Top 5 risers under 25 by organization - NL East

November 14, 2008

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


Philadelphia Phillies top 5 risers under 25
No.   Player   Pos.   Comments   Age   Lvl   PP   SS
1   Cole Hamels   LHP   Pitched 44.0 innings over his previous career high, 3.70 FIP was career low; won WS MVP   24.7   MLB   NA    
2   Lou Marson   C   Went from .779 OPS and 11.4 BB% in A+ in 2007 to .849 OPS and 17.2 BB% in AA in 2008   22.2   MLB   NR    
3   Michael Taylor   LF   Posted .294 wOBA in '07, huge outfielder broke out in '08 (.346/.412/.557 between A and A+)   22.7   AA   NR    
4   Jason Donald   SS   Big step to AA was no problem for Donald -- .190 IsoP, 11.4 BB%, .384 wOBA all very solid   24.0   AA   NR    
5   Dominic Brown   CF   OF increased power (.126 isoP), BB% (12.4%) and wOBA (.352) while decreasing Ks (14%)   21.0   A+   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                


Cole Hamels is still a baby in this league at 24-years-old, but he has something on his resume that only a handful of active players can claim – a World Series MVP. Hamels was the ace for the Phillies during their playoff run, going 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA in five postseason starts. Hamels is on top of the world and should be looking to go higher as he has his best years well ahead of him.

2009 Outlook: The defending World Series Champs will be returning most of their top players, with the likely exception of Pat Burrell. A big free-agent acquisition would help them remain an elite team, but their division is going to get tougher as 2009 rolls by. Consider them the favorite to win the NL East again, but certainly not a lock.


New York Mets top 5 risers under 25
No.   Player   Pos.   Comments   Age   Lvl   PP   SS
1   Mike Pelfrey   RHP   Tall righty finally broke out in 2008 (3.94 FIP, 13 W) after 2 straight 4.62+ FIP seasons in MLB   24.7   MLB   N/A    
2   Daniel Murphy   LF   .768 OPS in A+ in '07 -- .875 OPS between AA and MLB in '08; continuing production in AFL   23.5   MLB   NR    
3   Wilmer Flores   SS   16-year-old was very productive in APP league -- .180 isoP, 4.5 BB%, 10.6 K%, .841 OPS   17.1   A   NR   X
4   Jonathon Niese   LHP   Soared through AA (3.08 FIP, 21.5 K%), handled AAA (4.42 FIP, 19.2 K%), unlucky in MLB   21.8   MLB   142    
5   Jefry Marte   3B   In an easier league, arguably better than Flores at same age: .204 IsoP, 7.4 BB%, .921 OPS   17.2   R   NR    


Sully Select: Wilmer Flores, as a mere 16-year-old, was the youngest player in the Appalachian league – and one of the most productive. This 6-foot-3 man-child played shortstop, which shows his athleticism. The most impressive thing about Flores is that he only struck out 10.6% of his plate appearances for Kingsport. Flores should start 2009 in Low-A Savannah where he will be one of the youngest players in the league again, and has a chance to fly through the system.

2009 Outlook: The Mets followed their historic collapse in 2007 with a not-so-historic yet similarly painful demise to Philadelphia in 2008. Their pitching rotation led by Johan Santana will likely lose Oliver Perez in 2009 and have to regain its stability. The offense is as potent as ever, as Jose Reyes and David Wright both posted MVP caliber seasons in 2008. The team is obviously loaded with talent, and again should have a chance to challenge for the division in 2009.


            Florida Marlins top 5 risers under 25                
No.   Player   Pos.   Comments   Age   Lvl   PP   SS
1   Hanley Ramirez   SS   Improved upon weaknesses of defense and discipline (13.3 BB%), all-around superstar now   24.7   MLB   N/A    
2   Michael Stanton   RF   Sunk in 2007 (.494 OPS, 1 HR), soared in 2008 (.318 isoP, .088 isoD, .992 OPS, 26 2B, 39 HR)   18.8   A   NR   X
3   Logan Morrison   1B   FSL MVP was complete offensive force: 10.3 BB%.383 wOBA, 52 XBH), killing the ball in AFL   21.1   A+   NR   X
4   Chris Volstad   RHP   Started in AA again after 4.17 FIP there in '07, lowered that to 3.11 and was great in MLB stint   22.0   MLB   60    
5   Ryan Tucker   RHP   Like Volstad was great in AA in 2008 (3.33 FIP) but BB and FB tendencies caught up in MLB   21.8   MLB   NR    


Sully Select: A poster child for our Top 25 Non-Top 100 prospect lists, Michael Stanton posted a breakout season that I started getting excited about back in April. Stanton was clearly overwhelmed in his first professional stint in 2007. But the ability was always there and in 2008 Stanton showed why he was deserving of a 2nd round pick. Stanton had one of the all-time great minor league seasons from a teenager, and his improved discipline throughout the year makes me believe great things are in store for him.

