Highlighting Top Lineups, Rotations For Prospects

If you're planning a minor league road trip or just want to know which teams' box scores to bookmark (although you should be reading BAPR every day anyway), here are the top five lineups and starting rotations from a prospect standpoint.

Top Five Lineups

1. Triple-A Sacramento (Athletics)

Notable prospects: LF Michael Taylor, 1B Chris Carter, 2B/3B Adrian Cardenas (thumb), 1B/OF Sean Doolittle, C Josh Donaldson, OF Corey Brown, 2B Eric Sogard

Why You Should Watch: The River Cats will have a pair of linebacker-sized prospects in the middle of their order with Carter and Taylor, possibly the best three-four prospect punch in the minors. Taylor isn't far from big league ready and would be an upgrade for some teams in left field right now. Cardenas and Doolittle should give the offense another boost when they're healthy, with Cardenas nursing a thumb injury and Doolittle still working his way back from left knee surgery he had last season.

2. Double-A Portland (Red Sox)

Notable Prospects: 1B Lars Anderson, SS Jose Iglesias, OF Ryan Kalish, CF Che-Hsuan Lin, SS/3B Yamaico Navarro, C Luis Exposito

Why You Should Watch: Anderson's stock tumbled last year after he hit .233/.328/.345 in a full season with Portland. Whether he can return to what made him Boston's best prospect coming in to the 2009 season will be one of the biggest things to watch this year among Red Sox farmhands. Iglesias' glove alone is reason enough to watch a Portland game in person if you can, though a full season in the Eastern League will be a stiff test for him at the plate.

3. Triple-A Buffalo (Mets)

Notable Prospects: 1B Ike Davis, LF Fernando Martinez, C Josh Thole

Why You Should Watch: Can Fernando Martinez stay healthy for an entire season? As a high-profile July 2 signing in 2005, Martinez has been a prospect since Tom Cruise was jumping around on Oprah's couch, but he's still just 21 years old. He hit .290/.337/.540 in 45 games with Buffalo last year, so it's more a matter of staying on the field than proving what he can do once he's there. Davis gives the Bisons a second Top 100 prospect and should provide their lineup with some of the best raw power in the International League.

4. Double-A Akron (Indians)

Notable Prospects: 3B Lonnie Chisenhall, LF Nick Weglarz, SS Carlos Rivero, 1B Beau Mills

Why You Should Watch: Chisenhall has a chance to vault himself into the upper echelon of elite prospects this year. More interesting will be the development of Weglarz, who had just five hits last April for Akron, dominated the league for two more months, then played through a shin injury and just wasn't the same afterwards. He's still just 22 and has some of the best plate discipline in the minors. Rivero stands out more for the raw power he can flash in batting practice than for any refined skill at the plate come game time, but he's always been among the youngest players at his level. Repeating the Eastern League could give Rivero, 21, the opportunity to put together the best year of his career if he's able to put it all together.

5. Low Class A Fort Wayne (Padres)

Notable Prospects: 3B Edinson Rincon, OF Everett Williams, OF Rymer Liriano, SS Jonathan Galvez, 1B Nathan Freiman

Why You Should Watch: The Padres' typically college-heavy farm system suddenly has an influx of high school and international talent. Their Fort Wayne team will have three prominent Latin American prospects, while Everett Williams was a standout at spring training. Center fielder Donovan Tate, the third overall pick a year ago, will start the year in extended spring training nursing a shoulder injury but could join the TinCaps at some point.

Honorable mention: If you just want to see raw tools, the Phillies have what you're looking for on their low Class A Lakewood club. Outfielders Jiwan James, Domingo Santana, Anthony Hewitt and Zach Collier each have multiple 60 or 70 tools on the 20-80 scale—though making contact at the plate isn't one of them—while catcher Sebastian Valle and shortstop Jonathan Villar are a pair of promising international signings. The BlueClaws won't be lacking power arms on the mound either, with righthanders Jared Cosart and Brody Colvin capable of touching 96 mph.

Top Five Starting Rotations

1. High Class A Wilmington (Royals)

Notable Prospects: LHP Mike Montgomery, RHP Tim Melville, LHP Noel Arguelles, LHP Chris Dwyer

Why You Should Watch: Lefthanded hitters won't enjoy facing Wilmington, a club deep with quality lefthanded pitching. No hitter is going to look forward to hitting against Montgomery, who is already one of the game's top pitching prospects and has a chance to push himself even higher in the rankings with another big year. Most scouts will get their first look at Arguelles, but also keep on eye on Dwyer, who threw 90-94 mph last year at Clemson but was working at just 85-88 mph and getting hit hard late in spring training.

2. Low Class A Rome (Braves)

Notable Prospects: RHP Julio Teheran, RHP Arodys Vizcaino, RHP Robinson Lopez, LHP Dimaster Delgado, LHP Brett Oberholtzer

Why You Should Watch: With Teheran and Vizcaino, the Braves have the two top pitchers from the 2007 international free agent market, with Vizcaino coming to the organization from the Yankees in the Javier Vazquez trade. Both of the 19-year-olds have thus far lived up to the hype. They will have to show they can handle a full season's workload, with Teheran having 96 career innings and Vizcaino 86 innings in their two years in pro ball. Lopez and Delgado are two more promising but more under-the-radar Latin American arms in the rotation, and all three will throw to a Spanish-speaking catcher, Panamanian Christian Bethancourt. It's a ridiculous amount of top international talent.

3. Double-A Frisco (Rangers)

Notable Prospects: LHP Martin Perez, RHP Tanner Scheppers, RHP Alexi Ogando, RHP Blake Beavan, LHP Kasey Kiker

Why You Should Watch: With Brian Matusz now in Baltimore, Perez and Cincinnati's Aroldis Chapman are the two top lefthanders in the minors. Scheppers has touched 99 mph with his fastball, but the 2009 supplemental first-rounder will need to prove he can hone his command and stay healthy in his first pro season. Ogando, 26, had a 2.45 ERA and a 31-to-1 strikeout-to-walk mark in 18 1/3 innings last year. That's nasty, but it was also in the Dominican Summer League, since Ogando and fellow Rangers righthander Omar Beltre were denied visas since their role in a marriage fraud scandal six years ago until getting them this year. Ogando touched 97 mph with his fastball in spring training, though he's obviously going to have to play a bit of developmental catch-up.

4. High Class A Kinston (Indians)

Notable Prospects: LHP Nick Hagadone, RHP Alex White, LHP T.J. House, LHP Kelvin de la Cruz, RHP Alexander Perez

Why You Should Watch: Hagadone showed his high-octane stuff was back last year coming off Tommy John surgery, but can he get hitters out pitching in stints longer than three innings? White, the Indians' first-round pick last year, gives the Indians another power arm, while de la Cruz and Perez will have two of the best curveballs in the Carolina League this year.

5. Low Class A Cedar Rapids (Angels)

Notable Prospects: RHP Garrett Richards, RHP Fabio Martinez, LHP Tyler Skaggs, LHP Pat Corbin, LHP Tyler Kehrer

Why You Should Watch: As impressive as their outfield will be with a pair of 2009 first-round picks in Mike Trout and Randal Grichuk, the Kernels' rotation will fill their rotation with five of the Angels' top young arms. Martinez and Richards have power arms and flash plus breaking balls, while Skaggs, Corbin and Kehrer give the Kernels three intriguing southpaws from the first two rounds of last year's draft.