Major League Baseball Prospects: You Will Know Their Names Soon

Harris DeckerSenior Analyst IJune 24, 2008

After checking out I found a general lack of articles about prospects. I follow minor league baseball mainly as a way to know who will be the next great stars, and in turn help me collect baseball cards and memorabilia more effectively.

I thought I would share some of this information and introduce you to some names you should know, and why you should know them down the stretch.

There's no better place to start than at No. 1. This is a name that has become very familiar over the first few games of his young career. Coming into this season Jay Bruce was rated the No. 1 overall prospect.

He of course is now part of the young core of players on the Cincinnati Reds, that includes Edinson Volquez and Homer Bailey. These three players should be the core of this team for years to come.

Homer Bailey, who was No. 10 coming into this season, got off to a very rough start in the Majors. In my opinion very few pitchers (see Joba Chamberlain for an enigma), take the league by storm and pitch well in their very first season. This young arm will be solid once fully developed.

With more time spent in the minors he could improve his pitch selection and really make an impact down the stretch, if the Reds could crawl out of last place.

The No. 2 player was Evan Longoria. The Rays played about 20 games this season before realizing that they wanted him at third. He is a gold glove caliber third baseman with impressive extra base hit numbers.

The Rays have been taking a lot of novice baseball viewers by storm (Hank Steinbrenner included), but anyone who follows the minor leagues knew this day would come. Let's not forget that besides the young talent that still exists in Tampa Bay, they also bred Josh Hamilton and Delmon Young.

On that note, the player who could portray my pitching enigma again is waiting in the shadows at AA. David Price, ranked No. 11 coming into the season has a chance to make it to the majors during September call-ups and make a huge impact if the Rays are in the playoff hunt.

For those of you unfamiliar with Price, he was the 2007 No.1 overall pick by Tampa and has begun his rapid climb toward Florida. He is a lights out fireballer with a number of high quality off speed pitches. To put this kid in perspective, he recently got promoted from A to AA after going 7-1 with a sub 2.00 ERA. Most analysts (including me) think that he could be a future ace of staff.

From David Price we will take a step back and look at some other pitchers in the top 10. No. 4 is Clayton Kershaw.

He came into this season with a nasty curve ball and a plus fastball. He has made some average to poor starts for the Dodgers, but again, with time, will flourish in the majors. No one with that type of curve could fail.

No. 5 and No. 6 are occupied by AL East rivals. Of course I am talking about Joba Chamberlain and Clay Buckholz. These are two pitchers that will most likely be staring each other down for years to come.

Joba has made his presence felt in New York, causing both relief and controversy. He has provided solid bullpen help to Mariano Rivera as well as making starts as we move into the second half of the season.

Clay Buckholz has not had quite the success that Joba has. He has only two wins in Boston with a plus 5.50 ERA. Buckholz was over taken by another hot prospect, Justin Masterson.

Masterson was not in the top 50 but in Boston has quickly jumped into the picture, helping fill the gap left by future Hall of Fame pitcher Curt Schilling. Masterson has gone 4-1 with a 3.00 ERA in six starts. At least one of these pitchers is panning out this season.

Jumping back a bit, No. 3 is Cameron Maybin. I will pair him with Andrew Miller who was traded alongside Maybin to Florida for Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis. Ironically, no one in this trade is performing well as of now.

The two players that went north under achieved, and the Marlins new prospects are either not playing (Maybin) or not pitching well, (Miller). Maybin is currently in AA working some things out with his swing. I would bet, he will return to the Marlins if things improve in the minors, because they will need a bat off the bench if they are going to stay competitive in the division.

No. 7 is Colby Rasmus. He is on the St. Louis Cardinals and is currently in the minors. He is not doing so well, batting around .250 with 11 home runs in fewer than 300 at bats.

If the Cardinals stay competitive then I wouldn't imagine seeing Colby anywhere near the Mississippi this year. On the other hand, if the Cards fall out of the race completely, this will be an opportunity for guys such as Rasmus to step in and get some good experience.

The Pittsburgh Pirates actually make an appearance on this list because of a very gifted outfielder. No. 8 is Andrew McCutchen. Currently at AAA Andrew is batting .285 with eight home runs in fewer than at bats. If the Pirates continue to struggle it will not be long before this young hitter is getting familiar with the NL Central.

Rounding out the top 10 is Adam Miller. Miller is a pitcher in the Indians organization. There is not too much to report about him because he has only appeared in six games this year for the Indians AAA affiliate.

Over just 28.2 innings he has only allowed six runs (1.88 ERA) while getting one win. If Cleveland can get Carmona and Sabathia rolling then this kid will not see a major league inning until 2009, but if they fall out of the race, then you could see him much sooner.

Finally, I want to draw attention to a few players in the top 50.

No. 13 is Jacoby Ellesbury. I took issue with him being on this list because he played in the World Series last year and was guaranteed to play a majority of the games in center for the Red Sox. All of that has come true and he is proving that he is the real deal.

No. 17 is Fernando Martinez. This kid (barely 20 years old) is an explosive hitter. He can hit for power to all fields and is a solid defensive outfielder. He was slowed greatly by injury this year, but will most likely be in the majors by 2009 when Citi Field opens.

No. 26 is Ian Kennedy. Kennedy had a brief stint with the Yankees before getting hurt and sent down to work on more pitches. The Yankees are currently devastated in the pitching department.

With Wang and Hughes injured, and Kennedy not pitching in the majors yet, they are relying on second-rate starters to tread water. The way to look at this situation is that the starting rotation on opening day was: Wang, Pettite, Mussina, Hughes and Kennedy.

Three of five are not pitching with the Yankees. Kennedy and Hughes cannot come back quick enough.

Finally I will wrap this up with No. 49. Most people in New York don't even know who this player is. Here's a little background. His name is Austin Jackson and he is a 21-year-old outfielder for the Yankees.

The plan with Jackson is to have him in the New York outfield within the next two years. In 1,420 career minor league at bats he has a .282 average while hitting 84 doubles and driving in 157. He is currently in AA Trenton, and I would look for him to be here soon.

These are all players that you should know, and if you don't you better learn quickly.