For those of you who are non-prospect junkies and haven’t already seen this, Baseball America unveiled their list of the Top 10 Prospects for each organization this winter and finally arrived at both the Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers.
It’s no surprise that Dustin Ackley, Seattle’s reigning first-round pick and the $6 million dollar man tops the list for the Mariners. Last year’s top prospect Greg Halman slipped to #8, but otherwise the 2010 list looks a lot like ’09. Overall, six of last year’s Top 10 return to this year’s list, including LumberKings’ 3B/1B Mario Martinez, who moves from #7 to #10.
18-year-old shortstop Nick Franklin is intriguing at #7 following a solid pro debut between the AZL and Everett last year. Seattle’s other first-rounder (27th overall) hit .333 with 4 doubles, a home run and 6 RBI over 16 games last season. While many Clinton fans are hoping to see Ackley in black and green (a longshot), they could possibly get the chance to see Franklin in his first full season. He’s a switch hitter with speed who won’t turn 19 until March 3.
1. Dustin Ackley (OF/1B)
2. Michael Saunders (OF)
3. Adam Moore (C)
4. Alex Liddi (3B)
5. Carlos Triunfel (SS/2B)
6. Michael Pineda (RHP)
7. Nick Franklin (SS)
8. Greg Halman (OF)
9. Danny Cortes (RHP)
10. Mario Martinez (3B/1B)
Seattle’s “Best Tools”:
Best Power Hitter: Greg Halman
Best Strike-Zone Discipline: Ezequiel Carrera
Fastest Baserunner: Ezequiel Carrera
Best Athlete: Greg Halman
Best Fastball: Michael Pineda
Best Curveball: Josh Fields
Best Slider: Steven Hensley
Best Changeup: Nick Hill
Best Control: Michael Pineda
Best Defensive Catcher: Steve Baron
Best Defensive Infielder: Gabriel Noriega
Best Infield Arm: Carlos Triunfel
Best Defensive Outfielder: Michael Saunders
Best Outfield Arm: James Jones
On to the Rangers’ Top 10 Prospects list, chock full of former LumberKings. Last year’s #1 prospect, fireballing right-hander Neftali Feliz tops the list once again in 2010. Feliz made his Major League debut shortly after 2008 teammate Derek Holland and didn’t disappoint, going 1-0 with a 1.74 ERA and 39 strikeouts over 20 appearances. Feliz was also 2-of-3 in save chances with Texas and limited big-league opponents to a .124 average. Not too bad for a guy who was working on secondary pitches in Clinton just two seasons ago.
Another ’08 LumberKing comes in at #2, and that is no surprise, either. Justin Smoak is on the cusp of his pro debut after combining to hit .284 with 10 HR and 52 RBI between double-A Frisco and triple-A Oklahoma City last year.
Left-hander Kasey Kiker shows up at #6 after a bounce-back 2009 of sorts. The Rangers’ first-round pick in 2006, Kiker went 7-4 with a 2.90 ERA and 112 strikeouts in 96.1 innings with the LumberKings in 2007, but followed up with a 5-5, 4.73 season in Bakersfield the next year. Last season, Kiker went 7-7 with a more respectable 3.86 ERA and struck out 120 batters over 126 innings with double-A Frisco.
Overshadowed by Smoak in hype but finally emerging as an elite prospect is 1B/OF Mitch Moreland. He holds the #8 spot after another impressive offensive year, this time split between high-A Bakersfield and double-A Frisco. Moreland hit a combined .331 with 16 HR and 85 RBI in 116 games, capturing the Rangers’ Tom Grieve Minor League Player of the Year award. Like Smoak, Moreland could potentially don a Rangers’ uniform some time in 2010.
2. Justin Smoak (1B)
3. Martin Perez (LHP)
4. Tanner Scheppers (RHP)
5. Jurickson Profar (SS)
6. Kasey Kiker (LHP)
7. Robbie Ross (LHP)
8. Mitch Moreland (OF/1B)
9. Danny Gutierrez (RHP)
10. Wilmer Font (RHP)
Best Hitter for Average: Justin Smoak
Best Power Hitter: Justin Smoak
Best Strike-Zone Discipline: Justin Smoak
Best Athlete: Greg Golson
Best Fastball: Neftali Feliz
Best Curveball: Tanner Scheppers
Best Slider: Robbie Ross
Best Changeup: Kasey Kiker
Best Control: Blake Beavan
Best Defensive Catcher: Leonel de los Santos
Best Defensive Infielder: Leury Garcia
Best Defensive Outfielder: Craig Gentry
Best Outfield Arm: Greg Golson
Don’t forget, the 2010 Hot Stove Banquet is this Saturday at Eagle Point Lodge. Social hour starts at 6 PM. You can still buy tickets in advance by calling the office at 563-242-0727. You’ll get to hear from LumberKings’ manager John Tamargo and have a chance to win some great LumberKings prizes if you attend!