Top Baseball Prospects Under 20

Age is just a number, especially in baseball. While some players have made their debut in their late twenties and even in their thirties, teenagers are where the future All-Stars often reside. In this exclusive, our MLB publishers present twenty prospects under 20:

San Diego Padres
By Denis Savage,

Mat Latos
Position: RHP
Height: 6-foot-5
Weight: 210 pounds
DOB: 12/9/1987

Latos throws a knuckle changeup.
Signed as a draft-and-follow prior this past season, Latos' stats in his first professional season don't tell the real story. He is a big body, live-armed prospect that kicks his fastball up to 98 MPH.

While his velocity is something the Padres' system largely lacks, it is his secondary pitches that will eventually separate him from the pack. The right-hander is working on a straight changeup but possesses a deadly strikeout pitch that has dirty action down and out of the zone.

"He throws a changeup that kind of acts like a hard curveball," Padres scouting director Bill "Chief" Gayton noted.

"You know how Curt Schilling's split-finger (fastball) just drops? It looks like a fastball and then just drops? It is more like that," said Latos.

He has Jake Peavy type potential and will have to work on command of the straight change while getting his slider over for more strikes.

New York Yankees
By Patrick Teale,

Dellin Betances
Position: RHP
Height: 6-foot-9
Weight: 230 pounds
DOB: 3/23/1988

Originally projected to be a first round pick in the 2006 MLB Draft, Betances' rumored signability concerns and seemingly firm commitment to attend Vanderbilt caused him to fall to the Yankees in the eighth round last season before he signed for a record $1 million signing bonus for that round. He then went on to dominate in his professional debut, posting a 1.16 ERA with the Gulf Coast League Yankees.

Standing 6-foot-9, he put on 30 pounds in the offseason in an effort to create more balance with his lanky frame. And at just 19 years old, he already has three plus pitches. Sitting 93-95 MPH with his fastball and already hitting 98 MPH, what make Betances stand out besides his tall frame is his ability to throw a knee-bending knuckle curveball and an advanced changeup.

His stuff is unquestionable, but how he repeats his delivery with his tall frame and subsequent consistent command of his pitches will dictate how much he taps of his unlimited potential.

Minnesota Twins
By Brad Weiss,

Chris Parmelee
Position: OF
Height: 6-foot-1
Weight: 200 pounds
DOB: 2/24/1988

Parmelee was the Minnesota Twins first round selection in the 2006 draft, and has since become the top power-hitting prospect in the Twins organization.

Possessing a sweet left-handed swing, Parmelee made his debut with the Gulf Coast League Twins in 2006 and hit eight home runs in only 45 games, prompting a promotion to full-season Beloit.

This season, he has not done well batting average-wise, but he has shown some pop in his bat once again. Parmelee has hit 15 home runs this season, second in the Twins organization, and has driven in 67.

He projects as a middle of the lineup hitter, who has power to all fields. He also is an above average fielder, and will be slotted in one of the Twins corner outfield positions for years to come.

Cleveland Indians
By Chuck Murr, Indians Ink

Nick Weglarz
Position: OF
Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 215 pounds
DOB: 12/16/1987

The 19-year-old Canadian has put up some impressive power numbers at Low-A Lake County this year after essentially missing the entire 2006 season with a hand injury.

Through 112 games, the big left-hander had 22 homers, 80 RBIs and a .274 average along with 26 doubles and a .489 slugging percentage.

Cleveland selected him in the third round (No. 94 overall) in 2005, after displaying great raw power in a pre-draft workout at Jacobs Field for Indians scouts.

As a senior in high school in Port Claborne, Ontario, he hit .560 with five homers and 16 RBIs in just 25 at-bats in a very short season due to poor weather.

Weglarz hit .231 with two homers and 13 RBI in 47 games at short-season Burlington (N.C.) as a 17-year-old in 2005, but played only one game in 2006 after injuring his right hand during spring training.

Boston Red Sox
By Jerry Beach,

Lars Anderson
Position: 1B
Height: 6-foot-4
Weight: 215 pounds
DOB: 9/25/1987

Anderson, who turns 20 Sept. 25, stands alone in a system teeming with promising corner infielders.

