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 with the pitchers this morning, to see how things look with the season now complete.
Ryan Borucki, LHP, Blue Jays: Age 21. Limited to 5.2 innings in rookie ball by injury.
Tyler Duffey, RHP, Twins: Age 24, Rice University product was excellent in minors (2.54, 122/30 K/BB in 138 innings between Double-A and Triple-A), promoted to majors and continued to perform well (3.10, 53/20 K/BB in 58 innings). Should be a solid starting pitcher going forward. This one definitely worked out.
Alex Grosser, RHP, Braves: Age 20, suffered complete command failure in Low-A (7.32, 46/64 K/BB in 82 innings in South Atlantic League). He was much more effective in 2014 so this was very disappointing.
David Hess, RHP, Orioles: Age 22, out of Tennessee Tech, solid season between A and AA, 3.64 ERA, 122/57 K/BB in 143 innings, 122 hits. Inning-eater fourth-starter type projection but if his command improves a bit more he could break through in 2016.
Chih-Wei Hu,RHP, Twins: Age 21, from Taiwan, traded from the Twins to the Tampa Bay Rays in July, combined for 3.22 ERA, 99/31 K/BB in 109 innings, 104 hits, between High-A and one Triple-A spot start. Like Hess, Hu had a good year and has back-of-rotation potential due to his command.
Jordan Jankowski, RHP, Astros: Age 26, solid season in Triple-A bullpen, 3.18 ERA, 77/34 K/BB in 62 innings, 55 hits. If he can lower the walk rate (and past track record indicates he can), could be a useful component of a big league staff.
German Marquez, RHP, Rays: Age 20, decent year in Florida State League, posted 3.56 ERA, 104/29 K/BB in 139 innings, 147 hits. Hittable but throws strikes and young enough to improve further, has shown steady improvement in command each season of his career.
Casey Meisner, RHP, Mets: Age 20, traded to Oakland Athletics, impressive season at three A-ball stops in the two systems, combined 2.45 ERA, 113/40 K/BB in 143 innings, 121 hits allowed. Another one who is young and shows good pitching instincts, a type that frequently inhabits these lists.
Daniel Mengden, RHP, Astros: Age 22, traded to Oakland Athletics, posted 3.72 ERA with 125/36 K/BB in 131 innings, 128 hits at three A-ball stops. Hmmm. . .two guys on the Sleeper Alert! list pre-season and both were acquired by the Athletics. They must be looking for similar attributes.
Jose Mujica, RHP, Rays: Age 19, posted 3.18 ERA with 41/10 K/BB in 65 innings between Appalachian and Midwest Leagues. Youngest guy on the list and furthest away but pitched well overall.
Tyler Olson, LHP, Mariners: Age 26, 4.47 ERA with 53/17 K/BB in 54 innings in Triple-A, 5.40 ERA with weak 8/10 K/BB in 13 innings in the major leagues. Expect him to be on the fringe of the majors for the next six years.
Williams Perez, RHP, Braves: Age 24, made 20 starts for the Braves, posting 4.78 ERA with 73/51 K/BB in 117 inning, 130 hits. Nothing great obviously but he spent most of the year in the majors despite little Triple-A experience and did enough to merit more opportunities.
Angel Perdomo, LHP, Blue Jays: Age 21, posted 2.60 ERA with 67/30 K/BB in 69 innings, 52 hits combined between Appy and Northwest Leagues. Older prospect for a Dominican at these levels but good size (6-6, 200) and could turn into something if his command improves.
Michael Santos, RHP, Giants: Age 20, missed much of season with a sore arm but did OK when on the mound, 3.18 with 28/12 K/BB in 40 innings, 38 hits. Projectable type, need to see full health and more dominance but young enough to do it.
Glenn Sparkman, RHP, Royals: Age 23, made four good starts in Double-A in April (3.60, 21/9 K/BB in 20 innings) then went on disabled list and never came off.
Stephen Tarpley, LHP, Pirates: Age 22, impressive campaign, 2.42 ERA in 20 starts in Low-A, 105/25 K/BB in 116 innings, 108 hits. May have best combination of command and stuff on the list.
Derek Thompson, LHP, Rangers: Age 23, another solid performer with good season in Northwest League (3.21 ERA, 73/15 K/BB in 70 innings, 66 hits). Definitely need to see him against better competition but he's been very strong at the lower levels due to his command.
Sean Townsley, LHP, Marlins: Age 25, 4.79 ERA with 45/25 K/BB in 62 innings in High-A, 80 hits. Huge 6-7 lefty unable to duplicate strong 2014 performance against better competition with significant slippage in all components except walk rate.
Andre Wheeler, LHP, White Sox: Age 24, 3.86 ERA with 61/28 K/BB in 63 innings in High-A, used as both starter and reliever. Dominated Low-A as a starter in 2014 but didn't duplicate it in this mixed role mainly due to weaker command.
Ryan Yarbrough, LHP, Mariners: Age 23, 3.86 ERA in 81 innings in the California League, 74/18 K/BB, 86 hits. Another command type who performed pretty well for context/environment but needs to turn things up a bit at higher levels.
Luis Ysla, LHP, Giants: Age 23, traded to Boston Red Sox, difficult season with 5.85 ERA in High-A for the two organizations, gave up 105 hits in 85 innings, however he posted an exceptional strikeout rate with 101 whiffs while walking 43. Has work to do but there is ability here.
Overall this turned out better than the 2015 hitter list. Duffey was the big success story but at least three or four others could do something similar within the next year or two. As usual command guys pop up on this list more often than power pitchers, but that's the whole point, to try and find the Collin McHugh and Chris Heston types ahead of schedule. And every once in awhile, someone goes Corey Kluber or Dallas Keuchel on you.