December 10, 2013
And here's the full roster.
Get It Now!Hardball Times Annual is now available. It's got 300 pages of articles, commentary and even a crossword puzzle. You can buy the Annual at Amazon, for your Kindle or on our own page (which helps us the most financially). However you buy it, enjoy!
Or you can search by:
THT E-bookThird Base: The Crossroads is THT's e-book, available for $3.99 from the Kindle store. The good news is that anyone can read a Kindle book, even on a PC. So enjoy the best from THT in a new format.
our CafePress store. We've got baseball caps, t-shirts, coffee mugs and even wall clocks with the classy THT logo prominently displayed. Also, check out the THT Bookstore. Please support your favorite baseball site by purchasing something today.
All content on this site (including text, graphs, and any other original works), unless otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
I owe Roy Oswalt a debt of gratitude… and I’m going to repay him by severing ties. See, Roy Oswalt blew up my spot, as the kids said once upon a time. Solid veterans like Roy Oswalt, Ted Lilly, and Adrian Beltre can usually serve as solid mid- to late-round value picks. But, every once in a while, one or more of those value picks goes bonkers and blows his cover for the following year. In addition to Oswalt, Beltre most likely did that too. For people like me who rely on reliable, boring veterans to plug several holes in our line-ups, the price of Roy Oswalt is going to give us sticker shock next year.
When looking at the menu of next year's players, keep in mind that those setting their values often overvalue the immediate past and undervalue the recent past. Surely, there are often very sound reasons for heavily valuing the most immediate past. Sometimes, there were injury issues that arose or were proven to be resolved, or maybe a player changed teams and inherited a favorable home park, division or cast of teammates. But, when deciding whether to buy or pass, the end question is usually the same – what are the chances that this player matches or exceeds last year’s performance? Here are a few players, some veterans and some not, whose newfound price points I’m preparing to walk away from.
Roy Oswalt. Look, Oswalt was simply phenomenal this year. I should know, I drafted him last year like MacBeth washed her hands. I expect the hype to carry into next season and to see Oswalt priced as a top-15 pitcher. I’d rather take boring old Ted Lilly 100 or more picks later. Despite a resurgence in punchouts last season, Oswalt’s strikeout rate has been just about on a straight decline since he took the league by storm in 2001. Oswalt has always been a great contributor in the WHIP category, due to his low walk rates, but last season’s dominance was fueled by an outlying hit rate. I expect a performance more like 2008, which would be a very fine season, but will not be a bargain at Oswalt’s price.
Ubaldo Jimenez. Jimenez captivated baseball fans with a first half that gave some visions of a 25-plus-win season. Having appeared to have come into his own in 2009, Jimenez was no bargain in 2010, pre-ranked at #68, which was right in Jon Lester and Josh Johnson territory. Lester and Johnson will likely be ranked considerably higher next year, and they deserve it. As for Jiminez, I think last year’s pre-rank sounds about fair for 2011. While he caught a few tough luck losses in the second half of 2010, my money is on the second half Jimenez being more like what you should expect than the first half Jimenez. I could see his price rising to top 50 status, and at the price I think passing is the wise choice.
Adrian Beltre. I wasn’t the only one to think that Beltre was a really nice fit for Fenway and that he would be a wise fantasy investment. But I don’t think anybody truly expected what transpired. Beltre had the kind of season one would expect out of Kevin Youkilis. If Beltre stays in Boston, the price will be high. If he signs somewhere else, the price will drop a bit, but remain at least high enough that he’d have to have a very good season to give you equal return. I think Beltre played himself into the fantasy Peter Principle.
Angel Pagan. As a Mets fan, Pagan was one of the few bright spots of my team’s season. He had a legitimate breakout season on offense and defense and he looks like “a piece.” That said, I’m a bit skeptical. My main problem with Pagan is that I assume he’ll be trending upward in people’s minds, but it strikes me as unlikely that he can outperform last season. He also isn’t as young as many people probably think he is – he’ll be 30 next year.
