League Top 20 Prospects

International League Top 20 Prospects With Scouting Reports





FIVE YEARS AGO
1. *Delmon Young, of, Durham
2. *Francisco Liriano, lhp, Rochester
3. *Zach Duke, lhp, Indianapolis
4. *Ryan Howard, 1b, Scranton/W-B
5. *Andy Marte, 3b, Richmond
6. *Edwin Encarnacion, 3b, Louisville
7. *Kyle Davies, rhp, Richmond
8. *Brandon McCarthy, rhp, Charlotte
9. *Brian Anderson, of, Charlotte
10. *Aaron Hill, ss, Syracuse
11. *Jonny Gomes, of, Durham
12. *Scott Baker, rhp, Rochester
13. *Ryan Doumit, c, Indianapolis
14. *Anthony Lerew, rhp, Richmond
15. *Kelly Johnson, of, Richmond
16. *Bryan Bullington, rhp, Indianapolis
17. *Dustin Pedroia, 2b, Pawtucket
18. *Kelly Shoppach, c, Pawtucket
19. *Curtis Granderson, of, Toledo
20. *Ryan Garko, c/1b, Buffalo
*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.

The Triple-A International League had one of its deepest collections of prospects in recent memory in 2010, spotlighting a number of young players who will burst onto the big league scene shortly—if they haven't already.

Several highly regarded talents passed through the IL so briefly that they didn't qualify for inclusion—Syracuse righthander Stephen Strasburg, Lehigh Valley outfielder Domonic Brown and Gwinett lefthander Mike Minor, among others—yet the league did not face a shortage of players worthy for a spot on our Top 20 Prospects list.

Even in a league where plenty of omitted players had strong cases for inclusion, nobody doubted which player belonged at the top. In two months at Columbus, catcher Carlos Santana drew praise for his bat and defensive improvement, and scouts and managers unanimously agreed that he was the IL's No. 1 prospect.

Santana was so impressive that he was the clear choice over Durham righthander Jeremy Hellickson, Baseball America's Minor League Player of the Year, and Louisville lefty Aroldis Chapman, who threw the fastest big league pitch ever recorded.

1. Carlos Santana, c, Columbus Clippers (Indians)
Age: 24. B-T: B-R. Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 190. Signed: Dominican Republic, '04 (Dodgers).
Santana is the total package, presenting a premium bat and solid defensive skills. IL managers rated him the league's best hitting and power prospect. A switch-hitter, he has a generally short stroke and good balance from both sides of the plate, consistently squaring up balls. He had no problems adjusting to major league pitching and would have contended for American League rookie of the year honors had a knee injury not ended his season in early August.

"He's an aggressive hitter who is very selective," Columbus manager Mike Sarbaugh said, "and he's very good at attacking balls that are in his zone."

Originally signed as a third baseman by the Dodgers, Santana has learned a lot about catching in the last four years. He has improved his receiving, blocking and game-calling ability, and he always has had a plus arm. He committed just one passed ball in 45 games and threw out 23 percent of basestealers.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
196
39
62
14
1
13
51
45
39
6
0
.316
.447 .597
 
2. Jeremy Hellickson, rhp, Durham Bulls (Rays)
Age: 23. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 185. Drafted: HS—Des Moines, Iowa, '05 (4).
Hellickson starred down the stretch and in the postseason for Durham in 2009, and he carved up IL hitters again this season. He led the league with a 2.43 ERA and 9.4 strikeouts per nine innings, winning league most valuable pitcher honors.

Hellickson's fastball normally sits in the low 90s and touches 94-95 mph. His four-seamer is fairly straight, but he added a two-seamer in the upper 80s and a cut fastball to keep hitters honest. His changeup, the best in the league is a plus pitch with late fade, and his curveball is a solid pitch. He repeats his efficient delivery has a cerebral approach to pitching, reading hitters' swings and pitching to their weaknesses.

