League Top 20 Prospects

Midwest League Top 20 Prospects With Scouting Reports





FIVE YEARS AGO
(Click here for the complete list)
1. *Carlos Gonzalez, of, South Bend
2. *Homer Bailey, rhp, Dayton
3. *Eric Hurley, rhp, Clinton
4. Javier Herrera, of, Kane County
5. *Cliff Pennington, ss, Kane County
6. *Travis Buck, of, Kane County
7. Ryan Harvey, of, Peoria
8. *Anthony Swarzak, rhp, Beloit
9. *Rafael Rodriguez, rhp, Cedar Rapids
10. *Matt Garza, rhp, Beloit
11. Jay Rainville, rhp, Beloit
12. *Trevor Plouffe,  ss, Beloit
13. Luis Cota, rhp, Burlington
14. David Winfree, 3b, Beloit
15. *Sean Gallagher, rhp, Peoria
16. *Eric Patterson, 2b, Peoria
17. *Reid Brignac, ss, Southwest Michigan
18. *Matt Tuiasosopo, ss, Wisconsin
19. *Asdrubal Cabrera, inf, Wisconsin
20. *Wilkin Ramirez, 3b, West Michigan
*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.

Managers and scouts agreed that this year's crop of Midwest League talent was the best they had seen in a while. Burlington manager Jim Gabella said he couldn't remember a better collection of prospects in his six years in the low Class A circuit. Longtime South Bend skipper Mark Haley drew a parallel to the MWL's 2006 bumper crop headlined by Jay Bruce, Cameron Maybin, Justin Upton and Colby Rasmus.

As gifted as those outfielders were, they couldn't match the excitement created by Cedar Rapids center fielder Mike Trout. He hit .362/.454/.526 with 45 steals in 81 games, earning a promotion to high Class A a month before he turned 19.

"He's tremendous," an American League scout said. "I can't believe there's a better player in the minor leagues than Mike Trout. His tools are ridiculous, and he's so physical and athletic, but the thing I love most is he always plays the game with 100 percent energy and a smile on his face. He might be my favorite player I've ever scouted."

Great Lakes led all minor league teams with 90 regular-season victories, but the Loons came up short of a championship. They dropped the last two games of their semifinal series to Lake County, which didn't place a single player on this Top 20 Prospects list.

1. Mike Trout, of, Cedar Rapids Kernels (Angels)
Age: 19. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 217. Drafted: HS—Millville, N.J., '09 (1).
If there's something Trout can't do, MWL observers didn't see it. He won the league MVP award as well as the batting and on-base titles, and managers rated him the best hitter, best and fastest runner, best defensive outfielder and most exciting player in the league. One scout saw him hit a 400-foot homer in one at-bat, that get to first base in 3.65 seconds on a bunt his next time up.

Extremely disciplined for a teenager, Trout has a short righthanded stroke and stays inside the ball well. He has the strength to hit 20-30 homers per season once he elects to drive more balls and get more aggressive early in the count. He has 80 speed on the 20-80 scouting scale, making him a threat to beat out routine grounders.

Trout is very instinctive on the bases and in center field. He covers both gaps and while his arm is his worst tool, it's close to average and not a liability. Completing the package, he has leadership skills and a strong work ethic.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
312 76
113
19
7
6 39
46
52
45
9
.362
.454 .526
 
2. Shelby Miller, rhp, Quad Cities River Bandits (Cardinals)
Age: 19. B-T: R-R. Ht: 6-3. Wt: 195. Drafted: HS—Brownwood, Texas, '09 (1).
Miller arrived in the MWL as a promising but unrefined talent, and the Cardinals gave him most of June off to keep his innings down and work on his mechanics. He returned to post a 2.86 ERA and 84 strikeouts in 63 second-half innings, then was lights out in his sole playoff start. He fanned 13 and allowed just two hits in seven innings against an older Kane County club, hitting 95 mph in his final inning.

