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Reviewing the Top Prospects: AL West

Entering 2010, FanGraphs posted Top 10 prospect lists for all 30 MLB organizations. And it’s been a great year for rookies, which means there are going to be a lot of changes in the Top 10 lists for 2011. Before we tackle that beast after the season, though, we’re taking a look at how each club’s No. 1 prospect has fared in 2010. Today, we’re looking at the National League Central division.

Previously, we looked at:
The American League East
The National League West
The American League Central
The National League Central

The Los Angeles Angels

Hank Conger | Catcher
2010 Level: Triple-A
Age: 22

Conger followed up a healthy ’09 season in double-A with another good offensive season in triple-A in which he posted a wOBA of .374. Although his raw power remained just that – raw (with only 11 homers and an ISO of .163) – Conger produced a solid triple-slash line at .300/.385/.463 in 387 at-bats. His walk rate sat at an impressive 12.2 BB% and his strikeout rate was impressive at just 15.0%. On the down side, his defense continues to be “meh,” which is never good for a catcher hoping to play for Mike Scioscia. The 22-year-old switch-hitting Conger could become the next (cheaper-younger) Mike Napoli.

The Oakland Athletics

Chris Carter | First Baseman
2010 Level: Triple-A/MLB
Age: 23

It was a rougher-than-expected year for Carter, who (as of this writing) is 0-for-19 in his MLB debut with a strikeout rate of 47.4% K. Playing mostly at triple-A in ’10, the former White Sox prospect hit .258/.365/.529 with an ISO rate of .271. He slugged 30+ homers in the minors for the second time in three years. (He hit “just” 28 in ’09). Carter is your typical slugging first baseman with 30+ homer potential in the Majors, but he’ll likely hit in the .250-.260 range with a whole whack of strikeouts. Defense is not a strong suit at first base and he’s played the outfield during his brief MLB career with less-than-stellar results. Even with his warts, Oakland can definitely use Carter’s power.

The Texas Rangers

Neftali Feliz | Closer
2010 Level: MLB
Age: 22

You don’t see many 22-year-old closers, but that’s exactly what you have with Feliz. His two-pitch repertoire (96 mph fastball, curveball) has overpowered MLB hitters all season (.192 batting average against, 9.30 K/9) and he currently sits third in the AL with 35 saves. The youngster has also been worked hard by his manager and is in the Top 10 in games pitched in the AL. Pitching in short stints, Feliz has all but abandoned his changeup (thrown 3.4% of the time), which does not bode well for his future development and value to the team (1.4 WAR).

The Seattle Mariners

Michael Saunders | Outfielder
2010 Level: Triple-A/MLB
Age: 23

Saunders’ minor league success just has not carried over to the Majors. He’s currently producing a triple-slash line of .213/.289/.372 in 239 at-bats, good for a wOBA of .292. The Canadian has had major issues with making contact (30% MLB strikeout rate), although he’s at least hitting for more power this season (.159 ISO in 2010 vs .057 in ’09). Known as a pretty good fielder in the minors, Saunders’ glove has not helped him enough. His WAR value is still in the negative for his career. At this point, he doesn’t look like anything more than a fourth outfielder, although youth remains on his side for now, but he needs to make some adjustments.

Up Next: The National League East