He slipped to the 18th round of last year's draft due to signability concerns, but he's shown why the Red Sox were willing to invest so heavily in him (a reported signing bonus of $825,000) during his first professional season at Low-A Greenville.

Anderson has displayed a plate approach (71 walks in 124 games with Greenville) and adaptability unusual for a 19-year-old: After batting better than .300 in each of the season's first three months, he slumped to .194 in July before hitting .328 in August, prior to his promotion to High-A Lancaster. He's also got 50 extra-base hits, including 36 doubles, across two leagues.

Philadelphia Phillies
By Chuck Hixson,

Adrian Cardenas
Position: 2B
Height: 6-foot-0
Weight: 185 pounds
DOB: 10/10/1987

In just two professional seasons, Adrian Cardenas has established himself as one of the stronger prospects in the Phillies organization. The 19-year-old infielder made the move from shortstop to second base this season and has played well defensively while hitting .291 for the Lakewood BlueClaws.

Cardenas made an off-the-cuff remark comparing himself to Chase Utley and it's followed him throughout the season, although it's starting to look like it may not be such an outlandish remark. Cardenas will finish with a higher average and on-base percentage through his first two seasons than Utley did and will come close in home run totals to what the Phillies All-Star produced.

Ironically, with Utley signed long-term, he could be a roadblock to Cardenas down the road.

Baltimore Orioles
By Michael Hollman,

Billy Rowell
Position: 3B
Height: 6-foot-5
Weight: 205 pounds
DOB: 9/10/1988

Rowell, Baltimore's top draft pick in the 2006 draft, has had an up and down full-season debut. With a 6-foot-5 frame, and many scouts projecting him to continue to grow, he may face a shift to first base in the not-too-distant future. He projects to hit for batting average and lots of power, so his bat should be able to handle the defensive shift.

Rowell got a late start to the season after struggling with a minor oblique injury in the spring and has struggled at times in the pitcher-friendly Sally League, particularly against left-handers, but at just 18 years old, he has plenty of time to develop into the middle-of-the-order threat that the Orioles envision him as.

Chicago Cubs
By Steve Holley,

Josh Vitters
Position: 3B
Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 200 pounds
DOB: 8/27/1989

Josh Vitters instantly became the top prospect yet to turn 20 years of age in the Cubs' organization when the third overall pick from the 2007 draft signed for $3.2 million.

A third baseman from Cypress (Calif.) High School, Vitters, 18, encompasses the tools and ability to hit for both power and average – something that other prototypical power hitters who were drafted by the Cubs in recent years have failed miserably at.

He was examined by world-renowned sports performance specialist Dr. Bill Harrison and was reported to have the best eyesight of any young athlete he examined since one Barry Lamar Bonds.

Vitters made his professional debut in the Arizona Rookie League and will head to the Cubs' annual Instructional League camp this fall with big expectations following his path.

Kansas City Royals
By Dave Sanford,

Mike Moustakas
Position: SS
Height: 6-foot-0
Weight: 195 pounds
DOB: 9/11/1988

When Mike Moustakas signed 10 minutes prior to the August 15 deadline, the Royals' top pick in the 2007 draft immediately became the club's top under-20 prospect. Moustakas made his professional debut this past weekend in the Pioneer League for the Idaho Falls Chukars.

Scouts disagree on whether or not Moustakas will be able to stay at shortstop as a professional, but the Royals will give the 6-foot, 195 pound slugger every opportunity to do so.

This spring, Moustakas set the world on fire at California's Chatsworth High School, where he batted .577 with 52 RBIs and a state-record 24 home runs. He also set a state record for career home runs, and although he entered the season behind teammate Matt Dominguez on most clubs' draft boards, he emerged as perhaps the best high school player in the country.

Texas Rangers
By Jason Cole,

Kasey Kiker
Position: LHP
Height: 5-foot-10
Weight: 170 pounds
DOB: 11/19/1987

Kiker has an advanced changeup.
The 12th overall pick in the 2006 draft, the Rangers have pushed Kiker since he signed last June. Despite being just months removed from high school baseball, the club assigned Kiker to the Northwest League, a circuit normally reserved for collegiate players. Kiker held his own, as he posted a 4.39 ERA while averaging one strikeout per inning in 53.1 frames.

