Minor league POY candidates

It's only a matter of time before Gary Brown is running around center field in San Francisco. Christopher Hanewinckel/US Presswire

Making your preseason picks for minor league player of the year honors has a bit more complexity than big league awards. The biggest issue, of course, is playing time. Tampa Bay Rays lefty Matt Moore, Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper and Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout are universally seen as the top three prospects in baseball, but none of them are good picks for 2012 honors. Moore will open the year in the big leagues, with Harper and Trout likely following suit. In fact, those three showed up on last year's version of this list.

When searching for minor league POY, you need a player who will spend the entire year away from the majors -- and in an environment that is conducive to putting up numbers -- or with an assignment in which the player can impress for other reasons. Here are my top 10 preseason candidates for the unofficial minor league POY.

Nolan Arenado, 3B, Colorado Rockies

Arenado's chances might have diminished on Tuesday but for all the right reasons, as the Rockies released Casey Blake, thus making the soon-to-be 21-year-old's path to the big leagues wide open. After leading the minor leagues in RBIs last year and putting up a .388/.423/.636 line in the Arizona Fall League, Arenado is generally seen as one of the best pure hitters in prospect land. But all of a sudden, it looks like POY-type numbers will land him in the big leagues sooner than they would have 24 hours ago.