A year ago, Nolan Arenado was entering the 2012 season with loads of hype. Minor League production expectations were enormous, and most folks around baseball were already penciling the young 3B into the Rockies’ mid-season lineup. But a slow start at Double-A and a concerning lack of over-the-wall power quickly put an end to those 2012 Arenado arrival fantasies. The 21-year-old watched his prospect stock slip this off-season, dropping out of the top 50 on prospect lists from almost every publication. Fast forward to 2013: Arenado put together a terrific spring in big league camp, blasting four homers and posting a .852 OPS in 52 PA. And after reassignment to Triple-A Colorado Springs, he hasn’t slowed down whatsoever, going 7/14 through his first two games, including two long balls. Chris Nelson is not a long-term option for the Rockies at third, and Arenado finally appears to be ready to step into Coors field and entrench himself at the hot corner. He’ll be fantasy-relevant once he’s up, and I imagine that’ll be no later than mid-June.
Tony Cingrani | LHP, Reds — Outside of Yu Darvish’s masterpiece last week, no one in baseball has posted a line quite like Cingrani did last Thursday evening. The 23-year-old tossed six hitless frames for Triple-A Louisville, striking out 14 (!!) along the way. Cingrani served as a relief pitcher in the bigs for a stint down the stretch last year, and he’ll be an attractive SP option if the Reds are in need of a starter at any point this season.
Billy Hamilton | OF, Reds — After zero stolen bases in game one, Hamilton followed up with three swipes in game two. He also left game two with an apparent shoulder injury. From what I gather, it’s nothing serious, but it did keep him out of the lineup on Saturday.
Carlos Martinez | RHP, Cardinals — The highly-touted Cardinals pitching prospect was held up in the Dominican for a while, awaiting his visa. That problem seems to have been resolved, though, as Martinez arrived stateside a few days ago.
Oswaldo Arcia | OF, Twins — A lotta folks don’t realize that with his outstanding effort this spring, Aaron Hicks leaped over a couple CF prospects on the Twins’ organizational depth chart. Oswaldo Arcia is one of those who missed out on the opening day CF gig. The 21-year-old Venezuelan is, perhaps, playing with a chip on his shoulder at Triple-A Rochester, already having blasted two homers in the young season. For fantasy purposes, Arcia is higher on my board than Hicks. It’s certainly possible that we could see Oswaldo reach Target Field before mid-season.
Oscar Taveras / Jurickson Profar — I’m not quite sure how the rumor originated, but over the past week words have been circulating about a potential Taveras for Profar swap between the Rangers and the Cardinals. I think this is more of a media-conjured idea more than a legit trade possibility, but it sorta would make sense given the organizational needs of both clubs.
Dylan Bundy | RHP, Orioles — Bundy’s debut at Double-A Bowie will be delayed a bit, as the 20-year-old serves a stint on the DL with stiffness in his throwing arm and elbow. Baltimore hasn’t expressed much concern, though. We should see baseball’s top pitching prospect back on the mound within the next three weeks.
Micah Owings | OF, Nationals — Owings served as a pitcher across six seasons at the big league level, but his effectiveness dwindled considerably over the past few years. You may recall from his days with the D’Backs that he was quite good with the bat, and was frequently used in pinch hit situations. Well, the 30-year-old is determined to regain MLB relevance in 2013, but this time as a full-time hitter. He’s playing outfield at Triple-A in the Nationals organization, and he’s already tallied his first homer.
Taijuan Walker | RHP, Mariners — Walker was assigned to Double-A Jackson for the second straight year after an overall poor campaign there in 2012. Most baseball folks figured he’d torch the competition in his second season versus Southern League batters. His 2013 debut, however, didn’t show the progress we were hoping for. Walker tossed 5 IP, allowing 9 baserunners, and 4 ER while striking out 8. Supreme size, stuff and athleticism has kept him in the elite-tier of pitching prospects, but continued poor production will drop him down prospect boards in a hurry.
Danny Hultzen | LHP, Mariners — Hultzen simply ran out of gas down the stretch of his first full season in pro baseball. It’s understandable and it happens often. He should be better suited to sustain a hefty workload in 2013, and he’s already off to a nice start at Triple-A Tacoma: 6 IP, 3 hits, 2 walks, 1 ER, 8 K’s.
Carlos Correa | SS, Astros — The #1 overall pick last June, Correa is making his full-season debut at Low-A Quad Cities in the Midwest League. Having already collected a homer, five RBI and a stolen base, the 18-year-old wasted no time in showing off his massive potential.