2011 32nd Team Of MLB Prospects
Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2011.
Not every scouting report written for the Prospect Handbook actually makes it into the book. If you buy the Handbook directly from us, we give you a bonus report for each of the 30 organizations. Even then, we still had 21 reports that didn't make the cut.
We used to call those leftover reports "The 31st Team," before we created the bonus supplement in 2009 and that, in essence, became the 31st team. So now the extra players are known as "The 32nd Team." Last year's edition featured 25 prospects, including three who played in the major leagues in 2010: Mets outfielder/first baseman Lucas Duda, Giants righthander Joe Martinez (now with the Indians) and Blue Jays righty Robert Ray. Duda and Phillies outfielder Aaron Altherr made our organization Top 10 lists this time around, while Phillies second baseman Harold Garcia broke a 59-year-old Florida State League record with a 37-game hitting streak.
This year's 32nd Team includes 21 players, presented below (in alphabetical order) for your prospecting pleasure.
Jose Alvarez, lhp, Marlins
Born: May 6, 1989. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 150. Signed.: Venezuela, 2005. Signed by: Alejandro Rodriguez (Red Sox).
Alvarez won the short-season New York-Penn League ERA title in 2009, posting a 1.52 mark for Lowell in the Red Sox system. Two months later, Boston packaged the finesse lefthander with reliever Hunter Jones to acquire Jeremy Hermida from Florida. Despite missing a month with an eye injury, Alvarez ranked second on the Greensboro staff with 10 wins last year. He's a pitchability guy who succeeds thanks to his command and secondary pitches. His high-80s fastball is a little below average, though he can locate it where he wants. His best pitch is a plus changeup, which he throws with good arm action. He's also has an average curveball with big break that's especially tough on lefthanders. Alvarez has a nice pickoff move and a good idea of what he's doing out on the mound. He's a competitor who never shows fear. Profiling as a No. 5 starter or swingman, Alvarez will move up to high Class A Jupiter this season.
Yazy Arbelo, 1b, Diamondbacks
Born: April 7, 1988. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 220. Drafted.: Keystone (Pa.), 2010 (26th round). Signed by: Shawn Barton.
Arbelo turned out to be a real find after the Diamondbacks signed him for $7,000 as a 26th-round pick last June. One of three players Arizona drafted out of tiny NCAA Division III Keystone (Pa.) College, he led the short-season Northwest League with 55 RBIs and ranked second with 15 homers in his pro debut. Arbelo is a dead pull-power hitter with loft in his swing. He hits singles to the opposite field but most of him home runs went to right field. He's primarily a fastball hitter, and one NWL manager commented that he probably couldn't hit a changeup if you told him it was coming. He's a below-average athlete, runner and defender who shows stiff hands at first base, so his bat will have to carry him. Arbelo will get challenged by better pitching and more difficult hitting environments when he advances to Low Class A South Bend in 2011, so learning to hit offspeed pitches will be imperative.
Buddy Baumann, lhp, Royals
Born: Dec. 9, 1987. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 5-10. Wt.: 180. Drafted.: Missouri State, 2009 (7th round). Signed by: Scott Melvin.
When the Royals signed Baumann as a seventh-round pick in 2009, he projected as a three-pitch lefty whose savvy and low arm slot would allow him to succeed as a reliever with average stuff. That was what he had done at Missouri State, where he went 11-1, 3.23 as a junior. The savvy is still there and Baumann also has managed to increase his velocity, making him a more intriguing prospect. His fastball now sits at 88-92 mph and touches 94. He also throws an average slider and changeup. Kansas City moved Baumann to the rotation in mid-June last year and he showed an aptitude for the new role by throwing five no-hit innings in his debut. Because of his arm slot, he's especially effective against lefties, who hit just .189/.270/.222 against him in 2010. Baumann's next assignment will be to Double-A Northwest Arkansas, where a loaded rotation likely will send him back to the bullpen. He could move relatively quickly to the big leagues.
James Beresford, ss/2b, Twins
Born: Jan. 19, 1989. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 151. Signed.: Australia, 2005. Signed by: Howard Norsetter.
