M's Prospect Power Rankings: 7/11

With Felix's return to the mound on the horizon, how long can the shortstops hold onto the top spot in the power rankings?

1. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS – Inland Empire
65 G, .324/.404/.508, 4 HR, 40 RBI, 41 K, 35 BB
Cabrera hangs on to top spot with another solid week at the dish and more glowing play in the field. Cabrera has turned it up a notch since the promotion to the Cal League, sporting a .960 OPS in his 14 games with the 66ers.

Cabrera's hot streak is no longer just a stretch of hot hitting. He's just this good.

2. Adam Jones, SS – San Antonio
85 G, .292/.366/.467, 9 HR, 48 RBI, 77 K, 35 BB, 8 SB
Jones continues to hold serve in Double-A, hitting .276 but with just five extra-base hits in 16 starts. The strikeouts-to-walks ratio remains the same in San Antonio (13-6) as it was with Inland Empire (64-29). Jones has made four fielding errors since the promotion nearly three weeks ago and must clean up his glove work if he wishes to remain a shortstop in the Seattle organization.

3. Bobby Livingston, LHP – San Antonio
18 GS, 8-4, 2.86 ERA, 116.1 IP, 78 K, 27 BB, .242 BAA
It says a lot about a pitcher when a six-inning, three-run effort is considered a bad outing. Livingston's 18 starts have produced 15 in which the 22-year-old has allowed three earned runs or less - 12 of his last 13 and nine in a row. Livingston is still expected to see Triple-A by season's end and any start could be his last with San Antonio.

4. Shin-soo Choo, OF - Tacoma
.255/.374/.385, 7 HR, 27 RBI, 15 SB, 62 K, 46 BB
Choo's numbers continue to drop but the multi-tooled outfielder is still as talented as any prospect in the system. While his batting average has dipped forty points to .255, Choo's secondary numbers still suggest that he's making some progress at the plate. The left-handed hitting Choo has drawn a team-high 46 walks, aiding his on-base percentage to a healthy .374 clip. The Mariners are still looking for more power from the soon-to-be 23-year-old and his solo home run in Sunday's MLB Futures Game could hand Choo some of the confidence he has lost over the past month.

5. Yung-Chi Chen, 2B - Wisconsin
79 G, .290/.328/.411, 4 HR, 53 RBI, 55 K, 20 BB, 14 SB
Chen's return to form is into it's third week and the Taiwanese infielder still has one deficiency – swinging and missing. Chen will be 22-years-old on July 13 (same as Shin-soo Choo) and with 55 whiffs on the year and sports a very modest .411 slugging percentage. Improved strike zone judgement and better pitch selection is on the agenda for Chen.

6. Yuniesky Betancourt, SS - Tacoma
34 G, .284/.302/.425, 2 HR, 17 RBI, 11 K, 3 BB, 5 SB
Betancourt was chosen for the MLB Futures Game in his first year in organized baseball in the states and after sitting out a year since defecting from his native Cuba. The 23-year-old was in fine form in Sunday's World v. U.S. All-Star Game, dazzling the crowd with a superb play at shortstop in the 4th inning. Betancourt continues to develop at the plate and is hitting .284 with 12 extra-base hits in 34 games with the Rainiers.

7. Matt Tuiasosopo, SS - Wisconsin
69 G, .288/.371/.421, 6 HR, 33 RBI, 70 K, 31 BB
It seems that every time Tuiasosopo gets in a little slump that drops his average eight or 10 points, he goes on a mini hot streak to shorten the slump. The 19-year-old is hitting .288 after a 3-for-5 effort on Sunday. Still playing shortstop, Tuiasosopo has shown improvement defensively, though it's just a matter of time before he moves to the outfield.

8. Jamal Strong, CF - Tacoma
.309/.384/.405, 3 HR, 30 RBI, 18 SB, 49 K, 31 BB
Strong has reached base safely in 44 straight games and extended his hitting streak to 18 before going hitless on July 9. Strong will attempt to continue his on-base streak when PCL play continues after the Triple-A All-Star Game on Wednesday. Strong is hitting .309/.384 with 18 steals on the season.

9. Clint Nageotte, RHP - Tacoma
5 G, 0-0, 1.08 ERA, 2 S, 8.1 IP, 4 H, 8 K, 5 BB
Nageotte continues to settle into his new role as a reliever, putting his fastball-slider combo to better use. The 24-year-old has tossed 8.1 innings for Tacoma, allowing just one earned run on four hits. Nageotte has struck out eight and walked five.

