Our second minor league column will focus on the Top 10 prospects from each of the three Double-A Leagues. After last weeks column I had some requests to do top ten’s instead of all-star teams. So, I hope you enjoy the one below. As always, please email me with any fantasy or minor league questions at the address below. Also, do not forget to look for Friday’s fantasy column about Sleeper Infielders for the Second Half.
Austin Jackson CF (Yankees, Trenton): Jackson has improved in just about every facet of his game this year. Jackson is the Yankees first legitimate big-time prospect in awhile. If they can keep from dealing him this year he could help them as soon as next year.
Wes Hodges 3B (Indians, Akron): Hodges is the Indians third baseman of the future. The Indians hope that he can develop into the player they wanted Andy Marte to be a few years ago. Hodges has taken a huge step forward this year, especially in power. He could be up as soon as the second half of next year, but for sure at the start of 2010.
Fernando Martinez CF (Mets, Binghamton): Martinez is one of the youngest prospects at Double-A. He has proven to be more than equal despite missing time with a hamstring injury. Martinez had a solid spring and could have a debut similar to Jay Bruce (timing, not necessarily numbers) next year.
Travis Snider RF (Blue Jays, New Hampshire): After starting the year at High-A Snider has been promoted and torn up Double-A. Snider is an excellent offensive prospect that should challenge for a spot in Toronto’s outfield sometime in the second half of next year.
Michael Bowden SP (Red Sox, Portland): Bowden has been dominant in the first half. He is another in a long line of top tier pitching prospects developed by the Red Sox. Bowden could be a major part of any Red Sox trade, so be careful if your league is an AL only league.
Chris Tillman SP (Orioles, Bowie): Tillman has been just short of Bowden in the first half. He came over in deal for Eric Bedard, and he should prove to be a valuable asset as a number three starter with a chance to be a number two. Tillman should be able to help the O’s at some point next year.
Carlos Carrasco SP (Phillies, Reading): Carrasco entered the year as one of the top pitching prospects in the NL. He has not been overpowering in the first half, but he has been solid. He is just 21 years old and the Phillies hope he develops into a top of the rotation starter.
Lou Marson C (Phillies, Reading): Marson has had a very productive first half. He should be a solid offensive catcher at the major league level. Marson may force the Phillies to make a decision about Carlos Ruiz early in 2010.
Mike Carp 1B (Mets, Binghamton): Carp is a solid left-handed batter with a good eye. Carp is having a better year than Nick Evans (below), and depending on what happens with Carlos Delgado they could platoon for New York some next year and in 2010. Both Carp and Evans will need to develop to provide any long-term value.
Nick Evans 1B (Mets, Binghamton): Evans is basically a right-handed hitting version of Carp. He is a year younger than Carp and has an outside chance to be a solid .300/25 homer type player for the Mets, depending on the new ballpark. Whether he can develop his offensive potential will determine his long-term value. He got a chance to come up briefly this year, and could push for some playing time sometime in 2010.
AA Top Prospects - Southern League
Cameron Maybin CF (Marlins, Carolina): The minor’s best overall prospect has steadily improved over the course of the first half. He has improved his plate discipline this year, which was his biggest shortcoming. Chances are that he will play for the Marlins at some point during the second half.
Matt LaPorta LF (Brewers, Huntsville): Probably the best power prospect at Double-A. LaPorta will either be the Brewers left fielder next year or a key piece in a deal to help the Brewers win this year. LaPorta will be as good a bet as anybody to win next year’s Rookie of the Year.
Mat Gamel 3B (Brewers, Huntsville): Gamel is arguably the player of the year in the first half’s for the entire minor leagues. He has been amazing. The only negative to Gamel is he is as bad defensively as he is good offensively. He may be forced to move to the outfield. That fact makes him another Brewer who could move before the trade deadline.
Jordan Schafer CF (Braves, Mississippi): Schafer has bounced back nicely from his steroid suspension. He has played well enough to quash questions of his prospect status without steroids. Schafer should have a good chance to help the Braves next year.
Chris Coghlan 2B (Marlins, Carolina): Coghlan has taken a big step forward this year. He should push Dan Uggla to third base as early as next year. Coghlan should prove to be an excellent number two or six hitter for the Marlins for years to come.
Chris Volstad SP (Marlins, Carolina): Volstad has jumped ahead of both Wade Davis and Jacob McGee in Tampa this year. After an outstanding Spring Training in which he almost made the Marlins he has been excellent at Carolina and should help the Marlins in the second half.
