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Prospect Watch: Top 10 outfielders
Prospect Watch: Top 10 outfielders
By Jonathan Mayo
The 2011 version of MLB.com's Top 50 Prospects list will be unveiled on Tuesday on MLB.com as well as on a one-hour show on MLB Network, airing at 9 p.m. ET. Leading up to that, MLB.com will take a look at baseball's top 10 prospects at each position.
Outfielders come in all shapes and sizes. Some are speedy, top-of-the-lineup types, others are big bashers. The ultimate prize, of course, is a five-tool outfielder. Those don't grow on trees, but they're out there in the Minor Leagues. This Top 10 list is a reflection of that variety, with a little something for everyone.
1. Mike Trout, Angels: Who said players from the Northeast were behind their counterparts from California or Florida? Trout came from a New Jersey high school and established himself as one of the most exciting prospects in the game in his first full season. He's got plus speed, which he uses extremely well -- both on the bases and to play an outstanding center field. He's got an advanced approach at the plate and he should hit for plenty of average, with additional power to come. At 19 he's very young, but at this rate, it may not take him much longer to reach Los Angeles.
2. Bryce Harper, Nationals: Perhaps you've heard of him? One of the most hyped Draft prospects in history, Harper has yet to play a game. But if his Arizona Fall League showing is any indication, he might actually live up to his surreal expectations. Harper has as much raw power as anyone who's come around in a long time and the skills to tap into it to all fields. He's got such great bat speed that he should hit for average as well. He runs well for a guy his size and should be a very good right fielder with a plus arm when all is said and done. All those tools combined with an all-out attitude should spell quick success for Harper.
3. Domonic Brown, Phillies: The Phillies might be saying publicly they're not handing the right-field job to Brown this spring, but rest assured they're hoping he wins it outright. He has all the makings of the prototypical right fielder, with outstanding raw power and a strong arm. Brown really started to tap into that power in 2010, but he's more than just a home run threat -- he should hit for average as well. He's got good speed to boot, and his entire package reminds many of a young Darryl Strawberry.
4. Desmond Jennings, Rays: Replacing Carl Crawford is a lot easier said than done, but Jennings should make a name for himself with his exciting brand of play. He's more of the leadoff type, with an ability to hit for average, get on base and use his terrific speed to wreak havoc on the basepaths. He'll never be a big power threat, but he should have enough pop to keep pitchers honest. And that speed works for him in the outfield as well. He'll play left right now, but he's got the chance to be a Gold Glove-caliber center fielder if the opportunity arises.
5. Aaron Hicks, Twins: Sometimes it can take the raw, toolsy types a little bit longer to get going. That's what's happened with Hicks, the Twins' first-round pick in 2008. He spent his second year in the Class A Midwest League and after a rough start, he hit .308/.429/.459 in the second half. He's got a chance to be one of those five-tool types, and even if the power doesn't fully develop, he still can be a pretty special center fielder.
6. Brett Jackson, Cubs: Taken in the first round in 2009, Jackson jumped on the fast track by making it to Double-A in his first full season. While his individual tools may not grade out as plus, he can do a little bit of everything. He hit 12 homers and stole 30 bases last year, and there should be more power coming. While he strikes out a lot, he'll also draw some walks and he's capable of playing all over the outfield. With Brandon Guyer gone, Jackson could be the first outfielder the Cubs call up from the Minors when the need arises.
7. Guillermo Pimentel, Mariners: Pimentel is one of those prospects you see far off in the distance, but he is worth watching. He'll play all of 2011 at age 18 and it might take him some time to figure out everything. When he does, look out. Pimentel has plus raw power with very good bat speed. He runs pretty well and has a decent arm, but those tools are all secondary. He needs a lot of work on plate discipline, but he's just getting started. He could be the kind of left-handed power bat teams dream about.
8. Reymond Fuentes, Padres: Part of the Adrian Gonzalez trade, Fuentes was Boston's first-round pick in 2009. A cousin of Carlos Beltran, he's extremely athletic and toolsy, with his speed being the best in the toolbox. He already knows how to use it, stealing 42 bases in 47 attempts and playing a plus center field in 2010. He hasn't hit for much power as of yet, but he might grow into some as he matures. He's starting to get a better feel for the strike zone, which will make him a better hitter as he moves up the San Diego chain.
9. Ben Revere, Twins: Revere is making a career out of proving people wrong. He was a surprise first-round pick in 2007, and he was too small to succeed -- he's heard it all. But all he's done is hit at every level -- never below .300 -- and steal bases (125 in his three full seasons). He uses his speed well in the outfield and plays the game with the kind of energy you love to see. He's been an All-Star at every level he's played and he's just about ready to make more of a big league contribution than he did during a September callup last season.
10. Engel Beltre, Rangers: After a poor showing in the California League in 2009, Beltre went back there last season and started to figure out some things, earning a midseason promotion to Double-A in the process. Acquired from Boston in the Eric Gagne trade in 2007, Beltre can make a lot of things happen. He should hit for plenty of average, especially as he continues to refine his approach from the left side, and should have at least a little power. He's still learning to use his outstanding speed on the bases, but he uses it perfectly well in center field. Even if it takes him a bit longer to smooth out the rough edges, he still could get to Texas ahead of the curve.
To be eligible for the list, a player must have rookie
eligibility. To qualify for rookie status, a player must not have exceeded 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the Major Leagues, or accumulated more than 45 days on the active roster of a Major League club or clubs during the 25-player limit period, excluding time on the disabled list or in military service.
Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com and writes a blog, B3. Follow @JonathanMayoB3 on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.