Trading away prospects is a necessary part of the major league process.
Just look at how having top-notch talent to deal has aided a few teams over the past few seasons.
There's not much of a chance that the Rangers would have been able to make it all the way to the World Series without Cliff Lee, who they acquired midseason for Justin Smoak, Josh Lueke and Blake Beavan, each of whom figures to play a huge part in the Mariners' rebuilding mode.
Having Wilson Ramos in their system allowed the Twins to shore up their bullpen with Washington's Matt Capps after Joe Nathan went down with an injury. Capps pitched well for the Twins en route to another division title.
In 2009, the Phillies rode the arm of Cliff Lee all the way to the World Series after acquiring him in exchange for Carlos Carrasco, Jason Knapp and Jason Donald, each of whom figures to play some role in rebuilding the Indians.
This year's prospect crop is no different. Most will remain with the same organization. However, many will trade cities and jerseys, and for some it will turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to them, while for others it will be the Brett Wallace hell-ride.
So, without further ado, let's check out the top prospects in each organization who could be on the move in 2011.
Chris Owings, SS, 19 years old
Owings recently ranked 10th on MLB.com's list of the top shortstop prospects in the game. He also checked in at number four on BA's top-ten organization rankings for the D-Backs. What makes him expendable is the fact that Arizona just locked up Stephen Drew, who had one of his best seasons in 2010. If Owings has a hot start to the season and somehow the D-Backs turn themselves into contenders, they could look to shop Owings for some more help in the bullpen.
Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, 23 years old
Very little attention was paid to the fact that Goldschmidt had one of the best offensive seasons of any prospect in 2010. He hit .314, rapped 42 doubles, hit 35 home runs and drove in 108 runs. Unfortunately, he did this damage in High-A ball, where he was a little old for the level of competition. He also struck out a whopping 161 times. Still, hitters with raw power like his are always in demand. If they could deal Goldschmidt in the midst of another impressive season, they could probably get a few young, high-risk, high-ceiling prospects in return.
Patrick Schuster, LHP, 19 years old
Not many people expected much from Schuster, a 13th-round pick in 2009, despite the fact that he threw four consecutive no-hitters during his senior year of high-school. He's turned quite a few heads since then, especially with his gutty performance in 2010. He suffered greatly with his control, but somehow managed to maintain a decent ERA. He would make an excellent addition as a throw-in.
Brandon Beachy, RHP, 24 years old
The fact that Beach performed so well in 2010 (1.73 ERA, 148-28 K-to-BB ratio) after an impressive but not altogether eye-popping career to that point leads many to believe that he might be a one-year wonder. Even if that's the case, if the Braves have their eye on any big-time player who might help them get back to the playoffs, Beachy could be an excellent centerpiece for a deal. Everyone, including BA, who ranked him as the eighth-best prospect in the system and tabbed him as having the best control in the system, seems to think he's the real deal, but even if he is, the Braves are flush with pitching prospects, and they can afford to deal from a position of strength if they need to.
Mycal Jones, SS, 23 years old
If it seems like the Braves have been stockpiling shortstops in the draft for the last five years, it's because they have been. And in Matt Lipka, their 2010 supplemental pick, the team seems to have found their long-term answer, leaving Jones and the Braves other SS's out of the picture.
Chris Tillman, RHP, 22 years old
Tillman doesn't qualify as a prospect any longer, but he's still one of the best young arms that the Orioles have to offer. Unfortunately, the one-time projected ace of the Baby Birds, has been surpassed by every other top-notch pitcher in their system. Tillman may even begin the season down in Triple-A. If he was prospect eligible, he would rank as one of the top pitchers in the minors, which means that the O's could package him with some lesser pieces to snag someone midseason.
Josh Bell, 3B, 24 years old
Bell came into the 2010 season as the O's future third baseman, but his less than impressive performance, coupled with the O's addition of Mark Reynolds, who is only three years older and a proven commodity at the big-league level, means that Bell might be expendable. He still has some value and has proven himself in the top levels of the minors. Packaging him with Tillman could net the Orioles a whale.
Caleb Joseph, C, 24 years old
Joseph is easily the best catching prospect in the Orioles system, combining sound defensive ability with decent offensive ability, but considering they have cornerstone Matt Wieters there at the big-league level, Joseph is either looking at a position change or a change of scenery. There's been some talks that he could probably handle second base, but the team could probably find some value for him on the trade market.
