League Top 20 Prospects

2011 Pacific Coast League Top 20 Prospects With Scouting Reports




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FIVE YEARS AGO
*1. Stephen Drew, ss, Tucson (Diamondbacks)
*2. Jered Weaver, rhp, Salt Lake (Angels)
*3. Howie Kendrick, 2b, Salt Lake (Angels)
*4. Chad Billingsley, rhp, Las Vegas (Dodgers)
*5. Andy LaRoche, 3b, Las Vegas (Dodgers)
*6. Matt Kemp, of, Las Vegas (Dodgers)
*7. Chris Young, of, Tucson (Diamondbacks)
*8. Adam Jones, of, Tacoma (Mariners)
*9. Jason Hirsh, rhp, Round Rock (Astros)
*10. Carlos Quentin, of, Tucson (Diamondbacks)
*11. Felix Pie, of, Iowa (Cubs)
*12. James Loney, 1b, Las Vegas (Dodgers)
*13. Anthony Reyes, rhp, Memphis (Cardinals)
*14. John Danks, lhp, Oklahoma (Rangers)
*15. Erick Aybar, ss, Salt Lake (Angels)
*16. Rich Hill, lhp, Iowa (Cubs)
*17. Miguel Montero, c, Tucson (Diamondbacks)
*18. Chris Iannetta, c, Colorado Springs (Rockies)
*19. Edinson Volquez, rhp, Oklahoma (Rangers)
*20. Joel Guzman, 3b/of, Las Vegas (Dodgers)
The Triple-A Pacific Coast League favors batters, and the circuit's talent leaned heavily in the direction of offense in 2011. The first six players on our Top 20 Prospects list were hitters, led by Las Vegas third baseman Brett Lawrie and Tacoma second baseman Dustin Ackley, who made their presence felt in the majors before the year was done.

Just four pitchers made the list, starting with Omaha lefthander Mike Montgomery—and even he got beat up to the tune of a 5-11, 5.32 record. Montgomery was one of three PCL pitchers who ranked in the upper third of our preseason Top 100 Prospects list, and the other two got pounded worse. Round Rock lefty Martin Perez went 4-4, 6.43 and Las Vegas rigthy Kyle Drabek went 5-4, 7.44.

The Royals' farm system was heavily acclaimed as baseball's best at the start of 2011, and its depth resulted in a championship for Omaha. Interestingly, Montgomery was the only blue-chip prospect still with the Storm Chasers for the playoffs. First baseman Eric Hosmer would have taken the top spot on this list from Lawrie had he stayed longer, but he went to Kansas City in early May and later was joined by third baseman Mike Moustakas, lefthander Danny Duffy (another PCL non-qualifier) and second baseman Johnny Giavotella.

1. BRETT LAWRIE
3B, LAS VEGAS 51S (BLUE JAYS)
Age: 21. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 215. Drafted: HS—Langley, B.C. '08 (1/Brewers).
When you combine an environment that heavily favors hitters and a player with exceptional hitting ability and aggression, you get Lawrie's season. A pair of hand injuries were the only things to slow him. He hit .353/.415/.661 in the PCL despite missing six weeks after a pitch broke his left hand, and his rousing .293/.373/.580 big league debut ended when he fractured his right middle finger.

Lawrie has great strength, enabling him to drive the ball with authority. He has a lot of noise in the load to his swing, but his fast hands and tremendous bat speed allow him to overcome it. His physical ability and all-fields approach mean he'll hit for average, and he gave a taste of his power when he hit a 423-foot walkoff home run Sept. 5 against the Red Sox.

Signed as a catcher and shifted to second base im 2009, Lawrie moved to third base after coming to the Blue Jays in the Shaun Marcum trade. He was an adequate defender and showed enough arm strength for the hot corner, but he still may wind up on an outfield corner. He's an average runner with a nose for stealing bases.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
292 64 103 24 6 18 61 26 53 13 2 .353 .415 .661
 
2. DUSTIN ACKLEY
2B, TACOMA RAINIERS (MARINERS)
Age: 23. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 185. Drafted: North Carolina '09 (1).
Ackley's pro debut last year was lackluster at times, but this season he left no doubt why he landed a $7.5 million big league contract as the No. 2 overall pick in the 2009 draft. He's a pure hitter with quality plate discipline and hand-eye coordination, and he was the Mariners' biggest threat after he joined them in mid-June. He's a threat to hit 15 or more homers annually, though much of his power comes to the gaps.

