Commentary

Top fantasy prospects: Nos. 21-70

Updated: February 13, 2008, 7:05 PM ET
By Jason Grey | ESPN.com

Back to Top 20 prospects

We've given you the best. Now here are the rest:

21. Jair Jurrjens, SP, Braves
Projected 2008 role: potential fifth starter
As of this moment, there is only one opening in the Braves' rotation, with the supposedly 100 percent Mike Hampton and Jurrjens the leading contenders for it. It's a pretty safe bet that even if he doesn't open the season as Atlanta's fifth starter, Jurrjens should get a significant number of starts at the major league level.

Jair Jurrjens
Leon Halip/US PresswireIt's a near-certainty that Jair Jurrjens will get a chance to start for the Braves at some point.
Jurrjens succeeds by throwing four pitches for strikes and keeping the ball down in the strike zone, but he needs to be a bit more consistent with his command. He goes through stretches in which he does not throw quality strikes, allowing the ball to float up in the zone too often. He also battled shoulder problems the past two seasons and needs to demonstrate he can stay off the disabled list. Still, there is a lot to like about the 22-year-old. He just needs a little more health and consistency to be a solid starting pitcher in the big leagues.

22. Wladimir Balentien, OF, Mariners
Projected 2008 role: platoon outfielder
With the Erik Bedard trade now official, the Mariners might look to Balentien to fill a platoon role in right field with Brad Wilkerson. The 23-year-old has huge power to all fields, but despite incremental improvement last season, he still chases too many pitches out of the strike zone. He will have to prevent that from being exploited to have a chance at consistent major league success, but his homer potential is intriguing, and he has shown he probably will have a little better handle on making contact than Wily Mo Pena, who has similar raw skills.

23. Jeff Clement, C, Mariners
Projected 2008 role: backup catcher/designated hitter
Clement's bat is major league-ready right now, but he is blocked at catcher by Kenji Johjima. His below-average defensive skills are not likely to change, but considering he has 25-30 homer potential with full-time duty, it won't matter to fantasy owners. "I gradually got a better idea of what I was doing at the plate," Clement said of his improved plate discipline last season. It should allow him to post a serviceable batting average. There also is potential for him to get a decent number of at-bats as a designated hitter this year. It's just a question of how many.

24. Josh Anderson, OF, Braves
Projected 2008 role: reserve outfielder
Anderson will be an interesting player to monitor this season. The bottom line for fantasy owners is that he has Willy Taveras-like skills. How often will he get a chance to use them? He should begin the season as the Braves' fourth outfielder and has the ability to put up good steals numbers in a limited number of at-bats, similar to what Michael Bourn did for the Phillies last season. There are compensating factors for playing time on both sides of the equation. First of all, fellow prospect Brandon Jones will fight him for at-bats this season, with Jordan Schafer possibly adding to the mix in the second half. However, Mark Kotsay's health is questionable, and Jones is not a natural center fielder. It is not a far-fetched scenario that Anderson could see a lot of time as the starter and thus put up quite a few steals this season.

25. Manny Parra, SP, Brewers
Projected 2008 role: rotation or bullpen candidate
Parra long has been viewed as a premium pitching prospect, but he fell off the radar screen for two seasons because of a torn rotator cuff. He bounced back last season, including pitching a perfect game in his second Triple-A start. The Brewers have other options for the back of their rotation, which means Parra might start at Triple-A or in the Brewers' bullpen, but should he earn a rotation spot, he is someone you want to pay close attention to. He likely will get some starts during the course of the season; the question is how quickly he will work his way into the five-man staff.

26. Brandon Jones, OF, Braves
Projected 2008 role: potential starting left fielder
Jones has a chance to beat out Matt Diaz as the starting left fielder this season or at least earn a platoon role. Even if he doesn't win a job out of spring training, he clearly is seen as the team's future regular there. He also could compete with Josh Anderson for time at the corner outfield spots. Jones can handle the strike zone well and profiles as a player who eventually could hit .280-.290 with 20/20 ability. As with many of the players on this list, it is not a question of skill, but playing time.

