2010 Mid-Season Minor League All-Star Team
So, we're now more than halfway through the MiLB season.
And what an incredible season it has been for one of the up-and-coming leagues in American sports. Attendance has never been better, and with Strasburg-mania, and top-level prospects like Mike Stanton, Carlos Santana, Buster Posey, and Jason Heyward, 2010 will be a tough season to forget.
Don't let the graduated roster fool you though, there is still a TON of talent left in the minors, and in honor of those having tremendous seasons, it's time to honor them, with a mid-season All-Star team.
Like most All-American teams, this one will feature eight position players, five starting pitchers and a closer.
In order to spend less time writing about Stephen Strasburg and Carlos Santana, names you most likely now know, I'm gonna keep it to players who are still currently in the minors.
Catcher: Wil Myers, Kansas City Royals
2010 Levels: Low-A Burlington, High-A Wilmington
Stats: .299/.411/.498 46 runs, 20 doubles, 1 triple, 10 homers, 47 RBI, 49 walks, 58 strikeouts, 10 stolen bases
Raking like Myers has at Low-A as a 19-year old is almost unheard of. In his first full pro season, the young catcher has rocketed his way up the prospect charts, and has put himself in consideration as the best catcher left in the minor leagues.
Unbelievably so, Myers has moved up to High-A and continued to rake as one of the youngest position players in the Carolina League.
The Royals knew they were getting a polished hitter when they were lucky enough to scoop up Myers in the third round of the 2009 draft, but they had no idea how much of a complete package he would turn out to be this young.
He has 10 homers this season after hitting five in 22 games in 2009, putting him on pace for over 20 in a full 162 game season. He's on pace for close to 90 RBI. He has incredible plate discipline for a teenager, as his 49 walks and 58 strikeouts attest. And he even has managed to steal 10 bases.
The Royals got a true steal with Myers, as he is already outperforming most of the players drafted ahead of him in the '09 draft.
First Base: Brandon Belt, San Francisco Giants
2010 Levels: High-A San Jose, Double-A Richmond
Stats: .386/.493/.643 65 runs, 28 doubles, 4 triples, 12 homers, 64 RBI, 59 walks, 52 strikeouts, 18 stolen bases
You really can't have a better debut that Belt has put together for the Giants.
The 22-year old crushed California League pitching to the tune of a .383 average with 10 homers and 62 RBI. He earned a promotion to Double-A this past week, and he celebrated by homering in two of his first three games.
For the season, Belt's .386 average leads the minors, with Mike Trout's .364 as the next closest. He's fifth in hits, first in OBP, and fourth in slugging percentage.
He hasn't really shown any weaknesses so far. He has more walks than strikeouts, nearly 30 doubles, and has 18 stolen bases.
He could be on the fast track to join Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner in San Fran.
Second Base: Harold Garcia, Philadelphia Phillies
2010 Level: High-A Clearwater
Stats: .335/.397/.492 27 runs, 13 doubles, 3 triples, 3 homers, 32 RBI, 12 walks, 37 strikeouts, 17 stolen bases
The minor leagues aren't exactly a wealth of riches at second base. The best it has to offer is Dustin Ackley, who is hitting only .256 after a dreadful April that saw him hit .147.
The 2009 number two pick has turned it on as of late, but given his slow start, let's honor a guy who hasn't slowed down since May.
Harold Garcia isn't of the same prospect cloth as Ackley, but he does offer some significant talent if he can keep raking like he has during his now-ended 37-game hit streak.
Garcia is already 23, and still at High-A ball, but Philly has pretty thin middle-infield depth, so his progression could be quite welcomed, especially with Chase Utley making his semi-annual DL trip.
Shortstop: Drew Cumberland, San Diego Padres
2010 Levels: High-A Lexington, Double-A San Antonio
Stats: .360/.396/.516 68 runs, 16 doubles, 4 triples, 7 homers, 41 RBI, 16 walks, 41 strikeouts, 21 stolen bases
Nobody has really taken notice, but San Diego's Drew Cumberland is putting together a season worthy of MiLB Player of the Year consideration.
Cumberland has been robbed of some playing time the past few years, but now healthy, he's putting up fantastic numbers for an organization that could use some serious long-term stability at shortstop.
His .365 average for Lexington ranks second in the Cal League, even after 11 games in Double-A, while his combined .360 average ranks fourth in all of MiLB.
