The 25-man rosters were set early this week, but not finalized. We are still without some of the No. 5 starters, who begin the year back in the minors -- like Jordan Zimmermann (Nationals), Livan Hernandez (Mets), Sidney Ponson (Royals) and Adam Eaton (Orioles). And we are still without two of the most intriguing Fantasy Baseball prospects, David Price and Matt Wieters, who bide their time back in Triple-A.
But the minor league season opens and the prospect hunt begins Thursday.
This is the weekly Prospects Report on CBSSports.com, where we analyze the potential impact rookies and call-ups every week of the season. With the assignment of a slew of talented prospects (and veterans) to the minor leagues to start the season, we break down the most-owned minor leaguers in CBSSports.com's Fantasy leagues.
These 102 players are owned in at least 1 percent of our leagues and therefore roughly generate a ranking of the top minor leaguers to watch for a potential midseason arrival to impact Fantasy leagues. This list will be a living, breathing beast throughout the season, and will be your proactive source for players on the verge of a call-up.
Right now, we know we will get at least one impact rookie brought to us from the minor leagues in Zimmermann. The Nationals 22-year-old is going to be recalled for his major league debut April 19 vs. the Marlins. That is the last day of Fantasy Week 2 (April 13-19), which makes him a sleeper in deeper formats at this point.
He wasn't spectacular in his Triple-A opener Thursday for Syracuse, throwing 84 pitches (59 strikes) over 5 1/3 innings against the Rochester Red Wings. He allowed three runs, two homers, four hits and a walk, striking out four in a no-decision. He will make another Triple-A start Tuesday before his call-up, albeit after your upcoming roster deadline.
Owned in 42 percent of our leagues, Zimmermann has the potential to be a serviceable starter in deeper leagues even for the lowly Nationals. He is not quite on the prospect level of Price, Tommy Hanson or even a Trevor Cahill and Brett Anderson, but the fact Zimmermann pitches for such a poor team will at least allow him to fly a bit under the radar. We wouldn't trust him as an option in mixed leagues in his debut against the Marlins, but we won't be surprised to see him among the NL Rookie of the Year leaders by midseason either.
That is where we expect the likes of Price, Wieters and Hanson to be, too. Happy prospect hunting.
On the verge
|David Price||SP||TB||72||Triple-A||Despite the talk about needing to improve, Price doesn't belong back in Triple-A.|
|Matt Wieters||C||BAL||66||Triple-A||It will be interesting how long the Orioles wait to call him up if he starts off hot.|
|Jordan Zimmermann||SP||WAS||42||Triple-A||He will be up to start the first time the Nationals need a No. 5 starter next week.|
|Tommy Hanson||SP||ATL||33||Triple-A||10 of his 13 outs in the Triple-A opener Thursday came via the strikeout, wowzer!|
|Clay Buchholz||SP||BOS||25||Triple-A||He opens the season as the Red Sox's defacto No. 6 starter over Justin Masterson.|
|Brandon Wood||3B||LAA||19||Triple-A||He doesn't belong in the minor leagues, but we still see 20 homers in the majors in '09.|
|Matt LaPorta||OF||CLE||19||Triple-A||Masher won't need long to adjust to playing the outfield regularly; a big June 1 guy.|
|Phil Hughes||SP||NYY||17||Triple-A||Yankees have a loaded rotation, but it will just take an injury or a Joba move to RP.|
|Chris Perez||RP||STL||15||Triple-A||Jason Motte's opening day struggles could expedite Perez's return to the majors.|
|Jeff Samardzija||RP||CHC||12||Triple-A||His bad spring was a minor blessing because he will be stretched out to start now.|
|Jeff Clement||C||SEA||11||Triple-A||If not for a slow spring start after knee surgery, he likely would be a starter in Seattle.|
|Gordon Beckham||SS||CHW||8||Double-A||Arguably the best prospect story of the spring; watch to see how much he plays 2B.|
|Homer Bailey||SP||CIN||8||Triple-A||He pitched well enough to make the Reds' rotation, so hopefully you haven't given up.|
|Livan Hernandez||SP||NYM||8||Majors||He will start this Saturday for the Mets at Florida, getting added to the roster soon.|
|Andrew McCutchen||OF||PIT||7||Triple-A||Speed-and-power threat is potentially going to be a great June 1 call-up option.|
