League Top 20 Prospects

Florida State League Top 20 Prospects With Scouting Reports





FIVE YEARS AGO
(Click here for the complete list)
*1. Andy LaRoche, 3b, Vero Beach
*2. Justin Verlander, rhp, Lakeland
*3. Lastings Milledge, of, St. Lucie
*4. Jason Vargas, lhp, Jupiter
*5. Matt Kemp, of, Vero Beach
6. Matt Moses, 3b, Fort Myers
*7. Denard Span, of, Fort Myers
8. Justin Orenduff, rhp, Vero Beach
*9. David Purcey, lhp, Dunedin
*10. Jordan Tata, rhp, Lakeland
*11. Tony Abreu, 2b, Vero Beach
*12. Chin-Lung Hu, ss, Vero Beach
*13. Adam Lind, of, Dunedin
*14. Brent Clevlen, of, Lakeland
*15. Scott Moore, 3b, Daytona
16. Adam Harben, rhp, Fort Myers
17. Chuck Tiffany, lhp, Vero Beach
*18. Brian Dopirak, 1b, Daytona
19. Tim Moss, 2b, Clearwater
*20. Philip Humber, rhp, St. Lucie
*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.

Pitching is usually the story in the high Class A Florida State League, and a lack of elite position prospects made a strong crop of pitchers even more notable in 2010. They claimed the first four spots on our FSL Top 20 Prospects list, led by minor league strikeout leader Matt Moore of Charlotte. Daytona's Chris Archer, Lakeland's Jacob Turner and Tampa's Dellin Betances also showed frontline-starter stuff.

By contrast, there were few FSL hitters with solid-average power. The league's home run leader, Dunedin first baseman Michael McDade, lacks a second average tool. The FSL batting and slugging champ, Charlotte outfielder Stephen Vogt, showed some athleticism and saw some duty behind the plate, but he was a 25-year-old in a league filled with 20- and 21-year-olds.

The Top 20 would have been even more pitching heavy if several other talented arms hadn't earned quick promotions. Fort Myers' Kyle Gibson, Bradenton's Bryan Morris, Daytona's Trey McNutt and Tampa's Manny Banuelos and Hector Noesi all came within one start of qualifying for and making the list.

1. Matt Moore, lhp, Charlotte Stone Crabs (Rays)
Age: 21. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 205. Drafted: HS—Moriaty (N.M.) HS, '07 (8).
When Moore is locked in, like he was in the second half of the season, he's nearly unhittable. On his best nights, he features a 91-96 mph fastball and a power curveball that both rate as 70s on the 20-80 scouting scale. That combination allowed Moore to strike out 208 batters in 145 innings, more whiffs than any minor league pitcher since Clint Nageotte had 214 eight years ago.

"His stuff just jumps out at you," Dunedin manager Clayton McCullough said. "To see a lefthander with that kind of arm and multiple swing-and-miss pitches? Any lefty who can throw in the low to mid-90s and hold that velocity is impressive."

Moore has difficulty repeating his delivery—a major problem in the first half of the season, when he went 1-7, 6.08—which causes his control to waver. His arm sometimes gets ahead of his legs and he doesn't always finish in the same landing spot, but there's nothing in his mechanics that would indicate future health issues. He needs to throw his changeup more to develop it, but it's already an average pitch at times.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
26
26
6 11
0 3.36
145
109
62
54
7
61
208 .210
 
2. Chris Archer, rhp, Daytona Cubs
Age: 21. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 180. Drafted: HS—Clayton (N.C.), '06 (5/Indians).
Archer was a pretty intriguing prospect in 2009, when he showed a 91-93 mph fastball and a hard breaking ball. When his stuff took a big step forward this year, he became a dominating pitcher. He went 15-3, 2.34 between Daytona and Double-A Tennessee, with his fastball running up to 97, his slider becoming a second plus pitch and his changeup showing promise.

