The International League opens the 2010 campaign Thursday. Here are 10 of the premier prospects the league will feature this season:
Yonder Alonso, 1B -- Louisville Bats
A 2008 first-round pick, Alonso should continue his rapid climb with a jump to the IL sometime in 2010. He has only 90 games of pro ball under his belt but batted .295 with 13 extra-base hits, 14 RBIs and 12 runs scored in 29 games at Double-A last season. The Reds hope he'll experience similar success against Triple-A pitching.
Pedro Alvarez, 3B -- Indianapolis Indians
The second overall pick in the 2008 Draft, Alvarez belted 27 homers and knocked in 95 runs in 126 games between Class A Advanced Lynchburg and Double-A Altoona last year. He'll start the season in Indianapolis, but if his bat stays hot, he may not be there long.
Aroldis Chapman, LHP -- Louisville Bats
The 22-year-old Cuban defector will start his professional career in Louisville after back spasms limited him during Spring Training. He doesn't figure to stay very long after posting a 1.69 ERA, 15 strikeouts and seven walks over 10 2/3 innings in Grapefruit League play. The left-hander throws a fastball that reaches 100 mph.
Jeremy Hellickson, RHP -- Durham Bulls
After going 9-2 with a 2.45 ERA over 20 starts between Double-A Montgomery and Durham, Hellickson allowed two hits over five shutout innings in the Triple-A National Championship Game, earning the MVP trophy. His consistency explains why the Rays are so keen on him while his ability to take it up another notch in big games helps explain why he's MLB.com's No. 20 prospect.
Dan Hudson, RHP -- Charlotte Knights
Hudson, a 2008 fifth-rounder, turned heads last season when he went from Class A to the Majors. He was 14-5 with a 2.32 ERA in 26 Minor League starts, then struck out 14 while allowing seven earned runs over 18 2/3 innings with the White Sox. If Ozzie Guillen needs someone to fill a vacancy on the South Side, it's safe to say Hudson will be among the first he calls.
Desmond Jennings, OF -- Durham Bulls
Jennings was in the mix for a starting job with the Rays -- there was even talk about moving Carl Crawford to make room for him -- until he sprained his wrist in Spring Training. The silver lining? Fans in Durham will have a chance to catch Jennings as he gets back in the swing of things.
Zach McAllister, RHP -- Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees
McAllister has managed to fly under the radar in reaching Triple-A. But if he performs for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre the way he has at lower levels, he's sure to garner attention like any big-time prospect. Since starting his career in the Gulf Coast League in 2006, McAllister has a 2.81 and 314 strikeouts against 94 walks in 74 games (62 starts). Some expect him to climb to New York by the end of the campaign.
Jesus Montero, C -- Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees
The heir apparent to Jorge Posada in the Bronx, Montero boasts a .325 average over two full Minor League seasons and a 33-game stint in the Gulf Coast League. Some fans hoped to see the 20-year-old break through to the Majors to start the season, but the Yankees will start him in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre with a callup to the big club possible in September or earlier.
Carlos Santana, C -- Columbus Clippers
Santana was acquired by the Indians in the deal that sent Casey Blake to the Dodgers and many feel Los Angeles may have gotten the short end of the trade. The converted backstop won Eastern League MVP honors last season and led Akron to the title, homering in the deciding game of the Championship Series. He also went deep in two of his first three Double-A games, dating back to 2008, so it'll be interesting to see what he does in his first week at Triple-A.
Travis Wood, LHP: After a phenomenal 2009 in which he went 9-3 with a 1.21 ERA in 19 Double-A starts and 4-2 with a 3.14 ERA in nine Triple-A outings, Wood lost out to Mike Leake for the final spot in the Reds' rotation this spring. That's good news for Bats fans. The bad news? He's likely to stick around only as long as all of Cincinnati's starters stay healthy.