League Top 20 Prospects

California League Top 20 Prospects With Scouting Reports





FIVE YEARS AGO
(Click here for the complete list)
1. *Brandon Wood, ss, Rancho Cucamonga
2. *Stephen Drew, ss, Lancaster
3. *Howie Kendrick, 2b, Rancho Cucamonga
4. *Ian Stewart, 3b, Modesto
5. *Billy Butler, 3b/of, High Desert
6. *Daric Barton, 1b, Stockton
7. *Edison Volquez, rhp, Bakersfield
8. *Thomas Diamond, rhp, Bakersfield
9. *Adam Jones, ss, Inland Empire
10. Eddy Martinez-Esteve, of, San Jose
11. *John Danks, lhp, Bakersfield
12. *Asdrubal Cabrera, ss, Inland Empire
13. *Chris Iannetta, c, Modesto
14. *Miguel Montero, c, Lancaster
15. *Ubaldo Jimenez, rhp, Modesto
16. *Nate Schierholtz, of, San Jose
17. *George Kotttaras, c, Lake Elsinore
18. *Jim Miller, rhp, Modesto
19. *Juan Morillo, rhp, Modesto
20. Chris Lubanski, of, High Desert
*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.

Tearing up the low Class A Midwest League and starring in the Futures Game wasn't enough for Mike Trout. The 2009 first-round pick moved up to the high Class A California League a month before he turned 19, and his five-tool talent jumped out against older competition.

"It's just rare to see a kid that young have such a good feel for the game," said Keith Johnson, his manager at Rancho Cucamonga. "Obviously there are some things that need to be ironed out through experience and at-bats, but his ability to take instruction and put it into a game is plus. You take that aptitude and his skill set and you'll have a guy who will do what he did this year: run through an organization and force someone to try and find a reason that he is not ready for the next level."

Trout made a case for himself as the minors' best prospect. He ranked No. 1 on our Top 20 Prospects lists in both the California and Midwest leagues, the only player this year to earn top billing in multiple circuits.

San Jose won its second straight Cal League championship and third in five years. The Giants weren't as loaded as they were in 2009, when their roster included Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner, but did feature one of the minors' top breakout performers in first baseman Brandon Belt. An unheralded fifth-round pick a year ago, Belt led all minor leaguers in hitting (.352) and OPS (1.075) while reaching Triple-A.

1. Mike Trout, of, Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (Angels)
Age: 19. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 217. Drafted: HS—Millville, N.J., '09 (1).
Trout came to the Cal League directly from the Futures Game, where he was the youngest and most talented player on the field. He continued a dazzling first full pro season with Rancho Cucamonga, where he recovered from a slow start to hit .338 with three homers in the final month and .367 with three more longballs in the playoffs.

Trout's most obvious tool is his speed, which grades as an 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale and allows him to pile up infield hits and stolen bases. His power is still developing, but he has enough strength to hit at least 20 homers per season in the majors. Some scouts believe he'll need to adjust his stance to better handle inside pitches.

With his speed and good routes on balls, Trout covers a lot of ground in center. Though his arm strength is fringy, he makes accurate throws. For all of his physical tools, his mental approach and all-out effort equally impress observers.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
196 30
60
9
2
4
19
27
33
11
6
.306
.388 .434
 
2. Brandon Belt, 1b, San Jose Giants
Age: 22. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 195. Drafted: Texas, '09 (5).
Roundly praised as the league's best pure hitter, Belt hit a stunning .383/.492/.628 in three months before batting .337/.413/.623 for Double-A Richmond.

The Giants have improved Belt's swing, and he now stands more upright and doesn't cut off his swing. He uses quick hands and a smooth stroke to square up balls, and he controls the strike zone well. Most of his current power goes to the opposite field, but he should generate more pull power as he gains strength and experience.

