Keeping tabs on last year's Top 30
Already in Majors, Washington's Zimmerman at head of class
With the 2006 First-Year Player Draft fast approaching, just a month away, almost all of last year's first-round crop are currently producing on the field around the Minors -- and, in one case -- in the Major Leagues. Most notably, the four players who made their professional debuts this spring are all off to hot starts. Here's a look at last year's Top 30 and where they are now. All stats are through games of May 5.
1. Justin Upton, CF, Arizona Diamondbacks
South Bend Silver Hawks (Class A)
After spending the first two weeks of the regular season in extended Spring Training in Arizona to mend a sore shoulder, Upton made his much-anticipated debut in South Bend in a new position, to boot. Drafted as a shortstop out of high school in Virginia, he was shifted to center field due in part to the presence of fellow first-round prospect Stephen Drew at Triple-A Tucson. The last first-rounder to sign, Upton is a walking toolbox whose five-tool potential remains the same in his new position. He was hitting .320 in his first 13 games with one homer -- hit on April 30 -- six RBIs and three steals.
2. Alex Gordon, 3B, Kansas City Royals
Wichita Wranglers (Double-A)
With Royals third baseman Mark Teahen recently demoted to Triple-A Omaha, the Gordon Watch is officially on. A fall signing, Gordon got his pro career started this spring at Wichita, hitting .318 with six homers, 14 RBIs and seven steals.
3. Jeff Clement, C, Seattle Mariners
San Antonio Missions (Double-A)
Currently sidelined with a knee injury from May 1 that might keep him out for several weeks, Clement was hitting .288 with two home runs and 10 RBIs. He had also missed two weeks in mid-April with a sore elbow. Drafted out of USC, Clement split his 2005 debut between short-season Everett and Class A Wisconsin, combining to hit .315 with six homers and 21 RBIs in that span.
4. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Washington Nationals
Washington Nationals (MLB)
One of three 2005 first-rounders to make it to the Majors during his draft season (along with relievers Craig Hansen and Joey Devine), Zimmerman was the only one to start the 2006 campaign in the bigs. After batting .397 last September, he is currently hitting .245 with four home runs and 17 RBIs. The Virginia product's defense is outstanding.
5. Ryan Braun, 3B, Milwaukee Brewers
Brevard County Manatees (Class A)
One of two first-round picks out of Miami (San Diego pitcher Cesar Carrillo was the other), Braun is playing just a few hours up I-95 from his old stomping grounds and batting .267 with four home runs, 20 RBIs and eight steals. His four sacrifice flies are tied for second in the Minors. He combined for 10 homers and 45 RBIs while hitting .352 between short-season Helena and Class A West Virginia last summer for one of the best pro debuts in his draft class.
6. Ricky Romero, LHP, Toronto Blue Jays
Extended Spring Training
The first pitcher drafted last summer, the Cal State-Fullerton product is expected to be a fast mover, but for now, he's coming back from an aggravated triceps muscle in extended spring. Once healthy, he should get a few starts at Advanced Class A Dunedin, where he posted a 3.82 ERA in eight starts last summer, and be in Double-A New Hampshire before long. He has tremendous poise and command of three pitches.
7. Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Colorado Rockies
Tulsa Drillers (Double-A)
The Long Beach State alum's pro debut was cut short when he tore a quadriceps muscle at Class A Modesto in early August. This year, he was making up for lost time, hitting .337 -- seventh in the Texas League -- with two homers, 11 RBIs and 12 doubles in the leadoff spot for the Drillers.
8. Wade Townsend, RHP, Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Disabled list -- out for the season
The Devil Rays took Townsend, a Rice University star in 2004, in the first round a year after the Baltimore Orioles did the same but couldn't sign the 23-year-old. He hadn't pitched competitively since then, and after looking rusty in his few outings in '05, he blew out his elbow in his first Arizona Fall League game and underwent Tommy John elbow surgery. He will miss the entire season and attempt to get his career restarted in '07, nearly three years after his Owls heyday. An Academic All-America selection who used his downtime to finish his degree in history, Townsend can't be counted out.
9. Mike Pelfrey, RHP, New York Mets
Binghamton Mets (Double-A)
One of five first-rounders and the lone pitcher making his pro debut in 2006, Pelfrey dominated in the early going at Advanced Class A St. Lucie before being promoted to Binghamton. He posted a 1.64 ERA in four starts in the Florida State League, walking two and striking out 26 in 22 innings, but he's still adjusting to Double-A. He has a 4.66 ERA in two starts, and he gave up 13 hits and five runs in four innings in his last outing, against Akron on May 4. Pelfrey is considered so polished, coming out of Wichita State, that some think he'll be in the big-league rotation by the All-Star break.
