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Old 02-27-2009, 03:06 AM   #1
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Default Best Prospects, by Position

From Baseball America:
http://www.baseballamerica.com/onlin...09/267683.html
For those who do not subscribe to Baseball America, here is the article:
Top Prospects By Position

Deep catcher pool leads ranking of prospects around diamond

By Ben Badler, Kary Booher, Matt Eddy and John Manuel
February 25, 2009

E-mail Print


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See also: Top 100 Prospects

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Compiling our Top 100 Prospects list is one thing—ranking the players by position is another. In past years, we've done this in-season, or just after the season. This year we've decided to pair our position rankings with our Top 100. It gives some perspective to which positions are deepest in the minors right now, but also gives an idea of which players just missed the Top 100, and which young prospects might play their way onto the list in 2010.

In addition to ranking the players at each position, we've also rated the relative strength of the positions themselves. Based on star quality and depth, catcher has emerged as the best position, edging righthanded starters. The 2008 draft fortified key infield spots such as shortstop and first base, while second base remains the forgotten position of prospectdom.

We rated the positions on a five-star scale, with five being the best, while also rating Best Tools within each position and providing X-Factors—players outside the rankings who could jump in with one adjustment or another.

Asterisks (*) denote lefthanded hitters and pitchers, while pound signs (#) denote switch-hitters. Listed ages are as of April 1, 2009, while Level is simply highest level reached in 2008, though we acknowledge that for some players these listings overstate their progress. This is especially true of the Giants' Ehire Adrianza, a Rookie-level Arizona League shortstop who made the five-level jump to Triple-A to fill in for two games while Fresno played at nearby Tucson.

You'll notice that several prospects are not listed at the positions at which they spent the most time in 2008. In cases where a position switch is likely in the cards for a player, e.g. Adrian Cardenas to second base or Wilmer Flores to third, we've ranked him at his projected new defensive home. For players who could go one way or the other—Jason Donald, for example—we've left them where they currently take up residence.

CATCHER (5 Stars)

BEST TOOLS
Hitter: Matt Wieters
Power: Matt Wieters
Runner: Brett Lawrie
Defender: Taylor Teagarden
Arm: Taylor Teagarden
The cliché is that there's never enough catching, yet in 2009, with 11 representatives in the Top 100, catcher is strongest position in the minors. In a way, that is no surprise, considering top catchers Wieters and Posey received more than $12 million combined to sign. Our staff had no trouble going 25 deep while acknowledging that some members of this list think offense first (cough—Montero and Lawrie—cough) and thus might wind up at other positions. Even with that, the offensive ability of this list is impressive.

CATCHER
No. Player, Organization (Top 100) Age Level
1. Matt Wieters#, Orioles (1) 22 AA
2. Buster Posey, Giants (14) 22 SS
3. Carlos Santana#, Indians (26) 22 AA
4. Jesus Montero, Yankees (38) 19 Low A
5. J.P. Arencibia, Blue Jays (43) 23 AA
6. Jason Castro*, Astros (53) 21 SS
7. Lou Marson, Phillies (66) 22 Majors
8. Wilson Ramos, Twins (71) 21 High A
9. Taylor Teagarden, Rangers (73) 25 Majors
10. Brett Lawrie, Brewers (81) 19 —
11. Max Ramirez, Rangers (84) 24 Majors
12. Kyle Skipworth*, Marlins (85) 19 Rookie
13. Tyler Flowers, White Sox (99) 23 High A
14. Angel Salome, Brewers 22 Majors
15. Bryan Anderson*, Cardinals 22 AAA
16. Derek Norris, Nationals 20 SS
17. Travis d'Arnaud, Phillies 20 Low A
18. Austin Romine, Yankees 20 Low A
19. Wilin Rosario, Rockies 20 Rookie
20. Jonathan Lucroy, Brewers 22 High A
21. Adam Moore, Mariners 24 AA
22. Josh Donaldson, Athletics 23 High A
23. Cole Armstrong*, White Sox 25 AAA
24. Welington Castillo, Cubs 21 AAA
25. Michael McKenry, Rockies 24 High A

X-FACTORS

The Angels' Hank Conger, 21, and the Reds' Devin Mesoraco, 20, both were first-round picks (2006 and 2007) as prep products. Both have had injury issues and have had trouble staying on the field, particularly Conger who played in just 73 games last year, only 10 of those behind the plate. He has more upside as a switch-hitter with significant power potential, but he has not allayed doubts about his defensive ability in his spotty playing time. Mesoraco showed some potential in his debut season but fell short of expectations in his follow-up, especially defensively.

