League Top 20 Prospects

California League Top 20 Prospects With Scouting Reports




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FIVE YEARS AGO
*1. Reid Brignac, ss, Visalia (Devil Rays)*
*2. Carlos Gonzalez, of, Lancaster (Diamondbacks)*
*3. Franklin Morales, lhp, Modesto (Rockies)*
*4. Nick Adenhart, rhp, Rancho Cucamonga (Angels)*
*5. Eric Hurley, rhp, Bakersfield (Rangers)
*6. Travis Buck, of, Stockton (Athletics)*
*7. Jose Arredondo, rhp, Rancho Cucamonga (Angels)*
*8. Greg Reynolds, rhp, Modesto (Rockies)*
*9. Greg Smith, lhp, Lancaster (Diamondbacks)*
*10. Jonathan Herrera, ss, Modesto (Rockies)*
*11. Emilio Bonifacio, 2b, Lancaster (Diamondbacks)*
*12. Sean Rodriguez, ss, Rancho Cucamonga (Angels)*
*13. Mark Reynolds, inf, Lancaster (Diamondbacks)*
14. Ben Harrison, of, Bakersfield (Rangers)
*15. Landon Powell, c, Stockton (Athletics)*
16. Yung Chi Chen, 2b, Inland Empire (Mariners)
*17. Fernando Perez, of, Visalia (Devil Rays)*
*18. Samuel Deduno, rhp, Modesto (Rockies)*
*19. Cesar Ramos, lhp, Lake Elsinore (Rockies)*
*20. Chase Headley, 3b, Lake Elsinore (Padres)*
The high Class A California League had an obvious top prospect in the previous two seasons, when Buster Posey (2009) and Mike Trout (2010) ran away from the field. The battle for No. 1 honors was more competitive this year, with Visalia lefthander Tyler Skaggs, Lake Elsinore third baseman Jedd Gyorko and San Jose outfielder Gary Brown all receiving strong support. With his combination of stuff and polish, Skaggs ultimately got the nod.

Brown's Giants appeared on their way to a third straight championship after going 51-19 in the first half, 13 games better than any other club. San Jose tied for the league high with four Top 20 Prospects but wasn't the same team after third baseman Chris Dominguez was promoted and righthander Zack Wheeler was traded. The Giants still led the league with 90 regular-season victories, but they won just once in the playoffs.

Though Gyorko was long gone, the Storm captured its first outright title since 1996. Former first-round pick Nick Schmidt allowed three earned runs in three postseason starts and won the clincher in each of the final two rounds.
1. TYLER SKAGGS LHP, VISALIA RAWHIDE (DIAMONDBACKS)
AGE: 20. B-T: L-L. HT.: 6-4. WT: 195. Drafted: HS—Santa Monica, Calif., '09 (1s).
Arizona hoped to acquire Skaggs with the 41st pick in the 2009 draft, only to see the Angels nab him at No. 40. The Diamondbacks finally got their man last year in a trade for Dan Haren, and Skaggs rewarded them with a dominant 2011 season. He worked a career-high 158 innings, ranked fourth in the minors with 198 strikeouts and had no trouble making the jump to Double-A.

Skaggs' big-breaking curveball became even more effective this season as the development of his other two offerings took a significant step forward. Most notable was his improved command of his low-90s fastball, a pitch that jumps on hitters and that he can locate to both sides of the plate. He showed more confidence this season in his fading changeup, which gives him a third plus pitch.

"His curveball is probably his best pitch," Visalia manager Jason Hardtke said, "but it's that good because he has a plus fastball."
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
17 17 5 5 0 3.22 101 81 39 36 6 34 125 .219
 
2. JEDD GYORKO 3B, LAKE ELSINORE STORM (PADRES)
AGE: 22. B-T: R-R. HT.: 5-10. WT.: 195. Drafted: West Virginia, '10 (2).
Roundly praised as the best all-around hitter in the league, Gyorko won the batting title at .365 and might have captured the triple crown had he not been promoted on July 4. His disciplined approach and short, quick swing allow him to drive the ball to all fields. He has average power and draws his share of walks.

