Everybody's favorite articles. the prospect reviews, thanks to Nick Devlin for actually reading. I wrote all of these before the season started, but I'll put an asterisk if I decide to add any updates.
30 Michael Saunders, of, Mariners – I’d say this is a little high for him. He is a guy that is probably going to have to move to left field as he has good, but not great speed and a below average arm. For that position, you really need to produce to be a star, and I think he is going to be solid, but not great. I think plate discipline will be an issue for him as it showed up during his brief time in the majors last year. He’s athletic and toolsy, but he’s not super young, and the Mariners certainly haven’t given him a clear path to contribute this year which is a sign that they aren’t completely sold on him.
29 Michael Taylor, of, Athletics – Taylor is built like a football player, but despite that, he really doesn’t have huge power. He’s a corner outfielder who I feel is going to be a good but not great player. I think this ranking is pretty fair, because he dominated Double-A and put up solid numbers at Triple-A. I do not think there’s any justification in putting Brett Wallace ahead of him, as I think he’s the better prospect and the Athletics won on that side deal with the Blue Jays.
28 Chris Carter, of/1b, Athletics – I honestly don’t see much of a difference between Chris Carter and Ryan Howard when he was a prospect. This guy has huge power, patience, but he strikes out a lot, because of his big swing. Personally, I think you could make a strong case for him being near or in the Top 10. I think this is somebody who is greatly underrated by Baseball America.
27 Brett Wallace, 3b/1b, Blue Jays – This is far too high of a ranking for The Walrus. Now I finally get to use my scouting eye since I saw a bunch of games of Wallace’s a couple years ago when he spent some illustrious time playing for the Quad Cities River Bandits. He isn’t this good. He was pretty piss poor at third base, so either the Blue Jays take a big hit playing him at third or they move him to first where he’s average. He doesn’t have big time power, so he’s really not going to be great for first base. There have been a lot of Lyle Overbay comparisons, and I think that sounds pretty accurate. That’s not the 27 prospect in baseball.
26 Jacob Turner, rhp, Tigers – This seems like the right range for Jacob Turner, but there’s a lot of volatility with him since he has yet to throw a pitch above the high school level. He’s got a fastball that reaches the high 90s, a big breaking curveball, and a changeup that shows potential. He was arguably the best high school arm in the draft, but he fell due to signability concerns, and that is how he became a Tiger. The Tigers do this revolutionary thing called drafting the best available player, and paying him. It’s worked out really well for them. Somehow, most teams have not caught on to this strategy.
25 Kyle Drabek, rhp, Blue Jays – Although I’d like to put him higher for being Doug Drabek’s offspring, when I looked at everything, this seems about right. He made a successful return from Tommy John surgery where he dominated at High-A, and did well at Double-A. He’s got a good fastball and an excellent curve, and I could see him taking another step forward this year since he will be another year removed from surgery. He’s a little undersized, and those guys are traditionally underrated, but I feel this is probably a fair rating for what he’s shown so far.
24 Casey Kelly, rhp, Red Sox – Kelly should be in the Top 20. He dominated Low-A and did really well at High-A in half a season of pitching. He only pitched half a season, because he played shortstop the second half of the season. Shortstop has now been given up, because he is a far better pitcher. He dominated in year one, and now that he is fully focused on pitching, it’s only going to get better. On top of being able to play shortstop, he also had football scholarship offers coming out of high school, so the guy is a sick athlete, and it should be fun to watch him at the higher levels this year.
23 Tyler Matzek, lhp, Rockies – I really like Matzek, especially because he gives hope for my boy Madison Bumgarner. His velocity wasn’t that great at times during his senior year of high school, but then he started putting it up in the mid-90s, and he was seen as maybe the most talented high school pitcher in the draft. His fastball and curveball have the potential for greatness, and like all high school pitchers, he needs to develop a changeup. The potential is definitely there, so he could justify this rating or drop quite a bit depending on his performance this year. I think this is a fair ranking.
22 Aroldis Chapman, lhp, Reds – Chapman could probably be higher, but the transition from Cuba to MLB is a difficult one to project. All the scouting reports are glowing, but he’s still a guy who should spend a good portion of 2010 in the minors to acclimate himself to playing in America as well as just being in America. Chapman is a great example of why a lot of teams are dumber than shit with their money. He got $30 million in his contract, yet there are still teams who refuse to go from 1.8 to 2 million when negotiating with a prospect. There are still no teams that draft the best player available in every round of the draft. And even if they do draft that guy, they set their budget and refuse to go over it. It isn’t a small market, big market difference, the Yankees should be kicking themselves in the ass for drafting Gerrit Cole and not signing him. He has a great chance to be the #1 pick in 2011, and the Yankees had him but they refused to go up to 3 or 4 million to sign him. Meanwhile, I could just about guarantee that they were up at 20 million guaranteed for Chapman. This is why the salary cap is not a big issue, and it’s also why defense isn’t the great new frontier for teams to gain advantages. Every team fails in acquiring amateur talent on the cheap, because it’s not quite cheap enough, this is the new OBP.
21 Ryan Westmoreland, of, Red Sox – This is a guy that I would probably put a few spots higher where he would probably be in that 10-15 range. He has excellent tools across the board and he did a great job in short-season ball last year where he showed some power, but is projected for more. Injury concerns are the only real knock on the guy at this point, but Westmoreland could definitely be a special player as he’s already getting Grady Sizemore comparisons.
*Westmoreland had brain surgery, so the biggest thing is that he can make a recovery from that.
P.S. Here are my Strikeforce winners: Overeem, Arlovski, Jacare, Gracie, Cavalcante, and Beerbohm