So far this year all we have done here in the Farm Report is breakdown top prospects by giving an in-depth scouting report for them and analyzing what we should expect from them in 2011. Now we are going to elevate our game however because the minor league season is officially underway and nobody this side of Baseball America will be keeping a closer eye on all of the action. Of course, we will be breaking it all down from a fantasy perspective and thus you should book mark this page right now if you want to be the first one in your league to know when a valuable fantasy player is about to join the big league club. Come back often as we will be updating this blog several times throughout the week in order to keep up with the always developing trends and breakouts that are happening down on the farm.
As Minor Leauge Baseball's Opening Day has arrived, I felt this was a good time to go over some of the best players who didn't make the Major League club out of Spring Training this year. More often than not, this has everything to do with the team trying to control these players arbitration rights for an extra season and not because of a lack of skill. The biggest problem with this list is that you'll see a lot of familiar names on it and despite that, this is not what this blog is about. Once the minor league season starts going, we'll be going deeper and deeper into the prospect pool and also have a much better idea of who is being positioned for a promotion soon. For now though, sit back and read up on the top minor league players of 2011 and decide which ones fit into your current or future fantasy baseball plans.
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1) Dustin Ackley -- Tacoma AAA (Seattle) -- 2B -- I absolutely love this kid and once you see him play, you will too. Ackley is an all out player who does everything there is to do on a baseball field and does it well. The Mariners moved Jose Lopez in the off-season specifically because they know Ackley will be up early on in the season and once he gets the call the job will be all his. Ackley doesn't have great power but makes outstanding contact and will put a charge into 10+ HR's per season at the big league level. With Ichiro and Ackley at the top of the lineup, the future in Seattle isn't nearly as gloomy as the weather.
2) Chris Carter -- Sacramento AAA (Oakland) -- OF/1B -- The A's are in big trouble at the major league level cause there is absolutely no pop in their lineup whatsoever. Carter is desperately needed as a power bat who can put fear into the opposing pitchers head. It was surprising that the A's sent Carter down to begin the season but you can bet the land, the farm and the 100 acres that he will be back up shortly. Carter has the best pure power bat of anybody in the minor leagues right now.
3) Jesus Montero -- Scranton AAA (NY Yankees) -- Catcher -- The Yankees have too many real good catching prospects in their organization and thus there really isn't much room at AAA for Montero anymore. His bat has graduated to big league level and the Yankees will be able to use him behind the plate, at first base and as a designated hitter enough to warrant an early season call up. Montero has an All-Star bat that could be a tremendous find if he were to see regular playing time in New York.
4) Kyle Gibson -- Rochester AAA (Minnesota) -- RHP Starter -- I am not as high on Gibson as some scouts but there is no denying he is ready to take on big league hitters right now. He's a very mature pitcher who uses more hard sliders and changeups to make up for his average fastball. The Twins have several issues in their rotation and it is just a matter of time before they reach down and pluck Gibson off of the backroad busses for good.
5) Desmond Jennings -- Durham AAA (Tampa Bay) -- OF -- It seems like we've been waiting for Jennings arrival for a decade or something doesn't it? Truth be told, he is only 24 years old and ready to play under the bright lights or in Tampa's case, a half empty roller dome. Jennings reminds me a lot of Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates as they have very similar builds and skill sets at about the same age. Jennings has done all that he can in the minor leagues and it is all about serving the next six weeks or so in Durham before he takes his rightful place in the Tampa Bay Rays outfield.
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6) Yonder Alonso -- Louisville AAA (Cincinnati) -- 1B/OF -- Alonso is one of the most polished hitters in the minor leagues but is unfortunately blocked by Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and Chris Heisey. Still, his bat is just too valuable to be wasting around in the minor leagues and so it is my belief that Alonso will be traded at some point this season. He will most likely be a part of a package deal that will allow the Reds to acquire whatever big name starting pitcher is the apple of everyone's eye this summer. Once he gets regular playing time, watch out.
7) Lonnie Chisenhall -- Columbus AAA (Cleveland) -- 3B -- Chisenhall is a pure hitter with a sweet left handed swing. He projects as a good contact hitter who uses the whole field and will regularly hit over .300 at the big league level. His power numbers have been progressing nicely though he will only be around a 20 HR per season type corner infielder. The Indians have a gaping hole at the hot corner and will wait a couple of months before installing Chisenhall into the position he has been groomed for over the past couple of seasons.
8) Mike Moustakas -- Omaha AAA (Kansas City) -- 3B -- I like Moustakas a bit more than his fellow Royals prospect Eric Hosmer. What I like about Moustakas is his ability to make contact especially for a pure power hitter. He doesn't strikeout much and has power to all fields. It will be real fun to watch he and Hosmer tear apart AAA pitching for the month or two they remain in Omaha. Both of these guys are the core of Kansas City's starting lineup for many years to come. Moustakas is worth a roster space in deeper leagues right now based on the power potential he has in that quick bat of his.
9) Dee Gordon -- Albuquerque AAA (LA Dodgers) -- SS -- There is a real lack of top shortstop prospects down on the farm and Gordon is without question the best of the bunch. He has great speed and uses it as an asset at the plate which is so refreshing to see nowadays. Gordon will hit the ball on the ground and leg himself out hit after hit and is also an accomplished bunter. His slick fielding is also a tool the Dodgers could use at some point this season. Gordon will probably be the last one on this list to be called to the big leagues but he deserves to be installed into your memory right now.
10) Dayan Viciedo -- Charlotte AAA (White Sox) -- 3B/1B/OF -- There is no questioning Viciedo's bat, but where he will play is a big mystery at this point. He has unbelievable natural skills as a hitter and demonstrates plus power to all fields. He could soon be a part of a murderer's row in Chicago while hitting in the same lineup that includes Paul Konerko, Adam Dunn, Alex Rios, Carlos Quentin and Gordon Beckham. Viciedo is the prototype cleanup hitter and could drive in a lot of runs once he's given a chance...and a position.
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