Beresford has played baseball as long as most American pros, starting with T-ball in Australia and playing on national teams as early as age 12 at the Cal Ripken World Series in 2001. A pitcher as well as an infielder as an amateur, Beresford has focused on shortstop as a pro. He has shown his potential with solid defense up the middle as a pro and a line-drive double against Aroldis Chapman while playing for Australia in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. Beresford still lacks strength in his lean frame, which hampers him at the plate, though he's just 22. He does a good job of putting the bat on the ball and while he'll never hit for power, he'll have to start driving the ball with some regularity to become a regular. He has easy infield actions with good hands and range, but despite his pitching background, his arm strength is just average and may not be enough for him to be an everyday shortstop. Beresford does profile fairly well as a utility infielder with his athletic ability and lefthanded bat, and he plays with energy. He'd be a better fit in that role if he ran better, but he's just fringy in that regard. His grinder mentality serves him well and has endeared him to the Twins, earning him comparisons to Craig Counsell. Beresford is headed to high Class A Fort Myers in 2011.
Josh Collmenter, rhp, Diamondbacks
Born: Feb. 7, 1986. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 235. Drafted.: Central Michigan, 2007 (15th round). Signed by: Matt Haas.
Collmenter confounds scouts by continuing to get batters out with his mostly unimpressive stuff. He pitched at three levels in 2010, posting a combined record of 14-6, 3.38 with 133 strikeouts in 152 innings while reaching Triple-A. He finished the year with an impressive 4-0, 3.04 stint in the Arizona Fall League. Collmenter adds deception to his pitches by hiding the ball behind his thick body before delivering it with a funky, over-the-top delivery with a pause in the middle. He does a good job of command his football, though it sits at 85-88 mph and lacks life. His best pitch is a plus changeup that he delivers on the same plane as his fastball, and he can vary the speed on hit from the low 60s to the high 70s. His average curveball comes out of the same arm slot as his other two pitches, making it more difficult to pickup. Collmenter's stuff doesn't seem good enough to be a big league starter, but the Diamondbacks will keep him in the rotation as long as he keeps succeeding. They added him to the 40-man roster in November. He'll return to Triple-A Reno to begin 2011 and is on track to make his big league debut later in the year.
Alfredo Figaro, rhp, Orix (Japan)
Born: July 7, 1984. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 175. Signed.: Dominican Republic, 2004. Signed by: Angel Santana (Dodgers).
Originally signed by the Dodgers in 2004, Figaro drew his release after making just five appearances. The Tigers signed him the next spring and he spent parts of the last two seasons in Detroit, teaming with his cousin Fernando Rodney on the pitching staff in 2009. The Tigers sold Figaro's contract to Japan's Orix Buffaloes in December. He has a live arm but his lack of command has hurt him in the big leagues and limits his potential. His fastball sits at 90-93 mph and reaches 97 but it doesn't have a lot of movement. He has two distinct breaking balls, a downer curveball and a slider that shows flashes of being a plus pitch. His changeup lags behind the rest of his offerings, making it more likely that his future will be as a middle reliever rather than as a starter.
Cole Gillespie, of, Diamondbacks
Born: June 20, 1984. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 205. Drafted.: Oregon State, 2006 (3rd round). Signed by: Brandon Newell (Brewers).
After helping Oregon State win the 2006 College World Series, Gillespie signed as a third-round pick and became one of the Brewers' best outfield prospects. Milwaukee sent him and Roque Mercedes to Arizona in a July 2009 trade for Felipe Lopez, and Gillespie reached the majors with the Diamondbacks last year. He mostly struggled with major league pitching, hitting .231/.283/.365 in 104 at-bats, though he homered off both John Ely and Yovani Gallardo. Gillespie profiles as a reserve rather than a regular. He controls the strike zone well and should hit for a decent average with gap power. He struggles against righthanders, who pound him inside with fastballs. Gillespie has average speed that plays up on the bases and in the outfield because of his instincts. He has average arm strength and saw most of his big league action in left field after playing primarily center and right field at Triple-A Reno. Gillespie will go to spring training with a chance to win a backup outfield spot, but he could spend 2011 on the Reno-Phoenix shuttle.
