League Top 20 Prospects

Northwest League Top 20 Prospects With Scouting Reports





FIVE YEARS AGO
(Click here for the complete list)
1. Shane Lindsay, rhp, Tri-City
2. *Donald Veal, lhp, Boise
3. *Taylor Teagarden, c, Spokane
4. *Nick Hundley, c, Eugene
5. *Pablo Sandoval, 3b, Salem-Keizer
6. *Luis Valbuena, 2b, Everett
7. Dan Griffin, rhp, Salem-Keizer
8. *John Mayberry Jr., of, Spokane
9. Ben Copeland, of, Salem-Keizer
10. *Chase Headley, 3b, Eugene
11. Jimmy Shull, rhp, Vancouver
12. Michael Mooney, of, Salem-Keizer
13. *Michael Saunders, of, Everett
14. Steve Murphy, of, Spokane
15. Edgar Guaramato, lhp, Everett
16. Zach Simons, rhp, Tri-City
17. Stephen Kahn, rhp, Everett
18. Jason Ray, rhp, Vancouver
19. Justin Sellers, ss, Vancouver
20. Mark Reed, c, Boise
*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.

Neither team won the championship, but Spokane and Eugene dominated our short-season Northwest League Top 20 Prospects list.

Spokane won the Eastern Division with a 43-33 record and advanced to the playoff finals, led by shortstop Jurickson Profar, the NWL's No. 1 prospect, and five other members of our Top 20: 2010 draft picks Mike Olt, Kellin Deglan, Jake Skole and Jared Hoying (the league MVP), and Dominican lefthander Miguel de los Santos. Eugene didn't have as much success on the field, going 32-44, but also claimed a half-dozen spots on the Top 20 with a mix of draftees from 2009 (Matt Lollis, Keyvius Sampson) and 2010 (Jedd Gyorko, Rico Noel) and Latin American signings (Rymer Liriano, Adys Portillo).

Everett was the most successful team on the field, starting the season with a seven-game winning streak and never looking back. The AquaSox tied a franchise record for wins at 49-27 and beat Spokane for Everett's first championship in 25 years, though they placed only two prospects on the Top 20: righthanders Yoervis Medina (No. 15) and Stephen Pryor (No. 17).

Boise had the NWL's top prospect last year in shortstop Hak-Ju Lee, but the Hawks were the only one of the league's eight teams to get shut out in 2010.

1. Jurickson Profar, ss, Spokane Indians (Rangers)
Age: 17. B-T: B-R. Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 165. Signed: Curacao, '09.
This summer in Spokane was Profar's first exposure to professional baseball. But it wasn't his first time playing in front of large crowds. He was on the Curacao team that made it to the final game of the 2005 Little League World Series.

If Profar grew up in the United States, he'd be spending the summer on the showcase circuit, preparing for his senior year of high school. Instead, he signed in 2009 for $1.55 million and held his own this summer as a 17-year-old in a league where most players were four to five years older.

Profar is electrifying defensively. He has great range, soft and quick hands and above-average arm strength. He's average to a tick above in terms of raw speed, and he goes from first to third or second to home very well.

A switch-hitter, Profar is a little better from the left side but has nice swings from both sides of the plate. With good balance and above-average bat speed, he projects as an average hitter with mostly gap power. He tied for second in the NWL with 19 doubles.

Profar has outstanding makeup, too. He's very mature for his age, speaks four languages (Dutch, English, Spanish and Papiamento, a Portugese-based creole) and loves playing the game.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
252 42 63
19 0 4 23
28
46 8 3 .250 .323 .373
 
2. Michael Choice, of, Vancouver Canadians (Athletics)
Age: 20. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 205. Drafted: Texas-Arlington, '10 (1).
The 10th overall pick in the 2010 draft, Choice has excellent bat speed and good leverage to his swing, which results in legitimate plus-plus raw power to all fields. How much of that power he taps into is the question because there are a lot of moving parts to his swing. Over 102 at-bats in the NWL, Choice hit seven home runs but also struck out 43 times.

Choice has a toe tap and an exaggerated twist to his load, and his swing can get too uphill. He has good pitch recognition and drives balls all over the field in batting practice, but he has an aggressive approach and gets too pull-happy in games. He sometimes rolls over his top hand prematurely.

