2011 NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL DRAFT SLEEPERS
Here is a look at some sleepers from the 2011 draft. Qualifications: I'm not writing about anyone drafted earlier than the sixth round. That's arbitrary but I'm trying to look for players who didn't get a lot of hype but who can surprise us. I'm also trying to avoid players who got massive above-slot bonuses; they aren't really sleepers.
CHICAGO CUBS: The Cubs spent a lot of money on over-slot bonuses, so it is harder to stay within what I'm trying to do with this series of articles, but one guy who stands out is sixth round pick Neftali Rosario out of Puerto Rico. He hit .294/.351/.490 in rookie ball and has the tools to be a good defensive catcher. He needs some work with the strike zone and just general experience, but looks like a possible bargain for a $150,000 bonus.
CINCINNATI REDS: Vaughn Covington, RHP: Drafted in the 11th round out of high school in British Columbia, Covington didn't pitch since he is still rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, but should be ready to go by spring. He bears close watching due to a 90-95 MPH fastball and strong curve. He has a higher ceiling than most 11th round picks.
HOUSTON ASTROS: Javaris Reynolds, OF: A seventh round pick out of high school in Tampa, Reynolds hit just .228/.354/.247 in rookie ball, but is quite toolsy, isn't hopeless with the strike zone, and stole 15 bases. He's strong enough to hit for power if his raw swing can be sculpted. He doesn't turn 19 until January, and while there is a high risk of failure here, there is enough ceiling that he needs to be tracked, although slow development is more likely than a big breakthrough.
MILWAUKEE BREWERS: Sean Albury, RHP: Undersized (5-11, 180) right-hander from the Bahamas, drafted in the 31st round from Nova Southeastern University in Florida. Posted a 0.90 ERA with a 27/5 K/BB in 20 innings in the Pioneer League, collecting six saves with just 12 hits allowed. Short relief type but could move quickly due to sharp command of a 90-93 MPH fastball and a slider.
PITTSBURGH PIRATES: This was a tough team since they spent lots of money on over-slot guys who aren't really sleepers, and most of the cheaper guys didn't do much. An exception is Jon Schwind, a catcher out of Marist drafted in the 41st round who hit .347/.456/.589 in rookie ball. He was old for the level at age 21 and needs defensive polish, but he's athletic and has decent tools.
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS: Lance Jeffries, OF: Drafted in the 10th round from high school in St. Louis, Jeffries is a local kid with plenty of tools, including speed and power, in a compact 5-9 frame. He hit .256/.363/.375 in rookie ball with 12 steals. He needs some strike zone work and simple experience, but he's got a nice ceiling and was cheap for his athleticism level at $95,000.