The minor-league seasons will be wrapping up in a month and most of Fantasy impact rookies and prospects are either here now -- (Domonic Brown, OF, PHI; and J.P. Arencibia, C, TOR) or soon to be on their way (Mike Minor, SP, ATL). More will be arriving by September, including the likes of Jeremy Hellickson, SP, TB; Yunesky Maya, SP, WAS; Aroldis Chapman, RP, CIN; Chris V. Carter, 1B, OAK; Freddie Freeman, 1B, ATL and Jared Goedert, 3B, CLE.
You shouldn't give up scouring the most-owned minor-leaguers on CBSSports.com or taking the chance on the hot rookies as stopgaps in mixed leagues during Fantasy crunch time, particularly those aforementioned ones.
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But we will start looking ahead to 2011 in our Prospects Report by taking time out of the stretch run to highlight an early top 25 prospects for next season. Our list will include only the current minor-leaguers who retain rookie eligibility for next season. (Sorry, there is no Justin Smoak here.)
This list will change, most notably if Minor surpasses the 50-inning requirement for rookie pitcher status. We tend to doubt Arencibia will get the necessary 130 at-bats for hitters either.
The 2009 first-round pick Minor is going to start Monday for the Braves -- over veteran Kenshin Kawakami, mind you -- as the Braves' Kris Medlen sits in Dr. James Andrews/Tommy John surgery purgatory with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament. Most young arms merely go right to the knife. Veterans like Joe Nathan wait a few weeks just in case they can pitch through the pain. Medlen likely will wind up needing the surgery, which could knock him out for the entire 2011 season. Kawakami heads back to the minors for now to get stretched out in case Minor isn't capable of dealing to the wire for the contending Braves.
Regardless of that, Minor is a primo addition in all leagues now and beyond -- even if Baseball America has been a bit stingy and stubborn with ranking him among the elite prospects of baseball. We can't blame them: All of us didn't see fellow 2009 first-rounder Mike Leake making a Fantasy splash as quickly as he did.
This continual flood of young talent to the major leagues is a function of the down economy, where teams would prefer to get a look at their affordable farmhand over the pricy veteran. It has made the minors a bit less stacked, according to scouts, but there is always someone intriguing enough to consider further down on the depth chart assembly line.
|1||Bryce Harper||OF||WAS||18||0||Unsigned||High Class A|
|We fully expect the Nationals to get him signed before the mid-August deadline, which will make him No. 1.|
|We are surprised BA doesn't like him more toward the top, but he has come around in Triple-A.|
|He is one of the biggest busts in 2010 because his owners didn't get anything out of him, but he's still elite.|
|He earned more starts, but it is likely he will finish under 50 innings this season and still be rookie eligible.|
|5||Mike Trout||OF||LAA||19||7||High Class A||Double-A|
|We would have liked to see better numbers in the hitter-friendly California League, but he is still rising fast.|
|6||Chris V. Carter||1B||OAK||24||13||Triple-A||Majors|
|A right-handed Ryan Howard has improved his AVG and K-BB rate in a great second half; might arrive in OF, too.|
|We cannot believe BA doesn't like this guy more either; he will be called up for Monday's start.|
|OK, we relent, his ceiling is really, really high -- but we still like the polished Minor over him in the Braves' system, though.|
|The Braves are considering him right now with Troy Glaus struggling. We love how his power has come on.|
|10||Yunesky Maya||SP||WAS||29||7||Low Class A||Majors|
|We're probably giving Cuba's Cy Young winner too much credit too soon, but his 2010 arrival will decide his spot.|
|The Mariners have plenty of room in their rotation and they weren't afraid to slot a young King Felix years ago.|
|This 2008 high school pick has exploded this season, giving him some legit long-term Fantasy star potential.|
|The highest carryover on this list from the preseason has had disappointing HR numbers (due to wrist injury).|
|We would have him higher on the list if the Blue Jays showed enough faith to move him to Triple-A.|
|Power wasn't there in Year 1 as a pro, but everything else has looked good after a long, slow start this season.|
|You have to love the power arm, Neftali Feliz-style, but the same questions linger about his future role.|
|We thought Aaron Crow might be better among Royals SP prospects, but this season has changed our mind.|
|Speaking of quick-rising Royals prospects that have lapped Crow, Lamb is a steal from Round 5 in 2008.|
|19||Jameson Taillon||SP||PIT||19||0||Unsigned||Low Class A|
|Yes, he is a Pirates pitching prospect -- usually a bad, bad thing -- but he is a rare one with a sky-high ceiling.|
|He has restored his status with a much better second half, but we still don't see him opening 2011 in New York.|
|His stock is rising quickly. He could push for a rotation spot in 2011 and be one of those instant Fantasy aces.|
|The stigma of coming up with the Padres has a new value; it's always a pitcher's place, but it's a contender, too!|
|Rickie Weeks is going to be locked up long term, so this former catcher might need to find another position.|
|His low ranking is a function of the O's disappointments in Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman and Jake Arrieta to date.|
|25||Tyler Matzek||SP||COL||20||5||Low Class A||High Class A|
|He is probably the longest away from the majors on this list, but he is still talented enough to track long term.|
If we had to nominate a No. 26 -- and we suppose we just did and have to because Minor is getting the call while this column is being consumed -- it would be Matt Moore, SP, TB. He is a strikeout machine.
There are some prospects that some other services like more than we do, mostly because of modest 2010 seasons: Yonder Alonso, 1B, CIN; Martin Perez, SP, TEX; Casey Kelly, SP, BOS; Aaron Hicks, OF, MIN; Michael Taylor, OF, OAK and Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B, CLE.
Also, we previously had these prospects high in our 2010 preseason Top 100 prospects, but they have disappointed this year, too, or just missed the cut: Christian Friedrich, SP, COL; Jared Mitchell, OF, CHW; Todd Frazier, OF, CIN.
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