Prospect Stock Watch: Spring Bats

We’re back with another Prospect Stock Watch this spring and we’re taking a look at two of my favorite hitting prospects (and one sleeper) that could very well see significant playing time at the big league level in 2016.

Austin Barnes, C, Dodgers: Yasmani Grandal and A.J. Ellis currently sit ahead of Barnes on the Dodgers’ catching depth chart but don’t be shocked if the club decides to carry three catchers. The rookie offers versatility and athleticism that allows him to play both second base and catcher (and probably more, if the club wants to stretch him out a little more). As well, he’s had an incredibly hot spring and has flashed unprecedented power (for him), including four homers in 27 at-bats. Despite the spring pop, Barnes is not a home run hitter but he hits for average and walks more than he strikes out. He’s played a lot this spring in comparison to Grandal and Ellis and I wouldn’t be shocked if the Dodgers are giving a significant amount of playing time to Barnes by August. ETA: April

Matt Duffy, IF, Astros: Sleeper alert! No, not that Matt Duffy… This one plays in the Astros system, not for the Giants. Similarly, though, he’s a corner infielder who rose from obscurity as a former 20th round pick (SF Duffy was former 18th round pick). The Astros infielder is a later bloomer and recently turned 27. Still, he’s done nothing but hit as a pro and owns an .838 OPS as a pro. He spent all of 2015 in Triple-A and hit for both power and average. With a one-trick pony at third base in Luis Valbuena (power) and an unsettled battle among inexperienced players at first base, Duffy could be a valuable guy for the Astros — although man-of-many-talents Marwin Gonzalez does offer a playing-time obstacle. With injuries an ever-present threat on big league teams, look for the rookie infielder to have at least one shot at securing a platoon or bench role. ETA: June

Brandon Drury, 3B, D-Backs: I’m a pretty big Jake Lamb fan but I may be growing into an even bigger Drury fan. The former Braves prospect has turned things on in the last two years and is looking more and more like a potential stud hitter at either third or second base. The 23-year-old swings a mean stick (.303 average in 2015) and his 40 doubles suggest home-run pop is just around the corner. The trade of veteran Aaron Hill seemingly cleared up some of the infield logjam in Arizona but Jean Segura came back in that same deal and is now pencilled in at shortstop while Chris Owings is expected to start at second base. The aforementioned Lamb is at third. Drury is likely headed back to Triple-A for some more seasoning (and regular playing time) but there is a small chance that he could stick in The Show and receive semi-regular playing time bouncing between second and third. Either way, Drury should establish himself as a big leaguer in 2016. ETA: June

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

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you have Matt Duffy linked to 41 year old Matt Duff. Now that would be a deep prospect!