The Texas League All-Star break is typically a time when you see a little movement here and there among top prospects, and this year should be no different with a few of the league's top players getting a promotion dictated by the Major League club. This isn't exactly going out on a limb, but my prediction for the most likely player to soon make the jump to Triple-A is Wichita's Alex Gordon. This is only his first year in pro ball and he is already at the Double-A level. He was college player of the year at Nebraska only last season and has been on the fast track since getting a $4 million signing bonus. Plus, being in the Kansas City Royals organization, there is really nothing standing in his way to reaching the Majors by the end of the season.
On the local front, I think Brandon Wood is safe in Little Rock for the season. The Los Angeles Angels have shown great patience and restraint in moving him too fast, keeping him at the same level throughout each of his three prior seasons of pro ball, and I see no reason that the trend stops now. So you can enjoy some more of Wood's home runs for the remainder of the season, but for some of these other guys playing in the Texas League All-Star game, this may be your last chance to see them.
Speaking of Wood, he was really good in his television interviews from fanfest. It's too bad he can't be more out front for the Travs publicity-wise, but I guess they don't put players in that position because they could be gone tomorrow. Still, local businesses are missing out on a big opportunity by not using him in ads.
The Minor League Baseball site has an updated story on Tuesday night's All-Star game, and the Travelers web site has the updated rosters (linked in the post below), including the late addition of the Travs' Jason Aspito. Below are some capsules of the top five prospects who are playing in the All-Star game.
Brandon Wood DH (Arkansas) - #3 prospect in Minor League Baseball, Angels #1 prospect and '03 top draft pick, $1.3 million signing bonus, '05 Futures Game All Star, called next Cal Ripken Jr., could be perennial MLB All Star, hit 58 home runs in '05 between Rancho Cucamonga, Arizona Fall League (four home runs in one game), and Team USA Olympic qualifying, led Minors last season in doubles, home runs, total bases, and extra-base hits, the first to do so since 1956, projected starting third baseman for '09 Angels
Alex Gordon 3B (Wichita) - #13 prospect in Minor League Baseball, Royals #1 prospect and '05 top draft pick, $4 million signing bonus is Royals highest ever, '05 college player of year at Nebraska, Team USA MVP at '04 World University Championship, compared to Chipper Jones
Troy Tulowitzki SS (Tulsa) - #25 prospect in Minor League Baseball, Rockies #2 prospect and '05 top draft pick out of Long Beach State, $2.3 million signing bonus is Rockies second-largest ever, compared to Bobby Crosby ('04 AL rookie of the year)
Billy Butler LF (Wichita) - #29 prospect in Minor League Baseball, Royals #2 prospect and '04 top draft pick, $1.45 million signing bonus, MLB All-Star caliber comparison to Travis Hafner, projected starting designated hitter for '09 Royals
Thomas Diamond P (Frisco) - #79 prospect in Minor League Baseball, Rangers #3 prospect and '04 top draft pick, got $2 million signing bonus, projected No. 4 starter in Rangers '09 rotation
Some other notes... The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has some interesting articles on African-Americans missing in the stands and missing on the field in baseball. You notice that the Travs seem to be no different from this national trend. I wish I knew the magic to draw more African-Americans and Hispanics to the ballpark. I heard some guys talking on XM Radio's World Cup channel about similar problems in soccer, and no one seems to have come up with a good solution to being more inclusive to bring this segment of the population into these two sports... KARK's Razorback Nation does it again. Not one word on the Texas League All-Star game on Monday's sportscast. They did talk plenty about the upcoming high school all-star game, though, and of course had an update on what Ronnie Brewer had for dinner.