Underrated Baseball Prospects
As the season rolls on I've decided to take a look at some of the underrated prospects around Minor League Baseball and give a breakdown of their 2011 thus far. Some of these guys are considered mid-high level prospects, but seem to be performing above standard. Look to buy these prospects, as right now they are undervalued.
Pat Corbin, P Arizona (D.O.B. 7/19/89)
Seen as the "throw in" in the Dan Haren trade, Corbin has started turning heads in Double-A with a plus plus fastball. After being a second-round pick by the Angels in 2009, he had a good 2010 that earned him a promotion to the California League. In 28 starts, he finished the year 13-4 with a 3.42 ERA and held opponents to just a .236 average. After starting 2011 in the Double-A Southern League, it took a few starts for Corbin to get into form, but over the last month Corbin has been impressive. In four of his last five starts he has not allowed a run, while striking out 30 in 18.1 inning pitched. If he continues to throw strikes like he has been, Corbin could become a big-time prospect in an already loaded Arizona system. With only one autograph to date, it has a big upside right now so I recommend a strong buy on this card.
Card to invest in: 2010 Bowman Platinum Baseball Autographs Pat Corbin
Henry Rodriguez, 2B Cincinnati (D.O.B. 2/9/90)
Known for his bat, Rodriguez has been a pleasant surprise in the high-A California League this season. After a 2010 where he managed to hit over .300 and whack 37 doubles, he earned a promotion to begin the season in high-A ball where he has not missed a beat. Completely mashing the ball for a second baseman, Rodriguez is hitting .340 with eight homers, 17 doubles, 44 RBIs and an OPS of .891. The major question with Rodriguez is his defense and where he will eventually end up. Listed at 5'10" and 150 lbs, he has the body of a middle infielder but not the glove of one. You may see Cincinnati pull an Upton (B.J. and Justin) where they take an infielder who can hit and let him run around the outfield. He has average speed, but good enough to play an outfield position.
Card to invest in: 2010 Elite Extra Edition Baseball Autographs Henry Rodriguez (/620)
Matt Moore,P Tampa Bay (D.O.B. 6/18/89)
Although Moore is considered to be a top-20 prospect by most scouts, many feel he could actually be the best pitcher in the minors. Plagued by a horrid start in 2010 where his ERA was over six, he ended the year scorching, basically appearing on the Baseball America Hot Sheet weekly. He ended the season with 208 strikeouts in just 144.2 innings pitched and if you look at his start-by-start numbers, he just got better as the year went on. This season he started similarly to last year but has rebounded even faster. He hasn't allowed more than two runs in his last nine starts. In those nine starts he has struck out 69 batters in just 55.1 innings in the Double-A Southern League. Many scouts projected Moore's ETA to be 2012, but if he pitches the way he has been lately, it could been much, much sooner. With only one autograph, now is the time to buy before that card explodes in the hobby.
Card to invest in: 2010 Elite Extra Edition Baseball Autographs Matt Moore (/819)
Ryan Lavarnway, C Boston (D.O.B. 8/7/87)
The co-Offensive Minor League Player of the year for Boston in 2010, Lavarnway got off to a rough start in 2011. He has since rebounded and in his last ten games he is hitting .359 with three homers and an OPS of 1.073 over that span. When his first autographed Bowman card came out in 2010 Bowman Sterling Baseball, he was selling for good money. Being a Red Sox prospect always helps card sales. Being a catcher who can hit is another recipe for gain. With his bad start however, this card had fallen in price, big time. The real question on Lavarnway is whether or not he will he remain a catcher. For the most part, he has been playing DH at Double-A Portland in the Eastern League. Time will tell on his prospect status. Since he's already 23 and can hit, he may be moved to another position.
Card to invest in: 2010 Bowman Sterling Baseball Autographs Ryan Lavarnway
D.J. Mitchell, P New York Yankees (D.O.B. 5/13/87)
Another one of the many Yankee pitching prospects, Mitchell has largely flown under the radar so far. The former tenth-round pick out of Clemson back in 2008, Mitchell has surprised many scouts, pitching his way into Triple-A. Mitchell features a fastball that sits in the low 90s and falls off the table, consistently getting swings and misses. With a 2:1 groundout-to-flyout ratio, he shows how productive a hard sinking fastball can be. A scout was quoted as saying "His fastball moves a ton when he stays on top of it," and with the Yankee's rotation having the potential to fall apart, Mitchell may get a chance in 2011. In nine starts he is 4-4 with a 2.95 ERA and has held opponents to a .236 average against him. Despite his low ERAMitchell has been overlooked in the hobby thus far. Look for some of his Razor Metal Autographs, as they have a limited print run.
Card to invest in: 2008 Razor Metal Baseball Autographs D.J. Mitchell (print run: 195)
Travis D'Arnaud, C Toronto (D.O.B. 2/10/90)
A former first-round pick of Philly, D'Arnaud is another one of the many catching prospects in Toronto's system. D'Arnaud was aquired along with Kyle Drabek in the Roy Halladay trade. J.P. Arencibia has made the majors, so other young catchers in Toronto's system have been overlooked. However, D'Arnaud is off to a great start in the Double-A Eastern League. In 38 games he is hitting .308 with a .400 OBP, to go along with 11 doubles and a .908 OPS. This is an impressive line for a catcher in the Eastern League, as most know Double-A is where you start to separate the men from the boys, and see who can really hit. Still just 21, D'Arnaud may be a long-term project or become a possible trade chip, depending on what the Jays' plan is behind the plate. D'Arnaud's 2007 Bowman Chrome Draft Baseball Autograph would be his best card to grab.
Card to invest in: 2007 Bowman Chrome Draft Baseball Autograph Travis D'Arnaud