"Jeremy has an above-average changeup and he has a good curve," Durham manager Charlie Montoyo said, "but I think what separates him from other pitchers is his ability to locate his fastball."
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
21
21
12
3
0 2.45
118
103
35
32
5
35
123
.238
 
3. Aroldis Chapman, lhp, Louisville Bats (Reds)
Age: 22. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 185. Signed: Cuba, '10.
The $30.25 million Cuban lefthander became an IL legend thanks to the number of times he reached or exceeded 100 mph with his fastball. He added to his reputation when he threw the fastest fastball in major league history: 105.1 mph against the Padres on Sept. 24.

Chapman was much more dominant after moving to the bullpen, going 4-1, 2.40 with eight saves and a .156 opponent average. He not only had the best fastball in the league but also the best breaking pitch, a sharp mid-80s slider. He also has a changeup that he didn't need as much as a reliever.

Chapman still is somewhat a work in progress. He doesn't have good control and is extremely slow to the plate. But he has the electric stuff to become a star closer, and perhaps a frontline starter if he can add more polish.

"All of the things that you take for granted—where to throw on comebackers, covering first base, what to throw in different situations—he had to learn," Louisville manager Rick Sweet said.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
39
13
9
6
8
3.57
96
77
46
38
7
52
125
.218
 
4. Jesus Montero, c, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees
Age: 20. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 225. Signed: Venezuela, '06.
In a league full of catching prospects, Montero was the IL's postseason all-star at the position. After an uncharacteristically slow start, he batted .351 with 14 homers in 44 games in the second half. He was the youngest regular in the league.

In terms of hitting for average and power, Montero may have the highest ceiling in the minor leagues. He has tremendous strength and a knack for barreling balls when he gets in rhythm, as he did in the second half. He showed more patience at the plate in 2010 than he had in the past.

Scouts and managers still aren't sold that Montero can be a regular catcher, however. He allowed a league high 15 passed balls and 99 steals while throwing out 23 percent of basestealers. He has maintained his athleticism and agility as he has gotten older, but he's still below-average in both departments.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
453
66
131
34
3
21
75
46
91
0
0
.289
.353 .517
 
5. Freddie Freeman, 1b, Gwinnett Braves
Age: 20. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 225. Drafted: HS—Orange, Calif., '07 (2).
The second-youngest regular in the league, Freeman batted just .170 in his first 13 games. But he figured things out quickly, leading the league in hits (147) and total bases (240) and winning the IL's rookie of the year award.

Freeman generates excellent raw power with his bat speed and the leverage in his swing. He makes consistent contact and has good plate coverage. He moves well for his size and is a quality defender at first base, where he shows soft hands and above-average range.

"He struggled early, like any 20-year-old would," Gwinnett manager Dave Brundage said. "But he continues to impress us with his offensive production. He has really made some good offensive adjustments. He has a great understanding of the game."
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
461
73
147
35
2
18
87
43
84
6 2
.319
.378 .521
 
6. Zach Britton, lhp, Norfolk Tides (Orioles)
Age: 22. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 195. Drafted: HS—Weatherford, Texas, '06 (3).
The consensus among scouts is that Britton has the best sinker in the minor leagues, and his 2.8 groundout-to-flyout ratio between Double-A Bowie and Norfolk helps back that up. Not only does he have heavy life on his two-seam fastball, but he also throws his harder than most at 90-94 mph.

Britton's No. 2 pitch is a slider that's a weapon against lefthanders. He also has a four-seam fastball and a changeup with some sink. He's athletic with a quick arm, but he tends to lose the release point in his delivery, which costs him control and command.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
12
12
3
4
0 2.98
66
63
31
22
3
23
56
.245
 
7. Desmond Jennings, of, Durham Bulls (Rays)
Age: 23. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 200. Drafted: Itawamba (Miss.) CC, '06 (10).
A sprained left wrist sidelined Jennings for the first two weeks of the season, and his average was just .222 on May 29. But once he got healthy, he looked like the same dynamic all-around player who gave Durham a spark at the end of the 2009 season. Managers rated him the most exciting player in the league, as well as the best baserunner and defensive outfielder.

