Friday, March 4, 2011

The Most Underrated Prospects In Baseball: Part 1

Through my first year on the blog, what was the one thing that got overwhelmingly negative feedback?  Prospect analysis.  That's why I'm bringing it back this year bitches.  Luckily for the haters, undertaking an endeavor as large as analyzing all 100 of Baseball America's top prospects proved to be way too much work for a repeat performance.  So now it is time for the underrated prospects.  Today, I will focus on guys that are on Top 100 lists, and next week, I'll finish up the series with the more obscure players that I think will catapult forward this year.  If you missed the overrated, you can check it out here and here.

Ben Revere - CF - Twins - Average Rank:  92
I don't get it.  Okay, I kind of get it, but I still find it ridiculous.  All Ben Revere does is hit.  Does he hit for power?  Not at all, but he gets hits, draws enough walks, steals bases, and has good range in center.  He doesn't just lack power at the plate as it has also been reported that he has a noodle arm.  But if Chang has taught us anything, it's that "Fast don't lie."  He has a poor arm, but his speed should at least make him an adequate center fielder.  Here's some numbers for you:  .325, .379, .311, .305.  Those are his averages in his four years in the minors; he's also never had an OBP lower than .371.  He doesn't have the ceiling that the top tier guys have, but he is going to be a valuable leadoff hitter in the majors, and those don't exactly grow on trees.  I'd put him in the Top-30, and since American Heroes always get bumped up ten spots, I'll put him in the Top-20 if somebody can prove he's related to Paul.

Derek Norris - C - Nationals - Average Rank:  67
Norris, like all the guys on this list, is awesome.  Why is he so awesome?  Well, first off, he's a catcher, and he can actually remain a catcher when he gets to the majors.  He's also shown progress, as up until last year, he has kept getting better and better.  But don't let last year fool you, because only dummies would rank this guy low.  He had a wrist injury last year, and wrist injuries almost always sap power and can also make people alter their swing as they get more comfortable.  Norris only had a batting average of .235, but his OBP was a pretty ridiculous .419.  He also slugged .419 which looks bad at first glance, but considering his low batting average and the wrist injury he was dealing with, it's pretty damn impressive.  I don't think he'll hit for a high batting average, but his plate discipline should still help him get around a .350 OBP, and he has the power potential to slug .500 in the majors.  With that stat line, he'd hold his own in a corner outfield spot, the fact that he'll be able to do it behind the plate makes this guy a Top-20 prospect in my book.

Chris Carter – 1B/OF - Athletics - Average Rank:  54
Chris Carter does one thing that I absolutely hate, and that's strike out...a lot.  Despite this, I'm still extremely high on him.  Chris Carter is someone that struggles early on.  If you look at his stats at the end of May, you will think this guy is a bust and not worthy of the title of a top prospect.  But as the year goes on, he just keeps getting better and better.   I love that he adjusts as the season goes on, because I think he has shown the ability to adapt to new challenges and become a great hitter at every level.  I think he is a guy who will always struggle in batting average, but the power is real, and he knows how to draw a walk.  Adam Dunn seems to be a fair comparison, although I'd feel more comfortable calling him Adam Dunn-light.  Personally, I think the A’s horribly mishandled his development by adding so many corner outfield bats this year, because he’s a guy that needs to take his lumps at the major league level, so he can become a great asset by the end of the season.  Still, I feel like this is a Top-20 prospect.

Brett Lawrie - 2B? - Blue Jays - Average Rank:  50
Why do I love Brett Lawrie?  Because he’s lazy and he’s still awesome.  The Brewers told him he should probably go to the Arizona Fall League to get more work, he said he was too tired.  I bet he napped through the entire fall, and I'm pretty sure that's called hibernation, which means he may have the strength of a bear.  He is awful at defense, and yet he refuses to work on it.  That's so cool.  Should his makeup concern me? Of course it should. But does it? God no, because the skillset is there for him to be awesome.  He’s been young for his leagues, and he's been great, plus many believe (including me) that a lot of his extra base hits will turn into home runs.  The guy can do anything offensively as he even has good speed as he had 16 triples and 30 stolen bases last year.  Even if he moves to a corner outfield spot (where he probably still won't give a shit), his bat will play anywhere.  If he even gives half a shit about defense, his bat has the potential to explode and make him a consensus Top-15 prospect.

Miguel Sano – 3B - Twins - Average Rank:  51
I love Miguel Sano.  I love him so much.  I have trouble putting my love for him into words, so bear with me as we work through this passion together.  I love Latin American players who get large bonuses.  This is one of the oddest things to love, but these are the prospects that I have an undying belief in.  I sometimes pop wood when I simply hear the words "high ceiling."  I also put way too much stock in short-season numbers when they come from these bonus babies.  This is why I love Miguel Sano.  His line in the Gulf Coast League was .291/.337/.466.  That line doesn't scream superstar, but he doesn't turn 18 until the middle of May.  Scouting reports are very high on him, and so am I.  This guy is going to be a stud.  I could play it safe and say he should be Top-20, but that's no fun.  Top-15 is reasonable, but what's the fun in reason?  I'd put him Top-10, and if you keep me talking about him, I could put him in the Top-5.  His ceiling is so high.  High...ceiling, oh yeah.

Next week, I will end this series with five more obscure prospects that I see leaping into the Top-100 for 2012.


P.S.  For anybody who thinks that cartwheel kicks are silly and are not a viable strategy in MMA, I present to you Brian Ebersole's counter-argument:

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