Nevin Griffith, rhp, White Sox
Born: March 23, 1989. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 210. Drafted.: HS—Tampa, 2007 (2nd round). Signed by: Scott Bikowski/Warren Hughes.
The clock is ticking loudly for Griffin, who has throw just 162 innings since the White Sox drafted him 89th overall in 2007. He missed almost all of 2008 with an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery, which kept him sidelined until the second half of 2009. Last year, he got off to a solid start at high Class A Winston-Salem but didn't pitch after June 10 after injuring his back. When he's healthy and at his best, Griffith combined a 92-95 mph fastball with a swing-and-miss curveball. His curve lacks consistency and flattens out at times, and his changeup is less reliable. Griffith's biggest need is to stay healthy, but he's also going to have to refine his secondary pitches and improve his command. He has damaged his credibility with the White Sox, with some club officials questioning his toughness. He'll head back to Winston-Salem this year.
Luke Hughes, 2b, Twins
Born: Aug. 2, 1984. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 205. Signed.: Australia, 2002. Signed by: Howard Norsetter.
Hughes finally made his major league debut last April, nearly eight years after signing, and homered off Max Scherzer in his first big league at-bat. But staying healthy has been a constant problem and shortly after he was sent back to Triple-A Rochester, he came down with a groin problem. He missed a month, returned for two games and then didn't play again the rest of the season. Hughes never has played in 100 games in a pro season, topping out at 99 in 2009, when he slugged 18 of his 57 career homers and played in the Futures Game. Hughes has above-average raw power and strength, and has learned that he doesn't have to sell out to hit the ball hard. He's not a pure hitter and lacks patience at the plate, but he has a quick bat and should hit for a decent average. Hughes' defensive tools are all average at best. His hands have gotten softer, but his arm and range are fringy and his footwork makes him a liability at both second and third base. He's fairly athletic, however, and can play the outfield. Hughes came back from his groin problem to play winter ball in his native Australia, getting needed at-bats. He has the bat to be a regular, but his inconsistent defense and inability to stay healthy makes it difficult to project him as one. He'll compete with Trevor Plouffe and Matt Tolbert for a bench role in Minnesota in 2011.
Corey Jones, 2b, Tigers
Born: Sept. 14, 1987. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 202. Drafted.: Cal State Fullerton, 2010 (7th round). Signed by: Phil Huttmann.
The MVP of the summer Northwoods League in the summer of 2009, Jones gained further exposure playing alongside two first-round picks, Christian Colon (Royals) and Gary Brown (Giants), at Cal State Fullerton last spring. After signing for $115,000 as a seventh-round pick, Jones had a better pro debut than either of them, hitting .351/.443/.448 and spending most of his time at low Class A West Michigan. While he won't sustain that type of performance over a full season, Jones' bat is legit. He's a very mature hitter with a strong concept of the strike zone and a knack for driving the ball. He has a line-drive swing with gap power, and he also has the strength to hit a handful of homers each year. Jones will have to hit, though because the other parts of his game are lacking. He has a thick, unathletic body and scouts believe he lacks the quickness and range to stay at second base. Even in college, Jones was routinely replaced defensively in the later innings. The Tigers love his bat and will give him every chance to prove himself at the keystone. He'll open his first full pro season at high Class A Lakeland.
Drew Lee, 2b/ss, White Sox
Born: March 22, 1988. B-T: B-R. Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 185. Drafted.: Morehead State, 2010 (12th round). Signed by: Phil Gulley.
