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October 1, 2010

Future Shock

Top 11 Review: AL West

by Kevin Goldstein

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Los Angeles Angels
No. 1 Prospect: Mike Trout, OF (53rd overall)
What Was Said: “...will be a dynamic center fielder who hits leadoff, or maybe more in the middle if the power comes.”
Analysis: Putting a late first-round pick as the best prospect after just 39 games was a bit risky, but Trout's scouting reports out of Arizona bordered on unreal. He lived up to every expectation and more, and is now on the short list of candidates as the best prospect in the game.
Two Through Eleven: Catcher Hank Conger (second) and righty Jordan Walden (third) both got to the big leagues, but at this point it looks like Walden will make the bigger impact. Lefty Trevor Reckling (fourth) went backward, yet was still young for the level. Righties Fabio Martinez (fifth) and Garrett Richards (sixth) both showed power stuff and inconsistency in their full-season debuts. Peter Bourjos (seventh) had a good year at Triple-A in a great hitter's park, but speed and defense can't make up for how little he's hit with the Angels. Their '09 first-round pick, Randal Grichuk, (eighth) was injured much of the year and finished strong, but his approach remains a mess. Lefty Tyler Skaggs (ninth) was one of the better arms in the Midwest League and went to Arizona in the Dan Haren deal. Young arms Jon Bachanov (10th) and Tyler Kehrer (11th) both scuffled in their first exposure to full-season ball.
Sleeper: Catcher Carlos Ramirez showed power, patience, and very good defense at Low-A Cedar Rapids, but also hit just .226.

Oakland Athletics
No. 1 Prospect: Chris Carter, 1B (11th overall)
What Was Said: “...could put up big numbers in all three triple-slash categories.”
Analysis: Inconsistent at Triple-A, Carter needed a post All-Star break line OPS of over 1.000 to finish the year at .258/.365/.529. He's rebounded again after a nightmarish start to his big league career, and will get a very real shot at the left field job next year, as the A's are desperate for power.
Two Through Eleven: Acquired for Brett Wallace, outfielder Michael Taylor (second) just never got going at Triple-A, and saw his stock slip significantly. Righty Michael Ynoa (third) tossed nine pro innings before requiring Tommy John surgery, as that signing has turned into a nightmare. The most shocking story of the spring was outfielder Grant Desme (fourth) leaving baseball to become a man of the cloth. I'm sure his church softball team is tremendous. Shortstop Grant Green (fifth) was the team's first-round pick in 2009 and was fantastic offensively at High-A Stockton. Defensively? Not so much. Seven-figure bonus catcher Max Stassi (sixth) was just the opposite at Kane County, although he did show surprising power. Second baseman Jemile Weeks (seventh) still can't stay healthy, while righty Tyson Ross (eighth) reached the big leagues in a bullpen role before going back to the minors to start. Second baseman Adrian Cardenas (ninth) and outfielder Corey Brown (10th) both bottomed out at Triple-A but worked their way back with strong Texas League showings. Southpaw Pedro Figueroa (11th) struggled at Double-A before having Tommy John surgery.
Sleeper: Toolsy shortstop Dusty Coleman missed the entire season after not one, but two wrist surgeries.

Seattle Mariners
No. 1 Prospect: Dustin Ackley, OF/2B (12th overall)
What Was Said: “...a player who could compete for both batting and on-base percentage titles."
Analysis: Not that anyone saw it coming, but scouts were left wondering if he's really that good. He's going to have a long major league career, but it's hard to find people who think it will be a star-powered one.
Two Through Eleven: Outfielder Michael Saunders (second) stopped hitting in both the majors and the minors, and while there were some injury issues, it's still disturbing. Infielder Gabriel Noriega (third) was nothing short of a bust in his full-season debut at Low-A Clinton, but teammate and 2009 first-round pick Nick Franklin (sixth) made up for it with a breakout year that featured power that bordered on shocking. Catcher Adam Moore (fifth) was given a shot at the big-league job, and fizzled. Third baseman Alex Liddi (fourth) succeeded in proving that 2009's number were more than just a Cal League mirage with a strong showing at Double-A, while right fielder Johermyn Chavez (seventh) will try to do the same in 2011 after slugging 23 home runs in 68 home games for High Desert. Guillermo Pimentel (eighth), a 17-year-old outfielder, was one of the talks of the Arizona complex league and will certainly move up, while once promising infielder Carlos Triunfel (ninth) still isn't hitting and saw his stock slip precipitously. Outfielder Greg Halman (10th) still hits home runs but strikes out like its going out of style, while choosing Maikel Cleto at No. 11 was a mistake. The correct power righty to put on the list would have been Michael Pineda.
Sleeper: Righty Anthony Varvaro got to the big leagues, but remains a power arm who doesn't throw enough strikes.

Texas Rangers
No. 1 Prospect: Neftali Feliz, RHP (third overall)
What Was Said: “...already a dominant big-leaguer.”
Analysis: And dominate he has, setting a rookie record for saves while limiting American League hitters to a .181 batting average.
Two Through Eleven: Lefty Martin Perez (second) had an up-and-down year at Double-A Frisco, but he was 19 and the stuff remained impressive. Not a bad year per se, but below expectations. First baseman Justin Smoak (third) went to Seattle in the Cliff Lee trade, and his transition to big-league pitching has been surprisingly slow. Righty Tanner Scheppers (fourth) was on the verge of the big leagues before the Rangers made him a starter, breaking the rule of 'if it's not broke, don't fix it.' Shortstop Jurickson Profar (fifth) was as good as advertised in his pro debut, but there are ceiling questions. Righty Danny Gutierrez (sixth) needed innings but got suspended for amphetamines, doing little for his season or his reputation. Mitch Moreland (seventh) continued to prove himself all the way to the big leagues, but few see him as the long-term answer at first base. He's more of a nice bench bat on a good team. Former first-round pick Michael Main (eighth) did not return from his illness-plagued 2009 season as well as expected, and he's now with the Giants after the Bengie Molina deal. Outfielder Engel Beltre (ninth) began to turn his tools into skills with what was the comeback story of the year in the organization. Beefy right-hander Wilmer Font (10th) was having a breakout year of his own before arm troubles, while lefty Robbie Ross (11th) earned high praises from scouts this year.
Sleeper: An over-slot signed from 2009, righty Shawn Blackwell showed plus command and control in Arizona, but had problems missing bats0

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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