At about this time a year ago, I went back into the archives and dug up the 2001 Top 50 Prospects article, reprinted with new comments. Well, here's the 2002 list, except there are no new comments this time. Everything is left unchanged from when it was originally posted five years ago. Frankly, this is the worst list I've done and I have little desire to revisit it in full. Also, I'm in full-on magazine mode right now, which means I'm taking a break from the column until Jan. 22. Beginning then, I'll be running through my top 10 prospects by team, one division at a time, in anticipation of the 2007 Top 150 in early March.
So, here's the list. Players are presented along with their ages as of Opening Day 2002 and their rankings in the top 50s I had done the previous January and midseason.
Top 100 Prospects
1. Josh Beckett - RHP Marlins - Age 21 - Preseason #7 - Midseason #1 - ETA: Now
6-0, 1.23 ERA, 32 H, 101/15 K/BB in 65 2/3 IP for Single-A Brevard County
8-1, 1.82 ERA, 50 H, 102/19 K/BB in 74 1/3 IP for Double-A Portland
2-2, 1.50 ERA, 14 H, 24/11 K/BB in 24 IP for Florida
There's little left to write about baseball's top prospect. Beckett was one of the top performers in the minors last season and shined during a September callup. He has four plus pitches, including a mid-90s fastball. Only injuries can get in his way. He did battle elbow problems in 2000. If he stays healthy, he may only be two years away from contending for a Cy Young.
2. Hank Blalock - 3B Rangers - Age 21 - Preseason NR - Midseason #11 - ETA: May 2002
.380, 7 HR, 47 RBI, 31/26 K/BB, 7 SB in 237 AB for Single-A Charlotte
.327, 11 HR, 61RBI, 38/39 K/BB, 3 SB in 272 AB for Double-A Tulsa
.344, 11 HR, 36 RBI, 20/19 K/BB, 5 SB in 122 AB for Peoria of the AFL
Blalock was not only awesome in the minors, but he was also the best hitter in the Arizona Fall League. He's now the top prospect in the American League. Blalock should be playing third base for the Rangers prior to the All-Star break. He has room to improve defensively, but he should be above average in time. Expect greatness.
3. Sean Burroughs - 3B Padres - Age 21 - Preseason #1 - Midseason #2 - ETA: Now
.322, 9 HR, 55 RBI, 54/37 K/BB, 9 SB in 394 AB for Triple-A Portland
My No.1 overall prospect a year ago, it's through no fault of his own that he's fallen a couple notches. In fact, he's a better prospect now than he was then. He hit .322 in the Pacific Coast League as a 20-year-old and began to show better power. Burroughs is expected to become San Diego's third baseman next season. It will be a couple years before he's a star in fantasy leagues, but he should be a decent player immediately.
4. Nick Johnson - 1B Yankees - Age 23 - Preseason #5 - Midseason #4 - ETA: Now
.256, 18 HR, 49 RBI, 105/81 K/BB, 9 SB in 359 AB for Triple-A Columbus
.194, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 15/7 K/BB in 67 AB for New York (AL)
.314, 6 HR, 33 RBI, 40/17 K/BB, 0 SB in 121 AB for Peoria of the AFL
Still the top first-base prospect in baseball, Johnson is an on-base machine. His power is below average for a first baseman, but it will continue to develop. At worst, he'll be Sean Casey. A Jeff Bagwell-type career is possible. Even though he's a better fielder than Jason Giambi, he'll spend 2002 as the Yankees' DH.
5. Mark Prior - RHP Cubs - Age 21 - Preseason NR - Midseason NR - ETA: Sept. 2002
Prior, the second overall pick in the 2001 draft, did not pitch after coming to terms with the Cubs in August. Considering just how hard he had been worked while at USC, that was probably for the best. However, it pretty much eliminated any chance of Prior fitting into the Cubs' plans for 2002. Prior has excellent command of a mid-90s fastball and a first-rate curve. He could be ready to pitch for the Cubs after the All-Star break, but it's quite likely that they won't need him until 2003.
6. Wilson Betemit - SS Braves - Age 20 - Preseason #42 - Midseason #38 - ETA: Sept. 2002
.277, 7 HR, 43 RBI, 71/23 K/BB, 8 SB in 318 AB for Single-A Myrtle Beach
.355, 5 HR, 19 RBI, 36/12 K/BB, 6 SB in 183 AB for Double-A Greenville
.000, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 3/2 K/BB, 1 SB in 3 AB for Atlanta
Betemit was a bit of a disappointment while playing for Myrtle Beach, but his stint in Double-A was nearly good enough to earn him a starting job in Atlanta this season. Before signing Vinny Castilla, the Braves had considered making Betemit their shortstop, pushing Rafael Furcal to third base and Chipper Jones to left. Eventually, it will probably be Betemit who ends up at third base. Either way, he's an outstanding prospect, but one who could probably use a few more months in the minors.
7. Juan Cruz - RHP Cubs - Age 21 - Preseason #46 - Midseason #27 - ETA: Now
9-6, 4.01 ERA, 107 H, 137/60 K/BB in 121 1/3 IP for Double-A West Tenn
3-1, 3.22 ERA, 40 H, 39/17 K/BB in 44 2/3 IP for Chicago (NL)
Though he was inconsistent in Double-A, Cruz shined after being called up to the Cubs in August and is the team's fourth starter heading into 2002. Cruz's stuff is even better than Prior's. His fastball reaches 96 mph, and his slider can be devastating. He also has a better changeup than Prior. However, he does have some problems with control, walking a batter nearly every other inning last season. He's talented enough to survive while doing that, but he won't be truly great until he spots his pitches better.
8. Ryan Anderson - LHP Mariners - Age 22 - Preseason #3 - Midseason #7 - ETA: June 2002
Anderson missed all of 2001 with a torn labrum, but he remains one of the game's finest prospects. Assuming his mid-90s fastball comes back, there's every reason to believe that he'll be an above average starter in the majors before the end of the year. Expect him to spend at least the first two months of 2002 in Triple-A.
9. Joe Borchard - OF White Sox - Age 22 - Preseason NR - Midseason #9 - ETA: Sept. 2002
.414, 0 HR, 8 RBI, 4/4 K/BB, 0 SB in 29 AB for Rookie AZL White Sox
.295, 27 HR, 98 RBI, 158/67 K/BB, 5 SB in 515 AB for Double-A Birmingham
.204, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 11/6 K/BB, 1 SB in 54 AB for Mesa of the AFL
Borchard, the former Stanford quarterback, might have more power potential than anyone in the minors. The big question with him is whether or not he can be a major league center fielder. Borchard is a natural right fielder. He might be adequate in center for teams with quality defenders at the corners, but the White Sox aren't one of those teams. For that reason, Borchard may have to wait until 2003 for his chance. By then, the Sox will have decided which of their outfielders to keep.
10. Mark Teixeira - 3B Rangers - Age 21 - Preseason NR - Midseason NR - ETA: June 2003
Teixeira slipped to the fifth pick in the 2001 draft because of his bonus demands. He's a devastating hitter. Even if he ends up in the outfield, he's a potential All-Star. Teixeira is solid enough defensively to play third base in the majors, but with Blalock ahead of him, he could move to left field. He might need only one full year in the minors.
11. Nick Neugebauer - RHP Brewers - Age 21 - Preseason NR - Midseason #12 - ETA: Now
5-6, 3.46 ERA, 94 H, 149/52 K/BB in 106 2/3 IP for Double-A Huntsville
2-1, 1.50 ERA, 10 H, 26/9 K/BB in 24 IP for Triple-A Indianapolis
1-1, 7.50 ERA, 6 H, 11/6 K/BB in 6 IP for Milwaukee
Neugebauer's stuff rivals Josh Beckett's and Juan Cruz's. He throws in the mid-90s with ease, and his breaking pitch is very difficult to hit. Though his changeup still needs a lot of work, he will be able to succeed as a two-pitch pitcher, at least for a couple years. Neugebauer sustained tears to both his rotator cuff and labrum late last season, making his status uncertain heading into 2002. If he looks good in spring training, he'll be a great pick in fantasy leagues. Health is the only thing standing between him and stardom.
