Already on his third position (3B, 1B, RF) after playing catcher as an amateur, Austin has done nothing but hit despite his uncertain defensive home. He hit more than .350 in 2011 and he’s currently above .400 in low-A ball. He also has 11 extra base hits in nine games. Austin was also successful in all 18 base stealing attempts last year so he’s not a one-trick pony, although he’s a smart base runner as opposed to a fast one. Austin is yet another example of the rich getting richer.
This former supplemental first round pick has yet to receive much fanfare this year but it could start any day now. He just recently turned 21 years old and he’s tearing the cover off the ball despite the significant jump from the hitter friendly high-A California League in 2011 to the double-A Southern League in 2012. Davidson is hitting above .400 in 12 games but he also has seven doubles and more walks than strikeouts (11-7). He’s absolutely creaming left-handed pitching with an OPS of 1.674 and five walks (and no strikeouts). The biggest knock on Davidson is his defense. He has a strong arm but he’s already made four errors this season at the hot corner and is likely destined to land at first base where his best defensive asset will be wasted.
Gattis entered 2012 as one of my “Must Follow” players despite failing to make the Braves pre-season Top 15 prospect list. An older player at 25, the backstop actually quit baseball at one point but has a new-found love of the game. He’s also making impressive strides. After walking just 25 times in 88 games last year, he’s already taken five free passes in 2012 and has more walks than strikeouts. He is also hitting for both power and average in the early going, but it’s something he’s done throughout his three-year pro career. Because his age is not in his favor, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Atlanta give him a quick promotion to double-A. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see him move out from behind the plate to first base, as he’s a below-average fielder.
Lino, 18, hasn’t received a ton of press but that’s not overly suprising when you consider Baltimore already has a pretty good young catcher at the big league level. The Venezuela native is a tall catcher (6’3”) like Matt Wieters and flashes potential both behind and at the plate. He’s currently hitting more than .300 and is starting to showcase more useable, in-game power. After slugging two home runs in 28 rookie league games in 2010, Lino already has two in his first nine low-A games despite the significant jump in talent pool. Behind the plate he shows a strong arm and good leadership but he’s still raw in his receiving and footwork.
The younger brother of Florida’s Emilio Bonifacio, the Royals prospect is starting to make some significant noise during his third pro season. He’s curently hitting over .400 (including a .500 average with 0 Ks in 19 at-bats with men on base) but, more impressively, he has more walks than strikeouts despite being one of the younger players in the league at the age of 18. Because he projects to develop as a right-fielder, Bonifacio’s power will need to develop if he’s going to play everyday at the big league level. He hit 20 doubles with seven homers in 62 games last year so the raw power potential is there.
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