Cleveland prospect Beau Mills has had a bounce-back season and generated some interest in the organization.
When the trade deadline rolls around this year, you're going to see plenty of rumors flying about the Yankees, Red Sox and Rangers looking to add some pieces to their roster via trades.
And the teams who they're going to get those parts from (likely the Pirates, A's and Padres) are going to have one demand for them:
Big league-ready players.
In case you weren't aware, that "moniker" means guys who are likely playing at Triple-A, but who are young enough to have everyday player potential.
In year's past, that has fit players like Seattle 1B Justin Smoak (acquired from Texas for Cliff Lee), Kansas City RHP Jeremy Jeffress (acquired from Milwaukee for Zack Greinke) and Nationals C Wilson Ramos (acquired from Minnesota for Matt Capps).
This year, the moniker is bound to fit a whole bunch more players, including these likely characters...
The D-Backs are pretty adamant that any of the pitchers who have seen time with their Double-A squad this season, such as Wade Miley, Pat Corbin and Jarrod Parker, are not on the trade block.
Zavada, however, could be.
He showed how capable he could be by posting a 3.35 ERA in 49 big league appearances back in 2009. Unfortunately, he struggled the next season and was shut down, eventually requiring Tommy John surgery. He's finally back on the mound, pitching in Double-A, and he's looking very good.
He's posted a healthy K:BB ratio of 26:10 and has a 2.76 ERA in 24 appearances.
The D-Backs could use another arm out of the bullpen, but with Zavada still pitching down at Double-A, and two years removed from big-league competition, there's no way to know how he'll react if he gets another shot at the Majors.
Despite injuries to the Braves starting big-league rotation, the team still has way too many pitchers gunning for too few slots.
Just at Double and Triple-A alone they have Julio Teheran, Randall Delgado, Arodys Vizcaino, J.J. Hoover and Mike Minor.
Not all of these guys are going to work out and my guess is that some of them, like Oberholtzer, will end up pitching for another team come 2012.
The Braves are still in the thick of things in the National League East, but they do have some holes, and like it or not, that's why the Braves have built such a stunning collection of talent, to be able to deal for what they need when the time comes.
Oberholtzer has had a pretty strong season, posting a 4.26 ERA and a 70:26 K:BB ratio in 88.2 innings. He's the epitome of a control pitcher. Last year he posted a 126:23 ratio, and the year before 56:6.
It's all the more impressive because he is a pretty big guy (6'2", 230 lbs) and bigger guys tend to have trouble repeating their delivery.
Obeholtzer doesn't quite have the prospect clout of the rest of his rotation mates, which means he could be one of the first guys to be dealt.
The Orioles are pretty set at third base right now. With Mark Reynolds tearing the cover off the ball at a torrid pace not seen in Baltimore since Brady Anderson's juiced 50-HR season, there just isn't much room for any other third baseman in the O's short-term future plans.
That makes any performance of Josh Bell or Brandon Waring pretty much a moot point.
Waring has as much power as any member of the Orioles organization, and has shown it, bashing at least 20 home runs four straight seasons. This year, he's already worked his way to ten, but as he's continued to rise up the food chain his flaws have been exposed.
He struck out a career-high 179 times in 2010, and he already has 67 whiffs this year in just 62 games.
His average is also down to a career-low .189, marking the second consecutive season that his number has declined.
Waring might not have any value to the Orioles, but his power could be appealing to a team looking for some depth in the high-minor leagues, or even a bat off the bench to use in the post season.
Federowicz has already been passed in the Red Sox depth chart by Ryan Lavarnway, who has worked his way up to Triple-A, showing an incredible power stroke and decent defensive skills.
That's not to say that Federowicz isn't talented.
This is the same guy who hit .305 with 14 home runs and 58 RBI in 106 games in 2009.
This year he's hitting .279 with 13 doubles, six home runs and 38 RBI in 65 games.