Hitters can't catch up to Miller's 94-98 mph fastball, which seems even quicker because it has explosive life and he throws it with little effort. When he stays on top of his curveball, it has tight downer action and gives him a second plus pitch, and his changeup has some nice sink. He throws strikes, and once he gets more consistent with his command and secondary pitches, he'll be a frontline starter.

"He's a real good combination of a raw physical frame along with raw physical stuff," a National League scout said. "He might be the best combination of a strong body and strong stuff in this league since Clayton Kershaw. His stuff is big league-quality right now."
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
24
24
7
5
0 3.62
104
97
51 42
7
33
140
.243
 
3. Wil Myers, c, Burlington Bees (Royals)
Age: 19. B-T: R-R. Ht: 6-3. Wt: 190. Drafted: HS—High Point, N.C., '09 (3).
Myers and lefthander John Lamb gave Burlington the best battery in the MWL, and Lamb would have ranked right behind Myers on this list had he not departed in late May before qualifying. Myers also earned a swift promotion, leaving at the end of June for high Class A, where he hit .346/.453/.512.

He's a more advanced hitter than fellow Royals megaprospects Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer were with the Bees. Employing an open stance, Myers works counts well before punishing pitchers with his plus bat speed and power. He has plenty of bat and enough athleticism to carry him if he has to move from catcher to right field.

MWL managers believe Myers will work hard enough to turn himself into a catcher, but scouts aren't as convinced that he can pull it off. He has a strong arm but a long release, and he has a long ways to go as a receiver. He threw out 34 percent of basestealers but committed 17 passed balls in 47 games for Burlington.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
242
42
70
19
1
10 45
48
55
10
3
.289
.408 .500
 
4. Jacob Turner, rhp, West Michigan Whitecaps (Tigers)
Age: 19. B-T: R-R. Ht: 6-5. Wt: 210. Drafted: HS—St. Louis, '09 (1).
The Tigers gave Turner a $4.7 million bonus (a record for a high school pitcher) after drafting him ninth overall in 2009, so they held their breath when he came down with forearm stiffness in his second pro start this April. But he turned out to be fine after sitting out for three weeks. With stuff as good as advertised, he pitched his way to high Class A before the end of June.

Using an easy delivery, Turner regularly pitches in the low 90s and touches 95 mph with his fastball, which has heavy, boring life. His hard curveball can be just as devastating, arriving in the upper 70s with 12-to-6 break. He's making progress with his changeup and has advanced command for a teenager.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
11
10
2
3
0 3.67
54
53
26
22
4
9
51
.245
 
5. Aaron Hicks, of, Beloit Snappers (Twins)
Age: 20. B-T: B-R. Ht: 6-2. Wt: 185. Drafted: HS—Long Beach, '08 (1).
Hicks ranked No. 1 on this list a year ago, and while he put up better numbers in his second tour of the MWL, he didn't dominate and left observers wanting more. "I wish he was hitting .300 with 20 homers," the AL scout said, "but he's so talented and does so many good things that it's worth the wait."

A switch-hitter, Hicks has more balance and strength from the right side (where he hit .362/.449/.664) and is more tentative from the left (.248/.383/.339). While he drew an impressive 88 walks and doesn't chase pitches, he gets passive and doesn't attack pitches he could hammer when he's ahead in the count. He has above-average speed but still is learning the nuances of basestealing, getting caught 11 times in 32 tries.

Hicks has good range to both sides in center field, where he should become a solid or better defender once his instincts improve. Though he registered just five assists in 103 games, he has one of the strongest outfield arms in the minors. He hit 97 mph with his fastball in high school, when some clubs preferred him as a pitcher.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
423 86
118
27
6
8
49
88
112
21
11
.279
.401 .428
 
6. Nick Franklin, ss/2b, Clinton LumberKings (Mariners)
Age: 19. B-T: B-R. Ht: 6-1. Wt: 170. Drafted: HS—Altamonte Springs, Fla., '09 (1).
Franklin was the 27th overall pick in the 2009 draft, but power wasn't supposed to be his strong suit. The 170-pound Franklin shocked the MWL by going deep 23 times, breaking Dick Kenworthy's 49-year-old franchise record and becoming the first teenaged middle infielder to win the league home crown.