|Mat Gamel||3B||MIL||7||Triple-A||He needs to play better defense to be trusted in the majors, but his bat is ready.|
|Gio Gonzalez||SP||OAK||6||Triple-A||Injury-plagued spring held him back. We figured he had a rotation spot. He can catch up.|
|Franklin Morales||SP||COL||6||Triple-A||A great season debut got him sent back to the minors, but he can return in 10 days.|
|Neftali Feliz||SP||TEX||6||Triple-A||We are surprised such a young and raw talent is opening the season in Triple-A.|
|Gaby Sanchez||1B||FLA||5||Triple-A||He blew his first chance this spring, but Emilio Bonifacio looks like a wise choice.|
|Pedro Alvarez||3B||PIT||5||Double-A||Masher could be a quick-riser to the majors in his first professional season.|
|Chad Cordero||RP||SEA||4||Triple-A||The move of Brandon Morrow to relief all but ruins Cordero's potential to close in '09.|
|Madison Bumgarner||SP||SF||4||High Class A||There is a very good reason this is the most-owned Class A player on this list.|
|Carlos Carrasco||SP||PHI||4||Triple-A||The Phillies might finally give him a look this year, but others will get a chance first.|
|Alcides Escobar||SS||MIL||3||Triple-A||A solid middle infield in the majors holds him back for now, but he can force their hand.|
|Buster Posey||C||SF||3||High Class A||If you like Wieters this season, you will also like the prospects of Posey next spring.|
|Luke Hochevar||SP||KC||3||Triple-A||It will be better for him to potentially star in Triple-A than get beat up in the majors.|
|Daric Barton||1B||OAK||3||Triple-A||An awful rookie year made his spring demotion inevitable, if not anticipated.|
|Carlos Gonzalez||OF||COL||3||Triple-A||Dexter Fowler's great spring lead to Gonzalez's demotion, but don't give up on him.|
|Tom Gorzelanny||SP||PIT||2||Triple-A||The Pirates are likely giving him a kick in the pants by kicking him to the Triple-A curb.|
|Brett Wallace||3B||STL||2||Triple-A||Portly left-handed hitter never really was in the mix to start in St. Louis, but he will be.|
|Dayan Viciedo||3B||CHW||2||Double-A||He was intriguing this spring, but far too raw to really compete for a spot out of camp.|
|Lars Anderson||1B||BOS||2||Double-A||There is growing sentiment he can arrive in Boston this summer, but to play where?|
|J.R. Towles||C||HOU||2||Triple-A||Ivan Rodriguez's signing allows the Astros to give this disappointing prospect time.|
|Michael Bowden||SP||BOS||2||Triple-A||Most other teams in baseball would have a talent like this in their rotation already.|
|Brian Bannister||SP||KC||2||Triple-A||He has always been a little too wild, a little too hittable and a little too unpredictable.|
|Kila Ka'aihue||DH||KC||2||Triple-A||The trade for Mike Jacobs all but ruined Ka'aihue's prospects for this season.|
|Chris Tillman||SP||BAL||2||Triple-A||This high-90s arm will be one of the impact June 1 call-ups we get every summer.|
|Fernando Martinez||OF||NYM||2||Triple-A||At some point, the numbers need to start matching the hype; perhaps they will in '09.|
|Derek Holland||SP||TEX||2||Triple-A||Finally the Rangers are deep in pitching prospects; he could really be a winner later.|
|Wade Davis||SP||TB||2||Triple-A||A trade of Jason Hammel removed one blocker, but Price is a serious road block, too.|
|Aaron Poreda||SP||CHW||2||Triple-A||Another one of the potential June 1 gems. We aren't sure which vet gets hurt just yet.|
|Greg Smith||SP||COL||2||Triple-A||After his solid rookie year, we figured he was a rotation lock. He pitched his way out.|
|Max Ramirez||C||TEX||2||Triple-A||In an organization loaded with potent offensive catchers he is third on the list.|
|Justin Smoak||1B||TEX||2||Double-A||As if the Rangers need a future masher, Smoak is on the fast track to the majors.|
|Matt Antonelli||2B||SD||2||Triple-A||A terrible '08 is not forgotten, but we are not ready to give up on him at this thin position.|
|Jason Heyward||OF||ATL||2||High Class A||We don't see him becoming a second-half call-up, but this is a rare, rare talent.|
|Jonathon Niese||SP||NYM||2||Triple-A||He never really was in the Mets' rotation plans to start the season; he needs work.|
|Michael Moustakas||3B||KC||1||High Class A||With a big year, he could really make for an interesting decision on Alex Gordon.|
|Kevin Frandsen||2B||SF||1||Triple-A||Emmanuel Burriss beat him out, so there is no real reason to own him anymore.|
