August 4, 2012; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher A.J. Griffin (64) pitches the ball against the Toronto Blue Jays during the first inning at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE
2012 Sleeper Prospects End of Season Review, Part Two,
Here is a look at each player I tagged with a Sleeper Alert! label in the 2012 Baseball Prospect Book. This is F through O. Other players will be in subsequent reports.
Some of these guys are better-known than others. By Sleeper, I mean a guy who wasn't well-known nationally as a top prospect pre-season, but who showed signs of being a breakout prospect entering 2012. This doesn't mean the player in question was a complete nobody pre-season, especially to fans who follow a particular team closely, or to people who are just super prospect fanatics (like many members of the Minor League Ball Community). The idea is to look for guys with the potential for sharp increases in their performance, publicity, and placement on prospect lists.
Getting ahead of the curve with guys like this is one of my main goals with the book each year.
Brian Fletcher, OF, Royals: .289/.353/.411 with five homers, 19 walks, 51 strikeouts in 246 at-bats for High-A Wilmington, followed by .256/.318/.433 with 15 walks, 96 strikeouts in 254 at-bats for Double-A Northwest Arkansas. Good pop, but poor plate discipline and high strikeout rate is a serious concern. Age 23.
Maikel Franco, 3B, Phillies: Hitting .280/.336/.439 with 14 homers, 38 walks, 80 strikeouts in 503 at-bats for Low-A Lakewood. Very hot late in the year, hit .346/.395/.530 after the All Star Break. Breakout in progress I think, turned 20 last week.
David Freitas, C, Nationals: Traded to Oakland, hit .271/.377/.429 in 336 at-bats for High-A Potomac, then .333/.392/.524 in 63 at-bats for Double-A Midland, threw out 29% of runners. A solid year. Age 23.
A.J. Griffin, RHP, Athletics: Huge success, 2.82 ERA with 91/18 K/BB in 102 innings in Double-A/Triple-A, just 79 hits allowed, followed by a 2.26 ERA in nine major league starts with a 40/10 K/BB in 52 innings and only 36 hits. Age 24.
Chris Herrmann, C, Twins: .276/.350/.392 with 58 walks, 89 strikeouts in 490 at-bats for Double-A New Britain, 44% of runners caught. Age 24. I think he has enough skills to reach the majors. Can also play the outfield after a fashion.
Hector Hernandez, LHP, Cardinals: 4.43 ERA with 94/54 K/BB in 126 innings, 141 hits for Low-A Quad Cities. Age 21. Not great, but lefties with live arms have long lives in the minors.
Mason Hope, RHP, Marlins: 2.90 ERA with 53/27 K/BB in 71 innings for Jamestown in the New York-Penn League, 72 hits allowed, 1.75 GO/AO. There is talent to build on here. Age 20. Good sinker and curve has strong potential.
Trent Howard, LHP, Orioles: Pitched well in relief in Low-A (1.93 ERA, 16/7 K/BB in 23 innings), less well as a starter in High-A (4.83 ERA, 70/26 K/BB in 101 innings, 110 hits). Bullpen may be his niche. Throws strikes but vulnerable to homers. Age 22.
Mike Kickham, LHP, Giants: I've liked him since his college days. 3.05 ERA with 137/75 K/BB in 151 innings for Double-A Richmond, 119 hits. Good stuff, still refining his command. Age 23.
Matt Long, OF, Angels: Hit .282/.350/.462 with 12 homers, 49 walks, 90 strikeouts, 23-for-32 in steals in 444 at-bats between Double-A Arkansas and Triple-A Salt Lake. 25 year old minor league vet, still can sneak up on us in the next year or three.
Brett Lorin, RHP, Diamondbacks: I thought he was a sleeper due to his control. He threw strikes but was otherwise ineffective: 3-10, 6.40 ERA with 70/35 K/BB in 103 innings for Double-A Mobile, 127 hits, 12 homers. Age 25.
Justin Miller, RHP, Rangers: Had Tommy John surgery.
Akeel Morris, RHP, Mets: 7.98 ERA with 50/22 K/BB in 38 innings for Kingsport in the Appalachian league, 38 hits. Live arm, but serious command problems inhibited him this year. Only 19, still has time.
Aaron Northcraft, RHP, Braves: 3.98 ERA with 160/53 K/BB in 152 innings for High-A Lynchburg, 143 hits, 2.61 GO/AO. Strikeout rate is rising nicely and he's still getting grounders, age 22, very intriguing.
Jose Osuna, 1B-OF, Pirates: .280/.324/.454 with 16 homers, 36 doubles, 31 walks, 82 strikeouts in 482 at-bats for Low-A West Virginia, including .293/.327/.510 in the second half. Just 19.
I'm pleased with this list for the most part. Part Three is coming up.