Mattison's Shadow Draft Top 20

In the final installment of his shadow draft series, Dustin Mattison ranks his Top 20 prospects.

As I close out the series on my St. Louis Cardinals shadow drafts, I rank the Top 20 prospects in my minor league system. I am really satisfied with the number of high quality arms that I have been able to collect. Also, my system is strong in the middle infield department with the potential to have two solid major league shortstops.

My system is weak in power bats and in backstops. I have only one player that is a legitimate power threat and one catcher who has struggled early in his professional career.

The player's position and current organization are listed after each player's name.

1. Christian Friedrich LHP Colorado Rockies

One of the top left-handed pitchers in the minors, he ranked second in the minors with a 12.0 K/9 ratio over two levels in 2009. Though his fastball has nice life, it is his secondary offerings that are really special.

Friedrich possesses a plus-plus curveball that shows good depth and is major league ready. The southpaw also has a plus slider to go along with a plus change.

Left-handers with his polish are extremely rare and Friedrich possesses the tools to be a frontline starter.

2. Michael Taylor OF Oakland A's

Taylor has bucked the trend of recent Stanford hitters and continues to hit as he is knocking on the door of the majors. He has a major league body (6'6, 250 pounds) but is also very athletic for a guy his size.

Though he has a big body, unlike most sluggers he has a short swing and along with his raw power he has the ability to hit the ball out of any area of the park. Also rare for such a slugger, he makes consistent contact with above average bat speed.

In the field, his range is average at best and the same can be said of his arm strength. But with such physical tools and an intelligent approach, Taylor should be a solid contributor at the big league level for years.

3. Shelby Miller RHP St. Louis Cardinals

Miller was considered by some to be the top right-handed high school pitcher in the 2009 draft. The right-hander has a fastball that can touch 97 though he usually works 92-93. Very polished for his age, he uses an easy, repeatable delivery that provides good life on his fastball. His curveball has the makings of a plus pitch and his changeup could eventually be a plus pitch as well.

A pitcher that has the ability to be a true ace is rare but Miller has the makings to be that kind of pitcher. If so, he will follow in the footsteps of fellow Texans Roger Clemens, Josh Beckett, and Nolan Ryan.

4. Tim Melville RHP Kansas City Royals

The former Team USA pitcher was considered the top prep right-hander in the draft at the beginning of the spring in 2008. But inconsistencies and bonus demands caused him to slide and I was happy to select him in the supplemental first round.

The native of St. Louis has a fastball that sits 92-93 that can reach 95. It is also effective against left-handers due to it running in on their hands. He has a projectable frame that could enable him to increase his velocity as he matures.

He possesses a curveball has good depth that could be a plus pitch and he shows some feel for his changeup which could eventually become a plus pitch as well.

5. Robbie Ross LHP Texas Rangers

Ross has a big fastball that reaches 94 mph though he works at 90-92. He keeps the ball down in the zone as he finished with a three-to-one groundball-to-fly ball ratio.

Unlike Friedrich, Ross has struggled to find the feel on his secondary offerings. His slider has the makings of a plus pitch but he struggles to find any consistency with the pitch. He is undersized but could eventually be a weapon out of the bullpen if his frame does not hold up to the grind of working out of the rotation.

6. Brandon Crawford SS San Francisco Giants

The shortstop struggled during his junior year at UCLA enabling me to pick him up in the third round. The former Team USA standout scorched California League pitching in 2009 but did have his struggles against the Double-A pitchers of the Eastern League. He rebounded with a superb Arizona Fall League.

He has the quick feet and soft hands that should allow him to stay at shortstop. Even during his struggles, he never allowed it to affect him on the field. He has good pop at the plate and scouts believe he has the potential to be a 15-home run shortstop.

7. T.J. House LHP Cleveland Indians

The former Team USA southpaw fell in the draft due to a strong commitment to Tulane that worked to my advantage. House's fastball sits consistently in the low nineties and shows good movement and sink. His curveball and slider project to be at least average.

With his international experience, he shows good polish on the hill along with a high baseball IQ. Also, he is a very good athlete (he won a swimming state championship) and has drawn comparisons to Mike Hampton. House has the upside to be a solid number three with the possibility to be even better if his secondary offerings develop.

8. Chris Dwyer LHP Kansas City Royals

An interesting prospect, Dwyer was a 21-year-old freshman when he was drafted out of Clemson. The southpaw is a superb athlete who was a fantastic quarterback as a prep. He already possesses two plus pitches that he can throw for strikes. His fastball sits 90-94 mph and his curveball is a plus pitch as well.

Though he has a solid foundation on which to build, he still needs to develop a third pitch. He struggles to find consistency with his changeup. Though he is 21, he still is rather green in game situations and needs to learn how to adapt when he doesn't have his best stuff.

9. Zack Von Rosenberg RHP Pittsburgh Pirates

Though he doesn't light up the gun, Von Rosenberg shows a log of polish for a pitcher just out of high school. The right-hander has also excelled in big games; he won state championships and pitched the clincher in each of his four seasons, at Barbe (LA) in 2006 and at Zachary the last three years.

He has advanced feel and command of his three solid pitches. His fastball sits 88-91 with good life to go along with a solid curveball and a changeup with good deception. He has a long, lean projectable body and should add velocity as he matures.

