Matthew Pouliot

Strike Zone

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Midseason Top 150 Prospects

Monday, July 21, 2008




16. Jeremy Hellickson - RHP Rays - DOB: 04/08/87 - ETA: Aug. 2009
Previous rankings: mid-2007 #68, 2008 #68

7-1, 2.00 ERA, 64 H, 83/5 K/BB in 76 2/3 IP (A+ Vero Beach)
0-3, 4.88 ERA, 35 H, 20/3 K/BB in 27 2/3 IP (AA Montgomery)

Hellickson's walk rate has gone from good to awesome, and he's emerged as a stellar prospect as a result. 13:1 strikeout-to-walk ratios in the minors aren't unprecedented, but Hellickson isn't just a strike-thrower. He's in the low-90s consistently with his fastball, and his curveball should prove to be a fine major league pitch. His changeup still does need some work. A flyball pitcher, he'll likely always be prone to the home run ball. However, he looks like a particularly good bet to become a No. 3 starter anyway.

17. Trevor Cahill - RHP Athletics - DOB: 03/01/88 - ETA: 2010
Previous rankings: 2008 #137

5-4, 2.78 ERA, 52 H, 103/31 K/BB in 87 1/3 IP (A+ Stockton)
4-1, 2.67 ERA, 16 H, 23/11 K/BB in 114 1/3 IP (AA Midland)

The numbers are now impossible to ignore. Cahill, a 2006 second-round pick, is limiting minor leaguers to a .174 average, striking out three for every one he walks and getting 2 ½ outs on the ground for each one through the air. He's still doing it with a fairly underwhelming fastball. He can work at 92-94 mph on some days, but he's just as often at 89-92 mph. Fortunately, he gets plenty of movement on his heater, and his curveball is an excellent secondary pitch. The package shouldn't make him a major league ace, but as well as his stuff has held up in Double-A so far, there's now reason to think he'll be a No. 2. I do worry a bit about his health, so I'm keeping him below Bowden and Hellickson.

18. Carlos Carrasco - RHP Phillies - DOB: 03/21/87 - ETA: April 2009
Previous rankings: 2007 #93, mid-2007 #29, 2008 #48

5-7, 4.02 ERA, 101 H, 95/40 K/BB in 103 IP (AA Reading)

Carrasco hasn't had the same kind of breakthrough season as some of the pitchers ahead of him, but he is making steady progress. Following a midseason promotion, he had a 49/46 K/BB ratio in 70 1/3 IP for Reading last year. However, he's back displaying nice peripherals now. One key has been that he is more comfortable working from the stretch than ever before. Carrasco throws in the low-90s and has a terrific changeup that serves to keep left-handers off balance. His curveball is a third major league pitch. He's on his way to becoming a third starter or maybe a little something more.

19. Andrew McCutchen - OF Pirates - DOB: 10/10/86 - ETA: June 2009
Previous rankings: 2006 #87, mid-2006 #64, 2007 #25, mid-2007 #18, 2008 #19

.282/.371/.405, 8 HR, 35 RBI, 62/47 K/BB, 25 SB in 358 AB (AAA Indianapolis)

McCutchen might look like a better prospect right now if the Pirates didn't have him skip high-A ball in 2007. He's put up perfectly adequate numbers at Double-A last year and in Triple-A this season, but he hasn't excelled at any point. His biggest strength remains his defense in center field. McCutchen has outstanding speed and a decent enough arm. Offensively, most of his production continues to come versus lefties. The right-handed hitter had a 642 OPS versus righties in Double-A last year and he's at 731 right now. He's also failed to establish himself as a premier basestealer, and he doesn't figure to add a lot of power. He makes enough solid contact that he seems practically certain to develop into a long-term regular. However, his upside is in question.

20. Neftali Feliz - RHP Rangers - DOB: 05/02/88 - ETA: Aug. 2009
Previous rankings: none

6-3, 2.52 ERA, 55 H, 106/28 K/BB in 82 IP (A- Clinton)
2-0, 2.65 ERA, 11 H, 17/6 K/BB in 17 IP (AA Frisco)

It was well known that the Rangers landed a top-notch talent when they picked up Feliz as part of the Mark Teixeira deal, but no one could have predicted that he'd come this quickly. The 6-foot-3, 180-pound Dominican was still in Rookie ball when the deal was struck, and he entered this year having thrown 71 1/3 innings in two seasons in the U.S. Now he's in Double-A after being promoted earlier this month. Feliz has a .193 average against this year, and he's surrendered only two homers in 99 innings. He overpowers hitters with a 94-98 mph fastball, and both his curveball and changeup have really come along since he first debuted. I pegged his ETA as 2011 in the Rangers' preseason top 10, but it now looks like there's a real chance of him contributing next year.