Many scouts considered Lee a metal-bat creation—until he got a wood bat in his hands. The all-time leader in hits and RBIs at Morehead State, he hit .413 as a junior and .412 as a senior before the White Sox drafted him in the 12th round last June and signed him for $5,000. He batted .324 in his first month in pro ball before tiring late and finishing at .282. He earned all-star honors in the Rookie-level Appalachian League and topped the circuit with 24 doubles, showing enough at the plate to suggest Chicago may have found a bargain. Lee is still growing into his body and wouldn't stand out at a showcase, but he knows how to hit and play the game. A switch-hitter, he has a compact swing that looks similar from both sides of the plate. He's a smart hitter with surprising pop for his size. Most of his power comes from the left side of the plate. Lee played mostly shortstop in college but has a second baseman's arm and spent most of his time as a pro at the keystone. He has the tools to be a solid defender there, with the ability to fill in at short. He's a good baserunner, though he has just average speed. Whether Lee becomes a regular or utility infielder will depend on how much he hits. He'll be tested with a full-season assignment in 2011, likely at high Class A Winston-Salem because he's already 23.
Christian Marrero, of/1b, White Sox
Born: July 30, 1986. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 185. Drafted.: Broward (Fla.) CC, D/F 2005 (22nd round). Signed by: Jose Ortega.
A true tweener, Marrero was on the verge of sliding off the prospect radar screen altogether before a strong second half at Double-A Birmingham. He hit .297/.366/.448 after the all-star break to regain some of his luster, though the White Sox still didn't add him to their 40-man roster. He's the brother of former Nationals first-round pick Chris Marrero. Christian has shortened his swing and has worked to get deeper into counts, adjustments that have led to improvement at the plate. However, most of his power comes to the gaps, which hurts his chances to become a regular at first base or on the outfield corners. He's an average defender at first base but has fringy range and arm strength as an outfielder. He's a below-average runner but not a baseclogger. Marrero will advance to Triple-A Charlotte this year, but unless he starts hitting more home runs, it will be hard for him to carve out a role in Chicago.
Rays Trade Matthew Liberatore To Cardinals For Outfield Help
The Rays acquired a pair of big league outfielders in exchange for high-end pitching prospect Matthew Liberatore.
Jose Martinez, of, White Sox
Born: July 25, 1988. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 180. Signed.: Venezuela, 2006. Signed by: Amador Arias/Dave Wilder.
Martinez finally has recovered from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, an injury that ended his 2008 season after 39 games and caused him to miss all of 2009. Though he played in just 67 games last season, that represented a career high and the White Sox think he'll be durable going forward. The lack of at-bats clearly has had a negative impact, as he has yet to develop the above-average pop that was forecast for him when he was a teenager. The son of the late Carlos Martinez(^), who spent three of his seven major league seasons with Chicago, Jose still offers power potential with his size and bat speed. He has an intelligent approach at the plate, working counts but not drawing many walks. He has shown impressive perseverance in coming back from his knee problems and has gotten some of his speed back. He's now an average runner. Martinez once looked like he had a chance to blossom into an everyday center fielder with some offensive skills, but he now projects as more of a fourth outfielder. He fits better in right field, where he's a solid defender with an average arm. In 2011, he'll be tested at Double-A Birmingham, a difficult environment for many hitters.
Lucas May, c, Royals
Born: Oct. 24, 1984. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 196. Drafted.: HS—Ballwin, Mo., 2003 (8th round). Signed by: Mitch Webster (Dodgers).
May is yet another in a long line of former infielders turned into catchers by the Dodgers. He doesn't have the upside of other Los Angeles conversions like Russell Martin and Carlos Santana(^), but the move behind the plate got May to the big leagues. The Royals promoted him last September, two months after acquiring him and righthander Elisaul Pimentel for Scott Podsednik at the trade deadline. May profiles as a backup catcher. He's a hard worker with better athleticism than most catchers and a line-drive swing. His hitting ability and power are fringy, but enough for a No. 2 backstop. Behind the plate, May has improved to where he's a solid receiver. His arm is one of his best assets, but he's not consistent with his throwing mechanics. He'll rip off a 1.9-second pop time occasionally, but he usually sits at 2.0-2.05 seconds and threw out just 19 percent of basestealers last season. In a system loaded with prospects at most positions, May is positioned well to compete for a spot on the Royals' Opening Day roster. He doesn't have much long-term upside, but he has enough tools to have a lengthy career as a backup.
