Leaderboard Surprises - Home Runs

If you didn't look at the uniform, would you know that this guy has 10 home runs already? - USA TODAY Sports

Who makes you say "Who is that?" when you look at the league leaders?

Everyone does it. Or at least that's what I tell myself whenever I comb through the various league leaders in my favorite stats. I love looking at leaderboards to see who is having themselves a most excellent season. It's a good way to not let anyone sneak up on you as well. I routinely find the best statistical performers then scour the web and my sources for scouting reports to see if this is the real deal or not. Sometimes it works well, other times it just gives you false hope, especially if he's a member of your favorite team's system. The new Leaderboard Surprises series will go through a few stats and give you a quick background on the guys you may not know much about.

With the help of Baseball Reference and the 2014 Baseball Prospect Book (which you can buy now!), I give you some of the surprises atop the leaderboards.

Home Runs

Well, isn't it obvious who's going to be at the top of this one? It's Joey Gallo and his 12 boom shots. For the handy table below, I've removed Mexican League players and guys over 28 years old (sorry, Brad Snyder).






































































































































































































Rk Age Tm Lg Lev Aff HR
1 Joey Gallo 20 MYR CARL A+ TEX 12
2 Jon Singleton 22 OKC PCL AAA HOU 11
3 Adam Duvall 25 FRE PCL AAA SFG 10
4 Nick Evans 28 REN PCL AAA ARI 10
5 J.D. Martinez 26 TOL IL AAA DET 10
6 Ryan McMahon 19 AVL SALL A COL 10
7 Peter O'Brien 23 Yankees (Tampa, FL)">TAM FLOR A+ NYY 10
11 Kyle Blanks 27 ELP PCL AAA SDP 9
12 Kris Bryant 22 KNX SOUL AA CHC 9
14 Patrick Kivlehan 24 HDS CALL A+ SEA 9
16 Brandon Miller 24 Nationals (Woodbridge, VA)">POT CARL A+ WSN 9
18 Joc Pederson 22 ABQ PCL AAA LAD 9
19 Kyle Roller 26 TRE EL AA NYY 9
23 David Dahl 20 AVL SALL A COL 8
24 Brandon Drury 21 VIS CALL A+ ARI 8
28 Courtney Hawkins 20 WSM CARL A+ CHW 8
30 Luis Jimenez 26 SLK PCL AAA LAA 8
33 James Ramsey 24 Cardinals (Springfield, MO)">SPD TL AA STL 8
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/9/2014.


You can really break this up into three groups - the stars, the "veterans", and the surprises. The group of Evans, Martinez, Blanks, Roller and Jimenez are all a bit long in the tooth at this point to really be considered prospects and a few have MLB service time under their belt. Then you have your star prospects in Gallo, Singleton, McMahon, Bryant, Pederson, and Dahl. The surprises here would have to be Duvall, O'Brien, Kivlehan, Miller, Drury, Hawkins, and Ramsey. Let's take a quick look at these guys.


Adam Duvall

Year Age AgeDif Tm Lg Lev Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS HBP
2010 21 -0.3 Salem-Keizer NORW A- SFG 54 217 192 30 47 10 1 4 18 2 3 14 45 .245 .318 .370 .688 7
2011 22 0.6 Augusta SALL A SFG 116 510 431 69 123 30 4 22 87 4 4 59 98 .285 .385 .527 .912 14
2012 23 0.4 Giants (San Jose, CA)">San Jose CALL A+ SFG 134 598 534 101 138 24 4 30 100 8 2 47 116 .258 .327 .487 .814 10
2013 24 -0.4 Richmond EL AA SFG 105 430 385 61 97 23 4 17 58 2 1 35 72 .252 .320 .465 .785 5
2014 25 -1.7 Fresno PCL AAA SFG 34 145 132 24 34 3 1 10 30 2 0 12 29 .258 .324 .523 .847 1
5 Seasons 443 1900 1674 285 439 90 14 83 293 18 10 167 360 .262 .340 .481 .821 37
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/9/2014.