21. Madison Bumgarner - LHP Giants - DOB: 08/01/89 - ETA: 2010
Previous rankings: none

9-3, 1.79 ERA, 80 H, 104/16 K/BB in 95 1/3 IP (A- Augusta)

Bumgarner is another who could be moving quickly, but the Giants have restrained themselves and kept him in the Sally League despite his brilliant showing. In his last 15 starts, he's allowed a total of nine earned runs and posted a 102/14 K/BB ratio. Bumgarner, the 10th overall pick in the 2007 draft, throws 92-95 mph and could add some additional velocity. He's still a rather raw prospect -- he needs to tighten up his curve and continue to work on his changeup -- but that his command is already this good at age 18 is an extremely encouraging sign.

22. Brandon Wood - SS/3B Angels - DOB: 03/02/85 - ETA: April 2009
Previous rankings: 2005 #149, mid 2005 #13, 2006 #3, mid-2006 #2, 2007 #6, mid-2007 #10, 2008 #18

.274/.343/.541, 17 HR, 49 RBI, 66/24 K/BB, 3 SB in 259 AB (AAA Salt Lake)
.125/.164/.188, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 21/2 K/BB, 0 SB in 64 AB (AL Los Angeles)

Wood's stock is clearly tumbling, yet the shift back to shortstop this year has helped his cause a bit. He never required the switch to third in the first place, but the Angels moved him because it was assumed he'd be ready while Orlando Cabrera was still the team's shortstop. Wood doesn't have great range, but he's a steady defender with a strong arm. While it's beginning to look like he'll never meet expectations offensively, it should be worth living with mediocre OBPs when he's hitting 25 homers per year in his prime. At worst, he'd seem to be the new Pedro Feliz. He might yet turn out to be an above average major league shortstop, but he will fall out of the top 40 in the 2009 list unless he can put together a strong second half.

23. Wade Davis - RHP Rays - DOB: 09/07/85 - ETA: June 2009
Previous rankings: mid-2006 #79, 2007 #83, mid-2007 #24, 2008 #22

9-6, 3.85 ERA, 104 H, 81/42 K/BB in 107 2/3 IP (AA Montgomery)

No longer joined at the hip with Jake McGee after the left-hander underwent Tommy John surgery, Davis was the first of the Rays' new wave of pitching prospects to reach Triple-A, receiving his promotion over the weekend. He actually pitched worse in Double-A this year than he did after his midseason promotion last year (7-3, 3.15 ERA in 80 IP), so he's essentially holding steady on this list. Davis throws 91-94 mph and mixes in a curveball, a slider and a change. The curve is his best secondary pitch and gets him a significant number of his strikeouts. His command still leaves something to be desired in his fifth season as a pro, and that he's regressed a bit this year could cost him a midseason callup. He still has a promising future as a middle-of-the-rotation starter.

24. Dexter Fowler - OF Rockies - DOB: 03/22/86 - ETA: May 2009
Previous rankings: mid-2006 #110, 2007 #79, mid-2007 #80, 2008 #66

.329/.421/.508, 9 HR, 56 RBI, 76/55 K/BB, 17 SB in 368 AB (AA Tulsa)

Fowler was set back by injuries, most notably a broken hamate bone, and hit just two homers in 352 at-bats between Single-A Modesto and the Arizona Fall League in 2007. Fully healthy this season, his modest power has returned and he's getting on base more than ever. Fowler is a switch-hitter with excellent range in center field. He strikes out a bit more than one would like from a potential leadoff man, but he makes up for it with a strong walk rate. The belief that he is injury prone knocks him down about five spots here. He'd seem to have more offensive potential than McCutchen if he can stay healthy. Besides improving his basestealing technique, there's not a lot left for him to work on in the minors. He could make Willy Taveras expendable this winter.

