Top 10 prospects for 2010: Houston Astros and Arizona Diamondbacks

Houston Astros

1. Jordan Lyles / SP / Lyles dominated in 2009 by pumping the strike zone with his low-90s fastball. He has strong movement and command in that fastball, while his curveball and change-up are promising but works in progress. He is a legit ace prospect but still has much to prove.
2. Jiovanni Mier / SS / Mier was one of my favorite prospects in the 2009 draft. The first things that jump out are his defense and overall confidence. He has some advanced plate discipline and the potential for a bit of power. His baserunning instincts will yield steals. He may never be a star, but he still has room to grow. If nothing else, he has the intangibles to be a strong big-league shortstop.
3. Jason Castro / C / Castro put together a very solid full-season debut in 2009. When he was drafted, I thought he would be nothing more than an above-average major league catcher if everything worked out. I still feel that way, but, so far, everything has worked out—and it hasn’t been an accident. He is close to the big leagues and has proved himself in my eyes.
4. Sammy Gervacio / RP / Gervacio has a terrific slider that he uses just as much as his fastball. He is Houston’s closer in training, and if he improves his command he will reach that level.
5. Tanner Bushue / SP / Bushue has a long way to go with his secondary offerings, and he has a history of injuries, though none of them have been serious. But he seems to use little effort to generate his low-90s heat. His short Gulf Coast League stint was impressive, and it will be fascinating to see how he adjusts to being a full-time pitcher.
6. Ross Seaton / SP / Seaton’s fastball hasn’t been as good as advertised, but he has shown strong consistency with his control. Even though it is early, his strikeout numbers are a concern. He has a long way to go with all of his offerings, but 2009 was a decent debut.
7. Jonathan Gaston / OF / Gaston’s bat came alive in the California League, where many bats seem to hit their peak. He has immense power due to his all-or-nothing swing, which has resulted in cringe-worthy strikeout numbers, but his saving grace could be his patience at the plate. He also has some sneaky baserunning instincts to work with. Gaston will be playing Double-A ball in 2010, and a lot of eyes will be on him as he tries to prove that 2009 was not a fluke.
8. Brad Dydalewicz / SP / Dydalewicz will never be an ace, but the young man put together a strong Sally League debut. He has good sink to his pitches, inducing a strong groundball rate. With better control and an uptick in his strikeout rate, he could have a middle-of-the-rotation future.
9. Chia-Jen Lo / RP / Working out of the bullpen, Lo combines a mid-90s heater with a developing curveball and change-up. His command is lacking, and if he is going to live up to his potential one of his secondary offerings needs to become a dependable weapon.
10. Jay Austin / OF / Austin has some strong tools, highlighted by his raw, plus speed. He has a quick, compact swing, but almost no power to speak of. His swing and speed make me think the top of the order could be in his future, and he has a good amount of time to get there, but he has a long, long way to go.

Arizona Diamondbacks

1. Jarrod Parker / SP / For Parker, everything hinges on a successful recovery from Tommy John surgery. Before the surgery he was one of the more dominant pitchers in the minor leagues. Parker has, of course, been severely downgraded, but he still fits in near the bottom of my top-100 list and at the top of Arizona’s top 10.
2. Brandon Allen / 1B / Allen had a terrific 2009 minor league season, proving that his 2008 breakout was not a fluke. Yet his brief major league debut and Arizona Fall League performance were lackluster to say the least. Which hitter will we see in 2010?
3. Ryan Wheeler / 1B / Arizona did a fantastic job restocking a failing farm system in the 2009 draft, as seven of the next eight players are from that draft. My favorite of the group is the fifth-rounder Wheeler. He murdered the ball over a half-season, and if he picks up where he left off he could move fast.
4. Bobby Borchering / 3B/1B / Borchering draws offensive comparisons to Chipper Jones for his plus bat speed and emerging power. He debuted in the rookie Pioneer League and looked like anything but Chipper Jones, with his head-scratching plate discipline and cringe-worthy contact skills. He has likable tools but plenty to learn.
5. David Nick / 2B / Nick showed everything you could possibly look for in a high school second baseman making his professional debut. He showed more power and speed than most were expecting, and his patience and contact skills have been very solid for a high schooler. I’m intrigued. What will he do for a followup?
6. Mike Belfiore / SP/RP / Belfiore looked like he had a raw but promising arm coming into the 2009 draft. He was selected earlier than I was expecting, but his numbers have justified his sandwich-round selection thus far. I’m not sure if he is a starter or a reliever, but he has great sleeper potential.
7. Wade Miley / SP / Miley’s 2009 was a disappointment of sorts, as his arm doesn’t have much projection left and his numbers were sub-par. But Miley induces ground balls and has a plus pitch with his curveball. With improved command he could move quickly and eventually settle in as a solid mid-rotation starter.
8. Chris Owings / SS/2B / Draft reports spoke highly of Owings’ intangibles, game knowledge and natural instincts. And he showed off his quick, compact stroke and workable speed during his Pioneer League debut. But his plate discipline has looked awful and he doesn’t project to have much power.
9. A.J. Pollock / OF / Pollock has plus contact skills, good gap power and above-average speed. But his plate discipline and lack of home run power will ultimately hinder him, leaving me thinking that he is nothing more than an average outfielder one day.
10. Marc Krauss / OF / Krauss has a great, natural eye at the plate, with above-average bat speed and the potential for average power. He doesn’t have the tools to be a star, but he could move quickly through the system and turn into an average corner outfielder.

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