"He has the most amazing power for a guy who looks like he shouldn't have power," Cedar Rapids manager Bill Mosiello said. "His home runs go way out."

Franklin is wiry strong and generates his power with quick hands, and he likes to attack fastballs early in the count. A switch-hitter, he has a more open stance and is much more effective hitting lefthanded (.318/.394/.559) than righthanded (.174/.221/.273). He may have to tone down his approach and focus more on making contact against better pitching.

Thanks to solid-average speed and good instincts on the bases, he joined Brandon Belt and Danny Espinosa as the only 20-20 players in the minors this year. Franklin gets the job done at shortstop, but his solid-average arm and range probably will play better at second base in the major leagues.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
513
89
144
22 7
23
65
50
123
25
10
.281
.351 .485
 
7. Trey McNutt, rhp, Peoria Chiefs (Cubs)
Age: 21. B-T: R-R. Ht: 6-4. Wt: 205. Drafted: Shelton State (Ala.) CC, 2009 (32).
While the first six players on this list signed for seven-figure bonuses, the Cubs stole the late-blooming McNutt in the 32nd round of the 2009 draft for $115,000. He showed two plus-plus pitches while reaching Double-A and going 10-1, 2.48 in his first full pro season.

McNutt has a 92-98 mph fastball, and though it could use more downward plane, he can blow it by hitters up in the strike zone. He had a power breaking ball that resembles a slider more than a curve, diving down and in on lefthanders when it's at its best. He doesn't use his changeup much, but his arm action is promising.

McNutt can lapse into being more of a thrower than pitcher. He'll overthrow and lose command at times, and he needs to learn to add and subtract from his pitches more often. At worst, though, he already has the stuff to become a closer.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
13
13
6 0
0 1.51
60
43
14
10
0
24
70 .202
 
8. Jake Odorizzi, rhp, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (Brewers)
Age: 20. B-T: R-R. Ht: 6-2. Wt: 175. Drafted: HS—Highland, Ill., '08 (1s).
The Brewers have struggled to develop pitchers, and premium 2009 draft picks Eric Arnett and Kyle Heckathorn underwhelmed MWL observers with their work in Wisconsin's rotation. But the Rattlers did have a keeper in Odorizzi, who led the league in strikeouts per nine innings (10.1) and threw the first eight innings of a no-hitter in his second-to-last start. Two scouts called him a lesser version of Zack Greinke.

Odorizzi's fastball ranges from 89-95 mph with sinking and boring action, and he maintains his velocity deep into games. He's still settling on a breaking ball and scouts prefer his curveball, which has potential as a plus pitch, to his slider, which is more of a cutter. He has some feel for a changeup, though he's still looking for consistent arm speed when he throws it.

A former all-league wide receiver at his Illinois high school, Odorizzi is athletic and has an easy, repeatable delivery. It allows him to throw strikes and get his pitches on hitters quicker than they expect. He also draws praise for his mound presence.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
23
20
7
3
1
3.43
121
99
52
46
7
40
135
.220
 
9. Matt Davidson, 3b, South Bend Silver Hawks (Diamondbacks)
Age: 19. B-T: R-R. Ht: 6-3. Wt: 225. Drafted: HS—Yucaipa, Calif., '09 (1s).
The Diamondbacks selected Bobby Borchering and Davidson in the top 35 picks of the 2009 draft, then sent them both to South Bend for their first full season. They shared third-base and DH duties until Davidson moved to high Class A in mid-August. While Borchering went 19 picks higher and has more raw power, managers and scouts clearly preferred Davidson.

