HomeMembers OnlyTestimonialsContact UsPrivacy PolicyLinksAdvertising

New Page 1

Top 100 Prospects: AL Hitters
published December 25, 2004
by David Luciani

I've published top prospect lists every year and this year will be no exception as we start a four part series covering the best of the prospects in both leagues, separated into hitters and pitchers.  As we begin this series, I'll try not to repeat everything I've said in previous years but I do need to give the reader a bit of background, especially new readers who haven't seen one of my top prospect lists before.

The prospect lists are ranked in order of where I think the player is, relative to other players, in terms of the overall big league career he's projected to have.  It doesn't mean that his best season will be better than an inferior prospect's best season.  It means that in terms of longevity and the long run, I believe that the higher prospect is more likely to have a "better" career than the lower-ranked prospect, even though admittedly the idea of a better career can be arbitrary at best and certainly open to debate, even if we had perfect ability to see into the future, which we obviously don't.

The most common feedback/question I get every time I publish one of these lists is "Where the heck is Player X?" or "How can you rank so-and-so ahead of this other guy?"  I'll give you my response in advance to save both of us time:  If a player is missing, it's possible they weren't eligible for the list and I'll lay out the criteria below.  For example, Joe Mauer doesn't qualify for these lists anymore because of the at bat rule, which is listed below.  If a player qualifies, then what you're getting is my assessment of the long term and it's based on lengthy studies of thresholds and performances at different ages that seem to project eventual success in the majors.  We've had many contentious names appearing among the top few here before (such as Jason Kubel a few years ago showing up in the top five when no one else had him in their top 100 or Dontrelle Willis making our top ten when he was still pitching at Single-A) and though we know our methods will miss someone, this is the way we really see the future.  It doesn't do much good to send me a note arguing that your favorite prospect should be ranked higher and then send me the reasons because I have access to the same data and this is the way the list comes out.  If you think a prospect is better than I've ranked him or if your favorite fails to make the list, then by all means put him at or near the top of your own list.  As I often say, everything we do here should supplement your knowledge - there is no replacement for your own thinking.

In fact, I've written a lengthy answer to the question of why a top prospect may be ranked lower than you'd expect or be missing completely.  If you'd like to see my answer, check out The Best of Ask David: Volume 1 and then advance to the question about Jesse Foppert and Gavin Floyd.  There, you'll get my complete answer about why sometimes a so-called top prospect misses the cut on my lists.

One other point of clarification is needed.  Just because a player seems to "drop" on this list compared to a year ago doesn't mean I think less of him than I did last year.  Sometimes, a player can be exactly the same in my mind, in terms of his long term ability, but other players have moved ahead of him or emerged from nowhere to take new, higher places on the rankings.  Certainly an injury or a subpar year in the minors can cause me to think less of a player's long-term potential, even though I'm looking at much more than just how the player performed in 2004.  No doubt, a terrible year can make me re-think a player's status as a top prospect, such as what happened with Jeff Mathis this past season and whose performance in 2004 dropped him from #37 a year ago to off the top 100 this year.  Of course, the list should be dynamic as players in their late teens and early twenties are constantly acquiring new skills that even with the best of analysis, I couldn't see and others are not developing the way they should or as quickly as expected.  In fact, I've considered that an annual list isn't enough to keep up with the changing direction of the minors and I may have to start publishing two or more lists like this each year.

Just in terms of the criteria to even qualify for these lists:

  • A player must have at least 50 "translated" innings (using our minor league translation methods) or 200 "translated" at bats in 2004 at Single-A, Double-A and Triple-A combined.  It is allowed for a player to have played in the majors in 2004, even substantially, but his eligibility for this list must still be met by meeting this criteria in the minors.  Remember, that means that many or most draft picks form late 2004 will not qualify for the list as they haven't played enough in the minors for us to get a good sense of their skill.
  • A player will have to be younger than 26 years old on July 1st, 2005 to show up on these lists, without exception.

Because these lists are compiled over many months, a player will be listed with whatever organization he finished the 2004 season playing with, even if he's changed organizations since, though we try to highlight players who moved, where applicable.

