Jump to content

Baseball America's Top OF Prospects....


Recommended Posts

1. Alexis Rios, Blue Jays

Age: 22 Level: Double-A 2002 Ranking: 14

Rios is a great example of raw tools translating into plus tools and performance, with the assistance of a patient player development plan. While his aggressive approach didn't fit the Blue Jays new profile under general manager J.P. Ricciardi, Rios exercised more patience at the plate this season and soared in the new regime's eyes. Rios drives the ball to all fields, and shows tremendous power to right field in particular, which is a good indication of more home run power down the road. He possesses outstanding hand-eye coordination, combined with good bat control, enabling him to maintain his aggressiveness without his plate discipline suffering. He projects along the lines of a younger and healthier Juan Gonzalez. Rios is the total package: athlete, hitter, baseball player with big tools, giving him a distinct advantage over Grady Sizemore. "As much as I love Sizemore and his makeup, Rios is on a different level," one NL scout said. "Oh my god. He's such an athlete, so graceful. You look at this rail thin 6-foot-6 body, but he's so smooth at how he moves and uses that body. His ability to put the bat on the ball is special. His arm and defense is better than Sizemore."


2. Grady Sizemore, Indians

Age: 21 Level: Double-A 2002 Ranking: 15

See, there is plenty of hope for former highly recruited prep football stars, as Sizemore and Joe Mauer are proving. Sizemore emerged in 2003, flashing solid tools across the board, save his below-average arm strength. He's not flashy, but can do a little of everything to help a team win. "With him it depends on how he's pitched," the NL scout said. "His power came when they started jamming him a little more. He'd pull the ball over the fence when they do that. He did that but didn't get home run happy. He's always going to make adjustments and be a good player."


3. Delmon Young, Devil Rays

Age: 18 Level: Arizona Fall League 2002 Ranking: NR

Young is capable of manning the top spot on this list before he even makes his regular season debut. For now, he makes way for two tools-laden outfielders who have performed in the upper levels. Young's power potential exceeds almost anyone's in the minors already. He's been punishing pitches in the Arizona Fall League, displaying light-tower power to all fields. "He's going to hit like Alberto Belle, but (Young) is going to be even bigger," one scout said. He'll have little trouble adjusting to full-season ball next spring and should enjoy a speedy ascent towards Tampa Bay. He's an early favorite for 2004 Minor League Player of the Year.


4. Jeremy Reed, White Sox

Age: 22 Level: Double-A 2002 Ranking: NR

Without superior tools, Reed hit .409 in 242 Double-A at-bats. While he isn't gifted with as much natural ability as Rios, Sizemore and Young, Reed is a pure baseball player with a line-drive swing and gap power. And his tools are solid-average to above across the board. He's often been compared to Mark Kotsay, which is fair based on Kotsay's 2000-2002 production (.290 with average power and speed with 30 doubles). Reed is close to contributing at the major league level.


5. Jeff Francoeur, Braves

Age: 19 Level: Low-A 2002 Ranking: NR

Another prep football star experiencing early success in pro ball, Francoeur has the Braves reminiscing about a young Dale Murphy. Francoeur spent much of his first full season focusing on driving the ball to the opposite field and improving his reads in center field.


6. Franklin Gutierrez, Dodgers

Age: 20 Level: Double-A 2002 Ranking: NR

Despite starting the 2002 season on the disabled list with a broken hamate bone, Gutierrez was on the verge of breaking out. He flashed plenty of raw power in hitting .283 with 12 home runs for low Class A South Georgia, and went on to erupt in 2003, announcing his breakthrough campaign by crushing six home runs in the first six games of the season for high Class A Vero Beach. He has tremendous upside, but could stand some improvement in pitch recognition to realize his potential.


7. Jeremy Hermida, Marlins

Age: 19 Level: Low-A 2002 Ranking: NR

Considered one of the best pure hitters in the 2002 draft, Hermida turned in a solid effort in his full-season debut. He displayed a patient approach and raw power. He's got more growing to do, and should fill out into a Paul O'Neill or Shawn Green-type frame as he bulks up. His easy swing should produce well above-average power down the road when he learns to turn on pitches. Now, he is often content to hit line drives to the opposite field. Hermida will hit for both average and power.


