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Pioneer League Top 20 Prospects

By Will Kimmey
September 20, 2002

1. James Loney, 1b, Great Falls Dodgers
Loney was a two-way player in high school, and more teams projected him as a pitcher than as a first baseman. The Dodgers were in the minority but he made them look good. His steady, line-drive swing, stellar defense and even his mound background bring to mind John Olerud.

Loney's best tool is his ability to hit for a very high average, and he also has some power potential. He's more of a doubles hitter now, but he should add power as he matures physically. Loney has a strong knowledge of the strike zone and can go the other way as easily as he can pull the ball.

"He can flat-out hit for average and he's very polished," Billings manager Rick Burleson said. "He looks like he's been playing all his life."

Loney is an above-average defensive first baseman and is very smooth around the bag. He has great hands and is agile, but could improve his footwork.

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