A hard worker who soaks up instruction, Gyorko proved to be a serviceable third baseman in just his second season at the position. He has a strong arm and soft hands, though his range is limited. He's a below-average runner whose speed plays up on the basepaths because of his instincts and work on improving his jumps.

"He has good hands and feet defensively and can play every day at third base," Lake Elsinore manager Phil Plantier said. "It's not very often as a coach that you run across a first-year player that not only has ability, but that kind of work ethic."
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
340 78 124 35 2 18 74 38 64 11 3 .365 .429 .638
 
3. GARY BROWN OF, SAN JOSE GIANTS
AGE: 22. B-T: R-R. HT.: 6-1. WT.: 190. Drafted: Cal State Fullerton, '10 (1).
One of the fastest players in the minors, Brown used his speed to steal 53 bases and lead the league with 188 hits and 13 triples. His hit total broke the San Jose franchise record set by Mark Leonard in 1988 and was fueled by a scintillating .459/.531/.685 performance against lefthanders. He'll become a more dangerous basestealer as he continues to improve his ability to read pitchers.

Brown uses a short, compact swing to get on base. He began driving the ball with more consistency as the season progressed and ranked fourth in the league with 61 extra-base hits. He can get overly aggressive and chase pitches out of the strike zone, but he toned down his approach after he endured a .202 slump in June.

Brown's speed also plays well in center field, where his routes improved as the season progressed. He has a strong arm that plays up because of his accuracy.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
559 115 188 34 13 14 80 46 77 53 19 .336 407 .519
 
4. ZACK WHEELER RHP, SAN JOSE GIANTS
AGE: 21. B-T: R-R. HT.: 6-4. WT.: 185. Drafted: HS—Dallas, Ga., '09 (1).
The sixth overall pick in the 2009 draft, Wheeler didn't pitch that season because he signed late and worked just 59 innings in his pro debut last year because he nursed a cracked fingernail. He finally started to take off in 2011, though the Giants dealt him to the Mets for Carlos Beltran in July.

Wheeler spent much of the offseason getting his mechanics in order and emerged in the Cal League with an explosive 90-96 mph fastball. His heater became even more effective as he focused less on velocity and more on locating it down in the strike zone.

Wheeler's secondary pitches lag behind his fastball but show plenty of promise. His upper-70s curveball has significant bite when he commands it well, and he began to show feel for his changeup. He reverted to his high school delivery shortly before the trade and achieved improved command, walking just five in six starts in the Mets system.
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
16 16 7 5 0 3.99 88 74 44 39 7 47 98 .224
 
5. JONATHAN SINGLETON 1B, LANCASTER JETHAWKS (ASTROS)
AGE: 20. B-T: L-L. HT.: 6-2. WT.: 215. Drafted: HS—Long Beach, '09 (8).
Singleton barely qualified for this list after the Astros acquired him from the Phillies as part of the Hunter Pence deal at the trade deadline. He instantly became the best prospect in the Houston system and didn't need much time to make an impression in the Cal League. He didn't take advantage of Lancaster's hitter-friendly conditions—all four of his home runs came on the road—but he continued to show off an advanced feel for hitting. Though he profiles as a future slugger, Singleton doesn't rip for the fences but instead covers the plate well and drives pitches all over the park.

"He has a pretty good idea of what he is trying to do at the plate," an American League scout said. "Eventually he will grow into some power and he should hit for average because he hits to all fields."

