League Top 20 Prospects

2012 Eastern League Top 20 Prospects With Scouting Reports




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FIVE YEARS AGO
1. *Clay Buchholz, rhp, Portland (Red Sox)
2. *Andrew McCutchen, of, Altoona (Pirates)
3. *Fernando Martinez, of, Binghamton (Mets)
4. *Asdrubal Cabrera, ss, Akron (Indians)
5. *Ian Kennedy, rhp, Trenton (Yankees)
6. *Jair Jurrjens, rhp, Erie (Tigers)
7. Alan Horne, rhp, Trenton (Yankees)
8. *Jed Lowrie, ss, Portland (Red Sox)
9. *Neil Walker, 3b, Altoona (Pirates)
10. *Collin Balester, rhp, Harrisburg (Nationals)
11. *Jordan Brown, 1b/of, Akron (Indians)
12. *Radhames Liz, rhp, Bowie (Orioles)
13. *Justin Masterson, rhp, Portland (Red Sox)
14. *Kyle Kendrick, rhp, Reading (Phillies)
15. Chuck Lofgren, lhp, Akron (Indians)
16. *Jeff Larish, 1b, Erie (Tigers)
17. *Brian Barton, of, Akron (Indians)
18. *Brian Duensing, lhp, New Britain (Twins)
19. *Mike Costanzo, 3b, Reading (Phillies)
20. *Nolan Reimold, of, Bowie (Orioles)
*Has played in major leagues.
A midseason ranking of Eastern League prospects would have yielded much less robust Top 20 than the one that follows. That's because most of the Double-A circuit's 12 clubs added a rising star midway through the year, with many of them occupying spots near the top of the list.

Among those who joined the EL midstream were 2011 draft picks such as righthander Gerrit Cole (Altoona), center fielders Jackie Bradley (Portland) and Brian Goodwin (Harrisburg) and third baseman Cody Asche (Reading). Four of the EL's finest prospects signed out of Venezuela in 2007 and made their way to the league during the season: right fielders Oswaldo Arcia (New Britain) and Avisail Garcia (Erie), reliever Bruce Rondon (Erie) and third baseman Wilmer Flores (Binghamton). Several other high-profile prospects joined the EL in August—including righthanders Dylan Bundy (Bowie) and Jameson Taillon (Altoona) and shortstop Xander Bogaerts (Portland)—but they didn't play enough to qualify for this list.

Reading first baseman/outfielder Darin Ruf won the EL MVP award, almost took the league's triple crown and led the minors with 38 homers (including 20 in August) but didn't crack the Top 20. He's 26 and scouts aren't sold that he'll be able to handle major league pitching.

1. Manny Machado, ss, Bowie (Orioles)
Age: 20  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 185  Drafted: Brito Miami Private HS, 2010 (1st round)
Machado hurtled through the minors, making his big league debut in August less than two years after signing as the 2010 draft's No. 3 overall pick. Thrust into a pennant race in Baltimore, he contributed key plays on both offense and defense, taking quickly to the hot corner despite playing just two games at the position as a professional. Four of his tools grade as plus, which combined with his instincts for the game, ought to translate into multiple all-star nods.

Bowie coaches worked with Machado to level his swing plane and tone down a bat wrap. Regardless of how he does it, scouts like his loose swing, plate coverage and ability to hit with authority to all fields. His feel for the strike zone ought to allow him to hit for both average and power, especially as he adds strength to his long, rangy frame.

What once seemed a foregone conclusion—that Machado would outgrow shortstop and shift to third base—no longer seems the case. His range is above average at shortstop, his hands are sound and his plus arm strength is a difference-maker. He has below-average raw speed but makes smart decisions on the bases.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
402 60 107 26 5 11 59 48 70 13 4 .266 .352 .438

2. Zack Wheeler, rhp, Binghamton (Mets)
Age: 22  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 185  Drafted: East Paulding HS, Dallas, Ga., 2009 (1st round/Giants)
The Giants surrendered Wheeler to acquire Carlos Beltran in July 2011 in what turned out to be a vain attempt to defend their World Series title. San Francisco missed the playoffs by four games, then lost Beltran to free agency while the Mets watched Wheeler blossom into one of the top pitching prospects in the minors.

"He's possibly the best pitching prospect I've ever seen," Erie manager Chris Cron said. "He has all the pitches and a free and easy delivery. He can go 98, 88, then 78 at will. For a kid, he really looks like he knows how to pitch because he changes speeds really well."

