International League Top 20 Prospects List

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1. Jay Bruce, of, Louisville Bats (Reds)
2. Homer Bailey, rhp, Louisville Bats (Reds)
3. Matt Garza, rhp, Rochester Red Wings (Twins)
4. Josh Fields, 3b, Charlotte Knights (White Sox)
5. Jed Lowrie, ss, Pawtucket Red Sox
6. Jacoby Ellsbury, of, Pawtucket Red Sox
7. Brent Lillibridge, ss, Richmond Braves
8. Yunel Escobar, ss, Richmond Braves
9. Jeff Niemann, rhp, Durham Bulls (Devil Rays)
10. Joey Votto, 1b/of, Louisville Bats (Reds)
11. Adam Miller, rhp, Buffalo Bisons (Indians)
12. Garrett Olson, lhp, Norfolk Tides (Orioles)
13. Brandon Moss, of, Pawtucket Red Sox
14. Brandon Jones, of, Richmond Braves
15. Adam Lind, of, Syracuse Chiefs (Blue Jays)
16. Collin Balester, rhp, Columbus Clippers (Nationals)
17. Jason Hammel, rhp, Durham Bulls (Devil Rays)
18. Kevin Slowey, rhp, Rochester Red Wings (Twins)
19. Aaron Laffey, lhp, Buffalo Bisons (Indians)
20. Jason Pridie, of, Durham Bulls (Devil Rays)

If you have any doubts about the talent level and depth in the International League this season, just look over the list of players who didn’t make the final cut.

Evan Longoria, Clay Buchholz, Phil Hughes and Steven Pearce all excelled in the league, but all came up short of the innings or plate appearances needed to qualify for the top 20. Joba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy were in the league long enough to combine for just 43 innings.

Middle infielders Brian Bixler, Danny Richar, Alexi Casilla and Asdrubal Cabrera performed well but just missed making the list. Shelley Duncan, the league’s top power hitter; Justin Ruggiano, who went 20-20; Ryan Sweeney, still just 22; and J.A. Happ, who had a higher strikeout rate (but also more walks) than any other young lefty starter, also came up short when measured against the other talent in the league.

The toughest omission, though, was Buffalo’s Ben Francisco, the league’s batting champion. His high-energy play earned raves from opposing managers, who marveled at the amount of hard contact he made. The 25-year-old center fielder hit .318/.382/.496 with 12 homers, 27 doubles and 22 steals. Another tough cut was Rochester lefty Brian Duensing, who went 11-5, 3.24 in 19 starts and might have shown the best changeup in the league, and more than enough oomph on his 91 mph sinker and cut fastball.

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