2011 Preseason Position-By-Position Rankings

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Ranking prospects ultimately comes down to one simple factor—would you trade one guy for the other? We wouldn't trade Bryce Harper for any other minor leaguer—even Mike Trout—hence his ranking as the No. 1 prospect in the game.

Yet a team of Harpers, while tempting, probably wouldn't work (though we do want to see Harper catch, and he played center field and third base in junior college—aw, never mind). So the value of players both as prospects and as trade chips often hinges not just on talent but on what positions the players can handle defensively. Ranking players by position helps identify where the talent is—and in 2011, it's fairly evenly spread out, aside from depth of pitching.

Players who earn extra value for playing a premium defensive position—shortstops—rank first among position players, but many of them will not be shortstops when they reach the big leagues. In general, we put players at the same positions where they were placed in our Prosect Handbook depth charts.

We followed our Top 100 rankings without any notable exceptions. But because we love to rank prospects, we went well beyond our Top 100 in every category as well, and graded the categories relative to each other.
Catcher **
Last year's best-stocked position in the minors graduated Buster Posey to World Series hero and Carlos Santana to future stardom. Two Yankees top the list, and after his iffy spring training, Montero remains a catcher but his long-term future at the position is less clear than ever. Sanchez has yet to play full-season ball, and the list is heavy with Yankees, Blue Jays and Reds.
Rk. Player, Organization Highest 2010 Level
1. Jesus Montero, Yankees Triple-A
2. Gary Sanchez, Yankees Short-Season
3. Travis d'Arnaud, Blue Jays High A
4. Tony Sanchez, Pirates High A
5. Wilin Rosario, Rockies Double-A
6. Devin Mesoraco, Reds Triple-A
7. Derek Norris, Nationals High A
8. Wilson Ramos, Nationals Majors
9. Austin Romine, Yankees Double-A
10. Yasmani Grandal, Reds Rookie
11. Hank Conger, Angels Majors
12. J.P. Arencibia, Blue Jays Majors
13. Carlos Perez, Blue Jays Short-Season
14. Sebastian Valle, Phillies Low A
15. Max Stassi, Athletics Low A
16. Robinson Chirinos, Rays Triple-A
17. Justin O'Conner, Rays Rookie
18. Jason Hagerty, Padres Low A
19. Tommy Joseph, Giants Low A
20. Christian Bethancourt, Braves Low A
First Base ***
This position includes three of the top 23 prospects on our Top 100 Prospects list, as well as four other Top 100 players. Hosmer will jump to Triple-A to start the season, while Freeman and Belt are strong Rookie of the Year candidates. Belt and Singleton still could wind up in the outfield. Singleton, in fact, is expected to move to left this season, with the looming presence of Ryan Howard ahead of him. The list of prospects you view as good bets to be potential regulars drops off quickly, thanks in part to the fact that no first baseman went in the first three rounds of the 2010 draft.
Rk. Player, Organization Highest 2010 Level
1. Eric Hosmer, Royals Double-A
2. Freddie Freeman, Braves Majors
3. Brandon Belt, Giants Triple-A
4. Jonathan Singleton, Phillies Low A
5. Yonder Alonso, Reds Majors
6. Anthony Rizzo, Padres Double-A
7. Chris Carter, Athletics Majors
8. Mark Trumbo, Angels Majors
9. Dayan Viciedo, White Sox Majors
10. Lucas Duda, Mets Majors
11. Bobby Borchering, Diamondbacks Low A
12. Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks High A
13. Lars Anderson, Red Sox Majors
14. Chris Marrero, Nationals Double-A
15. Rich Poythress, Mariners High A
Second Base ***
More offense is expected from this position, and these prospects should provide some jolt for their clubs. Lawrie played second as a Brewer but played more third base in spring training with his new Canadian club, and was expected to play third at Triple-A to open the season. Ackley and Kipnis already are conversion guys (from first base and outfield, respectively), while Segura will try shortstop and Espinosa moves from short to second.
Rk. Player, Organization Highest 2010 Level
1. Dustin Ackley, Mariners Triple-A
2. Brett Lawrie, Blue Jays Double-A
3. Jason Kipnis, Indians Triple-A
4. Jean Segura, Angels Low A
5. Danny Espinosa, Nationals Majors
6. Delindo DeShields Jr., Astros Rookie
7. Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Twins (Japan)
8. Reese Havens, Mets High A
9. Oscar Tejeda, Red Sox High A
10. Jemile Weeks, Athletics Double-A
11. Charlie Culberson, Giants High A
12. Johnny Giavotella, Royals Double-A
13. Drew Cumberland, Padres Double-A
14. Cesar Hernandez, Phillies Short-Season
15. Scooter Gennett, Brewers Low A
Third Base ***
Prospects on this list are all over the map in terms of experience, accomplishments and future role. Lawrie would rank between Chisenhall, who had a monster spring, and Sano, who has yet to reach full-season ball. Cox and Castellanos signed for more than $5 million last season, a year that Moustakas broke out and led the minors in home runs. He and Morel, who won the White Sox' Opening Day job at third base, figure to be the most likely members of this list to graduate off of it. Dominguez looks to need another year in the minors after failing to seize the Marlins' job.
