STOP and read . . .

I recently wrote a blog on the top five prospects in the MLB just yesterday.  Click on the following link to see:

The rules are that players must have no MLB expirience and they must currently have a contract or are under a team's signing rights (such as an unsigned draft pick from this year).  Let's begin.

Brian Matusz 6. SP Brian Matusz, AA Bowie Baysox.  MLB Affiliate: Baltimore Orioles

What isn't to love about Matusz?  He's a 22-year old southpaw who has a 1.91 ERA this year in his first year of pro ball.  He is also 7-0 in Double A this year while averaging one strikeout per inning.  But hey, it's only minor leagues, those stats don't tell anything.  But what about these stats, in the Arizona Fall League, Matusz had a 4.13 K/BB ratio and 10.47 K/9.  The kid also has four great pitches, all which he can throw good and throw for strikes, which is very rare in the major leagues this day.  Matusz is the real deal, you may be looking at the next AL strikeout king.  (Note: Matusz will be making his first MLB start today so, as of now, he is still eligible for this list).

MLB Comparison: Cole Hamels

Alcides Escobar 7. SS Alcides Escobar, AAA Nashville Sounds.  MLB Affiliate: Milwaukee Brewers

After six years in the minors, you would think that Escobar would be fully developed.  The 22 year old is great in some aspects of the game but very raw in others.  For one thing, he is super fast.  He has stolen 171 bases in his minor league career.  But wait, he has also been caught 60 times!  Another thing is that he has pretty good contact, he hit .328 last year and throughout his minor league career, he has hit .294.  The contact is good but how about some power (18 total HR for his career) or discipline (.332 OBP)?  There are some concerns on the offensive side but on the defensive, everything is taken care of.  He is the best defensive shortstop in the minors and has a great arm.  He'll great on defense and a good starter but he could range anywhere from a .250 to .320 major league average.  Expect maybe 50 stolen bases per year.

MLB Comparison: Jose Reyes

 8. 1B Justin Smoak, AAA Oklahoma Redhawks.  MLB Affiliate: Texas Rangers

Smoak is definitely a hit or miss prospect.  He has had an injury that set back his development and hasn't really been at the pro level enough for scouts to see what he has.  Smoak has shown glimpses of why the Rangers picked him 11th in the 2008 draft.  Smoak has hit 11 home runs, 49 runs batted in with a .297 average in under 300 at-bats.  And as discipline goes, you can't find much better.  The 22-year old switch hitter has a minor league career .400 OBP.  Smoak is also a decent fielder, he makes the plays he needs to make but has limited range.  Look for Smoak to become an annual 30-HR hitter in the majors with a decent average around .280.  He could be a great one, it's hard to tell.

MLB Comparison: Mark Teixeira

Tim Beckham 9. SS Tim Beckham, A Bowling Green Hot Rods.  MLB Affiliate: Tampa Bay Rays

Beckham hasn't really done much to wow anyone at the pro level yet, he's hitting just .272 this year and hasn't shown the power or speed everyone has been talking about.  The thing is that Beckham is a very raw prospect, which is what you'll get at 19 years of age.  Still, Beckham can do it all.  He could easily be a .300 hitter in the majors and has good power which is rare to see from a slender shortstop like him.  He has speed to burn, but it's definitely second fiddle to fellow top prospect Alcides Escobar.  His fielding isn't fantastic but it is very good and there are no doubts that he will continue playing shortstop in the majors, unlike other minor league shortstops.  In a year or two from now, Beckham would be 1 or 2 on this list, it's just going to take a while.  A 20-20 guy for sure with a .300 bat.

MLB Comparison: Derek Jeter

Jarrod Parker 10. SP Jarrod Parker, High A Visalia Oaks.  MLB Affiliate: Arizona Diamondbacks

Jarrod Parker can pack the heat, his fastball touches 98 mph on a good day.  You see this occasionally for a set-up man or closer but most starting pitchers can barely touch 95 or 96.  In Parker's short minor league career, he has played anywhere from Triple A to Low Single A.  He has done great at all levels, it's just that Arizona is being extra careful, and why not?  Parker currently is posting a .95 ERA in High Single A and has averaged a strikeout per inning throughout his career.  He also has great, if not excellent, command.  Pitching isn't the only thing Parker can do.  He has a .250 career minor league batting average and is one of the better defensive pitchers in the minors.

MLB Comparison: Roy Oswalt


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