Revisiting the Top 60: 55-51

With the minor league season completed, RC is busy putting together this year's Top 60 prospect list. First, however, we take a look back at last year's Top 60 prospects. Who took a step forward? Who took a step back? Who should have been ranked higher? Today we take a look at prospects 55-51 on last year's list.



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After missing the entire 2009 season with an elbow injury, Julio Pimentel made his long-awaited return to competitive action in 2010, joining the Arizona Royals in late June. The 24-year-old right-hander made just seven appearances for the club, surrendering four earned runs in 9.0 innings while fanning nine and walking nine. Pimentel, who was formerly on the 40-man roster, was eligible to become a minor league free agent this offseason, but the Royals re-signed the young hurler earlier this month. He should return to full season ball in 2011.

Reflection on 2010 ranking
Prior to his injury, Pimentel was a very interesting prospect, capable of running his fastball into the mid-90s while complementing it with promising secondary stuff. We haven't heard any reports about how well his stuff has returned post Tommy John surgery, but we take it as an encouraging sign that the club re-signed him this offseason. It will also be interesting to see whether he returns to full active duty as a starter (as he has been since 2007), or as a reliever. Either way, he won't make this year's Top 60.






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We wrote in last year's Top 60 feature that Carlo Testa "always makes the most of his playing time," expressing a hint of disappointment that the athletic outfielder had never really entered a season as a club's starting outfielder despite an impressive offensive track record. He finally got his shot with the Burlington Bees in 2010, and in character, he made the most of the opportunity. The 23-year-old hit .275/.365/.466 while leading the club in runs, hits, walks, triples, home runs, and RBIs. He also swiped 28 bags in 37 attempts, trailing just teammate Hilton Richardson in that category. All told, it was a very successful full season debut for Testa, who now sports a career line of .285/.375/.480 through three seasons and nearly 900 plate appearances.

Reflection on 2010 ranking
One of the Royals' minor league system's few weaknesses is a lack of corner outfield prospects, and that bodes well for Testa's continued ascent through the organization. He offers a mix of tools quite similar to that of Mark Teahen. Testa is a strong kid who runs very well for a big man, and he's capable of hitting the ball a long way. And like Teahen, he goes to the opposite field frequently and with power. Indeed, Testa might actually see an increase in his power numbers if he pulled more mistakes (sound familiar?). He should move forward to Wilmington next season, and while the 2008 18th rounder still doesn't rank among the upper echelon of Royals outfield prospects, he does at long last have the organization's attention. Ours too. Testa will climb on this year's Top 60.






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The Royals selected Sean McCauley in the 12th round of the 2007 draft and lured him away from a commitment to Western Carolina with a six-figure bonus. The organization viewed him as an advanced defensive catcher, and he became arguably the best receiver in the system while surpassing the Royals' offensive expectations during his first two seasons in rookie ball. McCauley ran into an offensive wall, however, during his full season debut in 2009, a campaign that was cut short by injury. Last October, the 21-year-old backstop had his labrum cleaned out, but shoulder problems reappeared in the spring. In an attempt to avoid surgery, the Royals moved McCauley to second base to take pressure off his arm. The experiment failed, and McCauley was released in July.






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During spring training in 2009, Henry Barrera injured his elbow, and he appeared in just four games for the Burlington Bees before undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery. It was a major disappointment for the young fireballer, who had been on the fast track after being placed on the Royals' 40-man roster the previous fall. After a long recovery, the 24-year-old successfully returned to the mound over the summer, joining NW Arkansas in July after six appearances with Wilmington. Barrera finished strong, posting a 1.80 ERA for the Texas League champion Naturals while fanning 25 batters in 25.0 innings pitched.

Reflection on 2010 ranking
You never know how a pitcher will recover from major arm surgery, but Barrera appears to have put himself back on track. He still possesses a plus fastball and legitimate swing-and-miss stuff, and as a member of the Royals' 40-man roster, he could finally reach the big leagues at some point in 2011. In the meantime, he has proven himself to be healthy, and he ranks among the best right-handed relievers in the Royals' system. He should climb significantly on this year's Top 60.






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"Incredible" is the only way to describe the 2010 season Clint Robinson had for the NW Arkansas Naturals. The big first baseman terrorized Texas League pitching all season en route to winning the league's Triple Crown with a .335 batting average, 29 home runs, and 98 RBIs. He won his second straight batting title (after capturing the Carolina League crown in 2009), and he would have secured his second league MVP award in four years if not for the tremendous half season turned in by winner Mike Moustakas. Long something of an afterthought in the system, Robinson's 2010 dominance caught the organization's attention, and the 2007 25th rounder was placed on the Royals' 40-man roster earlier this month.

Reflection on 2010 ranking
We've ranked Robinson in our Top 60 every year he's been in the organization, but he has always occupied the back end of our lists. While it's difficult to figure exactly where the below average first baseman will fit into a future Kansas City lineup, his 2010 season established one certainty – the man can rake. Indeed, through four professional seasons and over 1700 plate appearances, the Troy alum now carries a career line of .307/.373/.537. Robinson has never ranked higher than #45 on any of our top prospect lists dating back to 2007, but he should climb significantly higher than that on this year's edition.


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