In today's world of sports, there is no doubt that younger players are more appealing to fantasy owners. When management, coaches, and fans hear about a new young player with potential, there is no greater feeling. Some players who had the buzz around them developed like SP Josh Beckett, SS Hanley Ramirez, SS Derek Jeter and SP Tim Lincecum. On the flip side, there are big name prospects who didn't pan out like 3B Sean Burroughs, SP Bryan Bullington, 1B Casey Kotchman and SP Aaron Heilman.
With college players switching from aluminum bats to wood bats, and small town kids leaving home for the big show, there is no way to tell how a player will develop through the farm system. Here is a list of some players who excelled in the minor leagues to the point where they have a chance to make an impact this season.
First of all, I will not list SP Stephen Strasburg of the Washington Nationals because people who don't even follow the sport know who he is. I also feel many people will jump the gun and draft him too early.
Jason Heyward - OF, Atlanta Braves
There are so many good things to say about this kid. He reported to camp early this season and has reportedly added 20 pounds of muscle over the off-season. His past two seasons in the minors have totaled to a .319 AVG with 28 HR and 25 SB, while splitting time between Double-A and Triple-A. The trade for OF Melky Cabrera makes the outfield a little crowded, but this kid is only 20 years old. He has a shot to make the team out of camp while splitting time with Matt Diaz, but I expect him to be a mid-season call up.
Buster Posey - C, San Francisco Giants
In his first full season while splitting time between Double-A and Triple-A, Posey posted a .325 AVG, 18 HR and 80 RBI. Posey is a player with great plate discipline posting collecting 62 walks and only striking out 68 times. He is in camp this season working out at multiple infield positions to give him a better chance of cracking the 25 man roster. He once played all nine positions in a game during his college years at Florida State. Recently re-signed Bengie Molina is still a productive player and will be the opening day catcher. With 3B Pablo Sandoval (who had a breakout season last year) and newly acquired Aubrey Huff locked in at the corner infield positions, Posey will have difficulty finding playing time. The Giants could have Posey split time between Triple-A and the majors this season just so he can find consistent at-bats during the 2010 season.
Neftali Feliz - RP/SP?, Texas Rangers
The question mark is listed because the Rangers organization still doesn't know if they want Feliz to be a starter or reliever this season. In 2008, Feliz was strictly a starter, but in 2009 he started and relieved while pitching at Triple-A. Either way, his stuff is absolutely electrifying posting 153 strikeouts in 127 innings as a full time starter in 2008. In a brief Major League stint last season, opposing players hit .124 against him while he racked up 39 strikeouts in 31 innings and an ERA of 1.74. Feliz will be on the Rangers 25 man roster out of camp and is a player you definitely want to target during your draft.
Brian Matusz - SP, Baltimore Orioles
The 2008 first round pick went 11 - 2 with an ERA of 1.91 in minors last season. The dominant minor league stint earned him a trip to the bigs where he posted respectable numbers. In eight Major League starts, he went 5 - 2 with a 4.63 ERA. He got roughed up a little bit in August, but in his two September starts, Matusz won both of them posting a 3.21 ERA (one of those wins came against the New York Yankees.) Matusz looks to start the season with the Orioles as the third or fourth starter. Although he is pitching in a tough AL East, Matusz is worth a look in deeper leagues.
Pedro Alvarez - 3B, Pittsburgh Pirates
Pedro Alvarez was one of the most celebrated college players of the decade. He was a star at the University of Vanderbilt and his game translated into his first full season in the minors. In 2009, Alvarez hit .288 AVG with 27 HR and 95 RBI while posting an OPS of .914. Even though it seems every year that the Pirates have a losing season, there is no you should avoid him down the road. He could be the everyday third basemen for the Bucs by mid-season.