"He's as good a young hitter as I've seen in that league in a long time," a second AL scout said.

More polished at the plate than Borchering, Davidson has quick hands and isn't afraid to let balls get deep before he turns his bat loose and unleashes power to all fields. He also has a better chance to stick at third base, though Davidson is more playable than solid there and may wind up in left field. He has well below-average speed and substandard range, and a lack of throwing accuracy detracts from his solid arm strength.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
415
58
120
35
3
16
79
43
109
0
2
.289
.371 .504
 
10. Tyler Skaggs, lhp, Cedar Rapids (Angels)/South Bend (Diamondbacks)
Age: 19. B-T: L-L. Ht: 6-4. Wt: 195. Drafted: HS—Santa Monica, Calif., '09 (1s/Angels).
The Diamondbacks nearly took Skaggs before opting for Davidson with the No. 35 pick in the 2009 draft. The Angels grabbed him at No. 40, one selection ahead of Arizona's next choice. Fourteen months later, the Diamondbacks finally landed him as the player to be named in the Dan Haren trade.

A projectable lefthander, Skaggs easily has the most upside of the four players Arizona received in the deal. His low-70s curveball is a plus pitch that he locates for strikes. He throws his fastball at 88-92 mph, with more velocity to come once he fills out his 6-foot-4 frame, which he uses to pitch on a downward angle tough on hitters.

His changeup also has its moments, and if everything comes together, he could have three plus pitches. He already has more poise and command than most teenagers. "This must be what Cole Hamels looked like," Mosiello said.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
23
18
9
5
0 3.29
98
91
38
36
7
25
102 .248
 
11. Allen Webster, rhp, Great Lakes Loons (Dodgers)
Age: 20. B-T: R-R. Ht: 6-3. Wt: 185. Drafted: HS—Madison, N.C., '08 (18).
Though first baseman Jerry Sands' power and righthander Rubby de la Rosa's radar-gun readings drew more attention at Great Lakes, Webster was the Loons' best prospect. He may not have been as spectacular, but he tied for the league lead with 12 victories and has three potential above-average pitches.

Webster's biggest weapon is his fading changeup, which was as good as any in the MWL. His 90-91 mph fastball peaks at 94 but is most notable for its power sink, and his curveball has sharp, late break at times. He repeats his delivery well and should have at least average future command and control.

"He could end up being a stud," a third AL scout said. "He has a couple of plus pitches and will be a solid middle-of-the-rotation guy."
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
26
23
12
9
0 2.88
131
119
55
42
6
53
114
.239
 
12. Jean Segura, 2b, Cedar Rapids Kernels (Angels)
Age: 20. B-T: R-R. Ht: 5-11. Wt: 190. Signed: Dominican Republic, '07.
Segura led the MWL with 161 hits and earned the managers' nod as the league's best defensive second baseman, continuing a tradition of Cedar Rapids stars at his position started by Alberto Callaspo and Howie Kendrick. He's faster than either of them, and he has more power than Callaspo and better defensive skills than Kendrick.

Stocky and compact, Segura has surprising bat speed and raw power. He stays inside the ball well and can lace hits to the opposite field, or he can turn on pitches and do some damage if pitchers challenge him inside. He makes consistent contact, gets on base and uses his plus speed to steal bases.

Segura has an uncommonly strong arm for a second baseman. If he had a quicker first step, he might be able to handle playing shortstop. He'll have to settle for playing a good second base, though he'll have to maintain his conditioning so his thick lower half doesn't go south on him.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
515
89
161
24 12
10 79
45
72 50
10
.313
.365 .464
 
13. Hak-Ju Lee, ss, Peoria Chiefs (Cubs)
Age: 19. B-T: L-R. Ht: 6-2. Wt: 170. Signed: South Korea, '08.
With Franklin projecting as a second baseman, scouts tabbed Lee as the MWL's best shortstop prospect. However, some of them said they expected more polish after he ranked as the short-season Northwest League's No. 1 prospect a year ago and was billed as having four plus tools.

