Reviewing the Top 10 Prospect Lists: NL East

This is part three of a six-part series looking back at the pre-season Top 10 prospect lists for each organization, which were published at FanGraphs between November and January. Previously, we’ve reflected back on the National League West and Central lists. Let’s see now the East has fared.

Atlanta Braves
1. Julio Teheran, RHP
2. Freddie Freeman, 1B
3. Mike Minor, LHP
4. Randall Delgado, RHP
5. Craig Kimbrel, RHP
6. Arodys Vizcaino, RHP
7. Carlos Perez, LHP
8. Matt Lipka, SS
9. Edward Salcedo, 3B
10. Christian Bethancourt, C

Entering the 2011 season, the Braves Top 10 list was one of my favorites. It’s brimming with high-ceiling arms with some up-the-middle talent and some corner bats sprinkled in. Clearly, the club has already begun to reap the rewards of this strong list with Freeman and Kimbrel spending the entire season in Atlanta; it has also utilized Teheran, Delgado, and Minor. While young pitching is typically inconsistent and unreliable, Teheran, Vizcaino, and Delgado have been very good. I did ranked Vizcaino a couple slots lower than his talent might dictate due to the partial tear of a ligament in his elbow but he’s been durable this season. Perez, the least developed of the four high-ceiling arms, has had his ups-and-downs. Just 19, I would still consider his season an overall success. Brandon Beachy is the biggest omission from the 2011 list. It appears both Keith Law (who also failed to include him on his Braves Top 10 list) and I underestimated Beachy’s overall package. I do, though, still consider him more of a No. 3 starter in the long run.

Philadelphia Phillies
1. Domonic Brown, OF
2. Jonathan Singleton, 1B/OF
3. Jarred Cosart, RHP
4. Brody Colvin, RHP
5. Trevor May, RHP
6. Sebastian Valle, C
7. Jiwan James, OF
8. Jesse Biddle, RHP
9. Domingo Santana, OF
10. Aaron Altherr, OF

Like the Braves list, the Phillies list is another impressive group of prospects lead by high-ceiling arms. Cosart has really broken out this season and become one of the better arms in the minors and he’s actually separated himself a bit from Colvin. Last season a lot of prospect analysts would pretty much flip a coin when picking one over the other. Both May and Biddle have moved up the chain this season with solid years. I commend John Sickels for being the only analyst who included Vance Worley on his Top 10 list. I took the high-risk, high-reward athletes (Santana and Altherr) over a “safer” arm. James continues to have a solid conversion from pitching to hitting. No one from the pre-2011 list has been bad this year, which is very encouraging for the organization.

Florida Marlins
1. Matt Dominguez, 3B
2. Chad James, LHP
3. Kyle Skipworth, C
4. Christian Yelich, 1B/OF
5. Brad Hand, LHP
6. Marcell Ozuna, OF
7. Rob Rasmussen, LHP
8. Osvaldo Martinez, SS
9. Jhan Marinez, RHP
10. Scott Cousins, OF

The Marlins list was kind of hard to put together. The organization was lacking in high-level talent but has a lot of potential complementary and role players. Yelich has had a nice season in low-A ball even though the league has muted his power. Although he’s young, I’m a little concerned over James due to his high hit total and low ground-ball rate. I was more optimistic on Skipworth than any other analyst and he’s completely collapsed in double-A. He’s not hitting for average, power or showing any patience. I also thought Marinez would be in Florida’s ‘pen by now but his control has taken a big step back this season.

Washington Nationals
1. Bryce Harper, OF
2. Derek Norris, C
3. A.J. Cole, RHP
4. Danny Espinosa, 2B/SS
5. Sammy Solis, LHP
6. Wilson Ramos, C
7. Eury Perez, OF
8. Yunesky Maya, RHP
9. Brad Peacock, RHP
10. J.P. Ramirez, OF

Espinosa has been a pretty big surprise this season and, in hindsight, appropriately ranked. Of the five prospect analysts (FanGraphs, Baseball America, Goldstein, Law, and Sickels), Peacock appeared on just two lists (FanGraphs, BA). He’s been arguably the most improved prospect for the Nats in 2011. I believe most people have now bought into the fact that the right-hander may not be destined for the bullpen after all. The organization made an astute choice in picking up Ramos in a trade from the Twins. He’s had a solid rookie season for the big league club, while Norris has seen his star dim with a disappointing double-A performance. After encouraging Winter Ball reports, I added Maya to the Top 10 list thinking he was an advanced arm that could help a club in need of pitching depth but he continues to be an enigma. Young pitcher Robbie Ray made numerous working lists but was left off the final version, which was a mistake (as was buying into Ramirez’ bat). I suppose I can’t write about the Nats’ prospects without mentioning Harper, so here you go. He’s still good.

