Ten potential impact players comprise the next batch of ten prospects, which includes a few young outfielders, two 2006 first round picks, some solid young pitching, and Colorado’s shortstop of the future.
11. Andrew Miller (SP-Det) Arguably the best arm in the 2006 draft, Miller signed a Major League deal with the Tigers that allowed fans to get a glimpse of him in Detroit after only five minor league innings. The 6’6” left-hander could carry a rotation, and although he probably won’t do so this season, expect to see him back in Detroit at some point in 2007. Miller combines a mid-90s fastball with a hard slider and change-up. The Tigers are fortunate to possess such a strong young starting pitching core with Jeremy Bonderman, Justin Verlander and Andrew Miller, and they could prove to be a stronger force than the former Athletics trio of Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito.
12. Jay Bruce (OF-Cin) Bruce turns 20 on April 3, and is already one of the best hitters in the minors. Just last week he took Curt Schilling deep in a minor league Spring Training game. Lake many Reds players, Bruce could stand to cut down on his strikeouts, but his power is undeniable. In Low-A last year he had 63 extra-base hits in only 444 at bats. He will probably begin in High-A or Double-A this season with the possibility of a cup of coffee as early as 2008.
13. Mike Pelfrey (SP-NYN) The Mets could be asking for quite a bit from their 6’7” rookie right-hander this season. Pelfrey should enter the year in the back end of the Mets rotation, and within a few years he could prove to be the staff ace. He combines a mid-90s two-seam fastball with a high-90s four-seamer. His change-up is Major League-caliber, but his slider may get him into trouble.
14. Andy LaRoche (3B-LA) The younger brother of Pirates first baseman Adam LaRoche, Andy Laroche is an excellent power-hitting third base prospect. His combination of power, average, and discipline should lead to a very strong Major League career. The Dodgers’ acquisition of Wilson Betemit should not be too much of an impediment to LaRoche’s progress. It may cost him the starting job this season, but he should be a Major League regular by 2008.
15. Cameron Maybin (OF-Det) Maybin is an incredibly focused player that literally wears his goals on his sleeve. The Major League Baseball logo tattoo on his arm is a daily reminder of his goal to excel at the Major League level. Only a day younger than Jay Bruce, Maybin could follow a similar path to the majors, though it has been speculated that he may get a September call up this season. A decent combination of speed and power, Maybin is more likely to rely on his speed at the Major League level. He does strike out quite frequently, but that’s offset somewhat by his above-average plate discipline.
16. Adam Miller (SP-Cle) Although he probably will not make the Indians out of Spring Training, Miller should be there by season’s end. He could prove to be the true ace the Indians have sought since the 1990s, and with the next wave of young Cleveland talent already establishing themselves in the majors, they could be returning to the playoffs as soon as this season. Miller throws a mid- to high-90s fastball, but his best pitch is his high-80s slider. His change-up is still a work in progress but it improved significantly last season. Miller will probably return to Triple-A to start the season, but could be the first pitcher called up in the event of an injury to a member of Cleveland’s starting rotation.
17. Evan Longoria (3B-TB) The consensus top offensive player in the 2006 draft, Longoria burst onto the scene in his rookie campaign. He has above-average plate discipline and power, with the ability to maintain a .300 average. Although the Devil Rays have both B.J. Upton and Akinori Iwamura as potential third base options, Longoria could unseat them both by the year’s end. Some scouts have even speculated that Longoria could actually be a stronger prospect than Delmon Young.
18. Troy Tulowitzki (SS-Col) A scare early on this spring saw Tulowitzki sidelined for a few days with a bruised wrist, but he is back in the lineup and should be Rockies opening day shortstop. Tulowitzki has moderate power and discipline, and is as a strong defender and a solid clubhouse presence. He could turn into a middle-of-the-lineup hitter to create a potent young offense with Matt Holliday, Garrett Atkins, and Chris Iannetta.
19. Chris Young (OF-Ari) Acquired from the White Sox in the Javier Vazquez deal, Chris Young will enter 2007 as the Diamondbacks starting center fielder. He is a combination of speed and power, showing base stealing ability while compiling 63 extra-base hits across Triple-A and the majors last season. His only real weakness is his throwing arm, which may see him move to a corner position to make room for Justin Upton.
20. Justin Upton (OF-Ari) Justin and his brother B.J. have both seen their stock drop somewhat as they realize that talent alone cannot make them successful. Justin is still just 19, and has the Diamondbacks salivating over his potential. The comparisons to Ken Griffey Jr. may be legit with regard to talent, but not necessarily with regard to attitude. One perception is that Upton believes his ticket to the majors will be handed to him as the Diamondbacks’ golden boy. The Diamondbacks feel that opponents were overly cautious pitching to Upton which led to a frustrated teenager getting overanxious at the plate. Either way, the Diamondbacks are willing to push him along quickly, and he’ll likely start the season as one of the youngest players in the California League (High-A).
In case you missed any of the earlier installments of prospects lists, here they are:
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