League Top 20 Prospects

Texas League Top 20 Prospects With Scouting Reports





FIVE YEARS AGO
(Click here for the complete list)
*1. Howie Kendrick, 2b, Arkansas
*2. Erick Aybar, ss, Arkansas
*3. Daric Barton, 1b, Midland
*4. Thomas Diamond, rhp, Frisco
*5. Edison Volquez, rhp, Frisco
*6. Andre Ethier, of, Midland
*7. Kendry Morales, 1b, Arkansas
*8. Yuniesky Betancourt, ss, San Antonio
*9. Jason Hirsh, rhp, Corpus Christi
*10. Justin Huber, 1b, Wichita
*11. John Danks, lhp, Frisco
*12. Joaquin Arias, ss, Frisco
13. Fernando Nieve, rhp, Corpus Christi
*14. Adam Jones, ss, San Antonio
*15. Joe Saunders, lhp, Arkansas
*16. Steven Shell, rhp, Arkansas
*17. Omar Quintanilla, ss, Midland
*18. Ubaldo Jimenez, rhp, Tulsa
*19. Josh Anderson, of, Corpus Christi
*20. Kevin Melillo, 2b, Midland
*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.

Scouting the Double-A Texas League was relatively easy this season: Head to Northwest Arkansas and watch the parade of talent come through. The Naturals not only won the league title but also dominated our TL Top 20 Prospects list, grabbing the top three spots and four of the top six.

Northwest Arkansas had a premium hitter in the middle of its lineup all season, with No. 1 prospect Mike Moustakas holding the job through mid-July and Eric Hosmer taking over when Moustakas moved on to Triple-A. The Naturals had plenty of pitching talent as well, led by Mike Montgomery and Aaron Crow. Danny Duffy and John Lamb also would have found spots on the Top 20 if they had enough innings to qualify.

Northwest Arkansas also had a triple crown winner in first baseman/DH Clint Robinson, who batted .335/.410/.625 with 29 home runs and 98 RBIs, but he missed the Top 20 because scouts don't like his defense and see him as an extra bat at the big league level. He also benefited from a home park that was extremely hitter-friendly, as well as the opportunity to hit in the middle of a stacked lineup all season.

1. Mike Moustakas, 3b, Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Royals)
Age: 21. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 195. Drafted: HS—Chatsworth, Calif., 2007 (1).
Scouts and managers don't always agree, but they all were blown away by Moustakas' performance this season. The TL player of the year's 36 homers between Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha tied him for the overall minor league lead with Angels first baseman Mark Trumbo, and his .630 slugging percentage was third-best in the minors.

After struggling in 2009, Moustakas showed his ability to hit for power and average this season. He's strong and short to the ball with the power to drive the ball out to any field. He shows a good feel for the strike zone but comes into the box aggressive, particularly when he sees a pitch he thinks he can drive, which will occasionally cause him to chase pitches.He had dramatic home-road splits—he hit .437/.485/.894 at home and .222/.318/.398 on the road—but his continued production at Triple-A, at home and on the road, should ease any concerns.

While some observers think Moustakas will have to move to first base or a corner outfield spot, the majority opinion was that he's an underrated athlete who gets judged too quickly because of his thick body. He's a below-average runner but has range and plenty of arm for third base.

"He is a phenomenal third baseman," Arkansas manager Bobby Magallanes said. "It doesn't seem like he's an athlete, but he makes plays that make guys go, 'Wow.' "
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
259
58 90
25
0
21
76
26
42
0
1
.347
.413 .687
 
2. Eric Hosmer, 1b, Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Royals)
Age: 20. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 215. Drafted: HS—Plantation, Fla., 2008 (1).
Like Moustakas, Hosmer made up for a disappointing 2009 season by raking all summer. Hosmer came up from high Class A and stepped right into the No. 3 spot in the Northwest Arkansas lineup when Moustakas moved to Triple-A in mid-July. Hosmer also hit six home runs in the TL playoffs, including a two-run shot in a 2-1 win over Midland in the penultimate game of the championship series.

TL observers didn't see a whole lot to separate Hosmer and Moustakas at the plate. Hosmer has a smooth swing with good leverage, so some thought he might hit for more power than Moustakas. He's aggressive and can drive the ball to all fields, and managers also liked his approach and demeanor.

