Organizational Sleepers - National League

Edwin Escobar - Kelley Cox, USA Today Sports

Here's a quick breakdown on all this prospecty goodness. After each players name is their organization rankings from 7 of the biggest prospecters/sites around, Baseball America (BA),'s Jonathan "OJ" Mayo (MLB), Baseball Prospectus (BP), our own John Sickels (JS), FanGraphs (FG), Bullpen Banter (BP), and ESPN's Keith Law (KL). An X means the player was not ranked on that particular list. The next row will give you all the background on the player including DOB, position, handedness, height, weight, what round and pick they were drafted at, their alma mater, and the peak level they've reached so far in the 2013 season.


Andrew Chafin BA-9 MLB-19 BP-7 JS-6 FG-12 BB-8 KL-9

BORN: 6/17/90 LHSP B/T: R/L H/W: 6’2 205 LB DRAFT: 2011- 1/43 KENT ST. PEAK: AA

2013 stats (thru 7/26) - 21 GS, 126.2 IP, 120 H, 46 ER, 48 BB, 96 K, 3 HRA, 3.27 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 8.5 H/9, 6.8 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 2.00 K/BB, 1.27 GO:FO

FB - 4-seam: 90/95
CB - none
CU - average
SL - unhittable
Command - troublesome
Makeup - nibbles
Motion - lacks fluidity, upper body tilt
Other - considerable action low in zone, 2-seam w/ good sink
Ceiling - mid-rotation starter/set-up man, #3 starter or power reliever

Chafin had little problems making his was through the Cal League (3-1, 4.65 ERA) and into AA Mobile’s rotation. Since then he’s limited AA hitters to a 2.81 ERA. His strikeouts have fallen off this year by 7% (3.27 K/9 difference) while he’s also lowered his BB rate by 1.5%. He has also allowed .86 less hits per 9 innings this year. Due to his lack of K’s and a dip in BABIP from .341 to .299, his FIP sits at 3.32 which of course is still solid. At just 22 years old and handling AA well, Chafin could make the jump to Arizona’s rotation next year.


Cody Martin BA-13 MLB-11 BP-X JS-10 FG-11 BB-13 KL-X
9/4/89 RHSP B/T: R/R H/W: 6’2 210 LB DRAFT: 2011- 7/236 GONZAGA PEAK: AAA

2013 stats (thru 8/1) - 24 G, 18 GS, 113.2 IP, 101 H, 36 ER, 48 BB, 119 K, 6 HRA, 2.85 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 8.0 H/9, 9.4 K/9, 3.8 BB/9, 2.48 K/BB, 1 CG, 1 SV, 0.75 GO:FO

FB - 4-seam: 91/94
CB - good
CU - average, decent depth and fade
SL - 70/75, slurvy
CUT - 84/86, late tail, #2 pitch
Command - great
Makeup - bulldog mentality
Motion - clean delivery
Other - mixes 4 pitches well, advanced feel for pitching
Ceiling - 3/4 starter or power, late-inning reliever

Martin has continued to impress as a starter after relieving for 3 years at Gonzaga. He’s moved to the rotation since being drafted and has not let up. As he’s climbed the ladder his walks have increased (2% each level) and his K’s have dropped until he left the low minors. This year he’s walked 1 more batter per 9 innings and struck out 0.8 batters less per 9 innings than 2012. He has also allowed .4 more hits per 9 and his WHIP has climbed .16 points. His K/BB ratio has also dipped .8 points. Despite all this he has still shown the ability to miss bats and keep the opposition at bay. He should be one of the next few pitchers in line for a shot at the big league rotation, or possibly as a September call-up to solidify the bullpen.


