Baseball America's Top 20 Prospects So Far

With the major league draft occuring this afternoon, Baseball America has a special edition of their Prospect Hot Sheet available now that covers the top minor leaguers through May.  It does not include a prospect who has dominated over his first three professional starts, though.  Tampa Bay Rays' prospect David Price did not log enough playing time to qualify.  Although believiing his absence makes him any worse than the Top 5 prospect in the game right now would be a mistake.

I look at this list and see a foreshadowing of who will be highly-ranked next March when Baseball America's Top 100 for 2009 comes out.  If you take out the prospects likely to be ineligible for that list next season ( Jay Bruce, Clayton Kershaw, Jeff Clement, Chase Headley), you are left with a good working list of the top prospects going into 2009.

Ones I'd add are Price, Rick Porcello of Detroit, and Travis Snyder of Toronto.  While I cannot envision Mat Gamel in the Top 10, his efforts at AA do not lie.  The fact that Bill Hall has failed so far with the bat for the Brewers and is now asking for a trade means Gamel has a clear path to playing time with the Brewers.  Whether his glove makes him a net negative in the majors is the only question preventing him from seeing Milwaukee.

For the complete write-ups of all the players along with some who just missed, head over to Baseball America .  To read the transcript of the chat that took place on Tuesday, click here . (Rankings from BA along with italicized write-ups.)

No. 1 JAY BRUCE, CF REDS
Why He's Here:
.364/.393/.630 (67-for-184), 10 HR, 9 2B, 5 3B, 37 RBIs, 34 R, 12 BB, 45 SO, 8-for-9 SB

No. 2 MAT GAMEL, 3B BREWERS
Why He's Here:
.382/.444/.670 (89-for-233), 54 R, 18 2B, 5 3B, 13 HR, 49 RBIs, 26 BB, 39 SO, 4-for-7 SB
 
No. 3 MATT WIETERS, C ORIOLES
Why He's Here: .329/.426/.576 (56-for-170), 37 R, 6 2B, 12 HR, 33 RBIs, 29 BB, 33 SO
The Scoop: After being taken fifth overall in the 2007 draft, Wieters and the Orioles agreed to a contract just seconds before the new signing deadline of Aug. 15. Wieters' first taste of pro ball came in Hawaii Winter Baseball, where he batted .283/.364/.415 and ranked as the league's top prospect. He was assigned to Frederick to begin 2008 and he has wreaked havoc on pitching since Opening Day when he hit two home runs. He already has three multi-home run games this season and has done most of his damage from the right side, pounding lefthanders to the tune of .417/.462/.938 in 48 at-bats with seven home runs. He also leads the league in basestealers caught, nailing 46 percent of those who try to swipe a bag on him.
 
No. 4 TREVOR CAHILL, RHP ATHLETICS
Why He's Here: 5-3, 2.88, 69 IP, 40 H, 24 R, 22 ER, 20 BB, 83 SO

No. 5 JASON HEYWARD, RF  BRAVES
Why He's Here:
.332/.385/.516, 72-for-217, 15 2B, 2 3B, 7 HR, 29 RBI, 43 R, 22 BB, 36 SO, 8-for-9 SB
 
No. 6 CLAYTON KERSHAW, LHP DODGERS
Why He's Here: 0-3, 2.28, 43 1/3 IP, 32 H, 16 R, 11 ER, 0 HR, 15 BB, 47 SO

No. 7 JEREMY HELLICKSON, RHP RAYS
Why He's Here: 5-1, 2.44, 63 IP, 62 H, 19 R, 17 ER, 5 BB, 69 SO
The Scoop: The Tampa Bay organization has been very patient and cautious with moving this Iowa righthander along. He's spent a full season at each level, even though he hasn't taken a full workload, maxing out at 111 innings pitched last year with low Class A Columbus (South Atlantic). While he's been good the last two seasons, he's been outstanding this year. What stands out most about Hellickson's season is his excellent command. In 63 innings he's allowed just five walks and hit four batters while striking out better than a batter per inning. "He's got a great delivery, he works down in the strike zone a lot and he works both sides of the plate," Vero Beach manager Jim Morrison said. "He's got a plus fastball, he keeps hitters off stride and throws the breaking ball for a strike.He gets way out front and gets on the front side really well, which a lot of guys struggle with. He's got a real quick, fast arm, and he'll get the same kind of arm release with his breaking ball and his changeup."
 
