Who Dat? The New Orleans Zephyrs

Fresh off of the first Superbowl in franchise history, the Saints home town of New Orleans will be rocking for months to come.  But football season is over (!) and there is another home town team that will be gearing up to take the field before too long.  That team is the New Orleans Zephyrs, the triple-A affiliate of the Florida Marlins.  With a young prospect system that contains some high ceiling talent, here are three players to watch that may be passing through New Orleans in 2010.

(Click name to see video)

Logan Morrison 1B – This 22-year-old combines advanced plate discipline with the potential to hit for both average and power at the big league level.  In 278 at bats at double-A last season, Morrison drew more walks (63) than strikeouts (46) while cranking out eight home runs and stealing nine bases. 

Morrison put on a power display in 2007 when he hit 24 home runs in 453 at bats at single-A, but that power faded a bit as he entered the higher levels.  A broken wrist in April of last season didn’t help either and wrist injuries tend to hamper a player’s power for at least a year or so.  He may start the season at double-A, but there is a good chance that he sees time in New Orleans before long.  If he continues to show top-notch plate discipline and gap power, he may not be long for any minor league stop. 

For fantasy leagues that draft and stash minor leaguers, Morrison should be on the draft day radar as he has a good chance of reaching the big leagues in 2010 and putting up good AVG/OBP numbers when he does.

Ryan Tucker RHP – While Tucker isn’t considered a top end prospect by most, he has already seen 37 innings with the Marlins and happens to be in an organization that is in need of some good arms, especially in the bullpen. 

Tucker brings a good mid-90′s fastball and decent changeup to the mound, but his lack of a plus offering (other than his fastball) has many wondering if he can cut it as a starter in the big leagues.  According to minorleaguesplits.com, Tucker generates a good amount of ground balls, but his stats don’t show anything more than an average strikeout rate.  A conversion to a late inning bullpen arm would help raise those numbers. 

If he continues his career as a starter, there may not be much more upside than a back of the rotation type.  However, if the Marlins decide to give him a shot at late game bullpen work, he just might be a dark-horse to pick up some cheap saves in Florida…if he impress at New Orleans first, of course.

Mike Stanton OF – Stanton may be the last player on this list of three, but he certainly has the highest upside.  There is little chance that he will actually start the season at triple-A, but the Marlins are an organization that is quick to promote their young talent.  If he can raise his AVG and cut back on some strikeouts, the power numbers will just continue to flourish even more.  He currently has a career 14.8 AB/HR rate in the minor leagues, which many scouts believe will translate all the way to the big leagues.  His ETA to Florida may not be 2010, but if you can stash Stanton in your keeper league, now is the time to get on board…if he hasn’t been snagged already.