keyboard_arrow_uptop

Most minor-league attention is paid to guys at the highest levels— someone who might come up even before September, such as a Domonic Brown or a Buster Posey. The minor leagues are (obviously) multi-tiered. Here's a look at 10 guys at the lowest levels who could eventually blossom into the next Brown or Posey— in two years or so.

Oswaldo Arcia, OF, Minnesota Twins (Rookie-level Elizabethton):

A 19-year-old Venezuelan, Arcia has been dominating the Appalachian League. He leads the circuit in home runs, RBI, hits, and slugging—while placing second in batting. His line of .392/.434/.773 in 44 games says everything you need to know about his performance, and his scouting reports are almost as impressive. He generates tremendous raw power with a combination of bat speed and strength that is rarely seen in players so young. He's played some center this year but will be a right fielder down the road. If there's a problem, it's this: he's a very aggressive hitter. That could lead to issues as he continues to develop. For now, though, the reports are all good.

Junior Arias, SS, Cincinnati Reds (Rookie-level Arizona League Reds):

An 18-year-old Dominican who received a six-figure bonus in 2008, Arias has blown away scouts with his tools and athleticism in the Arizona complex league. The problem is, he's got some significant holes in his game as well. He's long-limbed and graceful and his current line is .311/.356/.520. That's good. The bad? He'll swing at anything in his zip code and he's a messy defender (21 errors through 31 games at short). With a position switch, he might be more special.

Ji-Man Choi, C, Seattle Mariners (Rookie-level Arizona League Mariners):

The Mariners are one of the busiest teams when it comes to scouting in Asia; one of their biggest investments is Choi, a 19-year-old Korean who signed for just under $500,000. A left-handed hitter with a highly advanced approach and gap power with a projection for more down the road, Choi is batting an even .400/.484/.562 in 31 games while also showcasing impressive catch-and-throw skills.

Billy Hamilton, 2B, Cincinnati Reds (Rookie-level Billings):

It's no surprise to see Hamilton leading all short-season players with 26 stolen bases in 44 games— he's a superb athlete and one of the fastest guys in the 2009 MLB draft—but what is shocking is how good he's been at the plate, utilizing a short, quick swing to hit .335/.395/.470 with plenty of speed-based doubles and triples. He's already drawing some comparisons to 13-year big league vet Delino DeShields as a future second baseman with on-base skills and impact speed.

Adrian Sanchez, INF, Washington Nationals (Low-A Hagerstown):

He hit .378/.395/.538 in the Gulf Coast League before moving up to the South Atlantic League recently. With ultra-clean hitting mechanics and a good feel for contact, Sanchez continues to perform since his promotion, going 9-for-20 in five contests. The problems: a lack of athleticism (that moved him to second base) and a seeming inability to draw walks (two in 139 plate appearances). He can put a bat on a ball, though—at Low-A, sometimes that's all you need to start with.

Gary Sanchez, C, New York Yankees (Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Yankees):

Sanchez's $3 million bonus last year was a record for a Latin American catcher, and the 17-year-old Dominican has exceeded expectations in his pro debut. He's slugged a healthy .357/.425/.602 in 26 games for the Gulf Coast Yanks. The problem: defense. He's got a plus-arm, but his release is long and slow. The difference between him and Jesus Montero—another Yankees' catching prospect that competes to be 'the next Jorge Posada—is that Sanchez has more athleticism. That's good, but there's work to be done.

Adrian Salcedo, RHP, Minnesota Twins (Rookie-level Elizabethton):

Last year, he put up a 1.46 ERA in the Gulf Coast League while walking a scant three hitters in 61 2/3 innings. Right now in the Appalachian League, he has 56 strikeouts and just eight walks in 52 1/3 frames. Long and skinny, Salcedo sits in the low-90s with his fastball and already has a solid curve and changeup. The problem is, he pitched a little in the Florida State League this year and got battered. He needs to fill out more and get more reps, but he does project as a middle-of-the-rotation starter down the road.

Keyvius Sampson, RHP, San Diego Padres (Short-season Eugene):

While small for a right-hander at 6-foot and 185 pounds, Sampson has pure power stuff, sitting in the low-90s with his fastball. He does often touch mid-90s with his heat, a velocity than many feel will become a more regular occurrence as his game matures. His very good curveball makes him the rare pitcher with two true plus pitches in the Northwest League, and that combination has led to 54 strikeouts in just 40 2/3 innings for the 19-year-old Florida native. Other than top prospect Simon Castro, no pitcher in the Padres' system can match Sampson's upside.

Donavan Tate, OF, San Diego Padres (Rookie-level Arizona League Padres):

Tate got a $6.25 million bonus after the 2009 MLB draft; that was a record for a high school player. It's understandable: his athleticism is off the charts. He's been injured a bunch so far, though—and he's also a really raw hitter (.227/.343/.352 in 24 games, with 40 strikeouts in 88 at-bats). He was 'high-risk/high-reward' and so far, the risk side of the equation is winning.

