Baseball Instinct 360° | Top Prospects 360° to 321°

Happy New Year Everyone!  Welcome to 2012 and another series we have planned for you over the next 9 days. It’s winter, you’re a baseball fan, fantasy baseball league player, strat-o-matic manager, card collector. You have baseball running through your veins but you have four feet of snow to clear from your driveway.  Your drafts are coming up soon and you’ll need to study for the new crop of players to back-up your established stars. We here at Baseball Instinct hear you. A few (many) sleepless nights have given us the Baseball Instinct 360°. A list that will get you warmed up for spring training. Get caught up on the top prospects in our series so you can get a leg-up on your draft preparation.

Deciding on who would be #360 turned out to be more of a struggle than any other placement.  We argued back and forth and without a doubt, there will be players that some of you feel that should have made the cut.  We are excited to hear from you about that.

So without further delay, let’s dive right into our list.  We will start with #360 and work our way down to #321 today.

360°. Vince Belnome, 2B Padres 3/11/1988  – Drafted late in 2009, Belnome has hit at every stop despite some injury shortened seasons. He improved over his Cal League numbers with a .333/.432/.603 powered by 19 doubles and 17 HR in just 267 AB in 2011. He’s a passable 2B and can play some 3B. Borderline starter/ Utility INF. If he can stay healthy ETA 2013.

Los Angeles Dodgers359°. Alex Santana, 3B Dodgers 8/21/1993 – Big kid, son of Rafael Santana (NYM). Profiles as a very different player than his father. Drafted as a SS, will move to 3B and has the stuff to make it there defensively. Size projects more power but has a long growth path to becoming a professional hitter. Will need to develop zone control with power to be a CI. ETA 2015.

358°. Mike Kelly, RHP Padres  9/6/1992 – The Boynton Beach, Florida product is 6’5″ and 210 with a low 90s fastball and average curveball/change-up combo. There are mechanical corrections that need to be made, but more velocity is still hidden there. Mid 90s is expected with growth along with better command as the 2011 draft pick settles into his frame. ETA 2015.

Texas Rangers357°. Jorge Alfaro, C Rangers 6/11/1993 – Young catcher with a solid backstop frame, plus-plus arm and POP times under 2.00. Plenty of development needed and plenty of time. He hit .300 in 2011 over 160 AB in SS Northwest League, but 54 K and just 4 BB show there is plenty of growth needed in his approach, .181 IsoP shows the upside of average power and average speed with above avg to plus defensive ability. ETA 2015.

Chicago White Sox356°. Jeff Soptic, RHP White Sox 4/8/1991  – Soptic is a radar gun darling, with the ability to light it up triple digits. A big frame and easy action with that velo is something you can’t teach. He was hit hard in CC though and has to learn to pitch low in the zone. Might be best suited to learn a sinker and develop his slider. Projects as a RP due to well below average secondaries. ETA 2014.

Philadelphia Phillies355°. Larry Greene, OF Phillies 2/10/1993 – Drafted with the 39th pick in the 1st round of 2011 draft from Nashville, GA,  Greene’s power is what gets him on this list. Chances are he’ll eventually be relegated to 1B and the power will need to be 100% developed for that to work. But the projection is there and he’s a big 6’2″ 235 pound guy, swinging it from the left side. ETA 2015.

354°. Kevin Mattison, OF Marlins 9/20/1985 – Mattison isn’t a better prospect than Bryce Harper in many respects. But he does have a much better mustache. He hit .260 with 17 doubles, 16 triples and 8 HR in 503 AB in 2011 with 38 SB. Mattison’s AFL play shows that his 2011 season wasn’t a fluke and profiles as a 4th OF with some speed and a little pop. ETA 2013.

Atlanta Braves353°. Tommy La Stella, 2B Braves 1/31/1989 – 8th round pick in 2011, La Stella will have a tough time sticking at 2B, but if he can he profiles very well as a bat first player with above average power from the left side. A short stint in the Sally saw him with 13 doubles, 5 triples and 9 HR in 232 AB while hitting .328/.401/.543 with a .215 IsoP and a 26/28 bb/k rate. ETA 2014.

Milwaukee Brewers352°. Kyle Heckathorn, RHP Brewers 6/17/1988 Heckathorn is a big 6’6″/245 with a big fastball and difficulty repeating his delivery. He sits in the mid 90s as a starter but can get a little more in shorter stints. His lack of repeatability leads to bouts of wildness as a starter. The slider is his second best pitch but still needs work. Projects better as a RP dueto lack of CU and his approach when he’s able to go all out. ETA 2013.

