MLB Trade Rumors: Every Team's Untouchable Prospect in Any Deal
Around this time every year, that word is tossed around as teams wheel and deal and try to make moves to secure a shot at the playoffs.
To teams like the Yankees or Red Sox, the word doesn't mean much, but to cash-strapped clubs like the Cardinals or Angels, "untouchables" are the reason Hunter Pence is still an Astro and Jose Reyes is still a Met—for now, at least.
Most of all, the "untouchables" are the reason this year's trade deadline talk hasn't generated too much interest among baseball fans.
So who are these guys who are making it tougher and tougher to care about the annual trade deadline?
Let's find out.
Tyler Skaggs, LHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
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Skaggs got a lot of love at the Futures Game because he's a Diamondback farmhand, but don't fool yourself into thinking he didn't deserve to be there, much less be the guy who started for Team USA.
Skaggs has been one of the most impressive pitchers in baseball this season, and he's practically a shoe-in to be named Arizona's Minor League Pitcher of the Year, which is saying something because they've had a ton of pitchers perform at their very best this season, including Pat Corbin, Wade Miley, David Holmberg and, since the All-Star break, Jarrod Parker.
None of those pitchers, except for maybe Parker, offer the same ceiling as Skaggs, who has gone from a highly regarded supplemental first-round pick by the Angels in 2009 to a top-of-the-rotation guy for Arizona.
That simple fact makes him untouchable.
Skaggs spent the entire first half of the season with High-A Visalia, where he posted a ridiculous 125 strikeouts in 100.2 innings. Batters hit just .219 off of him and he ended his run with a 3.22 ERA over 17 starts.
After the Futures Game, Skaggs got a well-deserved bump to Double-A, where he's been hit pretty hard in both of his starts, but at the same time shown incredibly resiliency, working his way into the sixth inning in his most recent start. His ERA stands at 6.52, but he has a healthy 12:4 K:BB ratio.
Julio Teheran, RHP, Atlanta Braves
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Teheran exploded onto the scene last year, jumping from Low-A to Double-A in just 17 starts.
He seemingly got stronger each time he was promoted and finished the season with a 9-8 record, a 2.59 ERA and 159 strikeouts in 142.2 innings.
This year, as hard as it is to believe, he's gotten even better. His ERA of 1.70 ranks third in all of Minor League Baseball, and his .909 winning percentage (10-1) is easily the best in the International League.
Teheran has started to evolve from a thrower to a pitcher and as a result, produced less strikeouts this season, which has allowed him to go deeper into games. His last three outings of just five innings a piece were his shortest since early May.
He also made two big league outings (the first of his career) earlier in the year, although the results were much worse than his minor league domination.
Still, that has done nothing to diminish his big league prospects in the eyes of the organization. He's still considered a future front-line starter, an ace who can lead a rotation for years to come.
Manny Machado, SS, Baltimore Orioles
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Machado jumped out to such a hot start that many, including myself, were wondering if the Nationals made a mistake choosing Bryce Harper instead of the 19-year-old shortstop from Miami.
He tripled in two runs in his first game, stole a base in his second and got walked four straight times in his third.
Machado got dinged by a couple of injuries, including a dislocated kneecap, missed some time and when he finally returned to the field, it took him some time to get readjusted. He earned a promotion from Low-A Delmarva to High-A Frederick after just 38 games, in which he hit .276 with eight doubles, two triples, six home runs, 24 RBI and a 23:25 BB:K ratio.
He got off to a slow start with Frederick, before coming on late. He's hit in nine of his last 10 games and boosted his average to .239. He's driven in nine runs and posted an 11:16 BB:K ratio in 20 contests.
And as a testament to his batting prowess, Machado earned yet another four-walk game. I wouldn't know for sure, but I'm pretty sure he's the only player to post two four-walk games this season.
Given Machado's ability and the Orioles' lack of a franchise shortstop since Ripken moved over to third base, there's no way that he's going to not be untouchable.
Anthony Ranaudo, RHP, Boston Red Sox
Ranaudo hasn't exploded in pro ball like everyone expected him to after a ridiculous run through the Cape Cod League last summer, but he's still been pretty good.
