June 1 is right around the corner, meaning that more than a handful of hot-shot prospects could be making their way to the bigs very shortly. Among those not mentioned below include the Mariners' Dustin Ackley, the Royals' Mike Moustakas and the Rays' Desmond Jennings, three standout phenoms who have merely been biding their time in Triple-A waiting for the call. Lonnie Chisenhall could also make his way to man the hot corner for the Indians, though the Tribe's surprising success to begin the 2011 campaign could have them hold off on a promotion for the time being. Nevertheless, it is an exciting time for prospective superstars, as well as fantasy owners who have been patiently waiting for their prized prospects to mature and become ripe.
1. Jeremy Hazelbaker, OF, BOS - Hazelbaker is a speedster first and foremost, as he swiped 63 bags in 2010 for Low-A Greenville. However, the 23-year-old outfielder also hit a surprising 12 home runs for the Drive last season, and has continued to show improved power in 2011. He was recently promoted to Double-A after batting .279/.389/.475 with five home runs, 14 RBI and 12 steals through 34 games with High-A Salem. As seen from his on-base percentage, Hazelbaker has a superb eye at the dish, one of the usual prerequisites for a prototypical leadoff hitter. Should he continue to develop the power stroke, Hazelbaker could become an elite prospect due to his intriguing combination of speed, plate discipline and home run capabilities.
2. Anthony Rizzo, 1B, SD - Rizzo is an obvious inclusion due to his Herculean numbers thus far in 2011. The 21-year-old first baseman is batting .377/.451/.742 with 14 home runs and 56 RBI through just 40 games for Triple-A Tucson. He's even stolen five bases this season. Though most of his power has come against right-handers, the 6-3, 220, lefty is still hitting .333 against southpaws. With Brad Hawpe and Jorge Cantu barely staying afloat at first for the Padres, Rizzo should be up with San Diego shortly. Though he's likely taken in keeper leagues, Rizzo could be a chic pick-up for those in non-keeper leagues as well.
3. Brett Lawrie, 3B, TOR - Another consistent member of the Upgrades section, Lawrie might also force the hand of the Blue Jays, particularly once June 1 rolls around. His hitting has been off-the-charts for Triple-A Las Vegas, as the 21-year-old is batting .346/.403/.633 with 11 home runs, 37 RBI and nine steals through 43 games for the 51's. His defense has also improved significantly, as he continues to learn a new position. His move from second base to the hot corner has been the biggest reason why he has not ascended to the majors just yet. After committing six errors through his first 16 games, Lawrie has made five errors over his last 27. The Jays' infield has been racked by injuries, and Toronto has Jayson Nix playing third base with Edwin Encarnacion manning first in the absence of Adam Lind. Lawrie would certainly add depth and production to the mix, but is likely not going to be brought up to ride the pine. Still, look for him to be starting for the Jays by summer.
4. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, AZ - Chicks dig the long ball, and so do fantasy baseball owners. Goldschmidt's power surge the past two seasons has made him one of the most talked about prospects in baseball. In 2011, the 23-year-old has bashed 15 home runs and knocked in 43 runs in 42 games for Double-A Mobile. Perhaps more impressively, Goldilocks is hitting .331 with a .463 on-base percentage, including drawing 37 walks while fanning just 28 times. By comparison, Goldschmidt drew just 57 walks while striking out 161 times. Though Goldschmidt likely won't see the bigs until September, he remains one of the most intriguing prospects due to his massive power potential and ever-improving plate discipline.
5. Dellin Betances, P, NYY - Betances with Wolves? Too much? In all seriousness, the 6-8, 260-pounder has been virtually untouchable for Double-A Trenton thus far in 2011. The 23-year-old has allowed a measly three earned runs in 28.2 innings for the Thunder. Opposing batters are hitting a putrid .168 against him. Though he has battled some command issues recently (13 walks over his last three starts), Betances has managed to limit the damage overall. Once he gets his control issues handled, the sky is the limit for the overpowering righthander.
