League Top 20 Prospects

2011 International League Top 20 Prospects With Scouting Reports





FIVE YEARS AGO
*1. Delmon Young, of, Durham (Devil Rays)
*2. Lastings Milledge, of, Norfolk (Mets)
*3. Jeremy Sowers, lhp, Buffalo (Indians)
*4. Tom Gorzelanny, lhp, Indianapolis (Pirates)
*5. Ryan Sweeney, of, Charlotte (White Sox)
*6. Josh Fields, 3b, Charlotte (White Sox)
*7. Hayden Penn, rhp, Ottawa (Orioles)
*8. Andy Marte, 3b, Buffalo (Indians)
*9. Humberto Sanchez, rhp, Toledo (Tigers)
*10. Jamie Shields, rhp, Durham (Devil Rays)
*11. Elijah Dukes, of, Durham (Devil Rays)
*12. Scott Thorman, 1b/of, Richmond (Braves)
*13. Brandon League, rhp, Syracuse (Blue Jays)
*14. Jason Hammel, rhp, Durham (Devil Rays)
*15. Dustin McGowan, rhp, Syracuse (Blue Jays)
*16. Pat Neshek, rhp, Rochester (Twins)
*17. Michael Bourn, of, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Phillies)
*18. Dustin Pedroia, ss/2b, Pawtucket (Red Sox)
*19. Charlie Haeger, rhp, Charlotte (White Sox)
*20. Chris Denorfia, of, Louisville (Reds)
Even without Stephen Strasburg, it was another great year for prospect dreaming in the Triple-A International League. Twenty-six members of Baseball America's preseason Top 100 Prospects list competed with IL clubs at some point during the season, including three of the top five in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre catcher Jesus Montero, Lehigh Valley outfielder Domonic Brown and Gwinnett righthander Julio Teheran.

The league's youngest regular, Teheran shredded hitters en route to winning the league's most valuable pitcher award. The IL pitching discussion began and ended with him—until the Rays promoted lefthander Matt Moore to Durham in July. Moore was even more untouchable than Teheran and beat him out for the No. 1 spot on this list.

While Brown struggled a bit, Louisville's Devin Mesoraco was the best position prospect in the league and one of three slugging catchers to make this Top 20. Scranton's Montero and Pawtucket's Ryan Lavarnway can't match Mesoraco's defense, but managers found plenty to like in all three bats. All three hit their first big league homers in September.

Columbus compiled the IL's best regular-season record (88-56) and went 6-1 in the playoffs to win its second straight championship. The Clippers had a prospect-laden infield with Jason Kipnis, Lonnie Chisenhall and Cord Phelps, all of whom missed the postseason because they were in the big leagues with the Indians. Phelps was a near-miss on the Top 20, as were lefthanders Scott Barnes (Columbus) and Andy Oliver (Toledo) and righty Kyle Gibson (Rochester).

1. MATT MOORE LHP, DURHAM BULLS (RAYS)
Age: 22. B-T: L-L. HT.: 6-2. WT.: 205. DRAFTED: HS—Moriarty, N.M. '07 (8).
After dominating the Double-A Southern League for 3 1⁄2 months, the minors' two-time defending strikeout champ jumped to Durham for a new challenge. Moore didn't find it, striking out 13 in eight scoreless innings of his second start. He gave up eight runs in nine starts and averaged 13.5 strikeouts per nine innings.

Moore throws an explosive fastball that sits at 94-96 mph and touches 97 with regularity. It's not only the velocity that makes his heater special, but also his ability to locate it on both sides of the plate. He mixes in a well above-average curveball that gives him a second swing-and-miss pitch. Moore also has a plus changeup, a pitch he had neglected in previous years but now has the confidence to throw in any count. Once he stopped trying to throw hard, his command and control took off thanks to a smooth and easy delivery.

