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7 Underrated Position Player Prospects To Keep An Eye On

Written by: Drake Mann
Follow him on Twitter: @DrakeMann4
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The media loves their prospects, especially guys like Andrew Vaughn, Gavin Lux, Wander Franco among others. They completely skip over the guys that had great seasons and quietly show their presence in any organizational system.

Blaze Alexander (Arizona Diamondbacks)

Age: 20      Bats: R      Throws: R      Height: 6’0″      Weight: 160 lb.

2019: .262/.355/.382 , 7 HRs, .737 OPS

A speedster with great defense and a terrific contact tool

Hitting: Alexander has a slightly open stance and at times you will see him have two different loads: a small leg kick and a slide step. His load reminds me of a lot of Nelson Cruz and he has great bat speed and mixes that with a consistent line drive approach. He has plenty of speed to go with it. Alexander should develop some power and hits well to all fields. His only fault is his plate discipline sometimes goes downhill, especially with breaking balls in the dirt. However, he’s only 20-years-old and as he matures his discipline and power will as well.

Defense: Alexander has an above-average arm and smooth hands from the shortstop position, he continues to be a quality defender at second base and third base. But shortstop is his calling so he’ll probably stick there long term.

Overall: The Diamondbacks are deep in prospect talent in their system, Alexander has some nice power potential and if he keeps hitting at the pace he is he’ll rise quickly through the system. Making for yet another talented infielder in the Diamondbacks organization.

Jhon Torres (St Louis Cardinals)

Age: 20      Bats: R          Throw: R        Height: 6’4″     Weight: 199 lb

2019: .242/.337/.410, 6 HRs, .747 OPS

While still being incredible raw Torres still has plenty of potential

Torres has some of the most RAW tools in the Cardinals system but also has some of the highest upside in the system as well. He’s still an unknown after the Cardinals acquired him in the Oscar Mercado trade of 2018.

Hitting: Torres has so many moving parts in the box and develops power with a leg kick, speaking of his power it’s one of his better tools and he has a developing contact cool. His leg kick could cause issues going forward in terms of timing and consistency. While he is a high on-base talent Torres plate discipline isn’t the best and could be a fault going forward.

Defense: An athletic specimen, Torres has been a good versatility player playing all three outfield spots and with his above-average arm, this could become a bigger part of his game. However, his defense and speed are both average at best so that might take a toll on his defense going forward.

Overall: The Cardinals might’ve found a gem in Torres, he’s still young and is another good prospect in the Cardinals system that certainly could pay dividends going forward. Torres is one of my picks to breakout and joins the class of Dylan Carlson and Nolan Gorman, who are already showing their true talent.

Rylan Bannon (Baltimore Orioles)

Age: 23     Bats: R     Throws: R   Height: 5’7″    Weight: 180 lb.      

2019: .266/.345/.421, 11 HRs, .766 OPS

This third baseman has great contact tools and can be very versatile

Bannon was in the Manny Machado blockbuster and has plenty of potential from the third base position.

Hitting: He has a quiet stance but has a moving and explosive load much like Justin Turner. He keeps his hands inside the ball well and develops tons of power with his load and has a slight uppercut in his swing. Bannon also has nice plate vision and tracks the ball until contact. One thing I’ve noticed with Bannon is he has a major tendency to overswing, this causes his balance to go haywire with softer contact and rollovers will occur. He has some speed and should develop into a very versatile player for the Orioles for years to come. He should shoot right up the Orioles top 30 prospect list in 2020.

Defense: Plays prominently third base, but has played second base in his time in the minors. When it’s all said and done he’ll be more of a bat-first player but the versatility of Bannon is something to keep track of as he rises through the Orioles system.

Overall: He’s a solid hitting prospect, once it comes all together the Orioles have a legit third baseman but if his defense never comes around, he’ll be a Designated Hitting type that will mash against lefties.

CJ Chatham (Boston Red Sox)

Age: 25     Bats: R          Throw: R       Height:6’3″     Weight: 180 lb.

2019: .298/.333/.408, 5 HRs, .741 OPS

All he does is hit and continuing this will be key for Chatham

Drafted in the second round in 2016, Chatham continues his high averages and low strikeout totals. He’s no doubt one of the rising stars in the Red Sox system.

