Minor League Level Review (AA): Danny Hultzen Finally Promoted, Could Jurickson Profar Be Next?

SEATTLE - AUGUST 17: Danny Hultzen, the Seattle Mariners' No. 1 draft choice, gets acquainted with his new ballpark after the team announced the signing of him and Brad Miller prior to the game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Safeco Field on August 17, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

With all three High-A leagues completing their All-Star Games last week, we are starting to see a number of the top performers in those leagues being moved up to their AA affiliates. Players like Chris Owings and Miles Head (Cal League), Gerrit Cole and Wilmer Flores (Florida State League), Cody Buckel and Jackie Bradley (Carolina League) were all promoted last week to AA. Meanwhile, players who had been in AA are also on their way up to AAA, including Danny Hultzen, Nick Franklin, and Daniel Straily. I've included each player's ranking at their position, along with their top 50 ranking from Bret if on the list.

Eastern League

Gerrit Cole (PIT) SP #10, Overall #9

Cole made his AA debut this week, as he went 5 innings, allowed 5 hits, 2 earned runs, and struck out 6 en route to the victory. He may be moving slower than is former teammate Trevor Bauer, but Cole looks like he can be just as good of a pitching prospect, if not a substantially better one.

Manny Machado (BAL) SS #2, Overall #4

Machado's numbers have not been overwhelming thus far in AA, but he's still just a 19 year old playing in AA. He was named to the U.S. Futures Game roster, so we get to see him there for a second year in a row.

Nick Castellanos (DET) 3B #1, Overall #21

Joining Machado at the Futures Game will be the Tigers' 3B prospect, who is hitting .264/.255/.396 thus far in AA. it has been just 13 games so far though, and he should pick it up pretty soon I imagine.

Southern League

Tyler Skaggs (ARI) SP #7, Overall #14

Skaggs was one of the few top pitching prospects who was not named to the Futures Game, but he did start the Southern League All-Star game. He has a 67/18 K/BB ratio thus far in 64 2/3 innings piched, and I wonder at what point he ends up promoted to AAA Reno.

Danny Hultzen (SEA) SP #4, Overall #13

Hultzen thoroughly dominated the Southern League prior to his promotion to AAA Tacoma: 1.19 ERA, 75 1/3 IP, 38 H, 32 BB, 79 K. He started against Skaggs in the ASG, and I think we could very well see Hultzen in the Majors by sometime in August.

Taijuan Walker (SEA) SP #2, Overall #10

It seems a bit unlikely that Walker would join Hultzen in AAA any time soon, but it doesn't appear to be a result of his performance. So far this year he has a respectable 3.79 ERA, along with a 59/23 K/BB rate in 57 IP for Jackson.

Texas League

Nolan Arenado (COL) 3B #3, Overall #12

With the Rockies floundering at the moment, it seems a lot more likely to me that Arenado will stay in AA for the full season, really get a good grip on both his fielding and his approach, and be sent to AAA Colorado Springs to start the 2013 season.

Jurickson Profar (TEX) SS #1, Overall #1

What else is there really to be said about Profar at this point? He will be playing shortstop for the World team in the Futures Game, and I will have an in-depth profile about him tomorrow.

Oscar Taveras (STL) OF #2, Overall #8

I keep waiting for the numbers to drop, and I don't know if it is ever going to happen. He is hitting .321/.370/.583 through 70 games at AA, and Kevin Goldstein relayed a story on the Fantasy Focus Baseball podcast that Taveras showed an excellent work ethic during Spring Training to improve his baserunning and defense to a closer level to his hitting. This guy could be scary good when he arrives, and he could arrive at a very, very early age.

Mike Olt (TEX) 3B #5, Overall #30

What do the Rangers do with Olt? He sounds like an excellent defender at 3B, but they already have one of those locked up for the next 4-5 years. To me, he seems like a perfect trade chip should the Rangers have a pressing need around the trade deadline. ENTIRELY SPECULATION: Would he be a good piece as the headline prospect to acquire Matt Garza from the Cubs?

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