8. Brad Nelson, Brewers

Age: 20 Level: Double-A 2002 Ranking: NR

With Prince Fielder making noise in the lower levels of the system and limited to first base, Nelson moved to the outfield last fall in instructional league. Nelson, who pitched and played third base in high school, isn't going to be a Gold Glover in left field, but he should be better than Ryan Klesko at reading flyballs and taking routes to the ball. Nelson's stick figures to be pretty formidable, though. He's battling the effects of an early season hamate injury, which has hampered his ability to drive the ball. Expect him to return to form next season, when he's completely healed. He has a short stroke with the ability to hit the ball hard to all fields. His setup, approach and swing path remind some of Jason Giambi.


9. Chris Snelling, Mariners

Age: 21 Level: Double-A 2002 Ranking: 9

Years of injuries have stalled Snelling's development, and it's easy to forget that he'll be just 22 when the 2004 season opens. He'll get an opportunity to win a job in the Mariners outfield come spring training. Snelling is a line-drive hitter with a knack for making hard, solid contact to the gaps. He's best suited for a corner outfield spot, but is capable in center field.


10. Joey Gathright, Devil Rays

Age: 21 Level: Double-A 2002 Ranking: NR

Let the Juan Pierre comparisons begin. Gathright showed as much improvement as any prospect in the Devil Rays organization, further complicating their projected outfield, which already includes Rocco Baldelli, Carl Crawford, Aubrey Huff, Jonny Gomes, Delmon Young. Blessed with perhaps the fastest set of wheels in baseball, Gathright tears down the line under 4.0 seconds flat, and better yet, he understands how to maximize his speed by keeping the ball on the ground. "It's amazing how good his knowledge of the strike zone is for how raw he still is," an American League scout said. "And he's got some strength for a little guy."


11. Gabe Gross, Blue Jays

Age: 24 Level: Triple-A 2002 Ranking: 23

Gross struggled to adjust to pro pitching and wood bats in 2002, his first full season, but bounced back with a strong 2003 effort. After repeating Double-A to start the year, he combined for 39 doubles and 12 home runs between that level and Triple-A. Gross still could develop into a prototypical right fielder


12. Jason Bay, Pirates

Age: 25 Level: Majors 2002 Ranking: NR

Bay hasn't had a chance to settle in with any one organization at any one level for the last three seasons. Since being drafted in the 22nd round out of Gonzaga in 2000 by the Expos, he's made steady progress despite being dealt three times in a year. Not to be underestimated, Bay was a key acquisition for the Pirates in the Brian Giles trade. Bay delivers solid tools across the board. He made his debut for the Padres, but had his breakout campaign interrupted when he broke his right wrist in his third big league contest. Bay still managed to hit a career-high 20 home runs with Triple-A Portland before the trade.


13. Brent Clevlen, Tigers

Age: 20 Level: Low-A 2002 Ranking: NR

Don't sleep on Clevlen's 2003 performance. While it isn't overwhelming (.260-12-73), his home park didn't do him any favors. Ten of his home runs came on the road, where he hit .290 versus a .227 clip at home. He has a good idea at the plate with a patient approach and excellent bat speed and well above-average power potential.


14. Dave Krynzel, Brewers

Age: 22 Level: Double-A 2002 Ranking: NR

Scouts love Krynzel's tools, though he can be something of an enigma with the bat. He was hitting .317 through June, which helped him earn a spot in the Futures Game and gave hitting guru/ESPN announcer Tony Gwynn an opportunity to praise Krynzel's swing and approach. When his swing mechanics are in sync, Krynzel is showered with similar compliments from all around. But his .188-0-7 performance over the season's final two months left many scouts perplexed. "I see a lot of holes in his swing," a longtime AL scout said, "but he's still a pretty good baseball player." Krynzel developed some bad habits at the plate, causing the barrel of his bat to be a tick late and instead of driving the ball to the gaps, as he is capable, he was behind the ball. A plus runner with a strong arm, he shows potential to be an above-average big league center fielder.