Ackley has plus speed that translates more into stretching base hits than stealing a lot of bases. A first baseman in college who has shifted to second base, he looked more comfortable there and did a better job of making the routine play in 2011. He has the athleticism and an average arm to become a solid defender.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
.271 57 82 17 3 9 35 55 38 7 3 .303 .421 .487
 
3. MIKE MOUSTAKAS
3B, OMAHA STORM CHASERS (ROYALS)
Age: 22. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 230. Drafted: HS—Chatsworth, Calif. '07 (1).
Moustakas checked in at No. 2 on this list a year ago, when he spent the second half in Omaha and tied for the minor league lead with 36 homers. Never known for taking a free base, he improved his walk rate in his second tour of the PCL, but it regressed after he was promoted to Kansas City in mid-June.

Moustakas' calling card remains his plus-plus raw power, and his first stint in the majors showed he still has work to do to handle offspeed stuff and use the whole field. He made adjustments and should be a middle-of-the-order hitter. While his speed is considerably below-average, he has a decent first step and a cannon arm at third base. He's still erratic defensively and may eventually have to move to first base or an outfield corner.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
223 38 64 15 1 10 44 19 44 1 1 .287 .347 .498
 
4. BRANDON BELT
OF/1B, FRESNO GRIZZLIES (GIANTS)
Age: 23. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 220. Drafted: Texas '09 (5).
After leading the minors in hitting (.352) and OPS (1.075) in his 2010 pro debut, Belt opened this season in the San Francisco but returned to Fresno in mid-April. He shuttled back and forth, missing a month when an errant pitch fractured his left wrist at the end of May. While he never really got going in the majors, scouts still think he has a special bat.

Belt has a very patient approach, letting the ball travel deep and utilizing the opposite field well. He bent over too much in his stance early in the season but later became more upright, which will allow him to tap into his average to plus power. He projects as a .300 hitter with 20 or more homers per season.

Belt is a potential Gold Glover at first base, where he has more range and athleticism than most players. His average speed permits him to get the job done on the outfield corners as well, with his average arm best suited for left field.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
165 32 51 12 0 8 32 42 47 4 4 .309 .448 .527
 
5. ANTHONY RIZZO
1B, TUCSON PADRES
Age: 21. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 220. Drafted: HS—Parkland, Fla. '07 (6/Red Sox).
One of a trio of prospects the Red Sox sent to the Padres for Adrian Gonzalez, Rizzo was one of the most devastating hitters in Triple-A this season. He ranked second in the league with a .652 slugging percentage and might have led the PCL in homers and RBIs had he not spent most of June and July in San Diego.

Though managers rated Rizzo as the league's best power prospect, he still has some adjustments to make if he's going to be more consistent and hit for a solid average. His swing can get loopy, a flaw that big league pitchers were able to exploit. He isn't afraid to use the opposite field or hit with two strikes, he hangs in well against lefthanders and he draws a good amount of walks.

Rizzo can be a smooth defender at first base but sometimes loses focuses, leading to errors. He's a below-average runner, as expected for a player his size.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
356 64 118 34 1 26 101 43 89 7 6 .331 .404 .652
 
6. DEE GORDON SS, ALBUQUERQUE ISOTOPES (DODGERS)
Age: 23. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 150. Drafted: Seminole (Fla.) CC '08 (4).
The son of Tom Gordon was a clear choice as the PCL's best shortstop prospect, showing every tool but power. He struggled in his first two big league callups in June and August, but finished the year by playing every day in September and batting .372 for the Dodgers.

Gordon's best tool is his well above-average speed. He has refined his basestealing technique, succeeding on a career-high 82 percent of his attempts between the majors and minors this year. He makes contact and puts the ball on the ground, so his wheels allow him to hit for a high average, though he could stand to draw more walks.