27. Brandon Wood, SS/3B, Angels
Projected 2008 role: shortstop/third base candidate
Wood still faces an uphill battle for playing time this season. His lack of plate discipline and tendency to get pull-conscious aren't helping him any. There is no doubt he has serious power potential, but he needs to stop chasing on the outer half, control his swing more and use the whole field. Considering he must battle both Maicer Izturis and Erick Aybar for playing time at shortstop, perhaps the best thing for Wood's fantasy prospects would be if something opened at third base, where Chone Figgins plays every day. If he does wind up with a starting job at short or third, his homer potential is too great to ignore, even if it comes with a middling batting average and lots of whiffs. Obviously, if he beats out Izturis and Aybar to win regular playing time, he would shoot up this list.

28. Minnesota Twins rookie starting pitchers: Nick Blackburn, Philip Humber, Kevin Mulvey, Brian Duensing
Projected 2008 role: starting rotation
Admittedly, I am fudging things a bit here because the Twins' pecking order won't shake out until spring training games. Minnesota had a bunch of young pitchers knocking on the major league door last year but signed Ramon Ortiz and Sidney Ponson rather than trusting their younger players. As of this writing, they are rumored to be interested in Josh Fogg. Also, Kevin Slowey and Glen Perkins are the favorites to earn any open spots in the rotation before the Twins look at any of these four names. I would imagine that at the moment, the Twins rank them in the order listed above. How would I rank them? Blackburn is my clear favorite, a solid potential No. 3 starter at the major league level after showing an improved changeup in the Arizona Fall League. Mulvey ranks next with his good combination of stuff and command; he surrendered just four homers in 152 Double-A innings with almost a 3-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Duensing is a polished, aggressive, command lefty who is a definite sleeper. Humber is a former first-rounder who has been more pedigree than performance since Tommy John surgery in 2005.

29. Troy Patton, SP, Orioles
Projected 2008 role: Orioles rotation
Patton is likely to break camp in the Orioles' rotation this spring. The lefty can reach the mid-90s with his fastball, and he throws a solid slider with a developing changeup that has potential. The downside is he has had three straight years of minor shoulder woes. There is some effort in his delivery, and he occasionally has command problems because of trouble repeating his arm slot. I am not as high on Patton as many other scouts are, but he is worth watching closely, especially given his projected role coming out of camp. I think his best role ultimately will be in the bullpen.

30. Jayson Nix, 2B, Rockies
Projected 2008 role: starting second baseman
The Rockies brought in Marcus Giles this offseason, but that was only for veteran protection in case Nix is unable to win the starting job in camp. Meanwhile, fellow prospect Ian Stewart will keep learning the position at Triple-A. Nix quietly resuscitated his career last season after three mediocre seasons in the high minors. He put up .292-11-58 numbers at Triple-A, which was nothing special considering his favorable home park in Colorado Springs, but he did steal 24 bases. He is ranked this high only because he has the inside track on a starting job. I'm not sure he'll be able to keep it.

Nick Adenhart
Icon SMI The Angels won't rush Nick Adenhart, but he projects as a mid-rotation starter -- or better.
31. Nick Adenhart, SP, Angels
Projected 2008 role: potential fifth starter
Entering spring training, Adenhart has a small chance of beating out Joe Saunders and Ervin Santana for the fifth starter's job, but he is likely to open the season at Triple-A to refine his command and work on being more aggressive. He has three potential plus pitches and eventually profiles as a No. 2 or 3 big league starter. The Angels are happy with his progression thus far and might be careful not to rush him, which means he could see a lot of Triple-A time this year. Considering the struggles of Santana and Saunders last season, though, that plan could change.

32. Carlos Gonzalez, OF, Athletics
Projected 2008 role: Triple-A outfielder
It is unlikely Gonzalez will earn a starting job in spring training, although it is possible. Considering that neither Ryan Sweeney nor Chris Denorfia has ever held a full-time job in the major leagues, if Gonzalez does get sent down, it might not be for long. He has been more potential than performance in recent seasons, but he has a smooth swing, great bat speed and projects to eventually hit 25 homers at the major league level with a decent batting average. He can make contact but needs to be more selective with what he swings at. He has very good upside if he gets the at-bats.

