Minor League Monitor - AL East

Toronto Blue Jays

Justin Nicolino - A- / SP / 11-22-91

The tall, skinny, lefty has owned Northwest League hitters this season. In 10 games, 8 of them starts, he has a 1.20 ERA. The 11.6 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 are a big part of that ERA but it's the insane 4.6 H/9 he has allowed that is the main reason he has seen these results. I can't wait to see what this kid can do in full season A-ball. The H/9 will surely rise but how much will his other stats change? With his age and frame he can only get better from here, as he matures and fills out he should add velocity and further improve an already advanced approach to pitching.

Henderson Alvarez - MLB / SP / 04-18-90

Alvarez has been a Mid-Season All-Star all 3 years in full season ball and named to the Future's Game the past 2 seasons. Clearly he is a good pitcher even if the stats don't blow you away. In 5 seasons as a pro he has a 27-24 record with 4.02 ERA, 10.0 H/9, 1.7 BB/9 and 6.5 K/9. So what makes him so special that he would be called on by the Blue Jays at the ripe old age of 21? The answer is quite simple. He has a plus fastball, plus command and has pitched his entire pro career under-aged for his level while improving at each stop along the way. I think he will be a worthy pick-up in mixed leagues one day but I would shy away from grabbing him in his first taste of The Bigs.


Baltimore Orioles

LJ Hoes - AA / LF-2B / 03-05-90

Until this season Hoes had played all but one of his 234 of his games at second base. This year the Orioles have tried him mostly in left field. The shift into the outfield crushes his value. At second base Hoes is an interesting fantasy prospect with an advanced bat for a middle infielder. All of his offensive tools rate as a tick above average. He could hit 10 HR, 20 SB in the majors with a .280+ AVG. That's still a decent player in fantasy but it's no star in the outfield as it would be at second.

Boston Red Sox

Will Middlebrooks - AA / 3B / 09-09-88

Middlebrooks is getting close to being major league ready even if his path to the majors is blocked. He is one of the minors' better fielders at third base and his bat has taken another step forward this year. In 354 plate appearances he has 24 2B and 15 HR. His plate discipline is still an issue with 19/83 BB/K, however, his K% has dropped for the 4th straight year and now sits at 23.4%. A year in AAA in 2012 should further polish his game and he will need only to wait for a chance at that point.

New York Yankees

Jesus Montero - AAA / C / 11-28-89

It is looking likely that the Yankees will call on Montero and he is worth consideration in most formats. He will be the best catcher called up this fall and his bat is getting hot just in time. July saw an ISO of .243 and wOBA of .355. August has seen a dip in power with a .154 ISO but his overall production has increased to a .371 wOBA. This time of year there aren't a lot of catchers on the waiver wire with Montero's upside ROS.

Tampa Bay Rays

Oscar Hernandez - RK / C / 07-09-93

Rookie-ball stats need to be taken with a grain of salt, or thrown out all together as some believe. But it's hard not to be impressed with what Oscar Hernandez is doing this year in the Venezuelan Summer League. The 18 year old has hit 21 home runs, smashing the old record of 15. The next highest in the VSL this year is Franklin Paz with 9. Hernandez has 37/44 BB/K so there is a chance he isn't just a one trick pony. Wait until we see what he can do on American soil before we go crowning him the next top catching prospect. Keep him on the back burner with the memory that he has one historic season under his belt.

Tim Beckham - AA / SS / 01-27-90

Beckham has Hak-Ju Lee and Derek Deitrich chasing him up the organizational ladder. The former first overall pick is moving as fast as he can. At 21 years old he is young for AA and hitting at a league average pace. The Rays shortstops haven't performed up to expectations this year so there is a window of opportunity for Beckham. as If he has a strong finish to his season he may be in competition for the job in 2012.

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