|Wednesday, April 10
Top Class A players
By Josh Goldfine and Kevin Winter
Below is a list of top minor-league players on each of the 14 American League teams. Each player has yet to play above Class A.
Francisco Rodriguez, RHP: A hard-throwing 20-year-old with a big-time fastball has the potential for a limitless ceiling. ... Struck out 147 hitters and issued just 55 walks in 113 2/3 innings in the California League in 2001. ... Was very hittable towards the end of the season and currently lacks maturity to move through the system.
Joe Torres, LHP: Angels' first-round pick in 2000 draft had number of setbacks last season -- notably with an injured shoulder -- but is the most projectable pitcher in the system when healthy. ... Fastball ranges between 90-93 mph and curveball is best breaking pitch in the organization.
Boston Red Sox
Rene Miniel, RHP: Vastly improved his velocity from January 2001 to the end of the season and was reaching 94-95 mph consistently. ... Velocity did tail off after a full season in Augusta. ... Has an over-the-top curveball and is working on his changeup. ... Needs to improve command of all of his pitches.
Chicago White Sox
Brian Tallet, LHP: Came out of LSU with the ability to throw three pitches for strikes. ... Fastball sits in the low 90s, along with a changeup and curveball. ... Gets ahead of hitters consistently. ... Indians coaches like his poise and "big game" pitching ability.
Ramon Santiago, SS: Used solely as a designated hitter last season after having surgery to tighten his shoulder in the fall of 2000. ... Was shut down in July 2000 with impingement in the back of his throwing shoulder. ... Was on strict throwing program last season, tossing regularly on the side. ... Has soft hands, quick feet and a cannon for an arm when shoulder is healthy.
Kansas City Royals
Mike Stodolka, LHP: Was shut down at the end of last season because of shoulder tendinitis, but will be ready to go this season. ... Tired quickly towards the end of the season. ... Has a low-90s fastball, a hard-breaking curveball and an improving changeup when healthy. ... Needs to improve his command.
Sandy Tejada, RHP: Signed by the Twins when he was just 16½ years old. ... Has been able to lower his ERA each of the last three seasons.
Brian Wolfe, RHP: Adjusted nicely to his second season with Quad City, lowering his ERA by almost two full runs. ... Had a 4:1 SO/BB ratio in 2001 over a career-high 160 innings.
New York Yankees
John-Ford Griffin, OF: Had school-record .427 batting average at Florida State University, 36 points better than J.D. Drew's former mark. ... Batting average ranks first all-time in the ACC and 16th in the NCAA. ... Was named a First Team All-American in 2001.
David Parrish, C: The son of former Tigers catcher Lance Parrish. ... Was selected in the first-round of the 2000 draft. ... Durable player with raw power and a plus arm. ... Still must learn to use whole field. ... More athletic and more mobile than father, but does not have as good of an arm.
Adam Morrissey, 2B/OF: Acquired by the A's in a trade that sent Mark Bellhorn to the Cubs. ... Brings a variety of skills, along with the third-highest on-base percentage in the Midwest League last year. ... Has the willingness and the ability to play any position.
Shin-Soo Choo, OF: Signed by Jim Colburn, the same scout that signed Ichiro. ... Twice voted "Best Pitcher" at Korean National High School Tournament. ... Has a 95-mph fastball from the mound. ... Above-average runner who has good range, but needs to work on routes to fly balls. ... Only listed at 5-10 and 180 pounds but has power.
Michael Garciaparra, SS: Spent the offseason training in Arizona with older brother and Red Sox shortstop Nomar. ... Missed the majority of 2001 high school season after having surgery to repair a torn ACL, an injury sustained during a high school football game. ... Not as fast as Nomar, but is larger in mass.
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Ramon Soler, 2B: Has had hamstring and shoulder injuries over past two seasons. ... Was hesitant to dive for balls or into bases head first. ... Tremendous base stealer. ... Was caught just 19 times in 90 attempts over last two seasons. ... Spray hitter and solid bunter.
Mark Teixeira, 3B: Was one of the premier college baseball hitters with Georgia Tech in 2001. ... Was ready to report to classes for senior year, but signed a contract with the Rangers and was added to the 40-man roster last summer. ... Most likely will switch to first base or outfield this season, with rising star Hank Blalock entrenched at third base in Texas. ... Tremendous power from both sides of the plate. ... Formerly a ninth-round selection by the Red Sox in 1998, but chose to play at Georgia Tech instead.
Toronto Blue Jays
James Deschaine, SS: Acquired by the Blue Jays as the player to be named later in the deal that sent shortstop Alex Gonzalez to the Cubs for left-hander Felix Heredia. ... Named a Class A All-Star in 2001 by Topps. ... Extremely good fastball hitter with a quick bat, making it difficult for pitchers to jam him inside.
Tyrell Godwin, OF: Attended the University of North Carolina on the prestigious Moorehead Scholarship, which is the highest academic grant offered at UNC and the oldest in the country. ... Turned down $1.9 million from Yankees out of high school and a $1 million offer from the Rangers while enrolled at UNC.