He began the season in the South Atlantic League, but after posting a 50:16 K:BB ratio and notching four wins in just 10 starts, the Sox bumped him up to their High-A affiliate in the Carolina League.
More advanced hitters there have given him a bit more of a challenge, but through nine starts he has looked very strong, and well worth the $2.55 million the Red Sox shelled out for him. His ERA of 4.38 is a bit high, but the rest of his numbers look very strong, including a 35:13 K:BB ratio and a .251 average against.
In a season when most of the Red Sox' top pitching prospects have struggled mightily, including Drake Britton (1-9, 7.35) and Stolmy Pimentel (0-11, 9.88), Ranaudo's performance has been that much more impressive.
There's no way the Red Sox are parting with him anytime soon.
Brett Jackson, OF, Chicago Cubs
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Jackson is one of few elite prospects left in the Chicago system.
He's a legit five-tool guy who has slightly above-average tools across the board.
Riding the momentum that he generated with a breakout 2010 campaign that saw him hit .297 with 32 doubles, 14 triples, 12 home runs, 66 RBI and 30 steals, Jackson has put together a solid season.
He began the year with the Cubs Double-A affiliate and performed strongly in 67 contests, batting .256 with 10 doubles, 10 homers and 15 steals. He showed good patience, drawing 45 walks and posting an on-base percentage near .400.
It's be a rough go since joining the highest rank of minor leaguers at Triple-A Iowa. Through eight games there, Jackson has notched just five hits in 29 at-bats, good for a .172 average. However, four of those five hits have gone for extra bases.
Despite the poor showing in Triple-A so far, the Cubs will carve out a spot in the outfield for Jackson whenever he's ready.
Jacob Petricka, RHP, Chicago White Sox
Like most MLB clubs, I'm all for guys who can touch triple digits with their fastball.
And like most guys with that kind of velocity, Petricka has done pretty well for himself in the lower levels of the minors, where high-90s heat can make just about anyone look like Sandy Koufax.
He looked absolutely brilliant in the South Atlantic League, racking up 48 strikeouts in 41.2 innings, while holding down a 2.81 ERA in eight starts.
That was enough to earn him a promotion to High-A ball, where he's had a tougher go. Through five starts with Winston-Salem, he's given up 24 hits and 14 earned runs in just 23 innings. He's also only struck out 15 batters and walked 11.
High-velocity pitchers are always a question mark for numerous reasons, but you don't give up on one until you're absolutely sure that there's nothing left in the tank.
Yasmani Grandal, C, Cincinnati Reds
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Grandal is sitting pretty.
Despite the presence of hot-hitting catcher Devin Mesoraco in the upper levels of their minor league system, the Reds pulled the trigger on Grandal with their first-round pick and then paid him a bonus of $2.99 million as a part of a major league deal.
I'm not exactly sure what the motivation was behind the Reds' decision, but now they have two catchers that rank among the top 10 in all of the minor leagues and who happen to be having tremendous seasons.
Grandal is hitting a combined .289 with 21 doubles, 11 home runs and 51 RBI in 74 games, while Mesoraco is hitting .309 with 32 doubles, 10 homers and 54 RBI.
But thanks to that big league deal, Grandal is going to be the safer bet to stick around Cincinnati in the long run.
Jason Kipnis, 2B, Cleveland Indians
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Scouts, experts and fans alike have been wondering how long the Indians are going to carry on with Orlando Cabrera at second base.
Not only is Cabrera hitting .252 with an on-base percentage of .279, but Kipnis is tearing it up for the second consecutive season. Building on his breakout campaign of 2010, the second baseman is hitting .279 with 15 doubles, nine triples, 12 homers and 55 RBI in 91 games. He's also drawn 44 walks and has an OBP 101 points higher than Cabrera's.
And if the Indians front office needed further proof of Kipnis' readiness, he provided it with a three-ball, two-strike solo home run off of arguably the most talented pitching prospect in baseball, Atlanta's Julio Teheran. Kipnis worked the count full, laying off of a curveball that was out of the zone, before crushing a 93-mph fastball right down the heart of the plate just over the fence in right field.