Corbin Hoffner BA-X MLB-X BP-X JS-X FG-X BB-X KL-X
7/30/93 RHRP B/T: R/R H/W: 6’5 235 LB DRAFT: 2012- 14/434 ST. PETERSBURG COLLEGE PEAK: A-

2013 (thru 8/1) - 10 G, 29.2 IP, 17 H, 4 ER, 6 BB, 27 K, 1 HRA, 1.21 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, 5.2 H/9, 8.2 K/9, 1.8 BB/9, 4.50 K/BB, 1.14 GO:FO

FB - 4-seam: 90/93
CB - None
CU - improving
SL - improving
Command -
Makeup -
Motion -
Other -
Ceiling - Late-inning reliever

Hoffner is a hard guy to find info on and is definitely a deep sleeper in the Cubs system. He was drafted in the 14th round in 2012 out of St. Petersburg College after his freshman year and signed for $100K. He’s been reported to sit 90-93 with his fastball while his curve and slider are improving with professional instruction. Statistically speaking, Hoffner has had a great year. Aside from his appearance July 3rd where he allowed 7 hits and 4 ER in 3.1 innings, he has pitched scoreless baseball, only allowing 9 hits, 4 walks and 21 K in 23.1 IP. Against lefties he’s vicious, allowing 1 ER, 5 hits, 1 walk and 10 K’s in 8.1 innings.


1/8/91 LF/RF B/T: L/L H/W: 6’0 190 LB DRAFT: 2009- 8/239 PUERTO RICO (HS) PEAK: A+

2013 (thru 8/1) - 76 G, .280/.397/.451/.848, 74-264, 15 2B, 8 HR, 3 3B, 47 R, 37 RBI, 20-31 SB, 51 BB, 57 K, 129 wRC+, .381 wOBA, .330 BABIP, .170 ISO

Silva had a rough go his sophomore year in professional ball, only hitting .230 with a .693 OPS in 2010. Since then he’s posted an OPS of .821 in 2011, .794 in 2012 and .853 so far this year. He’s mixing a solid approach, walking in 15% of his at bats while striking out in just 17.7%, with good pop (25 XBH) and some wheels (19 SB). He’s played all 3 OF positions this year while only making 2 errors. He has already matched his career high in HR with 8 in 172 less trips to the plate. Over the course of his career he’s shown the ability to get on base (.377 OBP) while still learning the nuances of stealing a bag. Next year he’s poised for his first look at the upper minors.

Danny Winkler
2/2/90 RHSP B/T: R/R H/W: 6’1 200 LB DRAFT: 2011- 20/618 CENTRAL FLORIDA PEAK: A+

2013 (thru 8/1) - 22 GS, 130.1 IP, 84 H, 43 ER, 37 BB, 152 K, 15 HRA, 2.97 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 5.8 H/9, 10.5 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 4.11 K/BB, 0.80 GO:FO

FB - 4-seam: 89/91
CB - None
CU - good
SL - swing and miss
Command -attacks hitters
Makeup - good
Motion - deceptive, pushes ball
Other -
Ceiling - 4/5 starter

It’s a breakout year for Winkler, as he’s leading the minors in K, and H/9 (min 100 IP), and ranks 6th in the minors in innings pitched. Combine his deceptive delivery with an absolute swing and miss slider, and this is what happens. He obviously does not blow hitters away with a low 90’s fastball but he stays ahead in the count and can drop the slider in at any count. The development of his change up has also helped limit lefties to a .209 batting average and only 5 HR allowed in 49.2 IP. He’s a bit old for the league at 23 and only in A+, but with pitchers age-relative-to-league is not as big of a factor. Winkler credits pitching coach Dave Burba with his breakout season. With his performance this year he has shown A ball is not enough of a challenge for him and he should be moved up to AA Tulsa by season’s end, with a return trip to start 2014.

