Top 5 risers under 25 by organization - AL East

October 14, 2008

All Divisions: AL East / AL Central / AL West / NL East / NL CentralNL West

Now that the regular season in both the major and minor leagues is complete, we have a full grasp on which young players increased their stock. Here, I take a look at the players under 25 who I believe increased their value the most. These are not rankings in regards to talent or depth, but rather in whose value rose the most around baseball. Added weight was given to players in the majors or near major-league ready. Also, 2008 draftees are not eligible for these lists.


Tampa Bay Rays top 5 risers under 25
No.   Player   Pos.   Comments   Age   Lvl   PP   SS
1   Evan Longoria   3B   Yes he was PP's #3 prospect coming into the year, but the AL ROY's play earns him this spot   22.9   MLB   3    
2   Dioner Navarro   C   Increased OPS by .116 from 2007, became all-star and staple of Rays starting lineup in 2008   24.0   MLB   N/A    
3   Matthew Moore   LHP   Stunning rates across the board, combined with a .154 BAA show top-of-the-rotation talent   19.2   R   NR   X
4   Nick Barnese   RHP   An exciting young arm in a deep system, Barnese and his 3.5 K/BB ratio are very impressive   19.7   R   NR    
5   Jeremy Hellickson   RHP   A good prospect coming into 2008, his season vaulted him into the top 50 prospects of MLB   21.4   AA   144    
* Age refers to the players age on October 1st, 2008                
** Lvl refers to the highest level that the player has played at                
*** PP refers to the ranking that Project Prospect gave the player going into the 2008 season                
**** SS stands for "Sully Select", which is a prospect that Brett Sullivan expects to continue a steep rise in 2009                


Sully Select: Matthew Moore had a superb year in the Appalacian league, although he was repeating the league. Moore had excellent rates across the board -- he struck out 34.8% of the batters he faced, while forcing 61% to hit the ball on the ground, and more than halving his 17.2% walk rate from the prior year (8.6%). Combine these great statistics with a 6-foot-2, 205 pound frame, and the 19-year-old left-hander looks like a candidate to soar up prospect charts.

2009 Outlook: Tampa Bay has an incredible young core including Longoria and Navarro which should help them maintain a great team for years to come. Expect a bounce-back year from B.J. Upton in ’09, as well as very strong rotation that will feature David Price, Scott Kazmir, Matt Garza, James Shields, and Andy Sonnanstine.


Boston Red Sox top 5 risers under 25
No.   Player   Pos.   Comments   Age   Lvl   PP   SS
1   Jon Lester   LHP   A no-hitter highlighted his excellent season in which he won 16 games and post a 3.67 FIP   24.7   MLB   N/A    
2   Daniel Bard   RHP   Following a disasterous season in '07, Bard turned it around as he struckout 34.7% in 2008   23.2   AA   NR    
3   Lars Anderson   1B   .962 OPS in AA showed Lancaster #'s were no fluke, but be weary of insane .435 BABIP   21.0   AA   48    
4   Josh Reddick   RF   Came down to earth at AA but .388 and .406 wOBAs at A and A+ show his offensive ability   21.6   AA   NR    
5   Michael Almanzar   3B   17-year-old struggled upon promotion to Low-A; GCL numbers (.393 wOBA) display potential   17.8   A   NR    


Jon Lester has always been a fighter. He fought his way up the prospect charts. He fought for his life when he beat cancer. And most recently, he fought critics by putting up a phenomenal season in 2008. His magical year was at a peak on May 15th, when he no-hit the Royals in front of his home crowd. He’s now the ace of a playoff team, and the future looks bright as ever for this young left-hander.

2009 Outlook: The Red Sox have grown accustomed to winning, and it doesn’t look like they should slow down any time soon. With a great young offense led by Kevin Youkilis andDustin Pedroia, as well as a pitching rotation that should be very deep, the Red Sox could contend until the new millennium. (Yes, I mean the year 3000)


New York Yankees top 5 risers under 25
No.   Player   Pos.   Comments   Age   Lvl   PP   SS
1   Jesus Montero   C   The only remaining question is defense, because Montero can flat out hit (.861 OPS, 14.5 K%)   18.8   A   70   X
2   Zach McAllister   RHP   After tearing through low-A, McAllister's rates took a hit in A+, and even so, led to a 3.26 FIP   20.8   A+   NR    
3   Jairo Heredia   RHP   As an 18-year-old in full season ball, Heredia did just about everything (21.0 K%, 57 GB%)   18.9   A   NR   X
4   Austin Romine   C   Romine showed the ability to hit for contact (12.8 K%), rest of his game should follow in '09   19.8   A   NR    
5   Mark Melancon   RHP   After missing the entire '07 season, Melancon went through 3 levels, and got better with each   23.5   AAA   NR    


Sully Select: Jesus Montero's jump to full-season ball went as well as expected and then some. He combined a great average (.322) with patience (.051 isoD) and power (.166 isoP), while showing a swing that produces many line-drives (18%). Defensively, he still needs work behind the dish but he is athletic and has desire to remain at the position. Next season should be a huge breakout year for Montero, and once he escapes the pitcher-friendly Florida State League, he will take off even further.

