Posted on: January 16, 2008 10:17 am

Top Outfield Prospects

The following outfield prospect rankings are based on two factors: 1) their potential, and 2) the likelihood that they'll reach that potential.  Of these two factors, though, I'll take the potential.  In other words, the 4th outfield prospect that's ready for the majors isn't going to be taken ahead of a likely future all-star that's currently 19. 

By the way, despite his rather iffy major league debut, I'd still take Justin Upton over anyone on this list.

  1. Reds' Outfield Prospect Jay Bruce (CF or RF), 20 yo (will turn 21 around opening day 2008)

    Jay Bruce is amazing, there's no other way to look at it.  He's not supposed to be ready for the majors yet--but he is.  He can play an adequate center field, but likely will end up in right.  His power's still developing, but he hit over .300 with 26 HR at three levels last year.  He may start the season off in AAA, but when he's called up, he's going to be a valuable contributor from day one.  By the age of 23, he should be an all-star. 

    Stat Comparison: Larry Walker
  2. Colby Rasmus (CF), Cardinals, 21, ETA 2009

    Potential fantasy stud, won't be ready for 2008.  He's got great power potential, and should be a 30/20 guy in the pros.  He'll get called up at some point next year, but he won't be a full-time starter until 2009.

    Stat Comparison: Curtis Granderson
  3. Matt LaPorta (LF), Brewers, 22, ETA 2009

    2009 may be a stretch, but holy cow can this guy hit.  I'd rank him higher if Ryan Braun hadn't been moved from 3b to LF.  Now with Braun in left and Fielder at first, where does LaPorta play?  Mike Cameron would look like Kelly Leak (Bad News Bears) trying to make up for their lack of range. 

    Stat Comparison: Prince Fielder

  4. Cameron Maybin, Marlins, 20, ETA 2009

    If it weren't for Maybin's shoulder injury (shoulder injuries scare me), he'd rank higher on this list.  He and Rasmus have similar skills, but I'd take Maybin over Rasmus most any day, if both were healthy.  If the Marlins bring him up in 2008, they'll be rushing him.  He's not ready yet.

    Stat Comparison:  .300/20 HR/40 SB, I'm not sure who that is, but whoever it is, I'd take it.
  5. Jacoby Ellsbury (CF), Red Sox, 24, ETA 2008

    Ellsbury has tremendous speed and range, and will make a very nice center fielder.  He should play gold-glove calibur defense and be a spark plug at the top of the order for years to come--everything the Red Sox hoped for when they acquired Coco Crisp.  He won't ever hit for much power (10-15 HR that they've projected feels like a stretch to me), but regardless will be a great player at the top of the order.

    Stat Comparison: Johnny Damon
  6. Adam Jones, Mariners (CF), 22, ETA 2008

    Jones has the power potential to hit 30 HR, and has an awesome arm (he was a pitcher w/ a 90mph fastball).  He'll eventually wind up in right, imo, but his bat will play there.

    Stat Comparison: Mike Cameron

  7. Travis Snider, RF, Blue Jays, ETA 2010

    Snider has tremendous power, and looks to be a stud in the middle of Toronto's lineup for years to come.

  8. Jose Tabata, RF, 19, Yankees, ETA 2010

    Tabata had some of his power sapped by a hamate bone injury in 2007.  He has tremendous potential though, and showed a lot of character in fighting through the injury. 

    Stat Comparison: Too early to tell
  9. Andrew McCutcheon (CF), Pirates, 20, ETA 2009/2010

    The hope of the Pirates system, McCutcheon had a rough 2007.  At present, it looks like he won't develop the necessary power.  He will make a nice leadoff hitter and center fielder, but may never put up flashy enough numbers to be an all-star.  His plate discipline took a nose dive in 2007, with an OBP around .330.  For a leadoff hitter, that's not going to get it done.  He'll have plenty of chances, but he needs at least one more year in AAA (and really, should be in AA, not AAA).  For the sake of Pirates fans, I hope he gets it. 
    Stat Comparison: The best comparison I can think of is Randy Winn, which won't make Pirates fans happy.

  10. Fernando Martinez, Mets, 19, ETA 2011

    The Mets like to rush their top prospects, and Martinez is no exception.  He was overmatched in AA, and isn't showing the refinement you'd like to see.  Then again, he should have been in A ball last year. 
    Stat Comparison: Too early to tell.
  11. Carlos Gonzalez, Athletics, 22, ETA 2009

    Gonzalez may deserve to be higher on this list, but his lack of hustle reminds me too much of J.D. Drew.  He's got everything you'd want in a player, but doesn't seem to play with the passion to ever make the most of it.
Honorable Mention: Austin Jackson, CF, Yankees; Jordan Schafer, CF, Braves
Category: MLB
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