Though stars like Mike Trout, Brian Cavazos-Galvez and Matt Adams have graduated from the Midwest League, there is still a bumper crop of highly touted prospects for fans to look forward to watching this summer, including former first-round Draft picks Nick Castellanos, Michael Choice, Zach Lee and Donavan Tate.
Here's a look at 10 of the Midwest League's top prospects heading into 2011.
Oswaldo Arcia, OF -- Beloit Snappers
Arcia, who won't turn 20 until next month, was named the Appalachian League Player of the Year last season after posting a .375/.424/.672 line and displaying power to all fields. The left-handed hitter's biggest challenge in his first full season will be to cut down on his strikeouts -- last year he fanned 67 times in 64 games and struck out in nearly 24 percent of his plate appearances.
Yordy Cabrera, SS -- Burlington Bees
A second-round Draft choice in 2010, Cabrera made a brief pro debut last summer in the Arizona League, but the Athletics will learn a lot more about him in Burlington. He has a tremendous throwing arm and huge power, which make him intriguing at shortstop and even if he has to move to third base eventually. Beyond that, though, his game is raw and will need to develop in the Midwest League
Nick Castellanos, 3B -- West Michigan Whitecaps
A supplemental first-round Draft pick last June, Castellanos was one of the most highly touted high school players in the country. The 6-foot-4 right-hander has already been tabbed as the second-best prospect in the Tigers organization despite having just seven pro games under his belt. A shortstop in high school, the 19-year-old will spend his first full season adjusting to the hot corner. He recently spoke with MiLB.com.
Billy Hamilton, SS -- Dayton Dragons
Few Midwest League players in recent history have the sheer athletic credentials of Hamilton, who averaged 35 points and 10 assists as a high school senior in basketball, signed a letter of intent to play football at Mississippi State and led all Short-Season players with 48 stolen bases (in 69 games) for Billings last season. The switch-hitter's blazing speed is the key to his game and should provide a spark atop the Dragons' batting order.
Zach Lee, RHP -- Great Lakes Loons
Though he has yet to throw a pitch as a pro, Lee is already rated by some as the Dodgers' premier prospect. One of the top high school pitchers in last year's Draft, Lee fell to the 28th overall pick because of his commitment to Louisiana State, where he was to play quarterback as well as pitch. The Dodgers coaxed Lee away from the gridiron with a franchise-record $5.25 million signing bonus. The 6-foot-4 right-hander may not begin the season with the Loons, but expect to see him and his 95-mph fastball sometime this summer.
Carlos Martinez, RHP -- Quad Cities River Bandits
The 19-year-old Martinez was virtually unhittable in the Dominican Summer League last season, posting a 0.76 ERA with 78 strikeouts in 59 innings. He's slated to continue his preparation in extended Spring Training, working with Palm Beach pitching coach Dennis Martinez, before joining the River Bandits later this summer. The young fireballer can touch 97-99 mph with his fastball and comfortably pitches in the mid-90s while showing potential for a plus curveball as well.
Carlos Perez, C -- Lansing Lugnuts
With J.P. Arencibia and Travis d'Arnaud, the Blue Jays are already flush with solid catching prospects. Add 20-year-old Venezuelan Carlos Perez to the mix after he hit .298 with a .396 on-base percentage for Class A Short-Season Auburn last season. Though lacking power, Perez is patient at the plate and effective on the bases, racking up eight triples and seven stolen bases in 66 games with the Doubledays in 2010. He also has a plus arm behind the plate, having thrown out 49 percent of base stealers in the Gulf Coast League in 2009 and 36 percent last year.
Yorman Rodriguez, CF -- Dayton Dragons
Still just 19 years old, the Venezuelan-born Rodriguez already has two seasons in the Reds system under his belt. Last season, his second with Billings in the Pioneer League, he batted .339 while driving in 39 runs in 43 games. With plus speed and a plus arm, Rodriguez joins shortstop Billy Hamilton to give the Dragons of the most athletic lineups in the Minor Leagues.
Donavan Tate, OF -- Fort Wayne TinCaps
The son of former NFL running back Lars Tate, Donavan has struggled with injuries since the Padres made him the third overall pick in the 2009 Draft, luring him away from a two-sport career at the University of North Carolina with a franchise-record $6.25 million signing bonus. The 20-year-old batted .222 with 41 strikeouts in 25 games with the AZL Padres last season but is a five-tool player and still considered among the best prospects in the San Diego system.
LeVon Washington, OF -- Lake County Captains
Washington was initially selected by Tampa Bay in the first round of the 2009 Draft, but did not sign after a contentious negotiation process. The Indians took him in the second round last June and signed him just before the deadline, giving them a speedy and athletic outfielder with an advanced hitting approach. The lefty hitter collected four hits and three RBIs in three Arizona Rookie League games last season and will look to finally make his mark in pro ball in 2011.