"He recognized pitches and hit the ball hard to all fields," Boise manager Jody Davis said. "He looks a little unorthodox, but when the ball hits his bat, it (goes) a long way."

Choice played exclusively in center field during his pro debut, but it's unlikely he'll remain there over the long haul. He's a tick above-average as a runner, but his body type suggests that he'll probably lose a step before too long and his arm probably will dictate a move to left field. He also needs to work on his jumps and routes.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
102 20 29
10 2 7 26
15
43 6 1 .284 .388 .627
 
3. Jedd Gyorko, 3b, Eugene Emeralds (Padres)
Age: 21. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-10. Wt.: 195. Drafted: West Virginia, '10 (2).
While Gyorko played mainly shortstop at West Virginia, he's built more like a catcher than a middle infielder. At 5-foot-10 and 195 pounds, he simply doesn't have the quickness and range to stay there and moved to third base immediately as a pro. It was a seamless transition and Gyorko drew glowing reviews for his defensive ability.

"His feet are quick, his hands are outstanding and he has plenty of arm strength, and it's accurate too," Eugene manager Greg Riddoch said. "He makes the tough play look easy. If you're a former infielder, you can see right away. He has great hands and great reactions."

His hands also work well at the plate, and more than one scout compared him to Brett Wallace. Gyorko is an above-average hitter who uses the entire field and barrels up balls. He has plus bat speed and a compact stroke—though he does have a little wrap in his swing that will need to be ironed out—and at least 12-15 home run power.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
106 16 35
6 0 5 18 9
26 1
1 .330 .383 .528
 
4. Mike Olt, 3b, Spokane Indians (Rangers)
Age: 22. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 215. Drafted: Connecticut, '10 (1s).
At 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds, Olt has more of a prototypical build for a third baseman than Gyorko and NWL observers often compared the two. He doesn't quite have Gyorko's pure hitting ability, but he does offer a little more power and can drive the ball out of the yard to all fields. Though Olt narrowed his stance halfway through his junior year at Connecticut, which he said helped him see the ball better and led to a second-half surge, he was more spread out in Spokane, which gave him a little better balance.

Defensively, he has more lateral range than Gyorko, and while his hands are very good, they're not quite on par with Gyorko's. Olt has an above-average arm and fringy speed.

"He's a nice looking player," Salem-Keizer manager Tom Trebelhorn said. "I don't know if he's going to have David Wright's power, but he's kind of like David Wright or Todd Zeile. Those are the guys that come to mind when I see him, somewhere between those two guys."
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
263 57
77 16
1 9 43 40
77 6 0 .293 .390 .464
 
5. Chad Bettis, rhp, Tri-City Dust Devils (Rockies)
Age: 21. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 193. Drafted: Texas Tech, '10 (2).
Bettis overpowered hitters and didn't stay long in the Northwest League before being promoted to low Class A to finish out the season. After shuttling between the rotation and bullpen at Texas Tech, he was very effective as a starter in his pro debut.

Bettis' fastball sits in the 92-94 mph range and touches 98. His slider shows flashes of being an above-average pitch, but it needs more consistency, as does his changeup. He keeps the ball down and is a fearless competitor.

"He just knows how to pitch," Tri-City manager Freddie Ocasio said. "He's a bulldog that goes after hitters, and he's pretty knowledgeable about the game and he works hard. He's a guy that works and he wants it bad, so he's going to be OK."
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
10
9
4 1 0 1.12
48
44
11 6 0 10 39 .227
 
6. Matt Lollis, rhp, Eugene Emeralds (Padres)
Age: 19. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-7. Wt.: 265. Drafted: Riverside (Calif.) CC, '09 (15).
While most players on this list are high-profile draft picks or international signings, Lollis was a 15th-round pick in 2009. After biceps tendinitis shut him down as a high school senior, he turned down San Diego State and headed instead to Riverside (Calif.) CC. He looks like a sound $100,000 investment so far, as Lollis' fastball sits at 93-94 mph and peaks at 97. His ability to throw first-pitch strikes allowed him to work on his secondary pitches, which improved throughout the summer. His knuckle-curve and slider both have power to them, though he's still working to become more confident with his changeup.