No. 8 MAX RAMIREZ, C/DH RANGERS
Why He's Here:
.368/.448/.679 in 190 at-bats, 40 R, 70 H, 13 2B, 2 3B, 14 HR, 42 RBIs, 26 BB, 48 SO, 1/3 SB

No. 9 ANDREW McCUTCHEN, CF PIRATES
Why He's Here: .287/.379/.448 (64-for-223), 7 HR, 15 2B, 24 RBIs, 36 R, 28 BB, 40 SO, 17-for-26 SB

No. 10 BEN REVERE, CF TWINS
Why He's Here:
.420/.463/.594, 58-for-138, 11 2B, 5 3B, 1 HR, 20 RBI, 11 BB, 10 SO, 16-for-26 SB

No. 11 MATT LaPORTA, RF BREWERS
Why He's Here: .286/.395/.586 in 210 at-bats, 41 R, 60 H, 14 2B, 2 3B, 15 HR, 49 RBIs, 31 BB, 43 SO, 1/2 SB
The Scoop: LaPorta is making Brewers scouting director Jack Zduriencik and his staff look like geniuses for taking the Florida first baseman with the seventh overall pick last year. LaPorta and Gamel form the most dangerous hitting duo in the Southern League and perhaps in all of the minors. LaPorta is still getting used to playing in the outfield, but there's been no learning curve at the plate for the slugger with a slugging average .300 points higher than his batting average. The thought of adding LaPorta's and Gamel's bats one day to a lineup that already includes Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun is downright scary.
 
No. 12 MADISON BUMGARNER, LHP GIANTS
Why He's Here:
5-2, 2.10, 51 1/3 IP, 43 H, 14 R, 12 ER, 9 BB, 59 SO
 
No. 13 MICHAEL BOWDEN, RHP RED SOX
Why He's Here: 4-3, 2.20, 61 1/3 IP, 39 H, 18 R, 15 ER, 2 HR, 16 BB, 58 SO
 
No. 14 DARYL THOMPSON, RHP REDS
Why He's Here:
5-2, 1.55, 75 1/3 IP, 54 H, 21 R, 13 ER, 2 HR, 16 BB, 68 SO

No. 15 JEFF CLEMENT, C/DH MARINERS
Why He's Here:
.369/.488/.738 (48-for-130), 11 HR, 15 2B, 34 RBIs, 32 R, 28 BB, 20 SO
 
No. 16 CHASE HEADLEY, LF/3B PADRES
Why He's Here: .302/.371/.524 (68-for-225), 10 HR, 18 2B, 1 3B, 30 RBIs, 41 R, 22 BB, 58 SO

No. 17 JAIME GARCIA, LHP CARDINALS
Why He's Here:
4-2, 2.81, 64 IP, 57 H, 23 R, 20 ER, 2 HR, 23 BB, 64 SO
The Scoop: Garcia offers an uncommon package of being a prolific groundball pitcher who also has strikeout stuff with a low-90s sinker and a plus curveball. Garcia, who turns 22 on Sunday, struck out more than one batter per inning in Double-A and has continued his success upon his transition to Triple-A. In a system full of sinkerballers like Clayton Mortensen, Mitch Boggs, Tyler Herron, Garcia has separated himself with the quality of his pitches and his on-field success.
 
No. 18 TOMMY HANSON, RHP BRAVES
Why He's Here:
5-3, 2.55, 60 IP, 34 H, 21 R, 17 ER, 21 BB, 69 SO
 
No. 19 CHRIS TILLMAN, RHP ORIOLES
Why He's Here: 6-0, 2.68, 53 2/3 IP, 36 H, 16 R, 16 ER, 2 HR, 28 BB, 58 SO
 
No. 20 SEAN DOOLITTLE, 1B ATHLETICS
Why He's Here: .332/.420/.625, 69-for-208, 43 R, 15 2B, 2 3B, 14 HR, 45 RBI, 34-59 BB-K, 4-for-7 SB

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