Baseball’s Top 10 Prospects
With our weird blend of analysis, our top 10 prospects heading into the 2008 season.
To pat ourselves on the back (which must be getting pretty annoying to you guys by now) we didn’t wait until the year end rankings to anoint Bruce as our favorite prospect. Jay shows up five times in our 2007 archives and was given some mid-season MLB props (Jay Bruce ready for the Majors?). Giving into the laze, here’s a cut and paste quote from that article:
Despite his size (6?2, 218), Jay has the ability to play all three outfield positions. The main area on concern, as with most young hitters, is his strikeout to walk ratio, which is currently sitting at 100 K vs 33 BB. This is something that will most likely work itself out as he matures, and is somewhat reasonable when considering the rare combination of average and power that Bruce posses at such a young age.
I’m putting it out there now. Bruce should struggle in his first few months, just like Gordon & Young. He shares their traits of bashing minor league pitching and the poor BB/SO ratio that goes with it. Hitting AA & AAA pitching with a high K level is one thing, MLB pitching is a whole different story. I figure by mid-year he’ll be working things out. Don’t get me wrong, a poor BB/SO ratio isn’t as a big of a deal as some make it out to be if plus plus power exists. It just takes some time to adjust. Now if on the other hand he maintains his high K rate but is still hitting the longball at the MLB level early on then watch out. Bruce should be a near .300 MLB hitter with 40 HR capability in the next few seasons. He may also sneak in 15 – 20 SB as well.
Joba just mowed through hitters at every level in 2007, including the MLB. If he can avoid the Lake Erie flys he should pile up the strikeouts. Obvioulsy he has more value as a starter and if it takes a year or two to build up his endurance than so be it. His all-time career high in IP is 119 as a Nebraska sophomore. Between all levels he struck out 169 and walked only 33. That combo of strikeout power & control makes him #2.
Kershaw, still 19 & only 20 throughout the 2008 season is another power pitcher. While his control isn’t at as crazy as Joba’s, he still posted a 163/67 K/BB ratio in 2007, reaching AA. He should start the season again in AA and will certainly make AAA by mid-season and could be a Dodgers late season bullpen addition (as they like to do this with future starters). Clayton can hit 99 and usually hovers around 93 – 95 and he also brings a slower 75ish curve with power tilt & an improving change, all as a left-hander. It appeared that Kershaw began to wear a bit in the latter stages of 2007, so his stamina is one of the more important things to watch in 2008.
Longoria at 4! Most lists put him at #2. Evan has shown power and a good eye. He’ll probably end up being a mid 280s BA, .390 OBP and high power player. His AAA stats were good, although a low .269 BA is a small sign of concern. It appears that he’ll start 2008 in the MLB and I see some strikeouts in the first few months. After that he should settle down and he could knock 20+ HR in his rookie season along with a .260ish average. His D is reportedly good enough to stick at 3rd for his career, which is a nice plus vs most of the other outfield prospects on this and other lists. Longoria has 40 HR potential for the bulk of his career.
A constant theme will be players from the 2005 draft, which was absolutly stacked. Rasmus was a pitcher and outfielder in high school, bringing the mid 90’s heat as a lefty. The Cardinals went with him as a CF and it looks like the right choice. In AA as a 20 year old for most of the season, Colby slugged .551 with 29 HR, 18 steals and a good BB/SO ratio of 70/108. His .275 BA could use a lift but the plate patience, plus power, good speed and great defense is all there. The talk is that he may make the Cards out of spring, although I think a spell in AAA would benefit him more in the long run.
The nice thing about Buchholz vs some of the other prospects is the dominance at higher levels (above A+). In AA he held hitters to a .180 average with a 116/22 K/BB ratio. In AAA as a youngster he held his own with a .222 average against and 55 K in 38 IP, an impressive number for the International League.
His over the top curve is just nasty. One thing that I noticed during a AAA game is that Clay can’t hold runners to save his life. This could equate to some high SB allowed marks in 2008 but that is my biggest concern. I don’t expect anything more than a 4.00ish ERA in 2008. From there he can become a #2 on the Red Sox staff behind Beckett and would be a #1 on most any other team
Pushed hard, Maybin may be hurt in the short term by the Marlins. With basically just high A to his credit, Maybin needs some time in AA or at least AAA. On opening day he’ll be just 19 and 20 throughout the 2008 campaign. His high A batting stats were good, especially for the Flordia State League, which is hard on hitters (and power). He stole 25 bags, hit 10 HR, batted over .300 and held his own with a 43/83 BB/K ratio. The talent is there. Hopefully the Marlins have the sense to send Maybin down if he struggles at the MLB level. Although I’m not too sure of this, as he was the headliner in the Cabrera trade and the Marlins may feel that they have to show the fans something.
His strong AFL stint vs older competition solidified Snider in my eyes. As with Bruce, his BB/K ratio isn’t great (49/129), yet the plus power helps to override this. The Jays seem content with taking their time which is a good thing in this instant. His next stop is in the Flordia State League and his power at that level will be interesting to watch. I’m still about the only one around that is concerned with his BB/K splits (13/43) although he had a .950 OPS against them. I still question his D later on, as he’s already 245 LBS and in my eyes still projects as a LF or 1B. His high BA at each stop (.316) career carries high OBP and he slugged .525 in 2007. He probably won’t hit the majors in a meaningful role until the later half of 2009. The wait should be worth it.
Jacob or Jake as some outlets call him has been brought along slowly by the Rays, advancing only one level per season since 2004 except for a late season callup in 2007. He finsied the year in AA. McGee brings the strikeout, with 346 K in 273 IP over the past two seasons. His ERA was higher in AA, although milb ERA’s don’t mean much in the grand scheme of things. On area of concern in the longball. Another lefty, he featues a fastball around 95, a slider and a change. Opponents have yet to crack .250 in average against. One reason that McGee is on my top 10 list is his age (21 in for the 2008 season) and his experience. His endurance has slowly been built up and he should be ready for a full-time starter role on opening day in 2009.
A subpar stop at the MLB level has backed some people off Andy. Not me. Sure, he hit only .226. Missing is his 20 BB in under 120 PA, for a .365 MLB OBP. With that in place, the bat & power should come around. A high average hitter, LaRoche hit over .300 in both 2006 & 2007 milb seasons. His power isn’t what some had originally hooped for, although he still has 70 extra base hit potential (30 HR, 40 Doubles). Now can he stay healthy? That’s always been the knock and shall remain so until he proves otherwise. If healthy I expect a number of all-star seasons in LaRoche’s future.