League Top 20 Prospects

Carolina League Top 20 Prospects With Scouting Reports





FIVE YEARS AGO
(Click here for the complete list)
*1. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, c, Myrtle Beach
*2. Nick Markakis, of, Frederick
*3. Anibal Sanchez, rhp, Wilmington
4. Adam Miller, rhp, Kinston
*5. Gio Gonzalez, lhp, Winston-Salem
*6. Jeremy Sowers, lhp, Kinston
*7. Armando Galarraga, rhp, Potomac
*8. Jeff Fiorentino, of, Frederick
*9. Lance Broadway, rhp, Winston-Salem
*10. Adam Loewen, lhp, Frederick
11. Robert Valido, ss, Winston-Salem
*12. Tony Sipp, lhp, Kinston
13. Ray Liotta, lhp, Winston-Salem
14. *J.J. Johnson, rhp, Frederick
15. *Kory Casto, 3b, Potomac
16. *Brad Snyder, of, Kinston
17. Frank Diaz, of, Potomac
18. *Hunter Pence, of, Salem
19. Stephen Head, 1b, Kinston
20. Josh Burrus, of, Myrtle Beach
*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.

WOODBRIDGE, Va.—It was a strong year for talent in the Carolina League, in terms of both star power and catching. Managers and scouts were nearly unanimous in tabbing Myrtle Beach ace Julio Teheran and Wilmington first baseman Eric Hosmer and lefthander John Lamb as the top three prospects.

All three earned promotions to Double-A after tearing up the CL, where they spent a combined seven months.

"Those top three are as good as you'll find, and I really like Hosmer," Salem manager Kevin Boles said. "There are some high-end prospects in the league this year."

The Blue Rocks were especially loaded. Besides Hosmer and Lamb, Wilmington also placed catcher Wil Myers, lefthander Chris Dwyer and shortstop Christian Colon in the upper half of our Top 20 Prospects list.

Myers was one of four catchers to make the Top 20, along with Devin Mesoraco of Lynchburg, Derek Norris of league champion Potomac and Ryan Lavarnway of Salem. The Blue Rocks nearly placed two backstops on the list, as defensive whiz Salvador Perez earned some Sandy Alomar Jr. comparisons and just missed.

1. Julio Teheran, rhp, Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Braves)
Age: 19. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 160. Signed: Colombia, '07.
The Braves handled Teheran carefully after signing him out of Colombia for $850,000, the largest bonus given to an international amateur pitcher in 2007. They finally turned him loose this year, when he zoomed from low Class A to Double-A. In between, he made 10 impressive starts for Myrtle Beach.

"Teheran is a top-of-the-rotation guy," Potomac manager Gary Cathcart said. "He's as impressive as you'll ever see with his ability at a young age to command a couple of pitches, not just throw with velocity. He also has a curveball and a changeup, and I like his ability to have a feel for all of them."

Though Teheran maintains a 92-96 mph fastball deep into games, he still could stand to get stronger. His curveball has hard downer movement, while his changeup has nice fade. He not only throws strikes with what could be three plus offerings, but he also pitches to both sides of the plate and at the knees.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
10
10
4 4
0 2.98
63
56
22
21
6
13
76 .233
 
2. Eric Hosmer, 1b, Wilmington Blue Rocks (Royals)
Age: 20. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 215. Drafted: HS—Plantation, Fla., '08 (1)
Hosmer concluded a dismal first full pro season in 2009 by batting .206/.280/.299 in a month with Wilmington. He was bothered by a broken knuckle in his right hand and astigmatism, and he looked liked a different player after healing and having laser eye surgery during the offseason. He led the CL in hitting (.354) and on-base percentage (.429).

"He knows the strike zone and can hit with two strikes," Frederick manager Orlando Gomez said. "He's gap to gap now, but once he learns to pull he'll be really dangerous."

