The Pacific Coast League is typically the final stop for many youngsters en route to the Majors -- Buster Posey began his 2010 National League Rookie of the Year campaign at Triple-A Fresno last year -- so, can we expect more gems on the way in '11?
The Royals have stockpiled high Draft picks in recent years, and many of them are queued up at Omaha this spring, with bats like Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas powering a team that also features former first-rounder Mike Montgomery leading the pitching staff.
Dustin Ackley could fit into Seattle's lineup nicely behind Ichiro in the coming years, but for now, he'll need to prove himself with the reigning PCL champs in Tacoma.
Here's a look at some of the top talent primed to see significant action this summer in the PCL:
Dustin Ackley, 2B -- Tacoma Rainiers
Ackley, the No. 2 pick in the 2009 Draft, led the Arizona Fall League in batting average, on-base percentage (he set a league record at .581) and slugging percentage last year. His 1.338 OPS would have topped the Fall League in every season since 2005 except for '08. He's got tremendous plate discipline, bat speed and bat control and could reach Seattle sometime this season. His numbers last season don't tell the whole story -- a slow start at Double-A was replaced by solid hitting that earned him the promotion to Triple-A in just his first pro campaign and a ranking at No. 5 on MLB.com's Top 50 Prospects
Christian Friedrich, LHP -- Colorado Springs Sky Sox
Friedrich didn't make the Rockies' Opening Day roster -- in fact, he could begin the year at Double-A Tulsa -- but he made a statement in his final audition of the spring, no-hitting the big league Rockies lineup for six innings in an exhibition game. Friedrich, a 2008 first-round pick, enters the season ranked No. 50 by MLB.com. The Eastern Kentucky product went 3-6 with a 5.05 ERA in 18 starts at Double-A last year and was a Futures Game All-Star.
Dee Gordon, SS -- Albuquerque Isotopes
Gordon, the son of former Major Leaguer Tom "Flash" Gordon, doesn't have his dad's fastball, but he brings the speed instead on the bases. The Windermere, Fla., native swiped 53 bases last year and 73 in 2009, so it will be his legs -- he has seven career home runs -- that will eventually carry him to the Majors. Gordon has 22 triples over the past two years and enters the season ranked No. 44 by MLB.com.
Eric Hosmer, 1B -- Omaha Storm Chasers
Named MLB.com's No. 8 prospect, Hosmer projects to be the Royals first baseman of the future. He didn't make Kansas City's Opening Day roster, so either the Royals are taking things slowly with their former first-round pick, or they'll let him stay in the Minors until midseason to avoid losing a year in arbitration eligibility. Either way, Hosmer has power, speed and hits for average. He ripped 43 doubles and nine triples last season and finished with a .406 on-base percentage between Class A Advanced Wilmington and Double-A Northwest Arkansas.
Brett Lawrie, 3B -- Las Vegas 51s
Lawrie came over to the Jays from Milwaukee in the Shaun Marcum deal after hitting .285 with 63 RBIs and 30 steals last year at Double-A. He's ranked No. 28 by MLB.com, was an Olympian for Canada in 2008, represented Canada during the 2009 World Baseball Classic and led the Southern League in hits (158), triples (16), runs (90) and extra-base hits (60) at Huntsville in 2010. His 49 steals in two seasons make Lawrie a pretty complete infielder -- he'll just need to cut down on his strikeouts at Triple-A. He moves to third base for 2011.
Jordan Lyles, RHP -- Oklahoma City RedHawks
MLB.com's No. 31 top prospect should begin the season with the RedHawks after seeing brief time at Triple-A last summer. A 6-foot-4 right-hander with a fastball that reaches 93 mph, Lyles was a Futures Game All-Star last year. The Astros prospect finished the season 7-12 with a 3.57 ERA in 27 appearances -- 26 starts -- between Double-A Corpus Christi and Triple-A Round Rock. He has struck out 304 hitters in the past two seasons. Batters hit just .243 (54-for-222) against Lyles with runners on last year, and with the bases loaded, Lyles gave up just one hit in 13 at-bats.
Mike Montgomery, LHP -- Omaha Storm Chasers
The 2008 first-round pick will make his Triple-A debut after finishing 7-5 with a 2.61 ERA at three levels last year. A Texas League All-Star and an AFL Rising Star, Montgomery battled through injury in 2010 but begins the '11 campaign ranked No. 14 by MLB.com. The southpaw has a 2.27 career Minor League ERA and has given up just seven homers since his professional debut in 2008. The only thing that held him back was a forearm strain last year -- he's yet to throw more than 110 innings in a season. Omaha's lineup should provide plenty of support this summer too.
Mike Moustakas, 3B -- Omaha Storm Chasers
Yep, another Royals prospect is heading to Omaha. Moustakas may be slightly behind Hosmer's projected pace to the Majors, but he enters the season ranked No. 7 by MLB.com and could at the very least see a September callup. The Los Angeles native split last season between Double-A and Omaha, hitting .322 with 36 homers and 124 RBIs. Nearly half of his hits were for extra bases. He finished in the top three among Minor League hitters in home runs, RBIs, extra-base hits and slugging percentage. The Royals -- and this may surprise many given their struggles -- will take it slow with him. "We don't want to throw a guy up here that's going to struggle," Kansas City manager Ned Yost said. "We want him to be able to come up and be able to handle the situation. We'll just see where he's at."
Martin Perez, LHP -- Round Rock Express
Ranked No. 23 by MLB.com, Perez tops all Rangers prospects heading into 2011. Texas has done well bringing talent up from the Minors in recent years -- Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, Derek Holland, Nelson Cruz -- so, will Perez be the next Arlington youngster? He features a 94-mph fastball, a curve and a change, but he'll need to work on controlling all three in 2011. In Perez's five wins during 2010, he allowed 21 hits and seven earned runs in 27 1/3 innings, giving him a .208 batting average against and a 2.31 ERA in those five games.
Wilin Rosario, C -- Colorado Springs Sky Sox
A 2010 Futures Game All-Star who enters the season ranked No. 41 by MLB.com, Rosario is arguably the Rockies' second-best prospect. He hit .285 with 19 homers and 52 RBIs at Double-A Tulsa last season -- respectable numbers -- but it's his defense that has the Rockies excited. He threw out 43.5 percent of would-be basestealers in 2010 to bring his career rate to a robust 41.9 percent. He's set to start at Tulsa but should be in Colorado Springs shortly.