However, with Lavarnway playing the way that he is, he's going to be the first catcher to get the chance to replace the ineffective tandem of Jason Varitek and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, leaving Federowicz likely looking for another organization to give him a shot.
Two catchers ranked in Baseball America's Top 30 for the Cubs this season, and neither was named Clevenger.
Despite his impressive showing this season for the Tennessee Smokies (.307, four HR, 22 RBI in 48 games), Clevenger has fallen by the wayside in Chicago, relegated to backup of the backup of the backup of the backup status, behind Welington Castillo and Robinson Chirinos.
And of course that Soto fellow up in the big leagues.
But while he has been surpassed by two players with greater ceilings, what can't be ignored is how much better of a catcher and hitter Clevenger is right now than both Castillo and Chirinos. Never once in full season ball has he failed to hit below .290, and he's never struck out more than 51 times in a single season.
Clevenger should get a shot, and he deserves one, but his best interests probably aren't going to be served in Chicago.
Did I mention he hit .800 in six games during spring training this year?
The Nationals aren't the only team with a Chris Marrero who could be on the move.
The White Sox happen to have a future Hall of Famer at first base right now in Paul Konerko, and have a beast of a man in Dayan Viciedo waiting for his chance to replace him.
That doesn't leave much room for Marrero, who has seen a lot of time at first base this season in an effort to increase his versatility. He also plays in the outfield, and sees some time at DH. Kind of sounds like an Adam Dunn-type guy, and the Sox barely have enough room for him.
Marrero's bat has been plenty good this year. He's hitting .311 with 11 home runs and 44 RBI. He's on pace to set career-highs in numerous offensive categories.
Unfortunately, with Konerko in the Majors, and Viciedo at Triple-A, there isn't much room for advancement. As such, Marrero has spent close to 300 games at the Double-A level, and after a while prospect fatigue is going to inevitably set in.
His best shot could be in another organization.
The Reds have such a log-jam in the infield that there is definitely going to be no room for Puckett, a 24-year-old former eighth-round draft pick in 2008.
Puckett has shown the ability to hit for average (.282 in 2010) and power (19 HR in 2009), and has also shown good speed, swiping an average of 19 bases between '09 and 2010.
Puckett might one day get his chance, but I highly doubt it will be with Cincinnati.
Mills was a first-round pick (13th-overall) back in 2007, after putting up some record-breaking numbers for Lewis-Clark State College, and while he's put together some pretty fine seasons (.293, 21 HR, 90 RBI in 2008) he's been trending downward recently.
Last year he hit rock-bottom in his second season in the Double-A Eastern League. His averaged dropped to a career-low .241 and he slugged only ten home runs. It seemed as if Mills were on "bust watch."
Mills didn't do anything to get the critics off his back, hitting .240 with one home run during the first month of the season, but since the calendar flipped to June, he's been very good. His average during the month is .320, which has bumped his overall number to .293.
He's jacked four home runs during the month, raising his season total to five, putting him on-pace to at least surpass his total from last season.
With Matt LaPorta offering at least average talent at first base, it makes no sense to keep Mills hanging around. Maybe with another solid month he might be able to generate some interest among other teams.
The Rockies are currently four games under .500, but with their history of making late-season runs their six-game deficit in the N.L. West shouldn't seem insurmountable.
Like every other team that is in contention and is looking to be towards the end of the year, the Rockies have some holes. They could always use more pitching, and their outfield has been hit with some injuries and the inconsistent play of Carlos Gonzalez.
If they could pick up a premium player, it might be worth it to think about dealing their top catching prospect, Wilin Rosario. The 22-year-old backstop has already worked his way to Double-A, where he has 11 home runs in 58 games, making him a pretty appealing target.
He could be expendable because the Rockies also have Jordan Pacheco (hitting .267 at Triple-A) and one of the newest members of the organization, third-round pick Peter O'Brien, one of the most offensive-minded catchers available in this year's draft.