I will mention that Pagan has speed, which I like a lot. It is often said that speed never slumps, and I’m a firm believer that when you’re in a position that tempts you to “gamble” on a player retaining his value, it’s nice when that player possesses the capability to recoup value in many different ways. This is why I never gave up on Alex Rios, but also what gave me enough confidence to overcome my initial hesitancy to buy into Mark Reynolds. The thing with Pagan is that he stole 37 bases last year; he’ll already be valued as a borderline elite speed option. So, it’s not like he swiped 15 and there’s the chance that even if he takes a step back somewhere else he could double his SB production and enable you to break even.
Jose Bautista. Honestly, I just have no idea what to make of this guy. According to Hit Tracker, he hit very few wall-scrapers. He hit 54 homers as a righty, but only eight were off left-handed pitching (he also put up an OPS nearly .200 points lower against lefties), and only one of his homers was to the opposite field. In some respects he’s this year’s Mark Reynolds. I just think Bautista has the potential to break too many seasons.
In many drafts, the 10 players ranked immediately after Bautista will be gone while he remains on the board. Owners who went into the draft leaning away from him will then start to get tempted, and somebody will take the plunge. But let’s think about what we do know. There’s nothing that should lead us to believe he’ll hit better than .260. There’s nothing to even suggest that his nine stolen bases from last year are sustainable. To me, the equation is simple: His price will be too high to justify the risk. He’ll be a high-priced player whose non-injury floor is just too low. An approximate repeat of 2010 will pay considerable, but not outrageous dividends, given his prospective price, and a total collapse, Morgan Ensberg style, has the potential to torpedo as season. Stay away; there are much wiser places to take your risks.
Posted by Derek Ambrosino at 4:38am (2) Comments
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Tampa Bay Rays: Top 10 Prospects
1. Desmond Jennings / OF / Between Jennings and Hellickson, we're looking at 1A and 1B. Jennings gets the slight nod due to his bigger upside. He still has untapped superstar skills, most notably his power potential.
2. Jeremy Hellickson / SP / Hellickson enjoyed a healthy and prosperous season. He took his game, highlighted by his outstanding control, all the way to the majors, where he will stay.
3. Jake McGee / SP/RP / It's tough to tell whether Tampa is still looking at him as a starter or if it's bullpen from here on out. One thing is clear, McGee's arm is all the way back, including his mid-90s heat.
4. Matthew Moore / SP/RP / Moore's control came together during the second half of the season, making him an obvious top breakout candidate for 2011.
5. Nick Barnese / SP / For obvious reasons, Barnese continues to ride his fastball. The development of his secondary offerings could make or break him in 2011 as he matches up against Double-A competition.
6. Justin O'Connor / C/3B/SS/2B / Where O'Connor ends up defensively is anyone's guess. What isn't up for debate is the plethora of tools he possesses as the second-best high school hitter in the 2010 draft.
7. Alex Colome / SP/RP / Colome put his mid-90s fastball and solid curveball to good use in his full season debut. His command needs a lot of work, but it's hard to argue with his talent.
8. Josh Sale / OF / Fresh out of high school, Sale is rather refined for his age and has nice tools across the board as a corner outfielder, the most prominent of which is his power.
9. Alex Torres / SP / Torres' walk rate continues to hold him back, but the fact that he succeeds with runners on base, finds a way to strike guys out despite average stuff, and maintains a nice groundball percentage is more than enough.
10. Kyle Lobstein / SP / You could make a case for a number of guys rounding out Tampa's top-10. I strongly considered Tim Beckham, Jake Thompson, and Enny Romero. But I kept coming back to Lobstein. Despite his average three-pitch mix, I think his curveball has potential, and his workmanlike demeanor will take him far.
Tampa Bay Rays: Top 10 Players Under Age 26 (as of 4/1/11)
1. Evan Longoria / 3B
2. David Price / SP
3. Desmond Jennings / OF
4. Jeremy Hellickson / SP
5. Wade Davis / SP
6. Jake McGee / SP/RP
7. Matthew Moore / SP/RP
8. Reid Brignac / SS/2B
9. Nick Barnese / SP
10. Justin O'Connor / C/3B/SS/2B
Baltimore Orioles: Top 10 Prospects
1. Manny Machado / 3B/SS / Baltimore made a solid pick in the 2010 draft with Machado. He has some tools that will translate right away and the potential for everything else. He reminds me of Mike Moustakas.