Stolmy Pimentel, RHP, 20 years old
Pimentel has cruised through the minors, proving himself as one of the Red Sox top prospects (he checks in at #9 according to Baseball America). Still, being the top pitcher in the Sox system is a lot like being the top backup to Peyton Manning. They only way you have any value is if you prove to be just as good pitching out of the bullpen or can fetch something useful in a deal. Pimentel could be the next Sox pitching prospect on his way out of town.
Drake Britton, LHP, 21 years old
Britton has a greater chance of sticking with the club since he's a hair further away from the big leagues than Pimentel is, but as a starting pitcher in Boston's organization there just isn't much hope for you at the big-league level. None of the Sox current pitching prospects checked in in BA's projected 2014 rotation.
Lars Anderson, 1B, 23 years old
Anderson was in danger of being passed by Anthony Rizzo on the team's depth chart at first base, and when it finally happened it seemed like his chance to be a part of the Red Sox future slipped through his fingers. With the trade of Rizzo to San Diego, all eyes are back on Anderson, who had an OK season in Triple-A last year. Still, the Red Sox are the Red Sox, and they've shown no hesitancy in dealing prospects (see Adrian Gonzalez deal) if they feel they're getting something worthwhile in return.
Chris Carpenter, RHP, 25 years old
I think anyone who's anyone knows by now you don't trade away a starting pitcher named Chris Carpenter. Unless the deal is really, really good. Granted, this Chris Carpenter isn't anywhere near the same as the Cardinals' Chris Carpenter, but he's still been more than serviceable for the Cubbies, working his way up to Triple-A last season. He'll be just a phone call away for the 2011 season, and if somehow the Cubs make a run at the division crown and need just a couple pieces to help give them a push, Carpenter could help them get it.
Jay Jackson, RHP, 23 years old
Jackson was a top-100 prospect according to Baseball America entering the 2010 season, and while his performance in Triple-A didn't blow anyone's socks off, he's still a safe bet to get a chance to crack the big-league roster this spring training. He likely won't make the big-league rotation since it's pretty stacked, but he'll definitely be one of the first to get a call should an injury befall any of the Cubs starters. Like Carpenter, he too could be used in a trade.
Darwin Barney, INF, 25 years old
Lost in the hustle and bustle of Buster Posey and Jason Heyward was Starlin Castro and his historic rookie campaign. Needless to say, the Cubs won't be promoting another shortstop anytime soon, especially after dealing their top middle infielder (Hak-Ju Lee) to the Rays for Matt Garza. Barney can play every infield position save for first base and that could give him some extra leverage if he wants out of Chicago, where he saw action in 30 big-league contests last season.
Anthony Carter, RHP, 24 years old
Carter is another up-and-coming reliever, getting ready to join what was arguably the best bullpen in the American League in 2010. Carter and his 98-mph fastball would be an excellent addition, assuming he stays with the club into 2011. Ken Williams has shown a propensity for dealing a number of Chicago's top pitching prospects, and in dealing Carter, the Sox would definitely be dealing from a position of strength.
Josh Phegley, C, 22 years old
Just because the White Sox have Tyler Flowers in their system doesn't mean that the Sox can't find some use for Phegley. He only played in 48 games this past season, but worked his way to Double-A, where he hit a decent .292 in 18 games. He'll most likely start back in Double-A to start the season and could find his way to Triple-A before the end of the season. From there, however, it's anybody's guess. Flowers is a better all-around player than Phegley, which means he could be expendable.
Yonder Alonso, 1B, 23 years old
Alonso played most of the 2010 season in Triple-A in only his second full season, and had it not been for Joey Votto he could have gotten in some significant playing time with the big-league squad. Instead, Alonso heard his name connected to trade rumors as the Reds chased down a playoff spot. The Reds hung on to Alonso, but with Votto still around and packing a new contract, and the Reds with a plethora of talented, athletic outfielders, Alonso is still a prime trade piece.
Devin Mesoraco, C, 22 years old
A former first-round pick (2007), Mesoraco finally began to play like one. He had one of the biggest bounce-back seasons of any prospect, hitting .302 over three levels, with 26 homers and 75 RBI. He showed a good eye at the plate, and improved his defense. Despite earning high-praise from Baseball America, who named him the Reds' number three prospect, Mesoraco still has to compete with another catcher in the system, Yasmani Grandal, who earned a major league contract from the Reds, along with a $3.2 million bonus.