Kipnis grounded out in his second at-bat of the night, against Seattle's James Paxton, but his damage was done.
Kipnis recently got the call to the big leagues, so don't expect him to go anywhere.
Wilin Rosario, C, Colorado Rockies
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Rosario missed a good chunk of the 2010 season, but still put together a career year, setting personal marks in home runs (19) and RBI (52).
He's also been nicked up this season, but he's already hit 16 home runs in just 71 games, putting him on pace for well over 20.
His ability to hit for average (.260) has struggled, and he's been a guaranteed double-play every time he comes up with someone on first base, but he's still one of the top offensive catchers in the minor leagues.
Luckily for the Rockies, Rosario is almost as good behind the plate as he is at it. He consistently posts some of the best caught-stealing percentages in the Rockies system
Rosario likely would have been in Colorado already had it not been for his season-ending injury last year, and with the way he's hitting as of late (.302, five HR and 10 RBI in July), he's very likely to get a call this September.
Franchise catchers with the ability to hit for power are far and few between, meaning the Rockies aren't going to let go of Rosario very easily.
Jacob Turner, RHP, Detroit Tigers
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Turner was selected exactly 10 picks before Shelby Miller and has followed a similar career path since signing with the Tigers.
He looked incredible during a 11-game stint in the Midwest League, posting a 51:9 K:BB ratio in 54 innings. That was enough for the Tigers to get aggressive and bump him up to High-A ball, where he was just as dominant. In another 13 starts, he managed to post a lower ERA (2.93) and a similar K:BB ratio (51:14). That left him with a season line of 6-5, 3.28 and 102:23 K-to-BB ratio, and a fast pass to Detroit.
He's been strictly a one-level guy this year, making 16 starts for Double-A Erie, but just like last year, he's looked advanced for his age. As one of the youngest pitchers in the league, Turner has posted a 3.49 ERA and an 82:31 K:BB ratio in 105.2 innings. Batters are hitting just .239 against him.
In addition to his solid numbers, Turner is pretty much a safe bet to go at least six or seven innings each time out, making him even more valuable to Detroit.
Everyone in the business is forecasting Turner as the future ace of the Tigers staff, which means he isn't going anywhere.
Matt Dominguez, 3B, Florida Marlins
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The Marlins system doesn't have too many talented position players who have realistic big league ability, which makes Matt Dominguez that much more valuable to the organization.
On account of his defense, Dominguez could have been playing in the big leagues years ago. However, doubts about the readiness of his bat have held him back. He's on the verge of completing his fifth season in the minor leagues.
Next year could finally be the year for the 21-year-old, who attended the same high school and played in the same infield with current Royals big leaguer Mike Moustakas.
His bat has continued to progress this year, despite his .240 season line. Like always, he's shown flashes of having decent power, but make no mistake, he's not going to be a cleanup hitter. Think of him more as a No. 2 or 3 guy in the lineup, or maybe even a No. 5 or 6.
One way or another, he's going to get his chance.
Delino DeShields Jr., 2B/OF, Houston Astros
Heading into the 2010 draft, the Astros were an organization in need of talent and athleticism.
They filled both needs with their first-round pick, Delino DeShields Jr., who is arguably the top prospect in the entire organization now that Jordan Lyles is in the big leagues.
DeShields was one of the top athletes in his draft class and his speed was considered plus-plus. His bat was considered a bit behind the rest of his tools, but the Astros seemed happy with their pick.
Eighty-six games into his first full season, and most of everything that the Astros thought about DeShields has come true. His bat is well behind everything else. He's hitting just .226, with an on-base percentage of just above .300.
But his tools are still undeniable. He's shown better power than expected, clubbing six home runs, and his speed (24 steals) has been as good as advertised, although he's still very raw in his baserunning (10 times caught stealing).
The Astros have stuck DeShields at second base, where his father played for 13 big league seasons, although he has more than enough athleticism to handle center field if an infield spot doesn't work out.
Wil Myers, OF, Kansas City Royals
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Myers is another guy who had a dream season in 2010.
