Matthew Pouliot

Strike Zone

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Top 150 Prospects (Page 2

Monday, March 05, 2007

51. Brandon Erbe - RHP Orioles - DOB: 12/25/87 - ETA: 2009
Previous rankings: mid-2006 #82

5-9, 3.22 ERA, 88 H, 133/47 K/BB in 114 2/3 IP for low Single-A Delmarva

It's hard to see how Erbe lasted to the third round of the 2005 draft. He possesses impresses command for such a hard-throwing youngster, and it wasn't a height thing, as he stands 6-foot-4. He's touched 98 mph on the gun and throws regularly in the mid-90s. Erbe's secondary pitches need work, but his slider should rate as a plus offering in time and the Orioles will insist that he use his changeup more. He could end 2007 in Double-A and reach the majors by Sept. 2008.

52. Travis Buck - OF Athletics - DOB: 11/18/83 - ETA: July 2008
Previous rankings: mid-2006 #61

.349/.400/.603, 3 HR, 26 RBI, 18/14 K/BB, 2 SB in 126 AB for Single-A Stockton
.302/.376/.472, 4 HR, 22 RBI, 39/22 K/BB, 11 SB in 212 AB for Double-A Texas
.259/.286/.444. 1 HR, 7 RBI, 4/1 K/BB, 0 SB in 27 AB for Phoenix (AFL)

Even ignoring the fact that both went to Arizona State, Buck is rather similar to Andre Ethier, the fellow left-handed-hitting corner outfielder the A's parted with to bring in Milton Bradley a year ago. Buck, the 36th overall pick in the 2005 draft, has hit .328/.399/.511 in 497 at-bats as a pro. The home run power hasn't come yet, but he delivered 39 doubles in 338 at-bats last year before going down with a groin injury. Also, he was just as effective against lefties as he was versus righties. That he's probably going to be limited to left field on defense hurts his stock a bit, but he should be a solid regular capable of hitting .290 with 15 homers and 35 doubles per year.

53. Jeff Niemann - RHP Devil Rays - DOB: 02/28/83 - ETA: May 2007
Previous rankings: 2005 #60, mid-2005 #74, 2006 #83, mid-2006 #49

5-5, 2.68 ERA, 56 H, 84/29 K/BB in 77 1/3 IP for Double-A Montgomery
0-0, 2.70 ERA, 7 H, 8/2 K/BB in 6 2/3 IP for Phoenix (AFL)

If he can overcome the shoulder problems that have limited him to 108 innings since he was drafted, Niemann could give the Rays a second top-of-the-rotation starter to go along with Scott Kazmir. The fourth overall pick in the 2004 draft throws in the mid-90s and has an outstanding slider. A better changeup would be nice, but what he really needs is health. Niemann underwent surgery in Oct. 2005 to shave the joint between his collarbone and shoulder and didn't return until June. He was able to remain off the DL from then until the end of the minor league season, but he was limited to two starts in the AFL with soreness in his shoulder. If he can avoid further troubles this year, it's likely he'll spend a good chunk of the season in the Tampa Bay rotation. Only the questions about his arm prevent him from being ranked as a top-20 overall prospect.

54. Philip Humber - RHP Mets - DOB: 12/21/82 - ETA: Aug. 2007
Previous rankings: 2005 #47, mid-2005 #104, 2006 #88, mid-2006 #74

0-0, 6.75 ERA, 7 H, 7/1 K/BB in 4 IP for Rookie GCL Mets
3-1, 2.37 ERA, 24 H, 36/9 K/BB in 38 IP for Single-A St. Lucie
2-2, 2.88 ERA, 25 H, 36/10 K/BB in 34 1/3 IP for Double-A Binghamton
0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0 H, 2/1 K/BB in 2 IP for New York (NL)
0-0, 4.50 ERA, 2 H, 3/1 K/BB in 2 IP for Mesa (AFL)

Humber returned from July 2005 Tommy John surgery to go 5-3 with a 2.82 ERA in 14 starts in the minors last season. He later pitched a couple of innings of relief for the Mets in September, and he was assigned to the AFL, though he was forced to shut it down after just one appearance for Mesa due to shoulder soreness. The Mets were convinced it was only a minor issue, but it still wasn't a good sign. With a low-90s fastball, an excellent curve and an average change, Humber, the third overall pick in the 2004 draft and a teammate of Niemann's at Rice, could develop into a second or third starter if he gets healthy. He'll be a long shot candidate for a rotation spot this spring.

55. Adam Lind - OF Blue Jays - DOB: 07/17/83 - ETA: June 2007
Previous rankings: mid-2006 #120

.310/.357/.543, 19 HR, 71 RBI, 87/25 K/BB, 2 SB in 348 AB for Double-A New Hampshire
.394/.496/.596, 5 HR, 18 RBI, 18/23 K/BB, 1 SB in 109 AB for Triple-A Syracuse
.367/.415/.600, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 12/5 K/BB, 0 SB in 60 AB for Toronto

Lind's 2006 just kept getting better and better after a rather mediocre start in Double-A. He still finished with a pretty discouraging K/BB ratio at New Hampshire, but his improvement there after moving up to Triple-A makes it easier to overlook. Lind has 25-homer ability and is capable of hitting for average. He should eventually settle in as an everyday player, though he's going to have some trouble against lefties for a couple of years. Lind is limited to left field and doesn't have a lot to offer on defense. His glove won't prevent him from establishing himself, but he'll probably spend a good chunk of his career at DH after the Frank Thomas era ends in Toronto. While Lind is set to open this year at Triple-A, he will get a chance to play regularly before the end of the season and he should prove to be an asset once it happens.