Michael Ynoa, RHP, Oakland Athletics:

He signed for $4.25 million in 2008; that shattered all Latin American bonuses to date. He's 6-foot-7 and has the potential to dominate on the mound. Key word there? Potential. More than two years after the bonus, he's made nearly zero progress due to elbow problems. After never pitching in an official game last year due to elbow soreness, Ynoa made his official pro debut on June 21 with three dazzling innings. He then had two poor outings and essentially disappeared once again. He's now on the shelf with elbow tendinitis. The A's are being understandably cautious, and currently are consulting multiple medical experts on the issue. Ynoa is one of the bigger disappointments of the last few years.

A version of this story originally appeared on ESPN Insider Insider.

You need to be logged in to comment. Login or Subscribe
Clonod
8/09
I feel as though the 10-packs have been "dumbed down" more recently to make them more accessible to the ESPN audience.
pobothecat
8/09
I enjoy reviews like this, items that give context to names that some may already be aware of. And really, a list of top-performers from low-A and rookie ball is too obvious for the readership?
kringent
8/09
I read a few decent reports on Hamilton's defense at SS last year, so I've been surprised to see him playing exclusively at 2B this year. Was it just a pipe dream that he could stick at short?
kgoldstein
8/09
It's really a tough call. He certainly has to TOOLS to play short. Obviously he's fast, but he also has a very good arm. That said, he's got a long way to go to be a left side defender, as tools alone don't cut it.
tballgame
8/09
Has Maya pitched in the GCL yet?
leleutd
8/09
@clonod I'd imagine that as we look at lower systems in the minors, the analysis is more projection and scout-y than at higher levels. The data just isn't there, and the levels of competition fluctuate so much. The fact that it seems ESPN-y to you is likely just b/c ESPN has been using scouting language for years so they can cover up the fact that they don't know anything.
Clonod
8/09
Travis, it isn't the scouting language, and it's not just this low-level look. I've been noticing this for weeks. It's things like explaining who Jesus Montero is, or providing a very generic update on Donavan Tate. BP subscribers are typically high-information types who don't need this. That said, I don't really care. KG is providing excellent dailies to subscribers 4 times a week, and I get it if he felt re-tooling the 10 pack was in order.
donwinningham
8/09
Concur. Maybe I'm getting cranky in my old age, but why should the mouth-breathing ESPN insider subscribers get the benefit of articles that WE pay for here, while we get absolutely nothing of value from ESPN in return? Too much to ask to get buster olney or keith law to host a few chats or something?
hjw099
8/10
Maybe we should be careful what we ask for. I for one can think of complaints but then I remember that Buster Olney doesn't have anything to do with this site and it makes me feel better.
Oleoay
8/10
Buster Olney did a series with some BP writers that was posted here... kind of a roundtable format though it seemed like he was sitting out on the patio.
wick98
8/09
Goddamn it man, quit writing about Oswaldo Arcia. This Twins fan wants to grab him in the minor league draft of my keeper league, and you're gonna drive the price up.
kgoldstein
8/09
You know, I don't even play fantasy baseball, but I do always appreciate stories like this, or I BP helped people win.
SydFinch
8/09
Oswaldo Arcia KG: Love the bat. I know that you are not bashful on putting "high ceiling" youngsters up in the rankings. Does Arcia have a shot at the 2011 pre-season Top 25?
mattp31
8/09
Your write ups of Arcia made me draft him 3 weeks ago in my minor league draft. I took him over Arias, who I also almost drafted because of your reporting. Thank you for helping me come put with a great draft
Scott44
8/09
If picking right now, who would you take between Sanchez and Sano?
kgoldstein
8/09
Sano.
yadenr
8/09
I concur that the ESPN inSider stuff tends to be a repackaging of analysis we have already seen on BP. Personally I would likely still read it, but wouldn't mind if they would put the ESPN insider disclaimer at the top of the article instead of the bottom. That way you wouldn't be left wondering halfway through the article why it sounds remedial.
Oleoay
8/10
I cancelled my ESPN Insider subscription a few years back and haven't missed it except for Stark and Law.
mwashuc06
8/09
What about reports on Oscar Taveras for Johnson City...
uncasf1
8/10
Kevin, I am in a dynasty fantasy league where we draft and keep minor league talent in addition to our major league rosters. Two or three years ago I had the last pick in the first round of our minor league draft. I selected Neftali Feliz in large part based on your enthusiatic write ups. Thanks for the tip Kevin. Note this year I took Mike Trout!
kgoldstein
8/10
Happy to help.
Phatjulio
8/10
Jonathan Garcia ring a bell?
mbyrnes
8/10