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Sleeper Prospects for 2013, Part Three

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James Shields, a sleeper prospect from 2006
James Shields, a sleeper prospect from 2006
Jonathan Daniel

Sleeper Prospects for 2013, Part Three

Everyone knows about Xander Bogaerts, Jameson Taillon, and Mike Zunino, but one of my preferred obsessions is finding sleepers and unheralded prospects.

The last few seasons I have labeled some players with the "Sleeper Alert!" tag in my book each year. Here is a list of the players with the Sleeper Alert! label in the 2013 Baseball Prospect Book. Not every sleeper pans out, of course. . .the majority do not, but past Sleeper Alerts! that worked out well include James Shields (2006), A.J. Griffin (2012), and Allen Craig (2008).

Anyway, here is the list for 2013 with a brief summary. Full reports are in the book of course. This is the third of a three-part report. You can find

Part One (A through F) here
Part Two (G through O) here

Starling Peralta, RHP, Cubs: Age 22, Peralta was written up as a sleeper for the book in November, then was selected by the Diamondbacks in the December Rule 5 draft. He didn't stick on the roster and was sent back to Chicago. The live-armed Dominican can hit the mid-90s and shows promise with his slider, but is still often more thrower than pitcher. Nevertheless, his upside is very high, particularly as a reliever.

Dane Phillips, C, Padres:
Age 22, Phillips was drafted in the second round out of Oklahoma City University last June. He's a sleeper because he didn't hit well in short-season ball (.228/.327/.350) and could get ignored, but the sound swing and good plate discipline he showed in college didn't just disappear. He can rebound.

Jorge Polanco, INF, Twins:
Age 19, signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2009. A bonus baby at the time ($750,000), he fell out of general prospect consciousness after mediocre '10 and '11 seasons and was passed by other Twins prospects. He rebounded to .318/.388/.514 in the Appy League in '12. With solid tools across the board, he should make more noise in '13.

Jose Ramirez, 2B, Indians:
Age 20, Ramirez is a Dominican signed in 2009. He's undersized (generously listed at 5-9) and overshadowed by other guys with more press in the Cleveland system, but he rakes (career .342.383/.459), runs well, controls the strike zone, and has a good glove at second base. Scouts have mixed opinions but it is hard to knock his performance thus far.

Nate Roberts, OF, Twins:
Age 24, Roberts was a fifth round pick from High Point University in '10. He's ripped low-level pitching (.307/.439/.458 in A-ball) and destroyed the Arizona Fall League in '12 (1.226 OPS to lead circuit). He has a clean swing and strong feel for hitting, but his career has been slowed by knee issues. He fits the fourth outfielder profile but is clearly worth tracking.

Wilfredo Rodriguez, C, Rockies:
Age 19, drafted in seventh round out of high school in Puerto Rico last June. Stocky (5-10, 200) but has athleticism and good defensive tools along with a chance to hit for power and average. He's raw and needs more polish, but he also impressed many Pioneer League observers last summer and has the potential to be a regular big league catcher.

Adrian Sampson, RHP, Pirates:
Age 21, fifth round pick from Bellevue Community College in '12. Tommy John survivor has 90 MPH sinker along with a very good curveball and changeup. Effective in the New York-Penn League (2.95 ERA, 44/17 K/BB in 43 innings), he shouldn't be overlooked in a rich system and has the potential to be a useful fourth starter.

Burch Smith, RHP, Padres:
Age 22, Smith was a 14th round pick from the University of Oklahoma in 2011. He was solid in High-A in '12 (3.85 ERA with 137/27 K/BB in 129 innings), throwing strikes in the mid-90s. Development of his changeup and breaking ball is still in progress, but he has the basics for success.

Devon Travis, 2B, Tigers:
Age 22, Travis was a 13th round pick from Florida State in '12 but didn't get much hype despite a successful college career against top competition. He is undersized and lacks the arm for shortstop, which hurts his status with scouts, but he could develop into a Jeff Keppinger-type line drive hitter.

Blake Treinen, RHP, Nationals:
Age 24, acquired from the Athletics in January three-way trade with Mariners. He owns a mid-90s sinker and a good slider, but will need to improve his changeup to start at higher levels. He was drafted in the seventh round from South Dakota State in '11.

Jesus Valdez, 1B-OF, Dodgers:
Age 20, Valdez hit .324/.404/.502 in the Pioneer League last summer. Originally drafted in the 17th round in '11 from Oxnard Junior College, he's had trouble finding a steady position but looks like he could thrive as a hitter.

Jonathan Walsh, OF, Angels:
Age 22. 11th round pick from the University of Texas in 2012, he didn't live up to expectations in college but mashed in the Pioneer League (.300/.411/.522) and has switch-hitting power. He needs a lot of work on defense, but the bat is interesting for sure.

Logan Watkins, 2B, Cubs:
Age 23, Watkins was a 21st round pick in 2009 from high school in Kansas but had the talent to go 15 rounds higher. This lefty hitter stole 28 bases with 76 walks and an overall .281/.383/.422 line in Double-A last season. He's athletic, defensively versatile, and could be a fine utility man. His makeup is considered excellent.

Tyler Wilson, RHP, Orioles:
Age 23. A 10th round pick from the University of Virginia in 2011, Wilson doesn't throw that hard (just 87-91) but has a good curve and change, posting a sharp 114/19 K/BB in 111 innings last year in High-A. Like all finesse types, he faces a challenge in Double-A, but he could be a useful back-end starter or middle man.