He worked his way up from Low-A to High-A and seemingly got better and better each day of the season. He finished with a .315/.429/.506 line, hit 14 homers and drove in 83 runs in 126 games. He also posted an 85:94 BB:K ratio, an incredible number for a guy who hadn't even turned 20 years old.
This year, he's fallen back to earth, something the Royals didn't expect when they went ahead and transitioned him from behind the plate to the outfield in an effort to speed his path to the majors.
His average is still a respectable .268, but he only has 18 extra-base hits (including just three HR), a year after combining for 54. He has driven in just 24 runs in 61 contests.
Myers is still just 20 years old and already in Double-A, so we shouldn't be too harsh on him.
Toss in the fact that he has one of the best bats and some of the best plate discipline of any hitter his age, and he's as close to untouchable as any member of the Royals organization.
Kaleb Cowart, 3B, Los Angeles Angels
Over the past few seasons, the Angels have been a team that doesn't appear to let expectations and projections affect how they run their organization, specifically their farm system.
They had no problem letting once-upon-a-time uber-prospect Brandon Wood leave town after hyping him up for what seemed like an eternity. They also didn't flinch in dealing two of their top pitchers, Tyler Skaggs and Pat Corbin, to the D-Backs in exchange for a veteran player.
As a result, it's hard to say with any certainty that any prospect other than Mike Trout, who is currently playing with the big league club, is untouchable.
Thanks to his relative newness to the system and his immense talent, I'd say that Kaleb Cowart, the team's first-rounder from 2010, would qualify as the next best thing.
Cowart could have gone early in the draft as a pitcher as well, and for a while there were rumors about how the Angels were going to use him. They decided to stick him at third base, and they have to be happy with the results.
Through 31 games in the Rookie Pioneer League, Cowart is hitting .339 with 17 RBI, 24 runs and six steals.
Zach Lee, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers put a lot of pressure on Lee when they broke the bank to sign him to a $5.25 million bonus out of last year's draft.
Luckily, they drafted and signed a guy who had no problem dealing with expectations, or surpassing them.
Lee possessed one of the hottest arms in the minors during April, posting a perfect 3-0 record, a microscopic 1.09 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 24.2 innings.
He dropped off during May (9.45 ERA in two starts) before bouncing back with a strong June.
His four starts in July (1-1, 2.61, 18:7 K:BB) have given the Dodgers hope that he's back in early season form.
For the year, he's 6-3 with a 3.24 ERA and 67 strikeouts in 75 innings. Batters are only hitting .234 off of him.
Tyler Thornburg, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers
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Unless you're a Brewers fan, you likely weren't familiar with Thornburg's name, but those who watched the Futures Game got a good, albeit quick, look at the hard-throwing right-hander.
Thornburg didn't draw much attention as the team's third-round pick from last year's draft, but ever since signing he's been a shooting star in the system.
He looked exceptional in the Pioneer League last year, and it only took him 12 starts in the Midwest League to earn a promotion. It didn't hurt that he went 7-0 with a 1.57 ERA and 76 strikeouts in 68.2 innings, or that he tossed two complete games, one of which came in the form of a shutout.
Luckily for the Brewers, the promotion didn't put a dent in Thornburg's momentum. He's arguably been better since joining the ranks of the Florida State League, posting a similar ERA (1.67), a higher strikeout rate and a lower batting average against (.160).
For the season, Thornburg's numbers are as good as any pitcher in the minors. He's 9-2 with a 108:38 K:BB ratio in 95.2 innings and his ERA of 1.60 is the second-lowest in all of the minor leagues.
There's still a lot of contention over whether or not Thornburg has what it takes to succeed as a starter in the big leagues, with many taking up the case that he's better suited as a reliever, but either way, the Brewers aren't parting with their top pitching prospect.
Aaron Hicks, OF, Minnesota Twins
Hicks has taken some heat for not forcing a move out of the Midwest League last year, but once again he has put together a very consistent campaign, this time for the Twins' High-A affiliate.
His average (.265) is on pace with his career norm, and he's still showing some of the best plate discipline (53:78 BB:K ratio) in the minor leagues.