10. Rene Rivera, C – San Antonio
50 G, .303/.332/.409, 3 HR, 17 RBI, 36 K, 7 BB
Rivera's .364/.382/.545 showing in 10 games in Seattle is enough to vault the 22-year-old into the top 10. The 5-foot-10 backstop is developing nicely with the bat as he sharpens his skills behind the plate with every game caught. Rivera may have played his way into the future plans of the M's as early as next season.

11. Rob Johnson, C - Wisconsin
63 G, .276/.318/.445, 8 HR, 43 RBI, 25 K, 16 BB
Johnson continues to plug away at the plate, ranking second on the club in doubles, third in homers and fourth and RBI.

12. Jeff Flaig, 1B - Everett
17 G, .315/.441/..519, 2 HR, 14 RBI, 10 K, 10 BB
Flaig's start with the AquaSox is the first tangible evidence that the M's made the right choice with their second round pick in 2003. Flaig's plate patience and all-around bat skills could vault the 20-year-old quickly through the system – if he can stay off the disabled list. The move to first base from third base could become permanent in order to keep Flaig in the lineup.

13. Thomas Hubbard, 1B - Wisconsin
65 G, .303/.397/.528, 13 HR, 53 RBI, 60 K, 35 BB
Hubbard's 13 homers ranks fourth in the organization and third in the Midwest League. The former Tar Heel's .528 slugging percentage is fifth in the league.

14. Luis Valbuena, 2B - Everett
19 G, .282/.380/.487, 3 HR, 16 RBI, 7 K, 11 BB, 5 SB
Valbuena continue to impress with the AquaSox, especially with the bat. The 19-year-old is showing advanced strike zone judgment and is producing like an offensive second base prospect.

15. Casey Craig, OF - Everett
29 G, .344/.422/.514, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 15 K, 8 BB, 11 SB
Craig's bat is clearly overmatching the Northwest League and needs to be challenged by a full season league. Craig's talents scream California League while his path in 2005 screams "ineptitude" of the player development department. Either that or someone isn't being honest. Craig belongs with the Inland Empire 66ers.

16. Sebastien Boucher, OF – Wisconsin
58 G, .327/.417/.470, 2 HR, 34 RBI, 43 K, 32 BB, 13 SB
Boucher's hot start with Wisconsin has rolled over into the California League where the 23-year-old Canadian is hitting .333 in 10 games.

17. Hunter Brown, 3B – Tacoma
.291/.368/.463, 5 HR, 35 RBI, 42 K, 20 BB
Hunter Brown's continuing onslaught on Triple-A pitching since the first week of May has raised the 25-year-old's average to .291. Brown still leads the Rainiers in doubles with 20 and hit his 5th home run of the season on Sunday - a grand slam to account for all of Tacoma's runs in a 10-4 loss to Tucson. Memo to Seattle's front office: Hunter Brown is better than both Justin Leone and Greg Dobbs – get a clue.

18. Oswaldo Graterol, OF - Peoria
10 G, .486/.561/.657, 1 HR, 10 RBI, 6 K, 6 BB, 6 SB
Graterol's gaudy .486 average is only the start of the 20-year-old's impressive line. The 6-foot-1 outfielder sports a .561 on-base percentage and has six walks, six strikeouts and six steals for the M's rookie league club. Everett bound?

19. Wladimir Balentien, OF – Inland Empire
73 G, .272/.323/.523, 14 HR, 48 RBI, 92 K, 19 BB
Balentien has 78 hits on the season – 39 are for extra bases. That isn't a good sign when you have 92 strikeouts and just 19 walks on the year. .

20. Justin Leone, 3B - Tacoma
39 G, .281/.401/.482, 5 HR, 16 RBI, 43 K, 29 BB
Leone has the average up to .281 with an impressive .401 on-base percentage. Since the hand injury that kept him out for six weeks, Leone has regained some of the pop in his bat, though his five homers are still a moderate number for the 28-year-old.

The Fallen - LHP Harold Williams, OF Jairo Hernandez

New Additions - 3B Justin Leone (20).

He's Back - C Rene Rivera.

Jason A Churchill is the Executive Editor at InsidethePark.com and can be reached via e-mail at JasonAChurchill@InsideThePark.com

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