The southpaw has met expectations with Single-A Clinton this season, going 6-4 with a 3.05 ERA in 91.1 innings. Over that span, he has allowed 81 hits, walked 37, and struck out 107.

Kiker possesses a low-to-mid-90s fastball and was deemed to be polished for his age because of his advanced changeup. The Alabama native also has a knee-buckling curveball.

Though his small frame lacks much room for projection, he has the ability to develop into a starting pitcher with three above-average Major league offerings.

Los Angeles Dodgers
By Tot Holmes,

Clayton Kershaw
Position: LHP
Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 210 pounds
DOB: 3/19/1988

There is no one else in the Dodgers system that has more promise. Kershaw started demonstrating his unique talent as a senior in high school. Before he graduated both Gatorade and USA Today named him the High School Player of the Year. The Dodgers made him the number seven selection.

He kept right on as a pro. Debuting in the Gulf Coast League, he struck out 54 in 37 innings while walking only five while holding the opposition to a .201 average and just one extra base hit.

He does this with a fastball that's usually in the 93-94 mph range and a newly developed circle changeup. He is a competitor, tough when men get on and learns quickly. His delivery is also smooth and repeatable.

In 2007, Kershaw skipped rookie league Ogden and started at Low-A Great Lakes but has since been jumped to Double-A Jacksonville. He should eventually become a frontline starter in the big leagues.

Arizona Diamondbacks
By Keith Glab,

Brett Anderson
Position: LHP
Height: 6-foot-4
Weight: 215 pounds
DOB: 2/1/1988

Even now that 2007 first-round draft pick Jarrod Parker is officially a Diamondback, Brett Anderson remains the organization's best pitcher under 20.

Anderson has established himself as one of baseball's top control prospects in his first pro season. The southpaw can locate both his low-70s curveball and his low-80s slider with bulls-eye precision, and that slider is already the best breaking pitch in the organization.

Not only is his stuff first rate, so are his poise, makeup, and durability. His biggest challenge so far has been not falling into predictable patterns when facing teams for the second time.

St. Louis Cardinals
By Jason Scott,

Pete Kozma
Position: SS
Height: 6-foot-0
Weight: 170 pounds
DOB: 4/11/1988

The Cardinals have a handful of exciting under-20 prospects, but none of them are expected to be in the big leagues any time soon. The reason we chose Kozma is that he is probably the closest of that group to reaching his potential, and the Cardinals felt highly enough of him to make him the 18th overall pick in this year's draft.

Despite receiving condescending reviews from the so-called "experts" during the live draft coverage, Kozma was regarded by most to be the top shortstop in the draft. In fact, it was even reported that the Blue Jays considered taking Kozma one pick before the Cardinals.

Detroit Tigers
By Mark Anderson,

Rick Porcello
Position: RHP
Height: 6-foot-5
Weight: 195 pounds
DOB: 12/27/1988

Despite going 27th in June's draft, Porcello is one of the absolute best high school pitching prospects to come along in quite a while; likely since Josh Beckett.

He combines a plus fastball that sits in the 93-95 MPH range and touches 97, with impeccable control to dominate hitters. He also flashes two very good breaking pitches, a tight slider with good depth, and a hammer curveball; both pitches that possess plus potential. His changeup hasn't been needed in recent seasons, but he has demonstrated a feel for the pitch and it could develop into a fourth above-average offering.

Overall, Porcello has nearly a limitless ceiling, and barring injury he should develop into a frontline ace.

Toronto Blue Jays
By Andrew Axia,

Travis Snider
Position: OF
Height: 5-foot-11
Weight: 225 pounds
DOB: 2/2/1988

The prized prospect in the Blue Jays system is outfielder Travis Snider. Drafted last June, with the label ‘first high school player to be selected under J.P. Ricciardi', Snider has shown the ability to hit to all fields, hit with power, and improve his defense in the outfield.

Snider has spent the entire 2007 season in Low-A, while many thought he was be promoted to High-A after he was in contention for the Midwest League Triple Crown award. The 19-year-old brings a plethora of talent and potential when he steps on the field, and is also a solid character in the clubhouse and off the field.