Hitting: Continuing on a trend of low power high contact players, Chatham has a slightly open stance but has quiet hands and hitting the ball in the air is a rarity with Chatham, Most of his offensive upside comes from his ability to hit to all fields and hit nothing but line drives. While his speed is decent, Chatham still is a potential top of the order bat with his low strikeout rates.

Defense: He has some impressive range for a shortstop and could turn into another versatile player on this list if the Red Sox want to go that way with Chatham.

Overall: With the Red Sox lacking true infield depth to their team, Chatham will become a key piece to their future. If the power comes around Chatham will be one good hitter for Boston for years to come.

Owen Miller (San Diego Padres)

Age: 23     Bats: R          Throw: R       Height: 6’0″     Weight:190 lb.

2019: .290/.355/.430, 13 HRs, .785 OPS 

One of the more productive hitters in the Padres system

Miller was drafted third round in 2018, and since then has done nothing but hit in his first two years of pro-ball.

Hitting: Starting in the Midwest League, Miller became a staple in the Padres system by amassing 100 hits in only 75 games. Miller has a slightly open stance and a smooth swing from the right side. He combines his gap-to-gap power with his quick bat speed to become a middle of the order bat for the Padres in the future. His ability to hit to all fields is insane and with his combination of raw power and above-average speed, he’s someone to keep an eye on for the Padres.  

Defense: Second base seems like a more fitting spot for Miller as he has a below-average arm. He does have good range and soft hands to stick at short but also has played third base, shortstop, and second base. So, the versatility factor is there as well.

Overall: While the Padres prospects get talked about a lot with them being one of the best farm systems in baseball. However, Miller rarely gets talked about because of all the talent in their system. He’s going to rise quickly with how well he handles the bat, the fact that he’s already hitting well at the Double-A level after being drafted in 2018, shows how good of a talent Miller is.

J.J Matijevic (Houston Astros)

Age: 24     Bats: L          Throw: R       Height: 6’0″     Weight: 206 lb.

2019: .251/.319/.441, 11 HRS, .761 OPS

Late-blooming prospect with good hitting abilities

Matijevic was taken 75th overall in 2017. What’s interesting is Matijevic was the Astros pick from the Cardinals, when the Cardinals had the data breach situation with Houston and forfeited their pick. 

Hitting: While he has his struggles hitting lefties, Matijevic has experienced a power increase since 2018, which is his best tool as of right now. Matijevic has a closed stance and a lofty swing. He makes consistently hard contact with the ball. Continuing, His gap to gap power might be even more impressive than his over the fence power. In the end, Matijevic must continue to hit especially with his below-average speed and average at best fielding.

Defense: Matijevic will profile more as a Designated hitter and 1st Base type as he shows little defensive value to a team. He has a decent arm but doesn’t have the necessary defensive tools or athleticism to make his defense one of his better skills in the long run. However, he’s played LF and if the Astros play their cards right, they should play Matijevic at 1st Base long term. That will help him not only with his defense but creates more opportunity for the bat to come to fruition.

Overall: Matijevic will be a high slugging prospect for the near future, but he must become more consistent with the bat as he struggles with promotion, but if it all comes together he could be a legit high upside talent for the Astros.

Jose Devers (Miami Marlins)

Age: 20     Bats: L          Throw: R       Height: 6’0″     Weight: 155lb.

2019: .322/.391/.390, 0 HRs, .781

Contact first prospect with vast amounts of speed

Originally signed by the Yankees for $250,000 in 2016. Devers was acquired in the Giancarlo Stanton swap of 2017. He’s the cousin of Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers.

Hitting: Devers combines his great bat to ball skills and consistent contact to become that high average/high on-base hitter for the Marlins. In the future, Devers profiles as a perfect lead-off hitter, with his good athleticism and speed, to his low strikeout rates and high walk rates. Devers has an open stance similar to Dee Gordon and must gain more muscle to find his power stroke as his swing is more meant for a slap-hitting approach than a gap-to-gap power approach.

Defense: He’s a decent fielder with an improving arm from the shortstop position. He has also been profiled as a versatility player, which is good for the type of hitter he is. One thing to note is Devers health hasn’t been the best these last two seasons.

Overall: Jose Devers will continue hitting at such an advanced level but it’ll be hard for him to not turn into a Magneuris Sierra type unless that power starts showing up. He’s rarely mentioned as a top talent in the Marlins system, but should be with the tools Devers possess and potential he has. 

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