We all know that Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Jesus Montero, etc. are very, very good prospects, but it gets kind of boring just talking about those guys which is what I like about this site. The attached list represents guys that I think are better than the general consensus has them. I know they are all prospects already, but again seem a bit underhyped (usually due to being in a smaller market). Feel free to post whatever you'd like to say as I'm not one of those guys who tries to tell you your opinion is wrong. This list represents my opinion and is designed to give you some food for thought at each position.
Eric Thames, OF (Toronto): The Blue Jays drafted Thames in the 7th round of the ’08 draft out of Pepperdine. He was a guy who saw his stock fall in the draft as a result of an injury (torn quad), but so far in pro ball he has shown excellent power and pretty good patience as well. He played a full age 23 season at AA and hit 27 HR’s with 104 RBI. So, he is a situation to watch in 2011 to see how he responds at AAA. Thames is a nice sneaky option in deeper leagues as he has not received much hype at all and is a very talented hitter.
Randal Grichuk, OF (Anaheim): Grichuk is often known as the “other” outfielder that the Angels took in the 1st round of the ’09 draft. If he can get over his recurring dream of being attacked by Rainbow Trout (what is his subconscious trying to tell him?), I think he has a bright future. He has put up pretty good lines so far (.310/.343/.559) in his age 17 and 18 seasons. I believe this will be the season that we begin to see two things happen for him: 1) His BB/K ratio will improve by about 20-30% (for instance: K’s 10% less and BB’s 10% more for 20% net improvement) and 2) He starts to Homer once every 20 PA’s vs. once every 24 so far.
Marc Krauss, OF (Arizona): Krauss was a 2nd round pick in ’09 out of Ohio. Krauss set Ohio school records with 27 HR’s and 70 RBI’s while slugging a robust .852. His pro resume isn’t bad either with his 2010 line (.302,.371,.509) showing off what he can do with the bat. While Ohio is indeed a hitter’s park, and perhaps the pitching isn’t the best, Krauss’s audition in the Cape Cod League (where he led in RBI’s and OBP) shows that his bat belongs in the pros.
Pete Kozma, SS (St. Louis): Kozma is another 1st rounder that doesn’t get much love in my opinion. Drafted in 2007, this is a case where you have to look beyond the numbers as his minor league line over 4 seasons is less than inspiring (.243/.319/.355). However, high school hitters take time and Kozma will be a MLB baseball player and I would argue an effective one. He turns 23 this year and this is my against the grain breakout candidate of the year. Look for his numbers to improve across the board in ‘11 – I’ll predict (.280/.350/.410) with 15 HR’s and 20 SB’s and better command of the strike zone.
Miguel Sano, 3B (Minnesota): For what it’s worth, I almost put Nolan Arenado (Colorado) as my favorite under-hyped 3B prospect, but I had a chance to see this Sano kid hit live and he sure seems to be gifted. He has a right-handed swing that is aggressive, but very smooth at the same time. To me, it looks like he was born to hit a baseball. Allegedly still only 17 years old*, there is much rumor and speculation that given his size and maturity level he is likely older. Either way, his signing bonus wound up being reduced based on the swirl around his age. So, those rumors will inevitably dog him and cause some to question the numbers he puts up against what will be perceived as younger competition if he is in fact older than his stated age. The Twins still plan to be patient with him and he had a very successful pro debut in 2010 hitting .307 at two stops with 7 HR’s in 241 plate appearances.
*(MLB conducted an age investigation which is a prerequisite for every player signed in Latin America and while they did in fact validate his identity they were unable to verify his age).
Logan Forsythe, 2B (San Diego): Logan Forsythe was the 46th pick of the ’08 draft (1st rd. Supplemental) and is an on-base machine relative to a lot of middle infield prospects. He walked 102 times in ’09 and 75 times in ’10 (in 25 fewer games due to injury). Over 3 seasons, his line (.278,.407,.389) clearly lacks power but his patience makes him a likely candidate to hit near the top of the order. At 24, he is likely only 1 to 2 years away from the big league club. Being stuck in San Diego may actually help him as Petco saps most everyone’s power anyway so you can’t lose what you don’t have (at least yet anyway).
Rich Poythress, 1B (Seattle): Like everyone else, I want to see what he does away from High Desert but Poythress is an intriguing 1st base prospect. He was stellar in his collegiate career at Georgia and definitely has power to spare. It would be easier to discount the excellent results at hitter-friendly High Desert (31 HRs and 130 RBI) if he hadn’t hit like this before. He hit .544 as a junior in HS with 13 home runs and then hit .376 as a junior at Georgia with 25 HR’s and 86 RBI (all-time school record). I’ll be interested to see how he fares with the Diamond Jaxx (AA) this season.
Tony Sanchez, C (Pittsburgh): Sanchez is continuing to climb a bit in most prospect rankings as people see that unlike many catching prospects (Myers & Montero come to mind), Sanchez is a very competent catcher who is likely to stick at the position. It was his offense that caused many to question him as the # 4 overall selection in the 2009 draft. His 2010 season was off to a great start, but was limited when he was hit in the face by a pitch in June and sustained a fractured jaw. Still, Sanchez should be completely ready to go in 2011 and profiles as a very solid catcher for the Pirates for years to come. Sanchez is smart, is said to handle pitchers very well and had a 4.0 grade point average at Boston College. He had 250 plate appearances in 2010 (.314,.416,.454) and continued to demonstrate that his offensive abilities appeared to be under-rated by many.
Simon Castro, RHSP (San Diego): Castro seemed to be more hyped at this time last year than he is now. He was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2006 and broke out in ’09 (really in late ’08). Listed at 6’5” and 210lbs. he looks as though he is still filling out weight-wise. His delivery is a lot of elbows and knees (a little Jered Weaverish) and he has an excellent slider. He hasn’t allowed hitters to hit over .233 in his last three pro seasons. His 2010 stat line would have looked even better if not for two starts at AAA at the end of the season that were rough. Castro was the starter in the Futures Game for the International squad in ’10, but still seems to be farther down the list of starting pitching prospects than he deserves in my opinion. Castro keeps the ball low in the zone and with his plus-slider, he will be tough to handle at Petco down the road. He should arrive in 2011.
Danny Duffy, LHSP (Kansas City): A 3th round pick out of High School, Duffy oozes pitching talent. He has 359 K’s in his 308 pro innings while posting a 2.54 ERA with a 1.104 WHIP. He is only 22 and thus far has looked very good on the mound. One red flag is that he did take a leave from baseball during 2010, but he returned and threw pretty well upon his return. The rumor out there is that he was homesick for a girlfriend, so let’s hope that was the case for the 21 year old. He has a big, slow breaking ball (71 MPH) which keeps hitters off-balance. He finished 2010 at AA and has averaged 10.5 K/9 over his 4 year pro career.