League Top 20 Prospects

2011 Texas League Top 20 Prospects With Scouting Reports




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FIVE YEARS AGO
*1. Alex Gordon, 3b, Wichita (Royals)
*2. Brandon Wood, ss, Arkansas (Angels)
*3. Troy Tulowitzki, ss, Tulsa (Rockies)
*4. Billy Butler, of, Wichita (Royals)
*5. Travis Buck, of, Midland (Athletics)
*6. Ubaldo Jimenez, rhp, Tulsa (Rockies)
*7. John Danks, lhp, Frisco (Rangers)
*8. Hunter Pence, of, Corpus Christi (Astros)
*9. Juan Gutierrez, rhp, Corpus Christi (Astros)
*10. Ian Stewart, 3b, Tulsa (Rockies)
*11. Chris Iannetta, c, Tulsa (Rockies)
*12. Mitch Talbot, rhp, Corpus Christi (Astros)
*13. Joe Koshansky, 1b, Tulsa (Rockies)
*14. Kurt Suzuki, c, Midland (Athletics)
15. Matt Albers, rhp, Corpus Christi (Astros)
16. Chris Lubanski, of, Wichita (Royals)
*17. Juan Morillo, rhp, Tulsa (Rockies)
*18. Marcus McBeth, rhp, Midland (Athletics)
*19. Terry Evans, of, Springfield/Arkansas (Cardinals/Angels)
*20. Wladimir Balentien, of, San Antonio (Mariners)
* Played in major leagues
San Antonio dominated the Double-A Texas League from start to finish in 2011, posting 94 regular-season wins and going 6-1 in the playoffs to take the league title. The Missions also had a wealth of talent, with standouts like righthander Casey Kelly and third baseman James Darnell to start the season. After they were promoted, Jedd Gyorko replaced Darnell at third base and pitchers Robbie Erlin and Joe Wieland moved from Frisco to San Antonio when the Rangers traded for Padres reliever Mike Adams.

Still, the player who commanded the most attention was Arkansas outfielder Mike Trout, Baseball America's Minor League Player of the Year. He was the catalyst in the Travelers' playoff drive, though he was in the big leagues by the time the postseason rolled around.

Another dynamic player, Frisco outfielder Leonys Martin, would have ranked near the top of this list if he hadn't passed through the TL too quickly to qualify. Righthanders Jarred Cosart and Paul Clemens, two more trade acquisitions who joined Corpus Christi after the parent Astros dealt away Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn, also made a strong impression but didn't pitch enough innings to make the Top 20.

1. MIKE TROUT OF, ARKANSAS TRAVELERS (ANGELS)
Age: 20. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 215. Drafted: HS—Millville, N.J., '09 (1).
In the Texas League, there was Trout and there was everyone else. He built on his 2010 breakout season by dominating in Double-A and making his major league debut in July, getting sent back down for a few weeks in August before returning to Anaheim for good.

Trout has the tools to be a difference maker in every phase of the game. He's powerfully built and can hit for a high average with legitimate power, plus the ability to adapt his hitting approach to wherever he's placed in a lineup. He also has top-of-the-scale speed with amazing acceleration, going "from zero to 60 in the snap of a finger" in the words of one scout, and it plays both in center field and on the basepaths. What's more, Trout earns raves for his makeup.

The only minor blemish is some stiffness in Trout's throwing arm. It's still average and fine for center field, but if he can loosen it up he'll get more carry on his throws.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
353 82 115 18 13 11 38 45 76 33 10 .326 .414 .544
 
2. SHELBY MILLER RHP, SPRINGFIELD CARDINALS
Age: 20. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 195. Drafted: HS—Brownwood, Texas, '09 (1).
If Trout was a cut above everyone, Miller was the clear-cut best pitching prospect in a league that had a good crop of arms. The only hiccup in his season was an alcohol-related suspension in August, but he returned after missing one start. Cardinals officials said he took responsibility for the mistake, which they consider an isolated incident.

Miller attacks hitters with a mid-90s fastball that touches 97 mph and has sinking and boring action. He relied on the fastball too much upon arrival in Double-A, and the Cardinals let him do so until hitters had some success against him, then turned him more to his secondary pitches. His mound presence is another asset.

