AL East 2012 Top 25 Prospects

As I did last year, I've gone through the AL East farm systems and come up with a list of the division's top 25 prospects.
1. Matt Moore, LHP, Rays - A pretty easy choice at #1 as he's the best pitching prospect in baseball. He showed he was major-league ready by shutting down the Texas Rangers in the ALDS, and with the ink dry on his contract extension, seems have to a clear path to an opening-day rotation slot.

2. Jesus Montero, C, Yankees - Like Moore, the Yankees "catcher" showed he could hack it in the big leagues late last season, blasting four home runs in 18 games. There aren't any worries about his bat, but he may never be able to handle everyday catching duties. Even if he's limited to rotating between C, 1B, and DH, he's a potential all-star.

3. Dylan Bundy, RHP, Orioles - The fourth overall pick in the 2011 draft, Bundy scraped 100 mph with his fastball in high school, and yet it may be his polish and pitchability that earn more praise. He lacks a typical power-pitcher build at 6-1/200, but he's athletic and already has a deep repertoire, which should help him move quickly.

4. Manny Machado, SS, Orioles - Injuries limited Machado to just 101 games in 2011, but he impressed enough to hit his way to the high-A Carolina League as an 18-year-old. He's not a flashy defender or plus runner, but he gets the job done and his bat is special for a shortstop.

5. Travis d'Arnaud, C, Blue Jays - Part of the return for Roy Halladay, d'Arnaud broke through in 2011 with a .311/.371/.542 line for double-A New Hampshire. He also rated as the circuit's top defensive catcher and should be ready to displace J.P Arencibia in 2013.

6. Hak-Ju Lee, SS, Rays - After a bout with the chicken pox, Lee hit .318/.389/.443 in the Florida State League before fading with Montgomery. His body frame doesn't project much power, but he hits for contact and is a plus runner and defender.

7. Manny Banuelos, LHP, Yankees - Their lack of off-season interest in C.J. Wilson and Yu Darvish may be a sign that they're ready to hand the keys to a rotation spot to Banuelos, who struck out nearly a hitter per inning between double- and triple-A as a 20-year-old. His control and command could use some work.

8. Jake Marisnick, OF, Blue Jays - A veritable tool box, Marisnick began to translate those tools into production with a .320/.392/.496 line in the Midwest League.

9. Will Middlebrooks, 3B, Red Sox - Another case of turning tools into stats, Middlebrooks has power and is a plus defender at 3B. His on-base skills need improvement.

10. Enny Romero, LHP, Rays - Yup, it's my first out-on-a-limb pick. Romero struck out 140 in 114 innings and has the stuff to back it up.

11. Anthony Gose, OF, Blue Jays - He has some of the best tools in the division, with plus-plus speed, arm strength, and defense. He's still a work-in-progress at the plate but made progress in 2010.

12. Jonathan Schoop, SS/2B, Orioles - He has the defensive chops to play at shortstop, but has played 2B in deference to Machado. Hit .290/.349/.432 between high- and low-A.

13. Alex Torres, LHP, Rays - A similar profile to Manny Banuelos, Torres is an undersized lefty with plus stuff and control problems. He's been among the league leaders in both strikeouts and walks his last two seasons.

14. Daniel Norris, LHP, Blue Jays - The Jays scooped up Norris toward the end of the first round, he rated as the best of the second tier of high school pitchers after Dylan Bundy and Archie Bradley.

15. Taylor Guerrieri, RHP, Rays - He was right with Norris on that second tier.

16. Xander Bogaerts, SS, Red Sox - As an 18-year-old in low-A, Bogaerts hit .260/.324/.509 although he's likely going to have to shift to third base down the line.

17. Gary Sanchez, C, Yankees - He's following in Jesus Montero's steps as an offensive-minded catcher. Injuries and attitude problems led to him only playing in 82 games, where hit .256/.335/.485 in low-A as an 18-year-old.

18. Dellin Betances, RHP, Yankees - Struck out 142, but walked 70, in 126.1 innings making his 2.3 BB/9 in 2010 look more like a fluke.

19. Chris Archer, RHP, Rays - Similar to Betances in terms of plus stuff and iffy control, right down to the flukey-looking stretch of good control.

20. Blake Swihart, C, Red Sox - Received a $2.5 million dollars as the highest-drafted catcher in the 2011 draft.


21. Mikie Mahtook, OF, Rays - The new college bats didn't slow him down one bit.

22. Aaron Sanchez, RHP, Blue Jays - The Jays remained cautious with Sanchez, holding him to 54.1 innings, which kept him from taking a big step forward.

23. Mason Williams, OF, Yankees - One of the breakout players in the New York-Penn League, Williams hit .349/.395/.468.

24. Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants - Wait, I mean: OF, Red Sox. Jacobs did pass up a football scholarship to be a runningback at Auburn, a tribute to his athleticism. He hit .303/.376/.505 for low-A Greenville.

25. Dante Bichette, Jr, 3B, Yankees - What can I say, I'm a sucker for the bat-first guys. Bichette has actually mashed, hitting .335/.440/.507 in his debut, mainly in the Gulf Coast League.

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