Top 100 prospects: 21-40
Posted: Friday February 8, 2008 2:26PM; Updated: Thursday February 14, 2008 6:40PM
21. Joey Votto, 1B, Reds: Like any good first baseman, Votto has plenty of power and patience, and takes over at first base for the Reds this year, giving them three legitimate Rookie of the Year candidates.
22. Daric Barton, 1B, Athletics: A professional hitter par excellence, Barton put up a 1.068 OPS in his 18-game big-league debut. He'll start at first base for Oakland this year, and should be productive from day one.
23. Chase Headley, 3B, Padres: He hits, he hits for power, he draws walks, and he plays a nifty third base, so what else could you ask for? Have we mentioned that he was an Academic All-America in college as well?
24. Andrew McCutchen, CF, Pirates: Unduly rushed up to Class AA by the Pirates last year, McCutchen's tools still impress scouts far more than the numbers do, but he remains a sizzling power/speed center-field prospect who should eventually put fannies in the seats for Pittsburgh.
25. Reid Brignac, SS, Rays: While his 2007 campaign in Class AA didn't match his California League MVP performance from the year before, Brignac made great strides defensively, and a shortstop with 25-30 home run potential is hard to find.
26. Carlos Gonzalez, OF, Athletics: The top prospect received from Arizona in the Dan Haren deal, Gonzalez has classic right fielder skills, but he has an outside chance at starting his career in center field for Oakland this spring; the departure of Mark Kotsay creates a wide-open competition for the job.
27. Nick Adenhart, RHP, Angels: A Tommy John survivor, Adenhart pitched well in the hitting-friendly Texas League as a 20-year-old while learning to deal with getting hit by the competition for the first time in his career. It's an important lesson to learn for a pitcher who could get a big-league look by the end of the season.
28. Chris Marrero, OF/1B, Nationals: One of the Nats' '06 first-round picks, Marrero smacked 23 home runs last summer in his full-season debut. He's been converted to first base over the offseason, and could get a big-league look before his turning 21 in July of 2009.
29. Angel Villalona, 3B, Giants: Last year's most significant international free agent showed two things in his stateside debut. First, he lacks the athleticism to play third base. Second, it's not going to matter one bit because his bat is one of the best to come out of the Dominican in the last decade.
30. Neftali Feliz, RHP, Rangers: Acquired from the Braves in the Mark Teixeira deal, Feliz is a teenage wunderkind with a rocket arm that consistently delivers heat in the upper 90s. So far as a pro, he has 97 strikeouts in 71 1/3 innings, and there are many more Ks to come.
31. Matt LaPorta, OF, Brewers: The best college hitter in last year's draft, the Brewers are taking a risk by trying to teach him how to play left field, but all he needs to do is become adequate there, because at the plate, he's a monster.
32. Chin-Lung Hu, SS, Dodgers: One of the best defensive players in the minors, Hu has true Gold Glove potential in the field, and his bat came alive in 2007, as he delivered a .325 average at the upper levels of the Dodger system.
33. Jeff Clement, C, Mariners: While he's not the best defensive catcher around by any measurement, he's good enough to stay behind the plate, and 30-plus home runs annually should more than make up for any defensive shortcomings.
34. Ian Kennedy, RHP, Yankees: He's not especially big, and his stuff doesn't wow anyone, but his impeccable command and keen understanding for his craft are both off the charts, and nearly guarantee Kennedy a successful big-league career.
35. Ross Detwiler, LHP, Nationals: A power-pitching lefty taken last June with the sixth overall pick in the draft, the Nationals think Detwiler could be ready to succeed in their rotation by the end of this year.
36. Jason Heyward, OF, Braves: Another Georgia product taken by the Braves in the first round, Heyward is a ripped, six-foot-four athlete with middle of the order-impact potential as a right fielder.
37. Geovany Soto, C, Cubs: Soto had a breakout season in 2007 thanks to much-improved conditioning, and comes into this season as a serious Rookie of the Year candidate by being a good catcher who could hit 20-25 home runs.
38. Brandon Wood, 3B/SS, Angels: While his prospect stock has dipped some since his monster 2005 season in the California League because of an impatient approach, Wood's power remains special, and the Halos will give him a long look in spring training.
39. Matt Antonelli, 2B, Padres: The former Wake Forest star is a speedy on-base machine who scored 123 runs in 131 games last year while showing surprising power with 21 home runs as well.
40. Jacob McGee, LHP, Rays: McGee's size and velocity are rarely found among left-handers, but his lack of secondary pitches have some seeing him in a bullpen role in the future.