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Minor League Barometer: Summer Heats Up

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.

As summer heats up, some new names are becoming staples on the Upgrade side of the equation. Mike Moustakas, Desmond Jennings and Domonic Brown continue to rake and prove themselves as elite prospects. Meanwhile, Jeremy Hellickson and Michael Pineda have met little resistance in mowing down opposing hitters in 2010. Let's take a look at some other notable players putting their stamp on the 2010 campaign.

UPGRADES

1. J.P. Arencibia, C, TOR
- Arencibia has been on fire over his past 10 games for Triple-A Las Vegas, batting .422/.449/.956 with six home runs and 18 RBI. That puts his season total at 21 home runs, along with a line of .314/.362/.643. Arencibia's biggest hurdle to the big leagues is his position; his glove lags behind his bat, and the Jays also have an All-Star catcher in John Buck, along with standout defensive backup Jose Molina. Still, the 24-year-old Arencibia could get a cup of coffee with Toronto by the end of 2010.

2. Engel Beltre, OF, TEX
- Beltre received a promotion to Double-A last week after hitting .331/.376/.460 with five home runs, 35 RBI and 10 steals for High-A Bakersfield. The 20-year-old hasn't missed a beat since being promoted, going 6-for-10 with a home run and five RBI. Beltre struggled mightily in 2009, but has huge upside and plenty of time to work on his craft.

3. Brandon Belt, 1B, SF
- The Giants had no choice but to move Belt up to Double-A after a scorching first 77 games in the minors for High-A San Jose. Belt hit .383/.493/.635 with 10 home runs, 62 RBI and 18 stolen bases. In just his second game with Double-A Richmond, he went 4-for-5 with a home run. The 6-foot-5, 195-pounder was a fifth-round pick last year who never dominated at the college level like he was supposed to. He's looked like a polished product so far, though, and perhaps he's finally putting it together as a 22-year-old.

4. Kyle Drabek, P, TOR
- When the Jays received Drabek from the Phillies in the Roy Halladay deal, this was the type of pitcher they expected: Kyle tossed a no-hitter on Independence Day, issuing two walks while striking out three en route to a near perfect day for Double-A New Hampshire. Drabek now has a 3.20 ERA this year. Although he's battled control issues (80:45 K:BB ratio), he's holding opposing batters to a measly .219 average. At 22, Drabek has an outside shot at a 2010 debut, but 2011 looks more likely.

5. Freddie Freeman, 1B, ATL
- Freeman has raked lately, batting .350/.422/.800 with four home runs and 11 RBI over his last 10 games for Triple-A Gwinnett. Freeman won't turn 21 until September, but he has shown decent power and an advanced eye for his age. Troy Glaus is having a huge comeback season for Atlanta, but Chipper Jones appears to be on the way out, and Glaus could be shifted to third with Freeman manning first come 2011.

6. Devin Mesoraco, C, CIN
- Considered a reach by the Reds in the first round of the 2007 draft, Mesoraco struggled terribly over his first two-plus seasons in the minors. However, it appears he's finally put it together for Cincinnati in 2010. Between High-A and Double-A, the 22-year-old backstop is hitting .311/.377/.602 with 17 home runs and 47 RBI. Over his last 10 games with Double-A Carolina, he is batting .343/.385/.686 with three home runs and nine RBI. All in all, Mesoraco has pushed himself back into the picture for the Reds and is their legit catcher of the future.

Honorable mention
1. Eric Hosmer, 1B, KC
2. Marc Krauss, OF, ARI
3. Tyler Matzek, P, COL
4. Jiovanni Mier, SS, HOU
5. Jerry Sands, 1B, LAD

DOWNGRADES

1. Arodys Vizcaino, P, ATL
- Vizcaino will miss at least the next six weeks with a partial ligament tear in his right elbow. He will try to rehab during that time, but surgery remains a possibility, which obviously would put him out of commission for much, much longer. It's a tough break for the 19-year-old righty, who has simply been electric for the Bravos in 2010 with a 2.71 ERA and 77:12 K:BB ratio between Low-A Rome and High-A Myrtle Beach.

2. Jordan Danks, OF, CHI
- Danks' woes continue for Triple-A Charlotte, as the 23-year-old is batting just .194/.237/.222 with 16 strikeouts over his past 10 games for the Knights. On the year, Danks has fanned 102 times, while sporting an abysmal .302 on-base percentage. With limited power potential to boot, Danks may need a massive overhaul on his swing in order to become a productive, disciplined major-league hitter.

3. Michael Taylor, OF, OAK
- Taylor has had an alarmingly disappointing 2010 campaign, batting .247/.317/.317 for Triple-A Sacramento. After bashing 20 home runs last season, he has just three in 2010, and is on pace to set a career high in strikeouts. Although originally considered a surefire bet to make his major league debut early in 2010, it appears that Taylor will get regular at-bats in the minors for the foreseeable future.

4. Matt Dominguez, 3B, FLA
- He's still young, but the 20-year-old Dominguez has been far from impressive for the Fish in 2010. He's batting .239/.318/.404 with nine home runs and 41 RBI for Double-A Jacksonville. His last 10 contests have been even worse, as the 6-1 third baseman is hitting a paltry .156 over that span. The 12th overall pick in the 2007 draft has yet to have a monstrous season in the minors, and 2010 doesn't look like that will be the case either.

5. Carlos Triunfel, SS, SEA
- Triunfel has yet to regain his pre-injury form, the result of a badly broken left leg suffered at the beginning of 2009. The injury has appeared to sap his speed, as the 20-year-old has stolen just two bases this season in Double-A, after swiping 30 bags in 2008 in High-A. He's batting just .211 over his past 10 games with West Tennessee and has drawn just 11 walks this season. With limited power as well, Triunfel will have to improve his game all around to become a legitimate fantasy force down the road.

6. James Darnell, 3B, SD
- Darnell's line of .226/.338/.394 for Double-A San Antonio certainly isn't doing much for his stock in 2010. In 43 games with the Missions, he has slugged just four home runs and driven in 13 runs, a far cry from his 20-HR, 81-RBI breakout in 2009. With a .162 average over his past 10 games as well, the 23-year-old clearly needs some more conditioning in Double-A before being considered for a promotion.