Lee's best attribute is his speed, which grades as a 65-70 on the 20-80 scouting scale. He's even quicker down the line because he uses a jailbreak approach and races out of the box a la Ichiro Suzuki. He also has an above-average arm, though he doesn't always show it because he flips too many throws to first base.

Lee has a more aggressive approach than most Asian hitters. He has a quick bat and can turn on some pitches, though he spins off some balls and needs to realize power really isn't his game. He doesn't always read balls well in the field and can get sloppy defensively, which resulted in 34 errors in 118 games.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
485 85
137
22 4
1 40
49
86
32
7
.282 .354 .351
 
14. Fabio Martinez, rhp, Cedar Rapids Kernels (Angels)
Age: 20. B-T: R-R. Ht: 6-3. Wt: 190. Signed: Dominican Republic, '07.
Martinez led the Rookie-level Arizona League in strikeouts last year and would have done the same in the MWL had he not missed the final month with shoulder tendinitis. He regained strength in his shoulder by the end of the season, when he threw 94 mph in a simulated game.

He loves to throw his four-seam fastball, which runs from 90-96 mph and peaks at 98, and can get it by hitters up in the zone. They can't sit on it because his low-80s slider gives him a second swing-and-miss pitch.

A starter for most of his career, Martinez profiles better as a reliever. He has a lot of moving parts to his delivery and doesn't repeat it well, costing him control and command. He also lacks an effective offspeed pitch, because he doesn't trust his changeup and throws it too hard.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
20
19
7
3
0 3.92
103
80
49
45
6 76
141
.216
 
15. Rubby de la Rosa, rhp, Great Lakes Loons (Dodgers)
Age: 21. B-T: R-R. Ht: 6-1. Wt: 170. Signed: Dominican Republic, '07.
De la Rosa hit 98 mph in his U.S. debut last year in the Arizona League before he was sent home to the Dominican Republic for disciplinary reasons. Great Lakes clocked him at 102 mph on its radar gun—other sources clocked him as high as 99-100—and his heater has some armside run and downhill plane. How well he refines the rest of his repertoire will determine whether he winds up as a starter or reliever.

His slider has plenty of power at 85-88 mph but gets slurvy and hangs at times. His changeup has potential, though he'll need to throw it more often to improve it. He throws with some effort and his arm slot varies, so his control and command are inconsistent.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
14
5
4
1
6
3.19
59
49
23
21
3
17
55
.223
 
16. Alex Colome, rhp, Bowling Green Hot Rods (Rays)
Age: 21. B-T: R-R. Ht: 6-2. Wt: 184. Signed: Dominican Republic, '07.
The Rays like to bring their young pitchers along slowly, so Colome didn't reach full-season ball until this, his fourth pro season. He could start to move quickly after showing one of the league's livest arms, and Great Lakes manager Juan Bustabad called him the best pitcher the Loons saw all year.

Colome's best pitch is a 91-93 mph fastball that tops out at 96 and features armside run and sink. His 11-to-5 curveball has tight spin and qualifies as a plus pitch at its best. His changeup is a solid third offering that helped him limit lefthanders to a .199 average.

Colome's control and command continue to improve and project as at least solid. He's not afraid to challenge hitters inside with his fastball and shows some aptitude for backdooring his curve for strikes.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
22
22
6
6
0 3.95
114
98
59
50
14
45
118 .233
 
17. Chris Owings, ss, South Bend Silver Hawks (Diamondbacks)
Age: 19. B-T: R-R. Ht: 5-11. Wt: 175. Drafted: HS—Gilbert, S.C., '09 (1s).
Owings came down with plantar fasciitis (inflammation on the bottom of his foot) and didn't play after appearing in the June 22 all-star game, so many scouts who cover the MWL only got to see him in batting practice. What they saw left them intrigued. One scout said he looked better in BP than Davidson or Borchering, and another who saw Owings play when healthy preferred him as a prospect to the two third basemen.