56. Humberto Sanchez - RHP Yankees - DOB: 05/28/83 - ETA: Aug. 2007
Previous rankings: mid-2006 #29

5-3, 1.76 ERA, 47 H, 86/27 K/BB in 71 2/3 IP for Double-A Erie
5-3, 3.86 ERA, 50 H, 43/20 K/BB in 51 1/3 IP for Triple-A Toledo

After posting a 5.21 ERA at Single-A Lakeland in 2004 and a 5.56 ERA at Double-A Erie in 2005, Sanchez finally began to fulfill his potential last season, at least until he hurt his elbow in July. He made just one start over the final six weeks of the season. Sanchez has always had big-time stuff, but inconsistency, along with questions about his arm, has led many to believe his future may lie in the pen. It's more likely that he'll end up there now that he's a Yankee, the result of the Gary Sheffield trade. Sanchez can throw in the mid-90s and his hard curveball is quite a strikeout pitch. He'll probably reach the Bronx as a middle reliever before the end of the year.

57. Billy Rowell - 3B Orioles - DOB: 09/10/88 - ETA: 2010
Previous rankings: none

.329/.422/.507, 2 HR, 26 RBI, 47/25 K/BB, 3 SB in 152 AB for Rookie Bluefield
.326/.388/.488, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 12/4 K/BB, 0 SB in 43 AB for SS Single-A Aberdeen

The early results say the Orioles did very well with the ninth selection in the 2006 draft. Rowell, a shortstop in high school, was moved to third base right away after signing and then hit .328/.415/.503 at two stops. His left-handed swing promises 30-homer power, and he's already making ample contact, against righties anyway. He hit 110 points lower in his 67 at-bats against lefties. Whether he'll be able to stay at third is the biggest question Rowell faces as he climbs the ladder. His chances of becoming an All-Star will be much improved if he can avoid a move to first base or an outfield corner. Since he'll probably end up at first base, he ranks behind Erbe here.

58. Jeff Clement - C Mariners - DOB: 08/21/83 - ETA: May 2008
Previous rankings: 2006 #63, mid-2006 #43

.288/.386/.525, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 8/7 K/BB, 0 SB in 59 AB for Double-A San Antonio
.257/.321/.347, 4 HR, 32 RBI, 53/16 K/BB, 0 SB in 245 AB for Triple-A Tacoma

The Mariners expected Clement to move quickly after making him the third overall pick in the 2005 draft, but they couldn't resist adding Kenji Johjima anyway. Clement opened 2006 in Double-A, and even though he missed a month and a half after requiring knee surgery in May, he was moved up to Triple-A in late June. A slow start followed, but he got better as time went on, hitting .279 in 122 at-bats between August and September. Clement should be a 25- or 30-homer guy in time. The Mariners remain optimistic that he can stay behind the plate, though they'd probably like to get him into their lineup before Johjima's contract expires after 2008. That's going to be an even tougher task as a result of the needless Jose Vidro acquisition. If Clement proves to be an average catcher defensively, his bat may make him an All-Star someday. However, it's at least as likely that he'll end up as an unremarkable first baseman or designated hitter.

59. Elijah Dukes - OF Devil Rays - DOB: 06/26/84 - ETA: Aug. 2007
Previous rankings: mid-2005 #48, 2006 #90, mid-2006 #44

.293/.401/.488, 10 HR, 50 RBI, 47/44 K/BB, 9 SB in 283 AB for Triple-A Durham
.313/.425/.625, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 10/6 K/BB, 1 SB in 32 AB for Phoenix (AFL)

Dukes had another turbulent season, sparring with Durham's coaching staff as well as a teammate, which led to a 15-game suspension in June. After another suspension in late July, he said he might quit baseball. Finally, in mid-January, he was arrested for marijuana possession, the fifth time since 2003 that he was charged with a misdemeanor. Dukes is a top talent and he put up some very good numbers in his first season in Triple-A. It's probably too much to ask that he ever get it together and turn into the star he could become. Milton Bradley's career is a possibility. The Rays were thinking about trying him as a fourth outfielder this year, but his latest arrest makes it more likely that he'll return to the minors.

60. Hank Conger - C Angels - DOB: 01/29/88 - ETA: 2010
Previous rankings: none

.319/.382/.522, 1 HR, 11 RBI, 11/7 K/BB, 1 SB in 69 AB for Rookie AZL Angels

Conger, whose given name is Hyun Choi, was one of the top high school bats available in last year's draft and went 25th overall to the Angels. He got off to a great start in the Arizona League, only to suffer a broken hamate bone after playing in 19 games. Choi probably isn't going to last as a catcher, and it might be for the best if he changes positions soon, hopefully allowing him to avoid the offensive stagnation that so often plagues catching prospects. He possesses terrific offensive potential, and if he ends up as a first baseman or a DH, he should have some 30-homer seasons in the majors.

61. Carlos Gomez - OF Mets - DOB: 12/04/85 - ETA: 2009
Previous rankings: 2006 #141, mid-2006 #121

.281/.350/.423, 7 HR, 48 RBI, 97/27 K/BB, 41 SB in 430 AB for Double-A Binghamton

Gomez hit just .275/.331/.376 in low-A ball in 2005, but the Mets decided to be extremely aggressive with him, sending him to Double-A to begin last year. It looked like quite a mistake when Gomez hit .205 in April and .219 in May, but no demotion came and the then 20-year-old improved to .250 in June, .406 in July and .294 in August. 26 of his 39 extra-base hits came during the final two months, and he walked 11 times in August alone. Gomez covers a lot of ground in center and has the arm to play right. His power is starting to develop, and he's made a lot of progress as a basestealer, getting caught just nine times last year after being thrown out 24 times in 88 tries in 2005. He's going to have to do a better job of handling breaking balls in order to succeed in the majors, and it's possible he'll always flail away too often to become a quality regular. Still, there's a lot of potential here.

62. Chris Iannetta - C Rockies - DOB: 04/08/83 - ETA: Now
Previous rankings: mid-2006 #94

.321/.418/.622, 11 HR, 26 RBI, 26/24 K/BB, 1 SB in 156 AB for Double-A Tulsa
.351/.447/.503, 3 HR, 22 RBI, 29/24 K/BB, 0 SB in 151 AB for Triple-A Colorado Springs
.260/.370/.390, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 17/13 K/BB, 0 SB in 77 AB for Colorado

While his numbers have been aided by the hitter's parks in the Colorado farm system, Iannetta's .303/.410/.515 line in 2 1/2 seasons since he was drafted out of North Carolina is very impressive. His swing and approach at the plate should guarantee that his on-base skills carry over to the majors, and he could be good for 12-15 homers per year. Iannetta's glove does lag behind his bat, though he's better on defense than either Ben Petrick or J.D. Closser, the Rockies' two previous catchers of the future. He has the tools, so if his technique improves, he could be above average in time. He'll battle Yorvit Torrealba and Javy Lopez for a starting job this spring.

