Yup, that's right: Minor league action begins on Thursday, which of course means that prospect porn also begins here at Roto Arcade. And there's nothing you can do to stop it. Those Paul Janish and Willie Bloomquist posts will just have to wait. Here, as a public service to the fantasy community, is a quick sweep of a few of baseball's top prospects, with their opening day homes...
Bryce Harper, OF, Single-A Hagerstown
Following an excellent spring cameo in Nats' camp (7-for-18, 5 RBIs, 3 R, 3 Ks), baseball's most thoroughly hyped prospect opens in the Low-A South Atlantic league. He obviously won't finish there if things go according to plan. He'll almost certainly make it to Double-A Harrisburg, perhaps Syracuse. Let's try to remember that he's only 18.
Mike Trout, OF, Double-A Arkansas
He's only 19, but Trout is coming off a ridiculous season at two Single-A stops. He hit .341/.428/.490 last year with 10 homers and 56 steals in 71 attempts. The Angels typically seem to prefer outfielders twice his age, but he's among the leading candidates to be the buzziest fantasy prospect of 2012.
Domonic Brown, OF, Triple-A Lehigh Valley
Yeah, this did not go as expected. A fractured hamate bone ended Brown's spring, and the injury threatens his power in 2011. He'll re-arrive in Philly before too long, but the excitement has dimmed.
Desmond Jennings, OF, Triple-A Durham
Like Brown, Jennings will open in the International League, but he'll eventually force his way to Tampa. Right now, the Rays are a run-challenged team. Jennings is a 24-year-old with on-base skills, and he's swiped 89 bases in the high minors over the past two seasons (plus two more in the bigs).
Jesus Montero, C, Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre
Kinda wish the Yankees would've just dealt Montero last season, so as to make him a viable mixed league pick to start the year. But they didn't (though they tried), so we continue to wait. He'll debut for someone this year. Baseball America has ranked Montero as a top-five prospect in back-to-back seasons, so there are few doubts about his talent.
Julio Teheran, SP, Triple-A Gwinnett
The right-hander just turned 20 and he's opening at the highest minor league level, so that should tell you where he falls in the prospect hierarchy. Teheran struck out 159 batters over 142.2 innings last season across three levels, posting a 1.04 WHIP and 2.59 ERA in 24 starts. He transitioned well to Double-A, too. In case you weren't aware, the Braves system is still well-stocked with elite pitching talent (Teheran, Mike Minor, Brandon Beachy, Randall Delgado, Arodys Vizcaino, et al).
Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas, 1B and 3B, Triple-A Omaha
Kansas City's farm system is loaded at the moment, and two of the game's elite hitting prospects open in the PCL. (So is left-hander Mike Montgomery, a pitcher of interest). Moustakas has an unobstructed path to the majors, so he's unlikely to remain in Omaha beyond the first two months. Hosmer, 21, is a year younger than Moose, and he's currently blocked by Kila Ka'aihue and Billy Butler.
Wil Myers, OF, Double-A Northwest Arkansas
The 20-year-old Myers is transitioning from catcher to outfield, not unlike Bryce Harper, which should help get him to the majors a bit quicker (while making him arguably less useful when he arrives). He delivered a .934 OPS and a .315 average last season at Single-A, with 14 homers, 37 doubles, and 12 steals.
Matt Moore, SP, Double-A Montgomery
All this lefty did last season, at age 21, was strike out 208 batters in 144.2 innings in the Florida State League. He'll make a jump in level this season, and you can expect the Ks to follow. He's Tampa's property, so don't expect him to be rushed.
Dustin Ackley, 2B, Triple-A Tacoma
While Jack Wilson handles second base duties for Seattle (poorly), Ackley returns to the PCL. The Arizona Fall League MVP seems ready to hit in the majors -- he put up a .441 OBP this spring -- but he'll likely remain in Tacoma for several weeks, for the usual non-developmental reasons.
Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B, Triple-A Columbus
You'll recall that Chisenhall was out-hitting every member of the Tribe this spring when he was reassigned to minor league camp. He has a perfectly clear path to major league at-bats, so it would be a surprise if he weren't in Cleveland by the All-Star break. The fantasy ceiling may not be terribly high this season, but he does play a talent-scarce position.
And just for fun...
Yu Darvish, SP, Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters
OK, without question, the single most satisfying purchase I made during the 2011 draft/auction season was Darvish for $1 in the FanGraphs experts keeper league. Still giddy about that buy, a week after the marathon auction. There's some mileage on his arm, sure, but Darvish is still just 24, he's likely to make the leap to MLB in 2012, and he's coming off four consecutive brilliant seasons in Japan (1.81 career ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 9.2 K/9).
Photo via US Presswire