The Top 100 MLB Prospects 2010: #30-21

Welcome to the November 6, 2010 edition of This Week in Prospects, which happens to be the antepenultimate edition of my top 100 prospect list. We’re looking at prospects #30-21 this week, an installment that should make Braves fans happy. We’re showcasing a ton of position players in this week’s set, including a trio of high-ceiling young outfielders, a potential dominant two-way catcher, and a couple of big-bashing first baseman. It’s also time to look at the man with the 105-mph fastball and two of the top five picks in the last MLB Draft.

Let’s take a look.

Previous installments in the Top 100 Prospect List:

Intro/Honorable mentions (please read this if you haven’t)
#100-91
#90-81
#80-71
#70-61
#60-51
#50-41
#40-31

#30.) Jaff Decker, OF, Padres (High-A)—Decker nearly made my top 10 last year, but got off to a horrific start  in 2010, missing a month with hamstring problems and showing zero offensive ability in his first few weeks. From there, he rounded right back into his walks-and-power form to hit .262/.374/.500 at age 20 in High-A, including .305/.439/.616 after the All-Star break (as opposed to .195/.256/.319 before, when he was dealing with the injury). Decker doesn’t possess great abilities aside from the bat, but power hitters with .400 OBP ability are a rare breed.

#29.) Drew Pomeranz, LHP, Indians—Pomeranz has yet to pitch in pro ball after being the fifth overall draft pick in 2010’s draft, but he’s an extremely polished lefty who should move quickly thanks to a top-shelf curve and a good heater to back it up. The Rockies’ Christian Friedrich thrived with the same skillset (until a rash of injuries marred his 2010), so expect Pomeranz to have a similar quick climb up the ladder, posting silly numbers along the way. He could evolve into one of baseball’s top lefties.

#28.) Randall Delgado, RHP, Braves (AA)—At age 20, Delgado blew through High-A ball with a 120/32 K/BB in 117 1/3 innings. Double-A hitters caught up to him slightly, but Delgado still held his own in eight Southern League starts. Formerly an inconsistent arm, Delgado tightened up his control in 2010, which made his impressive repertoire hell for hitters. His fastball routinely gets up to 95-96 mph, his curve is very good, and his changeup could evolve into yet another plus pitch. Delgado still needs to attack upper-level hitters better, but it looks like Ervin Santana’s career is his downside.

#27.) Manny Machado, SS, Orioles (Short-season-A)—I’m always a bit wary of high school hitters, who often turn into superstars, but also have a fairly high bust rate. Still, there’s a reason Machado was drafted third overall and earns Alex Rodriguez comparisons—he’s got all sorts of talent and could become an offensive terror at shortstop, a rare breed indeed. If he hits as expected, Machado could be in the running for best position player prospect in baseball in a year. He’s already the game’s top shortstop prospect.

#26.) Aroldis Chapman, LHP, Reds—What am I supposed to do with Chapman? The guy threw a baseball 105 miles per hour in a big league game, and it’s not even his best pitch. That’s obviously great, but there are some caveats here:

1.)    Chapman’s minor league numbers, especially as a starter, weren’t that great, and he walked far too many.

2.)    There’s a lot of injury concern here, mainly because seemingly everyone who throws this hard blows out his arm (see Zumaya, Joel and Strasburg, Stephen).

3.)    Is Chapman going to become a reliever a la Joba Chamberlain/Neftali Feliz? If so, his value takes a huge hit.

#25.) Oswaldo Arcia, OF, Twins (Rookie)—Man, this guy can hit—witness his .373/.423/.667 line this season, even though he was just 19. Arcia still has to work on his K/BB if he’s going to keep hitting north of .300, but he’s a plus defensive right fielder as well, so we’re not talking about a one-dimensional slugger here. A month after making the list, I wonder if I was pushing it a bit here—he did whiff 67 times in 63 games, and he’s a long way from the majors—but Arcia could be an MVP if it all breaks exactly right.

#24.) Wilin Rosario, C, Rockies (AA)—I’ve never been on the Rosario bandwagon until now, and I sure wasn’t entering the year, as he came off a horrific sub-.300 OBP showing in the Cal League, of all places. But Rosario found his stroke in Double-A somehow, hitting .285/.342/.552 and tightening up his strike zone considerably. Scouts love the guy, and it’s telling that he could catch in the majors at some point this year at just 22 years of age—an extremely early debut for a catcher. Scouts like his defense as well, so he should be an asset both at the plate and behind it. We could be talking about a poor man’s Ivan Rodriguez here.

#23.) Yorman Rodriguez, OF, Reds (Rookie)—Long a coveted young prospect, Rodriguez cut his strikeout rate nearly in half in 2010 (imagine where Arcia would be if he could do that!), and his batting average rose 120 points, which certainly isn’t a coincidence. A .339 average is a good place to start, talent-wise, and Rodriguez adds top-flight speed and defense to the equation. He’s not a huge power threat yet, but the homers should start creeping up every season. Rodriguez still just turned 18, so he’s very, very far from the majors, but like Arcia, he’s got the raw ability to be a perennial All-Star someday.

#22.) Chris Carter, 1B, Athletics—Carter’s .258/.365/.529 Triple-A line was something of a disappointment this year, which tells you how high the expectations were for him, but also does show that Carter, whom many expected to be the A’s Opening Day DH or right fielder this past year, certainly didn’t convert his skeptics in 2010. Add in a disastrous first few games in the majors, and Carter starts to look like he’s slipping, but he did show signs of life at the tail end of the year, and his offensive ceiling, particularly power-wise, remains right there with anyone in the minors.

#21.) Freddie Freeman, 1B, Braves—As with Rosario, I was totally down on Freeman entering the year, viewing him as a Lyle Overbay clone at best, and a washout at worst. But then he hit .318 with a .200 ISO in Triple-A, at age 20 no less, and I’ve certainly been left with no choice but to join the believers. It’s still worth questioning whether Freeman will ever be a “traditional” power-first first baseman, but Mark Grace had himself quite the career at the position with much less power than Freeman, who has the skill to be a .300/.375/.525 slugger or better.

Topics: Aroldis Chapman, Chris Carter, Drew Pomeranz, Freddie Freeman, Jaff Decker, Manny Machado, Oswaldo Arcia, Randall Delgado, Wilin Rosario, Yorman Rodriguez

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