RIGHTHANDED STARTER (4.5 Stars)

BEST TOOLS
Fastball: Neftali Feliz
Curveball: Trevor Cahill
Slider: Tommy Hanson
Changeup: Carlos Carrasco
Control: Jeremy Hellickson
Hanson is the most well-rounded pitcher in the minors, showing a plus fastball and above-average secondary stuff backed by a strong track record in Double-A and the Arizona Fall League. Feliz and Cahill have two of the best fastballs in the minors, though Feliz's is more notable for its blazing speed, while Cahill's heavy sinker gets both ground balls and whiffs. The rest of the group is predictably deep and offers a diversity of prospects, ranging from players on the cusp of the big leagues, like Davis and McDonald, to high-ceiling arms like Inoa and Martin, who have yet to throw a pitch in a professional game.

RIGHTHANDED STARTER
No. Player, Organization (Top 100) Age Level
1. Tommy Hanson, Braves (4) 22 AA

2. Neftali Feliz, Rangers (10) 20 AA
3. Trevor Cahill, Athletics (11) 21 AA
4. Rick Porcello, Tigers (21) 20 High A
5. Chris Tillman, Orioles (22) 20 AA
6. Jarrod Parker, Diamondbacks (29) 20 Low A
7. Wade Davis, Rays (32) 23 AAA
8. Jordan Zimmermann, Nationals (41) 22 AA
9. Tim Alderson, Giants (45) 20 High A
10. Jhoulys Chacin, Rockies (46) 21 High A
11. Carlos Carrasco, Phillies (52) 22 AAA
12. Michael Inoa, Athletics (54) 17 —
13. James McDonald, Dodgers (56) 24 Majors
14. Jake Arrieta, Orioles (67) 23 High A
15. Nick Adenhart, Angels (68) 22 Majors
16. Jordan Walden, Angels (70) 21 High A
17. Michael Bowden, Red Sox (83) 22 Majors
18. Daniel Cortes, Royals (90) 22 AA
19. Andrew Brackman, Yankees (92) 23 DNP
20. Phillippe Aumont, Mariners (93) 20 Low A
21. Brad Holt, Mets (94) 22 SS
22. Jeremy Jeffress, Brewers (100) 21 AA
23. Mat Latos, Padres 21 Low A
24. Ethan Martin, Dodgers 19 —
25. Michael Main, Rangers 20 Low A
26. Dellin Betances, Yankees 21 Low A
27. Jeremy Hellickson, Rays 21 AA
28. Kyle Drabek, Phillies 21 SS
29. Nick Barnese, Rays 20 SS
30. Juan Ramirez, Mariners 20 Low A
31. James Simmons, Athletics 22 AA
32. Vin Mazzaro, Athletics 22 AAA
33. Tim Melville, Royals 19 —
34. Zach McAllister, Yankees 21 High A
35. Brandon Erbe, Orioles 21 High A

X-FACTORS

The Twins' Shooter Hunt, 22, has a low-90s fastball and a plus curve, but the'08 supplemental first-rounder walked 27 in 31 innings last year. The Cubs' Jay Jackson, 21, a ninth-round pick and a two-way player at Furman last year, struck out 72 in 50 innings in his pro debut with high-octane stuff. The Braves' Kris Medlen, 23, dominated as a starter in Double-A last season, though many evaluators see the 5-foot-10 righty with the devastating curveball as a future reliever.