New York Mets
1. Wilmer Flores, SS/3B
2. Kirk Nieuwenhuis, OF
3. Matt Harvey, RHP
4. Juan Urbina, RHP
5. Fernando Martinez, OF
6. Aderlin Rodriguez, 3B
7. Reese Havens, IF
8. Cesar Puello, OF
9. Cory Vaughn, OF
10. Robert Carson, LHP

Jenrry Mejia was omitted because I didn’t consider him a prospect due to time spent on the big league roster (although he did not exceed the 50-inning cut-off for a rookie). The two most hotly-debated additions to my Top 10 list for the Mets were Vaughn and Carson. Almost four months into the season both are contenders for the 2012 list, with Vaughn being a little more likely than Carson… although I expect both to be there. Havens has had another disappointing season due to injury and I’ve never been a big fan. I’m thankful to the Mets for finally giving Martinez enough at-bats at the MLB level to no longer be eligible for the lists. I was the only analyst to omit Lucas Duda from the Top 10 but I’m pretty glad that I did. He looks like a part-time player at best. Harvey is definitely the easy favorite to be the club’s No. 1 prospect for 2012.




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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospect analysis. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.


31 Responses to “Reviewing the Top 10 Prospect Lists: NL East”

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  1. Russ says:

    Juan Urbina is a LHP

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  2. JCA says:

    Nats Destin Hood is having a fine season at A ball and not old for the level. Was he close to your list?

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  3. caseyB says:

    I think in 2012 both Jeurys Familia and Armando Rodriguez should be on the Mets’ list.

    I don’t understand the fascination with Carson.

    I’ll take a wild stab at the Mets 2012 list:

    1. Harvey
    2. Familia
    3. Nimmo
    4. Flores
    5. Niewenhaus
    6. Vaughn
    7. Puello
    8. Armando Rodriguez
    9. Valdespinn
    10. Havens
    11. Gorski

    Ok, I gave Gorski’s an honorary 11th spot because of his unlikely rise to success this year. I left off Mejia because he’s coming off of TJ surgery and Hulet left him off too, but I fully expect Mejia to be an impact player on the Mets by 2013.

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  4. Anon21 says:

    Re: Beachy. The major flaw in his skillset so far seems to be that he’s not especially durable within games. His peripherals so far this season, in a very SSS, have been nothing short of elite: 28.3 K%, which would be third among all starting pitchers if he qualified, and a 5.4 BB%, which is really good, although not eye-popping.

    I don’t think 28.3 K% is likely his true talent level, but I would like to push a little further on the common putdown you hear applied to him, namely that he’s a back-of-the-rotation arm. With such outstanding results and peripherals, what’s got everyone so convinced that he’s not a really good pitcher? Is it his inability to last in games, which is obviously a legitimate concern right now, or is it something that suggest these results and peripherals are due for a big dropoff? If the latter, can we hear some more details? Saying “his stuff isn’t very good” is not super-informative, even if it is true.

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    • KB says:

      FYI: the Braves are pulling Beachy earlier in games than a typical starter to lessen the load on his arm

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      • Anon21 says:

        That makes sense, but I don’t think that’s the whole story. Per http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/gl.cgi?id=beachbr01&t=p&year=2011, he hasn’t been especially efficient, pitch count wise, tossing over 100 pitches in 6 IP or fewer on three occasions this year, and tossing over 95 in 6 IP or fewer two additional times; his only good ratio outing was April 30 vs. STL, where he needed only 97 pitches to complete 7 IP.

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      • Anon21 says:

        I should say: that’s out of 12 GS this year. When you take into account his May 13 start vs. PHI, where he needed 55 pitches to record six outs before leaving with an oblique injury, you’re looking at half his starts so far this year as either bad or worrisome in terms of pitches/outs ratio. So I really do think this is a legitimate weakness of his.

        What I’m curious about is whether Hulet and Law are looking at this issue when they peg him as a No. 3, or whether they just don’t think he’s for real, for lack of a better way of putting it.

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    • Phantom Stranger says:

      Beachy has really surprised me with his hit-or-miss stuff. He has an unusual arm slot and good movement on his fastball. I could see him being a 2/3 pitcher in a solid rotation down the road.

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  5. Dino says:

    The Phillies farm system is vastly overrated. They haven’t produced much ML talent since the good old days of Utley, Hamels, Howard,etc. Even the prospects they traded for Lee and Halladay haven’t made any real impact yet. Singleton is back to playing 1B after a failed try to convert him to an OF. With the exception of Brown, all of these guys are down in A ball so it’s way too early to get excited about them. Pettibone may be a better prospect than Biddle.

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    • hk says:

      The prospects that CLE got for Lee in July 2009 and that TOR got for Halladay prior to last season haven’t had much impact yet because they are all 24 or younger and weren’t expected to have much impact yet. The best so far has been Carlos Carrasco (age 24), who has been worth 2.1 WAR over 152 IP last year and this following a rough debut in 2009. Kyle Drabek is only 23 and remains highly thought of despite his disappointing performance in MLB so far and Travis D’Arnaud has been tearing it up this year to the extent that Keith Law just ranked him as the #20 prospect.

