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Reviewing the Top 10 Prospect Lists: AL Central

Our review of the FanGraphs 2011 Top 10 prospect lists continues with the American League Central.

Detroit Tigers
1. Jacob Turner, RHP
2. Nick Castellanos, 3B
3. Andy Oliver, LHP
4. Daniel Fields, OF
5. Daniel Schlereth, LHP
6. Chance Ruffin, RHP
7. Wade Gaynor, 3B
8. Josue Carreno, RHP
9. Bruce Rondon, RHP
10. Dixon Machado, SS

The Tigers Top 10 list, if memory serves correctly, was the first list that I did for the 2011 series (which actually began in late 2010). Later in the list I took a gamble with a lot of low-level but high-ceiling players. I still absolutely love watching Machado field but that bat may never develop. Carreno probably won’t make the Top 10 list for 2012, but his FIP (3.55) is much better than his ERA (5.10) and he has a decent strikeout rate. As such, he’ll remain an interesting sleeper prospect. Rondon, though, is interesting. He’s a hard-throwing right-hander (13.73 K/9) who is tough to hit (22 in 40.0 innings), but that might be because opponents are busy diving out of the batter’s box (7.65 BB/9). Francisco Martinez, who was recently traded to Seattle, was the one miss on this list that I’m disappointed about.

Chicago White Sox
1. Chris Sale, LHP
2. Jared Mitchell, OF
3. Brent Morel, 3B
4. Dayan Viciedo, OF/1B
5. Tyler Flowers, C
6. Jacob Petricka, RHP
7. Eduardo Escobar, SS
8. Josh Phegley, C
9. Trayce Thompson, OF
10. Santos Rodriguez, LHP

My pre-2011 Sox Top 10 list is probably the one list that I’m the least pleased with in hindsight. One of the hardest things to do is to try and rank an organization’s top prospects when there really isn’t much there at all. I bet on bounce-back seasons from catchers Tyler Flowers and Josh Phegley, but both continue to see their values plummet. I don’t tend to value relievers highly, generally speaking, when ranking Top 10 lists but, like I said, the cupboard was rather bare in Chicago so I went against the consensus and chose Rodriguez over Gregory Infante. Although Rodriguez’ FIP is OK in high-A, his K rate has dropped dramatically (13.17 to 6.75 K/9 in a year). The best reliever to have taken a flyer on would have been Addison Reed, who was in the running for the Top 10 but I didn’t have enough reports on him to be comfortable.

Kansas City Royals
1. Mike Moustakas, 3B
2. Eric Hosmer, 1B
3. Wil Myers, OF
4. Mike Montgomery, LHP
5. John Lamb, LHP
6. Danny Duffy, LHP
7. Jake Odorizzi, RHP
8. Chris Colon, SS
9. Chris Dwyer, RHP
10. Yordano Ventura, RHP

After beginning the season with a farm system described by many as “the best ever,” there really is nowhere that you can go but down… and that’s where this system headed as the year progressed. Injuries have taken a toll on many of the young players, including Lamb and Montgomery. With that said, the big league club has still seen contributions – with varying degrees of success – from the likes of Moustakas, Hosmer, and Duffy. Outfielder Brett Eibner was a late bump from this list after the Zack Greinke/Odorizzi trade so I should probably be thankful for that. Relievers Jeremy Jeffress, Tim Collins, and Aaron Crow were also just outside the Top 10 and Louis Coleman was ranked 20th overall (as one of the Top 3 organizations in baseball I extended the list from a Top 10 to a Top 30).

Cleveland Indians
1. Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B
2. Alex White, RHP
3. Jason Kipnis, 2B
4. Drew Pomeranz, LHP
5. Nick Weglarz, 1B/OF
6. Joe Gardner, RHP
7. Jason Knapp, RHP
8. Cord Phelps, 2B
9. Levon Washington, OF
10. Nick Hagadone, LHP

What’s crazy about this list is you may not see any of the 10 prospects listed here on the 2012 version. Thanks to trades, injuries and MLB service time, there may be a whole new wave of (lower ceiling) talent. It’s always hard to obtain an experienced, potential No. 1 starter like Cleveland did with Colorado’s Ubaldo Jimenez but the organization paid a steep price. The team is clearly going all-in for a 2011 playoff push, but I worry that the organization has mortgaged its future for a win-now run that it cannot maintain for more than a year or two. Infielder Tony Wolters probably should have been there in 2011 but will likely appear on the 2012 list. Washington (.651 OPS) has been one of the bigger disappointments among prospects this season.

Minnesota Twins
1. Kyle Gibson, RHP
2. Aaron Hicks, OF
3. Miguel Sano, SS/3B
4. Alex Wimmers, RHP
5. Adrian Salcedo, RHP
6. Ben Revere, OF
7. Oswaldo Arcia, OF
8. Joe Benson, OF
9. Liam Hendriks, RHP
10. Max Kepler, OF

Minnesota is another tough list to do because their talent tends to be of the lower ceiling variety, although there are definitely exceptions like Hicks and Sano. Overall I’m quite happy with this list that Reed MacPhail came up with and, if you look at other Top 10 lists, all the prospect analysts (BA, BP, Law, Sickels) pretty much agreed on the same players for the Top 10. Kepler, Carlos Gutierrez, and Billy Bullock were the wildcards, but I’m happy sticking with the young outfielder (and Bullock was traded to the Atlanta organization). The biggest disappointment of the 2011 list was definitely Wimmers, although no one could have predicted his control woes. As I start preliminary work on the 2012 lists, this particular list could see a lot of repeat performers, which is both good (sustained performance) and bad (fewer breakout prospects).