Nick Hagadone, LHP, 25 years old
Hagadone is another cast-off from Boston, a pitcher who they couldn't find a future for in their rotation so they shipped him away. Since then he has plied many different trades for the Indians. He's worked in a little starting, and has recently tried his hand at relieving, which had suited him quite well. He has the stuff and the intimidating presence to work at the back of a bullpen, and young bullpen arms seem to be in demand these days.
Beau Mills, 1B, 24 years old
Mills was once touted as having the best power of any prospect in Cleveland's system. Now, he's just another heavy hitter who can't maintain a decent average. For a power hitter, he has pretty decent plate discipline, but his average, home run total and RBI numbers have dropped in three consecutive seasons. He's officially fallen out of Cleveland's prospect top 10, but you don't give up on power like his.
Jordan Pacheco, C, 25 years old
The Rockies are set for the considerable future with all-around amazing backstop Wilin Rosario, so they could afford to shop Pacheco, who is arguably a better offensive player than Rosario. He's hit a combined .322 the past two seasons with, 64 doubles, 19 home runs and 168 RBI. He's already 25 and still hasn't reached Triple-A, so a change of scenery could be the best for both parties, especially if Colorado can recoup some talent in return.
Charlie Blackmon, OF, 24 years old
Blackmon is the kind of outfielder that the Rockies love. Toolsy. Very fast, very patient, and a very good hitter with shades of power. It's no wonder that the Rangers targeted him during Michael Young trade talks this offseason. He's nearly major league ready, and could be a solid third outfielder.
Francisco Martinez, 3B, 20 years old
Martinez is another strong prospect candidate from Venezuela. He hasn't progressed as much as the Tigers would have hoped, and he has struggled since making the jump to Low-A ball. He had a decent season in High-A ball in 2010, but still struck out way too much, and didn't show any glimpses of the power the organization scouted in him.
Cale Iorg, SS, 25 years old
Iorg has spent the majority of the past two seasons in Double-A, and received a shot at Triple-A. Both levels saw him perform well below the Tigers' standards. While still maintaining his power stroke, Iorg has lost control of his ability to hit for average, and has become a strikeout machine. He struck out an absurd 159 times in 2010, and walked only 19 times, a career low. Clearly something is amiss. He might benefit from a change.
Arquimedes Caminero, RHP, 23 years old
The market for promising, young relievers exploded this offseason, which means that trend could continue into the 2011 season, making the Marlins, who have an excess of talented bullpen arms, a prime target for teams looking for building blocks for the future. Caminero is one of the guys. He throws in the low-to-mid 90s and is a strikeout machine.
Jon Gaston, OF, 24 years old
Gaston's drop-off from 2010 was historic. He lost 22 homers and 49 RBI, despite playing in only seven fewer games. Of course, Gaston was finally playing outside the hitter-friendly confines of the Cal League, so it actually wasn't that surprising. But Gaston finally regressed into the player he is, a solid batter, with some decent pop and surprising speed. Any team that thinks they could harness what they saw from him in 2009 might be willing to ask for him.
Koby Clemens, 1B, 24 years old
Like Gaston, Clemens' stats took a hit outside of the Cal League in 2010, but for the most part, the son of future HOFer Roger showed he still can be an effective power hitter at all levels, and all leagues. He set a career high with 26 homers and drove in 85 runs, despite seeing his average dip 100 points to .241. His strikeout total jumped way up, too. If he can settle down and let his power come to him instead of trying to force it, he could be an interesting trade piece.
Mike Montgomery, LHP, 21 years old
Montgomery is just another talented pitcher in the Royals prospect machine. He's a top-of-the-rotation starter or possibly even a All-Star caliber closer. He dealt with some injury issues in 2010, but still finished with a 2.61 ERA and 88 strikeouts in 93 innings. Montgomery is a piece that you would hate to give up, but considering they still have John Lamb, Danny Duffy, Chris Dwyer, Tim Melville and Aaron Crow, I think they'd survive.
