The Top 100 MLB Prospects 2010: #10-1

At long last, we’ve reached the culmination of my Top 100 Prospects List of 2010. I hope you enjoy this installment, and that you’ve enjoyed the others up to this point.

And without further ado…

Intro/Honorable mentions (please read this if you haven’t)
#100-91
#90-81
#80-71
#70-61
#60-51
#50-41
#40-31
#30-21
#20-11

#10.) Matt Moore, LHP, Rays (High-A)—Moore has just about everything you’d want in a pitcher: he’s a durable lefthander with velocity and two plus offspeed offerings. Astonishingly, even with all that going for him from a scouting perspective, he manages to post even more impressive stats than one would expect, as he continues to strike out approximately 13 batters per nine innings at every level; he hasn’t dropped off at all as he’s moved up the ladder. After struggling to throw strikes in 2009, he reined in his control this year. Moore may let us know what a young Barry Zito could have done if he could hit the mid-90’s.

#9.) Bryce Harper, OF, Nationals—I’m taking the slightly conservative route with the much-hyped first overall pick in last year’s draft, waiting to see him crush minor league pitching before elevating him into the top five. There’s little question his raw power is second to none, and Harper should be able to contribute some of everything else. How much non-power-based production he’s able to provide will determine if he’ll be a true MVP-level hitter or just an Adam Dunn-esque masher.

#8.) Jeremy Hellickson, RHP, Rays—Hellickson gets the nod over Moore for two reasons: 1) he’s already succeeded in the majors and 2) his polish makes him more of a sure bet regardless of level. Given his nearly-unmatched command, it’s easy to forget Hellickson’s got some nasty stuff, too, headlined by a huge changeup and a fastball in the 91-94 range. He should be an ace-level pitcher for the next decade, barring injury.

#7.) Wil Myers, C, Royals (High-A)—Myers currently has all sorts of trouble catching the baseball, but he’s got a good arm and good athleticism for a catcher, so scouts remain open to the possibility he can catch. Everyone knows he’ll hit—he just mashed .346/.453/.512 in a pitcher’s park in a pitcher’s league against competition usually three or four years older than he. Even if he can’t stick at catcher, Myers has Harper-esque upside as an outfielder, and if he can stay behind the plate, greatness seems inevitable.

#6.) Manny Banuelos, LHP, Yankees (AA)—I ranked this little lefty twelfth last year when seemingly nobody was on him, and he’s done nothing to disprove my confidence. Banuelos shook off an April appendectomy to add four K/9 in High-A, posting a simply ridiculous 1.71 FIP at age 19. He then capped off the year with three impressive Double-A starts. He’s not physically imposing, but Banuelos is no soft-tosser, touching 95 and mixing in a devastating change and solid curve. Injuries are always a concern with sub-6’0” pitchers, but if Banuelos can keep his arm together, he should be a great one.

#5.) Martin Perez, LHP, Rangers (AA)—Let’s not overreact to Perez’s 5.96 ERA this year—he was 19 in Double-A, his FIP (at 4.24) was far better, and he still managed to strike out over a batter per inning. Perez’s control did suffer, but his high BABIP and low strand rate were largely out of his control, so it’s tough to dock the guy points for that. Perez is similar to Banuelos, except he’s slightly bigger and his curve, not his changeup, is his go-to offspeed pitch. He ranks above Banuelos because he was pitching a level higher at the same age. They’re the two best lefty prospects in the minors right now.

#4.) Michael Pineda, RHP, Mariners (AAA)—Pineda’s another guy who cracked my top 20 and virtually nobody else’s last year, but he finally stayed healthy and continued to show Hellickson-esque command in 2010, rocketing him up prospect lists. Who wouldn’t take a guy with a 76/17 K/BB in 62 1/3 Triple-A innings at age 21? Pineda’s a huge, beefy righty who has less in the way of power stuff than one would think, with a low-90’s fastball, an out-pitch changeup, and iffy breaking stuff, but that’s plenty if you know where the ball’s going every time—just ask 1990’s Braves fans.

#3.) Jordan Lyles, RHP, Astros (AAA)—Pitching in Triple-A at age 19 is a remarkable feat. Lyles got there in August and acquitted himself just fine in six starts after tearing up the Texas League. He lacks the big strikeout numbers of the other pitchers here in the top ten, but he’s been on such an accelerated timetable that it’s tough to know what his talent level is relative to everyone around him. Lyles has five or six good pitches in his arsenal already, so once he settles into the majors and figures out what works there, we could see him add some whiffs.