63. Joel Guzman - OF/3B Devil Rays - DOB: 11/24/84 - ETA: May 2008
Previous rankings: mid-2002 #92, 2003 #112, mid-2003 #80, 2004 #126, mid-2004 #60, 2005 #4, mid-2005 #5, 2006 #6, mid-2006 #13

.297/.354/.464, 11 HR, 55 RBI, 72/26 K/BB, 9 SB in 317 AB for Triple-A Las Vegas
.193/.228/.386, 4 HR, 9 RBI, 23/4 K/BB, 0 SB in 88 AB for Triple-A Durham
.211/.348/.211, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 2/3 K/BB, 0 SB in 19 AB for Los Angeles (NL)

Guzman made the long-anticipated move of shortstop last spring and saw time at first base, third base and in left field at Las Vegas. The Rays had him focusing more on third base after acquiring him in the Julio Lugo deal, but his future would seem to be either at first or in left. While Guzman was quite the disappointment offensively, he was only awful in the 25 games after arriving at Durham. He's filled out to 250 pounds now and it's only a matter of time before begins showing remarkable power. Even if he never makes enough contact to become a star in the majors, his 35-40 homer potential should make him a regular. He's not going to be ready to help this year, but given that he just turned 22, that's not such a big problem.

64. Chris Parmelee - 1B/OF Twins - DOB: 02/24/88 - ETA: 2010
Previous rankings: none

.279/.369/.532, 8 HR, 32 RBI, 47/23 K/BB, 3 SB in 154 AB for Rookie GCL Twins
.227/.370/.273, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 9/5 K/BB, 0 SB in 22 AB for low Single-A Beloit

The power-hitting Parmelee appeared likely to go to one of the teams that emphasized OBP, like maybe the Padres or the Red Sox, but the Twins grabbed him 20th overall in the 2006 draft. After being assigned to the GCL, he started in right field the majority of the time and got about one-third of his at-bats at first base. He's probably going to end up as a first baseman, though the Twins would have ample reason to keep developing him as an outfielder if they can sign Justin Morneau long-term. Parmelee, a left-handed hitter, is likely to develop into a 25- or 30-homer guy, one who will likely both strike out and walk a lot. He could become an impact player.

65. Jeff Mathis - C Angels - DOB: 03/31/83 - ETA: June 2007
Previous rankings: mid-2002 #94, 2003 #81, mid-2003 #9, 2004 #17, mid-2004 #20, 2005 #59, mid-2005 #32, 2006 #51, mid-2006 #53

.289/.333/.430, 5 HR, 45 RBI, 75/26 K/BB, 3 SB in 384 AB for Triple-A Salt Lake
.145/.238/.291, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 14/7 K/BB, 0 SB in 55 AB for Los Angeles (AL)

Mathis opened last season as the Angels' starting catcher, but he got all of 12 games to prove himself before being sent down in favor of Mike Napoli. A disappointing campaign in Triple-A followed. Mathis hit 21 homers in 427 at-bats for Salt Lake in 2005, but finished with just five last year. Mathis still figures to make it as a starting catcher; he's too young and too strong defensively not to end up as an average regular. Maybe he'll be more Brian Schneider than Ramon Hernandez, but that would still make him a valuable player. The Angels will have him battle for a job this spring, but it's likely that he'll open the year back at Salt Lake.

66. Edinson Volquez - RHP Rangers - DOB: 07/03/83 - ETA: Sept. 2007
Previous rankings: mid-2005 #63, 2006 #49, mid-2006 #42

6-6, 3.21 ERA, 86 H, 130/72 K/BB in 120 2/3 IP for Triple-A Oklahoma
1-6, 7.29 ERA, 52 H, 15/17 K/BB in 33 1/3 IP for Texas

The Rangers seem disappointed with Volquez's progress, but a 3.21 ERA in the PCL is nothing to sneeze at, especially considering he didn't make one start in Triple-A in 2005. Volquez's major league ERA currently stands at 9.20 in 11 starts and three relief appearances, but it's the team's own fault that he's been rushed. What was discouraging was how Volquez's walk rate climbed in Triple-A last year. Volquez can work in the mid-90s and features a truly deceptive changeup. His breaking ball still isn't nearly as far along. If he does a better job of throwing strikes, he could turn into a No. 2 starter someday. If not, odds are that he'll end up in the pen, maybe as a closer.

67. Franklin Morales - LHP Rockies - DOB: 01/24/86 - ETA: June 2008
Previous rankings: mid-2006 #81

10-9, 3.68 ERA, 126 H, 179/89 K/BB in 154 IP for Single-A Modesto

Morales wasn't exactly pitching to contact while striking out 179 and walking 89 in 154 innings last year. With uncommon velocity for a left-hander, it's likely that he'll continue to post big strikeout rates going forward. Morales blows his fastball by hitters at 93-96 mph and both his curveball and changeup have plus potential. He's still working on making that transition from thrower to pitcher and his inefficiency on the mound increases the chances that he'll get hurt. However, there are few lefties out there with greater potential.

68. Eric Campbell - 3B/2B Braves - DOB: 08/06/85 - ETA: 2009
Previous rankings: mid-2006 #132

.296/.335/.517, 22 HR, 77 RBI, 68/23 K/BB, 18 SB in 449 AB for low Single-A Rome

The Braves' 2004 draft could go down as one of the least productive of the John Schuerholz era, but there's still some hope in the form of Van Pope and right-hander Jamie Richmond and they did snare Campbell with their first pick, which was 71st overall. Campbell shows terrific raw power and has done well hitting for average despite a bit of a long swing and little patience at the plate. The Braves had him try second base in the Hawaiian Winter League and likely will keep him there this year, though the experiment could be abandoned if Kelly Johnson puts in a good showing. Campbell may end up back at third base regardless. As a future 30- or maybe even 40-homer guy, he has an awful lot of upside. However, he has considerable work to do before he'll be ready to handle advanced pitching.

