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Minor League Monitor - NL East

Atlanta Braves

The Braves 2011 draft crop has looked good so far. Kyle Kubitza, J.R. graham, Tommy La Stella and Chase Larsson are all having strong debuts.

Arodys Vizcaino - AAA / SP / 11-13-90

Vizcaino has had an excellent year and now finds himself pitching out of the bullpen in AAA. There are concerns about his durability so the Braves are preventing him from starting in an attempt to save a few miles on his arm. The experience at the minors' highest level will be a big step for Vizcaino and doing it out of the bullpen should take off some of the pressure that comes with starting. So far he is having success with a 1.80 ERA in 5 appearances. He has struck out 7 and walked none in 5 innings. From the way his season has been going we should see Vizcaino in the top 20 of a few prospect lists during the off-season and I won't be surprised if I see him in the top 10 on mid-season lists.

Washington Nationals

Zach Walters - A+ / SS / 09-05-89

Washington received Walters when they sent Jason Marquis to Arizona. Walters struggled in his final college season and dropped to the 9th round but he has the upside to be an above average offensive shortstop. The problem for Walters is whether he will have the glove to stick at shortstop. Arizona was trying him at third and second but so far the Nationals have him penciled in at short. In 97 games in A ball he hit .302 with 27 2B, 6 3B, and 9 HR. Walters has nearly doubled his walk rate to 10.2%. The Nationals decided to be aggressive with Walters and sent him to High-A. If you are looking for a hail mary pick-up in a long term keeper you could take a chance on a middle infielder with a bit of pop.

Tyler Moore - AA / 1B / 01-30-87

Moore hit 31 home runs and 43 doubles last season but being 23 in High-A with 39/124 BB/K he was somewhat ignored despite his achievements. His follow-up this season has been great and he already has 25 home runs. His BB% dropped from 7.1% to 4.7% so there is still the worry that advanced pitchers will expose his free swinging ways. Michael Morse and Chris Marrero block his way to the majors so he will have to hope for a September call-up this year so he can showcase his power for a chance at moving Morse back to the outfield next season and taking over at first.

New York Mets

Erik Goeddel - RK / SP / 12-20-88

Goeddel was looking like he may be turning into a draft bargain with a hot start in his first full season as a pro. In 7 starts and 2 relief appearances in A ball he had excellent numbers but then missed two months. He is making rehab starts in the GCL now but should be back in A ball soon. He has excellent command with 46/9 K/BB in 43 innings. Injury concerns may designate Goeddel to a bullpen role but he has the frame and easy arm action to succeed in the rotation.


Florida Marlins

Marcell Ozuna - A / RF / 11-12-90

Ozuna didn't draw a lot of attention last season even though he hit 22 home runs in 320 plate appearances as an under-aged player in A- and A ball. He struck out way too often but has fixed that problem and is only going down on strikes 22.6% of the time, a more than 10% drop. The power numbers aren't as fantastic as last year's but he still has 17 dingers and 20 doubles. If the Marlins decide to keep Ozuna at each level for a full season he would still make his MLB at age 24. He is advanced for his age and could be one of the Marlins top 3 prospects at the end of the year.

Brad Hand - MLB / SP / 03-20-90

You would think Hand is having an excellent season when you look at his 3.81 ERA in 85 AA innings and a 2.86 ERA in 34.2 MLB innings. The numbers are quite deceiving when you notice that his FIP at those levels are 4.88 and 6.33. The young lefty is ahead of most players his age but he lacks the upside to be a valuable fantasy contributor. He has walked 4 batters per 9 in his MiLB career and has issued more free passes than strikeouts in the majors. Hand is also trending towards being a flyball pitcher. If you own Hand in a keeper league I would suggest using his recent success and age as a way to sell high on him. Get out before the BABIP normalizes and those flyballs start soaring out of the park. They will cause a lot of damage because there will be runners on base thanks to all the walks.

Philadelphia Phillies

Carlos Alonso - A / 2B / 02-15-88

Chase Utley reminded Phillies fans that he won't be around forever when he started the season on the DL. He is in the lineup and hitting but the time will come when he needs to be replaced. Unfortunately for the PHillies their cupboard is pretty bare. One intriguing option is Alonso. The 32nd round pick in 2010 made the transition to 2B from 3B and is having success so far. He has good contact skills and a bit of pop. His speed is a bit below average for the keystone so it will be interesting to see if he can stick at 2B.

Austin Hyatt - AA / SP / 05-23-86

A personal favorite of mine, Hyatt has been somewhat overlooked by the prospect community due to being relatively old for the level he's at. He made his pro debut in 2009 at 23 and dominated the New York-Penn League. The Phillies started him in High-A last year and he responded by striking out 156 in 124.1 IP. The Phillies sent him to AA to finish the year and he struck out 25 in 22 innings. Now 329.2 innings into his pro career he has a 3.11 ERA with 7.0 H/9, 2.7 BB/9 and 11.3 K/9.