2. Zach Britton / SP / Britton is a classic groundball pitcher who gets the job done wherever he goes. He will never be an ace, but he's one step away from forcing groundballs in the middle of Baltimore's rotation.
3. Matt Hobgood / SP / Hobgood at #3 gives you an idea of how far Baltimore's farm system fell this year. He had a lousy debut season. His curveball came highly touted, but looked like a complete work in progress this year. There's no reason to give up on him yet, though.
4. Xavier Avery / OF / Avery is the kind of player who draws your attention. He looks and sometimes plays the part of athletic difference maker. However, his plate approach and strikeout rate will doom his future if he doesn't improve.
5. Ryan Adams / 2B / With his power jumping a notch this year, Adams looks the part of a future major league asset at second base. I would like to see him refine his plate approach, but he is deserving of attention.
6. Joe Mahoney / 1B / Mahoney was a relative unknown coming into the season. His raw power finally surfaced against the most advanced pitching he has seen so far. He is more athletic than he looks, and his contact rate is developing.
7. Mychal Givens / SS/3B/2B / A thumb injury held up Givens' season, yet he played at four different levels, from the Gulf Coast League all the way to the Carolina League. He has impressive tools and a world of work in front of him.
8. Ryan Berry / SP/RP / Berry has an average three-pitch mix. His command is strong for his age, but his endurance as a starter is the No. 1 question he faces right now. Limited upside as a starter or reliever hurts his stock.
9. Brandon Erbe / RP/SP / A disastrous season statistically turned into a disastrous season on the injury front. Erbe recently underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum, but the word is that the tear wasn't as bad as originally thought. He has a good chance at recovery. Couple his odds of recovery with his plus velocity pre-injury and the weakened state of Baltimore's farm system, and you're looking at No. 9.
10. LJ Hoes / 2B / It was difficult finding someone worthy of No. 10. I refuse to buy into Brandon Waring, and Brandon Snyder has officially fallen off of my radar screen. I thought about dipping into Baltimore's 2010 draft class, but continually find myself shying away from the class' outlook. I decided on Hoes because of his age, continually impressive batting average, and walk rate. On the downside, there isn't much projection in him.
Baltimore Orioles: Top 10 Players Under Age 26 (as of 4/1/11)
1. Matt Wieters / C
2. Brian Matusz / SP
3. Adam Jones / OF
4. Manny Machado / 3B/SS
5. Chris Tillman / SP
6. Zach Britton / SP
7. Jake Arrieta / SP
8. Josh Bell / 3B
9. Matt Hobgood / SP
10. Xavier Avery / OF
Posted by Matt Hagen at 4:02am (7) Comments
Monday, October 25, 2010
When it comes to closers in fantasy, you want to talk about saves. Unfortunately, it's hard to predict which closers will end up getting the most saves in an upcoming season; there are too many other variables that come into play (save opportunities, the presence of other "closers" on the roster, etc.). However, using PITCHf/x (and of course other statistics), we can at least determine which closers are likely to maintain their good performance or improve and thus are likely to continue getting save opportunities in the next year. In this article, we take a look at Jonathan Papelbon, a pitcher whose status as the closer of the Boston Red Sox may be in jeopardy. Will Papelbon improve enough so as to keep his job in Boston? If he's traded, will he be good enough to take on the role of his new team's closer? These are the questions I'll try to answer.
After four years of being a solid closer for the Boston Red Sox, questions arose about Jonathan Papelbon this season. He blew eight saves, by far the most in his career, and had a career high 3.90 ERA. Delving slightly deeper into the numbers, we can see that his walk rate (3.76BB/9) was the highest it's been since he became a closer full time and that his FIP rose to 3.51, the highest in his career. Papelbon's worst walk rate and FIP before this year was last season (2009), which poses to us the question: Is he losing his value as a closer? Making things even more complicated is the presence of a "closer-in-waiting" in Daniel Bard on the Red Sox roster. This has naturally resulted in speculation of him being traded during the offseason. But wherever Papelbon ends up next year, the question is: can he pitch well enough to keep a job as a closer and continue to accumulate enough saves to remain relevant as a fantasy player?