The separation between the two comes because Hosmer can be attacked inside by pitchers and Moustakas offers more defensive value, assuming he stays at third base. Hosmer should be an average defender at first base and shows a good arm, but he still needs more polish. He's a well below-average runner.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
195
39 59
14
3
13
35
15
27
3
1
.303
.355 .605
 
3. Mike Montgomery, lhp, Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Royals)
Age: 21. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 180. Drafted: HS—Newhall, Calif., 2008 (1s).
Montgomery spent April in high Class A and was one of the best pitchers in the minors for the first two months of the season, but he came down with elbow soreness in June and was used cautiously the rest of the year. While tests found no damage, he didn't return until August, when he was much less effective.

At his best, Montgomery offers a dominating package, with a tall, athletic frame and a plus fastball that touches 95 mph with good movement and downhill angle. He has worked with a variety of curveballs, and his changeup shows flashes but is still developing.

Scouts and managers would like to see Montgomery show better command, but they worry more about his health and his makeup. He has his own pitching coach and has clashed with the Royals over his throwing program.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
13
13
5
4
0 3.47
60
56
31
23
4
26
48
.255
 
4. Wilin Rosario, c, Tulsa Drillers (Rockies)
Age: 21. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 195. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2006.
Rosario was coming off a Futures Game appearance and the TL's player of the month award for July when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during a rundown at the beginning of August. His recovery from surgery may give him a late start on the 2011 season, though the Rockies say his injury shouldn't hold him back in the long term.

Rosario fits the physical prototype of a catcher, and his bat looks nearly big league-ready. He can turn around any fastball and showed a better feel for offspeed stuff this season, learning what good breaking balls look like and what to do with them. He has power to all fields and could hit 20-30 homers a season if he taps fully into his strength.

He also has all the tools on defense. Rosario blocks and receives well, and he used his plus-plus arm to throw out 44 percent of basestealers at Tulsa. Though he's a well below-average runner, he springs well from behind the plate to go after bunts. His youth often shows, however, as he's still learning how to call games and work with pitchers. He has a lack of focus and energy behind the plate at times, particularly if he has a series of bad at-bats.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
270
42
77
13
1
19
52
21
57
1
0
.285
.342 .552
 
5. Martin Perez, lhp, Frisco RoughRiders (Rangers)
Age: 19. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 178. Signed: Venezuela, 2007.
Perez burst onto the scene in 2009, dominating in low Class A and earning a promotion to reached Double-A at the end of last season at age 18, then returned to Frisco this season and compiled a 2.45 ERA in his first six starts, but he was erratic the rest of the way. He had just eight starts all year when he went five innings or more, and he spent time on the disabled list in August with a strained lower back, though he finished with a strong effort in a playoff win over Midland.

Because he's just 19, scouts focus on what Perez shows when he's at his best, which is electric stuff and an aggressive approach. He has a 91-95 mph fastball with good sink, and he has the ability to reach back for more. His curveball is sharp and should be a plus pitch when he gets more consistent with it. He also shows good feel for a changeup.

Perez had trouble throwing strikes because he didn't repeat his delivery. More worrisome to scouts was that he didn't miss as many bats and show his best stuff as often as he did last year. Some worry that his small frame will affect his durability, but his age and present stuff still give him the chance to be a frontline starter.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
24
23
5
8
0 5.96
100
117
73
66
12
50
101
.290
 
6. Aaron Crow, rhp, Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Royals)
Age: 23. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 195. Drafted: Fort Worth/American Association, 2009 (1).
A two-time first-round pick, Crow turned down the Nationals as the No. 9 overall pick in 2008 before signing with Kansas City as the 12th choice last year. Crow's 18 months away from the mound, save for short stints in the independent American Association and the Arizona Fall League, showed when he made his pro debut in Double-A. He eventually got sent down to high Class A, where he still got hit hard but showed improved command.

The good news is that Crow still has first-round stuff. He has a fastball that sits in the mid-90s and touches 98 with hard sink. His slider also can be a plus pitch, though his changeup doesn't show enough separation from his other pitches.

Crow still hasn't figured out how to get the most out of his stuff yet. He doesn't miss as many bats as he should, and he runs up high pitch counts as he learns how to locate his fastball and attack hitters. The Royals made some minor mechanical tweaks in hopes of sharpening his command, but if that doesn't work, he may wind up in the bullpen.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
17
16
8
4
0 3.10
99
90
37
34
7
18
86
.243
 
7. Jordan Lyles, rhp, Corpus Christi Hooks (Astros)
Age: 19. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 185. Drafted: HS—Hartsville, S.C., 2008 (1s).
Lyles jumped from low Class A to Corpus Christi as a 19-year-old, finishing fifth in the TL in ERA (3.19) and making the league's postseason all-star team. Houston rewarded him with a late-season promotion to Triple-A.

