thompson, 2b, Twins
18. Jeff Lyman, rhp, Braves
19. Miguel Sanfler, lhp, Dodgers
20. Emmanuel Garcia, ss, Mets
*Has played in major leagues
Baseball America's League Top 20 lists are generated from consultations with scouts and league managers. To qualify for consideration, a player must have spent at least one-third of the season in a league. Position players must have one plate appearance for every league game. Pitchers must pitch 1/3 inning for every league game, and relievers have to have made at least 20 appearances in full-season leagues and 10 in short-season ones.

For the Gulf Coast League, the name of the game was position players. Just three pitchers made the Top 20 Prospects and none made the top five. Lefthander Juan Urbina, in his first pro season, checked in as the top arm at No. 6. While 2009 was heavy with international signees, the 2010 edition was more balanced with several draft picks making their mark..

The Blue Jays led all teams with four players on the list, two from the 2009 draft who earned a promotion partway through the summer—outfielder Jake Marisnick and first baseman K.C. Hobson—while 2010 draftees Kellen Sweeney and Christopher Hawkins accrued enough playing time to qualify. Toronto could have easily had six make it as righthanders Noah Syndergaard and Aaron Sanchez, taken in the first and supplemental first-round this year, performed well and have upside, but they barely missed the minimum innings requirement.

Competition for a spot on this list also proves difficult because there are 15 teams in the league. Good prospects and high-profile signings can be left out because they struggled and didn't live up to expectations. Niko Goodrum has a plus-plus arm and is an above-average runner, helping him become a second-round pick of the Twins this year. But he hit .161/.219/.195 in 118 at-bats and didn't show managers anything that would make them take him instead of others on this list. The same goes for Roberto de la Cruz, a third baseman who signed with the Cardinals for $1.1 million in 2008. He showed impressive power in his second GCL stint, but still doesn't make enough contact. He barely missed the cut.

In the postseason, the Phillies won their second GCL title in three years, beating the Rays 2-1 in a three-game series.

1. Gary Sanchez, c, Yankees
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 195 Age: 17 Signed: Dominican Republic '09
After signing for $3 million, Sanchez didn't disappoint in his pro debut. Despite missing three weeks with a wrist injury, he hit .353/.423/.597 and earned a late promotion to the short-season New York-Penn League. As a Latin American catcher in the Yankees system, he draws comparisons with slugger Jesus Montero.

Sanchez may have a better chance to stay behind the plate, and some observers think he might be better than Montero was as a 17-year-old in the GCL, though Montero has proven much more with the bat at higher levels. Sanchez is very strong and has above-average power to all fields, and with a good approach for a young player, he projects to hit for average as well.

He has a plus arm that consistently generates 1.8-second pop times and has the tools to be a solid receiver, but he's still a work in progress defensively. Sanchez threw out just 19 percent of basestealers and tied for the league lead in passed balls (14) and errors by a catcher (seven) in just 18 games. He needs to stay on top of his conditioning and work on his mobility.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
119 25 42 11 0 6 36 11 28 1 1 .353 .419 .597
 
2. Miguel Sano, 3b/ss, Twins
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 195 Age: 17 Signed: Dominican Republic '09
Sano signed for $3.15 million in September 2009, getting the largest bonus ever for a Latin American amateur position player. After breaking into pro ball by crushing Rookie-level Dominican Summer League pitching to the tune of .344/.463/.547, he arrived in the GCL and continued to hit well.

Sano is exceptionally strong for a 17-year-old and should hit for a solid average with plus power. Like many young players, he'll have to make adjustments to hit breaking pitches and refine his plate discipline.

Though he split his time between third base and shortstop in the GCL, he'll almost certainly wind up at the hot corner. As he gets bigger, he figures to lose a step and have below-average range at shortstop. His arm and bat profile well for third base.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
148 23 43 14 0 4 19 10 43 2 2 .291 .338 .466
 
3. Justin O'Conner, c, Rays
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 190 Age: 18 Drafted: Rays '10 (1)
Teams were split on whether they liked O'Conner better as a righthander or third baseman, but he settled that argument when he moved behind the plate as a high school senior. The Rays drafted him 31st overall in June, and though he struggled in his pro debut, his potential was evident.