Papelbon's pitch mix includes three pitches: a two-seam fastball, a splitter (split-finger fastball), and a slider. The Fastball on average comes in at a speed of 94.8 miles per hour and tails 7.84 inches in on right-handed batters with 8.95 inches of "rise." (By "rise," I mean that the spin of the pitch causes it to fall 8.95 inches less than it should due to the force of gravity alone.) The splitter comes in at an average of 89.9 miles per hour, with 9.25 inches of tail in on right-handed batters and only 3.32 inches of "rise." This low "rise" on the splitter means that the pitch appears to drop or sink, especially in comparison with the fastball. Finally, he also has a slider that comes in at an average of 82.4 miles per hour, moves 1.49 inches AWAY from right-handed batters and drops .45 inches more than we would expect from gravity alone.
Interestingly, the movement and speed of Papelbon's fastball and splitter have not changed really since 2008 (when Papelbon was still extremely effective as a closer). In Contrast, the velocity on Papelbon's slider has decreased over four miles per hour since 2008. This may be a concern for the effectiveness of that pitch.
The usage of these pitches by Papelbon HAS changed this year. In 2008, against both right-handed batters and left-handed batters, Papelbon would use his fastball roughly 80 percent of the time, and then would use the splitter the other 20 percent or so of the time against left-handed batters (like a change-up) and would use the slider the other 20 percent of the time against right-handed batters. In 2009, he followed the same rough pattern, although he used the fastball against right-handed batters a little less frequently (only 77.5 percent of the time) in favor of the slider. This year, the change in his pitch usage is more dramatic. Against left-handed batters in 2010, the fastball was only used 68 percent of the time, with the splitter being used 27 percent of the time (and the slider the other 5 percent of the time). Against right-handed batters, the fastball was used only 69 percent of the time, with the slider being used 15 percent of the time and the SPLITTER being used the remaining 16 percent of the time. The end result was that Papelbon's use of the fastball decreased dramatically this year against both sides of the plate and that he began to use the splitter against batters on both sides of the plate.
Now I should note that the biggest changes in how he used his pitches came in August and September, after Papelbon had struggled earlier in the season. That has quite a bit of bearing on the results of his pitches this year. Still, even earlier on in the season, Papelbon seemed to be using the fastball slightly less frequently than usual, though the extra usage of the splitter didn't really take off until August.
The Tables below shows the results of Papelbon's three pitches over the last three years.
Table 1: The results of Papelbon's fastball over the last three years.
Table 2: The results of Papelbon's splitter over the last three years.
Table 3: The results of Papelbon's slider over the last three years.
Legend for Reading the Tables Above
Whiff Rate: (# of swinging strikes)/(# of pitches swung at by batters)
Swing Rate: (# of pitches swung at by batters)/(total pitches thrown)
Swinging Strike Rate: (# of swinging strikes)/(total pitches thrown) %
GB %: % of balls hit into play by batters that result in ground balls.
In-Wide-Zone: % of pitches in a wide (two feet wide) strike zone.
A few things I want to point out on these tables. First, Papelbon's fastball was in the zone in 2008 a really good 77.98 percent of the time. Over the last two years, the pitch has been in the zone roughly 71-72 percent of the time. Now this is still fine (that's not a bad percentage) but none of the other results of the fastball has increased to compensate for this decrease in accuracy. In fact, the swinging strike rate of the fastball has gone down a tiny bit, mainly because batters are swinging less often (presumably because the pitch is less often in the strike zone). This decrease in fastball accuracy is partially to blame for Papelbon's increase in his walk rate since 2008. That said, the zone percentage did not decrease again this year for the fastball, while Papelbon's walk rate per nine innings did increase this year over 2009. So this would hint that this is not the total reason for why Papelbon has higher walk rate.
Secondly, Papelbon's slider has seemingly lost something since 2008: the pitch's ability to get whiffs (Whiff Rate) has dropped dramatically (by over 20 percent), resulting in a lower swinging strike rate. Perhaps this is partially caused by the fact that since 2008, the slider has been in the strike zone more frequently than it was before.
