We'll start our prospect coverage for 2010 in the next few weeks, beginning with some personal top 30s very soon. After that will come our top 15 hitters and pitchers, but right now we'll take one final look back at our rankings last year. Who should have been higher? Lower? Who will be moving up the list? And who did we completely miss on?
Today's look will be at the bottom half of our top 30. For reference:
16. James Houser
17. Kyle Lobstein
18. Joseph Cruz
19. Albert Suarez
20. Kyeong Kang
21. Reid Fronk
22. Ryan Reid
23. Jason McEachern
24. Jake Jefferies
25. Shane Dyer
26. Alexander Colome
27. Justin Ruggiano
28. Matt Gorgen
29. Ty Morrison
30. Ryan Royster
James Houser at #16 was obviously way off. We had him that high based on his proximity to the majors and 2nd-round pedigree, but he completely fell apart in 2009 to the point of the Rays releasing him. His 2.86 ERA in 2008 in Montgomery masked some of the warning signs, including a declining SO/BB rate for several seasons.
Kyle Lobstein finished strongly in 2009 with Hudson Valley, and will assuredly move up. Joseph Cruz had a bit of an under-the-radar season as the third banana in Bowling Green's rotation, but he probably won't be a big mover. Albert Suarez may have been ranked fairly, but his season was over after two starts, and he'll require Tommy John. He'll miss most, if not all, of the 2010 season and will have to re-establish himself once healthy to make his return to the list.
Like Lobstein, Kyeong Kang finished the year with a bang. Kang's August/September OPS was over 1.000, helping his season number finish at .880. In a system hurting for hitting depth, Kang emerged as a viable prospect, though still clearly a tier behind Desmond Jennings and Tim Beckham.
A pair of Reids, Reid Fronk and Ryan Reid, ranked back to back but neither found much success in 2009. Fronk couldn't get it going at the plate, finishing with a .201 batting average and just four homeruns after launching 17 a year ago. Ryan Reid, the righty reliever, simply hasn't shown the control he did in a stint with Vero Beach in 2008. He finished the year with an unremarkable 4.17 ERA for the Biscuits, and he no longer looks like a real prospect.
Jason McEachern and Alex Colome teamed up with Lobstein to form a strong Hudson Valley rotation. Colome has at least caught up to Lobstein, and arguably has passed him. McEachern's stuff isn't on the same level as those two, but he found similar success at the same level despite being a year younger.
Two 2008 draft picks, Shane Dyer and Jake Jefferies, met with mixed results in Bowling Green. Jefferies had the better season and figures to place on the 2010 version, but his .261/.326/.359 line doesn't stand out. Dyer got hit around to the tune of a 1-10 record with an ERA over 5. There's still hope for him but he'll really need to prove himself in a system with as much pitching depth as the Rays'.
Justin Ruggiano, like Houser, was placed based on how close he was to the majors. Technically, he didn't even maintain prospect status, and after an uninspiring season with Durham, he doesn't look to fit into the team's future plans at all.
Matt Gorgen is possibly the biggest riser, although he struggled after a promotion to Montgomery and has gotten beaten up in the Arizona Fall League. He seems to have a better profile than Ryan Reid, but he'll have to prove he can get more advanced hitters out the way he did in the Florida State League.
Ty Morrison had a strong showing in extended spring training, and put up decent numbers in Princeton. His athleticism is still his main tool, and we'll need to be patient to see if he can turn it into plus baseball skill. A good example of someone who didn't put things together is Ryan Royster, who has completely fallen off the map with two poor seasons after winning the system triple crown in 2007.
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