A former junior college all-America wide receiver, Jennings has well above-average speed and finished second in the IL with 37 steals in 41 attempts. He has good on-base skills and though the wrist injury seemed to sap some of his power, he has double-digit home run potential. He covers the gaps well in center field and even has an average arm.

AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
399
82
111
25
6
3
36
47
67
37
4
.278
.362 .393
 
8. Pedro Alvarez, 3b, Indianapolis Indians (Pirates)
Age: 23. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 225. Drafted: Vanderbilt, '08 (1).
After hitting just .224 in April, Alvarez figured out Triple-A pitching and earned a promotion to Pittsburgh in mid-June.

Alvarez has significant power to all fields. He recognizes pitches well and works himself into hitter's counts, though he's going to have to significantly cut down on his strikeouts if he's going to hit for a high average. He still has to make adjustments against lefthanders, who kept him in check in the majors.

While he has the arm strength and soft hands to play third base, Alvarez may not stick there in the long run. He doesn't have a lot of quickness or range, and he made 11 errors in 62 Triple-A games. Many of his errors come on throws, a problem that can be corrected if he does a better job on bending his knees.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
242
42
67
15
4
13
53
32
68
4
4
.277
.363 .533
 
9. Ivan Nova, rhp, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees
Age: 23. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 210. Signed: Dominican Republic, '05.
Two years ago, New York left Nova off its 40-man roster and temporarily lost him to San Diego in the Rule 5 draft. But he didn't stick with the Padres, and their loss is the Yankees' gain. He went 10-1, 2.19 after May, prompting an August promotion to the Bronx.

"He throws nice and easy, (topping out at) 95-96," Toledo manager Larry Parrish said, "with a power curveball and a nice little slider and even a decent changeup."

Even with Nova's fastball velocity increasing to a steady 92-94 mph, his fastball command and secondary pitches aren't consistent enough for him to be a true frontline starter. He can rush his delivery and lose his feel for the strike zone, but he's more hittable when he falls behind in the count.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
23
23
12
3
0 2.86
145
135
50
46
10
48
115
.250
 
10. Daniel Hudson, rhp, Charlotte Knights (White Sox)
Age: 23. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 225. Drafted: Old Dominion, '08 (5).
When the White Sox needed rotation help at midseason, they gave Hudson three starts before trading him to the Diamondbacks for Edwin Jackson. While Jackson was very solid in Chicago, Hudson was a revelation in Arizona, going 7-1, 1.69 in his first 11 starts.

Hudson doesn't have overpowering stuff, but hitters just don't square his pitches up. He keeps opponents off balance by mixing a low-90s fastball with a quality changeup and a fringy to average slider. Adding to his effectiveness is a crossfire delivery that adds life to his fastball as well as deception, without detracting from his plus command.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
17
17
11
4
0 3.47
93
81
41
36
13
31
108
.228
 
11. Brent Morel, 3b/ss, Charlotte Knights (White Sox)
Age: 23. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 220. Drafted: Cal Poly, '08 (3).
Morel hit .326 at Double-A Birmingham and .320 at Charlotte to earn a trip to Chicago in September. He has a mature, line-drive approach, though some IL managers questions his power because he hit just eight homers in 81 games despite playing in a notorious hitter's park. However, he also had 24 doubles and should develop average home run power as he learns to loft the ball.

Managers had no quibbles with his work at the hot corner, rating him the best defensive third baseman in the league. He has a strong arm and good instincts, helping him overcome below-average speed. When the White Sox sent Dayan Viciedo down in August, Morel played shortstop for 17 games and didn't make an error.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
306
40
98
24
4
8
34
13
50
3
0
.320
.348 .503
 
12. Yonder Alonso, 1b/of, Louisville Bats (Reds)
Age: 23. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 210. Drafted: Miami, '08 (1).
Alonso started slowly at Louisville after arriving in mid-May, but he adjusted and batted .332 with nine of his 12 homers in the final two months. He displayed good power to all fields with a short stroke, good hand-eye coordination and excellent strength. After struggling against lefthanders in the lower minors, he batted .269/.318/.429 against them in the IL.