Pittsburgh Pirates
George Von Benko,

Austin McClune
Position: OF
Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 175 pounds
DOB: 11/15/1987

The Pirates Top prospect under 20 is 19-year-old outfielder Austin McClune who is playing at short-season State College in the New York-Penn League. Named to the All-Star team, he is having an outstanding season and is highly regarded by the Pirates brass.

"He's having a real good year," Pirates director of player development Brian Graham explained. "He's playing well both offensively and defensively and he's been able to handle the pitching at that level well for a first full season year. He throws well, he's a good defender and he's a kid that's going to get a lot bigger and a lot stronger."

Oakland Athletics
By Melissa Lockard,

Trevor Cahill
Position: RHP
Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 195 pounds
DOB: 3/01/1988

Selected with the 66th overall out of a San Diego area high school in 2006, Cahill turned down an opportunity to play baseball for Dartmouth College to sign with the A's.

He made only a handful of appearances during the Arizona Rookie League season last year, but was part of a combined no-hitter in his final appearance of the season. This season, the A's chose to keep Cahill back in extended spring training to start the year. Once the weather warmed in the Midwest, he was sent to Low-A Kane County, where he was the youngest pitcher on the Cougars' pitching staff. After a rough first couple of outings, Cahill has been the Cougars' top starter.

He has used his low-90s fastball, his spike curveball and a solid changeup to compile an impressive 108 strikeouts in 99 innings. He has allowed one run over his last 23.2 innings and he has his season ERA down to 2.82.

Cahill has a starter's build and good fastball command for a young pitcher. He also uses his off-speed pitches effectively for someone with only a year of professional experience. The A's like his intelligence, which has helped him incorporate new pitches into his game quickly during his young career.

"He is a very disciplined kid and he picks things up really quickly," Oakland A's minor league pitching coordinator Ron Romanick said. "All of the really good ones do that. If they believe in something, they can incorporate it right away. He has that quality about him."

Los Angeles Angels
By Denis Savage,

Sean O'Sullivan
Position: RHP
Height: 6-foot-1
Weight: 220 pounds
DOB: 9/1/1987

A rare power control pitcher, O'Sullivan managed to qualify by days, turning 20 on September 1. He throws four pitches, all for strikes and in any count.

After a prosperous debut that flashed just seven walks over 71.1 innings in short-season Orem, O'Sullivan has gotten better as the 2007 season wears on. The right-hander has allowed just 11 earned runs over his last 11 starts, spanning 77 innings, in Low-A Cedar Rapids.

O'Sullivan combines a fastball that will top out in the mid-90s and a plus curveball that he spots up in any count. He works in his slider as an out pitch and a changeup that gives a different look to keep lefties at bay, setting up the high-and-in fastball that he favors as a second strikeout pitch.

New York Mets
By Patrick Teale,

Fernando Martinez
Position: OF
Height: 6-foot-1
Weight: 190 pounds
DOB: 10/10/1988

Martinez has five-tool potential.
Signed for $1.4 million as the top International signee in 2005 out of the Dominican Republic, Fernando Martinez had a solid professional debut last season, hitting a combined .279 with ten home runs between three minor league levels and advancing all the way to High-A St. Lucie before becoming one of the youngest players ever in the Arizona Fall League.

He has real five-tool potential, but while some scouts wonder where he'll play defensively at the big league level, none question his bat or his makeup.

Battling injuries last season and already out for the remainder of this season with a right-hand contusion after advancing to Double-A as an 18-year old, staying healthy seems to the lone obstacle into tapping his immense talent.

Colorado Rockies
By Brad Weiss,

Hector Gomez
Position: SS
Height: 6-foot-1
Weight: 160 pounds
DOB: 3/05/1988

Gomez is another in the long line of good middle infield prospects the Rockies have. Only 19 years old and playing in the South Atlantic League, Gomez possesses gap power, and has shown the ability to hit the home run in his short career.

He was a Pioneer League All-Star last season for the Casper Rockies, and was a South Atlantic League Mid-Season All-Star this year for the Asheville Tourists. He has 10 home runs, eight triples, and blinding speed.

He is an above average shortstop, who has the best range in the organization. A non-drafted free agent, if he can work on cutting down on the strikeouts, he has the ability to be an above .300 batter.

All stats through August 28, 2007

Scouting Baseball Top Stories