He draws physical comparisons to a young Ryan Howard, whose presence led the Phillies to experiment with Singleton in left field. The Astros moved him back to first base, where he showed a soft touch and an average arm. Like Howard, Singleton is a below-average runner who clogs the bases.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
129 20 43 9 1 4 16 14 40 0 0 .333 .405 .512
 
6. NOLAN ARENADO 3B, MODESTO NUTS (ROCKIES)
AGE: 20. B-T: R-R. HT.: 6-1. WT.: 205. Drafted: HS—Lake Forest, Calif., '09 (2).
After missing the first six weeks of last year with a groin injury, Arenado led the Cal League (and the minors) with 122 RBIs in his true first full pro season. He has the makings of a run producer, using a selectively aggressive approach and superb hand-eye coordination to make consistent contact. He stays inside the ball well with a compact swing and drives the ball to gaps.

After drawing just 19 walks last season, Arenado nearly evened his K-BB ratio this year. While he remains a well below-average runner, he dropped nearly 20 pounds in the offseason and showed improved range at third base. Some still question whether he can stay at the hot corner in the long term, but veteran Modesto manager Jerry Weinstein doesn't.

"He is as good a young defensive player as I have seen in my years in the game," Weinstein said. "Not only does he make the average play all the time, he can make the special play every night if given the opportunity to do so."
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
517 82 154 32 3 20 122 47 53 2 1 .298 .349 .487
 
7. MICHAEL CHOICE OF, STOCKTON PORTS (ATHLETICS)
AGE: 21. B-T: R-R. HT.: 6-0. WT.: 215. Drafted: Texas-Arlington, '10 (1).
Choice was the most feared power hitter in the Cal League, topping the circuit with 30 homers in his full-season debut. He smacked a third of those longballs in July, when he batted .416/.475/.820, and added three more in the postseason.

Choice generates his power with tremendous bat speed and can hit mistakes out of any part of the park. His all-or-nothing swing tends to get long and pitchers were able to expose him with breaking pitches off the plate, though he made improvements as the season wore on.

He has solid speed and puts it to use on the basepaths—more in terms of taking extra bases than stealing them—and in center field. Though he may end up on a corner, Choice impressed managers with his instincts and routes. His arm is fringy to average, so he's better suited for left field than right.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
467 79 133 28 1 30 82 61 134 9 5 .285 .376 .542
 
8. ALLEN WEBSTER RHP, RANCHO CUCAMONGA QUAKES (DODGERS)
AGE: 21. B-T: R-R. HT.: 6-3. WT.: 185. Drafted: HS—Madison, N.C., '08 (18).
Webster was one of the most polished pitchers in the Cal League, showing command of three pitches. He needed just six weeks to earn a promotion to Double-A, where he continued to excel before he tired in August under the weight of a career-high 145 combined innings.

Webster's best pitch is a 90-95 mph fastball with heavy sinking action. He complements his fastball with a plus changeup that also has a lot of downward movement. He also has a solid curveball with some bite, but he didn't throw it often in the Cal League because his other two pitches were so effective.
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
9 9 5 2 0 2.33 54 46 18 14 2 21 62 .228
 
9. CHAD BETTIS RHP, MODESTO NUTS (ROCKIES)
AGE: 22. B-T: R-R. HT.: 6-1. WT.: 193. Drafted: Texas Tech, '10 (2).
Managers rated Bettis' fastball the best in the league for good reason. His velocity increased as the year went on, and by the end of the season he regularly hit 97 mph and maintained his fastball throughout games. His heater was the main reason he won the Cal League's pitcher of the year award and paced the circuit in innings (170), strikeouts (184), WHIP (1.10) and opponent average (.225) while ranking second in wins (12) and ERA (3.39).

"You see a lot of guys at 94-96 and by the end of the game they're at 92-93," Inland Empire manager Damon Mashore said. "But he was able to sustain that velocity throughout the whole game, and that is pretty impressive."

