5 Prospects To Get Excited About
Top 5 prospects I am excited to see……..
Last year was truly a special year for baseball in terms of fans getting to see prospects developed before their eyes. Baseball fans got to see a big glimpse into the future. Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels and Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals were two prospects that baseball fans couldn’t wait to see in action. Once they were finally called-up to the majors by their respective organizations, they did not disappoint. The former #1 pick in the 2010 MLB Draft, much of Bryce Harper‘s hype stemmed from his much chronicled path to Major League Baseball. He left high school early to enroll in junior college, only to then leave junior college after a year for the draft. Once with the Nationals, Harper did not disappoint, finishing his rookie season with a .270 AVG, 98 R’s, 26 2B’s, 22 HR’s, 59 RBI’s, 18 SB’s, .817 OPS, and a NL Rookie of the Year award. For as good a rookie season Harper had, he was one-upped by fellow AL Rookie of the Year Award winner, Mike Trout. Trout built his hype up through awesome performances both at the plate and defensively through his minor league career. MLB and Angels fans got a sneak peek at Trout in the 2011 season, but once he got called-up for good in 2012, he left many baseball goers wondering if we were seeing the second coming of Mickey Mantle. Trout finished his official rookie season with a .326 AVG, 129 R’s, 27 2B’s, 30 HR’s, 83 RBI’s, 49 SB’s, .963 OPS, an AL Rookie of the Year Award (as mentions above), and finishing second in the AL MVP voting (many statistical geeks and sabermeteric believers believe Trout should have been the AL MVP over triple-crown winner, Miguel Cabrera). Suffice to say, Harper and Trout definitely put a different prospective and expectation on how fans look at upcoming prospects.
While we will probably never see anything like last season again, nevertheless there are still some exciting prospects that baseball fans can get excited about. Here are my top 5 prospects that I am excited to see this upcoming baseball season.
1. Jurickson Profar – SS / 2B, Texas Rangers
Profar is viewed by many as the best prospect in MLB baseball. He is this year’s must-see top prospect. His stats won’t jump out at you, but it’s the position he plays, SS, that inflates his stats and gets baseball loves excited about him. In 126 games at the Double-A level, he had a .281 AVG, 76 R’s, 26 2B’s, 14 HR’s, 62 RBI’s, 16 SB’s, and a .820 OBS. Again, if he played OF, they are good numbers; but as a SS, while also showing plus defensive skills, he is a roster builder and franchise player. His path to the majors is somewhat blocked by current Rangers’ SS, Elvis Andrus, but I think Profar is too good of a player not to be on the field for the Rangers. I think the Rangers will find a way to either trade Andrus, or move current 2B, Ian Kinsler, to a different position on the field or DH, so that Profar can get playing time at 2B. He’ll lose some of his value if moved to 2B, but either way, it’s still AB’s for Profar; and in an ultra-competitive AL West Division – a division that the Rangers lost to the Oakland A’s on the final day of the season last year – it doesn’t matter where Profar plays on the field as long as he gets AB’s.
2. Wil Myers – OF, Tampa Bay Rays
Once thought to be the savior of the Kansas City Royals franchise, Myers was traded along with other top prospects this off season to the Tampa Bay Rays for SP’s James Shields and Wade Davis, in what can only be perceived as a “win now” trade for the Royals. Myers was thought to be blocked by current Royals’ RF’er, Jeff Francoeur, which made Myers expendable to be traded. Frankly, this armchair GM would have never moved a prospect like Myers, but that is why I’m not paid the big bucks. For the Royal’s front office sake, I hope they are right. In 99 games at the Triple-A level, Myers posted a .304 AVG, 66 R’s, 15 2B’s, 24 HR’s, 79 RBI’s, and a .932 OBS. Myers is also a plus defensive OF and has the defensive skills to play all three OF positions, though his natural position is RF, making his path to the big leagues somewhat blocked by current Rays RF’er, Ben Zobrist. However, Zobrist can play 2B, which could open up RF for Myers, or the Rays could move Myers to LF and move current LF’er Matthew Joyce to DH. Much like the Rangers’ situation with Profar, I feel Myers is just too good of a player not to find AB’s for, and when teamed up with 3B Evan Longoria, they could make for a killer middle of the lineup.
3. Trevor Bauer – SP, Cleveland Indians
Wil Myers, Bauer was also a highly-touted prospect who was traded in the off season. Bauer was the main prize for the Cleveland Indians in a three-team deal involving Bauer’s former team, the Arizona Diamondbacks, as well as the Cincinnati Reds. It was reported that Bauer was a cancer while with the Diamondbacks, often feuding with the front office about workout habits, game prep, and also clashing with current Diamondbacks manager, Kirk Gibson; all while experiencing a cup-of-coffee in the pros last September. While in the majors, he suffered a leg injury in his first start, an injury in which he tried to play through but showed in his pitching. Despite all of Bauer’s talent, the Diamondbacks decided to just move Bauer now while his value was still high and fill other organizational needs. In 14 starts at Triple-A, Bauer posted a 5-1 record with a 2.85 ERA, 97 K’s, 35 BB’s, and a 1.329 WHIP. Bauer should have no problem cracking the Indians’ starting rotation coming out of Spring Training, hoping to beat out the likes of Brett Myers and a washed-up Daisuke Matsuzaka.
4. Gerrit Cole – SP, Pittsburgh Pirates
The former #1 pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, it may be a little soon for us to expect to see Cole in the majors this season, but I think we will, even if it’s a late September call-up. Nevertheless, that doesn’t temper my excitement to see Cole in the majors, and I believe there is an outside chance we see Cole sooner than a September call-up. The Pittsburgh Pirates currently hold the streak for longest playoff drought in baseball, and with the Pirates showing signs of life and sniffing around playoff contention last season, the organization may get desperate and call-up Cole. The opposite could also happen and the Pirates are so bad that they might just call-up Cole to give him some live action in the pros. Cole pitched in all-three levels of the minors last season, making 26 starts and posting combined numbers of 9-7 record with a 2.80 ERA, 136 K’s, 45 BB’s, and a 1.197 WHIP. Again, it may be too early for us to see Cole, but that will all depend on how good or bad the Pirates are this upcoming season.
5. Billy Hamilton – OF, Cincinnati Reds
This is my wildcard pick. I’m going to say it right now, Billy Hamilton has the potential to be the next Rickey Henderson (without the power), or at the very least, the next Tim Raines. In today’s baseball world, the art of the stolen base is a lost trade, and for those of us who watched baseball during the mid-to-late 80′s and into the early 90′s, we can appreciate how exciting it is to see a true base-stealer in baseball. Billy Hamilton can be that guy. Arguably the fastest man in all of baseball, Hamilton set the record for most SB’s in minor league history with 159 SB’s. Now the challenge for him will be to actually get on-base, but last season in the minors, sharing time between High-A and Double-A, he sported a .410 OBP and a .311 AVG. The Reds have a crowded OF right now with Ryan Ludwick, Shin-Soo Choo, and Jay Bruce, but neither of them are either a true CF’er nor a leadoff hitter. This is where Hamilton may see an earlier-than-expected call-up to the majors, as he would fill both of those areas if they become needed. I can’t guarantee that Hamilton will see more than a September call-up this upcoming season, but when he is called-up in September, it will be a fun month of viewing.
Marc Keller is a baseball nut whose two greatest loves in life are his wife and the San Francisco Giants. You can find his blog “Mr. Armchair Speaks” at http://mrarmchair.blogspot.com/ and on Twitter @mrarmchair.