Carlos Santana, CLE. It didn’t take long for Cleveland to give its fans what they wanted. Lou Marson wasn’t getting the job done in the majors, and Santana could do no wrong at Triple-A Columbus, earning his promotion. The two flip-flopped levels and Santana hasn’t missed a beat.
Honorable mention: Buster Posey, SF
Kila Ka’aihue, KC. The Kila Monster is showing that his monster 2008 season may not have been a fluke after all. Ka’aihue has been showing off his trademark power and patience once again in Triple-A Omaha. Kansas City is hoping that his bat will one day translate into some semblance of major league success.
Honorable mention: Brett Wallace, TOR
Jarrett Hoffpauir, TOR. Hoffpauir has hit his prime and has been putting together another fine Triple-A season as a result, perhaps even his best on many levels. This time it may have finally propelled him into a permanent major league gig, as an spot has opened up at third base in Toronto’s infield.
Honorable mention: Brett Lawrie, MIL
Mike Moustakas, KC. Moustakas’ power has taken another step forward, and his contact rate and pitch recognition have hit a whole new level altogether. There is more polish to come, yet one could make the argument that he deserves to be named the first-half Minor League Player of the Year.
Honorable mention: Mike Hessman, NYM
Nick Franklin, SEA. I continue to make excuses to myself on why I should leave Franklin off my Top-100 list. None of it will matter as long as he continues to deliver at the plate. His defense has been all right for his age as well, adding extra foundation to his all-star honors.
Honorable mention: Thomas Field, COL
Mike Stanton, FLA. No hitter in the minor leagues put up a more jaw-dropping first two months of the season than Stanton. You can talk about his gaudy minor league stats all you want, but nothing backs up Stanton’s performance more than Florida’s vote of confidence in promoting him to the majors at the tender age of 20.
Mike Trout, LAA. The 2009 draft has thus far produced a disappointing crop of hitters, but Trout has the ability to be the saving grace of his class. The successful stolen base rate, contact skills and plate discipline have been the biggest surprises coming from this teenager.
Alex Gordon, KC. I don’t want to give Gordon minor league all-star honors, as his skill level and major league experience give him an almost unfair advantage, but I feel compelled. The Royals chose to allow him ample time at Triple-A Omaha this year in order to refine his bat and learn how to play the outfield, and their move may prove to be a huge success.
Honorable mention: Domonic Brown, PHI, Jerry Sands, LAD, and Kyle Russell, LAD
Stephen Strasburg, WAS. Was there any doubt? No pitcher in his first year has ever laid waste to this kind of professional competition before. His next challenge will be to maintain his major league success as the innings start to pile up and the hitters become better prepared.
Honorable mention: Jeremy Hellickson, TB, Randall Delgado, ATL, Julio Teheran, ATL, Michael Pineda, SEA, and Jordan Lyles, HOU