Monday, May 24, 2010

Checking in on the top 100 Prospects pt. 1

Now roughly five weeks into the season, I figure it is a good time to check in on the players I listed as the top 100 prospects in baseball before the season. Stats obviously do not mean everything with prospects, but it is still nice to know who is sinking and who is swimming.

1. Stephen Strasburg - Strasburg has been every kind of good imaginable. An ERA under 1.00, nearly 11 K/9 and zero home runs allowed. He should be called up within the next couple of weeks and could be one of the best starters in the NL immediately.

2. Jason Heyward - It was a bit of a surprise to see Heyward make Atlanta's opening day roster, but he's been their best player so far. He has hit for average, hit for power and drawn plenty of walks. At this point there appears to be no doubt Heyward will be a star.

3. Buster Posey - Posey has been one of the top AAA performers in AAA this year. His bat looks to be ready for the majors right now but Giants GM Brian Sabean keeps insisting Posey needs more time in the minors; that is likely nothing more than a cover story and Sabean just wants to delay Posey's arbitration clock.

4. Jesus Montero - As a 20-year-old in AAA, a tough start to the season was not a shock for Montero, who is scuffling a bit. His contact rate and plate discipline have been strong and he has hit some doubles so there is definitely no reason to worry yet, he'll figure it out.

5. Desmond Jennings - Jennings was hurt (again) to open the year but has been his old self since healthy. Injuries remain a major concern, but they are about the only one tarnishing Jennings' prospct status.

6. Dustin Ackley - Ackley got off to the worst start of any top prospect, struggling with a tough AA assignment and new defensive position (second base). He has turned it around a bit in May and his plate discipline was strong even through his struggles; a glimpse of power would be a welcome sign but Ackley is still an elite prospect.

7. Brian Matusz - Matusz has spent all of 2010 in the majors and has seen mixed results thus far. His ERA is currently over 5.00 but he has pitched better than that, evidenced mostly by a high strikeout rate. He will have to take his lumps because pitching in the AL East is the toughest assignment you can get.

8. Pedro Alvarez - There were two major concerns surrounding Alvarez entering this season, his ability to hit lefties and his high strikeout rate. He has done a respectable job against south paws but has struck out in over 1/4 of his at-bats so far this season. His inability to make consistent contact will become an issue once he makes it to Pittsburgh.

9, Carlos Santana - Santana has been just about the best player in the minors so far this year. He has done literally everything you could ask for and more... he has even stolen four bases this year without being caught.

10. Neftali Feliz - I still believe it is a mistake to use a player of Feliz' talents out of the bullpen, but there is no denying that he is the best option Texas has to close out games right now, and he has been solid in that role.

11. Jeremy Hellickson - Steady as she goes for Hellickson, he continues to show excellent command and the ability to miss bats at AAA. Everything has gone right for the Rays this year so far, but if one of their starters falters, Hellickson appears ready to step in.

12. Wade Davis - Davis has posted an impressive ERA for Tampa Bay thus far, but his peripherals are less impressive. Even so, he looks like a solid mid-rotation starter going forward with the potential to be more than that.

13. Domonic Brown - It is pretty remarkable how far Brown has come as a player since being drafted. He is starting to use his raw power more consistently in games, making him a true 5-tool player.

14. Logan Morrison - Morrison got a late start on the season, nursing an injury early on but has been absolutely on fire since retaking the field. He remains one of the best and well-rounded first base prospects in the game.

15. Michael Taylor - Taylor has not had the greatest 2010 thus far as his aggressiveness has been exploited at the plate. He is still driving the ball well and should adjust to the more advanced pitching with a little more time.

16. Aroldis Chapman - Chapman has been just about what I expected this season. He has thrown very hard, struck out a lot of people and walked a lot of people. His arm is special but there is still plenty of development left ahead of him.

17. Madison Bumgarner - Nobody really seems to know what to make about Bumgarner. After being crushed in his first couple starts and rarely coming close to 90 MPH he seems to have turned the corner in both his velocity and results. Only time will if his this is for real or not.

18. Starlin Castro - Castro rocketed up prospect lists last year and has continued exceed expectations. After lapping the field in AA he earned an early promotion to the majors and just has not slowed down. At some point I will just accept that he is a future star and stop being surprised when he makes baseball look easy.

19. Mike Stanton - I was more skeptical about Stanton than almost anyone, his strikeouts scared me and they still do. However he already has 17 home runs this year and 35 walks to go with his 42 strikeouts. He has more power than just about anyone and could be an Adam Dunn or Ryan Howard type hitter.

20. Chris Carter - After making significant progress the last couple seasons, Carter has regressed some this year, offering at more pitches out of the zone and seeing his strikeout rate soar. He will need to keep those in check if he wants to have success at the highest level.

21. Justin Smoak - Smoak's plate discipline was too advanced for the minors and his BB/K ratio has remained excellent over 30 games in the majors. His results have suffered I think from poor luck more than anything else and once that evens out he will start hitting.

22. Brett Wallace - Wallace has been crushing the ball in AAA with 25 extra-base hits so far this season. He hasn't shown great discipline at the plate but is hitting so well he should be able to get by if he is called up in the next couple of weeks.

23. Martin Perez - Poor control has hampered Perez so far this season as he is struggling for the first time in AA. The strikeouts and groundballs are still there and it is hard to believe this is anything more than a bump in the road.

24. Mike Montgomery - I was more aggressive in my ranking of Montgomery than most, but he has justified my ranking thus far, striking out tons of batters and not allowing a home run in 47 innings.

25. Kyle Drabek - 2009 was a remarkable season for Drabek and all of the hype surrounding him may have resulted in his being overrated by some. He is still a bit raw, evidenced by his high walk rate, but still looks to have #2 starter potential.

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