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January 10, 2008

Future Shock

AL Top 11 Prospects Update

by Kevin Goldstein

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One of the great troubles with ranking prospects is that time doesn't stand still and rankings don't exist in a vacuum. Teams make moves, my inbox gets flooded, and rankings need to change. So instead of just leaving well enough alone, before I begin the National League let's go back to the American League and see what needs updating.

Baltimore Orioles

Deals that Affect Rankings

12/12/07: Trade SS Miguel Tejada to the Astros for RHPs Matt Albers and Dennis Sarfate, LHP Troy Patton, 3B Michael Costanzo, and OF Luke Scott.

New Rankings

1. Matt Wieters, C
2. Chorye Spoone, RHP
3. Radhames Liz, RHP
4. Jake Arrieta, RHP
5. Troy Patton, LHP
6. Nolan Reimold, OF
7. Billy Rowell, 3B
8. Brandon Erbe, RHP
9. Garrett Olson, LHP
10. Pedro Beato, RHP
11. Mike Costanzo, 3B

The Orioles made their one big deal by finding a taker for Tejada, but compared to the hauls some other teams have received this winter for big players, this one seems kind of light. Patton has very good command of average stuff, but his inability to miss bats at the upper levels is a major concern. Costanzo has plenty of power and patience, but he also strikes out far too much and is an absolutely miserable defensive third baseman. If (more like when) he's forced to move across the diamond, power and patience aren't enough--you have to hit too.

Boston Red Sox

Deals that Affect Rankings: None. Whispers about the Johan Santana deal-o-rama are starting up, but right now the Twins are likely favoring making the deal with the Yankees, who don't have the best offer when it comes to overall talent, but do have the best offer when it comes to best single player (Philip Hughes).

Chicago White Sox

Deals that Affect Rankings

12/3/07: Trade 1B Chris Carter to the Diamondbacks for OF Carlos Quentin.
1/3/08: Trade RHP Fautino De Los Santos, LHP Gio Gonzalez, and OF Ryan Sweeney to the Athletics for OF/1B Nick Swisher.

New Rankings

1. Aaron Poreda, LHP
2. John Shelby, Jr. CF
3. Jose Martinez, OF
4. Jack Egbert, RHP
5. Lance Broadway, RHP
6. Brian Omogrosso, RHP
7. Kyle McCulloch, RHP
8. Christian Marrero, 1B
9. John Ely, RHP
10. Salvador Sanchez, OF
11. Charlie Haeger, RHP

So for two good young outfielders (yes, I still have some faith in Quentin), the White Sox deplete what was already a very bad system, dealing away three of their top four prospects as well as a quickly declining Ryan Sweeney, who ranked eighth. So we need four names to pop at the end. Marrero is the older brother of Nationals prospect Chris Marrero, and like his brother he has an impressive power bat, but he's also older and not out of short-season ball yet. A third-round pick last June, Ely is a righty with good stuff that is brought down by a smallish frame and rough mechanics. Sanchez is one of those players to dream about, a long, lanky 6'6" outfielder with a ton of tools, but at the same time he's 22 and just finished a year in the Pioneer League. Haeger slides in on the end due to the theory that you give the knuckleballer another shot.

Cleveland Indians

Deals that Affect Rankings: None. The Indians have been a very quiet team this offseason, making a minor deal with Colorado for Jamey Carroll and signing Japanese reliever Masahide Kobayashi. It's a good young team with few holes, so this isn't especially surprising.

Detroit Tigers

Deals that Affect Rankings

12/4/07: Trade RHPs Burke Badenhop, Dallas Trahern, and Eulogio de la Cruz, LHP Andrew Miller, CF Cameron Maybin, and C Mike Rabelo to the Marlins for 3B Miguel Cabrera and LHP Dontrelle Willis.

New Rankings

1. Rick Porcello, RHP
2. Casey Crosby, LHP
3. Cale Iorg, SS
4. Brandon Hamilton, RHP
5. Jeff Larish, 1B
6. Scott Sizemore, 2B/SS
7. Michael Hollimon, 2B/SS
8. Yorman Bazardo, RHP
9. Matt Joyce, OF
10. Danny Worth, SS
11. Virgil Vasquez, RHP

It was the blockbuster of the Winter Meetings, but it also depleted what was already a weak system, leaving three decent-at-best prospects to be added at the bottom. Joyce is a fantastic defender in right field who has power and patience, but too many strikeouts could reduce him to fourth outfielder status. Worth was one of the better defensive players among college infielders last June, but there are a lot of questions about his bat. Vasquez is a command specialist who got ripped in his major league debut because of his lack of an out pitch.