His lightning-quick hands give him surprising power at the plate. "If he's sitting fastball, I don't care who it is," Haley said, "you're not going to throw it by him." If Owings becomes more disciplined at the plate, he could hit .280 with a ceiling of 15 homers per year.

Owings enhances his offensive profile with slightly above-average speed and good instincts on the bases. He also plays a solid shortstop and has a chance to stick there. He gets to the balls he should and has a strong arm with a quick release.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
255
39
76
19
2
5 28
9
50 1
3
.298
.323 .447

18. Jerry Sands, 1b/of, Great Lakes Loons (Dodgers)
Age: 22. B-T: R-R. Ht: 6-4. Wt: 225. Drafted: Catwaba (N.C.), '08 (25).
Sands hit a school-record 61 homers at Catawba (N.C.), an NCAA Division II school, and 29 in 119 games over his first two pro seasons. But the 25th-round pick didn't get taken seriously as a prospect until he bashed 35 more in 2010 to rank second in the minors. He hit 18 in the first half, said goodbye by tagging McNutt for a two-run shot in the MWL all-star game, then hit 17 more in Double-A.

Sands' plus power comes from his strong hands and wrists, along with the loft in his swing. Compared to the month he spent at Great Lakes last season, he did a better job of working counts and using the whole field this time around.

Managers not only rated Sands the best power hitter in the league, but the top defensive first baseman as well. He moves well for his size and can handle the outfield corners as well. He has an average arm in the outfield and can steal an occasional base despite below-average speed.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
243 48
81
16
3 18
46
40
61 14 2
.333
.432 .646
 
19. Matt Lollis, rhp, Fort Wayne TinCaps (Padres)
Age: 19. B-T: R-R. Ht: 6-7. Wt: 265. Drafted: Riverside (Calif.) CC, '09 (15).
Though the Padres spent a club-record $9.1 million on their 2009 draft, the early returns haven't been promising. Of their three biggest bonus babies, Donavan Tate and Everett Williams have struggled at the plate (and Tate has rarely been healthy), while Keyvius Sampson has labrum and elbow issues. Lollis, a 15th-rounder who signed for $100,000, has outperformed them all.

During his six weeks with Fort Wayne, Lollis showed the makings of four average or better pitches. His best offering is a 92-93 mph fastball that tops out at 96. He has a pair of useful breaking balls, with his slider ranking ahead of his knuckle-curve, and he has some feel for a changeup.

Lollis' huge 6-foot-7, 265-pound frame is both an asset and a concern. He has an imposing presence on the mound, but he's also going to have to monitor his conditioning so his body doesn't get away from him. Despite his size, he does a reasonable job of maintaining his delivery and throwing strikes.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
9
9
5
2
0 1.66
54
47
12
10
3
13
45
.234
 
20. Chad Jenkins, rhp, Lansing Lugnuts (Blue Jays)
Age: 22. B-T: R-R. Ht: 6-4. Wt: 235. Drafted: Kennesaw State, '09 (1).
With a chunky physique evoking Joe Blanton and solid but not overwhelming stuff, Jenkins isn't the sexiest pitcher. But he made quick work of the MWL, with eight quality starts in 13 outings before leaving for high Class A in mid-June, and looked like a future No. 3 starter.

Jenkins' fastball ranges from 88-94 mph, with his two-seamer breaking bats by boring in on righthanders and his four-seamer showing nice riding life. His mid-80s slider is a swing-and-miss pitch when it's on, and his changeup has late fade. Though there's some effort and recoil in his delivery, he repeats it well and fills the strike zone.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
13
13
5
4
0 3.63
79
87
35
32
5
13
64
.277