Found this today while doing some searching for news on Reds minor league stuff. Found it interesting.
Originally Posted by Dayn Perry of Fox SportsWith the 2006 season just around the bend, let's take a look at the top 10 "make or break" prospects in the game today.
These pups have undeniable promise, but they've been sidetracked by injuries, lackluster performance or both. In 2006, they'll need to be both healthy and effective, or they risk sliding off the prospect radar. So here are your make-or-breakers for the upcoming season ...
1. Cole Hamels, LHP, Phillies, Age: 22 Acquired: 1st round, 2002, Rancho Bernardo HS (San Diego, CA)
Hamels has jaw-dropping stuff on the mound, but he's been unable to stay healthy throughout his career. Over the last two seasons, Hamels has worked a total of only 51 innings, and a stress fracture in his back ended his 2005 campaign. Still, consider the career numbers: 152 innings, 1.54 ERA, 208 strikeouts and only two home runs allowed. Hamels' changeup is one of the best in the minors, but in 2006 he must stay off the DL.
2. Adam Loewen, LHP, Orioles, Age: 21 Acquired: 1st round, 2002, Chipola College
Loewen has excellent stuff and plenty of glowing scouting reports in his favor, but the numbers just haven't been there. Last season, Loewen walked 86 batters in 142 innings and didn't show much better command in the Arizona Fall League. If Loewen could repeat his delivery more consistently, his numbers would improve. It's time for that to happen.
3. James Loney, 1B, Dodger, Age: 21 Acquired: 1st round, 2002, Elkins HS (Missouri City, TX)
Loney has a picture-perfect swing, quick wrists through the zone and good raw-power skills. On the downside, he's been hurt often, and, in a related matter, he's yet to produce on an extended basis. Still, Loney picked up the pace in the second half last season, and he's a Gold Glove-caliber defender at first. This spring, he tore it up in Grapefruit League play (32 ABs, .438 AVG, .625 SLG). If he's able to avoid injury, then Loney might have that long-awaited breakout season. Keep in mind he's still only 21.
4. Homer Bailey, RHP, Reds, Age: 19 Acquired: 1st round, 2004, La Grange HS (La Grange, TX)
Another in a seemingly endless line of fire-balling prep-trained Texas right-handers, Bailey has the fastball, but he lacks command of his breaking stuff. Bailey struggled with his control last season at Low-A Dayton, but he did manage to whiff 125 batters in 103 innings. He could get a taste of Double-A later in the year, and it's time for the gifted Bailey to make the leap from project to prospect.
5. Eric Duncan, 3B, Yankees, Age: 21 Acquired: 1st round, 2003, Seton Hall Prep HS (West Orange, NJ)
In 2004, Duncan broke out with a strong season at Low-A Battle Creek and High-A Tampa. Last season, however, Duncan took a step back. At AA-Trenton, he put up a batting line of .231 AVG/.319 OBP/.403. Those numbers are quite so bad when you consider he was a 20-year-old toiling in the high minors, but that doesn't completely explain them away. To boot, Duncan will likely be moved to first base, which means his offensive onus is that much greater. He'll probably open the 2006 season at AAA-Columbus, and he'll need to make serious strides.
6. Michael Aubrey, 1B, Indians, Age: 23 Acquired: 1st round, 2003, Tulane
Most scouts thought Aubrey was the second-most gifted college hitter in the 2003 draft (behind only Rickie Weeks). He's occasionally shown flashes of that promise, but overall Aubrey has been a bit of a disappointment. Aubrey is a skilled defender, and he can hit for average. However, the secondary skills are lacking. He's been unable to command the strike zone or hit for power in the high minors, and he also missed time with a back injury last season. He could be John Olerud, or he could be Rico Brogna. The 2006 season will help us figure out which one.
7. Philip Humber, RHP, Mets, Age: 23 Acquired: 1st round, 2004, Rice
Humber, the third overall pick of the 2004 draft, struggled in his first professional season and then was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery. This spring, Humber has enjoyed a handful of promising bullpen sessions, but he won't be ready for game action until late May at the earliest. Humber boasts a plus fastball and plus overhand curve, but he needs to show better command and, of course, avoid further injury.
8. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Padres, Age: 23 Acquired: 1st round, 2000, Eastside HS (Chula Vista, CA)
Gonzalez just barely exhausted his rookie status last season, so he's not technically still a prospect. Still, he's facing a critical minor league campaign. Gonzalez has a great glove at first, and he can hit for average. However, he hasn't yet displayed adequate power for the position. Gonzalez will open the season in Triple-A for the fourth straight year, and he must show progress in the power department, or he's never going to forge a career as a major league regular.
9. Kyle Sleeth, RHP, Tigers, Age: 24 Acquired: 1st round, 2003, Wake Forest
Sleeth, coming out of college, boasted blazing fastball and a pair of plus breaking pitches. Since becoming a pro, however, Sleeth has underwhelmed on the mound and undergone major elbow surgery. In 2004, Sleeth struggled badly after a promotion to AA-Erie, and Tommy John surgery caused him to miss all of last season. He's slated to return to the mound by perhaps late April, and he needs to prove he's healthy and effective once again. If he improves his mechanics, Sleeth could still be a force, but his long-term future may be in the bullpen.
10. Matt Bush, SS, Padres, Age: 20 Acquired: 1st round, 2004, Mission Bay HS (San Diego, CA)
The pressing concern at this point is not whether Bush will be a quality major leaguer; it's whether Bush will be regarded as the biggest draft bust in the annals of the game. The top overall pick of the '04 draft has admirable defensive skills at short, but his bat is awful. Last season at Low-A Fort Wayne, Bush "hit" .221 AVG/.274 OBP/.276 SLG, and he looked lost in limited spring-training action. He's in real danger of becoming the first top overall pick to fail to make the majors since Brien Taylor in 1991.