Wheeler sits at 94-95 mph with his fastball and dials it up to 98 at times, throwing downhill with an easy arm action. Late life on his heater produces defensive swings by batters even when they're ahead in the count counts, and he allowed just four homers in 25 total starts this season.

Wheeler relied more on a curveball as a Giant, but he now turns more on an upper-80s slider with above-average potential. For a different look, he still mixes in a curveball that bottoms out in the high 70s, and he also has the makings of an average changeup. He already excels at holding baserunners, giving up just three steals in 11 attempts in the EL.
W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
10 6 3.26 19 19 0 116 92 46 42 2 43 117 .209

3. Gerrit Cole, rhp, Altoona (Pirates)
Age: 21  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 220  Drafted: UCLA, 2011 (1st round)
The first pick in the 2011 draft, Cole opened this year in high Class A while Danny Hultzen and Trevor Bauer, the two college pitchers taken immediately after him, headed straight to Double-A. The stopover in Bradenton helped Cole smooth out his delivery and command, so he was firing on all cylinders when he reached Altoona on June 20. One evaluator said he was almost disappointed that he saw nothing to nitpick.

Cole tops out at 100 mph even late into his starts, working up in the zone with high-90s heat and down with a two-seamer that sits at 94-95. One scout clocked Cole's slider at 93 mph, and given its typical 88-91 velocity and power tilt it's a true plus-plus offering. Even his third and fourth pitches, a high-80s changeup and mid-80s curveball, made progress this season and help him slow opponents' bats.

Cole throws everything hard and tended to be more hittable than his stuff would suggest, so scouts stopped just short of calling him a true No. 1 starter. He gets hit when he brings the ball up in the strike zone. From a mechanical standpoint, he sometimes drifts off the rubber and throws off a stiff front leg.
W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
3 6 2.90 12 12 0 59 54 28 19 2 23 60 .234

4. Nick Castellanos, 3b/of, Erie (Tigers)
Age: 20  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 210  Drafted: Archbishop McCarthy HS, Southwest Ranches, Fla., 2010 (1st round supp)
Few prospects began the season as locked-in as Castellanos, who led the minors with a .405 average through 55 games at high Class A Lakeland. He continued to hit after he arrived in Erie on June 4, batting .316/.332/.474 in his first 52 Double-A games before slumping to a .183 average in the final month.

Castellanos has totaled 17 homers in two full minor league seasons, but scouts believe he'll develop plus power and go deep 20 or more times per year in the big leagues once he learns to pull the ball with regularity. His natural power stroke carries the ball to right-center field, as he demonstrated with a homer in the Futures Game. He barrels the ball consistently but is vulnerable to sliders low and away, contributing to hit .594 OPS versus EL righties.

Though he's slow-footed with stiff actions and average arm strength at third base, Castellanos profiles as playable at the position. Nevertheless, the Tigers shifted him to right field on July 12, in part because of the presence of Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder on Detroit's infield corners. Castellanos didn't win admirers in right field, though he ought to look more comfortable there given an entire offseason and spring training to gain experience.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
322 35 85 15 1 7 25 14 76 5 4 .264 .296 .382

5. Jackie Bradley, of, Portland (Red Sox)
Age: 22  B-T: L-R  Ht.: 5-10 Wt.: 180  Drafted: South Carolina, 2011 (1st round supp)
The 40th overall pick in 2011, Bradley may prove to be the steal of the draft after adjusting quickly to the pro game. He batted .359/.480/.526 and led the minors in on-base percentage with high Class A Salem during the first half, and he continued to electrify onlookers in the second half at Portland. He has prototype center-field tools, with plus hitting ability, strike-zone discipline and range.

"He's an obvious plus lefthanded hitter with hand speed through the zone and hitting rhythm," Portland manager Kevin Boles said. "He plays well above the game speed, and he looks like he will thrive on the big stage."

While Bradley has solid gap power, he can get a little pull-happy at times. Though he's an average runner on the stopwatch, he has above-average speed underway and uses it uses judiciously on the basepaths and in the outfield. He has solid arm strength but needs to improve his accuracy.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
229 37 62 16 2 6 29 35 49 8 3 .271 .373 .437

6. Oswaldo Arcia, of, New Britain (Twins)
Age: 21  B-T: L-R  Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 210  Signed: Venezuela, 2007
Arcia emerged as name-brand prospect after winning Rookie-level Appalachian League MVP honors in 2010, but an elbow injury cut into his encore season. He regained momentum this year, ranking as the EL's top corner-bat prospect following his second-half promotion to New Britain.