|Brett Cecil||SP||TOR||1||Triple-A||The injury-hit Blue Jays rotation could usher him to the majors == before he is ready.|
|Radhames Liz||SP||BAL||1||Triple-A||A move to the bullpen full time all but ruins his prospect status. Chris Ray will close.|
|Sean Rodriguez||2B||LAA||1||Triple-A||There is sneaky pop in this middle infielder's bat, but he needs an injury for a recall.|
|Jeremy Sowers||SP||CLE||1||Triple-A||Scott Lewis beat him out, but Sowers still will be a factor before this year is out.|
|Tim Beckham||SS||TB||1||Low Class A||The first player on this list to open in Low Class A. He needs a few years right now.|
|Brandon Jones||LF||ATL||1||Triple-A||We thought he could be a big league regular, but he looks like a career reserve now.|
|Jeremy Accardo||RP||TOR||1||Triple-A||Former fill-in closer didn't make the big league bullpen, so he shouldn't be owned.|
|Jarrod Parker||SP||ARI||1||High Class A||We wouldn't be surprised to see this elite talent rise to be an impact '09 call-up.|
|Sidney Ponson||SP||KC||1||Majors||He will be called up to start this weekend, but really why does anyone care?|
|Ian Kennedy||SP||NYY||1||Triple-A||He is lost in Yankees pitching purgatory right now, but he will be an ace some day.|
|Aaron Cunningham||OF||OAK||1||Triple-A||The A's have a slew of interchangeable parts in their outfield; Cunningham is another.|
|Yonder Alonso||1B||CIN||1||High Class A||The Hurricane will have a hard time pushing Joey Votto this year, but he can hit.|
|Junichi Tazawa||SP||BOS||1||Double-A||As if the Red Sox needed anymore pitching depth, they imported this prospect, too.|
|Adam Miller||SP||CLE||1||Injured||He has avoided career-threating surgery for now, but he will never start again.|
|Jake Arrieta||SP||BAL||1||Double-A||Bradley Bergesen and Tillman are ahead of him in the pecking order right now.|
|Scott Elbert||RP||LAD||1||Double-A||The Dodgers are not real deep in their rotation, so Elbert could see some starts.|
|Lou Marson||C||PHI||1||Triple-A||He is the Phillies' future behind the plate, but that future could be this second half.|
|Joe Mather||LF||STL||1||Triple-A||He was way ahead in the race to start at third, but David Freese lapped him late.|
|Logan Morrison||1B||FLA||1||Double-A||Future star likely will get a full season at Double-A behind Sanchez in Triple-A.|
|Collin Balester||SP||WAS||1||Triple-A||He was beaten out for a back-end rotation spot, but the Nats always need good arms.|
|Daniel Bard||SP||BOS||1||Triple-A||His position should be RP; this 100 mph arm is going to dazzle down the stretch.|
|Steve Pearce||RF||PIT||1||Triple-A||He was supposed to arrive years ago, so now he might never be a Fantasy option.|
|Angel Salome||C||MIL||1||Triple-A||Jason Kendall is old and mediocre; Salome has a bat that will play nicely in Fantasy.|
|Mark Prior||SP||SD||1||Injured||Remember this guy? We still hold out hope he can resurrect his lost career.|
|Chris Valaika||SS||CIN||1||Triple-A||It will be interesting to see if he gets off to a fast start and Alex Gonzalez struggles.|
|Kyle Blanks||1B||SD||1||Triple-A||Watch very closely how many games he plays in the outfield, because he can mash.|
|Jo-Jo Reyes||SP||ATL||1||Triple-A||The rebuilt Braves rotation has no need for him right now, but the arm is still there.|
|Adam Eaton||SP||BAL||1||Majors||He made the Orioles rotation and will be up to start this weekend. Who cares?|
|Jose Tabata||OF||PIT||1||Double-A||The story of his wife stealing a baby was a bizarre way for him to be in headlines.|
|Aaron Laffey||SP||CLE||1||Triple-A||Yet more rotation depth for the Indians. They will need it, unfortunately.|
|Kyle Kendrick||SP||PHI||1||Triple-A||Speaking of rotation depth: He is the defacto No. 6 starter for the Phillies now.|
|J.P. Arencibia||C||TOR||1||Triple-A||There is big-time power potential here. He should be the most-owned non-Wieters C.|
|Reid Brignac||SS||TB||1||Triple-A||Jason Bartlett was voted the Rays' MVP last season, so Brignac is blocked here.|
|David Huff||SP||CLE||1||Triple-A||Among the Indians' starting depth, Huff has the best chance to be a big-time ace.|
|Austin Jackson||OF||NYY||1||Triple-A||Great spring was nice to see, but the Yankees just have too many outfielders now.|
|Gregor Blanco||LF||ATL||1||Triple-A||Career reserve outfielder was owned because he might start; you can cut him now.|
