1. Felix Hernandez, rhp, Tacoma
2. Rickie Weeks, 2b, Nashville
3. Prince Fielder, 1b, Nashville
4. Conor Jackson, 1b, Tucson
5. Matt Cain, rhp, Fresno
6. Casey Kotchman, 1b, Salt Lake
7. Carlos Quentin, of, Tucson
8. Dan Johnson, 1b, Sacramento
9. Ezequiel Astacio, rhp, Round Rock
10. Jeff Mathis, c, Salt Lake
11. Anthony Reyes, rhp, Memphis
12. Yuniesky Betancourt, ss, Tacoma
13. Ben Johnson, of, Portland
14. Rich Hill, lhp, Iowa
15. Fernando Nieve, rhp, Round Rock
16. Ronny Cedeno, ss, Iowa
17. Joe Saunders, lhp, Salt Lake
18. Josh Willingham, c, Albuquerque
19. Josh Barfield, 2b, Portland
20. Justin Huber, 1b, Omaha
The Triple-A Pacific Coast League has a deserved reputation as one of the most hitter-friendly circuits in the minors, and most of its top prospects this year did their work in the batter's box. Yet it was a pitcher who stole the show.
Tacoma righthander Felix Hernandez entered 2005 with more hype than the latest Harry Potter book. Best teenaged pitching prospect since Dwight Gooden, scouts agreed. Best pitching prospect they'd ever seen, some said.
Though shoulder bursitis knocked him out for a month, Hernandez delivered. Despite winning just nine games and working just 88 innings, he was the obvious choice for PCL pitcher of the year. He toyed with veteran hitters much older than him, throwing three above-average pitches, and was even more spectacular once he joined the Mariners in August.
Behind Hernandez, hitters were the talk of the league. Nashville had the top two position players in second baseman Rickie Weeks and first baseman Prince Fielder, though both had been promoted by the time the Sounds won the playoff championship.
The PCL was uncommonly rich in first basemen, led by Fielder, Tucson's Conor Jackson, Salt Lake's Casey Kotchman and Sacramento's Dan Johnson. Albuquerque's Josh Willingham (a catcher more suited for first base) and Omaha's Justin Huber also made the Top 20, while Oklahoma's Adrian Gonzalez and Colorado Springs' Ryan Shealy just missed.