Taken in the 11th round of the 2010 draft from the University of Louisville, Duvall has always shown power, scouts just expected it not to play at higher levels. Well, he's at AAA now and he's still mashing. As John notes in the 2014 Baseball Prospect Book,

...he doesn't have great tools, but he can thump the ball and is particularly effective against left-handed pitching. His athletic limitations show up on defense where he's merely mediocre at third base. ...I rather like him and think he could be a useful asset... Grade C+

Peter O'Brien

Year Age AgeDif Tm Lg Lev Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2012 21 -0.0 2 Teams 2 Lgs A--Rk NYY 52 227 212 29 45 10 0 10 34 0 1 10 62 .212 .256 .401 .656
2012 21 1.3 Yankees GULF Rk NYY 4 14 14 2 5 2 0 0 2 0 0 0 1 .357 .357 .500 .857
2012 21 -0.1 Staten Island NYPL A- NYY 48 213 198 27 40 8 0 10 32 0 1 10 61 .202 .249 .394 .643
2013 22 -0.3 2 Teams 2 Lgs A+-A NYY 119 506 447 78 130 39 4 22 96 0 1 41 134 .291 .350 .544 .893
2013 22 0.4 Charleston SALL A NYY 53 226 194 47 63 22 1 11 41 0 0 22 58 .325 .394 .619 1.012
2013 22 -0.8 Tampa FLOR A+ NYY 66 280 253 31 67 17 3 11 55 0 1 19 76 .265 .314 .486 .800
2014 23 0.3 Tampa FLOR A+ NYY 30 119 112 19 36 9 1 10 19 0 0 4 29 .321 .353 .688 1.040
3 Seasons 201 852 771 126 211 58 5 42 149 0 2 55 225 .274 .325 .525 .850
Rk (1 season) Rk 4 14 14 2 5 2 0 0 2 0 0 0 1 .357 .357 .500 .857
A- (1 season) A- 48 213 198 27 40 8 0 10 32 0 1 10 61 .202 .249 .394 .643
A (1 season) A 53 226 194 47 63 22 1 11 41 0 0 22 58 .325 .394 .619 1.012
A+ (2 seasons) A+ 96 399 365 50 103 26 4 21 74 0 1 23 105 .282 .326 .548 .874
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/9/2014.

I became a big fan of O'Brien last year as he hit 34 extra base hits in just 53 games in the South Atlantic, including 11 home runs. The now 6'5, 225 lb Miami native was taken in the 3rd round by the Rockies in 2011 from Bethune-Cookman, but re-entered the draft the next year and was selected by the Yankees a round earlier after playing with the Miami Hurricanes. John's perspective on his offense -

His strength has never been doubted, but scouts harbored doubts about a long swing and his ability to make contact against advanced pitching. It does look like a potential problem given his high strikeout rate, but this is a guy who should not be expected to bat .300 and he's got enough pop to be quite valuable even with a low batting average...If O'Brien continues to hit, and I suspect he'll hit for power at any level, he will likely end up as trade bait. Grade C+

Patrick Kivlehan

Year Age AgeDif Tm Lg Lev Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2012 22 0.9 Everett NORW A- SEA 72 316 282 46 85 17 3 12 52 14 1 19 93 .301 .373 .511 .883
2013 23 0.8 2 Teams 2 Lgs A+-A SEA 128 549 489 74 148 25 3 16 90 15 6 43 107 .303 .366 .464 .830
2013 23 1.7 Clinton MIDW A SEA 60 247 223 26 63 12 1 3 31 5 3 17 42 .283 .344 .386 .730
2013 23 0.1 High Desert CALL A+ SEA 68 302 266 48 85 13 2 13 59 10 3 26 65 .320 .384 .530 .914
2014 24 1.3 High Desert CALL A+ SEA 34 157 142 24 40 9 2 9 35 2 0 12 32 .282 .331 .563 .895
3 Seasons 234 1022 913 144 273 51 8 37 177 31 7 74 232 .299 .363 .494 .857
A- (1 season) A- 72 316 282 46 85 17 3 12 52 14 1 19 93 .301 .373 .511 .883
A (1 season) A 60 247 223 26 63 12 1 3 31 5 3 17 42 .283 .344 .386 .730
A+ (2 seasons) A+ 102 459 408 72 125 22 4 22 94 12 3 38 97 .306 .366 .542 .908
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/9/2014.

