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Friday, January 23, 2009
Potential top 100 candidates for 2010


LAW'S TOP MLB PROSPECTS

Stories
Top 100 prospects of 2009
Organizational rankings: Texas No. 1
Top 10 prospects by position
Top prospects by organization
Prospects who missed top 100
Potential top 100 candidates in '10
Chats
ESPN.com's Keith Law
Orioles prospect Matt Wieters
Rangers GM Jon Daniels
Baseball America's Jim Callis
The coda to this year's top 100 prospects package is a look at one player from each organization who might move up into the top 100 next offseason. The emphasis is on guys who might jump into the middle or even the top part of the rankings, the way Neftali Feliz and Madison Bumgarner did, as opposed to players who might just slide into the 90s. For a few organizations, I listed a second name as well if there were multiple players worthy of discussion.

Note: Parentheses indicate highest level reached; R = Rookie; A- = low Class A; A+ = high Class A; A = Class A; AA = Double-A; AAA = Triple-A; HS = high school

Atlanta Braves

Julio Teheran (Rookie) is a right-handed pitcher from Colombia who probably would have made the list this year if he'd stayed healthy, but he had a slightly sore shoulder and Atlanta shut him down right away as a precautionary measure. Teheran, who earns a lot of comparisons to Felix Hernandez, sits at 94-97 mph with life on his fastball, shows a good changeup, and has very good feel for someone who will turn 18 next week. And look for left-hander Cole Rohrbough (A+) to return to the top 100 next year if he stays healthy all season.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Enrique Burgos (Rookie) is an 18-year-old right-hander from Panama and the son of the Enrique Burgos, who got two cups of coffee in the 1990s with San Francisco and Kansas City. The son's pitches sit at 91-92, touching 95, with easy velocity, and has good depth on his breaking ball. He's 6-foot-5 with a good frame and has a lot of room to fill out.

Baltimore Orioles

L.J. Hoes (Rookie) had a fantastic pro debut as a hitter, drawing 30 walks and posting a .416 OBP, but his status as a prospect will be determined by how well he takes to second base. Hoes was a center fielder in high school but didn't profile anywhere in the outfield. He made 15 errors in 42 games at second this summer.

Boston Red Sox

Right-hander Stolmy Pimentel (A-) has a solid though average fastball, an average to above-average changeup, an improving curveball, good control, and plenty of room on his 6-foot-3, 186-pound frame to fill out and add velocity. RHP Casey Kelly (A-), their 2008 first-rounder who played shortstop last year, shows tremendous promise on the mound but will be on a fairly low innings cap.

Chicago White Sox

The Sox acquired lefty Santos Rodriguez (Rookie) in the Javy Vazquez trade; he's long and lanky and throws 95-96 mph, but his delivery needs work, and his command and control are below-average.

Chicago Cubs

Esmailin Caridad (AA) is a little right-hander with a big arm, registering in the low-90s and touching 96 with good tail on his two-seamer. His arm is loose but his release point is inconsistent. While he'll flash a plus-plus slider, he doesn't have great feel for the pitch.

Cincinnati Reds

Third baseman Neftali Soto (A) has a quick bat and projects to hit for plus-plus power, although he's overaggressive and will have to hit .300 to keep his OBP above water. It would help if the Reds would settle on a position for him; he's not a shortstop, yet still played four games there this year as well as two at first and 22 at DH, which isn't about to improve his footwork.

Cleveland Indians

Hector Rondon (A+) was a candidate to make the top 100 this year; he sits at 93-95 with good life on his fastball and plus control, although his slider is a work in progress.

Colorado Rockies

Wilin Rosario (Rookie) mashed as a Pioneer League repeater this year. He's a catcher with a plus arm, and has good power both to pull and to the opposite field. It took him three years in the organization to reach this point, and he has to show he can perform while moving up a level.

Detroit Tigers

Left Casey Crosby (Rookie) threw four innings this year after missing a year following Tommy John surgery; he was a borderline first-rounder in 2007 who showed an above-average fastball and some feel for a curve and change in an athletic package with room to fill out.

Florida Marlins

Scott Cousins (AA) was primarily seen as a left-handed pitching prospect at the University of San Francisco, but Florida took him as an outfielder. He has five average or better tools and showed significant refinement in his game this year, particularly in his approach at the plate.

Houston Astros

Right-hander Jordan Lyles (A-) was seen as a bit of an overdraft when Houston took him in the comp round in 2008 because only a handful of teams were on him, but he's a projectable kid whose velocity steadily increased throughout the spring and who can really spin a curveball.

Kansas City Royals

Righty Danny Gutierrez (A) works at 92-96 mph with a hammer curveball and an average change that he doesn't use that often. Even though he spent the year in the Midwest League, he could start as high as AA and move quickly from there.

Los Angeles Angels

LHP Trevor Reckling (A) already has a plus curveball and his changeup has a chance to be average to plus as well. The curve is hard with late, biting action, while the changeup has a split-like bottom and good deception. His fastball is just average now and probably won't ever be plus, but if he commands it well he should miss bats with the offspeed stuff.

