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Minor Thoughts: Top 20 Prospects List

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The following list weighs most heavily talent and age. As such, it should not be interpreted to mean that those rated highest are guaranteed to be more successful. Indeed, someone like Eude Brito could wind up having a better career than Cole Hamels because he pitches more often due to better health (though we should all say a prayer each night that such is not the case). The list's function is to assess which are the most talented players within the system and those that could potentially have significant impacts in the major leagues.

2006 will be an interesting year in Reading, Pa., because if that team performs as it should, it bodes well for sustained major league success. The projected rotation of Hamels, Gonzalez, Mathieson and Happ would be the best in the minors and with Jaramillo, Blalock, and Moss coming up from Clearwater to power the offense, that puts seven of our top prospects on one team (possibly eight if Bourn opens the year repeating Reading as I feel he should with a quick bump if he starts well).

I have provided further breakdowns between pitchers and offensive players, rating the top 20 in each category. Coincidentally, the overall list ended up evenly split between pitchers and hitters.

The comps I have provided for the offensive players are extremely subjective and are strictly based on my own expectations and opinions. Please feel quite free to discuss them. Beyond that, I'll just let the lists speak for themselves.



TOP 20 OVERALL PROSPECTS

1. Cole Hamels, LHP, 22
Most talented left-handed starter in minor league baseball. Needs to stay healthy
Projection: Ace
ETA: September 2006

2. Gio Gonzalez, LHP, 20
Reached high-A at age 19. Will start at Reading and should remain there all season
Projection: Top of the rotation
ETA: September 2007

3. Greg Golson, OF, 20
Streaky season as a 19-year-old in low-A. Did not embarass himself. Must improve plate discipline. Power will come
Projection: Tori Hunter
ETA: September 2008

4. Scott Mathieson, RHP, 22
Has improved each of the past two seasons. Must work on developing consistency
Projection: Mid-rotation
ETA: September 2007

5. Daniel Haigwood, LHP, 22
Former 16th rounder has improved with higher competition. Better command needed
Projection: Back of the rotation
ETA: September 2006

6. Michael Bourn, OF, 23
Barely met expectations following double-jump. On-base skills point to top of order placement. Outstanding defender with strong arm. Speed for days
Projection: Willie McGee
ETA: September 2006

7. Gavin Floyd, RHP, 23
Fell on face in AAA last season. Must re-establish status as top prospect. Decent stats in PR this winter
Projection: Mid-to-back of the rotation
ETA: 2006 (Injury replacement)

8. Welinson Baez, 3B, 21
High-profile D.R. signing finally made good on big bonus hitting for average and power in over 200 AB between GCL and Batavia. Will need to repeat to show 2005 not a sample size fluke
Projection: Best case: Edgar Martinez / Worst case: Kevin Orie / Most likely: Joe Randa
ETA: September 2009

9. Mike Costanzo, 3B, 22
Began pro career horribly but finished nicely. Exhibits patience and power. Must improve defensively if he is to remain at 3B
Projection: Matt Williams'ish
ETA: September 2007

10. Brad Harman, SS/2B, 20
Displayed outstanding offensive skills as a 19-year-old in low-A. Aussie signing could pay dividends in future. One to watch
Projection: right-handed Lou Whitaker
ETA: September 2008

11. J.A. Happ, LHP, 23
Must be challenged in 2006. Should start at Reading. Has makings of solid pitcher. Needs to try to avoid nagging injuries and get through a full season healthy
Projection: Mid-back of the rotation with bullpen possibility
ETA: September 2007

12. Carlos Ruiz, C, 27
Should be top backup to Lieberthal this season. Outstanding defensive catcher and game-caller with passable offensive skills. Has already started having nagging leg injuries so get what you can out of him during prime years
Projection: Tony Pena
ETA: April 2006

13. Jake Blalock, LF/RF, 22
One explanation that I found plausible for Blalock's 61 point slugging drop from 2004 to 2005 is the move from spacious Lakewood to the small CBP clone field in Clearwater. Must re-establish in more friendly Reading confines
Projection: Dave Henderson
ETA: September 2007

14. Edgar Garcia, RHP, 18
Performed well as a 17-year-old in GCL. Still a very long ways off at this point but promising
Projection: Too early to tell

ETA: 2009, at the earliest

15. Shane Victorino, OF, 25
Rule V reject broke out in 2005 and is now team's 4th OF following Michaels trade. Good pop, good speed--he has the makings of a solid player
Projection: slightly less productive Milton Bradley
ETA: April 2006

16. Eude Brito, LHP, 27
Remarkably still a prospect as a 27-year-old. Profiles best as lefty specialist reliever despite strong performance as starter in 2005
Projection: Reliever, most likely lefty specialist but possible setup man
ETA: 2006 (Could make team out of Spring Training)

17. Andy Barb, RHP, 21
Converted catcher has performed well in consecutive short-seasons. How will he respond to pressures of a full-season, presuming he begins at Lakewood?
Projection: Reliever
ETA: 2009'ish

18. Tim Moss, 2B, 24
Had extremely productive season after two poor ones which may have been health related. Old for league. Must repeat to confirm prospect status. Blocked in Philly. Likely reserve
Projection: Best case: Mark McLemore
ETA: 2007

19. Chris Roberson, OF, 26
Has had consecutive strong seasons albeit at ages above league appropriate. Development impressive for someone who was deemed more of an athlete than a baseball player when drafted. Future likely as 4th or 5th OF
Projection: Mike Davis
ETA: September 2006

20. Yoel Hernandez, RHP, 26
Late-blooming relief prospect. Improved stock by improving slider to complement solid fastball. Excellent winter league performance in Venezuela
Projection: Middle reliever
ETA: 2006 (Could make team out of Spring Training)



TOP 20 PITCHING PROSPECTS

1. Cole Hamels, LHP, 22
2. Gio Gonzalez, LHP, 20
3. Scott Mathieson, RHP, 22
4. Daniel Haigwood, LHP, 22
5. Gavin Floyd, RHP, 23
6. J.A. Happ, LHP, 23
7. Edgar Garcia, RHP, 18
8. Eude Brito, LHP, 27
9. Andy Barb, RHP, 21
10. Yoel Hernandez, RHP, 26
11. Scott Mitchinson, RHP, 21
12. Carlos Carrasco, RHP, 19
13. Kyle Kendrick, RHP, 21
14. Andrew Baldwin, RHP, 23
15. Brett Harker, RHP, 21
16. Matthew Maloney, LHP, 22
17. Matthew Olson, RHP, 19
18. Joshua Outman, LHP, 21
19. Derek Griffith, LHP, 23
20. Zach Segovia, RHP, 23



TOP 20 HITTING PROSPECTS

1. Greg Golson, OF, 20
2. Michael Bourn, OF, 23
3. Welinson Baez, 3B, 21
4. Mike Costanzo, 3B, 22
5. Brad Harman, SS/2B, 20
6. Carlos Ruiz, C, 27
7. Jake Blalock, LF/RF, 22
8. Shane Victorino, OF, 25
9. Tim Moss, 2B, 24
10. Chris Roberson, OF, 26
11. Jason Jaramillo, C, 23
12. Josh Kroeger, LF/RF, 23
13. Tim Kennelly, INF, 19
14. Louis Marson, C, 19
15. Mike Durant, 1B, 19
16. Curt Miaso, OF, 20
17. Marc Tugwell, UTIL, 25
18. Jeremy Slayden, LF/RF, 23
19. Sam Orr, INF, 22
20. Kiel Fisher, 3B, 22