Hosmer has the bat speed, selectivity, strength and leverage to hit for power and average. Wilmington's Frawley Stadium can be a graveyard power, but he started to turn on more pitches and his home run production increased after he went to Double-A in July. Though he's a well below-average runner, he can steal an occasional base and is smooth around the bag at first base.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
325 48
115
29
6
7 51
44
39
11
1
.354
.429 .545
 
3. John Lamb, lhp, Wilmington Blue Rocks (Royals)
Age: 20. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 195. Drafted: HS—Laguna Hills, Calif., '08 (5)
Blue Rocks opponents thought they were getting a break when lefthander Mike Montgomery moved up to Double-A after four spectacular starts. But Lamb was just as impressive after arriving in late May.

"I know Montgomery is a huge prospect in that organization, but to me, Lamb was even better," Kinston manager Aaron Holbert said. "They both had a lot of swing-and-miss pitches, but Lamb just has a little more polish. He had real good game plan."

Lamb's velocity improved a tick or two in 2010, and he now works from 90-95 mph with his fastball. He also shows a pair of plus secondary pitches, with his changeup more consistent than his curveball. Using a repeatable three-quarters delivery, he throws strikes and keeps the ball down in the zone.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
13
13
6 3
0 1.45
75
59
18
12
1
15
90 .219
 
4. Wil Myers, c, Wilmington Blue Rocks (Royals)
Age: 19. B-T: R-R: Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 190. Drafted: HS—High Point, N.C., '09 (3)
Myers had no problems handling the pitcher-friendly Midwest League at age 19, batting .289/.408/.500, and he was even more devastating after arriving in Wilmington in July. He controls the strike zone well and has above-average bat speed and hand-eye coordination. He uses the whole field and should hit for both average and power.

Because he has little catching experience, he's still raw as a receiver. He has plus arm strength but produces it with a long windup, and he threw out 26 percent of basestealers in the CL. He does a nice job of handling pitchers.

If Myers can stay behind the plate, he looks like a near-certain all-star. If not, he has enough bat and athleticism to be a productive right fielder.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
205 28
71
18
2
4 38
37
39
2
3
.346
.453 .512
 
5. Devin Mesoraco, c, Lynchburg Hillcats (Reds)
Age: 22. B-T: R-R. Ht: 6-1. Wt: 220. Drafted: HS—Punxsutawney, Pa., '07 (1).
After three separate hand and wrist injuries spoiled Mesoraco's first three seasons in pro ball—he batted a combined .240/.311/.368—he looked like a failed first-round pick. When he finally stayed healthy this year, he belted his way to Triple-A and hit .302/.377/.587 between three stops.

Generating power to all fields with bat speed and an uppercut swing, he hit 26 homers, second to the Blue Jays' J.P. Arencibia among minor league catchers. Mesoraco still needs to improve his strike-zone judgment, but he has the tools to hit for power and average. He also runs well for a catcher.

Mesoraco looked more agile and athletic behind the plate than he had in the past. A solid receiver with a plus arm, he threw out 44 percent of CL basestealers.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
187 42
55
11
3
13
31 18
37
1
0
.294
.363 .594
 
6. Randall Delgado, rhp, Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Braves)
Age: 20. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 180. Signed: Panama, '06.
Delgado is similar to Teheran, in that he's a slender fireballer with potential plus secondary pitches who earned a trip to Double-A ahead of schedule. Though he left Myrtle Beach in mid-July, he led the CL in strikeouts (120) and strikeouts per nine innings (9.2).

"Delgado has very good stuff, maybe not quite the same command as Teheran, but he's just a bit behind," Lynchburg manager Pat Kelly said. "He throws around 94 and has a pretty good feel for his breaking pitch. That's potentially a plus pitch for him."

Delgado's fastball sits in the low 90s and tops out at 96 mph. He has good downward bite on his curveball and deception with his changeup. He has improved his command and consistency, though he battled his control at times in Double-A.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
20
20
4 7
0 2.76
117
89
46
36
7
32
120 .210
 
7. Chris Dwyer, lhp, Wilmington Blue Rocks (Royals)
Age: 22. B-T: R-L. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 210. Drafted: Clemson, '09 (4).
Wilmington trotted out four impressive lefthanders this summer. Montgomery and Danny Duffy made only brief cameos, but opponents saw more of Lamb and Dwyer than they would have liked. A rare draft-eligible college freshman who signed for $1.45 million as a fourth-round pick in 2009, Dwyer earned a promotion to Double-A in July before a back injury sidelined him.