The development of his secondary pitches will dictate if Bettis remains a starter or moves back to the bullpen, his college role. When he's pitching well, he throws a tight-breaking slider that touches the upper 80s and comes out of his hand on the same plane as his fastball, but the pitch sometimes flattens out. He also throws a slurvy curveball and a changeup that's still a work in progress.
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
27 27 12 5 0 3.39 170 143 72 64 10 45 184 .225
 
10. YASMANI GRANDAL C, BAKERSFIELD BLAZE (REDS)
AGE: 22. B-T: B-R. HT.: 6-2:. WT.: 205. DRAFTED: Miami, '10 (1).
Though he had just eight games of prior pro experience, Grandal started 2011 at Bakersfield and advanced to Triple-A by season's end. He has the tools to become a solid all-around backstop, though he faces a large obstacle ahead in fellow Reds farmhand Devin Mesoraco.

A switch-hitter, Grandal is a little more advanced and has a little more power from the left side. He has a good read on the strike zone and doesn't miss many fastballs. He could develop into a .280 hitter with 20 or more homers per season.

Described by Bakersfield manager Ken Griffey as a quick learner on defense, Grandal showed off an as-advertised strong arm by throwing out 34 percent of basestealers. He scuffled behind the plate at times, however, giving up 14 passed balls in just 44 games. Like most catchers, he's a well below-average runner.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
206 47 61 14 0 10 40 41 57 0 0 .296 .410 .510
 
11. TOMMY JOSEPH C/1B, SAN JOSE GIANTS
AGE: 20. B-T: R-R. HT.: 6-1. WT.: 220. Drafted: HS—Scottsdale, Ariz., '09 (2).
In an injury-plagued pro debut last year in low Class A, Joseph batted .236 and struggled defensively in just his second season behind the plate. He showed marked improvement in both areas this year, especially on defense.

Joseph topped Cal League catchers in throwing out basestealers (37 percent) and fielding percentage (.992). He has a strong arm and has worked diligently to improve his footwork and blocking skills. His receiving also has gotten better but still needs some cleaning up.

With a short, compact swing and strong hands, Joseph generates plus power and has enough to profile as a regular at first base, where he has gotten some playing time. He still needs to develop a more consistent approach to help avoid extended slumps. He's doesn't run well but it doesn't matter at the positions he plays.

"Aside from all of the physical tools he has, this kid competes and wants to win, and as a catcher there is nothing more important than that," San Jose manager Andy Skeels said. "He really had a big breakout year."
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
514 80 139 33 2 22 95 29 102 1 0 .270 .317 .471
 
12. NICK FRANKLIN SS/2B, HIGH DESERT MAVERICKS (MARINERS)
AGE: 20. B-T: B-R. HT.: 6-1. WT.: 170. DRAFTED: HS—Altamonte Springs, Fla., '09 (1).
Franklin led the low Class A Midwest League with 23 homers in his full-season debut in 2010, breaking a 49-year-old Clinton franchise record. There was plenty of reason to believe he might put up bigger numbers upon his arrival in High Desert, one of the most hitter-friendly environments in the minors.

He managed just five homers in 2½ months with the Mavericks, though, perhaps a result of the mononucleosis that would sideline him for nearly two months soon after his promotion to Double-A Jackson in late June. The rest of his game was as advertised, however.

Franklin has an aggressive swing and makes hard contact to all fields. He's an average runner with good instincts on the basepaths, and he also covers a lot of ground at shortstop. He makes accurate throws though some scouts question whether he has enough arm strength for shortstop or will have to move to second base.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
258 50 71 10 5 5 20 31 56 13 1 .275 .356 .411
 
13. JEAN SEGURA SS, INLAND EMPIRE 66ERS (ANGELS)
AGE: 21. B-T: R-R: HT.: 5-10. WT: 185. SIGNED: Dominican Republic, '07.
After a breakout 2010 season in which he hit .313 with 50 steals in low Class A, Segura picked up where he left off and batted .344 with 13 steals in April. But he tore a hamstring and missed stretches of time in May before going on the disabled list for three months.

