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We're going deep this week, taking a look at some under-the-radar prospects for those of you who play in the deepest of dynasty and keeper formats. Most of the players mentioned here are either a few years away from the majors, or outside of industry top one hundred lists. All of these players rank high enough for me to roster in my deepest dynasty format (20 teams, 900 players).
Johnny Giavotella, 2B, Kansas City: He's been a favorite of mine for a few years now, and has hit at every level of the minor leagues. Off to a good start at Triple-A (.290, 13 RBI), Giavotella reminds me a lot of Mike Aviles(notes), both in stature and offensive profile. He's likely to spend the year at Triple-A with plenty of clutter ahead of him in the majors, but could crack the big league lineup at some point during the 2012 season.
Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Arizona: No other minor leaguer is mashing quite like Goldschmidt, as his .340/9/20 line may be the most impressive at any level. The knock on Goldschmidt is that he had a long "swiss cheese" style swing, and those holes were going to prevent him from hitting at the upper levels of the minors. That hasn't been the case thus far at Double-A, as his 22.5% walk rate and 19.7% strikeout rate are both career highs/lows. He could be a Chris Davis(notes) clone, and make a similar rookie impact if he gets the call. Let's just hope he can do a better job at sticking in the majors.
James Darnell, 3B, San Diego: Via Twitter, Project Prospect's Adam Foster said he believes Darnell could be a .300 hitter that hits 20 homers in the majors, and I agree with that assessment. He's crushing Double-A pitching right now, posting a .459 average with three homers. His 16/4 BB/K rate is also obscenely good, and a good indicator that he's ready to be challenged by better pitching. The Padres are in need of offense at the major league level, and could turn to Darnell later this year or in 2012 at second or third base.
Slade Heathcott, OF, NY Yankees: One of the toolsiest players coming out of the '09 draft, Heathcott didn't impress much with the stick in his full season debut, posting a '10 line of .258/2/30 while battling a variety of injuries. He's off to a much better start in '11, going .348/2/9 in the early going with three steals. He needs to improve his plate discipline (6/20 BB/K), but that should come as he refines his approach and sees more game action. Think Brett Gardner(notes) with power.
Jefry Marte, 3B, NY Mets: He's usually overshadowed by fellow Mets farmhand Wilmer Flores, but Marte is no slouch. He's currently hitting .304 with four homers at Class A Advanced St. Lucie, and has shown improved plate discipline (10/15 BB/K). While scouts have put fellow farmhand Aderlin Rodriguez ahead of him on the organizational depth chart, Marte still has tons of potential, and could be a future impact bat in the majors. He'll turn 20 this June and is just entering a stage where power growth begins to rapidly increase for prospects.
Carlos Martinez(notes), SP, St. Louis: Here's a sleeper prospect with the potential to shoot up prospect lists. Signed out of the Dominican Republic last summer, Martinez pitched in the Dominican Summer League in '10 and struck out 78 batters in 59 innings, with an ERA of 0.79. He throws a mid-90s fastball that reaches 99, a mid-80s sinking change-up, and upper-70s curveball with good breaking action. He controls all these pitches remarkably well for someone that is just 19 years old. Expect him as early as 2013.
Matt Harvey, SP, NY Mets: He was one of the most highly regarded prep pitchers during the '08 season, but decided eventually to attend UNC. His debut this year has been spectacular, going 4-0 without giving up a run in 22 innings, while also posting a K/BB ratio of 27/8. Harvey's arsenal includes a mid-90s fastball, a power curveball with plus potential, as well as a developing slider and change-up. The Mets are in dire need of pitching, and Harvey should move quickly through the system as a polished college arm. A debut during the summer of 2012 seems very realistic.
Alex Torres, SP, Tampa Bay: Currently one of the hottest pitchers at Triple-A, Torres has struck out 29 hitters in 19.2 innings, but has also walked 13. His 1.93 ERA makes him the first arm on deck in case the Rays need a starter this season. Torres was the prize of the Scott Kazmir(notes) trade, and could develop into a top of the rotation starter if he can learn to control his wicked arsenal of pitches. While his mechanics are what lead to the nasty action on his pitches, they also provide him with a great deal of inconsistency, leading to high walk totals. He reminds me of Oliver Perez(notes) or Jorge De La Rosa(notes), both dominant when going right.
Rubby De La Rosa, SP, LA Dodgers: Off to a solid start at Double-A (2-0, 1.76 ERA, 11.15 K/9), De La Rosa throws a mid-90s fastball that touched 102 last season, and is working on developing his slider and change-up, but both offer above average potential. The Dodgers are developing him as a starter, but his ultimate destination may be in the bullpen. A summer 2012 debut is very possible.
Jared Cosart, SP, Philadelphia: His start to the season has been solid (4.03 ERA, 8.06 K/9). Cosart profiles as a No. 1 starter, featuring a mid-90s fastball with good late life, a mid-70s curveball which is currently above average, and a developing change-up. His command isn't a problem. ETA: Summer of 2013.
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Rob Steingall is a nationally syndicated fantasy analyst whose work has appeared in newspapers including The Providence Journal.