12. Carlos Pena - 1B/OF Rangers - Age 23 - Preseason #30 - Midseason #36 - ETA: Now
.288, 23 HR, 74 RBI, 127/80 K/BB, 11 SB in 431 AB for Triple-A Oklahoma
.258, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 17/10 K/BB, 0 SB in 62 AB for Texas
With Rafael Palmeiro blocking him at first base, the Rangers decided to try Carlos Pena in right field over the winter. He may play the position in 2002, but in the long-term, he's still a first baseman. Pena should be one of the American League's better players for a long time, but like Palmeiro, he might not go to many All-Star games. As a fantasy prospect, there aren't many better.
13. Jon Rauch - RHP White Sox - Age 23 - Preseason #10 - Midseason #10 - ETA: July 2002
1-3, 5.79 ERA, 28 H, 27/7 K/BB in 28 IP for Triple-A Charlotte
Rauch, considered by some to be the top pitching prospect in baseball after 2000, missed most of last season after shoulder surgery. He'll need two or three months in the minors at the start of next year, but he could join the White Sox rotation after the All-Star break. He's a potential ace, but his health is a significant concern.
14. Dennis Tankersley - RHP Padres - Age 23 - Preseason NR - Midseason #14 - ETA: July 2002
5-1, 0.52 ERA, 29 H, 68/12 K/BB in 52 1/3 IP for Single-A Lake Elsinore
4-1, 2.07 ERA, 44 H, 89/24 K/BB in 69 2/3 IP for Double-A Mobile
1-2, 6.91 ERA, 16 H, 16/8 K/BB in 14 1/3 IP for Triple-A Portland
Tankersley, stolen away from the Red Sox in 2000, was one of the top performers in the minors until injuries struck late last season. Tankersley throws multiple fastballs and tops out at 94 mph. His slider is better than his curveball, but both are solid pitches. The re-signing of Kevin Jarvis and acquisition of Brett Tomko have eliminated any chance of Tankersley beginning next season in the majors. That's just as well. He could use some time in Triple-A.
15. Drew Henson - 3B Yankees - Age 22 - Preseason #40 - Midseason #17 - ETA: July 2003
.143, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 7/2 K/BB, 1 SB in 14 AB for Single-A Tampa
.368, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 4/1 K/BB, 0 SB in 19 AB for Double-A Norwich
.222, 11 HR, 38 RBI, 85/10 K/BB, 2 SB in 270 AB for Triple-A Columbus
.314, 6 HR, 33 RBI, 40/17 K/BB, 0 SB in 121 AB for Peoria of the AFL
Henson, the former University of Michigan quarterback, disappointed in Triple-A, but he was very good in the Arizona Fall League. Henson has 40-homer potential. His 85/10 K/BB ratio at Columbus is a cause for concern, but the Yankees will teach him patience. The fall performance had the Yankees considering rushing Henson to the majors. However, the Robin Ventura acquisition will result in Henson getting a full year in Triple-A.
16. Josh Hamilton - OF Devil Rays - Age 20 - Preseason #2 - Midseason #5 - ETA: Sept. 2003
.364, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 3/2 K/BB, 0 SB in 11 AB for Single-A Charleston
.180, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 22/5 K/BB, 2 SB in 89 AB for Double-A Orlando
.000, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 1/1 K/BB, 0 SB in 7 AB for Maryvale of the AFL
Despite his lost season, Hamilton is still clearly Tampa Bay's top prospect. Hamilton, the first overall pick in the 1999 draft, missed much of the year with back problems. Quadriceps and biceps injuries stalled comeback attempts. Hamilton has one of the biggest upsides in the minors. The good news resulting from his injuries is that the Rays will now be less inclined to rush him to the majors. Staying healthy is his most important goal for 2002.
17. Joe Mauer - C Twins - Age 18 - Preseason NR - Midseason NR - ETA: 2005
.400, 0 HR, 14 RBI, 10/19 K/BB, 4 SB in 110 AB for Rookie Elizabethton
You can argue about the order, but no team has five prospects who set themselves apart from the pack like the Twins do. Mauer was the first overall pick in 2001. The Twins caught some flack for picking him over Mark Prior. It was a financially-driven move, but one that might not turn out too badly. Mauer isn't going to be ready for three or four years, but he's already the top catching prospect in the minors.
18. Austin Kearns - OF Reds - Age 21 - Preseason #29 - Midseason #46 - ETA: April 2003
.174, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 7/2 K/BB, 0 SB in 17 AB for GCL Reds
.268, 6 HR, 36 RBI, 43/26 K/BB, 7 SB in 205 AB for Double-A Chattanooga
.371, 4 HR, 31 RBI, 23/19 K/BB, 1 SB in 116 AB for Grand Canyon of the AFL
Kearns got off to a slow start in Double-A and then tore a thumb ligament in May. He played pretty well after returning in August and was excellent in the Arizona Fall League. Any chance of him opening the 2002 season in Cincinnati disappeared with the Juan Encarnacion acquisition. Still, Kearns could get his big chance in the second half of the year. It would be better if he was given a full season in Triple-A. Kearns is an elite fantasy prospect.
19. Chris Snelling - OF Mariners - Age 20 - Preseason #31 - Midseason #26 - ETA: August 2003
.336, 7 HR, 73 RBI, 63/45 K/BB, 12 SB in 450 AB for Single-A San Bernadino
Snelling has put up great numbers everywhere he's played, and he's still just 20 years old. The Mariners will continue to take things slowly with him, but he could force his way into their outfield before the end of 2003. Snelling isn't going to be a fantasy superstar, but he could be a better version of Rusty Greer.
20. Hee Seop Choi - 1B Cubs - Age 23 - Preseason #12 - Midseason #15 - ETA: April 2003
.229, 13 HR, 45 RBI, 67/34 K/BB, 5 SB in 266 AB for Triple-A Iowa
Wrist tendinitis ruined Choi's 2001 season, but it didn't change the fact that he's an excellent player. With Fred McGriff signed for one more year, the Cubs will be able to give Choi a full season at Triple-A Iowa. Choi could battle Prior for Rookie of the Year honors in 2003. He should eventually become one of the National League's top fantasy first basemen.
21. Carlos Hernandez - LHP Astros - Age 21 - Preseason NR - Midseason NR - ETA: Now
12-3, 3.69 ERA, 115 H, 167/69 K/BB in 139 IP for Double-A Round Rock
1-0, 1.02 ERA, 11 H, 17/7 K/BB in 17 2/3 IP for Houston
Hernandez jumped from Double-A to the majors and was very impressive until partially tearing his rotator cuff. Hernandez has a good low-90s fastball, but his best pitch is his curveball. Control problems could make him a disappointment in the short term, but he will eventually be a quality pitcher at the major league level. If healthy, he'll have a rotation spot at the beginning of the season.
22. Marlon Byrd - OF Phillies - Age 24 - Preseason NR - Midseason NR - ETA: July 2002
.316, 28 HR, 89 RBI, 93/52 K/BB, 32 SB in 510 AB for Double-A Reading
.331, 3 HR, 20 RBI, 25/7 K/BB, 2 SB in 148 AB for Grand Canyon of the AFL
Byrd's speed and power combination along with his mediocre strike-zone judgment make him look like the typical tools prospect. In fact, he is anything but. Hard work and determination are what has turned Byrd into a player. He's dramatically improved his power, speed and throwing arm since being drafted in 1999. Byrd still isn't a burner in center field, but he should be adequate there for at least a few years. He could take over Doug Glanville's starting job as soon as June and is a tremendous fantasy prospect.
23. Jerome Williams - RHP Giants - Age 20 - Preseason #44 - Midseason #31 - ETA: April 2003
9-7, 3.95 ERA, 116 H, 84/34 K/BB in 130 IP for Double-A Shreveport
Williams' season started slowly after his mother passed away in the spring. After joining Shreveport, he put together a solid season., though it would have been nice to see him strike out a few more hitters. Williams has command of four pitches, including a mid-90s fastball and is a potential No. 2 starter. He needs one more full year in the minors, but he could be ready to help the Giants as soon as 2003.
