This week's Prospect Hot Sheet by Baseball America (chat at 3:30) is led by Baltimore Orioles' AA RHP Chris Tillman. His dominance at Double-A as a twenty-year-old has gone a long way to the current judgment that Bill Bavasi and the Seattle Mariners were the big losers in last winter's Erik Bedard trade. The fact that Bedard remains on the D.L. with an arm issue further buttresses that assertion.
If the Baltimore Orioles do not give back some of the gains in performance from 2008, Tillman will be a part of a 2009 team that may force the Blue Jays and Yankees further from October baseball. Tillman won't be alone as a rookie though. At #4 is 2007 1st round pick, C Matt Wieters, who continues to destroy Double-A pitching.
To pile more "ifs" on to the Orioles 2009 expectations, if Wieters takes to major league baseball the same way 2008 NL ROY candidate geovanny Soto has with the Chicago Cubs and if Chris Tillman can successfully transition to the major league rotation the way Greg Smith of Oakland or Jair Jurrjens of Atlanta has, then J.P. Ricciardi in Toronto won't make it past 2009 employed and the New York Yankees will see 2008 as the beginning of a new dark days era.
Related to the Hot Sheet is this week's BA Top Tools podcast which highlighted those minor leaguers deemed to have the best tools at their level. While Matt Wieters was cleaning up in High A awards the way Michael Phelps is doing at this summer's Olympics, he was not named the best power prospect in Double-A this year. That honor went to the newest Syracuse Chief, Travis Snider. With that accolade and a birthdate that has him as just 20 year-old, and without the controversy surrounding his age that surrounds the Chinese women gymnastics team, he will be one of the top handful of relevant 2009 fantasy rookies.