Gordon's quickness also translates to his defense. He has the range and strong arm to be a plus defender at shortstop. He's still working on his consistency after committing a combined 29 errors in 2011.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
288 51 96 10 6 0 24 18 40 30 4 .333 .373 .410
 
7. MIKE MONTGOMERY
LHP, OMAHA STORM CHASERS (ROYALS)
Age: 22. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 185. Drafted: HS—Newhall, Calif. '08 (1s).
Montgomery carved up hitters in the lower minors, but his control and command haven't been the same since he strained his forearm in April 2010. He posted a 2.45 ERA in his first six outings for Omaha and lacked consistency thereafter, turning in consecutive quality starts just once the rest of the way.

There's nothing wrong with Montgomery's stuff. He has a clean delivery and a fastball that ranges from 87-95 mph. His plus curveball is his best pure pitch, and he also has a changeup with some late fade.

The knock against Montgomery is his struggle to locate his pitches where he wants. He falls behind in too many counts, giving up walks and getting hit when he leaves his pitches up in the zone. His curveball breaks so much that he can't always throw it for strikes, and more advanced hitters don't chase it as often as younger ones did.
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
28 27 5 11 0 5.32 151 157 95 89 15 69 129 .258
 
8. BRETT JACKSON
OF, IOWA CUBS
Age: 22. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 210. Drafted: California '09 (1).
In a season where not much went right in the majors or minors for the Cubs, Jackson was an exception. He arrived in Iowa in July and put up the best numbers of his three-year pro career.

Jackson is a quality athlete who does a little bit of everything. He has a quick bat, solid power and a knack for driving the ball in the gaps. He's patient enough to draw walks, though he tends to expand his strike zone against lefthanders, and some PCL observers considered his swing too mechanical.

Jackson has a plus speed and shows aptitude on the bases. He also gets good jumps and tracks balls well in the outfield, with enough range to play center. He has average arm strength and makes accurate throws.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
185 39 55 13 2 10 26 28 64 6 1 .297 .388 .551
 
9. JORDAN LYLES RHP, OKLAHOMA CITY REDHAWKS (ASTROS)
Age: 20. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 210. Drafted: HS—Hartsville, S.C. '09 (1s).
The only teenager to appear in the league a year ago, Lyles returned and was one of the few pitchers to perform well in the inhospitable PCL. He earned a promotion to Houston at the end of May, and while he won only two of his 15 starts for a 106-loss club, he showed the potential to become a mid-rotation starter.

Lyles doesn't miss a lot of bats, but he compensates with advanced command. His high three-quarters arm slot helps him get good downward plane on his fastball, which ranges from 88-93 mph and typically sits at 89-90 with heavy sink. He has a pair of plus secondary pitches in his cutter/slider and changeup, and he'll also mix in a curveball.
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
12 10 3 3 0 3.61 62 64 25 25 4 17 42 .259
 
10. REX BROTHERS LHP, COLORADO SPRINGS SKY SOX (ROCKIES)
Age: 23. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 205. Drafted: Lipscomb '09 (1s).
The 34th overall pick in the 2009 draft, Brothers spent just one full season in the minors before getting called up to Colorado in early June. He was just as dominating with the Rockies as he had been with the Sky Sox, averaging 13.1 strikeouts per nine innings against big league hitters.

With a lethal fastball-slider combination, Brothers has the stuff to eventually become Colorado's closer. His heater sits in the mid-90s and can reach 99 mph. His slider has sharp bite and is a true power pitch in the mid-80s. There's a lot of effort in his delivery, which sometimes hampers his control.
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
25 0 3 2 0 2.89 28 29 10 9 2 15 45 .257
 
11. JEMILE WEEKS 2B, SACRAMENTO RIVER CATS (ATHLETICS)
Age: 24. B-T: B-R. Ht.: 5-9. Wt.: 160. Drafted: Miami, '09 (1).
Plagued by injuries, Weeks played in just 176 games in his first 2½ pro seasons. Finally healthy in 2011, he starred in the leadoff spot for Sacramento and then did the same for Oakland. He led all major league rookies (minimum 400 plate appearances) in hitting with a .303 average.

Weeks' plus speed and his hitting ability make him a top-of-the-order hitter, and he plays with good energy. He doesn't have as much power as his older brother Rickie, but Jemile has a quick, slashing bat and surprising pop for his size. He makes consistent contact but needs to draw more walks.