24. Kenny Baugh - RHP Tigers - Age 23 - Preseason NR - Midseason NR - ETA: August 2002
2-1, 1.59 ERA, 31 H, 39/10 K/BB in 34 IP for Single-A West Michigan
1-3, 2.97 ERA, 23 H, 30/6 K/BB in 30 1/3 IP for Double-A Erie
Baugh, the Tigers' first-round pick in 2001, looked excellent against Double-A hitters and could be the first player from the draft to get into a big-league game. Baugh consistently throws in the low-90s and features a solid curve and an excellent changeup. He's a polished pitcher who projects as a second or third starter. He's quite likely to appear in the Detroit rotation before the end of 2002.
25. Jack Cust - OF/1B Diamondbacks - Age 23 - Preseason #22 - Midseason #18 - ETA: July 2002
.278, 27 HR, 79 RBI, 160/102 K/BB, 6 SB in 442 AB for Triple-A Tucson
.500, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0/0 K/BB, 0 SB in 2 AB for Arizona
Cust still can't field, and that probably isn't ever going to change. However, he certainly can hit. If traded to the American League, he'd immediately become a solid designated hitter and he could be the best in the league in a few years. Cust is a Jim Thome clone at the plate. He may never have a job in Arizona, so just about any American League team could have him for a decent pitcher. Don't be surprised if he's an Athletic or a Blue Jay before July 31.
26. Brandon Phillips - SS Expos - Age 20 - Preseason NR - Midseason NR - ETA: April 2003
.284, 4 HR, 23 RBI, 45/38 K/BB, 17 SB in 194 AB for Single-A Jupiter
.298, 7 HR, 36 RBI, 42/13 K/BB, 13 SB in 265 AB for Double-A Harrisburg
.344, 2 HR, 16 RBI, 20/6 K/BB, 3 SB in 93 AB for Scottsdale of the AFL
Phillips is about as good as a prospect without much power or patience at the plate can be. He's only a couple years away from being an above average defensive shortstop in the majors. Offensively, he's more advanced than Philadelphia's Jimmy Rollins was at 20. It's uncertain what the Expos' future holds, but Phillips could be some team's shortstop in 2003.
27. Corwin Malone - LHP White Sox - Age 21 - Preseason NR - Midseason HM - ETA: June 2003
11-4, 2.00 ERA, 83 H, 119/44 K/BB in 112 1/3 IP for Single-A Kannapolis
0-1, 1.72 ERA, 25 H, 38/10 K/BB in 36 2/3 IP for Single-A Winston Salem
2-0, 2.33 ERA, 8 H, 20/12 K/BB in 19 1/3 IP for Double-A Birmingham
Malone was a candidate for minor league player of the year honors last season. He has a low-90s fastball and a strong curve. He projects as a No. 2 starter. Since Malone hadn't experienced much success prior to 2001, the White Sox will bring him along slowly. He should spend the year at Double-A Birmingham and battle for a rotation spot in 2003.
28. Justin Morneau - 1B Twins - Age 20 - Preseason NR - Midseason #24 - ETA: July 2003
.356, 12 HR, 53 RBI, 38/26 K/BB, 0 SB in 236 AB for Single-A Quad City
.294, 4 HR, 40 RBI, 41/24 K/BB, 0 SB in 197 AB for Single-A Fort Myers
.158, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 8/3 K/BB, 0 SB in 38 SB for Double-A New Britain
Morneau used to catch, but he was converted to first base even before Joe Mauer was drafted. He should develop more power and become a quality major league first baseman. As a result, he's a terrific fantasy prospect. He could be ready by mid-2003. Since Tom Kelly is gone, Twins prospects should find getting to the majors easier than before.
29. Joe Crede - 3B White Sox - Age 23 - Preseason #23 - Midseason #28 - ETA: Now
.276, 17 HR, 65 RBI, 88/46 K/BB, 2 SB in 463 AB for Triple-A Charlotte
.220, 0 HR, 7 RBI, 11/3 K/BB, 1 SB in 50 AB for Chicago (AL)
The White Sox farm system doesn't boast as much depth as it used to. However, it still features four of the game's top 30 prospects. Crede may open the year as the team's regular third baseman. He might not be ready to hit in the majors just yet, but he will be solid defensively. Within a couple years, he should be an above average offensive third baseman. He's not going to play in many All-Star games.
30. Jake Peavy - RHP Padres - Age 20 - Preseason NR - Midseason #37 - ETA: April 2003
7-5, 3.08 ERA, 76 H, 144/33 K/BB in 105 1/3 IP for Single-A Lake Elsinore
2-1, 2.57 ERA, 19 H, 44/12 K/BB in 28 IP for Double-A Mobile
Peavy lasted until the 15th round in the 1999 draft, but he's been nothing short of excellent since the Padres selected him. Peavy usually throws in the low-90s. His best pitch is his slider. Both he and Tankersley are potential No. 2 starters. Tankersley will make it to the majors first. Peavy will have to wait until 2003 to get his chance.
31. Alex Escobar - OF Indians - Age 23 - Preseason #8 - Midseason #13 - ETA: April 2003
.267, 12 HR, 52 RBI, 146/35 K/BB, 18 SB in 397 AB for Triple-A Norfolk
.200, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 19/3 K/BB, 1 SB in 50 AB for New York (NL)
The good news is that Escobar stayed fairly healthy for the second year in a row. He wasn't able to up very good numbers in Triple-A, though, and there are now doubts that he is going to develop into the player everyone thought he would. Escobar's biggest problem is his lack of plate discipline. He still flails helplessly at pitches out of the strike zone. If he can stop doing that, then he's good enough to help the Indians right away. If Milton Bradley struggles, the Indians won't wait too long to give Escobar a chance.
32. Dewon Brazelton - RHP Devil Rays - Age 21 - Preseason NR - Midseason NR - ETA: June 2003
Brazelton was the third pick in the 2001 draft. He signed too late to pitch in the minors. A polished college pitcher, Brazelton projects as a No. 2 starter. It's possible that he could join the Tampa Bay rotation before the end of the season.
33. Kurt Ainsworth - RHP Giants - Age 23 - Preseason #14 - Midseason #23 - ETA: Now
10-9, 5.07 ERA, 139 H, 157/54 K/BB in 149 IP for Triple-A Fresno
0-0, 13.50 ERA, 3 H, 3/2 K/BB in 2 IP for San Francisco
A strong performance in Fresno would have gotten Ainsworth a rotation spot in San Francisco last season. Instead, he was awful early and only lowered his ERA to 5.07 with a strong second half. It should be remembered that Fresno is a very tough place to pitch, and Ainsworth's ratios remained strong. He's still one of the better pitching prospects in the minors. He'll get a chance to compete for a rotation spot in the spring, and, although he will need some time to adjust to the majors, he's a nice sleeper in fantasy leagues.
34. Adrian Gonzalez - 1B Marlins - Age 19 - Preseason NR - Midseason #34 - ETA: 2004
.312, 17 HR, 103 RBI, 83/57 K/BB, 5 SB in 516 AB for Single-A Kane County
The first overall pick in the 2000 draft, Gonzalez slowed after getting off to a fast start in the Midwest League. He still batted .312 with better-than-expected power. Gonzalez doesn't project as an All-Star in the majors, but he is about as safe as teenage prospects get. He'll arrive in the majors in 2004 and bat .300 with 20 HR annually.
35. Chin-Feng Chen - OF Dodgers - Age 24 - Preseason HM - Midseason NR - ETA: April 2003
.268, 5 HR, 41 RBI, 56/28 K/BB, 2 SB in 235 AB for Single-A Vero Beach
.313, 17 HR, 50 RBI, 65/41 K/BB, 5 SB in 224 AB for Double-A Jacksonville
.329, 7 HR, 19 RBI, 22/6 K/BB, 3 SB in 79 AB for Phoenix of the AFL
Chen was considered one of the top outfield prospects in all of baseball two years ago. He had an awful 2000, but he rebounded last season, putting up excellent numbers in both Double-A and the Arizona Fall League. Chen's speed and power combination makes him an excellent fantasy prospect. The Dodgers could trade Gary Sheffield at any time, making Chen the team's left fielder. However, spending 2002 in Triple-A would only help him.