Rk. Player, Organization Highest 2010 Level
1. Mike Moustakas, Royals Triple-A
2. Lonnie Chisenhall, Indians Double-A
3. Miguel Sano, Twins Rookie
4. Zack Cox, Cardinals Rookie
5. Nick Castellanos, Tigers Rookie
6. Nolan Arenado, Rockies Low A
7. Matt Dominguez, Marlins Double-A
8. Brent Morel, White Sox Majors
9. Matt Davidson, Diamondbacks High A
10. Josh Vitters, Cubs Double-A
11. Kaleb Cowart, Angels Rookie
12. Francisco Martinez, Tigers High A
13. Aderlin Rodriguez, Mets Low A
14. Brandon Laird, Yankees Triple-A
15. Cheslor Cuthbert, Royals Rookie
16. Juan Francisco, Reds Majors
17. Gerin Cecchini, Red Sox DNP—Injured
18. Mike Olt, Rangers Short-Season
19. Jedd Gyorko, Padres Low A
20. Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox Rookie (DSL)
Shortstop ***
Many of these players will not be big league shortstops; Colon appears likely to shift to second base, as does Green, while scouts speculate Flores will wind up in left field or perhaps even first base. Lee and Villar, while young and raw, have good enough tools at a difficult position to become key pieces in trades for big leaguers Matt Garza and Roy Oswalt, respectively.
Rk. Player, Organization Highest 2010 Level
1. Manny Machado, Orioles Short-Season
2. Dee Gordon, Dodgers Double-A
3. Billy Hamilton, Reds Rookie
4. Christian Colon, Royals High A
5. Jose Iglesias, Red Sox Double-A
6. Nick Franklin, Mariners Double-A
7. Wilmer Flores, Mets High A
8. Grant Green, Athletics High A
9. Jurickson Profar, Rangers Short-Season
10. Hak-Ju Lee, Rays Low A
11. Jonathan Villar, Astros High A
12. Chris Owings, Diamondbacks Low A
13. Adeiny Hechavarria, Blue Jays Double-A
14. Eduardo Nunez, Yankees Majors
15. Zack Cozart, Reds Triple-A
Corner Outfield ***
Harper, Brown and Myers rank among the game's top 10 prospects—though Brown had a miserable winter-ball stint and a roller-coaster spring capped by a broken hand that will sideline him early. Harper and Myers both were primarily catchers previously and move to right field because their bats are so good, their franchises don't want to impede their progress with the demands of catching. Sale was the top power bat available in the draft's prep ranks and may wind up in left. Decker is a polarizing prospect who could flame out or be the next John Kruk.
Rk. Player, Organization Highest 2010 Level
1. Bryce Harper, Nationals Did not play
2. Domonic Brown, Phillies Majors
3. Wil Myers, Royals High A
4. Cesar Puello, Mets Low A
5. Josh Sale, Rays Did not play
6. Joe Benson, Twins Double-A
7. Michael Choice, Athletics Short-Season
8. Nick Weglarz, Indians Double-A
9. Christian Yelich, Marlins Low A
10. Jaff Decker, Padres High A
11. Brett Eibner, Royals Did not play
12. Jerry Sands, Dodgers Double-A
13. Francisco Peguero, Giants High A
14. Yorman Rodriguez, Reds Rookie
15. Todd Frazier, Reds Triple-A
16. Marc Krauss, Diamondbacks High A
17. Josh Reddick, Red Sox Majors
18. Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Mets Double-A
19. Thomas Neal, Giants Double-A
20. J.D. Martinez, Astros Double-A
Center Field **
This group has 2010's biggest breakout player in Trout; one of its bigger disappointments in Jennings, who returns to Triple-A again this season; Gose, already on his third organization; and Mitchell, whose exciting 2009 pro debut seems forever ago after he missed 2010 with a broken ankle.
Rk. Player, Organization Highest 2010 Level
1. Mike Trout, Angels High A
2. Desmond Jennings, Rays Majors
3. Brett Jackson, Cubs Double-A
4. Aaron Hicks, Twins Low A
5. Anthony Gose, Blue Jays High A
6. Ben Revere, Twins Majors
7. Gary Brown, Giants Short-Season
8. Starling Marte, Pirates High A
9. Jared Mitchell, White Sox Did not play
10. Engel Beltre, Rangers Double-A
11. Reymond Fuentes, Padres Low A
12. Trayvon Robinson, Dodgers Double-A
13. Matt Szczur, Cubs Low A
14. Slade Heathcott, Yankees Low A
15. LeVon Washington, Indians Rookie
Righthanded Starter ***
Last year, Stephen Strasburg stood out in a crowded field, but when he graduated to the majors, no clear replacement as the Minors' Best Pitching Prospect emerged. Hellickson won the Minor League Player of the Year award last season, and he's a sound pick for 2011 Rookie of the Year, but Teheran (and others on the list) have more upside. Pineda could challenge Hellickson for American League rookie honors after winning a major league rotation spot in spring training, as could Drabek, pitching for an improving Toronto squad. Turner and Archer both started the season in Double-A but could get move up quickly. Several young power arms who are a bit further back could shoot up this list next year, such as Carlos Martinez (who has hit 100 mph) and A.J. Cole.
