Some thoughts on this year's Marauders hitters.
Robbie Grossman - He's noticeably improved from last year. He seems stronger, and hits the ball with more authority. He also appears much more comfortable from the left side. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of holes in his game. His approach is not good; he takes too many pitches, working himself into deep counts and striking out too often. His swing isn't the quickest, so he can get beat too many ways in two-strike counts, and he swings through or fouls off fastballs in the zone too often. His swing also doesn't seem to generate any loft, as the only time he lifts the ball in the air is when he pops it up. So although he can hit the ball fairly hard, he doesn't display much power - mostly line drive singles and well-struck groundballs. As at the plate, he seems a little timid in the field and on the bases, too. He does have good speed and a good arm, though, and could end up as a plus defender in left field or right field and a plus baserunner, but he'll need to be more aggressive. He might even be able to play center, but I'm not sure about that.
Jarek Cunningham - Cunningham is the hitter I was most impressed with. He's got a fairly aggressive approach at the plate and could stand to be more patient, but he also could make the aggressive approach work, given that he's got good bat-speed and hits the ball very hard when he makes contact (sort of like Neil Walker in this respect). He also has very good power - better than Latimore, definitely, so maybe the best power in our minor league system. On defense, I was pleasantly surprised by how well he played second. I'd heard he was a butcher there, but it's not true. (Perhaps he was hampered by the leg injury last year.) He's not very fluid, but he makes the plays, and particularly to his left he has good range. I'd guess that he could stick at second, but if he has to move, he could be a good defender at third or in the corner outfield (he's got plenty of arm), and I think the bat will play at those spots. I'm not good at judging swing mechanics and stuff like that, but I do think he has some sort of problem in that area, as he's got a quick bat but swings through or pops up mediocre fastballs too often. He has the tools to be a good major league hitter, though. Average speed, probably not a plus baserunner.
Evan Chambers - Like Grossman, he is too patient at the plate. He's even worse than Grossman, actually. I've seen him take 2-0 fastballs right down the middle. He also takes some tentative swings where it doesn't look like he's sure he wants to be swinging. And of course he'll take a called third strike. I'm not sure if he can make meaningful improvements in this area, but if so he does have some potential. He's got a quick swing, decent power, and while I don't think he'll ever hit for much average, his patience and size should make him an OBP threat if he can balance it with intelligent aggression. He mostly stays up the middle and works line drives from gap to gap, but he can turn on a pitch with authority from time to time as well. Short and thick, he doesn't really have a ballplayer's body. He's listed at 5-foot-11 but I'd guess 5-foot-8 or 5-foot-9. Because of the body, it's hard to see him gaining much power, so his current gap power is probably all he's got. Similarly, I'd imagine he'll lose some speed at some point, though he's above-average right now. His speed is actually pretty surprising; you wouldn't expect it looking at him, but he's a plus on the bases. He gets good reads and has surprisingly good lateral range in center, though he struggles going back on the ball. His arm is average.
Aaron Baker - I was impressed with Baker. I wasn't that interested in him going in, but I liked a lot of what I saw. For one, he's a very good defender at first base. It's not the most important position, but he could play there in the majors right now, I think. His range, especially, is above-average, and his footwork around the bag is very nice. I didn't get a look at his arm, but I found myself wondering if he might not be able to play third, as his bat might play there. On offense, he has good power and a nice, patient approach. He can also drive the ball the other way pretty naturally. Unfortunately, he can get beat by inside fastballs and fooled by breaking balls, and his foot-speed is below-average. Baker has some promise, but the deck is stacked against first basemen without elite bats.
Calvin Anderson - I thought I'd include Calvin because I've been watching him for more than a year now, but he's making the transition into an organizational guy, I think. He can hit the ball a long way when he gets ahold of one, but that's about his only value. His strike zone is huge and his bat's not fast enough to cover it. He's slow and is a defensive liability anywhere on the field.
There are some other guys I'm interested in down here, but I don't have enough to say about them yet. If you have questions about anyone, I'll do my best to answer them, and I'll have more write-ups later in the season.