Sept. 22, 2009
DURHAM, N.C.-- Three former Stanford Cardinal, 2009 first round pick Drew Storen, outfielder Michael Taylor and catcher Jason Castro, were each named the top prospects for their respective teams by Baseball America. Storen was noted as the best pitcher in the Nationals system, while Taylor and Castro were the top hitting prospects for the Phillies and Astros, respectively.
Storen has made the quickest rise to the top after saving seven games last season at Stanford. The Nationals "closer in waiting" saved another 11 games between Single-A Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg over the final two months of the summer. The 10th overall selection in June went 2-1 with a 1.95 ERA with 49 strikeouts over 37 innings in the minors.
"It's not only the way he pitches during the games, but the way he goes after his training and the way he warms up, the way he lights up when he crosses the line and gets to the mound--that was really the litmus test of how we think he's a back-end-of-the-bullpen guy," Washington general manager Mike Rizzo said to Baseball America.
Castro ascension has been just as quick after being the 10th overall pick in 2008. Castro, who is currently playing for Team USA at the World Cup in Europe, hit .300 with 10 home runs and 73 RBIs for Single-A Lancaster and Double-A Corpus Christi. The Astros catcher was also named a starter to the Futures Game in July, hitting a three-run home run.
Taylor was named the top hitter in the Phillies system, finishing off his season at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He hit .282 with five home runs over 110 at-bats, after batting .333 with 18 steals and 15 homers at Double-A Reading. Taylor, the former fifth round selection in 2007, has 39 homers in his professional career.
"Even with as good a year as he had in A-ball (in 2008), I don't think anyone could have predicted what he did in the Eastern League this year," Phillies assistant general manager Chuck LaMar said. "He tore it up. We've always thought of him as a major league prospect, but he sped up his clock toward Philadelphia."
One player who has already reached the Majors this season was catcher John Hester, who was promoted to the Diamondbacks, managed by fellow Cardinal A.J. Hinch. Hester hit .329 with 31 doubles and 66 RBIs at Triple-A Reno before becoming one of 11 former players in the Majors this season. He was the 82nd Major Leaguer overall from Stanford.