Aaron Crow, RHP, 24 years old
Crow cost himself valuable development time by re-entering the draft, and now he's just another mid-20's pitcher in Triple-A. He does have tremendous upside, but he showed close to nothing special during his 2010 season that saw him finish with a 5.73 ERA and 19 home runs allowed. The best chance for Crow to succeed is probably being surrounded by all the talented pitchers that KC has in their system, but Crow could also help them acquire even more talent to help them compete beyond 2011.
Kila Ki'aihue, 1B, 26 years old
2011 will mark the third consecutive season that Ka'aihue will begin in Triple-A, and it doesn't appear the Royals are ready to fork over the first-base job to him, meaning he'll be itching for a chance to be included in any trade they consider in 2011. He has proven himself against the top pitchers in the minors for years now and deserves a chance to try to prove himself in the majors.
Mark Trumbo, 1B, 25 years old
In most organizations Mark Trumbo would have gotten his shot in the majors, or at least an extended look. Instead, the 25-year-old is splitting his time between riding the pine in the bigs or mashing Triple-A pitching, stuck in AAAA limbo thanks to the emergence of Kendry Morales. Trumbo has twice hit 32 or more homers in the minors and could be a legit power threat and most likely a regular in many organizations.
Andrew Romine, SS, 25 years old
The older brother of Yankees catching prospect Austin Romine, Andrew is a talented player in his own right. He has slowly marched his way through the minors, and will most likely start 2011 at Triple-A. He's a complete all-around player combining solid contact skills (.275 career hitter) with above-average speed (62 SB in 2008) and a great eye at the plate (172-263 BB-to-K ratio). The Angels have a wealth of talented, speedy infielders, so Romine could probably fare better with a change of scenery.
Kyle Russell, OF, 24 years old
Russell has the raw power to match anyone in the minors, but he also has some of the worst plate discipline around. He struck out 177 times in 2010, which is actually an improvement on the 180 he racked up in 2009. He struggled in Double-A, especially with the strikeouts, and might find himself back there to start the 2011 season. Still, with his power, he could be a target for a team looking for some Triple-A depth.
Jerry Sands, 1B/OF, 23 years old
Sands built on a strong rookie-league campaign in 2009 and exploded onto the prospect scene in 2010. He hit 35 homers and drove in 93 runs, while compiling a .301 average. He took a fare amount of walks and even managed to steal 18 bases. He performed well enough in Double-A that he could find himself in Triple-A to start the season. Unfortunately, at the big-league level the Dodgers have James Loney holding down first-base, so Sands might be relegated to fourth-outfielder status. He could find greener pastures elsewhere and now has the prospect cred to anchor a deal on his own.
D'Vontrey Richardson, OF, 22 years old
Richardson, despite his .243 average, 164 strikeouts and his 17 errors as an outfielder last season, represents really the only trade-worthy player in the Brewers system. His athleticism is off the charts and he has great speed. The Brewers system has been ravaged by trades to the point where the only players left in the system are ones the Brewers consider integral parts of their future or players that no one else wants.
Oswaldo Arcia, OF, 19 years old
It doesn't take an expert to figure out that Arcia is a major "helium alert" guy. After a season in which he hit .375 with 14 homers and 51 RBI, the 19-year old prospect from Venezuela jumped into the Twins top-10 at number nine. It's still too early to tell if Arcia will hack it as a pro, but teams love to dream on talent like his.
Joe Benson, OF, 22 years old
In Aaron Hicks, Ben Revere and Benson, the Twins have one of the more impressive home-grown outfield prospect trios in the minors. Unfortunately, there probably won't be room for all of them in the big leagues. Hicks offers the most complete package and Revere is the best pure hitter of the three, so that leaves Benson as the odd man out. He's a pretty complete player who blossomed into some power this past season, and he could definitely draw some interest.
Fernando Martinez, OF, 22 years old
Few players have seen their stock drop as much as Martinez over the past four years. Back in 2007, he ranked as the 22nd-best prospect in all of baseball. Last season he checked in at No. 77, and he's dropped all the way to eighth on BA's Mets list. For some reason, the Mets haven't had much luck developing outfielders, so there's no real reason to believe that Martinez will turn out any better than say, Lastings Milledge. Like Milledge, his long-term future could be elsewhere.
