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LF Marc Krauss slipped on most prospect lists after a so-so campaign with Mobile in 2011 (.779 OPS). But in 2012, Krauss has really elevated his level of play, and he may be the best hitter in the Southern League right now. With a batting line of .297/.421/.534, Krauss' OPS of .955 is second in the league, just two points behind teammate Alfredo Marte. Krauss leads the league in Runs Scored (66) and Walks (59), is 2nd in OBP (.421) and Doubles (27), 3rd in RBI (55), 4th in SLG (.534), 5th in HR (13), and 10th in Batting Average (.297). He has also drastically improved his strikeout-to-walk ratio in 2012, with 74 K/59 BB this year compared to 123 K/64 BB last year. 

Krauss' offensive season puts him in some pretty select company. Over the last 10 years, only 18 Southern League players have achieved an OBP over .400 and a SLG over .500. The list includes 1B Paul Goldschmidt from last year, as well as current superstars Joey Votto, Miguel Cabrera, and Evan Longoria. Of course, many of these players were significantly younger than Krauss, who is now 24, but the .400/.500 combo is still quite rare (Minimum 300 PA).

Year Player Age Tm Aff PA R HR RBI BA OBP SLG OPS
2012 Marc Krauss 24 MOB ARI 369 66 13 55 .297 .421 .534 .955
2011 Paul Goldschmidt 23 MOB ARI 457 84 30 94 .306 .435 .626 1.061
2011 Scott Van Slyke 24 CNG LAD 529 81 20 92 .348 .427 .595 1.022
2010 Robin. Chirinos 26 KNX CHC 318 53 15 64 .318 .412 .580 .991
2010 Dave Sappelt 23 CAR CIN 372 53 9 62 .361 .416 .548 .964
2009 Chris Heisey 24 CAR CIN 314 54 13 40 .347 .426 .572 .998
2009 Tyler Flowers 23 BIR CHW 317 54 13 43 .302 .445 .548 .993
2008 Matt LaPorta 23 HVL MIL 366 56 20 66 .288 .402 .576 .978
2008 Angel Salome 22 HVL MIL 411 67 13 83 .360 .415 .559 .973
2008 Gaby Sanchez 24 CAR FLA 557 70 17 92 .314 .404 .513 .917
2008 Marsh. Hubbard 26 WTN SEA 379 54 12 52 .291 .407 .505 .912
2007 Matt Craig 26 KNX CHC 323 41 10 44 .326 .416 .514 .931
2007 Evan Longoria 21 MTG TBD 447 78 21 76 .307 .403 .528 .930
2006 Joey Votto 22 CNG CIN 590 85 22 77 .319 .408 .547 .956
2005 Jeremy Hermida 21 CAR FLA 507 77 18 63 .293 .457 .518 .975
2005 Brandon Sing 24 WTN CHC 508 74 26 71 .276 .404 .538 .941
2004 Josh Willingham 25 CAR FLA 455 81 24 76 .281 .449 .565 1.014
2003 Miguel Cabrera 20 CAR FLA 303 46 10 59 .365 .429 .609 1.038
2003 St. Smitherman 24 CNG CIN 430 60 19 73 .310 .402 .534 .937

Just missing from the list were Justin Upton (Age 19), who had an OBP of .399, and Matt Kemp (21), Giancarlo Stanton (20), and Jason Heyward (19), who were promoted from AA before reaching 300 plate appearances. Of the 18 players listed above, more than half became Major Leaguers.

If we restrict the list to Southern League seasons at the age of 24 or later, and expand the Player list to include those with fewer plate appearances and a .380/.500 line, we can add some players who might be similar to Krauss.

Year Player Age Tm Aff PA R HR RBI BA OBP SLG OPS
2011 Ryan Flaherty 24 KNX CHC 344 52 14 66 .305 .384 .523 .907
2010 Brandon Guyer 24 KNX CHC 410 76 13 58 .344 .398 .588 .986
2008 Jake Fox 25 KNX CHC 459 76 25 79 .307 .397 .580 .976
2008 Mike Wilson 25 WTN SEA 485 76 27 84 .276 .388 .549 .938
2007 Josh Kroeger 24 KNX CHC 256 40 11 50 .382 .449 .609 1.058
2007 Adam Rosales 24 CNG CIN 302 51 13 31 .278 .377 .549 .926
2005 Nelson Cruz 24 HVL MIL 286 45 16 54 .306 .388 .577 .965
2005 Chris Denorfia 24 CNG CIN 209 40 7 26 .330 .391 .564 .955
2004 Kenny Kelly 25 CNG CIN 227 33 5 28 .356 .441 .545 .986
2003 Matt Diaz 25 ORL TBD 258 32 5 41 .383 .444 .542 .985

Combining this group of ten players with the nine older than 24 from the list above, we have a total of nineteen players who had an OBP > .380 and SLG > .500 at the age of 24 or older in the Southern League. Out of these, 6 out of 19 are solidly established Major Leaguers - Josh Willingham, Nelson Cruz, Matt Diaz, Gaby Sanchez, Chris Denorfia, and Chris Heisey. What these players have in common is that they all started in the Minors around the age of 20-21, like Krauss (all went to college except for NCruz). Others, such as Fox and Rosales, had some success in the Majors, while players like Guyer and Van Slyke are still trying to establish themselves.  So if Krauss can maintain his .400 OBP/.500 SLG marks in the Southern League, the chances of achieving some success at the Major League level look pretty good, much better than for most 24 year olds in AA ball.