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    • valerio says:

      Michael Bourn much?

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    • Bob says:

      Gio Gonzalez, Carlos Carrasco, Antonio Bastardo, Travis D’arnaud, Anthony Gose, Adrian Cardenas, Kyle Drabek, Gavin Floyd, and Michael Bourn, all go with Cole Hamels, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Carlos Ruiz, Ryan Madson, Jimmy Rollins and Domonic Brown as Philly Farmhands.

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      • Adam says:

        Ehh Gio Gonzalez wouldn’t count as a Philly farmhand. He was in the Phillies system for a year when he was 20. D’arnaud/Gose/Cardenas haven’t been to the majors yet so you can’t mention them yet. Basically we’re looking at just Bastardo (relief pitcher) who’s still with the Phillies. Bourn/Floyd were apart of two trades that look awful for the Phillies. Bourn/Geoff Geary for Eric Bruntlett/Brad Lidge, and Gio Gonzalez/Gavin Floyd for Freddy Garcia. Phils got fleeced in both deals.

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      • Dave S says:

        @Adam… Gonzalez/Floyd for Garcia… I would not contest. Badtrade.

        Bourn/Geary for Bruntlett/Lidge. When Lidge was a HUGE reason they won a World Series. Please. I would trade 1000 Bourns for a World Series win. Sorry. In NO way were the Phillies “fleeced” in that trade.

        Maybe you live in a town where your baseball team wins a lot of World Series. I’m 50… and I’m from Philly.

        We won 2 in my lifetime.

        And these are the glory days for the Phils.

        The Phillies are the losingest team in sports history. EVER. ANY SPORT. ON EARTH. This was my birthright. To root for this team.

        Michael Bourn… for Lidge and a World Series. Fleeced?
        LOL PUH-LEASE.

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  6. I don’t know that Carson is even a top 10 pitching prospect for the Mets anymore. He’s stopped getting groundballs and doesn’t really get a lot of strikeouts. He looks like he will be a reliever in the end.

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    • Franco says:

      I’m not sure he was ever a top 10 prospect for the Mets. It was a solid list but that was the one head scratcher for me originally.

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  7. Shaun Catron says:

    When & If Rendon signs, where on the list is he for the Nats? #4? #5?

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      • Pistol Pete says:

        1. Harper
        2. Rendon
        3. AJ Cole
        4. Brad Peacock
        5. Alex Meyer
        6. Derek Norris
        7. Brian Goodwin
        8. Sammy Solis
        9. Robbie Ray
        10. Steven Lombardarzi

        Destin Hood probably 12-14 range, perhaps with guys like Eury Perez and Cameron Selik (although I have no idea if his scouting reports are good or not)

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      • Will says:

        That’s a pretty solid list, but I’d give Tom Milone strong consideration for the top 10. He’s been arguably the best pitcher in the International League this season.
        Sickels did a write-up on him recently: http://www.minorleagueball.com/2011/6/20/2228891/prospect-of-the-day-tom-milone-lhp-washington-nationals

        Also, assuming the Nats sign all their top picks, where does Matt Purke fit in? I’d rank him just ahead of or behind Cole.

        I’d also drop Solis to #10. He hasn’t been able to stay healthy for any extended period of time, and I’d bump Ray up to around #7. If Lombardozzi can keep up his tear at AAA, he’s another interesting candidate. I think he could surprise a lot of people next year, like Espinosa is doing right now.

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  8. fantasystud1305 says:

    I love to see the Braves having several shortstops in the top of their rankings (albeit only one is listed here). Hopefully the Braves will only need a year-or-two bridge between Alex Gonzalez and Lipka/Pastornicky/etc after this year.

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  9. Greg says:

    I think Harvey is far and away the best prospect the Mets have. He’s probably a top 15-30 prospect in all of baseball and nobody else they have cracks the top 100. Injuries have destroyed the Mets farm this year, with Mejia, Familia, Nieuwenhuis, Martinez, Havens, and Flores all being injured at some point. Familia has a shoulder impingement, which is probably the scariest of all the injuries because if he eventually blows out his shoulder, his chances of returning to form are not good. On the plus side, he does throw 95-98 mph so he could afford to lose 3-4 mph and still have good heat.

    Note, I’m not considering Mejia a prospect for the first sentence even though he essentially is one.

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  10. BillWallace says:

    Marc,

    Kudos for being able to note your misses without feeling the need to qualify them with excuses about why things happened differently from what you thought.

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  11. Alexander says:

    I wish Lutz would at least get some mention

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  12. Blackie says:

    Skipworth is the only real head scratcher here, and more for the aggressive ranking as much as a Top 10 inclusion.

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  13. slamcactus says:

    Duda since the most recent callup: .318/.384/.515.

    Not ready to give up on him just yet.

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