In addition to his high-average bat and his decent pop that has allowed him to set a career high with seven homers, Cumberland features top-notch speed that has allowed him to swipe 21 bases this year, also a career high.
Third Base: Mike Moustakas, Kansas City Royals
2010 Level: Double-A Northwest Arkansas
Stats: .358/.420/.711 57 runs, 24 doubles, 21 homers, 75 RBI, 25 walks, 39 strikeouts
It's hard to believe that "Moose" only played in eight games in April. Since then, the 21-year old has raked at Double-A, positioning himself as the top infield prospect in the minors.
Notching 75 RBI in only 63 games is impressive enough, but the rest of his numbers are borderline insane.
His 24 doubles are nine short of setting a career high. He's only two homers shy of setting a career high in that category, and he's only 12 RBI away from a mark in that as well.
Toss in the fact that he's hitting over .100 points higher than last year's number and Moustakas has to be THE Minor League Player of the Year so far.
Outfield: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
2010 Level: Low-A Cedar Rapids
Stats: .364/.447/.533 72 runs, 19 doubles, 7 triples, 6 homers, 39 RBI, 40 walks, 50 strikeouts, 41 stolen bases
If Moustakas isn't your minor league player of the year, than you're probably in the Mike Trout camp.
No prospect has done more to improve his stock this season, and as a result Trout will probably rank in the top ten in top prospect lists at the end of this season. His .364 average ranks second in the minors, while his 41 stolen bases top all minor leaguers.
Trout offers everything you want in a prospect and is a legit five-tool talent. He has pop in his bat and should hit for average power, he can hit for high average, and he has top-notch speed.
And oh yeah! He also plays Gold Glove caliber defense in center field.
Outfield: Domonic Brown, Philadelphia Phillies
2010 Levels: Double-A Reading, Triple-A Lehigh-Valley
Stats: .331/.397/.626 58 runs, 19 doubles, 3 triples, 19 homers, 58 RBI, 32 walks, 59 strikeouts, 14 stolen bases
There's a reason the Phillies didn't want to part with Brown in order to get Cliff Lee or Roy Halladay, and he's rewarding the Phillies for their loyalty with a season worthy of a permanent call-up.
Brown raked as a 22-year old in Double-A, and has been even hotter since his promotion to AAA, where he's hit .405 with four homers and 11 RBI in only 12 games. He's also homered in back-to-back games the past two nights.
Considering that power was the one department in which Brown was ultimately lacking coming into this season, there isn't much more Philly could have asked for from the five-tool Brown.
Outfield: Jerry Sands, Los Angeles Dodgers
2010 Levels: Low-A Great Lakes, Double-A Chattanooga
Stats: .333/.429/.663 59 runs, 17 doubles, 3 triples, 24 homers, 61 RBI, 44 walks, 72 strikeouts, 15 stolen bases
Sands was a tad bit too old for Low-A, where he spent the first two months of the season demolishing Midwest League pitchers. The Dodgers must have realized this, and bumped Sands up two levels to Double-A, where he has had no problem adjusting to a level more "age appropriate."
After hitting .333 for Great Lakes, he is now hitting .333 for Chattanooga, where he has six homers in only 12 games.
Sands has now strung together three consecutive season with 10 or more home runs, establishing himself as the Dodgers top power threat along with Kyle Russell.
Starting Pitcher: Jeremy Hellickson, Tampa Bay Rays
2010 Level: Triple-A Durham
Stats: 11-2 105.2 innings, 94 hits, 4 home runs, 104 strikeouts, 26 walks, 2.21 ERA, .241 average against
It's hard to argue against Hellickson for Minor League Pitcher of the Year. It's just as hard to find room for him in a crowded, super-talented Rays rotation.
So for the time being, Hellickson will have to bide his time at AAA, mowing down hitters at a ridiculous rate.
After six shutout innings last night, the 6-1 righty has now tossed ten consecutive starts with three or less earned runs.
He leads the IL in just about every pitching stats, including innings, wins, ERA and strikeouts.
Starting Pitcher: Julio Teheran, Atlanta Braves
2010 Levels: Low-A Rome, High-A Myrtle Beach
Stats: 5-5 88.2 innings, 68 hits, 5 home runs, 103 strikeouts, 22 walks, 2.13 ERA, .209 average against
Teheran sure doesn't have the win-loss record that adequately reflects how dominant he has been so far this season.
