Baseball America is my go to site when it comes to prospects in the Minors. Each year, they give a ranking of the top players in each organization, including a top 10 list and the top tools in the organization, which is free on their website. Below are the top players, one per organization as rated at the beginning of the 2011 season with the statistics and location of the player now.
Baltimore: Manny Machado, SS: Low-A; 18-years-old; Machado drew comparisons to ARod, as he is 6’3″, 185 lbs. and has power while playing SS. He is matching the comparisons so far, hitting .303/.400/.546 in 119 AB with 7 2B, 2 3B, 6 HR, and 24 RBI in 32 games, as he missed time due to a dislocated kneecap. Machado is a powerful bat at a premium position. He should move quickly.
Boston: Jose Iglesias, SS (traded Casey Kelly to SD): Triple-A; 21-years-old; Iglesias is a slick fielding SS who has the potential to have decent gap power. He had a brief audition when Marco Scutaro was on the DL, but Jed Lowrie was playing every day at that point, so he didn’t have much of a role. Iglesias is hitting just .229 in 166 AB with just 1 Extra-Base hit. He has also only drawn just 8 walks to 25 strikeouts. Slick fielding, indeed.
N.Y. Yankees: Jesus Montero, C: Triple-A; 21-years-old; Montero, a catcher by trade but eventual DH due to defensive struggles, is close to the Majors. He is hitting .293/.339/.424 in 205 AB with 10 2B and 5 HR. The power hasn’t been there like in previous seasons, which is interesting considering that this is his 2nd season in Triple-A. Montero has the potential to be a star, even playing DH his whole career. The Yankees kept him for a reason, right?
Tampa Bay: Jeremy Hellickson, RHP: Majors; 24-years-old; Hellickson is 7-4 with a 3.03 ERA in 12 starts for the Rays. He is living up to those expectations that others put on him during a very successful Minor League career. He looks like a solid complement to David price for years to come in Tampa.
Toronto: Kyle Drabek, RHP: Majors; 23-years-old; Drabek has been brutal over his last 11 starts for Toronto. He is currently 4-5 with a 5.70 ERA in 72 2/3 IP, striking out 48, while walking 52…ouch. Drabek and Casey Kelly seem to be on the same career path, over-hyped innings eaters with nothing spectacular on the numbers in the Minors. Drabek has had more success than Kelly, though (besides already being in the Bigs). He should balance out to become a solid #3 or #4 long-term.
Chicago: Chris Sale, LHP: Majors; 22-years-old; Sale made 11 appearances in the Minors before heading to the Bigs, where he has solidified himself as a solid bullpen arm already. Over 45 appearances and 48 2/3 IP, Sale is 4-1 with a 3.33 ERA and a 56/24 K/BB. He should start at some point in his career, but are the White Sox going to go to a 7 man rotation anytime soon?
Cleveland: Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B: Triple-A; 22-years-old; Chisenhall has really been struggling lately, hitting just .186 in June and .250 overall, with 14 2B, 2 3B, 5 HR and 30 RBI. If he was hitting at all, he’d probably be up right now, as Jack Hannahan isn’t a long-term option for the Tribe and they need help right now…bad.
Detroit: Jacob Turner, RHP: Double-A; 20-years-old; Turner has pitched very well for a 20-year-old in Double-A, going 1-1 with a 3.05 ERA and a 61/18 K/BB in 73 2/3 IP. He is on the same career path as Rick Porcello, meaning, the Tigers will be super aggressive with him and he could be up in September of this year. He may even have a rotation spot next Spring.
Kansas City: Eric Hosmer, 1B: Majors; 21-years-old; a .439 AVG in Triple-A made it impossible for the Royals to keep Hosmer down. Hosmer has more than held his own at the Major League level, hitting .284/.335/.446 with 7 2B, 5 HR, and 21 RBI in 35 games. He is a future All-Star, superstar, and irreplacable part to the Royals future.
Minnesota: Kyle Gibson, RHP: Triple-A; 23-years-old; Gibson was a gamble when the Twins took him 22nd overall in the 2009 Draft, as he has a stress fracture in his arm. The gamble has paid off. Gibson is 3-6 with a 3.79 ERA in 13 starts, and a 74/17 K/BB over 71 1/3 IP. He should be up by the end of the year, probably not too far from now, as the Twins look to rebound from a miserable start.
Los Angeles: Mike Trout, OF: Double-A; 19-years-old; What can be said of Trout…the kid can hit, mash, and run like the wind, though, wind doesn’t run. He is hitting .327/.430/.551 as one of the youngest players in Double-A. He has 9 2B, 8 3B, 7 HR, 21 RBI, and 22 SB. He will become one of those 20 HR/50 SB rarities for the Angels. He should be up in September and it will be hard to not give him a job next season.
Oakland: Grant Green, SS: Double-A; 23-years-old; Green is hitting .288/.337/.389 in 226 AB, with 15 2B, 2 HR, and 28 RBI. He did really well last season in the hitter’s paradise California League (.318, 39 2B, 20 HR, 87 RBI), so the talent is there. He won’t hit 20 HR in Oakland’s spacious stadium, but he should be a very important part of the A’s lineup by next Spring.
Seattle: Dustin Ackley, 2B: Triple-A; 23-years-old; Ackley should be up for good in the next couple of weeks, if not days. He is hitting .297/.415/.487 with 17 2B, 9 HR, and 32 RBI. He could move to the outfield, where he starred before an arm injury in college, down the road, but he is a star in the middle infield the moment he arrives in Seattle.
Texas: Martin Perez, LHP: Double-A; 20-years-old; Perez is repeating Double-A, as he was just 19 when he struggled there last season (his birthday is in April). He is 4-1 with a 3.03 ERA and 68/27 K/BB in 71 1/3 IP. His size (6′, 178) will limit his projectability from experts, but his stuff will make him a left-handed version of Roy Oswalt or Tim Lincecum.