10 Up, 10 Down

April 26, 2010

Base on their early performances, I've highlighted 10 prospects with rising stocks and 10 whose stocks have taken a hit. This edition features consensus top prospects, bounce-back candidates, and some injured players. Players are ordered based on their proximity to the majors, with a focus on current level. Let us know who else you think belongs in the discussion.

10 Up

1. Justin Smoak -- Smoak has been unstoppable so far this year. In 15 Triple-A games, he walked twice as much as he struck out and accumulated eight extra-base-hits. This earned him a call-up to the big leagues, where he's walked four times in his first 12 plate appearances.

2. Ike Davis -- Davis quickly gave the Mets reason to bring him up to the majors, drawing nine walks and hitting two home runs in 42 Triple-A plate appearances. He has already made his presence felt in the big leagues, totaling seven hits in his first 23 plate appearances. While he may be prone to striking out, his power and patience could carry him to a solid rookie season. 

3. Carlos Santana -- There's a case to be made that Santana is the best hitter in the minors. His bat is about as close to big-league-ready as it gets and he's sure to have fans calling louder for him by the day.

4. Starlin Castro -- Castro is fresh off a 10-game hitting streak, with multi-hit games in nine of them -- he went hitless in a double-header on Sunday. While he could stand to be more patient, his Double-A line to date is very impressive.

5. Nick Weglarz -- Weglarz has displayed both power and patience to open the season, hitting three home runs already. Fully recovered from a non-displaced hairline fracture that he tried to play through for the bulk of 2009, Weglarz could emerge as a consensus Top 100 prospect by year's end. 

6. Jemile Weeks -- Just like last season, Weeks is off to an impressive power start. He worked with Rickey Henderson during the offseason in an effort to become a more prototypical leadoff hitter. While he isn't there yet, he may be on the right track.

7. Lars Anderson -- Anderson is hitting line drives at a blistering pace to start the season. He's still young for his level and is off to a hot start after a down 2009 season.

8. Mike Montgomery -- He has been utterly dominant in four outings this season, allowing just two hits in his first three outings and striking out batters at a 36.7% clip (also has a 59% GB rate and 4.4% BB). At this point he'd probably benefit from seeing tougher competition. 

9. Randall Delgado -- After seeing Delgado in spring training, our own Adam Foster tweeted that he was the best pitcher he'd seen during his month-long trip. So far in High-A, Delgado has shown great command, strikeout ability and ground-ball tendencies. If he can keep this up, his name will pop up on a lot of Top 100s next year. 

10. Eric Hosmer -- Following offseason Lasik surgery, Hosmer has come out strong this season. While his .486 BABIP isn't sustainable, he has exhibited great patience and contact abilities. His power may be limited if he continues to hit a lot of ground balls (65% so far), but he's off to a promising start nonetheless.

10 Down 

1. Aroldis Chapman -- The prized import has missed a lot of bats and induced lots of grounders, but his command has left much to be desired. He's likely a bigger project than all the spring training hype may have led people to believe. 

2. Madison Bumgarner -- His strikeout rate stands at a pedestrian 14.1% so far, and he has allowed four home runs through this year through four starts, after giving up just eight all last season. Amidst talk that he didn't impress the Giants with his devotion to baseball during the offseason, Bumgarner appears desperately in need of at least one adequate secondary offering.

3. Todd Frazier -- Still without a defensive home, Frazier is striking out at in nearly twice the rate he did last year (currently 34.1%; both small samples) and he hasn't gotten into a power groove.

4. Hector Rondon -- Rondon has been roughed up by Indianapolis twice, and has already allowed seven home runs on the young season (he gave up 11 all last season). His strikeout and walk rates have both taken hits, too.

5. Michael Saunders -- Saunders has hit for literally no power (0 XBH) and is just 8-for-51 on the season. The Mariners hoped he could add aggression to his approach this season, but it appears that he's not taking well to that request.

6. Mat Gamel -- Gamel's currently on the 15-day disabled list due to a slight tear in his right shoulder. He'll likely be out for another month or so.  

7. Dustin Ackley -- Challenged with a Double-A assignment to open his career, Ackley has put up dissapointing offensive numbers to date. It's possible that his focus on learning an up-the-middle defensive position is taking away from his hitting. And while he's collected two extra-base-hits in his last four games, few people anticipated him struggling at the plate to begin with.

8. Aaron Crow -- Crow has struggled in Double-A, allowing five home runs in just four starts. Though he's posted great ground-ball rates (65%), he's going to have to avoid the long ball and find a way to miss more bats. 

9. Tyson Gillies -- Gillies is on pace to shatter his career-high strikeouts total and he only has two walks on the season. Combine that with his limited power and you have a prospect who has some adjustments to make. 

10. Jaff Decker -- Decker has yet to step on the field this season due to a pulled hamstring he suffered during spring training. The injury has lingered for nearly a month now. He'll make his way to the Cal League once he's back to game shape.


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