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October 8, 2010

Future Shock

Top 11 Review: NL East

by Kevin Goldstein

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Atlanta Braves
No. 1 Prospect: Jason Heyward, OF (second overall)
What Was Said: “...the potential to be a 'face of the franchise' talent.”
Analysis: He certainly looks like he'll be just that, as a .277/.393/.456 line in the big leagues at age 20 is nothing short of a remarkable achievement.
Two Through Eleven: Righties Julio Teheran (second) and Arodys Vizcaino (third) were as good as advertised, although the latter had some arm problems. First baseman Freddie Freeman (fourth) developed more power at Triple-A and is poised to take over the big-league job next year. Young catcher Christian Bethancourt (sixth) did not impress statistically, but the tools are still there, at least. lefty Mike Minor (seventh) was obviously way too low, but who knew he'd gain two to four ticks on his fastball? Power righty Craig Kimbrel (eighth) found the strike zone late in the year, made the playoff roster and could be closing next spring. Outfielder Cody Johnson (11th) saw his contact issues destroy him at Double-A.
Sleeper: 5-foot-9 right-hander Benino Pruneda is a little closer to the big leagues after reaching Double-A and striking out 93 in 64 2/3 innings.

Florida Marlins
No. 1 Prospect: Mike Stanton, OF (fifth overall)
What Was Said: “...the one prospect in baseball most likely to hit 50 home runs in a season.”
Analysis: I'd still make Stanton the top pick to hit 50 one year, as he smashed 17 home runs in 251 post-All-Star break at-bats while lowering his strikeout rate from 'alarming' to just 'really high.'
Two Through Eleven: I discussed the Marlins 'tinkering' with Logan Morrison (second) in left field, and that's where he ended up, showing great on-base skills while not answering fair questions about his power ceiling. Matt Dominguez (third) continued to be good-not-great offensively at Double-A, but his glove work at third base is stellar. Chad James (fourth), their 2009 first-round pick, had command issues in his full-season debut, but the star is still upper-echelon for a left-hander. Reliever Jhan Marinez (sixth) was outstanding at High-A and Double-A and even got a taste of the big leagues. Outfielder Marcell Ozuna (eighth) struggled at Low-A before putting on a fireworks show in the New York-Penn League with 21 home runs. Kyle Skipworth (ninth), Jake Smolinski (10th), and Tom Hickman (11th) remain more tools than performance.
Sleeper: Left-handed reliever Dan Jennings had a 2.56 ERA at Double-A Jacksonville, although his peripherals weren't nearly as good.

New York Mets
No. 1 Prospect: Jenrry Mejia, RHP (48th overall)
What Was Said: “...his fastball alone could land him in the Mets bullpen.”
Analysis: Mejia's heater did earn him a big-league job, but to what end? The soon-to-be 21-year-old Dominican needed innings and repetition more than getting his feet wet in the big leagues. He's back to starting, but 2010 was not a favor to him development-wise.
Two Through Eleven: Outfielder Fernando Martinez (second) played well when healthy, but that's been the story for five years now, and it's starting to wear thin. Infielder Wilmer Flores (third) reached High-A (and played well there) as a 19-year-old, but he's not a shortstop, and he's yet to show much in the way of secondary skills. Ike Davis (fourth) became a fan favorite in New York, but he wasn't nearly as good as his hype, as a 791 OPS for a first baseman isn't all that good. Left-hander Jon Niese (fifth) matured into a dependable mid-to-back rotation starter in the big leagues, while righty Brad Holt absolutely collapsed by walking 79 in 95 minor league innings. Outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis (seventh) proved that last year's offensive breakout was real, but questions about his ability to play up the middle remain. Josh Thole (eighth) made his case to be the everyday catcher in 2011, where at least he'll provide some on-base skills. Shortstop Ruben Tejada (10th) still looks like a nice utility player down the road, while fellow infielder Reese Havens (11th) looked like much more than that before the injury bug struck again.
Sleeper: Left-hander Robert Carson didn't take the expected step forward, and was exposed at Double-A with an 8.32 ERA in 10 starts.

Philadelphia Phillies
No. 1 Prospect: Domonic Brown, OF (24th overall)
What Was Said: “An All-Star outfielder with power and speed.”
Analysis: Brown was the best position prospect in the minors this year, but used sparingly in the big leagues due to Philadelphia's current outfield situation. He'll get his shot next year when Jayson Werth likely departs via free agency, but his second half would have been better served getting Triple-A at-bats against lefties as opposed to picking up splinters in the big leagues.
Two Through Eleven: The big prize at the time in the Cliff Lee deal, left-hander Phillippe Aumont (second) fell apart mechanically while walking 80 in 122 innings, getting demoted to High-A and even a move back to the bullpen didn't help. Unlike Aumont, righty Trevor May (third) recovered from early-season control issues to dominate in the second half. Another big part of the Lee deal, outfielder Tyson Gillies (fourth) barely played due to hamstring issues, and then further complicated matters with a drug possession charge. Catcher Sebastian Valle (fifth) finished strongly at Low-A to save his prospect status. Speedy outfielder Anthony Gose (sixth) went to Houston in the Roy Oswalt trade then to Toronto, but remains far more tools than reality. Fellow flychaser Jiwan James (seventh) held serve during his full-season debut at Low-A Lakewood, while outfielder Domingo Santana (ninth) struggled there before rebounding in the New York-Penn League. The revelation for that Lakewood squad was righty Brody Colvin (eighth), who was one of the Sally League's top pitchers in the second half of the season. Reliever Scott Mathieson (10th) would have more of a big-league shot with a different team, but as will all players involved in the  Lee deal, fellow righty J.C. Ramirez (11th) disappointed.
Sleeper: I advised readers not to give up on 2008 first-round pick Anthony Hewitt. You are welcome to do so at this juncture.

Washington Nationals
No. 1 Prospect: Stephen Strasburg, RHP (first overall)
What Was Said: “Could be the best pitcher in baseball... if everything breaks right.”
Analysis: Strasburg was looking to be well on his way to being just that when his elbow popped. He should be fine in the end, but emphasis is on should, as the return rate from Tommy John surgery is phenomenal and getting better every year, but still not 100 percent.
Two Through Eleven: Slowed by hand issues all season, catcher Derek Norris (second) became an on-base machine with little power, but he deserves a bit of a mulligan. Reliever Drew Storen (third) eased into big-league closing duties, but that's more a function of the team than his talent, as both his numbers and his scouting reports are more in set-up man area. Infielder Danny Espinosa continued to show plenty of secondary skills to make up for a low average, and should be the everyday second baseman in 2011, while Ian Desmond (fifth) already has the shortstop job, although 'inconsistent' is the one word to best describe his 2010 season. Slugger Michael Burgess did little in the Carolina League but exploded (.284/.391/.649) in the final month of the season at Double-A to regain some lost luster. Similarly, speedster Eury Perez hit .339/.384/.451 in the second half at Low-A Hagerstown while leading the Sally League with 64 stolen bases. The bottom of the list did not fare so well as second baseman Jeff Kobernus (eighth) did nothing in his full-season debut, while hard-throwing right-hander Juan Jaime (10th) missed the season following Tommy John surgery.
Sleeper: Lefty Atahualpa Severino had a 3.34 ERA at Triple-A Syracuse, but his peripherals failed to impress and his splits show he won't be a LOOGY.

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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