Prospects 60 - 51

This is a continuation of the top 100 prospects as identified by seven publications.  We average out these seven publications to come up with our own Top 100.

60. Javier Baez SS (Cubs) Puerto Rico (3.84) - You can never have too many shortstops in your organization.  With young Starlin Castro holding down the position for what appears the next decade, Javier will have to hope for a trade or a shift in positions to make it to the major leagues.  The 2011 first round pick still has a few years to worry about that.  He has a good bat that should hit for average and power and average defensive tools to stick at shortstop.  With his bat his best move may be to third base where Cubs fans thought was the future of Josh Vitters.  He will need to tone down his emotions a bit, keeping focused on the game and not on a yesterday’s call.

59. Dellin Betances RHP (Yankees) United States (3.99) - The Yankees stocked up their starting pitching this year, making it more difficult for Dellin to get an opportunity.  At 6′8″ he has some impressive height to whip his low 90s fastball that can reach the mid-90s.  He has a good change but loses command and location of the curvball.  He walked six batters in his three innings of major league work, showing the Yankee brass he probaly still needs a little more seasoning.  Still, he is older than Manny Banuelos and already has major league experience, so if a major league opening occurs, Dellin should get the first call.  Back in 2006 the Yankees knew they had something special in the eighth round pick when they offered him a $1 million bonus.  Dellin has averaged 10.4 whiffs per nine innings pitched and limits the opposition to a .217 average for his minor league career.

58/28. Yoenis Cespedes OF (Athletics) Cuba (4.07/7.13) - For those publications that rated Yoenis he falls at number 28 in the top 100.  There is no question he will hit.  Will he provide enough production to justify his 8 figure $36 million contract.  The Athletics have to hope so.  He tied Jose Abreu last year for the most homeruns in one season in the Cuban League at 33.  Despite that accomplishment, he was still considered the second best hitter on his team, the Granma Stallions.  Alfredo Despaigne is the best offensive player in Cuba and he is on pace to break that 33 homerun mark this year.  Yoenis may not have the long term speed to stay in centerfield.  He does have the arm and should hit for the power to be a good fit for right field.  He may need some minor league seasoning to shake off the rust before he is expected to hit major league pitching.  He struggled in winter ball against many journeyman pitchers, failing to catch up on mediocre fastballs and flailing at sliders that bit in the dirt.

57. Michael Olt 3B (Rangers) United States (4.14) - He raked in the Arizona League Fall League, falling one short of the homerun record (14) and one short of the RBI record (43).  He also hit a pretty decent .349.  Two things working against him are Adrian Beltre currently cemented at third base and his propensity to swing and miss.  He doesn’t have the defensive acumen of Beltre, but he could stick at the position and provide a pretty potent bat if given the opportunity.  A move to first or the outfield, where his below average speed would not be ideal, could be in his future if he sticks with the Rangers.  Olt was the Rangers supplemental first round pick in 2010.  He hopes to improve on the 14 homeruns he hit in High A last year, and based on his production in the AFL, that should not be a problem.

56. Nick Franklin SS (Mariners) United States (4.14) - He was hurt for much of last year, playing in only 88 games.  He showed excellent power for the position in 2010 hitting 23 homeruns.  His range may not be what you would like to see in the elite shortstop prospects and his arm is a bit weak, so a move to second could be a possibility.  Nick was a 2009 first round pick and needs another season like 2010, otherwise he will have people thinking that 2010 was an aberration.

55. Oscar Taveras OF/2B (Cardinals) Dominican Republic (4.16) - He had a phenomenal year last year with the bat, hitting .386, the second highest batting average in the minor leagues.  He only got around 350 at bats so he didn’t qualify for the minor league batting title, but he did win the Midwest League batting title by sixty points.  He will be a line drive hitter that finds the gap, rather than drives them over the fence.  Oscar will eventually settle in right field.  He signed for just $145,000 as an international prospect, showing that teams do not have to spend millions to find decent players out of the Dominican Republic.

54/4. Yu Darvish RHP (Rangers) Japan (4.17/9.73) - It is hard to call a player a prospect that has dominated another professional league, but those publications that rated him slipped him fourth after the big three.  He dominated Japan, striking out 276 hitters last year.  Any pitcher accomplishing that feat in the major leagues would not have any trouble winning the Cy Young Award.  Clayton Kershaw, had the most strikeouts in the major leagues at 248 and he threw one more inning than Darvish.  Darvish’s fastball has hit 97 but he tends to sit at 91-95.  He also mixes in a myriad of other pitches, throwing a slider, cutter, curveball and splitter.  One of those pitches is probably the enigmatic shutto that many Japanese pitchers claim to throw.  He may want to limit his repertoire so major league hitters do not beat him with his fifth best pitch.  He only walked 36 in his 232 innings of work, 18 less than Kershaw in his 233 innings.  It will be interesting to see how Darvish adjusts to the major leagues.  Most expect him to have a greater impact than Daisuke Matsuzaka.

53. Francisco Lindor SS (Indians) Puerto Rico (4.18) - The second player on this list of ten born in Puerto Rico but moved to the mainland to get his baseball experience.  Javier Baez was the first.  Lindor was the Inidans 2011 first round pick.  He has better tools than Baez to stick at short, showing plus range and a strong arm.  He will fall far short of Baez in the power department.  The Indians are hoping for a gap to gap hitter.  He only got 20 at bats last year, but hit .316, with all of his hits singles.  He has the speed to reach double figures in stolen bases, but he won’t approach the league leaders in stolen bases.

52. Xander Bogaerts SS (Red Sox) Aruba (4.29) - Most feel that as he fills out his 6′3″ frame he will outgrow shortstop, forcing a move to right field.  He didn’t get a lot of playing time for the Netherlands in their gold winning performance in the World Cup, but then he was the youngest player on the roster.  He broke out last year with 16 homeruns and many project him to double that as he fully matures.  He has the arm to play right field.  His speed won’t be a detriment, unless he fills out too much.  Xander will play in High A next year and will probably stay at shortstop until he outgrows the position.  The Red Sox are a little thin at that position and only have Jose Iglesias as a real alternative.  Some question that Jose may not have the bat to stick in the major leagues so they hope Xander can handle the position.

51. Yonder Alonso 1B (Padres) United States/Cuba (4.39) - Yonder was born in Cuba but played his high school ball in Florida.  He showed last year that he can hit major league pitching, hitting .330 with five homeruns for a .545 slugging.  unfortunately, he had to get most of his playing time in left field where his defense may have let in as many runs as his bat drove in.  With the Padres he will be back at first base, where his defense is adequate.  The Padres can only hope that he is happy settling for the gaps rather than trying to carry the ball over the fence.  Many a power hitter has seen is average decline as he tries to adjust to the spacious environs of Petco Park.

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