He's also a veritable toolshed, and one of the best athletes that the Twins have in their organization. So good, in fact, that his tools spill into other athletic arenas; he's apparently a fantastic golfer who likely could have made a career out of that.
They, along with many prospect experts, believe that Hicks will come along in time, and when he does, he'll be well worth the wait.
Wilmer Flores, SS/3B, New York Mets
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Like with Jesus Montero, a slight case of "prospect fatigue" has set in with Wilmer Flores.
He's still just as good of a hitter as he was last year, or even two years ago, but for some reason he doesn't get as much attention as he used to, which is odd, because he's a 19-year-old who is performing very strongly against guys in High-A ball who are two, three and sometimes even four years older than him.
After ending the 2010 campaign on a torrid pace with St. Lucie, Flores returned there to start the 2011 season, and he's looked just as good, hitting .271 with 17 doubles, six homers and 62 RBI. Not eye-popping numbers, but when you take into account that he's one of the youngest position players in the Florida State League, it's a wee bit more impressive.
There's still no guarantee that Flores is going to be able to handle shortstop long-term, but despite the glut of options that the Mets have at third base, including Futures Game participant Jefry Marte and current big leaguer David Wright, my guess is that Flores isn't headed anywhere anytime soon.
Austin Romine, C, New York Yankees
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From the moment he stepped onto the field at the Futures Game, Austin Romine made it known that Jesus Montero isn't the only elite prospect in the system.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, Romine hit a two-out single on the very first pitch he saw from World Team pitcher Kelvin Herrera. The base-knock drove in the go-ahead run that put the U.S. Team up for good. Romine himself came around to score two pitches later, when Arenado drove him home with an RBI double.
Romine still wasn't done though.
In the top half of the ninth inning, he made possibly the play of the game. Rangers shortstop Jurickson Profar popped a ball high behind the plate. Romine gave chase towards the netting behind home plate, and just when you thought the ball was going to end up in the stands, he stumbled backwards and the ball ended up in his glove.
That play secured the second out of the inning, and one groundout later, Team USA was celebrating a 6-4 victory.
Those are the kind of plays Romine has been making all year long, both at the plate and in the field. He's hit .296 with five homers and 41 RBI in 64 games for the Yankees Double-A squad, while offering the best defensive package of any backstop in the system. Heck, you could make the argument that Romine is the best defensive player in the organization, regardless of position. He has a career fielding percentage of .990.
And that's why, despite Montero's greater offensive potential, Romine isn't going anywhere.
Grant Green, SS, Oakland Athletics
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Green was the darling of the Futures Game, going 2-for-2 with two doubles and an RBI. He also scored a run.
After unexpectedly being asked to move over to second base after not taking any ground balls there for months, Green handled all of his defensive chances better than anyone expected.
Not only was he one of just three players (Jose Altuve and Austin Romine were the others) to notch two hits, but he also won game MVP honors after scoring the game-tying run in the bottom of the eighth inning.
The event also seems to have jump-started his bat. Since making his appearance in the game, Green is hitting .301 with eight doubles and seven RBI in 18 games.
For the season Green is hitting a respectable .287 with five homers and 44 RBI for the A's Double-A squad. The power numbers are way down from 2010, when he hit 20 home runs, but he's still hitting at a solid clip while showing greater patience.
Considering he plays one of the most premium positions on the diamond, and the fact that Oakland's big league club currently lacks any kind of elite talent, Green is in Oakland for the long haul, whether he likes it or not.
Jarred Cosart, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies
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Cosart is just one of many talented arms that the Phillies have pitching for their High-A affiliate.
Cosart, however, is having arguably the best season and looks like the safest bet to reach his ceiling. Although he has struggled this year with high walk rates, batters are only hitting .239 off the right-hander, allowing him to maintain his solid 4.13 ERA through 17 starts.
Before his most recent start, his ERA stood at 3.23, although surrendering seven earned runs in just one inning of work will take its toll on the stat line.
Cosart's top outing this year came in the form of seven, one-hit innings in which he struck out eight and walked one.
He also looked incredible during his Futures Game inning, in which he struck out two batters and showed excellent velocity, touching 97 mph and sitting consistently in the 95-96 range.