69. Donald Veal - LHP Cubs - DOB: 09/18/84 - ETA: May 2008
Previous rankings: mid-2006 #90

5-3, 2.69 ERA, 45 H, 86/40 K/BB in 73 2/3 IP for low Single-A Peoria
6-2, 1.67 ERA, 46 H, 88/42 K/BB in 80 2/3 IP for Single-A Daytona

You'd never know he suffered a torn labrum in college. Veal, a 2005 second-round pick, was practically untouchable in the low minors last year, recording nearly twice as many strikeouts as hits allowed. His fastball is typically in the 91-94 mph range and can go higher. His curveball remains inconsistent, but he's made a ton of progress with a changeup that was his third pitch a year ago. Now he just needs to cut back on the walks. His command isn't as bad as the 82 base on balls in 154 1/3 innings suggests. He might actually benefit from facing more advanced hitters, as some of those swings and misses will have to turn into grounders and pop flies. If he can avoid additional arm problems, he could be a factor in the first half of 2008.

70. Thomas Diamond - RHP Rangers - DOB: 04/06/83 - ETA: May 2008
Previous rankings: 2005 #79, mid-2005 #43, 2006 #61, mid-2006 #54

12-5, 4.24 ERA, 104 H, 145/78 K/BB in 129 1/3 IP for Double-A Frisco

Big and strong, Diamond looked like a future workhorse third starter when the Rangers made him the 10th overall pick in the 2004 draft. He has remained healthy for the most part -- though he did miss two starts last July with forearm tightness -- but he hasn't come up with a third major league pitch and he also hasn't displayed the efficiency necessary to pitch deep into games. Now the possibility exists that he'll end up as a reliever. Diamond typically works in the low-90s and can get strikeouts with both his fastball and a plus changeup. As a reliever, he'd likely hit 95 mph with regularity. The Rangers should give him one more year before they consider a switch. He'll likely open up at Triple-A.

71. Travis Snider - OF Blue Jays - DOB: 02/02/88 - ETA: 2010
Previous rankings: none

.325/.413/.567, 11 HR, 41 RBI, 47/30 K/BB, 6 SB in 194 AB for Rookie Pulaski

At 5-foot-11 and 245 pounds, Snider doesn't have the look of a top prospect. Still, the Blue Jays thought enough of his offensive potential to make him the 14th overall pick in the 2006 draft, and he wasted no time in justifying their faith by making a smooth transition to wood bats. Snyder displayed outstanding power for an 18-year-old, and he has the swing to keep hitting for average as well. Defense could be an issue, though the Jays feel he'll last as a right fielder. He should move pretty quickly for a high school product.

72. Kevin Slowey - RHP Twins - DOB: 05/04/84 - ETA: Aug. 2007
Previous rankings: mid-2006 #72

4-2, 1.01 ERA, 52 H, 99/9 K/BB in 89 1/3 IP for Single-A Fort Myers
4-3, 3.19 ERA, 50 H, 52/13 K/BB in 59 1/3 IP for Double-A New Britain
0-1, 2.37 ERA, 19 H, 12/2 K/BB in 19 IP for Mesa (AFL)

With exquisite command of a 90-mph fastball and a fine changeup, Slowey has been thoroughly dominant in the minors. We'll probably find out before the end of the summer whether he can keep it going against major league hitters. Slowey, a 2005 second-round pick out of Winthrop, has been working on a sinker that might prove more effective against superior competition than his straight fastball. As is, he's a flyball pitcher and likely would give up a lot of homers. His changeup would serve to keep hitters off balance, but neither it nor his slider is a true strikeout pitch. Slowey could be an innings-eating fourth or fifth starter anyway. However, it likely will take the sinker to make him a No. 3.

73. Will Inman - RHP Brewers - DOB: 02/26/87 - ETA: 2009
Previous rankings: mid-2006 #113

10-2, 1.71 ERA, 75 H, 134/24 K/BB in 110 2/3 IP for low Single-A West Virginia

Inman's ERA actually stood at 1.40 before his final start, when he surrendered five runs and two of the three homers he gave up all year. Outstanding command of a low-90s fastball made the 2005 third-round pick one of the minors' most successful pitchers. He also has a curve and changeup that he can use to good effect. Still, there are negatives. None of his pitches project as a big strikeout weapon in the majors, and he did miss time last year with a sore shoulder. Also, as a flyball pitcher, he's certain to give up more homers going forward. He's probably going to be more Dave Bush than Ben Sheets.

74. Miguel Montero - C Diamondbacks - DOB: 07/09/83 - ETA: Now
Previous rankings: mid-2005 #115, 2006 #131, mid-2006 #103

.270/.362/.436, 10 HR, 46 RBI, 44/39 K/BB, 0 SB in 289 AB for Double-A Tennessee
.321/.396/.515, 7 HR, 29 RBI, 21/14 K/BB, 1 SB in 134 AB for Triple-A Tucson
.250/.294/.313, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 3/1 K/BB, 0 SB in 16 AB for Arizona

Montero wasn't much of a force in 111 games at Double-A between 2005 and last year, but following his promotion to Triple-A last season, he resumed hitting like he did at Single-A Lancaster before his initial move to Tennessee. More solid than spectacular on defense, he will need to produce with more consistency in the majors in order to establish himself as a long-term regular. There's still some reason for skepticism, though the Diamondbacks' decision to move Johnny Estrada and go with Montero this year looks like a good one. The left-handed-hitting Montero will likely be platooned with Chris Snyder, giving the Diamondbacks a fair amount of production for about $800,000.