33. Jeff Niemann, SP, Rays
Projected 2008 role: starter-in-waiting at Triple-A
The Rays are loaded with starting pitching prospects, and even though Niemann doesn't have the highest ceiling, he is the closest to the major leagues. If not for late-season shoulder trouble, he would have made his big league debut last season. The 2004 first-rounder has experienced nothing but injury problems since becoming a pro, and last year was the first season he was reasonably healthy, striking out 123 batters in 131 Triple-A innings. The 6-9 righty throws strikes, works in the low 90s with his straight fastball and mixes in a sharp curve. He still is working on an offspeed pitch, and he leaves the ball up in the strike zone a bit too often, but he has potential for 2008. He likely will start at Triple-A and wait for an opening in Tampa Bay.

34. Gio Gonzalez, SP, Athletics
Projected 2008 role: starter candidate
Gonzalez led the minor leagues in strikeouts last season, posting 185 whiffs in 150 Double-A innings with his sinker/curve combo. Given the uncertainty surrounding the Oakland rotation, it stands to reason that he could get a chance at sticking in the big leagues at some point if he doesn't win a job out of spring training. I have watched Gonzalez quite a bit over the past couple of seasons, and despite his gaudy minor league numbers, I am not convinced the diminutive (5-11) left-hander could be a successful major league starter. I realize I'm in the minority on this one, but I could see him being a Casey Fossum type who never quite lives up to the hype. Fossum comes to mind because of his size, not his pitching style. Still, anything can happen with a decent minor league track record and an opportunity.

35. Sean Gallagher, SP, Cubs
Projected 2008 role: starter-in-waiting at Triple-A
Gallagher hits the mid-90s with his fastball and can throw it for strikes, complementing it with a good curveball and average changeup. The combination makes him an intriguing starting pitching prospect. He needs to trust his stuff and be a little more aggressive. Between the Arizona Fall League and offseason work, he has dropped about 25 pounds from his stocky frame, taking a needed step forward with his conditioning. The 22-year-old will wait at Triple-A to fill the first open spot in the Cubs' rotation.

36. Matt Antonelli, 2B, Padres
Projected 2008 role: Triple-A second baseman/outfielder
Tadahito Iguchi is just keeping second base warm until Antonelli is ready, and if Iguchi slumps, we could see Antonelli sooner rather than later. Antonelli is a contact hitter who can provide a healthy batting average and put up double-digit homers and steals. His offensive skill set is actually very similar to Iguchi's. He can be a useful player for a modest investment if he gets some playing time, although that might not come until next season.

37. John Jaso, C, Rays
Projected 2008 role: Triple-A catcher
The Rays stuck with Dioner Navarro last season through some lean offensive output, and they likely won't have as much patience if Navarro starts slowly again. Jaso put up .316-12-71 numbers at Double-A last season with more walks than strikeouts. He can hit in the big leagues, but the question is whether his defense ever will be passable enough for him to stay behind the plate long-term. If Navarro slumps again, Jaso will be waiting in the wings to provide some backstop punch to the Rays' lineup.

38. Ian Stewart, 3B/2B, Rockies
Projected 2008 role: Triple-A third baseman or second baseman
On long-term potential alone, Stewart would rate much higher on this list. But the amount of playing time he will see in 2008 is questionable. With Garrett Atkins entrenched at third base, Stewart, a natural third baseman, has been learning to play second base, as well as left field. Jayson Nix and Marcus Giles are battling for the Rockies' starting second base job, so Stewart likely will spend a good amount of time at Triple-A this season. However, an injury at either position, or, more likely, ineffectiveness from the second base combo, could give Stewart an opening. He profiles as a player who eventually could hit .300 with 20 homers in the majors.

39. Jack Egbert, SP, White Sox
Projected 2008 role: Triple-A starter
Egbert is an aggressive pitcher with excellent control who posted a 165-to-44 strikes-to-walks ratio in 162 Double-A innings in 2007 while allowing just three homers. As that low gopher-ball total might indicate, his sinker gets a lot of ground balls. He doesn't blow out radar guns, but he has two above-average secondary pitches, a slider and a curve. The back of the White Sox rotation is unsettled, and Egbert could be a solution at some point this season. Others might mention Lance Broadway ahead of Egbert, but I don't see Broadway as anything other than a Triple-A pitcher.

