MLB Predictions: The Next 18 Prospects Who Will Be Promoted to the Majors

Eli MargerCorrespondent IJune 7, 2011

MLB Predictions: The Next 18 Prospects Who Will Be Promoted to the Majors

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    SURPISE, AZ - FEBRUARY 27: Mike Moustakas #8 of the Kansas City Royals field a ground ball during a spring training game against the Texas Rangers at Surprise Stadium on February 27, 2011 in Surprise, Arizona. (Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images)
    Rob Tringali/Getty Images

    It is always interesting to watch how teams handle their prospects.

    With the increasingly complex MLB contract rules regarding service time and team control, organizations must be extra careful when deciding when to introduce a prospect to the big show.

    But the Major League season is very dynamic, and teams' needs are constantly changing as injuries occur and players develop.

    As we inch closer to this season's halfway point, here is a look at the next wave of 18 prospects that could be throwing on a major league jersey soon.

    Note: These are in no particular order.

Dustin Ackley, 2B, Mariners

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    PEORIA, AZ - MARCH 04:  Dustin Ackley #13 of the Seattle Mariners runs to first base during the spring training game against the Cincinnati Reds at Peoria Stadium on March 4, 2011 in Peoria, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Believe it or not, the Seattle Mariners are contenders. A year after being baseball's second-worst team, the M's have turned it around behind great pitching and defense. But the offense is still very much a work in progress.

    Dustin Ackley is the best offensive prospect in Seattle's system, and with several Mariners hitters struggling, he seems to be next in line to get to the majors. Adam Kennedy and Jack Wilson are both versatile infielders who can be moved around to make room for Ackley.

    His bat would be a welcome addition in the Mariners' lineup.

Jesus Montero, C, Yankees

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    TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 23:  Jesus Montero #83 of the New York Yankees poses for a portrait on Photo Day at George M. Steinbrenner Field on February 23, 2011 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    It seems inevitable at this point that the Yankees will cut ties with Jorge Posada sooner rather than later. His .169 average and limited value are only detrimental to this team that is trying to win the AL East. That being said, it's time for Jesus Montero.

    Rather than make a costly trade for another bat at the deadline, the Yankees could promote Montero and ease him into the DH role. With Russell Martin filling the catcher need for now, Montero's body will be saved and bat will be exhibited.

    This is the call-up Yankee fans have been waiting for, and it could be coming sooner than you think.

Mike Moustakas, 3B, Royals

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    SURPISE, AZ - FEBRUARY 27: Mike Moustakas #8 of the Kansas City Royals bats during a spring training game against the Texas Rangers at Surprise Stadium on February 27, 2011 in Surprise, Arizona. (Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images)
    Rob Tringali/Getty Images

    This season, Royals fans are getting a glimpse into the future. With Eric Hosmer in the bigs, the team is starting to slowly promote each of its top prospects. Who's next in line? It could be Mike Montgomery or Wil Myers, but more likely, it'll be Mike Moustakas.

    The hard-hitting third baseman has had a great year so far in AAA. With Wilson Betemit playing well this year at the hot corner for Kansas City, Moustakas might have a bit of a roadblock. But he is a good enough player where Betemit can be moved around the infield just so Moose can get some playing time.

    This is the next of the exciting moves for the Royals.

Desmond Jennings, Outfielder, Rays

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    FT. MYERS, FL - FEBRUARY 22:  Desmond Jennings #8 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays Photo Day on February 22, 2011 at the Charlotte Sports Complex in Port Charlotte, Florida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
    Elsa/Getty Images

    The Tampa Bay Rays are reeling, in need of some sort of spark to propel the team back into one of the top two spots in the AL East. There have been many suggestions for how to get this spark, but the best answer may be calling up Jennings, the organization's best hitting prospect.

    Jennings is basically Carl Crawford 2.0. He is a speedy, rangy outfielder who gets on base often. With "Super" Sam Fuld continuing to struggle, Jennings may be the fourth outfielder the team needs, perhaps eventually becoming an everyday player.

    Regardless, Jennings would be a great player to have in Tampa Bay rather than Durham.

Trayvon Robinson, Outfielder, Dodgers

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    GOODYEAR, AZ - MARCH 03:  Trayvon Robinson #62 of the Los Angeles Dodgers fields a base hit against the Cincinnati Reds at Goodyear Ballpark on March 3, 2011 in Goodyear, Arizona.  (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
    Norm Hall/Getty Images

    Two-thirds of the Los Angeles Dodgers' outfield is absolutely elite. With Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier patrolling center and right field, respectively, the boys in blue have an almost unparalleled duo of outfielders. But left field has been a concern and has been a spot that hasn't provided much production.

    As exciting as the platoon of Jay Gibbons, Tony Gwynn, and Jerry Sands may be, the solution may be an electrifying outfielder playing at triple-A Albequerque. Trayvon Robinson is an athletic outfielder who provides speed, defense, and potential top-of-the-order offensive ability.

