Over the next nine days I will profile the nine players that I encourage you to pay attention to during the '09 season. These players were not included on BBTiA's Top 25 Prospects list, and they all played in the Arizona Rookie League and above during the '08 season. I excluded all players that were not stateside in '08, but I will focus on the Dominican Summer League prospects before the minor league season begins.
The prospects that will be profiled might not be the biggest names, or have the highest ceilings, but they are the players that I think have a chance to take big steps forward during the '09 season. Who is on your list?
On my list so far:
After two solid seasons to start his career, Jacob Brigham, the Rangers' sixth-round choice in the 2006 amateur draft out of Central Florida Christian High School, was primed for a breakout season in '08. Unfortunately, he injured his arm during the Fall Instructional League after the '07 season and was lost to Thomas Edward John, Jr. surgery.
Before the surgery, Brigham featured a lively fastball, thrown from the high ¾, that sat in the low-to-mid 90s with some boring action. His curveball, perhaps his best pitch, has legit plus potential with a tight rotation and classic 12-to-6 movement. His change-up isn't anything special, but has made progress at each professional stop.
Brigham, despite losing a season to Tommy John surgery, still has tremendous upside. The young right-handed power pitcher has a projectable body (6' 3", 195 lb.), excellent make-up, and the raw stuff to improve upon. He had some command issues in the past, and you never know how he is going to rebound from the surgery, but assuming Brigham is healthy, he has legit major league potential.
Look for the Rangers to play it safe with Brigham by not rushing him in '09. I think there is a good chance he returns to short-season ball after starting the year in extended spring training, but don't rule out a more aggressive promotion schedule if he proves to be healthy and effective. If Brigham is able to harness his stuff while remaining mechanically consistent, his ceiling is quite high.