Prospects Report: Who might get attention in 2011

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 or taking the chance on the hot rookies as stopgaps in mixed leagues during Fantasy crunch time, particularly those aforementioned ones.

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.

Early 2011 Top 25 prospects
RK Player POS TM AGE Own% Level 2011 start
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.
2 Mike Moustakas 3B KC 22 12 Triple-A Majors
We are surprised BA doesn't like him more toward the top, but he has come around in Triple-A.
3 Aroldis Chapman SP CIN 22 37 Triple-A Majors
He is one of the biggest busts in 2010 because his owners didn't get anything out of him, but he's still elite.
4 Jeremy Hellickson SP TB 23 37 Triple-A Majors
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.
7 Mike Minor SP ATL 23 10 Triple-A Majors
We cannot believe BA doesn't like this guy more either; he will be called up for Monday's start.
8 Julio Teheran SP ATL 19 7 Double-A Triple-A
OK, we relent, his ceiling is really, really high -- but we still like the polished Minor over him in the Braves' system, though.
9 Freddie Freeman 1B ATL 21 7 Triple-A Majors
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.
11 Michael Pineda SP SEA 21 9 Triple-A Majors
The Mariners have plenty of room in their rotation and they weren't afraid to slot a young King Felix years ago.
12 Eric Hosmer 1B KC 20 5 Double-A Triple-A
This 2008 high school pick has exploded this season, giving him some legit long-term Fantasy star potential.
13 Desmond Jennings OF TB 24 22 Triple-A Majors
The highest carryover on this list from the preseason has had disappointing HR numbers (due to wrist injury).
14 Kyle Drabek SP TOR 23 15 Double-A Majors
We would have him higher on the list if the Blue Jays showed enough faith to move him to Triple-A.
15 Dustin Ackley 2B SEA 22 12 Triple-A 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.
16 Tanner Scheppers SP TEX 23 6 Triple-A Majors
You have to love the power arm, Neftali Feliz-style, but the same questions linger about his future role.
17 Michael Montgomery SP KC 21 6 Double-A Triple-A
We thought Aaron Crow might be better among Royals SP prospects, but this season has changed our mind.
18 John Lamb SP KC 20 2 Double-A Triple-A
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.
20 Jesus Montero C NYY 21 15 Triple-A Triple-A
He has restored his status with a much better second half, but we still don't see him opening 2011 in New York.
21 Kyle Gibson SP MIN 23 4 Double-A Triple-A
His stock is rising quickly. He could push for a rotation spot in 2011 and be one of those instant Fantasy aces.
22 Simon Castro SP SD 22 3 Double-A Triple-A
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!
23 Brett Lawrie 2B MIL 20 6 Double-A Triple-A
Rickie Weeks is going to be locked up long term, so this former catcher might need to find another position.
24 Zach Britton SP BAL 23 5 Triple-A Triple-A
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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Crave freelancer Eric Mack is a writer, radio producer, and podcaster based in Taos, N.M., but he lives in Google+. He's also managing editor of Full Bio

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