Some Sleepers from the 2011 Draft, Part Two (Round 21+)
Several readers have asked me for a look at sleepers from the later rounds of the 2011 draft. I looked at some players from rounds 10 through 20 yesterday.
Here are some additional players to pay attention to, from round 21 forward. Ground rules:
**I am avoiding guys who signed for huge overslot bonuses and who were expected to go much earlier in the draft.
**This is 21st round or later. I will do a separate article soon for middle round guys (fourth round to ninth round).
**This is not intended to be a comprehensive look, so if your favorite sleeper isn't mentioned, don't be offended. Indeed, feel free to bring up such players in the comments section, which makes for great discussion.
This is a mixture of upside guys and possible role players who caught my notice for one reason or another.
Sean Albury, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers: The Brewers got a bargain when they drafted Mike Fiers out of Nova Southeastern University a few years ago, so they went back to the well with Sean Albury in 2011 in the 31st round. He has a low 90s fastball and posted a 27/5 K/BB in 20 innings in the Pioneer League, with a 0.90 ERA. He could move fast as a reliever.
Cody Allen, RHP, Cleveland Indians: Drafted in the 23rd round out of High Point last year, Allen has a low 90s fastball and a strong curve, and he was way ahead of hitters in his pro debut, posting a 1.75 ERA with a 75/14 K/BB in 55 pro innings, with 35 hits allowed, finishing the summer in Double-A. He started in college but relieved in pro ball, and if he stays in the bullpen he could help very quickly in the bullpen.
Eric Arce, OF-1B, Toronto Blue Jays: The Blue Jays originally drafted Arce in the 27th round in 2010 from high school in Lakeland, Florida. He was considered an intriguing talent due to his power bat, but an off-the-field incident, a Florida State commitment, and his 5-9, 205 pound build knocked down his stock. He didn't sign with Toronto but he didn't stick around to play for the Seminoles, either, re-entering the draft pool for 2011, where the Blue Jays picked him again, this time in the 25th round. Arce hit .268/.437/.621 with 14 homers and 38 walks in 153 at-bats, tremendous power production for the Gulf Coast League. His background is unusual but so is his bat.
Matt Crouse, LHP, Detroit Tigers: a 24th round pick from the University of Mississippi, Crouse is a typical finesse lefty with a mediocre fastball, but he throws strikes and knows how to use his curveball and changeup. He went 5-1, 3.22 in the New York-Penn League with 53/13 K/BB in 64 innings. He's not spectacular but has a shot as a back-end starter or a reliever.
Taiwan Easterling, OF, Chicago Cubs: Drafted in the 27th round out of Florida State, Easterling is a tools player with intriguing speed and some power potential. He was better-known as a football player in college and has a spotty track record with plate discipline problems, but he's certainly got the athleticism to succeed if he can develop some polish, admittedly perhaps a big if. He hit .307/.332/.407 in his pro debut split between the Arizona Rookie League and the Midwest League.
John Gant, RHP, New York Mets: A 21st round pick from high school in Wesley Chapel, Florida, Gant is originally from New York and signed for a reasonable $185,000 bonus. Lanky at 6-4, 190, Gant has an average fastball that should/could get faster along with a curveball and changeup. Like Trent Higginbotham and Joey Maher (see below), he didn't cost an enormous sum to sign, but has considerable upside.
Trent Higginbotham, RHP, Minnesota Twins: Drafted in the 26th round from high school in Trussville, Alabama, Higginbotham signed for a reasonable $195,000 bonus, overslot but not excessive for a pitcher with his ability. He threw in the 80s in high school but was up into the low-to-mid-90s in summer ball before signing with Minnesota. He has some projectability and his secondary pitches are as promising as his fastball.
Joey Maher, RHP, New York Yankees: Drafted in the 38th round from high school in Bedford, New Hampshire, Maher is a 6-5, 185 pound projection pick who has yet to pitch professionally, but has more upside than the normal 38th rounder. He has a good sinker and a chance to develop into a solid inning-eater.
Jarrett Miller, RHP, Atlanta Braves: A 21st round pick from UNC Greensboro, Miller has a 90-95 MPH fastball and a decent breaking ball, using them to fan 54 hitters in his first 35 pro innings in the Appy and Sally Leagues. He has some control issues to work through, but the strikeouts and stuff are here.
Shawn Payne, OF, San Francisco Giants: Drafted in the 35th round from Georgia Southern, Payne led the Northwest League in OBP on his way to a .306/.431/.394 line, while swiping 21 bases in 27 attempts. He was a good hitter in college, too, and very dangerous on the bases, stealing 76 bases in 81 attempts over the last two years. Let's see if he can maintain that speed/OBP combination, but I'm puzzled why he lasted until the 35th round.
Tyler Rahmatulla, 2B, St. Louis Cardinals: Well-known to college baseball fans as an infielder from UCLA, Rahmatulla didn't excite scouts overmuch, fought injuries, and fell to the 34th round. He was very effective in the Appy League (.314/.390/.545) and has a shot as a utility player with decent plate discipline and some gap pop.
Braden Shull, LHP, Philadelphia Phillies: A 27th round pick from high school in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, Shull is big at 6-6, 215 and already throws 90 MPH. His Iowa background and lack of reliable secondary pitches kept him off most radars, but his upside his quite high for a guy at this point in the draft and he didn't cost a huge sum with a $137,500 bonus.
Daniel Vargas-Villa, RHP, Los Angeles Angels: Drafted in the 28th round from the University of West Florida, DVV went 16-1 with a 1.86 ERA and an 88/27 K/BB in 121 college innings, and remained effective in the Pioneer League (3.54 ERA, 56/13 K/BB in 56 innings) due to a low-90s sinker and a workable curve and change. He has a shot at being a back-end starter or more probably a reliever, but hey, it's the 28th round.