MiLB Top 10 Prospects Flashback: 2009 Pioneer League

Image credit: Nolan Arenado

Even with its picturesque backdrops, the Rookie-level Pioneer League earned a reputation as unrelenting. It plays 76 games, more than any other Rookie league. Its North and South divisions are separated by great distances and mountainous terrain. Oh, and because of its altitude, the Pioneer League is one of the highest scoring environments in affiliated baseball.

Some scouts eagerly volunteer for Pioneer League coverage because of its scenic beauty; players are less eager. Even still, the league has seen its share of epic prospect classes: David Wells and Cecil Fielder in 1982, Helena teammates Gary Sheffield, Greg Vaughn and Darryl Hamilton in 1986; Great Falls teammates Pedro Martinez and Raul Mondesi in 1990 and Joey Votto and Chad Billingsley in 2003.  

However, the Pioneer League class of 2009 has them all beat for sheer volume of future major league regulars.

2009 Pioneer League Top 10 Prospects

No Player Pos Team Org PA/IP WAR
1 Wil Myers C Idaho Falls Royals 3,353 11.4
2 Jake Odorizzi RHP Helena Brewers 1,042 15.9
3 Bobby Borchering 3B Missoula D-backs
4 Garrett Richards RHP Orem Angels 803 10.3
5 Patrick Corbin LHP Orem Angels 1,206 20.5
6 Jean Segura 2B Orem Angels 4,645 18.9
7 Chris Owings SS Missoula D-backs 2,346 0.4
8 Nolan Arenado 3B Casper Rockies 4,558 32.1
9 Chris Balcom-Miller RHP Casper Rockies
10 Eric Arnett RHP Helena Brewers

Nolan Arenado (No. 8) showed a “mature, balanced approach” and the “bat speed and raw strength suggest potential plus home run power.” His “soft hands and plus arm strength” play well at third base. “You know he wants the ball hit to him, and that’s an intangible you can’t teach,” Arenado’s manager said.

Wil Myers (No. 1) fell to the third round in 2009 but signed for first-round money. Of his offensive upside, we wrote that he “uses no batting gloves or finger tape, trusting his quick hands and strong wrists to hit with authority.” Myers signed as a catcher, where he wasn’t “always fluid behind the plate,” though he projected for “well above-average power.”

Patrick Corbin (No. 5) played baseball and basketball in junior college and his “premium athleticism and loose arm portend more velocity down the road.” His “quiet confidence” and hard slurve that “sometimes features sharp, deep tilt” marked him as a starter.

The 2009 Pioneer League top 10 was so deep it also featured future quality big leaguers Jake Odorizzi (No. 2), Garrett Richards (No. 4) and Jean Segura (No. 6).

Pioneer League All-Time BA No. 1 Prospects

Players listed with career major league plate appearances/innings and FanGraphs WAR. Stats for active players current through mid August.

Year Player Pos Team Org PA/IP WAR
1982 Joe Citari 1B Butte Royals
1983 Kurt Stillwell SS Billings Reds 3,478 1.2
1984 Mark Berry C Billings Reds
1985 Mike Devereaux OF Great Falls Dodgers 4,102 13.0
1986 Gary Sheffield SS Helena Brewers 10,947 62.1
1987 Andres Santana SS Pocatello Giants 2 -0.1
1988 Jose Offerman SS Great Falls Dodgers 6,582 13.9
1989 Tom Goodwin OF Great Falls Dodgers 4,315 3.9
Year Player Pos Team Org PA/IP WAR
1990 Raul Mondesi OF Great Falls Dodgers 6,369 26.5
1991 Tyrone Hill LHP Helena Brewers  —
1992 Chad Mottola OF Billings Reds 137 -1.1
1993 Kym Ashworth LHP Great Falls Dodgers  —
1994 Aaron Boone 3B Billings Reds 4,333 10.0
1995 Ben Davis C Idaho Falls Padres 1,698 3.7
1996 Vladimir Nunez RHP Lethbridge D-backs 442 -0.2
1997 Jhensy Sandoval OF Lethbridge D-backs  —
1998 Austin Kearns OF Billings Reds 4,179 16.7
1999 Francisco Rodriguez RHP Butte Angels 976 24.5
Year Player Pos Team Org PA/IP WAR
2000 Dave Krynzel OF Ogden Brewers 54 0.0
2001 Mike Jones RHP Ogden Brewers
2002 James Loney 1B Great Falls Dodgers 5,487 6.8
2003 Ian Stewart 3B Casper Rockies 1,692 2.1
2004 Chris Nelson SS Casper Rockies 901 -1.9
2005 Jay Bruce OF Billings Reds 6,555 20.5
2006 Bryan Morris RHP Ogden Dodgers 236 2.6
2007 Todd Frazier SS Billings Reds 4,826 24.6
2008 Wilin Rosario C Casper Rockies 1,601 -0.5
2009 Wil Myers C Idaho Falls Royals 3,241 10.4
Year Player Pos Team Org PA/IP WAR
2010 Billy Hamilton 2B/SS Billings Reds 3,111 10.1
2011 Trevor Story SS/3B Casper Rockies 2,396 16.5
2012 David Dahl OF Grand Junction Rockies 1,001 3.1
2013 Hunter Dozier 3B Idaho Falls Royals 1,030 2.2
2014 Aristides Aquino OF Billings Reds 235 1.0
2015 Brendan Rodgers SS Grand Junction Rockies 88 -0.7
2016 Riley Pint RHP Grand Junction Rockies
2017 Jo Adell OF Orem Angels 41 -0.6
2018 Grant Lavigne 1B Grand Junction Rockies  —
2019 Liover Peguero SS Missoula D-Backs

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