Lollis is deceptively athletic and agile for his size. He has good body control and fields his position well. He also uses his height to his advantage on the mound, using a high three-quarters arm action to drive his fastball down in the zone.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
6
6
2 2 0 2.86
35
21
11
11 0 8 24 .175
 
7. Erik Stavert, rhp, Tri-City Dust Devils (Rockies)
Age: 22. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 185. Drafted: Oregon, '09 (7).
Stavert threw nine innings for Tri-City last year before being shut down with a tender shoulder. He came back healthy this season and was dynamic.

Stavert gets incredible sink and run on a two-seam fastball that sits at 91-94 mph range. His changeup is his second-best offering, an above-average pitch with good tumble. He scrapped his curveball for a slider during his junior year at Oregon, and the slider now projects as a future average pitch.

Big and durable, Stavert has a quick arm and is a bulldog on the mound. He needs to work on pitching with a better tempo. Sometimes his stuff moves too much for him to control, but that's a good problem to have.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
13
13
3 4 0 2.90
68
57
28 22 1 26 35 .224
 
8. Rymer Liriano, of, Eugene Emeralds (Padres)
Age: 19. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 211. Signed: Dominican Republic, '07.
Liriano is a textbook example of a player whose tools are ahead of his skills. He has the physical ability to be an impact big leaguer, but his game is raw all the way around.

Though he hit just three home runs in 441 at-bats between three levels this year, Liriano has legitimate power. With plenty of bat speed, he's a monster in batting practice who's still learning to translate his strength into games. Toning down his aggressiveness at the plate would help.

He's a solid-average runner, though as with his power, his raw speed is better than his game speed. He needs to work on developing better instincts on the bases and in the outfield. He has above-average arm strength and profiles best in right field.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
203 35
55
13 6 0 12 17
53 17 7 .271 .335 .394
 
9. Adys Portillo, rhp, Eugene Emeralds (Padres)
Age: 18. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 185. Signed: Venezuela, '08.
The keystone of the Padres' extravagant 2008 international signing class, Portillo signed for $2 million—a record for a Venezuelan pitcher. He spent the beginning of this year in extended spring training before tackling the NWL as an 18-year-old.

Portillo's fastball fluctuates, sitting at 90-93 mph in some games and 94-96 in others, but there's no denying his arm strength. His arm action can get stiff and he has a wrist wrap, both of which hinder his ability to throw strikes and develop his secondary pitches. He throws a slow, loopy curveball and a changeup, and both pitches need a lot of work.

His biggest steps forward this year came with maturity and the mental aspects of pitching. He worked on getting into a better rhythm and focusing on executing his next pitch, rather than sulking if he threw a bad pitch.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
14
14
2 6 0 4.79
62
55
41 33 2 40 62 .241
 
10. Miguel de los Santos, lhp, Spokane Indians (Rangers)
Age: 22. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 170. Signed: Dominican Republic, '06.
For the third straight year, Spokane had the top lefthanded pitching prospect in the league. De los Santos followed in the footsteps of Martin Perez and Robbie Ross, sticking out with a 91-92 mph fastball that he can dial up to 94 and a big league-quality curveball with sharp, late break. He also has an effective changeup.

While de los Santos has quality stuff, he has a tendency to fall in love with his fastball. He also needs to work on being more focused and mentally prepared for his starts. De Los Santos was slow getting to the United States after missing most of 2007 due to Tommy John surgery, but he has the ceiling of a mid-rotation starter and is a solid bet to become at least a late-inning reliever.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
7
7
2 0 0 1.69
32
13
8 6 0 20 50 .116
 
11. Kellin Deglan, c, Spokane Indians (Rangers)
Age: 18. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 195. Drafted: HS—Langley, B.C., '10 (1).
The exposure to quality competition Deglan received as the catcher for Canada's junior national team allowed him to arrive in Spokane with more polish than the typical high school catcher. The 22nd-overall pick in the 2010 draft, he has a strong, accurate arm to go with soft hands and good game-calling ability. He threw out 32 percent of NWL basestealers.

"He picks things up fast and he pays attention to the game," Spokane manager Tim Hulett said. "I liked his makeup for a guy behind the plate. When he didn't know what he was doing or if he made a bad sequence of calls and we sat down and talked with him about it, he was good about picking it up right away and incorporating it into the next inning or so."

