Teams are making no qualms about bringing up young arms this season, whether contending or not. The league is getting younger and success stories like Tim Lincecum are placing pressure on organizations to get top pitching prospects up to the big leagues quickly. Plus, the success stories are still coming, with Neftali Feliz blowing up for Texas and Brian Matusz making his MLB debut tonight.
Of the top 50 prospects in all the minor leagues coming into the season according to Baseball America, check out how many have already made their way to the majors.
BA Ranking/Player Name/Team/2009 MLB stats
(2) David Price - Rays - 4-4/5.10
(4) Tommy Hanson - Braves - 5-2/3.25
(7) Brett Anderson - A's 6-8/4.20
(9) Madison Bumgarner - Still in Minors
(10) Neftali Feliz - Rangers - 0-0/0.00
(11) Trevor Cahill - A's - 6-10/5.01
(21) Rick Porcello - Tigers - 9-7/4.36
(22) Chris Tillman - Orioles - 0-0/6.75
(25) Brian Matusz - Orioles - Debut Tonight
(29) Jarrod Parker - D-Backs - Still in Minors
(31) Derek Holland - Rangers - 4-6/5.75
(32) Wade Davis - Rays - Still in Minors
(41) Jordan Zimmerman - Nats - 3-5/4.63
(45) Tim Alderson - Pirates - Still in Minors
(46) Jhoulys Chacin - Rockies - 0-0/0.00
So that is 11 of the 15 prospects coming into the season are already in the big leagues. Most of these guys are 19-22 with only a few guys like Davis and Price being 23. Bringing up guys that can fill a spot for not a lot of money can really be a luxury for a MLB team. Hence what I wrote on here a few days ago about the Braves being able to dangle Javy Vazquez in the off-season because they can use the prospect Hanson in their rotation without taking up a ton of payroll.
What does this mean? Well, you should certainly look for guys like Stephen Strasburg, Mike Minor, Mike Leake, Aaron Crow, and Grant Green to be in the mix in the next 1-2 years. And guys like Zack Wheeler probably are not far behind...