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Minor League Barometer: Upgrades, Downgrades

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.


UPGRADES

1. Michael Pineda, P, SEA -
Pineda has quietly become a must-own prospect for the Mariners. The 21-year-old has never had an ERA higher than 2.66 in any year in the minors. He dominated Double-A before his promotion last week, with a 2.22 ERA and 78:17 K:BB ratio in 77 innings for West Tennessee. Likewise, his first start for Triple-A Tacoma was a gem, as he allowed one hit and zero runs in six innings for the Rainers. Pineda walked three batters, but also fanned five. All in all, the 6-foot-5, 180, righty is certainly a candidate for Seattle's 2011 rotation.

2. Mike Moustakas, 3B, KC -
Calling Moustakas' 2010 season a comeback year would probably be an understatement. After hitting just .250/.297/.421 in 129 games last season in High-A, Moustakas is now batting .344/.413/.688 through 56 games for Double-A Northwest Arkansas. The 21-year-old third baseman has also already surpassed his home run total from last season with 18 dingers and has driven in 66 runs in half a season. Moustakas has certainly placed himself back on the elite-prospect path, with a June 2011 debut likely.

3. Jerry Sands, 1B, LAD -
Sands was hitting so well in Low-A that the Dodgers completely skipped him over High-A. The 22-year-old first baseman hit .333/.432/.646 with 18 home runs and 46 RBI in 69 games for Low-A Great Lakes. He wasn't intimidated by the rise in levels either, bashing a home run in each of his first two games for the Lookouts. The 2008 25th-rounder has emerged as one of the Dodgers' better prospects.

4. Aaron Miller, P, LAD -
Miller joined Jerry Sands in Double-A this past week and was stellar in his debut for the Lookouts, allowing two runs on three hits in six innings for the Lookouts. The 6-3 lefty walked two and fanned five. Miller's promotion came from High-A Inland Empire, where he had a 2.77 ERA in 74.2 innings. His K:BB ratio wasn't fantastic at 75:35, but he held opposing batters to a meager .201 batting average. As long as he continues to make hitters flail, the 22-year-old should find success for LA.

5. Liam Hendriks, P, MIN -
The Thunder from Down Under, Hendriks has already moved up a level from Low-A to High-A Fort Myers, and he still hasn't met much difficulty. He has a pristine 49:5 K:BB ratio with a 1.86 ERA for the Miracle in 58 innings. Hendriks could see Double-A by season's end, though it's more likely he starts 2011 there with an eye toward a 2012 debut. The Twins may not want to rush him due to missing the entire 2008 season from back surgery. Still, Hendriks is healthy and having a breakout 2010 season.

6. Brett Wallace, 1B, TOR -
It's not a matter of if, but when, for Wallace. He continues to rake for Triple-A Las Vegas, hitting .390/.435/.659 with three home runs and five RBI over his past 10 contests. Toronto is still just 4.5 games out of the wild card race, holding back Wallace as it tries to keep pace with the Yankees, Rays and Red Sox. However, with Lyle Overbay hitting just .234, Wallace should make his debut before the summer is through.

HONORABLE MENTION

1. John Lamb, P, KC
2. Brett Jackson, OF, CHI
3. Matt LaPorta, 1B, CLE
4. Brad Hand, P, FLA
5. Chris Marrero, 1B, WAS

DOWNGRADES

1. Peter Bourjos, OF, LAA -
Perhaps all the talk of Mike Trout has gotten under the skin of Bourjos, as the 23-year-old center fielder is hitting just .136/.225/.139 over his past 10 games. Over that span, he has driven in two runs while stealing three bases. On the year, his on-base percentage stands at just .302, extremely low for a projected lead-off hitter. He has also fanned 53 times in 70 games for Triple-A Salt Lake. Overall, Bourjos certainly needs some time to improve his plate discipline.

2. Beau Mills, 1B, CLE -
As if hitting .205/.281/.302 for Double-A Akron wasn't bad enough, the former first-round pick was charged with felonious assault as a result of an altercation at a night club, which left a man with a punctured lung and broken rib. One of three Indians minor leaguers charged, Mills clearly hopes to put 2010 behind him, and fast.

3. Adeiny Hechavarria, SS, TOR -
Hechavarria's raw potential hasn't translated to much yet, as the Cuban prospect is batting a paltry .196/.221/.297 with one home run, seven RBI and seven stolen bases through 40 games for High-A Dunedin. He has struck out 25 times, while walking just five times. The 21-year-old has been even worse over his last 10 contests, hitting .114/.139/.200. There had been hopes that Hechavarria would make it to Double-A by the end of 2010, but the $10 million man doesn't look like he's going anywhere at this rate.

4. Tony Sanchez, C, PIT -
Originally suffering from concussion-like symptoms after being hit in the head on June 3, it turns out that Sanchez actually has two broken bones in his jaw that will require surgery, sidelining him for 6-8 weeks. Sanchez may have finally been living up to his potential too, with a .314/.416/.454 line for Double-A Altoona, including a spot in the Futures Game. Instead, he'll likely spend the rest of 2010 recovering from his injuries.

5. Aaron Crow, P, KC -
Unfortunately, inclusion on this list is becoming a common theme for Crow. His ERA over his last 10 starts now sits at a bloated 7.84, with a 39:29 K:BB ratio over that span. Opposing batters are hitting .302 against him. It's been a disastrous first season for the No. 12 overall pick from 2009, as he's allowed 10 home runs and 98 hits in 86 innings for the Naturals. Command has really been his biggest concern, though, with 42 walks this year. Crow has a lot of tweaking to do to turn his stock around.

6. Christian Friedrich, P, COL -
Friedrich's been almost as bad as Aaron Crow, posting a 6.06 ERA over his last 10 appearances. His K:BB ratio isn't horrific at 43:21, but a .312 BAA will simply not get it done. Combine that with a stint on the DL due to left elbow soreness, and Friedrich's 2010 season has been a far cry from his 2009 line of a 2.41 ERA and 159 strikeouts in 119.2 innings.

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