Around this time of year, contenders need to make decisions on which of their prospects are expendable should they decide to make a deal before the July 31st trading deadline.
In the same token, teams near the bottom of the standings have actively scouted the top prospects from potential suitors in an effort to determine what they might want back in exchange for their commodities.
Prospecting the future of young players, even those who are rated as the top talents in their respective organizations, is often a difficult task.
But if a struggling team desires to recover from the down period that it currently finds itself in, it is a task that they must necessarily do well.
What follows is a list of seven prospects whom contending teams might be looking to deal, and who I think sellers should be sure to avoid.
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In almost any other organization in baseball, Randall Delgado would be practically untouchable.
He is, after all, a 21-year-old pitcher who has more than held his own in 26 starts in Double-A over the past two seasons. In 18 starts this year, Delgado has struck out 95 batters in 101 innings while maintaining a 2.5:1 strikeout to walk ratio.
His numbers were even better in the lower minor leagues, where he struck out over 10 batters per nine innings, but Delgado has proved his worth in Double-A nonetheless.
Since the Braves already have a gluttony of pitching on the major league roster, and better prospects in Mike Minor, Julio Teheran and Arodys Vizcaino also in the minor leagues, Delgado may in fact be expendable.
Randall Delgado may also be nothing more than an elite two-pitch pitcher.
He displays consistent arm motion and excellent movement on both his fastball (two-seamer) and change-up, but he alters his mechanics to throw his curveball; a sub-par offering right now at best.
Delgado follows in the Atlanta mold of being a potentially elite ground-ball pitcher, but until he can refine his breaking ball he'll never reach his ceiling.
Other teams would play wait and see, but Atlanta has far better options anyway. Two pitches won't cut it in the big leagues.
Despite concerns about his bat, Chicago White Sox prospect Eduardo Esobar has steadily risen in organizational rankings each season.
Heading into the 2011 season, Baseball America ranked him as the No. 5 best prospect for the South Siders and rated him as Chicago's best infield defender.
Unfortunately for Escobar, a 22-year-old Venezuelan, his spot is blocked at the major league level by Alexei Ramirez; the underrated Cuban who just signed a four-year, $32.5 million extension this offseason.
Escobar would probably excel defensively if moved to second base (provided Gordon Beckham doesn't deliver on what could be his annual second half resurgence), but his inability to hit would probably negate anything he'd be able to give you with his glove.
Since making the jump to Double-A in 2010 and Triple-A in 2011, Escobar's OPS has hovered around right around .670 with an on-base percentage below .300.
He struck out 111 times over two levels and 624 at-bats last season. His 16:65 walk to strikeout ratio in Triple-A this season has been eye-poppingly bad as well.
Some scouts say he makes up for his lack of plate discipline with excellent speed, but Gonzalez has been caught in 37 percent (40 of 108) of his steal attempts in the minors.
This is the classic all-field, no-hit shortstop. If you're an NL team fine with having a potential Gold Glover hit eighth for you, then go for it.
Otherwise stay away.
The Detroit Tigers have become known as an organization that likes to rush their players up the minor league ladder.
In this particular case, I think they may have made a mistake with third baseman Francisco Martinez.
The 20-year-old Venezuelan has spent the entire season in Double-A despite never playing more than 94 games or reaching 375 at-bats at any of the lower levels.
In turn, he's actually played the best baseball of his career this year, posting a .740 OPS and getting named to the futures roster for Team World over the All-Star break.
But Martinez's ascension through the minors has taken a toll on his plate discipline. In 2011, he's posted a 18:68 strikeout to walk ratio in just 296 at-bats.
His skill set appears to be well-rounded even if he doesn't do anything great. Martinez has a little power, a little speed, an above-average arm and good range for a third-baseman.
However, he also makes errors in droves, strikes out too often and doesn't walk enough. Scouts say as he matures physically, and adds bulk, the power (and ability to catch up to some of the pitching he's facing) will make up for his faults.
However, players rarely hit for power in the majors without doing so in the minor leagues. So he'll need to improve on the career high of seven homers he has hit for a season (2011).
Taking everything into account, I can't see Martinez's ceiling as anything above an average defender who can give you 15 homers, 15 steals and a mid .700's OPS.
At his best he could turn out to be a decent player, but I wouldn't want him back as the best piece in a deal. As Detroit's No. 4 prospect, that would likely be the demand.
