1. Christian Friedrich / SP / Friedrich heads a terrific group of starting pitching prospects with his four-pitch arsenal, highlighted by his knee-buckling curveball. He needs to adapt more of an attacking style, and his command could use more work, but he has the look of a future ace.
2. Jhoulys Chacin / SP / Chacin induces a tremendous groundball rate from his varied arsenal. His velocity and command are average at this point, but he could be an effective Coors Field No. 2 starter.
3. Tyler Matzek / SP / Matzek has the raw tools necessary to be a future ace. He has a strong four-pitch repertoire, and every one of them has the chance to be at least average. His command needs serious work, but the potential is through the roof.
4. Eric Young / 2B/OF / Young is an underrated fantasy sleeper heading into 2010 due to his exceptional speed and ability to get on base. He should hit the ground running in Colorado, and could be a top-of-the-lineup force for years to come.
5. Rex Brothers / SP/RP / With sharpened command, Brothers could have a great fastball/slider combination. His lack of a change-up and questionable endurance are strikes against his bid to become a starter, but Brothers has a promising left arm. We’ll know more about his future role very soon.
6. Mike McKenry / C / With his solid all-around game, McKenry is an underrated catching prospect. His bat combines together strong contact skills, above-average plate discipline, and a bit of power to give Colorado a potentially solid everyday catching option very soon.
7. Nolan Arenado / 3B / Fresh out of high school, Arenado has shown a quick bat and terrific contact skills. He also has raw power in his bat, and if it develops his stock could explode.
8. Wilin Rosario / C / Rosario posted a mildly disappointing 2009. His bat and defense both have a long way to go, but he was young for the California League. My guess is that he will get another chance to conquer Advanced-A competition. Next year I’ll be looking for more power, a better contact rate, and signs of improved plate discipline.
9. Chris Balcom-Miller / SP / Balcom-Miller had a terrific 11-start debut in the Pioneer League, showing off a solid three-pitch mix, highlighted by his superb change-up. This is an aggressive ranking, but one that may be more than justified after we see him in full-season ball.
10. Tim Wheeler / OF / Wheeler has plus speed, but his contact skills appear to be a lot of hype at this point. He doesn’t have much power either, but he does have upside in every aspect of his game. I’m willing to give him a year to win me over.
San Diego Padres
1. Donavan Tate / OF / Tate has the raw tools to be a star. He has plus raw power and speed, but he has some serious refinements to make before those tools result in home runs and stolen bases. San Diego made him the No. 3 pick overall for a reason. They think he is a five-tool talent who, given enough time to develop, has a good chance to be an impact player. I’m buying it.
2. Jaff Decker / OF / Decker is a 20-year-old with some of the best plate discipline in the minor leagues, and some serious power in his bat to back it up. He still has major holes in his swing to clean up, but with another uptick in his overall development and similar production at a higher level, he could challenge Tate for San Diego’s No. 1 prospect spot.
3. Simon Castro / SP / Castro’s command hit a new level in 2009, meaning his mid-90s fastball was too much for the Midwest League to handle. I can’t wait to see if his slider takes a leap forward in 2010 and becomes his out pitch.
4. James Darnell / 3B / Darnell has good plate discipline and average current contact ability. Combine that with his solid, demonstrated power and San Diego appears to have a future asset at third base on its hands.
5. Edinson Rincon / OF/3B / Rincon has shown an advanced bat for his age, with some developing power and terrific plate patience backing it up. I need to see him against better competition, but his potential is immense and underrated.
6. Wynn Pelzer / SP / Pelzer has a solid low-90s fastball and an emerging slider. His command comes and goes, and his violent delivery leads many to believe that his future lies in the bullpen. But if his command improves and his change-up takes a step forward, his bid to start will be strengthened.
7. Logan Forsythe / 3B/OF / Forsythe has the patience at the plate to play in the majors right now, but his swing still has some holes and, more importantly, there isn’t much power to speak of, which is disconcerting for a player who will have to make his living at a corner position.
8. Rymer Liriano / OF / At just 18 years old, Liriano is understandably undisciplined at the plate, and he has some gaping holes to iron out, but the athletic young man has a great-looking swing and some raw power to work with. He is one to watch.
9. Aaron Poreda / RP/SP / Poreda’s lack of secondary stuff, troublesome delivery, and shaky command lead me to believe that he will be a bullpen arm. But he has time to develop into a late-inning role, as his mid-90s fastball and track record of success cannot be ignored.
10. Everett Williams / OF / Williams is a wholly untested high schooler who is known for having a bit of a power/speed combination to work with, but on the downside he is also known for having an undisciplined bat that is littered with holes. I’m willing to give him a shot to impress me, though.