2005 Top 100 Prospects

Baseball America’s 16th annual Top 100 Prospects list reflects each player’s long-term major league value, balancing his ceiling and his chances of maximizing his potential. Players who have not exceeded the rookie limits of 130 at-bats and 50 innings, regardless of their big league service time, are eligible for the list. Editor in chief Allan Simpson, managing editor Will Lingo, executive editor Jim Callis and assistant managing editor John Manuel put together the top 100 after consulting with general managers, scouting directors, farm directors, scouts, managers and instructors. And yes, we analyzed statistical performance as well. Jim Callis compiled the quotes for each player from Baseball America staff and correspondent interviews. Managers are identified with the teams they were with in 2004.

1. Joe Mauer, c Twins
“We had some concern from the start that he was bigger than the normal catcher. But Joe Mauer is not normal, from his mind to his tools to his heart.”
–Twins scouting director Mike Radcliff
2. Felix Hernandez, rhp, Mariners
“He’s the best I’ve seen in the last three or four years, and he’s right up there with the great stuff guys I’ve ever seen.”
–NL scout
3. Delmon Young, of, Devil Rays
“He changes the outcome of every game with his power and his arm.”
–Charleston (W.Va.) manager Ken Joyce
4. Ian Stewart, 3b, Rockies
“He’s athletic and he’s got some juice in his bat, and I like his haircut.”
–Savannah manager Bob Henley
5. Joel Guzman, ss, Dodgers
“He’s Juan Gonzalez waiting to happen.”
–AL scout
6. Casey Kotchman, 2b, Angels
“He’s such a good hitter and he’s still developing. I think he’ll easily hit 30-plus homers in the majors.”
–NL scout
7. Scott Kazmir, lhp, Devil Rays
“You’ll know why we traded for him when you see him pitch. He’s got outstanding stuff.”
–Devil Rays general manager Chuck LaMar
8. Rickie Weeks, 2b, Brewers
“He has the tools, he’s smart, he’s a good person and he has the work ethic. He’s going to be outstanding.”
–NL scout
9. Andy Marte, 3b, Braves
“There’s nothing not to like about Andy Marte. He’s and outstanding defender with a chance to be an impact player offensively.”
–Birmingham manager Razor Shines
10. Hanley Ramirez, ss Red Sox
“What a young talent. He makes the game look so easy.”
–Fort Myers manager Jose Marzan
11. Lastings Milledge, of Mets
“He’s a double threat because of his power and his ability to lead off and make things happen on the bases.”
–Greensboro manager Steve Phillips
12. Dallas McPherson, 3b, Angels
“Every mistake we made, he made us pay for. He has an easy swing and natural power.”
–San Antonio manager Dave Brundage
13. Matt Cain, rhp, Giants
“With his stuff and maturity level, you look at that package and think front-of-the-rotation starter.”
–AL scout
14. Jeff Francoeur, of, Braves
“He has it all and his makeup is off the charts.”
–AL scout
15. Prince Fielder, 1b, Brewers
“I think he’ll be a more complete hitter than his dad was, especially if he avoids losing control of his body.”
–NL scout
16. Adam Miller, rhp, Indians
“He was dirty. His fastball and slider were more than plus.”
–Lakewood manager P.J. Forbers
17. Jason Kubel, of, Twins
“I call him Mr. Doubles. He hits the ball low and uses all fields, so he’s going to hit a lot of doubles.”
–Rochester broadcaster/former big league manager Joe Altobelli
18. Jeremy Hermida, of, Marlins
“He’s a hitter. That’s a beautiful swing.”
–Sarasota manager Todd Claus
19. Chad Billingsley, rhp, Dodgers
“He’s just a kid with an overpowering fastball and overpowering slider. He’s mature beyond his years.”
–Dodgers scouting director Logan White
20. Jeff Niemann, rhp, Devil Rays
“He’s truly unique because he’s got four pitches and he can use those pitches, yet he’s a power guy.”
–Devil Rays general manager Chuck Lamar
21. Brian Dopirak, 1b, Cubs
“When the ball comes off his bat, it’s like hitting a golf ball with an aluminum bat.”
–Kane County manager Dave Joppie
22. Carlos Quentin, of, Diamondbacks
“He improved in every phrase. He didn’t need to improve in some.”
–Diamondbacks assistant general manager Bob Miller
23. Jeff Francis, lhp, Rockies
“His fastball seems like it’s going 97, he’s throwing it downhill and does it so easy.”