Minnesota's Target Field mutes lefty power, but Arcia has the raw pop to hit 20-plus homers on an annual basis. He gets through a hand hitch in his swing to whip the bat through the zone, making enough contact to hit for a decent average. Facing big league lefthanders shouldn't be a problem, because he hangs in well against southpaws.

"He might have been best hitter in this league with that approach. It's a special bat," Boles said. "He has the most quiet lower half I've seen at this level. He's just so balanced. He makes adjustments within the at-bat, and I'm not sure if we ever got him out."

Arcia has filled out considerably since he patrolled center field in Rookie ball, and he's now strictly a strong-armed right fielder. He's a slightly below-average runner.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
262 54 86 20 5 10 67 28 62 3 2 .328 .398 .557

7. Brian Goodwin, of, Harrisburg (Nationals)
Age: 21  B-T: L-L  Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 195  Drafted: Miami Dade JC, 2011 (1st round supp)
The Nationals' instability in center field hints at why they rushed Goodwin from low Class A to Harrisburg on July 19, despite the fact that he had missed five weeks in April and May with a serious hamstring injury. Though his skills aren't as refined as Bradley's, Goodwin's raw tools are a tick louder and he has a similar ceiling as a potential first-division center fielder and leadoff hitter.

Goodwin fought to survive after the two-level jump and hit a respectable .252/.312/.400 in the EL after a 8-for-51 (.157) start. A wiry yet strong athlete, he has surprising over-the-fence power, while his speed means he'll leg out plenty of extra-base hits. His compact lefty stroke gives him a chance to hit for average, especially when combined with his discerning batting eye and willingness to use all fields.

Scouts expect Goodwin will become a successful and intuitive basestealer with experience. Plus range and a solid arm suggest that he'll be able to hold down center field for a while.

AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
166 17 37 8 1 5 14 18 50 3 3 .223 .306 .373

8. Aaron Hicks, of, New Britain (Twins)
Age: 22  B-T: B-R  Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 185  Drafted: Wilson HS, Long Beach, 2008 (1st round)
Following three years in Class A, Hicks continued his slow, steady march to the big leagues with his finest season yet. He led the EL in runs (100), triples (11) and walks (79) while establishing personal bests in homers (13), extra-base hits (45) and steals (32).

An uptick in production as a lefthanded hitter (.287/.394/.434), the result of shortening his stroke, buttressed the switch-hitting Hicks' overall batting line. He still gets to his average raw power more easily from his natural right side.

He continues to swing through too many pitches from both sides of the plate to project as a high-average hitter, though his plus speed will help in that regard and on the bases.

Along with his offensive growth, Hicks continues to draw equal attention for his defensive play, speed and athleticism. He glides to the ball in center field with his above-average wheels masked somewhat by his long running stride. His throws are strong and accurate.

AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
472 100 135 21 11 13 61 79 116 32 11 .286 .384 .460

9. Jake Marisnick, of, New Hampshire (Blue Jays)
Age: 21  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 200  Drafted: Poly HS, Riverside, Calif., 2009 (3rd round)
High Class A Florida State League managers praised Marisnick in all areas of the game except one—his ability to hit for average. He did little to assuage those concerns following a July 5 promotion to New Hampshire by batting .233 with four times as many strikeouts as walks.

One EL manager noted that his club's pitchers beat Marisnick with inside fastballs in July but had less success with that strategy later. After his average dipped to .196, he began to make adjustments and hit .267/.290/.405 over the final four weeks. Some scouts do like his quiet, balanced approach and quick bat and aren't ready to dismiss him as a hitter.

Even with his hitting in question, Marisnick's other tools are loud enough to get him to the big leagues. He has the above-average range, strong arm and instincts to make an impact in center field, while also possessing the raw speed and acumen to steal 25 or more bases per year. He can drive the ball to all fields, but he won't tap into his above-average power potential until he proves to pitchers he won't chase pitches out of the strike zone.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
223 25 52 11 3 2 15 11 45 14 4 .233 .286 .336

10. Tommy Joseph, c, Reading (Phillies)
Age: 21  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 215  Drafted: Horizon HS, Scottsdale, Ariz., 2009 (2nd round/Giants)
The Giants originally signed the top pitching and top catching prospect to play in the EL this season, taking Wheeler in the first round of the 2009 draft and Joseph in the second. They dealt both for veteran right fielders, sending Joseph to the Phillies in July as part of a package for Hunter Pence.