Kansas City Royals

Deals that Affect Rankings

12/14/07: Trade RHP Billy Buckner to the Diamondbacks for INF Alberto Callaspo.

New Rankings

1. Mike Moustakas, SS
2. Luke Hochevar, RHP
3. Daniel Cortes, RHP
4. Danny Duffy, LHP
5. Blake Wood, RHP
6. Carlos Rosa, RHP
7. Julio Pimentel, RHP
8. Sam Runion, RHP
9. Mitch Maier, OF
10. Chris Lubanski, OF
11. Adrian Ortiz, OF

A relatively minor deal for the Royals, but a good one nonetheless, as Callaspo gives them a very good utility infielder in 2008 who can take over the starting second base job once the Mark Grudzielanek era comes to an end. Ortiz was a fifth-round pick who should get to the majors on his speed and defense alone, but he'll need to develop a much more patient approach (because power will never come) to project as an everyday player.

Los Angeles Angels

Deals that Affect Rankings: None. The Angels have certainly been busy--signing one of the top free agents in Torii Hunter and trading their starting shortstop to the White Sox for starter Jon Garland, but no prospects have changed hands.

Minnesota Twins

Deals that Affect Rankings

11/28/07: Trade SS Jason Bartlett and RHPs Matt Garza and Eduardo Morlan to the Rays for INF Brendan Harris and OFs Jason Pridie and Delmon Young.

New Rankings

1. Ben Revere, CF
2. Anthony Swarzak, RHP
3. Jeff Manship, RHP
4. Tyler Robertson, LHP
5. Nick Blackburn, RHP
6. Brian Duensing, LHP
7. Trevor Plouffe, SS
8. Chris Parmelee, OF
9. David Bromberg, RHP
10. Joe Benson, OF
11. Angel Morales, OF

A massive deal to be sure, but not one that moves the list much, as only Morlan (at fourth overall) was eligible for the rankings. Morales was a third-round pick in June, and is a speedy center fielder with a high ceiling due to his impressive tools, but he's going to be a project offensively.

New York Yankees

Deals that Affect Rankings: None. The most surprising thing is that if that rumored deal to the Twins goes off, it won't change the rankings one bit. Yes, the Yankees would send over plenty of young talent, but the only true prospect in the group is righty Jeff Marquez, who would have ranked 12th and therefore just missed my list.

Oakland Athletics

Deals that Affect Rankings

1/3/08: Trade OF/1B Nick Swisher to the White Sox for RHP Fautino De Los Santos, LHP Gio Gonzalez, and OF Ryan Sweeney.

New Rankings

1. Daric Barton, 1B
2. Carlos Gonzalez, OF
3. Fautino De Los Santos, RHP
4. Brett Anderson, LHP
5. Gio Gonzalez, LHP
6. Trevor Cahill, RHP
7. Chris Carter, 1B
8. James Simmons, RHP
9. Aaron Cunningham, OF
10. Henry Rodriguez, RHP
11. Andrew Bailey, RHP

You know, we already did this once, but in an attempt to make every word I write wasted energy, the Oakland front office pulled off another big trade with the Swisher deal. This list might need yet another revamping soon, as Joe Blanton is on the market as well, though the offers haven't been as good as expected. This has quickly become one of the better systems in baseball, and as an aside, how great is the rotation at High-A Stockton going to be? It could line up with a foursome of De Los Santos, Anderson, Cahill, and Rodriguez, and that's just plain scary.

Seattle Mariners

Deals that Affect Rankings: None. The Mariners were at one point rumored to be involved in the Johan Santana auction, but their unwillingness to include Adam Jones in such a deal put an end to that. Other than the signing of Carlos Silva (whee?), it's been an uneventful winter in the Northwest.

Tampa Bay Rays

Deals that Affect Rankings: None. The initial rankings were done after the Delmon Young deal, so we're safe here, and there's no reason to expect any additional deals for now. Not that the best system in baseball needs any help.

Texas Rangers

Deals that Affect Rankings: None. Lets face it, the Rangers' moves were all done during the 2007 season, as opposed to after it, as seven of their Top 11 Prospects weren't with the organization at the beginning of last season.

Toronto Blue Jays

Deals that Affect Rankings: None. No deals in the last 24 hours? Thanks, Mr. Ricciardi!

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

Related Content:  The Who,  Rankings,  Power Rankings,  Prospect Rankings

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