40. Sam Fuld, OF, Cubs
Projected 2008 role: fifth outfielder
Fuld might end up in a reserve outfield role in Chicago, but he is capable of playing every day if given the chance. He can play all three outfield positions, which will help get his name on the lineup card a little more often. He is not a burner but could quietly steal 15-20 bases with semi-regular playing time. "I'd definitely like to steal a few more bases this season," Fuld said. "I can incorporate that more into my game." If Felix Pie doesn't pan out in center field, Fuld could get a look. Matt Murton being dealt would boost Fuld's chances at playing time.

41. Jed Lowrie, SS/2B, Red Sox
Projected 2008 role: Triple-A infielder
Lowrie is another version of Dustin Pedroia, given his ability to hit for average, make contact and control the strike zone. "Being patient pays off in the long run," Lowrie said. "A big factor is that I have the confidence to hit with two strikes if I have to." Lowrie also has a little more pop than Pedroia. He will wait at Triple-A for an injury to either Pedroia or Julio Lugo, or for Lugo to struggle with the bat again. He has played some at third base as well.

Steve Pearce
AP Photo/Jeff RobersonSteve Pearce has a major league-ready bat, but where will he play?
42. Steve Pearce, RF/1B, Pirates
Projected 2008 role: Triple-A right fielder
The biggest question about Pearce's 2008 value is his amount of playing time. While the Pirates seem to believe Pearce's bat is ready for the major leagues, he is stuck behind Jason Bay, Adam LaRoche and Xavier Nady, so unless something breaks, he likely will spend most of the year at Triple-A. He put up .333-31-113 numbers in 487 minor league at-bats across three levels last season. "I stopped rolling over and getting myself out on pitches away, trying to pull everything to left," Pearce said. "I started using the whole field and staying through the ball." He might need to tone down his aggressiveness a bit to succeed at the major league level, but his power potential is worth watching if he gets some playing time.

43. Nolan Reimold, OF, Orioles
Projected 2008 role: Triple-A outfielder
Reimold is an under-the-radar prospect who definitely deserves attention. He battled injuries the past two seasons but has shown an ability to hit to all fields, with both power and batting average, when healthy. He has a couple of holes in his swing that upper-level pitchers might take advantage of, but he has been able to cover up some of them with great bat speed. The Orioles are hoping he can be a part of their outfield picture by the second half of the season, perhaps in left field if Luke Scott is not getting the job done. His offensive potential reminds me a lot of Michael Cuddyer.

44. Eugenio Velez, 2B/OF, Giants
Projected 2008 role: Triple-A second baseman/outfielder
He has big-time speed, with 64 and 58 stolen bases, respectively, the past two seasons. He can play second base or the outfield, enhancing his chances of playing time if he doesn't get a starting job. He might see some big league at-bats in the second half of the season, and his speed makes him worth paying close attention to if he does.

45. Chin-Lung Hu, SS, Dodgers
Projected 2008 role: Triple-A shortstop
If something were to happen to Rafael Furcal or Jeff Kent, Hu likely would be a beneficiary of increased playing time, especially after gaining 15 pounds last season, developing a little more juice in his bat and maintaining his ability to make contact. He is capable of winning a Gold Glove award at shortstop right now and profiles as a potential .300 hitter with doubles power. He could win a utility job in spring training if the Dodgers want to go that route in his development. More than likely, however, Hu will head to Triple-A and be installed as the starting shortstop next season when Furcal's contract expires.

46. Jonathan Meloan, RP, Dodgers
Projected 2008 role: Triple-A closer or starter
Meloan is the definition of a power pitcher, bringing mid-90s sinking heat and a tight slider. He also mixes in a knuckle-curve that has potential. In the bullpen, he could be a carbon copy of Jonathan Broxton, but there is talk of making him a starter again this spring. Either way, his raw ability is the kind on which you want to take a chance, regardless of role. There are some concerns about his durability, and his delivery isn't mechanically sound, but his upside is tantalizing. We'll need to see what the Dodgers plan to do with him. Even in middle relief, he could be a solid strikeout-per-inning reliever, which is useful to have in 5x5 play.