Miller's curveball is also a potential plus pitch, while his changeup should be an effective third offering. His command is also solid but needs to get more consistent. When all of those things are working—as they were in his final start, when he allowed two hits and struck out nine in eight innings against Tulsa—, Miller has all the ingredients to be a No. 1 starter.
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
16 16 9 3 0 2.70 87 72 28 26 2 33 89 .229
 
3. GARRETT RICHARDS RHP, ARKANSAS TRAVELERS (ANGELS)
Age: 23. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 210. Drafted: Oklahoma, '09 (1s).
Richards took a significant leap forward this season, showing front-of-the-rotation pure stuff in the Texas League. After he got knocked around early at Arkansas, he posted a 2.40 ERA in his final 15 starts for the Travelers to earn a big league callup in August.

Richards has a loose, quick arm, and scouts graded his fastball at 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale at its best. He hit 99 mph 16 times in one start, and reportedly touched 101 in the late innings against Tulsa. His heater has a heavy sink at lower velocities, though he throws across his body so much that it sometimes has more cutting action.

His slider can also be a dominant pitch, though Richards loses his feel for it at times, and his changeup should be at least average. He needs to keep his secondary pitches down in the zone and sharpen his command.
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
22 21 12 2 0 3.15 143 123 58 50 10 40 103 .233
 
4. MARTIN PEREZ LHP, FRISCO ROUGHRIDERS (RANGERS)
Age: 20. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 178. Signed: Venezuela, '07.
After mediocre performances in Frisco at the end of 2009 and throughout 2010, Perez returned and looked more confident and mature, both physically and mentally. He pitched a five-inning perfect game against Arkansas in April and moved up to Triple-A in July. His fastball looked firmer and his breaking stuff improved this season. He works from 90-93 mph with his fastball and has a hammer curveball that some said was the best breaking pitch in the league when it was on. His changeup is also an above-average offering at its best.

Perez also did a better job of repeating his delivery, and he can dominate when he shows pinpoint command. He still needs to improve the consistency of his pitches but should be at least a No. 3 starter in the majors.
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
17 16 4 2 0 3.16 88 80 35 31 6 36 83 .245
 
5. JAKE ODORIZZI RHP, NW ARKANSAS NATURALS (ROYALS)
Age: 21. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 185. Drafted: HS—Highland, Ill., '08 (1s).
The Brewers' top prospect before he came to the Royals in the offseason Zack Greinke trade, Odorizzi pitched his way to Northwest Arkansas in July. While he lacked consistency as he adjusted to Double-A, he took a no-hitter into the seventh inning of his final start.

Odorizzi pitches at 92-94 mph with his fastball, touching 96 with good life. His knee-buckling curveball also should become an above-average pitch but isn't totally reliable yet. He also throws a slider and changeup that could be average pitches. Odorizzi throws strikes but likes to work up in the zone, which made him prone to homers against more advanced hitters. He'll have to sharpen his fastball command and refine his secondary pitches.
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
12 12 5 3 0 4.72 69 66 38 36 13 22 54 .254
 
6. WILIN ROSARIO C, TULSA DRILLERS (ROCKIES)
Age: 22. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 195. Signed: Dominican Republic, '06.
Rosario broke out in 2010 before he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in August. Nevertheless, he was in Tulsa's lineup when this season opened and went on to earn postseason all-star recognition in the TL and a September callup.

Rosario's defense stands out, as he has a strong body with good athleticism. He has sure hands and moves well behind the plate, where he used his above-average arm strength and quick release to throw out 38 percent of TL basestealers. He's mastering the fine points of catching but has a great desire to learn and likes working with pitchers.

At the plate, Rosario is aggressive and often tries to do too much. He has bat speed and a good stroke, but he doesn't have a great approach and probably won't ever hit for a high average. He's capable of batting .250 with 20 homers per season, more than enough to make him a longtime big league starter.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
405 52 101 15 3 21 48 19 91 1 2 .249 .284 .457
 
7. CASEY KELLY RHP, SAN ANTONIO MISSIONS (PADRES)
Age: 21. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 210. Drafted: HS—Sarasota, Fla., 2008 (1).
Kelly came to the Padres in the Adrian Gonzalez deal with the Red Sox, and his new organization had him spend a second full season at the Double-A level. A two-way player who didn't completely commit to pitching until 2010, he's not only young but also inexperienced for his age.

Kelly is athletic with an easy, compact delivery. At his best, he throws a plus fastball with good sink, working in the low 90s and peaking at 96 mph. His big curveball is more often his best offering, a legitimate out pitch when it's on. He made progress with his changeup as well, though it remains inconsistent. Those who believe in Kelly saw progress with his stuff and consistency, projecting him as a potential No. 2 starter who will get better with experience. But there's a growing number of people who think he won't be more than a No. 3 because he doesn't exhibit plus stuff or command often enough.
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
27 27 11 6 0 3.98 142 153 74 63 8 46 105 .278
 
8. ROBBIE ERLIN LHP, FRISCO ROUGHRIDERS (RANGERS)/SAN ANTONIO MISSIONS (PADRES)
Age: 20. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 175. Drafted: HS—Scotts Valley, Calif., '09 (3).
Erlin was making fast progress through the Rangers system when he went to the Padres in a deadline deal for Mike Adams. He simply changed dugouts in the Texas League, starring down the stretch for San Antonio cruised to the championship. He had a 1.38 ERA in his six regular-season starts for the Missions, then allowed one run in five innings in his only playoff outing.

