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Heyward, Strasburg lead Baseball America's Top 100 prospects

This is Baseball America's 21st annual Top 100 Prospects list, our definitive annual ranking of the best professional talent in baseball below the major league level. And this year we're turning the focus of the list to the best tool for each player. We'll highlight that tool, as well as giving it a grade on the 20-80 scouting scale -- where 20 is the worst, 80 the best and 50 major league average.

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 Will Lingo and John Manuel, executive editor Jim Callis and assistant editor Conor Glassey. Each compiled a top 150 list, and we then reviewed the composite numbers and made adjustments before locking down the final list.

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 here.

RELATED CONTENT:How have previous Top 100 prospects fared in their careers?

Age: 20Major League ETA: 2010Best Tool: BatBA Grade: 80

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.

Age: 21Major League ETA: Mid-2010Best Tool: FastballBA Grade: 80

Strasburg has a premium breaking ball, and his fastball is the minors' best in terms of velocity, command and liveliness.

Age: 20Major League ETA: Mid-2010Best Tool: PowerBA Grade: 80

Another prototypical right fielder like Heyward; Stanton is stronger and perhaps more athletic, but lacks Heyward's pure hitting ability.

Age: 20Major League ETA: 2011Best Tool: PowerBA Grade: 80

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.

Age: 23Major League ETA: 2010Best Tool: ChangeupBA Grade: 70

The most big-league-ready pitcher on the list. Matusz's changeup, slider and curveball all rate above-average, as does his fastball command.

Age: 23Major League ETA: Mid-2010Best Tool: SpeedBA Grade: 80

Another athletic, well-rounded Rays outfielder, but Jennings isn't raw, especially in terms of his polished offensive approach.

Age: 23Major League ETA: Mid-2010Best Tool: BatBA Grade: 70

The best hitter the Giants have drafted since Matt Williams. Posey's defense (specifically handling velocity) is the last major improvement he needs to make.

Age: 23Major League ETA:Mid-2010Best Tool: PowerBA Grade: 80

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.

Age: 21Major League ETA: 2010Best Tool: FastballBA Grade: 80

The Rangers' power pitcher has developed a devastating changeup to go with his premium fastball.

Age: 23Major League ETA: 2010Best Tool: PowerBA Grade: 65

Switch-hitter with patience and power who should be ready by the second half of 2010 to handle daily duties behind the dish.

Age: 22Major League ETA: 2011Best Tool: BatBA Grade: 80

The best pure hitter to come out of college baseball since Robin Ventura in the late 1980s should have multiple batting championships in his future, no matter what position he plays.

Age: 23Major League ETA: 2010Best Tool: DefenseBA Grade: 70

He's more ready to make take over as an everyday SS than Elvis Andrus was at the same time last year. His ceiling is lower, but his first season or two should be better.

Age: 23Major League ETA: Mid-2010Best Tool: BatBA Grade: 70

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.

Age: 20Major League ETA: Mid-2010Best Tool: FastballBA Grade: 65

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.

Age: 22Major League ETA: 2011Best Tool: ArmBA Grade: 70

He's not ready defensively, and the Phillies have Raul Ibanez and Jayson Werth set for 2010. But Brown's lanky, athletic body and hitting tools could make him Philly's next star.

Age: 20Major League ETA:2011Best Tool: BatBA Grade: 65

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.

Age: 19Major League ETA:Mid-2011Best Tool: CurveballBA Grade: 65

Still a teenager, Perez has scouts dreaming on his three out-pitches: fastball, curve and changeup.

Age: 22Major League ETA:Mid-2010Best Tool: CommandBA Grade: 65

"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.

Age: 20Major League ETA:Mid-2011Best Tool: ArmBA Grade: 75

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.

Age: 22Major League ETA:2010.Best Tool: BatBA Grade: 65

An alum of Albert Pujols' junior college, Morrison has the hitting ability to seize Florida's first-base job as soon as he's ready.

Age: 19Major League ETA:2012Best Tool: SpeedBA Grade: 70

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.

Age: 22Major League ETA:Mid-2010Best Tool: FastballBA Grade: 80

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.

