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Top 5 Prospects: AL and NL East

Jonathan Mayo covers the minor leagues and the draft as a senior writer for Mayo also has a book coming out that has some interesting timing. It is a look at what it is like to face Roger Clemens and is appropriately titled Facing Clemens. The book was written prior to the release of the Mitchell Report and will be available on March 1st, though you can pre-order it now. He’s agreed to do a series of posts on the top prospects in each division heading into the 2008 season. It kicks off with a look at the top 5 prospects in the AL and NL East.

AL East

Some pretty good arms with a pair of potent bats here. It’s fun to think about the guy atop this list and how he’ll hopefully get to face the pitchers on this list numerous times over the next decade or so.

1. Evan Longoria, 3B, Tampa: I don’t really see the need to hesitate here. He’s ready, and he’s going to be an asset immediately. Just give him the 3B job and leave him alone.

2. Clay Buchholz, RHP, Red Sox: That no-no was no fluke. And while no one wishes injury on a player, Curt Schilling’s ailment could help Buchholz land in the rotation on Opening Day. Otherwise, he may have begun the year in Triple-A. Either way, he’s going to contribute this year.

3. Joba Chamberlain, RHP, Yankees: Think you liked what you saw as a reliever? While it would be unreasonable to expect that kind of dominance all the time as a starter, he’s pretty darned good and you’ll get to see all of his pitches this time around. The Clay vs. Joba debate should be a good one for years to come.

4. David Price, LHP, Tampa: The guy hasn’t even thrown a professional pitch yet, but scouts everywhere rate him this highly. He is extremely polished and is the real deal. It wouldn’t be shocking to see him in Tampa in September, though their glut of pitching talent (Wade Davis, Jacob McGee to name just two) may allow the Rays to take their time.

5. Travis Snider, OF, Toronto: This guy just flat out hits. Against all levels of competition. He was the Midwest League MVP last year then went to the AFL and dominated there as one of the younger performers. Even if the Jays wanted to proceed cautiously, this guy’s bat is going to move him quickly.

If I were to include a player from every team in the division, the O’s representative would be Matt Wieters, their first-round pick last year.

NL East

A quick scan of this list compared to the one above shows you it’s clearly the American League with the better elite prospects right now, though the trade the Marlins made with the Tigers makes it a little more even.

Cameron Maybin, OF, Florida: He can do it all and is just beginning to scratch the surface of his enormous potential. There might be some early bumps as he begins his first full season in the bigs, but the payoff is going to be huge.

Fernando Martinez, OF, New York: The guy the Twins didn’t get. I still can’t get over that. The Mets did well to get him. This season is a big one for him as it’s time for him to start turning potential into performance…and stay healthy. I think he’ll do so.

Carlos Carrasco, RHP, Philadelphia: Not everyone who does this sort of thing is as high on him as I am, but scouts love his stuff. He needs some fine-tuning, but should be ready to slot in right behind Cole Hamels by 2009, at the latest.

Chris Marrero, OF, Washington: This guy is ready to fast-track, big time. He reached High A ball in his first full season and wasn’t overmatched there. He’s going to hit for average and power and the Nats will make room for him as soon as he’s ready. Oh, and he won’t turn 20 until July

Jordan Schafer, OF, Atlanta: Before the Mark Kotsay deal, there was actual talk about giving Schafer a long look for the big-league job this spring, even though he hasn’t played an inning above A ball. Performing well in the AFL probably helped him, but another year in the Minors will serve him well.

Just misses would be Washington’s first-rounder from last year, Ross Detwiler, and the Braves’ top pick from the previous June, outfielder Jason Heyward.

I’ll be back next week with the Central Divisions…