Revisiting the Top 50 – Part I

Antonini is on the rise

As seasons across all levels of the farm system wrap up over the course of the next two weeks, InsidePitchMagazine.com takes a look back at last fall's Top 50 Prospects. Over the course of the following days, we will check in to see what became of their 2008 seasons with statistical updates and analysis. Part I offers a glimpse of prospects #41-50 on the list.

#50: Josh Stinson

SAVANNAH: 3-6, 3.52 ERA, 21 G, 6 GS, 3 SV, 71.2 IP, 46 K, 32 BB
ST. LUCIE: 0-2, 8.38 ERA, 5 G, 1 GS, 9.2 IP, 8 K, 3 BB

Stinson entered the organization back in 2006 as a 37th round pick out of high school with raw talent that enticed the organization to move him quickly. Following a rough season in the Savannah rotation in 2007 [virtually skipping short-season leagues], it was decided to shift Stinson to the bullpen where he could focus on his fastball and curveball, building confidence along the way. Though his numbers in St. Lucie show signs of a tough adjustment in his first time through the Florida State League, Stinson has improved his fastball command, honed his already favorable curveball while getting his changeup up to snuff.

After concerns about his legitimacy as a prospect due to last year's performance, Stinson's tenacity and surprising turnaround as a reliever have reignited his career. He has done enough to keep himself on the minds of scouts and the organization, and improved his stock in the process.

#49: Darren Clark

GCL: 10 G, .357, 0 HR, 2 RBI, R, 2B, 3 BB, .406 OBP
BROOKLYN: 5 G, .333, 0 HR, 0 RBI, R, 0 BB, 2B, .333 OBP
SAVANNAH: 39 G, .248, HR, 13 RBI, 10 R, 6 BB, 9 2B, 3 SB, .286 OBP

The 24-year-old outfielder has been shuffled numerous times this season spending time in the GCL and Savannah on more than one occasion. He showed budding power last year and an ability to be a consistent gap hitter, but has struggled to make his mark in 2008 thanks to scattered playing time. A strong season was needed to keep him within the Top 50, but the lack of production and age are quickly catching up to the formerly undrafted farmhand, as he will enter the 2009 season with less than half of a season's worth of games on a full-season roster.

#48: Michael Devaney

The workman-like right-hander, who could not recover the effectiveness he showed with St. Lucie in 2006, was released two weeks into Spring Training last March following an inconsistent season with Binghamton last year.

#47: Elvin Ramirez

SAVANNAH: 6-7, 3.67 ERA, 18 G, 18 GS, 81 IP, 62 K, 36 BB

The 20-year-old right-hander is still a work in progress, but has shown flashes of tremendous talent despite an up-and-down season in Savannah. Location and walk totals can be problematic for Ramirez at times as he is still learning to command his secondary pitches, but his very good arm strength has kept him competitive in his first full season.

#46: Richard Lucas

SAVANNAH: 31 G, .185, 2 HR, 13 RBI, 15 R, 5 2B, 2 3B, 11 BB, SB, .252 OBP
KINGSPORT: 7 G, .185, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R, 2B, 3 BB, .267 OBP

The Mets' third-round pick in the 2007 Draft got a serious push when he began the season on the Savannah opening day roster, but the assignment did not work out as planned as the 19-year-old third baseman was significantly overmatched. Lucas is still trying to find his swing and consistent approach while learning his position, which led to the conclusion that his very raw game needs a lot of molding. After returning to Extended Spring Training following his effort in Savannah, Lucas could likely find himself back there to begin the 2009 season.

#45: Brahiam Maldonado

ST. LUCIE: 67 G, .236, 4 HR, 27 RBI, 17 R, 8 2B, 15 BB, 6 SB, .293 OBP
GCL: 5 G, .333 AVG, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 4 R, 3 2B, 2 BB, SB, .400 OBP

After steadily rising since his debut in the GCL in 2004, Maldonado hit a wall this season in St. Lucie as the opposing pitching got much stiffer. His time in Savannah allowed him to feast on fastballs, but Florida State League pitchers got the best of his inability to handle or lay off breaking pitches, especially on the outer half. Until he corrects that hole in his swing, Maldonado will be reserved to an organizational role. His five games in the GCL came after rehabbing a severe ankle injury suffered in late April.

#44: Julio Polanco

SAVANNAH: 2-1, 4.19 ERA, 25 G, 3 GS, 5 SV, 68.2 IP, 60 K, 15 BB
ST. LUCIE: 0-3, 6.53 ERA, 5 G, 5 GS, 20.2 IP, 14 K, 7 BB

It was Polanco's lack of depth that caused him to suffer a rough year in the Savannah rotation in 2007, but upon his return to the Sandgnats this season, his improved top two pitches allowed him to find success in a relief role. However, upon his promotion to St. Lucie and subsequent move into the rotation this season, that lack of a reliable third pitch has prevented him from finishing five innings except in one outing. Polanco is still at times a max-effort pitcher who needs his entire body to get his fastball to sit in the low-90s.

#43: Michael Antonini

SAVANNAH: 4-4, 2.71 ERA, 13 G, 13 GS, 73 IP, 61 K, 16 BB
ST. LUCIE: 4-0, 1.84 ERA, 7 G, 7 GS, CG, 44 IP, 33 K, 7 BB
BINGHAMTON: 0-2, 3.74 ERA, 6 G, 6 GS, 33.2 IP, 23 K, 14 BB

Antonini's stock is certainly on the rise in his second year as he is the only pitcher in the entire organization to jump two long-season squads this year. The 23-year-old southpaw was predominately a reliever in 2007, but has come on strong as a starter. He has bumped his velocity to where it sits in the low-90s and his vastly improved changeup allowed him breeze through the Florida State League in just seven starts. With three strong pitches in tow, Antonini has piqued the interest of the organization.

#42: Michael Olmsted

GCL: 0-0, 3.86 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 4.2 IP, 3 K, 2 BB
KINGSPORT: 1-1, 1.83 ERA, 4 G, 4 GS, 19.2 IP, 23 K, 5 BB
SAVANNAH: 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 5 IP, 6 K, BB

Olmsted began the year in Extended Spring Training before an arm injury delayed the start to his 2008 season, but in the short time since his return, he has made the most his opportunity. He returned to Kingsport following his rehab where he accumulated a sub-2.00 ERA for the second straight season before heading to Savannah on August 24 to replace the injured Brant Rustich. His high-80s velocity for most of 2007 gave way to 91-93 MPH on his fastball by the end of the year which appears to be more in Olmsted's range now that is he back an healthy.

#41: Guillaume Leduc

KINGSPORT: 3-4, 4.24 ERA, 13 G, 9 GS, CG, SHO, SV, 57.1 IP, 41 K, 9 BB

The 21-year-old right-hander's assignment to Kingsport has provided mixed results as he still lacks a breaking pitch that can change the tempo of at-bats. Nonetheless, he continues to maintain a low walk total which is attributed to his steady and reinforced desire to attack the strike zone. The jury is still out on a Leduc, but his age and good off-speed pitch leaves the window open.

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