Top 100 prospects: 51-100
January 31, 2003
Kevin Wheeler
51. Kurt Ainsworth, RHP, Giants
Birthdate: 9/9/78

Ainsworth is a solid all-around pitcher. He has a live arm and good offspeed stuff, and he is considered a safe bet to make the Giants' rotation this spring.

52. Jimmy Journell, RHP, Cardinals
Birthdate: 12/29/77

Journell is very close to reaching the majors. He allowed 88 hits and struck out 98 in 1031/3 innings between Class AA and Class AAA in 2002. All he needs is a little more time at Class AAA and a clean bill of health.

53. Mark Phillips, LHP, Padres
Birthdate: 12/30/81

Phillips can be dominant when he's on, but he had some control problems at Class A last year (94 walks). He'll be on the fast track once he throws more strikes.

54. Michael Restovich, OF, Twins
Birthdate: 1/3/79

The 6-4, 235-pound Restovich probably has the best raw power in the Twins' system. But he seems ticketed for a return trip to Class AAA to work on reducing his strikeouts (151 in 2002).

55. Donald Levinski, RHP, Marlins
Birthdate: 10/20/82

Levinski was a bit of a sleeper last year, using a low-90s sinker and nasty curve to dominate the Class A Midwest League. All he has to do is stay healthy and improve his location, and he'll be on his way.

56. Dave Kelton, 1B/3B, Cubs
Birthdate: 12/17/79

Kelton is considered a pure hitter, but the Cubs are still trying to find a position for him. He played first base last season at Class AA, but played third base exclusively in winter ball. The team would prefer a return to third, his original position, but his throwing problems will need to be corrected.

57. Choo Freeman, OF, Rockies
Birthdate: 10/20/79

Freeman started to perform like a top prospect last year in his first taste of Class AA. He needs to work on his base-stealing technique to make better use of his speed, but he seems to have turned a corner as a hitter.

58. John-Ford Griffin, OF, Blue Jays
Birthdate: 11/19/79

Griffin is a solid all-around hitter. The Jays picked him up from Oakland during the offseason and he could emerge as a starter in their outfield by season's end, assuming he's recovered from a hand injury that ended his 2002 campaign a month early.

59. Wily Mo Pena, OF, Reds
Birthdate: 1/23/82

Few players have more power potential than Pena, but he has holes in his swing. A clause in his contract requires that he be in the majors this season or become a free agent, which could hinder his development.

60. Gonzalo Lopez, RHP, Braves
Birthdate: 10/6/83

Lopez, who played full-season Class A ball last year at the age of 18, has all the tools. His fastball is in the low 90s, he has a potentially good curve and throws a workable changeup. He could add velocity as his body matures.

61. Reggie Abercrombie, OF, Dodgers
Birthdate: 7/15/80

The 6-3, 210-pound Abercrombie has tremendous physical ability. He reached double digits in doubles, triples and homers and stole 41 bases at Class A Vero Beach in 2002. He strikes out too much and walks infrequently, however.

62. Scott Kazmir, LHP, Mets
Birthdate: 1/24/84

Even though he just turned 19, Kazmir is considered a top prospect. He throws in the mid- to upper 90s and possesses a hard slider. Barring injury, Kazmir could advance quickly.

63. Jimmy Gobble, LHP, Royals
Birthdate: 7/19/81

Gobble is polished and has three sold pitches (fastball, curve, change). Minor injuries held him back in 2002; with good health, he could reach the majors in late 2003.

64. Gabe Gross, OF, Blue Jays
Birthdate: 10/21/79

Gross is a solid hitter who has patience and power. His numbers weren't impressive in 2002, but it was his first full season of pro ball and he was playing at Class AA. Expect him to progress in 2003.

65. Xavier Nady, OF, Padres
Birthdate: 11/14/78

Nady, drafted as a third baseman, seems to have found a home in the outfield. He always has been a big-time hitter, and now he's about ready for a shot at the big leagues, though he will probably get some more Class AAA time first.

