Every year I
compile a list of minor league all-stars represented by players who previously
have attended a Perfect Game showcase or tournament event.
list included Jeremy Hellickson (who is again listed this year, his third year
in a row), Jason Heyward, Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner, Travis Wood and Sean
Rodriguez, all of whom have made significant contributions to playoff aspiring
big-league ballclubs this year.
may not be competing for the playoffs, at least they haven’t been for several
months, but Austin Jackson has performed very well since being handed the
everyday job in CF to open this season.
As part of a three-team trade last offseason, Jackson was essentially
swapped for Curtis Granderson, now with the Yankees.
It looks as
though the Pirates will finish with the worse record in all of baseball this
year, but Pedro Alvarez cemented his role in the middle of the Pirates lineup
for years to come. Should the Pirates
ever crawl out of the cellar, Alvarez will be looked upon to play a big role in
of players that have graced this list in previous years could be very good news
for Royals fans, as their three best prospects are the heart and soul of the
middle of this projected lineup. They
won’t be complementing an already strong team like many of the players listed
above once they make it to Kansas City, they will be defining it.
who spent 53 games in AA before getting the call up for the Marlins, put up big
enough numbers to be considered, but established himself far too quickly as a
big-leaguer to get the nod for this list.
past years, I like stacking up this team how they would look one-through-nine
(well, actually one-through-eight since I’m not picking a designated hitter),
followed by a trio of pitchers and a potential closer.
Mike Trout - CF (Angels)
Trout put up
incredible numbers for the Cedar Rapids Kernels before getting the bump up to
high-A mid-way through the minor league season.
He was named the Midwest League’s MVP despite playing only 81 games, and
overall hit .341/.428/.490 between two levels with 56 stolen bases in 71
attempts. Midwest League teams couldn’t
stop him from getting on base, and when he did, they also couldn’t stop him
from stealing bases at will. His
production slowed upon his promotion to Rancho Cucamonga in the Cal League, but
he still batted .306 with 15 extra-base hits in 50 games, and certainly appears
to be on the fast-track for the Angels.
Brett Jackson - LF (Cubs)
enjoyed a fine season between two levels, splitting his season between Dayton
in the Florida State League and Tennessee in the Southern League at the AA
level. He showed the ability to hit for
both average (.297) and power (.493 SLG), with 32 doubles, 14 triples and 12
home runs. His variety of extra-base
hits is telling of his speed, as were his 30 stolen bases on the year. He is one of two Cubs prospects (Chris
Archer) on this list getting closer and closer to big-league consideration,
although he is somewhat blocked by Alfonso Soriano and his albatross contract
in left field. While Jackson is athletic
enough to play any outfield position, his arm is best suited in left.
Wil Myers - C (Royals)
In a recurring
theme at the top of this list, Myers also hit very well between two levels, and
he actually hit better after his promotion to Wilmington in the Eastern League
(.346) than he did in his stint with Burlington in the Midwest League (.289). Myers is one of the best overall hitters in
the minors, with an extremely disciplined approach for a player his age,
walking almost as many times as he struck out (85 to 94). He got on base 43% of the time, and showed
both gap and over the fence power. He
has improved behind the plate defensively and is starting to quiet some
speculation that he may have to move to another position.
catcher J.P. Arencibia, who was rewarded for his big season with a big-league
callup, also enjoyed a big year at the plate.
Mike Moustakas - 3B (Royals)
else, Moustakas will be the answer to a good trivia question: Who is the last player to hit a home run at
Rosenblatt? He blasted 36 homers between
both AA and AAA this season, one step ahead of Hosmer as listed below and two
ahead of Myers, while hitting .322/.369/.630 overall, adding 41 doubles and 124
RBI to his impressive stat line. He more
than silenced his critics coming off of a mediocre season last year, and will
likely head to spring training in contention for a regular spot in the Royals
lineup to open the 2011 season.
Eric Hosmer - 1B (Royals)
haven’t had too much to cheer about in recent years, but that could begin to
change once Myers, Moustakas and Hosmer assume their position in the everyday
lineup for Kansas City in the not-to-distant future. Hosmer had the most competition for this
nomination, with Freddie Freeman and Brandon Belt also enjoying big years as
first baseman. He edged those two out by
hitting .338/.406/.571, again, between the high-A and AA levels, blasting 43
doubles, 9 triples and 20 home runs.
Similar to his Royals prospect-mates, he also did a good job managing
the strike zone (59 walks, 66 strikeouts), particularly for his age relative to
the level he was playing at.
