Revisiting the Top 60: 60-56

With the minor league season completed, RC is busy putting together this year's Top 60 prospect list. First, however, we take a look back at last year's Top 60 prospects. Who took a step forward? Who took a step back? Who should have been ranked higher? Today we take a look at prospects 60-56 on last year's list.

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Sam Runion looked to the 2010 season as an opportunity to put his disastrous 2009 campaign (5-11, 6.60 ERA) in the rearview mirror. Unfortunately, his season began ominously. He opened the year in the Burlington Bees' bullpen, but after his first seven outings, the 22-year-old right-hander sported a bloated 13.06 ERA, and he was reassigned to extended spring training. He didn't rejoin the Bees until June, but he returned armed with a new sidewinding delivery, and he began experiencing his first success in full season ball. Over his final 16 outings, Runion posted a respectable 3.95 ERA, but he was shut down in early August with a bone spur in his elbow.

Reflection on 2010 ranking
Runion's primary problem has always been the lack of a quality breaking ball. Despite his struggles, we placed him at the back of last year's Top 60 based solely on his projectability and his draft pedigree. While he won't reappear on this year's list, we must note that his new sidearm delivery is intriguing. It is very similar to Louis Coleman's delivery, and he could feasibly develop into an effective situational right-hander. Perhaps most encouraging, his lower arm angle produced the first signs of a useful breaking ball – a hard slider – we've witnessed in the four years we've been following Runion.






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Deivy Batista put together an intriguing 2009 campaign, slamming 13 home runs in 61 games for the Idaho Fall Chukars after hitting .317/.382/.472 for the AZL Royals in 2008. Unfortunately, the 22-year-old hit an offensive wall in Burlington, finishing his full season debut with a disappointing line of .236/.293/.337 and just six home runs in 398 at bats. Primarily a shortstop in 2009, Batista saw the majority of his playing time at second base last season.

Reflection on 2010 ranking
Batista entered the 2010 season with a career slugging percentage of .489, an impressive number for a middle infielder. It now seems likely that was an altitude/Arizona-induced mirage. Batista has an ugly swing, the mechanics of which are quite similar to Tony Batista's, minus the funky stance and plus raw power. He's still a relatively good middle infielder capable of making the occasionally dazzling play, but we have enough questions about his bat to bump him off this year's Top 60.






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After missing the entire 2008 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, Bryan Paukovits bounced back in 2009 with a solid campaign for Idaho Falls, going 4-3 with a 4.34 ERA and 57 strikeouts in 56.0 innings pitched. The 23-year-old made his full season debut with the Bees in 2010 and put together an excellent first half, earning an All-Star selection after going 3-3 with a sparking 3.32 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 62.1 innings. Midwest League batters hit just .189 against the 6-foot-7 right-hander, and he was promoted to High-A Wilmington immediately after the break. Unfortunately, the Carolina League wasn't nearly as kind to Paukovits, who finished the second half 3-5 with a 5.88 ERA for the Blue Rocks.

Reflection on 2010 ranking
Paukovits' surgery has had a major impact on his stuff. Prior to the injury, he routinely ran his fastball into the mid-90s. He now works in the upper-80s, topping out around 90 mph. However, the injury also forced him to become a more complete pitcher, and he added a split-fingered fastball to a repertoire that also includes a promising curveball and changeup. He should jump a few spots on this year's Top 60, but his upside remains limited by his below average heater.






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After missing the 2009 season with a shoulder injury, Devon Lowery opted to re-sign with Kansas City as he attempted to get back to the big leagues, where he appeared in five games for the Royals in 2008. He made four stops through the system in 2010, finishing with 11 appearances for Omaha while compiling an 0-1 record with one save and a 3.20 ERA. Following the season, the Royals opted not to re-sign Lowery, and the 27-year-old right-hander is now a minor league free agent.






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When the Royals selected Fernando Cruz in the sixth round of the 2007 draft, the club knew he would be a project. Club officials expected him to gain muscle mass and develop above average power. While he has gotten bigger and stronger during his four years in the organization, that strength has not generated any power, and he has just four career home runs on his resume in over 1000 plate appearances. Indeed, the 20-year-old got skunked by Midwest League pitchers in 2010, and he finished the season with a disappointing line of .221/.265/.271 with just 17 extra base hits in 376 at bats. After spending the 2009 season as a catcher, Cruz moved back to third base this season.

Reflection on 2010 ranking
Cruz made last year's Top 60 primarily because he was still a catcher at the time, and he had shown some offensive improvement in the Appalachian League in 2009, when he hit a respectable .277/.308/.394. He was overwhelmed by Midwest League pitching, however, and his move off the catching position appears to have taken away the only legitimate chance he had of making it to the big leagues. Cruz will not make the cut on this year's Top 60 list.

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