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April 8, 2010

Future Shock

The Top 101 Prospects Update, Part 2

by Kevin Goldstein

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51. Freddie Freeman, 1B, Braves

Opening Day: Triple-A Gwinnett. A surprising move considering his age and struggles at Double-A last year; the Braves want him close should the big-league first-base job fall apart, while hoping instead that he'll be ready for the job next year.

52. Jarrod Parker, RHP, Diamondbacks

Opening Day: Disabled list. Late 2009 Tommy John surgery means he'll miss the entire year. 

53. Mike Trout, OF, Angels

Opening Day: Low-A Cedar Rapids. As if his complex league debut didn't generate enough buzz last year, he was the talk of the Angels’ minor-league camp, with many predicting a true breakout year in the Midwest League.

54. Aaron Crow, RHP, Royals

Opening Day: Double-A Northwest Arkansas. Double-A is a tough assignment for a pro debut, but he turns 24 in November, so there's not much time to waste.

55. Dan Hudson, RHP, White Sox

Opening Day: Triple-A Charlotte. After going from Low-A to the big leagues last year, Hudson will get consistent innings at Triple-A, and he’s first in line to get called up should injuries or poor performance necessitate a move.

56. Tim Beckham, SS, Rays

Opening Day: High-A Charlotte. Scouts noted a leaner, more athletic Beckham this spring; he needs to get going in order to justify his first overall selection in 2008.

57. Scott Sizemore, 2B, Tigers

Opening Day: Detroit Tigers. All but handed the job last fall, Sizemore isn't a future star, but he could be an above-average performer and a nice dark horse candidate for American League Rookie of the Year honors based on playing time alone.

58. Josh Reddick, OF, Red Sox

Opening Day: Triple-A Pawtucket. There’s just no room in Boston for now; he could also end up as a trade chip come July.

59. Mike Leake, RHP, Reds

Opening Day: Cincinnati Reds. Leake was one of the biggest surprises, despite the fact that he was universally seen as a quick mover coming out of the draft. There'll be some struggles here, but most feel he can at least hold his own.

60. Drew Storen, RHP, Nationals

Opening Day: Double- A Harrisburg. Storen pitched 12 1/3 scoreless innings at this level last year during his pro debut; don't be surprised if he's in the big leagues before teammate Stephen Strasburg.

61. Jared Mitchell, OF, White Sox

Opening Day: Disabled List. In one of the most disappointing developments of the spring, Mitchell tore up his ankle leaping into the wall while trying to catch a fly ball and will miss the entire season after major surgery.

62. Michael Saunders, OF, Mariners

Opening Day: Triple-A Tacoma. The addition of Milton Bradley makes Sauders the odd man out, but he should be back up at some point, although his long-term future in Seattle is a bit cloudy.

63.Hak-Ju Lee, SS, Cubs

Opening Day: Low-A Peoria. On a selfish note, he’s one of the Midwest League players I'm most looking forward to seeing.

64. James Darnell, 3B, Padres

Opening Day: Double-A San Antonio. If performances continue at the upper levels, he's not far from the big leagues and becoming a more well-known name.

65. Wilson Ramos, C, Twins

Opening Day: Triple-A Rochester. The Joe Mauer extension didn't do much for his Twins future, but he could land them something big come July in a trade after a spring that had scouts fawning.

66. Michael Inoa, RHP, Athletics

Opening Day: Extended spring training. He's healthy, and his name will finally show up in a box score once the short-season leagues begin.

67. Todd Frazier, 2B, Reds

Opening Day: Triple-A Louisville. He seems to have finally found a home at second base, but Brandon Phillips is signed through 2011; he has a reasonable 2012 option as well.

68. Tanner Scheppers, RHP, Rangers

Opening Day: Double-A Frisco. If he stays healthy, he should be in the Rangers bullpen by the end of the year; still, that's a big if.

69. Reid Brignac, SS, Rays

Opening Day: Tampa Bay Rays. A strong spring landed him in the big leagues, but it's hard to figure out when or where he's going to play. Sure, he earned a spot, but sitting on the bench isn't going to make him better.

70. Jake Arrieta, RHP, Orioles

Opening Day: Triple-A Norfolk. Arrieta scuffled at times this spring; he’s still learning that man cannot live by fastball alone.

71. Kyle Gibson, RHP, Twins

Opening Day: High-A Fort Myers. Reports on him this spring were impressive; if he has no further arm problems, this ranking is too low.

72. Tyler Flowers, C, White Sox

Opening Day: Triple-A Charlotte. Still in line to be the regular catcher next year, Flowers should get some second-half big-league time to settle into the role.

73. Zach Britton, RHP, Orioles

Opening Day: Double-A Bowie. Britton has one of the best sinkers in the minors. Scouts will be looking as to how many bats he can miss at the upper levels.

74. Jaff Decker, OF, Padres

Opening Day: High-A Lake Elsinore. Decker strained his hamstring during camp, and optimistic estimates don't have him in the Storm lineup until the end of April.

75. Tony Sanchez, C, Pirates

Opening Day: High-A Bradenton. He’s thought to be on the fast track, so he should be in Double-A somewhere around midseason. His defense remains outstanding, but his ultimate offensive upside is debatable.

76. Ryan Kalish, OF, Red Sox

Opening Day: Double-A Portland. It’s a surprising return to Double-A; he can afford a repeat at 22, but he sure looked ready for a bigger challenge last year.