36. Brett Myers - RHP Phillies - Age 21 - Preseason NR - Midseason #41 - ETA: May 2003
13-4, 3.87 ERA, 156 H, 130/43 K/BB in 156 IP for Double-A Reading
Myers' Double-A numbers don't look all that special, but they were pretty good for a 20-year-old. The 12th overall pick in the 1999 draft throws a mid-90s fastball and a hard curve. He'll need a better changeup before he's ready to tackle the majors. The Phillies have enough pitching to allow Myers to spend all of 2002 in Triple-A. He should join the Philadelphia rotation in 2003 and projects as a No. 2 starter.
37. Mario Ramos - LHP Athletics - Age 24 - Preseason NR - Midseason HM - ETA: May 2002
8-1, 3.07 ERA, 71 H, 68/28 K/BB in 93 2/3 IP for Double-A Midland
8-3, 3.14 ERA, 74 H, 82/27 K/BB in 80 1/3 IP for Triple-A Sacramento
Ramos lasted until the sixth round in 1999 because he doesn't touch 90 mph on the radar gun. However, he's excellent at changing speeds and keeping hitters off balance and should be able to succeed as a starting pitcher in the majors. He's a far stronger fantasy prospect on the A's than he would be for most any other team. Expect him to claim a rotation spot in the first half of the season.
38. Michael Cuddyer - 3B/OF Twins- Age 22 - Preseason NR - Midseason #42 - ETA: June 2002
.301, 30 HR, 87 RBI, 106/75 K/BB, 5 SB in 509 AB for Double-A New Britain
.222, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 6/2 K/BB, 1 SB in 18 AB for Minnesota
.336, 4 HR, 29 RBI, 28/6 K/BB, 2 SB in 126 AB for Grand Canyon of the AFL
A prospect without a position, Cuddyer actually spent his first season in the minors at shortstop. Since then, he's worked his way to the other end of the defensive spectrum. Cuddyer will battle for the right field job in spring training, but he'll probably spend the first couple months of the season in Triple-A. He's a potential .300 hitter with 25-homer power, but don't expect too much too soon.
39. Brad Wilkerson - OF Expos - Age 24 - Preseason #34 - Midseason #21 - ETA: Now
.231, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 10/3 K/BB, 0 SB in 26 AB for Single-A Jupiter
.270, 12 HR, 48 RBI, 68/60 K/BB, 12 SB in 233 AB for Triple-A Ottawa
.205, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 41/17 K/BB, 2 SB in 117 AB for Montreal
Wilkerson's ability to get on base and knock out doubles doesn't get the Expos excited, but it should. Wilkerson figures to be a solid outfielder in the majors for the next 10-12 years, but he may need a trade to an organization that will appreciate what he brings to a team. The Expos may make him spend a couple more months in the minors before giving him another shot at the vacancy in left field.
40. Joaquin Benoit - RHP Rangers - Age 22 - Preseason HM - Midseason #32 - ETA: July 2002
1-0, 3.32 ERA, 23 H, 23/6 K/BB in 21 2/3 IP for Double-A Tulsa
9-5, 4.19 ERA, 113 H, 142/73 K/BB in 131 IP for Triple-A Oklahoma
0-0, 10.80 ERA, 8 H, 4/3 K/BB in 5 IP for Texas
Benoit is a fastball-slider pitcher who only occasionally reaches the mid-90s. His Triple-A numbers were fine for someone his age, but they reveal that he isn't quite ready for the majors just yet. A couple more months in Oklahoma would do him a lot of good. Because the Rangers have acquired pitching this winter, Benoit will get to open 2002 in the minors.
41. Miguel Cabrera - SS Marlins - Age 18 - Preseason NR - Midseason #45 - ETA: 2004
.268, 7 HR, 66 RBI, 76/37 K/BB, 3 SB in 422 AB for Single-A Kane County
Cabrera is an elite talent with developing power and surprisingly good strike-zone judgment. He could take a big step forward next season, but even if he doesn't, he'll still be a great prospect. His defense at shortstop is nothing special , and he might be moved to third base within the next couple years. Cabrera is a long way from the majors, but talent like his has to be paid attention to.
42. Ty Howington - LHP Reds - Age 21 - Preseason NR - Midseason NR - ETA: June 2003
4-0, 1.15 ERA, 15 H, 47/9 K/BB in 39 IP for Single-A Dayton
3-2, 2.43 ERA, 33 H, 44/20 K/BB in 37 IP for Single-A Mudville
1-3, 3.27 ERA, 36 H, 38/24 K/BB in 41 1/3 IP for Double-A Chattanooga
1-2, 5.34 ERA, 27 H, 20/10 K/BB in 30 1/3 IP for Grand Canyon of the AFL
Howington, a second-round pick in 1997, has terrific stuff for a lefty. He has a 92-94 mph fastball with an improving curveball. The Reds will work with him on his changeup next season. If that goes well, he could be ready for the majors in 2003. He is an injury risk, even more so than most pitchers his age. If he stays healthy, he has ace potential.
43. Omar Infante - SS Tigers - Age 20 - Preseason NR - Midseason NR - ETA: April 2003
.302, 2 HR, 62 RBI, 87/46 K/BB, 27 SB in 540 AB for Double-A Erie
Infante replaced Ramon Santiago as Detroit's shortstop of the future with a strong year at Erie. Considering that he was a 19-year-old in Double-A, his .355 on-base percentage was very impressive. His play at shortstop is nothing special, but he'll hardly be a liability at the position. He could make it as a leadoff hitter. Whether he does or not, his speed makes him interesting in fantasy leagues.
44. J.R. House - C Pirates - Age 22 - Preseason #36 - Midseason #35 - ETA: April 2003
.258, 11 HR, 56 RBI, 103/37 K/BB, 1 SB in 426 AB for Double-A Altoona
.271, 3 HR, 16 RBI, 36/13 K/BB, 0 SB in 139 AB for Maryvale of the AFL
A frustrated House considered going to college and playing football last summer, but he decided to stick with baseball and is now Pittsburgh's top prospect. If he's able to stick behind the plate, he could be the league's top offensive catcher by 2005 or 2006. He is below average defensively, but he's not so bad that he needs to be moved. Since Jason Kendall could be traded or switched to another position, House could be Pittsburgh's catcher as soon as 2003.
45. Bobby Hill - 2B Cubs - Age 23 - Preseason NR - Midseason HM - ETA: August 2002
.222, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 3/2 K/BB, 1 SB in 9 AB for Rookie AZL Cubs
.301, 3 HR, 21 RBI, 39/32 K/BB, 20 SB in 209 AB for Double-A West Tenn
.345, 1 HR, 10 RBI, 15/20 K/BB, 7 SB in 113 AB for Mesa of the AFL
The switch-hitting Hill was limited by a strained groin last season, but he still put up good numbers in Double-A and posted a .442 on-base percentage in the Arizona Fall League. The Cubs considered letting him compete for the second base job next spring, but the re-signing of Delino DeShields should result in Hill spending at least a couple months in Triple-A. He could be Chicago's leadoff hitter come August.
46. Kelly Johnson - SS Braves - Age 20 - Preseason NR - Midseason NR - ETA: 2005
.289, 23 HR, 66 RBI, 111/71 K/BB, 25 SB in 415 AB for Single-A Macon
Another brilliant shortstop prospect, Johnson was one of the South Atlantic League's best hitters as a 19-year-old. He'll probably be switched to third base soon and could eventually wind up in the outfield. A meteoric rise like the ones experienced by Furcal and Betemit isn't likely, but it's not impossible either. If he sticks to one level a year, he'll be ready in 2005.
47. Ken Harvey - 1B Royals - Age 24 - Preseason NR - Midseason #48 - ETA: July 2002
.380, 6 HR, 27 RBI, 21/13 K/BB, 3 SB in 137 AB for Single-A Wilmington
.338, 9 HR, 63 RBI, 60/18 K/BB, 3 SB in 314 AB for Double-A Wichita
.250, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 4/0 K/BB, 0 SB in 12 AB for Kansas City
The Royals have been slow to push Harvey through their minor league system. He's not going to be ready for the majors after just four months in Double-A, but considering how well he's played at each level, he should have already had some experience at Triple-A before now. Because of their troubles with Dee Brown, the Royals will probably leave Harvey in the minors for all of next year. He projects as an average first baseman. He'd be better off as a designated hitter.