Jesus Montero has been the Yankees top prospect for a few seasons now. He was also named Baseball America's No. 4 prospect in 2010 and No. 3 overall prospect this season.
Much of that has to do with his bat and the fact that he was playing a position not known for its offensive prowess. The hope was that Montero could eventually mature into at least an average defensive catcher.
But even despite reports from the Yankees that Montero had made major strides defensively in spring training, scouts no longer project his future behind the plate.
Montero gets abused by base-runners and supposedly has a communication barrier with many of his pitchers. He could spot start behind the dish at some point, but it looks as if Montero might be limited to first base.
That is, of course, provided his bat comes around again. As a 20-year-old in Triple-A, Montero posted an impressive offensive season in 2010. He posted a .289/.353/.517 triple slash line with 34 doubles and 21 homers.
This followed a 2009 where he posted a .951 OPS with a .337 average, 25 doubles and 17 homers over 95 games between Single-A and Double-A.
Montero has played just 76 games this year but has posted a .760 OPS and showed decreased plate discipline. Rumor has it he felt he should have been promoted and was bored in the minor leagues.
He has recently returned from the DL, so we'll see whether or not he gets back to mashing.
Whatever the case, Montero will probably only be an above average MLB first baseman at best. As a top-five prospect in Major League Baseball, that's probably not how his own organization values him.
The Brewers don't have a particularly strong farm system but righty Cody Scarpetta, an 11th-round pick in 2007, is still considered by Baseball America as the organization's second best prospect.
Scarpetta has the body for a pitcher. At 6'3", 244 pounds, he is a pretty imposing presence on the mound.
His repertoire includes a 92-94 MPH fastball, a 76-78 MPH curveball with strong bite and a low 80's change-up which is still developing.
He has had no issues registering strikeouts at the minor league level, averaging 9.8 punch-outs per nine innings in 364 innings of professional baseball. Instead, his major issues have stemmed from control and consistency.
Plain and simple, Scarpetta walks too many hitters. He's consistently allowed around 4.6 runners per nine innings to reach via the free pass.
This has really caused problems as his strikeout rate has dipped after reaching Double-A in 2011 (8.1 K/9).
Until he can refine his command, Cody Scarpetta looks like nothing more than a bottom of the rotation arm in the major leagues.
His lofty status says otherwise.
Zack Cox was rated as the Cardinals No. 2 overall prospect by Baseball America primarily for his ability to bat for average.
That's really taken a hit this year as his batting average sits at .268 during his first go around against Double-A pitching.
The former Arkansas Razorback was taken with the 25th overall pick in 2010 after showing good plate discipline and power in college.
Due to a line drove stroke, however, some scouts doubted whether the power would transfer to the pros.
Cox has hit just six homers in his 91 minor league contests to date, potentially proving what those scouts had feared.
Rating as about an average defender (on his best day), many wonder whether a position switch may now be in his future.
We don't really have a lot of evidence of Zack Cox's abilities to hit in professional baseball. Perhaps he just needs more time to adjust. After all, he is just 22-year-old.
But working off of what we do know, I wouldn't bet on him living up to the level of his first-round status.
If I were the Cardinals, I'd sell high while I still can and get a major league bat to keep Albert Pujols happy (and protected).
The Tampa Bay Rays have developed minor league lately like they have a factory somewhere with an assembly line.
Part of that has been their seemingly superior ability to spot talent in the draft. But they have also acquired a volume of picks. In the 2011 draft alone, Tampa owned 12 of the top 89 picks.
Five of those selections were used on pitchers, and they'll join fellow top prospects Matt Moore, Chris Archer, Alex Torres, Alex Colome, Jake Thompson and Enny Romero in the minor leagues.
Tampa currently stands at 50-44, still in contention for the AL East and Wild Card spots. They could afford to make a trade for a big bat, and some of those pitchers are expendable.
If I were Andrew Friedman, I'd be looking to move Colome.
The 22-year-old righty is a solid prospect, posessing a mid nineties fastball and a potentially plus curveball. But his changeup is lacking and his command has been spotty.
At his age, it's also odd that Colome, 2010's No. 68 overall prospect, has not pitched an inning above High-A ball.
His rates have actually regressed this season; his K/9 falling to 7.9 and his BB/9 climbing to 3.7.
Colome is a power pitcher with average command who is susceptible to the long ball.
He looks like mid rotation material at best, and I have a creeping suspicion that he could flame out all together.
The Rays have far better options for the future, and could really use a piece like Colome to upgrade their roster of the present.