–Akrkansas manager Tyrone Boykin
24. Nick Swisher, of, Athletics
“He walks but he’s not passive. He wants to hit and makes you throw him his pitch.”
–AL scout
25. Jose Capellan, rhp, Brewers
“Capellan throws in the high 90s, and it is effortless.”
–Chattanooga manager Jayhawk Owens
26. Chris Nelson, ss, Rockies
“His bat is further along than B.J. Upton’s was at the same time.”
–NL scout
27. Ryan Howard, 1b, Phillies
“When you have power like him, you don’t have to pull it. It’s not like any park can hold him.”
–New Hampshire manager Mike Basso
28. J.J. Hardy, ss, Brewers
He’s a special kid in terms of what’s between his ears and his heart.”
–Brewers scouting director Jack Zduriencik
29. Mike Hinckley, lhp, Nationals
“What separates with him is the makeup, work ethic, preparation. The physical tools are there, and all those intangibles are there already.”
–Nationals farm director Adam Wogan
30. Edwin Jackson, rhp, Dodgers
“He had a rough year but I’ll take him any day of the week. He’s dominant when he has his command.”
–AL scout
31. Felix Pie, of, Cubs
“He’s got five tools and all of them have a chance to be above-average. The sky is the limit.”
–Sarasota manager Todd Claus
32. Daric Barton, 1b/c, Athletics
“I love his approach. It’s what you try to teach kids.”
–AL scout
33. Jeremy Reed, of, Mariners
“He’s another Mark Kotsay. I love the way he plays and I root for him.”
–AL scout
34. Zach Duke, lhp, Pirates
“You look at him and you think, ‘What does this kid have to work on?’ He’s just so polished.”
–Altoona manager Tony Beasley
35. Gavin Floyd, rhp, Phillies
“He’s had that big league curveball since high school. He just needs more fastball command.”
–NL scout
36. Eric Duncan, 3b, Yankees
“His work ethic reminds me of Todd Helton. He’s not a guy who falls out of bed and hits. He’s a guy who falls out of bed and works, and that’s why he hits.”
–Battle Creek manager Bill Mosiello
37. Brian Anderson, of, White Sox
“He’s Jeremy Reed with a lot more power potential. He made the White Sox realize that Reed was expendable.”
–NL scout
38. Scott Olsen, lhp, Marlins
“He’s a horse when he’s out on the mound. He tries to do anything he can to use his fastball.”
–Jupiter manager Luis Dorante
39. Erick Aybar, ss, Angels
“He’s the perfect combination of fundamentals and flashiness.”
–Rancho Cucamonga manager Bobby Meacham
40. Conor Jackson, of, Diamondbacks
“He doesn’t swing at bad pitches and he doesn’t miss good ones.”
–Inland Empire manager Daren Brown
41. Michael Aubrey, 1b, Indians
“The one thing he’s always been able to do is hit a fastball. You can see him seek it out.”
–Indians farm director John Farrell
42. Ryan Sweeney, of, White Sox
“This guy is special. I’ve been in baseball a long time, and I’ve never seen a kid like this.”
–White Sox farm director Dave Wilder
43. Dan Meyer, lhp, Athletics
“He’s a big-game pitcher. He pitches every game with that same level intensity–as if it was the last game of the season with it all on the line.”
–Richmond manager Pat Kelly
44. Brian McCann, c, Braves
“All he does is hit, and no one talks about how good he was defensively last year. He was one of the better catchers in the minors in a year when there weren’t many good catchers.”
–AL scout
45. Josh Barfield, 2b, Padres
“The kid understands hitting. It’s just rare to see a young hitter who understands how to stay inside the ball so well.”
–Padres scouting director Bill Gayton
46. Yusmeiro Petit, rhp, Mets
“I just can’t hit him. You just can’t pick the ball up off him.”
–Red Sox outfielder Brandon Moss
47. Anthony Reyes, rhp, Cardinals
“Besides Jose Capellan, no starter in the Southern League had a better arm, and Anthony has better command than Capellan.”
–Tennessee manager Mark DeJohn
48. Homer Bailey, rhp, Reds
“He’s the epitome of a pure projection pitcher. He has plus stuff with a good breaking ball, and he even has a little change-piece now.”
–NL scout
49. Brandon McCarthy, rhp, White Sox
“He’s got exceptional command for a tall guy. He creates such good angles and works down in the zone.”