Zach Lutz, 3B, 24 years old
At the rate that Wilmer Flores is moving (and growing), it's becoming increasingly evident that he's not the Mets long-term answer at shortstop, and it's looking more and more likely that he slides over to third base. Unfortunately, the Mets have David Wright there. Wright and Flores both manning the same position means that there's pretty much a snowball's chance in you-know-what that Lutz will be anything other than a utility guy with New York. He could use a change of scenery.
Jefry Marte, 3B, 19 years old
While Marte is five years younger and has greater upside, he's still engulfed in the same predicament as Lutz. Wright is the third baseman of the future. If he falters or the Mets deal him, it will be to make room for Flores. Somewhere along the line, someone is going to need a position change.
Jesus Montero, C/1B, 21 years old
Montero is only 21 years old, but has little to nothing left to prove in the minors. He has made every correction and improved every season as he has climbed the ladder to Triple-A. This season the Yankees appear committed to giving him some playing time with the big-league club, as both a catcher and DH. Despite his elite status as a hitter, the Yankees have shown no hesitation in possibly dealing him. He almost got them Cliff Lee last year and he could easily still net someone at least that talented if the Yanks are forced into panic mode again in 2011.
Melky Mesa, OF, 24 years old
It's hard to believe that the Yankees would consider dealing a player who has average 20 homers over the past two seasons, but then you remember that they're the Yankees and it all makes sense. Mesa isn't without his faults. He strikes out way too much and that dramatically affects his ability to hit for a decent average. With the Yankees' crowded outfield situation and the wealth of athletic guys in their system, Mesa's best chance is with another club.
Dellin Betances, RHP, 22 years old
Finally healthy, Betances was a force in 2010, striking out 108 batters in a mere 85.1 innings, posting a WHIP of 0.879 over two levels. Just like the Red Sox, however, the Yankees don't too often find empty spots for homegrown starters, meaning at least one of Andrew Brackman, Manny Banuelos, Hector Noesi and Betances should already be considering new roles. Each of them would make excellent trade bait.
Michael Taylor, OF, 25 years old
To say that Taylor has been a disappointment since coming over from Philadelphia would be an understatement. Missing are his ability to hit for average, his power, and presumably his confidence after a rough 2010 season that saw him post more than a few career lows. Still, Taylor scored 70+ runs and drove in at least 75 for the third straight season. He could still have some value to a team looking for a cheap outfielder with some decent upside.
Adrian Cardenas, 2B, 23 years old
It seems like Cardenas has been around forever, but he's entering only his sixth season as a professional. He has really struggled to find success at Triple-A, meaning he could be a bust as a big-leaguer, but the A's are pretty confident in him and are going to give him every shot to make the big-league roster. Cardenas is an amazing hitter and if he could carry that trait into big-league action he could be a steal for some team.
Jarred Cosart, RHP, 20 years old
It's amazing that the Phillies have any talent left in their farm system, which has been ravaged by multiple blockbuster trades. Still, Cosart represents one of the best pitchers in Philly's system. He's a high-heat, big strikeout guy who has experienced nothing but success so far in his career. He'll be pitching as a 21-year-old in High-A ball in 2011, and if the Phillies need some additional pieces to contribute to their division run, Cosart could be a great chip for them.
Jonathan Singleton, 1B/OF, 19 years old
The Phillies knew that Singleton was good with the stick when they drafted him in the eighth round in 2008, but even they have to impressed with the performances he's put forth in 2009 and 2010. This past season he hit 14 homers, drove in 77 runs and maintained a 62-74 BB-to-K ratio. Pretty impressive for a 19-year-old playing in Low-A ball. Singleton is athletic enough to play outfield, but right now the Phillies are having a hard enough time finding room for top prospect Domonic Brown. Singleton still has a few seasons before he is big-league ready, but moving in 2011 could help the Phillies ASAP.
Jeff Locke, LHP, 23 years old
Locke represents one of the Pirates top pitching prospects. He has worked his way to Double-A and had an outstanding 2009 season, priming himself for a run at the big-league rotation in 2011. Still, he pitches for the Pirates and as much talent as they have in their system, the one thing they lack is elite talent. If Locke could help bring some of that to Pittsburgh, they wouldn't hesitate to deal him.
