As the July 31 MLB trade deadline approaches, every GM in baseball has his eyes on several players, whether they are established major leaguers or highly touted prospects.
The latter part don't get nearly as much attention, but prospects are a part of almost any deal. Clubs whose 2011 campaign is lost can take solace in trading off their veterans for prospects who may one day make a difference at the big league level.
Not every prospect is available, however. Many of the most projectable players are deemed untouchable. But with the World Series so close some teams might be willing to loosen the restrictions and deal some of their top prospects.
Here are the 10 best prospects who may get traded by the deadline (Zack Wheeler appeared in the original version of this list before being traded for Carlos Beltran).
Dmitriy Ioselevich is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter for all your MLB news and updates.
For all the millions of dollars that the Yankees spend on free agents, they’ve been equally diligent in the draft and now boast one of the best farm systems in baseball.
Betances is a big part of Cashman’s big plan. The 23-year-old righty stands at a C.C. Sabathia-esque 6’8” and 255 pounds and throws just as hard as his potential future teammate.
He’s still raw and tends to be wild, but it’s hard to ignore the talent (career 10.3 SO/9 in six minor league seasons).
Betances has been successful at the AA level (3.43 ERA, 1.32 WHIP) and definitely looks like a major league starter with some potential to become an ace. New York is no place to get your feet wet, though, so the Yankees might unload this project on another team.
Alonso has been one of the top prospects in baseball for three consecutive seasons. The 6'2", 240-pound first baseman crushed minor league pitching in 2010 to the tune of 15 home runs and 36 doubles and has nearly surpassed those totals already in 2011.
The power's only going to get better and Alonso already has terrific plate discipline, making him a pretty safe bet as a major league regular.
Alonso is now 24 years old, and he has nothing left to prove in the minors. However, he's blocked in Cincinnati by the great Joey Votto and will likely have to make a name for himself elsewhere.
The Braves have the best pitching staff in baseball and that includes Minor, a 23-year-old lefty who has a 4.59 ERA in six starts. His minor league stats (3.14 ERA in 15 starts) are much more impressive, but the only reason that Minor isn’t in the Braves rotation right now is because there are too many players ahead of him.
With Tim Hudson, Derek Lowe, Jair Jurrjens, Tommy Hanson and Brandon Beachy safely occupying the five spots in the rotation, there’s just no room for Minor, who is quickly becoming too old to still be considered a prospect.
Minor doesn’t have as much upside as his minor league teammates Randall Delgado, Arodys Vizcaino and Julio Teheran, but he’s a solid mid-rotation starter who can start immediately. Minor’s an obvious trade chip if the Braves want to upgrade their offense.
Segura is a 21-year-old second baseman with a big bat. Last season he finished with 10 home runs, 50 steals and a .313/.365/.464 line. Even in A-ball that’s an unbelievable season.
Defensively he’s a work in progress, and he’s blocked in Anaheim by Howie Kendrick, so Segura’s future may lie elsewhere.
It seems counterintuitive for the Phillies to try to develop a left-handed slugging first baseman with Ryan Howard occupying the bag for most of the decade, but Singleton could help the Phillies in a big way via a trade.
At the age of 18 Singleton dominated A ball to the tune of 14 home runs, 25 doubles and a .872 OPS. His swing is flawless, and if he adds some muscle to his frame, he could be a perennial 30-HR guy in the majors.
The Phillies are trying Singleton out as a left fielder, where he may actually have a future in Philadelphia. However, it’ll be at least another two years before Singleton is major league ready, and the trio of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels may not be willing to wait that long.
Montero isn’t having his best season offensively (.283/.344/.433), but the talent is very, very real and Montero is still generally regarded as one of the best power-hitting prospects in baseball.
He hit 34 doubles and 21 home runs in 123 games at AAA last season and is an extra-base machine who profiles as a world-class hitter in the mold of Frank Thomas.
Unfortunately, Montero’s unlikely to stay at catcher (where the Yankees have much better prospects), and there may not be a future for him in New York.
The Yankees rotation may be held together with silly string (or whatever Bartolo Colon is taking), but they have some serious talent in the minors. Banuelos is a 20-year-old lefty who throws strikes and knows how to mix up his pitches.
In 2010, Banuelos finished 0-4, but he had 2.51 ERA and 85 strikeouts (11.8 SO/9) in 15 starts while playing for a couple of New York’s A-ball teams.
He’s kept it up in AA (3.59 ERA in 20 starts) and could be due for another promotion.
The Yankees seem intent on keeping Banuelos and inserting him into the rotation by 2013, but it wouldn’t be the first time the Yankees traded away a top prospect for playoff pieces (Mike Lowell?).
The 6’5”, 200-pound Brown has the perfect build for a right fielder and absolutely demolished minor league pitching. In 2010 between AA and AAA, Brown finished 20 HR, 17 SB and a .327/.391/.589 line in just 93 games.
All the tools are there, but the 23-year-old Brown has gotten off to a slow start in the majors. He has just a .247/.338/.399 line in 53 games and has the Phillies looking for another solution in right field, either in the long-term or the short-term.
The Phillies have been adamant about not trading Brown, but they may have to loosen their stance if they want a legitimate shot at acquiring Hunter Pence.
Turner can dial it up into the upper 90s, but unlike most pitchers, he actually has superb control. In two minor league seasons he has a 3.49 SO/BB ratio and has been remarkably consistent with a full arsenal that includes above average offspeed pitches, although his eight wild pitches at AA this season are worrisome.
He’s still just 20 years old and projects as a top-of-the-rotation starter, which is why the Tigers are so reluctant to part with him.
But the Tigers have a limited window in which they can compete in the AL Central (with the Indians and Royals quickly getting better), so they may part with their best pitching prospect for a short-term fix.
A power-hitting catcher is one of the hardest things to find in baseball, and the Reds may have the best catching prospect since Joe Mauer in the 23-year-old Mesoraco.
In 2010, Mesoraco, a former first-round pick, finished with 26 home runs and a .964 OPS playing between three different leagues. He’s been just as good this season with 10 home runs and a .879 OPS at the AAA level and is seemingly just biding his time until he gets a big league call-up.
The Reds have been active in discussions for a starting pitcher, and the player every GM asks about is Mesoraco.
He’s likely not going anywhere, however, with both current Cincinnati catchers expected to leave next season via free agency.