    The Dodgers may turn to Robinson soon if left field production does not pick up. However, with Dee Gordon recalled yesterday, this move may be less likely.

Kyle Gibson, RHP, Twins

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    Sorry to say it, Twins fans, but this season is likely over for you. The bad luck bug has bitten the Twin Cities, and with injuries piling up along with losses, the hope for any sort of turnaround this year is likely gone. With that comes an opportunity to look to the future.

    That might mean promoting the team's top prospect, former Missouri Tiger Kyle Gibson. He's got a powerful right arm and could be a future front-of-the-rotation starter. Promoting him sooner rather than later would be beneficial as he could face some quality major league lineups for almost half the season.

    That will be a great move in the long term.

Brett Lawrie, 3B, Blue Jays

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    DUNEDIN, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Infielder Brett Lawrie #13 of the Toronto Blue Jays warms up for play against the Detroit Tigers February 26, 2011 at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium in Dunedin, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    This one seems to be literally right around the corner. It was rumored that Lawrie would be making his Blue Jays debut this past weekend, but he was hit on the hand by a pitch last Tuesday. Chances are that once he is fully recovered, the big leagues will come calling.

    Having Lawrie in a major league uniform is an exciting concept for Jays fans. For a team that is knocking on the door of contention, having the big bat of Lawrie to fill the offensive void at third base would perhaps be all they need.

    Get ready, Toronto. Your future is about to arrive.

Chris Carter, 1B, Athletics

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    PEORIA, AZ - MARCH 12:  Chris Carter #22 of the Oakland Athletics bats against the Seattle Mariners during the spring training game at Peoria Stadium on March 12, 2011 in Peoria, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    One of Oakland's top prospects, Chris Carter has been thought of more as an outfielder than first baseman. But his quickest route to the Coliseum may not be through the outfield given the five (six if you include Hideki Matsui) outfielders on Oakland's roster. Instead, first base might be his calling.

    With Daric Barton stinking it up at the plate, Carter might be a welcome addition to the big league club. He might not start playing immediately, but his impact will be felt. The big righty has the potential to really affect the A's lineup. He could see some time at first base or even at DH.

Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Padres

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    If you haven't heard the story of Anthony Rizzo yet, you need to. A highly-touted prospect out of south Florida, Rizzo was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma in May of 2008. Later that year, after a summer of chemotherapy, Rizzo was cancer-free. Rizzo was one of the major pieces in the trade that sent Adrian Gonzalez to Boston.

    Now, Rizzo is going Jose Bautista on AAA pitching. He is hitting .369 with 16 home runs and 62 RBI so far, and with the Padres' offense somewhere between anemic and putrid, Rizzo should be playing in the SoCal sunshine very, very soon.

    He may be the next Adrian Gonzalez.

Zach Cozart, SS, Reds

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    GOODYEAR, AZ - MARCH 03: Zack Cozart #60 of the Cincinnati Reds turns a double play as Ivan De Jesus #65 of the Los Angeles Dodgers slides into second base at Goodyear Ballpark on March 3, 2011 in Goodyear, Arizona.  (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
    Norm Hall/Getty Images

    The Reds are very much within striking distance of the Cardinals and Brewers in the NL Central. When you examine this team, you see two big holes. The first, the starting pitching, should correct itself. But on offense, the big hole in the lineup is at shortstop.

    Edgar Renteria and Paul Janish have been less than stellar this year, and Cincinnati may soon turn to Zack Cozart, a talented shortstop who is hitting just shy of .300 this year in triple-A Louisville. He is a good on-base threat and excellent defensively, and could at the very least be a valuable bench player for the Redlegs down the stretch.

Neil Ramirez, RHP, Rangers

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    The value of a strong, young arm out of the bullpen coming down the stretch is absolutely invaluable. The prime example, of course, would be David Price with the Rays in 2008. This year, the Rangers have a similarly talented player in righty Neil Ramirez.

    He has pitched well in Round Rock so far, and with some of Texas' bullpen struggling and the starting rotation pitching well, Ramirez could be a great addition to the Rangers. He projects as a starter, but using his big right arm and strikeout mentality out of the bullpen would give Texas yet another weapon on an already loaded team.

Mike Montgomery, LHP, Royals

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    SURPRISE, AZ - FEBRUARY 23:  Mike Montgomery #65 of the Kansas City Royals poses for a portrait during Spring Training Media Day on February 23, 2011 at Surprise Stadium in Surprise, Arizona..  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

    The Royals would love to get some quality arms in the major leagues right now. Unfortunately, they are probably going to be unwilling to trade their good young prospects to acquire a veteran arm. However, Kansas City does have a couple of future aces in their farm system.

    The most MLB-ready of them is Mike Montgomery, a hard-throwing lefty who projects to be a front of the rotation type starter. He isn't exactly tearing up AAA, but it won't be hard to top the performances of Kyle Davies or Sean O'Sullivan.