"He has as good of tools as anyone," Rays manager Joe Alvarez said. "He took a step forward with catching. He needs to work on all areas, but he has great aptitude and lots of upside."

O'Conner's two best tools are his above-average power potential and his plus-plus arm strength. He may not hit for a high average, because he gets pull-happy and hasn't hit quality pitching, and he didn't make consistent contact in the GCL. He moves well and has quick feet behind the plate, though he needs to slow down a tick to better synchronize his throwing mechanics.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
161 18 34
13 0 3 29
18 46 1 0 .211 .301 .348
 
4. Jake Marisnick, of, Blue Jays
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 200 Age: 19 Drafted: Blue Jays '09 (3)
Marisnick's athleticism and 6-foot-4, 200-pound frame drew comparisons to Jeff Francouer and Dale Murphy as a high school senior and earned him a $1 million bonus as a third-round pick in 2009. He had a solid pro debut in the GCL this summer before making the jump to low Class A in August. If his bat continues to progress, Marisnick has five-tool potential.

He tended to cock his wrist in high school, hindering his timing at the plate, but has eliminated that flaw and is doing a better job of staying tall in his stance and driving through the ball. Marisnick has the strength to develop above-average power, and he uses his plus speed well on the bases. He covers ground in center field and has enough arm strength to play right field if needed.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
122 17
35 12
0 3 14 13
18 14 1 .287 .373 .459
 
5. Matt Lipka, ss, Braves
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 188 Age: 18 Drafted: Braves '10 (1s)
The Braves' top pick (supplemental first round) in 2010, Lipka was a two-sport star at McKinney (Texas) High. In addition to his baseball exploits, he was a two-time 4-A all-star wide receiver, catching 22 touchdown passes last fall from Dodgers first-rounder Zach Lee.

A GCL all-star, Lipka has well above-average speed. One team clocked him from home to first in 4.0 seconds from the right side, and he stole 20 bases in 23 attempts. He has the strength to hit some balls out of the park, but he uses a line-drive swing to collect doubles and triples to the gaps.

He's a high-energy player who constantly gets his uniform dirty. Lipka has the arm and range to play shortstop, though there's some question as to whether his hands and actions are good enough. If he can't stick at shortstop, he'd still have considerable value as a center fielder.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
192
33
58
8
4 1 24 14 22 20 3 .302 .357 .401
 
6. Juan Urbina, lhp, Mets
B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 170 Age: 17 Signed: Venezuela '09
The son of former big league reliever Ugueth Urbina, Juan signed for $1.2 million in July 2009. He made his pro debut in the GCL this summer, and though he posted a 5.03 ERA, there was plenty to like.

His fastball currently sits at 89 mph and tops out at 92, but it's easy to think more velocity will come because he has a projectable frame and an easy delivery. He repeats his mechanics well, which also will help him continue to throw strikes.

Urbina maintains good arm speed on his changeup, his second-best pitch, which has good sink and fade. He also throws a slider, but it's a work in progress. At times it has sharp, two-plane break, but he gets around it too much, making it more sweepy.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
11
11
5 3 0 5.03 48.1 54
32 27 5 14 38 .284
 
7. Jesse Biddle, lhp, Phillies
B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 225 Age: 18 Drafted: Phillies '10 (1)
Biddle grew up just outside of Philadelphia, and his hometown team made him a first-round pick and handed him a $1.16 million bonus in June. He helped pitch the Phillies to the Northern Division title but was promoted before they won the GCL playoffs.

A physical lefthander, Biddle has a strong 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame and a 90-94 mph fastball. He has good command and mound presence for a high school pitcher. He also throws a curveball and changeup that need more consistency. In the spring, scouts saw him throw a slider that they preferred to his curveball and thought had the potential to become a plus pitch.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
9
9
3 1 0 4.32 33 35 23 16 2 9 41 .263
 
8. Aaron Altherr, of, Phillies
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-5 Wt.: 190 Age: 19 Signed: Phillies '09 (9)
It's no secret that the Phillies love toolsy, high-risk/high-reward position prospects, and they may have gotten a bargain when that philosophy led them to sign Altherr for $150,000 as a ninth-round pick in 2009. A lanky athlete who played basketball as well as baseball in high school, he was vastly improved in his second stint in the GCL after batting .214/.283/.286 last year in his pro debut, and that momentum carried over to the New York-Penn League after a late-July promotion.

