"by John Sickels on Jan 17, 2012 12:05 PM EST
1) Yonder Alonso, 1B, Grade B+: Acquire in the big Mat Latos deal with the Cincinnati Reds. His style of hitting should fit better in San Diego than Anthony Rizzo's. I expect Alonso will hit for average, post a strong OBP, and provide at least moderate power.
2) Yasmani Grandal, C, Grade B+: Also acquired in the Latos deal. Needs more polish on defense, although he has the tools to thrive and I'm optimistic about his glove. Like Alonso, he should provide a solid OBP with moderate power.
3) Rymer Liriano, OF, Grade B+: You can make a case to rank him above Rizzo, although they are very different players. Five Tool/Seven Skill potential is obvious, and he made strides with the strike zone last year. Scouts love him and the numbers are catching up.
4) Jedd Gyorko, 3B, Grade B+ : I believe in the bat and he can handle third base. Should hit for average, post solid OBP, with at least moderate power.
5) Robbie Erlin, LHP, Grade B+: Extremely close between Erlin and Wieland, but I'll go with Erlin due to lefty premium and nine month age edge. I know he doesn't have a blistering fastball, but the guy has superb command of deceptive stuff, plus pornographic statistics. Should do well in this ballpark.
6) Joe Wieland, RHP, Grade B+: Hard to believe they got Wieland and Erlin for Mike Adams. Like Robbie, Joe's fastball plays past it's velocity due to terrific command and impressive secondary pitches.
7) Keyvius Sampson, RHP, Grade B+: Baseball America seems oddly reserved about him, but he looks great to me, other Midwest League sources are very positive, he throws hard, his stat profile is strong, and he's athletic.
8) Casey Kelly, RHP, Grade B: Borderline B+. Kelly will rank ahead of Erlin and Wieland on most lists, and I might be undergrading him a notch, but there are some things here that hold me back from a higher grade. He didn't dominate Double-A despite repeating the league, his secondary stuff isn't as refined as Erlin/Wieland, his fastball isn't consistently faster, and he is a full year older than Erlin and almost two years older than Sampson. He still looks like a fine mid-rotation starter but I don't see him as a potential ace. I'm thinking about this grade and this one is far from final.
9) Cory Spangenberg, 2B, Grade B: Borderline B+: On-base machine with some gap power and 70-speed. Needs to polish defense but pure hitting skills are sharp. He was a slight overdraft at 10th overall but not by a terrible amount.
10) James Darnell, OF-3B, Grade B-: I like the bat a lot, but age and positional questions preclude a higher grade. Should be a solid run producer.
11) Joe Ross, RHP, Grade B-: Could theoretically be the top pitching prospect in the system a year from now. More advanced than brother Tyson at the same age, and has a higher physical upside than the pitchers ahead of him, but let's get some data first.
12) Brad Boxberger, RHP, Grade B-: Another part of the Latos deal. Very live arm, took well to bullpen role last year. At worst he should be an effective middle reliever, and if his command holds up he has a chance to close.
13) Jaff Decker, OF, Grade B-: Seems to improve his physical conditioning every year, even stole 15 bases in '11, strong throwing arm. Patient to a fault, needs to find balance between aggression and passivity. Could put up huge numbers at Tucson.
14) Austin Hedges, C, Grade B-: Superior defensive catcher. Scouts have mixed opinions about his bat; some think he can hit for a decent average with touches of power, others don't think he'll hit enough to play regularly despite his glove. Not enough objective data yet to have a sabermetric opinion, although most catchers with a similar plus-glove/questionable-bat profile coming out of high school don't make it. If he hits, will rank much higher next year.
This was already a very deep farm system, but adding Erlin and Wieland in the Adams trade was a masterstroke. Erlin, Wieland, Kelly, and Sampson is an exciting quartet, Joe Ross could be the best of all once he gets some innings in, Bass and Oramas are not slouches, and there are a large group of solid bullpen arms ready in the near future. That doesn't even include live-armed pitchers in the "others" list like Castro, Cates, Lollis and Portillo who have high ceilings albeit with question-marks. Hernandez and Reyes could also help sooner than expected.
There is also the core of a strong offense here, with Rizzo, Darnell, Gyorko, the enigmatic Decker, broad-skilled Tekotte, and overlooked Belnome ready or almost ready for extensive major league trials. Tools hound Liriano has a high ceiling and put some things together in '11. If Donavan Tate stays on the field long enough to learn baseball, he still has star-caliber tools. Galvez, Peterson, and Rincon would all get a lot more attention in other farm systems.
All told, this is a very rich system with exciting players at all levels."
He seems to have done a fairly good job, and of course the order of the prospects is left up to opinion, but overall he seems to have them in pretty fair positioning. Good job John!
TPichierri - Planet Padres Writer