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2003 League Top 20s: International League

by Will Kimmey
October 2, 2003

2003 League Top 20s
Sept. 18Gulf Coast League
Sept. 19Arizona League
Sept. 20Appalachian League
Sept. 21Pioneer League
Sept. 22New York-Penn League
Sept. 23Northwest League
Sept. 24South Atlantic League
Sept. 25Midwest League
Sept. 26California League
Sept. 27Carolina League
Sept. 28Florida State League
Sept. 29Eastern League
Sept. 30Southern League
Oct. 1Texas League
Oct. 2International League
Oct. 3Pacific Coast League

For complete scouting reports on the Top 20 Prospects in the International League, subscribers can access our expanded coverage.

With organizations bringing more players from Double-A straight to the majors, Triple-A is becoming more of a brief stopover for prospects who need a little extra fine-tuning and a destination for more veterans looking for second and third chances in the big leagues. "So much of Triple-A now is 4-A guys, guys who switch organizations every year," Ottawa manager Gary Allenson said.

Durham, Louisville, Ottawa and Pawtucket all rode rosters loaded with major league experience to the International League postseason, with Durham winning its second straight title. And while the quality of play remained high with 26- to 32-year-old veterans filling the rosters, the IL boasted few players who looked like future all-stars.

"The league was not as good this year," Toledo manager Larry Parrish said. "From what I've seen, there are a lot of players with a chance to play in the big leagues and a lot of pitchers that are No. 3 and 4 starters. I haven't seen No. 1 or 2 starters or a player you say this guy is a stud aside from Justin Morneau or Jose Reyes."

Allenson cited his informal poll of league third basemen.

"I always ask guys when I'm coaching third and they're standing by me, who is the best pitcher they've seen," he said. "And they have to think for a while. That tells you plenty."

1. Jose Reyes, ss, Norfolk Tides (Mets)

After winning top-prospect honors in two leagues in 2002, Reyes entered 2003 as the top shortstop prospect in the minors. Despite a hamstring injury that forced him out of the lineup for three weeks, he was leading the IL in steals when the Mets promoted him to New York in June. Once there, he showcased his all-around talents and hit better (.307) than he did in Norfolk.

"He has great hands and super range and an outstanding arm," Indianapolis manager Cecil Cooper said. "His baseball instincts are terrific, and he's a plus runner. He's got all the tools to be a great one at the major league level."

Reyes must become more selective at the plate, as his aggressive nature often leaves him swinging at poor pitches that result in strikeouts or popouts. Aside from that, he only needs experience to continue developing into a championship-caliber shortstop.

Norfolk 42 160 28 43 6 4 0 13 15 25 26 .269 .333 .356

For complete scouting reports on the Top 20 Prospects in the International League, subscribers can access our expanded coverage.

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