Six 'pop-up' prospects

Surprising minor leaguers who are forcing scouts to rethink their value

Updated: May 9, 2012, 1:41 PM ET
By Kevin Goldstein | Baseball Prospectus
Tyler AustinMike Janes/AP PhotoYankees outfielder Tyler Austin has the bat to profile at a corner outfield spot.

The scouting term is "pop-up guy," and it's used more often in reference to the draft, when players go from just a name to somebody in line for an early pick and big money. But there are pop-up guys in the professional ranks, as well.

These aren't players bouncing back to a previously held reputation. These aren't players finally living up to expectations. These are players who were lucky to sniff their own team's prospect list heading into the season, but who have put up numbers this year and have scouts coming around on their talent.

In other words, these are some new names you should know.

Tyler Austin, OF, New York Yankees

A 13th-round pick in 2010, Austin gained some attention last year for a good showing in the short-season New York-Penn League, but it's his full-season debut that's started to generate real buzz. On a low Class A Charleston roster packed with some of the best prospects in the South Atlantic League, Austin has slumped a bit and is still hitting .314 AVG/.365 OBP/.752 SLG in his first 27 games while leading the circuit with 10 home runs.

The 20-year-old right-handed hitter is broad-shouldered and employs an upright stance, and while there is a significant amount of load in his swing, he makes up for it with excellent bat speed. He profiles to hit for both average and power, although he can be a bit of a free swinger.

A catcher and third baseman in high school, he struggled on the infield corners last year but has found a home in the outfield. His bat is by far his best tool, as he's an average runner and defender.