Archer's control and command have improved, but they're still not where he needs to be. He gives up too many walks and misses within the strike zone too often. His changeup has good sink and enough separation in velocity from his fastball, but it lacks consistency.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
15
14
7 1
0 2.86
72
54
27
23
4
26
82 .202
 
3. Jacob Turner, rhp, Lakeland Flying Tigers
Age: 19. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 210. Drafted: HS—St. Louis '09 (1).
Though he was only 19 and in his first pro season, Turner had no problem with more experienced FSL hitters and performed better in Lakeland than he did in the low Class A Midwest League. His best asset is his 91-94 mph fastball, which has heavy sink that earned him some Brad Penny comparisons. Turner also commands his heater well.

Turner's 12-to-6 curveball is a plus pitch at times, and his changeup has a chance to become above-average as well. He did have to learn that high Class A hitters don't chase pitches out of the zone as much as they do in low Class A, but once he figured out, he didn't allow an earned run in six of his last 10 starts.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
13
13
4 2
0 2.93
61
53
22
20
3
14
51 .231
 
4. Dellin Betances, rhp, Tampa Yankees
Age: 22. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-8. Wt.: 245. Drafted: HS—Brooklyn, N.Y., '06 (8).
Betances has been one of the more promising pitchers in the Yankees system since signing for $1 million in 2006, but he never had consistent success because of mechanical issues and elbow surgery that prematurely ended his first FSL stint in 2009. He returned to Tampa this year with a better, more balanced delivery and the results were spectacular.

Betances quickly earned a promotion to Double-A by using his 93-95 mph fastball and a power curveball to stifle hitters. While his command isn't big league-ready, he did a much better job of of throwing his fastball and curve for strikes.  His changeup is still a work in progress.

While Betances' delivery is improved, it still gives scouts concerns. He's not very fluid, he sometimes has a head jerk and his landing is rather stiff and jarring. His mechanics and injury history leave some to wonder if he'll end up in the bullpen in the long term.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
14
14
8 1
0 1.77
71
43
18
14
1
19
88 .169
 
5. Travis D'Arnaud, c, Dunedin Blue Jays
Age: 21. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 195. Drafted: HS—Lakewood (Calif.), '07 (1s/Phillies).
D'Arnaud missed almost half the season with a back injury, but he played enough to stand out as the best catcher in the FSL and the one with the brightest future.

Part of the trade that sent Roy Halladay from Toronto to Philadelphia, d'Arnaud has the bat speed to catch up to good fastballs and enough power to make a pitcher pay for missing over the fat part of the plate. He projects to hit 15-20 homers annually once he matures. His swing sometimes gets a little long, but usually it's a compact stroke that allows him to use the whole field.

D'Arnaud impressed observers by not carrying bad at-bats behind the plate. He has quick feet, the agility to block balls in the dirt and a plus arm. He sometimes rushes his exchange, which affects his throws, but as he becomes more consistent he should be able to improve his success rate against basestealers (30 percent in the FSL, 24 percent for his career).
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
263 36
68
20
1
6
38 20
63
3
1
.259
.315 .411
 
6. Tony Sanchez, c, Bradenton Marauders (Pirates)
Age: 22. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 213. Drafted: Boston College, '09 (1).
Sanchez's season ended in late June when St. Lucie's Brad Holt hit him in the face with a fastball, fracturing his jaw and forcing him to eat through a straw for several weeks. Before he got hurt, he displayed advanced defensive skills and a promising bat. D'Arnaud may have a higher ceiling, but Sanchez has more polish.

His arm strength rates as 55-60 on the 20-80 scouting scale, and it plays up because he has a quick exchange, though he did only throw out 15 percent of basestealers this year. When it comes to blocking pitches in the dirt, he's exceptional.

"He is the one of the best blocking behind the plate I've seen," Bradenton manager P.J. Forbes said. "You don't see guys with that kind of reflexes and his recognition."

Sanchez is still learning how to call pitches because he never did so in high school or college. At the plate, he shows an ability to use all fields and a recognition for how a pitcher is trying to work him. Most of his power comes to the gaps, though he should be able to reach double digits in home runs annually.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
207 31
65
17
0
4 35
28
41
2
1
.314
.416 .454
 
7. Brett Jackson, of, Daytona Cubs
Age: 22. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 210. Drafted: California, '09 (1).
Jackson showed power potential and all-around athleticism in college, but teams worried about his ability to make consistent contact, so he lasted until the No. 31 pick in the 2009 draft. He has shown a more patient approach in pro ball, which allowed him to handle FSL and Double-A pitching in his first full pro season.

