Mark Anderson and Denis Savage of Scout.com quarreled, conceded, raged, and finally concurred on the top 25 position prospects in all of baseball.
Where did your team’s prospects rank?
All rankings take into account rookie eligibility. A player shall be considered a rookie unless, during a previous season or seasons, he has (a) exceeded 130 at-bats in the Major Leagues; or (b) accumulated more than 45 days on the active roster of a Major League club or clubs during the period of 25-player limit. Players who have not signed a professional contract were deemed ineligible.
Without further ado, we present the top 25 position prospects:
1. Jason Heyward – OF – Atlanta Braves
Blessed with tremendous power stacked on a well-built frame, Heyward also possesses an uncanny eye for such a slugger. He is the total package, moving across three levels in 2009 and reaching Triple-A just after turning 20 years old. He has plus tools across the board and projects as a future All-Star.
2. Jesus Montero – C – New York Yankees
Big bodied and strong, the slugging catcher hit a combined .337 with 17 home runs in just 347 combined at-bats between High-A and Double-A before a broken finger shelved him in August. He's just 19 years old and while his defense isn't considered strong behind the plate, his bat can play anywhere.
3. Carlos Santana – C – Cleveland Indians
Indians catching prospect Carlos Santana is often compared as a switch-hitter to Victor Martinez, with a body type similar to Pudge Rodriguez. Like Martinez, he's a converted infielder who hits with power. Like Rodriguez, he's a squat (5-foot-11, 200-pounds) receiver with surprising agility and a good arm. Santana was MVP of the Eastern League, hitting .290 with 23 homers to lead Akron to the championship.
4. Desmond Jennings – OF – Tampa Bay Rays
Jennings cemented himself as an elite prospect on the heels of a .318/.401/.487 line with 52 steals across two levels in 2009. "He has everything you want in a player. He can run, hit, hit for some power, and play outstanding defense. He was one of the best players I saw this year," said an NL scout. Jennings is on the verge of the big leagues, and he could make an impact for the Rays as soon as next year.
5. Pedro Alvarez - 3B – Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pirates named third baseman Pedro Alvarez their minor league Player of the Year. Alvarez hit a combined .288 with 32 doubles, 27 home runs, 95 RBI and 80 runs scored in 126 games between Single-A Lynchburg and Double-A Altoona. “Pedro performed up to the lofty expectations placed upon him, showing a quality combination of power and patience plus improving defense,” said Pirates’ director of player development Kyle Stark. “He performed across two levels, raising his level of play as he faced tougher competition at Double-A.”
6. Buster Posey – C - San Francisco Giants
Posey displayed the prowess that prompted the Giants to take him fifth overall in the 2008 draft, batting .325 with 18 home runs and 80 RBI across two leagues. He also nailed 46-percent of would-be base stealers, but he was charged with 14 passed balls. Scouts are critical of his ball blocking technique, but there is no doubting his patience at the plate, pitch selection and throwing fundamentals.
7. Mike Stanton – OF – Florida Marlins
With 67 home runs and 189 RBI over the last two years, Stanton is a middle of the order run producer that can change the fate of a game with a single blow. His raw power rivals anyone in the minor leagues, and he is a threat to hit 40 bombs annually at the major league level. He also has a plus arm with surprising range and crisp route running that will fit nicely in right field. His power/defense combination is routinely sought but rarely found.
8. Dustin Ackley – OF – Seattle Mariners
Ackley's value centers on his speed, defense and plate skills, but the number two overall pick in the 2009 draft is expected to transition to the wood bat well and develop enough power, resulting in an above-average regular. Ackley profiles as a plus defender in center with strong on-base skills and plus speed, ideal for the top of the batting order.
9. Justin Smoak – 1B – Texas Rangers
Smoak is a switch-hitting first baseman with plus hitting ability, good plate discipline, and above-average power. He is the complete package offensively, and he's also solid defensively. The 22-year-old struggled while seeing a steady diet of off-speed pitches after his promotion to Triple-A, but he rebounded late and should get his major league debut sometime in 2010.
10. Aaron Hicks – OF – Minnesota Twins
An athletic specimen that is a plus-plus defender and could make the majors on his outfield skills alone, Hicks also has terrific strike zone awareness, above-average speed that he is learning how to use, and power potential. At 20, Hicks could blossom into a star that does it all. His solid hitting foundation has a chance to earn him perennial All-Star nods.
11. Josh Vitters - 3B – Chicago Cubs
Vitters has the potential to hit for average and power, but he needs to improve his anemic walk totals. He seems to have a knack for developing minor nags and bruises, normally with his hand or wrist, but that could be because the Cubs are just being cautious with their top prospect (really one of their only legit position prospects). His defense is average at best, for now, and perhaps better classified as suspect. His bat, however, will allow him to play for a long time.
12. Todd Frazier - 2B/OF – Cincinnati Reds
The true value of Frazier is his ability to play second base and the numbers he could put up from a position that doesn’t normally see as much power. While he does have a little loop in his swing, Frazier is a hitter that continues to mature and refine his approach. While some have questioned whether he can stick in the middle infield, Frazier isn’t given enough credit for his range, footwork, and balance. His bat would also play well in the outfield, if it comes to it.
13. Brett Wallace - 3B – Toronto Blue Jays
Wallace is major league ready less than two years after being drafted in the first-round by St. Louis. He uses a balanced swing and an advanced feel for the strike zone to hit for average and to all fields. He also has good power and is a prototypical run producer. Wallace will stay at third base, for now, but defense isn't his forte, and he is a candidate to move to first in the coming years. His bat will play at either position.
