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2015 MLB Prospects: High Ceiling Alert hitter results

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Eloy Jimenez
Eloy Jimenez

As a complement to the traditional "Sleeper Alert" notifications in the Baseball Prospect Book, for 2015 we added an experimental "High Ceiling Alert' tag. The idea here was to point out players with excellent physical potential who might not otherwise stand out based solely on their 2014 performance, but who had the tools to become impressive players with more experience and development.

The traditional sleeper type is someone who may not have spectacular tools but who knows how to play the game. The idea here was to look for players who do have strong tools but who could blossom if they added skills to match.

Let's see how the first attempt with this tag concept worked out, beginning with the hitters. Pitchers will follow separately.

Anthony Alford, OF, Blue Jays: Age 21, hit combined .298/.398/.421 with 27 steals, 67 walks, 109 strikeouts in 413 at-bats between Low-A and Double-A. Third round pick from a Mississippi high school in 2012, Alford is an outstanding athlete but took time to give up his devotion to football. He's baseball full-time now and blossomed this year as a leadoff type with speed and good strike zone judgment. More power may come.

Lewin Diaz, 1B, Twins: Age 18, hit combined .233/.322/.371 between the Gulf Coast and Appalachian rookie leagues, 17/49 BB/K in 159 at-bats. Renowned for left-handed power potential, a high-profile signing from the Dominican Republic in 2013 for $1,400,000. Did not live up to that this year, did not get to his power often enough in games. This was a concern among some scouts before he signed, but he's still young enough to improve of course.

Marten Gasparini, SS, Royals: Age 18, hit .259/.341/.411 with 26 steals, 25 walks, 80 strikeouts in 197 at-bats in the Pioneer League. Signed out of Italy in 2013 for $1,300,000, impresses with overall athleticism but understandably raw as a player. Could develop some pop but needs to refine contact ability. Uses his speed well on the bases and has tools for shortstop, but very error-prone at this stage. That's also understandable. Made progress this year but still a long way to go.

Brayan Hernandez, OF, Mariners:
Age 18, hit .224/.295/.328 with 18 walks, 44 strikeouts in 174 at-bats in the Dominican Summer League. Signed for $2,000,000 out of Venezuela in 2014, he was advertised as a player with solid across-the-board tools who could hit for average with at least decent power. He didn't show any of that in the DSL, but initial performance at that level is not especially predictive.

Joan Mauricio, SS, Astros: Age 18, hit .181/.246/.238 with eight walks, 32 strikeouts in 105 at-bats in the Gulf Coast League. Signed out of Dominican in 2013, athletic, draws praise for defensive actions and is unusually reliable for a middle infielder in his age group. I thought he could hit too but he didn't show that this year, though Astros sources have not given up on the idea.

Amaurys Minier, 1B, Twins:
Age 19, hit .199/.280/.282 with 18 walks, 68 strikeouts in 181 at-bats in the Appy League. Signed for $1,400,000 from the Dominican in 2012, struggles with defense and has an injury history. Obviously hit poorly this year though he batted .292/.405/.520 in rookie ball in 2014. Significant disappointment though young enough to rebound.

Leonardo Molina, OF, Yankees:
Age 18, hit .247/.290/.364 with 10 walks, 37 strikeouts in 162 at-bats in Gulf Coast League. Repeating the circuit, hit better than he did in 2014 but still not very good. Another Dominican who signed for $1,400,000, he offers at least average tools in all categories and is a sharp defender. So far the hitting isn't there, but he does make contact and could improve as he gets stronger.

Jakson Reetz, C, Nationals:
Age 19, hit .212/.326/.248 with 13 walks, 37 strikeouts in 113 at-bats in the New York-Penn League. Third round pick from a Nebraska high school in 2014, tools to be an above-average player on both sides of the ball but remains quite raw, particularly as a hitter. Glove ahead of bat at this point.

Jomar Reyes, 3B, Orioles:
Age 18, hit .278/.334/.440 with five homers, 18 walks, 73 strikeouts in 306 at-bats in Low-A. That may look just decent on the surface, but he is very young for full-season ball and has outplayed many more-heralded prospects. Good power potential, already has a solid third base glove, signed for just $350,000 out of the Dominican in 2014. Looks like a bargain.

Yeyson Yrizarri, SS, Rangers:
Age 18, hit .266/.291/.342 with 33 walks, 51 strikeouts in 278 at-bats split between the Northwest League and a brief nine-game trial in Triple-A when Round Rock needed an infielder. Signed for $1,300,000 in 2013, line drive hitter, strong throwing arm, mixed opinion about his range at shortstop. Might develop more pop than he's shown so far.

We won't know how this list really pans out for a few years, of course. I do think it notable that Reyes in particular outplayed most of the larger bonus players.