6. Jedd Gyorko, 3B, SD - All of a sudden, the rebuilding Padres have a slew of blossoming hitting stars in their minor-league system. Blake Tekotte just got the call, James Darnell and Jaff Decker are crushing the ball, while the aforementioned Anthony Rizzo should be manning first for the big club shortly. Meanwhile, Gyorko continues to rake for High-A Lake Elsinore. Over his last 10 games, the 22-year-old is batting a robust .400/.457/.900 with five home runs, 12 RBI and five stolen bases. His overall line stands at .384/.453/.695 with 11 home runs, 43 RBI and seven steals through 44 games for the Storm. Though James Darnell is likely ahead of him on the depth chart right now, the Padres have been faltering at nearly every position at the major-league level en route to one of the worst records in baseball. In other words, the Padres will find a way to play both Darnell and Gyorko once they hit the bigs, even if it requires moving one or both to the outfield.
1. Charlie Blackmon, OF, COL
2. Anthony Ranaudo, P, BOS
3. Justin Bour, 1B, CHC
4. Robert Carson, P, NYM
5. Chris Parmelee, OF, MIN
1. Johermyn Chavez, OF, SEA - Chavez hasn't quite found his groove in 2011 after a career-year in 2010. Last season with High-A Modesto, the 22-year-old hit .315/.387.577 with 32 home runs and 96 RBI. This season has been a different story, as he has belted just two home runs in 41 games for Double-A Jackson. His overall line stands at just .255/.317/.369. Always prone to the strikeout, Chavez has fanned 44 times already, while drawing just 11 walks. Though never a speedster, he has even been caught stealing in six of his eight tries for the Generals. Though Chavez has hit for a bit more average of late, the lack of power combined with the consistent strikeouts are certainly a tad worrisome.
2. Chris Archer, P, TB - Acquired from the Cubs in the Matt Garza deal, Archer has been batted around to the tune of a 5.98 ERA and .320 BAA through 43.2 innings for Double-A Montgomery. Archer's WHIP sits at 1.80, showing that there have been way too many baserunners allowed in 2011. He has never had pristine control, but was able to hold opposing batters to a sub-.220 BAA over his previous three seasons in the minors. That has obviously not been the case in 2011, as Archer has allowed at least five hits in every game this season, leading to at least three earned runs surrendered in eight of his nine starts. As can be seen, Archer has considerable work to do on his command in order to right the ship.
3. Jarrod Parker, P, AZ - Not surprisingly, Parker has struggled with his command since missing all of 2010 due to Tommy John surgery. Through 38.0 innings with Double-A Mobile, the 22-year-old righty has a 6.39 ERA and 29:21 K:BB ratio. He allowed three home runs during his most recent start on Friday, bringing his yearly total to seven dingers allowed. By comparison, over his previous 215.0 innings pitched in the minors, Parker surrendered 10 home runs. He should get himself turned around eventually, but at this rate it could take Parker longer than expected.
4. Chad James, P, FLA - The No. 18 overall pick in 2009, James has been blown up over his past two starts for High-A Jupiter. The 20-year-old lefty has allowed 11 runs and 15 hits over his past 10.1 innings. Though his overall line is respectable (3.70 ERA, 40:14 K:BB ratio through 48.2 innings), James has been getting entirely too much of the plate this season. Opposing batters are hitting .311 against him. James has also been getting fewer ground balls in 2011, yielding seven home runs thus far, after surrendering three all of last season. The sudden nose dive in ground balls and increase in home runs allowed are certainly something to watch as James ascends to the higher levels.
5. Wilin Rosario, C, COL - Rosario's power remains his greatest asset at the dish, but he's struggled to make contact, as well as with plate discipline this season. Over his past 10 contests, the 22-year-old backstop is hitting just .205/.239/.364. Overall, Rosario has drawn just seven walks in 33 games, while fanning 25 times. Rosario has also been a bit injury prone throughout his minor-league career, including a torn ACL suffered last August. He has also never played more than 73 games in any single season since being signed in 2006. Rosario does have seven home runs this season, and remains one of the better catching prospects in baseball. Just be wary of his low walk total, and the fact that he may never hit for much average.
6. John Lamb, P, KC - Elbow discomfort is obviously never a good sign for pitchers. Yet that's exactly what Lamb was diagnosed with after leaving Thursday's start early for Double-A Northwest Arkansas. Lamb had also been previously been battling a sore lat muscle. Injuries have been the main blame for Lamb's lack of velocity, as his fastball has seen a 3-4 mph dip from last season. He was also a bit wild before suffering the most recent injury, posting a 22:13 K:BB ratio through 35.0 innings. Last season, Lamb posted a better than 3:1 K:BB ratio between three levels. No word yet on the severity of Lamb's injury, but expect the Royals to be extremely cautious with one of their best prospects.
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