75. Ubaldo Jimenez - RHP Rockies - DOB: 01/22/84 - ETA: June 2007
Previous rankings: mid-2004 #42, 2005 #97, mid-2005 #95, 2006 #98, mid-2006 #39

9-2, 2.45 ERA, 49 H, 86/40 K/BB in 73 1/3 IP for Double-A Tulsa
5-2, 5.06 ERA, 74 H, 64/43 K/BB in 78 1/3 IP for Triple-A Colorado Springs
0-0, 3.52 ERA, 5 H, 3/3 K/BB in 7 2/3 IP for Colorado

Jimenez has a fastball-curveball combination that ranks among the best in the minors, but he's still struggling to throw strikes six years after being signed out of the Dominican Republic. Capable of throwing in the mid-90s with regularity and possessing a changeup that rates as a pretty good third pitch, he's talented enough to dominate major leaguer hitters. However, it is a long shot that he'll ever do it consistently. The better bet is that he turns into a more-than-adequate six-inning pitcher despite a tendency to walk 80 batters per year. He'll probably get an extended opportunity before the summer is over.

76. Cesar Carrillo - RHP Padres - DOB: 04/29/84 - ETA: Aug. 2007
Previous rankings: 2006 #47, mid-2006 #48

1-3, 3.02 ERA, 45 H, 43/15 K/BB in 50 2/3 IP for Double-A Mobile
0-0, 6.75 ERA, 2 H, 1/3 K/BB in 2 2/3 IP for Triple-A Portland

Carrillo, the 18th overall pick in the 2005 draft out of the University of Miami, was on the fast track to the majors until a sore elbow halted his progress last June. No ligament damage was discovered, so the hope is that he'll be 100 percent this year. Carrillo usually works at 90-92 mph with his sinking fastball and complements the pitch well with a curve and changeup. His lack of a big-time strikeout pitch figures to limit his upside, but he's likely to settle in as a No. 3 starter if he can avoid further arm troubles. He could arrive in the majors during the second half of the season.

77. Justin Huber - 1B/OF Royals - DOB: 07/02/82 - ETA: July 2007
Previous rankings: mid-2002 #28, 2003 #38, mid-2003 #21, 2004 #30, mid-2004 #43, 2005 #76, mid-2005 #33, 2006 #44, mid-2006 #46

.278/.358/.480, 15 HR, 44 RBI, 94/40 K/BB, 2 SB in 352 AB for Triple-A Omaha
.200/.273/.300, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 4/1 K/BB, 1 SB in 10 AB for Kansas City

Huber remains a legitimate prospect at age 24, but he's one in need of a change of scenery. The Royals called him up last May after a .301/.427/.603 start, then gave him just 10 at-bats in 16 days, even though Mike Sweeney was on the DL. Following his return to Triple-A, he was moved from first base to left field, went into a major slump and later suffered a strained right hamstring. That Huber, a converted catcher, has really struggled to pick up first base is a major problem. The Royals also don't seem to appreciate him as a hitter. Despite a career .289/.389/.489 minor league line, he got just eight at-bats in the top four spots of Omaha's lineup last year. Huber should turn into a .285-20-85 guy in the majors, if not as a first baseman, then as a DH. Since the Royals have Ryan Shealy at first base and Butler on the way up, a trade would be best for all parties.

78. Gio Gonzalez - LHP White Sox - DOB: 09/19/85 - ETA: May 2008
Previous rankings: mid-2005 #81, 2006 #84, mid-2006 #62

7-12, 4.66 ERA, 140 H, 166/81 K/BB in 154 2/3 IP for Double-A Reading
0-0, 2.81 ERA, 13 H, 20/10 K/BB in 16 IP for Peoria (AFL)

The White Sox drafted Gonzalez 38th overall in 2004, traded him to the Phillies in the Jim Thome deal after 2005 and reacquired him in the Freddy Garcia trade in December. Gonzalez throws in the low-90s and has a sharp curveball, which has allowed him to rack up some very impressive strikeout numbers for a left-hander. His changeup is a third major league pitch. His walk rate has to come down and likely will as he matures. However, because of his smallish build and his lack of efficiency on the mound, there's also some question about whether he'll be able to hold up as a starter. Gonzalez has No. 2-starter upside, but he seems like even more of a long shot than most pitching prospects to reach his full potential.

79. Dexter Fowler - OF Rockies - DOB: 03/22/86 - ETA: 2009
Previous rankings: mid-2006 #110

.296/.373/.462, 8 HR, 46 RBI, 79/43 K/BB, 43 SB in 405 AB for low Single-A Asheville

He's a couple of years away, but the Rockies may have their long-term center fielder in Fowler, who signed for second-round money after getting drafted in the 14th round of the 2004 draft. He's adapted remarkably well to switch-hitting after batting strictly righty in high school, with his exceptional speed helping him leg out infield singles as a left-handed hitter. Increased power is likely to come as he matures. On defense, Fowler projects as a well above average center fielder and maybe even a Gold Glover. That could help him land a starting job as a 23-year-old in 2009.

80. Dustin Nippert - RHP Diamondbacks - DOB: 05/06/81 - ETA: Aug. 2007
Previous rankings: 2004 #97, mid-2004 #74, 2005 ---, mid-2005 #85, 2006 #60, mid-2006 #75

13-8, 4.87 ERA, 161 H, 130/52 K/BB in 140 1/3 IP for Triple-A Tucson
0-2, 11.70 ERA, 15 H, 9/7 K/BB in 10 IP for Arizona

Nippert still possesses the most upside of any pitcher in the Arizona farm system, but after an encouraging first season back from Tommy John surgery in 2005, he struggled last year, especially in his two starts in the majors. Nippert can throw his fastball in the mid-90s and notch strikeouts with his knuckle-curve. His changeup is a problem. Also, while he's never been homer-prone in the minors, but he somehow gave up five bombs in 10 innings in the majors last year. When his command is on, Nippert shows No. 2 starter potential. It's becoming more likely that he'll never achieve that kind of consistency, but he can't be written off yet.