Age: 19Major League ETA:2012Best Tool: FastballBA Grade: 65

Matzek uses an old-school delivery but delivers 21st-century heat with a fastball that at times reaches 98 mph.

Age: 20Major League ETA:Mid-2011Best Tool: CommandBA Grade: 70

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.

Age: 22Major League ETA:Mid-2010Best Tool: CurveballBA Grade: 70

Having had to live up to his big league name, now Drabek has to live up to being the main cog in the Roy Halladay trade.

RELATED CONTENT:Now or never for former top prospects

Age: 18Major League ETA:2012Best Tool: FastballBA Grade: 70

A Missouri prep product, Turner's prep catcher was Mike Matheny's son, and Todd Worrell was his high school pitching coach.

Age: 23Major League ETA:Mid-2010Best Tool: BatBA Grade: 70

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.

Age: 23Major League ETA:Mid-2010Best Tool: PowerBA Grade: 75

Oakland's utter lack of big league power screams out for Carter, a key piece from Arizona in the Dan Haren trade.

Age: 24Major League ETA:Mid-2010Best Tool: BatBA Grade: 65

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.

Age: 23Major League ETA:2010Best Tool: PowerBA Grade: 60

Another alum of the Mariners' international house of prospects, this Canadian has no true weakness and should wind up an above-average offensive player.

Age: 21Major League ETA:Mid-2011Best Tool: BatBA Grade: 60The Indians are in full rebuilding mode, and Chisenhall -- a smooth left-handed hitter with power and athletic ability -- should be a cornerstone.

Age: 20Major League ETA:2011Best Tool: BatBA Grade: 60

He's barely shaving, yet Freeman already provides a powerful wingman for Jason Heyward and should follow him to Atlanta next year.

Age: 22Major League ETA:2011Best Tool: CurveballBA Grade: 60

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.

Age: 24Major League ETA:2010Best Tool: FastballBA Grade: 65

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.

Age: 20Major League ETA:2012Best Tool: FastballBA Grade: 65

Another Rays pitching prospect, the third member of the top 35. He has held minor leaguers to a .180 average through 198 career innings.

Age: 21Major League ETA:2012Best Tool: SliderBA Grade: 70

Parker will miss 2010 due to ligament replacement surgery in his throwing elbow. When healthy, his fastball and slider earned 70 grades from scouts.

Age: 23Major League ETA: Mid-2010Best Tool: PowerBA Grade: 60

Baltimore bought the power-hitting Bell time with veteran offseason acquisitions, giving him time to work on his defense and right-handed swing.

Age: 21Major League ETA: 2012Best Tool: PowerBA Grade: 60

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.

Age: 20Major League ETA: Mid-2011Best Tool: FastballMajor League ETA: 60

The Royals haven't had much player-development success of late to go with Zack Greinke. Can they harness this powerful left-handed arm?

Age: 23Major League ETA: 2011Best Tool: FastballBA Grade: 65

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.

Age: 22Major League ETA:Mid-2010Best Tool: BatBA Grade: 60

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.

Age: 23Major League ETA:2011Best Tool: FastballBA Grade: 70

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.

Age: 24Major League ETA:Mid-2010Best Tool: PowerBA Grade: 60

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.

Age: 24Major League ETA:2011Best Tool: FastballBA Grade: 70

The key to Boston's acquisition of catcher Victor Martinez last July, Hagadone was Tim Lincecum's closer at Washington, and as a starter now, he has three plus pitches at times.

Age: 22Major League ETA:2011Best Tool: BatBA Grade: 65

A bad-bodied pure hitter, Alonso might be ready before the Reds have decided what to do between him and incumbent Joey Votto.

Age: 21Major League ETA:2012Best Tool: SpeedBA Grade: 80

Perhaps the minors' fastest actual prospect, Gordon has a lithe, athletic body that doesn't evoke his big league dad, Tom (Flash) Gordon.

Age: 21Major League ETA:Mid-2011Best Tool: FastballBA Grade: 70

Another athletic pitcher, Crosby has well above-average velocity for a left-hander and is a prime candidate for a breakout 2010 season.

