Underrated Baseball Card Prospects
Prospecting superstars like Bryce Harper and Mike Trout are constantly mentioned in discussions about baseball's future elite. Here's some youngsters (and their baseball key cards) flying under a lot of radars this season that are worthy of a look.
Ian Krol, P Oakland Athletics (D.O.B. 5/9/91)
In five innings since coming back from injury, Krol has not allowed a hit and has six strikeouts. While that's a small sampling of his ability, looking back to last year, it furthers a pattern of success established by the pitcher. Currently in Rookie Ball, Krol was a late-round pick who surged up the prospect board in 2010 while pitching in the Midwest League. He was 10-4 with a 2.80 ERA in 27 starts. Krol has a fastball that sits in the low-90s with two potential plus pitches. He throws an 11-5 curve that can be tough to hit. He also throws a changeup with good tailing action to make his fastball even more affective.
Nick Castellanos, 3B Detroit Tigers (D.O.B. 3/4/92)
Former 18U USA Baseball National Team member, Nick Castellanos had many wondering whether he would sign if drafted. This led to him slipping down to the 44th pick in the 2010 MLB Draft. He did go on to sign a record-breaking deal with Detroit, two minutes before the MLB deadline. Castellanos struggled at the start of 2011, hitting .179 in April. Since then he's been one of the hottest players in the minors. He hit .303 in May, .375 in June, and is hitting .347 for July. Look for Castellanos to get a promotion any day now.
- 2009-10 UD USA Baseball Autographs Nick Castellanos (/502)
- 2010 Bowman Chrome Nick Castellanos
- 2010 Donruss Elite Extra Edition Nick Castellanos (/699)
Joe Kelly, P St. Louis Cardinals (D.O.B. 6/9/88)
Last year Joe Kelly made the switch from reliever to starter. He has a plus fastball that approaches 100 miles per hour. He also has a slider, curve and changeup that have a chance to become plus pitches. For the season, Kelly is 5-3 with a 3.29 ERA between High-A and Double-A. He just earned the promotion to Double-A, so Kelly's next few starts will show how well his off-speed pitches have developed.
- 2009 Donruss Elite Extra Edition Autographs Joe Kelly (/690)
- 2010 Bowman Platinum Autographs Joe Kelly
Kyle Heckathorn, P Milwaukee Brewers (D.O.B. 6/17/88)
Kyle Heckathorn's best pitch is his slider, which sits in the mid- to high-80s. His changeup can also be very affective. Heckathorn recently earned a promotion to the Double-A Southern League. For the year, he is 5-6 with a 4.09 ERA, struggling in his only Double-A start. However, just before his promotion, he had two tremendous outings in the Florida State League. If Heckathorn can get command of his fastball and throw his changeup for strikes, he could become a good starter someday, although some scouts think he's a better fit in the bullpen.
A.J. Pollock, OF Arizona Diamondbacks (D.O.B. 12/5/87)
The 17th pick in the 2009 draft, Pollock missed all of 2010 due to injury. He has rebounded this season, however, and seems to be back on track. He hits well but doesn't have any overwhelming strengths. Even still, Pollock is a well-rounded center fielder. On the season, he is hitting .306 with 27 doubles and 22 stolen bases. Pollock is another prospect starting to heat up in July, hitting .347 for the month. Look for Pollock to be a possible late-season addition to the Diamondbacks roster. If not, he has a strong shot at making the team next year.
- 2009 Bowman Chrome Draft Autographs A.J. Pollock
- 2009 Donruss Elite Extra Edition Autographs A.J. Pollock (/499)
Pat Corbin, P Arizona Diamondbacks (D.O.B. 7/19/89)
Corbin, a towering lefty, has a fastball with great movement. He has great control of his off-speed pitches as well, walking just 21 in 107 innings pitched. Through 17 starts, Corbin has 97 strikeouts and a 7-5 record. He has been especially good over the last couple months. Look for Corbin to move up to Triple-A late this season.
A.J. Jimenez, C Toronto Blue Jays (D.O.B. 5/1/90)
Heading into 2011, A.J. Jimenez was not even ranked by Baseball America as one of the top-30 prospects in the Blue Jays organization. He is a speedy catcher that can hit for average and steal bases. It's rare to see a catcher who hits lead off. For the year he is hitting .305 with ten steals. Jimenez has been caught stealing just once. With J.P. Arencibia playing well for Toronto and Travis d'Arnaud waiting in the wings, Jimenez's fate within the organization is uncertain.