Though he batted just .159/.222/.220, Deglan does project to be a good hitter. His long arms can cause him to get tied up inside, but he has the potential to hit 15 homers annually in the majors. He's already strong and hasn't finished maturing physically.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
82 7 13
2 0 1 4 7
21 0 0 .159
.222 .240
 
12. Keyvius Sampson, rhp, Eugene Emeralds (Padres)
Age: 19. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 185. Drafted: HS—Ocala, Fla., '09 (4).
Sampson had one of the most electric arms in the NWL. He routinely works at 93-95 with good life on his fastball and he makes it look easy. His curveball shows flashes, but it also can be soft and slurvy when he doesn't stay on top of it. He also shows a good changeup and has a lot of confidence in it already, especially for a young pitcher.

Sampson's arm action is long in the back but it's quick out front. He works fast and attacks the strike zone with all three of his pitches. He throws strikes but needs to do a better job of locating his pitches.

The biggest concern with Sampson is his health. He has been pitching with a tear in his labrum. Perhaps as the result of compensating for that injury, he also came down with elbow tenderness and was shut down in mid-August.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
10
10
3 3 0 3.56
43
35
23 17 4 17 58 .226
 
13. Jake Skole, of, Spokane Indians (Rangers)
Age: 18. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 190. Drafted: HS—Roswell, Ga., '10 (1).
Considering Skole's physique, it's no surprise Georgia Tech recruited him to play both baseball and football. Muscular and athletic, his body stood out more than most of the college players he shared the field with.

The 15th overall pick in June, Skole has above-average bat speed and held his own in the NWL's advanced environment, where many of the pitchers have college experience. Though he tracks the ball well, he tends to get out on his front foot too early and his hips drift. That causes his bat to drag through the hitting zone, sapping strength from his swing.

Skole has plus speed when he's healthy, though a right ankle injury from the spring didn't fully heal during his pro debut. He played exclusively in center field this summer but profiles better as a right fielder with a solid-average arm. He needs to make better reads and do a better job of keeping his throws down. They sail sometimes because he has an over-the-top release.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
201 29 51
9 2 2 27 23
52 6 4 .254 .327 .348
 
14. Zach Walters, ss, Yakima Bears (Diamondbacks)
Age: 20. B-T: B-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 193. Drafted: San Diego, '10 (9).
Walters struggled this spring at San Diego, hitting just .252/.318/.388 while playing through a dislocated thumb. He put that performance behind him in the NWL, where he was one of the league's biggest surprises.

Walters has an impressive 6-foot-3, 193-pound frame and a similar swing from both sides of the plate. While shortening his stroke after turning pro, he showed some snap in his swing and some intriguing power potential. He's an average runner with good instincts on the bases.

He also impressed defensively, showing good range, soft hands and above-average arm strength. He's a smart player who reads swings well and knows what his pitcher is trying to do. He plays hard all the time and is a good leader.

"He's very similar to Brandon Crawford," said Vancouver manager Rick Magnante, referencing the Giants prospect who spent most of 2010 in Double-A. "Good body, probably more run tool than Crawford, but similar arms, similar range, similar guys."
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
275 44
83
18 4 4 43 16
59 14 4 .302 .338 .440
 
15. Yoervis Medina, rhp, Everett AquaSox (Mariners)
Age: 22. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 210. Signed: Venezuela, '05.
While lefthanders Edlando Seco and Anthony Fernandez put up better numbers, Everett's best starting pitching prospect was Medina. Big and physical, he had one of the best breaking balls in the NWL and sets up his curve with a 90-91 mph fastball that gets up to 94.

Medina also uses a splitter as a chase pitch and keeps hitters honest with his changeup. Mechanically, he needs to do a better job of incorporate his lower half into his delivery.

"I call him El Caballo," AquaSox pitching coach Rich Dorman said. "He's just a horse and he's one of the most competitive kids that I had last year."
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
8
8
3
2 0 4.20
41
30
30 19 4 15 48 .297
 
16. Jared Hoying, of, Spokane Indians (Rangers)
Age: 21. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 190. Drafted: Toledo, '10 (10).
Hoying was a riddle for scouts while in college at Toledo. He had a good frame and solid all-around tools, but he didn't use his lower half in his swing. After he broke several bats in his first month as a pro, he asked for help with his hitting mechanics. Spokane's coaches got him to spread out more, bend at the waist and raise his hands. "He's a very athletic kid, but he was hitting from a very unathletic position," Hulett said.

