It’s Not Just About the Draft Slot

It’s not often that professional baseball players slip under the radar, but it does happen. Just ask Mike Piazza, who was drafted in the 62nd round of the amateur draft. Or ask current Auburn Doubleday (New York Penn League) Adam Amar.

Amar was signed as a non-drafted free agent out of the Golden Baseball League where he spent one season with the Reno Silver Sox in Nevada. He caught the Toronto Blue Jays’ attention by hitting .354/.423/.625 in 96 at-bats. He was a four-year player at the University of Memphis and led the Conference USA with a .395 average in his junior season (1996) but was not drafted at all during his college career due to a perceived lack of power (He hit nine homers in 240 at-bats during his senior year) and below-average defensive skills at first base.

After signing his first contract with a Major League Baseball organization, Amar hit more than .400 in minor league spring training for the Jays in 2008 but was edged out for a spotting start in full-season Lansing (Midwest League) by 19-year-old Michael McDade, who struggled and is now Amar’s teammate in Auburn after a demotion. Adding to the depth at first base, the Jays selected David Cooper in the first round of the 2008 draft and he switched places with McDade and is now manning first base in Lansing (And is hitting .354/.416/.545 in 178 at-bats over two levels).

Amar, though, is making a case for full-season ball as well with a line of .353/.411/.607 with eight homers in 150 at-bats. The 22-year-old slugger has also struck out only 10 times to go along with 12 walks. He is first in the New York Penn League in average and doubles, second in slugging percentage and homers, third in on-base percentage and hits, and fourth in RBI. Only Oneonta’s Mike Gosse, a second baseman, has struck out fewer times with more than 100 at-bats – and he’s a contract hitter with zero homers.

Amar – who stands 6-4 and is 240 lbs – is also a well-rounded, right-handed hitter who is hitting .378 against southpaws and .345 against right-handers. He is hitting .356 with the bases empty and .333 with runners in scoring position. While many short-season hitters are beginning to fade, Amar has hit three homers and driven in 12 runs in his last six games.

He has a long way to go before he is ever mentioned in the same paragraph as Piazza again but Amar’s career is off to a nice start and it’s not hard to root for him.

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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects, depth charts and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.