Right-hander Carlos Carrasco, 20, earns top billing for the second straight year in a list front-loaded with pitching.
A product of Barquisimeto, Venez., Carrasco went 12-6 with a 3.86 ERA between Class-A Clearwater and Double-A Reading, averaging 6.56 strikeouts-per-nine innings. After Carrasco, Baseball America's list goes 2. Adrian Cardenas, 2B; 3. Joe Savery, LHP; 4. Josh Outman, LHP; 5. Kyle Drabek, RHP; 6. Dominic Brown, OF; 7. Greg Golson, OF; 8. Lou Marson, C; 9. Drew Carpenter, RHP; 10. Jason Jaramillo, C. [Link - full scouting reports and chat available to Baseball America subscribers only]
Beerleaguer: The guys at Baseball America release this list every winter and it serves as a good measuring stick for the rest of the year. Later on, they'll publish a complete prospect handbook, which lists the top 30 prospects for every team. This is a must buy for every Beerleaguer and I will send out a reminder once it's published.
Predictably, Carrasco, Cardenas, Savery, Outman and Drabek round out the top five, and if you’ve been reading Baseball America for the last couple of years, the inclusion of Golson at 7 is no surprise. There’s nothing in the numbers that suggests a big-league future of any kind, but I have no problem setting aside space for someone of Golson’s raw talent, which the magazine adores. BA is, first and foremost, a scouting mag.
Drabek underwent Tommy John surgery this season. Ahead of him, the top four represent a nice quartet of talents. Cardenas was Baseball America's high school player of the year in 2006, while Carrasco and Savery project as top-of-the-rotation starters. Outman has a chance to pitch for the Phillies this season. I'm excited by all four players and skeptical about Drabek.
Notable omissions include left-hander J.A. Happ and last season’s No. 4 ranked prospect, right-hander Edgar Garcia, still just 19. In the chat today, BA writer Chris Kline says Garcia’s future may be as a reliever, but his stuff is still comparable to Carrasco (Traditionally, pitchers who project as relievers never make these lists. That philosophy needs to change. See Romero, J.C. and his $12 million contract).
Meanwhile, things are looking quite glum for Happ and I no longer know what to make of him. He took a major step backward and battled elbow soreness all season. He's not an especially hard thrower to start with and now he's walking guys and is hurting. Kline's chat, which ran for two hours today, made mention of a too-soft slider. Bad control and lifeless pitches are a brutal combination for a left-hander. At 25, now is not the time to have a down arrow next to your name.
The Phillies have a couple of very, very young pitchers who’re too green to make the list, like 17-year-old Brazilian Heitor Correa, plus it’s a little early to gage the higher-round position selections from the 2007 draft.
In addition, Lou Marson made a nice climb in the rankings. I look forward to seeing if he’s for real next season in Double-A Reading. Meanwhile, fellow catcher Jason Jaramillo, currently representing the U.S. in the Baseball World Cup, is back on the list after a so-so year at Triple-A. He is 10 years Chris Coste’s junior and finished last year strong, while Coste stumbled. What are the odds the switch hitter will see more time behind the plate next year than Coste?
Probably better than most fans assume.