"His presence on the mound sets him apart," Toledo manager Phil Nevin said. "He's got the poise, the control. He oozed confidence out there."
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
9 9 4 0 0 1.37 53 33 8 8 3 17 79 .179
 
2. JULIO TEHERAN RHP, GWINNETT BRAVES
Age: 20. B-T: R-R. HT.: 6-2. WT.: 175. SIGNED: Colombia '07.
After moving their top prospect through three levels in 2010, the Braves let Teheran polish his game in the IL, with a couple of one-game detours to Atlanta in May. The youngest player in Triple-A on Opening Day, he ran away with league leadership in wins (15) and finished runner-up in ERA (2.55).
The lanky Teheran gets nice downward plane on his pitches. His fastball typically sits at 94-95 mph, running as high as 97, and he commands it well to both sides of the plate. His plus changeup is his best secondary pitch because while his curveball has gotten sharper, it remains inconsistent.

"He mixes his pitches very well, throws quality strikes," Syracuse manager Randy Knorr said. "He just knows how to pitch."

A tremendous competitor, Teheran has outstanding poise and an advanced approach to setting up hitters, trusting his secondary pitches enough to throw them early in the count. As dominating as he was at times, he's not a finished product and seemed to wear down slightly as the season progressed, posting a 4.04 ERA in the second half.
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
25 24 15 3 0 2.55 145 123 46 41 5 48 122 .232
 
3. DEVIN MESORACO C, LOUISVILLE BATS (REDS)
Age: 23. B-T: R-R. HT.: 6-1. WT.: 220. DRAFTED: HS—Punxsatawney, Pa. '07 (1).
Mesoraco drilled 26 homers while rising from high Class A to Triple-A in 2010. His power numbers weren't as gaudy this year, but the rest of his game continued to improve, especially on the defensive side.

Mesoraco has a consistent stroke with some loft, giving him power from left field to the right-center gap. He demonstrates good knowledge of the strike zone and presents no holes for opposing pitchers to exploit. While his speed is below average, he's an intelligent baserunner.

He has proven to be a tireless student under the tutelage of Louisville manager Rick Sweet, a former big league catcher. Mesoraco has a quick release and a solid, accurate arm, though he threw out just 26 percent of IL basestealers. He still has some receiving issues that should be ironed out with experience.

"He has improved how he calls games and how he handles pitchers," Sweet said. "He kept soaking up everything and getting better. "
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
436 60 126 36 2 15 71 52 83 1 1 .289 .371 .484
 
4. DESMOND JENNINGS OF, DURHAM BULLS (RAYS)
Age: 24. B-T: R-R. HT.: 6-2. WT.: 200. DRAFTED: Itawamba (Miss.) CC '06 (10).
Jennings returned for his third tour of duty in Durham, again wowing IL observers with an array of weapons, particularly his plus-plus speed. He covers a tremendous amount of ground in center field and steals bases seemingly at will. He's 69-for-75 (92 percent) swiping bases as a Bull, though one manager questioned why he wasn't as aggressive in 2011 as he had been in previous years.

With a wrist injury that curtailed his power in 2010 fully healed, Jennings showed more pop. He now profiles to have 15-20 homer power. His speed and patient approach should help him hit for a solid average, though he swung and missed more frequently than ever before this season.

His arm used to be his lone weakness, but he has improved it over time through long-toss exercises. It's now his fifth average or better tool.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
338 68 93 19 3 12 39 45 78 17 1 .275 .374 .456
 
5. JESUS MONTERO C, SCRANTON/WILKES-BARRE YANKEES
Age: 21. B-T: R-R. HT.: 6-3. WT.: 235. SIGNED: Venezuela '06.
For the second straight season, Montero started slowly at Scranton before showing why he's regarded as one of the most dangerous hitting prospects in the game. He continued to do so after a September callup, batting .328/.406/.590 in 18 games.

Montero doesn't have the prettiest swing but compensates with exceptional strength and hand-eye coordination. He crushes balls to all fields and projects as a .300 hitter with 30 homers per year. That would be elite production for a catcher—if he can stay at the position.