81. Charlie Haeger - RHP White Sox - DOB: 09/19/83 - ETA: May 2007
Previous rankings: mid-2006 #119

14-6, 3.07 ERA, 143 H, 130/78 K/BB in 170 IP for Triple-A Charlotte
1-1, 3.44 ERA, 12 H, 19/13 K/BB in 18 1/3 IP for Chicago (AL)

Haeger is easily the best hope out there to keep the knuckleball alive after Tim Wakefield eventually hangs up his spikes. Originally a conventional pitcher, Haeger retired in 2003 before attempting a comeback the next year with his new weapon. Since then, he's made exceptional progress. While he had a rough outing in his first major league start against the Angels last May, he returned to the majors in September as a reliever and had a 1.29 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 14 innings the rest of the way. The White Sox could carry him as a middle reliever to begin 2007, though they'll first give him a chance to win a rotation spot. Even if he experiences a couple of setbacks, he's got a real chance of having a 15-year career in the majors.

82. Gaby Hernandez - RHP Marlins - DOB: 05/21/86 - ETA: May 2008
Previous rankings: mid-2005 #69, 2006 #100, mid-2006 #78

9-7, 3.68 ERA, 120 H, 115/35 K/BB in 120 IP for Single-A Jupiter

Hernandez, a 2004 third-round pick of the Mets, was the better of the two prospects picked up by Florida in the Paul Lo Duca trade a year ago. His moving low-90s fastball, curveball and changeup should all become solid major league pitches -- though he has further to go with the curve than with the changeup -- and since he possesses very good command for someone so young, he projects as a future No. 3 starter. The stress fracture in his foot that ended his season in late July doesn't figure to be a lingering concern entering 2007. He's due to spend the year in Double-A.

83. Wade Davis - RHP Devil Rays - DOB: 09/07/85 - ETA: Aug. 2008
Previous rankings: mid-2006 #79

7-12, 3.02 ERA, 124 H, 165/64 K/BB in 146 IP for low Single-A Southwest Michigan

The Rays have gone slowly with Davis since making him a 2004 third-round pick, not introducing him to full-season ball until last year then failing to promote him during 2006 even though he had a 2.31 ERA in the first half. Davis excelled while spending the whole year in the Midwest League, giving up just five homers. He throws in the mid-90s and has a pair of quality breaking balls. His changeup is unexceptional, as his command. Also, he often struggles to repeat his delivery from the stretch. Still, there's a lot of upside here. If he keeps it up, he could reach Double-A this year.

84. Micah Owings - RHP Diamondbacks - DOB: 09/28/82 - ETA: June 2007
Previous rankings: mid-2006 #68

6-2, 2.91 ERA, 66 H, 69/17 K/BB in 74 1/3 IP for Double-A Tennessee
10-0, 3.70 ERA, 96 H, 61/34 K/BB in 87 2/3 IP for Triple-A Tucson

Owings, a 2005 third-round pick out of Tulane, also had some potential as an outfielder, but the Diamondbacks, like most teams, wanted him as a pitcher and don't regret the choice in the least. Using a low-90s fastball and a plus slider, the 6-foot-5 right-hander went a remarkable 16-2 in his first full pro season. Because his changeup remains below average, there continues to be some speculation that he'll end up as a reliever. He'd likely add some velocity working an inning or two at a time, making him a potential setup man or closer. As a starter, he might not be more than a No. 4. The Diamondbacks will give him a chance to win a rotation spot this spring.

85. Alberto Callaspo - 2B/SS Diamondbacks - DOB: 04/19/83 - ETA: Now
Previous rankings: mid-2006 #146

.337/.404/.478, 7 HR, 68 RBI, 27/56 K/BB, 8 SB in 490 AB for Triple-A Tucson

It was a surprise to see the Diamondbacks get Callaspo just a couple of months after acquiring Orlando Hudson in Dec. 2005, but it looks like there might be room for both in Arizona. Callaspo had his strongest minor league season yet at Tucson, indicating that he could be a long-term regular at second base. He's hit for average at practically every stop and last year was his best in the power department, though he was aided by an inordinate amount of triples. He helps himself by almost never striking out, so it's easy to see managers liking him as a potential No. 2 hitter. On defense, Callaspo is above average at second base and capable of handling either shortstop or third base. The Diamondbacks are likely to carry him as a utilityman this year if they can get him enough at-bats to justify the assignment.

86. Kurt Suzuki - C Athletics - DOB: 10/04/83 - ETA: April 2008
Previous rankings: mid-2006 #136

.285/.392/.415, 7 HR, 55 RBI, 50/58 K/BB, 5 SB in 376 AB for Double-A Midland

Suzuki continued his steady progress on offense last year, but it was the gains he made on defense that convinced more people he has a future as a regular. Suzuki is sure-handed behind the plate, and he makes up for an arm that's about average by demonstrating a quick release. He's already an upgrade over Jason Kendall with the glove, and he's not far away from being the better hitter. While nothing about his offensive game stands out, Suzuki shows 10-12 homer ability and has complemented solid batting averages with a 139/137 K/BB ratio in 992 at-bats as a pro. Kendall will be a free agent at season's end, so if Suzuki can keep it going in Triple-A, he should have a starting job in 2008.

87. Deolis Guerra - RHP Mets - DOB: 04/17/89 - ETA: 2010
Previous rankings: none

6-7, 2.20 ERA, 59 H, 64/37 K/BB in 81 2/3 IP for low Single-A Hagerstown
1-1, 6.14 ERA, 9 H, 5/6 K/BB in 7 1/3 IP for Single-A St. Lucie

Despite being even younger than Fernando Martinez, Guerra was able to excel for Hagerstown last season, though he did so while averaging under five innings per start. The Mets will continue to be careful with the 6-foot-5 right-hander, at least in terms of pitches thrown. He may get to pitch in the FSL as an 18-year-old this season. Guerra works in the low-90s and shows a curveball and a changeup. The Mets are hopeful he'll add velocity as he matures, and his curve should turn into a strikeout pitch with more experience. Odds are that he'll run into some arm problems at some point, but if not, he would be a candidate to see his first major league action at 19 or 20.

