9. Brent Keys, OF
Drafted: 2009, 17th round out of California HS
Age: 23 Height: 6'1'' Weight: 210 lbs.
Brent Keys was somewhat of an afterthought for most teams in the 2009 draft. He was far from a highly touted prospect, and the Marlins scouting department deserve a ton of credit for discovering this true diamond in the rough. Keys has hit at every level he's played at, including .346 batting average with a .418 OBP in his first year in Jupiter in 2013. Obviously, his on-base percentage's stand out, but Keys barely ever strikes out and he's great at making solid contact with the ball. He's probably never going to hit more than 5-8 HR's in a season at any level, but Keys is one of those players that really doesn't need power to be successful.
Keys has a stout, athletic build at 6'1'' 210'' lbs. He is not the fastest on the basepaths, but I bet he could steal 15-20 per season if he could manage to stay on the field. Injuries have always been a problem for Keys, in particular his hamstring, but that hasn't been able to keep him off the field all that much. He plays the game the right way, with his effort never in question. Also, I'm just hypothesizing that he has played through a lot of pain in the last couple seasons, with his hamstring issues. It's nearly impossible to make a comparison for Keys as an athlete and a baseball player, because players like him are undeniably rare.
Keys' plate discipline is without a doubt his top quality as a player. Next would probably come his ability to get the bat on the ball and get on base. As for things Keys struggles with, his power is definitely first and foremost, but that's not necessarily something he needs to change. One other thing I would like to see Keys improve on is his range out in the outfield. He is likely going to be a corner outfielder down the line and I believe he has the potential to be above-average defensively, but he still has some work to do to get there.
At the end of the 2013 season, Keys was promoted to Double-A Jacksonville for a short stint. That's where he will start the 2014 year and where he should spend the entire season. If the Marlins didn't have such great depth at the outfield position I could see him being called up this year, but with Stanton, Yelich, Ozuna, and Marisnick all in front of him on the depth chart, it will be hard for Keys to steal playing time from them. Anyways, another year of development in Double-A will definitely benefit Brent Keys and I expect him to tear up the Southern League. Brent Keys is definitely a prospect to watch this season and in the future, as someday he will be reaching base at an astonishing rate in the Majors.