We break down the top five prospects for each organization for 2010, taking into consideration: games, at-bats, innings and major-league service time. We expect these players to have rookie status remaining heading into next year.
According to MLB rules: "A player shall be considered a rookie unless, during a previous season or seasons, he has (a) exceeded 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the major leagues; or (b) accumulated more than 45 days on the active roster of a major league club or clubs during the period of 25-player limit (excluding time in the military service and time on the disabled list)."
Note: Statistics are those at each stop in the minors this season and age represents how old they will be on opening day 2010.
Kansas City Royals
Unless you're in a long-term keeper league, you didn't see much out of the Royals organization this season. They only had one rookie exhaust eligibility this season and only gave sparse time to four others. When the new regime took over, they vowed to run the system like they did with the Braves -- which means players spending their developmental years in the minors, not the majors. The Royals have some elite prospects, but you probably shouldn't anticipate them impacting the major leagues next season.
1. Aaron Crow, SP, 23
Crow could have been in the major leagues already if he hadn't spurned the Nationals in the 2008 First Year Player Draft. As it was, he took the year off -- sort, of, pitching in Independent Leagues a la Luke Hochevar -- and went 12th overall in this June's draft. The Royals got him signed and have a potential front-line starter in their midst. Crow went 13-0 with a 2.35 ERA and 127 strikeouts in his junior season with Missouri before being drafted the first time. His advanced age gives him a chance to move quickly but we have to figure the Royals will start him out in high Class A to his pro career. A good showing in the hitter-friendly Arizona Fall League (where No. 1 overall pick Stephen Strasburg is also headed) could earn him a ticket to Double-A, though.
2. Michael Montgomery, SP, 20
In most organizations, this lefty is a No. 1. Here, he is second or third fiddle. His age makes him unlikely to impact Fantasy leagues in 2010, but he sure doesn't look far from the major leagues after dominating high Class A in nine starts: 4-1, 2.25 ERA, 46 strikeouts with a .196 BAA in 52 innings. Between low and high Class A, he went (6-4)-2.21-98-.201 in 110 innings. He could open the year in Double-A, but the aforementioned Royals patience likely keeps him in the minors all of next season. He has the potential to be a good one, especially when you consider the fire that comes with him. Baseball America said he was kicked off his high school basketball team due to a propensity for technical fouls.
3. Michael Moustakas, 3B, 21
The Southern Carlifornia prospect didn't set high Class A on fire, but he remains a potential slugging third base star long term. He hit just .250 with 16 homers, 86 RBI, 66 runs, 10 steals with a .297 OBP and a .421 SLUG. There were 32 doubles in there, though, so his power potential is apparent, even if his consistency isn't. He will likely open the season in Double-A, but it will be hard to imagine the Royals rushing their 2007 early first round pick to the major leagues anytime next season.
4. Eric Hosmer, 1B, 20
As of this writing, he was still a teenager, so just the fact the slow-moving Royals progressed him up to high Class A is noteworthy. His first full season in the minors hardly was, though. He combined to go just .241-6-59-40-3 (.334, .361) in 377 at-bats between low and high Class A. Hosmer is years away from making a real Fantasy impact -- especially at that position -- but he is still a viable stashee in long-term keeper leagues if you have the time and patience.
5. Tim Melville, SP, 20
The 2008 fourth-round pick had first-round ability, according to Baseball America, but a disappointing senior season cost him some money and an earlier draft slot. He showed well in his pro debut this season, going (7-7)-3.79-96-.245 in 97 1/3 low Class A innings. His age and lack of experience means he is at least a few years away from making a Fantasy impact, but he is a decent flier in long-term keeper formats.
Best of the rest: Daniel Duffy, SP; Kila Ka'aihue, 1B; Carlos Rosa, RP; Johnny Giavotella, 2B; Jeff Bianchi, SS; Tyler Sample, SP; Chris Dwyer, SP; Blake Wood, SP; Sam Runion, SP; John Bannister, RP; David Lough, OF; Adrian Ortiz, OF; Luis Coleman, SP; Juan Abreu, RP; William Myers, C; Dusty Hughes, SP; Keaton Hayenga, SP; Carlos Fortuna, SP; Kelvin Herrera, SP; Henry Barrera, RP; Derrick Robinson, OF; John Lamb, SP; Jose Bonilla, C; Salvador Perez, C; Gilbert De La Vara, RP; Yowill Espinal, SS; Jason Taylor, 1B; Joe Dickerson, OF; Matt Mitchell, SP; and Geulin Beltre, OF;
2009 rookies to exhaust eligibility (expected): Mitch Maier, OF.
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