Without further ado,  let's start with the AL Hitters.  It's been quite a few years since I separated AL and NL prospects but this seems to be a better method and this year, I'm going to list double the number of prospects than in past years, giving 400 over this four part series, up from the 200 of a year ago.  As this first part in the series was scheduled to go up on the site on Christmas Day, I extend my best wishes to all of you during this holiday season!

TOP 100 AL HITTING PROSPECTS

1. DELMON YOUNG, OF, TAMPA BAY:  He's actually ready for the majors now but the Devil Rays have openly said that he's not going to start 2005 in the big leagues, especially since he's so young (19) and inexperienced, having spent last year playing for Single-A Charleston-SC.  His translation was for a .264 hitter with 23 home runs, 9 steals and 58 RBI, so it doesn't look as exciting as the raw numbers that saw him top 100 RBI and 20 steals but he projects as an eventual .300 big league hitter with 35-40 home run power, an ability to walk 75 times in a season combined with 10-15 stolen base ability.  I believe we'll see Young in the majors by the end of this season and you should expect immediate success when he arrives, though not performance in this territory just yet.

2. CASEY KOTCHMAN, 1B, ANAHEIM:  Like Young, Kotchman is ready for the majors now, though I don't think he's going to be a big time power hitter.  I'm putting him #2 this year because he projects like an eventual perennial batting title contender who should have a long and productive career with big-time gap ability (think 50 doubles a season).  His projected eventual prime looks like Wade Boggs.

3. BRANDON MOSS, OF, BOSTON:  A former second baseman, Moss exploded in 2004 to hit .339 with 13 home runs and 101 RBI at Single-A Augusta and then followed it up by dominating at the more competitive Single-A Sarasota, hitting .422 with 2 home runs over just 83 at bats at that level.  Unlike Young and Kotchman, it's unlikely that Moss will appear in the majors this season but like Kotchman, he projects as an eventual annual batting title contender with better home run power but fewer doubles.  His individual seasons may not be as exciting as some prospects ranked lower than him but his overall career will be superior.

4. JASON KUBEL, OF, MINNESOTA:  Once again Kubel makes our lists and unlike when we listed him in the top five overall in baseball a few years ago, now he's on everyone's radar.  Unfortunately, he suffered a serious injury in the Arizona Fall League this off-season and he's expected to miss all of the 2005 season, which pushes back his arrival as a full-timer to at least 2006.  Up until the injury, he was the favorite to be the right fielder for Minnesota next year.  He looks to me to be a hitter who will one day consistently hit better than .300 with 20 home runs, 10 steals and 55-60 walks, over a full season.

5. IAN KINSLER, SS, TEXAS:  The highest-ranked shortstop that I'm going to list on either the AL or NL lists, I'm not sure where he's going to play by the time he reaches the majors because the Texas infield is blocked right now.  He destroyed Single-A pitching last year, hitting .402 over 224 at bats before moving up to the more competitive Double-A level, where he still hit .299 over 70 games.  Even his translated average was .290 which is rare for such a young and inexperienced player and while you're unlikely to see him in the majors before even late 2006, he projects as an eventual .290s type with 20 home run power and 40 double ability, which should get him plenty of RBI opportunities.  He looks to me to be an eventual #3 hitter in the majors.

6. B.J. UPTON, SS, TAMPA BAY:  If we're to believe the reports, he may not be a shortstop for long as there's been talk that Upton could end up at third base in 2005, though there's also discussion that he could go back to the minors for more experience.  I suspect that a Devil Rays team as thin as this one won't be too patient with him and while I'm not projecting huge things in 2005, except maybe for his speed (he's a good bet to steal at least 15-20 bases even if he only plays 90 games in the majors), I look down the road at a player who should be a .290-20-20 type who will be able to take 85-90 walks in a season.  Compare that to the rest of the league at this position and you have a top prospect.

7. WES BANKSTON, 1B, TAMPA BAY:  He had off-season surgery on his wrist this winter so whether that will impact his long-term performance remains unclear.  He hit .289 with 23 home runs and 101 RBI for Single-A Charleston-SC in 2004 and while I expect he's actually going to be a notch below the top power hitters by the time he develops, he's going to be a quietly productive 30 home run type big league first baseman for many years.

