2011 NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST 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.
ATLANTA BRAVES: Cody Martin, RHP: Drafted in the seventh round out of Gonzaga, Martin signed for a small $45,000 bonus due to his status as a senior and lack of leverage. He's got a good arm, with a 90-94 MPH fastball, a good slider, and solid curveball and changeup, giving him four pitches. He was used as a reliever in his first look in pro ball, with terrific results: 1.08 ERA, 49/5 K/BB in 33 innings, just 20 hits, combined between rookie-level Danville and Low-A Rome. He could return to starting, and his command is excellent.
FLORIDA MARLINS: Matthew Neil, RHP: Drafted in the 29th round out of Brigham Young, Neil is a big guy (6-6, 225), works at 89-92 MPH, and has a good slider. He was outstanding in the New York-Penn and Florida State Leagues, posting a combined 3.29 ERA with a 71/7 K/BB in 77 innings. He has major league stuff and throws strikes, but his prospect status is unusual since he is already 25 years old, having lost three years of baseball time due to a long Mormon mission. We need to see him at higher levels but he qualifies as a sleeper.
NEW YORK METS: Jeff Diehl, C: Drafted in the 23rd round from high school in Rhode Island, Diehl signed too late to play so we have no stats to look at, but he qualifies as someone to watch in '12. He's considered raw but promising, with a strong arm, plenty of bat speed, and good power potential. His $135,000 bonus could be a real bargain if he reaches his maximum potential.
PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES: Braden Shull, LHP: Like Diehl, Shull hasn't played yet so there is lots of projection/speculation here, but we have enough data that we need to keep track of him. Drafted in the 27th round from high school in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, Shull is still developing his curveball, cutter, and changeup, but his 6-6, 215 pound frame and a 90+ fastball give him potential, and the Phillies have helped similar pitchers develop. Higher ceiling than a normal 27th round pick.
WASHINGTON NATIONALS: Taylor Hill, RHP: Sixth round pick out of Vanderbilt, signed for a small $36,000 bonus due to being a no-leverage senior. Posted a 3.16 ERA in 31 innings in the New York-Penn League, but with a sharp 27/3 K/BB and an intriguing 3.50 GO/AO ratio, consistently hitting the lower part of the strike zone with his sinker, slider, and changeup. He could move through the system rapidly and projects as a fourth starter or relief type.