47. Max Scherzer , RP, Diamondbacks
Projected 2008 role: potential future closer
Although the D-backs first will give Scherzer an opportunity to be a starting pitcher, he dazzled as a reliever in the Arizona Fall League, with his fastball touching 98 mph and showing a slider with nice tilt. Don't think the D-backs' powers that be won't have that in the back of their minds if their closing situation gets dicey this year after dealing Jose Valverde. As a starter, Scherzer still is in development mode because he needs more consistency with his slider and an improved offspeed pitch. But as a member of the bullpen, he would be capable of providing immediate fantasy help in 2008. We'll see which path he ultimately takes.

48. Reid Brignac, SS, Rays
Projected 2008 role: Triple-A shortstop
If Jason Bartlett gets off to a slow start in 2008, Brignac will be waiting in the wings at Triple-A. Ideally, the Rays would like to give Brignac the full year at Triple-A to build strength on his lanky frame, but he profiles as a player with 20-plus-homer potential and the ability to hit to all fields. If he starts hot in the minors and Bartlett struggles, the timetable might be accelerated.

49. Jordan Schafer, OF, Braves
Projected 2008 role: Triple-A center fielder
The Braves' trade for Mark Kotsay gives Schafer the additional minor league development time he needs, but given Kotsay's injury history, it's conceivable Schafer might be needed sooner rather than later. Schafer had a breakout season in 2007, leading the minor leagues in hits while playing High-A ball in his second full year as a pro. He impressed scouts with his bat speed and all-around game. The proverbial "gamer," he places an emphasis on average over power, has enough speed to post double-digit steals and has above-average defense in center field. The bottom line is that Schafer's presence in their system made it much easier for the Braves to let Andruw Jones depart in free agency. The Braves never have been shy about promoting prospects straight from Double-A, but they have enough options to be patient with Schafer.

50. Luke Hochevar, SP, Royals
Projected 2008 role: starter-in-waiting at Triple-A
The Royals still are waiting for the pitcher they thought they were getting when they selected Hochevar with the first overall pick in the 2006 draft. He has a ton of potential but lacks polish. At times, he is a strikeout/grounder machine, but more often than not, he has problems repeating his delivery and throwing quality strikes with his secondary stuff. He will compete for a rotation job this season and needs to show improved command to take that next step.

51. Dan Meyer, SP, Athletics
Projected 2008 role: rotation candidate
He was the prized prospect from the deal that sent Tim Hudson to Atlanta, but then he battled shoulder problems for two-plus seasons, finally getting back on track and reaching the majors again late last season. He proved he was able to stay healthy and still had big league-caliber potential. He likely will be in the mix for a rotation job at some point if he continues his progress from last year. Consider him a mild sleeper who gets more consideration because he is closer to a big league job.

52. Chris Volstad, SP, Marlins
Projected 2008 role: starter-in-waiting at Triple-A
Volstad is the Marlins' top pitching prospect, and given the state of flux in which the Florida rotation is projected to be this season, he certainly could make the progression from Double-A in 2007 to the major league level. He throws a sinking fastball that gets a ton of groundball outs and complements it with a plus curveball that has spike. Volstad throws strikes but could be a little more "effectively wild." He also needs to find some sort of out pitch, as his strikeout rate is rather pedestrian. He eventually should be a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter in the majors. He could use at least a full year in the minors, but Florida might try to push him quickly.

53. Wade Davis and Jacob McGee, SP, Rays
Projected 2008 role: starters-in-waiting at Triple-A
I put these two together because they both are frontline starter prospects on similar paths in their development. Both are most likely ticketed for the majors in 2009, but injuries or other developments could get them there faster. Their tremendous talent places them on our radar screen, just in case. In a different organization, they might not make this list, but there still are enough question marks in the back of the Tampa Bay rotation to consider them. Davis is the better of the two at this point.

54. Collin Balester, SP, Nationals
Projected 2008 role: starter-in-waiting at Triple-A
While Ross Detwiler has more long-term upside, Balester is closer to being ready for the major leagues and should make his debut this season. The 21-year-old has been pushed aggressively, and he held his own at Double-A last year. He has the makings of a quality fastball/curveball combination, but he needs to refine his overall command and develop his changeup. His curve also has the makings of a strikeout pitch once he gets more consistent feel. He could be a sleeper in the back of the Nationals' rotation.