Jharel Cotton
1/19/92 RHSP B/T: R/R H/W: 5’11 195 LB DRAFT: 2012- 20/626 EAST CAROLINA PEAK: AA

2013 (thru 8/1) - 21 G, 11 GS, 74 IP, 61 H, 33 ER, 23 BB, 72 K, 4 HRA, 4.01 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 7.4 H/9, 8.8 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 3.13 K/BB, 1 CG, 1 SHO, 0.75 GO:FO

FB - 4-seam: 92/95, T-98
CB - flashes plus potential
CU - plus, excellent depth
SL - none
Command -good
Makeup -
Motion -
Other -
Ceiling - 3/4 starter, late-inning reliever, depending on durability

After signing last year out of the 20th round, Cotton dominated the Pioneer league as a 20 yr old coming out of the pen with a 1.20 ERA in 15 IP with just 9 hits, 3 walks and 20 strike outs. He began the year as a starter in Great Lakes where he perfomed well (3.55 ERA, 6.5 H/9, 8.9 K/9, 3.41 K/BB) and was double jumped all the way to AA Chattanooga in early June. He made 8 relief appearances for AA and was not ready, posting an 8.10 ERA along with 15 hits in 10 innings but his peripheral stats were solid (9.9 K/9, 2.7 BB/9). This prompted the LA front office to send him down to the Rancho Cucamonga in the Cal league in mid July. He’s made 2 excellent starts there so far totaling 5.2 IP with just 4 hits, 3 walks and 3 K’s with a 1.59 ERA. His fastball-changeup mix keeps hitters off balance well and the curve has been a show me pitch so far, but has its moments. Being a small right hander though, there will always be talk of him moving to the pen but he seems to have done well as a starter and I do not see why LA would want him to switch to the bull pen in just his first full season of pro ball.


Nick Wittgren BA-X MLB-X BP-X JS-X FG-X BB-X KL-X
5/29/91 RHP B/T: R/R H/W: 6’3 210 LB DRAFT: 2012- 9/287 PURDUE PEAK: A+

2013 (thru 8/1) - 40 G, 30 GF, 46.1 IP, 40 H, 5 ER, 9 BB, 50 K, 1 HRA, 0.97 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 7.8 H/9, 9.7 K/9, 1.7 BB/9, 5.56 K/BB, 1.13 GO:FO, 20 SV

FB - 4-seam: 90/93, T-95
CB - 78/81; flashes plus potential
CU - show me
SL - none
Command -great, throws strikes
Makeup - attacks hitters
Motion - a little funky
Other - gamer, can reach back for more when needed
Ceiling - closer

Wittgren has shown no signs of weakness since turning pro. He had no trouble at all with the New York-Penn League or the Sally after being draftes as he finished the year with 30.2 IP, 5 BB, 47 K, and just 7.3 H/9. He had a sparkling 1.17 ERA with 13 saves and a 0.98 WHIP. He’s been even better this year with Jupiter in the Florida State League. He’s allowing less hits, striking out less and walking just a few more this year in his first full season. He could be a very quick mover in a system like Miami’s, with nobody blocking him at any stops. A season like this could vault him to AA after the trade deadline with an outside shot at making it to South Beach next season.

Michael Reed
11/18/92 LF/RF B/T: R/R H/W: 6’0 190 LB DRAFT: 2011- 5/161 LEANDER HS (TX) PEAK: A

2013 stats (thru 8/1) - 90 G, .301/.388/.424/.812 105-349, 18 2B, 11 3B, 1 HR, 58 R, 32 RBI, 21-30 SB, 48 BB, 86 K, 129 wRC+, .374 wOBA, .395 BABIP, .123 ISO

Reed has proven himself this year in his first year of full season ball. He got a taste of AA and high A at the end of last year but he saw limited action. He started this year in Wisconsin hitting .323 in April and hasn’t let up yet. He’s got plenty of extra base hits even though only one has left the park, due to his plus speed and good instincts on the basepaths. In the field he has a strong arm but does not show the speed and athleticism to handle center. He’s shown great plate discipline walking in over 12 % of his AB’s, but he’s also striking out a little over 2% more than league average at 21.7%. He’s also hitting line drives almost 20% of the time, 5% more than the average Midwest League hitter. Reed has the tools to become a solid table setter in the lineup but doesn’t profile well with his lack of power and speed limiting him to the corners. If the power does develop though, Reed will be a force at the dish and will become Milwaukee’s future RF. I’d like to see Reed finish out the year in Wisconsin and make the jump to Brevard County to start 2014.