Martinez has had a stellar season, hitting .285 with seven home runs and 35 RBI in 65 games, and he's on pace to shatter almost all of his career-highs in his fourth season with the Tigers.
And while most teams would be stoked to have a guy like the 20-year-old Martinez hitting well in Double-A, the Tigers have the luxury of considering him, well...a luxury.
The team shelled out $3.45 million to sign Nick Castellanos with the 44th-overall pick, and as good as Martinez has been, Castellanos has been even better, raking to the tune of a .388/.415/.541 line during the month of June.
His showing this month has helped him overcome a rough debut month, one in which he hit .179 in 19 games. For the season, Castellanos is now hitting .299 with 16 doubles, three triples, four home runs and 40 RBI, just two steps below Martinez in Low-A.
Since Castellanos has the better track record of performance, not to mention the extra clout afford a "bonus baby," it's likely that Martinez could be on the move if the Tigers are looking to pick up some extra pieces around the trade deadline.
The Marlins have to be disappointed with the progress they have, or rather...haven't seen from 21-year-old catcher Kyle Skipworth, the team's first-round pick back in 2008.
Skipworth appeared to have turned the corner last year during his second season in the South Atlantic League. Still that isn't saying much. Yeah, he set a career-high in several offensive categories, but setting a career-mark with a .245 average isn't exactly something to brag about.
Skipworth had come back to earth this year, hitting a career-low .195, but it's a number that's more on pace with the .208 he hit in his Gulf Coast League debut and his first full season.
And while he showed some promise in the power department last season (17 HR in 404 at-bats), Skipworth has regressed in that department as well, slugging only five so far this season in 210 at-bats.
Skipworth could be on the move, but not because somebody wants him.
Seaton is another guy who might benefit from a change of scenery.
After a promising start to his pro career (3.29 ERA, 136.2 IP in 2009), the Astros have left him to fend for himself in the hard-hitting California League, where he was shelled to the tune of a 6.64 ERA and 22 home runs allowed in 2010, and now the Texas League, where he has reduced his ERA by a run to 5.70. He's still getting hit hard (10 HRA), but it seems like the best thing for Seaton would be to take a break, take a breath, and try to regain some of his confidence.
If the Astros aren't willing to give him that, it might be in his best interest to beg his way into a trade deadline deal.
I'm sure I'm not the only one who noticed that the Royals made two major moves to acquire some help in centerfield since the start of the year.
Their first move was dealing Zack Greinke to Milwaukee and picking up Lorenzo Cain, a talented outfielder who has the athleticism to play center.
Their second was the drafting of franchise cornerstone Bubba Starling in the First-Year Player Draft. Starling is a five-tool stud who makes everyone else pale in comparison, including Cain.
That leaves Derrick Robinson pretty much out of luck. Yeah, he's a pretty talented dude who has averaged about 55 steals during the past three seasons, but he doesn't seem to have the contact skills to make it long-term in the Majors. Excluding last season, he has a career average of around .240, and after a career year in which he hit .286 in 2010, he's back down to .256 this year.
The Angels have a big-time glut of outfielders in their system, and most happen to fit the same profile: rangy, athletic guys who offer great defensive ability and excellent speed.
Unfortunately for Pettit, both Peter Bourjos and Mike Trout happen to have much more of just about everything, making the soon-to-be 26-year-old for the most part expendable.
Pettit has had a terrible season this year, by far the worst of his career. His average was down to a paltry .167 in 209 at-bats before a demotion to Double-A. This coming a year after he hit .321 with 18 steals in the same league for the same team. Pettit also had a strong showing in a big-league call-up, hitting .286 in 10 games.
If the Angels were wise, they'd do their best to see if they could get something for him while he still has some prospect clout left.
The Dodgers can't even find room for top prospect Jerry Sands in their outfield, so I'm pretty doubtful that they'll be able to find a spot for Russell, no matter how much power he has in his bat.
