Plenty Of Promise On The NL Just-Missed List
CHICAGO—Andrew Chafin, Matt Carpenter and Roman Quinn couldn't crack our National League Top 10 Prospects lists a year ago. They had to settle for inclusion on our annual all-star team of not-quite-Top-10ers, a prelude to 2012 breakouts for all of them.
Carpenter batted .294/.365/.463 as a semi-regular for the Cardinals, then slugged a homer off Giants righthander Matt Cain that for a while looked like it would be the key blow of the NL Championship Series.
Chafin led the high Class A California League in strikeouts per nine innings (11.0) and opponent average (.241) in his first full season in the Diamondbacks organization, and he might not need another full season in the minors.
Quinn emerged as the top position prospect in the Phillies system and one of the best basestealing threats in the minors.
They're just the latest members of the not-Top-10 team to springboard to greater heights, joining big league all-stars Nelson Cruz and Freddy Sanchez, sluggers Ike Davis and Paul Goldschmidt and minor league stolen-base king Billy Hamilton.
Here are 11 more players who have bright futures despite being left off our latest batch of NL Top 10s:
Wyatt Mathisen, c, Pirates:
Though he was more of a shortstop and pitcher for his high school team, Mathisen was the best high school catcher in the 2012 draft. He still has learning to do behind the plate, but he's athletic, possesses a strong arm and should be a solid hitter with average power. Tony Sanchez, be forewarned.
Alex Dickerson, 1b, Pirates:
Dickerson makes this team for the second straight year after winning the high Class A Florida State League MVP award in his first full pro season. He has the strength and approach to hit for both power and average, which is a necessity because he has limited defensive value.
Derek Dietrich, 2b, Marlins:
He ranked No. 9 on our Rays list in November before Tampa Bay traded him to the Marlins for Yunel Escobar. Dietrich has spent most of his minor league career at shortstop but fits best at second base and could fill Miami's void at third because power and arm strength are his best attributes.
Patrick Wisdom, 3b, Cardinals:
St. Louis drafted three third basemen in the first two rounds of the 2012 draft, and some scouts think Wisdom could be the best. He's a quality defender at the hot corner and offers raw power as well. He slumped last spring at St. Mary's, but a strong pro debut got him back on track.
Jace Peterson, ss, Padres:
A former cornerback at McNeese State, Peterson is much more advanced than the typical two-sport standout. He makes consistent contact and gets on base, and he uses his savvy to steal bases and make all the routine plays at shortstop. His makeup is impressive as well, and the only thing he lacks is home run power.
Matt Szczur, lf, Cubs:
Another former college footballer, Szczur was MVP of the 2009 NCAA football championship subdivision title game for Villanova and had legitimate NFL aspirations. Signed for $1.5 million, he's still learning to translate his physical gifts into baseball skills, but he has hitting ability, average power potential and plus-plus raw speed.
James Ramsey, cf, Cardinals:
Billed as the Tim Tebow of college baseball, Ramsey has a brighter future at his sport's highest level. Some scouts think he lacks a carrying tool, but others see a solid hitter with plus speed and quality defensive skills in center field. St. Louis does a fine job of developing college performers, which helps his cause.
Alfredo Silverio, rf, Marlins:
A major league Rule 5 pick from the Dodgers in December, Silverio missed all of the 2012 season following a car accident that left him with a concussion and an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery. Before he got hurt, he showed average or better tools across the board and the ability to play all three outfield spots.
Austin Wright, lhp, Phillies:
An eighth-round pick in 2011, Wright won FSL pitcher-of-the-year honors in his first full pro season. Command never has been his strong suit, but he's a lefthander with a 90-94 mph fastball, quality curveball and promising changeup. If he can locate his pitches better, he could be a No. 3 starter.
Jake deGrom, rhp, Mets:
DeGrom has taken an unusual path, beginning his college career at Stetson as a shortstop and needing Tommy John surgery soon after signing as a ninth-round pick in 2010. He was a revelation when he returned last summer, hitting 98 mph with a fastball that also features nice sink and filling the strike zone. His slider has its moments, too.
Brad Boxberger, rhp, Padres:
The third player (after Yonder Alonso and Yasmani Grandal) in the Mat Latos trade last offseason, Boxberger recorded a 2.60 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 28 big league innings last summer. That's no fluke, as he has a lively 91-95 mph fastball and an effective changeup and slider. He'll need to throw more strikes to reach his ceiling of a set-up man.