Belt is a solid defender at first base and has enough athleticism and arm strength to play an outfield corner, which he did after his promotion. Surprisingly fast for his size, he has average speed and is a smart baserunner.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
269
62
103
28
4
10
62
58
50
18
7
.383
.492 .628
 
3. Grant Green, ss, Stockton Ports (Athletics)
Age: 22. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 180. Drafted: Southern California, '09 (1).
Living up to his billing as one of the top hitters in the 2009 draft, Green jumped to high Class A for his first full pro season and hit .318 with 20 homers. He has a compact stroke and consistently gets the fat part of the bat on the ball, giving him at least average power. He may not hit for a high average, however, because he doesn't let many pitches go by and chases balls out of the strike zone.

Scouts question his defensive ability, as Green is erratic at times on routine plays, his range is no better than average and he lacks the arm strength to make throws from deep in the hole. He's an average runner.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
548
107
174
39
6
20
87
38
117
9
5
.318
.363 .520
 
4. Tyler Chatwood, rhp, Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (Angels)
Age: 20. B-T: R-R: Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 185. Drafted: HS—Redlands, Calif., '08 (2).
Chatwood needed two months to master Cal League hitters. A bulldog on the mound with two above-average pitches, he works off a heavy 90-95 mph fastball that touches 97 and bores in on hitters. His heater breaks bats and induces groundouts when down in the zone.

Despite his size, Chatwood throws on a downhill plane and complements his fastball with a big-breaking mid-70s curveball, a knee-buckler that draws comparisons to that of a young Barry Zito. He rounds out his arsenal with an improved changeup. His biggest concern is learning to repeat his delivery, because he battles his control and command.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
14
13
8 3
0 1.77
81
71
18
16
6
36
70 .241
 
5. Engel Beltre, of, Bakersfield Blaze (Rangers)
Age: 20. B-T: L-L. Ht: 6-2. Wt: 180. Signed: Dominican Republic, '06 (Red Sox).
Beltre rebounded from a disappointing .227/.281/.317 season with Bakersfield in 2009 to show off his tantalizing five-tool potential the Rangers dreamed on when acquiring him from the Red Sox in the Eric Gagne trade in 2007. Beltre did a better job this year of making contact and hitting the ball with authority. His home run power has yet to develop, but he still has the potential to his 15-20 annually once his body fills out.

His defense is more polished than his offense, and Blaze manager Bill Haselman insists Beltre could play center field in the majors today. He covers a lot of ground in center and has a strong, accurate throwing arm. He has above-average speed.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
263
38
87
11
4
5
35 11
34
10
7
.331
.376 .460
 
6. Jonathan Villar, ss, Lancaster JetHawks (Astros)
Age: 19. B-T: B-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 180. Signed: Dominican Republic, '08 (Phillies).
Villar was cruising along in the low Class A South Atlantic League when the Phillies dealt him to the Astros for Roy Oswalt. Houston shipped him up a level to Lancaster, where he showed more potential than production.

A switch-hitter, Villar has quick hands but a long swing and overly aggressive approach. He doesn't have a lot of power, and he'd be better off working to get on base and using his plus speed to create havoc. He's a slick fielder with range to both sides and plenty of arm strength, though one scout described him as a bit of a hot dog, which helps explain why he committed 56 errors in 138 games between two levels. He's also a plus-plus runner.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
129 18
29
6
2
3
19
12
50
7
2
.225
.294 .372
 
7. Jaff Decker, of, Lake Elsinore Storm (Padres)
Age: 20. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 5-10. Wt.: 190. Drafted: HS—Peoria, Ariz., '08 (1s).
A hamstring injury kept Decker in extended spring training until mid-May and he struggled to find his stride for much of the season. He got back on track in the second half, hitting .305/.439/.616 with 14 homers in 48 games before an errant pitch broke his hand and ended his season on Aug. 18.

Decker is at his best when he keeps his swing short and doesn't try to hit home runs. He has a smooth lefthanded stroke and plus bat speed, using his hips and shoulders to generate power to all fields. He commands the strike zone while waiting for a pitch to drive.