Brandon Moore, rhp, Mets
Born: Jan. 24, 1986. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 190. Drafted.: Indiana Wesleyan, 2008 (14th round). Signed by: Scott Trcka.
Moore pitched very well in front of scouts as a senior to become the first Indiana Wesleyan player drafted in nearly four decades. The Mets took him in the 14th round in 2008, making him the highest-ever draft pick from the NAIA school and the first since Pirates 20th-round pick Charlie Arrendale in 1970 (when the school was called Marion College). Incidentally, Moore pitched on the same Indiana Wesleyan team as Braves righthander Brandon Beachy, who made his big league debut last September. Beachy was more of a first baseman/reliever who blossomed in summer ball and signed as a nondrafted free agent. Signed for $2,000, Moore threw a seven-inning no-hitter at short-season Brooklyn in 2009 and advanced three levels to Double-A Binghamton last year. He works quickly and attacks batters primarily with two pitches: an 87-90 mph sinker with tailing action and a slurvy breaking ball in the mid- to high-70s. Scouts prefer Moore's harder curveball because it features above-average three-quarters tilt. He likes his slower one with more lateral break because it got more swings and misses in Class A. Moore shows a changeup only occasionally, but it has average potential and New York encouraged him to focus on it in instructional league. Plus control helps his average arsenal play up, but without an improved changeup he's probably destined for the bullpen. He may open 2011 by returning to Double-A.
Yonata Ortega, rhp, Diamondbacks
Born: Nov. 11, 1986. B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 220 Signed.: Dominican Republic, 2005. Signed by: Junior Noboa.
Ortega won just two games in his first four seasons after signing, missing all of 2008 following Tommy John surgery. He had a breakout year in 2010, saving 33 games between two Class A stops, including 11 in 13 appearances at high Class A Visalia. The Diamondbacks responded by placing him on their 40-man roster rather than risk exposing him to the Rule 5 draft. Ortega's main weapon is a 93-94 mph fastball that touches 96 and has heavy sink. He also throws a hard splitter that can be nasty when it's on. He also throws a slider, but it's unreliable. Ortega's funky delivery makes it hard for batters to pick up his pitches, but also hampers his command. He has closer potential, one of the few such arms in the Arizona system, but he'll need to become much more consistent to get there. He's ready for Double-A Mobile.
Tommy Pham, of, Cardinals
Born: March 8, 1988. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 180. Drafted.: HS—Las Vegas, 2006 (16th round). Signed by: Manny Guerra.
A fresh start in Double-A Springfield gave Pham the career boost that changes in position and return visits to lower levels had not. He blossomed with Springfield last summer, batting .339/.429/.537 in 38 games before an errant pitch hit him on the wrist and left him with a small fracture, ending his season in mid-August. Pham was Nevada's best high school prospect in 2006, starring as a two-way player and signing for $325,000 as a 16th-rounder after signability questions knocked him out of the early rounds. He slogged through the lower levels of the minors and proved too inconsistent at shortstop. His bat, billed as his best tool, also wilted as he batted just .212/.294/.352 in his first four pro seasons. Moved to outfield and maturing into his athleticism, Pham started putting everything together in 2010. He squared up balls more consistently and did a much better job of controlling the strike zone. He still can get pull-conscious and will have to continue to improve his plate coverage. He has fringy power and is more of a doubles threat than a home run hitter. Pham's best pure tool is his plus speed, and he improved his range in center field by taking better routes on balls. His arm is solid. Pham experienced headaches throughout 2010 and may explore surgery to correct a pre-existing eye condition that he wears contacts to address. Once again in the Cardinals' plans, he may return to Double-A to start 2011.
Brett Pill, 1b, Giants
Born: Sept. 9, 1984. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 233. Drafted.: Cal State Fullerton, 2006 (7th round). Signed by: Ray Krawczyk.