Finally, Papelbon's splitter has done the opposite of the slider and increased its ability to get whiffs in 2010 dramatically from what it had been able to do beforehand. A good reason for this is that a lot of these extra whiffs are coming from right-handed batters who are facing the splitter really for the first time. (As previously stated, right-handed batters previously only saw fastballs and sliders from Papelbon.) This pitch also has a good groundball rate on balls that are put into play, especially as compared to the rate on his fastball.
The Results of the Change in Papelbon's Pitch Use in August and September
As I alluded to above, a major shift this year occurred in August and September. Despite the fact that Papelbon had actually had a pretty good July (10.1IP, 9K, 3BB, 0ER), he greatly reduced his fastball use to both types of batters and increased the use of his split-finger fastball in its place, even against right-handed batters. Before August, right-handed batters faced 76 percent fastballs; after August, they faced only 58 percent fastballs, with the entire 18 percent decrease basically going to increased use of the splitter. Similarly, left-handed batters saw 73.5 percent fastballs before August; after August they only saw 60.7 percent fastballs, with the result being that both the splitter and slider saw increased use.
So what was the result of this? Well for all intents and purposes, the pitches themselves had the same results. However, because Papelbon's most accurate pitch (the fastball) had its usage reduced greatly in favor of pitches that tended not to hit the zone as often (particularly the splitter), his zone percentage dropped from 65 percent (in line with his 2009 performance) to 59 percent. This resulted in an increase in Papelbon's walk rate. (Fangraphs has his BB/9 in August as 5.11 and in September/October as 4.76.) However, the increase in off-speed pitches had another effect: drastically increasing the swinging strike rate during these last two months on one- and two-strike counts. (On zero-strike counts, batters seemed to swing less, as the pitches were out of the zone, during these months, negating the effect.) The end result was a Carlos Marmol-like strikeout rate per nine innings of 13.14 in August and 16.68 in September/October.
Papelbon's performance in the latter two months of the season was very worthy of the person in the closer position. (It was very Marmol-like to be sure.) It wasn't noticed because in September/October Papelbon had a BABIP of .608! This was some monumentally bad luck right there, so don't be discouraged by his September results.
Conclusion: Where does Papelbon go from here and where does he fit in one's fantasy plans?
It's my guess (and this is totally a guess here) that Papelbon ends up in a closing job to start the season, whether it be at Boston or elsewhere. That said, he'll most certainly have a shorter leash than he did previously and may be in danger of losing his job (and thus his chance at saves on a fantasy roster) if he performs poorly.
Unfortunately, Papelbon's ultimate success next year should clearly depend upon what pitching style he carries over to next year. Does he keep up with the tactics he used in August and September of 2010 and rely on the splitter so much at the expense of the fastball? If he does, his walk and strikeout rates will both be up. This is likely to be somewhat successful over a longer term, but it could make him very volatile, which is something that could cost him his closing job if the walks come back to hurt him in a few consecutive save opportunities. On the other hand, this strategy, if given a chance long-term, should result in him returning to a greater level of dominance. In addition, this pitching style will help those fantasy players in leagues where K/9 is a relevant statistic (and strikeouts in general, especially if walks aren't an independent category).
Of course, there's also the chance that Papelbon goes back to what he's comfortable with and relies on his fastball. I'm not so confident in this being a great idea due to the decrease in accuracy of the fastball since 2008 as well as the decrease in velocity on at least one of his pitches (the slider). In the long run, I'd suspect that this pitching style will lead to him losing his closer job for sure, unless he can regain some of his accuracy on the fastball (and perhaps some velocity). Thus if this pitching style is what he chooses, he probably won't be a great closer option for your fantasy team unless he's on another team which has no other viable options at closer.
So in conclusion: There are an awful lot of factors that will affect whether Papelbon is a worthy addition to your fantasy team next year.
First there's whether he's still with Boston (bad for fantasy) or has been traded (possibly better).
Second, what style of pitching does he choose to use?