8. JUSTIN MORNEAU, 1B, MINNESOTA:  I'm not sure there's much more that can be said about him that hasn't been already, especially because we got to see him so much last season.  He's got the job at first base going into 2005 and while he shouldn't be expected to immediately have the best seasons of his career, I expect he's going to show immediate power and while not winning a batting title typically, hit for a respectable average.

9. JOSE LOPEZ, SS, SEATTLE:  He's got the job heading into this season and I believe one day, several years from now, he's going to be a consistent 25 home run hitter per season, in his best years.

10. RYAN GARKO, C, CLEVELAND:  There are maybe three catching prospects in the National League I would rank ahead of him and he's the best in the AL as of the end of 2004.  Like Ian Kinsler with Texas, Garko plays a position that looks to be filled in the majors so I'm not sure whether Cleveland will move him or bring him along slowly.  I'm not expecting him to be a .300 hitter but an average in the .270s with 20-25 home run power by the time he's in his prime are both reasonable.

The best of the rest...

11. MICHAEL AUBREY, 1B, CLEVELAND:

12. HOWIE KENDRICK, 2B, ANAHEIM:  The best second base prospect I'm ranking in either league, Kendrick had a dynamite season for Single-A Cedar Rapids in 2004, hitting .367 with 10 home runs and 15 steals in just 75 games.  While I'm not projecting the entire average to translate to the majors, he is going to be a big-time batting average hitter but just as importantly, I believe he's going to develop 20-25 home run power mixed with 35-40 doubles ability and an ability to add 10-15 stolen bases for good measure, which would make him quite a prospect.  My only criticism of him is that I expect him to be an aggressive hitter who will rarely take walks, even once he's gained experience.