Rk. Player, Organization Highest 2010 Level
1. Julio Teheran, Braves Double-A
2. Jeremy Hellickson, Rays Majors
3. Jameson Taillon, Pirates Did not play
4. Shelby Miller, Cardinals Low A
5. Michael Pineda, Mariners Triple-A
6. Jacob Turner, Tigers High A
7. Chris Archer, Rays Double-A
8. Kyle Drabek, Blue Jays Majors
9. Casey Kelly, Padres Double-A
10. Jarrod Parker, Diamondbacks Did not play
11. Kyle Gibson, Twins Triple-A
12. Randall Delgado, Braves Double-A
13. Jordan Lyles, Astros Triple-A
14. Dellin Betances, Yankees Double-A
15. Jenrry Mejia, Mets Majors
16. Alex White, Indians Double-A
17. Trey McNutt, Cubs Double-A
18. Zack Wheeler, Giants Low A
19. Brody Colvin, Phillies Low A
20. Simon Castro, Padres Triple-A
21. Anthony Ranaudo, Red Sox Did not play
22. Jake Odorizzi, Royals Low A
23. Jarred Cosart, Phillies Low A
24. Tyler Chatwood, Angels Triple-A
25. Andrew Brackman, Yankees Double-A
26. Stetson Allie, Pirates Did not play
27. Zach Lee, Dodgers Did not play
28. Rubby de la Rosa, Dodgers Double-A
29. Arodys Vizcaino, Braves High A
30. Deck McGuire, Blue Jays Did not play
31. Matt Harvey, Mets Did not play
32. Zach Stewart, Blue Jays Double-A
33. Trevor May, Phillies High A
34. Alex Wimmers, Twins High A
35. Carlos Martinez, Cardinals Rookie
36. Brandon Beachy, Braves Majors
37. A.J. Cole, Nationals Short-Season
38. Yordano Ventura, Royals Rookie
39. Hector Noesi, Yankees Triple-A
40. Luis Heredia, Pirates Did not play
Lefthanded Starter ****
All Moore has done is lead the minors in strikeouts the last two seasons. Banuelos had an amazing spring, creating all kinds of Yankees Prospect Hype, and could rank higher if not for the talent ahead of him on the list. Pomeranz received the largest bonus of any college pitcher in the 2010 draft and is of prime importance to the pitching-poor Indians. Aroldis Chapman would rank first if the Reds would just put him in the rotation.
Rk. Player, Organization Highest 2010 Level
1. Matt Moore, Rays High A
2. John Lamb, Royals Double-A
3. Mike Montgomery, Royals Double-A
4. Martin Perez, Rangers Double-A
5. Zach Britton, Orioles Triple-A
6. Tyler Matzek, Rockies Low A
7. Mike Minor, Braves Majors
8. Manny Banuelos, Yankees Double-A
9. Drew Pomeranz, Indians Did not play
10. Danny Duffy, Royals Double-A
11. Tyler Skaggs, Diamondbacks Low A
12. Chris Dwyer, Royals Double-A
13. Andy Oliver, Tigers Majors
14. Drake Britton, Red Sox Low A
15. Christian Friedrich, Rockies Double-A
16. Chad James, Marlins Low A
17. Robbie Erlin, Rangers Low A
18. Alex Torres, Rays Double-A
19. Cory Luebke, Padres Majors
20. Felix Doubront, Red Sox Majors
21. Sammy Solis, Nationals Did not play
22. Michael Kirkman, Rangers Majors
23. Brett Oberholtzer, Braves High A
24. Jesse Biddle, Phillies Short-Season
25. Casey Crosby, Tigers Rookie
Reliever *****
Chapman is the hardest documented thrower of the radar-gun era. It would be more fun to watch him try to start, but he was fairly wild and ineffective in that role in Triple-A last year. Sale hasn't gotten a chance to start as a pro, but as an amateur, his changeup and fastball control were strong suits, both traits that would serve him well in a rotation. Stewart (with Double-A success), Knapp, Carpenter and Rogers are others who still could start but fit better in the pen.
Rk. Player, Organization Highest 2010 Level
1. Aroldis Chapman, Reds Majors
2. Chris Sale, White Sox Majors
3. Jake McGee, Rays Majors
4. Tanner Scheppers, Rangers Triple-A
5. Craig Kimbrel, Braves Majors
6. Aaron Crow, Royals Double-A
7. Jordan Walden, Angels Majors
8. Jason Knapp, Indians Low A
9. Jeremy Jeffress, Royals Majors
10. Rex Brothers, Rockies Double-A
11. Kenley Jansen, Dodgers Majors
12. Chris Carpenter, Cubs Triple-A
13. Mark Rogers, Brewers Majors
14. Chance Ruffin, Tigers Did not play
15. Tim Collins, Royals Triple-A