#2.) Julio Teheran, RHP, Braves (AA)—Teheran’s in that same class of 1991-born pitchers who reached Double-A in 2010, along with Banuelos and Perez, and he beats out both of them here because he’s better on paper than Banuelos and he posted far better numbers than Perez in 2010. He’s armed with easy mid-90’s heat and a deadly changeup, and his curveball is making rapid strides as well. High-A hitters had absolutely no chance, and although his control took a Perez-esque slide in Double-A, he still managed a 3.30 FIP at that level. Teheran’s fairly obviously the #1 pitching prospect in baseball—it’s not really that close.

#1.) Mike Trout, OF, Angels (High-A)—Trout hit .362/.454/.526 with 45 steals in 81 games in full-season ball at age 18. That’s pretty much all I need to say about him. Promoted to High-A before his 19th birthday, Trout continued to hit well, and if he keeps hitting like this he could see the majors before he turns 20 on August 7. Trout has just about every skill you’d want—he plays a good center field, hits for excellent averages, has extremely good speed, and possesses plus power potential. He even has an advanced batting eye. There’s no better prospect in baseball right now.

OTHER NOTES:

I realize I left Phillies outfielder Domonic Brown off the list, which seems outrageous at face value—many evaluators have him ahead of Trout. My omission of Brown has nothing to do with me disliking him (I don’t); rather, it’s a technicality. I made this list in August, at the end of the minor league season, so I left Brown off, thinking he would get the requisite number of major league at-bats to lose his prospect status since he was promoted to Philadelphia in midsummer. Ultimately, he didn’t reach that threshold, so he’s still eligible. Had I known that, I probably would have put him third, between Teheran and Lyles.

On a more apologetic note, I’m really wondering how I didn’t put Jacob Turner on the list. The young Tigers righty has all the attributes I’m looking for—young for his level, plus stats, plus stuff—so when I happened across his numbers the other day doing research, I was astonished I didn’t consider him. I’m not sure what happened there; perhaps I simply missed taking note of his name when looking through the giant database that is minorleaguebaseball.com. So, apologies to Tigers fans on that one—Turner definitely has ace potential and is an impressive prospect.

I don’t think I made any other unintentional omissions like that, but if you’re wondering about anyone else, feel free to let me know.

Topics: Bryce Harper, Jeremy Hellickson, Jordan Lyles, Julio Teheran, Manny Banuelos, Martin Perez, Matt Moore, Michael Pineda, Mike Trout, Wil Myers

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  • Al Swedgin

    Dee Gordon, LA? I don’t think I saw him in your 100 or HMs…

    • Steve

      This list is terrible. Jordan Lyles as the #3 prospect in baseball just discredits the entire list.

      • John

        Hey mate, it’s not perfect but it’s certainly not terrible. I can criticize where the Yankees prospects are at times, but i don’t know really anything about the other farm systems. To balance all 30 systes and the hundreds of players in a ranking is pretyt imprresive. Are there some rankings I don’t agree with? Yeah, definetly. But as a whole, the list is informative, and pretty well put together.

        By the way, I’m a bit suprised Baneulos is this high. I always put Montero way ahead of the other Yanks prospects, but I’m happy to see Banelos is getting some recognization. Between him, Brackman and Betances, we got a pretty good pitcher, maybe even an ace in there.

        • http://bleacherreport.com/users/10925-nathaniel-stoltz Nathaniel Stoltz

          John, thanks for the comment. I’m certainly higher on Banuelos than most, and he gets a lot of knocks for his size, but it’s extremely rare to see someone this young for his levels produce this well. Reports have his offspeed stuff taking a quantum leap this year, not to mention his velocity jumping, so health is now the only question with him.

          I have to give Brian Cashman a ton of credit for giving the Yankees minor league pitching depth at least 25 other organizations would envy.

      • http://bleacherreport.com/users/10925-nathaniel-stoltz Nathaniel Stoltz

        No matter what you think, I find it unfair to discredit everything based on one prospect.

    • http://bleacherreport.com/users/10925-nathaniel-stoltz Nathaniel Stoltz

      Not a fan of Gordon. He didn’t hit anywhere near well enough to offer much hope he’ll be more than a slap-and-burn, Juan Pierre type. He needs to walk more.

  • Tom

    How about Kipnis and Chisenhall from the Tribe?

