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2003 League Top 20s: South Atlantic League

by Josh Boyd
September 24, 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 South Atlantic League, subscribers can access our expanded coverage.

The Indians organization was recognized as having baseball's best minor league talent by Baseball America's entering the season. And while they plugged in such rookies as Jason Davis, Jody Gerut and Victor Martinez at the major league level, the organization remains stacked in the lower levels as well.

Cleveland's affiliates finished with the second-best winning percentage in the minors this season, and their new South Atlantic League affiliate in Lake County led the way with a 97-win effort. Righthander Fausto Carmona led the way with a minor league-best 17 wins. Carmona and 2003 first-rounder Michael Aubrey were the only Captains to make the top 20 list, but outfielders Jason Cooper and Nathan Panther, catcher Dave Wallace, third baseman Shaun Larkin and righthander Jake Dittler all received serious consideration.

They weren't the only noteworthy prospects squeezed out by the depth of the 16-team league. Asheville outfielder Jeff Salazar played outstanding defense and fell just short of achieving a 30-30 season. But he's 22 and benefited from hitter-friendly McCormick Field, so he was edged by prospects with more upside.

"He's the type of guy that can beat you by himself," Hickory manager Tony Beasley said. "He has so many tools, it was ridiculous. He hits the ball hard to all fields and he really did hit mistakes well. You don't see that as much at this level as you do in Double-A."


1. B.J. Upton, ss, Charleston Riverdogs (Devil Rays)

Drafted with the second overall pick in 2002, Upton made his pro debut in April. He posted a .215 average in his first month, but wasn't overmatched and steadily improved. He batted .411 in July, earning a promotion to Double-A.

"He's a can't-miss, barring injury," Beasley said. "My first instinct was I thought he was overmatched, then you see him a second, third and fourth series and he gets better and better. He would drive the ball into right center in one at-bat and then turn on 96 miles an hour in the next.

"He has so many tools, you can't even name them."

Upton shows five plus present tools, including above-average raw power and an advanced idea at the plate. His arm and speed grade out close to 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale, but he tends to get careless in the field. He topped the minors with a combined 56 errors, most of which were the result of showing off his arm strength, and he needs to improve his reads and positioning.

TEAMG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG
Charleston 101 384 70 116 22 6 7 46 57 80 38 .302 .394 .445


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

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