In the final segment of the BluGrass Baseball Top Prospects series I’ll give you my personal top 10 prospects of both Kentucky schools’ alumni and Kentucky minor leaguers. We’ll do this Letterman style with a countdown from 10 to one of each list.
Top 10 Prospects (Kentucky Alumni)
- #10) RHP Chaz Roe — Colorado Rockies — Roe’s star has dimmed slightly since the Rockies selected him with the 32nd pick in the 2005 draft. Roe had a significant hitch in his delivery coming out of high school that scared many scouts. Following a strong season in 2007 at high A Modesto Roe was ranked the 10th best prospect in the Rockies system by Baseball America. He struggled between Modesto and Tulsa in 2008, but has rebounded in 2009 with a 3-2 record, 3.08 ERA in 11 starts at Tulsa. Opponents are batting only .208 against Roe.
- #9) 3B Chris Dominguez — Oakland Athletics —Dominguez is the first 2009 draft pick to appear on this list and does so because of his plus power. BA said his combination of power, speed and arm strength was as intimidating as any player’s in the draft. Dominguez’s chief weakness is his ability to hit breaking balls and he’ll have to prove that he can adjust to professional pitching. So far, so good for Dominguez with a .293 average, seven home runs and 19 RBI in his first 19 professional games.
- #8) RHP Trystan Magnuson — Toronto Blue Jays — Magnuson bottomed out during Toronto’s experiment in converting him to a starter after he closed at Louisville. Trystan was 0-9 with a 5.40 ERA in 24 starts in 2008, but he has excelled since moving back to the bullpen in 2009. Magnuson is old (24) for the high A Florida State League, but opponents have been no match for him in the pen. With a 4-0 record, 2.98 ERA and .246 opponents batting average Magnuson could be in line for a promotion soon.
- #7) LHP James Paxton — Toronto Blue Jays — Paxton hasn’t pitched in a single professional game; he hasn’t even signed his contract. If we assume he does sign with the Jays before the August deadline Paxton ranks this high on the top prospects list based solely on his high ceiling. He was one of the youngest juniors in the country (21), is left handed, and has thrown as hard as 97 mph. That combination could be lethal if he lives up to his talent in professional ball.
- #6) OF Collin Cowgill — Arizona Diamondbacks — You can’t start a professional career much better than Cowgill did in 2008. He finished the season as the short-season Northwest League leader in home runs with 11. The interesting part of that statistic is he only played in 20 games in the league. At 5’9 Collin will always have to outperform his stature. If he reaches his potential he could be a second or third place hitter with a high on-base percentage and above-average power. Collin has been on the DL for high A Visalia since June 15.
- #5) OF John Shelby — Chicago White Sox — Shelby has struggled in 2009 at AA Birmingham with a .237 average, seven home runs and 38 RBI in 87 games. Despite the struggles Shelby still represents one of the best power/speed combinations in the White Sox’s organization. His 17 stolen bases this season show his speed hasn’t suffered any. If Shelby can adjust to more advanced pitching he could turn into a plus defender in the outfield who could bat near the top of a major league lineup.
- #4) 1B Ryan Strieby — Detroit Tigers — No Kentucky minor leaguer has been more consistent than Strieby. Ryan has improved his batting average, home run and RBI totals in each season of his professional career. While he has moved up the minor leagues Strieby has only improved and 2009 might be his best season yet with a .305 batting average, 17 home runs and 53 RBI in 76 games for AA Erie. Strieby has been an all-star in each of the last three seasons and could become a middle of the lineup power/RBI threat for Detroit.
- #3) LHP Robbie Ross — Texas Rangers — Ross signed too late to make his professional debut in 2008, but the he has lived up to his second-round hype in 2009. Through seven starts for short-season Spokane, Ross is 3-1 with a 2.29 ERA. In 35.1 innings Ross has 48 strikeouts and just 8 walks. Opponents are batting just .231 against Ross. Robbie is still young (20) and will be given every chance to move quickly up the Rangers’ farm system. Ross featured a mid-90s fastball and impressive secondary pitches coming out of Lexington Christian Academy and could develop into a front of the rotation left-handed starting pitcher.
- #2) OF Ben Revere — Minnesota Twins — When you lead the minor leagues with a .379 batting average and flirt with .400 for much of the season, rankings like this one come your way. Revere has cooled a little in 2009 but is still holding his own with a .312 batting average at high A Fort Meyers. The Lexington Catholic product has blazing speed as evidenced by his 33 steals in 89 games this season. Ben almost never strikes out (just 33 in 343 at-bats in 2009) and has all the tools to develop into an all-star lead-off hitter in the future.
- # 1) LHP Christian Friedrich — Colorado Rockies — With bookends Roe and Friedrich, the Rockies are the second organization with two prospects represented on this list. Christian is an EKU alum with the best curveball in the Rockies’ system according to Baseball America. Friedrich also features a low 90s fastball and a slider and changeup. He has been lights out in 2009 with a 5-3 record and 2.11 ERA between low A Asheville and high A Modesto. BA highlighted his sometimes spotty control as Friedrich’s principle weakness, but with 96 strikeouts and just 24 walks in 76.2 innings Friedrich has figured that out.
Hit the jump for the top ten prospects currently playing for Kentucky minor league teams.