–Lynchburg pitching coach Scott Lovekamp
50. Philip Humber, rhp, Mets
“His performance is pretty consistent, which matches his personality. He’s pretty controlled, and I love his curveball.”
–NL scout
51. Shin-Soo Choo, of, Mariners
“He does a lot of things well. He’s a pretty complete player and is always involved when they win.”
–El Paso manager Scott Coolbaugh
52. Thomas Diamond, rhp, Rangers
“He’s a big, strong horse who comes from a good program. The package is there.”
–Former Rangers scouting director Grady Fuson
53. Kyle Davies, rhp, Braves
“He’s got great stuff and is very athletic. The thing that sets him apart is that changeup.”
–Wilmington manager Billy Gardner Jr.
54. Franklin Gutierrez, of, Indians
“He has enough bat speed and power to be an impact player.”
–AL scout
55. Mark Rogers, rhp, Brewers
“What we like about him is his package of skills: his size, his mental makeup, and what we think he’s going to bring to the table. When you put the whole package together, we thought this kid had an upside.”
–Brewers scouting director Jack Zduriencik
56. Edwin Encarnacion, 3b, Reds
“He hits the ball so hard, he will hit for power. He’s not as good as Miguel Cabrera, but he has a similar approach.”
–NL scout
57. Curtis Granderson, of, Tigers
“It seems like all of his tools have gotten better since he signed.”
–AL scout
58. Merkin Valdez, rhp, Giants
“His arm works so easy; it doesn’t look like it’s upper 90s, but the ball just explodes on hitters.”
–NL scout
59. John Danks, lhp, Rangers
“He has a chance to be a No. 1 or 2 starter in the big leagues. He throws three pitches for strikes, and they’re all plus pitches.”
–Cedar Rapids manager Bobby Magallanes
60. Chris Burke, 2b, Astros
“He’s a baseball guy. I see him as a Mark Loretta with more speed.”
–AL scout
61. Sergio Santos, ss, Diamondbacks
“He has power and makes all the plays at shortstop. I think he can stay there.”
–AL scout
62. James Loney, 1b, Dodgers
“He can really swing it, and he’s really smooth over there at first. He will save his team runs. If he has power it will be a bonus.”
–NL scout
63. Jesse Crain, rhp, Twins
“What was already a really good out pitch for him became even better than what I saw last year. That was the best slider in the International League.”
–Indianapolis manager Cecil Cooper
64. Aaron Hill, ss, Blue Jays
“He’s going to be a major league power hitter and he’s going to be a very productive major league hitter.”
–Blue Jays roving hitting instructor Merv Rettenmund
65. Nick Markakis, of, Orioles
“You’ve got to remember he was never a full-time hitter before last year. He gets better every second.”
–AL scout
66. Ryan Harvey, of, Cubs
“He hit two home runs off us that went about 900 feet combined.”
–Vancouver manager Dennis Rogers
67. Jeff Mathis, c, Angels
“If you miss on Mathis’ bat, he’s still a catcher with great makeup. I love the guy. He’s hard not to.”
–AL scout
68. Javier Herrera, of, Athletics
“He can do it all tools-wise. If he were American, he would have been a certain first-round pick.”
–AL scout
69. Brandon League, rhp, Blue Jays
“Everybody knows about that fastball, but his slider is always in the back of your mind. He’ll show it to you once outside the zone, but he’s just setting you up for later on.”
–Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard
70. J.D. Durbin, rhp, Twins
“He could go to the bullpen right now and throw fastball-breaking ball and pitch in the big leagues, but I believe the Twins want him to develop into a starter, and to do that he’s going to have to learn to slow the ball down a little.”
–Grand Canyon coach Jose Marzan
71. Cole Hamels, lhp, Phillies
“His changeup is one of the better ones I’ve seen. He has tremendous arm action and the ball just tumples to the plate.”
–Phillies catcher Mike Lieberthal
72. Brandon Moss, of, Red Sox
“He’s refined his overall pitch approach at the plate and really worked hard to become a better hitter.”
–Red Sox farm director Ben Cherington
73. Clint Nageotte, rhp, Mariners
“He has one of the best sliders I’ve ever seen.”
–AL scout
74. Andy LaRoche, 3b, Dodgers
“He’s got bat speed, strength in his hands and is a true profile at third base, offensively and defensively.”
–AL scout
75. Billy Butler, 3b, Royals
“He can do a lot of damage if he gets his pitch to hit. And every time we were there, when he did get his pitch to hit he was able to do something with it.”