77. Alex White, RHP, Indians


Opening Day: High-A Kinston. After some rumors that he'd take a fast-track reliever route, he'll be developed as a starter; primarily a sinker/splitter guy, he's a difficult one to evaluate.

78. Phillippe Aumount, RHP, Phillies


Opening Day: Double-A Reading. Going back to the rotation after a year working as a reliever in the Seattle system, his size and monster sinker make him potentially special, but he's rough around the edges.

79. Mike Moustakas, 3B, Royals


Opening Day: Extended spring.  Moustakas takes a healthy cut, but one was so hard in mid-March that he strained an oblique. He's out for a couple of weeks, but he’s expected to report to Double-A Northwest Arkansas once healthy.

80. Fernando Martinez, OF, Mets

Opening Day: Triple-A Buffalo. Martinez is here to get consistent playing time, but a quick glance at the Mets’ outfield situation after Jason Bay makes one think he'll be back in New York soon.

81. Hank Conger, C, Angels

Opening Day: Triple-A Salt Lake. He keeps moving up, yet questions remain about his ability to stay behind the plate. With the Angels' current catching situation, they have time to figure it out.

82. Jason Knapp, RHP, Indians


Opening Day: Extended spring training. Arthroscopic shoulder surgery at the end of last year will delay his 2010 season, likely for two months.

83. Wil Myers, C, Royals

Opening Day: Low-A Burlington. Myers should be one of the better hitters in the Midwest League, but more scouts will be paying attention to how much progress he makes defensively.

84. Wilmer Flores, SS, Mets

Opening Day: Low-A Savannah. Last year was a learning experience, but more will be expected production-wise in his second Sally League go-around. Still, he's just 18 years old, and will be until Aug. 6.

85. Brandon Allen, 1B, Diamondbacks

Opening Day: Triple-A Reno. A poor big-league showing last year and the acquisition of Adam LaRoche might indicate that he's fallen out of favor in Arizona; he needs to bounce back.

86. Grant Green, SS, Athletics

Opening Day: High-A Stockton. Scouting reports vary wildly on him—he's either the steal of the draft, or a player whose stock could fall if he can't stay at shortstop.

87. Ike Davis, 1B, Mets

Opening Day: Triple-A Buffalo. Arguably their best option at the big-league level, Davis still has work to do, especially in his at-bats against left-handers.

88. Zach Wheeler, RHP, Giants

Opening Day: Low-A Augusta. Low-A is a heady assignment for a 19-year-old who has yet to make his pro debut, but he was one of the most advanced high school arms in last year's draft.

89. Jordan Walden, RHP, Angels

Opening Day: Double-A Arkansas. Injury issues and less-than-ideal mechanics have moved him to the bullpen, but his fastball should play up as a closer.

90. Jose Tabata, OF, Pirates

Opening Day: Triple-A Indianapolis. A strong showing in the Arizona Fall League and a good spring have some believing he's turned the corner. Now, if we can only figure out how old he really is.

91. Nick Hagadone, LHP, Indians

Opening Day: High-A Kinston. Some of the best power stuff of any lefty in the minors, scouts want to see how his arm holds up under a real workload.

92. Trevor Reckling, LHP, Angels

Opening Day: Triple-A Salt Lake. A 20-year-old with command issues in a Triple-A hitter's park seems like a recipe for disaster, but his secondary pitches border on special.

93. Tim Melville, RHP, Royals

Opening Day: High-A Wilmington. Big body, big stuff, and could put up big numbers in one of the better pitching parks in the minors.

94. Gabriel Noriega, SS, Mariners

Opening Day: Low-A Clinton. A big athlete with highly advanced defensive skills, if last year's showing with the bat turns out to be for real, he'll rocket up this list.

95. Fabio Martinez, RHP, Angels

Opening Day: Low-A Cedar Rapids. Arguably the best pure arm in the system, Martinez just needs to work on everything but the fastball.

96. Brett Jackson, OF, Cubs

Opening Day: High-A Daytona. Tools, tools and more tools—if he can overcome contact issues, he could move quickly.

97. Jio Mier, SS, Astros

Opening Day: Low-A Lexington. A plus defender at shortstop, Mier seemed to surprise even the Astros during his pro debut with his offensive prowess; like Noriega, there's potential here for a big jump.

98. Ethan Martin, RHP, Dodgers

Opening Day: High-A Inland Empire. He’s a Jekyll-and-Hyde pitcher who looks like a Top-25 prospect on one night and a fringy-at-best prospect the next. The Cal League won't hide the warts like the Midwest League did.

99. Brett Lawrie, 2B, Brewers

Opening Day: Double-A Huntsville. It’s a surprising assignment for a raw hitter with just 118 pro games under his belt. While he was good, he didn't exactly light up the Midwest League last year.

100. Jason Castro, C, Astros

Opening Day: Triple-A Round Rock. The Towles/Quintero two-headed monster in the big leagues is just a placeholder. Castro is more solid than spectacular, but he's nearly ready.

101. Danny Espinosa, SS, Nationals

Opening Day: Double-A Harrisburg. Obviously Strasburg and Storen are the ones to watch for the Nationals, but Espinosa provides entertainment as well, both in the field and at the plate.

---

 Thanks to Kevin Gengler for his research assistance.  

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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