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2003 League Top 20s: Texas League

by Will Lingo
October 1, 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 Texas League, subscribers can access our expanded coverage.

As with just about everything in the Double-A Texas League this season, the San Antonio Missions dominated the Top 20 Prospects list.

San Antonio easily won both half-season titles in the Western Division, earning a bye to the finals and beating Frisco for its second straight TL title. Third baseman Justin Leone was the league's player of the year, lefthander Travis Blackley was the pitcher of the year and Dave Brundage was the manager of the year. Brundage also won BA's Minor League Manager of the Year award.

The Missions also placed five players on the Top 20 in shortstop Jose Lopez, Blackley, rigthander Clint Nageotte, outfielder Chris Snelling and righty Rett Johnson. Four others--Leone, righty Cha Seung Baek, lefty Bobby Madritsch and middle infielder Luis Uguetogot serious consideration.

Beyond the loaded Missions, though, most managers thought the TL's talent had dropped off from last year, when players such as Mark Teixeira, Francisco Rodriguez and Rich Harden were in the Top 10.

"I did not see as many big-time prospects as last year," said Frisco manager Tim Ireland, who signed the league's top prospect, Taiwanese righthander Chin-Hui Tsao, as the Rockies' Pacific Rim coordinator in 1999.

Ireland managed in Taiwan in 1998 and established contacts there that helped him sign Tsao, whom he first saw at a tournament in Japan in the spring of 1999.

"It didn't take an expert scout to see he was good," Ireland said. "Of the young players signed out of the Far East in recent years, I thought he was the best of them all, and I think he's proving that out."


1. Chin-Hui Tsao, rhp, Tulsa Drillers (Rockies)

Tsao answered any lingering questions about his recovery from 2001 Tommy John surgery with authority. He earned a trip to the Futures Game followed by a big league callup in July, but still qualified as the league ERA champion at season's end. His Colorado debut made him the first Taiwanese pitcher to reach the major leagues.

Tsao toyed with hitters at times, usually pitching at 90-91 mph but dialing his fastball up to 96-97 when he needed it. His slider can be unhittable and his changeup is a solid pitch. He also throws the occasional curveball.

His command is strong, he does the little things (like fielding his position) well and he's confident on and off the field. He's also a good athlete who can hit balls out during batting practice. Tsao is still learning to pitch and needs to work out of the strike zone more when he's ahead in the count.

"He's one of those guys who can just dominate you with stuff," Wichita manager Keith Bodie said. "He throws a lot of swing-and-miss pitches."

Team W-L ERA G IP H R ER BB SO
Tulsa 11-4 2.46 18 113.1 88 34 31 26 125


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

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