Sleepers from the Short-Season Leagues
Here are some sleepers to watch from the short-season leagues. This is not a list of best prospects, and I'm avoiding guys who got a lot of play on draft day or who were well-known international signees. I'm not doing the Arizona Rookie League and the Gulf Coast League in this report, that will be a separate post.
New York-Penn League: Chase Whitley, RHP, Staten Island Yankees. Whitley posted a 1.31 ERA with a 44/15 K/BB in 34 innings, allowing just 18 hits with a 1.71 GO/AO. He then got in three innings of work in the Florida State League, allowing one run on one hit (a homer), but fanning six. Overall, he went 1.45 with a 50/15 K/BB in 37 innings, 19 hits, with 15 saves and a 1.73 GO/AO and a .152 average against. He also picked up a save in the NY-P All Star Game. He was a 15th round pick out of Troy University this year, working with a 88-92 MPH fastball with sink, a curveball which is below average but may improve, and a very good changeup. He was a two-way player in college and is a solid athlete, so some additional velocity pickup is possible, and the early numbers are very good.
Northwest League: Edwin Escobar, LHP, Salem-Keizer: This Giants prospect is an 18-year-old Venezuelan, originally signed by the Rangers and traded to San Francisco for Ben Snyder this past April. He posted a 4.86 ERA in the Northwest League, with a 69/40 K/BB in 63 innings, with 64 hits allowed. He doesn't stand out on paper, but his K/IP ratio is strong, he's young, he throws 90-92 MPH with more velocity possible, his breaking stuff has a chance to be good, and the Giants know something about young pitching. He needs to improve his control, but keep an eye on him.
Appalachian League; Enny Romero, LHP, Princeton Rays: This 19 year old from the Dominican Republic led the league in ERA with a 1.95 mark, along with a 72/14 K/BB in 69 innings and 51 hits allowed. He also got one start with Hudson Valley in the NY-P, allowing one run on one hit in five innings, fanning four but walking five. I'm trying to find more scouting information about him, but the one report I have (which is old) rates his velocity as average, but with good sink to his fastball and some remaining physical projectability. His components show great improvement compared to rookie ball last year (he posted a 4.81 ERA with a 33/21 K/BB in 39 innings), so this looks like a guy making significant progress in an organization that usually handles pitching well.
Pioneer League: Adam Eaton, OF, Missoula: This 21-year-old University of Miami-Ohio product hit .385/.500/.575 with 35 walks, 44 strikeouts in 226 at-bats, and 20 steals, leading the league in batting average, OBP, and OPS. Now, college guys tearing up the Pioneer League is nothing unusual, and as a 19th round pick, Eaton could be easy to dismiss as a fluke. He's also undersized at 5-9. But scouts actually rate his physical tools as good across-the-board, with good speed and more strength/power than is normal for his size, along with a polished approach at the plate. Obviously we need to see him at higher levels, but there is enough here to get him on the radar.