Just a few under-the-radar guys I'll be watching closely as Spring Training approaches and the new season draws near...
2007-- 24 years old--- AAA-- .320/.366/.557/.923
If Pirates fans liked Jason Bay, I think they're going to love Pearce. He's got a very good bat and plays solid defense. Unfortunately he's blocked by several guys on the big league team (Xavier Nady? Are you serious?...), so he'll have to start the year at AAA. I think they'll have to call him up at some point during the year when injuries start to be an issue, and I think he'll be a fan favorite by the All-Star Break.
2007-- 20 years old-- AA- 3.75 ERA, 8.45 K/9, 3.92 BB/9, 56% GB rate
The Cardinals are hoping that their pitching staff will hold up better than it did last year, but in case it doesn't they do have a few young arms they could call on this summer. Garcia is generally listed as their #5 prospect, but I think he's a big sleeper and could be the Fausto Carmona of the National League. He's got good strike out rates, and his ground ball tendencies will carry over well into AAA and the majors. If you're a card collector, you can grab his cars for dirt cheap right now.
2007-- 21 years old-- AA-- .294/.371/.688/1.059; 12 HRs and 7 2Bs in 109 ABs
This guy hasn't gotten much love from recent prospect rankings, mostly due to his strikeout totals, but he's a big time power guy and the Rangers are trying very hard to make sure he has a place to play when his time comes. So far I think he's played third, first and right field and due to his rifle arm he's done a decent job at every position, all while posting some absurd home run totals. Right now he profiles as a Ryan Howard type with big time production and big time strikeout totals, but chicks dig the longball, so you might as well go with it. His average has stayed close to .290 at every level so far, and his plate discipline is seeing some gradual but positive growth, so I think we could see a .265-.275/40 HR line out of him in a few years, with a few whopping 50+ home run seasons down the road.
2007--23 years old-- AAA-- .300/.356/.506/.862
Lowrie isn't exactly an under-the-radar prospect, but he's been overshadowed by a few other Red Sox prospects and I think he could surprise people when he finally gets called up. He'll put up better offensive numbers than Boston is currently getting out of the shortstop position, and his approach at the plate fits in perfectly with the Red Sox philosophy of big OBP guys followed up by big SLG guys. His defense has been questioned in the past, but he's solid enough with the glove that he should be able to stick shortstop.
2007-- 23 years old-- .309/.399/.589/.988
Everyone knows about Andy Laroche, but his lack of production in the majors last year resulted in a significant drop in his prospect rankings. This year he'll be "competing" against Nomar Garciaparra for a starting job at third base, and he should be a lot more relaxed than he was last year. He's got the talent, he'll just need to let it flow more and stop pressuring himself so much.