Heyward, Strasburg lead Baseball America's Top 100 prospects
The Top 100 Prospects list is the culmination of BA's offseason prospect coverage, which begins with reviews of the top talent in each minor league and proceeds with ranking the talent in each major league farm system. Our staffers and correspondents talk to general managers, managers, scouting directors, farm directors, scouts, coaches and other baseball insiders. Four BA staffers contributed to the voting this year: Co-editors
The rankings follow BA's standard prospect guidelines, which means that any player who has not exceeded 130 at-bats, 50 innings or 30 pitching appearances in the major leagues (without regard to service time) is eligible. As always, our appraisal is not necessarily based on what a player will do this season, but what his ultimate major league ceiling is, weighed against the likelihood that he will reach that ceiling.
The Rays had the most prospects on the list, with seven. For a complete breakdown of the list, go
The best combination of hitting ability, power and athleticism in the minors; scouts believe that this 20-year-old has a chance to hit .300 with 30 home runs or more.
Strasburg has a premium breaking ball, and his fastball is the minors' best in terms of velocity, command and liveliness.
Another prototypical right fielder like Heyward; Stanton is stronger and perhaps more athletic, but lacks Heyward's pure hitting ability.
Montero isn't a pure hitter, but he's as good offensively as any prospect; he's unlikely to catch everyday and already has taken grounders at first base this spring.
The most big-league-ready pitcher on the list. Matusz's changeup, slider and curveball all rate above-average, as does his fastball command.
Another athletic, well-rounded Rays outfielder, but Jennings isn't raw, especially in terms of his polished offensive approach.
The best hitter the Giants have drafted since
The Pirates have plenty of needs, and Alvarez won't solve all their problems, but the streaky slugger could be a 40-homer threat by 2011.
The Rangers' power pitcher has developed a devastating changeup to go with his premium fastball.
Switch-hitter with patience and power who should be ready by the second half of 2010 to handle daily duties behind the dish.
The best pure hitter to come out of college baseball since
He's more ready to make take over as an everyday SS than
Ten teams passed on Smoak in the 2008 draft, yet he should be ready to seize a starting job in Texas this year, providing defense and power from both sides of the plate.
Scout like the way he commands and uses his fastball; his numbers in the minors (27-5, 1.65, 55 BB/256 SO in 273 IP) speak for themselves.
Castro burst on the scene in 2009, jumping from Rookie ball to Double- A in a year. He has intriguing power potential and defensive chops for the middle infield.
Still a teenager, Perez has scouts dreaming on his three out-pitches: fastball, curve and changeup.
"Hellboy" is the latest Rays pitching product, and while he's also the smallest, his fastball command, changeup and curve should help him fit in in Tampa.
A scratch golfer as a teen, Hicks is just learning to translate his prodigious tools -- which include tremendous arm strength, speed and power potential --into skills.
An alum of
In just 60 games as a pro, Westmoreland has shown the tools and flashes of the skills to be a trade-deadline chip for years to come.
The Reds are betting $30 million that this latest Cuban import -- with the 100 mph fastball -- will live up to at least some of the hype.
Matzek uses an old-school delivery but delivers 21st-century heat with a fastball that at times reaches 98 mph.
After trying to play shortstop and pitch last year, Kelly has focused his premium athletic ability (he turned down a football scholarship to play quarterback at Tennessee) exclusively on the mound.
Having had to live up to his big league name, now Drabek has to live up to being the main cog in the
A Missouri prep product, Turner's prep catcher was
Already on to his third organization, the 2008 first-round pick has proved that he can hit, and that he's better suited for first base than third.
Oakland's utter lack of big league power screams out for Carter, a key piece from Arizona in the
The Stanford alum returns to the Bay Area after being traded straight-up for Wallace; his all-around game and right-handed bat should force him into Oakland's woeful lineup.
Another alum of the Mariners' international house of prospects, this Canadian has no true weakness and should wind up an above-average offensive player.
He's barely shaving, yet Freeman already provides a powerful wingman for Jason Heyward and should follow him to Atlanta next year.
The Rockies have developed their own arms of late, and Friedrich should bring two plus breaking balls and a knack for the strike zone to Coors Field soon.
The Rays have taken their time with this 2004 draft pick, and Davis is ready to reward them with an excellent fastball, a plus curve and a solid four-pitch mix.
Another Rays pitching prospect, the third member of the top 35. He has held minor leaguers to a .180 average through 198 career innings.
Parker will miss 2010 due to ligament replacement surgery in his throwing elbow. When healthy, his fastball and slider earned 70 grades from scouts.
Baltimore bought the power-hitting Bell time with veteran offseason acquisitions, giving him time to work on his defense and right-handed swing.
One of the minors' best offensive season in 2009 came from Norris, who must show the effort defensively needed to remain a full-time catcher.
How about back-to-back Royals? This former Missouri ace is likely to reach the majors quicker than Montgomery, and could become Greinke's wingman.
Castro the Astro doesn't have the same upside as some of those ranked behind him, but he's a good bet to hit his way to the big leagues and defend at an average level.
Scheppers' stuff has explosiveness, with a fastball that approaches 100 mph and a big-time curveball. His past shoulder woes, though, are part of every conversation.
The Reds haven't picked a position for this former Little League World Series hero from Toms River, N.J. His best one is probably batter's box anyway.
A bad-bodied pure hitter, Alonso might be ready before the Reds have decided what to do between him and incumbent
Perhaps the minors' fastest actual prospect, Gordon has a lithe, athletic body that doesn't evoke his big league dad,
Another athletic pitcher, Crosby has well above-average velocity for a left-hander and is a prime candidate for a breakout 2010 season.