Age: 21Major League ETA:Mid-2011Best Tool: FastballBA Grade: 70

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.

Age: 19Major League ETA:2012Best Tool: FastballBA Grade: 60

The Giants' next wave of prospects after Bumgarner and Posey starts with Wheeler, a live-armed Georgia prep product in the Adam Wainwright tradition.

Age: 19Major League ETA:2012Best Tool: FastballBA Grade: 65

A Texas flamethrower, Miller has reached 97 mph with his fastball and stands out in an otherwise thin Cardinals farm system.

Age: 19Major League ETA:Mid-2012Best Tool: FastballBA Grade: 65

Scouts have buzzed about this Colombian's live arm since the Braves signed him for $850,000 in 2007.

Age: 22Major League ETA:Mid-2011Best Tool: BatBA Grade: 60

Scouts are mixed on how high Green's upside might be, but they agree that he's an athletic middle infielder.

Age: 19Major League ETA:2012Best Tool: SpeedBA Grade: 70

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.

Age: 24Major League ETA:2010Best Tool: DefenseBA Grade: 60

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.

Age: 21Major League ETA:Mid-2011Best Tool: SpeedBA Grade: 70

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.

Age: 20Major League ETA:2011Best Tool: FastballBA Grade: 70

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.

Age: 21Major League ETA:Mid-2011Best Tool: FastballBA Grade: 65

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.

Age: 22Major League ETA:2011Best Tool: ArmBA Grade: 70

As long as Joe Mauer is in town, Minnesota doesn't exactly have a pressing need behind the plate, which makes Ramos -- a Venezuelan with plus raw power, good size and a cannon arm -- excellent trade bait.

Age: 20Major League ETA:Mid-2011Best Tool: PowerBA Grade: 65

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.

Age: 24Major League ETA:Mid-2010Best Tool: PowerBA Grade: 65

Acquired from Atlanta in the 2008 Javier Vazquez trade, Flowers has improved defensively but has enough of a bat to succeed even if he gives up the tools of ignorance.

Age: 22Major League ETA:2011Best Tool: SliderBA Grade: 65

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.

Age: 23Major League ETA:Mid-2010Best Tool: PowerBA Grade: 65

The son of ex-big league reliever Ron Davis focuses on hitting for power as a pro and helped lead Team USA to the World Cup gold medal last September.

Age: 22Major League ETA:Mid-2011Best Tool: SinkerBA Grade: 65

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.

Age: 19Major League ETA:2012Best Tool: FastballBA Grade: 70

Knapp was the most talented minor leaguer the Phillies sent to Cleveland in the Cliff Lee trade, but he has also already had shoulder surgery. When he's right, he has shown three plus pitches.

Age: 21Major League ETA:Mid-2011Best Tool: SplitterBA Grade: 65

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.

Age: 23Major League ETA:2010Best Tool: CommandBA Grade: 65

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.

Age: 20Major League ETA:2012Best Tool: PowerBA Grade: 60

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.

Age: 21Major League ETA:Mid-2012Best Tool: FastballBA Grade: 70

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.

Age: 19Major League ETA:Mid-2012Best Tool: CurveballBA Grade: 70

The key to the Javier Vazquez deal from Atlanta's standpoint was the live-armed Vizcaino, who has a fastball that reaches the mid-90s to go with an excellent curveball.

Age: 20Major League ETA:2012Best Tool: PowerBA Grade: 65

While his approach is a bit too aggressive, Vitters hit for impressive power in 2009. He has time to grow into his role as Aramis Ramirez's eventual replacement.

Age: 22Major League ETA:Mid-2010Best Tool: ChangeupBA Grade: 60

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.

Age: 22Major League ETA:2011Best Tool: CommandBA Grade: 70

Leake has evoked Tim Hudson comparisons for a couple of years for his ability to manipulate the baseball; his only question mark is holding up after a heavy college workload (340-plus innings in three seasons).

Age: 19Major League ETA:2012Best Tool: DefenseBA Grade: 60

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.

Age: 21Major League ETA:Mid-2011Best Tool: PowerBA Grade: 65

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.

Age: 23Major League ETA:Mid-2010Best Tool: ArmBA Grade: 70

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.

