Top 5 risers under 25 by organization - AL Central

October 21, 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.


Chicago White Sox top 5 risers under 25
No.   Player   Pos.   Comments   Age   Lvl   PP   SS
1   John Danks   LHP   Young lefty dropped FIP from 5.61 in 2007 to 3.48 in 2008, increased K%, reduced BB% too   23.4   MLB   N/A   X
2   Brandon Allen   1B   Burly 1B has improved at every stopped, topping off with .972 OPS, 11.0 BB% in 153 AA AB   22.6   AA   NR    
3   Clayton Richard   RHP   Posted sub-3.10 FIPs at both AA and AAA in 2008, K'ed 19.8% while walking 2.4% in AAA   25.0   MLB   NR    
4   Aaron Poreda   LHP   Strong prospect in '07 improved stock in '08: 6.2 BB%, 20.3 K%, 3.24 FIP in 87.2 AA innings   22.0   AA   76    
5   Kanekoa Texeira   RHP   Reliever K'ed 24.0% between A+ and AA, while inducing groundballs at a 60% clip in 2008   22.6   AA   NR    
* 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: John Danks was always a highly regarded prospect, and when he was traded from Texas, Chicago had high hopes for him as well. After a fantastic sophomore season in which Danks struck-out 19.8% and walked only 7.1%, the White Sox are counting on him to be an ace in the future. Danks has everything going for him to take another big leap next year, and his potential is sky-high – with a ceiling close to Johan Santana.

2009 Outlook: The White Sox won the division in 2008, and although they play in one of the tougher divisions in baseball, they have a good shot to do so again. With a young wave of talent that includes Danks, Carlos Quentin, Alexei Ramirez, Gavin Floyd and Bobby Jenks, the White Sox should compete for a while.


Minnesota Twins top 5 risers under 25
No.   Player   Pos.   Comments   Age   Lvl   PP   SS
1   Denard Span   RF   Went from .666 OPS in AAA in 2007 to .910 in AAA, .813 OPS, 12.9 BB% in MLB in 2008   24.5   MLB   NR    
2   Francisco Liriano   LHP   After missing all of 2007 season, Liriano had a strong comeback: 20.4 K%, 3.91 FIP in MLB   24.9   MLB   N/A    
3   Ben Revere   CF   The 28th overall pick in 2007 had a sick year in the Midwest league (.401 wOBA, 8.3 K%)   20.4   A   133    
4   Luke Hughes   3B   Started the year in AA for 2nd consecutive year, but went from .791 OPS in '07 to .933 in '08   24.1   AAA   NR    
5   Kevin Slowey   RHP   Followed a rough rookie season (5.52 FIP) with great sophomore year (3.94 FIP, 5.13 K/BB)   24.4   MLB   N/A    


Denard Span was selected by the Twins in the first round of the 2002 draft. Span had a slow and steady rise through the organization, posting mediocre seasons year-by-year. Once thought of as the heir to Torii Hunter, the Twins had trouble seeing Span as anything more than a 4th outfielder. Whatever happened to Span in 2008 changed that. His break-out year gives the Twins a starting outfielder, and a leadoff man who has speed and patience at the plate.

2009 Outlook: The Twins just missed out on winning the division in 2008, and look to battle for the top again in 2009. With Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau playing like MVPs, the solid but not outstanding pitching rotation of the Twins will need to improve next year if the Twins want to see the postseason.


            Cleveland Indians top 5 risers under 25                
No.   Player   Pos.   Comments   Age   Lvl   PP   SS
1   Carlos Santana   C   One of the biggest risers in baseball, increased 2007 OPS in A by .311 between A+ and AA   22.4   AA   NR   X
2   David Huff   LHP   Strong in 11 starts in '07 (3.47 FIP), broke onto scene in '08 (4.93 K/BB between A and AA)   24.1   AAA   NR    
3   Hector Rondon   RHP   20-year-old K'ed 24.0%, walked only 7.0% in A+ in 2008, improved numbers across board   20.5   A+   NR    
4   Michael Brantley   LF   Finished 2007 with 187 AB in AA (.639 OPS, 11.2 K%), in 419 AB in '08: .791 OPS, 5.6 K%   21.3   AA   NR    
5   Scott Lewis   LHP   Had success across 3 levels in 2008, ending up in MLB, although his 4.83 FIP wasn't great   25.0   MLB   NR    


Sully Select: Carlos Santana was never thought as much more than organizational depth, with a little bit of upside. People knew if he put it all together he had a shot to be a legit prospect, but until 2008 he never did that. What he did in ’08, however, made him more than a legit prospect – it put him on the map as a potential stud catcher. Need more evidence? In 463 AB, Santana put up a .999 OPS with 89 walks, 85 strikeouts, and 21 homeruns.

