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Minor League Barometer: Mark Your Calendars

Jesse Siegel

Jesse Siegel

Siegel covers college football, college basketball and minor league baseball for RotoWire. He was named College Sports Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.

Mark your calendars. The Nats have set June 8 at home against the Pirates for The Stephen Strasburg Era to begin. With all the hype surrounding his debut, let's take a look at some other players who could be making waves soon for their respective major League ballclubs.

UPGRADES

1. Buster Posey, C, SF - The Giants couldn't wait until June to call up their prized catching prospect. In fact, he's not even playing catcher, but first base. Still, Posey's bat has never been questioned, and he showed it with six hits in his first nine at-bats, including two doubles and four RBI. The Giants clearly didn't bring Posey up to ride the bench, so expect to see Posey Bust-a-move at first for the foreseeable future.

2. Michael Pineda, P, SEA - Pineda is operating under the radar at this point, but perhaps that will change. All he's done in 50.1 innings with Double-A West Tennessee is compile a 2.31 ERA and 59 strikeouts. His control has been impressive as well, as the 21-year-old has issued just 13 walks over that span. With opposing batters hitting just .234 against him, Pineda could make his way to Triple-A before the season is through.

3. Brad Lincoln, P, PIT - I'm not buying GM Neil Huntington's assertions that the Bucs have no plans to bring up Lincoln in the short-term. He's 25, hasn't allowed more than three runs in any of his last five starts in Triple-A, and has fanned 31 batters over that span. With the combination of injuries and ineffectiveness that has plagued the Pirates' rotation, it wouldn't surprise me in the least to see Lincoln up with the big club by the All-Star break.

4. Carlos Carrasco, P, CLE - Although Carrasco got lit up in his last start for Triple-A Columbus, he still punched out seven batters and could be in line for a call-up as The Tribe grows weary of Justin Masterson and Jake Westbrook. The same goes if David Huff isn't back to full strength after taking an A-Rod liner off the dome. The Indians may just want to see what Carrasco's got.

5. Chris Tillman, P, BAL - Tillman's 2010 debut was a success overall, as the 6-5 righty allowed two runs on six hits in 5.2 innings for the O's. The 22-year-old walked two while striking out three. Tillman has front-of-the-rotation stuff and should even be given a flier in non-keeper leagues, as he figures to stick in the B-More rotation from here on out.

6. Mike Stanton, OF, FLA - The call from the Fish could come as early as this week for Stanton, whose raw power has been making executives and fans alike gush. He's been playing some left field to get ready for the big club, as the Marlins like Cameron Maybin in center and Cody Ross in right. Stanton should make the jump straight from Double-A, and Chris Coghlan may soon be reduced to a utility role.

Honorable Mention

1. Alex White, P, CLE
2. Tyler Skaggs, P, LAA
3. Robbie Ross, P, TEX
4. Kyle Heckathorn, P, MIL
5. Tim Beckham, SS, TB

DOWNGRADES

1. Jaff Decker, OF, SD - Decker's 2010 has been a nightmare. He missed the first month of the season with a hamstring injury, and since his return he hasn't been seeing the ball well. His .442 OBP from last year seems like eons ago, as Decker has fanned 25 times in 15 games while drawing just three walks over that span. Decker is still just 20, but clearly needs some time to right the ship in High-A.

2. Trevor May, P, PHI - The strikeouts have been there for May, but the command and ability to go deep into games has not. May has fanned 65 batters in 43.1 innings for High-A Clearwater but has posted a 4.98 ERA and 32 walks over that period. Likewise, he has made it through six innings just twice in nine starts. May won't turn 21 until September, but the Phils are still being extremely careful with the 6-foot-5 righty, maybe even too much so.

3. Josh Vitters, 3B, CHI - To say Vitters hasn't enjoyed Double-A so far would probably be an understatement. The 20-year-old third baseman is batting .234/.258/.344 wth one home run, five RBI and 10 strikeouts in 20 games. He's walked just once over that span. If possible, Vitters has been even worse over his last 10 contests, hitting an abysmal .125. Never a standout OBP guy, Vitters must improve his plate discipline if he is to succeed at the higher levels.

4. Chris Marrero, 1B, WAS - The power has been there, but the patience at the plate has not for Marrero in 2010. Although he's hit four home runs over his last 10 games, the 21-year-old is hitting just .227 with 10 strikeouts over that span. Marrero's OBP through 51 games is .298, which simply won't get it done. The 2006 first-round pick continues to move up the ranks, though slowly, and he has clearly not progressed to super-stardom as Washington would have hoped.

5. Joseph Dunigan, OF, SEA - Dunigan had a breakout 2009 campaign with 30 homers, 104 RBI and 20 stolen bases for High-A High Desert. His line of .294/.355/.570 was evidence of his colossal power numbers. However, this season has been a far different story, as Dunigan is hitting just .191/.257/.331 with four homers and 16 RBI through 39 games. A recent injury has further dampened his prospects, and the 24-year-old still has a lot of work to do to be considered in the legit phenom conversation.

6. Donald Veal, P, PIT - When you start hearing whispers of Dr. James Andrews associated with your name, it's usually not a good sign for your short-term prospects. Veal's hit the DL for Triple-A Indianapolis with soreness in his left elbow. While he's always had raw, plus stuff, it hasn't translated to overwhelming results, with his wildness often dominating games in the wrong fashion. Now it looks like the 25-year-old will have even more to overcome should he need Tommy John surgery.