Joseph drives the ball to all fields with plus power and hit some of the longest homers in the league this season. His contact rate took a tumble this season as he worked deeper counts and drew more walks, but scouts expect he'll be a solid hitter for average with his quick, direct stroke. He batted .301/.360/.466 versus EL lefties but also struck out in a quarter of his 114 plate appearances against them.

Reading manager Dusty Wathan, who caught more than 800 games as a professional, admired Joseph's demeanor and maturity from both the opposing dugout and his own. Joseph is a steady receiver who blocks balls well and has a strong arm that he used to nab 40 percent of EL basestealers. He has the bat and defensive chops to stay in the lineup at first base on days he doesn't catch.

AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
404 44 104 24 0 11 48 34 96 0 4 .257 .317 .399

11. Avisail Garcia, of, Erie (Tigers)
Age: 21  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 240  Signed: Venezuela, 2007
When Garcia reached the big leagues at the end of August, the most common topic of conversation centered on how much he resembled Tigers star Miguel Cabrera. Though eight years younger than Cabrera, Garcia has virtually the same build, hitting setup and swing as the Triple Crown winner and fellow Venezuelan.

While he remains a free swinger, Garcia exhibited offensive growth with more contact and more power in 2012. Scouts all agree his ceiling is high—but so too is the risk associated with his all-or-nothing hitting approach. He seldom sees a pitch he doesn't like, though his brute strength and knack for contact often allow him to get away with hitting pitchers' pitches.

Despite his jumbo 6-foot-4 frame, Garcia turns in average run times and played 44 games in center field for the Erie. He's a right fielder all the way at the big league level, and his strong arm and good outfield reads ought to allay concerns about a move to first base or DH.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
215 31 67 9 3 6 22 7 38 9 4 .312 .345 .465

12. Bruce Rondon, rhp, Erie (Tigers)
Age: 21  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 190  Signed: Venezuela, 2007
He's a bad-bodied reliever who doesn't always have a dependable second pitch, yet Rondon's explosive fastball caught the attention of EL managers and scouts, who foresee a future as a big league closer. His first pitch at this year's Futures Game clocked in at 102 mph, and he threw three consecutive fastballs at 101 later in the outing.

Rondon's fastball usually ranges from 94-100 mph—he comes down from the higher registers only when he must throw a strike—and bores in on the hands of righthanders, breaking plenty of bats. In 52 appearances from high Class A to Triple-A this season, he allowed righties to hit just 11-for-106 (.104) with eight walks and no extra-base hits.

Lefthanders fared much better (.263/.410/.400), reinforcing the need for Rondon to improve the qualify of his secondary stuff. He throws a mid-80s slider that tops out near 89 mph and features hard biting action when he finishes it. Some scouts favor his high-80s changeup as a future out-pitch because it has late sink when executed properly.
W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
0 1 0.83 21 0 12 22 15 4 2 1 9 23 .188

13. Mike Kickham, lhp, Richmond (Giants)
Age: 23  B-T: L-L  Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 205  Drafted: Missouri State, 2010 (6th round)
The Giants expected big things from Kickham in 2011, but when a blister issue held him back in spring training they chose to slow down his timetable and kept him in low Class A all season. Kickham said he benefitted from spending a year with Augusta pitching coach Steve Kline, learning lessons on throwing the breaking ball and pitch sequencing.

Kickham survived and often thrived after making the two-level jump to Richmond this season, though lapses in control led to the occasional big inning. He counterbalanced ranking third in the EL with 75 walks by finishing second with 137 strikeouts and a .219 opponent average. His control improved once he shortened his arm stroke by lowering his hands to his waist when he comes to a set position.

Kickham attacks the lower part of the strike zone with a low-90s sinker that features plenty of tailing action. He throws a deceptive low-80s changeup with plus arm speed. He still needs to improve the consistency of his primary breaking ball, a low-80s slider that flashes plus potential, and he'll also mix in a show-me curveball.
W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
11 10 3.05 28 27 0 151 119 57 51 8 75 137 .208

14. Jonathan Schoop, 2b/ss, Bowie (Orioles)
Age: 20  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 195  Signed: Curacao, 2008
No matter what team he plays for or what position he plays, Schoop can't escape the shadow of teammate Manny Machado, top dog among Orioles position-player prospects and also in the EL. Schoop played second and third base alongside Machado at two Class A stops in 2011, and the two remained linked this season as double-play partners with Bowie. Schoop played second base prior to Machado's August callup and shortstop afterward.

