MLB Waiting Line: 10 Prospects Whose Paths Are Blocked By Star Players

Ray TannockSenior Analyst IMarch 21, 2011

MLB Waiting Line: 10 Prospects Whose Paths Are Blocked By Star Players

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    In baseball, being able to hit for average—or better—isn't always enough.Having a flair for strikeouts and possessing the skill set to manage seven-plus innings won't always suffice either. In fact, you could be the game's biggest and brightest prospect. completely ready for the bigs and it still wouldn't be enough.

    Why? Well, how about the guy in front of you?

    It is a simple situation, but one that all-too-often causes some prospects to wait longer than usual to get the nod and start contributing.

    Let's take a look at some of those players in question, shall we?

10. Josh Bell, 3B, Baltimore Orioles

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    Josh Bell has been in the O’s minor-league system since 2005. In that time, he has done a fantastic job, hitting .287 with 69 home runs, 292 RBI and even 23 stolen bases.

    But in front of him is not only newly-acquired Mark Reynolds, but also newly-acquired Derrek Lee at first—Bell can play both corners and he has seen some work at both sides this spring.

    Bell is likely to get sent back to Triple-A Norfolk, and he is not likely to see action in the bigs until either Lee flounders (a strong possibility) or Reynolds has another crappy year (also a possibility).

9. Brett Jackson, OF, Chicago Cubs

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    The hard-hitting outfielder has been on the verge of starting year in and year out for the Cubbies, but with players such as Alfonso Soriano, Kosuke Fukudome and Marlon Byrd in town, Jackson is simply going to have to wait his turn.

    The 31st player taken overall in 2009, Jackson came out of his stellar career for the Cal Golden Bears with a .303 average, 12 home runs, 86 RBI, 146 hits, 91 runs, 25 doubles, 11 triples, 27 stolen bases.

    Jackson was also ranked as the second-best overall athlete among all available college players in the 2009 draft class by Baseball America.

    Last year, the youngster hit .297/.395/.493 with 12 homers, 66 RBI and 23 steals in 491 at-bats between High-A Daytona and Double-A Tennessee and he is really showing himself to be as solid at the plate as he is in the outfield.

8. Mark Trumbo, 1B, Los Angeles Angels

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    Trumbo is actually going to get the start on Opening Day only because Kendrys Morales won’t be ready for the start (recovering from a fractured leg).

    Otherwise, the power-swinging first baseman, who is a career .275 hitter (five years in Single-A, High-A and Triple-A ball), is currently in the waiting line for a full-time gig.

    Obviously, there will be a day the Angels will enjoy his services—alongside fellow rookie Mike Trout, who is waiting for Bobby Abreu, Torii Hunter, and recently acquired Vernon Wells to give way—which will make this a very dangerous team for years to come.

7. Daniel Nava, OF, Boston Red Sox

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    If you were a prospect within the Boston Red Sox system who hit .337/.431/.532 with 37 home runs, 202 RBI, 26 stolen bases and an astounding 88 doubles from 2007 to 2010, you’d basically be waiting to be called up for everyday duty, right?

    Add some experience actually playing in the majors, where you hit a respectable .242, and your case is a bit stronger than before, yes?

    How about when you learn the team brought in superstar Carl Crawford?

    Exactly! Don’t ya feel for the little fella?

6. Jesus Montero, C, New York Yankees

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    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    Manager Joe Girardi has previously said that it’s going to “probably take until the end of the month to really evaluate where we are” regarding the Yankees' catching prospects.

    And that’s a good thing because it means you have a lot of talent there.

    Jesus Montero, one of the highly-touted rookies for New York, is one of three catchers playing behind veteran Russell Martin, which makes the battle all the more daunting, but exciting in the same vein.

    Martin can provide that veteran hand that every rookie needs to polish what is already a nice skill set, and with the recent injury to fellow catcher Francisco Cervelli, the door just crept open a bit further for Montero.

5. Trevor May, SP, Philadelphia Phillies

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    Most players have one or even two guys in front of them blocking their path to the majors, but imagine having five players in your way?

    Well, meet Trevor May.

    May is a multi-pitch thrower with above-average stuff. He has a fastball that sits around 92-to-94 miles per hour, a nice moving change-up and a splendid out-pitch in his curve.

    And to add to his already existing repertoire of pitches is a solid collection of stats:

    Year

    IP

    ERA

    WHIP

    H/9

    BB/9

    K/9

    SO

    2010

    135

    4.00

    1.37

    6.9

    5.4

    12.1

    182

    2009

    77.1

    2.56

    1.30

    6.8

    5.0

    11.1

    95

    2008

    12

    3.75

    1.50

    8.2

    5.2

    8.2

    11

4. Dustin Ackley, 2B, Mariners

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    I talked about Ackley before in this piece I did regarding 15 prospects already turning heads in spring training, and while he was given a shot at a roster spot, it is likely that Ackley will play this season in Triple-A Tacoma, with veterans Adam Kennedy, Brendan Ryan and Jack Wilson in front of him.

    The No. 5-rated prospect in baseball this year—according to MLB.com's rankings—is a great bat waiting to happen, which is what the Mariners are hoping for.

    Ackley hit .267/.368/.407 with seven home runs and 51 RBI in 501 at-bats in the minors before exploding in the Arizona Fall League, hitting .424, which is more along the lines of what the Mariners see in him.

    But only time will tell.

3. Michael Pineda, RHP, Mariners

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    At 6'5" and 247 pounds, the 22-year-old Pineda is as dominant on the mound as he is imposing.

    Pineda’s cool-under-pressure demeanor and penchant for strikes has the Mariners basically salivating at the chance of getting this kid on the bump, alongside King Felix and company.

    The problem is just that: the company.

    The current roster for the Mariners is already rented out to fellow youngster Luke French, Eric Bedard, Doug Fister and Jason Vargas…and, of course, the King.

    A pitcher has more of a chance of getting in on playing time than a hitter does when a player is in front of him, but he is still months away, if not a full year or two.

2. Devin Mesoraco, C, Cincinnati Reds

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    He moved from Advanced-A to Triple-A, he hit .302 with 26 home runs and 75 RBI, he was a first-round pick by the Reds and he is in line to become the long-term backstop for the Reds.

    But he’s currently behind veteran Ramon Hernandez.

    Luckily for Mesoraco, Hernandez is 35 years old and unlikely to last past the 2011 season, which is precisely what the Reds organization is thinking about as well.

    It will be interesting, nonetheless, to see who winds up behind the plate for the Reds, considering Yasmani Grandal is also in the mix, but the Reds have to be comfortable knowing that they have some high-level talent in the mix.

1. Brandon Belt, 1B, San Francisco Giants

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    As far as the San Francisco brass was concerned, Pablo Sandoval was on his way out the door at the end of last season.

    He was overweight and underachieving. And their other alternative, the aging Aubrey Huff, isn't looked at as a long-term solution.

    So imagine if you are hard-hitting Brandon Belt. Imagine hearing that Big Panda might be on his way out, and Huff might be better suited in a limited role.

    Add the fact that—in minor league ball— you hit a combined .352 with 23 home runs and 112 RBI with 93 walks, a .455 on-base percentage and a .620 slugging percentage with only 99 strikeouts in 492 at-bats last year. And add in the fact that you hit .372 with 16 RBI and a .427 on-base percentage in just 22 games in the Arizona Fall League and suddenly you feel pretty confident that you’ll get the nod, right?

    Well Big Panda is more streamlined and likely to stick around, and Belt will continue to stay in the minors, which is how things sometimes go in the bigs.

    I hope you guys enjoyed and, if so, come check out some of my fantasy baseball advice here.