Sleeper Alert Picks for 2013, Part One
I love looking for sleepers. Discussing Jurickson Profar or Dylan Bundy or Wil Myers is all well and good, but getting ahead of the curve and noticing guys who could break out before they do so is the thing I love to do most of all.
The last few seasons I have labeled some players with the "Sleeper Alert!" tag in my book. Not every sleeper pans out, of course, but past Sleeper Alerts! that worked out well include James Shields (2006), Allen Craig (2008), David Phelps (2010), Michael Fiers (2010), and A.J. Griffin (2012).
Anyway, here is the list for 2013 with a brief summary. Full reports are in the book of course. This is letters A through F. More to come!
Miguel Almonte, RHP, Royals: Age 19, right-hander from Dominican Republic generating considerable buzz this spring with strong command of plus/plus stuff. Could rank among elite pitching prospects in the game six months from now.
D.J. Baxendale, RHP, Twins: Age 22, drafted from University of Arkansas in 10th round in '12. Doesn't burn radar but has exceptional command and posted a 31/2 K/BB in his first 19 pro innings. Inning-eater control type but could be a good one.
Zach Bird, RHP, Dodgers: Age 18, drafted in ninth round last year from high school in Jackson, Mississippi. Live arm, projectable, already throws in low-90s and could get faster, long-term investment type with high upside. Like Almonte, could rank much higher entering 2014.
Kevin Brady, RHP, Phillies: Age 22, drafted in 10th round last June from Clemson, could have gone higher if not for badly-timed injuries. Looked great after signing, posted 1.90 ERA with 54/7 K/BB in first 43 pro innings, throwing strikes with 90+ fastball, slider, changeup.
Andy Burns, INF, Blue Jays: Age 22, 11th round pick in 2011 from University of Arizona. Isn't likely to hit for average (he hit just .248 in Low-A), but he has some power, some speed, and defensive versatility around the infield.
Daniel Camarena, LHP, Yankees: Age 20, drafted in 20th round in 2011 from high school in San Diego. He's barely seen any action yet but he has a 15/0 K/BB in his first 18 pro innings in rookie ball, getting positive reviews for his curveball and fastball command.
Jharel Cotton, RHP, Dodgers: Age 21, 20th round pick last year out of East Carolina University, where he threw 88-91 MPH. He went off to summer college ball, boosted his velocity into the mid-90s, then posted a 20/3 K/BB in 15 innings in rookie ball.
Jake DeGrom, RHP, Mets: Age 24, ninth round pick in '10 from Stetson, missed '11 with Tommy John but came back strong in '12, throwing strikes and hitting mid-90s with his sinker. 2.95 ERA with 118/26 K/BB in 137 pro innings thus far. Often overlooked in Mets system but not for much longer.
Logan Ehlers, LHP, Tigers: Age 21, small-town Nebraska kid drafted in 20th round out of Howard Junior College in Texas last year, erratic track record but shows four pitches at his best. Very speculative at this point but I track the Midwesterners closely.
Roenis Elias, LHP, Mariners: Age 24, signed out of Cuba in 2011, posted a 3.76 ERA with a 128/41 K/BB in 148 innings in High Desert last year, which is like pitching on the moon. Doesn't have tremendous velocity and easy to overlook in Mariners system, but showed great pitchability last year. Should be tracked.
Edwin Escobar, LHP, Giants: Age 20, signed out of Venezuela by Rangers in ‘08, traded to Giants in '09 and now on 40-man roster. Velocity pushed into the 90s last year and he always threw strikes, posted 2.96 ERA with 122/32 K/BB in Low-A. The Giants know pitching.