2005 Top 20 Prospects: New York-Penn LeagueComplete Index of League Top 20s
By Matt Meyers
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Despite the deep shortstop crop, it was an outfielder who emerged as the best prospect in the league. Nolan Reimold became the second Aberdeen outfielder in three years to claim that distinction, following Nick Markakis in 2003. Reimold beat out a pair of teenage righthanders, Jamestown's Chris Volstad and Hudson Valley's Wade Davis.
Volstad was the only one of the four 2005 first-round pitchers who spent enough time in the NY-P to qualify for this list who made it. Hudson Valley righty Wade Townsend never regained the plus fastball he had before his yearlong layoff, didn't trust the pitch and instead relied on offspeed stuff that hitters feasted on. Worn out after pitching 130 innings while leading Tulane to the College World Series, Tri-City lefty Brian Bogusevic posted a 7.59 ERA out of the bullpen. Jamestown righty Jacob Marceaux had a live fastball but got rocked in his early outings before earning a promotion with four straight quality starts.
At 6-foot-4 and 207 pounds, it's no surprise that Reimold has plus power. But he also ran better than expected, showing above-average speed and moving from right field to center. He had no problem making the jump to the high Class A Carolina League, where he homered six times in 23 games.
"There is no doubt he can hit," Tri-City manager Gregg Langbehn said. "And he made some great plays defensively and he has an above-average arm."
At 6-foot-7 and 190 pounds, Volstad's body offers a lot of room for projection and, despite his lanky frame, his mechanics appear sound and he's not gawky. His fastball sits at 91-93 mph and he has advanced feel for his changeup. He commands both pitches well and isn't afraid to throw either in any count. He has a tendency to overthrow his curveball, but it should develop into a serviceable pitch.
His fastball sat in the low 90s and touched 97 mph at times. He has the makings of a power curveball and also throws a slider. He's still working on a changeup.
Davis tired late in his 2004 pro debut, but he has an ideal pitcher's frame at 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds and maintained his strength throughout this summer. He also did a better job of using his height to pitch down in the strike zone.
A switch-hitter, Nunez showed aptitude from both sides of the plate. He already has some pop and will have more as he fills out his 6-foot, 155-pound frame.
Early on, Nunez liked to show off his plus arm from shortstop, resulting in throws in the dirt. He calmed down and reduced his errors in the second half of the season. Though still raw, Nunez could be fast-tracked to high Class A next year if the Yankees send 2005 first-rounder C.J. Henry to low Class A.
With a lively 92-96 mph fastball and a plus curveball, Liz never allowed more than three runs in any outing. In a mid-July start against Vermont, he struck out 15 of the 19 batters he faced. "Catch him on the wrong night," Vermont manager Bobby Williams said, "and it was a done deal."
Liz has an athletic frame that allows him to throw in the mid-90s with ease. He needs to develop a reliable third pitch—he's working on both a slider and a changeup—to remain in the rotation.
Ellsbury proved to be the prototypical leadoff hitter he was advertised to be, showing fine on-base skills and baserunning and basestealing prowess. He has plus speed and gap power.
His quickness also gives him above-average range in center field. Ellsbury likes to play shallow, helping to compensate for a below-average arm. The only thing that slowed him down was a hamstring injury that sidelined him for two weeks.
A switch-hitter, Lowrie is better from the left side, hitting .348 as compared to .256 from the right. He has a slight loop in his swing that causes him to pop up pitches high in the zone. Overall, he's a similar hitter to Ellsbury, though he doesn't have Ellsbury's speed and probably won't play a premium defensive position.
A second baseman in college, Lowrie was pressed into duty at shortstop for Lowell and looked adequate. He has some arm strength but wasn't used to the longer throws from short, so he had difficulty figuring out which grounders he should charge and which he should wait on.
Olson used an 88-92 mph fastball and a plus curveball to baffle NY-P hitters, who managed just a .164 average against him. His changeup currently is below average, and his development of his third pitch will dictate how fast he moves. Counting the Carolina League playoffs, he totaled 198 innings between college and pro ball, so the Orioles decided he wouldn't attend instructional league.
McGee uses a fastball that sits around 90 mph to get ahead of hitters and a sharp curveball to strike them out. His curve breaks so much that he sometimes has trouble keeping it in the strike zone, but hitters have an equally difficult time laying off of it when they're behind in the count. His changeup is currently below average, and he'll need to improve it to combat righthanders at higher levels.
