Tag:NL East
Posted on: March 2, 2011 2:47 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2011 4:44 pm

Which top prospects could impact majors in 2011?

By Evan Brunell

CBSSports.com's Top 100 prospect list is out, casting light on players that will eventually become household names. But until that happens, these prospects need to tap into their potential and prove they can hack it at the big league level.

Below is a list of top prospects that could make an impact on the majors in 2011. Before getting into the list, "impact" is defined as those who are projected to break camp with the team and play an important role with the club. Others, such as Jesus Montero, Dustin Ackley, Brandon Belt, all will have an impact once the hit the majors -- but that's likely to come in the summer months, and are listed at the end of the article.

BrownNo. 3. Domonic Brown, PHI
Age (all ages as of April 1, 2011): 23
Position: RF
Bats/Throws: L/L

Brown is battling for the starting right field job and although Ben Francisco is proving to be a stiffer challenger than thought, Brown will still get ample opportunites in the majors. There's some thought he could return to Triple-A, but he has nothing left to prove at that level and progression will only come with playing time in the bigs. Philly may have to swallow hard and deal with the growing pains, but the payoff will eventually be huge.

HellicksonNo. 6. Jeremy Hellickson, TB
Age: 23
Position: SP
Bats/Throws: R/R

Hellickson could step in and replace Matt Garza without batting an eye, as the youngster is fully prepared to pitch in the cauldron that is the AL East. Hellickson will turn 24 on April 8, but already has 36 1/3 innings of major league experience under his belt. He walked just eight (plus two intentional) plus whiffing 33, which is an impressive debut but only underscores just how ready he is for prime time.

ChapmanNo. 9. Aroldis Chapman, CIN
Age: 23
Position: RP
Bats/Throws: L/L

Chapman won't be closing in Cincinnati, but will put pressure on Francisco Cordero as the setup man. We all saw what Chapman could do last season and he should continue to baffle hitters. The Reds considered making him a starter but opted to keep him in the bullpen which may unfortunately preclude a move to the rotation. It is difficult for teams justify moving young players that succeed in the 'pen back to the rotation.

DrabekNo. 16. Kyle Drabek, TOR
Age: 23
Position: SP
Bats/Throws: R/R

Of all the names on this list, Drabek has the most tenuous hold on a roster spot but the team seems excited about his potential and wouldn't rule out a run at 200 innings. He shouldn't have too much trouble cracking the rotation and even if he starts in Triple-A, it won't be for long. One can't project Drabek to replace the man he was traded for (Roy Halladay), but he should eventually anchor the rotation.

FreemanNo. 19. Freddie Freeman, ATL
Age: 21
Position: 1B
Bats/Throws: L/R

As mentioned in the Top 100 list, Freeman lacks the ceiling of other first baseman such as No. 18's Brandon Belt, but is ready for the majors now and is locked in at first base. He figures to have a couple All-Star appearances in his future but not much beyond that. He should settle in as a valuable first baseman over his first six years, largely thanks to being under team control.

MinorNo. 29. Mike Minor, ATL
Age: 22
Position: SP
Bats/Throws: R/L

Minor doesn't have the ceiling of other top pitching prospects (similar to Freeman and first base), but he's also ready for the majors and was noticeably effective in the majors last season before he tired and lost velocity at the end of the season. If Minor can withstand the rigors of a full 162-game season, he should be an excellent No. 4-5 starter for the Braves, with the potential of more.

SaleNo. 33. Chris Sale, CHW
Age: 22
Position: RP
Bats/Throws: L/L

Sale is similar to Chapman in that he could start, but the White Sox have opted to keep Sale in the bullpen. He could vulture a few saves, but Matt Thornton is still expected to be the closer. That opens the door for Sale to play an important role in the late innings. He may be asked to switch to the rotation for 2012.