Lyles pitches at 89-92 mph and touches 94, getting the most out of his fastball by spotting it in the strike zone. He has a lot of mound savvy and at least three other major league pitches: a cutter that can break bats, a big-breaking curveball and a changeup that could be a plus pitch. He also throws a slider.

When Lyles has his command working and drives the ball down in the zone, he can handle any hitter. There are some concerns with his delivery and how his not-quite-overpowering stuff will play against major leaguers.

G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
21
20
7
9
0 3.19
127
134
54
45
10
35
115
.267
 
8. Simon Castro, rhp, San Antonio Missions (Padres)
Age: 22. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 211. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2006.
After Castro's breakout 2009 season in low Class A, the Padres skipped him a level to San Antonio this year. He was consistent from beginning to end, leading the TL in opponent average (.223).

Castro has a big, strong frame that has made him durable as a pro. His fastball sits in the low 90s and peaks at 95 mph, and he does a good job of keeping his fastball down in the zone. His slider is inconsistent but shows late break when it's working, and he has good arm speed and deception on his changeup.

Castro has a deliberate delivery that's long in the back, but he's doing a better job of repeating it and steadily has improved his command as a pro. 
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
24
23
7
6 0 2.85
130
107
55
41
8
36
107
.223
 
9. Blake Beaven, rhp, Frisco Roughriders (Rangers)
Age: 21. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-7. Wt.: 250. Drafted: HS—Irving, Texas, 2007 (1).
Since signing with his hometown Rangers as the 17th overall pick in the 2007 draft, Beavan hasn't shown the same mid-90s fastball he had as an amateur. But he has improved his aptitude for pitching, which helped him win Beavan was on his way to the TL pitcher of the year award when he left Frisco at the beginning of July when the Rangers included him in the Cliff Lee trade with the Mariners.

Beavan's fastball has settled into the 88-92 mph range. He throws two breaking balls, with his slider rating as better than his curveball, and his changeup showed progress this season. Unlike Crow, whose premium stuff seems to play down, his more pedestrian His stuff plays up because of his feel for pitching and strong fastball command.

Beavan's supporters see him as a potential No. 3 starter because of his big frame and ability to make quality pitches with four different offerings. Others see him as a back-of-the-rotation starter because he lacks a true plus pitch.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
17
17
10
5
0 2.78
110
100
37
34
6
12
68
.242
 
10. Christian Friederich, lhp, Tulsa Drillers (Rockies)
Age: 23. B-T: R-L. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 218. Drafted: Eastern Kentucky, 2008 (1).
Friedrich was bothered by elbow inflammation in 2009 and again this year, breezed through both Class A levels in his first full pro season in 2009, though the Rockies shut him down early because of elbow inflammation. His elbow bothered him again this year, as he missed almost a month early in the season and was inconsistent when he did pitch. Just as he was putting things together, and he got hit in the elbow by a batted ball in a mid-July start and got just 16 innings the rest of the way.

Friedrich's fastball touched 95 mph last year, but it sat at 88-92 mph this season. His fastball shows cutting movement and he loves to challenge hitters with it. He has shown a hard slider and big curveball—which is probably the better breaking pitch— as well as some feel for a changeup, but all of his secondary stuff regressed and lacked consistency this season.

Friedrich has big league stuff, but he's still learning to pitch and must prove he can stay healthy. He was incorporating minor mechanical changes to improve his command before he got hurt. He leans too much on his fastball and needs more trust in his offspeed pitches, and he can get too emotional on the mound.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
18
18
3
6
0 5.05
87
100
54
49
10
35
78
.293
 
11. Cory Luebke, lhp, San Antonio Missions (Padres)
Age: 25. B-T: R-L. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 215. Drafted: Ohio State, 2007 (1s).
Luebke made a good impression in major league spring training but came down with a strained oblique, so he didn't take the mound in San Antonio until the last week of May. After 10 appearances he earned a promotion to Triple-A, and the Padres called him up in the heat of a pennant race in September. He pitched six shutout innings against the Dodgers to win his second major league start.