Altherr has a great frame with plenty of room to fill out at 6-foot-5 and 190 pounds. He's a plus runner with a chance to hit for some power. His range and arm are solid in center field.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
115 12
35 6
1 1 15 3
22
10 3 .304 .331 .400
 
9. Max Kepler, of, Twins
B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 180 Age: 17 Signed: Germany '09
Signed out of Germany for $800,000 in 2009, Kepler received the largest bonus ever given to a European position player. As part of his deal, the Twins allowed him to continue his education at Fort Myers (Fla.) High before he reported to their GCL team, almost literally across the street in the same city, to make his pro debut.

Kepler has an easy, compact swing and good hand-eye coordination. While he went homerless in 140 at-bats, it was his first time facing such advanced pitching, and he definitely held his own. His athletic 6-foot-4, 180-pound frame has plenty of room to fill out. He shows gap-to-gap power and hits lots of line drives which could translate into home runs as he gets stronger.

He played all three outfield spots this summer, and it remains to be seen whether he'll stay in center or move to a corner. He has average to plus speed and arm strength, and he gets good jumps on balls.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
140 15 40 6
1 0 11 13
27 6 1 .286 .346 .343
 
10. Cito Culver, ss, Yankees
B-T: B-R Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 185 Age: 19 Drafted: Yankees '10 (1)
Most teams considered Culver a fourth- to sixth-round talent, but the Yankees took him with the last pick in 2010's first round. Not many high school shortstops project to reach the majors at that position, but he's an exception. He has good instincts, plus range to both sides and an above-average arm.

Culver didn't see much quality pitching as a high school player from the Northeast, so his bat will need to catch up. He did strike out 41 times in as many games, but he does have a knack for squaring up balls from both sides of the plate. He has good speed and could have a little pop once he gets stronger.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
160 21
43 7 1 2 18 13 41 6
3 .269 .320 .363
 
11. Luke Bailey, c, Rays
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 198 Age: 19 Drafted: Rays '09 (4)
One of the top catching prospects in the 2009 prep class, Bailey dropped to the fourth round after he injured his elbow while pitching and needed Tommy John surgery. The Rays signed him for $750,000, the equivalent of sandwich-round money.

Despite an underwhelming pro debut, Bailey displayed above-average power. He needs to works on controlling the strike zone and using the whole field. His arm bounced back well from his surgery, as he threw out 31 percent of basestealers, and he has the soft hands and athleticism to become a good receiver.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
137 18 25 8 0 5 14 17
47
0
0 .182 .298 .350
 
12. Kellen Sweeney, 3b, Blue Jays
B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 180 Age: 18 Drafted: Blue Jays '10 (2)
The younger brother of Athletics outfielder Ryan Sweeney, Kellen isn't quite as athletic but has better offensive potential. He has a quick bat that generates good pull power from the left side of the plate, and he also has a good idea of the strike zone. He walked 15 times in 16 GCL games.

A high school shortstop, Sweeney moved to third base after signing. He made routine plays at the hot corner and should stick there if his arm strength comes all the way back following from Tommy John surgery in 2009. He's a slightly above-average runner.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
45 7 12 3 1 1 7 15
12 0 1 .267 .450 .444
 
13. Ramon Flores, of/1b, Yankees
B-T: L-L Ht.: 5-10 Wt.: 150 Age: 18 Signed: Venezuela '08
Flores batted just .196/.303/.241 as a 17-year-old in the GCL a year ago, then returned and led the league in on-base percentage. He owns a classic lefthanded swing, does a good job of driving balls into the gaps and should develop some home run power as he gets stronger.

Flores played all four corner positions for the Yankees and projects best as a right fielder. He has average speed and range to go with a strong, accurate arm.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
158 33
52
10 4 2 22 28
22
4 1 .329 .436 .481
 
14. K.C. Hobson, 1b, Blue Jays
B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 205 Age: 19 Drafted: Blue Jays '09 (6)
The son of former major league third baseman and manager Butch Hobson, K.C. signed for $500,000 as a sixth-rounder in 2009 and made his pro debut this summer. He resembles his father, with a powerful 6-foot-2, 205-pound frame and strong hands and forearms.

Most of Hobson's value comes from his bat. He uses the whole field and hits the gaps well, and he has started to get more comfortable turning on pitches. He makes plenty of contact but needs to be more selective at the plate.