15. Shin-Soo Choo, Mariners

Age: 21 Level: High-A 2002 Ranking: 21

A line-drive hitter with a quick bat, Choo could produce along the lines of Mark Kotsay, though when the Mariners signed him for $1.335 million out of Korea they expected him to hit for above-average power. "But he slaps like Ichiro these days," one scout said. "If he would stay in and drive it, he could hit 15 to 20 (home runs), but I don't see more than that." Choo does show plus raw power, but settles more for line drives in games. He has a powerful throwing arm with average speed, though his instincts in the outfield will allow him to play all three positions well.


16. Ryan Harvey, Cubs

Age: 19 Level: Rookie Level 2002 Ranking: NR

Scouts likened Harvey's power to Mark McGwire's leading up to last June's draft. After blowing out his knee the last fall, he's been slow to come back. He likely wouldn't have been on the board for the sixth pick last June if not for the injury, though it shouldn't be a long-term hindrance for his development. The Cubs have yet to see what Harvey is really capable of, as he was still somewhat limited in the Rookie-level Arizona League, where he was rated the No. 3 prospect. He could soar into the top 10 on this list next year following his full-season debut in Lansing next year.


17. David DeJesus, Royals

Age: 23 Level: Triple-A 2002 Ranking: NR

A year ago after DeJesus' first trip to the Arizona Fall League, an NL scouting director said: "You're looking at probably an extra outfielder, but I wouldn't sell him short as an everyday top of order hitter. He's got very good instincts for the game; maybe a guy you could put No. 2 in a lineup." DeJesus, whose career has been interrupted by one injury after another since coming out of Rutgers as a fourth-rounder in 2000, has himself in position to step into the Royals outfield in 2004. He has solid-average tools, but his above-average instincts make his tools play even better.


18. Michael Restovich, Twins

Age: 23 Level: Majors 2002 Ranking: 3

Restovich is still the same player he's always been, despite his drop off in the rankings. He hasn't made enough adjustments at the plate, and as one front office executive said, "you'll just have to live with 140 strikeouts a year." Restovich handled himself well in the majors in September, but is still caught up in a Twins muddled outfield picture that includes Torii Hunter, Jacque Jones and Michael Cuddyer, along with Lew Ford and Dustan Mohr in reserve roles. The Twins have been shopping Jones and Cuddyer, which could open a job for Restovich, whose power would be a welcome addition to their lineup.


19. Felix Pie, Cubs

Age: 18 Level: Low A 2002 Ranking: 17

After bursting onto the scene as the Arizona League MVP in his 2002 debut, Pie's prospect status leveled in 2003. One of the youngest players in a full-season league, he certainly has age on his side. He's also an excellent athlete with plus speed and arm strength. Scouts weren't convinced his flat, slappy swing would produce much power. Some scouts envision Pie as a top of the order presence, with the potential to steal 50 bases.


20. Lastings Milledge, Mets

Age: 18 Level: Rookie Level 2002 Ranking: NR

Milledge, like Harvey, could find himself a lot higher on this list after his first full season. At this point, however, he is a pure projection. Even some scouting directors who liked him enough to consider him in the first round this year, said they wouldn't be surprised if he struggles to adjust to pro pitching. He has outstanding bat speed, foot speed and arm strength, which is why many scouts believe he'll be a five-tool standout.


Best of the rest (listed alphabetically)

Reggie Abercrombie, Dodgers

Age: 23 Level: Double-A 2002 Ranking: 10

Abercrombie is arguably the best athlete in the minors. He's also equipped with arguably the best set of raw tools in baseball. Trouble is, he's done little by way of adjustments over the last three years to suggest he'll be able to hit good pitching. He's overaggressive, as evidenced by his horrendous 164-16 strikeout-walk ratio. He tore an ACL in his knee during the Arizona Fall League and might not return until next June. He has unlimited upside and tremendous value on the trade market, as many teams would be willing to gamble on his tools.


