League Top 20 Prospects

2011 Midwest League Top 20 Prospects

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1. Taijuan Walker, rhp Clinton Lumberkings (Mariners)
2. Billy Hamilton, ss, Dayton Dragons (Reds)
3. Jake Marisnick, of, Lansing Lugnuts (Blue Jays)
4. Nick Castellanos, 3b, West Michigan Whitecaps (Tigers)
5. Rymer Liriano, of, Fort Wayne Tincaps (Padres)
6. Oscar Taveras, of, Quad Cities River Bandits (Cardinals)
7. Zach Lee, rhp Great Lakes Loons (Dodgers)
8. James Paxton, lhp Clinton Lumberkings (Mariners)
9. Matt Szczur, of, Peoria Chiefs (Cubs)
10. Keyvious Sampson, rhp Fort Wayne Tincaps (Padres)
11. Cheslor Cuthbert, 3b, Kane County Cougars (Royals)
12. Kolten Wong, 2b, Quad Cities River Bandits (Cardinals)
13. Cory Spangenberg 2b, Fort Wayne Tincaps (Padres)
14. Drew Hutchison, rhp Lansing Lugnuts (Blue Jays)
15. Enny Romero, lhp Bowling Green Hot Rods (Rays)
16. Daniel Corcino, rhp Dayton Dragons (Reds)
17. Garrett Gould, rhp Great Lakes Loons (Dodgers)
18. Tyler Thornburg, rhp Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (Brewers)
19. Derek Dietrich, ss, Bowling Green Hot Rods (Rays)
20. David Holmberg, lhp South Bend Silverhawks (Diamondbacks)
A 16-team circuit always will have prospect depth just because of the sheer number of teams, but the low Class A Midwest League Top 20 list lacked its usual star power in 2011. Unlike recent years headlined by megaprospects such as Jay Bruce (2006), Clayton Kershaw (2007) and Mike Trout (2010), this year's group consists more of future solid regulars than cornerstone players.

That said, veteran scouts couldn't remember a MWL player with a more electrifying tool than Dayton shortstop Billy Hamilton's speed. To call it game-changing would be an understatement, as opponents were virtually powerless to prevent him from becoming the first minor leaguer in 10 years to steal 100 bases.

Clinton righthander Taijuan Walker, who combines plus raw stuff with athleticism and projection, nosed out Hamilton as the No. 1 prospect on this list. Another righthander, Carlos Martinez, drew comparisons to Pedro Martinez (no relation) and would have given Walker a run for the top spot had he not been promoted after just eight starts for eventual champion Quad Cities.