[+] EnlargeRadhames Liz
Diamond Images/Getty ImagesRadhames Liz, like teammate Daniel Cabrera, struggles to throw strikes. But those K numbers ...
55. Radhames Liz, SP, Orioles
Projected 2008 role: starter-in-waiting at Triple-A
Liz was thoroughly dominant at Double-A last season, striking out 161 batters in 137 innings, but he also walked 70 and looked too much like Daniel Cabrera in nine big league outings. He has three plus pitches, but his command and control vary widely. The talent is there. It remains to be seen if he can take that next step forward that has eluded Cabrera, but his raw stuff is tantalizing. He will compete for a job in the Baltimore rotation at some point this season but likely will open at Triple-A.

56. Mitch Boggs, SP, Cardinals
Projected 2008 role: starter-in-waiting at Triple-A
There is not a lot of depth in the Cardinals' starting staff at the big league level or in the high minors, which means Boggs could see some big league time this season after spending all of 2007 at Double-A. He has a "frisbee" slider that is a true out pitch and an above-average sinker, but he needs to throw more strikes, show better command and develop a useable changeup. "I changed my grip, and I'm still trying to get a feel for [a changeup]," Boggs said. "I've still got a bit of work to do on it."

57. Charlie Morton, SP, Braves
Projected 2008 role: starter-in-waiting at Triple-A
Here is a deep sleeper alert, as Morton never has had the production commensurate with his stuff. He has put up terrible numbers in the minors, including a 4.29 ERA and 1.47 WHIP as a reliever at Double-A. But he might have turned the corner as a starter at the Arizona Fall League after making some mechanical changes to keep him from throwing across his body. He showed a mid-90s fastball and solid secondary pitches and finally seemed to find consistent control, putting him in contention for a big league role in 2008. I got a lot of the same vibe that I did while watching James Shields at the AFL in 2005.

58. David Purcey and Ricky Romero, SP, Blue Jays
Projected 2008 role: Triple-A starters
These two are lumped together because they will serve as the primary starting pitching depth for the Jays at Triple-A. Purcey thrust himself into consideration for big league duty this season with a solid performance at the Arizona Fall League. A 2004 first-round pick, he has battled injury woes and mechanical issues in his pro career, and he has not been able to develop consistent command. He basically is a two-pitch guy, with a mid-90s fastball that has movement down in the zone and a good curveball that he is starting to throw for strikes. Romero is a former first-round pick with underwhelming results to date, partially because he battled elbow and shoulder problems the past two seasons. He has very good raw stuff across the board but has problems repeating his delivery and has found consistent command elusive. Sometimes ranking short-term value is as simple as identifying who has a realistic opportunity of getting major league time. One or both of these two just might get a shot.

59. Felipe Paulino, SP, Astros
Projected 2008 role: Triple-A starter
Paulino has hit triple digits on the radar gun, which makes some observers feel he is miscast as a starting pitcher. He also has a plus curveball when he is able to throw it for strikes. He has trouble repeating his delivery, causing command and control problems. If Jose Valverde gets injured, Paulino could be considered to close. He will get a chance in the big leagues at some point next season, but we will have to see in what role. His power arm is worth monitoring.

60. Chris Perez, RP, Cardinals
Projected 2008 role: potential future closer
Should something happen to Jason Isringhausen, Perez is seen as the closer of the future for the Cards. He has the prototypical arsenal of a power stopper, including a mid-90s heater and a sharp slider. His main drawback is he needs to throw more strikes. A lot more strikes. "I've never been a guy that comes in and goes 1-2-3," Perez said. He also could use sharper command within the zone. However, he has the mound presence and short memory that could help him succeed in the closer's role. He will be in line for a bullpen job at some point this season, and we will see what happens from there.

61. Jason Pridie, OF, Twins
Projected 2008 role: reserve outfielder
If Carlos Gomez doesn't turn out to be ready for full-time duty, Pridie could wind up seeing some extra time in the Twins' outfield. At the risk of hyperbole, Pridie does play a little like Grady Sizemore Light. OK, ultra-light … but good skills, nonetheless. He has a good chance to earn at least a backup spot this spring.