Jack Leathersich
7/14/90 LHP B/T: R/L H/W: 5’11 205 LB DRAFT: 2011- 5/162 U MASS-LOWELL PEAK: AAA

2013 (thru 8/1) - 44 G, 14 GF, 48.1 IP, 36 H, 15 ER, 33 BB, 86 K, 2 HRA, 2.79 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 6.7 H/9, 16.0 K/9, 6.1 BB/9, 2.61 K/BB, 0.55 GO:FO, 3 SV

FB - 4-seam: 91/94
CB - good
CU - none
SL - none
Command - shaky
Makeup -
Motion - hides ball well, pushes ball
Other - elite K #’s,
Ceiling - closer

Leathersich has begun to accumulate a cult following in the minors due to his insanely high strikeout rate. This year he’s striking out almost 16 batters per 9 innings, and only allowing 6.4 hits per 9. That’s over 40% of batter he faces turning around and heading back to the dugout. Batters are also only slugging .281 against Leathersich for the year. It is still a mystery as to how he’s managing to do it with a fastball that can touch mid-90’s but regularly sits in the 91-94 range. He has a very deceptive motion in which he hides the ball very well and his curve is good. As the numbers show, his control is shaky at best. Teams won’t be deterred though because at the end of the day, they will always look at the obscene strikeouts and just hope he can get a handle on it at some point. If he ever does, his potential could be another Billy Wagner type, an undersized left handed shut down closer.

Severino Gonzalez
9/28/92 RHSP B/T: R/R H/W: 6’1 153 LB IFA: 2011- $15 K PANAMA PEAK: A+

2013 (thru 8/1) - 19 G, 8 GS, 66.2 IP, 48 H, 14 ER, 12 BB, 79 K, 4 HRA, 1.89 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 6.5 H/9, 10.7 K/9, 1.6 BB/9, 6.58 K/BB, 0.73 GO:FO

FB - 4-seam: 89/91, T-92
CB - low 70’s, good break, best pitch
CU - decent
SL - none
CUT - show me
Command - excellent
Makeup - savvy, good pitch ability, no fear
Motion -
Other - mixes 4 pitches well
Ceiling - 4/5 starter, long relief

Gonzalez was challenged right out of the gate this year with an unexpected assignment to the A+ Clearwater bullpen after not pitching above the Venezuelan Summer League at any point in his career. That means he skipped domestic rookie ball, short season Williamsport and low A Lakewood, and he held his own as a 20 yr old. He posted a 1.99 ERA in Clearwater with 4 spot starts and 11 relief appearances. He was then dropped back to the Lakewood rotation at the end of June, and as expected, he has thrown exceptionally well. Gonzalez has a small frame at this point but has room to fill out in the coming years which could add to his high 80’s/low 90’s heat, and definitely improve his profile and ceiling. The best part of his profile is his ability to pound the zone with strikes and keep free passes to a minimum. As it stands, Gonzalez is a back end rotation guy due to the lack of oomph to the fastball, and lack of quality breaking pitch. The pitches he has are solid but unspectacular.

Nick Kingham
BA-17 MLB-13 BP-9 JS-8 FG-13 BB-10 KL-8
11/8/91 RHSP B/T: R/R H/W: 6’5 220 LB DRAFT: 2010- 4/117 SIERRA VISTA HS (CA) PEAK: AA

2013 (thru 8/1) - 22 G, 20 GS, 118.2 IP, 96 H, 40 ER, 34 BB, 113 K, 7 HRA, 3.03 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 7.3 H/9, 8.6 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 3.32 K/BB, 0.93 GO:FO

FB - 4-seam: 90/92, T-95
CB - put away pitch, big breaker
CU - decent, on its way
SL - none
Command -
Makeup -
Motion - clean mechanics
Other - susceptible to big inning
Ceiling - mid-rotation starter

