Saturday, October 29, 2011

Top Prospects Series - Overall Position Player

We scoured the workout data. We've interviewed the crusty old minor league managers. We've driven the dusty back roads from the Dominican Republic to Walla Walla, Washington to talk with high-school coaches. All this to bring you THE TOP POSITION PLAYER PROSPECTS IN THE MAJOR LEAGUES.

1. Albert Santayana, IF (SEA): This Season 15 int'l free agent could play at the major-league level now, but Seattle has chosen the conservative route and starts the future superstar at AA. Santayana has incredible power and a great eye; he looks like he'll eventually have pretty low strikeout totals for a power hitter. If there's a flaw with his hitting, it's a weakness against LHP, but I think he'll be OK there. Defensively, Albert will have terrific range and a strong arm. At this point it looks like his glove may end up being a little shaky for 2B or 3B, but that depends largely on his development this season. If he ends up in the OF, he'll add a boatload of Gold Gloves to his Silver Sluggers and MVP's.

2. Hector Bennett, IF (PHI): You know Season 15 was a big IFA year when this guy was only the 2nd-best of the bunch. He'll have excellent contact skills plus very good power - probably 25-35 HR's, even in Seattle. His eye didn't develop as well as his other skills last year, but it's already decent, so he should able to put up respectable walk totals. He already has B+ speed, and as his baserunning skills develop further he'll become a pretty good weapon on the basepaths. Defensively, he's growing into a quality 3B...maybe even GG-quality. 2B will be an option, although I think that arm strength could be wasted there.

3. Melvin Charleston, 2B (SD): The unpolished "tools guy" among the top prospects...we know he's a great athlete, but can only guess at what kind of ballplayer he'll be. We know he's already a pretty advanced hitter, except that good righties can shut him down. Based on his current contact and eye, though, I think he'll be pretty good against righties (with the occasional really "off" year). Given his sprinter's speed, he could see some .330+ seasons. His power might reach 30-HR levels. I don't think his speed is going to translate into steals, though, as his baserunning instincts are atrocious. His defensive talent is range; depending on his development his glove will take him to so-so to pretty good at 2B.

4. Len Sullivan, CF (PIT): We move from the unknown to the pretty-well-baked. Sullivan was Season 14's #1 pick and he's not likely to disappoint the Pirates fans. He looks to be a .300 hitter with 70-75 walks thrown in and maybe 20-HR power. He's another speedburner, but his baserunning skills are just OK - think 30-35 SB. Defensively he won't be a great CF but it's clearly his position for now. Look for his major-league debut this season.

5. Luke Gleason, OF (CHI): Season 15's third pick is a big righty masher who will love hitting HR's (often) in Wrigley Field. All hitters have up and down years, but I think this guy's down years will be 45 HR's. He could top 60 a few times. He'll be a better-than-adequate baserunner for a slugger. Defensively, he'll be a pretty good corner OF or a really good 1B.

Honorable mention: Jim Garcia, 3B (LAA); Julio Osoria, OF (CHI), Jumbo Bravo, IF (ATL)

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