John actually sums Kivlehan's history up quite well, so I'll defer to his note in the book.

A fourth round pick in 2012 out of Rutgers, Kivlehan played four years of college football and is quite inexperienced, as college draftees go. All the more reason to be impressed with his '13 season...The Cal League environment could mask some flaws but scouting reports indicate that he made real progress crafting his swing: note the sharp reduction in his strike out rate compared to what he did at Everett after being drafted. I will hold him steady with a Grade C+ pending some non-Cal League data, but he does have an impressive ceiling.

Brandon Drury

Year Age AgeDif Tm Lg Lev Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2010 17 -2.7 Braves (, FL)">Braves GULF Rk ATL 52 207 192 20 38 7 1 3 17 2 2 9 50 .198 .248 .292 .539
2011 18 -2.5 Danville APPY Rk ATL 63 278 265 40 92 23 0 8 54 3 0 6 35 .347 .367 .525 .891
2012 19 -2.7 Rome SALL A ATL 123 480 445 47 102 22 3 6 51 3 4 20 73 .229 .270 .333 .603
2013 20 -1.3 South Bend MIDW A ARI 134 583 526 78 159 51 4 15 85 1 1 47 92 .302 .362 .500 .862
2014 21 -1.7 Visalia CALL A+ ARI 34 155 141 24 41 11 0 8 29 3 1 12 28 .291 .348 .539 .887
5 Seasons 406 1703 1569 209 432 114 8 40 236 12 8 94 278 .275 .322 .435 .757
Rk (2 seasons) Rk 115 485 457 60 130 30 1 11 71 5 2 15 85 .284 .316 .427 .743
A (2 seasons) A 257 1063 971 125 261 73 7 21 136 4 5 67 165 .269 .321 .423 .744
A+ (1 season) A+ 34 155 141 24 41 11 0 8 29 3 1 12 28 .291 .348 .539 .887
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/9/2014.

A 13th round pick way back in 2010, Drury came out of Grants Pass High School in Oregon and joined the Braves organization. He was part of the package sent to the Diamondbacks for Justin Upton by Atlanta after the rough 2012 John talks about. Drury's 51 doubles in 2013 were tops in all of minor league baseball.

Well let’s just forget 2012 ever happened. Brandon Drury had an excellent 2011 season, hitting .347 in the Appalachian League to near-universal praise for his hitting skills. However, he was horrid in the Sally League in ’12 and, despite happy noises about how much they still liked him, the Braves sent him to Arizona in the Justin Upton trade. Drury responded with a terrific ’13 campaign and has forced himself back onto the soundtrack. All aspects of his game improved: he showed more power, did a much better job controlling the strike zone, and was much better on defense as well, demonstrating improved reliability and sufficient range to remain at third base. The caveat here is that he was repeating Low-A, although at age 20 (21 in August) he was still age-appropriate for the level. Scouts also noted that his swing looked much better; certainly his batting eye improved, and perhaps he simply needed different coaching than what the Braves provided. There’s just enough remaining doubt for me to go with a Grade B- instead of a straight B, but overall Drury regained miles of lost ground.

Courtney Hawkins

Year Age AgeDif Tm Lg Lev Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2012 18 -2.8 3 Teams 3 Lgs Rk-A-A+ CHW 59 249 229 39 65 15 3 8 33 11 5 11 56 .284 .324 .480 .804
2012 18 -2.2 White Sox (Bristol, VA)">Bristol APPY Rk CHW 38 159 147 25 40 8 1 3 16 8 2 7 37 .272 .314 .401 .716
2012 18 -3.7 Kannapolis SALL A CHW 16 72 65 11 20 5 2 4 15 3 2 4 17 .308 .352 .631 .983
2012 18 -4.6 Winston-Salem CARL A+ CHW 5 18 17 3 5 2 0 1 2 0 1 0 2 .294 .294 .588 .882
2013 19 -3.8 Winston-Salem CARL A+ CHW 103 425 383 48 68 16 3 19 62 10 5 29 160 .178 .249 .384 .633
2014 20 -3.0 Winston-Salem CARL A+ CHW 28 117 102 18 27 6 0 8 31 1 2 12 32 .265 .342 .559 .901
3 Seasons 190 791 714 105 160 37 6 35 126 22 12 52 248 .224 .286 .440 .726
Rk (1 season) Rk 38 159 147 25 40 8 1 3 16 8 2 7 37 .272 .314 .401 .716
A (1 season) A 16 72 65 11 20 5 2 4 15 3 2 4 17 .308 .352 .631 .983
A+ (3 seasons) A+ 136 560 502 69 100 24 3 28 95 11 8 41 194 .199 .270 .426 .696
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/9/2014.