Greene showed plus range, soft hands and a powerful if sometimes inaccurate arm. He also has above-average speed and swiped 13 bases in 14 attempts.
At the plate, however, he was too pull-conscious and swung and missed too often. Greene previously showed good aptitude with wood bats with Team USA and in the Cape Cod League, so the potential is there.
An aggressive hitter, Sanchez showed the ability to put the ball in play with authority to all fields. Once he starts incorporating his lower half more in his swing, he should develop more power.
"You can fool him with one pitch, but you won't get him with the same pitch next time," Mahoning Valley manager Rouglas Odor said. "He is very good at making adjustments. You have to pitch him like a big league hitter."
While he played more at third base than anywhere else, Sanchez did see some time at catcher and held his own despite his inexperience behind the plate. He has enough arm strength to stick there, and if he can adapt to the position he'll greatly enhance his prospect status.
After Soto was rated the GCL's top prospect as a shortstop in 2004, the Red Sox moved him to right field and aggressively started him in low Class A this April. Boston found his attitude and effort lacking, however, earning Soto a demotion to Lowell, where he flourished.
A switch-hitter, Soto has excellent bat speed from both sides and some of the best power potential in the Red Sox system. His ceiling rivals that of anyone in the league. He loves to swing at the first pitch and is susceptible to offspeed stuff, but that didn't make him any less of a threat.
Still extremely raw in the outfield, Soto is prone to taking bad routes on fly balls. He did make some progress, though, and his arm strength is a plus.
Buchholz didn't show the same electrifying stuff immediately after signing as a supplemental first-rounder, but it came back toward the end of the season. He had a 1.16 ERA and 32 strikeouts in his final 23 innings. Though he's inexperienced on the mound, he has good mechanics, a product of his natural athleticism.
Hollimon hit better in the NY-P than he did in college, though he was old for the league at 23. He led the league in runs and triples while finishing second in homers, slugging percentage and extra-base hits. He can get anxious at the plate and could refine his two-strike approach, but while he struck out too frequently he also finished second in the league in walks.
Hollimon has good range and an above-average arm. While he can get too hard on himself and has a spotty track record, Langbehn summed him up best by saying, "He has all the tools you look for."
Baez struggled for two seasons in the GCL before breaking out in 2005. His frame, smooth swing and patience give reason to believe that he'll blossom into a power hitter.
Defensively, Baez has an outstanding arm and plus hands. Primarily a third baseman before 2005, he saw action at the hot corner with Batavia. With Jimmy Rollins signed to a long-term contract, third base is also a position of greater need for the Phillies.
"He has great tempo, is aggressive early in the count and throws it at the knees," Langbehn said. "He is typical of how Cleveland has developed their pitchers at the lower levels over the years, eliminating walks and forcing contact."
Lewis threw in the low 90s more regularly than he did in college, but he's more effective pitching in the high 80s and getting more sink on his fastball. He also mixes in a slider and changeup. His intensity sometimes gets the better of him as he'll rush his delivery, causing his pitches to stay up in the zone.
Patterson consistently puts the ball in play and likes to sit on first-pitch fastballs. He needs to work counts better, but with his success, it's hard to fault him for his aggressiveness. He can make adjustments and uses the whole field.
He played center field as a senior and with Auburn, but he doesn't have the range to stick there at higher levels. His bat does profile on the outfield corners, so moving won't hurt him much.
Whelan made just 11 appearances covering 12 innings, but he squeezed a lot of dominance into his brief time in the NY-P. After surrendering a three-run homer in his first outing, he allowed just one more hit and fanned 18 in his final 11 innings. He blew away Midwest League hitters as well following a promotion to low Class A.
Whelan relies mainly on a four-seam fastball that sits in the mid-90s and two variations of a splitter. Though he's just 6 feet tall, he works from a high arm slot and generates a good angle to the plate.
Webber can throw his sinker in the low 90s, though it flattens out when thrown too hard and dances more when it's in the high 80s. He's trying to add a changeup after working only with his sinker and slider in college. Both of his secondary pitches need work.
Parnell is a sinker/slider pitcher who does a good job of keeping the ball down. His sinker creeps into the low 90s. He also has developed a changeup and the confidence to throw it in any count. Durability is a question for Parnell, who tended to wear down in longer starts.