Going back to his stint at Low-A, where he pitched to a 1.14 ERA in seven games with 45 strikeouts in 39.1 innings, Teheran has put himself in contention for MiLB pitcher honors.
Even though Teheran is only 19, the Braves had seen enough of him to bump him up to High-A ball, where he proceeded to strike out 12 batters in his debut. He followed that up with six shutout innings in his second start, and in his third, he struck out 14 batters in eight shutout innings.
He hasn't been as hot over his last two starts, including a late June start in which he had the worst start of his career (5.1 IP, 12 hits, 8 ER and three home runs allowed), but even with that ugly outing, his ERA at Myrtle Beach is a stellar 2.92.
With three above-average pitches, Teheran should have no problem continuing to dominate as he rises up the ranks.
Starting Pitcher: Arodys Vizcaino, Atlanta Braves
2010 Levels: Low-A Rome, High-A Myrtle Beach
Stats: 9-3 83.0 innings, 76 hits, 2 home runs, 77 strikeouts, 12 walks, 2.71 ERA, .238 average against
After coming over from the Yankees, where he ranked as their third best prospect and their top pitcher, Vizcaino has settled in nicely as a Brave.
Moving along with Julio Teheran, the 19-year old Dominican has dominated, although not nearly as loudly as the brash Teheran.
Through 83 innings, Vizcaino has struck out 77 and walked only 12 batters. He is in High-A ball now, and he has found the going much tougher in the Carolina League, but he appeared to find his legs during a one-run, five-inning outing two weeks ago, so hopefully he'll be back to his dominating ways before long.
Together with Teheran and fellow Pelican Randall Delgado, the Braves have the most prolific trio of pitchers at any level in the minors, and together the three give Atlanta one of the best pitching groups.
Starting Pitcher: Dan Hudson, Chicago White Sox
2010 Level: Triple-A Charlotte
Stats: 11-4 93.1 innings, 81 hits, 13 home runs, 108 strikeouts, 31 walks, 3.47 ERA, .228 average against.
Much like Jeremy Hellickson, Dan Hudson is just biding his time at AAA, waiting for a spot to open in Chicago's rotation.
He's already mastered the AAA level, going back to last year, when he went 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA over five starts last season, to his 11-4 record and 3.47 ERA this season.
On average, Hudson pitches about six innings per start, averaging about six strikeouts per outing.
Based on how stellar he was during June (5-1 2.06 ERA) and May (4-0 2.43 ERA), his numbers could be historically great had he not stumbled out of the gate during April (2-2 9.37 ERA).
Hudson should get his chance before long.
Starting Pitcher: John Lamb, Kansas City Royals
2010 Levels: Low-A Burlington, High-A Wilmington
Stats: 6-5 92.1 innings, 70 hits, 3 home runs, 108 strikeouts, 30 walks, 1.56 ERA, .213 average against
Lamb doesn't get the publicity of the minors top arms like Teheran, Hudson or Strasburg, or even the attention of pitchers in his own organization like Mike Montgomery or Danny Duffy, but his season is second to none.
Lamb features a 1.56 ERA, which is tops in the minors, and while his 6-5 record belies a guy who doesn't make it through the sixth inning that often, Lamb has gone six or more innings seven of his last ten starts.
Lamb's most recent start reflects his season as a whole. Six and two-thirds innings, three hits allowed, 10 strikeouts and zero walks. Since the minor league All-Star break, Lamb has been scorching, tossing 17.1 consecutive scoreless innings, striking out 26 batters, while issuing only three walks.
Lamb ranked as the seventh best Royals prospect, behind the two other Royals on this list (Myers and Moustakas), and as their fourth best pitcher, but with his pinpoint control, uncanny poise, and developing secondary pitchers, he could surpass the rest of the Royals arms.
Closer: Tim Collins, Toronto Blue Jays
2010 Level: Double-A New Hampshire
Stats: 1-0 41 innings, 26 hits, 4 home runs, 69 strikeouts, 16 walks, 2.63 ERA, .176 average against
Collins is a pint-size wonder.
Only 5-7 and 155 pounds, Collins has been baffling hitters for going on four seasons now, and it appears that this season might be the one that Collins finally gets his big league shot.
This year should also be the third consecutive season in which Collins has struck out at least 98 batters....as a RELIEVER!!!
Collins isn't a closer by trade, but he features a low 90s fastball that he can crank up to 95 and a devastating curveball so he could eventually settle into that role.