48. Carl Crawford - OF Devil Rays- Age 20 - Preseason NR - Midseason NR - ETA: April 2003
.274, 4 HR, 51 RBI, 90/36 K/BB, 20 SB in 537 AB for Double-A Orlando
.386, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 7/3 K/BB, 9 SB in 70 AB for Maryvale of the AFL
The performance isn't there yet, but Crawford has all the tools and managed to hold his own as a 19-year-old in Double-A. The Rays believe he's their leadoff hitter of the future. However, before that can happen, he has a lot to learn about getting on base. He might be rushed to the majors this season., but I wouldn't be surprised if he's not ready in 2003. Crawford may need two full years in Triple-A.
49. Antonio Perez - SS Mariners - Age 20 - Preseason #27 - Midseason #33 - ETA: Sept. 2003
.143, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 7/0 K/BB, 0 SB in 21 AB for Double-A San Antonio
Perez played in just five games in 2001 because of wrist problems. Because of the year he had in 2000, he's not going to be forgotten about, though. There have been questions surrounding Perez's age. If the Dominican Republic native is truly 20, he could be a star. It's more likely that he's a couple years older than that. Even so, he projects as a solid shortstop and could be ready in 2004.
50. Carlos Zambrano - RHP Cubs - Age 20 - Preseason #32 - Midseason HM - ETA: June 2002
10-5, 3.88 ERA, 124 H, 155/68 K/BB in 150 2/3 IP for Triple-A Iowa
1-2, 15.26 ERA, 11 H, 4/8 K/BB in 7 2/3 IP for Chicago (NL)
Zambrano probably isn't 20 years old, but even if he's 23, he's still a very good prospect. He's been used as a starter in the minors and could succeed in that role in the majors, but the Cubs will probably use him as a reliever instead. Kyle Farnsworth is probably the heir to Tom Gordon's closer's job, so it doesn't look like Zambrano is going to have much fantasy value anytime soon. Still, he could help the Cubs out of the bullpen this year.
51. Adam Wainwright - RHP Braves - Age 20 - Preseason NR - Midseason NR - ETA: 2004
10-10, 3.77 ERA, 144 H, 184/48 K/BB in 164 2/3 IP for Single-A Macon
Drafted in the first round in 2000, Wainwright is a fastball-curveball-changeup pitcher with good command. He doesn't overpower hitters with his low-90s fastball, but he still generates plenty of swings and misses. If he gets off to a good start for Single-A Myrtle Beach, he could make it to Double-A this year and arrive in Atlanta in late 2003. Since the Braves know how to develop pitchers, Wainwright is a strong fantasy prospect.
52. Bobby Bradley - RHP Pirates - Age 21 - Preseason #20 - Midseason #30 - ETA: 2004
1-2, 3.12 ERA, 44 H, 46/20 K/BB in 49 IP for Single-A Lynchburg
Bradley was limited by elbow problems again last season and ended up undergoing Tommy John surgery in October. He should miss all of 2002. When healthy, Bradley throws in the low-90s. He has perhaps the best curveball in the minors. He can throw a hard curve or a soft one with a big break. He also has a decent changeup. Tommy John surgery still isn't a risk-free procedure, and it is possible that Bradley will lose something, but if he doesn't, he could quickly re-establish himself as one of the top pitching prospects in the minors in 2003.
53. Boof Bonser - RHP Giants - Age 20 - Preseason NR - Midseason NR - ETA: 2004
16-4, 2.49 ERA, 91 H, 178/61 K/BB in 134 IP for Single-A Hagerstown
A first-round pick in 2000, Bonser was initially viewed as a disappointment, but he became one of the top pitching prospects in the low minors last season. Bonser throws in the mid-90s and has a very good curve. He should make it as a starter, but if not, he has a promising future as a reliever. The Giants are slow to push pitchers, so expect Bonser to get full seasons at both Double- and Triple-A before arriving in the majors.
54. Rafael Soriano - RHP Mariners- Age 22 - Preseason NR - Midseason NR - ETA: Sept. 2003
6-3, 2.53 ERA, 49 H, 98/39 K/BB in 89 IP for Single-A San Bernadino
2-2, 3.35 ERA, 34 H, 53/14 K/BB in 48 1/3 IP for Double-A San Antonio
Soriano has established himself as an excellent pitching prospect after flopping as an outfielder. Like Anderson, he has a mid-90s fastball, a slider and not much else. Since Soriano isn't a 6-11 lefty, he'll either need to learn a third pitch or be turned into a reliever. The Mariners don't need to rush him, so they'll work with him on a changeup until he gets it right. As a result, he's probably two years away.
55. Dave Kelton - OF/3B Cubs - Age 22 - Preseason NR - Midseason #40 - ETA: July 2003
.313, 12 HR, 45 RBI, 55/24 K/BB, 1 SB in 224 AB for Double-A West Tenn
.340, 1 HR, 16 RBI, 26/8 K/BB, 3 SB in 100 AB for Mesa of the AFL
Kelton was switched from third base to left field last season, but he may end up back at third now that Moises Alou is signed for three years. His glove needs a lot of work at the hot corner, but he's going to be an excellent hitter, possibly even good enough to stick at first base if he can't handle third. His plate discipline leaves a lot to be desired, but he is working on it. Kelton will spend 2002 in Triple-A.
56. Juan Rivera - OF Yankees - Age 23 - Preseason NR - Midseason NR - ETA: June 2002
.320, 14 HR, 58 RBI, 50/15 K/BB, 5 SB in 316 AB for Double-A Norwich
.327, 14 HR, 40 RBI, 31/15 K/BB, 4 SB in 199 AB for Triple-A Columbus
.000, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0/0 K/BB, 0 SB in 4 AB for New York (AL)
After struggling for two years, Rivera re-emerged as a top prospect in 2001. He's still too aggressive at the plate, a weakness major league pitchers could exploit. Rivera is an excellent defensive right fielder. He could make it to the majors at mid-year, but these are the Yankees, so it's going to be a while before he has a starting job.
57. Chin-Hui Tsao - RHP Rockies - Age 20 - Preseason #21 - Midseason NR - ETA: 2005
0-4, 4.67 ERA, 23 H, 18/5 K/BB in 17 1/3 IP for Single-A Salem
Tsao was one of the top pitching prospects in baseball before undergoing Tommy John surgery in May. He will return in 2002, but the injury sets his timetable back. Before getting hurt, he had four quality pitches, including a mid-90s fastball. He could make it to the majors in 2004, but 2005 would be a more reasonable estimate.
58. Xavier Nady - 1B Padres - Age 23 - Preseason NR - Midseason #50 - ETA: July 2003
.302, 26 HR, 100 RBI, 109/62 K/BB, 6 SB in 524 AB for Single-A Lake Elsinore
Nady tore through the California League last season, but that was what was expected of him. He still lacks a position, and his elbow problems aren't going to make it easy for him to find one. After undergoing surgery, he's expected to spend most of 2002 as a designated hitter. The Padres will eventually find a place for Nady's bat or at least find another team that will. A third baseman in college, he could end up at first, second or in left field.
59. Adam Johnson - RHP Twins - Age 22 - Preseason NR - Midseason NR - ETA: August 2002
5-6, 3.82 ERA, 105 H, 110/39 K/BB in 113 IP for Double-A New Britain
1-1, 5.70 ERA, 19 H, 25/10 K/BB in 23 2/3 IP for Triple-A Edmonton
1-2, 8.28 ERA, 32 H, 17/13 K/BB, in 25 IP for Minnesota
Johnson, the second overall pick in 2000, was a disappointment in 2001. He's still viewed as a potential No. 2 starter or a closer. His fastball touches the mid 90s and he complements it with a hard slider. If injuries strike the Twins, Johnson should be one of the first pitchers called up from the minors. I like him as a starter.
60. Kevin Mench - OF Rangers - Age 24 - Preseason #16 - Midseason #29 - ETA: April 2003
.265, 26 HR, 83 RBI, 76/34 K/BB, 4 SB in 475 AB for Double-A Tulsa
.311, 3 HR, 13 RBI, 14/5 K/BB, 1 SB in 61 AB for Peoria of the AFL
With Teixeira likely heading to the outfield, Mench might have a tough time ever landing a job in Texas. He's a quality bat, but he didn't hit nearly as well in Double-A as he did the previous year in Single-A. If Mench has a big year in Triple-A, he might be able to beat Teixeira to the majors in 2003. It would also make him a choice target in trades. Since he's not young, 2002 is a very important year for him. He still projects as a solid major league left fielder.