66. Casey Kotchman, 1B, Angels
Birthdate: 2/22/83

Kotchman can hit. He has already displayed great patience and the ability to hit for average. His 6-3, 210-pound frame indicates that he could develop home-run power.

67. Pat Strange, RHP, Mets
Birthdate: 8/23/80

Strange is an underrated prospect, perhaps because he doesn't have an elite fastball. His heater, however, reaches the low 90s with sink, and he throws strikes.

68. Jose Lopez, SS, Mariners
Birthdate: 11/24/83

As an 18 year-old in the Class A California League last year, Lopez hit .324 with 39 doubles, eight home runs and 31 steals. His home run power could increase over the next few seasons as he fills out.

69. Jason Young, RHP, Rockies
Birthdate: 9/28/79

The 6-5 Young has a low 90s fastball that moves, a good slider and a change. He handled Class AA quite easily at the beginning of 2002, but had trouble at Class AAA in the second half. He's almost ready for an audition with the Rockies.

70. Brad Hawpe, 1B, Rockies
Birthdate: 6/22/79

Hawpe is an excellent hitter with no place to go. Todd Helton stands in his way, so Hawpe will need to change positions or wait for a trade. He hit .347 with 22 home runs, 97 RBIs and 84 walks at Class A last season.

71. Mike Gosling, LHP, Diamondbacks
Birthdate: 9/23/80

For a guy without premier stuff, Gosling made pitching look easy during his first pro season. The Stanford product went 14-5 with a 3.13 ERA in 27 starts at Class AA El Paso. He could arrive in the big leagues at any time.

72. John Buck, C, Astros
Birthdate: 7/7/80

Buck drove in 89 runs last year at Class AA Round Rock, and even though his home run total dipped (12 in 2002 compared to 22 in 2001 at Class A), he is a threat to go deep. Buck also is a solid defender.

73. Jung Bong, LHP, Braves
Birthdate: 7/15/80

Bong doesn't have an overpowering fastball, but his changeup is excellent and it makes the heater look better. He is expected to open the 2003 season at Class AAA and could factor into the Braves' plans at some point this year.

74. Jose Castillo, SS, Pirates
Birthdate: 3/19/81

Castillo is a good glove man with an improving bat. He more than doubled his walk total from the previous season. Assuming his patience continues to improve, Castillo should debut in Pittsburgh late this season or early next season.

75. Laynce Nix, OF, Rangers
Birthdate: 10/30/80

Nix is a center fielder with power and patience, plus he's a hustler and hard worker. He drove in 110 runs at Class A last year.

76. Mike Jones, RHP, Brewers
Birthdate: 4/23/83

Jones's fastball can reach the upper 90s, and although some refinement is needed, he's fairly advanced for a guy who doesn't turn 20 until the end of April. At 6-5 and 210 pounds, he already looks like a frontline starter.

77. Jamal Strong, OF, Mariners
Birthdate: 8/5/78

Strong is a classic leadoff hitter. He puts the ball in play, draws walks and steals a lot of bases once he gets on. At Class AA last year, Strong reached base more than 200 times. He is expected to go to Class AAA to start this season.

78. Franklyn German, RHP, Tigers
Birthdate: 1/20/80

German is a prototypical closer in the mold of Lee Smith and Armando Benitez. He's big (6-4, 265), he throws hard (upper 90s) and he has a second out pitch (splitter). If he can avoid control problems, German will be a big-league closer in the very near future.

79. Nic Jackson, OF, Cubs
Birthdate: 9/25/79

Jackson is an intriguing power-speed prospect. He missed all but 32 games last season because of a broken leg, but came back with a strong showing in Mexico in the fall. That performance should allow him to step into the lineup at Class AAA this season.

80. John Van Benschoten, RHP, Pirates
Birthdate: 4/14/80

Van Benschoten handled his first full season as a pitcher very well, going 11-4 with a 2.80 ERA while striking out 145 batters in 148 innings at Class A. He was a home run-hitting first baseman/closer in college, but a move to the starting rotation has served him well.