With his bat speed, loft in his swing and plus speed, Jackson could be a 20-20 man in the big leagues. He does strike out, but he also draws walks and scouts and managers said he could hit .300 in the majors. He gets good jumps in center field and has a solid, accurate arm.

"He's not a superstar," Lakeland manager Andy Barkett said, "but there aren't many weaknesses in his game."
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
263 56
83
19
8
6 38
43
63
12
7
.316
.420 .517
 
8. Anthony Gose, of, Clearwater Threshers (Phillies)/Dunedin Blue Jays
Age: 20. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 190. Drafted: HS—Bellflower, Calif., '08 (2/Phillies).
A year after he led the minors with 76 stolen bases, Gose found that his reputation had preceded him. Every FSL team knew he was one of the fastest players in the minors, and they used his aggressiveness against him by holding the ball and by relying on slide-step deliveries. He led the league with 45 steals but also topped the minors by getting caught 32 times.

He changed teams twice in a matter of hours in July, going from the Phillies to the Astros as part of a package for Roy Oswalt before Houston sent him to the Blue Jays for Brett Wallace. Gose is raw offensively, as he lacks discipline and pitch recognition, but Toronto was pleased by his desire and effort to work on his hitting. While he has some power potential—he led the FSL with 13 triples—he needs to focus on getting on base.

Gose is much more polished defensively. He was the best center fielder in the FSL, with the speed to run down balls in the gaps and an above-average, accurate arm.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
512 88
134
20
13
7 27
45
132
45
32
.262
.332 .393
 
9. Trevor May, rhp, Clearwater Threshers (Phillies)
Age: 20. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 215. Drafted: HS—Kelso (Wash.), '08 (4).
Even Nolan Ryan couldn't strike everyone out, and May learned that lesson the hard way. After limiting Dunedin to one hit while striking out 10 in his 2010 debut, he quickly fell apart because he overthrew and tried to be fine. He was demoted to low Class A in July after posting a 5.01 ERA with 61 walks in 70 innings.

May has quality stuff. He has a 91-94 mph fastball with plenty of life, and he also has the ability to spin a curveball. He's nearly unhittable when he commands his fastball, and he generates excellent downhill plane and is willing to use both sides of the plate.

May's changeup shows flashes of effectiveness as well. His delivery doesn't have any glaring problems, but he needs to simplify it.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
16
14
5 5
0 5.01
70
53
41
39
7
61
90 .212
 
10. Wilmer Flores, ss, St. Lucie Mets
Age: 19. B-T: R-R. Ht: 6-3 . Wt: 175. Signed: Venezuela, '07.
There are few questions about whether Flores will hit. Managers and scouts like his bat speed and his ability to square up the ball. But when it comes to which position he'll wind up playing, they hem and haw.

Flores doesn't have the quick-twitch athleticism or first-step burst that shortstops need. He's already a well below-average runner who will get slower as he continues to fill out, which may prevent him from moving to the outfield. He has enough arm for third base, but if he doesn't have the lateral range for the hot corner, first base may be his only option.

Flores may have enough bat for any position. For a teenager, he has uncanny recognition of what pitchers are trying to do to him. He has the bat speed and hand-eye coordination to be a plus hitter for both average and power.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
277 32
83
18
1
4 40
9
40
2
4
.300
.324
.415
 
11. Adeiny Hechavarria, ss, Dunedin Blue Jays
Age: 21. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 180. Signed: Cuba '10.
After signing a $10 million major league contract, Hechavarria broke into pro ball by hitting .193/.217/.292 at Dunedin, But his defensive tools impressed everyone, and he didn't look nearly as overmatched at the plate as his ugly averages may suggest.

Hechavarria has the fluidity, quick first step and soft hands that scouts look for in a shortstop. His arm is his best asset, as he can fire off accurate throws with plenty of velocity from almost any arm angle.