    With the Royals staying afloat, the worst-case scenario here would be some valuable experience for a top arm, but the best case would be a big boost to the rotation.

Felix Doubront, LHP, Red Sox

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    BALTIMORE - AUGUST 31:  Felix Doubront #61 of the Boston Red Sox pitches against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards on August 31, 2010 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
    Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    The BoSox have had an incredible roller coaster of a season so far, partly due to the offense but mostly due to a very inconsistent pitching staff. The expected strong starts from Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, and Clay Buchholz are nice, but the back two of the rotation have been trouble spots.

    Between John Lackey, Tim Wakefield, Daisuke Matsuzaka (DL), and Alfredo Aceves, the collection of pitchers making up the back of the rotation has been simply awful. Doubront has been very good in AAA this year, and his presence either as a starter or long reliever would probably be a good boost.

    If the pitchers keep struggling, expect Doubront up soon.

Jacob Turner, RHP, Tigers

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    LAKELAND, FL - MARCH 01: Jacob Turner #50 of the Detroit Tigers pitches in the first inning during the game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Joker Marchant Stadium on March 1, 2011 in Lakeland, Florida. The Tigers defeated the Blue Jays 6-2.  (Photo by Le
    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    Now, before you jump on me, Tigers fans, bear with me for a second. The Andy Oliver experiment is, at least for the time being, on hold. He was sent down yesterday to the minors. Turner, the top prospect in Detroit's system, has been slated for a September call-up, but as the AL Central race tightens, his presence might make a difference.

    He is tearing up AA, and chances are that a promotion to triple-A will come soon. I'm not saying that Turner will be called up in the next week or two, but perhaps by the trade deadline or mid-August, Turner could be in a Detroit uniform.

    If this is the case, get ready for a big glimpse of the future.

Dayan Viciedo, Outfielder, White Sox

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    OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 22:  Dayan Viciedo #24 of the Chicago White Sox bats against the Oakland Athletics at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on September 22, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Hey White Sox fans, raise your hand if you're sick of Alex Rios? With a Mendoza-riffic batting average and overall lack of production, it is no surprise that he was recently benched by Ozzie Guillen. What does this mean? Well, for one, Kenny Williams is wasting his money.

    Secondly, Dayan Viciedo might be getting his chance soon. He's having a great season in Charlotte, and the hard-hitting outfielder looks to be ready to break into the majors. In an outfield that includes the aging Juan Pierre, the oft-injured Carlos Quentin, and the exciting Brent Lillibridge, Viciedo would be a great addition.

    "The Tank" may be invading the South Side soon.

Reese Havens, 2B, Mets

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    If this promotion happens, the right side of the Mets infield has to win the All-Name award. I mean, Reese Havens and Ike Davis? Those are some all-American names right there. And as sparkling as Ruben Tejeda has been at second base, it wouldn't hurt to have some depth, or even a potential starter, in Havens.

    Havens is still in double A, but at this rate, Binghamton won't be his home for long. A quick stop in AAA and there is a pretty good chance that Reese will get some time in the Big Apple. He doesn't have the sparkling numbers or high expectations, but he could be a solid contributor for the Mets.

Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Diamondbacks

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    SCOTTSDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 21:  Paul Goldschmidt #63 of the Arizona Diamondbacks poses for a portrait at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on February 21, 2011 in Scottsdale, Arizona.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    The perfect storm of miserable first base play in Phoenix and terrific hitting out of Paul Goldschmidt could be the catalyst for this young stud's fast rise to the majors. Goldschmidt is a largely untouted prospect, a big power hitter that looks more like a DH than anything. But his destruction of minor league pitching has been noteworthy.

    The unimpressive performances of Xavier Nady, Russell Branyan, and Juan Miranda for the Diamondbacks leaves a huge infield hole. It will be hard for the D'Backs to ignore Goldschmidt's .341/.457/.683 line at double-A Mobile so far this year.

    He'll be hurried along and should see the majors soon.

Mike Trout, Outfielder, Angels

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    PHOENIX, AZ - FEBRUARY 27:  Mike Trout #90 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at bat against the Los Angeles Dodgers during spring training at Camelback Ranch on February 27, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
    Harry How/Getty Images

    Oh yes. Forget Tim Salmon. The big fish in Anaheim is going to be Mike Trout. The LA Angels have a terrific collection of overpaid and underperforming outfielders. A certain T. Hunter is starting to show his age, and his friend V. Wells is making Peter Bourjos look like Ty Cobb.

    Meanwhile, Mike Trout is destroying AA in Arkansas. He's hitting .306 and showing great power, speed, and defense. I know he's only 19, but this might be as good an opportunity as ever. Maybe they want to save him for a September call-up, but if I'm a Halos fan and watching this outfield every night, I'm not too pleased.

    The best solution to the problem may be the best player in the Angels' system.