Los Angeles Dodgers

The season for Josh Bell (A+) ended early due to knee surgery, and he could stand to shed a few pounds, but the third baseman has a good swing, shows some patience, and has always had the promise of plus power as he approaches his best hitting years.

Milwaukee Brewers

Caleb Gindl (A) is short (5-9) but strong and can really hit, with raw pull power; he works deep counts but his trouble making contact this year is a big concern. Bonus name: Outfielder Lorenzo Cain (AAA) is a great athlete who looks like he might have 0.5-percent body fat and who is now showing signs of coming into some power.

Minnesota Twins

The Twins are trying out right-hander Carlos Gutierrez (A+) as a starter; after elbow surgery, he worked as a closer at the University of Miami, throwing sinker after sinker, but he has four pitches and could prove to be a valuable innings-eater if he can handle a starting role.

New York Mets

Jefry Marte (Rookie) won't turn 18 until late June, but raked in the Gulf Coast League last year, showing the ability to make contact and hit for power with a little bit of patience. He has an easy swing and should add power as he fills out, although he may have to move off third base if his defense doesn't improve.

New York Yankees

Righty Arodys Vizcaino (Rookie) is among the Yanks' top prospects already, despite turning 18 after the 2008 season ended. He has easy velocity, hitting 94 repeatedly and sitting at 90-92 with good deception and a plus curveball. He's athletic and should sit closer to 94 when he's fully developed.

Oakland A's

Brett Hunter (A) was sitting on 98 mph in fall ball in 2007, but the righty hurt his arm in the spring and could barely pick up a ball, let alone show that type of velocity. He was back up to 95-96 in instructional league, and the A's seem likely to leave him in relief and let him try to race through their system in the next year or two.

Philadelphia Phillies

Catcher Travis d'Arnaud (A) was among my top five Phillies prospects both this year and last. D'Arnaud has a solid approach at the plate with a fluid swing and some pull power; he's an above-average defender with a good arm and a lot of energy behind the plate. Keep an eye on righty Kyle Drabek (A-) -- yes, that's Doug's son -- who is entering his first full season after Tommy John surgery in 2007.

Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates gave 2008 draftee Quentin Miller (HS) close to a million dollars when other teams shied away from him due to a shoulder injury. It's a risk, but Miller has arm strength and flashes a good breaking ball; if he should turn out to be healthy, he'd be the best arm in their system.

St. Louis Cardinals

Francisco Samuel (A+) signed for $1,000 in 2006, a massive bargain considering the stuff he showed in the Florida State League this year, sitting at 94-98 with a hard slider in the upper 80s. His command and control are well below average -- 88 walks in 97.2 career innings might have tipped you off -- but they improved this year, and that kind of arm strength is rare.

San Diego Padres

A 5-10 left-handed hitter who gets the obvious Brian Giles/Matt Stairs comparisons, Jaff Decker (A-) was also a prospect as a left-handed pitcher, and spent the summer laughing at the pitching in the Arizona Rookie League, hitting .352/.523/.541. He's strong with pull power and is at least average in right field.

San Francisco Giants

Henry Sosa (A+) missed the start of the season after knee surgery and missed the end of the season with a strained pectoral muscle. Fifty-odd good innings in between don't tell us that much, but the righty has a loose arm with a 92-94 mph fastball and a solid changeup with good fading action.

Seattle Mariners

Right-handers Phillippe Aumont (A) and Juan Ramirez (A) made my list of 10 guys who just missed this year's top 100, and I expect both to make the cut next year, with a good chance that one of them jumps into the middle rather than the tail end. Aumont has more upside due to his plus-fastball movement, whereas Ramirez has a better health record and history of performance.

Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays had several promising arms in short-season ball this year, including Matt Moore (Rookie) and Nick Barnese (A-). Barnese, a righty, is further along, but Moore has more upside as a lefty who'll bump 96 and has tremendous sink on his fastball along with an above-average slider.

Texas Rangers

Wilfredo Boscan (A-) would have made most organizations' top 10, but Texas' system is deep enough to put him into the next tier. He's wiry strong and a good athlete who has already picked up several mph on his fastball, touching 92 now with the ability to add and subtract. He has a plus changeup but a below-average breaking ball with outstanding control. I'm also curious to see what lefty Kasey Kiker (A+) can do once he escapes the Cal League.

Toronto Blue Jays

Justin Jackson (A) has been wildly inconsistent at the plate -- he struck out in a third of his at-bats, but with a good walk rate -- while his fielding has improved to the point that he's clearly a shortstop with a chance to be a good one. His upside will largely be determined by his ability to make more contact.

Washington Nationals

Esmailyn Gonzalez (Rookie) has had a tumultuous pro career, from a $1.4 million signing bonus considered exorbitant at the time to visa problems that kept him out of the U.S. until the second week of March last year. He's a switch-hitting shortstop with good bat control and plus defense, but his great numbers in 2008 were partly the product of repeating the league.