Sully Select: Logan Morrison had a solid 2007 season for Low-A Greensboro, but his numbers weren’t great considering the hitter-friendly ballpark. At an advanced level and a much worse hitter environment (the FSL), all Morrison did was win the League MVP. With a great amount of line drives and power radiating from his swing, as well as much improved ability to make contact, Morrison looks like a special hitter with a chance to consistently hit over .300 in the majors.

2009 Outlook: The Marlins once again look to be in the midst of a rebuilding mode – Having just traded away Scott Olsen, Josh Willingham, and Kevin Gregg with others possibly on the move as well. Their rotation led by Ricky Nolasco and co. has the makings to be one of the league’s best, and although Hanley Ramirez is one of the best players in baseball, their offense is still lacking. This is a team, however, that could be very good in 2010 or 2011 when some of their youngsters mature.


            Atlanta Braves top 5 risers under 25                
No.   Player   Pos.   Comments   Age   Lvl   PP   SS
1   Jair Jurrjens   RHP   Lowered MLB FIP from 5.33 in 2007 to 3.57 in 2008 while increasing K% by 7.1%, 3rd in ROY   22.6   MLB   55   X
2   Jason Heyward   RF   18-year-old has it all: Contact (.324 AVG), discipline (.066 isoD), power (.161 isoP), speed   19.1   A   42   X
3   Thomas Hanson   RHP   After a 5.13 FIP in A+ in '07, Hanson dominated A+ in '08 (2.21 FIP), strong in AA, great in AFL   22.0   AA   NR    
4   Freddie Freeman   1B   Followed '07 where he had a .671 OPS with '08 where he posted a .897 OPS with 18 HRs   19.0   A   NR    
5   Tyler Flowers   C   A converted C, Flowers is a BB machine (.140 isoD) with power (.206 isoP), mashing in AFL   22.6   A+   NR    


Sully Select: Jair Jurrjens came over to Atlanta in the Edgar Renteria trade. At the time, many people questioned the deal for Atlanta, receiving the virtually unknown Jurrjens as the centerpiece for an all-star caliber shortstop. Flash forward to this point in time, and the trade is being looked at as a great one for the Braves. Jurjjens came in 3rd in the rookie of the year balloting, due to his outstanding 2008 campaign where he was the Braves most reliable starter. He should continue to hold-down a spot near the top of Atlanta’s rotation for years to come.

Sully Select: Jason Heyward was selected 14th overall by Atlanta in the 2007 draft. His skills and body projection made him one of the most coveted high-school players in the draft, and landing him at 14 must have been a wish come true for the Braves. Now, Heyward is arguably the best high-school hitting prospect from the draft, and one of the best prospects in baseball. With a complete and diverse skill-set, Heyward could be a star in the major leagues when his time comes.

2009 Outlook: This offseason is going to be a big one for Atlanta. They are looking to add two starters as well as a bat. If they can head into 2009 with a redone rotation and a left-field stick that will produce, they could easily challenge for the division. If things don’t go their way, however, they could once again compete for last place in a very competitive NL East.


            Washington Nationals top 5 risers under 25                
No.   Player   Pos.   Comments   Age   Lvl   PP   SS
1   Elijah Dukes   RF   Fell completely out of favor with TB in 2007, came back to rake in '08 (.122 isoD, .214 isoP)   24.2   MLB   N/A    
2   Jordan Zimmerman   RHP   2008 (8.6 BB%, 24.9 K% 3.50 FIP in A+ and AA) has vaulted him ahead of Ross Detwiler   22.3   AA   NR    
3   Shairon Martis   RHP   Finished '07 in A+ with a 3.83 FIP -- Made MLB debut in 2008 and was shaky but K'ed 25%   21.5   MLB   NR    
4   Michael Burgess   RF   Made it to A+ in first year in full-season ball, K's an issue (29.9%) power is legit (.231 isoP)   19.9   MLB   54    
5   Derek Norris   C   Short-season player has age on side, walked an outstanding 20.8 % of the time, with power   19.6   SS   NR    


Elijah Dukes has been in more trouble in the last few years than our economy. With all sorts of various suspensions, court appearances, and temper tantrums, Dukes was looking like another guy with all the ability in the world but plenty of loose screws. After acquiring him from Tampa Bay for peanuts, Dukes has paid off enormously for Washington. With plus power, discipline and strong speed and defense, the young Dukes could become an all-star if he keeps his head on straight and the cards fall into place.

2009 Outlook: The Nationals have plenty of good young talent that includes Dukes, Ryan Zimmerman, and Lastings Milledge among others. Despite the talent, they have a logjam in the outfield and a shaky-at-best pitching rotation. In this division, that’s not going to cut it. I expect them to finish last again, with the upside to finish 3rd but likely no higher.


Brett Sullivan can be reached at