CENTER FIELD (4 Stars)

BEST TOOLS
Hitter: Ben Revere
Power: Greg Halman
Runner: Ben Revere
Defender: Gorkys Hernandez
Arm: Aaron Hicks
The pool of center field prospects is deep, as you might expect, and particularly top-heavy in five-tool talents. At the top, Rasmus experienced his first true setback in '08, as a two-month slump and sprained left knee in early July defined his season. Maybin overcame a pulled ribcage muscle and three weeks on the disabled list in July to lead Double-A Carolina to within a win of the Southern League title. The five-tool train extends to Hicks, Jennings and Beltre, all of whom have experienced injury woes, too. Three of the top four are '05 first-round picks, with Fowler the odd man out.

CENTER FIELD
No. Player, Organization (Top 100) Age Level
1. Colby Rasmus*, Cardinals (3) 22 AAA
2. Cameron Maybin, Marlins (8) 22 Majors
3. Dexter Fowler#, Rockies (15) 23 Majors
4. Andrew McCutchen, Pirates (33) 22 AAA
5. Austin Jackson, Yankees (36) 22 AA
6. Aaron Hicks#, Twins (39) 19 Rookie
7. Jordan Schafer*, Braves (42) 22 AA
8. Greg Halman, Mariners (57) 21 AA
9. Ben Revere*, Twins (59) 20 Low A
10. Gorkys Hernandez, Braves (62) 21 High A
11. Desmond Jennings, Rays (80) 22 High A
12. Gerardo Parra*, Diamondbacks (88) 21 AA
13. Engel Beltre*, Rangers 19 Low A
14. Julio Borbon*, Rangers 23 AA
15. Drew Stubbs, Reds 24 AAA

X-FACTORS

A pair of alliterative first-round picks, the Astros' Brian Bogusevic, 25, and the Rangers' Greg Golson, 23, could better define themselves this year. Bogusevic returned to the outfield only last season after he ditched a sputtering pitching career, while Golson is now under the guidance of Rangers hitting guru Rudy Jaramillo, who could enhance Golson's questionable strike-zone judgment, the one thing keeping the Ron Gant-esque player from being an everyday big leaguer.

LEFTHANDED STARTER (4 Stars)

BEST TOOLS
Fastball: Madison Bumgarner
Curveball: Cole Rohrbough
Slider: David Price
Changeup: David Huff
Control: Brett Anderson
Lefthanded pitchers comprise three of the game's top 10 prospects and five of the game's top 31. Price and Bumgarner have the most electric arms of the group, while Anderson picks apart opponents with pinpoint location and a diverse repertoire. The list is largely devoid of Latin American talent, with the Venezuelan Perez the lone international representative.

LEFTHANDED STARTER
No. Player, Organization (Top 100) Age Level
1. David Price, Rays (2) 23 Majors
2. Brett Anderson, Athletics (7) 21 AA
3. Madison Bumgarner, Giants (9) 19 Low A
4. Brian Matusz, Orioles (25) 22 —
5. Derek Holland, Rangers (31) 22 AA
6. Aaron Poreda, White Sox (63) 22 AA
7. Brett Cecil, Blue Jays (72) 22 AAA
8. Jonathon Niese, Mets (77) 22 Majors
9. Martin Perez, Rangers (86) 18 SS
10. Christian Friedrich, Rockies (95) 21 Low A
11. Sean West, Marlins (96) 22 High A
12. Gio Gonzalez, Athletics (97) 23 Majors
13. Ross Detwiler, Nationals 23 High A
14. Cole Rohrbough, Braves 21 High A
15. Matt Moore, Rays 19 Rookie
16. Danny Duffy, Royals 20 Low A
17. David Huff, Indians 24 AAA
18. Mike Montgomery, Royals 19 Rookie
19. Nick Hagadone, Red Sox 23 Low A
20. Kyle Lobstein, Rays 19 —

X-FACTORS

Jack McGeary, 20, signed with the Nationals for $1.8 million in 2007, but with the agreement that he would be able to attend classes at Stanford. That changes this season when he'll be active for a full five months. McGeary pitched last summer in the Gulf Coast League and punched out 64 batters in 60 innings. Jake McGee, 22, has a power arm—touching 98 mph—but Tommy John surgery last season could push him to the bullpen to become the Rays' future closer.