81. Joe Thurston, 2B, Dodgers
Birthdate: 9/29/79

Thurston is a good contact hitter with plenty of speed, but he doesn't walk much and will have to hit for a high average to be effective at the top of the order. He is the leading contender to start at second base for the Dodgers this season.

82. Kevin Youkilis, 3B, Red Sox
Birthdate: 3/15/79

Youkilis hasn't shown much home run power, but he does hit for average (.344 at Class AA last season) and he draws a lot of walks (80 combined between Class A and Class AA in 2002) and rarely strikes out.

83. Chase Utley, 2B/3B, Phillies
Birthdate: 12/17/78

Utley can hit-the problem is finding a position for him. He handled third reasonably well at Class AAA last season, but the Phillies signed free agent David Bell; that could put Utley back at his original position, second base, in 2003.

84. Travis Hafner, 1B, Indians
Birthdate: 6/3/77

Hafner made himself known as a prospect last season after hitting .342 in 401 at-bats at Class AAA Oklahoma. The 6-3, 240-pound slugger is the favorite to replace Jim Thome at first base in Cleveland.

85. Matt Belisle, RHP, Braves
Birthdate: 6/6/80

After missing the 2001 season because of back surgery, Belisle pitched well at Class AA during the second half of last season. He throws in the low 90s with a slider and a change, and has exceptional control. Expect big things from him in 2003 if he can stay healthy.

86. Jayson Werth, OF, Blue Jays
Birthdate: 5/20/79

Werth has blossomed as a hitter since his move from catcher to the outfield. He drove in 82 runs at Class AAA Syracuse last year, and while his average was just .257, he showed decent patience at the plate.

87. Corwin Malone, LHP, White Sox
Birthdate: 7/3/80

Malone regressed some in 2002 after a breakout year in 2001. His control left him. He is expected to move up to Class AAA this season, and if he throws strikes early in the count, Malone could earn himself some big-league time in 2003.

88. Billy Traber, LHP, Indians
Birthdate: 9/18/79

Traber doesn't possess a great fastball, but he throws a ton of strikes and has good secondary pitches, including a splitter. A strong showing in spring training could land him in Cleveland's rotation.

89. Omar Infante, SS, Tigers
Birthdate: 12/26/81

Infante's average slipped to .268 in his first taste of Class AAA, but he was only 20 and was usually facing older, more experienced pitchers. He finished last season by hitting .333 in 72 at-bats with Detroit and is a contender for a starting spot in the big leagues this spring.

90. Justin Huber, C, Mets
Birthdate: 7/1/82

Huber is a good defensive catcher with offensive potential. He has shown the ability to hit for average over the past two seasons, and he has improved his patience and power. He is the heir apparent to Mike Piazza, but he's still at least a couple of years away.

91. Bobby Jenks, RHP, Angels
Birthdate: 3/14/81

Control problems have plagued Jenks throughout his career. His fastball has touched 100 mph and he also has a nice curve. He could come quickly if he continues to throw strikes the way he did in the Arizona Fall League last year.

92. Tony Torcato, OF, Giants
Birthdate: 10/25/79

Torcato is a contact hitter with a little power, though he will need to hit more home runs to be an everyday corner outfielder in the majors. He has never hit less than .290 in the minors.

93. Brian Tallet, LHP, Indians
Birthdate: 9/21/77

The 6-7 Tallet throws in the low 90s with a good slider. He throws strikes and uses both sides of the plate. He is a contender for a rotation spot in Cleveland this spring.

94. Luis Montanez, SS, Cubs
Birthdate: 12/15/81

Montanez cut down on his strikeouts and drew more walks playing in the Class A Florida State League as a 20-year-old in 2002. He has some pop in his bat and decent speed, and he is a gifted fielder.

95. Brett Evert, RHP, Braves
Birthdate: 10/23/80

The 6-6 Evert has a lively, low 90's fastball and a big curve. He appeared in the Future Stars game last season but struggled some at Class AA. He needs to be more consistent.

