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Martin Prado: Over or Underrated in 2011?

Martin Prado seemingly came out of nowhere to finish 9th in NL MVP voting in 2010. The Atlanta spark plug was in the top 10 for AVG, H, HR, R, and RBI among all second basemen while also holding eligibility at all 3 bases. Prado is getting his share of hype but many expect regression so the chatter is kept to a minimum. His Average Draft Position is 74 according to Mock Draft Central.

What can we expect from Prado in 2011? Will he build on a strong year and perform in the top 75 or will he fail to live up to the high draft pick many will spend on him?

It's hard to imagine Prado having a better season than 2010 but there is still hope for another fine season to come. We can think of him as a .300 hitter now that he has topped the mark 3 consecutive seasons. He also hits at the top of a strong Braves lineup so he has a chance at 200 H and 100 R next year if he remains healthy. The question for some is whether the power is real. He hit 15 HR last year but it shouldn't be much of a surprise since he hit 11 in 150 less AB in 2009. His fly ball percentage was at a career low in 2010 so if it returns to career norms he could see an increase of HR. All of these numbers are possibilities but how likely is Prado going to stay healthy enough to achieve them?

He wore down as the season went on which isn't surprising since it was his first MLB season as a full time starter. He should be more able to handle a 162 games schedule this year and is just entering his peak years at 27. A hip injury he suffered at the end of the year may drag his numbers down but other than that I could see Prado duplicating his 2010 success.He won't be at the top of the positional rankings but he'll be in the top 10 at two positions. Where I think Prado is undervalued is his multi-position eligibility. Qualifying at 2B, 3B and gaining OF eligibility at some point in 2011 makes Prado a valuable commodity beyond the points he provides your team.

By drafting Prado you also open up possibilities at multiple positions and could allow you to take bigger risks. I have Prado in a keeper league as my back-up 2B/3B and this allows me to take a chance on one of the many third basemen with question marks surrounding them. If the player busts I still have a decent 3B in Prado. If I didn't already have Phillips at second I could even take a chance on a 2B and hope all 3 didn't bust.

He should offer similar value to last year but you're going to have to pay for it this time. When the top second basemen start to get picked it's time to keep an eye on Prado as he should go soon after. Keep an eye on your 2B and 3B situations as the draft goes on as picking Prado could allow you to save money or take risks later in the draft.