13. BALTAZAR LOPEZ, 1B, ANAHEIM

14. NICK MARKAKIS, OF, BALTIMORE

15. BRIAN SNYDER, 3B, OAKLAND

16. WLADIMIR BALENTIEN, OF, SEATTLE

17. VASILI SPANOS, 3B, OAKLAND

18. RAUL TABLADO, SS, TORONTO

19. ELIJAH DUKES, OF, TAMPA BAY

20. JORGE CANTU, 2B/SS, TAMPA BAY

21. JOHNNY PERALTA, SS, CLEVELAND

22. MELKY CABRERA, OF, NEW YORK YANKEES

23. EROLD ANDRUS, OF, NEW YORK YANKEES

24. ALEX ROMERO, OF, MINNESOTA

25. TONY GIARRATANO, SS, DETROIT

26. SHANE COSTA, OF, KANSAS CITY

27. BRANDON PINCKNEY, SS, CLEVELAND

28. KEVIN KOUZMANOFF, 3B, CLEVELAND

29. SHIN-SOO CHOO, OF, SEATTLE

30. BRIAN STAVISKY, OF, OAKLAND

31. CHRIS LUBANSKI, OF, KANSAS CITY

32. ADRIAN GONZALEZ, 1B, TEXAS

33. JESUS GUZMAN, 3B, SEATTLE

34. BRAD SNYDER, OF, CLEVELAND

35. DANILO SANCHEZ, C, DETROIT

36. COLT SIMMONS, C, TAMPA BAY

37. HECTOR MADE, SS, NEW YORK YANKEES

38. PAT OSBORN, 3B, CLEVELAND

39. GARRETT JONES, 1B, MINNESOTA

40. ERIC DUNCAN, 3B, NEW YORK YANKEES

41. RYAN GOLESKI, OF, CLEVELAND

42. JEREMY WEST, 1B, BOSTON

43. CARLOS ARROYO, OF, SEATTLE

44. DANNY MATIENZO, 1B, MINNESOTA

45. JOEY GATHRIGHT, OF, TAMPA BAY

46. VAL MAJEWSKI, OF, BALTIMORE

47. JOAQUIN ARIAS, SS, TEXAS

48. RYAN SWEENEY, OF, CHICAGO WHITE SOX

49. KILA KAAIHUE, 1B, KANSAS CITY

50. BRONSON SARDINHA, 3B, NEW YORK YANKEES

51. AARON HILL, SS, TORONTO

52. JOHN  URICK, 1B, NEW YORK YANKEES

53. JOHN BUCK, C, KANSAS CITY

54. BOBBY WILSON, C, ANAHEIM

55. HANLEY RAMIREZ, SS, BOSTON

56. BRIAN ANDERSON, OF, CHICAGO WHITE SOX

57. JEREMY REED, OF, SEATTLE

58. OMAR QUINTANILLA, SS, OAKLAND

59. JUSTIN HUBER, C, KANSAS CITY

60. ADAM JONES, SS, SEATTLE

61. BRANDON WOOD, SS, ANAHEIM

62. EIDAR TORRES, 2B, CLEVELAND

63. ROBINSON DIAZ, C, TORONTO

64. JUAN SENREISO, OF, TEXAS

65. VINCENT SINISI, OF, TEXAS

66. BROCK PETERSON, 1B, MINNESOTA

67. BRANT COLAMARINO, 1B, OAKLAND

68. GARY WINROW, OF, NEW YORK YANKEES

69. MICAH SCHNURSTEIN, 3B, CHICAGO WHITE SOX

70. JASON FRANSZ, DH/OF, BALTIMORE

71. BRANDON PHILLIPS, 2B, CLEVELAND

72. KYLE PHILLIPS, C, MINNESOTA

73. CASEY ROGOWSKI, 1B, CHICAGO WHITE SOX

74. MICAH FURTADO, 2B, TEXAS

75. KELLY HUNT, 1B, DETROIT

76. ERICK AYBAR, SS, ANAHEIM

77. ADAM BOURASSA, OF, TEXAS

78. THOMAS BRICE, OF, CHICAGO WHITE SOX

79. JOEY REIMAN, DH/C, TORONTO

80. JASON BOTTS, 1B, TEXAS

81. CHRIS YOUNG, OF, CHICAGO WHITE SOX

82. MICKEY HALL, OF, BOSTON

83. JUAN TEJEDA, 1B, DETROIT

84. RUSS ADAMS, SS, TORONTO

85. MIKE SPIDALE, OF, CHICAGO WHITE SOX

86. JASON PERRY, OF, OAKLAND

87. LUIS PEREZ, OF, OAKLAND

88. J.R. TAYLOR, SS, MINNESOTA

89. JOSH KREUZER, 1B, TEXAS

90. SCOTT WHITE, 3B, BOSTON

91. JERMY ACEY, 2B, TORONTO

92. DALLAS MCPHERSON, 3B, ANAHEIM

93. ANDRE ETHIER, OF,  OAKLAND

94. MIKE AVILES, SS, KANSAS CITY

95. ANTOIN GRAY, 2B, CHICAGO WHITE SOX

96. CURTIS GRANDERSON, OF DETROIT

97. DUSTIN SMITH, C, TEXAS

98. ADAM MORRISSEY, 2B, OAKLAND

99. RON DAVENPORT, OF, TORONTO

100. LUKE APPERT, 2B, OAKLAND

 

Register for our 2012 projections now and get instant access. Click here for details.

Follow us on Twitter @BaseballNB and/or "Like" us on Facebook (facebook.com/BaseballNotebook) and you will be notified anytime new essay content is published.  Also, get access to selected feature essays early, often up to three days before each essay is posted in the public index!

 

Baseball Notebook is an online editorial publication that actively reports on baseball at all levels.  All materials, unless otherwise stated, are 1994-2012 Baseball Notebook.  As an independent editorial publication, Baseball Notebook is not sponsored by, authorized by, affiliated with or associated with any other mentioned entities, including those who own reserved trademarks that may be used for descriptive purposes only.  The terms Major League Baseball, World Series, National League, American League, All-Star Game and the names of the Major League Baseball teams are trademarks of Major League Baseball Entities.  Baseball Notebook does not offer, create, administer or endorse any fantasy baseball game or competition.