Arizona Diamondbacks

351°. Anthony Meo, RHP Diamondbacks 2/19/1990 – Had Meo signed in 2008, he may have had a better chance at remaining a SP. But, as it stands right now his command and development is still a step behind where it should be. His fastball is clearly his best offering sitting in the mid 90s with a CB that should be average in time. He doesn’t repeat his delivery well enough to have the command needed for a SP. Could move fast once the CB is above average and profiles well as a RP.  ETA 2013.

350°. Phillips Castillo, OF Mariners 2/2/1994  – So very young, so much talent, and so raw at the plate. The Barahona, Dominican Republic native Castillo hit .300 with 18 doubles in 2011 but struck out 61 times in just 170 AB. So the power is there and he’s able to make hard contact. So we’ll see how he fares in 2012 in Low-A. High upside, high risk. ETA 2016.

San Francisco Giants349°. Hector Sanchez, C Giants 11/17/1989  – Sanchez is right at the door step of sticking in San Francisco as the backup for Buster Posey. He has enough raw tools to become regular starting catcher in the major leagues, but he needs to increase his strike zone management. It is important that Sanchez is allowed to work on his swing and continue to develop his defensive game to be more prepared for the next time that he is called up. ETA 2012.

Kansas City Royals348°Yordano Ventura, RHP Royals 6/3/1991  –  Major league fastball sitting mid 90s and touching 100. His secondaries are starting to make strides, but still a ways off. He gets strikeouts , 88 in 84 IP in 2011, by overpowering hitters. In time, his secondaries could allow that K rate to rise and turn the strikeouts into a lower ERA.  Good chance at least to make the major league pen in time. ETA 2014.

Texas Rangers347°. Nomar Mazara, Rangers OF 4/26/1995  – He signed probably the last mega bonus for an Int’l teen for $5 million. Plus raw power from the left side and a great 6-4/195 frame for a 16-year-old. There’s a lot of moving parts to his swing that will need to be reworked but there’s top talent here albeit very raw. He’s one to watch the next couple of seasons. ETA 2016.

Atlanta Braves346°. J.J. Hoover, RHP Braves 8/13/1987 – Hoover has a nice frame with four average pitches. Low 90s FB, CB, CU and SL. He has excellent command and would profile well as a workhorse back-end starter outside of Atlanta. With the Braves pitching depth he will either wind up in the pen, which is a move the Braves have already made or he’ll be part of a 2012 trade. ETA NOW.

New York Mets345°. Juan Urbina, LHP Mets 5/31/1993  – The son of Ugeth Urbina, Juan has the bloodlines of an MLBer. He’s still growing into his 6’3″ frame and should work in the low 90s from the left side in time. It’s his CU, already an above average offering, that makes him one to watch. He repeats well and the CU has hard fade. He also has a SL in the arsenal which is in development. He’s a long way off and things will need to click, if they do he has mid-rotation SP upside. ETA 2015.

Tampa Bay Rays344°. Jeff Ames, RHP Rays 1/31/1991 – Ames was a 1st round supplemental pick, throws a mid 90s FB with big life to it. It projects as a plus pitch. His secondaries keep from higher levels of this list though. His CB has below average break and can get flat with a changeup that doesn’t mimic his FB arm speed. The Rays move pitcher development slowly. So he has time to refine the pitch mix. High upside and should have a bullpen floor. ETA 2015.

Tampa Bay Rays343°. Tyler Bortnick, 2B Rays 7/3/1987  – Bortnick doesn’t get looks in many prospect lists, but the MI does a lot of things right that are tough to totally ignore. Since being drafted in 2009 he’s done nothing but hit at a high level and steal bases. In 2011 he went .306/.428/.432 and stole 43 bags. Sure the power isn’t there, but 34 doubles, 7 triples and 4 HR in the FSL. He has UTL IF written all over him. ETA 2013.

Philadelphia Phillies342°. Aaron Altherr, OF Phillies 1/14/1991  –  Drafted in the 9th round of the 2009 draft, Altherr is a toolsy OF with a big 6’5″/190 pound frame. He’s athletic and fast-twitch, Altherr shows signs of being a power and speed threat in time. He’s still filling in his frame and at least average power should develop. If he can mature as a hitter he could be a future 20/20 threat. ETA 2014.

Atlanta Braves341°. Brandon Drury, 3B Braves 8/21/1992  – Drury wasn’t highlighted by many prior to 2011, but as a HS SS his move to 3B should prove to be a long-term one and his bat took some big strides. Cutting his K rate in half and his power revealing itself with a .178 IsoP. He hit 23 doubles and 8 HR in 265 AB while striking out just 35 times. He’ll need to mature as a hitter and take more walks, but so far so good. Could be a big 2012 mover. ETA 2014.

340°. Austin Brice, RHP Marlins 6/19/1992 –  We got to see Brice in person and he has room to add weight to his 6’3″/190 frame.  Displayed strikeout ability in his 2nd season in the Gulf Coast League, but his command needs improvement when he gets to Low-A Greensboro in 2012 if he wants to move on to the next level as a starter.  ETA 2014.