Dwyer can make hitters look silly with two pitches, a 90-94 mph fastball with late life and a power curveball with 12-to-6 break. He still needs to improve his changeup, which does have promising fade. Scouts praise his easy delivery and clean arm action, which should allow him to improve his inconsistent control.

"He has a chance to be a No. 3 starter," Cathcart said. "I like lefthanders who can throw a curveball, and he has a chance to have a pretty good one. Obviously he has enough velocity."
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
15
15
6 3
0 2.99
84
79
36
28
3
33
93 .246
 
8. Oscar Tejeda, 2b, Salem Red Sox
Age: 20. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 177. Signed: Dominican Republic, '06.
A rival international scouting director compared Tejeda to Alfonso Soriano when the Red Sox signed him for $525,000 in 2006. Youth and health issues kept his numbers down until this year when Tejeda began to show that kind of promise. In his first year as a second baseman, he acquitted himself well defensively while ranking fourth in the league in hitting (.307) and sixth in doubles (32).

Tejeda sticks out most with his bat speed and emerging power. The ball jumps off his bat, giving him a chance to be a rare middle infielder with 15-20 homer potential once he tightens his strike zone. He's an average runner with good instincts on the bases.

At second base, he shows solid range, quick hands and a plus arm. At worst, he could be an offensive-minded utilityman. He previously played shortstop and third base, and there's no reason he couldn't fill in on the outfield corners.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
508 76
156
32
5
11 69
32
96
17
7
.307
.344 .455
 
9. Christian Colon, ss, Wilmington Blue Rocks (Royals)
Age: 21. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 180. Drafted: Cal State Fullerton, '10 (1).
Of the top 12 picks in the 2010 draft, only Colon signed quickly and for MLB's slot recommendation. The No. 4 overall choice, he reported to Wilmington in late June after receiving a $2.75 million bonus. He may not have the huge ceiling associated with such a high pick, but scouts considered him the draft's safest bet to deliver on his potential.

Colon's best tool is his bat. He makes consistent hard contact and generates surprising power, perhaps enough to hit 15 homers annually in the majors. He's an average runner whose speed plays up on the bases because of his instincts.

Whether Colon can remain at shortstop remains to be seen. He gets the most out of his range and arm strength, but both are fringy tools for the position. Though he may profile better as an offensive second baseman, the Royals will give him every chance to make it as a shortstop.

"He's a good defender who went up the middle pretty well and had an accurate arm," Holbert said. "I would say he has average arm strength. He has a good, level swing. I saw average runner, but I think he did well in his first year of pro ball."
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
508
76
156
32
5
11
69
32
96
17 7
.307
.344 .799
 
10. Jason Kipnis, 2b, Kinston Indians
Age: 23. B-T: L-R. Ht: 5-10 . Wt: 175. Drafted: Arizona State, '09 (2).
The Indians moved Kipnis from the outfield to second base in instructional league last fall. While his defensive remains a work in progress, he batted .307/.386/.492 between Kinston and Double-A and has more offensive promise than most players at his new position.

Kipnis has a balanced approach and drives the ball to all fields. He's aggressive at the plate but not overly so, and he should hit at least .280 in the majors with average power, if not more. He's an average baserunner.

Though Kipnis doesn't have classic middle-infield actions and his inexperience at second base shows, he has the tools to make it work. He has enough range, especially up the middle, and decent arm strength.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
203 33
61
12
3
6 31
24
46
2
3
.300
.387 .478
 
11. Derek Norris, c, Potomac Nationals
Age: 21. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 210. Drafted: HS—Goddard, Kan., '07 (4).
A large portion of Norris' year of development was spoiled by his delayed return from hamate bone surgery and a pitch he took to the head. He still managed to show his usual prowess for getting on base, leading the league with 88 walks, and helped Potomac win the league championship. Whether he stays behind the plate remains a question, especially after the Nationals acquired Wilson Ramos in a midseason trade for Matt Capps.

