Every year, we put considerable effort into identifying "sleeper prospects," trying to get ahead on the general curve of identifying players who might come out of nowhere. We've had good success with this over the years. Let's take a look at the pre-season 2015 Sleeper Alert list from the Baseball Prospect Book, starting with the hitters, to see how things look with the season now complete.
Pitchers will follow in a subsequent article Monday morning.
Carlos Asuaje, 2B-3B, Red Sox: Hit .251/.334/.374 with 56 walks, 88 strikeouts in 495 at-bats for Double-A Portland. Steady defender at second base, age 23, shows some feel for hitting but power transition to AA was disappointing. I think he can improve but will get buried in this system.
Yu-Cheng Chang, SS, Indians: Age 20, hit .232/.293/.361 with 26 walks, 103 strikeouts in 393 at-bats in for Low-A Lake County. Jump from rookie ball was difficult as strike zone got away from him, still flashed pop and improved his defense. Still interesting.
Andrew Daniel, 2B, Angels: Hit .264/.329/.422 with nine homers,11 steals, 43 walks, 115 strikeouts in 462 at-bats between Low-A and High-A, age 22. Played very well with the glove at second base and third base, University of San Diego product remains dozing as a prospect but still has talents of interest.
Mason Davis, 2B,Marlins: The Citadel product hit .255/.311/.365 with six homers, 19 steals, 19 walks, 67 strikeouts in 337 at-bats in Low-A, played four positions to enhance versatility. Like Daniel and Asuaje he did enough to stay employed but not enough to distinguish himself yet.
Michael De Leon, SS, Rangers: Very young at age 18, hit just .222/.277/.281 in 306 at-bats in Low-A. Despite his extreme youth he was repeating the league. Reliable glove, needs to get stronger physically, has the high-contact profile that can sometimes result in unexpected development as a player matures physically. Yeah, we'll go with that.
Johnny Field, OF, Rays: Age 23, hit .255/.329/.447 with 14 homers, 18 steals, 36 walks, 109 strikeouts in 432 at-bats in Double-A. Above-average production for this league/level with 119 wRC+, plus speed and very good reports on glove. Still intriguing.
Mike Ford, 1B, Yankees: Age 23, hit .260/.346/.368 with six homers, 60 walks, 75 strikeouts in 435 at-bats in High-A. Princeton product, tough to stand out as a first base prospect with so few homers, but production was quite solid in Florida State League context (wRC+120) and he controls the zone well. Still has a chance.
Steven Fuentes, 3B, Tigers: Age 20, hit just .154/.241/.243 with 18 walks, 62 strikeouts in 169 at-bats between Low-A and New York-Penn League. Horrible season, made odder by the fact that he hit great in the NY-P last year (.295/.356/.475) and has good physical tools. I don't know what's going on here but will research it of course.
Mitch Garver, C, Twins: Age 24, hit .245/.356/.333 with four homers, 69 walks, 82 strikeouts in 433 at-bats in High-A. As with Ford, this was actually above-average hitting for the Florida State League and he controlled the zone well, so too soon to give up here although age is against him. Defense has improved. Hit better in the second half and it is possible he had some early-season echoes from a concussion suffered late in 2014.
Alex Glenn, OF, Diamondbacks: Age 24, hit .248/.305/.434 with 22 doubles, 10 triples, 11 homers, 29 walks, 88 strikeouts in 403 at-bats between High-A and Double-A. Stole just six bases after swiping 22 in 2014. As a tweener type he needs to get the speed back or add more power.
Spencer Kieboom, C, Nationals: Age 24, hit .248/.344/.346 with 36 walks, 30 strikeouts in 246 at-bats in High-A. Looks bad on the surface but as with some guys above this was better-than-league-average production and he has a good eye. Skilled with glove, threw out 40% and receives well.
Dom Nunez, C, Rockies: Age 20, hit .282/.373/.448 with 13 homers, 53 walks, 55 strikeouts in 373 at-bats in Low-A, intriguing bat with a good eye and some power but defense needs a LOT of work, threw out just 21% with high error and passed ball rates.
Raudy Read, C, Nationals: Age 21, hit .252/.315/.377 with five homers, 27 walks, 53 strikeouts in 313 at-bats between Low-A and High-A, threw out 38% and showed good receiving skills. Needs to show more with bat but young enough to do so.
Chase Simpson, 3B, Pirates: Age 23, hit .247/.352/.404 with 11 homers, 63 walks, 112 strikeouts in 389 at-bats in Low-A, 14th round pick in 2014 from Wichita State, I liked him in college and he has some pop with a patient approach but this was far from a great year.
Jose Trevino, C, Rangers: Hit .262/.294/.415 with 14 homers, 18 walks, 60 strikeouts in 424 at-bats in Low-A at age 22. Another guy I liked in college (in his case sixth round from Oral Roberts in '14), decent glove results (34%, low error/passed ball rates) though actual scouting reports on the glove are mixed. Hustles, has some pop, needs more patience.
Jhoan Urena, 3B, Mets: Age 21, hit .222/.274/.302 in 224 at-bats between High-A and rookie ball injury rehab. Attempting to make jump from NY-P where he thrived in '14 but stumbled, defense and hitting both slipped considerably.
Giovanny Urshela, 3B, Indians: Hit .220/.275/.326 with 18 walks, 58 strikeouts in 264 at-bats in the majors for the Indians. Obviously did not hit well at all, but his glove was impressive and was good enough at third base for his overall value to rate right at replacement level. At age 23 the defense may buy him more time to work the hitting out.
As with any prospect list, it takes a couple of years to really know how it panned out but in general I'm not happy with the early returns.
It is true that some guys played well in context but the surface stats were masked by difficult league/park contexts. However, although there were only a few complete failures (De Leon, Fuentes, Urena), nobody broke out either. The best bets for future success could be Field, the catchers with good gloves, and Urshela.
We'll look at the pitchers next. We will also look at the players listed in the book as "High Ceiling Alert" prospects to see if they were more effective.