Two Suns Named To BA’s Sally League Top 20

OK, so maybe I’m being a little coy. Everybody knows who’s the #1 prospect in the South Atlantic League — Bryce Harper — the real drama is who else might get named.

That would be A.J. Cole.^ranked #11

Before Manno’s minions (see update below) storm the offices in Durham, NC, don’t forget that Baseball America likes ’em young — twelve of the twenty were teenagers, like Cole & Harper, and six of those eight were 20. Also working against him: He’s a reliever. Every pitcher named was a starter.

That I don’t have a problem with, actually. I always worry about kids being shoved into the LaRussa bullpen model. If anything, I’d love to see the piggyback rotation in use more often in the lower minors because it dovetails with my belief (and others’) that the aforementioned has become a crutch for managers, and it certainly does no favors to minor-leaguers. But that’s another discussion for another day.

Here are the highlights from the scouting reports that accompanied the list…

Primarily a catcher as an amateur, Harper converted to the outfield and put in time to improve his routes on flyballs. With slightly above-average speed and cannon arm, he has all the tools to become a good right fielder and might be able to handle center. Aside from a well-documented incident where he blew a kiss to the pitcher after a homer against Greensboro, his makeup came off as intense more than immature.

While many players hit the wall during their first full pro season, Cole did just the opposite. His fastball went from the low 90s in April to 94-95 mph in August. He also learned how to keep the ball in the yard: after giving up five HRs in his first seven starts, Cole allowed just one over the last 13. His success is often dictated by his fastball, which he commands well and can cut or sink. His breaking ball lacks consistency, and his changeup is a work in progress. He does a nice job of throwing all three pitches for strikes.

Unless BA switches up its schedule like it did with the NYPL, the Carolina League is slated for Friday, the Eastern League on next Tuesday, the International League the Friday after that.

UPDATE: It may not have the same catchet, but did name Chris Manno the second-best reliever in all of minor-league baseball.

Author: Luke Erickson

Since 2009, Luke Erickson has been chief writer, editor, and bottle-washer of Potomac is his home base as a season-ticket holder, but he has visited every affiliate north of Florida at least once, with multiple trips to Hagerstown and Harrisburg.

9 thoughts on “Two Suns Named To BA’s Sally League Top 20”

    1. This was the BA answer in the chat:

      “Bill Ballew: Ray was another guy who was very close to making the list. He displayed outstanding command, much better than Edwar Cabrera, who was rated as having the SAL’s best in BA’s mid-season tools survey. He hit the wall during the season as many guys do in their first full pro seasons but he displayed the ability to pitch on both sides of the plate and has excellent movement on his fastball. Ray projects very well and I wouldn’t be surprised if he had a better career than many guys who made the list.”

  1. Cole at #11 for the year in the SAL is a tremendous boost. Ballew’s chat caveat on the rankings in regards to Ray gives me even more hope for the future.

    In Rizzo we trust, as we’re now drafting & developing players who rank up against the best in their League at multiple levels. Me likey.

  2. We’ll have to see what the off-season brings (or takes away), but the pitching staff for Potomac in 2012 could be good.

    1. Potomac could be great. I see Ray and Cole moving up to Potomac with a good ST, they have nothing left to prove at A. Im seeing the following for Potoamc


      That has the potential to be DAMN good, if not Meyer I would give the 5th spot to Holder

  3. Ray had a better year than Cole, but Cole projects as the higher ceiling. This is nitpicking, because they both were terrific and they’re both pups.
    Sure will be fun in Potomac next year.

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