Another breakout candidate with big stuff, Withrow missed parts of two seasons with injuries but reached Double-A in his first healthy campaign last year.
The Giants' next wave of prospects after Bumgarner and Posey starts with Wheeler, a live-armed Georgia prep product in the
A Texas flamethrower, Miller has reached 97 mph with his fastball and stands out in an otherwise thin Cardinals farm system.
Scouts have buzzed about this Colombian's live arm since the Braves signed him for $850,000 in 2007.
Scouts are mixed on how high Green's upside might be, but they agree that he's an athletic middle infielder.
A North Carolina football recruit, Tate gave up the gridiron for a $6 million signing bonus. He's by far the Padres' best athlete, but it might take his bat a while to catch up.
It's hard to find left-handed-hitting shortstops, and it's even harder to find those who can handle the position, deliver gap power and do it at Triple-A like Brignac has for two seasons.
Mitchell won national championships in football and baseball at Louisiana State; he has significant upside in baseball once he taps into his raw power potential.
Mejia has above-average stuff and has had some Double-A success, but he has to show the durability and control to be a starter.
Don't sleep on this Padres farmhand, who generates mid-90s velocity with ease and has the body to become an innings-eating, mid-rotation starter.
As long as
The highest-drafted Canadian hitter ever has the athleticism to stay in the infield and enough offensive potential to make an impact if he moves to the outfield.
Acquired from Atlanta in the 2008
The latest in Missouri's pitching assembly line, Gibson has an excellent slider that he complements with a plus-changeup and command of a good sinking fastball.
The son of ex-big league reliever
Britton had a breakout year in 2009, ranking among minor league leaders in groundball outs thanks to his lethal low-90s sinker, the best in the minors.
Knapp was the most talented minor leaguer the Phillies sent to Cleveland in the
White's athleticism and competitiveness made him an ace in college at North Carolina. The development of his slider will determine whether or not he makes it as a starter or has to close as a pro.
Hudson zoomed from A-ball to the big leagues in one professional season and can factor into the White Sox staff in 2010 either as a starter or a reliever.
The No. 1 overall pick in 2008 didn't take pro ball by storm in 2009 but didn't disappoint, either. Beckham has the potential to hit for plus power on the left side of the infield.
The Rays have no need to rush their minor league pitchers, but Colome gives them yet another big arm to develop or use as a trade chip down the line.
The key to the
While his approach is a bit too aggressive, Vitters hit for impressive power in 2009. He has time to grow into his role as
The Rockies system has impressive pitching depth, including the four-pitch mix of Chacin, who thrives when he pitches off his hard sinker -- tailor-made for Coors Field.
Leake has evoked
The thin Astros farm system got a boost when Mier (on the thin side himself) exceeded expectations offensively in his debut; scouts consider him a good bet to stay at shortstop, too.
After a down spring at California, Jackson had an excellent debut and could solve the Cubs' center-field hole in the near future, perhaps as soon as next season.
Reddick has tools to spare and is close to being ready for an everyday spot; polishing his offensive approach is the last piece of the puzzle.
The former Georgia Tech point-guard recruit has had success in the high minors and should be ready to play center field in Detroit after coming over in the
It seems like he has been around forever, but he's still just 21. Martinez's bat keeps showing improvement, leading him to MVP honors in the Caribbean Series.
Considered a bit of a reach when drafted fourth overall last year, Sanchez has quickly shown that he belongs, with big league-caliber defense.
California's all-time prep home run king has to be more selective, but should provide the Royals with power at a corner spot, either at third or in the outfield.
After a horrible start to 2009, d'Arnaud recovered to hit low-Class-A Lakewood to the South Atlantic League title and became a key piece in the
He might be the worst athlete on the list, but Decker's hitting ability, patience and power evoke comparisons to
Conger's defense could use some polishing, but when he has been healthy he has shown switch-hitting power at a premium defensive position.
From the Jersey shore to the Angels' first-round pick, Trout makes scouts think of
Anderson's star dimmed in 2009, but he still has a smooth, left-handed swing and power potential. His Double-A struggles may indicate that he's more of a solid regular than a star.
Flores won't be a shortstop long-term, and scouts are mixed on whether he can stay in the infield. They agree that he can hit and should show big power down the line.
He's not technically a rookie because of service time, but Gamel has yet to establish himself in Milwaukee. Look for that to happen this year thanks to his line-drive bat.
Darnell's mix of raw power and athletic ability has evoked comparisons to
The best pitcher in a thin Astros organization, Lyles has shown three average pitches with the potential for more, and he fills up the bottom of the strike zone.
After helping Stanford reach the College World Series in 2008 as a freshman closer, Storen pitched his way into the first round in 2009 and has a premium slider to go with a good fastball.
Aumont earned comparisons to
The biggest catch in the international talent pool last year was made by Minnesota, which loves Sano's power bat, size and throwing arm.
Cashner has flashed near-100 mph heat and a plus breaking ball in shorter stints and looks like a reliever long-term. He gave up only one homer in 2009.
While he's just a fair athlete, Neal stands out -- particularly with the Giants -- for having a polished offensive game with patience and power.
The son of a scout, Bourjos has premium speed and defensive tools in center field, and while he has raw power, he employs a small-ball approach that should endear him to
The Cubs found this Furman product in the ninth round and he finished last season in Triple-A. If
There's hope in Baltimore thanks to a bevy of young pitchers such as Arrieta, who has a live fastball that at times sits in the mid-90s.
Another Cuban defector highly regarded for his live arm and athletic ability, having earned comparisons to a pre-Tommy John surgery