Weeks has worked to improve his defense and become a steady defender at second base. He has the quickness and athleticism required for the position, but his throwing can get erratic.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
184 30 59 6 4 3 22 29 32 10 4 .321 .417 .446
 
12. MARTIN PEREZ LHP, ROUND ROCK EXPRESS (RANGERS)
Age: 20. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 178. Signed: Venezuela, '07.
Regarded as one of baseball's top lefthanded pitching prospects, Perez has found rough going in the upper minors. He began the year with his third stint in Double-A, and after finally solving the Texas League he moved up to Round Rock—where he got pounded in 10 starts. Opponents batted .343/.393/.471 and hung a 6.43 ERA on him.

Perez still has nasty stuff but is searching for consistency. His fastball ranges from 90-95 mph and his changeup can serve as an out pitch. His curveball also shows potential as a third above-average pitch.

However, Perez is far too hittable for someone with his stuff because he lacks reliable control and command. He falls behind in too many counts and can't recover.
G GS W L SV ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
10 10 4 4 0 6.43 49 72 38 35 4 20 37 .329
 
13. LEONYS MARTIN OF, ROUND ROCK EXPRESS (RANGERS)
Age: 23. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 180. Signed: Cuba, '11.
Martin was another enigma at Round Rock. A Cuban defector who signed a $15.6 million big league contract in May, he hit .348/.435/.571 and earned rave reviews in Double-A before a promotion to Round Rock by early July. But after a 17-for-43 (.395) start with the Express, he batted just .220/.268/.273 the rest of the way.

Martin's best assets are his speed and defense. He's a plus runner who can steal bases and cover decent ground in center field, though he's still working to improve his reads and jumps in both regards. He also has a plus arm that would play in right field if needed.

With his speed to go with his quick bat and balanced approach, Martin has the tools necessary to hit for average. He projects to have average power at best, but that's not his role. He does a good job of putting the ball in play and getting on base.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
175 27 46 7 1 0 17 11 24 9 2 .263 .316 .314
 
14. MATT DOMINGUEZ 3B, NEW ORLEANS ZEPHYRS (MARLINS)
Age: 21. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 205. Drafted: HS—Chatsworth, Calif., '07 (1).
The Marlins wanted Dominguez to win their third-base job in spring training, but he hit just .190 in big league camp and fractured his elbow. He missed six weeks and spent most of the season at New Orleans before hitting a soft .244 during a September callup.

The jury always has been out on Dominguez's bat, and the 2011 season answered few of those concerns. He has fixed some flaws that showed up this spring and is making more consistent contact, but he doesn't drive the ball with much authority. He may never be much more than a .260 hitter with 15 homers per season.

Fortunately for Dominguez, that would be enough for him to play regularly in the big leagues because he's an outstanding defender. He has a quick first step, soft hands and a strong, accurate arm. He's a below-average runner who's not a factor on the bases.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
325 47 84 18 1 12 55 24 50 0 1 .258 .312 .431
 
15. ERIC THAMES OF, LAS VEGAS 51S (BLUE JAYS)
Age: 24. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 205. Drafted: Pepperdine, '08 (7).
Las Vegas first baseman David Cooper led the PCL in batting (.364), hits (170), doubles (51) and on-base percentage (.439), but scouts preferred teammate Thames as a prospect. They believe Thames' power will play better in the major leagues, and he did hit 12 homers in little more than half a season with Toronto. He took Dan Haren deep twice and also victimized Cliff Lee.

Thames is dangerous with the bat because of his strength and all-fields approach. He can drive the ball to all parts of the park and has extremely good bat speed. An aggressive hitter who piles up strikeouts because he chases too many pitches, he may not hit for a high average.

Thames has fringy speed and arm strength, so he fits best in left field. He's an adequate defender.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
210 38 74 25 4 7 45 23 41 5 2 .352 .423 .610
 
16. JOHNNY GIAVOTELLA 2B, OMAHA STORM CHASERS (ROYALS)
Age: 23. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-8. Wt.: 185. Drafted: New Orleans, '08 (2).
A prototypical blue-collar player, Giavotella won over PCL observers with his gritty performance and earned a major league callup in August. He's an offensive-minded player who makes consistent line-drive contact and has good pop for his size, most of it coming in the form of doubles. A career .305 hitter in the minors, he struggled in his Royals debut because pitchers got him to expand his strike zone.