"When he swings the bat, he puts the ball in play more than most players, so he needs to be careful when he swings the bat to get a good pitch to hit," Sweet said. "On tough pitches, most guys would foul the pitch off or swing and miss. Yonder puts it in play."

An average defender at first base, Alonso is blocked there by Joey Votto in Cincinnati. He played 17 games in left field for Louisville, but his lack of speed severely limits his range. He's not athletic enough to give third base a try.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
406
50
120
31
2
12
56
37
76
9
1
.296
.355 .470
 
13. Eduardo Nunez, ss/3b, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees
Age: 23. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 155. Signed: Dominican Republic, '04.
After an erratic track record in the lower minors, Nunez put together his second fine season in a row at higher levels. Managers rated him the best defensive shortstop and infield arm in the IL, and he made just 10 errors in 101 games at short. He makes difficult plays in the hole and on the run look easy.

"He's a very athletic shortstop," Sarbaugh said. "I saw him last year too and really liked the way he played the game."

Derek Jeter becomes a free agent at season's end, but Nunez is more likely to fill a utility role for the Yankees. He's a bottom-of-the-order who makes contact but doesn't draw many walks or hit for much power. He's an above-average runner and stole 23 bases in 28 attempts.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
464
55
134
25
3
4
50
32
60
23
5
.289
.340 .381
 
14. Jake Arrieta, rhp, Norfolk Tides (Orioles)
Age: 24. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 225. Drafted: Texas Christian, '07 (5).
Arrieta dominated for Norfolk, posting 10 quality starts in 11 tries and taking part in four shutouts before heading to Baltimore, where he won six games in his first exposure to the major leagues. He succeeds by going after hitters with a 92-94 mph fastball that has enough life to be a strikeout pitch, and a hard slider that grades as a plus pitch at times. He uses his 6-foot-4 frame to create good angle to the plate.

Though his changeup is inconsistent, Arrieta's biggest problem is with control and command. He walks too many hitters and tends to overthrow when he loses the strike zone, causing his fastball to flatten out. He'll need to throw more strikes and do a better job of locating his pitches to avoid moving to the bullpen down the line.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
12
11
6
2
0
1.85
73
48
18
15
3
34
64
.189
 
15. Brad Lincoln, rhp, Indianapolis Indians (Pirates)
Age: 25. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 210. Drafted: Houston, '06 (1).
Lincoln went 6-2, 3.16 in his first 11 starts this year to earn a promotion to Pittsburgh for the first time. He got hammered in the majors, however, and won just once after being sent back to Indianapolis in late July.

Lincoln has regained his stuff since having Tommy John surgery in 2007. His fastball sits comfortably at 92-95 mph and he also has a big-breaking curveball. He isn't afraid to challenge hitters, sometimes to a fault, and needs to improve his changeup and have more faith in it to succeed when he returns to the majors.

"Lincoln's got pretty good stuff, especially a good, live fastball," Parrish said. "He pitches in and out very well, and he has a hard breaking ball."
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
17
17
7
5
0
4.12
94
83
47
43
9
24
84
.235
 
16. Jose Tabata, of, Indianapolis Indians (Pirates)
Age: 22. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 210. Signed: Venezuela, '04 (Yankees).
Promoted to Pittsburgh in June, Tabata led Pirates regulars in hitting with a .299 average. He uses a short stroke and makes consistent line-drive contact. He still needs to develop some power, especially because Andrew McCutchen has pushed him from center to left field, and has to make adjustments against lefthanders, who had surprising success against him in both the minors and majors.