Luebke has an ideal pitcher's build, with the athleticism to repeat a smooth delivery that features little effort. He's not overpowering, pitching around 88-90 and peaking at 92 mph, but he gets good downhill plane on his fastball. His slider and changeup also made progress this season. With his frame, feel for pitching and ability to generate weak contact, he could pitch for years in the middle of a major league rotation.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
10
8
5
1
0 2.40
56
41
18
15
2
12
44
.200
 
12. Jordan Walden, rhp, Arkansas Travelers (Angels)
Age: 22. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 240. Drafted: Grayson County (Texas) CC, D/F 2006 (12).
Walden spent all of 2009 with Arkansas but battled a forearm strain for most of the season and wasn't at his best when he did pitch. Because of his arm problems and his difficulty improving his command and developing his changeup, the Angels moved him to the bullpen this season. The results were dramatic, as managers rated his fastball the best in the TL and he finished the year in Los Angeles' bullpen, where he had a 2.35 ERA in 16 appearances.

Walden's fastball has always been his calling card, a heavy sinker that usually sits around 94 mph and peaks at 97, and it was much more effective in short stints. His slider is a potential plus pitch but remains inconsistent, which is one reason why he hasn't dominated as much as his stuff might indicate.

The other reason is his command, which remains inconsistent due mostly to his mechanics. His slider and command seemed to come around in the big leagues, however, and with his pure arm strength, he'll be effective as a set-up man at least. If it all comes together, he could be a closer.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
38
0
1
1
8 3.35
43
44
18
16
2
22
38
.277
 
13. James Darnell, 3b, San Antonio Missions (Padres)
Age: 23. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 198. Drafted: South Carolina, 2008 (2).
Darnell had the first struggles of his young pro career this season, getting off to a slow start in his Double-A debut before a bruise on his right hand kept him out for a month starting in early May. He performed much better when he came back, batting .349/.432/.547 in August.

At his best, Darnell's simple swing allows him to hit for average and powe. He has good strength and bat speed, and he gets high marks for his makeup as well. He lost his plate discipline against Double-A pitching, though he improved as the season went on and did maintain his power stroke.

He pushed fellow Padres prospect Logan Forsythe to second base at San Antonio this season, but Darnell still has work to do to become a major league third baseman. He made 24 errors in 95 games at third for the Missions, struggling with his footwork and the accuracy of his throws, though his arm is plenty strong enough. He's an average runner with decent range for the hot corner.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
270
42
77
13
1
19
52
21
57
1
0
.285
.342 .552
 
14. Eduardo Sanchez, rhp, Springfield Cardinals
Age: 21. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 155. Signed: Venezuela, 2005.
Sanchez broke out as a closer prospect with Springfield at the end of 2009, and he returned to the TL at the beginning of 2010. He injured his ankle and missed a couple of weeks at the beginning of June, then earned a promotion to Triple-A soon after his return.

Sanchez is undersized but has a legitimate power arsenal, highlighted by a sinking fastball that usually sits in the mid-90s and peaks at 97 mph. He drives the fastball down in the zone and shows good command of it. Some scouts say his breaking ball, usually described as a slider, works even better as a strikeout pitch.

Sanchez steadily has improved his command as he has risen through the Cardinals system, but he still struggles with it at times. His live fastball and willingness to attack the zone should make him an ideal set-up man, with the possibility to close if everything breaks right.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
24
0
1
1
11 3.12
26
22
13
9
2
8
27
.232
 
15. Rex Brothers, lhp, Tulsa Drillers (Rockies)
Age: 22. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 205. Drafted: Lipscomb, 2009 (1s).
A starter in college, Brothers has worked exclusively as a reliever as a pro and is on the fast track to Colorado. He spent the first half of the season in high Class A, joining Tulsa at the beginning of July and limiting TL opponents to a .177 average. Lefthanders hit just .098 against him.

Brothers is a stocky, aggressive pitcher who loves to go after hitters with his power arsenal. His fastball peaks at 97 mph, though he pitches more often around 95, and it shows good movement. His hard slider is also tough for hitters to square up. He doesn't use his changeup much and shouldn't really need it.

Brothers' control and command still need some work but should be plenty good enough. He looked at home in the back of the Drillers bullpen and should find a role in the Colorado next season.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
24
0
2
1
4
3.91
23
14
13
10
2
18
27
.177
 
16. Louis Coleman, rhp, Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Royals)
Age: 24. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 195. Drafted: Louisiana State, 2009 (5).
With all the high-profile talent emerging in the Royals farm system, it would be easy for Coleman to get lost in the shuffle, but he could fill a valuable role for a major league pitching staff. He was a senior sign after helping Louisiana State to the College World Series title in 2009, and he jumped to Triple-A at the end of June.

