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2003 League Top 20s: Gulf Coast League
by Allan Simpson
For complete scouting reports on the Top 20 Prospects in the Gulf Coast League, subscribers
can access our expanded coverage.
With a roster dominated by premium picks from the 2003 draft, the Braves coasted to the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League's Eastern Division title. Then they won three straight playoff games to capture their first league championship since 1964--the league's first year of existence. They also place five players among the GCL's top 20 prospects.
Eleven players from this year's draft made the top 20, including sweet-swinging third baseman Eric Duncan, the Yankees' first-round pick and the league's top prospect.
Marlins righthander Jeff Allison, the highest pick (16th overall) to play in the league, might have wrested the No. 1 spot away from Duncan if he had worked enough innings to qualify for our list. He had minor discomfort in his shoulder after holding out for two months and made just three starts. Allison impressed managers with his smooth mechanics, overpowering stuff, command of three pitches and hard-nosed approach.
1. Eric Duncan, 3b, Yankees
Duncan had plenty of time to establish himself before he was promoted to the short-season New York-Penn League for the final two weeks. He hit .373 after moving up.
"He was the best hitting prospect in this league, by far," said Yankees manager Dan Radison, a former big league coach. "He's got excellent swing mechanics and power to all fields. He just needs a little more discipline with some of the pitches he swings at."
"He's very aggressive, both at the plate and in the field," Pirates manager Woody Huyke said. "He's a pure hitter. He hit lefthanded and righthanded pitching equally well."
Duncan's defense isn't as advanced as his bat, but he generally fielded everything hit at him. His arm strength and range are considered below-average, which may eventually require a shift to first base.
"His bat will play anywhere," Tigers manager Howard Bushong said. "He can really juice it."
For complete scouting reports on the Top 20 Prospects in the Gulf Coast League, subscribers can access our expanded coverage.