Tabata has slightly above-average speed and knows how to use it, swiping 44 bases between Indianapolis and Pittsburgh. He has the tools to be an asset in PNC Park's spacious left field, with plus range and arm strength. His throwing accuracy could use some improvement.
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
224
42
69
13
2
3
19
23
35
25
6
.308
.373 .424
 
17. Ryan Kalish, of, Pawtucket Red Sox
Age: 22. B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 205. Drafted: HS—Red Bank, N.J., '06 (9).
Kalish spent just over a month in Pawtucket, sandwiched between a season-opening stint in Double-A and semi-regular duty in Boston's injury-ravaged outfield. Local writers voted Kalish the Red Sox's rookie of the year after he hit .252/.305/.405, including a pair of grand slams, and provided some highlight catches in center field.

Kalish has the approach and hand-eye coordination to hit for average, though some scouts question his bat speed and wonder if he'll have average home run power. He runs well and has keen instincts on the bases, swiping 35 bases in 39 tries between three levels this year. His speed and average arm play well in center field, though he can take better routes to balls.

"Ryan has been one of the most exciting players I've seen at this level," Pawtucket manager Torey Lovullo said. "He offers so many intangibles, they make him a complete player and, I believe, a potential superstar at the major league level."
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
143
22
42
9
1
5
18
14
32
12
2
.294
.356 .476

18. Wilson Ramos, c, Rochester (Twins)/Syracuse (Nationals)
Age: 23. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 220. Signed: Venezuela, '04 (Twins).
Blocked by Joe Mauer in Minnesota, Ramos got a reprieve when the Twins sent him to the Nationals at the trade deadline in a deal for Matt Capps. He lived up to his advance notices defensively, leading the IL by throwing out 50 percent of basestealers. He has a plus arm, receives well and has a strong, durable body.

Ramos had the worst offensive season since coming to the United States in 2006. He has above-average raw power, but he's not selective and tries to pull everything with an uppercut stroke. He has well below-average speed.

"The ball comes off his bat like a big leaguer," Rochester manager Tom Nieto said. "The last piece to be put in place for him to become a big league catcher is game management. He needs to learn calling a game and managing a pitching staff. Once he does that, he'll be ready to be a big league catcher."
 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
357
39
92
17
1
8
38
15
61
1
2
.258
.293
.378
 
19. Andy Oliver, lhp, Toledo Mud Hens (Tigers)
Age: 22. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 210. Drafted: Oklahoma State, '09 (2).
Despite having never pitched professionally before this season, save for a brief stint in the Arizona Fall League, Oliver started 2010 in Double-A and got a late-June promotion to Detroit. He got hammered in the majors and got demoted to Toledo, where he finished the year on a positive note.

At 90-95 mph, Oliver has plenty of fastball. He's working on his slider and changeup, both of which show promise but lack consistency. He's also trying to improve his control and command, and the amount of polish he can add will determine if his ultimate role is in the rotation or bullpen.

"For Andy, it starts with fastball command," Toledo pitching coach A.J. Sager said. "But he has worked on secondary pitches, and I think in the last few starts that work started to show up."
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
9
9
3
4
0 3.23
53
43
23
19
6
25
49
.226
 
20. Carlos Carrasco, rhp, Columbus Clippers (Indians)
Age: 23. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 220. Signed: Venezuela, '04 (Phillies).
Carrasco presents a puzzle, because he has the struff to be a frontline starter. He rarely has dominated the minors in that manner, however, and has endured repeated questions about his focus and toughness. He may have turned a corner in September, when he recorded six straight quality starts for Cleveland.

Carrasco's fastball sits at 91-94 mph and touches 96. His tumbling changeup is a legitimate strikeout pitch, featuring so much sink that at times it's confused with a splitter, and his slider also has its moments. He throws strikes but sometimes battles his command and leaves pitches up in the strike zone.
 
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
25
25
10
6
0 3.65
150
139
69
61
16
46
133
.250