While with Frisco, Erlin served as an interesting counterpoint to Perez, a southpaw who tries to overpower hitters. Erlin is all about pitchability, with smooth, consistent mechanics and a great feel for working hitters. He works both sides of the plate and changes speed, almost lulling hitters to sleep before putting them away.

That's not to say Erlin's stuff is short. He has a solid fastball whose deception allows it to play better than its 86-92 mph velocity. His curveball and changeup are both plus pitches, and he has the command and confidence to use them at any point in the count. The only criticism is that he hangs out in the strike zone too much, giving up hits and home runs.
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
17 16 6 2 0 3.50 93 99 38 36 11 11 92 .277
 
9. JEDD GYORKO 3B, SAN ANTONIO MISSIONS (PADRES)
Age: 22. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-10. Wt.: 195. Drafted: West Virginia, '10 (2).
When James Darnell stepped off the hot corner in San Antonio in early July, Gyorko stepped in after dominating the high Class A California League. He found the pitching and the ballparks less friendly in Double-A, but his bat and fast progress in his first full pro season impressed TL observers.

Gyorko has great hands and a knack for putting the bat on the ball. He won't be a masher but should have average power, with the ability to hit the ball out to the opposite field. He has so much confidence in his hands and his swing that he thinks he can hit anything in the strike zone, so he'll have to learn to be more selective and swing at more hitter's pitches. Gyorko isn't a standout defender but has the arm strength and hands for third base. He's slow and squat but moves well enough to handle the hot corner.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
236 41 68 12 0 7 40 26 50 1 0 .288 .358 .428
 
10. JAMES DARNELL 3B, SAN ANTONIO MISSIONS (PADRES)
Age: 24. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 195. Drafted: South Carolina, '08 (2).
Darnell struggled through his Double-A debut in 2010, battling a cyst in his right hand that kept him out of action for a month. He was much more comfortable this season, piling up a 1.038 OPS in 76 games before getting promoted to Triple-A and eventually making his major league debut in September. Injuries hit again when he dislocated his left shoulder with the Padres, though he should be fine for spring training after having surgery.

Darnell has strength in his swing and added more leverage this year, totaling 25 homers between his three stops. He has a knack for hitting balls the other way and has improved his ability to pull them for power. In fact, some scouts thought he got too pull-conscious and became vulnerable to pitches on the outer half.

Defense remains Darnell's biggest question mark. A below-average runner limited to the infield and outfield corners, he has worked hard at third base but remains stiff there. He had an average arm before hurting his shoulder and seems destined for left field.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
288 62 96 25 1 17 62 52 48 2 1 .333 .434 .604
 
11. GRANT GREEN OF/SS, MIDLAND ROCKHOUNDS (ATHLETICS)
Age: 24. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 180. Drafted: Southern California, '09 (1).
Green continued his steady progress toward Oakland with a solid year, finishing second in the league with 154 hits. The biggest moment of his season came in mid-July, when he made the move from shortstop to center field. He made three errors while learning the position but generally acquitted himself well.

Green lacks a true standout tool, but he's a well-rounded offensive player with a quick bat, good hitting skills and a solid approach at the plate. He's aggressive and will hit his share of doubles but won't have much over-the-fence power, so he'll need to cut down on his strikeouts and get on base more.

Most scouts believe Green is athletic enough to handle center field, though they note that he seems to put more energy into his work at the plate than he does in the field. He was an adequate shortstop and some think he could handle second base as well; the Athletics appear set there with Jemile Weeks. Green has solid-average speed and an average arm.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
530 76 154 33 1 9 62 39 119 6 8 .291 .343 .408
 
12. TIM WHEELER OF, TULSA DRILLERS (ROCKIES)
Age: 23. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 205. Drafted: Sacramento State, '09 (1).
Wheeler hit for average in his first season and a half as a pro, but he didn't show the power the Rockies hoped for. That all changed this season, as Wheeler continued to produce for average (topping the TL with 161 hits) while leading the league with 33 homers and 67 extra-base hits as well.