25. Reid Brignac - SS Rays - DOB: 01/16/86 - ETA: July 2009
Previous rankings: mid-2006 #83, 2007 #31, mid-2003 #23, 2008 #38

.263/.313/.423, 7 HR, 39 RBI, 71/23 K/BB, 4 SB in 293 AB (AAA Durham)
.000/.091/.000, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 5/1 K/BB, 0 SB in 10 AB (Tampa Bay)

Jason Bartlett looked like a one-year stopgap as a starting shortstop when picked up in the Delmon Young deal, but it no longer appears that Brignac will be ready to assume the position at the beginning of 2009. It's not a huge problem, given that Brignac is still only 22 years old. The left-handed hitter has 20- to 25-homer potential, and he should also supply plenty of line-drive doubles. His defense at shortstop won't win him any Gold Gloves, but he has displayed enough range to keep himself at the position. By the time he's 30, he may require a move to second or third. He's due to spend a second season in Triple-A in 2009.

26. Alcides Escobar - SS Brewers - DOB: 12/16/86 - ETA: June 2009
Previous rankings: none

27. Taylor Teagarden - C Rangers - DOB: 12/21/83 - ETA: April 2009
Previous rankings: mid-2007 #135, 2008 #34

28. Nick Adenhart - RHP Angels - DOB: 08/24/86 - ETA: May 2009
Previous rankings: mid-2006 #21, 2007 #21, mid-2007 #22, 2008 #28

29. Gio Gonzalez - LHP Athletics - DOB: 09/19/85 - ETA: Sept. 2008
Previous rankings: mid-2005 #81, 2006 #84, mid-2006 #62, 2007 #78, mid-2007 #21, 2008 #33

30. Mike Moustakas - 3B Royals - DOB: 09/11/88 - ETA: 2011
Previous rankings: none, 2008 #51

31. Tommy Hanson - RHP Braves - DOB: 08/26/86 - ETA: May 2009
Previous rankings: mid-2007 #120, 2008 #105

32. Adrian Cardenas - 2B Athletics - DOB: 10/10/87 - ETA: 2010
Previous rankings: mid-2007 #93, 2008 #56

33. Tim Alderson - RHP Giants - DOB: 11/03/88 - ETA: Aug. 2009
Previous rankings: none

34. Carlos Triunfel - SS Mariners - DOB: 02/27/90 - ETA: 2011
Previous rankings: mid-2007 #28, 2008 #26

35. Jarrod Parker - RHP Diamondbacks - DOB: 11/24/88 - ETA: 2011
Previous rankings: 2008 #63

36. Sean Doolittle - 1B Athletics - DOB: 09/26/86 - ETA: 2010
Previous rankings: none

37. Michael Burgess - OF Nationals - DOB: 10/20/88 - ETA: 2012
Previous rankings: none

38. Brett Anderson - LHP Athetics - DOB: 02/01/88 - ETA: June 2009
Previous rankings: mid-2007 #72, 2008 #61

39. Chris Marrero - 1B/OF Nationals - DOB: 07/02/88 - ETA: 2010
Previous rankings: 2007 #117, mid-2007 #45, 2008 #36

40. Gorkys Hernandez - OF Braves - DOB: 09/07/87 - ETA: 2011
Previous rankings: mid-2007 #79, 2008 #76

41. Angel Villalona - 1B Giants - DOB: 08/13/90 - ETA: 2012
Previous rankings: mid-2007 #82, 2008 #64

42. Chris Tillman - RHP Orioles - DOB: 04/15/88 - ETA: 2010
Previous rankings: 2008 #132

43. Lars Anderson - 1B Red Sox - DOB: 09/25/87 - ETA: 2010
Previous rankings: mid-2007 #74, 2008 #46

44. Josh Vitters - 3B Cubs - DOB: 08/27/89 - ETA: 2012
Previous rankings: 2008 #43

45. Todd Frazier - SS/OF Reds - DOB: 02/12/86 - ETA: 2010
Previous rankings: 2008 #126

46. Wladimir Balentien - OF Mariners - DOB: 07/02/84 - ETA: April 2009
Previous rankings: mid-2007 #39, 2008 #45

47. Daryl Thompson - RHP Reds - DOB: 11/02/85 - ETA: Aug. 2008
Previous rankings: none

48. Wes Hodges - 3B Indians - DOB: 09/14/84 - ETA: Aug. 2009
Previous rankings: mid-2007 #94, 2008 #91

49. Desmond Jennings - OF Rays - DOB: 10/30/86 - ETA: 2010
Previous rankings: mid-2007 #88, 2008 #57

50. Tyler Robertson - LHP Twins - DOB: 12/23/87 - ETA: 2010
Previous rankings: 2008 #119


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



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