Chicago White Sox339°. Rangel Ravelo, 3B White Sox 4/24/1992 – The 2010 sixth-round selection utilizes a short, compact swing that allowed him to hit for average in both the Rookie-level Appalachian League (.384) and the Low-A South Atlantic League (.317), figures made even more impressive when considering he was just 19 years old.  He’s a good defensive player and while he’s yet to display any power, many believe it will develop.  ETA 2014.

Washington Nationals338°. Destin Hood, OF Nationals 4/3/1990 – The talented Hood had a break out season in 2011,  hitting .276/.364/.445 with 13 home runs and 21 stolen bases.  He saw his strikeout rate drop almost 5% to 17.9 K%, and his ISO rate rose from .104 to .168.  Cutting strike outs and increasing power – give that kid a promotion to double-A with Harper and Rendon.  ETA 2013.

Baltimore Orioles337°Dan Klein, RHP Orioles 7/27/1988 – A college closer converted to a starter by the Orioles, Klein excelled in 2011 for the Orioles.   Klein underwent successful surgery by Dr. Yocum on August 17th to fix a SLAP tear in his labrum while also getting his capsule loosened up in order to give him more range of motion. One Orioles official said the tear was not as severe as most SLAP tears and they are hopeful he’ll be back on the mound by next June, but it could take a while to get back to full strength and going back to the bullpen may be his fast track to the majors.  ETA 2013.

Cincinatti Reds336°. Tony Cingrani, LHP Reds 07/05/1989 – Another college closer converted to a starter by a major league organization.  The Reds worked him into a starting role carefully in 2011.  They stretched him out a little in Rookie ball where he was clearly too dominant with his 97 mph fastball, posting a 14.03 K/9 and the 1.05 BB/9 rates over 51.1 innings.  He will get stretched out more in Low-A and could jump quickly to AA in 2012.  ETA 2013.

335°. Graham Stoneburner, RHP Yankees 9/29/1987  – He will go into the 2012 season fully recovered from a neck injury the sidelined him for part of the 2011 season.  Consistency is still a factor for Stoneburner and this is the season I believe that’s going to decide for him if he’s going to stay a starter or move to the bullpen.  He might get a late season call to the Bronx if all goes well.  ETA 2013.

334°. Austin Hedges, C  Padres 8/18/1992 – He’s defensively a gem behind the plate with a bat that’s a work in progress.  The Padres think that he can develop into a solid catcher.  Now that Yasmani Grandal is with the Padres, there’s no reason to rush him and I’m hoping they opt to send him to extended spring training and then back to the Northwest League so that we can get a good look at him before jumping him up the Midwest League.  ETA 2015.

Washington Nationals333°. Matt Purke, LHP Nationals 7/17/1990  – Some felt we didn’t get give Purke much love in our Washington Nationals top 10 prospects list.  His decreased velocity in the AFL caused alarm for us, and despite giving up 11 runs and walking 3 batters in 7.1 innings, we still think he’s a remarkable talent and has no place to go but up on our list – we hope.  ETA 2014.

332°. Charlie Tilson, OF Cardinals 12/2/1992  – Tilson was a second round pick for the Cardinals in 2011.  Because of an extended hold out he managed to get into just 8 games.  Tilson doesn’t project to have a lot of power, however he does have good speed on the base paths as well as in the outfield.  He should be able to stick in center field and with some success.  He should start the 2012 season with the Batavia Muckdogs of the New York Penn League.  ETA 2015.

331°. Reymond Fuentes, OF Padres – 2/12/1991 – Moved the Padres in the Adrian Gonzalez deal last winter, Fuentes is likely the best athlete in the Padres system.   He has great speed but has not shown much power yet, though he certainly strikes out like a power hitter.  He doesn’t have the eye or contact skills right now to profile at the top of the order. He could be a late bloomer and will need plenty of  time to develop.  ETA 2015.

330°Jesus Solorzano, OF Marlins 8/8/1990 – He played the game very hard and put up some impressive numbers in his first season inside the U.S. borders. His .299/.355/.452 slash line comes with 12 doubles, 4 triples, 3 HR and 18 SB. He cut down his strikeouts to 14.1% and his LD% is improved to 18%.  He should head to Greensboro, but could make his way back to Jupiter for High-A in 2012.  Fun player to watch and follow.  ETA 2014.

Los Angeles Dodgers329°. Shawn Tolleson, RHP Dodgers 1/19/1988 – The Dodgers 2012 Minor League pitcher of the year, the right-handed reliever Tolleson went a combined 7-2 with 25 saves and a 1.17 earned-run average. He averaged 13.7 strikeouts per nine innings. He started the season at Class-A Great Lakes, was briefly assigned to high Class-A Rancho Cucamonga, before being promoted to Chattanooga.  He should get a shot at making the club out of spring training, but ultimately head to AAA. ETA 2012.