With three-quarters of their rotation made up of veterans older than 30, Cosart's development is going to be crucial to Philadelphia's future.
Jameson Taillon, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
Since he didn't make his debut as early as Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, very little attention has been paid to the No. 2 overall pick from last year's draft.
That hasn't stopped Taillon from looking incredibly sharp in his first 15 starts with Low-A West Virginia.
He hasn't gone past the fourth inning in most starts, and never past the fifth, but he's still managed to post a 60:10 K:BB ratio in 61.2 innings, while posting a 4.09 ERA.
During four starts in June, Taillon posted a 2.70 ERA, struck out 18 batters and walked none. In July, however, he's been hit harder than ever, surrendering 13 earned runs in just 16 innings.
Even if the Pirates try to make a splash in the trade market before the deadline, you can bet your you-know-what that Taillon won't be a part of the deal. He's just too valuable to the organization.
After all, top team officials have said that if they would have had the No. 1 overall pick last year, they still would have selected Taillon over Bryce Harper.
Carlos Martinez, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals
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Martinez has been a revelation this year, carrying over the momentum from his stellar run in the Dominican Summer League last year.
Pitching in full-season ball definitely agrees with the 19-year-old, who posted a 2.33 ERA in eight starts before a promotion to High-A Palm Beach.
Martinez has been kept on a short leash, and, as such, has only thrown 57 innings—but he has 67 strikeouts in that period. He's only given up 45 hits and surrendered only one home run. During his one-inning stint at the Futures Game, Martinez consistently showed the best velocity, touching 98 mph on more than one occasion.
Since the bump to High-A ball, Martinez hasn't been his usual dominant self, but he's certainly shown flashes, like the six-inning effort he had on July 15th, where he gave up just one run and struck out seven. Somehow he still picked up the loss in that contest.
Cardinals fans might think that Shelby Miller is untouchable, but there's no argument that Martinez is even more so.
Reymond Fuentes, OF, San Diego Padres
Fuentes was drafted back in 2009 by the Red Sox with their first-round pick and then was dealt along with Anthony Rizzo and Casey Kelly to San Diego in the Adrian Gonzalez trade.
A true five-tool stud, the lanky outfielder from Puerto Rico showed off his talents during two seasons with the Sox, the latter of which saw him swipe 42 bases and hit .270.
Fuentes has continued to blossom since the trade, and this year, he's on pace to set all sorts of career highs. He's hitting .278 with 64 runs scored and 35 steals through 85 games and could be due for a late-season promotion to Double-A.
Fuentes profiles as the perfect player to man PETCO Park's spacious outfield.
Gary Brown, OF, San Francisco Giants
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The rich just keep getting richer.
As if the Giants' World Series run of 2010 wasn't enough, the team is getting a Mike Trout-like season out of their first-round pick from last year, Gary Brown.
He's hitting at an incredible .313 clip, he's showing good power (24 doubles, eight HR) and he's got speed oozing out of his toenails (39 SB). The Giants expected him to hit the ground running, but nobody could have expected him to perform this well, especially after he struggled to a .159 start in rookie ball last year.
Brown could be on his way to Double-A very soon after a very impressive showing in the Futures Game that saw him single off of one of the top pitchers in all of the minors (Martin Perez) and then steal second base off of one of the best defensive catchers (Wilin Rosario).
It was a toss-up between Brown and right-hander Zack Wheeler for this spot, but since the Giants are currently flush with pitching and Brown represents just one of a few incredibly athletic position players, the outfielder gets the edge.
Taijuan Walker, RHP, Seattle Mariners
If Walker can keep this up, he's going to be in the running for Mariners Pitcher of the Year honors, an amazing feat for a guy who pitched only seven innings last season.
It's even more impressive when you consider that Walker was widely talked about as being one of the rawest picks from last year's first round.
He's looked anything but through 14 starts this year for the Mariners Low-A affiliate in the Midwest League, posting a 2.84 ERA and racking up 94 strikeouts in just 76 innings.
He has already posted three starts with 11 strikeouts and his most recent gem came in the form of a complete-game two-hitter in which he struck out seven and walked just one.