Norris has plus power and can drive the ball out of the park to all fields, projecting as a .260-.270 hitter with 20 or more homers annually in the big leagues. Though he does a good job of working counts and drawing walks, he needs to make adjustments against offspeed pitches and make more consistent contact. He has a solid arm and threw out 51 percent of CL basestealers who tested him, but he lacks soft hands and his receiving skills are substandard.

"He had an up-and-down year, nowhere near what we thought," Cathcart said. "That hamate bone contributed to his slow start, and then he was in a little bit of a groove until he got hit with a fastball in Salem. He has been healthy now for a couple of months and just not found a groove again. His defense has improved, but it's something he's going to have to work on daily."
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
298 67
70
19
0
12 49
89
94
6
3
.235
.419 .419
 
12. Xavier Avery, of, Frederick Keys (Orioles)
Age: 20. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 180. Drafted: HS—Ellenwood, Ga., '08 (2).
An exceptional athlete who was recruited to play running back at Georgia, Avery has the potential to become a Carl Crawford or Kenny Lofton type of player. He still needs a lot of refinement to get there, but he showed improvement and had his best pro season in 2010, including a stint in Double-A.

"He has well above-average foot speed and has really worked on his routes," Kinston's Holbert said. "I'd say he has slightly above-average arm strength and accuracy. He can bunt, hit ground balls to the 6 hole and beat them out and get soft hits to the outfield. He's a smart hitter, and that's what got him to Double-A."

Speed is Avery's game, though he does have some strength and a quick bat that can produce some pop. He's still working on his strike-zone judgment and figuring out how to solve lefthanders, who held him to a .217 average in the CL. He steals bases and makes plays in the outfield, though his quickness still outshines his instincts.
 
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. Will Middlebrooks, 3b, Salem Red Sox
Age: 22. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 200. Drafted: HS—Texarkana, Texas, '07 (5)
Middlebrooks got near-first-round money ($925,000) as a fifth-round pick three years ago, but his development has been slow. He took a step forward this year but is only scratching the surface of his ability.

Middlebrooks has plus bat speed and raw power, though he still has trouble with breaking pitches and gets pull-conscious, which leads to too many strikeouts. His agility and arm strength give him everything he needs to be a standout defender at third base, though he needs to improve the accuracy of his throws.

"He has a great body and is very athletic," Winston-Salem manager Joe McEwing said. "I think he'll have more power and more average once he figures himself out. For as big as he is, he runs the bases well."
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
435 69
120
31 2
12 70
35
121 5
3
.276 .331 .439
 
14. Michael Burgess, of, Potomac Nationals
Age: 21. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 195. Drafted: HS—Tampa, '07 (1s).
After spending part of 2008 and all of 2009 with Potomac, Burgess returned to the Carolina League and made significant strides as a hitter. He finished the year in Double-A, where he hit a robust .284/.391/.649 in 21 games.

Burgess continues to chase pitches outside the zone, but he has toned down his aggressiveness and is using the opposite field more. He has well above-average raw strength, and he's searching for a happy medium between power and patience. Though he's a below-average runner, he plays a quality right field and opponents know not to challenge his arm.

"I've always liked him, his power and the way he plays the outfield," Myrtle Beach manager Rocket Wheeler said. "He has plus power, plus range, gets good reads on the ball and a plus arm."
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
386 57
101
21
4
12 70
47
89
5
2
.262
.351 .430
 
15. Gregory Infante, rhp, Winston-Salem Dash (White Sox)
Age: 23. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 185. Signed: Venezuela, '06.
The first player on this list to reach the major leagues, Infante joined a depleted White Sox bullpen in September. He didn't allow a run in five apperances.

Infante's fastball separates him from other relief prospects. He throws a consistent 94-98 mph and can reach triple digits. He also has a power curveball that's a plus pitch at times, and can mix in a mid-80s changeup if hitters are sitting on hard stuff.

He still needs to improve his control and the consistency of his secondary pitches, but Infante has closer's stuff. He didn't allow a home run all year in the minors or majors.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
31
0
1
2
9
3.48
34
32
15
13
0
15
35
.250
 
16. J.J. Hoover, rhp, Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Braves)
Age: 23. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 215. Drafted: Calhoun (Ala.) CC, '08 (10).
Hoover topped Braves farmhands with 14 victories this season, and he was leading the CL in wins when he was promoted to Double-A in late August. He's a strong, competitive workhorse with solid stuff and command who projects as a No. 3 or 4 starter.