Sully Select: Jairo Heredia came from virtually nowhere to be one of the best pitchers in the South Atlantic League. The league’s 12th youngest player, Heredia showed great potential over the 102.1 innings he pitched. A strength of Heredia’s is keeping the ball on the ground (1.96 GO/AO, 7 HR allowed). I believe that a big-time Heredia breakout is looming in ’09.

2009 Outlook: The Yankees have a ton of talent, but they're in a messy situation. They have a poor mix of players who are too old, and players who are too young. Expect the Yankees to take a year or two to rebuild back to contention.


Toronto Bluejays top 5 risers under 25
No.   Player   Pos.   Comments   Age   Lvl   PP   SS
1   Brett Cecil   LHP   Combination of K ability (26.9 % in AA, 23.0% in AAA) and inducing GBs (59%, 69%) is elite   22.2   AAA   125   X
2   Travis Snider   LF   Elite prospect made jump to MLB, and kept head way above water (.301/.338/.466) in 73 AB   20.6   MLB   13    
3   Jesse Litsch   RHP   Peripherals not outstanding to say the least, still, 13 wins and 176.0 IP as a 23-year-old in MLB   23.5   MLB   N/A    
4   J.P. Arencibia   C   Elite power (27 HR, .527 SLG between A+ and AA), horrendous discipline (.024 isoD, 18 BB)   22.7   AA   NR    
5   Bradley Emaus   2B   Went from .614 OPS in NY-Penn league to .843 OPS in 473 AB in the Florida State League   22.5   A+   NR    


Sully Select: Brett Cecil was drafted 38th overall in the 2007. A converted closer, Cecil’s first full-season as a starter was nothing short of a complete success. Making his way through three levels, he ended 2008 in Triple-A where he posted a 3.31 FIP in 30.2 innings, following a 2.76 FIP in Double-A. Cecil should continue to have success in Triple-A next year, and there is even a shot that he makes the big-league rotation out of camp. His combination of strikeouts and groundballs gives reason to expect a solid major league left-hander for many years.

2009 Outlook: The Blue Jays are in organizational purgatory right now. They are buried in a deep division, and have to make decisions on the futures of their veterans (Roy Halladay, Scott Rolen, B.J. Ryan) while the new wave of talent (Snider, Shawn Marcum, Dustin McGowan) show what they have going forward.


Baltimore Orioles top 5 risers under 25
No.   Player   Pos.   Comments   Age   Lvl   PP   SS
1   Matt Wieters   C   Whatever the expectations were, he exceeded them (.355/.454/.600, 27 HR, 82 BB, 76 K)   22.3   AA   14    
2   Chris Tillman   RHP   20-year-old K'd 26.6% of batters in AA, 3.46 FIP as one of the leagues youngest players   20.4   AA   109    
3   Nick Markakis   RF   Budding star increased BB% by 5.8% (15.0%), wOBA up to .385 (20 HR, 10 SB, 99 BB)   24.8   MLB   N/A    
4   Jake Arrieta   RHP   2007 5th round pick was Carolina League pitcher-of-the-year (11.0 BB%, 25.9 K%, 3.65 FIP)   22.5   A+   NR    
5   Brandon Erbe   RHP   Repeated A+, but decreased walk percentage by 2.4%, increased K percentage by 4.9%   20.7   A+   NR    


Matt Wieters is a good prospect. He has a chance of making an impact at the major league level. Sarcasm aside, if his 2008 season is any indication of what he can do, we may be looking at a very special ball player. A quick summary of Wieters: 6-foot-5 switch-hitting catcher with the ability to hit for lots of power, lots of average, draw lots of walks, and play strong defense behind the plate. What team in the galaxy wouldn’t want to have that type of player?

2009 Outlook: Although there is a solid amount of young talent on this Orioles club, they could very well be battling the Blue Jays for the last-place crown. With young upstarts including Wieters, Markakis, and Adam Jones, the only thing holding them back is their young and inconsistent pitching staff.


Brett Sullivan can be reached at