Baseball has long been called a kid's game. For awhile it had become nothing more than a business and a sport made up of bulging he-men with massive biceps and shrunken testicles.
But now it seems the kids are back in vogue. The game is being dominated more and more by the under 30 crowd and more talented prospects are being uncovered and called up from the minors everyday.
So, for this weeks Hot 8, I decided to feature some of my favorite youngsters who will make the most fantasy impact over the rest of this season.
You will notice that some of these guys have already been called up while a few are still dominating the minor leagues.
1) Mat Gamel (3B/Outfield) - Brewers
Nobody doubts that Mat Gamel will be a very good major league hitter. He has a quick-compact swing, patience, power and an unusual ability to destroy left handed pitching which is so rare for a young left-handed hitter.
The only doubt about Gamel is what position he can play in the big leagues? He has committed 84 errors in two season at the hot corner. No matter how good his bat is the Brewers cannot afford that kind of defense out of him.
His natural position seems to be 1B or obviously as a DH which is why I do not completely rule out a trade to an American League team. Gamel will DH against AL teams during inter-league play and will see time at both 1B and 3B during this season.
If he hits the way he is capable, then he will be in the lineup. Having a Ryan Braun/Prince Fielder/Matt Gamel middle of the order would elevate the Brewers to a whole new level offensively.
The upside is too great for any fantasy player to ignore Matt Gamel. Manager Ken Macha says, "He's one of our best prospects, 23 years old, so he's not going to sit on the bench."
Therefore, Gamel has the most fantasy potential of any prospect that has been or will be called up this season.
2) Kris Medlen (RHP - Starter) - Braves
Many people thought I was nuts when just a few weeks ago I said that Kris Medlen would be called up before the great Tommy Hanson.
Now that Medlen has taken the rotation spot of Jo Jo Reyes it will be up to him to hold onto this opportunity for the duration of the season. That means holding off the temptation that is Tommy Hanson.
Medlen doesn't have a dominating fastball but does feature a plus curve that he changes speed on. What he will need to do is be able to use his developing changeup to get major league lefties out.
He used this changeup to cruise to a 5-0 record with a 1.19 ERA, 0.83 WHIP and 44 K's in 37 1/3 innings. His control is great which means that changing speeds on all of his pitches will be a must.
Medlen was at one point being groomed as a late inning setup man or closer but worked his way into the rotation due to a bulldog like mentality. This guy is a big time competitor with great passion for the game and a desire to be dominant.
3) Gerardo Parra (Outfield) - Diamondbacks
In case you haven't noticed, a change has come in Arizona. Bob Melvin was fired and replaced with a very controversial selection in A.J. Hinch.
Hinch was the head of the D-Backs player development and it should be of no surprise to any of us that Arizona has been pulling players from all over their organization to try and help the disaster in the desert.
Parra is a real exciting player. He makes solid contact every time he hits the ball. He has great ability to square the barrel of the bat on the ball and line hits to all fields.
Parra is not a great power threat but will be around a 10-15 HR guy in the big leagues. He also has above average speed and will likely steal close to 20 bases any given year.
Of all the Arizona call-ups, I think Parra will be one who will stick. Chris Young has good power and speed but his lack of contact and OBP has fallen out of favor with the new system the D-Backs are moving towards.
Parra offers a much more stable, usable bat and thus will see himself plenty of time in the starting lineup the rest of year.
4) Clay Buchholz (RHP - Starter) - Red Sox
How can Boston ignore Buchholz any longer? You can have your Brad Penny's, Tim Wakefield's and even Jon Lester's but Buchholz has the best stuff of any Red Sox pitcher not named Josh Beckett.
I understand that Dice-K is coming back soon and will certainly jump right back into the starting rotation. But Buchholz is simply dominating at AAA Pawtucket with a 2-0 record, 1.03 ERA, 0.72 WHIP and 37 K's in 35 IP.
This is a kid who has already threw a no-hitter in the big leagues and has just no business being in the minors. The Red Sox will make a trade shortly that will either involve Buchholz or clear the way for him to join their rotation.
Either way, I have no doubts that Buchholz will be a top-of-the-rotation starter for any team in the very near future.
5) Luke Hochevar (RHP - Starter) - Royals
Don't worry about his miserable season debut against the A's this week. Sure it was bad and it will be interesting to see how Hochevar bounces back but I have no doubt in him making an impact this season.
This is another guy with little to prove in the minor leagues and as long as the Royals are contending for the AL Central Division they will need Hochevar to round out their rotation.
With Gil Meche and Zach Grienke in place to learn from I believe Hochevar will shake of some of a slow start to be a big contributor down the stretch.
His two seam fastball has a natural sink which produces great ground ball/flyball ratio's and will help at times where he struggles with control. He needs to not over-throw his 12-6 curveball which he was doing at times last season.
6) Nolan Reimold (Outfield) - Orioles
He is too old and too talented to spend another minute on the minor leagues. Felix Pie had plenty of opportunities to show what he can do in spring training and the first six weeks of the season.
Reimold is a great example of the new generation of power hitters working their way up. He has pure power and will do just well hitting in Camden Yards. The problem with Reimold will be making solid contact.
He strikes out a lot and also gets into ruts where he let's too many mistakes go by him early in the count. He also tends to want to pull the ball too much something he will need to adjust too in the big leagues.
From a fantasy prospective, Reimold should get a chance to play a lot on an Oriole team that has had little trouble scoring runs.
Reimold/Jones/Markakis may be the best young outfield in the major leagues and should be together for quite awhile.
If left on the big league club the rest of the season Reimold will hit 20 or so HR's. Over a full season of starts, he will be an annual 30+ HR guy without a doubt.
7) Carlos Torres (RHP - Starter) -- White Sox
The White Sox starting rotation is terrible right now. Jose Contreras asked..that is right ASKED to be sent down to the minor leagues to work on his stuff.
Gavin Floyd has completely lost his '08 form already and then there is the up and down nature of John Danks and Bartolo Colon.
Torres is 3-2 with a 1.85 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 43 K's in 39 IP for a pretty bad Charlotte Knights team. He is by far and away the first option for the White Sox to help the rotation and stop some of the bleeding. I would be surprised if he is not called up within the week.
What Torres does well is pitch down in the zone and not give up the longball, something that should bring positive results in Chicago's HR-happy U.S. Cellular Field.
His cut-fastball is major league ready for sure but he'll have to be able to command his changeup if he is to succeed in Chicago.
8) Kameron Mickolio (RHP - Reliever) - Orioles
Don't even bother going to take a look at Mickolio's minor league numbers this year. They are terrible so far. But, I would not be doing my job if I left off what I believe to be the best closer prospect in the minor leagues.
Mickolio is as interesting of a character as he is a pitcher. He never played baseball in high school and was noticed while playing American Legion ball out in the wilderness of his native Montana.
He is 6'9" and 255 pounds. and a very menacing figure out on the mound. His fastball reaches 100 MPH and has a sweeping slider that is as unpredictable as his rise through the minor leagues.
Mickolio is a very high risk type of prospect as his mechanics get derailed often which leads to terrible wildness. He has been working on a changeup which at last check is still pretty bad but his "slurve" is now a decent off-speed option.
If he can correct his mechanical issues soon and he can get the slurve or change to be a third option then Baltimore will bring him up.
The organization is crazy about his potential and see him as the long term answer for their closer spot.
That is the Hot 8 for this week. What do you guys think? Post your comments below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org