The High-Upside Minor League Player's Club

The High-Upside Minor League Player’s Club

The majority of the guys listed below are at least a little less obvious than Jason Heyward. These are guys outside of the Top 10. Many of them have yet to play an entire season of Pro Baseball.

Miguel Sano, 16, Minnesota Twins SSMiguelAngelSano Image
How many 16-year old's do you remember making the Baseball America Top-100 prior to ever playing a minor league game? Sano, a 6-3, 215 pound Short Stop from the Dominican Republic was considered by many to be the greatest Latin American prospect of all-time; including Aroldis Chapman and Vladimir Guerrero. I haven't looked forward to a Minor League card this much in my entire life. I'm not sure when Topps will put one out. If it happens this year, my guess would be eTopps. According to anyone who has seen him play, he is going to be the "Next Big Thing". Sano is also one of the main characters in the upcoming Documentary  "Pelotero", which tells the story of 4 Latin-American Baseball Players.
Comparisons: Alex Rodriguez
Current Cards: NA

RyanWestmoreland ImageRyan Westmoreland, 19, Boston Redsox OF
Many scouts believe that Westmoreland is the best 5-tool prospect in the game. He can hit, field, and do pretty much anything he puts his mind to on a baseball field. There are players that go with the flow of a major league game and then there are players who set the flow. Westmoreland is the type of player that impacts a game on a higher level than most minor leaguers. Unfortunately, Baseball has taken a back seat, as he recently found out that he has a cavernous malformation of the brain, which required brain surgery on March 15th. It would be a tragedy if Westmoreland were never able to play again, but right now that's not important. According to those who know Westmoreland best, he's a fighter.
Comparisons: Grady Sizemore
Current Cards:2008 Razor Letterman Autos ($30-$60), 2008 Razor Signature Series ($25-$30), 2008 Tristar Prospects Plus ($4)

Aaron Hicks, 20, Minnesota Twins OFAaronHicksQuickSwing Image
Hicks has only appeared in about a 100 minor league games since being drafted 14th overall in the 2008 MLB Draft. His Single A stat-line was fairly weak in 2009, hitting just .251, with 4 Homeruns, and 10 Steals. However, he walked 40 times and struck out 55 times in 297 at bats. These are positive signs that suggest he has a plan when he walks up to the plate. Anytime you pair insane athleticism with poise, you should end up with a pretty good player. What is interesting, is despite the weak numbers, Baseball America still named him the top prospect in the Mid West League. If he somehow doesn't make it as an everyday player, he does have a mid-90's fastball to fall back on (The Inverse-Ankiel).
Comparisons: Justin Upton, Adam Jones, Darryl Strawberry
Current Cards:2007 Topps AFLAC #AH Aaron Hicks ($30), 2007 Topps AFLAC Promo #AH Aaron Hicks ($20), 2008 Razor Letterman ($40-$80), 2008 Tristar Prospects Plus ($8)

JacobTurner ImageJacob Turner, 18, Detroit Tiger SP
The 6-5, 210 pound right-hander was taken by the Tigers with the 9th overall pick in the 2009 Draft. During 2010 Spring Training, Buster Olney asked Mark Texiera if anything stuck out to him, and he replied, "Jacob Turner. He struck me out with a high fastball, and you just don't see many young pitchers with the kind of late life on their fastball that he has". The difference between an ace and a #2 in baseball is often late movement. He's also able to adjust speed well, his Fastball settles in around 92-94 mph, but he's been known to dial it up to 97 mph at times. According most most scouts, Turner has the poise, personality, and the stuff to be a Cy Young caliber major league pitcher.
Comparisons:Rick Porecello, Zack Greinke
Current Cards:2008 SP Authentic USA Junior National Team Jersey Autographs #TU Jacob Turner ($30), 2009 Donruss Elite Extra Edition Signature Aspirations #9 Jacob Turner ($50)

Dustin Ackley, 23, Seattle Mariners 2B/OFDustinAckley Image
If he can stick at 2B, Ackley has the potential be in the same class as Chase Utley. He has the type of Bat Control that almost always produces big numbers at the major league level. What is most impressive about the #2 Pick in the 2009 MLB Draft is his ability to hit the ball to all fields. Ackley probably won't ever hit 30 Home Runs, but that doesn't bother me, he's a throwback hitter with an extremely high Hitting IQ. He's the type of hitter than can take advantage of shifts and come through in key situations of a ball game.
Comparisons:Chase Utley
Current Cards:2009 Donruss Elite Extra Edition #51 Dustin Ackley AU /899 ($80), 2009 Tristar

WilMyers ImageWil Myers, 19, Royals C
The talented High School Catcher somehow fell into the Royals' lap with the 91st in the 2009 draft. He was considered one of the most advanced High School hitters in the entire draft. His ability to quickly get the barrel of the bat through the zone combined with his approach at the plate should translate to Myers being one of this seasons' breakout prospects. Although Myers is raw, he understands the game of baseball better than most his age.
Comparisons:Dale Murphy, Jayson Werth
Current Cards: 2009 Donruss Elite Extra Edition #62 Wil Myers AU /799 ($25)

Fan Favorite/Sleeper:
Jose Iglesias, 20, Red Sox SSJoseIglesias Image

There are hundreds of minor league prospects that can slug, but can't play defense. The story is always the same, they start off at Catcher or 3rd Base, then end up playing DH or RF/LF. Iglesias is the exact opposite, he might be the best fielder in all of minor league baseball. If you can't play defense up the middle of the field (C, SS, 2B CF) in the Majors, you can't win. Iglesias is a "Web Gem" machine, if he can improve his bat, he is going to be a regular at the All-Star game. Even if he doesn't, he captures the imagination the same way Ozzie Smith did.
Comparison:Ozzie Smith, Omar Vazquel
Current Cards: NA

Others of Note:Martin Perez, Ethan Martin, Mike Montgomery, Tim Beckham, Starlin Castro, Devaris Gordon, Donovan Tate, Kyle Gibson, Andrew Cashner, Mike Trout, Freddie Freeman, Jaff Decker, Brett Lawrie, Casey Kelly, Matt Moore, Jarrod Parker, Hank Conger, Julio Teheran, Dominic Brown

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2009 Donruss Elite Dustin Ackley Private Signings Rc Auto 216 250
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Dustin Ackley 2010 Bowman Chrome Prospects Blue Refractor BGS 9 Rookie RC # 250
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2011 Topps Update #US30 Dustin Ackley RC
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2010 Bowman Chrome Prospects #89 Dustin Ackley RC
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Dustin Ackley 2011 Bowman Sterling RC 3 Card Lot 1 X Fractor 1Relic Bat 1 Jersey
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DUSTIN ACKLEY RC Lot (2) 2010 Bowman Chrome #89, Bowman Platinum Prospects #6 $$
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2010 Bowman Chrome Blue Refractor Rookie RC Dustin Ackley
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2011 Topps Finest Dustin Ackley #76 RC Refractor Autograph GEM MINT 9.5

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Brett is a former contributor to The Cardboard Connection.

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