    • http://bleacherreport.com/users/10925-nathaniel-stoltz Nathaniel Stoltz

      Those two were legitimately left off, although both made it tough. Chisenhall didn’t do enough statistically to jump out at me, although his scouting reports seem to be fantastic, so he could easily make me look stupid. Kipnis certainly has a shot to be an above-average 2B, but he wasn’t especially young and reviews of his defense are mixed, so he’s off too. But if I made a top 200, Chisenhall, Kipnis, and Cord Phelps would all be on the list. I think the Indians have a chance to have an excellent offensive infield in three years.

  • http://www.bloodyfists.net Shay Bapple

    The list was pretty solid, although I think I expressed my concern with not having Tyler Matzek and Grant Green on it previously. I don’t know if I would have ranked Machado, Taillon and Pomeranz so high since they haven’t played at all in minors yet, well save Machado’s brief stint in short season A. Although I can see Machado after one minor league season making a top 20 list easily with his talent. But I can’t speculate too much without some sort of professional test.

    I agree with your assessment on Martin Perez, but the numbers are numbers and when you consider what Teheran could do across three levels of minor league ball should be used for posterity when comparing anyone of his age. Martin still has talent to make any top 50 list for sure, but he still has a way to go with some success to be considered that high.

    But opinions are opinions in the end and overall I enjoyed reading your listings every week.

    • http://bleacherreport.com/users/10925-nathaniel-stoltz Nathaniel Stoltz

      Thanks for the comment. I agree Matzek has a lot going for him, and he’s the sort of guy who could easily shoot way up my list with a good showing next year. Green’s more iffy (and I say that as an A’s fan). It’s certainly difficult to rank those guys who were just drafted, but that’s largely semantic. They obviously could be great, terrible, or anything in between.

      As for Perez, I definitely see where you’re coming from, although he gets bonus points because he is more advanced. After all, he has way more experience than Teheran at AA, and Teheran himself stumbled in AA a bit. Teheran is the better prospect, but don’t focus too much on Perez’s ERA.

      Opinions certainly are only opinions, couldn’t agree more! This list could turn out great or blow up in my face. Only time will tell.

  • rightwingrick

    I live in Tacoma, WA, where I saw Pineda pitch in AAA this year. You underrate his fastball, which sits consistently between 92-96 and can hit 97-98, especially early in a game. You were right to have him on your list last year, and even more right this year. He throws strikes with great strike zone command. A potential #1-2 guy (with Felix Hernandez in Seattle, he’s a #2 in time).

    • http://bleacherreport.com/users/10925-nathaniel-stoltz Nathaniel Stoltz

      Good to know his velocity jumped in 2010. The bigger question is what’s up with his slider.

  • FWBrodie

    Pineda is no longer “low 90′s”. He spent 2010 comfortably in the upper 90′s.

  • http://www.deepleftfield.com Ed Carroll

    I know you already addressed Chisenhall, but I find it odd that he’s listed as the #1 Indians prospect in numerous publications and doesn’t crack your top 100. I realize this is an incredibly difficult and involved process (and one omission doesn’t discredit your list, BTW), but what exactly about him didn’t impress you?

    • http://bleacherreport.com/users/10925-nathaniel-stoltz Nathaniel Stoltz

      Thanks for the comment, Ed.

      In short, basically I see Chisenhall as a player at a fairly offense-heavy position who has yet to show any huge skills offensively. He doesn’t hit .300, doesn’t have huge power, and doesn’t take a ton of walks or steal a ton of bases.

      Keep in mind I made this list in late August–in the AFL there have been all these great reports on him that may have pushed him into my top 100 had I redone it today. Scouts love the guy’s swing, and that’s good, although it’s not good to have a disconnect between great tools and average numbers.

      Point is, numerical rankings aside, I certainly see him as a possible impact player. As “top prospects” go, though, he’s light on the current production side, so maybe he just winds up as a Corey Koskie type, you know? Unless he finds a way to improve at a better-than-average pace (which, due to his natural talent, is very possible), he’s destined for a Koskie-esque career (minus the concussion issues, hopefully).

      I hope that makes some sense. And hey, if it doesn’t, I’m sure you can take heart in my higher-than-everyone-else ranking of Jason Knapp…

  • Mike aka RotoRooster

    Nate:

    Curious your perspective in omitting Drabek? Also, why do you have Sale so low when he is the only one on list who is virtually guaranteed at making Opening Day MLB roster, has already performed well against major leaguers and is likely to be in the Chisox starting rotation? If you had a redo, would Belt move into top 10? After AFL outburst, how high might Ackley be on a redo?

    Thanks, Mike RotoRooster

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