14. Jaff Decker – OF – San Diego Padres
The 19-year-old led the Midwest League in on-base percentage, flashing power with 16 homers and maintained incredible patience throughout the year. While he has an open stance, Decker has proven he can hit the inside fastball and go with pitches on the outer half because his setup is clean and his path to the ball short and compact. His ability to let the ball travel deep enhances his pitch recognition. Decker is also an athlete with a plus arm and a tick above average defensively, despite misguided reports citing him as a Matt Stairs clone.
15. Tyler Flowers – C – Chicago White Sox
Flowers came over in the Javier Vazquez deal last winter and instantly became the best catching prospect the White Sox have ever had. He has thrown out 28-percent of would-be base stealers over the past two seasons, despite being a recent convert to the position. Additionally, this 245-pound behemoth provides a first baseman’s stick at a premium defensive position.
16. Domonic Brown – OF – Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies have always felt that Brown was capable of hitting for more power than he was showing, and this season, his power started to develop. Brown hit a career-high 14 home runs across two leagues and hit a combined .298 between High-A and Double-A. The left-handed hitting Brown also has plus speed and strong defensive skills that are good enough to play at any spot in the outfield.
17. Chris Carter - 1B – Oakland A’s
Carter has hit 67 homeruns during the last two minor league regular seasons and has driven in 219 runs. He dramatically improved his strike-zone recognition in 2009 and upped his average more than 70 points. Carter is a classic right-handed middle-of-the-order bat and should make his major league debut sometime in 2010.
18. Ryan Westmoreland – OF – Boston Red Sox
Westmoreland was limited to DH duty for much of the 2009 season, as he completed his recovery from a torn labrum, and his time in the field was further shortened as he broke his clavicle after running into an outfield wall. When healthy, Westmoreland has elite tools and the ability to be a complete player. His speed and power make him not only Boston's most exciting prospect, but one of baseball's most exciting.
19. Mike Moustakas - 3B – Kansas City Royals
Playing his home games at the cavernous Frawley Stadium, Moustakas' season numbers probably won't jump out at anyone, although the young third baseman did show signs of becoming the run producer the Royals crave. Moustakas parlayed his plus power in a season that produced more home runs (16) than any Blue Rock in a decade, and he finished third in the Carolina League with 86 RBI. It remains to be seen if the 21-year-old will stick at third base, but his plus arm should play somewhere on the diamond.
20. Michael Taylor – OF – Oakland A’s
The right-handed hitting Taylor was pounding Double-A pitching before getting a promotion to Triple-A Lehigh Valley within the Phillies system. Between the two levels, Taylor hit .320 with 20 home runs and 84 RBI, finishing the season with 21 stolen bases. Defensively, Taylor has a strong, accurate arm and committed just three errors all season long, playing primarily as a corner outfielder.
21. Matt Dominguez - 3B – Florida Marlins
After a breakout 2008 campaign that saw him hit .296/.354/.499 as an 18-year-old in full-season ball, Dominguez continued his progress by advancing all the way to Double-A in 2009, after hitting .262 with 11 home runs and 25 doubles in 103 Florida State League (FSL) games. "He's got it all at the hot corner for me. He can defend, hit for power, get on base, and I think you'll see the average come up as he matures," said an FSL manager.
22. Starlin Castro – SS – Chicago Cubs
The buzz has grown around Castro all year long with merit. He has flown through the minor leagues at 19, reaching Double-A and playing in the Arizona Fall League where he hit .376. A plus defender, Castro does everything right in the field. Sitting at 170-pounds, he has already shown gap power with the ability to use the entire field. Castro has the chance to be an impact bat as he fills out his frame.
23. Derek Norris – C – Washington Nationals
"Flat out one of the best catchers I've seen in the minor leagues. He did well behind the plate, and he hit everything in sight." Those were the glowing words of an AL scout who saw Norris on multiple occasions in 2009. Norris not only hit (.286/.413/.513 in 126 games), but he continued his defensive progress by throwing out 36-percent of potential base stealers. His all around game is coming along quickly, and he could force his way to Washington in very short order.
24. Alcides Escobar – SS – Brewers
Escobar is fundamentally sound and one of the best bunters in the minor leagues. He is a team player that plays small ball well, hitting behind the runner or getting a needed sacrifice fly. His speed is a definitive plus and can change the course of a game. He is also a plus defender in every aspect – glove, range, footwork, balance, and arm. With the progression of his bat over the last several years, Escobar is more than just a defensive specialist, he can also do damage with the stick.
25. Ben Revere – OF – Minnesota Twins
A contact hitter that struck out once every 15.21 plate appearances this past season, Revere has game-changing speed that invokes memories of leadoff men of the past. A terrific approach to hitting with a firm understanding of the zone and pitch recognition, he allows the ball to travel deep and hits the ball where it is pitched. Revere can keep the defense honest by driving some balls into the gaps. Defensively, he has improved his arm some over the last year, but it is his range and track down ability that is coveted.
Scout.com Minor League Baseball Analyst Mark Anderson is also the Managing Editor for TigsTown.com, which covers the Detroit Tigers, and Scout.com Senior MLB Editor Denis Savage is the publisher of MadFriars.com, covering the San Diego Padres. Visit http://MLB.scout.com today to see coverage for your favorite Major League Baseball team.
Next, the duo will determine the top 10 minor league prospects by position. Keep a look out for the by position rankings every Tuesday.