It's not too often you see 18-year-old tossing complete-games in Low-A ball a little more than a year after signing.
For the season, batters are hitting a mere .198 off of Walker, making him as sure a bet as any to stick with the organization.
Matt Moore, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays
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Moore has led the minor leagues in strikeouts each of the past two seasons. And with 138 more this year, in just 107.1 innings, he's well within striking distance of the top spot once again.
This year has been about more than just strikeouts though. In fact, it's been mostly about pitching to contact for Moore, and as a result he's improved his off-speed stuff dramatically.
His stuff is so wicked that he's only allowed 68 hits all season long; his ERA of 2.18 is one of the best anywhere. Moore further showcased his talents at the Futures Game, showing easy 94-98 mph heat and quality breaking stuff.
He's been so good that the Rays accelerated their plans for him, bumping him to Triple-A this past week, where he looked great, striking out seven and allowing just one run in five innings.
Look for Moore to potentially join the big league club this September, and possibly even sooner if the Rays are in wheeling-and-dealing mode before the trade deadline.
With rumors of a James Shields trade looming, Moore could be the guy to step in and take his spot in the rotation.
Martin Perez, LHP, Texas Rangers
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Despite his mediocre performances over the past two seasons, Perez has maintained his place among the top prospects in the game, thanks to his incredible stuff.
This year his stuff is finally starting to translate into performance. For the first time in three seasons, normal average people can see that Perez is one of the top lefties in the game.
The 20-year-old began the year in Double-A, but earned a promotion to Triple-A after 17 appearances. He posted a 3.16 ERA for Frisco, and notched an 83:36 K:BB ratio in 88.1 innings. His first-half performance culminated in a Texas League All-Star selection and an invitation to the Futures Game.
Since his return from Arizona, Perez has been making starts out of the Rangers highest minor league rotation, Round Rock.
He looked comfortable during his first start, allowing just one run in five innings while striking out four and walking none, but his second outing didn't go so well. He gave up 11 hits, got tagged for six runs (three earned) and lasted just 3.1 innings.
It wouldn't be a long shot that the Rangers would consider adding Perez to the big league roster come September. He's one of just a few guys in the organization, along with Jurickson Profar and Leonys Martin, who are considered absolutely untouchable.
Brett Lawrie, 3B, Toronto Blue Jays
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It's hard to envision a world where Lawrie isn't manning third base for the Blue Jays come September.
In fact, if it hadn't been for a fracture in his left hand, he might be playing for them right now. Instead, he'll have to settle for working his way back, logging some more at-bats in Triple-A and waiting for his turn.
It's already clear that he's too advanced a hitter for Triple-A, as he's hit .353 with 16 home runs and 54 RBI in 58 PCL contests. Lawrie has been an EBH machine, racking up 41 already. Due to his injury, he's not likely to eclipse the 60 he notched last year, but he still has a slim chance.
During the past weeks, Lawrie has been especially good, hitting .346 since his return from the DL, while driving in five runs and scoring four of his own.
Lawrie is one of the top hitters in the minor leagues right now, so there's no way that the Jays will part with him.
Bryce Harper, OF, Washington Nationals
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Like Matt Wieters before him, Bryce Harper has blown away all the expectations about his first season. He tore through the South Atlantic League, hitting at a .318/.423/.554 clip, crushing 14 home runs and racking up 46 RBI.
Those numbers were good enough to warrant a promotion, straight past High-A ball to Double-A Harrisburg, where Harper racked up five hits in his first 10 at-bats. He has since slumped and seen his average drop to .217, but he got off to a slow start in Low-A ball too, so too much stock shouldn't be placed in that.
The right fielder has shown five tools during his debut season, including great speed (21 steals) and a cannon arm that was introduced to the baseball world at the Futures Game (where he fired a 330-foot rocket from the warning track in left field to home plate on one bounce).
According to the Nats, the plan is to allow Harper to finish the remainder of the season with Harrisburg and let him fight for a big league job next spring.
The chances of Harper putting on another big league team's uniform in the next decade is about as slim as a Manny Ramirez comeback.