At the plate, Hechevarria chases too many pitches out of the zone. If he improves his discipline, he has the hand-eye coordination to hit for average and the strength in his wrists to have gap power. His batting average should be helped by his above-average speed, which can turn groundballs into infield hits.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
161 21
31
7
3
1 7
5
25
7
0
.193
.217 .292
 
12. Henderson Alvarez, rhp, Dunedin Blue Jays
Age: 20. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 190. Signed: Venezuela '06
With his stuff, Alvarez seemingly should rank higher on this list. His velocity improved 2-3 mph in 2010, giving him a 92-94 mph fastball that touches 98. He also had one of the best changeups in the FSL, threw strikes and fielded his position well. But scouts still have some doubts about Alvarez.

"Why doesn't he miss more bats?" a scout asked. "He's got a plus fastball and a plus changeup. But there's not a whole lot of swing and miss."

Opponents batted .300 against Alvarez in 2010, and he struck out only 6.2 batters per nine innings. He throws too many strikes, giving opponents hittable pitches instead of trying to get them to chase out of the zone when he's ahead in the count. His fastball and curveball lack life, and his slider is just fringy right now.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
23
21
8 7
0 4.33
112
137
65
54
10
27
78 .300
 
13. Adam Warren, rhp, Tampa Yankees
Age: 23. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 200. Drafted: North Carolina '09 (4)
Warren made short work of the FSL, needing just three months in Tampa to earn a promotion to Double-A in his first full pro season. He succeeds by pitching off a heavy 90-93 mph fastball that allows him to keep the ball in the park (two homers in 81 innings) and get plenty of grounders (2.18 groundout/airout ratio).

Warren's slow curveball was his second-best pitch in the FSL,  while scouts in the Eastern League preferred is cutter-type slider. His solid frame doesn't have much projection remaining, and there are some concerns that he may project more as a set-up man than a starter. His sinker would be tailor made for getting tough outs in the late innings.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
15
15
7 5
0 2.22
81
72
23
20
2
17
67 .235
 
14. Liam Hendriks, rhp, Fort Myers (Twins)
Age: 21. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 190. Signed: Australia '07
Hendriks came within a micron of winning the minor league ERA title. He just failed to qualify because he missed time recovering from an appendectomy, and his 1.74 ERA was just behind Braves righthander Brandon Beachy's 1.73. When Hendriks was healthy, he was the most effective pitcher in the FSL, with few hitters getting a comfortable swing against him.

Hendriks has impeccable command of four pitches. His fastball sits at 90-91 mph, and while it touches 93, it's more notable for its heavy life and his ability to keep it at the bottom of the strike zone. He also can hit the corners of the zone with his curveball, slider and changeup, which all grade as average. His slider ranks as the best of his secondary pitches, followed by his changeup.

Hendriks' medical history is his greatest concern. He also has missed time with back surgery to clear a nerve impingement, and two knee injuries. If he can stay healthy, he profiles as a No. 3 or No. 4 starter.
 
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
 
15. Joe Cruz, rhp, Charlotte Stone Crabs (Rays)
Age: 22. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-24. Wt.: 190. Drafted: East Los Angeles JC '07 (30).
The FSL win leader with 13, Cruz can look like two different pitchers—sometimes in the same outing.

At his best, he has a fastball that touches 95-96 mph and works down in the zone with the kind of downward plane that leaves hitters helpless. But in the next inning, he might have an 86-88 mph fastball. His velocity varies so much because he has a rough delivery with a long arm action and a wrap in the back.

Cruz also throws a slow curveball and still is working to find a reliable changeup. His lack of an average second pitch and his difficulty maintaining consistent velocity may lead to an eventual move to the bullpen. But with his arm and frame, the Rays will give him plenty of time to see if he can stick in the rotation.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
25
25
13
6
0
2.85
142
137
53
45
6
39
131
.258
 
16. Diego Moreno, rhp, Bradenton Marauders (Pirates)
Age: 24. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 177 Signed: Venezuela '06.
There were a lot of hard throwers in the FSL, and Moreno might have had the best pure arm. His fastball sits between 94-98 mph with sink and tailing action. If batters try to sit on his heater, he can make them look ridiculous with an 86-87 mph slider.