2009 Outlook: Although 2008 was a rough season for Cleveland, they have a ton of young talent led by Grady Sizemore, Shin-Soo Choo and co. With a strong lineup, rotation, and bullpen ready for 2009, the Indians are going to make the AL Central a battle until the finish.

            Kansas City Royals top 5 risers under 25                
No.   Player   Pos.   Comments   Age   Lvl   PP   SS
1   Kila Kaaihue   1B   Posted .345 wOBA between A+ and AA in '07, jumped to crazy .445 wOBA in minors in '08   24.5   MLB   NR    
2   Zach Greinke   RHP   Stud-in-the-making lowered 2007 BB% and FIP, while increasing K%, GB% through 202.1 IP   24.3   MLB   N/A   X
3   Mike Moustakas   3B   High expectations entering '08, first half was dreadful. Bounced back huge in second half   20.0   A   25   X
4   Carlos Rosa   RHP   2007 in AA: 10.3 BB%, 16.7 K% in 97 IP; in 2008: 5.0 BB%, 23.3 K% between AA and AAA   24.0   AAA   NR    
5   Joakim Soria   RHP   Established himself as one of MLB's most dominant closers : 25.4 K%, 42 out of 45 saves   24.3   MLB   N/A    


Sully Select: Zach Greinke has been through some tough times. During the 2006 season, he faced some personal issues and many people around baseball had all but given up on him. Greinke has seemed to overcome the demons that haunted him and looks like a pitcher that will be an asset to a rotation for years.

Sully Select: Mike Moustakas was taken with the 2nd pick in the 2007 draft. Most 2nd overall picks will have high expectations, Moustakas notwithstanding. After an atrocious start to the season (.479 OPS in April), Moustakas picked it up majorly in the 2nd half (.949 OPS), which is more along the lines of what I expect him to produce at next season and beyond.

2009 Outlook: The Royals have a pretty solid amount of young talent, yet they are lacking the veteran talent to make an immediate difference. In this division, it will take them some more time to put up a fight for the playoffs.


            Detroit Tigers top 5 risers under 25                
No.   Player   Pos.   Comments   Age   Lvl   PP   SS
1   Rick Porcello   RHP   19-year-old dominated A+ in first season, 65% groundball rate in 125.0 IP is off the charts   19.7   A+   15   X
2   Wilkin Ramirez   LF   Ended 2007 with 121 AB in AA (.577 OPS, 6.0 BB%), in 428 AB in '08: .903 OPS, 9.2 BB%   22.9   AAA   NR    
3   Matt Joyce   RF   After a .787 OPS in AA in '07, posted a .902 OPS in AAA in '08 and walloped 12 MLB HR   24.1   MLB   NR    
4   Dusty Ryan   C   Followed an awful 2007 with a solid stint at AA, but took off in AAA and OPS'ed .880 in MLB   24.0   MLB   NR    
5   Brandon Hamilton   RHP   Overmatched in low-A, but rediscovered his stuff in GCL (26.5 K%); age is on his side   19.7   A   NR    


Sully Select: Rick Porcello was regarded by most experts to be the top high-school arm in the 2007 draft class. Due to his high bonus demands, however, he fell all the way to the Tigers at 27 overall. Detroit put him at an advanced level for his age, and all he ended up doing was pitching 125.0 very strong innings in A+ as a 19-year-old. Through this, he had a remarkable 65% Groundball percentage. With his stuff, his strikeouts should increase as he continues to be one of the best prospects in baseball.

2009 Outlook: The Tigers were the biggest disappointment in baseball in 2009. Expected by many to be one of the best offenses ever assembled, Detroit managed to win only 74 games and finished last in the division. It’s hard to tell what will happen going forward. The Tigers have major issues in their rotation, but their offense remains high-octane. Expect them to finish near the middle of the division, with margin for error to come in at any spot – from first to worst.


Brett Sullivan can be reached at