Minor League Level Review (AA): Nick Castellanos Arrives, Oscar Taveras Continues to Rake

March 20, 2012; Mesa, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro (13) slides into Texas Rangers third baseman Mike Olt (70) at third base after hitting a triple in the first inning at HoHoKam Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-US PRESSWIRE

We're getting to a point where the three AA leagues may have the most top 100 prospects of any level, and it doesn't look like it is really all that close now. With the promotions of Nick Castellanos and Tony Cingrani to AA, we're starting to see a number of players moving between the minor league levels. Let's take a look at a few of the players in each of the leagues, and how they're doing recently.

Eastern League

Nick Castellanos (DET)

Last week brought the promotion of the Tigers' top prospect from High-A to AA, and so far he's still been hitting just fine. Through 4 games, he has a .313 batting average, but hasn't really shown power yet (1 double). It is 4 games. He's going to be just fine.

Bryce Brentz (BOS)

Brentz was recently named the player of the month for the Eastern League, as he finished the month with a .388/.439/.633 slash line and 5 home runs. On the season he is now hitting .299 and has 7 home runs overall. Brentz seems to me like a candidate to be in AA for a full season.

Manny Machado (BAL)

Despite the appearance of Castellanos in AA, Machado remains the youngest player in the Eastern League. That said, he's been struggling of late, and is hitting just .233/.328/.359 on the season. I would still have him as one of the top 2 prospects at shortstop, but I'm wondering if he ends up repeating the level next year as well.

Zack Wheeler (NYM)

Wheeler remains tied for the league lead in strikeouts with 67 thus far, and I'm wondering if we could see him moved up to AAA by the All Star break. He has allowed just 32 hits in 59 2/3 innings pitched so far, but has been averaging nearly 4 walks per 9 innings on the season.

Southern League

Tony Cingrani (CIN)

Cingrani was recently promoted to AA by the Reds after thoroughly dominating the California League. He's made two starts so far in AA, with a 1.42 ERA, 12 2/3 IP, and a 14/4 K/BB ratio. So far so good for Cingrani, and the performance in the Cal League appears to be legitimate.

Matt Davidson (ARI)

Craig wrote about Davidson last week, and Davidson is now 2nd in the Southern League with 12 home runs on the season. I could see a promotion to AAA after the All-Star game for Davidson.

Danny Hultzen (SEA)

Hultzen has been rumored to be headed up to AAA Tacoma soon, and based on the performance so far I am curious why he hasn't already been sent there. In 70 1/3 IP, he has a 1.28 ERA, 75 strikeouts, 31 walks, and a measly 34 hits allowed.

Taijuan Walker (SEA)

Walker likely won't be promoted with Hultzen, but he's been pitching nearly as well. Through 53 1/3 IP, Walker has a 3.04 ERA, 47 hits, and a 55/20 K/BB rate. To me, it appears that the biggest thing at Walker needs to work on is his endurance. He has made 11 starts so far, so he is not even averaging 5 innings per start.

Texas League

Mike Olt (TEX)

The Rangers have a very good problem, as Olt has been absolutely destroying everything in AA the past two weeks. On the season, he is now up to a .310/.413/.624 slash line with a league leading 18 home runs and 48 runs batted in. The question is where they could find him playing time once he is ready...

Oscar Taveras (STL)

Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus recently speculated on Twitter that Taveras will likely be a top-10 prospect after the season, and I'm inclined to agree at this point. He is hitting .315/.371/.575 with 12 home runs and 42 RBI.

Jurickson Profar (TEX)

The other shortstop in my twop two at the position, Profar has been providing solid across the board production all year. Through Friday, he has a .294/.365/,496 with 6 HR, 27 RBI, and 8 stolen bases.

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