The first question should be easily answered before it's time for your next fantasy draft. The second question, probably not (unless he talks about it in interviews, but I'd doubt it). All of which makes Papelbon a riskier option at closer for next year, at least until the season begins and we learn how he's pitching in 2011. Keep an eye out in April for how he's pitching; if he's using the off-speed stuff more as he did during late in 2010, then he's almost certainly going to be worth a pickup.
Posted by Josh Smolow at 1:06am (7) Comments
Want to play fantasy baseball with writers from the Hardball Times? Think you can beat our experts? This is your chance to prove it!
The writers at THT Fantasy Focus want to see what you bring to the table. We will be holding a contest open to all readers, with the winner invited to join the inaugural Hardball Times Fantasy League (for 2011) to compete against some THT's best fantasy minds: Brad Johnson, Brian Cartwright, David Wade, Jeffrey Gross, Joe Dimino, Jonathan Halket, Josh Shepardson, Mike Silver, Paul Singman, Steven Booth and Vince Caramela.
What's more, you will get to compete for a $190 top prize at no expense (at least not to you)!
How do you enter, you ask?
The analysis can truly be anything, but please keep it PG. Think Jose Bautista is a toxic asset in 2011? Write how you came to that conclusion. Do you have a special strategy to using starters and relievers? Tell us. THT is known for its analytical approach, but your submission doesn't need to invent a new stat or entirely redefine the way fantasy players are evaluated. It just needs to be insightful, well written, and interesting to a wide audience. Bonus points for parsimony. Double bonus points for organically using words like "embiggen."
The best entry will win a bevy of prizes that Mastercard could only call "priceless." In addition to being invited to the league, you will also receive a FREE one-year subscription to Brian Cartwright's Oliver projection system. Furthermore, your analysis will be published on the Fantasy Focus page of THT for the whole world to see! Who can say what other opportunities will arise if you actually manage to beat us all?
Unfortunately, we can only take ONE winner, but exceptional analysis pieces that miss the cut may still be considered for publication on THT, with full credit, so great work will not go unnoticed!
While we still have your attention, let us encourage everyone to order a copy of the Hardball Times Annual 2011. The material is insightful, helpful and original. Purchase is not required to enter the competition, but the Annual will be an invaluable asset to all fantasy players looking for a goldmine of statistical data, graphs and others sabermetric voodoo in the quest for first place.
Best of luck to everyone. We greatly look forward to reading your submissions and and the opportunity to compete against one lucky fan next year!
League Parameters: 12-Team, 5x5 standard Roto auction format on Yahoo. 1 C, 1 1B, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 SS, 1 CI, 1 MI, 5 OF, 2 UTIL, 3 SP, 2 RP, 4 P, 6 BN, 1550 IP limit, 162 games played cap, no transaction limits April-August then a one-transaction per day limit come September (to prevent streaming to bypass the soft innings cap).
Posted by Jeffrey Gross at 6:25am (0) Comments
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Toronto Blue Jays: Top 10 Prospects
1. Kyle Drabek / SP / It's difficult to imagine Drabek's average overall command ever allowing him to be a true ace, but his good fastball/curveball combination should help him become a mid-rotation mainstay with respectable strikeout numbers.
2. Deck McGuire / SP / McGuire carries himself well and looks the part of a big-time prospect. He is a pure strike thrower, but that the lack of upside in his three-pitch arsenal, mainly the lack of an out pitch, will hinder his chances to become Toronto's ace one day.
3. J.P. Arencibia / C / After a down year in 2009, Arencibia put up an all-star comeback season. His fantasy relevance hinges on his power translating to the major league level and Toronto allowing him to catch full time.
4. Chad Jenkins / SP / Jenkins was a bit on the old side for A-ball in 2010 and still only posted so-so stats. He lacks an out pitch, but did show nice overall control and natural downward movement on his fastball, as evidenced by his groundball rate.
5. Travis D'Arnaud / C / D'Arnaud is a young man who has displayed many useful skills for a catcher, but nothing stands out as exceptional at this time. He battled injuries in 2010, but still could be taking the leap to Double-A next year.
6. Carlos Perez / C / Perez is a slightly younger version of D'Arnaud in that they both have a little bit of everything you look for in a catcher. But just like D'Arnaud, nothing sets Perez apart at this point, meaning he seems to lack elite ability. However, he remains a good, young catching prospect.