88. Michael Bourn - OF Phillies - DOB: 12/27/82 - ETA: April 2008
Previous rankings: mid-2004 #116, 2005 #107, mid-2005 #112, 2006 #103, mid-2006 #97

.274/.350/.365, 4 HR, 26 RBI, 67/36 K/BB, 30 SB in 318 AB for Double-A Reading
.283/.368/.428, 1 HR, 15 RBI, 33/20 K/BB, 15 SB in 152 AB for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre
.125/.222/.125, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 3/1 K/BB, 1 SB in 8 AB for Philadelphia

While the Phillies could simply turn to Shane Victorino should Aaron Rowand leave as a free agent after the season, they have a second potential long-term center fielder in Bourn, who was up mostly to serve as a pinch-runner last September. The left-handed-hitting Bourn possesses outstanding speed and is a fine defender capable of covering plenty of ground in center. Whether he'll get on base often enough to be a quality leadoff man remains to be seen. He's gotten better about trying to use his speed to reach, but his bunting technique still needs work. Encouraging is that he was able to lower his strikeout rate a bit last year. If he continues to improve at this rate, he could be ready to step in at the beginning of 2008.

89. Kory Casto - OF/3B Nationals - DOB: 12/08/81 - ETA: July 2007
Previous rankings: mid-2006 #137

.272/.379/.468, 20 HR, 80 RBI, 104/81 K/BB, 6 SB in 489 AB for Double-A Harrisburg
.302/.471/.434, 1 HR, 9 RBI, 12/17 K/BB, 0 SB in 53 AB for Peoria (AFL)

Casto, the only National in the top 100, doesn't offer the upside a team wants from its top prospect, but he's nearly ready now and he seems likely to have a career as a corner outfielder. With Ryan Zimmerman set to play the hot corner in Washington for a long time, Casto made the switch from third base to left field at the end of the June. He should possess enough range to be an average defender in time. Casto will have to be a platoon player initially. The left-handed hitter batted .303/.405/.541 against righties in Double-A last year. He was at .189 against lefties. Originally expected to contend for the starting job in left field this spring, he's now set to return to the minors. Three or four months in Triple-A would do him some good.

90. Scott Lewis - LHP Indians - DOB: 09/26/83 - ETA: 2009
Previous rankings: mid-2006 #87

3-3, 1.48 ERA, 84 H, 123/28 K/BB in 115 2/3 IP for Single-A Kinston

A potential first-round pick before requiring Tommy John surgery in 2004, Lewis pitched just 21 innings in his first year and a half in the Cleveland farm system. He was fully healthy for the first time in 2006 and had an outstanding season while averaging less than five innings per start. Lewis doesn't often touch 90 mph with his fastball, but both his curve and changeup are plus pitches and he has excellent command. Lingering doubts about his arm have cost him spots here, but he projects as a No. 3 starter if he stays healthy.

91. Jacob McGee - LHP Devil Rays - DOB: 08/06/86 - ETA: 2009
Previous rankings: mid-2006 #114

7-9, 2.96 ERA, 103 H, 171/65 K/BB in 134 IP for low Single-A Southwest Michigan

McGee was picked two rounds after Wade Davis in 2004 and the two have been teammates ever since. With above average velocity for a left-hander -- he hits 93 with regularity -- and a terrific curveball, he's arguably an even better prospect than Davis. Still, he rates lower here, mostly because I think he's a worse bet to stay healthy. Like Davis, McGee will move up to Single-A Vero Beach to begin this year. He'll likely be asked to concentrate on improving a changeup that's well behind his other two pitches.

92. George Kottaras - C Red Sox - DOB: 05/16/83 - ETA: April 2008
Previous rankings: mid-2005 #102, 2006 #89, mid-2006 #71

.276/.394/.451, 8 HR, 33 RBI, 68/50 K/BB, 0 SB in 257 AB for Double-A Mobile
.210/.286/.361, 2 HR, 17 RBI, 30/12 K/BB, 0 SB in 119 AB for Triple-A Portland

Kottaras, who was picked up from the Padres for David Wells at the end of August, possesses rare on-base ability for a catcher and appears likely to develop 15- homer power. His status as a prospect, though, hinges on his ability to stay behind the plate. He's not fast enough to become an option at another key position, so if he has to move, he'd be a first baseman or a corner outfielder. Kottaras has enough of an arm to be an adequate catcher if he can make enough progress on the other parts of his game. The Red Sox have no intention of having him change positions anytime soon. Ideally, he'd make enough progress defensively this year that he could begin splitting time with the aging Jason Varitek in 2008.

93. Carlos Carrasco - RHP Phillies - DOB: 03/21/87 - ETA: 2009
Previous rankings: none

12-6, 2.26 ERA, 103 H, 159/65 K/BB in 159 1/3 IP for low Single-A Lakewood

Carrasco couldn't handle full-season ball in 2005, going 1-7 with a 7.04 ERA in 13 starts for Lakewood before being demoted. In 2006, he finished third in the Sally League in both ERA and strikeouts. Also, he went seven innings in a combined no-hitter on Aug. 13. Carrasco, who was signed out of the Dominican Republic, throws 92-94 mph with regularity and displays a plus changeup. If he gains consistency with his curve, he could begin to move quickly this year. Kyle Drabek is the only pitcher in the Phillies system with more upside.

94. Glen Perkins - LHP Twins - DOB: 03/02/83 - ETA: Junee 2007
Previous rankings: mid-2006 #112

4-11, 3.91 ERA, 109 H, 131/45 K/BB in 117 1/3 IP for Double-A New Britain
0-1, 2.08 ERA, 6 H, 3/5 K/BB in 4 1/3 IP for Triple-A Rochester
0-0, 1.59 ERA, 3 H, 6/0 K/BB in 5 2/3 IP for Minnesota

Perkins showed enough in the final 10 days of last season to make the Twins' postseason roster for the ALDS, but since the team isn't interested in limiting him to bullpen work again, the 2004 first-round pick is likely to open this season in the rotation at Triple-A Rochester. Perkins is a polished lefty with above average command of a high-80s fastball, curve and changeup. The package should make him a No. 4 starter in time. Whether he gets another look as a reliever first will be determined by the performance of Minnesota's veteran starters this year.

