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Posted: Wednesday December 23, 2009 12:21PM; Updated: Wednesday December 23, 2009 9:40PM

Baseball America's top 20 prospects (cont.)

By John Manuel, Baseball America

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11. Carlos Santana, C, Indians

With studs like Justin Smoak in the farm system, the Rangers are in good shape for 2010 and beyond.
Christian Peterson/Getty Images

Why he's here: The Indians just got rid of a switch-hitting, offensive-minded catcher with offensive upside in Victor Martinez. Santana is nowhere near the polished hitter that Martinez was in Cleveland, but his patient, powerful approach should prove there's more than one way to get it done.

What he'll be:: A catcher with 20-homer ability who draws plenty of walks and can control the running game usually makes a few All-Star games.

When he arrives: Lou Marson, acquired from the Phillies in the Cliff Lee trade, should hold down the fort for most of 2010, but Santana could hit his way past Marson sooner than later.

12. Justin Smoak, 1B, Rangers

Why he's here: A switch-hitter from the South, Smoak looks a bit like Chipper Jones at the plate with his stance and mannerisms. He has a chance to hit like Jones, too, with consistency, polish and power.

What he'll be: Smoak doesn't quite have Mark Teixeira's explosive power, but he's a similar-caliber hitter and defender. He just needs to add a bit of polish and figure out how to turn on inside pitches.

When he arrives: With Hank Blalock out of the picture, the first-base job is open in Texas. While Smoak has competition, he should become the full-time first sacker by 2011.

13. Domonic Brown, OF, Phillies

Why he's here: The last man standing, at least at Double-A or better, in the Phillies farm system has a body that evokes Darryl Strawberry, with similar speed and defensive tools. He lacks the explosive wrists and power of Strawberry but should hit his share of homers eventually.

What he'll be: Some scouts actually see Brown, who has surprising plate discipline for such a raw player, as more of a top-of-the-order factor than as a middle-of-the-order presence. He's the greenest hitter on this list, but his talent is undeniable.

When he arrives: Raul Ibanez and Jayson Werth are ensconced on the corners in Philadelphia, and Brown needs to polish up his defense anyway. He'll be a minor leaguer in 2010 but could ease Ibanez out by 2011, the last year of the veteran's contract.

14. Casey Kelly, RHP, Red Sox

Why he's here: Kelly actually hit and pitched in 2009, as he had ability as a shortstop and wanted to hit. His hitting lagged behind his pitching prowess, and after a trip to the Arizona Fall League, Kelly realized his future is on the mound.

What he'll be: Kelly has a knack for adding and subtracting from his fastball and excellent curveball, sometimes toying with hitters. His athletic ability and innate pitchability evoke some comparisons to Zack Greinke, though his arm isn't quite in Greinke's class.

When he arrives: Kelly first needs to prove he can handle a full-season workload as a pitcher. If he proves that in 2010, he should be ready by 2011.

15. Jeremy Hellickson, RHP, Rays

Why he's here: A 6-foot righty from Iowa, Hellickson has surprising stuff and feel for pitching. His changeup has been his best pitch, but his fastball command took a huge step forward in 2009, allowing him to be the ace for Durham's Triple-A championship team.

What he'll be: Yet another homegrown Rays pitcher for a franchise that couldn't develop any pitching in its first six or seven years. Hellickson's curve gives him a third quality pitch, and he gives the rotation another different look to play off Jeff Niemann's size, David Price's electric arm, James Shields' premium changeup and Matt Garza's power.

When he arrives: Wade Davis beat him to the majors, so Hellickson may have to bide his time back at Durham in 2010. His time may have to come after a trade.

16. Kyle Drabek, RHP, Blue Jays

Why he's here: The son of 1990 Cy Young Award winner Doug Drabek was the key piece in the Roy Halladay trade and instantly became Toronto's top prospect. His stuff wasn't always consistent in 2009, but at his best he has an excellent curveball, a plus fastball and a decent changeup.

What he'll be: If his changeup gets better, Drabek can be a No. 2 starter on a championship team. If not, he could become a Tom Gordon clone as a closer, bringing mid-90s heat and finishing off hitters with his curve.

When he arrives: Drabek was vulnerable to left-handed hitters last year, and the Blue Jays have pitching depth, so Drabek should be able to move up to Triple-A and hone his changeup in 2010 without having to immediately deal with the burden of being the Player Traded for Roy Halladay.

17. Alcides Escobar, SS, Brewers

Why he's here: The Brewers brought up Escobar in August but he didn't surpass 130 at-bats, leaving him prospect-eligible. Then Milwaukee traded J.J. Hardy to the Twins, handing the job to the best defensive player among prospects.

What he'll be: Escobar has the arm, infield actions, hands and range to win Gold Gloves at shortstop. He makes the routine plays and the tough ones, too. Plus, he has speed that impacts the game offensively, and his swing's not so bad either.

When he arrives: Escobar is more prepared than Rangers shortstop Elvis Adrus was last year and should have a bigger impact in 2010.

18. Aaron Hicks, OF, Twins

Why he's here: Five-tool ability to go with the ability to take a walk and premium defensive tools make Hicks an exciting prospect, even if he's never played above Class A.

What he'll be: Hicks has some similarities to the Phillies' Domonic Brown, though he might actually have more speed and a bit less power. He's a tremendous athlete who was a scratch golfer as a teen, so it's hard to put a limit on his talent.

When he arrives: The Twins know what they're doing with raw, toolsy center fielders, having developed Torii Hunter and Denard Span in succession. HIcks is next in line and has more offensive polish at a similar stage.

19. Dustin Ackley, OF/1B, Mariners

Why he's here: The No. 2 overall pick in the 2009 draft isn't as explosive as Strasburg, but he was a steady .400 hitter in college who added power as a junior. He was far from overmatched in the AFL, batting .315 while adjusting to a relatively new position, center field.

What he'll be: Ackley has some similarities to Johnny Damon with his athletic ability (though he's not as explosive as Damon was in his prime), plus-plus speed and poor throwing arm, but he might be a better pure hitter than Damon.

When he arrives: Ackley has the bat to move quickly, but a position change could slow him down. Primarily a first baseman in college, he could play center field, left field or even second base.

20. Martin Perez, LHP, Rangers

Why he's here: The third Ranger on the list, Perez has a delivery and repertoire that draw comparisons to Johan Santana. That may not be fair to Perez, but as an 18-year-old, he was the best pitcher in the South Atlantic League, and his compact delivery is a near-duplicate of Santana's.

What he'll be: Well, have we mentioned Santana? There's just a long way for Perez to go from A-ball to the majors, and his workload has been handled very carefully so far.

When he arrives: Let's give Perez a couple of years to let his low-90s fastball that touches 96, plus changeup and plus curveball time to incubate. He should be on this list at least two more times.

Get the latest on minor league transactions and news in Baseball America's prospects blog.

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