Texas Rangers328°. Miguel De Los Santos, LHP Rangers 07/10/88  – The 23-year-old has been in the Rangers organization since 2006.  Through 3 levels of competition in the 2011 season he amassed a eye-popping 13.5 k’s per 9 innings.  He had an excellent Arizona Fall League campaign, but needs more time in the minors to build up his innings to be an effective major league starter.  Double-A Frisco of the Texas league is the perfect place for him to build up some stamina in 2012 and I wouldn’t be surprised if he is a late season call up to make some starts or solidify the bullpen. ETA 2013.

327°. Austin Romine, C Yankees 11/22/1988 – He hit .276, 16 HR, 116 RBI in over 200 games played at Double-A in 2010 and 2011.  He’s clearly over shadowed by the wealth of catching depth within the Yankees system.  Romine will duke it out for a job in spring training, however it seems unlikely that his future is with the Bronx Bombers.  If anyone ever needed a trade, It’s Austin Romine.  ETA NOW.

Philadelphia Phillies326°. Justin De Fratus, RHP Phillies 10/21/1987 – De Fratus sported an excellent 99/25 K/BB ratio over 75.1 innings of relief work across AA and AAA before getting a cup of coffee with the Phillies in 2011.  The development of his secondary pitches coupled with a mid 90’s fastball that can hit 98 mph makes him a candidate to be a future closer.  ETA NOW.

325°. Adam Conley, LHP Marlins 5/24/1990 – Conley’s appeal to the Marlins is as a Lefty with good velocity, which is hard to come by.  He can dial it up to 98 mph when he needs to and brings a nasty slider to the table.  He could ultimately end up as a left-handed specialist out of the Marlins bullpen, but we’re hopeful that he develops an off-speed pitch and remain a starter.  He got into 2 games in the GCL in 2011 after signing late, but there isn’t much data there to discuss.  He’s likely going to start at High-A Jupiter and we will get to see him in person and take some video.  ETA 2013.

Los Angeles Dodgers324°. Scott Van Slyke, OF Dodgers 7/24/1986  – The former 2005 draft pick was the Dodgers positional player of the year in 2011.  He posted a triple slash of .348/ .427/.595 in 427 Double-A at bats, blasting 45 doubles and 20 HRs.  He will be given a chance to challenge for the 1B job in spring training.  There’s a court of opinion that Van Slyke is a late bloomer and finally gets how to hit.  He could be a sleeper in 2012 for you fantasy folks, however the Dodgers may decide to send him to triple-A.  ETA NOW.

Colorado Rockies323°. Kent Matthes, OF Rockies 1/8/1987  – Matthes enjoyed his time in the California League to be sure.  He hit .334/.378/.642 in  371 at bats for the Modesto Nuts.  I don’t care if it was the hitter friendly Cal League or not; anyone who hits .334 and has an ISoP over .300 had a damn good season in my books.  He’s going to be 25 and have an invite to spring training to compete, but there’s a bit of a log jam in the Rockies outfield so he’s likely to see time between AA Tulsa and AAA Colorado Springs as he tries to force the issue late 2012.  ETA 2013.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim322°. Jett Bandy, C Angels 3/26/1990 – Undoubtedly one of the coolest names in baseball, the former 31st round pick in 2011 had a great season, posting a triple slash of .307/.392/.492, mostly with the Arizona League Angels, but getting looks across 4 levels.  Him and fellow draftee Able Baker will man Low-A and High-A in 2012.  If Bandy keeps playing well, he could be at AA before the season is over. ETA 2015.

Texas Rangers321°. Christian Villanueva, 3B  Rangers 6/19/1991  – Already a regarded prospect in the Rangers system, Villanueva flashes above avg power and a good glove at 3B. His .186 IsoP is powered by 30 doubles and 17 HR in 2011 while cutting his K rate and boosting his walk rate. Defensively he’s an above average defender and getting better with a clear 3B arm. ETA 2014.





Check back soon as we continue with our Top Prospect List as we get our baseball geek on. We will take a look at the  top 21 players for each MLB team later this winter.  While you’re here, take a look at a recent article from our Prospect Instinct series: Prospect Instinct|Derek Norris and be a step ahead of the game. Also, check out a friend of ours for all of your fantasy sports needs. Fantasy Rundown is updated religiously and is truly an awesome resource. Thanks for checking Baseball Instinct. We’re working hard to bring you the best of the minor leagues and make the site the best experience it can be. So don’t hesitate to tell us what you would like to read about. Email us now at

Other articles in this series:

360° to 321°

320° to 281°

280° to 241°

240° to 201°

200° to 161°


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