The book on Russell is the same as it's always been. He has great power, as evidenced by his back-to-back 26-home run seasons, but he also strikes out more than just about anyone in the minors. His second season in the minors he struck out 180 times, and followed that up with a 170 mark last year.
This season he is already up to 90, in just 74 games mind you, but somehow he has maintained a solid .280 average. He also has 16 home runs and has driven in 47 runs.
With the Dodgers in one of the worst financial situations in baseball history, it might make sense for the team to get rid of a lot of their high-priced talent and turn to cheap youngsters like Russell, but it's more likely that they're going to engineer a turnaround like Texas did, without dealing any of their top talent.
That leaves Russell on the outside looking in.
The Brewers are in good position to make the playoffs.
But with Albert Pujols returning after the All-Star break and the Reds primed for another postseason run, it's likely going to take more than the team they have currently assembled to hold down the N.L. Central lead.
Unfortunately, trades for Shaun Marcum and Zack Greinke have thinned out their farm system, leaving them very little to bargain with come the trade deadline.
One guy who could have some value for other teams is burly right-hander Wily Peralta, who has put together a fine campaign in 2011. He has averaged more than a strikeout per inning, and if you get rid of a tough stretch during May, he's pitched to an ERA of around 3.00.
Peralta has the size and stuff to be a mid-rotation starter, but it's likely going to be in another team's rotation.
Ascribing to the belief that a guy who has been traded before is much more likely to get dealt than another who hasn't, I'm pretty sure if any member of the Twins Double-A roster is going to be dealt it's likely to be Jacobson.
Jacobson was dealt from Baltimore to Minnesota in the J.J. Hardy deal, and before that was sent from Detroit to the Orioles in a one-for-one swap for Aubrey Huff.
Jacobson has had success just about everywhere he's been during his four-year minor league career. He won eight games and struck out almost one batter an inning last year for the Orioles High-A squad.
This year Jacobson has split time between starting and relieving for New Britain and the results have been good no matter his role. His ERA is currently 2.78 and he's only surrendered two home runs this season. A factor that might increase his tradeability is the fact that his control seems to have deserted him.
After struggling with his control, the wheels seem to have fallen off for the big right-hander. He's issued nearly as many walks (38) as he has strikeouts (41) leaving him much more susceptible to giving up runs despite the fact that hitters are hitting a career-low .206 against him.
The Twins value strike-throwers more than any other organization, but if Jacobson can't find the strike-zone with regularity, he might not stick around much longer.
The Mets thought they were getting a pitcher who could get to the Majors pretty quickly when they tabbed Holt as their first-round pick (33rd-overall) back in 2008.
He impressed greatly during his debut season, reaching Double-A just 24 starts into his career.
Unfortunately, that's where his career has stalled. In fact, since his promotion in 2009, Holt hasn't posted an ERA under 5.00 at any level, including a demotion to High-A ball during last season. He finished 2010 with a 3-14 record, and an ERA of 8.34.
This year, Holt has continued to disappoint, issuing more walks (45) than strikeouts (44) and notching a 5.06 ERA. Batters are hitting a paltry .227 against him, but his control issues have killed him, and his team. He's picked up losses in six of his 15 outings.
Needless to say, the Mets are about ready to give up on Holt, but there could be some other teams out there who still have a little faith in him.
Romine isn't the best power-hitting catcher in the Yankees organization. That honor would fall to Jesus Montero. Romine also isn't the best at hitting for average. That too would be Montero.
In fact, Romine probably ranks third on the Yankees depth chart at catcher, behind both Montero and Gary Sanchez.
Still, if the Yankees were for any reason to dangle Romine and put him on the market, teams would line up for his services. Not only does he have a solid bat, but he's also the real deal on defense. He would make a very serviceable big-league starter, but would lack the flash that the Yankees like to look for in a player.