Wade Davis SP (Rays, Montgomery): The first of back-to-back Rays pitching prospects. Davis is more polished than Jacob McGee and could help the Rays in the second-half. He projects as a solid number two starter and should be very good pretty early in his career. The Rays are an excellent team at developing offensive prospects and what happens with Davis and McGee will go along way to determining whether or not the organization has long-term success.
Jacob McGee SP (Rays, Montgomery): See above. McGee should be ready next year and could prove to be part of an excellent four-man rotation along with Davis, Scott Kazmir, and James Shields.
Tommy Hanson SP (Braves, Mississippi): Hanson has taken a good step forward this year. He is a little wild, but as his no-hitter last week will attest he can pitch. Hanson throws a lot of fly balls, but he should be able to pitch around them in Atlanta and turn into a solid number three starter.
Angel Salome C (Brewers, Huntsville): Salome has exploded offensively this year. He is a solid defensive catcher who will probably make his debut sometime next year. Salome has a chance to be very good offensively, but could also be a part of a trade to compete this year.
AA Top Prospects - Texas League
Dexter Fowler CF (Rockies, Tulsa): Fowler seems to have taken the step from toolsy to legitimate prospect this year. He has been outstanding and should be ready to replace Willy Tavares by 2010.
Elvis Andrus SS (Rangers, Frisco): Andrus came into the year with continuing questions about whether he would put his offensive tools together. He has continued to improve. Despite an injury he has proven his offensive progression is for real. Considering how weak shortstop is in the AL he could be a real fantasy stud.
Bryan Anderson C (Cardinals, Springfield): Anderson has recently been promoted to Triple-A, proving he is almost ready. He was dominant during the first half at Double-A. Anderson could be an adequate offensive catcher at the major league level today and should be well above average in time. However, with Yadier Molina a superior catcher defensively he made need a trade to get a chance.
Will Inman SP (Padres, San Antonio): Inman was acquired in the Scott Linebrink deal last year. He has developed much more quickly than the Brewers believed he would. Inman has a chance to be as high as a number two starter. He is a left-hander who throws a great deal of fly balls, perfect for the cavernous Petco Park.
Kyle Blanks 1B (Padres, San Antonio): Blanks is a big time power prospect that is blocked by Adrian Gonzalez. He may force the Padres hand pretty soon as he is pounding Double-A. Blanks is a potential 30-homer guy at the major-league level, even in San Diego.
Trevor Cahill SP (Athletics, Midland): Cahill is this high on the list due to his ultra fast movement. After dominating High A the 20 year old has been just as good in a couple starts at Midland. He projects as a potential number one starter and should continue to move quickly.
Chad Huffman RF (Padres, San Antonio): Huffman is a workman type outfielder that does nothing great but everything well. Huffman could be a fine doubles type outfielder with a high OBP in the mammoth Petco Park. He should move quickly for the offensively starved Padres.
Daniel Cortes SP (Royals, Northwest Arkansas): Cortes is a big powerful right-hander who should move quickly for the Royals. He has a chance to be a top of the rotation pitcher. The Royals hope to pair him with Luke Hochevar sometime during the second half of 2009 or the start of 2010.
John Jay LF (Cardinals, Springfield): Jay has come on big time this year for the Cards. He has shown a great deal of improvement, especially in power. He projects as a doubles hitter with gaps power and should progress quickly in the Cards system. Jay looks like he should be ready in 2010 to help the Cards and Tony LaRussa’s confusing outfield rotation.
Aaron Cunningham LF (Athletics, Midland): Cunningham is very similar to Huffman, but has a few more players in the way than Huffman does. Another player brought over in the deal for Dan Haren he has a chance to be a quality left fielder in the Billy Beane mold.
Now that I have the Top 10’s up I must add a few thoughts. First, the Southern League is by far the strongest for prospects, especially offensively. I was forced to leave off solid prospects like Gerardo Parra OF (D’Backs), Donald Veal SP (Cubs), and Alcides Escobar SS (Brewers), along with several others that would have made the other leagues Top 10’s. It must also be understood that because I am basing this on a mix between fantasy leagues and actual leagues I give favor to offense over pitching. Although, I would argue that when rating prospects one should always favor offense over pitching as it is easier to predict and plays everyday. Positions also play into my rankings, as well as need, and path to the majors. That said, I hope you enjoy the Top 10’s, and I will be back next week with High-A’s Top 10’s.