Tim Alderson, RHP, 21 years old
A one-time top pitching prospect for the Giants, Alderson has really seen his stock drop dramatically since joining the Pirates. He has gotten progressively worse over the past three years and bottomed out in 2010, posting a 6.03 ERA, 84 strikeouts and a career-high 15 homers allowed in 128.1 innings. His ceiling is as a back-of-the-rotation starter, but Pittsburgh's system is full of those kinds of guys, so Alderson's best chance might come somewhere else.
Zack Cox, 3B, 21 years old
You wouldn't think that the Cardinals would be open to dealing a corner infielder who was widely regarded as the best pure hitter in his draft, but just check their history and you'll find that they're probably more willing than you think. They dealt Brett Wallace a little more than a year after tabbing him as a first-rounder, and at the time it seemed incredibly foolish. Luckily Matt Holliday has flourished for the Cards, and Wallace has been traded two more times already. Don't think they won't deal Cox.
P.J. Walters, RHP, 25 years old
Walters is already 25 and has only 15 games of major league experience, and in those appearances he hasn't really done much of anything to prove he deserves a big-league roster spot. After three seasons of Triple-A ball, there isn't much left for him to prove in the minors, so his best chance might be outside the organization.
James Darnell, 3B, 24 years old
Darnell had a huge year in 2009, swatting 20 home runs, driving in 81 runs and posting an 87-89 BB-to-K ratio, while maintaining a .311 average. Those numbers dipped a bit in 2010, and the emergence of Chase Headley at the big-league level has rendered Darnell as an expendable bargaining chip. Sure, the Padres would love to get more power from the position than Headley offers, but Darnell hasn't shown consistent power outside of his 2009 season.
Drew Cumberland, 2B/SS, 22 years old
It's a wonder that teams aren't all over Cumberland, who hasn't hit lower than .293 in his four pro seasons. The only reason they aren't is because he has failed to play more than 77 games in a single season. Still, that hasn't hurt his productivity. He hit .350 this past season and set career highs in numerous offensive categories. He finished the 2010 season in Double-A and could net the Padres a decent position player if the need arose.
Thomas Neal, OF, 23 years old
Neal was one of the breakout stars of the 2009 season, swatting 22 home runs, driving in 90 runs, posting an impressive BB-to-K ratio and maintaining a .337 average. He regressed in 2010, experiencing a nearly 50-point drop in his average and a dip in the power department as well. To make matters worse, he's dropped to the sixth-ranked position prospect in San Fran's system.
Tommy Joseph, C, 19 years old
Joseph is only 19 years old and is coming off of a hugely successful debut season in which he hit 16 homers and drove in 68 runs for the Giants' Low-A squad. And it appears the Giants are going to be pretty aggressive with him, despite the fact that they have Buster Posey at the big-league level, who made huge strides as a receiver during the Giants' 2010 championship season. If Joseph continues to impress in 2011, he could find himself on a departing flight out of town.
Greg Halman, OF, 23 years old
There's no denying that Halman has just as much power as anyone in the minors, but he is so unrefined at the plate that there is almost zero chance he has a big-league future in Seattle. Still, there is going to be some interest in a guy who has hit at least 20 home runs in each of the past four seasons, even if it means they have to take the three consecutive seasons of 169 or more strikeouts that come with him.
Carlos Triunfel, SS, 20 years old
Back in 2008, Triunfel was one of the Mariners top position prospects. He was coming off of a season in which he hit .287 with eight homers, 49 RBI and 30 steals as a 18-year-old in High-A ball. Since then Triunfel's production has trailed off considerably. He has stolen only three bases since that season, and has seen his average drop off. He's no longer a integral part of the M's future plans, so he could be moved.
Jake McGee, LHP, 24 years old
McGee, once upon a time, was one of the Rays' top pitching prospects. However, an arm injury cost him some valuable time and now he's been surpassed by a good chunk of Rays farmhands. There really isn't any room in the rotation. The team had to trade away Matt Garza just to squeeze Jeremy Hellickson into the starting five, so it looks like McGee's only chance to make a big-league impact will be in the bullpen, where Baseball America projects him as a top-notch closer.
Matt Moore, LHP, 21 years old
Despite an unassuming 6-11 record, Moore was one of the most dominating pitchers of the 2010 season. He struck out an astounding 208 batters in 144.2 innings, utilizing mid-90s heat and a wicked curveball. Like McGee, though, it will be hard to find a crack in the rotation for Moore to fill for a few years. Moore, too, might make an excellent reliever, but he could also be the centerpiece in a trade.