Giavotella isn't the most athletic second baseman, but he gets the most out of his tools. He runs the bases well despite below-average speed, and he's a sure-handed defender who has worked hard to increase his agility.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
453 67 153 34 2 9 72 40 57 9 5 .338 .390 .481
 
17. CHARLIE BLACKMON OF, COLORADO SPRINGS SKY SOX (ROCKIES)
Age: 25. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 200. Drafted: Georgia Tech, '08 (2).
Blackmon put up the best numbers of his career in the first two months at Colorado Springs, resulting in his first big league callup at the start of June. His dream season came to an end a month later, when he fractured his left foot on a slide into third base. He should be 100 percent by spring training.

Blackmon has a short stroke and a gap-to-gap approach that allows him to make consistent contact, and he fanned just eight times in 98 big league plate appearances. The question is whether he'll have more than average power and enough to profile as a regular on an outfield corner, because he tends to get around the ball rather than square it up. He has above-average speed and could steal 25 bases per year.

Primarily a center fielder before 2011, Blackmon played right field for the Sky Sox and left field for the Rockies. Recruited as a pitcher in college, he has above-average arm strength and recorded 11 assists in 56 PCL games.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
243 49 82 19 4 10 49 19 34 12 5 .337 .393 .572
 
18. LOGAN SCHAFER OF, NASHVILLE SOUNDS (BREWERS)
Age: 24. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 180. Drafted: Cal Poly, '08 (3).
After winning the high Class A Florida State League batting title and the Brewers' minor league player of the year award in 2009, Schafer missed all but seven games last year with a sports hernia and a broken foot. He lost the first six weeks of this season after breaking his right thumb in spring training, but recovered to play his way to Nashville in late July and Milwaukee in September.

Schafer consistently produces line drives with a simple swing, though he doesn't have much power and can fall victim to offspeeed pitches. He's a solid runner with the aptitude to steal a few bases and cover the gaps in center field. His arm is more accurate than strong but fine for a center fielder.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
169 31 56 13 2 5 23 17 18 5 3 .331 .401 .521
 
19. ALEX LIDDI 3B, TACOMA RAINIERS (MARINERS)
Age: 22. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 240. Signed: Italy, '05.
Liddi has put up some huge numbers in the minors, winning the minor league batting title with a .345 average in 2009 and slugging 30 homers with 104 RBIs for Tacoma this year. He became the first player born and raised in Italy to reach the majors when the Mariners called him up in September, and he responded with three homers in 15 games.

There's a tradeoff for his above-average power, however, as Liddi has a long stroke and racks up a lot of strikeouts. He swings through offspeed stuff and misses on fastballs too, and his offensive game draws comparisons to that of Mark Reynolds.

Though Liddi has a strong arm and has spent most of his career at third base, he seems destined to move across the diamond to first base. He's a well below-average runner who lacks range and sometimes gets too cute on defense.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
559 121 145 32 3 30 104 61 170 5 1 .259 .332 .488
 
20. COLLIN COWGILL OF, RENO ACES (DIAMONDBACKS)
Age: 25. B-T: R-L. Ht.: 5-9. Wt.: 185. Drafted: Kentucky, '08 (5).
Before the Diamondbacks promoted him in late July, Cowgill was one of the PCL's most exciting players, excelling in all facets of the game. Though he hit just .239 in sparse playing time after the callup, Arizona placed him on its postseason roster.

Cowgill hits fastballs with authority but needs to lay off offspeed pitches out of the zone. He has a sweepy swing that doesn't incorporate his legs much, so he doesn't have more than gap power. He has slightly above-average speed and good instincts on the bases.

With his good reads and jumps translating into solid range and his above-average arm, Cowgill is capable of playing any outfield position and fits best in right field. He may profile better as a fourth outfielder who plays with a lot of energy than as an everyday player.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
395 95 140 24 8 13 70 51 63 30 3 .354 .430 .554