Decker's less-than-stellar physique is a concern, though he arrived at spring training in better shape. He plays an adequate left field and has average arm strength. He's a well-below-average baserunner.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
196 30
60
9
2
4
19
27
33
11
6
.306
.388 .434
 
8. Aaron Miller, lhp, Inland Empire 66ers (Dodgers)
Age: 22. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 200. Drafted: Baylor, '09 (1s).
Miller breezed through the first half of the Cal League season before earning a promotion to Double-A in mid-June. He lasted just six starts at Chattanooga, going 1-4, 7.04 before returning to Inland Empire.

When at his best, Miller works with a low-90s fastball that touches 95 mph and he locates it to both sides of the plate. He also has a power slider that he's still learning to command as well as a changeup that has some sink but needs refinement. He's still polishing his control and command as well.

Though Miller was effective when he rejoined the 66ers, his fastball velocity dropped to 88-92 mph. That wasn't completely unexpected, however, because he was a two-way player at Baylor and 2010 was his first full year as a pitcher. He threw a career-high 125 innings in the minors, up from 87 in 2009.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
19
17
6
4
0 2.92
102
76
43
33
6
48
99
.207
 
9. Juan Nicasio, rhp, Modesto Nuts (Rockies)
Age: 24. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 200. Signed: Venezuela, '06.
Pounding the zone with a 90-94 mph fastball with cutting action, Nicasio led the Cal League in wins (12), innings (177) and strikeouts (171). He has the ability to reach back for more and tap 97, leading one scout to compare him to a young Ubaldo Jimenez.

Nicasio projects as a No. 3 starter but could become a frontline guy if he refines his secondary pitches. His changeup generates some swings and misses, but he telegraphs it at times by slowing his arm speed. He has two breaking balls with solid potential, and his curveball grades better than his slider.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
28
28
12
10
0 3.91
177
186
91
77
14
31
171
.266
 
10. Pat Corbin, lhp, Rancho Cucamonga (Angels)/Visalia (Diamondbacks)
Age: 21. B-T: L-L. Ht: 6-3 . Wt: 170. Drafted: Chipola (Fla.) JC, '09 (2/Angels).
Corbin opened the season in low Class A and saw time with two Cal League clubs, moving from Rancho Cucamonga to Visalia when the Angels shipped him to the Diamondbacks as part of the Dan Haren deal. Corbin already had worked 119 innings by late July, so Arizona limited him to three-inning starts in August.

He has just average velocity on his 88-92 mph fastball, but it plays up because it tails and sinks, and he commands it so well. "It's never straight," Visalia manager Audo Vicente said.

Corbin improved his slider and changeup, and both should become solid secondary pitches. He's athletic but needs to get stronger as scouts wonder if his skinny frame can handle the physical demands of a big league starter.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
19
19
5
4
0 3.13
86 74
33
30
8
27
94
.231
 
11. Francisco Peguero, of, San Jose Giants
Age: 22. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 190. Signed: Dominican Republic, '05.
Peguero worked his way up to San Jose last season in time for the playoffs and made an immediate impact, earning MVP honors as the Giants won their first of back-to-back titles. He got off to a slower start in his return to San Jose in 2010 before hitting his stride in midseason. He again paced the Giants in the postseason with a .350 average.

Speed is the key to Peguero's game. He goes from the right side of the plate to first base in 4.0 seconds and will become an even bigger threat on the basepaths as he refines his basestealing ability. His quickness also gives him the range to play in center field, and he has the arm strength for right field.

Peguero is a free swinger who has a knack for putting bad balls in play. He struggled with breaking pitches early in the season but made adjustments that resulted in a .372/.404/.537 line in the second half. The ball jumps off his bat, and a more disciplined approach could result in average or better power down the road.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
510 78
168
19
16
10 77
18
88
40
22
.329
.358 .488
 
12. Rex Brothers, lhp, Modesto Nuts (Rockies)
Age: 22. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 205. Drafted: Lipscomb, '09 (1s).
Brothers has one surefire plus pitch in his explosive fastball, and the makings of a second in his slider. That repertorie, combined with his bulldog attitude and work ethic, ultimately should land him a late-inning role in a major league bullpen.

