The Florida State League opens the 2010 campaign Thursday. Here are 10 of the premier prospects the league will feature this season:
Tim Beckham, SS: The first overall pick of the 2008 Draft back in Class A, he stands to spend a good portion of the season with the Class A Advanced Charlotte Stone Crabs. He hit .275 with 42 extra-base hits and 13 steals for the Bowling Green Hot Rods last season, and many feel he has the offensive tools to be even more productive.
Rawley Bishop, 1B: Right-handed first baseman Bishop slugged his way onto the New York-Penn League All-Star Team during 2009, his first year as a pro. After he hit .282 with 25 extra-base hits in an abbreviated '09 campaign, Detroit feels his bat is ready to develop with the Lakeland Flying Tigers.
Billy Bullock, RHP: The Twins' second-round pick from last year will join Gibson on the Fort Myers staff. Bullock allowed nine earned runs over 33 appearances between the Appalachian League and the Midwest League last season and appears to have the makings of a dominant reliever.
Kyle Gibson, RHP: Gibson, who was selected by the Twins with the 22nd overall pick of last year's Draft, signed with the club just before the August deadline and so didn't get to pitch in the pros in 2009. Nonetheless, the Twins are confident enough in the youngster that he'll toss some innings for the Class A Advanced Fort Myers Miracle during his debut season.
Brett Jackson, OF: Jackson, who was one of the better college hitters available in the 2009 Draft class, was taken by the Cubs in the first round and hit .318 across three levels. He'll bring his bat to the Daytona lineup along with Vitters.
Hector Noesi, RHP: The Yankees' Noesi, who was promoted to the FSL after posting a 2.38 ERA in 17 games (11 starts) for the Class A Charleston RiverDogs last season, only got the chance to make nine starts for Tampa in '09. If he picks up where he left off, he may pitch his way into Double-A sooner than later.
Aaron Pribanic, RHP: The right-hander, who was a crucial piece of the deal that sent Jack Wilson to the Mariners, will join Sanchez in Bradenton. He was 11-8 with a 2.89 ERA over 24 games (23 starts) between two Class A leagues last year.
J.C. Ramirez, RHP: Ramirez, who was sent to the Phillies in the Cliff Lee/Roy Halladay blockbuster trade, struggled in the extremely hitter-friendly California League last year. He's surely eager to show his new organization what he's capable of, and the dense, wet air of the Florida lowlands is a great setting.
Tony Sanchez:, C: A Boston College product who was picked fourth overall in the 2009 Draft, Sanchez didn't hesitate to make an impression in the pros last season. He hit .309 with 48 RBIs in 48 games between three levels, and he'll do most of the heavy lifting for the Bradenton Marauders behind the plate this season.
Josh Vitters, 3B: Daytona's Vitters could slug his way to Double-A by midseason this year. In 2009, he hit 15 home runs in 70 Midwest League games, including a stretch in which he went yard in each of four consecutive contests, before suffering a minor power outage following his promotion to the Florida State League. His bat was just fine in the Arizona Fall League, though, as he posted a .353 average.