Digging Into the Prospect List
Every year one of the pre-season items we produce at Mastersball is our Top 250 Prospect List, something that is fun, and is also useful, particularly if you play in Ultra or Dynasty formats.
For the Top 250 reveals the players one would imagine atop just such a list. Like Jesus Montero, fresh off his great Scranton/Wilkes-Barre .289-21-75 2010, finished first this year (after a sixth place showing in 2010). And future Braves first sacker, Freddie Freeman (.319-18-87 at AAA Gwinnett) came in second. Other names, like Kansas City's Mike Moustakas (who put up an aggregate .322-36-124 year, and finished sixth), and, even Wil Myers (.315-14-83), another young Royal - a 20-year-old wunderkind who blasted his way through both levels of Class-A ball last season (and placed fourth on the list).
Norris has an excellent approach
Our rating system is based upon a combination of factors, the primary being power/control/dsicpline. That is, hitters who can hit with power, and extra-base hits is the barometer used, rather than just homers, along with slugging percentage, relative to on-base percentage get high marks, as do pitchers who can strike out hitters, and keep the hits and walks down.
Players get extra credit for displaying superior skills both at an early age, and better, at a high level. For example, Montero, topped the list because he has a good eye (.351 OBP last year), has pop (.539 SLG last year), accomplishing this at at Triple-A, at age 20.
As a result, one of the things our list - and this is our 10th year producing it - provides is a set of surprise names, mostly because the players have not come to the mainstream playlist just yet. And, that is what I want to focus on this time, five minor league names you might not know. Yet.
Rudy Owens (P, Pirates): Owens mowed through the Eastern League at Altoona last year, going 12-6, 2.46 ERA, with 132 strikeouts over 150 innings. He walked just 23, and allowed 146 hits. A year earlier, split between levels of A ball, Owens assembled an 11-2, 2.10 ERA season, allowing 100 hits over 124 hits, with 113 strikeouts and 17 walks. The hurler does give up dingers - 11 a season for each of the last two seasons - but if you give up few walks and hits, that is OK. Just ask Jack Morris. Owens was a 28th round selection of the Pirates, in 2006, by the way.
Derek Norris (C, Nationals): Norris, drafted in the fourth round of the 2007 draft out of Goddard High School, did get enough notice last year to earn a ticket to the Arizona Fall League, where he went .278-4-19 for Scottsdale (who won the AFL crown this year). Look at the backstop's primary 2010 numbers (.235-12-49 over 298 at-bats) and you might not raise an eye. Look, however, at the 89 walks to 94 whiffs, and the .419 OBP (.414 as a minor leaguer, with 267 walks to 304 strikeouts), and the 21-year-old looks potentially dangerous.
Jay Jackson (P, Cubs): The Cubbies' ninth-round pick in 2008, whose given name is Randy, is yet another with deceptive stats. Though Jackson did go 11-8 last year, his 4.36 ERA might scare some potential owners off. Over 157 1/3 innings, Jackson allowed 153 hits, while striking out 119 and walking 48. Jackson does need to work on setting up hitters a little better (he allowed 20 homers, meaning Jackson might be around the plate a little too much), but the righty made it through Double-A at age 22.
Lonnie Chisenhall (3B, Indians): As a 21-year-old, Chisenhall worked his way through Double-A successfully after a second look. In 2009, Chisenhall began the season at Kinston, going .276-18-79, and earning a 24 game promotion to Akron, where he went .183-4-13 over 101 at-bats. The hot corner guy came back last year to go .278-17-84, with a good .351 on-base average at Alkron. Originally drafted out of high school by the Buccos, Chisenhall we selected by Cleveland in the first round in 2008.
Johermyn Chavez (OF, Seattle): Having just completed his fifth professional season (Chavez signed and debuted as a 17-year-old, signed by Toronto in 2006 out of Venezuela), he succeeded at High Desert in the California League, going .315-32-96, with 30 doubles, seven triples, and a .387 OBP. Seattle thought enough of Chavez to swap Brandon Morrow for him. Chavez could turn out to be Mario Encarnacion. But, he could also turn into Torii Hunter.
Note that the entire list can be obtained as part of the Mastersball Platinum package. The deal includes regularly updated - all season long - projections, compatible draft software that allows use of our numbers, or that can be customized with your numbers, and a number of other support tools to make your draft and season a success. (Go to Mastersball Platinum for more information.)
Lawr Michaels has been a player in the fantasy baseball industry since he began writing for John Benson in 1993. He has written for STATS, Inc, was the first fantasy columnist for CBS Sportsline, and has appeared in numerous journals and on websites. In 1996, he founded CREATiVESPORTS, a staple for serious fantasy players, which he merged into Mastersball in 2010.
Over the years, Lawr has participated in a wide variety of playing formats and won numerous titles, including AL Tout Wars crowns in 2001 and 2009. Along with his Mastersball duties, Lawr works for MLB.com as a statistician.