Hoover is tough on hitters when he stays on top of his pitches. When he does, he throws his 88-92 mph fastball (which can reach 95) on a difficult angle and backs it up with an average curveball, slider and changeup. When he doesn't, his pitches flatten out and become more hittable.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
24
24
11
6
0 3.26
133
126
56
48
7
35
118 .245
 
17. Ryan Lavarnway, c, Salem Red Sox
Age: 23. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 225. Drafted: Yale, '08 (6).
As a sophomore at Yale in 2007, Lavarnway led NCAA Divison I in batting (.467) and slugging (.873). He's still doing damage with his bat and though he spent much of this season as a DH, he showed improvement behind the plate.

"His defense has really come along," Boles said. "He's more flexible with his lower half and he received very well. He also has improved his times throwing. He has the work ethic and intelligence, and he has power to all fields with the kind of advanced knowledge of the strike zone that makes pitchers work."

Lavarnway generates power with strength and a long swing that does have some holes on the inner half. He threw out 36 percent of CL basestealers despite fringy arm strength and made some progress with his receiving, though he still needs more work. If he puts everything together, he could be a big league regular, but it may be more realistic to project him as an offensive-minded backup who also could fill in at first base and DH.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
304
66
88
18
0
14 63
44
62 1
0
.289
.392 .487

18. Tyler Moore, 1b, Potomac Nationals
Age: 23. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 185. Drafted: Mississippi State, '08 (16).
Moore hit a combined 17 homers in his first pro seasons before exploding for 31 at Potomac. He lead the league in doubles (43), homers, RBIs (111), extra-base hits (77) and slugging percentage (.552) to capture the Carolina League MVP award.

"He adjusted, and that's what you're looking for in a young hitter," Kelly said. "That's doubly tough in this league because we see everyone so much. But with that kind of power and an ability to drive in runs that you can't teach, I think he has a bright future."

Moore's game is all about strength and power. He has some holes in his swing and isn't very selective, so he probably won't ever hit for a high average. Offspeed stuff can still give him fits, though he improved significantly this year. Though he lacks speed and quickness, he's a solid defender at first base, and Cathcart said Moore has enough arm strength to play the outfield.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
502 78
135
43
3 31
111
40
125 0 0
.269
.321 .552
 
19. Jordan Henry, of, Kinston Indians
Age: 22. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 175.  Drafted: Mississippi, '09 (7).
Henry's older brother Justin is a Triple-A second baseman in the Tigers organization. Jordan, who played with him in college at Mississippi, is right on his heels. He needs just two months at Kinston to earn a promotion to Double-A in his first full pro season.

Henry has built his game around his well above-average speed. He's a threat to steal bags and take extra bases, and he uses his quickness to get on base. He has a contact-oriented approach and works counts, though he has very little power. He covers a lot of ground in center field, playing shallow and showing excellent ability to go back on the ball, and has an average, accurate arm.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
162 32
54
4
0
0 13
30
27
14
2
.333
.438 .358
 
20. Santos Rodriguez, lhp, Winston-Salem Dash (White Sox)
Age: 22. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 180. Signed: Dominican Republic, '06 (Braves).
The White Sox acquired Rodriguez along with Tyler Flowers, Jon Gilmore and Brent Lillibridge in a trade for Javier Vazquez in December 2008. Rodriguez was the least advanced of the four players at the time, but he could turn out to be the best in the long run.

Rodriguez missed time with a disabled-list stint in July but still can be unhittable at times and has averaged 13.8 strikeouts per nine innings since the deal. He throws a 93-98 mph fastball, though he generates velocity with a maximum-effort delivery that compromises his control. His best secondary pitch is a changeup that he throws with good arm speed, and at times it's a plus pitch. His slurvy breaking ball is still a work in progress.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
32
0
2
0
0 3.57
40
27
18
16
0
32
59
.193