Chat Wrap: Alan Matthews took your Pioneer League questions
TOP 20 PROSPECTS
1. Chris Nelson, ss, Casper
2. Blake DeWitt, 3b, Ogden
3. Sean Rodriguez, ss, Provo
4. Billy Butler, 3b, Idaho Falls
5. Ray Liotta, lhp, Great Falls
6. Scott Elbert, lhp, Ogden
7. Cory Dunlap, 1b, Ogden
8. Sam Deduno, rhp, Casper
9. Luis Cota, rhp, Idaho Falls
10. Seth Smith, of, Casper
11. Josh Wahpepah, rhp, Helena
12. B.J. Szymanski, of, Billings
13. Billy Buckner, rhp, Idaho Falls
14. Brian McFall, of, Idaho Falls
15. Mitchell Arnold, rhp, Provo
16. Andrew Toussaint, 3b/dh, Provo
17. Blake Johnson, rhp, Ogden
18. J.P. Howell, lhp, Idaho Falls
19. Franklin Morales, lhp, Casper
20. Craig Tatum, c, Billings
The Rookie-level Pioneer League is traditionally hitter-friendly, and that was the case even more than usual in 2004. Twenty-four hitters who qualified for the batting title posted averages of .300 or better, while 12 players reached double figures in home runs.
As for the pitchers, just one qualifier finished the year with a sub-3.00 ERA. Great Falls led all teams with a 4.24 ERA, and Billings had the only other staff that came in below 5.00.
"It's a more offensive-oriented league this year," said Casper manager P.J. Carey, a five-year veteran of the PL. "We saw more offense than the pitching that we've had in the past."
Our Top 20 Prospects list reflects the nature of the league, as it starts with four straight position players. Casper featured the No. 1 prospect for the second straight year, with shortstop Chris Nelson following on the heels of third baseman Ian Stewart.