While Montero has made defensive progress since arriving in Scranton last year, several league observers remain unconvinced he'll be consistently good enough to be a big league catcher. He has arm strength but has a slow release and lacks accuracy on his throws, retiring just 20 percent of IL basestealers. He lacks athleticism and still has a ways to go with his receiving and game-calling, and he loses focus too often.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
420 52 121 19 1 18 67 36 98 0 0 .288 .348 .467
 
6. DOMONIC BROWN OF, LEHIGH VALLEY IRONPIGS (PHILLIES)
Age: 23. B-T: L-L. HT.: 6-5. WT.: 205. DRAFTED: HS—Stone Mountain, Ga. '06 (20).
A trendy rookie-of-the-year pick until a hamate injury sidelined him early in spring training, Brown spent 21⁄2 months in Philadelphia but ultimately lost the right-field job when the Phillies traded for Hunter Pence in July. While his 2011 numbers don't stack up against his .346/.390/.561 monthlong tear through the IL last year were down from a year ago, he still offers the same enticing athletic package.

When Brown is going good at the plate, his swing is short and he shows tremendous bat speed, though he didn't consistently do so this season. His strike-zone discipline was much improved this year, however, even when he was struggling in the big leagues. His power appears in spurts and he'll likely be more of a 20-homer guy than an elite bomber.

Brown has the speed to steal 20-25 bases per season and play anywhere in the outfield, but he's not a true center fielder., though his routes aren't always efficient and his range is better suited for right field. His plus-plus arm is one of the best in the minors.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
138 22 36 6 0 3 15 28 33 12 4 .261 .391 .370
 
7. JASON KIPNIS 2B, COLUMBUS CLIPPERS (INDIANS)
Age: 24. B-T: L-R. HT.: 5-11. WT.: 185. DRAFTED: Arizona State '09 (2).
Kipnis' hitting always has been his trademark, with his balanced swing and bat speed producing line drives from gap to gap. He homered in four consecutive games in his second week in the majors and slugged .507 with Cleveland, and most IL observers felt that power show was legitimate. He's a heady baserunner with average speed who could swipe 10-15 bases a year.

"He was a tough out," Gwinnett manager Dave Brundage said. "I liked his approach. He was one guy who stood out facing our tough pitching."

It's a tribute to his athleticism and hard-nosed approach that Kipnis has made significant strides at second base since moving from the outfield two years ago. He's still a below-average defender by big league standards and needs to improve his footwork, but he has nice range and enough arm.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
343 65 96 16 9 12 55 44 72 12 1 .280 .362 .484
 
8. MIKE MINOR LHP, GWINNETT BRAVES
Age: 23. B-T: R-L. HT.: 6-4. WT.: 205. DRAFTED: Vanderbilt '09 (1).
The seventh overall pick in the 2009 draft, Minor rocketed through the minors and reached Atlanta barely a year after signing. The Braves summoned him four times this season, and with each recall his progress was notable, particularly with his breaking pitches.

Minor's lively 91-93 mph fastball and his changeup give him two plus pitches, and he can add and subtract from them to keep hitters off balance. He learned during his big league trials that get-me-over breaking balls weren't going to cut it, so he dedicated himself to refining his curveball and slider. He generally does a good job of throwing strikes.

"Those third and fourth pitches are now better, crisper," Brundage said. "He has more of a plan where he wants to throw those pitches."
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
16 16 4 5 0 3.13 101 93 43 35 12 27 99 .246
 
9. BRAD PEACOCK RHP, SYRACUSE CHIEFS (NATIONALS)
Age: 23. B-T: R-R. HT.: 6-1. WT.: 175. DRAFTED: Palm Beach (Fla.) CC, D/F '06 (41).
By adding a bit more deception to his delivery, Peacock vaulted from just another hard thrower to one of the top arms in the upper minors. He began the year by going 10-2, 2.01 in Double-A, and after serving up seven runs to Lehigh Valley in his IL debut, he settled down and allowed just 11 runs in his other eight starts with Syracuse. He finished the season by pitching scoreless ball in his first two big league starts.