10. Cameron Maybin, CF, Detroit Tigers
West Michigan Whitecaps (Class A)
Making his pro debut in a full-season league at age 19, Maybin has to be thrilling the Tigers with his early showing, as he was hitting .333 -- eighth in a league that has been dominated by pitching in the early going -- with 18 RBIs and five steals. His four triples tied him for fourth in the Minors. He's a graceful center fielder who hit .662 as a high school senior in Asheville, N.C.
11. Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates
Hickory Crawdads (Class A)
Just 19, McCutchen was off to a hot start in the South Atlantic League, hitting .327 with three homers and 16 RBIs. After going just 3-for-17 in Major League Spring Training, the Florida high school product made up for it in a hurry. He hit over .300 in his 2005 pro debut between the Gulf Coast League and a brief taste of Williamsport.
12. Jay Bruce, OF, Cincinnati Reds
Dayton Dragons (Class A)
The top prospect in the Pioneer League in 2005, Bruce was batting .296 with five homers and 18 RBIs so far in his full-season debut at Dayton. He has the prototypical sweet left-handed stroke and plus power potential. Oddly, in a pretty even split over the first month, he was hitting .431 on the road and just .175 at home.
13. Brandon Snyder, C, Baltimore Orioles
Delmarva Shorebirds (Class A)
Snyder batted .271 with eight homers and 35 RBIs at Rookie-level Bluefield last year, and he brings his plus makeup and power potential to full-season Delmarva. Splitting his time between catcher and DH, he was hitting .225 with three home runs and 15 RBIs, batting .283 on the road and .163 at home.
14. Trevor Crowe, OF, Cleveland Indians
Kinston Indians (Class A)
The switch-hitter out of Arizona moved from left to center this year, and he was hitting .284 with two home runs, 14 RBIs and 11 steals -- second in the Carolina League. He'd also drawn 23 walks, which was fifth in the Minors.
15. Lance Broadway, RHP, Chicago White Sox
Birmingham Barons (Double-A)
When the Sox took the Texas Christian University ace, it marked the first time they'd taken a college pitcher with their first-round pick since Kip Wells in 1998. He was showing why at Birmingham, going 3-1 with a 2.02 ERA in his first six starts, striking out 30 and walking seven in 35 2/3 innings, while allowing just one home run.
16. Chris Volstad, RHP, Florida Marlins
Greensboro Grasshoppers (Class A)
One of three pitchers taken by the Marlins in the first round, the 6-foot-7 Florida high schooler has as much poise and command as a college ace. In his first full season at Greensboro, he was tied for the South Atlantic League lead with four wins, to go with a 2.92 ERA in six starts. He'd walked five while striking out 26 in 37 innings, and he walked just one in his first four starts.
17. C.J. Henry, SS, New York Yankees
Charleston River Dogs (Class A) (DL)
A baseball and basketball star in high school in Oklahoma City, the athletic Henry opted for baseball full-time, and he's still refining his game. He was hitting .172 before going on the disabled list with a hamstring injury.
18. Cesar Carrillo, RHP, San Diego Padres
Mobile BayBears (Double-A)
The Miami star is on the fast track with the Padres, which isn't surprising since he was considered one of the closest to the Majors from his draft class. At Mobile, he was 1-2 with a 3.24 ERA in six starts. He walked four in his first game, then four more in his next 29 1/3 innings. He also struck out 24 in that 33 1/3-inning span.
19. John Mayberry, OF, Texas Rangers
Clinton LumberKings (Class A)
The son of the former Kansas City Royals star of the same name, Mayberry was also taken in the first round out of high school by Seattle, but he opted to get a Stanford education before turning pro. He got a late start this spring due to a strained hamstring, which also cost him his expected slot in Advanced Class A Bakersfield. Starting out slow at the plate in terms of average, hitting just .197, he did blast five home runs in 18 games.
20. Mark Pawelek, LHP, Chicago Cubs
Extended Spring Training
Though he posted a fine 2.72 ERA in 14 games last summer in the Arizona complex league, where batters hit just .170 against him, the Utah high school southpaw is being handled with care by the Cubs, who started him back in extended Spring Training, likely waiting for the start of the Northwest League campaign before they send him to Boise.