When healthy, Segura is an electric player. He creates hard contact with plenty of bat speed at the plate and drives ball into to the gaps. He uses above-average speed to stretch singles into doubles and is an advanced baserunner.
The Angels moved him to shortstop from second base before the season because he has the plus arm and soft hands to handle the more difficult position. The only question is his stocky build, which could limit his long-term range.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
185 26 52 9 4 3 21 15 26 18 6 .281 .337 .422
 
14. REYMOND FUENTES OF, LAKE ELSINORE STORM (PADRES)
AGE: 20. B-T: L-L. HT.: 6-0. WT.: 160. DRAFTED: HS—Manatai, P.R., '09 (1).
The least-heralded player the Red Sox sent to the Padres in the Adrian Gonzalez trade, Fuentes was one of the youngest regulars in the league. He showed flashes of his multitool potential but is still learning to deliver consistent production.

Fuentes batted leadoff in all but four games this year and struggled at times to string together solid at-bats. He's a line-drive hitter with gap power who can also use the bunt as a weapon. He has above-average speed that allows him to swipe bases and glide to balls in center field, where he displays an average arm.

"He has shown spurts of pitch recognition and spurts of controlling the strike zone and being able to hit line drives all over the field," Plantier said. "It has nothing to do with anything other than just being young. When a guy shows flashes of being able to do all those things, eventually they start happening at the same time."
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
510 84 140 15 9 5 45 44 117 41 14 .275 .342 .369
 
15. JOSE ALTUVE 2B, LANCASTER JETHAWKS (ASTROS)
AGE: 21. B-T: R-R. HT.: 5-7. WT.: 170. SIGNED: Venezuela, '07.
Altuve began converting doubters into believers when the 5-foot-7 second baseman hit a blistering .408 in a two-month stint at Lancaster to start the season. He nearly matched the pace in Double-A before leveling off after a promotion to Houston in July. He won the minor league batting title and hit a combined .389/.426/.591 in the minors, but he still has to prove he can contribute beyond a solid batting average in the majors.

Cal League observers raved about Altuve's aggressiveness in all phases of the game. He can spray line drives to all fields or reach base with a bunt, though he won't hit for much power. His free-swinging approach worked well in high Class A, but his stroke can get long and he'll need to be more selective to succeed as a big league hitter.
Altuve has above-average speed and good instincts on the bases. An average defender who makes the routine play, he has a fringy arm and had some trouble turning double plays at the start of the year.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
213 38 87 13 7 5 34 19 26 19 9 .408 .451 .606
 
16. MATT DAVIDSON 1B/3B, VISALIA RAWHIDE (DIAMONDBACKS)
AGE: 20. B-T: R-R. HT.: 6-3. WT: 225. DRAFTED: HS—Yucaipa, Calif., 2009 (1s).
Two of the top 35 picks in the 2009 draft, Davidson and Bobby Borchering shared third base at low Class A South Bend in 2010 and again at Visalia this year. Though he was drafted 19 picks behind Borchering, Davidson has established himself as the better hitter and defender over the last two seasons.

Davidson has strong, quick hands and hits for above-average power to all fields. He shows a mature approach by not looking to pull everything and driving pitches to the opposite field. He doesn't chase many pitches out of the strike zone but tends to be a little late against good fastballs.

While he doesn't have a ton of range at third base, Davidson has soft hands, good feet and a strong, accurate arm. A well below-average runner, he's still looking for his first stolen base as a pro.

AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
535 93 149 40 1 20 106 52 147 0 1 .279 .350 .469
 
17. CHRIS DOMINGUEZ 3B, SAN JOSE GIANTS
AGE: 24. B-T: R-R. HT.: 6-3. WT.: 215. DRAFTED: Louisville, '09 (3).
Dominguez stuck around San Jose for just two months before moving up to Double-A Richmond. That was plenty of time to show off one of the biggest bats and strongest arms in the Cal League.

