Baseball America released their list of the top 20 prospects from the Florida State League in 2011 (scouting reports for subscribers here). Tony Sanchez and Diego Moreno were the two Pittsburgh Pirates prospects who made the list, with Sanchez coming in 6th, and Moreno finishing 16th.
Sanchez, the 2009 first round draft pick of the Pirates, had a shortened season due to getting hit in the face with a pitch, fracturing his jaw and shutting him down in late June. In his time in Bradenton this year he hit for a .314/.416/.454 line in 207 at-bats, which is impressive for the pitching friendly Florida State League. Baseball America rates his arm strength as 55-60 on a 20-80 scale, and notes that he is exceptional blocking pitches.
Moreno put up a 1.17 ERA in 38.1 innings, with a very impressive 57:5 K/BB ratio. Moreno was moved up to AA, but suspended for disciplinary reasons, and returned to Bradenton to finish out the season. He is eligible for the Rule 5 draft this off-season, and is a guy who definitely needs to be protected, with a 94-98 MPH fastball, and an 86-87 MPH slider.
A few notable omissions were top Pirates prospects Starling Marte, Jeff Locke, and Bryan Morris. Morris actually didn’t qualify for the list, as he had 44.2 innings, and the cutoff was 46 innings this year. Baseball America noted that Morris would have made the list with one more start. Locke and Marte did qualify for the list, and their omissions were strange, considering each player is a better prospect than Moreno, who is strictly a relief pitching prospect. Some consider Marte to be a better prospect than Sanchez, and he’s a consensus top 5 prospect in the organization, ranking in the top three in some write ups. Locke is a 6-10 prospect in the organization, while Moreno falls in the 11-20 range. To have Moreno on the list, but leave off Marte and Locke is very strange, especially with Marte. It will be interesting to see what BA has to say on those players in the chat later today.