Joe Borchard, White Sox

Age: 24 Level: Triple-A 2002 Ranking: 4

"Don't give up on Joe Borchard," more than one scout said when asked about outfield prospects. Long swing has caused problems


Jason Cooper, Indians

Age: 23 Level: High A 2002 Ranking: NR

Will move to Double-A after showing impressive power and solid offensive skills between two Class A levels in 2003.


J. J. Davis, Pirates

Age: 25 Level: Triple-A 2002 Ranking: NR

Davis has taken a slow path through the minors, with wavering prospect status. He profiles as a power hitting right fielder, but just needs show enough consistency to achieve that ceiling. He injured his hamstring in the midst of a solid AFL performance.


Jason Dubois, Cubs

Age: 24 Level: Double-A 2002 Ranking: NR

AFL MVP will mash high fastballs, but needs to cut down some of the holes in his stroke. "He's going to struggle against pitchers who can move the ball around," an AL scout said. "It's a matter of realizing to lay off some of those pitches he can't handle in certain counts."


Lew Ford, Twins

Age: 27 Level: Double-A 2002 Ranking: NR

Hard-nosed gamer with some tools and knack for getting on base and scoring runs. Could surprise in an everyday role, along the lines of Scott Podsednik.


Jonny Gomes, Devil Rays

Age: 23 Level: Triple-A 2002 Ranking: NR

Aggressive masher with big-time power. Profiles in left field, or as a DH. Great makeup.


John-Ford Griffin, Blue Jays

Age: 24 Level: Double-A 2002 Ranking: NR

Pure hitter hasn't produced much power and is a defensive liability in left field.


Rudy Guillen, Yankees

Age: 20 Level: Double-A 2002 Ranking: NR

Must improve his plate discipline and pitch recognition for his five-tool ability to manifest.


Freddy Guzman, Padres

Age: 22 Level: Double-A 2002 Ranking: NR

Explosive speed with some strength and ability to sting the ball. Needs to cut down on strikeouts to be a viable top of the order hitter.


David Kelton, Cubs

Age: 24 Level: Triple-A 2002 Ranking: NR

Moved to the outfield after troubles with throws from third base. Needs to close off his holes at the plate to become a .270 hitter with 25 home run power in the majors. A good athlete with a natural feel for hitting.


Jason Kubel, Twins

Age: 21 Level: High A 2002 Ranking: NR

Didn't quite live up to his 2002 standards upon moving up to the Florida State League. A solid lefthanded bat with some power potential, but might fall short for right field.


Todd Linden, Giants

Age: 23 Level: Triple-A 2002 Ranking: NR

On the cusp of the big leagues, he'll need to show more consistent ability to drive the ball from both sides of the plate, especially against breaking balls.


Chris Lubanski, Royals

Age: 18 Level: Rookie-level 2002 Ranking: NR

A well-rounded athlete with good baseball skills and blazing speed.


Val Majewski, Orioles

Age: 22 Level: High A 2002 Ranking: NR

Fractured leg interrupted what was shaping up as a breakthrough season. Has good hitting approach and can drive the ball. Will be tested in Double-A.


Ramon Nivar, Rangers

Age: 23 Level: Majors 2002 Ranking: NR

A year ago, Ramon Nivar (Ramon Martinez as he was known then) was identified as a sleeper on the second base list. His stock soared in 2003 with a name and position change. Scouts love his energy and speed in center field, and he has adapted well to reading balls and taking routes in the gaps. At the plate, he would benefit from more patience, which would make his speed more of a weapon. "He needs to work on his bunting game and learn to go the other way," a National League scout said. "He got out of control in the big leagues."


Rene Reyes, Rockies

Age: 25 Level: Majors 2002 Ranking: NR

Switch-hitter offers juice from both sides of the plate. Not a pretty stroke, but gets the job done. Limited impact potential.


