Cincinnati Reds outfielder Dave Sappelt (Photo by Norm Hall, Getty Images)
While prospects Yonder Alonso and Devin Mesoraco rightly draw most of the attention, Cincinnati Reds fans should keep track of a sleeper prospect who could also contribute soon: outfielder Dave Sappelt.
Sappelt was a ninth round pick in 2008 from Coastal Carolina University. He was an excellent performer in college, hitting .359/.410/.580 as a sophomore in '07 and .349/.415/.636 with 18 homers as a junior in '08. He runs well and has a good throwing arm, so the physical tools were solid, but he is an undersized right-handed hitter at 5-9, 195, and scouts weren't sure what to make of him, hurting his draft stock.
He's been very effective as a pro, hitting .361/.416/.548 last year in 89 games for Double-A Carolina last year, then .324/.365/.481 in 25 more games for Triple-A Louisville. A strained oblique has limited him to 40 more games for Lousiville this spring, but he's still hitting well at .325/.391/.516. Overall, in 65 career Triple-A games, he's hit .325/.381./.502.
Sappelt made a big impression in spring training, hitting .564 (22-for-38) for the major league team before being one of the last cuts. Given his continued strong hitting during the regular season, a chance in Cincinnati should come eventually.
Scouts point to strong contact hitting skills and plenty of bat speed that results in gap power and occasional home runs. He doesn't draw tons of walks, but he keeps his strikeouts under control. He has above average running speed, but is not yet an effective stealer, swiping 80 bases but being caught 46 times in his career. Although Dusty Baker mentioned in spring training that Sappelt needs to improve his fielding, in the minors he's received good reviews for his play in center field, and he throws well.
While most scouts see Sappelt as a future reserve outfielder due to his size, he's proved doubters wrong at every level so far. He is certainly one of the more interesting potential promotions for later in the year.