Reviewing the Top 10 Prospect Lists: AL East

This article wraps up a look back at the pre-season Top 10 prospect lists here at FanGraphs. You can read the other reviews: NL West | NL Central | NL East | AL West | AL Central.

Tampa Bay Rays
1. Jeremy Hellickson, RHP
2. Matt Moore, LHP
3. Desmond Jennings, OF
4. Chris Archer, RHP
5. Jake McGee, LHP
6. Josh Sale, OF
7. Alex Colome, RHP
8. Alex Torres, LHP
9. Justin O’Conner, C
10. Hak-Ju Lee, SS

All five analysts (Baseball America, Goldstein, Law, Sickels, and myself) ranked one-through-three absolutely the same. Unfortunately, both BA and Sickels went to print with their lists before the Matt Garza deal occurred, which brought in both Archer and Lee (and others). Both Colome and Torres have had fairly quiet seasons, but they’ve held their own in 2011. Drew Vettleson almost made the 2011 list, but he’ll definitely be there in 2012. Two other 2010 draft picks – Josh Sale and Justin O’Conner – have had slow starts to their pro careers, but they’re still young.

Boston Red Sox
1. Jose Iglesias, SS
2. Drake Britton, LHP
3. Anthony Ranaudo, RHP
4. Josh Reddick, OF
5. Stolmy Pimentel, RHP
6. Felix Doubront, LHP
7. Kolbrin Vitek, 3B
8. Lars Anderson, 1B
9. Oscar Tejeda, SS/2B
10. Ryan Lavarnway, C/1B

I took a bit of heat for ranking the organization so high (11th overall) prior to the 2011 season, especially after the club sent top prospects (Anthony Rizzo, Reymond Fuentes, Casey Kelly) over to San Diego for Adrian Gonzalez. I did, though, explain that they were ranked so high due to impressive depth beyond the Top 10 list. That depth has been on display this season while other Top 10 prospects have wilted (Britton, Pimentel). Only John Sickels and I ranked Lavarnway on Top 10 lists this past off-season with Baseball America, Kevin Goldstein, and Keith Law docking him marks for his perceived inability to catch at the big league level. As he’s shown this season, his bat is probably good enough to be a starting first baseman. Will Middlebrooks was one of a few players (Brandon Workman, Garin Cecchini) who received consideration for the back-end of the list. The athletic third baseman should be near the top for the 2012 list.

New York Yankees
1. Jesus Montero, C/1B
2. Manny Banuelos, LHP
3. Gary Sanchez, C
4. Dellin Betances, RHP
5. Austin Romine, C
6. Hector Noesi, RHP
7. Eduardo Nunez, SS
8. Slade Heathcott, OF
9. Ivan Nova, RHP
10. Brett Marshall, RHP

This list wasn’t as easy to do as you might think. The Yankees organization currently lacks the plethora of high-ceiling talents that it’s boasted in the past – plus Yankees prospects tend to be some of the more overrated (not to say they don’t have great prospects). With that said, there are a lot of interesting names that should help fill out the big league roster for years to come. The organization has some of the best catching depth in the minors… even if you write off Montero as a first baseman or DH. Sanchez has also had his defensive struggles but those can be mostly chalked up to youthful errors. I remain a Romine supporter despite the fact more and more people are jumping off the bandwagon. In the outfield, Heathcott started the year off with a bang but then ran into some trouble and things quieted down for him, but he was recently promoted to high-A ball. I definitely felt some pressure to include Andrew Brackman on the Top 10 list but in hindsight holding to my guns was a smart decision; he’s been pretty bad this season. It helped that it was Reed MacPhail who actually wrote up the Yankees report and he felt the same way about omitting Brackman.

Toronto Blue Jays
1. Kyle Drabek, RHP
2. Brett Lawrie, 3B
3. J.P. Arencibia, C
4. Deck McGuire, RHP
5. Carlos Perez, C
6. Zach Stewart, RHP
7. Travis d’Arnaud, C
8. Asher Wojciechowski, RHP
9. Aaron Sanchez, RHP
10. Adeiny Hechavarria, SS

It’s been an up-and-down year for many of the prospects on this Top 10 list – just ask Drabek. Say what you will about Arencibia’s meager batting average and low on-base percentage but he is an almost average defensive catcher with the highest isolated slugging percentage (.235) amongst big league catchers. Atlanta’s Brian McCann is second, about 30 points behind the rookie. I ranked Arencibia more aggressively than any other analyst – although he appeared on each list – and I believe he’ll be a solid contributor throughout his career. Staying with backstops, I ranked Perez ahead of d’Arnaud believing he had a higher overall ceiling but perhaps I was wrong. d’Arnaud has looked great in double-A while Perez struggled early on with his offence in the Midwest League. His defense has also been a question mark. The bottom of the Jays prospect list has had a tough year. Hechevarria has a lot of people talking about his Gold Glove caliber defense but there are huge question marks on his bat thanks to his overly aggressive approach. Wojciechowski was considered a bit of a rawer college pitcher and he’s shown that his secondary stuff is lacking. After a nice debut in 2010, Sanchez got off to a slow start in ’11 when he struggled with both his command and control but he’s come on strong late in the minor league season.

Baltimore Orioles
1. Zach Britton, LHP
2. Manny Machado, SS
3. LJ Hoes, 2B
4. Xavier Avery, OF
5. Dan Klein, RHP
6. Jonathan Schoop, SS
7. Ryan Adams, 2B
8. Mychal Givens, SS/2B
9. Wynn Pelzer, RHP
10. Bobby Bundy, RHP

The inclusion of Bundy on this list really makes me happy – as he didn’t appear on any other Top 10 lists. Slowed by injuries earlier in his career, I remained a supporter throughout and am glad to see him really break out in 2011 – just as his younger brother is set to join him in pro ball (save for a last-minute shocker). Overall, this was a pretty weak list and it hasn’t gotten much better as the year has progressed. Both Avery and Hoes have been on a bit of the fast-track and reached double-A in 2011 at the age of 21. Avery has struggled with his ability to get on-base, mainly due to his lack of patience, while Hoes has looked better at the higher level than he did earlier in the season in high-A ball. You cannot fully blame the organization for the lack of development among its prospects; a lot of players fell victim to injuries, including players that made other Top 10 lists like Trent Mummey and Ryan Berry (What, an injured former Rice University pitcher?!).

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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects, depth charts and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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