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The signing deadline for 2014 draft picks officially passed Friday at 5 p.m. ET, and the Houston Astros were not able to sign No. 1 overall pick Brady Aiken, according Jim Callis of MLB.com (via Twitter). He also reports that the Astros failed to sign fifth-rounder Jacob Nix and 21st-rounder Mac Marshall.

It wasn’t long after the draft, two days to be exact, that Aiken reportedly agreed to a $6.5 million bonus with the Astros. On June 23, the Cathedral Catholic High (San Diego) left-hander arrived in Houston to make his signing official, which obviously didn’t happen.

After two weeks of speculation as to why Aiken was yet to sign, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported that the Astros saw something they didn’t like in a post-draft MRI of the 17-year-old’s left elbow. As a result, the team immediately reduced its offer to Aiken from $6.5 to $5 million, well below the $7.9 million slot value for the No. 1 overall pick.

However, it wasn’t until earlier this week that we learned the specifics of Aiken’s elbow issue. According to Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle:

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It’s long been believed the Tampa Bay Rays would trade David Price before the July 31 deadline. As of now, though, the team appears to still be on the fence about dealing its All-Star left-hander.

Despite an overall record of 45-53, the Rays' 9-4 mark in July has them 8.5 games back of the Baltimore Orioles in the American League East, a division that has no clear-cut favorite this season. They’re trailing the Seattle Mariners by seven games in the wild-card hunt.

If the Rays truly plan on making a run at the postseason, they’re obviously better off keeping Price. At the same time, it also makes sense for the team to capitalize on his market and build toward the future, as illustrated by Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times:

The 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner, Price is the definition of an ace. The 28-year-old turned in an excellent first half of the season, registering a 3.23 ERA while leading the league in strikeouts (164), innings pitched (147.2) and games started (20).

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The 2014 season has seen a number of notable prospects receive call-ups to the major leagues. Undoubtedly, there are more to comeand soon.

Highly regarded youngsters like George Springer, C.J. Cron, Marcus Stroman, Jonathan Singleton and Gregory Polanco have been starting for their respective clubs for quite some time now. Others like Oscar Taveras, Taijuan Walker and Kevin Gausman (no longer prospect-eligible) have been shuttling up and down between the minors and majors.

With less than a month to go until the trade deadline, there should be plenty of promotions of prime prospects once the wheeling and dealing opens up 25-man roster spots. That's just what's starting to happen with the rebuilding Chicago Cubs, who brought up infield/outfield prospect Arismendy Alcantara and right-hander Kyle Hendricks not long after trading away starters Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel.

Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Brewers decided that Marco Estrada had given up enough home runs as part of their rotation—his 27 homers allowed are by far the most in baseball—so they've turned to their top prospect, Jimmy Nelson. The right-hander's outing just before the All-Star break didn't go all that well, but he should get another start to bounce back.

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With the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline edging closer every day, trade talks have begun to heat up as teams prepare to address their needs for the second half of the 2014 season and beyond.

For most organizations, their best chance at landing an impact player before the end of the month will depend on both the depth and strength of their farm system. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that every team hoping to make a deal before the deadline is willing to part with its top prospects. In fact, a majority of the game’s current top prospects have already been declared off limits.

To get on this list, a prospect must first have a high ceiling and a chance to be an MLB impact player. Next, he must be the best at his position who will not be dangled in a potential deadline blockbuster.

This is not an all-prospect team based solely on performance; rather, it's a minor league team of the best of the best who you won't see seriously discussed in any rumors. If you do, do not believe them!

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Everything about Reds starter Alfredo Simon’s season has been a pleasant surprise.

Originally expected to open the season in the Reds bullpen, Simon, 33, was given a chance in the starting rotation during spring training due to an injury to Mat Latos. With only 19 career starts in the major leagues under his belt headed into the season, the hope was that Simon would simply hold down the role and stabilize the back end of the rotation until Latos was ready to return.

Instead, the right-hander has relished the opportunity, turning in a breakthrough performance during the first half of the season while arguably serving as the Reds' most consistent starting pitcher.

Simon’s 12 wins headed into the All-Star break tied him with Adam Wainwright for the most in the National League, and he’s currently riding a streak of eight consecutive quality starts. However, Simon’s excellent first half didn’t result in an All-Star selection as many expected, though he eventually earned a spot on the team as a last-minute replacement for teammate Johnny Cueto.

