Chat Wrap: J.J. Cooper took your Florida State League questions
TOP 20 PROSPECTS
1. Joel Guzman, ss, Vero Beach
2. Chad Billingsley, rhp, Vero Beach
3. Hanley Ramirez, ss, Sarasota
4. Scott Kazmir, lhp, St. Lucie
5. Scott Olsen, lhp, Jupiter
6. Felix Pie, of, Daytona
7. Mike Hinckley, lhp, Brevard County
8. Jeremy Hermida, of, Jupiter
9. Tony Giarratano, ss, Lakeland
10. Eric Duncan, 3b, Tampa
11. Francisco Liriano, lhp, Fort Myers
12. Jonathan Broxton, rhp, Vero Beach
13. Yusmeiro Petit, rhp, St. Lucie
14. Jon Papelbon, rhp, Sarasota
15. Jon Lester, lhp, Sarasota
16. Andy LaRoche, 3b, Vero Beach
17. Ismael Ramirez, rhp, Dunedin
18. Delwyn Young, 2b, Vero Beach
19. Josh Banks, rhp, Dunedin
20. Kyle Sleeth, rhp, Lakeland
Year in and year out, pitchers have the upper hand in the high Class A Florida State League, thanks to spacious ballparks and humidity. In 2004, hitters were at an even bigger disadvantage, thanks to a top-notch crop of young arms.
Almost every one of the 12 teams sported a legitimate ace. A number of pitching staffs featured two or three hard-throwing starters who project as future major leaguers.
"It was definitely a pitching league," St. Lucie manager Tim Teufel said. "We had some good bullpen guys. I think the starters were quality. You had to work for it, plus you're playing in big league ballparks."
There was so much pitching that Clearwater's Elizardo Ramirez and Brevard County's Logan Kensing failed to make the top 20 despite jumping all the way to the majors. Fort Myers' Scott Baker would have made the top 10 had he not missed qualifying by one-third of an inning.
The FSL's hitting talent was thinner, but there were a number of shortstops that made their mark, including top prospect Joel Guzman.