61. Seung Song - RHP Red Sox - Age 21 - Preseason NR - Midseason #49 - ETA: July 2003
3-2, 2.04 ERA, 56 H, 79/18 K/BB in 75 IP for Single-A Augusta
5-2, 1.68 ERA, 28 H, 56/18 K/BB in 48 1/3 IP for Single-A Sarasota
Song has nice movement on a low-90s fastball. His curve and changeup need work, but the fact that he was able to dominate Single-A hitters with only mediocre secondary pitches bodes well for his future. Song will begin 2002 in Double-A and could join the Boston rotation in 2003.
62. Jimmy Gobble - LHP Royals - Age 20 - Preseason NR - Midseason NR - ETA: July 2003
10-6, 2.55 ERA, 134 H, 154/33 K/BB in 162 1/3 IP for Single-A Wilmington
Gobble was the 43rd overall pick in the 1999 draft. His numbers at Wilmington were excellent, and he has very good stuff for a left-hander. Gobble's arsenal consists of a low-90s fastball, a major-league changeup and a plus curveball, which he has trouble spotting. I like his upside more than Chris George's.
63. Brandon Claussen - LHP Yankees - Age 22 - Preseason NR - Midseason NR - ETA: August 2002
5-2, 2.73 ERA, 47 H, 69/13 K/BB in 56 IP for Single-A Tampa
9-2, 2.13 ERA, 101 H, 151/55 K/BB in 131 IP for Double-A Norwich
Claussen struck out 220 in a breakthrough season. He's not a fireballer, but he does have good stuff for a lefty, complementing a 91-mph fastball with a plus curve. He'll start the season in Columbus and could vie for a rotation spot after the All-Star break. He'll need a while to adjust to the majors.
64. Morgan Ensberg - 3B Astros - Age 26 - Preseason NR - Midseason HM - ETA: Now
.310, 23 HR, 61 RBI, 60/45 K/BB, 6 SB in 316 AB for Triple-A New Orleans
Ensberg missed a couple months last season with a broken hamate bone, but he's come back with a strong winter and is the favorite to win the third base job in 2002. Ensberg has very good power and plate discipline and promises to be a fantasy force in Enron. He doesn't have the upside of some of Houston's other prospects, but it looks like he'll be a fine career as the team's third baseman.
65. Esteban German - 2B Athletics - Age 23 - Preseason NR - Midseason NR - ETA: July 2002
.284, 6 HR, 30 RBI, 66/63 K/BB, 31 SB in 335 AB for Double-A Midland
.373, 4 HR, 14 RBI, 20/18 K/BB, 17 SB in 150 AB for Triple-A Sacramento
German has two skills. His ability to get on base will eventually earn him the second base job in Oakland. His speed will make him a valuable fantasy property. German's defense could use some work, and he'll probably open the year in Triple-A. However, he could take over for Frankie Menechino before the end of 2002.
66. Michael Restovich - OF Twins - Age 22 - Preseason NR - Midseason NR - ETA: April 2003
.269, 23 HR, 84 RBI, 125/54 K/BB, 15 SB in 501 AB for Double-A New Britain
.289, 6 HR, 28 RBI, 35/16 K/BB, 5 SB in 114 AB for Grand Canyon of the AFL
After hitting just eight homers in 2000, Restovich rebounded nicely last season. He could be a 30-homer guy in the majors, but I'm not sure he'll be anything more than a .260-.270 hitter. Since he'll sport a solid walk rate, he could be an asset even without the high average.
67. Jeff Heaverlo -RHP Mariners - Age 24 - Preseason NR - Midseason NR - ETA: June 2003
11-6, 3.12 ERA, 164 H, 173/40 K/BB in 178 2/3 IP for Double-A San Antonio
Heaverlo was the 33rd overall pick in the 1999 draft. The son of a former major leaguer, Heaverlo knows how to get the best out of a 90-mph fastball. His slider makes for a terrific out pitch. In another organization, Heaverlo might get a chance this year. He'll probably have to wait until 2003 if he remains with Seattle.
68. John Buck - C Astros - Age 21 - Preseason NR - Midseason NR - ETA: 2004
.275, 22 HR, 73 RBI, 84/37 K/BB, 4 SB in 443 AB for Single-A Lexington
.284, 2 HR, 18 RBI, 13/5 K/BB, 0 SB in 67 AB for Phoenix of the AFL
Buck, a seventh-round selection in 1998, has become one of the top catching prospects in the minors. He isn't an exceptional defensive catcher, but he will be solid after a couple more years of experience. He projects as a Javy Lopez-type fantasy catcher. Expect him to replace Brad Ausmus in 2004.
69. Jason Lane - OF Astros - Age 25 - Preseason NR - Midseason #47 - ETA: April 2003
.316, 38 HR, 124 RBI, 98/61 K/BB, 14 SB in 526 AB for Double-A Round Rock
Lane was one of the best hitters in the minors last season, but it's hard to see how he fits in Houston's plans. He's better defensively than Daryle Ward, but he won't be as good of a hitter. Jeff Bagwell and Lance Berkman aren't going anywhere. As a result, Lane figures to spend all of next season in Triple-A. The Astros will either give him a job or set him free in 2003.
70. Jamal Strong - OF Mariners - Age 23 - Preseason NR - Midseason HM - ETA: 2004
.353, 0 HR, 19 RBI, 27/40 K/BB, 35 SB in 184 AB for Single-A Wisconsin
.311, 0 HR, 32 RBI, 60/51 K/BB, 47 SB in 331 AB for Single-A San Bernadino
Strong proved to be an incredible force in Single-A, but it remains to be seen whether his bat will hold up at higher levels. He had just 26 extra-base hits last season. That's not a problem as long as keeps getting on base 40 percent of the time, but it would be nice if he delivered a few more line drives into the gap. He'll begin 2002 in Double-A.
71. Josh Phelps - C Blue Jays - Age 23 - Preseason NR - Midseason NR - ETA: Sept. 2002
.292, 31 HR, 97 RBI, 127/80 K/BB, 3 SB in 486 AB for Double-A Tennessee
.000, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 5/2 K/BB, 1 SB in 12 AB for Toronto
.333, 1 HR, 11 RBI, 19/13 K/BB, 0 SB in 81 AB for Scottsdale of the AFL
Toronto's 2001 class of top prospects (Vernon Wells, Felipe Lopez and Cesar Izturis) all had their rookie eligibility used up. That leaves Phelps as the team's new No. 1. Catchers who can hit like Phelps are rare, but players who catch like Phelps tend to wind up at other positions. At any other place on the field, Phelps' stock drops significantly.
72. Gabe Gross - OF Blue Jays - Age 21 - Preseason NR - Midseason NR - ETA: April 2003
.302, 4 HR, 15 RBI, 29/26 K/BB, 4 SB in 126 AB for Single-A Dunedin
.244, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 12/6 K/BB, 0 SB in 41 AB for Double-A Tennessee
.288, 1 HR, 9 RBI, 14/25 K/BB, 5 SB in 80 AB for Scottsdale of the AFL
Gross was Toronto's first-round pick in 2001 and is moving quickly up the ladder. He played very well in the Arizona Fall League. He's probably not going to be an All-Star, but he will be a quality player. Breaking into the Toronto outfield figures to be difficult, but he still could put himself in position for a September callup.
73. Richard Stahl - LHP Orioles - Age 20 - Preseason NR - Midseason NR - ETA: 2004
0-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 H, 1/1 K/BB in 2 IP for Rookie GCL Orioles
2-3, 2.67 ERA, 24 H, 31/15 K/BB in 33 2/3 IP for Single-A Delmarva
1-1, 1.95 ERA, 26 H, 24/15 K/BB in 32 1/3 IP for Single-A Frederick
Stahl, a first-round pick in 1999, missed much of last season with shoulder tendinitis, but he's still the class of the weak Baltimore farm system. He has ace-type stuff , but health is a big concern. Stahl will likely begin 2002 back in Single-A Frederick, but a quick promotion to Double-A is possible. If he remains injury free, it's possible he could join Baltimore's rotation in 2003.