And it's not like the Yankees have the patience to sit around and wait for him to reach Triple-A...and then the Majors.
Any chance that Rizzotti had at staking his claim to the Phillies' future first base job died the day that the team announced that Jonathan Singleton would be sliding back over to first, after an experiment in the outfield wasn't as fruitful as everyone had hoped it would be.
Now Rizzotti has to compete not only with current first baseman Ryan Howard, but also with Singleton, who is arguably a more complete, not to mention athletic, all-around player.
All that talk hasn't affected the slugger this season, however, as he's already bashed 14 home runs and is now four short of setting a new career-high. He's maintained a solid average (.291), despite a high number (73) of strikeouts in just 74 games, and he's solidified his reputation as a doubles-machine with 19 already.
The Phillies have ransacked their farm system the past few seasons in order to bring Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt to town, leaving them with very few prospects. Rizzotti might just be the best bat they would entertain moving.
Alderson was already a part of a major deal; the one that sent second baseman Freddy Sanchez to San Francisco.
Since joining the Pirates, however, Alderson has struggled to find any kind of consistency as a starter. After finishing last season with nine losses and an ERA over 6.00, not to mention an opponent's batting average over .300, the Pirates decided to move Alderson to the bullpen, a trick they've tried with a couple different youngsters over the years.
Twenty-four games into his relief career, the results seem to be pretty promising for the 6-foot-6, 215 pound right-hander. In 41 innings he has allowed a more respectable .226 average against, and has a 3.07 ERA. His strikeout rate (29 K in 41 IP) still isn't that strong, but he looks like he's going to be able to be a middle reliever long-term.
While Alderson is still young enough to contribute for the Pirates, his intriguing past as a starter might cause some teams to inquire as to his availability come the trade deadline. Especially if the Pirates are still over .500 and somehow in the hunt.
The Cards don't have too much prospect talent, and the guys that they do have, like Shelby Miller, Carlos Martinez and Zack Cox, are pretty much guaranteed to be off-limits come trade time.
That leaves guys like Ryan Jackson.
Believe it or not, but heading into the 2009 season, Jackson was considered by many to be the top shortstop available in that year's draft. His defense was excellent and his bat was considered above-average. He didn't have the strongest season at Miami, and he slipped to the fifth-round where the Cardinals scooped him up.
Since signing, he has slowly moved his way up the ladder, all the way to Double-A.
Jackson can play shortstop in the big-leagues, no question, but it's whether or not he can hit that will determine if he ever gets the chance.
If not, he should make a fine utility guy.
The Padres have had one of the top performing farm systems to this point in the 2011 season, and you can thank just about everyone of their third basemen for producing career years.
Darnell has been arguably the best, hitting .337 with 16 home runs and 61 RBI in 72 games, coming off of a year in which he struggled to maintain a great average (.271) or sustain any power (11 HR). He has certainly found his stroke in the Texas League.
Unfortunately, he's also facing stiff competition in the form of Jedd Gyorko (.384, 15 HR, 64 RBI) and Edinson Rincon (.344, seven HR, 46 RBI), meaning not everyone is going to stick around for the long-run.
The Giants have one of the weakest offensive Double-A teams in baseball.
So obviously, not too many teams will be interested in any of their position player prospects, which makes San Fran incredibly lucky to have a guy of Surkamp's level on the mound.
The left-hander exploded onto the scene two years ago, posting an 11-5 record, a 3.30 ERA and a 169:39 K:BB ratio. Last year he was even better, posting a 108:22 ratio, while maintaining a 3.11 ERA.
This year, Surkamp has taken it to another level entirely, posting a 87:24 ratio, while keeping his ERA under 2.00 through 13 starts.
It's unlikely that the Giants would consider dealing Surkamp, but with the talent level they have in the big-leagues, there may not be any room for Surkamp if he continues his meteoric rise.