Pill's younger brother Tyler followed him to Cal State Fullerton and is an early-round prospect for the 2011 draft. Brett has been a doubles machine since signing, drilling 156 two-baggers in four full pro seasons. After having a career year in 2009, when he hit .298/.348/.480 and led the Double-A Eastern League with 109 RBIs, he found the going rougher in Triple-A last season. More experienced pitchers coaxed him to make soft contact on breaking stuff, and the Giants removed him from the 40-man roster in November. Pill has good contact skills, but he has fringy home run power and doesn't draw many walks. He logged two games at third base last year, but he doesn't have the athleticism or arm strength to be a viable option anywhere but at first base. He is a plus defender with good hands, though he had an embarrassing moment in big league camp last spring when a ball struck him between the eyes during a scooping drill with Will Clark. He's a below-average runner. Brandon Belt established himself as San Francisco's first baseman of the future in 2010, and Pill will have to prove that he's more than a 4-A player when he returns to Fresno this year.
Konrad Schmidt, c. Diamondbacks
Born: Aug. 2, 1984. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 225. Drafted.: Nevada-Reno, NDFA 2007. Signed by: Jim Dedrick.
Since signing out of Nevada-Reno as an undrafted free agent in 2007, Schmidt has progressed from an organizational soldier into a prospect with a chance at a major league career as a backup catcher. He had a strong year at Double-A Mobile in 2010, batting .315/.373/.490, before getting rewarded with a late season call-up to the big leagues. Schmidt has an aggressive, early-in-the-count approach but avoids the usual peaks and valleys associated with those types of hitters. He hits the ball line to line and has fringy power. Schmidt's defense has improved considerably in pro ball, especially his receiving, and he's now a plus catcher. He has strong hands and solid arm strength, and he threw out 26 percent of basestealers last year. He's a well below-average runner. A gamer who gets the most out of his ability, Schmidt will battle John Hester for Arizona's backup job behind Miguel Montero.
Bradley Suttle, 3b/1b, Yankees
Born: Jan. 24, 1986. B-T: B-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 215. Drafted.: Texas, 2007 (4th round). Signed by: Steve Boros.
Suttle got a $1.3 million bonus as a sophomore-eligible fourth-round pick out of Texas in 2007. He was overmatched in Hawaii Winter Baseball that year in his first taste of pro ball, made adjustments to his swing from both sides of the plate in 2008, then had to miss 2009 with two surgeries to his throwing shoulder, one to repair a labrum tear and a second to clean up scar tissue. He returned last year to anchor high Class A Tampa's lineup along with Melky Mesa, and Suttle's three homers in six postseason games helped carry the team to the Florida State League title. Suttle's advocates point to his dedication to return from shoulder woes, his improved swing mechanics, his natural feel for hitting and his developing power. He hit 12 homers (playoffs included) after July 1, after having hit just one in the first three months. His shoulder still bothered him at times, forcing him to DH or play some first base and rendering him relatively powerless from the right side, where he had a .320 slugging percentage. Suttle's detractors don't think he's athletic enough to stick at third base—he's a well below-average runner—don't believe he has the power for first base and sometimes have a hard time getting past his signing bonus. He'll be 25 when he faces Double-A pitching for the first time in 2011.
Kevin Thomas, rhp, Cardinals
Born: July 8, 1986. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 215. Drafted.: Stephen F. Austin State, 2008 (33rd round). Signed by: Joe Almaraz.
Another of the overlooked gems the Cardinals attempt to uncover each year at smaller colleges, Thomas has proven to be much better than the 6-4, 6.27 record he carried as a senior at Stephen F. Austin State. Signed for $20,000 as a 33rd-round pick in 2008, he broke out last year by going 10-2, 2.27 at high Class A Palm Beach. His ERA would have lead the Florida State League by nearly half a run had he not fallen just short of qualifying. Thomas fires his sinker at 87-92 mph, topping out at 94, and used it to post a nifty 2.94 groundout/airout ratio in 2010. It's his only reliable pitch, as he has a fringy slider and a below-average changeup. With his strong frame, resilient arm and solid mechanics, Thomas has proven durable in a variety of roles. In each of his three pro seasons, he has begun the year as a long reliever and finished it as a starter. After his performance last year, the Cardinals will see how he does starting 2011 in their Double-A Springfield rotation.