7. Adieny Hechavarria / SS / Hechavarria needs to shorten his swing, but has useful tools across the board for a shortstop. Toronto would be wise to allow him another crack at the Eastern League before pushing him higher.
8. Zach Stewart / RP/SP / Stewart made it through the entire year as a starter, to ho-hum results. He still appears destined for a future prominent bullpen role, where his fastball and slider could hit a new level.
9. Brad Emaus / 3B/OF / Many gave up on Emaus after a lousy 2009 campaign. Still largely unheralded, Emaus stepped his all-around offensive game up a notch, displaying the skills necessary to be an asset in the majors. It's too bad he couldn't have stayed at second base, but his defense looks shaky even for third base.
10. David Cooper / 1B / Henderson Alvarez and Anthony Gose received a look, but haven't proven enough yet. Aaron Sanchez is a projectable high school arm who deserves some love, too. But it's too early to give up on Cooper. He managed to cut back even more on his strikeouts this year while stepping up his home run power, though he still has an awful lot to prove.
Toronto Blue Jays: Top 10 Players Under Age 26 (as of 4/1/11)
1. Travis Snider / OF
2. Brett Cecil / SP
3. Kyle Drabek / SP
4. Deck McGuire / SP
5. J.P. Arencibia / C
6. Chad Jenkins / SP
7. Travis D'Arnaud / C
8. Carlos Perez / C
9. Adieny Hechavarria / SS
10. Zach Stewart / RP/SP
Kansas City Royals: Top 10 Prospects
1. Mike Moustakas / 3B / His walk rate is lacking, but otherwise it's hard to find a single fault in Moustakas' game. He could be a future .300/30 or better hitter.
2. Eric Hosmer / 1B/OF / Much like Moustakas, Hosmer is one of the more complete hitting prospects in baseball. His home run power even managed to surface over the final third of the season. He may not get a chance, but Hosmer has the ability to man the outfield, which would add more to his value.
3. Mike Montgomery / SP / Montgomery has a mid-90s fastball and a wicked curveball, meaning his upside is tremendous. While the elbow soreness he suffered midway through the season cannot be ignored, he has persevered, and it appears to be a non-issue.
4. Wil Myers / C/OF/1B / It still seems to be a bit too early to know exactly how much upside Myers has offensively, not to mention where he will end up defensively, but he showed no weakness with his bat against A-level competition in his first full season.
5. Daniel Duffy / SP / Despite walking away from baseball for a brief period, Duffy's commitment shouldn't be questioned. He is currently getting strikeouts without an out pitch or mid-90s heat. He is the type who uses movement and sharp command to get his outs.
6. John Lamb / SP / Lamb uses his great change-up and low-90s fastball to set up his developing curveball. He is able to throw everything for strikes, and there seems to be little standing in his way.
7. Christian Colon / SS / Colon doesn't have much upside or one current standout skill, but does have the ability to play a respectable shortstop and has polish across the board.
8. Chris Dwyer / SP / Dwyer plays the part of a poor man's Mike Montgomery with his bread and butter fastball/curveball combo. But his curveball needs to hit a whole new level if he is going to come close to matching Montgomery's upside.
9. Johnny Giavotella / 2B / Giavotella should be able to get by defensively at second base, while his bat will do most of the talking. He has a bit of power and speed to go along with good plate discipline and outstanding contact skills.
10. Aaron Crow / SP / This year's Kansas City top-10 list looks very similar to last year's. Aaron Crow and Tim Melville were the only disappointments from last season. Melville has too much upside to ignore, though, and would rank No. 11. Crow already has a mid-90s fastball and occasional out pitch with his slider. He just needs to throw strikes.
Kansas City Royals: Top 10 Players Under Age 26 (as of 4/1/11)
1. Billy Butler / DH/1B
2. Mike Moustakas / 3B
3. Eric Hosmer / 1B/OF
4. Mike Montgomery / SP
5. Wil Myers / C/OF/1B
6. Daniel Duffy / SP
7. John Lamb / SP
8. Christian Colon / SS
9. Chris Dwyer / SP
10. Johnny Giavotella / 2B