Yesterday we looked at five players drafted in the 10th round or later—excluding draft-and-follows and signability players—who could beat the odds and become contributors at the big league level. Here are five more players who fit that profile:
Chris Dickerson, cf, Reds: Dickerson played three years at University of Nevada-Reno, where he hit .243/.378/.373 in 50 games during his junior year. Though scouts liked Dickerson’s athleticism, his ability to translate that into big league hitting skills dropped him to the 16th round in 2003. After debuting his draft year in Rookie-level Billings, Dickerson spent four years in full-season ball before his big 2008 campaign in which he hit .287/.384/.479 in 97 games for Triple-A Louisville. His brief major league cameo was just as impressive, as the 26-year-old hit .304/.413/.608 in 31 games. Dickerson cut his strikeout rate slightly last year in his second tour of Triple-A, but he’s still a strikeout-heavy player. Given that Dickerson turns 27 in April, he might not have too many good years ahead of him, but he should be a big league contributor in some way.
Josh Outman, lhp, Athletics: Outman led Central Missouri State to a second-place finish at the Division II College World Series in 2005, then signed with the Phillies as a 10th-round pick. His highly unorthodox mechanics turned off many scouts, though he’s since transitioned to a more conventional delivery. The Phillies moved Outman to the bullpen last year before trading him midseason along with Adrian Cardenas and Matt Spencer to get Joe Blanton. Outman has a power arm from the left side. He’ll throw 90-94 mph as a starter, but he can crank it up to 93-96 and touch 97 as a reliever. His slider has some late bite and his changeup is a solid offering. With all the young arms Oakland has coming up, it’s not clear if Outman will start or relieve, but he should be useful in either role.
Brad Emaus, 2b/3b, Blue Jays: An ankle injury during Emaus’ junior year at Tulane precipitated his fall to the Blue Jays in the 11th round in 2007, and the early signs are promising. Making his full-season debut in the pitcher-friendly high Class A Florida State League, Emaus batted .302/.380/.463 in 124 games with more walks (60) than strikeouts (54). His offensive tools are average, but his firm grasp of the strike zone help him maximize his abilities and get on base at a high clip. Emaus turns 23 next month and could become an average to above-average big leaguer at his peak.
Chris Carter, 1b/3b/of, A’s:
Between today and yesterday, every other prospect we’ve touched on has been a three- or four-year college player. Carter, however, was a high upside Las Vegas high schooler, the No. 12 draft prospect in Nevada
who slipped to the White Sox in the 15th-round in 2005. Carter drew praise for his athleticism and raw power, but was considered to be lacking in baseball-specific skills. Now Carter’s plus-plus raw power ranks among the best in the minors. He’s averaged 33 homers per 150 games in his minor league career (in which he’s been traded to Arizona and then to Oakland), including the 39 he clocked for high Class A Stockton last year en route to a .259/.361/.569 performance in 137 games. Carter still isn’t a refined hitter, showing susceptibility to breaking balls that results in a high strikeout rate and unrefined defensive skill, but his power stroke and ability to draw walks makes him a high-ceiling talent.
Josh Thole, c, Mets: A 13th-round pick in 2005 out of Mater Dei High in Breese, Ill., Thole was a light-hitting first baseman in low Class A in 2007, when he batted .267/.311/.372 in 117 games for Savannah. Last year, Thole had a mini-breakout as he hit .300/.382/.427 in 111 games for high Class A St. Lucie in the FSL. Thole has always controlled the strike zone (he has 133 walks and 131 strikeouts in his minor league career). He has excellent bat-to-ball skills, as the 21-year-old lefthanded hitter struck out last year only 38 times (nine percent of his 402 plate appearances). Thole also became a full-time catcher, the position he played in high school and dabbled in sparingly in his previous three pro seasons. Scouts have concerns about Thole’s defense and his below-average power. Thole hit only hit five home runs in 2008, but that’s an improvement from the goose egg he posted in that category in ’07. He’ll likely start this season in Double-A and play all year at age 22 as a relatively under-the-radar prospect.