Displaying excellent arm action, Peacock sits at 93-94 mph and touches 97 with his sinking and tailing fastball. While scouts preferred his changeup to his curveball in the Eastern League, the reverse was true in the IL, where evaluators rated his curve as a plus pitch. He tends to lose his delivery at times, which led to struggles with his command in Syracuse.
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
9 9 5 1 0 3.19 48 36 18 17 5 24 48 .205
 
10. LONNIE CHISENHALL 3B, COLUMBUS CLIPPERS (INDIANS)
Age: 22. B-T: L-R. HT.: 6-1. WT.: 200. DRAFTED: Pitt (N.C.) CC '08 (1).
Chisenhall scorched the ball in spring training, hitting .500 with five extra-base hits in 26 at-bats in big league camp. but the Indians were reluctant to rush him before he had any Triple-A experience. He earned a callup in June despite so-so numbers in the IL.

Chisenhall has a clean stroke built to produce a barrage of line drives and a .300 average, though he has yet to hit .300 in a pro season. He gets too pull-happy at times and must maintain a whole-field approach to be successful. Though he hit just 14 homers between Columbus and Cleveland, he has more power than that and projects as a 20-25 longball threat. A below-average runner, he won't steal bases but navigates them well.

Chisenhall continues to improve his play at third base, where he shows good hands, solid footwork and average arm strength. He still has work to do, but he shouldn't be a liability.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
255 45 68 15 3 7 45 28 47 0 1 .267 .353 .431
 
11. ZACK COZART SS, LOUISVILLE BATS (REDS)
Age: 26. B-T: R-R. HT.: 6-0. WT.: 195. DRAFTED: Mississippi, '07 (2).
After a year and a half in Louisville, Cozart finally earned a big league audition, impressing the Reds for two weeks in July before a freak injury to his non-throwing elbow sidelined him for the year. He required Tommy John surgery but should be healthy by spring training. The most complete middle infield prospect in the IL, he profiles as a heady top-of-the-lineup hitter and a slightly above-average defender.

An aggressive hitter, Cozart uses the whole field, spraying line drives from gap to gap. He projects as an above-average hitter with some power, mainly to the pull side, and he has enough speed and the instincts to steal 15-20 bases per year. He's a steady shortstop with sufficient range, good hands and a strong, accurate arm.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
323 57 100 26 2 7 32 23 51 9 2 .310 .357 .467
 
12. DAYAN VICIEDO OF/1B, CHARLOTTE KNIGHTS (WHITE SOX)
Age: 22. B-T: R-R. HT.: 5-11. WT.: 230. SIGNED: Cuba, '08.
A Cuban defector signed to a $10 million big league contract three years ago, Viciedo batted .308 with five homers in a 38-game trial with the White Sox in 2010, but they sent him back to Charlotte this year to work on his plate discipline and defense. He did develop more patience and impressed managers enough that they tabbed him as the IL's best batting prospect and most exciting player.

While still aggressive, Viciedo now demonstrates a better understanding of how pitchers are trying to work him and is more willing to wait for a pitch he can punish. He'll always be a bad-ball hitter, but as long as he does even a passable job of controlling the strike zone, his tremendous power to all fields will earn him a place in the lineup.

Viciedo's value comes entirely from his bat because he offers little in the way of athleticism, speed or quickness. He has enough arm strength to play right field, but he's a substandard defender in the outfield or first base.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
452 60 134 28 0 20 78 45 83 2 1 .296 .364 .491
 
13. YONDER ALONSO 1B/OF, LOUISVILLE BATS (REDS)
Age: 24. B-T: L-R. HT.: 6-2. WT.: 240. DRAFTED: Miami, '08 (1).
No, that's not an error in his stat line. Alonso really did exactly match the .296-12-56 triple-crown numbers he posted at Louisville in 2010. He also hit .330/.398/.545 in 88 at-bats in Cincinnati, where he found playing time scarce because he's trapped behind Joey Votto at first base.