DominguezNo. 66. Matt Dominguez, FLA
Age: 21
Position: 3B
Bats/Throws: R/R

Dominguez can't quite hit, but boy, he can sure pick it. Already compared to Mike Lowell at the tender age of 21, Dominguez is expected to open the year at third for the Marlins. It appears Florida understands Dominguez will be a non-factor on offense and is willing to take that risk. But why start the service clock of an impact player when he could use more seasoning? Dominguez will never be a great hitter, but an extra year in the minors could go a long way. Read more from Scott Miller.

ArencibiaNo. 71. J.P. Arencibia, TOR
Age: 25
Position: C
Bats/Throws: R/R

Arencibia had quite an introduction to Toronto, but quickly faded after inconsistent playing time. Now finally handed to the keys to the starting job, there appears to be no question that Arencibia can hit. Catching, however, is another matter. The Jays have a couple other catchers in the system that could supplant Arencibia before long, which would shift the 25-year-old to first base or DH.

KimbrelNo. 85. Craig Kimbrel, ATL
Age: 22
Position: RP
Bats/Throws: R/R

Kimbrel is the favorite to open the year as closer, although he may share time with Jonny Venters. Kimbrel posted a ridiculous strikeout rate last year and could quickly rise up the ranks of top closers. Carlos Marmol has proven that walking a ton of batters is OK as a closer as long as you strike out players, bit still, Kimbrel could stand to improve in that area.

EspinosaNo. 86. Danny Espinosa, WAS
Age: 23
Position: 2B
Bats/Throws: S/R

A converted second baseman, Espinosa will start alongside Ian Desmond for the Nationals. He showed intriguing power in his 112-plate appearance look in 2010, but probably showed more power than he will produce over a longer season. The bright side? His .214 batting average was an anomaly. The jury is still out on just how good he can be at the major-league level and it appears likely he will eventually settle in as the top infield option off the bench, although he'll get every chance to prove he can be more.

McGeeNo. 95. Jake McGee, TB
Age: 24
Position: RP
Bats/Throws: L/L

McGee has to be considered the odds-on favorite to emerge as long-term closer of Tampa, but will start off setting up whoever wins the gig -- likely Kyle Farnsworth (cringe). McGee has excellent stuff and could have played well in the rotation, but the Rays moved him given his injury and durability issues. He's just as good a bet as Chapman, Sale and Kimbrel on this list to have a nice, long career as closer.

No. 4 Jesus Montero, NYY catcher... No. 8 Dustin Ackley, SEA second baseman... No. 14 Zack Britton, BAL starter... No. 18 Brandon Belt, SF first baseman/left fielder... No. 37 Kyle Gibson, MIN starter... No. 52 Simon Castro, SD starter... No. 57 Yonder Alonso, CIN first baseman/left fielder... No. 74 Chris Carter, OAK first baseman... No. 79 Hank Conger, LAA catcher... No. 82 Zach Stewart, TOR starter... No. 92 Jordan Walden, Angels reliever... No. 96 Brent Morel, CHW third baseman... No. 99 Jeremy Jeffress, KC reliever.

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Posted on: March 1, 2011 3:37 pm

Mets reportedly seeking more loans

Posted by Matt Snyder

One year after accepting around $430 million in loans, the New York Mets are looking for another loan to cover their "basic operating expenses," according to the New York Post .

As is pretty common knowledge at this point, the Mets face financial difficulties due mostly to investments made by owner Fred Wilpon with Bernie Madoff in the notorious Ponzi scheme.

The Post estimates that the team has a $505 million debt at this point, but considering the franchise is worth about $800 million, it's conceivable the Mets could get more loans.

The bottom line here is that -- similar to the Dodgers, though for completely different reasons altogether -- the Mets' financial situation is a mess. What should be one of the league's marquee money-makers is having issues due to something completely unrelated to baseball.

There's a long way to go before everything gets sorted out with loans, investors and new ownership groups, so there's no telling how the situation might possibly affect the future of the team. It's probably safe to say the Mets won't be actively adding payroll anytime soon, that much is for sure.