74. Ryan Ludwick - OF Athletics - Age 23 - Preseason NR - Midseason NR - ETA: April 2003
.269, 25 HR, 96 RBI, 113/56 K/BB, 9 SB in 443 AB for Double-A Midland
.228, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 16/2 K/BB, 2 SB in 57 AB for Triple-A Sacramento
Along with Ramos and Barry Zito, Ludwick was a product of the A's excellent 1999 draft. His numbers at Midland weren't all that impressive considering that he was playing in a hitter's paradise. Still, he projects as a solid regular in right field. If Jermaine Dye leaves after next year, expect Ludwick to land a starting job in 2003.
75. Casey Kotchman - 1B Angels - Age 19 - Preseason NR - Midseason NR - ETA: 2004
.600, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 2/3 K/BB, 0 SB in 15 AB for Rookie AZL Angels
.500, 0 HR, 7 RBI, 0/2 K/BB, 0 SB in 22 AB for Rookie Provo
The Angels don't have much in the way of non-pitching prospects. Kotchman, however, has the chance to be something special. The 13th overall pick in the 2001 draft, Kotchman was excellent in very limited action after signing. Wrist tendinitis ended his season in mid-August. Assuming it doesn't turn into a long-term problem, expect Kotchman to move quickly for a high schooler. He could find himself in Anaheim in 2004.
76. Mike Nannini - RHP Astros - Age 21 - Preseason NR - Midseason 44 - ETA: 2004
15-5, 2.70 ERA, 176 H, 151/36 K/BB in 190 1/3 IP for Single-A Lexington
Nannini is another one of Houston's short right-handers. He doesn't throw as hard as Roy Oswalt or Tim Redding, but he does have excellent control and can strike hitters out with his slider. He may need to gain some velocity to excel in the majors, but even if he doesn't, he could still make it at the bottom of a rotation.
77. Aaron Heilman - RHP Mets - Age 23 - Preseason NR - Midseason NR - ETA: July 2003
0-1, 2.35 ERA, 26 H, 39/13 K/BB in 38 1/3 IP for Single-A St. Lucie
Heilman was drafted in the first round by the Mets after an awesome season at Notre Dame. He has four pitches, including a low-90s fastball. Heilman could move through the minors quickly, but the Mets have several pitching prospects ahead of him on the depth chart, so he may not reach New York until the middle of next season. He's a potential No. 3 starter.
78. Matt Belisle - RHP Braves - Age 21 - Preseason HM - Midseason NR - ETA: July 2003
2-1, 5.89 ERA, 26 H, 22/6 K/BB in 18 1/3 IP for Phoenix of the AFL
Belisle had back surgery in the spring and didn't pitch in the minors last season. He did return for the Arizona Fall League and had a 5.89 ERA in 18 1/3 IP. Belisle has the same arsenal as Wainwright. He does throw a little harder, but his secondary pitches aren't quite as good. He'll spend all of 2002 in the minors and will have a chance to beat Wainwright to the majors the following year.
79. Corey Smith - 3B Indians - Age 19 - Preseason NR - Midseason NR - ETA: 2004
.260, 18 HR, 85 RBI, 149/37 K/BB, 10 SB in 500 AB for Single-A Columbus
Smith, a first-round pick in 2000, didn't have great numbers last season, but his power is developing faster than expected. He projects as a Travis Fryman-type in fantasy leagues, though he probably won't have the career that Fryman has had. He'll open 2002 at Single-A Kinston and is still a long way from the majors.
80. Ricardo Rodriguez - RHP Dodgers - Age 22 - Preseason NR - Midseason NR - ETA: 2004
14-6, 3.21 ERA, 133 H, 154/60 K/BB in 154 1/3 IP for Single-A Vero Beach
Rodriguez has emerged as the Dodgers' top pitching prospect after a breakthrough campaign in the Florida State League. The Dominican native throws a low-90s fastball and has a very good slider. Like most pitchers his age, his changeup needs work. Rodriguez will begin 2002 in Double-A and could arrive in the majors the following season. He projects as a No. 3 starter.
81. Brett Evert - RHP Braves - Age 21 - Preseason NR - Midseason NR - ETA: Sept. 2003
1-0, 0.74 ERA, 25 H, 34/3 K/BB in 36 1/3 IP for Single-A Macon
7-2, 2.24 ERA, 63 H, 75/15 K/BB in 72 1/3 IP for Single-A Myrtle Beach
Evert also relies on a low-90s fastball, a curve and a changeup. A shoulder injury cut short his 2001 season, but not before he proved to be one of the more effective pitchers in the minor leagues. He could be ready for Double-A right now and might make an appearance in the majors next year. It's more likely that he remains behind Belisle on the depth chart, though.
82. Pat Strange - RHP Mets - Age 21 - Preseason NR - Midseason HM - ETA: Sept. 2002
11-6, 4.87 ERA, 171 H, 106/52 K/BB in 153 1/3 IP for Double-A Binghamton
1-0, 0.00 ERA, 4 H, 6/1 K/BB in 6 IP for Triple-A Norfolk
1-2, 5.87 ERA, 19 H, 17/11 K/BB in 15 1/3 IP for Mesa of the AFL
Heilman is about as safe as pitchers get. Strange is at the opposite end of the spectrum. He might be the Mets' best pitcher by 2004, but he could also have flamed out by then. He has very good natural movement on his low-90s fastball. His slider and changeup should both be plus pitches in time. If he can stay healthy, he should see the majors before the end of the year.
83. Eric Cyr - LHP Padres - Age 23 - Preseason NR - Midseason NR - ETA: 2004
7-4, 1.61 ERA, 68 H, 131/24 K/BB in 100 2/3 IP for Single-A Lake Elsinore
2-1, 2.18 ERA, 24 H, 27/12 K/BB in 33 IP for Peoria of the AFL
Cyr is the latest Padre pitcher to suddenly emerge as a top prospect. He dominated in Single-A and proved that it was no fluke by holding AFL hitters to 24 hits in 33 innings. Cyr is still searching for pitches to complement his mid-90s fastball. Since the Padres have no shortage of young arms, he might end up as a reliever.
84. Eric Hinske - 3B Blue Jays - Age 24 - Preseason NR - Midseason NR - ETA: Now
.282, 25 HR, 79 RBI, 113/54 K/BB, 20 SB in 436 AB for Triple-A Sacramento
.300, 8 HR, 28 RBI, 37/22 K/BB, 2 SB in 120 AB for Phoenix of the AFL
Hinske isn't much with the glove, but his bat continues to improve. He was very good in Triple-A last season and even better in the Arizona Fall League. With Alex Gonzalez traded, the Jays have practically handed him the third base job. Expect solid all-around numbers and perhaps even a Rookie of the Year Award.
85. Joe Torres - LHP Angels - Age 19 - Preseason NR - Midseason NR - ETA: 2005
2-2, 4.02 ERA, 32 H, 39/15 K/BB in 31 1/3 IP for Rookie Provo
0-3, 5.82 ERA, 16 H, 14/14 K/BB in 17 IP for Single-A Cedar Rapids
Like Kotchman did last year, Torres quickly emerged as Anaheim's top prospect after being drafted in 2000. However, he struggled through shoulder problems in 2001. Torres typically throws his fastball in the low 90s, and he has an excellent curveball. He just needs to make sure that he's stays healthy in 2002. If he can manage that, he'll reach Double-A in 2003 and the majors one of the following two years.
86. Justin Wayne - RHP Expos - Age 22 - Preseason NR - Midseason NR - ETA: Sept. 2002
2-3, 3.02 ERA, 31 H, 35/9 K/BB in 41 2/3 IP for Single-A Jupiter
9-2, 2.62 ERA, 87 H, 70/34 K/BB in 92 2/3 IP for Double-A Harrisburg
Wayne combines ordinary stuff with extraordinary poise and intelligence. He was able to get Double-A hitters out, but he'll have to continue to prove himself at each level, mainly because his fastball only occasionally tops 90 mph. Since he's an Expo and he's only a potential third starter, he isn't someone to go after in fantasy leagues.