FIRST BASE (3 Stars)

BEST TOOLS
Hitter: Logan Morrison
Power: Eric Hosmer
Runner: Gaby Sanchez
Defender: Justin Smoak
Arm: Eric Hosmer
The first round of the 2008 draft featured a record six first basemen—seven if you count Brett Wallace, whom the Cardinals have playing third—and three of the first 11 players selected overall crowd into the top five here. The top four aren't separated by much, with Anderson's strong performance in the Double-A Eastern League at a tender age and Morrison's torrid Arizona Fall League performance giving them the slightest of edges over elite draft talents Smoak and Hosmer. Sanchez and Ka'aihuemay be 25 but their experience also means they're big league ready.

FIRST BASE
No. Player, Organization (Top 100) Age Level
1. Lars Anderson*, Red Sox (17) 21 AA
2. Logan Morrison*, Marlins (18) 21 High A
3. Justin Smoak#, Rangers (23) 22 Low A
4. Eric Hosmer*, Royals (24) 19 Rookie
5. Yonder Alonso*, Reds (35) 21 High A
6. Angel Villalona, Giants (44) 18 Low A
7. Kyle Blanks, Padres (50) 22 AA
8. Chris Carter, Athletics (76) 22 High A
9. Freddie Freeman*, Braves (87) 19 Low A
10. David Cooper*, Blue Jays 22 High A
11. Beau Mills*, Indians 22 High A
12. Chris Marrero, Nationals 20 High A
13. Gaby Sanchez, Marlins 25 Majors
14. Kila Ka'aihue*, Royals 25 Majors
15. Sean Doolittle*, Athletics 22 AA

X-FACTORS

Allan Dykstra, Padres, and Ike Davis, Mets: The forgotten men of last year's college first base crop. Both first-rounders could move up the rankings if healthy (Dykstra has degenerative hip issues) and productive (Davis didn't homer in his pro debut).

THIRD BASE (3 Stars)

BEST TOOLS
Hitter: Mat Gamel
Power: Pedro Alvarez
Runner: Neil Walker
Defender: Matt Dominguez
Arm: Mike Moustakas
While '07 No. 1 Evan Longoria would look nice atop this list, this crop of third basemen features a nice blend of pure hitters and power hitters—and a handful who do both. But what the position has in batsmanship, it lacks in athleticism and defensive acumen. A number of players have shortstop pedigrees (Moustakas, Flores, Chisenhall, Ahrens) and one even lists catcher on his resume (Walker), but only Dominguez projects as a premium defender. And at a position traditionally dominated by righthanded batters, it's a welcome sign to see four lefties at the top. With all the premium talent signed in 2007—Flores, Marte and Almanzar on the international market, and Vitters, Dominguez and Ahrens from the draft—six of the top 20 will begin 2009 as teenagers. Moustakas and Alvarez were second overall picks in back-to-back drafts in 2007-08. With three Reds in the top 20 (Frazier, Francisco, Soto), other third baseman in the system will have to really distinguish themselves to earn playing time. Perhaps this is why Cincinnati traded Brandon Waring in the Ramon Hernandez deal.

THIRD BASE
No. Player, Organization (Top 100) Age Level
1. Pedro Alvarez*, Pirates (12) 22 —
2. Mike Moustakas*, Royals (13) 20 Low A
3. Mat Gamel*, Brewers (34) 23 Majors
4. Brett Wallace*, Cardinals (40) 22 AA
5. Wilmer Flores, Mets (47) 17 Low A
6. Josh Vitters, Cubs (51) 19 Low A
7. Todd Frazier, Reds (60) 23 High A
8. Dayan Viciedo, White Sox (61) 20 —
9. Matt Dominguez, Marlins (64) 19 Low A
10. Lonnie Chisenhall*, Indians 20 SS
11. Jefry Marte, Mets 17 Rookie
12. Danny Valencia, Twins 24 AA
13. Michael Almanzar, Red Sox 18 Low A
14. Wes Hodges, Indians 24 AA
15. Neil Walker#, Pirates 23 AAA
16. Conor Gillaspie*, Giants 21 Majors
17. David Freese, Cardinals 25 AAA
18. Kevin Ahrens#, Blue Jays 19 Low A
19. Juan Francisco#, Reds 21 High A
20. Neftali Soto, Reds 20 Low A

