California League Top 20 Prospects List

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1. Justin Upton, of, Visalia Oaks (Diamondbacks)
2. Henry Sosa, rhp, San Jose Giants
3. Chris Tillman, rhp, High Desert Mavericks (Mariners)
4. Matt Antonelli, 2b, Lake Elsinore Storm (Padres)
5. Justin Masterson, rhp, Lancaster JetHawks (Red Sox)
6. Carlos Triunfel, ss, High Desert Mavericks (Mariners)
7. James McDonald, rhp, Inland Empire 66ers (Dodgers)
8. Chris Nelson, ss, Modesto Nuts (Rockies)
9. Chris Davis, 3b, Bakersfield Blaze (Rangers)
10. Dexter Fowler, of, Modesto Nuts (Rockies)
11. Brandon Hynick, rhp, Modesto Nuts (Rockies)
12. Wade LeBlanc, lhp, Lake Elsinore Storm (Padres)
13. Taylor Teagarden, c, Bakersfield Blaze (Rangers)
14. Eric Young Jr., 2b, Modesto Nuts (Rockies)
15. Hainley Statia, ss, Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (Angels)
16. Michael Saunders, of, High Desert Mavericks (Mariners)
17. Andrew Bailey, rhp, Stockton Ports (Athletics)
18. Kelvin Pichardo, rhp, San Jose Giants
19. Brooks Brown, rhp, Visalia Oaks (Diamondbacks)
20. Bubba Bell, of, Lancaster JetHawks (Red Sox)

The high Class A California League is known as a hitter’s paradise, and rightly so. Yet San Jose rode its pitching staff (a league-best 3.81 ERA) to overcome the league’s worst offense (a healthy 4.86 runs per game) and win the playoffs. And while Justin Upton established himself as unquestionably the circuit’s brightest talent during a five-week stopover on his way to the major leagues, four of the top seven prospects in the league were pitchers.

Righthanders Henry Sosa (San Jose), Chris Tillman (High Desert), Justin Masterson (Lancaster) and James McDonald (Inland Empire) all posted ERAs of 3.95 or higher, but pitched well in league context and showcased quality stuff. Lancaster righty Michael Bowden would have joined them near the top of this prospect list had he not fallen two-thirds of an inning short of qualifying.

The Cal League has had more than its share of middle-infield prospects in recent years, and 2007 continued that trend. Lake Elsinore’s Matt Antonelli established himself as the game’s best second-base prospect and kept on producing after his promotion to Double-A. High Desert shortstop Carlos Triunfel batted .288 as a 17-year old, Modesto shortstop Chris Nelson showed why he was a first-round pick in 2004 and Modesto second baseman Eric Young Jr. led the league with 73 stolen bases.

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