95. Jaime Garcia - LHP Cardinals - DOB: 07/08/86 - ETA: April 2008
Previous rankings: none

5-4, 2.90 ERA, 67 H, 80/18 K/BB in 77 2/3 IP for low Single-A Quad Cities
5-4, 3.84 ERA, 84 H, 51/16 K/BB in 77 1/3 IP for Single-A Palm Beach

Garcia didn't make his pro debut until last year after being drafted in the 22nd round in 2005, but once on the mound, he wasted no time in establishing himself as one of the Cardinals' top prospects. Using a low-90s sinker and a plus curve, he made quick work of the Midwest League, advancing to Palm Beach at midseason. To go along with the 131/34 K/BB ratio at the two levels, he got nearly three groundouts for every one through the air. Garcia could use a better third pitch and he does have conditioning issues in his past, but his ability to generate quick outs could get him to the majors before the end of the year, perhaps as a reliever initially.

96. Sean Rodriguez - SS Angels - DOB: 04/26/85 - ETA: Aug. 2008
Previous rankings: mid-2006 #125

.301/.377/.545, 24 HR, 77 RBI, 124/47 K/BB, 15 SB in 455 AB for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga
.354/.462/.662, 5 HR, 9 RBI, 18/11 K/BB, 0 SB in 65 AB for Double-A Arkansas
.000/.000/.000, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 2/0 K/BB, 0 SB in 2 AB for Triple-A Salt Lake

Rodriguez beat Brandon Wood with 29 homers last year, even hitting five in 65 at-bats in Double-A. Making the power surge less encouraging was the coinciding rise in strikeouts. He went from an 85/78 K/BB ratio in 448 at-bats in the Midwest League in 2005 to a 144/58 K/BB ratio in 522 at-bats last year. Though there's next to no chance of him playing regularly there in the majors, Rodriguez spent the full year playing shortstop. Even if he didn't have so much talent ahead of him at short, he'd be facing a move to second or maybe the outfield. Rodriguez isn't going to be a big-time power hitter in the majors, but he's got enough of an all-around game to suggest that he will be a regular somewhere. He's due to spend this year at Double-A, and he could be trade bait for the Angels.

97. Michael Bowden - RHP Red Sox - DOB: 09/09/86 - ETA: 2009
Previous rankings: none

9-6, 3.51 ERA, 91 H, 118/31 K/BB in 107 2/3 IP for low Single-A Greenville
0-0, 9.00 ERA, 9 H, 3/1 K/BB in 5 IP for Single-A Wilmington

Bowden was taken six spots after Clay Buchholz in the 2005 draft and the two are often compared to one another. Bowden has the advantage of youth and his curveball is probably a better weapon than any of Buchholz's offspeed pitches. Still, he gets dropped a bit here because of a delivery that could lead to arm problems down the line. Also, his changeup doesn't quite measure up. He has plenty of potential if his elbow and shoulder hold up. Still, it'd be no surprise if physical problems get him sent to the bullpen someday.

98. Brent Clevlen - OF Tigers - DOB: 10/27/83 - ETA: July 2008
Previous rankings: mid-2003: #149, 2004 #110, mid-2004 ---, 2005 ---, mid-2005 ---, 2006 ---, mid-2006 ---

.230/.313/.357, 11 HR, 45 RBI, 138/47 K/BB, 6 SB in 395 AB for Double-A Erie
.282/.317/.641, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 15/2 K/BB, 0 SB in 39 AB for Detroit
.250/.384/.326, 2 HR, 20 RBI, 35/18 K/BB, 2 SB in 92 AB for Phoenix (AFL)

Clevlen was in the midst of miserable first year in Double-A until the Tigers' surprising move to haul him to the majors at the end of July. He went on to hit two homers in his second major league game and go 11-for-29 in his first month with the club. A second callup in September didn't go as well, as his willingness to chase pitches was exposed. Clevlen has put up strong minor league numbers in the past, hitting .302 with 18 homers in the Florida State League in 2005. He should possess legitimate 25-homer power in time, and he's a fine defensive right fielder capable of handling center if necessary. OBP likely will always be a problem because of all of the strikeouts, but he may develop into an average regular anyway.

99. Matt Albers - RHP Astros - DOB: 01/20/83 - ETA: May 2007
Previous rankings: mid-2006 #147

10-2, 2.17 ERA, 96 H, 95/47 K/BB in 116 IP for Double-A Corpus Christi
2-1, 3.96 ERA, 24 H, 26/10 K/BB in 25 IP for Triple-A Round Rock
0-2, 6.00 ERA, 17 H, 11/7 K/BB in 15 IP for Houston
0-1, 3.94 ERA, 14 H, 9/6 K/BB in 16 IP for Mesa (AFL)

The Astros couldn't decide whether they wanted to try Albers as a starter, a middle reliever or a short reliever last year. It's clear his future is in the rotation, but a stint or two in the Houston bullpen is a possibility for this year. Albers utilizes a fastball that reaches 94 mph, a quality curve and an average slider. Lefties can handle him, so he needs to keep working on his changeup. Until he establishes that as a major league pitch, he likely would be better off in the pen. However, he could be a rotation mainstay by 2008.

100. Anthony Swarzak - RHP Twins - DOB: 09/10/85 - ETA: Aug. 2008
Previous rankings: none

11-7, 3.27 ERA, 131 H, 131/60 K/BB in 145 2/3 IP for Single-A Fort Myers

While the Twins haven't been afraid to push some of their other pitching prospects, they've gone slowly with Swarzak. The 2004 second-round pick had a 3.66 ERA in 10 starts after moving up to the Florida State League in 2005 and was even better last year, but he never received a promotion. Part of it was that his ERA lingered over 4.00 for much of the season. He went 8-3 with a 2.11 ERA after the All-Star break, though he actually had a weaker strikeout-to-walk ratio then. Swarzak throws in the low-90s and has a couple of quality secondary pitches in his curve and changeup. More consistency with his delivery from the windup could speed up his progress. He has more upside than either Slowey or Perkins.

Page Three

Matthew Pouliot is the Executive Editor of and has been doing the site's baseball projections for the last 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @matthewpouliot.
Email :Matthew Pouliot

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