Brothers, who compares to a young Billy Wagner because of his short, quick-arm delivery, works off a mid-90s fastball that tops out at 97 mph. His heater gets on top of hitters quickly and has two-plane sink. He complements his fastball with an 84-86 mph slider peaks at 89.

Though he worked on a changeup during spring training, Brothers didn't use it much this season. Control and command are the only hurdles between him and the big leagues.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
33
0
0
2
3
2.68
37
20
14
11
0
19
43
.165
 
13. Ehire Adrianza, ss, San Jose Giants
Age: 21. B-T: B-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 165. Signed: Venezuela, '06.
The scouting reports on Adrianza remain the same. He has the defensive ability to be a big league shortstop—if he can hit enough. Managers rated him the best defensive shortstop in the league, and for good reason. His above-average range, quick hands and strong arm allow him to make all the plays. He committed just 16 errors in 121 games, none after July 31.

Adrianza's average speed plays up on the basepaths because he has good instincts, but he needs to reach base with more consistency. A switch-hitter, he tries to makes up for his slight stature and lack of strength with a big swing that gets too long. He has good strike-zone judgment but gets a little pull-conscious, which leaves him vulnerable to breaking pitches.

"He will develop into a good hitter as he matures physically," San Jose manager Brian Harper said. "Physically, he will get stronger. He has a good body to get stronger. He will be very a good hitter. He has the potential to be a star shortstop in the big leagues."
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
445
70
114
22
5
3
35
47
87
33
15
.256 .333 .348
 
14. Marc Krauss, of, Visalia Rawhide (Diamondbacks)
Age: 22. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 235. Drafted: Ohio, '09 (2).
Only a late-season slump spoiled an impressive first full pro season for Krauss. He teamed with fellow 2009 draftees Paul Goldschmidt and Ryan Wheeler in the heart of Visalia's lineup and emerged as one the best overall hitters in the league.

A line-drive hitter, Krauss handles breaking pitches well and drives the ball to all fields. He's a rare lefthanded hitter who has no trouble with southpaw pitchers, hitting .329/.365/.563 against them in 2010. He started showing pull power this season, though Cal League observers were interested to see how he'll handle better pitching at higher levels.

Krauss lacks speed and athleticism, and his arm is average at best. His shortcomings limit him to left field an ultimately may push him to first base.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
530
107
160
27
4
25 87
57
141
1
3
.302
.371 .509
 
15. Ethan Martin, rhp, Inland Empire 66ers (Dodgers)
Age: 21. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 195. Drafted: HS—Toccoa, Ga., '08 (1).
The 2010 season was one to forget for Martin as well as the entire Inland Empire team. The 66ers finished dead last, 31 games out of first place in the Southern Division, and the first high school player drafted in 2008 turned in the worst performance of his young career.

Martin paired a 95-96 mph fastball with an equally effective, big-breaking curveball during a strong April. But as the season wore on, his fastball velocity dipped into the low 90s, and he lost movement on the pitch and left it up in the strike zone. He also struggled to locate his curveball with any regularity.

"He was throwing balloons up there," the NL scout said. "His velocity dropped off. His movement dropped off. His curveball bite dropped off. He got tired. I can't explain it. His fastball was still in the 92-94 range, but straight as a string."

Martin's changeup remains a work in progress. He needs to learn not to just rely on his fastball when he gets into trouble, and he must improve the command and control of all three of his pitches.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
25
22
9
14
0
6.35
113
120
84
80
10
81
105
.279
 
16. Kyle Russell, of, Inland Empire 66ers (Dodgers)
Age: 24. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 195. Drafted: Texas, '08 (3).
Russell was the dominant slugger in the Cal League during his time in Inland Empire before a promotion to Double-A in early June. He showed off his usual light-tower power and quick enough hands to drive any fastball. His smooth lefthanded stroke can be a little long in the back, but he generates enough power to make pitchers pay for any mistakes left over the plate.

"If you pitch him in the same sequence, he will absolutely crush you," Vicente said. "You have to mix it up."