87. J.D. Martin - RHP Indians- Age 19 - Preseason NR - Midseason NR - ETA: 2004
5-1, 1.38 ERA, 26 H, 72/11 K/BB in 45 2/3 IP for Rookie Burlington
34 players were taken before Martin in the 2001 draft, but none of them had the summer that J.D. did. Since he throws in the low 90s, Martin doesn't project as an ace. However, with his ability to keep the ball on the ground, he could be a No. 2 starter. He is quite poised for a pitcher drafted out of high school, so it's possible that he could make it all the way to Double-A this year.
88. Grady Sizemore - OF Expos - Age 19 - Preseason NR - Midseason NR - ETA: 2004
.268, 2 HR, 61 RBI, 92/81 K/BB, 32 SB in 451 AB for Single-A Clinton
Sizemore slipped to the third round of the 2000 draft because teams thought he'd go to college and play football. The Expos paid the price to get him and are very happy they did. Sizemore has patience and speed and will develop power over the next two years. Once that happens, there will be no stopping him.
89. Ben Christensen - RHP Cubs - Age 24 - Preseason #37 - Midseason NR - ETA: August 2003
2-1, 6.48 ERA, 20 H, 9/9 K/BB in 16 2/3 IP for Double-A West Tenn
Christensen underwent shoulder surgery after making just three starts last season. He also missed time in 2000, so durability has become a huge concern for the 1999 first-round pick. When healthy, Christensen throws four pitches, the best being a 93-94 mph fastball. His hard slider has proven to be difficult to hit. If he can stay healthy, it won't be long before Christensen is ready for the majors. However, with Chicago's pitching depth, he may have to wait until 2004 to make a major contribution.
90. Mike Jones - RHP Brewers - Age 18 - Preseason NR - Midseason NR - ETA 2005
4-1, 3.74 ERA, 29 H, 32/10 K/BB in 33 2/3 IP for Rookie Ogden
Jones was the 12th overall pick in the 2001 draft. He already throws 92-93, and the Brewers expect him to add velocity as he matures. His curveball and changeup are works in progress. Jones has as much potential as any high-school pitcher taken in the June draft.
91. Jason Jennings - RHP Rockies - Age 23 - Preseason NR - Midseason NR - ETA: Now
2-0, 2.88 ERA, 25 H, 24/8 K/BB in 25 IP for Double-A Carolina
7-8, 4.72 ERA, 145 H, 110/41 K/BB in 131 2/3 IP for Triple-A Colorado Springs
4-1, 4.58 ERA, 42 H, 26/19 K/BB in 39 1/3 IP for Colorado
Jennings, a first-round pick in 1999, burst on to the scene in August with one of the most impressive debuts in major league history. He not only tossed a shutout against the Mets, but he also homered. Jennings should be a solid third or fourth starter for the Rockies. He typically works in the low-90s, but he does a good job keeping the ball on the ground, which is a must in Coors Field.
92. Angel Berroa - SS Royals - Age 21 - Preseason NR - Midseason NR - ETA: April 2003
.317, 6 HR, 25 RBI, 41/9 K/BB, 10 SB in 199 AB for Single-A Wilmington
.296, 8 HR, 42 RBI, 55/17 K/BB, 15 SB in 304 AB for Double-A Wichita
.302, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 10/3 K/BB, 2 SB in 53 AB for Kansas City
.258, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 22/3 K/BB, 3 SB in 89 AB for Scottsdale of the AFL
What's not to like about a .300-hitting shortstop with decent power? The big negative is that his plate discipline is awful. He's erratic at shortstop, but he should improve and be able to stay at the position. Berroa will make Neifi Perez expendable after this season.
93. Eric Valent - OF Phillies - Age 24 - Preseason NR - Midseason HM - ETA: May 2002
.272, 21 HR, 78 RBI, 105/49 K/BB, 0 SB in 448 AB for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre
.098, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 11/4 K/BB, 0 SB in 41 AB for Philadelphia
Valent struggled during a brief major league stint last season, but he still a solid prospect. That said, he might not have a future in Philadelphia. Valent has the arm to play right field and can easily handle both left field and first base. However, the Phillies don't have a need at any of those positions right now. As a result, a trade would be for the best. He'll be a .280-25-90 guy once he gets his chance.
94. Gavin Floyd - RHP Phillies - Age 18 - Preseason NR - Midseason NR - ETA: 2005
Floyd was the seventh overall pick in the 2001 draft and signed too late to pitch last season. He already has a mid-90s fastball and a very good curve. It's not a reach to say that he has ace potential. Expect him to spend all of 2002 in Single-A.
95. Jimmy Journell - RHP Cardinals - Age 24 - Preseason NR - Midseason NR - ETA: August 2003
14-6, 2.50 ERA, 121 H, 156/42 K/BB in 151 IP for Single-A Potomac
1-0, 0.00 ERA, 0 H, 6/3 K/BB in 7 IP for Double-A New Haven
Journell is a Tommy John survivor. He throws a mid-90s fastball and a hard slider. His changeup is developing into a decent pitch and will probably determine whether or not he ends up as a starter or a closer in the majors. The signing of Jason Isringhausen gives the Cardinals some extra incentive to continue to start Journell. He'll begin 2002 in Double-A and could reach the majors in 2003.
96. Billy Traber - LHP Indians - Age 22 - Preseason NR - Midseason NR - ETA: April 2003
6-5, 2.66 ERA, 85 H, 79/23 K/BB in 101 2/3 IP for Single-A St. Lucie
4-3, 4.43 ERA, 50 H, 45/13 K/BB in 42 2/3 IP for Double-A Binghamton
0-1, 1.29 ERA, 5 H, 0/0 K/BB in 7 IP for Triple-A Norfolk
Traber, a first-round pick by the Mets in 2000, eased concerns about elbow problems with a strong season. He gets by with a 90-mph fastball and strikes hitters out with a split-finger pitch. He's probably nothing more than a fourth starter in the majors. He'll begin this year in Double-A and might finish it in Cleveland.
97. Nate Cornejo - RHP Tigers- Age 22 - Preseason NR - Midseason NR - ETA: Now
12-3, 2.68 ERA, 107 H, 105/41 K/BB in 124 1/3 IP for Double-A Erie
4-0, 2.12 ERA, 24 H, 22/7 K/BB in 29 2/3 IP for Triple-A Toledo
4-4, 7.38 ERA, 63 H, 22/28 K/BB in 42 2/3 IP for Detroit
Cornejo received a lot of attention for his 20-win season, but he falls short of being an elite prospect. Though his low-90s fastball has great movement, his offspeed stuff needs a lot of work. At best, he's probably a third starter. Cornejo will battle for a rotation spot in spring training.
98. Tony Blanco - 3B Red Sox - Age 20 - Preseason NR - Midseason NR - ETA: 2004
.265, 17 HR, 69 RBI, 78/17 K/BB, 1 SB in 370 AB for Single-A Augusta
Pedro Martinez compared Blanco to Vladimir Guerrero last spring, but the third baseman wasn't able to build on an excellent 2000. Shoulder problems hurt his numbers, and Blanco ended up undergoing surgery. Blanco will spend next year at Single-A Sarasota. Even though he won't be ready until 2004 or 2005, his upside makes him a solid fantasy prospect
99. Abraham Nunez - OF Marlins - Age 22 - Preseason HM - Midseason NR - ETA: April 2003
.240, 17 HR, 53 RBI, 155/83 K/BB, 26 SB in 467 AB for Double-A Portland
Nunez struggled in the early going, but performed much better for Portland as the year went on. Nunez has all the tools that the scouts love and complements it with plenty of patience at the plate. He strikes out too much, which holds him back from being a top prospect, but he is Florida's right fielder of the future. A couple good months in the minors could get him to the Florida very quickly, but he'll probably struggle in his initial attempt at the majors.
100. Cristian Guerrero - OF Brewers - Age 20 - Preseason NR - Midseason NR - ETA: 2004
.312, 7 HR, 41 RBI, 79/18 K/BB, 22 SB in 327 AB for Single-A High Desert
A cousin of Vladimir and Wilton, Cristian Guerrero did well in his first attempt at full-season ball. Cristian is a free swinger, but he doesn't have Vladimir's coordination. Vlad doesn't walk, but he doesn't strikeout much either. Cristian does. Still, he has the talent to be a regular right fielder in the majors. He won't be a star.