62. Eric Hurley, SP, Rangers
Projected 2008 role: starter-in-waiting at Triple-A
The poor state of the Rangers' rotation means they undoubtedly will need to call upon Hurley's services at some point. However, Hurley, their best prospect, didn't progress last season in developing a third pitch, a changeup, and will need to refine that pitch to get out big league lefties. He throws strikes and has a quality fastball/slider combination, but a fly-ball pitcher in Arlington generally is asking for trouble.

63. Matt Harrison, SP, Rangers
Projected 2008 role: starter-in-waiting at Triple-A
One never knows with the Rangers' rotation. Harrison came over from the Braves in the Mark Teixeira deal and, after a late-season shoulder problem, put together a good string of starts in the Arizona Fall League. That put him on track to see some big league time in the second half of this year. He is a command lefty who induces ground balls, so he has a chance to fill out the back of the Rangers' rotation and neutralize his homer park a bit.

64. Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pirates
Projected 2008 role: Triple-A center fielder
McCutchen wows scouts in the tools department, especially with his game-altering speed. He struggled at Double-A last season but still profiles as a prototypical leadoff hitter with the potential to be among the league's stolen base leaders. The Pirates even think he eventually could develop some pop in a Carl Crawford-like fashion, although I question that. The Pirates have other immediate options in center, so there is no need to rush McCutchen. On tools alone, he should rate higher on this list, but he hasn't turned those tools into good production yet. He could see some big league time in the second half, but I think that's it.

65. Neil Walker, 3B, Pirates
Projected 2008 role: Triple-A third baseman
Walker is a former catcher who was converted to third base in order to get his bat to the major leagues more quickly. Considering the unstable Jose Bautista is the incumbent, Walker certainly will get a shot to hit his way to the big league level this season. The switch hitter works the strike zone well and has developing power. He projects to be a .290 hitter with a good OBP and 20-plus homers. He is defensively challenged at third base and might ultimately wind up in the outfield.

66. Matt Maloney, SP, Reds
Projected 2008 role: starter-in-waiting at Triple-A
Maloney is a sinkerball lefty who has posted solid strikeout totals in the minors thanks to his good breaking stuff. He has the command to get by with his high-80s fastball as a fifth starter in the big leagues, although his home park won't help him any. He'll start the season at Triple-A and wait for an opening.

67. Eduardo Morlan, RP, Rays
Projected 2008 role: potential future closer
The closer for the Rays, Troy Percival, is 38 and has not been a full-time closer for three seasons. His setup man, Al Reyes, will be 38 in early April and faded badly in the second half last season. Morlan struck out 99 batters in 69 innings in the minors last season, and he has the repertoire -- a four-seam fastball with run, plus change and solid slider -- to back it up. Can you say "deep saves sleeper"?

68. Bob McCrory, RP, Orioles
Projected 2008 role: Triple-A closer candidate
The addition of George Sherrill gives the Orioles an obvious closer candidate heading into the season, but what happens if he gets hurt? Considering the issues the Orioles had in their bullpen last year, McCrory's 97-mph heater and solid breaking ball could wind up being a factor in the late innings if he harnesses his control a bit.

69. Scott Mathieson, SP, Phillies
Projected 2008 role: starter-in-waiting at Triple-A
Mathieson was a top pitching prospect until he missed last season because of Tommy John surgery. He likely will begin the season in Triple-A to work his way back and is a definite sleeper if he gets a spot in the back of Philly's rotation later in the year. The Phillies might wind up bringing him back to the big leagues as a reliever, and his fastball/slider combination also would do well in that role.

70. Greg Smith, SP, Athletics
Projected 2008 role: starter-in-waiting at Triple-A
The competition for jobs in the Oakland rotation might be wide open, and although he doesn't have the upside of fellow prospect Brett Anderson, Smith is a bit more polished and is a little bit closer to being major league-ready. He is not a power pitcher, but he has three quality offerings, throws strikes and knows how to use his repertoire. He might wind up being just a bit too hittable for long-term success, but with a rotation opportunity, he has enough talent to be worth monitoring.

Jason Grey is a graduate of the MLB Scouting Bureau's Scout Development Program, and has won two Tout Wars titles, one LABR title, and numerous other national "experts" competitions.

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