Revisiting the Top 60: 46-50

With the minor league season completed, RC is busy putting together this year's Top 60 prospect list, which should be released in mid-December. First, however, it is useful to 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 46-50 on last year's list.

50. Mike Lehmann, RHP

2009 Club: Burlington Bees

Stats
G: 22
IP: 95.1
ERA: 5.85
W: 5
L: 7
SV: 0
SO: 51
BB: 56
H: 108
HR: 9
AVG: .298

Comment
Lehmann's first shot at full season ball was not very encouraging. Playing in the pitching-friendly Midwest League, opposing hitters raked Lehmann to the tune of a .298 batting average. Most discouraging, however, was Lehmann's strikeout-to-walk ratio. After walking just 16 batters while striking out 42 last season in the Appy League, the 20-year old right-hander walked five more batters than he struck out in 2009 while his ERA ballooned to a very disappointing 5.85.

Reflection on 2008 Ranking
Lehmann was ranked in the Top 60 last year on the basis of his solid track record in rookie ball, despite what was generally regarded as marginal stuff. He won't turn 21 until May, and he'll get another crack at full season ball next year, but his disappointing season will leave him off this year's Top 60.


49. John Lamb, LHP

2009 Club: Burlington Royals, Idaho Falls Chukars

Stats (combined)
G: 14
IP: 68.2
ERA: 3.80
W: 5
L: 3
SV: 0
SO: 71
BB: 20
H: 57
HR: 8
AVG: .225

Comment
Hands down, Lamb's emergence this season ranks as one of 2009's most encouraging developments for the Royals' farm system. After spending last year rehabbing a broken elbow that prevented him from pitching during his senior year in high school, the Royals' 2008 fifth rounder established himself as one of the system's top left-handed hurlers. We were on hand for what turned out to be Lamb's first professional win, and we left that ballpark that day convinced that he was the most advanced rookie ball pitcher we've seen in the Royals' system since our first trip to the rookie leagues in 2006. Nothing he did over the final two months of the season convinced us otherwise.

Reflection on 2008 Ranking
Because we hadn't seen him pitch and had no idea how his stuff would rebound from his injury, we ranked Lamb 49th last year based solely on his draft position and positive reports from his junior year in high school. Obviously, he will make a huge leap on this year's list, thanks to a low-90s fastball that tops out at 93 mph and two potentially plus secondary pitches. Indeed, after seeing him pitch just once in June, we predicted that if he stayed healthy, he could land in the top 10 on this year's list. That now appears likely to be the case.


48. Matt Mitchell, RHP

2009 Club: Did not play

Comment
Mitchell spent 2009 recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Reflection on 2008 Ranking
Despite a solid 2008 season, Mitchell ranked 48th because of his injury and a low strikeout rate. He should be ready to return to action in 2010, when he will be 21-years old. If he proves fully recovered and pitches well, he could return on next year's list, but he will likely be excluded from this year's Top 60.


47. Dusty Hughes, LHP

2009 Club: Omaha Royals, Kansas City Royals

Stats (minors)
G: 34
IP: 87.1
ERA: 3.50
W: 3
L: 3
SV: 1
SO: 76
BB: 41
H: 79
HR: 6
AVG: .245

Comment
It was a solid season for Hughes, one that ended with him pitching in Kansas City. A reliever in Omaha for most of the season, the Royals decided to stretch him out as a starter in August in case they needed him to make a spot start or two for the big club in September. Once in Kansas City, Hughes pitched fairly well, holding big league hitters to a .245 batting average while striking out 15 batters in 14.0 innings pitched. The 27-year-old southpaw certainly established himself as a candidate for a spot in Kansas City's bullpen next season.

Reflection on 2008 Ranking
Hughes fell to 47th on our list last year after getting hit hard in his Triple-A debut. We were also concerned that he didn't profile very well as a left-handed reliever, because his best pitch is a changeup, which could limit his effectiveness against left-handed batters. However, Hughes dominated Pacific Coast League lefties in 2009, holding them to a paltry .208 batting average, and he held his own against big league left-handed hitters as well. He should climb on this year's Top 60, which will hopefully be the last time he's eligible for the list.


46. Marc Maddox, IF

2009 Club: NW Arkansas Naturals

Stats (not including rehab assignments)
AB: 149
BA: .168
OBP: .283
SLG: .289
HR: 4
2B: 6
3B: 0
BB: 20
SO: 23
SB: 4
CS: 2

Comment
Maddox would probably like to forget his 2009 season. It began with a broken finger suffered during the last week of spring training, and he didn't return to the Naturals until July. Once there, he struggled mightily at the plate, hitting just .168/.283/.289 after putting up a solid .283/.363/.375 line for the Naturals in 2008. It was definitely a step back for a player who must rely on his bat to carry him forward.

Reflection on 2008 Ranking
Despite a solid 2008 at the plate, Maddox was ranked 46th because he doesn't profile particularly well as a utility infielder, which seems to be his most likely role in the event he makes it to the big leagues. He doesn't hit enough to hold down a corner infield spot, and his defense at second probably won't ever be good enough for regular big league duty there. Unfortunately, the deterioration of his bat this year doesn't bode well for his chances. The Royals still like him, and clearly his injuries played a major role in his lack of production, but he probably won't remain on this year's Top 60.


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