Minor League Level Review (AA): Tony Cingrani Strikes Out 15, Manny Machado Heating up

Mar 12, 2012; Jupiter, FL. USA; St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong (89) is congratulated after hitting a game winning RBI single against the Atlanta Braves at Roger Dean Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Braves 5-4. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-US PRESSWIRE

We are at the point in the season now where multiple players are shifting levels on a daily basis, and AA is definitely no exception. We've seen Jake Marisnick promoted in the past two weeks, and word comes that he of the 104 stolen bases, Billy Hamilton, will be promoted to AA Pensacola following the Futures Game on Sunday. AA may have the most interesting group of prospects overall right now, as a number of the top prospects in the game are in the 3 AA leagues.

Eastern League

Gerrit Cole (PIT) - Cole has had an up and down couple of weeks, as he has made 3 starts for AA Altoona, two of which were pretty good and one where he lasted just 1+ inning after being hit by a line drive. Overall, he has a 4.63 ERA in his 11 innings, along with 13 strikeouts against 1 walk. Cole will be on the US roster for today's Futures Game.

Jake Marisnick (TOR) - Marisnick was promoted last week to AA after finishing the FSL with a .263/.349/.451 slash line, 6 home runs and 10 stolen bases. There was some speculation in the comments of Ray's BA Top 50 review that Marisnick may be being showcased as a potential trade chip.

Manny Machado (BAL) - Machado has been heating up as the summer has gone on, hitting .286/.336/.467 in June with 4 home runs. He is also hitting .316/.409/.579 over his last 10 games, including a home run. Machado is also in today's Futures Game, likely as the starting shortstop for the US team.

Jackie Bradley, Jr (BOS) - I'm wondering at what point Bradley starts running into competition he will struggle with. In 17 games in AA so far, Bradley is hitting .368/.436/.471 with 3 stolen bases.

Wilmer Flores (NYM) - Flores has appeared in 16 games for AA Binghamton, and is even hotter than Bradley has been. So far, he has a .390/.433/.576 slash line with 2 home runs, 11 RBI, 6 walks, and 6 strikeouts in 59 plate appearances. The Mets are playing him all over the field though, as he has made multiple appearances at 1B, 2B, and 3B in his 17 games there.

Zach Wheeler (NYM) - Wheeler seems like he could be a candidate for a promotion to AAA soon, as he has been dominant in AA. He went 7 1/3 innings on Thursday, striking out 6 and scattering 6 hits while allowing just 1 earned run. On the year, Wheeler has a 2.62 ERA with an 88/35 K/BB rate in 92 2/3 innings pitched.

Southern League

Tony Cingrani (CIN) - Cingrani has been one of the biggest surprises of the minor leagues this year, as it was unclear whether he could succeed as a starting pitcher at the start of the year. He has made 6 starts in AA since his promotion from the Cal League, and has been just as dominant. Including a 15 strikeout performance on 6/27, Cingrani has a 1.75 ERA, just 24 hits allowed, and a 47/12 K/BB rate in 36 innings.

Taijuan Walker (SEA) - Walker has not pitched well of late, allowing at least 3 earned runs in each of his last 6 starts despite only pitching 6 innings once in that stretch. Walker will be at the Futures Game, and he's one of the prospects I will be most interested to see in the game.

Zach Lee (LAD) - Lee was promoted to AA recently, and has managed to make 2 starts so far. It hasn't gone great yet (9 IP, 12 H, ERA of 7.00), but those numbers are skewed by his poor start on 7/3 where he lasted just 3 innings but gave up 6 earned runs .

Texas League

Nolan Arenado (COL) - Arenado is having a respectable enough season for AA Tulsa, but the general consensus seems to be that Arenado hasn't developed this year in the way that a number of the experts thought he would. He is hitting .282/.334/.405 with just 7 home runs and 38 RBI in over 300 at bats.

Oscar Taveras (STL) - After winning the Texas League All-Star Game MVP award, Taveras has just kept right on hitting. On the year, he is now at .322/.372/.596 with 17 home runs and 63 RBI. I ranked him as my #2 outfield prospect, and I imagine that he'll easily be #1 in the outfield whenever Wil Myers gets to KC.

Kolten Wong (STL) - Wong will be at the Futures Game as well, a much deserved honor based on how his season has gone so far. To date, he is hitting .310/.384/.439 with 7 home runs, 34 RBI, 15 stolen bases, and a 32/39 BB/K rate. I would be surprised if Wong isn't the starting 2B for the Cardinals at some point during the 2013 season.

Carlos Martinez (STL) - Martinez has made 4 starts for AA Springfield since his callup, and the numbers look great: 2.93 ERA, 15 K, 2 BB in 15 1/3 innings pitched. I might have to honestly consider moving Martinez ahead of fellow Cardinals' pitching prospect Shelby Miller if Miller continues to struggle at AAA.

Jonathan Singleton (HOU) - Singleton had a horrendous month of June (.148/.317/.235), but has already hit better in 6 games in July (.400/.520/.850, 1 HR). I'm wondering if Singleton could end up being an unusually streaky hitter.

Mike Olt (TEX) - Olt is probably the prospect who seems the most likely to get traded before July 31st. The Rangers are in the thick of it, and aren't likely to have a good place for him to play any time soon. Olt is hitting .294/.404/.578 with 22 home runs and 63 RBI this year.

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