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Category: MLB
Tags: Mets, NL East
Posted on: March 1, 2011 1:32 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2011 1:33 pm

K-Rod scratched Tuesday at his request

Posted by Matt Snyder

Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez was scheduled to make his spring training debut Tuesday, but there has been a change in plans.

Apparently, "K-Rod," who had to travel back to New York this past weekend for a Monday court appearance, didn't find out he was on the pitching schedule until arriving back at camp Tuesday morning. He notified manager Terry Collins he'd rather have a couple days worth of bullpens before taking the mound in game action. So his debut should come either Thursday or Friday, assuming there are no more surprise schedule incidents. (New York Post )

Rodriguez had to fly back to New York in order to provide the court with proper updates on his required anger management counseling sessions.

The 29 year old is looking to return from a season-ending injury and arrest last August -- over an altercation with the father of his children's mother. He had saved 25 games and had a 2.20 ERA with 67 strikeouts in 57 1/3 innings.

Rodriguez is entering what could be the final year of his contract, if he doesn't finish 55 games. If he does, he will earn $17.5 million next season. Needless to say, there's quite a bit of incentive to get himself ready for a full season of health and void of off-field issues.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: February 28, 2011 6:42 pm

Stanton, Hart sidelined for 2 weeks

Posted by C. Trent Rosecrans

Mike StantonSpring is a time for minor injuries that could become bigger. For now, don't panic if you're a Marlins fan or Brewers fan... but don't totally dismiss spring injuries, some can linger all season. Both Marlins right fielder Mike Stanton and Brewers right fielder Corey Hart will miss the next two weeks.

Stanton suffered a strained right quad on Sunday and after the game told reporters he was out for two weeks. He told reporters on Monday that he felt better, but manager Edwin Rodriguez said the team will be very cautious with his return.

"He came in today, and he felt better," Rodriguez said, via MLB.com. "But still, it's too early to tell. The trainers are going to wait two or three more days to see how he feels. Then, he will have a better idea of how serious the injury is."

As for Hart, his injury may be more serious. Hart was hurt in a throwing drill on Saturday and will now spend the next two weeks resting a strained oblique muscle on his left side.

"[Dr. Craig Young] said we would probably push it a little harder if we were in the middle of the season, but there's no reason to push it right now," Hart said told MLB.com. "We're going to try easing in so we don't have any setbacks at all."

Oblique injuries have become more commonly diagnosed the last couple of years and have seemed to have be a lingering type thing. A big part of it is because that muscle is used in so many parts of baseball, from swinging to throwing and everything in-between. That said, it seems the Brewers are out in front of this one and hopefully it won't linger into the season.

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Posted on: February 28, 2011 3:13 pm
Edited on: February 28, 2011 4:54 pm

The Bryce Harper era is upon us

Bryce HarperPosted by C. Trent Rosecrans

The Bryce Harper era has begun -- wtih of all things, a pinch-running appearance. The 18-year old pinch-ran for Matt Stairs in the fifth inning of the Nationals-Mets exhibition on Monday and stayed in the game as DH, batting fifth.

For the record, Stairs debuted in the big leagues five months before Harper was born.

Harper, the No. 1 pick in last year's draft, is the game's top prospect. Although he's not expected to start the season with the Nationals -- or even play in the majors this season, he'll certainly be the most closely-watched minor leaguer in the Grapefruit League this year.

Now, we're not going to update Harper's every move here, but his first game and his first at-bat seem rather interest-worthy, so I'll update it when he does come up to the plate. And for those of you with the MLB At-Bat app for your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad, you can watch the game streaming live.

UPDATE: After Michael Morse went deep to give the Nationals a 7-3 lead, Harper struck out on three pitches against Mets left-hander Taylor Tankersley. Harper fouled off the first pitch he saw before swinging through the next two pitches.

UPDATE: Michael Morse is stealing the show from Haper, homering again against Mets right-hander Ryota Igarashi before Harper came to the plate. Harper, again, struck out. This time on four pitches.

UPDATE: And here's what Harper had to say, via Twitter, about his first big league-ish at-bats:

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com