This past off-season, we took at look at each organization’s Top 10 prospects. It’s still very early on in the 2010 season, but let’s do our first update of the year and see how each of the No. 1 prospects are doing. Today, we’ll highlight the American League players.
Texas Rangers | Top Prospect: Neftali Feliz, Relief Pitcher (MLB)
Mr. Feliz is just 21 (soon to be 22) but he’s already serving as the Rangers’ closer. He has a 2.61 xFIP in six games, as well as a strikeout rate of 13.50. Feliz has converted two save opportunities.
Seattle Mariners | Top Prospect: Michael Saunders, Outfielder (AAA)
The left-field geriatric ward in Seattle is pretty ugly but Saunders is not exactly forcing the club to consider him. He’s hitting just .174/.240/.174 in 46 at-bats. Saunders is hitting .139 against right-handed pitching but, as a left-handed hitter, that should pick up significantly.
Oakland Athletics | Top Prospect: Chris Carter, First Baseman (AAA)
Shhh, don’t make too much noise; you might spook him. But take a peek at Daric Barton. He may finally be making good on his potential. That, though, could be bad news for Carter, as it temporarily blocks his route to the first-base job. The good news is that there may still be room at DH, as Eric Chavez is not exactly lighting the world on fire. Carter is currently hitting .292/.333.479 with two homers in 12 games at triple-A.
Los Angeles Angels | Top Prospect: Hank Conger, Catcher (AAA)
Conger, 22, is enjoying his time at triple-A. The offensive-minded catcher is hitting .282/.333/.487 in 39 at-bats. Interestingly, he’s also struck out four times… but he’s also taken a total of two free passes. With Mike Scoscia’s man-crush on Jeff Mathis at the MLB level, it might be a while before Conger has a clear road to a starting gig in L.A. The prospect or Mike Napoli could end up as trade bait. Somewhere, Bobby Wilson is quietly sobbing in a corner.
Kansas City Royals | Top Prospect: Mike Montgomery, Starting Pitcher (A+)
Just 20, Montgomery has dominated high-A ball through three starts. He’s pitched at least five innings in each contest and has yet to allow more than two hits in a game. Overall, he’s pitched 18.0 innings and has allowed just six hits and four walks. The young lefty has a strikeout rate of 13 K/9 and a ground-ball rate of 57%.
Detroit Tigers | Top Prospect: Casey Crosby, Starting Pitcher (A-)
Crosby is currently on the disabled list with a “tender elbow.”
Chicago White Sox | Top Prospect: Tyler Flowers, Catcher (AAA)
If A.J. Pierzynski was not entrenched in Chicago, Flowers would already be the favorite of MLB headline writers everywhere. Triple-A has not kept Flowers from doing what he always does: get on base and hit for power. His current triple-slash line is .316/.447/.553. He also has 11 RBI in as many games.
Cleveland Indians | Top Prospect: Carlos Santana, Catcher (AAA)
Speaking of offensive-minded catchers, Santana was off to a sizzling start to the year in triple-A before he fouled a ball off of his knee. That will keep him sidelined for a few days but it’s not considered serious. He’s currently hitting .364/.451/.727 in 44 a-bats. Of his 16 hits, four are doubles and four are homers. He also has 14 RBI and has scored nine runs.
Minnesota Twins | Top Prospect: Aaron Hicks, Outfielder (A-)
Clearly wanting to take it slow with Hicks, the Twins organization sent the former No. 1 draft pick back to low-A after a modest (but promising) ’09 season. Perhaps that messed with his head… Hicks is currently hitting .156/.269/.244 in 45 at-bats. He has struck out 16 times in 12 games.
Toronto Blue Jays | Top Prospect: Brett Wallace, 1B (AAA)
Wallace tends to get knocked for his lack of power, which is somewhat odd considering the fact that he hit 20 homers last season. Sure, he doesn’t project to be a 30-40 home run slugger, but who legitimately does these days? Wallace is currently raking in the Pacific Coast League with a line of .283/.377/.630 in 46 at-bats. He also has five homers, which is tied for first in the league with two minor league veterans. He might be pressing a bit to drive in runs, as he’s hitting .440 with the bases empty and .077 with runners in scoring position.
Boston Red Sox | Top Prospect: Casey Kelly, RHP (AA)
It was a bit of a surprise to the see the Red Sox organization challenge the 20-year-old prospect with a promotion to double-A to begin the year. After all, he had just 46.2 innings of experience in high-A ball. Kept to a tight pitch count, Kelly has worked just five innings in two starts, but he has yet to allow an earned run. He’s allowed five hits, one walk and has four Ks.
Tampa Bay Rays | Top Prospect: Desmond Jennings, OF (AAA)
Jennings missed the beginning of the season with a wrist injury so he’s gotten into just three games so far. He already has four hits, three walks and three steals.
Baltimore Orioles | Top Prospect: Brian Matusz, LHP (MLB)
Matusz is certainly making an early case for the best rookie in the American League. The young lefty has a 3.75 xFIP in three starts. With 18.2 innings under his belt, he has a strikeout rate of 11.09 K/9 and his walk rate has been acceptable at 3.38 BB/9. His extreme fly-ball tendencies are a little worrisome (57.8%).
New York Yankees | Top Prospect: Jesus Montero, C (AAA)
At first glance, you might say a line of .295/.367/.500 through 11 games is nice. But consider the fact that Montero is just 20 years old and he hasn’t been fazed one bit by the move to triple-A. His triple-slash line is actually pretty awesome. Rumor has it he occasionally plays with one arm tied behind his back just to make things interesting. If the Yankees offense sputters at any point this season, expect to see him penciled in to the DH spot.
Please refrain from quoting “small sample size” in your comments. It’s a given.