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Breakout/Sleeper Prospects for 2009, AL Central

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Potential Sleeper/Breakouts, AL CENTRAL

Brandon Douglas, SS, Detroit Tigers
    Douglas was drafted in the 11th round last year from the University of Northern Iowa. He's a fine athlete with speed and a touch of pop, hitting a combined .328/.364/.445 with 17 steals in his pro debut, 68 games spread over four levels, including four games in Double-A. He keeps his strikeouts under control and has some pop in his bat. The main question is his glove, as he may end up at second base if his range at shortstop proves inadequate. Keep an eye on him.

Keaton Hayenga, RHP, Kansas City Royals
    Hayenga hasn't pitched yet, missing the 2007 and 2008 seasons recovering from shoulder trouble. Drafted in the 31st round in 2007 out of high school in Washington, he can hit 94 MPH when healthy and his curve and changeup are promising. At this point, he is the deepest of sleepers, having no pro track record and a significant injury history, but his ceiling is high and scouts like his 6-5, 180 pound projectable frame. Remember his name if you are a Royals fan, or just really interested in guys who might come out of nowhere.

Dan Hudson, RHP, Chicago White Sox
     The Sox drafted Hudson in the fifth round last year out of Old Dominion, though at one point he was considered a second round candidate. Command and mechanical problems hurt his stock, but he rebounded in pro ball with a 3.36 ERA and a sharp 90/22 K/BB ratio in 70 innings in the Pioneer League after the Sox revamped his delivery. He hits 90 MPH, and his slider and changeup are promising. He gets a good number of ground balls, and could be a number three or four starter if his control holds up.

Anthony Slama, RHP, Minnesota Twins
      Slama was a 39th round pick in 2006 out of the University of San Diego, and has put up ridiculous numbers as a pro: 1.23 ERA with a 159/34 K/BB in 103 innings, just 60 hits allowed. He picked up 25 saves last year in the Florida State League, and while A-ball closers are often not genuine prospects, Slama may be an exception. He has a 90 MPH sinker, a decent slider, a deceptive delivery, and gets plenty of grounders, not giving up a single regular season home run in his career. He will move to Double-A this year, and could pull a Pat Neshek on us, emerging as a middle relief candidate ahead of more heralded pitchers. If his K/IP marks remain strong in Double-A, that could happen soon.

Bryce Stowell, RHP, Cleveland Indians
     Stowell was a 22nd round pick last year out of UC Irvine, but as a draft-eligible sophomore he could have gone much higher if his signability had been more clear, having been rated a third-round candidate before the draft. He had a very good campaign in the Cape Cod League, and the Indians ended up signing him right before the deadline for $725,000. Stowell throws strikes at 90-93 MPH, and both his slider and changeup are considered quite promising. There's no pro data to work with yet, but if he can build on what he did in the Cape Cod League, he could break through quite readily.