Hawkins put himself on everyone's radar when he decided to show off his athleticism and pop off a back flip in dress shoes and a suit on live TV. This was back in 2012 during the MLB Network draft special after being selected 13th overall by the White Sox out of high school in Texas. John's take -

Apparently the White Sox read a lot of Nietzsche in college: they figured if the Carolina League didn’t kill Hawkins, it would make him stronger. Of course the problem with Nietzsche’s aphorism is that it isn’t true: some problems don’t kill you but do permanently weaken you. So the question stands: will rushing Courtney Hawkins to High-A and leaving him there, even though he was struggling terribly, hurt or harm his long-term development? The tools that made him a first-round pick in 2012 were obvious: raw power, a strong throwing arm, a decent level of overall athleticism, good work ethic. He did hit 19 homers against older competition. But the problems in his approach outweighed the tools: he was helpless against most breaking pitches, but had his share of difficulties against fastballs as well. Serious issues of pitch recognition combined with complex swing mechanics resulted in a lost season. So what do we do with his grade? Keep in mind that he was just 19 years old, equivalent to a college freshman, and playing in a league in which he had no business. If he keeps himself together psychologically and emotionally, he has a chance to rebound and use this experience as something to build on and learn from. But grade-wise, it is a tough call. I can’t rate him as a B or higher given how badly he struggled, even if it wasn’t his fault that the Sox pushed him too fast. I think a drop down to a high-ceiling Grade C+ is appropriate.

James Ramsey

Year Age AgeDif Tm Lg Lev Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2012 22 -0.8 Palm Beach FLOR A+ STL 56 247 210 36 48 9 3 1 14 10 2 33 59 .229 .333 .314 .648
2013 23 -0.8 3 Teams 3 Lgs AA-A+-AAA STL 112 496 411 78 109 16 4 16 51 9 4 65 121 .265 .373 .440 .814
2013 23 0.2 Palm Beach FLOR A+ STL 18 77 61 17 22 5 2 1 7 1 0 12 12 .361 .481 .557 1.038
2013 23 -1.0 Springfield TL AA STL 93 416 347 61 87 11 2 15 44 8 4 53 108 .251 .356 .424 .780
2013 23 -3.9 Memphis PCL AAA STL 1 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
2014 24 -0.1 Springfield TL AA STL 32 141 123 26 35 3 1 8 22 2 1 15 28 .285 .376 .520 .896
3 Seasons 200 884 744 140 192 28 8 25 87 21 7 113 208 .258 .363 .418 .781
A+ (2 seasons) A+ 74 324 271 53 70 14 5 2 21 11 2 45 71 .258 .368 .369 .737
AA (2 seasons) AA 125 557 470 87 122 14 3 23 66 10 5 68 136 .260 .361 .449 .810
AAA (1 season) AAA 1 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/9/2014.

Seen as a seemingly safe, polished college bat coming out of Florida State, he signed for under-slot deal with the Cardinals. The team re-allocated his bonus pool money from the 23rd overall pick, the first of four first round or supplemental first round picks St. Louis had that year, and used it to also sign Stephen Piscotty, Patrick Wisdom and Steve Bean. John goes into more detail about Ramsey here.

Drafted in the first round out of Florida State in 2012, Ramsey has average tools: average power, average speed, average throwing arm. Scouts love his work ethic, however, and give him more slack than other players with similar performance but average tools tend to get. He’s patient and will take a walk, but his strikeout rate was uncomfortably high in Double-A and his overall production has been a little disappointing in my view, at least given the expectations he generated in college. I still think he profiles as a fourth outfielder. Grade C+.

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