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2003 League Top 20s: Northwest League

by Will Kimmey
September 23, 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 Northwest League, subscribers can access our expanded coverage.

The Spokane Indians already planned a celebration for the franchise's 100th anniversary. At the end of the season, they had to plan another party, a victory celebration. The Indians posted the league's best record at 50-26 and finished the job by winning their second short-season Northwest League championship in five years.

After eight years as a Royals affiliate, Spokane signed on with the Rangers for this year. Nine of Texas' first 12 picks in the June draft were in Spokane at some point. Polished college pitchers like righthanders Wes Littleton (fourth round) and Matt Farnum (seventh) helped the club lead the league with a 3.38 ERA and seven shutouts. No. 9 overall pick John Danks, a high schooler, joined the Indians late and didn't pitch enough to qualify for this list.

Spokane also dominated offensively, scoring 52 more runs than any other team. Outfielder Jeremy Cleveland led the way, leading the league with 64 runs and losing the batting title by one point to teammate Dane Bubela (.323). Despite their domination, the Indians placed only two players on the list of the league's top 20 prospects.

Though the league featured players with three or four years of college experience, nine teenagers still cracked the top 20, including two of the best three prospects in 17-year-old Felix Hernandez and 19-year-old Nate Schierholtz.


1. Felix Hernandez, rhp, Everett AquaSox (Mariners)

In a league filled with college players, Hernandez dominated at 17. He led the league in wins, ERA and strikeouts for most of the summer, before allowing four earned runs over five innings in his final start before a promotion to low Class A Wisconsin. "He more or less dominated every time he took the mound," Tri-City manager Ron Gideon said.

Hernandez throws his overpowering fastball at 94-95 mph and it tops out at 97, with some managers saying it could reach 100. He commands it well, moving it all over the strike zone, and is adept at working hitters up the ladder. He also has a plus curveball and solid changeup. He has a good presence on the mound and a knack for pitching.

"He's not raw at all," Spokane manager Darryl Kennedy said. "The only rawness is that he is 17 years old. He's one of the better young prospects on the mound in this league in a while."

Team W-L ERA G IP H R ER BB SO
Everett 7-2 2.29 11 55.0 43 17 14 24 73


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

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