2015 Southern League Top 20 Prospects
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2005 Top 20 Prospects: International LeagueComplete Index of League Top 20s
By Chris Kline
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Zach Duke went 6-0, 1.81 in his first 10 starts for Pittsburgh before injuring his ankle. Ryan Howard's massive power propelled the Phillies back into the National League wild-card race. Edwin Encarnacion's readiness allowed the Reds to trade third baseman Joe Randa to the Padres for a pair of pitching prospects. Kyle Davies contributed 13 starts and went 6-3 during the Braves' midseason surge to first place in the NL East.
In the American League, Brandon McCarthy turned in some clutch pitching as the White Sox tried to hold onto their playoff berth. Aaron Hill forced his way into the Blue Jays' infield picture sooner than expected. Though he didn't stick in Tampa Bay until mid-June, Jonny Gomes' 20 homers led all big league rookies with less than two weeks to play. It was too little too late for Minnesota, but Scott Baker posted a 2.95 ERA in his first six starts for the Twins.
Overall, it was a very solid year for talent in the IL with a balance between hitters and pitchers. Durham shortstop B.J. Upton, No. 1 on this list in 2004, returned to the league but didn't qualify again because he accrued too many big league at-bats last year. Columbus second baseman Robinson Cano, Richmond lefty Chuck James and Toledo righty Joel Zumaya might have cracked the Top 20, but they didn't spend enough time in the IL.
"It wasn't exactly the year of the hitter, since the first thing you think about the league this year is all the arms that have gone up," Richmond manager Pat Kelly said. "But there were some very good hitters in this league. This might very well be the year of the rookie, and I think you see that when you look at both Triple-A leagues."Subscribers can access scouting reports on all twenty players. (How to subscribe)