Revisiting the Top 60: 1-5

Before we release this year's Top 60 list, 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 finish our look back by reviewing the seasons of the top five prospects on last year's list.

5. Daniel Gutierrez, RHP

2009 Club: Wilmington Blue Rocks, Frisco RoughRiders (TEX)

Stats (combined)
G: 9
IP: 32.1
ERA: 1.95
W: 1
L: 0
SV: 0
SO: 28
BB: 7
H: 20
HR: 1
AVG: .171

Comment
Gutierrez has been in professional baseball since 2005, and he's yet to put in a full season. After a dispute with the Royals in 2009 over an undisclosed issue, the club traded the young right-hander to the Texas Rangers for outfielder Tim Smith and catcher Manuel Pina. We're sure that giving up on such a talented young pitcher wasn't an easy thing for Kansas City to do, but it's understandable given Gutierrez's lengthy history of off-the-field issues. Indeed, Gutierrez was recently tagged with a 50-game suspension by Minor League Baseball after testing positive for an unregistered amphetamine, a violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, so if he ever does pitch a full season, it won't come prior to 2011.


4. Kila Ka'aihue, 1B

2009 Club: Omaha Royals

Stats
AB: 441
BA: .252
OBP: .392
SLG: .433
HR: 17
2B: 27
3B: 1
BB: 102
SO: 85
SB: 0
CS: 1

Comment
If most Royals fans had their druthers, Kila Ka'aihue probably would have played the 2009 season in Kansas City, rather than Omaha, after his stellar 2008 campaign. Instead, the club traded for Mike Jacobs, handed him the DH role, and sent Ka'aihue back for another tour of the Pacific Coast League. The 25-year-old first baseman responded to the disappointment with a solid season, but it was a far cry from the 2008 performance that netted him the Texas League MVP Award. Still, it came as quite a surprise that when the Royals expanded their roster in September, Ka'aihue wasn't among the players called up.

Reflection on 2008 Ranking
The sense we got from the Royals officials we spoke with after Ka'aihue's breakout 2008 season was that the club viewed him as a legitimate big league prospect. That seems to have changed. The Royals' September snub seems like a telling admission that the club remains unconvinced Ka'aihue can hit big league pitching. Nevertheless, Ka'aihue still has plus raw power and plate discipline that is unrivaled in the minor league system. While he may not be a key figure in the Royals' future plans, he remains a very interesting prospect. Although he'll fall on this year's list, he's still solidly in the top 20.


3. Dan Cortes, RHP

2009 Club: NW Arkansas Naturals, West Tenn Diamond Jaxx (SEA)

Stats (combined)
G: 26
IP: 135.0
ERA: 4.33
W: 7
L: 11
SV: 0
SO: 112
BB: 85
H: 128
HR: 7
AVG: .253

Comment
At this time last year, Cortes was the top pitching prospect in the organization. Armed with a blazing fastball, an excellent hard curve, and an ideal frame, Cortes generated a lot of excitement with his potential. Unfortunately, his 2009 season got off to a rough start as his command suffered, and just a week after an arrest in early July for public intoxication and disorderly conduct, the young right-hander was shipped to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt.


2. Eric Hosmer, 1B

2009 Club: Burlington Bees, Wilmington Blue Rocks

Stats (combined)
AB: 377
BA: .241
OBP: .334
SLG: .361
HR: 6
2B: 19
3B: 4
BB: 53
SO: 90
SB: 3
CS: 2

Comment
When we finally got our first look at Hosmer during spring training, we were convinced he would rank as the Royals' best prospect on this year's list. Unfortunately, the young first baseman had a rough initiation into professional baseball in 2009. The Royals believed Hosmer was advanced enough to handle Low-A Burlington, so he began the season with the Bees, hitting .254/.352/.382 in 79 games. Despite the somewhat disappointing numbers, the Royals aggressively promoted him to High-A Wilmington in mid-July, hoping to give him a chance to play on a playoff-bound Blue Rocks club. He predictably struggled in the Carolina League, and he began missing time in August with vision problems. Hosmer underwent successful LASIK surgery, and he reportedly now has perfect vision.

Reflection on 2008 Ranking
It's far too early to be concerned about Hosmer's performance. His 2009 struggles can likely be attributed to his vision problems and the fact that his professional experience prior to last season consisted of just three games in rookie ball. He still possesses the same tremendous raw talent that prompted the Royals to select him with the third overall pick of the 2008 draft. We expect that he'll return to Wilmington this spring, although even a return to Burlington at the start of the season wouldn't be shocking. In the meantime, Hosmer still ranks among the top five prospects in the Royals' system, although he will drop a few spots on this year's list.


1. Mike Moustakas, 3B

2009 Club: Wilmington Blue Rocks

Stats
AB: 492
BA: .250
OBP: .297
SLG: .421
HR: 16
2B: 32
3B: 2
BB: 32
SO: 90
SB: 10
CS: 6

Comment
On one hand, Mike Moustakas finished the 2009 season with an on-base percentage under .300, which is certainly troubling. On the other hand, the 21-year-old third basemen was one of the youngest players in the Carolina League, and he had more RBIs and hit more home runs than any Blue Rock player in a decade while playing his home games in one of minor league baseball's toughest ballparks on hitters. Indeed, Moustakas' 2009 campaign was a mixed bag. After the regular season, he was assigned to the Surprise Rafters in the Arizona Fall League, where he hit .267/.288/.560 with five home runs and 19 RBIs in 75 at bats.

Reflection on 2008 Ranking
Moustakas definitely needs to be more selective at the plate, and hopefully that's an area in which he'll make strides this season. The native Californian has also been a notoriously slow starter, heating up with the weather after the cold Aprils in the Midwest and Carolina Leagues. Nevertheless, everything else about Moustakas suggests that he truly is a top caliber prospect. He has outstanding raw power, a plus arm that can play anywhere, and a work ethic and leadership skills that are off the charts. He should move forward to Double-A this spring, where he'll finally enjoy an environment that is more favorable to hitters. "Moose" will once again be one of the youngest players in his league, but we expect that he could have a breakout season. While some have soured a bit on Moustakas because of his low OBP, he will remain as the top position player prospect on this year's top 60.


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