Coleman has an 89-92 mph fastball that tops out at 95 mph, and he complements it with a good but inconsistent slider. He has worked on a changeup and it shows potential, but he doesn't have confidence in it and doesn't use it enough. TL observers praised his makeup and versatility, as he both started and closed a game in the first week of the season and mostly worked in two- and three-inning stints.

Coleman throws severely across his body, and his crossfire delivery makes it hard for batters to pick up the ball, though it also creates injury concerns. His ball runs away from righthanders, who batted .115 against him, but into the bats of lefthanders, who batted .247 against him.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
21
1
2
1
6 2.09
52
31
13
12
5
14
55
.171
 
17. Charlie Blackmon, of, Tulsa Drillers (Rockies)
Age: 24. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 180. Drafted: Georgia Tech, 2008 (2).
Drafted twice as a pitcher before the Rockies signed him as an outfielder in 2008, Blackmon brought a .318 career average into the season. He struggled in the first half of the year, though, first with a strained hamstring that he initially injured in spring training and then with Double-A pitching. He didn't see action with Tulsa until the end of May and was batting .200 in mid-June.

Blackmon has a knack for putting the bat on the ball, with a strong frame that should allow him to hit 20 homers per year in the big leagues. He's still learning the subtleties of hitting, which sometimes slows him down at the plate. With experience, he should gain more quickness with his swing that should translate into power.

Blackmon played mostly in center field for Tulsa and has above-average speed, but most TL observers projected him as a left fielder. Despite his pitching background, his arm isn't a weapon in the outfield, as he has average arm strength but a long release. He takes good routes on balls and could end up in the mold of Seth Smith, who plays all three outfield spots for Colorado.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
337
53 100
22
4
11
55
32
43
19
7
.297
.360 .484

18. Engel Beltre, of, Frisco Roughriders (Rangers)
Age: 20. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 169. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2006 (Red Sox).

Acquired from the Red Sox in the Eric Gagne trade in 2007, Beltre came to the TL after a strong first-half performance in the high Class A California League, where he consistently hit the ball with authority for the first time in his career. He struggled again with the bat when he faced Double-A pitching.

Beltre has gotten bigger and stronger in the last couple of seasons and can put a charge in the ball on occasion. He has the raw power to hit double-digit home runs, but he usually just takes pitches to the opposite field. He struggles against breaking stuff but did a better job this season of cutting down on his strikeouts.

Beltre's best tool is probably his speed, which allows him to easily cover ground in center field. He also has a strong arm and should be an above-average defender.

 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
181
14
46
4
4 1
14
10
24
8
2
.254
.301
.337
 
19. Wynn Pelzer, rhp, San Antonio Missions  (Padres)
Age: 24. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 205. Drafted: South Carolina, '07 (9).

Pelzer had one of the TL's more electric but erratic arms. The Padres already had moved him from the rotation to the bullpen at San Antonio before sending him the Orioles in a deadline deal for Miguel Tejada.

Pelzer's fastball ranges from 91-94 mph with good movement. His two-seam fastball tails and his four-seamer cuts. He also uses a solid slider against righthanders and a good splitter against lefties.

Pelzer struggled as a starter because of an upright delivery that makes his command come and go and causes him to leave his pitches up in the zone too often. He's more effective as a reliever, and Baltimore kept him in that role after the trade.

 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
22
18
6
8
0 4.20
94
102
57
44
9
56
83
.277
 
20. Trevor Reckling, lhp, Arkansas Travelers (Angels)
Age: 21. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 195. Drafted: HS—Newark, N.J., 2007 (8).
Reckling ranked No. 8 on this list a year ago after posting a 2.93 ERA in 23 Double-A starts at age 20. The Angels sent him to Triple-A to open the season but he struggled there, and he mixed good starts with complete disasters after returning to Arkansas at the end of June.

With a 87-92 mph fastball, a tight slider and a sinking changeup, Reckling has three major league pitches. He also shows a willingness to challenge hitters.

Reckling's future will depend on his ability to repeat his mechanics and throw strikes consistently, because he gets hammered when he's wild. He draws comparisons to Franklin Morales as a lefthander with a good arm who struggles to tame his herky-jerky mechanics. Most scouts believe Reckling will figure his delivery out because of his athleticism, and he impressed with his competitiveness even when he didn't have his best stuff.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
14
14
3
6
0 4.56
79
74
49
40
4
35
62
.254