Tim Beckham, SS, 21 years old
A former number-one overall draft pick (2008), Beckham has failed to materialize as the five-tool shortstop the Rays had hoped he would develop into. He hasn't shown good instincts on the basepaths and his plate discipline is lacking. The Rays basically closed the book on Beckham when they acquired Hak-Ju Lee from the Cubs. Now Beckham could represent a decent trade piece.
Martin Perez, LHP, 19 years old
Perez, while remaining one of the top pitching prospects in the game, hasn't shown much improvement over the past season and a half. He was shelled against Double-A hitters as an 18-year-old in 2009, and struggled mightily against the same group in 2010. His ERA ballooned to almost 6.00, and he posted the worst walk rate of his career. Perez still has huge upside, though, enough that the Rangers haven't looked to use him as the centerpiece of a blockbuster deal. Yet Perez also hasn't shown the ability to work late into games, something the Rangers are stressing with all their pitchers.
Engel Beltre, OF, 21 years old
Beltre has quietly emerged as one of the Rangers' top prospects. He checked in at number five on BA's annual ranking of the Rangers system, and while he has been solid all across the board, he hasn't done anything particularly above-average. He doesn't have too much power or speed and he isn't even a big doubles guy. He also has pretty below-average plate discipline, making him an excellent candidate for a trade with some team that thinks they can tame his free-swinging ways and turn him into a solid regular outfielder.
Robbie Erlin, LHP, 19 years old
Teams love dealing hot young prospects after they've had a huge season, especially when they know that they may not be as talented as the stats indicate. Erlin had that kind of season (2.12 ERA, 125-17 K-to-BB ratio), and very well could be that kind of player. Chances are he won't come close to matching those kind of numbers two years in a row, and Texas is loaded with high-upside arms, so a few could be expendable, especially if the Rangers are fighting for a playoff spot come July.
J.P. Arencibia, C, 25 years old
Arencibia made quite the splash in his big-league debut, swatting two homers, but after that sensational performance he didn't do too much. He finished the season with a .143 average in 37 big-league at-bats. He did put up outstanding numbers in the minors (.301, 32 HR, 85 RBI), but saying he lacks good plate discipline is an understatement. Also, the Blue Jays have two other catchers among their top 10 prospects. And both offer greater defensive value than the less-than-graceful Arencibia. Now that he's developed into what the Jays assumed he would be they can try to shop him and see what kind of value he has.
Carlos Perez, C, 19 years old
Despite being only 19, Perez has already emerged as one of the top prospects in the Blue Jays system. Baseball America claims he's the best hitter in Toronto's system (pre-Brett Lawrie), and if they don't ship Arencibia back to the States, they'll have two other top catching prospects, Travis D'Arnaud being the other. Perez's defensive skills rank slightly behind D'Arnaud, who was ranked the number four best prospect in Toronto's system.
Derek Norris, C, 21 years old
Until Bryce Harper came along, Norris was probably the best offensive prospect in Nationals history. His polished and powerful bat earned him the number 2 ranking behind Harper on Baseball American's Nationals top-10 list, and he is easily one of the more complete catchers in the minor leagues right now. So what would make him such a valuable trade chip, and a likely one if the Nationals find themselves in great position come July? That would be their surplus at catcher right now, especially...
Wilson Ramos, C, 23 years old
Ramos had the unenviable position of being the top catching prospect in the one system (Minnesota) where that didn't mean a darn thing. So the Twins shipped him off to D.C. for Matt Capps, where Ramos has stiff competition for the big-league job. Luckily his defensive chops are a tad bit better than Norris', and he's shown offensive ability just a tick below the Nats' hot-shot catching prospect, so the job might be his long-term.
Chris Marrero, 1B, 22 years old
After having his promising career almost derailed by multiple injuries, Marrero is back in the Nats' long-term plans. The onetime top prospect in the system now ranks ninth on BA's chart, but higher than any infielder not named Danny Espinosa. He had a strong bounce-back season in 2010 (.294, 18 HR, 82 RBI) and should see playing time in Triple-A this season. Unfortunately, for the time being first base at the big-league level is blocked by the vastly underrated Adam LaRoche. If he has a good start to the year, Marrero could be on the move for some late-season help.