And it doesn't seem like San Fran is going to be able to do much in the playoffs with this roster, meaning they're going to have to sacrifice somebody to get better now.
Triunfel may seem like an old prospect because he has four and a half minor league seasons under his belt, but somehow he's still only 21-years old.
After a couple of tough seasons, including last year's struggle in Double-A, Triunfel seems to finally be getting the hang of pitchers in the Southern League. He's hitting .279, his highest average since 2008, and he has five home runs, just two shy of tying his career-high.
Triunfel's defense is still a question mark, but with Nick Franklin in the fold in Seattle, it's probably not going to matter if Triunfel can get better.
The long-term shortstop position is going to Franklin, leaving Triunfel looking for a new home.
In case you didn't notice, the Rays had close to a million picks in the 2011 MLB Draft, and with four of their first 13 picks, they selected shortstops, including one, Jake Hager, in the first-round.
The Rays already had an impressive collection of shortstop talent, including the recently traded for Hak-Ju Lee, who joined the system from Chicago, where he established himself as the team's top infield prospect.
In Tampa, they also have another guy who just so happened to be a No. 1 overall pick a few years ago. And while Tim Beckham hasn't blossomed into the superstar everyone expected, he still might have some value...just not in this system.
Lee seems to have the inside track on the job in the long-term, leaving Beckham has potential trade bait. He still has some decent talent and he's actually had a very good year, hitting .288 with 15 doubles, two triples and five home runs for Double-A Montgomery.
Still, those aren't the kind of numbers you're looking for from a number one overall pick.
Erlin was a bona-fide break-out star in 2010.
After starting the season in the bullpen, he pitched so well he earned a promotion to the rotation, where he dominated like no other pitcher in the minors.
Erlin makes his mark on control, and he was dealing darts with pinpoint accuracy last season, walking only 17 batters all season long, in 114.2 innings. He also struck out 125 and finished with a 2.12 ERA.
This season, Erlin has been just as good, posting a 100:11 K:BB ratio in 90.1 innings and he even earned a mid-season promotion to Double-A, where he's been hit a bit harder than usual. He has a 4.79 ERA through five starts.
With the epic season that fellow lefty Joe Weiland is having, not to mention the solid campaigns being put together by Martin Perez and Neil Ramirez, it only stands to reason that one or more of these guys are going to be on the move come the trade deadline, when the big-league club is looking to add some pieces to help them make it back-to-back World Series appearances.
Don't take this to mean anything other than the Blue Jays could likely get a better return for dealing d'Arnaud than any of their other catching prospects.
D'Arnaud is the most complete package that the Blue Jays have behind the plate, combining solid defensive ability with an even approach at the plate that should allow him to hit for both power and average as he continues to climb up the ladder.
This year for the Double-A Fisher Cats, d'Arnaud has slugged eight home runs and has a .292 average.
The Nats got more than they bargained for with Moore, who they drafted in the 16th-round in 2008 out of Mississippi State.
After a strong season in which Moore hit .297 and drove in 87 runs, the Nats decided to bump him up to High-A ball, where he responded with one of the strongest seasons of any hitter in 2010.
He hit .269, but rapped 43 doubles, slugged 31 home runs and drove in 111 runs. He was named the Carolina League Player of the Week four times en route to winning League MVP honors. He had his share of issues with strikeouts (125 Ks), but with his raw power, you can bet the Nats don't mind too much.
Moore has gotten off to a strong start this year in Double-A, hitting 14 home runs and driving in 44 runs, while maintaining a .260 average.
Unfortunately, he's still struggled to keep down the strikeouts. He already has 72 whiffs in 74 games and is on pace to set a new career-high.
Also bad news for Moore is the fact that the Nats have Chris Marrero tearing up Triple-A hitting, to the tune of a .297 average. He also has eight home runs and 39 RBI.
Did I mention Marrero is also a year younger than Moore?
If anyone is going to be on the move, it's likely to be Moore.