Wheeler is a well-rounded player who rates as at least average in all five tools. He has good bat speed and a smooth stroke, and he has strong hands and wrists that help him hit line drives out of the ballpark. He does have a tendency to swing and miss a lot, especially against offspeed stuff and lefthanders, who held him to a .236 average.

Wheeler is a good runner who played center field all season in Tulsa, but he needs refinement to become a basestealer. Some see him as a potential 20/20 center fielder in the major leagues, while others wonder if he has a true plus tool and would fit better on a corner.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
561 105 161 28 6 33 86 59 142 21 12 .287 .365 .535
 
13. WIL MYERS OF, NW ARKANSAS NATURALS (ROYALS)
Age: 20. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 205. Drafted: HS—High Point, N.C., '09 (3).
After Myers hit .324/.429/.533 in his first year and a half in pro ball, his move to Double-A wasn't as impressive. He injured his knee in a freak accident at the end of April, falling down at his apartment complex while trying to escape a rainstorm. The wound later got infected, and all told he missed about a month.

Myers has strong hands and doesn't wear batting gloves, and he makes consistent hard contact. He should be a .300 hitter, but scouts and managers are divided on how much power he'll have. He hits a lot of line drives and looks to pull the ball, but his power only shows up consistently in batting practice right now.

Myers is athletic but unrefined in the outfield, where he saw action at all three spots for the Naturals. He signed as a catcher before the Royals moved him in order to speed his path through the big leagues, but he remains indifferent on defense. He has a strong arm and fringe-average speed.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
354 50 90 23 1 8 49 52 87 9 2 .254 .353 .393
 
14. ZACK COX 3B, SPRINGFIELD CARDINALS
Age: 22. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 215. Drafted: Arkansas, '10 (1).
Cox reached Double-A by the end of May in his first full pro season. He got off to a slow start and his average stood at .200 at the end of June, but he hit .341 the rest of the way to finish ninth in the league in batting at .293.

Cox is a polished hitter who's comfortable going the other way and stays on the ball well. The ball carries off his bat, and he's aggressive with good bat speed, but he's still learning to pull the ball more frequently to generate more power. He's too content to inside-out the ball to the opposite field now.

Though Cox is a hard worker with good aptitude for the game, he still needs work on his defense at third base. He had a .912 fielding percentage and 20 errors in 87 games, tied for the most among TL third basemen. Cox moves well but is still working on his footwork at the hot corner, as he often lets the ball play him. He has a strong and accurate arm, and most scouts and managers think he'll be able to stay at third. He's a below-average runner.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
352 54 103 19 0 10 48 29 69 0 1 .293 .355 .432
 
15. CHRIS DWYER LHP, NW ARKANSAS NATURALS (ROYALS)
Age: 23. B-T: R-L. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 210. Drafted: Clemson, '09 (4).
Dwyer got a taste of Double-A at the end of 2010 and put up a 3.06 ERA in four starts, but he was consistently mediocre in his return to the league in 2011. Though he finished third in the league in strikeouts (126) and opponent average, (.238), he also ranked second in walks (78).
As those numbers indicate, Dwyer has good raw stuff but struggles to harness it. At his best, he throws his fastball in the low 90s with good downhill action, as well as big-breaking curveball that can get 65 grades on the 20-80 scouting scale. He also has an average changeup.

When he has command, particularly of his fastball, Dwyer can be deadly. When he doesn't, hitters will just lay off the curveball and wait him out. He remains more of a thrower than a pitcher, and his two quality pitches and struggles with consistency suggest he might be better off coming out of the bullpen.
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
27 27 8 10 0 5.60 141 124 93 88 14 78 126 .238
 
16. KELVIN HERRERA RHP, NW ARKANSAS NATURALS (ROYALS)
Age: 21. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-10. Wt.: 190. Signed: Dominican Republic, '07.
Elbow injuries hampered Herrera early in his career, preventing him from breaking through in low Class A after spending parts of three seasons there. The Royals finally gave up on trying to use him as a starter this season, and he rocketed all the way from high Class A all the way to the big leagues, making his longest stop at Northwest Arkansas.

Herrera is undersized but has legitimate closer stuff, with a fastball that touches 99 mph and sits at 94-96. Yet some scouts think his changeup is actually a better pitch, with late tumbling action, and say Herrera commands it better than his fastball. The contrast in velocity, with his changeup arriving at 79-83, can baffle hitters.

"When they hit him, they hit the fastball," an American League scout said. "But that changeup, forget it."

