Every year there are several players that come out of the woodwork of the minor leagues and have great seasons that put them on the map. This past year the most prominent player who emerged from our system was Kala Ka'aihue. His assault on the Sally league last summer was one of epic proportions, and while his average slipped a bit after his promotion, his peripheral numbers stayed strong and he is now considered one of our top prospects. Another name that came to the surface this off-season is that of Neftali Feliz. He was a player who didn't impress the casual observer with anything other than his K/9 rate, but he impressed a multitude of scouts who all raved about his makeup and his high-90s gas.
Which players will emerge in 2007 as the next Kala or Neftali? Here are five possible candidates, but feel free to submit your own as well (just keep in mind that they cannot be on our top-25 prospect list). Tomorrow I'll have a similar post on "who can RE-emerge."
Manny Acosta - I listed him on my prospect list this year, but he wasn't popular enough to make it onto the combined list. He's a flamethrower who, if he could just figure out how not to walk people so much, could really become a valuable commodity. He's on the 40-man roster, so there's an outside chance we could see him the majors at some point this season.
Cole Miles - He could remind us of a young Marcus Giles with more speed next season. He's another draft and follow find who could move rapidly through the system as either a second baseman or center fielder. The Braves seem to love scrappy middle infielders with speed and Miles may turn out to be the best of the bunch.
Adam Coe - This kid has some power to spare, and if he starts the year Rome he could follow a similar path that Eric Campbell took the last few years. The potential is there to put up some eyebrow raising power numbers.
Steve Kent - We could be talking about Kent this time next off-season in the same way we're talking about Feliz this off-season. This 17 year old Australian hurler could make a big impact at Danville next season. He's still very young, but with a good showing next year he will move higher up many scouts radar.
Josh Morris - There are a lot of people doubting this former UGA first baseman - doubts that he may not be able to adjust to the wooden bat. He was a masher in college, but this season will tell us if he can mash in the pros. If he can, he could be this year's version of Ka'aihue.
Josh Morris at bat (Photograph courtesy University of Georgia Athletic Association).