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Geovany Soto, C, Chicago CubsYou won't find a more debated prospect coming into 2008 due to his out-of-nowhere production last season. Coming into 2007, Soto had done nothing to prove himself as a top prospect in Chicago's system beyond being an above average defensive catcher, batting a paltry .262/.344/.371 over his full career. And there's still reason for concern coming into 2008 when you take into consideration his high hr/f rate and low fly ball and contact numbers upon call-up.
However, one simply cannot discount the numbers he put up last season as a fluke. Not only did he lead the minors in batting average by a catcher (.353) and slugging percentage (.652), he also won the Triple-A Pacific Coast League RBI crown (109) and was named MVP of the league. And he was arguably Chicago's best hitter after his call-up, so he was able to excel for an extended period of time.
One secret to this success might be the dramatic weight loss Soto achieved before 2007's start. By losing 30 pounds before the season, Soto was able to get around on pitches more efficiently with his compact swing, as well as helping his defense wholesale. While one has to take pause that he has not done this beyond one season, where and when he's doing it cannot be ignored.
Combine with that the fact that Soto is all but guaranteed the starting catcher gig this year, and you have yourself a potential breakout player. His defense will keep him up (he had a 31% caught-stealing rate last season, which will translate well in the big leagues), and considering how long they toiled with Jason Kendall, if his bat is only half as good as it was last year, he's going to stick. Most quality catchers will go in the middle rounds of a regular 12-team, with the top three going way too early, making Soto a wonderful speculative pick at the end of your draft, allowing you to maximize on positional players with high at bat impacts.
460 AB, .281 BA, 19 HR, 66 R, 74 RBI, 1 SB
If he can produce those numbers next year I would be thrilled! He is expected to hit 6th or 7th in the lineup and if he produces 19 homers and 74 rbi that would be something else! He is a good offensive catcher with great defensive skills. My prediction of his stats is this-
440 AB, .275 BA, 15 HR, 50 R, and 66 RBI, 2 SB
If he even puts up those numbers I would be happy!