|Josh Vitters||3B||CHC||1||Low Class A||Rumors swirled this California native was a key piece in the Jake Peavy trade talks.|
|Tyler Flowers||C||CHW||1||Double-A||There are some mashing catchers on the come, and this one can swing with any.|
|Chris C. Carter||1B||OAK||1||Double-A||Traded for Carlos Quentin and Dan Haren, this C. Carter has something to live up to.|
|Eric Hosmer||1B||KC||1||Low Class A||High school slugger will need at least three full minor league years before he is up.|
|Brian Matusz||SP||BAL||1||High Class A||Mat-uhz was the talk of Orioles camp, but he makes his pro debut back in Class A.|
|Jason Donald||SS||PHI||1||Triple-A||He tried to make the team as a utility man; in this organization that's all he is.|
|Jhoulys Chacin||SP||COL||1||Double-A||If you like Ubaldo Jimenez's developement, you should like the prospects of Chacin.|
|John Bowker||1B||SF||1||Triple-A||There was a time he seemed promising, but he looks like a career reserve now.|
|Timothy Alderson||SP||SF||1||High Class A||He will get overshadowed by Bumgarner, but they will be pushing each other to star.|
|Jonny Gomes||LF||CIN||1||Triple-A||He was owned because he could pop homers in Cincy; cut him as a Triple-A OF.|
|Angel Villalona||3B||SF||1||High Class A||We have never been as impressed as the scouts, but this could be a big year for him.|
|Lou Montanez||LF||BAL||1||Triple-A||If not for the Orioles depth of outfielders, Montanez could have been a nice sleeper.|
|Jose Ceda||RP||FLA||1||Double-A||He opens on the Double-A DL, so it is hard to see him closing for the Marlins this year.|
|Michael Stanton||OF||FLA||1||High Class A||He will be ready to star in Fantasy leagues right about the time the new park opens.|
|Jesus Montero||C||NYY||1||High Class A||Jorge Posada's heir apparent will get all of this year in the minors, barring an injury.|
|Carlos Santana||C||CLE||1||Double-A||Acquired last year for Casey Blake, Santana is among baseball's best C prospects.|
Top AL rookies to date
- Koji Uehara, RP, BAL -- A solid debut leads into sleeper two-start status for Fantasy Week 2 (April 13-19).
- Elvis Andrus, SS, TEX -- We didn't see a homer coming in the first week, but extraordinary talents do extraordinary things extraordinarily early.
- Travis Snider, OF, TOR -- He hasn't quite gotten off to the start teammate Adam Lind has, but Snider had a homer for himself, too.
- Trevor Cahill, SP, OAK -- The five walks were not great, but the next Brandon Webb will gain confidence and command as the season goes on.
- Ryan Perry, RP, DET -- His debut was quiet, but we have a conviction he will be a candidate to close for the Tigers before the end of the year.
- Honorable mentions: Rick Porcello, SP, DET; Chris Getz, 2B, CHW; Taylor Teagarden, C, TEX; Brett Gardner, OF, NYY; Jonathan Albaladejo, RP, NYY; Chris Jakubauska, RP, SEA and Clayton Richard, RP, CHW.
It should be noted Nick Adenhart would have topped this list if not for his tragic death Thursday morning. Adenhart was a talented AL Rookie of the Year candidate and was taken from his family, friends, teammates and the baseball world far too soon. We send our condolences.
Top NL rookies to date
- Jordan Schafer, OF, ATL -- We didn't think the power would come this quickly, and we're not sure we can expect it like this consistently.
- Travis Ishikawa, 1B, SF -- His minor league numbers were never great, but his spring was awesome and he didn't slow out of the gate.
- Dexter Fowler, OF, COL -- Another talented young spring surprise who showed power early in the first week. Add him in all Rotisserie leagues.
- Joe Thurston, 2B, STL -- Career journeyman finally gets a chance with the Cardinals. We're still trying to figure out how he is still rookie eligible.
- Colby Rasmus, OF, STL -- Immense long-term talent will have to compete for at-bats initially with some power Cardinals outfielders.
- Honorable mentions: David Freese, 3B, STL; Cameron Maybin, OF, FLA; Bobby Parnell, RP, NYM and Walter Silva, SP, SD.
Emack: Hanson is more of a knockout guy than Cahill, who is a sinker, groundball pitcher. Hanson is our choice and our preseason pick for NL Rookie of the Year honors, even though he is starting the year in the minor leagues.
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