Jonathan Mayo covers the minor leagues and the draft as a senior writer for MLB.com. 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 is now available for purchase. He’s agreed to do a series of posts on the top prospects in each division heading into the 2008 season. Last week, he covered the AL and NL East. Now he’ll take a look at the top 5 prospects in the AL and NL West.
The A's have their offseason trades to thank for being on this list twice.
- Nick Adenhart, RHP, Angels. He's going to make everyone want Tommy John surgery. He'll be knocking on the door this year and he's only 21.
- Brandon Wood, SS/3B, Angels. To some, his star has faded. But he's only 23, has big-time power potential and can now play short or third capably. There's still a lot to like.
- Carlos Gonzalez, OF, A's. A lot of people want to hand him a job in the A's outfield now. Even if it's not immediate, he's going to force his way there before the season is over. Eventually, he's going to mature into a prototypical right fielder.
- Gio Gonzalez, LHP, A's. One of my personal favorites because of his infectious personality, he also can flat-out pitch. He's got nasty stuff that allowed him to lead the Minors in strikeouts. I'd give him a rotation spot now.
- Eric Hurley, RHP, Rangers. He's moved steadily along while the vaunted DVD (Danks, Vazquez, Diamond) has long-since split up. He won't crack the rotation right away, but I could see him making an impact at some point in 2008.
A revitalized Padres system produces two top guys.
- Clayton Kershaw, LHP, Dodgers. He's the best pitching prospect in baseball, in my opinion. His size, his stuff, his command, his poise, his left-handedness. I know projecting pitching is risky business, but this guy is the real deal.
- Franklin Morales, LHP, Rockies. The National League will learn first-hand this year just how nasty he is. A good choice for NL Rookie of the Year. The young Rockies keep getting better.
- Matt Antonelli, 2B, Padres. Tad Iguchi? Really. As a prospect geek, that disappointed me. Padres fans will have to wait a year because Antonelli will be ready for a shot by then, if not sooner. He can hit with some pop and runs quite well. A move to the OF isn't out of the question.
- Chase Headley, 3B/OF, Padres. Speaking of moves to the OF, that's what Headley's done. With Kevin Kouzmanoff cemented in at the hot corner, Headley will carry his bat to left. At least the Padres realized they need to get his bat into the lineup.
- Andy LaRoche, 3B, Dodgers. Yes, he fizzled in his opportunities in the past, but trust me, this guy can play. He's in great shape and it should be a fun competition for the third base job in Dodger camp. Here's hoping LaRoche wins it.