#35 – Justin Verlander, SP, Detroit
The Tigers ace is one of the most dominant power pitchers in the game, but after what looked like a breakout season in 2010, he’s essentially reverted to being what he was before 2009 – a good pitcher who doesn’t get as much out of his stuff as you would expect. Teams would love to have him, certainly, but with an $80 million extension and a heavy workload, he comes with a fair amount of risk. That said, power arms are always highly sought after, and there’d be a line for his services if the Tigers put him on the market.
#34 – Mike Stanton, OF, Florida
Stanton is arguably the strongest player in baseball, and he doesn’t turn 21 until November. His ability to drive a baseball is almost unheard of for a player his age. The power comes with a cost, as his ferocious swing doesn’t make enough contact right now, but its important to remember just how young he is. He’s improved his approach at the plate, and while he’s still too aggressive, it shouldn’t be a permanent thing that can’t be fixed. Once he harnesses his natural abilities, look out. The Marlins would have to be overwhelmed to part with their monster in the making.
#33 – Matt Wieters, C, Baltimore
A year into his career, Wieters isn’t yet what everyone anticipated. Billed as a switch-hitting Joe Mauer with power, he’s shown the skills that got him so much hype in the first place except for the one that was supposed to set him apart – the ability to drive the baseball. It hasn’t helped that he’s been worse this year than he was last season, making it hard to find progress in his development. But we should also keep in mind that, for all the talk of how disappointing he’s been, he’s essentially been a league average catcher as a rookie, and there’s certainly potential for more. It’s far too early to give up on Wieters, though we have to adjust our expectations and perhaps recalibrate the timeline a bit.
#32 – Elvis Andrus, SS, Texas
In a league with few good shortstops, Andrus stands tall despite being just 21 years of age. A defensive specialist, he’s never going to be the best hitter in the league, but he provides enough value on offense that his total package makes him one of the better players at his position. His lack of power and too frequent baserunning gaffes are problematic, but the good outweighs the bad with Andrus. Good young players who provide value now and potential for more later are building blocks of good franchises, and that’s exactly what Andrus is to the Rangers right now.
#31 – Buster Posey, C, San Francisco
The Giants rookie catcher has shown why many thought he should have been given the starting job out of the gates this year. You can bet that he won’t be surrendering the position any time soon, and by limiting the service time he will gain this year, they ensured that he won’t be a free agent until after the 2016 season. San Francisco fans can look forward to six more years of a catcher who offers value both at the plate and behind it.