Kingham has also had a breakout year after a very up-and-down 2012. He has a solid frame and clean mechanics so he’s built to eat innings. His fastball can touch 95 but is regularly in the low 90’s with a big breaking curve that is his 2 strike go-to pitch. This year he threw 70 IP with a 3.09 ERA for A+ Bradenton in 13 starts, getting 75 K’s and only 55 hits and 14 walks before getting bumped up to Altoona. His 26.5 K% in A+ was over 7.5% better than league average and his 4.9 BB% was 5.4% better than average as well. Since the promotion he’s thrown 48.2 IP with 38 K, 20 BB and 41 hits allowed. He’s got a 2.96 ERA in AA so far but his K rate has dropped and his walks have gone up. These are 2 bad trends but overall, Kingham should make the adjustments and he’s only 21 years old. He’s got an outside shot at a September call up next year, but there’s a lot of time between now and then.


Keyvius Sampson BA-13 MLB-16 BP-X JS-8 FG-14 BB-14 KL-X
1/6/91 RHSP B/T: R/R H/W: 6’0 185 LB DRAFT: 2009- 4/114 FOREST HS (FL) PEAK: AAA

2013 (thru 8/1) - 22 G, 21 GS, 108.2 IP, 87 H, 37 ER, 44 BB, 111 K, 12 HRA, 3.06 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 7.2 H/9, 9.2 K/9, 3.6 BB/9, 2.52 K/BB, 0.82 GO:FO

FB - 4 seam: 90/94, T-95, late running action
CB - average
CU - very good, deceptive; same arm-slot as FB
SL - developing
Command - solid
Makeup -
Motion -
Other -
Ceiling - 3/4 starter

The 2013 season began for Sampson with another aggressive promotion. Last year he was jumped to AA from low A, bypassing the Cal League completely as a 21 year old. He struggled at the onset but figured it out as the year played out. San Diego sent him to AAA to begin 2013 and he struggled again (12.1 IP, 8.03 ERA, 17 H, 12 BB, 7 K). This time they demoted him instead of letting things play out and he has put the Texas League under his spell. He works his FB in the low 90’s with good late action, reaching back to hit 95 when needed. He matches that with a terrific change up that plays very well off the heat. They both come from the same arm-slot but the change drops off the table as it nears the zone. He’s worked to make his curve average and introduced a slider this year that has been the difference maker. He’s been able to use the slider as a put away pitch, throwing it off the corners to get batters to chase once he‘s established his curve for strikes. Another crack at AAA will be Sampson’s ultimate test. If he can achieve success there he will definitely find his way into the middle of the rotation at Petco.


Edwin Escobar BA-13 MLB-10 BP-X JS-18 FG-11 BB-15 KL-X
4/22/92 LHSP B/T: L/L H/W: 6’2 200 LB IFA: 2011- $350K VENEZUELA PEAK: AA

2013 (thru 8/1) - 20 G, 18 GS, 98.2 IP, 88 H, 32 ER, 22 BB, 118 K, 3 HRA, 2.92 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 8.0 H/9, 10.8 K/9, 2.0 BB/9, 5.36 K/BB, 1.00 GO:FO

FB - 4 seam: 90/95
CB - average, flashes plus sometimes
CU - great, plus pitch, #1 off-speed pitch
SL - none
Command - great
Makeup -
Other - knows how to pitch
Ceiling - 3/4 starter

Escobar was a guy that was on the edge of prospecting radars entering the year. This came from 2.96 ERA last year in the Sally at age 20. He struck out 8.4 per 9 innings, allowed 2.2 BB/9, and 8.3 H/9. This year he’s improved those numbers and was very impressive in the hitter friendly Cal League. He posted a 2.89 ERA, 11.1 K/9, 2.0 BB/9 and 8.2 H/9 with his home games in San Jose. He was promoted after putting up those number and in 4 AA starts he’s got a 3.00 ERA and 9.8 K/9, 1.9 BB/9 and 7.5 H/9. He’s got great command of his low to mid-90s fastball and plus change up. He’s been able to change speeds and mix in a show-me curve that can be impressive at times. Multiple reports note how well he knows how to pitch which will allow his pitches to play up. He’s got a chance to be a solid mid-rotation starter and I’ve learned to not bet against San Francisco’s premier pitching prospects.