–Royals scouting director Deric Ladnier
76. Kendry Morales, of, Angels
“He’s a middle-of-the-order hitter that’s getting ready to play in the big leagues. He’s on the big league roster going into camp with a chance to win a job.”
–Angels scouting director Eddie Bane
77. Joaquin Arias, ss, Rangers
“One of the more exciting players around. Very high ceiling, but a long way to go.”
–Bakersfield manager Arnie Beyeler
78. Fred Lewis, of, Giants
“He’s a tremendous athlete, but now he’s also a baseball player.”
–AL scout
79. Guillermo Quiroz, c, Blue Jays
“He looks like a baby Pudge Rodriguez. He’ll shut down the running game, and he has some power.”
–NL scout
80. Ezequiel Astacio, rhp, Astros
“Everything got better and more consistent last year. His fastball and curveball got harder, and he picked up a splitter overnight.”
–NL scout
81. Neil Walker, c, Pirates
“You wonder if he might be too athletic to stay behind the plate. He could play practically anywhere on the field.”
–GCL Pirates manager Woody Huyke
82. Ubaldo Jimenez, rhp, Rockies
“I drool at the mention of his name. He was right there with Matt Cain and Felix Hernandez in the Cal League before he got hurt.”
–AL scout
83. Brandon Wood, ss, Angels
“He’s slender but he can jolt the ball, and he makes the plays at shortstop.”
–AL scout
84. Brad Snyder, of, Indians
“He’s a strong, physical athlete that’s going to be a tremendous big league player. He’s the complete package that stands up and demands your attention.”
–Kinston manager Torey Lovullo
85. Mark Teahen, 3b, Royals
“He was probably the best third baseman in the Texas League. He’s got the whole package as a guy who can hit and plays good defense at third.”
–Frisco manager Tim Ireland
86. Kyle Sleeth, rhp, Tigers
“This kid has a funky delivery, but he has great life on his fastball. He’s got an idea of how to pitch.”
–Tampa manager Billy Masse
87. Joey Gathright, of, Devil Rays
“He’s the kind of leadoff hitter that you don’t run into much anymore.”
–Buffalo manager Marty Brown
88. Angel Guzman, rhp, Cubs
“He just needs to get healthy. He’ll show you three plus-plus pitches at times.”
–NL scout
89. Russell Martin, c, Dodgers
“He’s very advanced in all aspects defensively, but the thing we really got excited about was the way his bat came around in the Arizona Fall League.”
–Dodgers scouting director Logan White
90. Jeremy Sowers, lhp, Indians
“He locates everything well, especially the fastball. He automatically becomes one of the most polished pitchers in a system deep with arms.”
–NL scout
91. Jon Papelbon, rhp, Red Sox
“Papelbon may not be getting his due credit after such a strong year. On most nights, he features three plus pitches.”
–Red Sox assistant general manager Josh Byrnes
92. Jake Stevens, rhp, Braves
“He’s got the fastball and changeup, but that curveball is so good, that’s the pitch you’ve got to watch for.”
–Augusta manager Chad Epperson
93. Richie Gardner, rhp, Reds
“He might have been the best guy I saw all year in terms of changing speeds.”
–AL scout
94. Hayden Penn, rhp, Orioles
“He can run his fastball inside and broke a lot of bats. He had a lot of polish for the Sally League.”
–Charleston (W.Va.) manager Ken Joyce
95. Josh Fields, 3b, White Sox
“He was one of the better athletes available in the draft. We think he will be an impact guy at the major league level.”
–White Sox senior director of player personnel Duane Shaffer
96. Tadahito Iguchi, 2b, White Sox
“The way he goes about the game, he’s a perfect fit for what we need at the top of the order. He plays the game the right way. He plays it hard.”
–White Sox general manager Ken Williams
97. Huston Street, rhp, Athletics
“His velocity surprised me, and obviously his makeup is just off the charts.”
–AL scout
98. Ian Kinsler, ss, Rangers
“I managed Hank Blalock in the minors and Kinsler has the same approach.”
–Clinton manager Carlos Subero
99. Anthony Lerew, rhp, Braves
“He was up to 96, and it was an easy 96. It’s easy power like Jose Capellan.”
–Lynchburg pitching coach Scott Lovekamp
100. Greg Miller, lhp, Dodgers
“He’s going to be fine. We’re going to make some correction to make him more comfortable in his delivery.”
–Dodgers farm director Terry Collins