Hobson has the arm strength to play the outfield, but he's a below-average runner who fits better at first base. He has good footwork around the bag.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
129 17 36 5 0 4 17
7
17 1 5 .279 .316 .411
 
15. Bruce Rondon, rhp, Tigers
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 190 Age: 19 Signed: Venezuela '07
After making three GCL starts in 2009, Rondon showed more electric stuff out of the bullpen this summer. He led the league in saves (15) and was the toughest reliever to hit (.133).

Rondon regularly reaches the mid-90s with his fastball and rarely dips below 92-93 mph. He also flashes a plus slider in the mid-80s, though he doesn't always stay on top of it from his low arm angle, which leads to it flattening out at times. He's still needs to sharpen his command, though that didn't prevent him from faring well in a four-game cameo in high Class A.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
24
0
0 0 0 0.70
26
11 2 2 1 14
26 .133
 
16. Keury de la Cruz, of, Red Sox
B-T: L-L Ht.: 5-11 Wt.: 170 Age: 18 Signed: Dominican Republic '09
De la Cruz was the Red Sox's Latin program player of the year in 2009, his pro debut, and made a successful transition to the United States this year. Despite packing just 170 pounds on his 5-foot-11 frame, he topped the GCL with seven triples and 94 total bases while finishing one off the home run lead with six.

He employs a low crouch at the plate and can catch up to good fastballs. De la Cruz showed the ingredients to become a five-tool player, though he'll have to cut down on his strikeouts. He's a quality defender with an average arm in center field.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
198 35 52 10 7
6 31 17 50
9 6 .263 .320 .475

17. Christopher Hawkins, 3b/of, Blue Jays
B-T: L-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 195 Age: 19 Drafted: Blue Jays '10 (3)
Part of the Blue Jays' draft bonanza, Hawkins was their eighth selection but a third-rounder. He finished his debut on a strong note, batting .304/.391/.411 in August.

Hawkins has good bat speed but will need to shorten his swing. He has at least average power potential and plus speed, and moves well enough that scouts who covered him as an amateur projected him as a center fielder. The Blue Jays mostly deployed him at third base, where he showed a strong arm, and he played eight games in left field at the end of the season.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
157 29 40 9 3 0 15 15 37 8
3 255 .324 .350
 
18. Ryan Brett, 2b, Rays
B-T: B-R Ht.: 5-9 Wt.: 180 Age: 18 Drafted: Rays '10 (3)
A gritty spark plug, Brett packs a lot of punch in his 5-foot-9, 180-pound frame. After destroying lesser high school competition in Washington and signing as a third-round pick, he got off to a torrid start in the GCL before cooling off in the last two weeks and finishing at .303/.364/.404.

Brett has a quick, line-drive stroke that will allow him to hit for a solid average. He has a good knowledge of the strike zone as well. His above-average speed makes him a factor on the bases.

Defensively, Brett needs to iron out his actions at second base. His range and speed could make him an effective center fielder if he can't stick in the infield.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
89 8 27 5 2 0 9
8
17 12 3 .303 .364 .404
 
19. Henry Ramos, of, Red Sox
B-T: B-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 187 Age: 18 Drafted: Red Sox '10 (5)
Ramos played mostly soccer and tennis while growing up in Puerto Rico, so he's relatively inexperienced in baseball. That didn't show in the GCL, where he hit .309/.370/.449 after signing as a fifth-round pick. The switch-hitter showed a good approach and the ball jumped off his bat.

Ramos should have more power once he fills out his 6-foot-2, 187-pound frame. An average runner, he's a sound defender with a solid arm in right field.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
136
18 42 8 1 3 26
12 28 12 6 .309 .370
.449
 
20. Dixon Machado, ss, Tigers
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 140 Age: 18 Signed: Veneuzela '08
Machado was the best defensive shortstop in the league. His actions, range to both sides and arm strength all grade out as above-average. Not only did he make acrobatic plays but he also made the routine ones, committing just six errors in 43 games.

At 6 feet and 140 pounds, Machado will have to get much stronger to be a factor at the plate. He understands his limitations, using a short swing and focusing on making contact. He's a slightly above-average runner.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
165 22 42 4 3 0 11 14 27 12 3 .261 .315 .321