Dominic Brown - RF (Phillies)
6-foot-5, 200-pound frame, everyone knew there was more power to Brown’s swing,
who has steadily progressed the last four years since being drafted in the 20th
round of the 2006 draft. His home runs
have climbed from nine to 14 to 20 in his last three seasons while also setting
a career high in average (.327). He too
enjoyed success at two levels before getting a call-up to the big-league club
as the Phillies march confidently towards the postseason. Brown profiles well in right field, where he
may replace free-agent-to-be Jayson Werth to open the 2011 season.
Grant Green - SS (Athletics)
professional debut for Stockton a year ago lasted only five games, he returned
to the same team this year and remained with the club all season, hitting an
impressive .318/.363/.520 with some gaudy extra-base hit numbers: 39 doubles, 6 triples and 20 home runs. The A’s may be more aggressive with Green
next year as he ascends towards Oakland, although he will need to improve his
defense (37 errors) to rid himself of speculation that he may be better suited
at third base.
(Mariners) was a close second after posting big numbers during his first full
professional season as a 19-year old in the Midwest League.
Brett Lawrie - 2B (Brewers)
In only his
second professional season, Lawrie was one of the youngest players in the
Southern League, as he has been placed aggressively by the Brewers since they
took him 16th overall in the 2008 draft.
After starting the season slow, he acclimated himself to AA pitching and
finished the year with a very respectable .285/.346/.451 line. You can get a sense for his tools set by
looking at some of his others numbers:
36 doubles, 16 triples, 8 homers and 30 stolen bases, clearly living up
to his reputation as an offensive-minded player. He still may be suited at a different
position long-term, but he also continues to garner comparisons to a young Jeff
If you’re an
AL fan, take any of the players that just missed the cut (Freddie Freeman,
Brandon Belt, Nick Franklin or even Mike Stanton) to plug in as the team’s
designated hitter to give this lineup nine hitters.
Jeremy Hellickson - SP (Rays)
above, this is the third consecutive year that Hellickson has appeared on this
list. Year after year he went out and
posted very good numbers, pitching much bigger than his smallish, 6-foot-1,
185-pound listed frame. He went 12-3
with a 2.72 ERA this summer in 22 appearances before getting the call to the
big-leagues where his success has continued with the playoff bound Rays. Hellickson spent six seasons in the minors,
going 49-16 with a 2.72 ERA before making his debut at 23-years of age. As a native of Iowa, Hellickson remains a
favorite among the Perfect Game staff.
Kyle Drabek - SP (Blue Jays)
appeared on this list a year ago as an honorable mention, and he bested the
season he had last year with another strong year at the same level, although
with a new organization. Drabek of
course was the key cog that allowed the Phillies to acquire Roy Halladay from
the Toronto Blue Jays, and he recently made his big-league debut. After going 14-9 this season with a 2.94 ERA,
he has now tossed nearly 260 innings in the AA Eastern League with a 3.21 ERA
between this year and last, and may be polished enough to stick in Toronto for
good. Should he continue a more patient
path, similar to Hellickson, he may return to AAA to open next season for his
Chris Archer - SP (Cubs)
to the Cubs from the Indians as part of a deal for Mark DeRosa was the best
thing that happened to Archer’s baseball career, as he immediately turned his
fortunes around starting a year ago, and continued to get better this
year. Similar to both Hellickson and Drabek,
he’s not the most physically imposing figure on the mound, but he has an
electric arm, and after going 7-1 with a 2.86 ERA in the Florida State League,
he went 8-2 with a 1.80 ERA in the Southern League. Missing bats has never been a problem for
him, and a little more polish next year should help iron out some command
(Orioles), John Lamb (Royals) and Robbie Erlin (Rangers) deserve an honorable
Billy Bullock - CL (Twins)
surprise that the final member of this team enjoyed enough success to be
promoted one step closer to the big-leagues at the midseason point, beginning
the year in the Florida State League before joining the Twins AA affiliate in
the Eastern League. Collectively he
posted 27 saves, as Bullock was drafted in the second round last year with the
intent on fast-tracking him to Minnesota as a short reliever and potential
closer. He has the size and stuff to
compete with anyone, striking out 105 batters in 74 innings of work, although
he will need to continue to hone his control after walking 43 batters. He already has 38 professional saves under
his belt, and could be knocking at the big-league door well before this point
thoughts and opinions listed here do not necessarily reflect those of Perfect
Game USA. Patrick Ebert is affiliated with both Perfect Game USA and 5
Tool Talk, and can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.