10. Justin Jackson SS Toronto Blue Jays

The former Team USA shortstop was moved too aggressively and struggled at the plate in 2009. A long, lean, athlete, he has natural infield instincts and should be able to stay at shortstop. He has quick, soft hands along with a strong arm and above average range. Most scouts believe he can continue to get better and better in the field.

At the plate, he has average bat speed and can get overmanned by the plus fastball. His power tool is below average but with his ability in the field, he could be an everyday shortstop if his tool develops.

11. Adrian Cardenas 2B Oakland A's

A veteran of Team USA, Cardenas was the reigning National High School Player of the Year when I made him my first shadow draft pick. He has not lived up to the pick but I am still satisfied with a player that can do a variety of things like Cardenas has proven capable of doing.

He has average tools across the board though his range has moved him off shortstop to second base. He has the ability to play third, as well, and could play short in a pinch. He has a good make and high baseball IQ that along with his short swing enable him to make consistent contact. Though not the star I had hoped for, he should be a solid contributor for years to come.

12. Delta Cleary OF Colorado Rockies

I had a chance to see Cleary at the 2008 NJCAA World Series and I came away more than impressed. A fantastic athlete, Cleary was a quarterback on his high school football team and played above the rim on the Arkansas 6-A state championship. Also, he is a cousin of NBA star Shawn Marion.

Cleary has plus speed that makes him a threat on the bases and gives him great range in center. At 6'3, he has a long lean frame that he could add strength without losing much speed. A switch-hitter, he has above average power but his hit tool is still developing.

13. Adrian Nieto C Washington Nationals

A veteran of the showcase circuit, Nieto was teammates of Royals former first round selection Eric Hosmer. The native Cuban is a switch-hitter that shows equal ability and power from both sides of the plate. With his experience in high pressure amateur games, he has shown himself to be a natural leader that knows how to lead a pitching staff.

A work in progress behind the plate, he has an above average arm but needs to improve in his footwork. He struggled with the bat so far in his professional career but that is not unusual for high school catchers.

14. Kendal Volz RHP Boston Red Sox

A player that I was looking at in the first round during the spring of 2009, Volz did not live up to expectations and I was more than happy to snap him up in the ninth round. The Team USA closer has a fastball that sits 92-95 to go along with a slider that is a true swing and miss pitch.

He seemed to change his delivery during the spring at Baylor and lost velocity on his fastball and some of the bite on the slider. If he is delivery flaws can be worked out, he has the size, 6'5, and 230 pounds, to be an innings eater. He has a changeup that could be an effective pitch to allow him to be a starting pitcher, if his other two pitches return to form.

15. Zach Putnam RHP Cleveland Indians

The former Michigan Wolverine is a groundball machine that posted a two-to-one ground ball ratio at Double-A during his first full professional season. Putnam will have to improve against left-handed hitters, they hit .438 against him, but it was his first full season.

With his heavy sinker and trouble against lefties, he is probably destined for the bullpen. Even so, he could be a fast riser out of the pen and see big league action sooner rather than later.

16. Brody Colvin RHP Philadelphia Phillies

Along with Von Rosenburg, Colvin was a highly heralded prep from Louisiana that had signed letter of intent to attend LSU. What Colvin lacks in polish, he makes up for in pure stuff.

He possesses a fastball that sits 92-94 that can touch 96 at times. With a 6'4, 190-pound frame, he has the potential to add more velocity as his body matures. Colvin has a plus curveball that can be unhittable when he has feel for it. Unfortunately, he still has to develop consistency in the pitch. He also throws a changeup that is a work in progress.

17. Brooks Raley LHP Chicago Cubs

The top two-way player in college baseball during the 2009 season, Raley appears destined for the mound to take advantage of his 90 MPH sinker. Also, the southpaw possesses a slider and changeup that have the makings of above average offerings.

For a two-way player, he has an easy, repeatable delivery. Raley could add some velocity due to his concentration on only pitching and adding strength to his 6'3 and 185-pound frame. He is a superb athlete with plus-speed and gap power.

18. Marcus Lemon SS Texas Rangers

The son of the former Major Leaguer Chet, is one of the fastest players I have seen on a baseball diamond. Though a veteran of amateur travel teams (Chet's Lemons), he is still rather raw at the plate. He puts the bat on the ball and seemed to have just a little bit of bad luck during his first try in the Texas League. The 21-year-old did put it together during the Arizona Fall League and enjoyed a fantastic campaign with a line of .343/.389/.627 in limited action.

Lemon has the range and arm strength to stay at short but also has the ability to play second and the athletiscm to play centerfield. He needs to learn to use his speed better on the base paths where he has the upside to be a top notch base stealer.

19. Eric Sogard 2B Oakland A's

A leader on the infield, he is a contact hitter who has more career walks than strikeouts. Sogard can hit the ball to all fields but is lacking in the power department.

He is no defensive wizard but uses his baseball instincts to put himself in the proper position to make the play. Though he will not be a star, the Arizona State product could contribute to a big league team.

20. D.J. Mitchell RHP New York Yankees

The Clemson product possesses the tool that the Cardinals look for, a top-notch sinker. During two stops in 2009, he posted a groundball-to-fly ball ratio of almost 3-to-1 in 140 innings. Still rather raw on the mound, he did not start pitching until his sophomore season.

Undersized at 6', 170 pounds, he works with a fastball that sits 89-91 with good movement and sink. With his size, he may end up in the bullpen but his live arm is too good to ignore.

Part 1: Mattison's Shadow Drafts

Dustin can be contacted at dustin@whiteyball.com.
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