Top 10 outfield prospects

Yep it's Saturday night and I'm bored. So here goes. Did not include Maier, but he would have been #2 if included.

1) Derrick Robinson, CF
Age: 20 | Team: Wilmington Blue Rocks (High A)
2008 Vital Line: .245/.317/.321, 92/49 K/BB

Yea, yea. I know. "The next Joey Gathright." I don't think that though.

Robinson's bat speed blows Gathright's out of the water, and I think he's going to develop Kenny Lofton type power. Take a look at Lofton's stats throughout the minors. Yep, Robinson has actually shown more power than Lofton did at the same point in their careers, and Lofton's power as we know it didn't really start to show until he was 23. He's been drawing way more walks the past couple months, which is obviously essential for a leadoff hitter. His speed is well documented, he's stolen 61 bases on the year. He's used that speed to turn into a stud defender in center field as well, which will serve him well with the huge outfield at Kaufman Stadium.

One thing to consider is that although he was drafted as a switch hitter, and because he was a very prominant football player, he's hitting from the left side was very, very weak at the time. His OPS to date this year is .100 points higher from the right side of the plate than the left side. Again, this is another thing the Royals just think is a matter of time thing.

Remember, this was a very raw, yet talented, athlete that we drafted back in '06 in the fourth round. There was a reason some of the scouts in the draft room were PO'd that they passed on him in the third round. I think it's just a matter of time before he breaks out. It's going to reflect in my offseason rankings of Royals prospects too, I have a feeling I'll be ranking him higher than most.

Best case scenario? Again, something like Kenny Lofton or Carl Crawford with better plate discipline offensively, with game changing speed on the bases and in the outfield. I think this is the kind of guy Dayton Moore wants in center field and at the top of the lineup. We know he cares about defense, and a guy like Robinson makes it easier to put defensive deficiencies in corner outfield spots.

2. Joseph Dickerson, LF
Age: 21 | Team: Wilmington Blue Rocks
2008 Vital Line: .297/.376/.442, 48/31 K/BB

Now you're probably wonder why I ranked Dickerson below Robinson despite popular opinion, but if you look up Joe Dickerson in the dictionary, it will say "see Tweener."

Yep. Basically, Dickerson doesn't play center field particularly well, and he doesn't really have the power you want out of a corner guy. He does have a chance to keep hitting .300 (which is what he needs to do to stay on the map) since he doesn't strike out much, but it's certainly not guarantee.

He's been injured since the middle of July, but he's going to play in the AFL where we'll get a chance to see what he does against better competition. Best case scenario, for me anyways, is David DeJesus with a tad more speed in a corner OF spot. Not great, but certainly acceptable.

3. David Lough, CF
Age: 22 | Team: Burlington Bees
2008 Vital Line: .270/.327/.465, 66/31 K/BB

Might be a surprise here. Lough plays a legitimate center field, has speed, and has power. The speed translates better in the outfield than it does on the bases (and he's admitted this is something he needs to work on). But the power is extremely impressive for a center field in the Midwest League, and he's been on an absolute power binge in the month of August.

This was a guy that went to college on a football scholership, and had to get permission from his coach just to play baseball. I think he's a guy that as he continues to play baseball fulltime (rather than splitting time with football), he's going to keep getting better.

I think he's got more upside than Dickerson, and best case scenario for him is a player similar to Nate McLouth.

4. Paulo Orlando, CF
Age: 22 | Team: Wilmington Blue Rocks
2008 Vital Line: .263/.309/.419, 109/25 K/BB

This is completely based on upside. He's got strike zone judgment issues (big time), but it's really not that out of the ordinary from a player that hasn't played much baseball, let alone be from a country where it isn't big (Brazil). But he's got excellent tools -- he's an outstanding defender and has game changing offensive tools.

Upside? Carl Crawford. Chances of reaching that ceiling? Oh, about 5-10%.

5. Brian McFall, RF
Age: 24 | Team: Northwest Arkansas Naturals
2008 Vital Line: .245/.337/.465, 93/37 K/BB

At this point it's really a matter of preference. McFall is very similar to Chris Lubanski, though he's got more playable tools and has better bat speed. McFall is a good athlete who has excellent raw power but has trouble against quality breaking stuff. He can play defense and has a hell of an arm (IIRC) from right field.

Best case scenario? He makes some strides against breaking pitches, makes more consistent contact, and becomes a Jose Guillen (pre this year) type player. But he's already 24, hasn't made many strides yet. Chances of it happening are very low.

6. Hilton Richardson, CF
Age: 19 | Team: Burlington Royals/AZL Royals
2008 Vital Line: .249/.308/.359, 63/18 K/BB

Richardson was the 7th round pick last year, extremely raw player, but he's big and fast and in other words, just has a ton of projection about him. The stolen base totals (10-for-17 don't really indicate how fast he is, he was rated a 70 runner by Baseball America which is plus-plus. He's got a ton of work to do in his game, but has a chance to be a special player if he puts it together.

Oh, and the reason he's playing for AZL now is he's starting community college in Arizona. Was not a demotion in the meaning of the word.

7. Chris Lubanski, LF
Age: 23 | Team: Omaha Royals
2008 Vital Line: .233/.296/.430, 126/35 K/BB

OK, so I haven't completely given up on him, but I'm close. I don't think he'd rank in my top 30 anymore, and in hindsight, #16 was way too high just two months ago. Lubanski has power, and that's his only plus tool anymore. But he has a relatively slow bat and the power mostly comes from the fact that he's a big dude. He can't hit a good breaking pitch, nor can he hit lefties at all. Lubanski's actually gotten too big I think, because he can hardly run at all anymore.

Best case scenario? He learns first base and can fill in at 1B/LF/RF against RHP off the bench.

8. Adrian Ortiz, CF
Age: 21 | Team: Burlington Bees/Wilmington Blue Rocks
2008 Vital Line: .306/.342/.384, 77/22 K/BB

I would like Ortiz a lot more if he would just take a walk here and there, but he doesn't. Ortiz is a good hitter, makes contact, can occasionally put some pop into one, and has really, really good speed. Like David Lough, the speed plays better in the outfield than on the paths, but he's working on it.

9. Nick Francis, RF
Age: 22 | Team: Idaho Falls Chukars/Burlington Bees
2008 Vital Line: .292/.373/.480, 60/24 K/BB

Francis didn't play last year, as part of the group that got suspended for violating team rules. But he's back on the field this year and showing why the Royals selected him in the draft in '06. Francis has got intriguing raw power and good athleticism. In a system that doesn't have much power, this is a guy to watch out for next year.

10. Alex Llanos, CF
Age: 17 | Team: AZL Royals
2008 Vital Line: .188/.244/.238, 53/11 K/BB

Llanos was the sixth round pick this year, and obviously his stats are quite horrible. But he's similar to Hilton Richardson -- good frame, good bat speed, is at least a 65 runner on the scouting scale, and could develop into a good defender (he just moved to CF). Has the tools to be good.

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