Stephen Smitherman, Reds

Age: 25 Level: Majors 2002 Ranking: NR

Smitherman made some impressive strides in 2003. He showed improved plate discipline in Double-A and was rewarded with a trip to the Futures Game and an early promotion to Cincinnati. He struggled to adjust to big league pitching, though, as major leaguers quickly found his holes and exploited them. His swing tends to get long. A key for him is learning which pitches to lay off, and which to punish with his above-average raw power. Many scouts project him as a power-hitting fourth outfielder; others see him as an everyday leftfielder.


Jamal Strong, Mariners

Age: 25 Level: Triple-A 2002 Ranking: NR

Intriguing leadoff package with well above-average wheels and instincts.


Nick Swisher, A's

Age: 23 Level: Double-A 2002 Ranking: NR

Swisher had enormous expectations to live up to thanks to Billy Beane's praise for him in Moneyball. This left many scouts wanting more. While he won't make a big impact offensively, though he is a good hitter from the left side. He projects to hit about 15 home runs and his defense will likely limit him to left field.


Luis Terrero, Diamondbacks

Age: 23 Level: Triple-A 2002 Ranking: 25

Outstanding raw tools, but still needs all-around refinement to get more out of his ability.


Others to watch:

Chip Ambres, Marlins

Wladimir Balentien, Mariners

Wes Bankston, Devil Rays

Rogearvin Bernadina, Expos

Gregor Blanco, Braves

Jason Botts, Rangers

Chris Duffy, Pirates

Choo Freeman, Rockies

Byron Gettis, Royals

Ty Godwin, Blue Jays

Curtis Granderson, Tigers

Matt Holliday, Rockies

Nic Jackson, Cubs

Kennard Jones, Padres

Josh Kroeger, Diamondbacks

Jason Lane, Astros

Warner Madrigal, Angels

Tony Miller, Rockies

Jason Pridie, Devil Rays

Jeff Salazar, Rockies

Terrmel Sledge, Expos

Will Smith, Rangers

Cory Sullivan, Rockies

Brandon Watson, Expos

Anthony Webster, Rangers

Chris Young, of, White Sox




Elijah Dukes, Devil Rays

Nathan Panther, Indians

Alex Romero, Twins

Rich Thompson, Pirates

Willy Taveras, Indians


Analyzing last year's top 20 outfielders list


1. Rocco Baldelli, Devil Rays


Went on to solid rookie season; superstar potential


2. Michael Cuddyer, Twins


Injuries haven't helped him nail down everyday big league job yet


3. Michael Restovich, Twins


Stuck in crowded outfield situation; needs to cut down strikeouts


4. Joe Borchard, White Sox


Suffered through a rough season repeating Triple-A


5. Josh Hamilton, Devil Rays


Dealt with off-field issues by taking the year off; no ETA on return to field


6. Marlon Byrd, Phillies


Turned in a solid second half after a slow start for the Phillies


7. Laynce Nix, Rangers


Ready to take over in Texas next year


8. Juan Rivera, Yankees


Was blocked by Raul Mondesi early on, but platooned with Karim Garcia in the playoffs--looks like that's his role


9. Chris Snelling, Mariners


Injuries stung him again, but still young and on track for starting outfield job with Mariners


10. Reggie Abercrombie, Dodgers


At a crossroads: didn't make the expected progress with plate discipline and pitch recognition


11. Nic Jackson, Cubs


An injury-plagued season didn't help his progress; needs a big comeback season or could emerge in a reserve role


12. Xavier Nady, Padres


Lack of power was puzzling in the big leagues


13. Choo Freeman, Rockies


As is his track record, he struggled in first taste of a new level


14. Alexis Rios, Blue Jays


Skyrocketed to the top of the list as tools came together


15. Grady Sizemore, Indians


Multi-tooled outfielder Followed along right behind Rios


16. Todd Linden, Giants


Could have big league opportunity in 2004; power might be short for corner


17. Felix Pie, Cubs


Speedster was one of youngest regulars in full season league


18. Carlos Duran, Braves


Major disappointment; tools have regressed, don?t match projections


19. Wily Mo Pena, Reds


Unlimited ceiling, but hampered by hamstring injuries and major league contract


20. John-Ford Griffin, Blue Jays


Pure hitter needs to develop more power to avoid becoming a bat off the bench

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...