Zach Petrick BA-X MLB-X BP-X JS-X FG-X BB-X KL-X
7/29/89 RHP B/T: R/R H/W: 6’3 195 LB UDFA: 2012 NORTHWEST OHIO PEAK: AA

2013 (thru 8/1) - 29 G, 8 GS, 14 GF, 87 IP, 66 H, 15 ER, 18 BB, 98 K, 2 HRA, 1.55 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 6.8 H/9, 10.1 K/9, 1.9 BB/9, 5.44 K/BB, 1.16 GO:FO

FB - 4 seam: 90/94, late movement
CB - good, reliable; tight rotation
CU - solid
SL - None
Command - good, throws strikes
Makeup - confident
Motion -
Other -
Ceiling - 4/5 starter, late-inning reliever

Petrick is the best story on this list. He went to college at a small NAIA school, Northwest Ohio, where he was a solid starter that barely touched 90. After the draft St. Louis signed him to a deal and sent him to the Appy league at age 23 to see what he had. He was definitely old for the league but put up solid numbers - 2.17 ERA, 2.50 FIP, 9.9 K/9, 1.8 BB/9, and 6.5 H/9 in 45.2 IP. He was assigned to full season Peoria and just dominated out of the pen. He put a 0.83 ERA and 1.61 FIP up in 32.2 IP with 12.7 K/9. That earned him a promotion to A+ Palm Beach and he was even better in 33.1 IP. He had a 0.27 ERA, 1.32 FIP, 8.6 K/9, 1.1 BB/9 and just 5.7 H/9. Now he’s in AA Springfield and has found a spot in the rotation. He’s thrown 21 IP since the promotion and has finally found a challenge, posting a 4.71 ERA and 2.77 FIP with 9.0 H/9, 8.6 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9. When he’s on the mound he works a low 90’s fastball that can touch 94 with a sharp curve and a change that’s developing due to a new grip he learned this year. This has lead him to an amazing .167 BAA against lefties and just a .450 OPS. His ceiling is tough to determine right now with such limited info. If he continues to mow down the opposition as a starter, he could turn into a Brandon Beachy-type. If he is not able to, he could be utilized out of the pen where he’s posted stellar numbers this year.


Tony Renda BA-X MLB-X BP-X JS-10 FG-12 BB-5 KL-X
1/24/91 2B B/T: R/R H/W: 5’10 170 LB DRAFT: 2012- 2/80 CAL-BERKELEY PEAK: A

2013 stats (thru 8/1) - 106 G, .295/.380/.407/.787 121-410, 34 2B, 3 3B, 2 HR, 76 R, 44 RBI, 22-27 SB, 54 BB, 57 K, 128 wRC+, .368 wOBA, .334 BABIP, .112 ISO

The best work to describe Renda is scrappy. Though this term is used a lot for undersized players (he‘s listed anywhere between 5‘8 and 5‘10), Renda really epitomizes the phrase. He’s got a great hit tool with plus bat speed that sprays line drives all over the diamond. He’s got sneaky pull side power and tremendous makeup. Renda also features a very refined approach at the plate and above average speed. In the dirt, he’s got modest range with a solid glove and decent arm. He knows how to play the keystone and can turn a pretty twin killing. Renda is a guy that will always milk every ounce of talent out of himself and play above his tools due to his scrappy/grinder mentality. Numbers-wise, he’s keeps hitting and getting on base with a 19% line drive rate, 2.3% above league average, and 11.3% walk rate that is 2.4% above league average. The kicker is the fact he is striking out almost a full 10% less than the average Sally hitter. He’s got doubles pop, good speed, fantastic plate discipline, and solid D. This adds up to a guy that can hold down a spot at the top of the lineup where he can work his walks, take the extra base and annoy the hell out of pitchers. Unfortunately, it looks like it will have to happen in a different organization with Anthony Rendon and Danny Espinosa ahead of him on the depth chart.

Trending Discussions