Some dubbed 2010 the "Year of the Rookie" after many top tier prospects entered the big leagues. Jason Heyward and Neftali Feliz were among those to make it to the show on Opening Day, but a wave of impact players took a little time to join them.
Among the superstar midseason replacements were Buster Posey, Mike Stanton, Danny Valencia, and Starlin Castro. Even Evan Longoria had to wait to make the bigs until May. These cornerstone players are now on their way to superstar status.
Whether they were demoted to push back their service clock or to get a little more seasoning, these rookies are not quite ready to be in the majors, but will be in the near future. Jeremy Hellickson, Zach Britton, Kyle Drabek, and now Jerry Sands are already writing their names on the Rookie of the Year ballot, but these guys are soon going to grab at the rungs of the rookie ladder.
Ackley is in a pretty good position right now, partially because he is incredibly talented, but mostly because Brendan Ryan and Jack Wilson can't hit.
After being drafted right behind Stephen Strasburg in the 2009 draft, Ackley showed why he was the number one position player with great offense. He has now found a home at second base and the lesser of Ryan/Wilson could be easily moved to short to make room.
Ackley still has a ways to go offensively before reaching his full potential. He is only hitting .213 right now at Triple-A and wasn't very impressive last year, but was incredible in the Arizona Fall League, leading many to believe that he is ready now.
The Mariners have nothing to lose promoting Ackley after it is clear that he won't accumulate enough service time to reach Super Two status, so he should make it to the league sometime after May.
Moustakas is one of the most powerful men in the minors. He pounded 36 home runs and 124 RBI between Double and Triple-A in 2010.
Mike Aviles and Wilson Betemit are not the future at third and while they are doing well, Moustakas is way better at this point. After a little more seasoning, Moustakas figures to be the everyday player around June. His slow start will turn around and he'll show his worth.
The Royals have a difficult situation with Hosmer. He is clearly the first baseman of the future. He is also clearly ready to be called up as he is dominating Triple-A right now with a .400 average and .984 slugging percentage.
The problem the Royals face is that they have three guys at the same position that all factor into their future plans. Billy Butler and Kila Ka'aihue are both entrenched at the major league level and figure to take all of the first base and DH starts.
Hosmer's best shot at making the bigs is to continue to rock the Pacific Coast League and hope that one of Butler and Ka'aihue gets hurt. As soon as there is an injury, Hosmer will begin his reign of terror on AL pitching.
Yes. It is true. Another Royal made the list.
The Royals have the best major league-ready talent in the minors and Montgomery comes in the position they need most: pitching.
Mike Montgomery has great stuff and the ability to strikeout hitters. His current weakness is his control. Despite 14 strikeouts in 15 innings, Montgomery has allowed 10 free passes.
As soon as he can gain better control, Montgomery can make the leap to the majors. With Kyle Davies, Bruce Chen, and Sean O'Sullivan at the back of the rotation right now, the Royals could use an upgrade. Aaron Crow and Vin Mazzaro should fill slots in the future, but Montgomery can slot in right with them.
Montero is a fantastic hitter and can make the Yankees lineup that much better if he is promoted. His problem is defense.
Montero is a terrible defensive catcher, which has held him back. He is clearly a better hitter than Jorge at this point, but won't be called up quite yet. If Jorge continues to be bad, Jesus might see his time in the minors come to a close a lot quicker than expected.
Had it not been for terrible defense, Montero would be the backup now, but he should take over soon.
The Yankees rotation is terrible right now.
Phil Hughes was placed on the DL because of "dead arm", but it was really just an excuse for his incredible drop in velocity. Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon are washed up and it will soon be revealed in the numbers. Kevin Millwood is waiting in the wings, but he showed last year with the Orioles that he is not fit for the AL East. Ivan Nova has been roughed up as well.
Now to the other option, Manny Banuelos. Banuelos shined in spring training and had scouts raving about his incredible ability. He's currently in Double-A Trenton, but will almost certainly push his way to Triple-A by the middle of the season.
