Key player notes from AAA’s International and Pacific Coast Leagues. Who’s moving on up and who’s failing to distinguish themselves?

Michael Brantley , OF Cleveland- AAA Line .281, 1 HR, 11 RBI
With Grady Sizemore sidelined for the year following knee surgery, a spot appears to have opened up for Brantley. But where has Brantley’s speed gone? After stealing 46 bases in 116 games at AAA Columbus in 2009, he’s swiped only five bags in 36 games in 2010. He’s not even attempting to run, only being caught twice. It should also be noted that he didn’t attempt a stolen bases in nine games with the big club earlier this season. Brantley hit .313/0/11 in ’09 in 112 major league AB, and .156/0/3 in 32 AB in ’10 before his demotion.

Pedro Alvarez , 3B Pittsburgh- AAA line .278, 11 HR, 47 RBI
Alvarez, the Buccos No. 2 overall pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, is showing serious pop at the highest minor league level. He’s compiled 12 doubles, three triples and 11 HR for a .527 SLG %. After struggling early on against left-handed pitching, Alvarez has picked up the pace. His .286 BA in 56 AB against LHP now sits higher than .275 BA in 149 AB versus RHP. He can’t be too far from the majors with Andy LaRoche and his .317 OBP and .349 SLG in his path. There’s also a possibility Garret Jones will shift to RF and Alvarez will move across the diamond to 1B.

Todd Frazier , 1B Cincinnati- AAA line .194, 7 HR, 19 RBI
Talk about struggling with the stick.. Frazier is in a rough place right now. After hitting .292/16/77 in AAA Louisville in 2009, he has just 33 hits and a .266 OBP through 47 games in 2010. The Reds have moved Frazier all over the field defensively, and it could be taking it’s toll on his overall game. They may be better suited keeping him in one spot and letting him focus on his ticket to the bigs, his swing.

Desmond Jennings , CF Tampa Bay- AAA Line .236 0 HR 6 RBI
Jennings missed much of April with a left wrist injury and has not been himself since returning. Jennings numbers are dramatically down from 2009 when he hit .318/11/62 for AAA Durham. In his last 10 games Jennings is batting .175 (7 for 40) with 1 RBI, 11 K and 1 SB. He has been extremely effective on the base paths on the season, stealing 12 while being caught only once. He swiped 52 bags in 59 attempts in ’09. Jennings is viewed as the Rays top offensive prospect, but will need to pick up his production to reach the majors.

Jason Castro , C Houston- AAA Line .279, 1 HR, 18 RBI
Castro’s best attribute has been his eye at the plate. He’s walked 31 times against just 24 K’s for an OBP of .396. However, the pop, in the hitter friendly PCL nonetheless, is sorely missing. He has 1 HR and 7 XBH in 165 AB, and is slugging an unimpressive .333. Castro has done his best work with RISP, hitting .326 and driving in 15 of his 18 runs.

Logan Morrison
, 1B Florida- AAA Line .300, 3 HR, 17 RBI
Gaby Sanchez has been adequate at 1B for the Marlins, but he can’t hold off Morrison for long. In 25 games with AAA New Orleans, Morrison is sporting a .400 OBP and .544 SLG. His BB/K ratio is 16/13. In 24 AB with RISP he’s raking to the tune of .458. He’s also displayed solid top end speed notching three triples to go along with his seven doubles.

Jake Arrieta , SP Baltimore- AAA line 6-2, 1.85 ERA, 64 K
The O’s top pitching prospect is rolling right along in 2010, owning the top ERA in the International League. Opponents are hitting a meager .189 against him, and he’s getting 1.43 ground outs to air outs. In his last three starts he’s thrown 22 innings, allowing 16 hits, 2 ER and striking out 23. Arrieta was scratched from his June 5 start and could be headed to the big club imminently. Snatch him up while you can!

Jeremy Hellickson , SP Tampa Bay- AAA Line 8-2, 2.28 ERA, 71 K
The power pitching Hellickson leads the AAA IL with 8 wins. He’s been real stingy on the mound, not yielding a run in four of his last five starts. In those four starts he’s pitched 27 innings, allowed 16 hits and K’d 27. With Wade Davis’ ERA now over 5, will Hellickson get the call?

Carlos Carrasco , SP Cleveland- AAA Line: 4-2, 4.68 ERA, 46 K
Now at 23 years of age, Carrasco has still failed to live up to the hype. Prior to being dealt to the Indians, Carrasco made 20 starts for AAA Lehigh Valley in 2009, going 6-9 with a 5.18 ERA. He finished the season strong for AAA Columbus winning 5 of 6 starts with a .319 ERA and allowing only 31 hits in 42 1/3 innings. He has taken a step back once again in early in 2010. He’s given up 64 hits in 59 2/3 innings while striking out only 46. Opponents are hitting a comfortable .282 against him, and right handed hitters are hitting .313. On a positive note, Carrasco is getting ground balls with a 1.21 GO/AO ratio.

Madison Bumgarner , SP San Francisco- AAA Line: 5-1, 2.73 ERA, 43 K
As Todd Wellemeyer continues to get shelled, a logical question arises: where is Madison Bumgarner? The Giants top farmhand has been sharp since two rough starts to open the AAA season, albeit, not in dominating fashion. He’s allowed 66 hits in 62 2/3 innings of work and struck out only 43. Nevertheless, Bumgarner’s been extremely effective at forcing opponents to pound the ball into the ground. For example: In his May 23rd start vs. Nashville he recorded 14 outs on balls put in play. Twelve were recorded on the ground. Despite giving up his 12 hits in 6 2/3 innings in that start, he maneuvered his way through the jams without conceding an earned run.

Chris Davis , 1B Texas- Davis is hitting .313 with 5 HR and 31 RBI for AAA Oklahoma City in the PCL. He’s still striking out too much with a 13/37 BB/K ratio.

Alex Gordon , OF Kansas City- Gordon has been killing the ball in 31 games for AAA Omaha in the PCL. He’s batting .371 with 9 HR and 26 RBI. His OBP is a ridiculous .510 and his SLG % is an equally preposterous figure at .662. Keep in mind, Royals GM Dayton Moore said Gordon will not be called up for the remainder of 2010.

Chris Johnson , 3B Houston- Johnson is tearing the cover off the ball for AAA Round Rock: .330, 6 HR and 26 RBI. However, he still refuses to take a BB. He’s walked only five times in 103 AB, and his OBP is only .24 higher than his BA. With the Astros season nearing an early termination, he’ll get the call back up soon. Johnson hit .227/0/2 in 22 AB earlier this year for the ‘Stros.

Written by Adam Ganeles for The Fantasy Fix. Check back weekly for Adam’s awesome insight on MLB and MiLB Fantasy Baseball!

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