Not that he needs it, but Moreno also has a changeup that plays just a tick below average, largely because hitters don't expect it. His control is actually quite good for a reliever.

Even with three pitches and the ability to throw strikes, Moreno never will be a starter. His delivery has too much effort and he's best in short stints—he threw on back-to-back days only twice all season. The Pirates suspended him for a month for disciplinary reasons but don't consider his makeup a long-term issue.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
28
0
4
1
0 1.17
38
14
6
5
3
5
57 .105
 
17. Francisco Martinez, 3b, Lakeland Flying Tigers
Age: 20. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 180. Signed: Venezuela '07.
Though Martinez turned 20 as the season ended, he's still quite raw. He jumped straight to Lakeland from the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, leading scouts to say he would have been better suited for a short-season circuit, but he held his own in high Class A.

"He's got a great body. He has a ton of room to grow," McCullough said. "He has some strength and athleticism. He already doesn't swing at a lot of bad pitches. There's a ton of projection because of his size and what his body can turn into."

Martinez should start to tap into his power potential once he develops a more consistent swing. He's also has above-average speed and the tools to be at least an average third baseman. He has a strong arm but need to clean up his footwork and take better angles to balls.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
340
47
92
17
1
3
29
28
71 12
5
.271
.330 .353

18. Jhan Marinez, rhp, Jupiter Hammerheads (Marlins)
Age: 22. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 165. Signed: Dominican Republic '06.
Not many pitchers jump from Class A to the big leagues in a month, but then not many pitchers can throw 99 mph.

Marinez blitzed through his second tour of the FSL while featuring a plus-plus fastball that sits at 95-97 mph and an 87-90 mph slider. With added consistency, his slider will give him a second plus pitch. He also has messed around with a changeup but uses it infrequently.

Control will determine whether Marinez becomes a big league closer or something less. His stuff is good enough that he doesn't need excellent command, but he gets into trouble when he can't throw his fastball for strikes. His arm action is usually clean, though he sometimes gets too concerned with velocity and overthrows.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
21
1
0 1
4 1.42
25
12
4
4
1
14
44 .148
 
19. Melky Mesa, of, Tampa Yankees
Age: 23. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 165. Signed: Dominican Republic '03.
Mesa was old for high Class A at age 23, but Gose was the only FSL player with a better package of all-around tools. The league MVP for FSL champion Tampa, Mesa showed true four-tool ability before being hit by a pitch in late August, preventing him from playing in the postseason. He has excellent raw power that already makes its presence felt in games, runs well, covers a lot of ground in center field and owns a strong, accurate arm.

But his hitting ability isn't nearly as advanced, which will hold him back unless he shows he can make better adjustments. He strikes out too much because he doesn't like (or really recognize) any pitch that has a wrinkle to it. His bat speed and swing path are fine, but he has to learn to deal with breaking balls.

In an ideal scenario, Mesa could be a bargain version of Drew Stubbs, providing similar power, defense and strikeouts. At the same time, his lack of pitch recognition could keep him from ever reaching the big leagues.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
446 81
116
21
9
19 74
44
129
31
9
.260
.338 .475
 
20. Andrew Brackman, rhp, Tampa Yankees
Age: 24. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-10. Wt.: 240. Drafted: N.C. State '07 (1).
Brackman signed a guaranteed $4.55 million contract in 2007, but Tommy John surgery and an appendectomy delayed his pro debut for two years. He struggled to throw strikes in 2009 but got back on track this year in the FSL before finishing strong in Double-A.

Brackman showed an 89-94 mph fastball and a power curveball in the FSL, giving him a pair of plus pitches on his best days. His mammoth wingspan gives him excellent angle on his pitches, making it seem to hitters as though the ball is coming down from Mount Everest.

His changeup shows flashes of effectiveness but little consistency. Brackman's command still comes and goes, leading several scouts to believe he'll end up as a power reliever.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
12
12
5
4
0 5.10
60
67
38
34
5
9
56
.278