After making those changes, Hoying hit .359/.411/.601 in the final two months and won the league's MVP award. He has good strength and started driving the ball to all fields with his improved stance. He has solid-average speed and plus arm strength. A shortstop for most of his college career, he played primarily in left field as a pro and could handle center in a pinch.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
243 47 79
13 5 10 51
19
70 20 9 .325 .378 .543
 
17. Stephen Pryor, rhp, Everett AquaSox (Mariners)
Age: 21. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-6. Wt.: 225. Drafted: Tennessee Tech, '10 (5).
Pryor made a name for himself this spring at Tennessee Tech when he touched 98 mph in a game against Red Sox sandwich pick Bryce Brentz and Middle Tennessee State. He showed some of the best arm strength in the NWL, sitting at 92-95 and topping out at 97. He dominated the league and earned a promotion to low Class A after just 11 appearances.

Pryor prefers to blow his fastball by hitters because the rest of his game is raw. He switched from throwing a curveball to a slider this spring, and it's still a work in progress. There's some funk to his delivery and he'll need to keep his big body under control to improve his command.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
11
0
0 0 4 0.49
18
7
1 1 0 7 26 .119

18. Josh Slaats, rhp, Tri-City Dust Devils (Rockies)
Age: 21. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 225. Drafted: Hawaii, '10 (5).
Slaats has the ingredients to become a middle-of-the-rotation starter. His fastball sat at 89-91 mph in his pro debut, though it did touch 94 and he showed a little more velocity in the spring at Hawaii. He also mixes in a hard slider and improved his changeup on the mainland, giving him the potential for three average-or-better pitches.

A physical presence at 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds, Slaats has a good idea of how to set up hitters and goes right after them. He doesn't focus on strikeouts—though he had 42 in 32 NWL innings—and induces plenty of weak contact too.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
8
5
1 3 0 1.95
32
20
10 7 2 10 42
.174
 
19. Rico Noel, of, Eugene Emeralds (Padres)
Age: 21. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-9. Wt.: 175. Drafted: Coastal Carolina, '10 (5).
Noel led NCAA Division I with 56 steals in the spring and has legitimate 80 speed on the 20-80 scouting scale. His speed helps him on both offense and defense. He covers a lot of ground in center field and has solid arm strength.

"He's one of the best center fielders I've had in a long, long time," Riddoch said. "He did play deep, but we got him to play shallow because he's so good at going back on the ball."

Noel plays to his strengths at the plate. Mostly a singles hitter with some gap power, he's a constant threat to bunt for a hit. The Padres have discussed making him a switch-hitter, but it hasn't progressed further than having Noel hit lefthanded in batting practice.

"If you can get this guy to go to the left side and hit from both sides of the plate, he might be something special," Riddoch said. "He reminds me of my old shortstop, Tony Fernandez, when I managed the Padres. Get him on that left side and he starts doing that slapping and dragging and pushing and the corners have to play halfway in, or he'll bunt one and get on. He's got a bright future."
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
112 22
31
2 2 1 15
25
24 14 3 .277 .426 .357
 
20. Jake Dunning, rhp, Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (Giants)
Age: 22. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 188. Drafted: Indiana, '09 (33).
Initially drafted as a shortstop out of Indiana, the Giants stuck Dunning on the mound after he hit .227/.244/.307 in his pro debut in the Rookie-level Arizona League last year. He had pitched briefly for the Hoosiers and in junior college previously, so the transition wasn't entirely foreign to him.

Dunning has prototypical size and arm strength, and he led NWL relievers by averaging 11.3 strikeouts per nine innings. His fastball sits at 92-93 mph and tops out at 95 with good life. His slider and changeup understandably need polish, but both display the potential to become at least average pitches, and the Giants may try him as a starter next year.

Dunning's delivery is mechanical and needs to be smoothed out, which shouldn't be a problem given his athleticism. He uses his height to his advantage, though he sometimes drops his elbow and gets under his pitches. He has a clean delivery and the makeup to pitch in any situation.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
18
0
1
0 0 2.95 37
30
15 12 2 8 46 .221