Alonso is ready to hit in the big leagues, handling lefties and righties equally well while lining drives from gap to gap with a pure swing. He has a keen eye at the plate and a willingness to hit the ball where it's pitched. He also has solid power to left-center field as well as the ability to pull the ball.

"He can hit," Knorr said. "He just knows what he wants to do. There aren't many times you've got him fooled."

Alonso fits best defensively at first base, where he's adequate to average with the glove, but spent most of his IL time in left field. His range is limited by his well below-average speed, but his jumps and routes are OK and his arm is average.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
358 46 106 24 4 12 56 46 60 6 5 .296 .374 .486
 
14. RYAN LAVARNWAY C, PAWTUCKET RED SOX
Age: 24. B-T: R-R. HT.: 6-4. WT.: 225. DRAFTED: Yale, '08 (6).
After bashing 14 home runs in 55 games for Double-A Portland, Lavarnway announced his presence with authority in the IL, banging nine homers and 11 doubles in July. He generates above-average power to all fields with a compact swing that allows him to let pitches get deep before he pulls the trigger. A disciplined hitter, he picks out pitches he can drive and has the ability to make adjustments to anything within his hitting area.

"He's one of the better true hitters in the league from the right side," Lehigh Valley manager Ryne Sandberg said. "We tried to keep the ball down at the knees and he was still able to square them up and hit them into both gaps."

His size works against him behind the plate, and league observers weren't sold on his receiving or his ability to block balls. Though his arm strength is average and he threw out 36 percent of IL basestealers, his release and footwork both have room to improve, as does his game management. The Red Sox praise his work ethic and express confidence that he'll smooth out his defense enough to become a regular.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
227 40 67 18 0 18 55 32 60 1 1 .295 .390 .612
 
15. VANCE WORLEY RHP, LEHIGH VALLEY IRONPIGS (PHILLIES)
Age: 23. B-T: R-R. HT.: 6-2. WT.: 230. DRAFTED: Long Beach State, '08 (3).
Even the Phillies couldn't have projected the success Worley enjoyed in the majors this season, though he simply continued what he did in his second tour of the IL. He went 11-3, 3.01 in Philadelphia, posting the highest winning percentage in a rotation with four aces.

Worley throws strikes with all of his pitches, mixing a 91-93 mph fastball with good movement to both sides of the plate, an average slider with good bite and an average changeup. He has good command, typically keeping the ball down at the knees, and gets some deception out of a mildly jerky delivery. He sets a good tone for his defense by working quickly and being aggressive.

"His makeup is off the charts," Sandberg said. "Great work ethic. He's a bulldog. He wants to get the ball back and throw another pitch."
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
9 9 5 2 0 2.31 51 41 13 13 5 12 50 .219
 
16. JOSH REDDICK OF, PAWTUCKET RED SOX
Age: 24. B-T: L-R. HT.: 6-2. WT.: 180. DRAFTED: Middle Georgia JC, '06 (17).
After flunking trials in Boston in the previous two seasons, Reddick made the most of his latest opportunity when injuries struck Carl Crawford and J.D. Drew this summer. Reddick played regularly for the Red Sox in the second half and was their most reliable corner outfielder.

A dangerous hitter when he's on a hot streak, Redding went on a power binge early in the year while with Pawtucket, slamming eight home runs in April. He has average pop and projects as an average hitter. His last big hurdle was improving his plate discipline, which took a huge stride forward this season.