The Yankees need to make a move for a starter. Their offense and bullpen are incredible. Banuelos can solidify a pretty solid staff.
Jennings will almost certainly be a part of the Rays outfield by the trade deadline.
After under-performing in his September call-up and spring training invite, Jennings needs to take advantage of the seasoning in the minors.
Johnny Damon and B.J. Upton are both deadline trade candidates and Jennings as soon as one is gone. He just need to improve his numbers now because he is regressing in Durham.
Mike Minor has dominant strikeout stuff and it propelled him to an early call-up at the end of last season.
Minor lost the fifth starter job to fellow rookie Brandon Beachy but probably has a higher ceiling. Minor was destroyed in his only major league start of this season but has torn apart International League hitters to the tune of a 1.50 ERA with 14 strikeouts compared to just two walks in 12 innings.
As soon as he figures out how to translate his stuff into the majors, Minor will become a top strikeout pitcher.
The Brewers are going to rue the day that they traded Brett Lawrie when he makes it to the majors.
After finally finding a home at third, Lawrie just needs to develop his defense before being promoted to the Blue Jays. His .392 average and incredible 1.054 slugging percentage will propel him quickly to the show.
Brett Lawrie reminds me of Brian Roberts with a little more power. He has a knack for hitting doubles and that puts a lot of pressure on opposing pitchers. The Blue Jays could use another great bat in their lineup, but will have to wait to make sure that the defense is an upgrade before promoting him.
Chisenhall has a pretty clear path to the majors with Jack Hannahan and Adam Everett as the only guys blocking his path to being the Indians everyday third baseman.
Lonnie could use some time at Triple-A before being promoted. He has only played 12 games at the level and hasn't been all that impressive.
Despite his struggles, Chisenhall could easily make his way to the majors around June. He is very close to being major league ready.
Matt Dominguez is pretty much in the same boat as Chisenhall. The Marlins have a gaping hole at third and would love to fill it with Dominguez. but a combination of poor offense in spring training and an injury have sent him to the minors as soon as he heals.
Dominguez's upside begins with his fielding. He is an incredible defensive upgrade at third, which could quicken his movement through the minors. As soon as he figures out hitting, he'll join a fantastic young crop of Marlins players. He'll definitely be in the Opening Day lineup when they become the Miami Marlins next year.
Yonder Alonso has probably been ready to be promoted for a while now, but is blocked by Joey Votto who isn't leaving any time soon.
Alonso is definitely good enough to be a starting first baseman, but his best bet is probably not with the Reds. My guess is that Alonso will be the main piece in a deadline trade for the Reds and move into a starting job immediately after. He'll make it, but just probably not with the Reds.
He probably won't go back to the minors once he heals (unless he rehabs in the minors), so he isn't really pushing into the majors, but he is a midseason guy that will put some pressure on the Rookie of the Year race. He's one of the best young outfielders in the game.
Brett Jackson is only in Double-A now, but is incredibly talented. He is tearing up Double-A with his bat and his lightning speed.
Jackson has the tools to impact all facets of the game. He is one of the quickest guys in the minors and that shows on the bases and defensively. The Cubs have a pretty full outfield with Fukudome, Byrd, Soriano, and Colvin, but I'll go as far as to say that Jackson is more talented than all of them at this point and Jim Hendry will be forced to call him up sooner rather than later.
Now part of the Oakland system, Taylor is recovering from a calf injury, but when he returns, he could pounce on Triple-A pitching.
Taylor is blessed with incredible size, an asset that hasn't quite led to power, but he'll start hitting more home runs soon and be a force for the A's. He just needs to see the field to make the high ups take notice.
Lyles is young, but extremely talented and entered the mix in spring training for a back-end of the rotation slot. He ultimately lost to Nelson Figueroa, but will soon make it up to the bigs.
Lyles has struggled a little in Triple-A so far, but has the stuff to succeed. He can easily make it around the All-Star break, when Wandy Rodriguez and Brett Myers figure to be traded.