X-FACTORS

The first high school position player drafted in 2006, the Orioles' Bill Rowell, 20, slumped to a .248/.315/.368 campaign with high Class A Frederick as he struggled with injuries and southpaws. A smooth lefty swing and easy power portend better things, but Rowell's diminishing speed and clunky footwork could spell a position change down the road—making it vital that his bat come around. Burdened with a thick lower half, the Dodgers' switch-hitting Josh Bell, 22, shed 30 pounds prior to the 2008 season, proving his re-dedication to the game—but, alas, May knee surgery limited him to 51 games with high Class A Inland Empire. Incredible raw power and leverage in his swing suggest he could be at least an average regular at third, but fringy range and speed may conspire against him. A sparkling, albeit abbreviated, debut in the short-season Northwest League (.373/.462/.582 in 16 games) perked up our ears, but the Padres' James Darnell's, 22, combination of power, speed and athleticism could have the '08 second-rounder from South Carolina shooting up this list next season.

CORNER OUTFIELDER (2.5 Stars)

BEST TOOLS
Hitter: Jason Heyward
Power: Mike Stanton
Runner: Daryl Jones
Defender: Josh Reddick
Arm: Michael Burgess
You don't have to search far and wide for corner outfielders, and most are in the traditional mold of power hitter first, nice arm second and so-so defense third. Yet Heyward offers a much more exciting package that includes encouraging strike-zone discipline and an ability to cover a ton of ground in the outfield. Just 19, he could reach Double-A this season. The best power hitter of the bunch is the Stanton, who nearly led the minors in home runs. He clubbed 39 to finish three off the pace. Others toting big bats include Snider, who reached the big leagues at age 20 last September, LaPorta and Martinez. This list features five players drafted in the first 76 picks of the '07 draft: LaPporta (seventh overall), Heyward (14th overall), Kulbacki (40) and Stanton (76).

CORNER OUTFIELD
No. Player, Organization (Top 100) Age Level
1. Jason Heyward*, Braves (5) 19 High A
2. Travis Snider*, Blue Jays (6) 21 Majors
3. Mike Stanton, Marlins (16) 19 Low A
4. Matt LaPorta, Indians (27) 24 AA
5. Fernando Martinez*, Mets (30) 20 AA
6. Dominic Brown*, Phillies (48) 21 Low A
7. Andrew Lambo*, Dodgers (49) 20 AA
8. Aaron Cunningham, Athletics (55) 22 Majors
9. Nick Weglarz*, Indians (58) 21 High A
10. Michael Saunders*, Mariners (65) 22 AAA
11. Jose Tabata, Pirates (75) 20 AA
12. Jaff Decker*, Padres 19 SS
13. Daryl Jones*, Cardinals 21 AA
14. Michael Taylor, Phillies 23 High A
15. Michael Burgess*, Nationals 20 High A
16. Josh Reddick*, Red Sox 22 AA
17. Nolan Reimold, Orioles 25 AA
18. Kellen Kulbacki*, Padres 23 High A
19. Cedric Hunter*, Padres 21 High A
20. Zach Collier*, Phillies 18 Rookie

X-FACTORS

A former basketball and baseball standout at Princeton, the Padres' Will Venable, 26, has dabbled in center and has a lefthanded stroke that has not yet translated into big-time power. Power also is a concern with the Nationals' J.P. Ramirez, 19, whose comparisons range from a tweener to a David Dellucci-like hits machine. The '08 15th-rounder has plenty of development time, not to mention a textbook lefty swing.