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We’re now well over halfway through the minor league season, and countless prospects continue to open eyes with their performances at each of the four full-season levels. And with the rookie and short-season leagues now underway, we have even more prospects to break down each week. However, well only be looking at just the hottest players from those two levels due to the small sample of games.

With teams having played over 80 games since Opening Day on April 3—most starting pitchers have made anywhere from 15 to 20 starts, while everyday players have amassed 350-plus plate appearances—we no longer have to worry about misleading small sample sizes.

As we did in the series’ previous installments, this week’s list of players once again combines reports on both hitters and pitchers in the same article.

Here are the hottest and coldest players at every minor league level, save for Rookie and Short-Season due to the smaller sample size and developmental nature of those leagues.

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Javier Baez connects on a two-run, opposite-field home run in Sunday's Futures Game.
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It’s official: The Chicago Cubs have the best collection of young hitters in all of baseball.

The acquisition of shortstop Addison Russell from the Oakland A’s as part of the Jeff Samardzija-Jason Hammel deal gives the Cubs five top-50 prospects in Kris Bryant (No. 3), Russell (No. 5), Javier Baez (No. 6), Arismendy Alcantara (No. 23) and Albert Almora (No. 36), while Jorge Soler and Kyle Schwarber both rank somewhere in the top 100.

At the major league level, meanwhile, the Cubs have already locked up 24-year-old All-Stars Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro through at least the 2019 season.

With a slew of potential homegrown stars nearing the major leagues, it shouldn’t be long before the Cubs enter the next phase of their rebuilding process and begin to target high-end starting pitching.

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The 85th MLB All-Star Game will commence Tuesday night, airing at 7:30 p.m. ET on FOX and features a mix of baseball's most well-known veterans as well as its stars of tomorrow.

In addition to high-profile talents such as Andrew McCutchen, Mike Trout, Clayton Kershaw, Miguel Cabrera, Jose Bautista and Felix Hernandez, this year's All-Star Game features a long list of first-timers such as Yasiel Puig, Anthony Rizzo, Todd Frazier, Josh Donaldson, Julio Teheran, Masahiro Tanaka and Dellin Betances.

However, since we're always interested in the future here at Prospect Pipeline, I thought we'd warm up for tonight's Midsummer Classic with a look at what each league's All-Star roster might look like five years from now.

That being said, there’s a realistic chance there will be players on the 2019 All-Star team that aren’t currently on the major league radar or, in some cases, that are yet to be drafted. Similarly, many of the veteran players named to this year's game will have either retired by the 2019 season or at least be in the final stages of their careers.

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The SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game on Sunday night featured 50 of baseball’s brightest young talents, but it was Texas Rangers prospect Joey Gallo who stole the show.

Serving as the designated hitter for the U.S. squad, Gallo, 20, provided the decisive blow in his team’s 3-2 victory, as the slugger launched a monstrous, no-doubt, go-ahead two-run home run onto the concourse in right-center field with one out in the sixth inning.

Typically, a player will say he was simply trying to make good contact or hit the ball hard up the middle. But Gallo didn't beat around the bush with his approach during the at-bat.

"After the first two at-bats I just wanted to make contact and not embarrass myself too much by striking out," he said, per Josh Norris of Baseball America. "I got a 2-0 pitch and was just like, 'I'm going to try to hit this one out.'"

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Major League Baseball's stars of tomorrow will be on display in the 2014 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, which will be played Sunday at 5 p.m. ET at Target Field and air on the MLB Network and MLB.com.

Since its introduction in 1999, the All-Star Futures Game has evolved into the hidden gem of All-Star weekend, as the event offers fans a unique opportunity to watch baseball’s brightest prospects on the same field.

Each year, the event serves as a stepping stone for prospects destined for greatness, as 22 players from last year’s game have already reached the major leagues, including up-and-coming stars such as Gregory Polanco, Yordano Ventura, George Springer, Billy Hamilton and Christian Yelich.

Though some of the younger players are in the early stages of development, a majority of the participants in this year’s game are within striking distance of the major leagues and could potentially debut before the end of the season.