Age: 23Major League ETA:2010Best Tool: BatBA Grade: 60

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 Curtis Granderson deal.

Age: 21Major League ETA:Mid-2010Best Tool: PowerBA Grade: 60

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.

Age: 19Major League ETA:2012Best Tool: FastballBA Grade: 60

The Marlins love Oklahoma when it comes to draft time (see Josh Johnson), and they popped the live-armed southpaw James in the first round last year.

Age: 21Major League ETA:Mid-2011Best Tool: DefenseBA Grade: 70

Considered a bit of a reach when drafted fourth overall last year, Sanchez has quickly shown that he belongs, with big league-caliber defense.

Age: 21Major League ETA:Mid-2011Best Tool: PowerBA Grade: 70

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.

Age: 21Major League ETA:2012Best Tool: PowerBA Grade: 60

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 Roy Halladay trade.

Age: 20Major League ETA:Mid-2011Best Tool: BatBA Grade: 65

He might be the worst athlete on the list, but Decker's hitting ability, patience and power evoke comparisons to Matt Stairs and John Kruk.

Age: 25Major League ETA:2010Best Tool: ArmBA Grade: 60

Kenji Johjima's return to Japan has opened a spot behind the plate in Seattle. Moore's solid tools and fairly accomplished bat should allow him to seize the starting job.

Age: 22Major League ETA:2011Best Tool: PowerBA Grade: 60

Conger's defense could use some polishing, but when he has been healthy he has shown switch-hitting power at a premium defensive position.

Age: 18Major League ETA:Mid-2012Best Tool: SpeedBA Grade: 75

From the Jersey shore to the Angels' first-round pick, Trout makes scouts think of Aaron Rowand with his all-out style; he also has top-of-the-line speed.

Age: 21Major League ETA:Mid-2011Best Tool: ArmBA Grade: 60

Jesus Montero is the better prospect, but Romine is the better defender and more likely to succeed Jorge Posada in New York. He's the son of ex-big leaguer Kevin Romine.

Age: 22Major League ETA:Mid-2011Best Tool: PowerBA Grade: 60

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.

Age: 18Major League ETA:Mid-2012Best Tool: PowerBA Grade: 60

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.

Age: 24Major League ETA:2010Best Tool: BatBA Grade: 60

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.

Age: 23Major League ETA:Mid-2011Best Tool: PowerBA Grade: 60

Darnell's mix of raw power and athletic ability has evoked comparisons to Ryan Braun, but he doesn't quite have that kind of upside.

Age: 19Major League ETA:2012Best Tool: CommandBA Grade: 60

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.

Age: 22Major League ETA:Mid-2010Best Tool: SliderBA Grade: 65

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.

Age: 21Major League ETA:Mid-2011Best Tool: SinkerBA Grade: 65

Aumont earned comparisons to Kevin Brown as a Canadian amateur and will return to a starting role with the Phillies after coming over in the Cliff Lee deal.

Age: 16Major League ETA:2013Best Tool: ArmBA Grade: 70

The biggest catch in the international talent pool last year was made by Minnesota, which loves Sano's power bat, size and throwing arm.

Age: 23Major League ETA:Mid-2010Best Tool: FastballBA Grade: 75

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.

Age: 22Major League ETA:Mid-2011Best Tool: BatBA Grade: 60

While he's just a fair athlete, Neal stands out -- particularly with the Giants -- for having a polished offensive game with patience and power.

Age: 23Major League ETA:2011Best Tool: SpeedBA Grade: 70

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 Mike Scioscia.

Age: 22Major League ETA:2011Best Tool: FastballBA Grade: 60

The Cubs found this Furman product in the ninth round and he finished last season in Triple-A. If Jeff Samardzija struggles in the rotation, watch for Jackson as soon as this year.

Age: 24Major League ETA:Mid-2010Best Tool: FastballBA Grade: 60

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.

Age: 20Major League ETA:2012Best Tool: FastballBA Grade: 60

Another Cuban defector highly regarded for his live arm and athletic ability, having earned comparisons to a pre-Tommy John surgery Francisco Liriano.

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