SAN ANTONIO, Texas – It's been nearly five years since Alex Rodriguez signed his behemoth contract…
M's Prospect Power Rankings: 8/22
1. Adam Jones, SS/CF – San Antonio
Jones is splitting time between his natural position of shortstop and center field, likely to be his full-time spot in 2006. The 20-year-old is still carrying a nice offensive season and the improvement he has made this year have satisfied the organization.
2. Jeff Clement, C - Wisconsin
The USC product has turned on the jets after a few weeks in the Midwest League, cracking two home runs last week. Clement is an advanced hitter that rarely offers at pitches out of the strike zone and isn't afraid to draw a walk. His power is equal to that of any prospect in the system and his defense improves everyday.
3. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS – Inland Empire
Cabrera on track for Double-A in 2006, where he could prove to be the prganization's best all-around shortstop.
4. Bobby Livingston, LHP - Tacoma
Livingston backed up the worst start of his career (9 ER in 1 IP), with his best outing in Triple-A (7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 BB).
5. Luis Valbuena, 2B - Everett
Valbuena is a top candidate for Northwest League MVP as the 19-year-old leads the league in both homers and RBI.
6. Rob Johnson, C – Inland Empire
Johnson hasn't skipped a beat since being promoted to Advanced-A Inland Empire and his defense is being appreciated by Sixers' manager Daren Brown.
7. Jeff Flaig, 1B - Everett
Flaig flipped the power switch last week and has shown the ability to work the count. The 20-year-old is a legit prospect, thought probably not at first base.
8. Shin-soo Choo, LF - Tacoma
Choo looks like a completely different hitter in August. He's leading off and continues to draw walks and has been more consistent of late. Choo is hitting .352 since August 5.
9. Ryan Feierabend, LHP – Inland Empire
Continuous improvement with his breaking ball has the southpaw on the fast track – not unlike fellow left-hander Travis Blackley.
10. Paul Fagan, LHP - Everett
Fagan has been as consistent as any left-hander in Everett – and there many to choose from. The 20-year-old could develop No. 3 stuff as he progresses.
11. Matt Tuiasosopo, SS - Wisconsin
Tui recently stuck his hand through a window and will likely miss most of the final few weeks of the year with a cut on his wrist. Disappointing end to a satisfactory season from the 2004 third rounder.
12. Stephen Kahn, RHP - Everett
Kahn's fastball-curveball combo is as good as there is in the system – at least since Felix was called up. The 21-year-old has No. 3 stuff and adding a change-up might make him a premium prospect.
13. Yorman Bazardo, RHP – San Antonio
Bazardo is a bit of an enigma. He often reaches the mid-90s with the fastball but has a strikeout ratio that resembles that of a finesse pitcher. The M's believe it's more about approach than stuff.
14. Bryan LaHair, 1B – Inland Empire
LaHair leads the California League and the M's organization in RBI with 103. He's also hitting .305 with 22 home runs.
15. Michael Garciaparra, 2B – Inland Empire
While brother Nomar went 5-for-23 in the minors, Michael won the player of the week award with 16 hits in 35 at-bats. The offense hasn't stopped since as Garciaparra enters the final three weeks of the year hitting .297/.387.
16. Wladimir Balentien, LF – Inland Empire
If Balentien could make any progress at all with his poor plate discipline and strike zone judgment, he'd be a top 10 prospect. His 138-30 k/bb ratio is unacceptable.
17. Robert Rohrbaugh, LHP - Everett
Rohrbaugh's last four starts have been a welcomed sight for Sox skipper Pedro Grifol. The Clemson product could be huge for Everett down the stretch with his impeccable control. The postseason is still within reach.
18. Sebastien Boucher, CF – Inland Empire
Boucher's strong '05 season should start him off in San Antonio next season, with a shot to see Triple-A late in the year.
19. Hunter Brown, 3B - Tacoma
Brown's first ever walk-off bomb came last Wednesday in the heat of a pennant race. With Snelling gone, Brown is Tacoma's best clutch hitter.
20. Daniel Santin, C - Everett
Santin is getting his chance to catch, but the organization may not wait long to move the Miami native to first base. His bat may not play there, but his defensive skills haven't improved enough since last summer.
Jason A Churchill is the Executive Editor at InsidethePark.com and can be reached via e-mail at JasonAChurchill@InsideThePark.com