96. Zack Greinke, RHP, Royals
Birthdate: 10/21/83

Greinke is awfully polished for someone who hasn't yet turned 20. He has a low-90s fastball that can touch the mid-90s, and he as several decent off-speed pitches.

97. Grady Sizemore, OF, Indians
Birthdate: 8/2/82

Sizemore, who was recruited to play football for Washington, has great physical tools and a strong mental approach. He is especially patient for someone his age and he has excellent speed and power potential, though the home-run power hasn't shown up yet.

98. Seung Song, RHP, Expos
Birthdate: 6/29/80

Seung throws in the low 90s with movement, plus he has a good curve and outstanding control. Assuming his shoulder is healthy ( he had some minor problems last year), Seung could make it to the majors later this season.

99. B.J. Upton, SS, Devil Rays
Birthdate: 8/21/84

Upton, the youngest player to make the Top 100, often was compared to Derek Jeter while playing in high school. He has all the talent in the world and a desire to succeed, but he's several years away from reaching the majors.

100. Drew Henson, 3B, Yankees
Birthdate: 2/13/80

Henson struggled mightily at Class AAA in 2002, but the problem is that the Yankees have rushed him to keep him from returning to football. He has tremendous power potential and is an outstanding athlete, though he needs a lot of work on his strike zone judgment. A strong performance in 2003 would propel him into New York's starting lineup for 2004, but another poor showing could push him back to football.

Honorable Mention (in alphabetical order): Chris Burke, 2B, Astros; Danny Borrell, LHP, Yankees; Jeremy Brown, C, A's; Daniel Cabrera, RHP, Orioles; Kevin Cash, C, Blue Jays; Shin-Soo Choo, OF, Mariners; Covelli Crisp, OF, Indians; Bobby Crosby, SS, A's; Jason Davis, RHP, Indians; Victor Diaz, 2B/3B, Dodgers; Clint Everts, RHP, Expos; Jake Gautreau, 2B, Padres; Khalil Greene, SS, Padres; Rob Henkel, LHP, Tigers; Kris Honel, RHP, White Sox; Kelly Johnson, SS, Braves; David Krynzel, OF, Brewers; Todd Linden, OF, Giants; J.D. Martin, RHP, Indians; Dustin McGowan, RHP, Blue Jays; Dallas McPherson, 3B, Angels; Dustin Mosely, RHP, Reds; Arnaldo Munoz, LHP, White Sox; Clint Nageotte, RHP, Mariners; Bubba Nelson, RHP, Braves; Antonio Perez, 2B/SS, Devil Rays; Elizardo Ramirez, RHP, Phillies; John Rheinecker, LHP, A's; Alexis Rios, OF, Blue Jays; Jae-Kuk Ryu, RHP, Cubs; Johan Santana, RHP, Angels; Joe Saunders, LHP, Angels; Kelly Shoppach, C, Red Sox; Corey Smith, 3B, Indians; David Wright, 3B, Mets

No longer eligible: Hank Blalock, 3B, Rangers; Sean Burroughs, 3B, Padres; Dennis Tankersley, RHP, Padres

Missed Top 100 because of injury but could re-emerge as top prospects): Ryan Anderson, LHP, Mariners; Wes Anderson, RHP, Marlins; Brad Baisley, RHP, Phillies; Kenny Baugh, RHP, Tigers; Erik Bedard, LHP, Orioles; Bobby Bradley, RHP, Pirates; Donnie Bridges, RHP, Marlins; Ben Christiansen, RHP, Cubs; Brandon Claussen, LHP, Yankees; Alex Escobar, OF, Indians; Garrett Gentry, C, Rockies; Jeff Heaverlo, RHP, Mariners; J.R. House, C, Pirates; Ryan Ludwick, OF, Rangers; Kyle Snyder, RHP, Royals; Richard Stahl, LHP, Orioles; Matt Thornton, LHP, Mariners; Ryan Vogelsong, RHP, Pirates




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