21. Cliff Pennington, SS, Oakland Athletics
Stockton Ports (Class A)
The speedy Pennington, a Texas A&M product, had a fine pro debut at Class A Kane County, hitting .276 with three homers, 29 RBIs and 25 steals, which makes his slow start at Stockton all the more surprising. He was hitting .111 in 24 games with five RBIs and five steals. He has plus makeup and a strong arm.
22. Aaron Thompson, LHP, Florida Marlins
Greensboro Grasshoppers (Class A)
Thompson joins Volstad in a loaded Greensboro rotation that also includes two supplemental first-rounders from 2005 (Ryan Tucker and Sean West). He had a 4.26 ERA through his first six starts and had struck out 30 in 31 2/3 innings, walking seven. He was prone to giving up the long ball, though, with five homers against him so far.
23. Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, Boston Red Sox
Wilmington Blue Rocks (Class A)
Ellsbury was off to a fine start at Wilmington, among the league leaders in average (.304) and steals (seven) before landing on the DL on April 26 with a strained quad. The Oregon State product was second in steals in the New York-Penn League last year with 23.
24. Brian Bogusevic, LHP, Houston Astros
Lexington Legends (Class A)
It's been a rough start for the two-way star out of Tulane, who is only now getting used to the regimen of pitching. After posting a 7.59 ERA at Tri-City last summer, his ERA at Lexington was 10.66, due largely to a May 4 game in which he gave up seven runs (three homers) without getting an out. Batters were hitting .424 against him in the early going.
25. Matt Garza, RHP, Minnesota Twins
Fort Myers Miracle (Class A)
Though he'll have to fight his way up through a glut of strong pitching, Garza is doing everything in his power to do just that in the early going, dominating Florida State League hitters to the tune of a 4-0 record, 0.86 ERA and 40 strikeouts (vs. six walks) in 31 1/3 innings. In six starts, the Fresno State product allowed three hits or fewer four times.
26. Craig Hansen, RHP, Boston Red Sox
Pawtucket Red Sox (Triple-A)
Hansen, a closer at St. John's University, tossed 13 scoreless innings in the Minors last year before getting a taste of the Majors. Expected by some to start in the bigs again this spring, especially after tossing 10 2/3 scoreless innings in Spring Training, he actually began the year in the Double-A Portland bullpen, where he posted a 0.82 ERA in 11 innings before moving up to Pawtucket. He had a 5.79 ERA there in his first two games.
27. Joey Devine, RHP, Atlanta Braves
Extended Spring Training
Devine's early woes are baffling, and right now, a sore back has him in extended Spring Training on the rookie-level Danville roster. Like Hansen, a legitimate closer in college -- in this case North Carolina State, where he set a career record for saves -- Devine pitched at three levels of the Minors last summer before finishing the year in Atlanta, joining the postseason staff. He was also expected to start the year in the bigs, but due to the numbers game, he began at Triple-A Richmond. He did come up on April 7 and gave up seven runs in one total inning during back-to-back games against the Giants. He was plagued by control problems and sent back to Richmond, where he appeared in one more game, giving up a run and walking a batter without getting an out on April 13.
28. Colby Rasmus, OF, St. Louis Cardinals
Swing of Quad Cities (Class A)
After posting a .514 slugging percentage at short-season Johnson City last year, Rasmus was hitting .305 with four homers, 17 RBIs and nine steals in the Midwest League. He has plus power and speed, and he was third in the league in steals, but he also made 10 errors in the outfield.
29. Jacob Marceaux, RHP, Florida Marlins
Jupiter Hammerheads (Class A)
The Marlins' third first-round pitcher, a McNeese State product, started the year one level higher than his compadres Volstad and Thompson, at Advanced Class A Jupiter. In the early going, Marceaux was 0-3 with a 5.40 ERA in six starts, and he led the Minors with nine wild pitches. He walked 14 while striking out 25 in 30 innings.
30. Tyler Greene, SS, St. Louis Cardinals
Palm Beach Cardinals (Class A)
Greene, taken with the last pick in the first round out of Georgia Tech, headed back to Palm Beach, where he finished up his pro debut with a brief but successful stint, hitting .271. This year he was off to a slow start, batting just .200 with no hits in 17 at-bats against left-handers so far. He'd stolen seven bases.
Lisa Winston is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.