Scouts who like Schoop think he profiles as an offensive-oriented second baseman with power. Those who don't view him as an infield tweener who won't hit enough to play third base or field well enough to play up the middle.

Schoop's compact righthanded swing produces loud contact, though he'll have to do a better job of not chasing breaking balls out of the zone—he hit .218/.291/.336 in 339 at-bats against EL righthanders—if he hopes to hit for average. He cracked a career-high 14 homers this season, and proponents see the strength and bat speed necessary to hit for plus power as he matures.

Schoop's long-term prospects at shortstop appear dim because he's a lousy runner and non-factor on the bases. He has a chance to stick at second base, however, because of quick hands, a strong arm with a short stroke and a knack for turning the double play. Just three EL regulars made more plays per game at the keystone, but Schoop averaged just 3.77 plays per game at shortstop—well below Machado's exemplary rate of 4.41 and ranking next-to-last among those with at least 35 games at short.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
485 68 119 24 1 14 56 50 103 5 3 .245 .324 .386

15. Rob Brantly, c, Erie (Tigers)
Age: 23  B-T: L-R  Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 205  Drafted: UC Riverside, 2010 (3rd round)
Brantly began the season with Erie but ended it as the Marlins' everyday catcher after the Tigers dealt him as part of a package for Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante. Prior to the July trade, Detroit had promoted Brantly to Triple-A after he hit .311 with gap power for the SeaWolves in April and May.

Brantly rarely sees a pitch he doesn't like, a fact reflected in his low strikeout and walk rates. The approach works for him because he has a short lefty stroke and the ability to hit the ball where it's pitched. He has virtually no power against southpaws, though he shows occasional home-run pop versus righties.

Tall, lanky and agile, Brantly has made strides with his receiving and blocking technique, just about shedding the "future backup" tag. He erased 33 percent of EL basestealers, a rate in line with his career norm.

AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
180 16 56 16 1 3 24 12 17 0 3 .311 .359 .461

16. Gary Brown, of, Richmond (Giants)
Age: 23  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 190  Drafted: Cal State Fullerton, 2010 (1st round)
Brown established a high Class A San Jose record with 188 hits in the California League a year ago, but a jump to the Eastern League in 2012 let a lot of air out of his numbers. For two months in June and July, he hit an exemplary .326/.377/.498, but for the remainder of the season he batted a soft .243 as he struggled to keep his hitting mechanics in check.

When Brown struggles, he tends to open up too much with his lead foot and leak out to his front side, leading to lots of weak contact and extended slumps. Scouts who like Brown project him as an on-base-oriented leadoff hitter with line-drive power and impact potential on the basepaths. He ought to bolster a batting average in the .270 range with plenty of walks, infield hits and extra bases courtesy of his speed, which some evaluators peg at a true 80 on the 20-to-80 scouting scale.

Despite his wheels, Brown succeeded on just 65 percent of his steal attempts, going 33-for-51. His quickness stood out more in center field, where he shows plenty of range and an average arm.

"When you watch this guy on a daily basis you realize that he's an absolute Houdini in center field," Richmond manager Dave Machemer said. "He has made catches this year where it seemed like there was no chance of catching the ball."
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
538 73 150 32 2 7 42 40 87 33 18 .279 .347 .385

17. Cody Asche, 3b, Reading (Phillies)
Age: 22  B-T: L-R  Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 180  Drafted: Nebraska, 2011 (4th round)
The Phillies didn't know what to do with Asche a year ago. The fourth-round pick hit just .192 during his pro debut in the short-season New York-Penn League, and the organization couldn't decide whether to play him at second base, third base or scrap everything and make him a catcher.

Asche added a more pronounced load to his swing during instructional league last year and had a strong spring training this year to earn an assignment to high Class A, where he hit .349/.378/.447 in 270 at-bats prior to a June 23 bump to Reading. He hit just .192 through his first 29 Double-A games before catching fire and finishing on a 59-for-159 (.371) tear with 27 extra-base hits in 42 games.