Dominguez generates tremendous bat speed to hit for power to all parts of the ballpark. The problem is that he swings and misses frequently, and rerouting his hands to create a more direct path to the ball this year didn't help. He still needs to control the strike zone better and avoid chasing breaking pitches. He lacks quickness and range, but Dominguez moves well enough that opponents can't just bunt on him. His cannon arm allows him to play extremely deep at third base and still make plays.

"He has maybe one of the best arms I've ever seen," Skeels said. "He could be playing by the concession stand and he's not out of position."
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
258 40 75 10 1 11 40 18 73 8 2 .291 .337 .465
 
18. JOHNNY HELLWEG RHP, INLAND EMPIRE 66ERS (ANGELS)
AGE: 22. B-T: R-R. HT.: 6-9. WT.: 210. DRAFTED: Florida CC, '08 (16).
In his first three years as a pro, Hellweg scared hitters with his exceptional velocity and utter lack of control. It was more of the same in the first half of 2011, when he posted a 6.54 ERA with 32 walks in as many innings while working mainly out of the bullpen.

After he got his mechanics in order, he moved to Inland Empire's rotation and demonstrated significantly better control of a mid-90s fastball that hits 99 mph and features enough sink to make him a groundball machine. Complementing his heat with a slurvy curveball and a decent changeup, he went 4-1, 2.18 with a 78-27 K-BB ratio in 58 innings over 12 second-half starts. He capped his year by pitching one-hit ball with eight strikeouts and eight groundouts in 6 1/3 innings in a playoff start.

"We saw him in the last month of the season and he was just filthy," Plantier said. "He had easy velocity with probably more in the tank. Then he shoves it against us in the playoffs. He has a big league arm."
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
28 14 6 4 0 3.73 89 75 43 37 2 59 113 .229
 
19. CHRIS OWINGS SS, VISALIA RAWHIDE (DIAMONDBACKS)
AGE: 20. B-T: R-R. HT.: 5-9. WT.: 175. DRAFTED: HS—Gilbert, S.C., '09 (1s).
The Diamondbacks had eight of the first 100 picks in the 2009 draft and sent six of them to Visalia this year. The Rawhide was long on talent but short on experience, leading to a last-place finish in the Northern Division. The youngest regular in the league, Owings was a poster child for those qualities, at times showing off the talent that made him a sandwich pick but lacking the polish to translate it into production.

He generates plenty of bat speed with a compact swing and can drive the ball all fields. He has good power for a player his size and regularly shows it off in batting practice. But managing the strike zone is still a problem for Owings, who often sits on fastballs and chases breaking pitches out of the zone.

He has the arm strength and range to eventually become a big league shortstop, but he committed 32 errors—many the result of getting to balls out of the reach of other players. Owings runs well but has yet to develop basestealing skills. Extremely competitive, he has a difficult time brushing off mistakes and has a tendency to be overly critical of himself.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
521 67 128 29 6 11 50 15 130 10 4 .246 .274 .388
 
20. KENT MATTHES OF, MODESTO NUTS (ROCKIES)
AGE: 24. B-T: R-R. HT.: 6-2. WT: 215. DRAFTED: Alabama, '09 (4).
The Southeastern Conference player of the year as an Alabama senior in 2009, Matthes struck out excessively in his pro debut that summer and missed most of last season following knee injury. He came back in a big way in 2011, winning the Cal League MVP award and leading the league in slugging (.642) despite breaking his left hand on Aug. 3.

Matthes has remade his metal-bat swing and now makes consistent contact with enough loft in his swing for his drvies to carry out of the park. He doesn't chase many pitches out of the zone, but he rarely draws walks and can be prone to mistiming pitches. He has solid speed and could become a decent basestealing threat as he refines his technique.

A right fielder with above-average arm strength, Matthes sometimes loses focus on defense. He also needs to improve his first-step quickness.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
371 70 124 39 3 23 95 22 80 7 4 .334 .378 .642