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Welcome to the first installment of Top 10 Prospects, Baseball Prospectus’ weekly look at the 10 best prospects currently active in the minor leagues.

What Goes Into These Rankings?

  1. Long Term Potential: Teams spend millions of dollars on draftees and international signings in order to acquire star-quality major league players. The premier prospects in the game are the ones who have a chance to be difference makers and perennial all-stars. Physical “tools” or athletic ability will factor into the evaluation of potential.
  2. Current Performance: After adjusting for age, level, park and league effects, minor league numbers can correlate well with major league performance. The main statistics used for hitters are the percentage of total hits that are extra-base hits (XBH/H), walk-to-strikeout ratio (BB/K), and batting average. For pitchers, we focus on strikeouts-per-nine-innings (K/9), walk-to-strikeout ratio (BB/K), walks-per-nine-innings (BB/9), and home runs-per-nine-innings (HR/9).
  3. Historical Performance: Players with a track record of success are more likely to maintain good current performances than those appearing to have breakthrough seasons. Some players do make large leaps forward in one season, however, and poor historical performance will not keep a player from the list.

  4. Risk: Regardless of long-term potential, a player has no value to an organization if he doesn’t make it out of Double-A because of an arm injury. Risk is assessed by judging physical mechanics and body makeup, player usage, and historical health trends.

Players must be under the rookie requirements of 130 at-bats, 50 innings pitched, or 45 days on a major league roster to qualify.

Level listed is the level at which their last game was played. Statistics are as of July 6th, 2003.

1.

Joe Mauer

C

Minnesota

Double-A

Not many 20-year-olds see BA rise after move to Double-A.

Year To Date: .336/.401/.420, 295 AB, 21 XBH, 30/28 BB/K

2.

Rich Harden

RHP

Oakland

Triple-A

PCL hitters are knocking him around a bit.

Year To Date: 93 2/3 IP, 65 H, 5 HR, 34 BB, 100 K, 2.88 ERA

3.

Andy Marte

3B

Atlanta

High-A

Strikeouts are his only negative indicator at the moment.

Year To Date: .289/.364/.470, 298 AB, 35 XBH, 37/75 BB/K

4.

Clint Nageotte

RHP

Seattle

Double-A

Slider a knockout pitch, but change-up still needs work.

Year To Date: 98 IP, 75 H, 4 HR, 41 BB, 105 K, 2.76 ERA

5.

Chin-Hui Tsao

RHP

Colorado

Double-A

Rolling through Texas League on his way to Colorado.

Year To Date: 99 1/3 IP, 78 H, 7 HR, 22 BB, 113 K, 2.54 ERA

6.

J.J. Hardy

SS

Milwaukee

Double-A

Transformation into complete player came quickly.

Year To Date: .305/.398/.494, 233 AB, 26 XBH, 36/28 BB/K

7.

Zack Greinke

RHP

Kansas City

High-A

His prom was 14 months ago. Now he’s going to Double-A ball.

Year To Date: 87 IP, 56 H, 2 HR, 13 BB, 78 K, 1.14 ERA

8.

Laynce Nix

OF

Texas

Double-A

After a great May, he hit a wall in June.

Year To Date: .283/.343/.491, 322 AB, 37 XBH, 33/68 BB/K

9.

Scott Kazmir

LHP

NY Mets

Low-A

Appears his early-season control issues are behind him.

Year To Date: 59 1/3 IP, 42 H, 2 HR, 23 BB, 85 K, 2.43 ERA

10.

Adam Wainwright

RHP

Atlanta

Double-A

Velocity has been down and strikeout rate is worrisome.

Year To Date: 89 2/3 IP, 91 H, 5 HR, 27 BB, 81 K, 4.01 ERA

Honorable Mentions
Rising

Falling
Cliff Lee Edwin Jackson Wilson Betemit
Gavin Floyd Guillermo Quiroz Mark Phillips
Grady Sizemore Jeremy Reed John Buck
Sean Burnett Ervin Santana Jonathan Figueroa
Gabe Gross Jeff Mathis Bobby Jenks