Though he's not a basestealer, Reddick is an plus runner, especially underway. He has the defensive tools to play all three outfield positions, with above-average arm strength and pinpoint accuracy. While he has enough range to man center field, his best spot is in right, where he can take full advantage of his arm.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
191 37 44 9 1 14 36 33 39 4 1 .230 .333 .508
 
17. BRANDON GUYER OF, DURHAM BULLS (RAYS)
Age: 25. B-T: R-R. HT.: 6-1. WT.: 210. DRAFTED: Virginia, '07 (5).
Guyer made a great impression in his first year in the Rays organization after coming over from the Cubs in the Matt Garza deal. He spent most of the season in Durham as one of the league's top hitters, and he belted a two-run homer in his first big league at-bat in May. He excited IL observers with his enthusiastic, heady play and expansive toolbox.

Guyer is an aggressive hitter who will be a threat to hit .300, especially if he can iron out his streaky peaks and valleys. He has the power to hit 20 homers while amassing a healthy number of doubles as well. He'll become even more dangerous when he tightens up his strike zone a little and looks for pitches he can drive.

A plus runner, Guyer creates excitement on the basepaths by looking to take the extra base whenever possible. He has the wheels and instincts to steal 20 or more bases annually and play any of the three outfield spots. His strong arm lends itself well to right field.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
388 78 121 29 5 14 61 35 79 16 6 .312 .384 .521
 
18. ALEX PRESLEY OF, INDIANAPOLIS INDIANS (PIRATES)
Age: 26. B-T: L-L. HT.: 5-9. WT.: 190. DRAFTED: Mississippi, '06 (8).
Presley treaded water for the first four years of his career until he recognized and accepted who he was in 2010. By shortening his swing and not trying to hit for power, his game took off. He continued to refine his game in Indianapolis to start this season, improving his approach at the plate, and he spent most of the second half as the Pirates' regular left fielder.

Presley covers the plate well against both lefties and righties and is willing to hit the ball where it's pitched. While he doesn't have corner-outfield power, he does have some pop and will surprise with a home run from time to time. With his plus speed, anything into the gap is an opportunity for a triple.

Pittsburgh challenged Presley to be more aggressive on the bases this year and he responded a career-high 31 steals in 42 attempts between the majors and minors. Defensively, he gets quick jumps, runs good routes and has enough range to play center field. He has seen time on the corners as well, though his fringy arm is a little short for right field.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
342 58 114 18 5 8 41 28 54 22 8 .333 .388 .485
 
19. ALEX COBB RHP, DURHAM BULLS (RAYS)
Age: 23. B-T: R-R. HT.: 6-2. WT.: 195. DRAFTED: HS—Vero Beach, Fla., '06 (4).
The Rays move their young pitchers methodically and Cobb was no exception. He spent a season at each of the six levels in Tampa Bay's system, lowering his ERA at every stop. Summoned for spot duty in Tampa several times early in the summer, he had his season end when a blockage in his rib cage caused a dead arm sensation and required surgery in August.

He won't wow the radar gun crowd, but Cobb throws his 90-92 mph fastball with excellent command, hitting his locations consistently. He keeps hitters off balance with a plus changeup and two breaking pitches, the better of which is an average curve. He seldom uses his low-80s slider.

"He reminds me of Jeremy Hellickson," Durham manager Charlie Montoyo said. "He knows how to set up hitters, in and out, up and down. He knows how to pitch."
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
12 12 5 1 0 1.87 67 61 19 14 4 16 70 .251
 
20. TODD FRAZIER OF/3B/1B, LOUISVILLE BATS (REDS)
Age: 25. B-T: R-R. HT.: 6-3. WT.: 220. DRAFTED: Rutgers, '07 (1s).
Frazier's power has intrigued the Reds for year, but they have yet to find a regular spot for him, playing him at all four infield positions and also in left field. He has spent most of the last two years in Louisville, with most of his big league time coming in August when he filled in for an injured Scott Rolen at third base.

Frazier has plus power to all fields, though he may never hit for a high average because he's not selective enough at the plate.

An average runner, Frazier picks his spots to steal. He doesn't really have the range for shortstop or the quick feet for second base, but he has the tools for third base or left field. He has average arm strength and makes accurate throws.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
315 47 82 18 1 15 46 34 82 17 4 .260 .340 .467