SHORTSTOP (2 Stars)

BEST TOOLS
Hitter: Gordon Beckham
Power: Gordon Beckham
Runner: Elvis Andrus
Defender: Alcides Escobar
Arm: Alcides Escobar
Not only did the 2008 draft bolster first base (Smoak, Hosmer, Alonso, Cooper) and third base (Alvarez, Wallace, Chisenhall, Gillaspie), but it also furnished the shortstop position with a pair of Beckhams, who shoot to Nos. 2 and 3 on this list. Brignac ranked as the best of the best a year ago, but while he showed good power with Triple-A Durham, he looks to be at least one season away. That's OK. He'll be 23 this year and he remains the only lefthanded-hitting option in the top 15—and the only switch-hitter is Rookie-baller Adrianza. And in a year that Venezuela icon Omar Vizquel turns 42 and had to accept a minor league deal with the Rangers, two of his slick-fielding countrymen (Escobar, Andrus) figure to begin their big league careers in earnest. Venezuelans Rivero and Adrianza remain a few years away.

SHORTSTOP
No. Player, Organization (Top 100) Age Level
1. Alcides Escobar, Brewers (19) 22 Majors
2. Gordon Beckham, White Sox (20) 22 Low A
3. Tim Beckham, Rays (28) 19 SS
4. Elvis Andrus, Rangers (37) 20 AA
5. Jason Donald, Phillies (69) 24 AA
6. Reid Brignac*, Rays (78) 23 Majors
7. Justin Jackson, Blue Jays 20 Low A
8. Chris Valaika, Reds 23 AA
9. Yamaico Navarro, Red Sox 21 High A
10. Brandon Hicks, Braves 23 AA
11. Hector Gomez, Rockies 21 High A
12. Carlos Rivero, Indians 20 High A
13. Ehire Adrianza#, Giants 19 AAA
14. Pete Kozma, Cardinals 20 High A
15. Brent Lillibridge, White Sox 25 Majors

X-FACTORS

The Tigers' Cale Iorg, 23, and the Dodgers' Devaris Gordon, 20, have at least three things in common: 1) They're (more physical) sons of big leaguers—that would be '80s Blue Jays utilityman Garth Iorg and righthander Tom Gordon, the still-active 5-foot-9 dynamo who has strung together a 20-year career; 2) they both missed time as amateurs, meaning scouts did not get a complete look; Iorg missed his final two years at Alabama while serving a Mormon mission in Portugal, while Gordon missed his final year at Seminole (Fla.) CC because of a grade mixup; and 3) despite their time away from the game (and resultant rawness), they both have significant offensive potential and the defensive tools to stick at shortstop. Gordon also provides the elusive lefthanded bat.

RELIVERS (2 Stars)

BEST TOOLS
Fastball: Daniel Bard
Curveball: Daniel Schlereth
Slider: Adam Miller
Changeup: Ryan Tucker
Control: Mark Melancon
Most big league relievers gained experience as starters in the minor leagues, and this is true for most of the members of our reliever list as well. However, the 2008 draft again rears its head, with two draftees—former college teammates, as it happens—getting into the top 10 in Perry and Schlereth. The conversion from mediocre Double-A starter to electric big league reliever worked for Samardzija, while big-armed righties like Miller and Tucker also appear better suited for bullpen work.

RELIEVER
No. Player, Organization (Top 100) Age Level
1. Jeff Samardzija, Cubs (79) 24 Majors
2. Adam Miller, Indians (82) 24 AAA
3. Chris Perez, Cardinals (91) 23 Majors
4. Daniel Bard, Red Sox (98) 23 AA
5. Ryan Tucker, Marlins 22 Majors
6. Jose Ceda, Marlins 22 AA
7. Jose Mijares*, Twins 24 Majors
8. Mark Melancon, Yankees 24 AAA
9. Ryan Perry, Tigers 22 High A
10. Daniel Schlereth*, Diamondbacks 22 Low A

X-FACTORS

Righthander Joshua Fields, the 20th overall pick last June, signed with the Mariners just as these lists were compiled. Already 23, he has yet to throw a pro pitch and yet could find himself in Seattle's bullpen before the year is out, provided that his mid-90s fastball and power curve return to the form he showed at Georgia. A converted catcher, the Cardinals' Jason Motte, 26, struck out nearly 15 batters per nine innings in Triple-A, then struck out 16 more in 11 big league innings. Will a deceptive high-90s heater—and no secondary stuff—be enough? Shoulder and control problems have hampered Dodgers' lefty Scott Elbert, 23, but he still has a power breaking ball and a plus fastball. The Astros' Bud Norris, 24, was suitable as a starter in the minors, but the righthander sat 93-95 mph and touched 98 as a reliever in the Arizona Fall League.

