Click here for Bryan Smith's 2006 list of Top Prospects and here for 2005.
23. Jose Tabata, 18, of, New York Yankees 2006 Stats (A-): .298/.377/.420, 15 SB in 319 AB
Like Rasmus, Tabata is a polished beyond his years. He's a good right fielder with solid baserunning instincts and excellent patience, but the big question will be his power development. The phenom has an odd body type but should have enough core strength to be a home run threat down the road.
22. Evan Longoria, 21, 3b/2b, Tampa Bay Devil Rays 2006 Stats (SS/A+/AA): .315/.360/.597, 4 SB in 248 AB
In 2005, a few scouts likely filled out lackluster reports on a sophomore third baseman living under the tutelage of Troy Tulowitzki. In 2006, when these scouts returned to Long Beach State, I don't doubt that many could not believe it was the same player. The improvements Longoria made during this time, honed most publicly during a dominant stint in the Cape Cod League, are tremendous. His slugging percentage improved 43 percent, he added versatility to his defensive resume, and he walked 21 more times in fewer plate appearances. Longoria is also a wooden bat hitter with a chance at becoming the first position player from the 2006 draft to reach the majors.
21. Fernando Martinez, 18, of, New York Mets 2006 Stats (A-/A+): .279/.336/.457, 8 SB in 315 AB
When the Mets assigned Martinez to be the youngest prospect to attend the Arizona Fall League, many were left skeptical of the Mets' chances at maximizing their value with the phenom. After all, in his final 15 games in the Florida State League, Martinez had gone 9-for-57 with three extra-base hits and 13 strikeouts. However, injuries had kept Martinez inactive for much of his first full season, so the AFL presented an opportunity for consistent playing time. Martinez significantly responded, displaying huge power potential from the left side. It appears the Mets know how to handle the teenager, who could use some time in the weight room and some improvements against southpaws to take the next step in 2007.
20. Scott Elbert, 21, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers 2006 Stats (A+/AA): 2.90 ERA, 97H/146IP, 173K/85BB
The Dodgers might always look at Elbert's draft stock and think what could have been -- Californian Philip Hughes was the next prep pitcher taken -- but they still have a future star in Elbert. One of the minors' best left-handed pitchers, Elbert has power stuff with an exploding 92-93 mph fastball and a power breaking ball. However, Elbert's delivery is completely out of whack, leading to some disastrous walk numbers in 2006. Bad habits seemed to get worse for Elbert as the season went on, as he walked less than three batters just twice in his final 13 outings, most at AA.
19. Carlos Gonzalez, 21, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks 2006 Stats (A+/AA): .289/.348/.543, 16 SB in 464 AB
Gonzalez provided an encore for his 2005 breakout campaign with a better '06, compiling 60 extra-base hits in the California League in little more than 400 at-bats. Gonzalez prospered from the California League, hitting .349 with a .628 slugging in the warm months of June and July. Gonzalez is a good baseball player who excels across the board, playing defense and running well to go along with a very good offensive game. To shore things up, however, Gonzalez could use more walks and fewer strikeouts in 2007, two areas in which he showed improvement during a strong winter league performance. Gonzalez also must prove that Lancaster, the hitter's haven he played in last season, wasn't a mirage to his true power potential.
18. Andy LaRoche, 22, 3b, Los Angeles Dodgers 2006 Stats (AA/AAA): .315/.410/.514, 9 SB in 432 AB
The Southern League in 2006 was disastrous for hitters, reinforcing the league's reputation as a pitcher-friendly circuit. Still, the Dodgers had to be a bit concerned 31 games into LaRoche's season, wondering if the .240 hitter was in fact merely a one-year wonder. However, LaRoche's walk-to-strikeout ratio was 19-18, indicating bad luck was to blame for the third baseman's struggles. Sure enough, LaRoche's quick bat speed began to knock balls all over the park, and LaRoche lived up to his status as the minors' second-best prospect at the hot corner.
17. Reid Brignac, 21, SS, Tampa Bay Devil Rays 2006 Stats (A+/AA): .321/.376/.539, 15 SB in 521 AB
Last winter, I called for Brignac's breakout, noticing the similarities between his 2005 and the Midwest League seasons of Adam Jones and Brandon Wood from just one season earlier. Brignac followed the trend of his predecessors, clubbing more than 60 extra-base hits while reaching AA at the age of 20. Certainly rough around the edges, Brignac has much tightening up to do of his game: patience, contact ability, defense and squaring up against southpaws are all elements of his game that could use fine-tuning. Still, B.J. Upton has reason to look in the rear-view mirror, as Brignac should be ready to play shortstop in Tampa by 2008.
16. Clayton Kershaw, 19, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers 2006 Stats (R): 1.95 ERA, 28H/37IP, 54K/5BB
The first high school player taken in one of the draft's most college-heavy crops of all-time, Kershaw has a chance to be the best player chosen. Perhaps overshadowed in his own state by Kyle Drabek, Kershaw is a southpaw with the size of a future innings-eater. Despite his length, Kershaw has a clean, consistent delivery, and the Texan commands his fastball much better than the average teenager. With a power curve and an improving change, Kershaw has two out pitches, but both will need improved command in full-season ball. Star scouting director Logan White's highest draft pick ever, Kershaw has all the makings of a future ace.
Bryan Smith, co-founder of Baseball Analysts, is a freelance writer with work appearing at the Hardball Times, BaseballProspectus.com and Baseball America. Feel free to e-mail Bryan here.