As baseball has entered the second half of the season and the trade deadline approaches, let's take a look down on the farm. With potential deadline trades going through, many prospects may be on the move. To this point of the season here are some top performers from multiple levels of the minor leagues that in a few years may be fantasy mainstays:
Billy Hamilton, SS, Reds: This 21-year-old switch-hitting speedster is "quickly" becoming a household name among casual baseball fans, especially following the All-Star Futures Game on July 8. He is stealing bases at an alarming rate; totaling 109 steals through July 15 (the all-time minor league record is 145 stolen bases by Vince Coleman in 1983). Hamilton was called up to Double-A Pensacola during the MLB All-Star break after hitting .323/.413/.439 with 28 extra-base hits at High-A Bakersfield. He also has a knack for being a selective hitter, taking 50 walks. His speed is elite and his high batting average from both sides of the plate scream a comparison to Marlins shortstop Jose Reyes. The Reds have solid organizational depth at shortstop that may delay his arrival to the majors, but when he arrives Hamilton will be an exciting player to watch.
Starling Marte, OF, Pirates: Marte has excelled at every level in his minor league career and is knocking on the doorstep of PNC Park. A year after winning the Double-A Eastern League batting title, Marte has followed up this season at Triple-A by hitting .286/.349/.490. He has also developed his power, already hitting 10 home runs this season. He is a legitimate five-tool prospect as he is known for his athleticism in the field and speed. The Pirates have MVP candidate Andrew McCutchen entrenched in center field but Marte could move to a corner-outfield spot at the major league level.
Danny Hultzen, LHP, Mariners: The Mariners' first-round pick from 2011 is cruising through the ranks. He dominated at Double-A Jackson this season posting an 8-3 record, a 1.19 ERA, and 79 strikeouts in 13 starts before earning a promotion to Triple-A Tacoma in June. The 6-foot-3 left-hander has a nice mix of pitch types with a solid fastball-changeup combo that is mixed with a slider. His three-quarter delivery is deceptive to hitters and is a similar motion to Giants lefty Madison Bumgarner. He is likely a future top of the rotation starter and considering that he's been surrounded by talented pitchers in the upper levels of the Mariners' system (James Paxton and Taijuan Walker), the future rotation in Seattle is shaping up nicely.
Wil Myers, OF, Royals: Another standout from the All-Star Futures Game, Myers converted from catcher and will likely be a right fielder in the future for the Royals. Between Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha, Myers is hitting .327/.404/.676 with 28 home runs and a monstrous 75 RBI. A right-handed hitter, he actually hits for a higher average against right-handed pitchers. The Royals have some of the best young hitting talent among MLB organizations currently and a relatively crowded outfield, but Myers is not far away from being a big-time player in the lineup.
Dylan Bundy, RHP, Orioles: Another obvious top prospect, during Bundy's eight starts early this season at Low-A Delmarva, he did not allow an earned run in 30 innings of work. He has continued his success at High-A Frederick, with a 4-3 record, 3.11 ERA, and 42 strikeouts in 37.2 innings. At only 19 years old, the Orioles will likely let him spend a little extra time in the minors to make sure he is not rushed into the majors, but it will be difficult if he keeps performing at a high level. Ideally, Bundy will be the ace of the Orioles' pitching staff in a few years, or maybe even sooner.