SECOND BASE (1 Star)

BEST TOOLS
Hitter: Chris Coghlan
Power: Shelby Ford
Runner: Nick Noonan
Defender: Ivan DeJesus Jr.
Arm: Carlos Triunfel
Minor league second basemen remain something of an afterthought (the top-ranked prospect barely cracked the top 75 in our overall Top 100), but this year's class at least offers a multitude of intriguing offensive options, headed by Cardenas and Triunfel, a pair of pure-hitting, on-again, off-again shortstops. DeJesus also has extensive shortstop experience to go with the bloodlines (his father was a 15-year big league veteran) and leadership qualities that suggest he may exceed expectations. Only Valbuena can challenge him for title of the position's best defender. On the other side of the bloodlines coin, Weeks' older brother Rickie has yet to fully deliver on his potential. The 2008 draft spread the wealth evenly around the infield, adding Weeks and Giavotella to the second base ranks. Triunfel, DeJesus and Giavotella are the only pure righthanded bats on the list—Weeks and Ford switch-hit; the rest are lefties.

SECOND BASE
No. Player, Organization (Top 100) Age Level
1. Adrian Cardenas*, Athletics (74) 21 AA
2. Carlos Triunfel, Mariners (89) 19 HiA
3. Chris Coghlan*, Marlins 23 AA
4. Ivan DeJesus Jr., Dodgers 21 AA
5. Luis Valbuena*, Indians 23 Majors
6. Nick Noonan*, Giants 19 LoA
7. Jemile Weeks#, Athletics 21 LoA
8. Shelby Ford#, Pirates 24 AA
9. Eric Sogard*, Padres 22 HiA
10. Johnny Giavotella, Royals 21 LoA

X-FACTORS

The Padres' Matt Antonelli, 23, took top honors at the keystone sack last year, but after a miserable year at Triple-A Portland (.215/.335/.322 in 128 games), it's now practically impossible to chart a course for his career. His batting eye remains intact, and if he can return to form in the power and speed departments, he may yet surface as San Diego's second baseman. A modest but injury-plagued pro debut by Mets' '08 first-rounder Reese Havens, 22, included just two games (out of 23) in the field, both at shortstop. His range may ultimately be a bit, ahem, short for the position, but his lefty bat, offensive instincts and grinder mentality will play at second. Speaking of grinders, the Blue Jays' Brad Emaus, 23, has no outstanding tool, but he's coming off a year in which he ranked sixth in the high Class A Florida State League in extra-base hits and then added an exclamation point to his season by batting .333/.447/.494 in Hawaii Winter Baseball. If he proves he can handle the defensive responsibilities at second, then Toronto may have something. Las Vegas prep product Niko Vazquez, 20, provided tremendous value as a Cardinals' third-round pick last June, mashing his way through the Appalachian League (.317/.416/.462 in 55 games) on his way to low Class A Quad Cities. Though he played shortstop in his debut, most evaluators envision him as a strong-armed second baseman with a strong hit tool.
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Old 02-27-2009, 12:13 PM   #2
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The interesting thing here is Rasmus is getting a shot in LF instead of CF this spring.

It sounds like Chris Perez is going to be given every chance to win the closer job for the Cards.

It is going to be interesting to see what happens with Brett Wallace. Offensively he is probably ready to play at the big league level but from what I have read he has some work to do defensively and moving him to the outfield really is not an option with the team already trying to convert Skip Schumaker and Joe Mather into infielders to get their sticks in the lineup. I suspect he starts the year at AAA where he will get at bats every day and then get called up when someone gets hurt.
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