mlb 04/07/08 10:08 AM ET Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for]]> With both the big league and Minor League seasons under way, it's time we get the Futures Exchange going in high gear. As a quick refresher, we'll break things down in the following categories: "In the bigs" (self-explanatory, no?), "A phone call away" (the proverbial call from the aforementioned bigs, in Triple-A now), "A year away" (probably a 2009 impact, in Double-A) and "Down the road" (more than one year away, most likely playing in A ball).

Got it? Good. Then here we go ...

In the bigs

The best advice I can give you is to read Lisa Winston's exhaustive look at MLB debuts. Obviously, if you don't know who Johnny Cueto is by now, you're already behind the eight ball. If he's somehow still around in your league, go now and pick him up.

I'm going to throw only one more big leaguer out there (that isn't the focus of the Exchange, after all). I know Rockies 2B Jayson Nix is off to a 1-for-12 start, but don't let that dissuade you from giving him a look, especially if you really need help in the middle infield. He may not hit for tremendous average -- his .292 mark last year was 46 points above his career Minor League mark -- but he's got some pop (11 HR and 33 2B in 2007) and, most importantly, he can run, having finished last year with 24 steals. He may be strictly for NL-only players right now, but keep an eye on his progress.

A phone call away

This might be the best "phone call away" group in Exchange history. You've got Jay Bruce, Evan Longoria, Colby Rasmus, Andrew McCutchen, Homer Bailey and Adam Miller, just to name a few. Check out the box scores in the International and Pacific Coast Leagues on a daily basis. Of the above group, Rasmus (7-for-19) and Bailey (7 IP, 1 ER) have had the best starts to their Triple-A seasons, though it's way too early to worry about anything yet, even if Longoria's 0-for-14 makes you scratch your head.

But this week, I want to point out a couple of guys in Double-A who are actually just a call away. Teams really don't hesitate to call players up from that level right up to the big leagues. That's certainly true of this pair now in the Southern League.

The first is Cameron Maybin. Sure, it was disappointing to some that he didn't win the center-field job in Florida, but from a fantasy standpoint, he may not have provided much right away anyway. The way he's starting, though, he may not be in Carolina long. Maybin has gone 6-for-13 with a pair of homers and a stolen base in his first four games. He's batting third in that Mudcats lineup, so he may not run quite as much, but steals will be the category he'll help you the most with from the get-go, whenever he gets the call.

On the pitching side of things, there's the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw, who came oh so close to making the Dodgers' staff out of Spring Training. Instead, the 20-year-old southpaw ended up where he probably should be: Double-A Jacksonville. He's still getting himself stretched out -- he went just three innings in his debut and gave up a pair of runs (one earned) -- but he showed this spring that he's not far from ready. The positive out of this from a fantasy standpoint is that he'll get to start and could help the big league rotation and thus have more of an impact on your fantasy team once he gets the call. Pitching out of the 'pen would likely have given him value only in the deepest of NL-only leagues immediately. Whatever format you play in, if you have keepers, he's a guy you must try to get.

A year away

OK, on to more "normal" Double-A happenings. Speed is always hard to come by, so keep an eye on the Phillies' Greg Golson. He's one of those toolsy outfielders who's taken a little while to figure things out. It started happening last year, when he hit 15 homers and stole 30 bases. He's off to a respectable 5-for-18 start at the plate, but more importantly, he's gone a perfect 5-for-5 in stolen base attempts over his first four games.

I'm becoming more and more of a Jon Niese fan. He's kind of flying under the radar because he had an up-and-down year in 2007. But he's looking more and more like a legitimate pitching prospect, something the Mets could definitely use. The lefty went five shutout innings in his 2008 debut for Double-A Binghamton, allowing just one hit and one walk while striking out five. I wouldn't be shocked if he ended up in Queens even before the season is over.

Down the road

If you get the chance, head to Stockton in the California League. The A's affiliate has just about everything you need for fantasy prospecting. Today, I'll just focus on the pitching, which is plenty, considering the top four starters -- all legit prospects -- combined to go 3-1 with three earned runs allowed over 24 innings in their first starts. That's a 1.13 ERA for those of you scoring at home. Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson, Fautino De Los Santos and Henry Rodriguez also combined to strike out 24 while walking only five. If they all finish the year in Stockton, I'd be shocked.

Let's end this week in Frederick, shall we? That's where Orioles' 2007 first-rounder Matt Wieters has begun his pro career. He seems to be adjusting just fine, having gone 3-for-8 with a pair of homers -- both in his opener -- with a 1.670 OPS. Wieters is likely "a year away" before we're done here this year. Former first-rounder Brandon Snyder (2005) is following suit as well. Now just a first baseman, he's 4-for-10 over his first few games.

Beat the Streak

A new wrinkle here for the Exchange. Beat the Streak is up and running, and you've got to be in it to win it. (It can be a courtesy pass to any and all Minor League games in 2009, if you win and have a streak of 20 or more games). Not that I'm an expert, but I figured I'd share my picks with all of you as a guide. It's too late for Monday's games, but here are my picks for the rest of the week.

Tuesday: Omar Quintanilla, Colorado Springs
Wednesday: Beau Mills, Kinston
Thursday: Josh Bell, Inland Empire
Friday: Carlos Truinfel, High Desert
Saturday: Cody Haerther, Springfield
Sunday: Matt Wieters, Frederick

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