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September 30, 2010

Future Shock

Top 11 Review: AL East

by Kevin Goldstein

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Baltimore Orioles
No. 1 Prospect: Brian Matusz, LHP (18th overall)
What Was Said: “...has as much polish as any pitching prospect in the game.”
Analysis: While Matusz's 4.59 ERA might not impress, he's been outstanding at times, and the potential to be a consistent 15-18 game winner is still there as he learns how to pitch with his full arsenal to overcome an inability to miss bats.
Two Through Eleven: Lefty Zach Britton (fourth) was too low, and while third baseman Josh Bell (second) and Jake Arrieta (third) both reached the big leagues, Britton has the best chance to make a difference for this team long-term. The team's first-round pick in 2009, Matt Hobgood (fifth), was given a bit of a mulligan for his velocity dip, but it never came back this year. Some readers were upset that first baseman Brandon Snyder (seventh) didn't rank higher, but as it turned out, he didn't even deserve that ranking. Catcher Caleb Joseph (ninth) fell dramatically at Double-A, while corner infielder Brandon Waring (10th) hit tons of home runs but still strikes out far too much.
Sleeper: Named as a potential lefty power reliever, Ashur Tolliver had shoulder problems and then scuffled in the New York-Penn League.

Boston Red Sox
No. 1 Prospect: Ryan Westmoreland, OF (14th overall)
What Was Said: “...could be the kind of player people thought Grady Sizemore would become.”
Analysis: It's not fair to call it a miss, but Westmoreland's career remains in limbo following brain surgery to correct a vascular abnormality. He's currently with the team in Florida for instructional league, but limited to stretching and batting practice.
Two Through Eleven: Righty Casey Kelly (second) did not impress statistically, but he was a 20-year-old pitching full-time for the first time in his career, and Double-A was a heady assignment. The scouting reports are unchanged from last year. Outfielders Josh Reddick (third) and Ryan Kalish (fourth) flip-flopped, but Reddick finished the year strong. First baseman Anthony Rizzo (fifth) was well ahead of position-mate Lars Anderson (ninth) and proved why by leading the organization with 25 home runs after hitting just 12 in 2009. Pitchers Junichi Tazawa (seventh) and Michael Bowden (eighth) didn't help their case, while infielder Derrik Gibson (11th) failed to build on a big year in the New York-Penn League.
Sleeper: Outfielder Peter Hissey remains for more tools than actualization after an ugly .234/.308/.318 showing at High-A Salem.

New York Yankees
No. 1 Prospect: Jesus Montero, C (fourth overall)
What Was Said: “...one of the best offensive prospects in the game, and possibly the best.”
Analysis: After a slow start, Montero hit .351/.396/.684 after the All-Star break as a 20-year-old in Triple-A to maintain his reputation. Unfortunately, his defensive reports saw little improvement, so the Carlos Delgado comparisons remain.
Two Through Eleven: Righty Arodys Vizcaino (second) was dealt to the Braves and was outstanding before arm problems. That left southpaw Manny Banuelos (third) as the highest ranked prospect still in the system, and he didn't disappoint with a breakout year. That said, righty Zach McAllister was ranked fourth and saw his stock fall dramatically. Despite being 17 and having yet to play, catcher Gary Sanchez was ranked sixth, and proved to be worthy of the praise in an outstanding pro debut. Outfielders Slade Heathcott (seventh) and Kelvin DeLeon (eighth) both failed to tap into their tools, while righty D.J. Mitchell (11th) remains on track as a future ground ball machine. Notably absent: righties Andrew Brackman and Dellin Betances, but nobody saw Betances coming like he did.
Sleeper: Outfielder Abraham Almonte was one of the talks of spring training, but his season ended in April after shoulder surgery.

Tampa Bay Rays
No. 1 Prospect: Desmond Jennings, OF (seventh overall)
What Was Said: “...imagine Carl Crawford with more plate discipline.”
Analysis: While he hardly collapsed, Jennings struggled through an injury-plagued season at Triple-A Durham, batting .278/.362/.393 in 109 games. His speed, defense and contact ability should still allow him to be an impact-level center fielder, but with just three home runs in 399 at-bats, the power projection is starting to fall well below Crawford levels.
Two Through Eleven: Righty Jeremy Hellickson (second) continued to move up the charts while Wade Davis (third) proved to be a capable big league starter as a rookie. After an explosive showing in the New York-Penn League, Alex Colome (fourth) slipped a bit, in the sense that some think he'll end up a closer down the road. Matt Moore (fifth) led the minor leagues in strikeouts again, and was the best pitcher in the minors during the second half of the year. The first overall pick in 2008, Tim Beckham (sixth), will be lucky to make this year's list after zero progress at High-A and to have him ahead of fellow shortstop Reid Brignac (seventh) is just embarrassing at this point. Lefty Alex Torres (eighth) impressed at Double-A, while catcher Luke Bailey (11th) was slow to return after Tommy John surgery.
Sleeper: The injury curse of the sleepers continued in Tampa Bay, as 2009 ninth-round pick Kevin James tossed just 8 2/3 non-descript innings in the Gulf Coast League.

Toronto Blue Jays
No. 1 Prospect: Kyle Drabek, RHP (16th overall)
What Was Said: “...will be an All-Star level starter.”
Analysis: He's still on track to be just that after leading the Eastern League with 14 wins while finishing third in both ERA and strikeouts. His fastball and curve are both above-average big league offerings right now, and he should open 2011 in the Toronto rotation.
Two Through Eleven: First baseman Brett Wallace (second) is struggling mightily in the big leagues for Houston, and all Toronto got for him is high-risk/high-reward outfielder Anthony Gose after his 2010 scouting reports were filled with synonyms for mediocrity. Catcher Travis D'Arnaud (third) was great at times, but ultimately limited by back issues, one of the worst kind of injuries for a backstop. The good news is that fellow catcher J.P. Arencibia (fifth) had a power explosion that will likely make him an everyday player next year. Chad Jenkins (fourth), their 2009 first-rounder, failed to impress in his full-season debut. It's not that he was bad, as much as he was merely average across the board. Catcher Carlos Perez (seventh) and outfielder Jake Marisnick (eighth) continued to show plenty of tools and upside at the lower levels. Reliever Tim Collins (10th), continues to prove all of his critics wrong and is now on the verge of the big leagues after arriving in Kansas City via Atlanta.
Sleeper: The king of the multiple arm angles, righty Danny Farquhar cut his walk rate at Double-A, but not enough to help his prospect status much.   

Kevin Goldstein is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Kevin's other articles. You can contact Kevin by clicking here

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