Herrera has a curveball that's average at best, but he doesn't need it as much in a relief role. He never has had a problem throwing strikes.
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
23 0 4 0 7 1.75 36 22 9 7 4 6 40 .176
 
17. SALVADOR PEREZ C, NW ARKANSAS NATURALS (ROYALS)
Age: 21. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 230. Signed: Venezuela, '07.
Perez put himself on the Royals' radar with a good season in high Class A in 2010, then broke out in 2011. He opened the season with Northwest Arkansas and earned a promotion to Triple-A in late July before making his major league debut two weeks later. He hit .331/.361/.473 in 148 at-bats for Kansas City and will go into spring training next year as the Royals' likely starting catcher.

Perez's calling card is defense. He controls the running game and erased a TL-high 48 percent of basestealers thanks to a strong, accurate arm and a quick release, recording pop times of 1.9 seconds. He has a thick lower half and is a well below-average runner, but he has soft hands and moves well behind the plate. He's a leader and works well with pitchers.

Perez took a step forward at the plate when he started making adjustments and stopped swinging at as many bad pitches and pulling off balls. He's still a free swinger, yet he doesn't pile up big strikeout numbers. He doesn't offer a lot of power but can drive balls to the alleys.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
286 35 81 14 0 9 43 16 30 0 1 .283 .329 .427
 
18. JOE WIELAND RHP, FRISCO ROUGHRIDERS (RANGERS)/SAN ANTONIO MISSIONS (PADRES)
Age: 21. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 175. Drafted: HS—Reno, Nev., '08 (4/Rangers).
Wieland took a big step forward in the Rangers organization in the first half of the season, and he followed closely behind Erlin in earning a promotion from high Class A to the Texas League before they both were traded to the Padres for Adams. In his last start for Frisco before moving to San Antonio, he threw a nine-inning no-hitter against the Missions, facing the minimum when the one batter he walked was caught stealing.

The fact that Wieland gave up a walk was unusual in itself, as he had just 21 walks in 156 innings all season between his three minor league stops. He paints the corners with a fastball that usually ranges from 88-92 mph, touching 93. San Antonio used a six-man rotation late in the year, and Wieland hit 95 mph in the TL playoffs.

He shows both a big-breaking curveball and a slider that he added this year, as well as a changeup that should be an average pitch. With his pitchability he seems a safe bet to be a major league starter, but without a true out pitch he fits best in the back half of the rotation.
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
12 12 7 1 0 1.80 70 58 19 14 2 17 54 .226
 
19. MATT ADAMS 1B, SPRINGFIELD CARDINALS
Age: 23. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 230. Drafted: Slippery Rock (Pa.), '09 (23).
While Adams had been productive since signing as a 23rd-round pick out of NCAA Division II Slippery Rock (Pa.), but the Cardinals still weren't sure exactly what they had, so they jumped him past high Class A to Springfield. He responded with the best season of his career, leading the TL in both slugging percentage (.566) and RBIs (101) and winning the league's player of the year award. Those numbers came even though he missed three weeks in June with a left oblique strain.

Adams actually got off to a slow start as he chased pitches around the zone, going after stuff he couldn't do anything with. As he became more selective and focused on pitches he could drive, he went on a tear. He should be able to hit for average, but power is clearly his most impressive tool, rating near 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale. He has a strong, short swing and is limited only because he doesn't have a lot of loft. His line-drive stroke allows him to drive the ball to all fields, though. He gets himself into trouble when he focuses on pulling the ball.

Though he's a big guy who is limited to first base, Adams he should be a good defender there. He's nimble around the bag and has soft hands and and an accurate arm. He's a below-average runner.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
463 80 139 23 2 32 101 40 90 0 1 .300 .357 .566
 
20. J.D. MARTINEZ OF, CORPUS CHRISTI HOOKS (ASTROS)
Age: 24. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 200. Drafted: Nova Southeastern (Fla.), '09 (20).
It was an open casting call for future contributors in Houston this season, so several players who appeared in Corpus Christi also got significant playing time with the Astros. While second baseman Jose Altuve got more attention because he led the minors in hitting and third baseman Jimmy Paredes might have better raw tools, Martinez's bat gives him the best chance to being a contributor when Houston finally returns to respectability.

Martinez has been consistently productive as a pro and batted .274/.319/.423 in two months in the majors. Despite an unorthodox swing, he's a pure hitter who has great pitch recognition and stays on the ball well. He's not a masher but should produce average power in addition to plenty of contact, though some scouts think he might have trouble handling quality big league fastballs.

Martinez is a fringe-average runner who played in left field almost exclusively this season. He has an average arm and should be an adequate defender, though he still needs work.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
317 50 107 25 1 13 72 42 55 1 0 .338 .414 .546