Like most good hitters, Asche has quick hands and hits the ball where it's pitched, pulling inside pitches while serving offspeed offerings away to left field. Though he has shown above-average power in college and in spurts as a pro, Asche divides scouts on whether he'll hit enough homers to profile as an everyday third baseman. Philadelphia seems committed to the idea of developing Asche at the hot corner, where he has average range, speed, hands and arm strength.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
263 42 79 20 3 10 47 22 56 1 1 .300 .360 .513

18. Wilmer Flores, 3b/2b, Binghamton (Mets)
Age: 21  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 190  Signed: Venezuela, 2007
Flores bashed a career-high 18 homers this season, the year he finally put high Class A in his rearview mirror after taking more than 1,100 plate appearances for St. Lucie since 2010. The Mets promoted him to Double-A following an MVP performance in the Florida State all-star game and a .289/.336/.463 first-half batting line.

Binghamton manager Pedro Lopez, who has managed Flores in four of his five pro seasons, said the 21-year-old benefited this season from the more patient approach stressed by Mets instructors. Flores saw more fastballs in hitter's counts and finished with the lowest strikeout and highest walk rates of his career.

Flores' supreme hand-eye coordination and ability to let the ball travel deep produce high batting averages and a natural power stroke to right-center field. Like many young hitters with power, he has learned to turn on more inner-half fastballs and drove 15 of his 18 homers to left field this year.

Flores played shortstop exclusively until this season, when he shifted to the other three infield positions, spending most of his time at third base. An utter lack of foot speed or first-step quickness hurts him no matter where he plays, but he throws well and has sure hands, making the hot corner his safest bet.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
251 37 78 18 2 8 33 20 30 0 0 .311 .361 .494

19. Jon Pettibone, rhp, Reading (Phillies)
Age: 22  B-T: L-R  Ht.: 6-5 Wt.: 200  Drafted: Esperanza HS, Anaheim, 2008 (3rd round supp)
The only pitcher younger than Pettibone to make more than 10 starts in the EL this season was Altoona's Gerrit Cole, but the two righthanders couldn't be more different in terms of style. Despite the fact that Pettibone struck out batters at a rate below the EL average, many scouts believe he has the potential to serve as a command-oriented mid-rotation starter in the big leagues. The Phillies are obviously believers—they promoted him to Triple-A Lehigh Valley on July 30.

Pettibone offers a number of positive attributes: his youth, 6-foot-5 frame, three-pitch mix, durability and performance track record. He pounds the lower half of the zone with 88-92 mph sinkers, locating the ball well to both sides of the plate and changing speeds (topping out near 94) for effect. He maintains arm speed on a solid changeup that he commands and forces batters to put in play because he's around the plate so much.

Pettibone continues to work to refine a fringy slider that could feature average velocity and tilt with further development. He began throwing a cutter against lefthanders late in the season.

All of Pettibone's stuff plays up because of his plus control, but critics point to an overall lack of deception or a dependable swing-and-miss pitch. Despite being around the plate so much, he generally keeps the ball in the yard and surrendered just nine homers in 26 total starts this season, none in Triple-A.
W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
9 7 3.30 19 19 0 117 115 52 43 9 27 81 .246

20. Drake Britton, lhp, Portland (Red Sox)
Age: 23  B-T: L-L  Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 200  Drafted: Tomball (Texas) HS, 2007 (23rd round)
Britton got back in Boston's good graces with a strong eight-start finish to his season with Portland. He notched a 45-18 K-BB ratio and 2.23 ERA over his final 44 innings, helping ease the sting of a 5.80 ERA compiled with high Class A Salem during the season's first two months. He took a circuitous route back to relevancy after missing most of 2009 following Tommy John surgery, working with a tight pitch count in 2010 and pitching ineffectively in the Carolina League for nearly a season and a half.

To this point in his career, Britton's prospect profile and ceiling have outstripped the results. On the one hand, he's a 6-foot-2 lefty with easy 92-94 mph velocity and sinking action, the ability to spin two distinct breaking balls and frequent feel for a changeup. On the other, he appears to rattle easily and ran up a 6.56 ERA and 1.59 WHIP in 143 innings in high Class A.

Boles believes Britton's command will improve because of his clean arm action and steady improvement once he reached Double-A. Scouts generally prefer the lefty's big-breaking mid-70s curveball to his low-80s slider, which features late tilt and is easier to throw for strikes. He kept righties in check at his two stops this season (.246/.317/.358 in 394 at-bats) with a solid changeup, but unless his overall command improves he might fit best in the bullpen.
W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
4 7 3.72 16 16 0 85 86 41 35 3 38 76 .253