2011 AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST DRAFT SLEEPERS
Here is a look at some sleepers from the 2011 draft. Qualifications: I'm not writing about anyone drafted earlier than the sixth round. That's arbitrary but I'm trying to look for players who didn't get a lot of hype but who can surprise us. I'm also trying to avoid players who got massive above-slot bonuses; they aren't really sleepers.
We did the American League East and the American League Central yesterday.
LOS ANGELES ANGELS: Nick Mutz, RHP: Drafted in the ninth round from Cotati, California, Mutz didn't pitch college ball this spring after leaving Dakota State and was drafted after impressing the Angels in a workout. He hits 93-95 MPH and has a good cutter, and he was very effective in the Pioneer League, posting a 2.31 ERA with a 25/5 K/BB in 23 innings for Orem, with a 1.93 GO/AO. He's got clear bullpen potential.
OAKLAND ATHLETICS: Nick Rickles, C: A 14th round pick out of Stetson, Rickles hit .310/.370/.458 in 168 at-bats split between the Arizona Rookie League and Vermont in the New York-Penn League. He's got solid gap power, makes contact, hit great in both college and the pros, and is an effective defender who threw out 42% of runners in pro ball. He also stole six bases in seven attempts.
SEATTLE MARINERS: Jamal Austin, OF: 13th round pick from University of Alabama-Birmingham. Undersized but speedy, hit .335/.405/.383 with 22 walks, 21 strikeouts in 206 at-bats, with 20 steals. He needs some polish and doesn't have much power, but he's quite fast and has leadoff potential if he can maintain the OBP at higher levels, which I think is possible.
TEXAS RANGERS: Kyle Hendricks, RHP: Drafted in the eighth round out of Dartmouth, Hendricks has a low-90s fastball and solid off-speed stuff. He was excellent in the bullpen for Spokane in the Northwest League (1.93 ERA, 36/4 K/BB in 33 innings, just 20 hits), and was promoted to Double-A when Frisco needed someone to start a game on September 5th. He gave up one run in three innings on four hits, not bad given the circumstances for a guy two months out of the Ivy League.