An overly aggressive approach and vulnerability to breaking pitches, particularly with two strikes, contributed to Russell ranking fourth in minors with 177 strikeouts (including his time in Double-A), after he ranked second with 180 in 2009. He continues to do most of his damage against righthanders, though he handled lefties well in the Cal League before struggling against them in Double-A. He runs well for his size and has enough athleticism and arm strength to play anywhere in the outfield, profiling best in right field.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
198
42
70
11
4
16 53
32
64 8
3
.354
.448 .692
 
17. Paul Goldschmidt, 1b, Visalia Rawhide (Diamondbacks)
Age: 23. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 220. Drafted: Texas State, '09 (8).
Goldschmidt's power became the stuff of legend around the Cal League, as nearly everyone he faced witnessed him hitting balls a long way. The league MVP, he led the the circuit in doubles (42), homers (35), extra-base hits (80), total bases (318) and slugging (.606).

More than just a pull hitter, Goldschmidt has power to all fields. He ranked second in the league with 161 strikeouts, and while some observers thought the whiffs were an acceptable tradeoff for his homers, others think he'll make less contact at higher levels because he struggles with high fastballs and pulls off breaking pitches. He's a well below-average runner and athlete who's limited to first base, where he's an adequate defender.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
525
102
165
42
3
35
108
57
161
5
1
.314
.384 .606

18. Johermyn Chavez, of, High Desert Mavericks (Mariners)
Age: 21. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 220. Signed: Venezuela, '05 (Blue Jays).
Part of the trade that sent Brandon Morrow from the Mariners to the Blue Jays, Chavez ranked second in the league in homers while benefiting from one of the best hitter's parks in the minors. He hit .341 with 23 of his 32 longballs at High Desert. Yet few scouts or managers questioned Chavez' power, because the ball jumps off his bat and he can drive it to all fields.

Chavez showed improved discipline at the plate this season, working diligently to shorten the length of his swing. He doesn't often miss pitches over the plate but still is refining his pitch recognition and learning to avoid chasing breaking pitches out of the zone.

Chavez has an above-average arm and runs well for his size, covering plenty of ground in right field. He's not a threat to steal bases but runs well once under way. He's a hard worker with confidence in his ability.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
534 109
168
30
7
32
96
52
131
6
9
.315
.387 .577
 
19. Eric Surkamp, lhp, San Jose Giants
Age: 23. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 190. Drafted: North Carolina State, '08 (6).
Surkamp finished third in the minors last season with 169 strikeouts and ranked among the leaders against in 2010 when he hurt his hip fielding a grounder in mid-July. The injury required surgery and ended his season.

Surkamp fools batters with finesse rather than overpowering them. He hides the ball well with his delivery and has above-average command of three pitches, the best of which is a big-breaking curveball with depth. He locates his sneaky 87-90 mph fastball to both sides of the plate and has a changeup that grades as a plus pitch at times.

"He's a lefthander who really knows how to pitch," Weinstein said. "He's a very polished-package lefty."
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
17
17
4
2
0
3.11
101
79
39
35
5
22
108
.218
 
20. Drew Cumberland, ss, Lake Elsinore Storm (Padres)
Age: 21. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 5-10. Wt.: 175. Drafted: HS—Pace, Fla., '07 (1s).
Oblique, finger and hand injuries limited Cumberland to a total of 130 games in low Class A in 2008-09. He made quick work of the Cal League, earning a promotion to Double-A in mid-June, before a freak injury delayed his development once again. He severely cut his left knee when he slid into a concrete wall while chasing a foul ball and didn't play after July 15.

If he can improve his patience at the plate, Cumberland has everything else to be an effective leadoff hitter. He has a line-drive stroke with gap power, makes consistent contact and has plus speed that makes him a threat to bunt or steal bases.

Though he has plenty of range and good hands, Cumberland lacks the arm strength for shortstop and likely will end up at second base. He brings his hand too far behind his head when he throws, getting a sideways spin on the ball that results in reduced velocity and accuracy.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
249 63
91
15
4
7
35
15
34
20
9
.365
.404 .542