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; in pitching terms that's a guy who doesn't throw especially hard but gets people out anyway.
The idea with the High Ceiling Alert was something of the opposite: to look for players who do have strong tools but who were raw and who could blossom if they added skills to match; in pitching terms the guys who throw hard but need polish.
Let's see how the first attempt with this tag concept worked out, continuing with the pitchers. We looked at the hitter list earlier today.
Christopher Acosta, RHP, Red Sox: Age 17, signed for $1,500,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2014, made nine starts in Dominican Summer League with 4.28 ERA, 22/5 K/BB in 34 innings. Projectable, already throws in low-90s and throws strikes, secondary pitches progressing. Could make big impression in 2016.
Jacob Brentz, LHP, Mariners: Age 21, 11th round pick by the Blue Jays in 2013, traded to Mariners this summer, 4.00 ERA with 30/19 K/BB in 36 innings between Appalachian and Northwest Leagues, 34 hits. Standard young arm strength lefty working on command and control, number three starter upside if it comes together.
Marcos Diplan, RHP, Brewers: Signed by Rangers out of Dominican Republic for $1,300,000 in 2013, traded to Brewers, posted 3.75 ERA in 50 innings in Pioneer League, 54/21 K/BB, 47 hits. Age 19, not tall at 5-10 but both fastball and curveball flash plus and he gets his strikeouts.
Anderson Espinosa, RHP, Red Sox: Age 17, signed out of Venezuela for $1,800,000 in 2014, spectacular 2015 debut saw him finish as the youngest player in the South Atlantic League, combined for 1.23 ERA in 58 innings, 65/14 K/BB, 41 hits. Scouting reports are glowing, can hit mid-to-upper-90s with easy effort, both curveball and change-up are quality.
This video from Baseball America shows you what you need to know. This looks like a future number one starter to me. He just needs to stay healthy.
Garrett Fulenchek, RHP, Rays: Second round pick by Braves in 2014, age 19, struggled with massive command issues in rookie ball, traded to Rays, posted combined 6.11 ERA with a 19/30 K/BB in 18 innings, the walks are not a typo. Said to be raw-but-talented pre-season. Indeed he was extremely raw, mechanics reportedly troublesome.
Franklyn Kilome, RHP, Phillies: Age 20, signed out of Dominican in 2013 for just $40,000, posted 3.28 ERA with 36/21 K/BB in 49 innings in New York-Penn League. Positive reports on fastball and general projection, secondary pitches (curve, change) draw mixed reviews. The latter issue is reflected sabermetrically in his low strikeout rate although he was effective overall.
Ofelky Peralta, RHP, Orioles: Age 18, posted 5.61 ERA with 31/19 K/BB in rookie ball, 26 innings. Signed out of Dominican for $325,000 in 2013, can hit mid-90s but command is obviously an issue at this point, mainly due to mechanical consistency. Could be anything from number three starter to power reliever to A-ball flameout.
Franklin Perez, RHP, Astros: Age 17, signed out of Venezuela for $1,000,000, at the time he was considered up there with Acosta and Espinosa talent-wise. Anderson has passed him but Perez has shown ability, posting misleading 4.50 ERA in 50 innings between DSL and GSL but with sharp 61/14 K/BB. Athletic, ideal size, delivery looks good to me.
Tanner Scott, LHP, Orioles: Age 21, sixth round pick in 2014 from Howard Junior College, posted 3.83 ERA in 42 innings between NY-P and Sally League, 60/22 K/BB, 35 hits. Too many walks but an outstanding strikeout rate, command needs work but he's hit 98-100 MPH at his best.
Logan Webb, RHP, Giants: Age 18, fourth round pick in 2014 from high school in California, 4.92 ERA in 60 innings in Northwest League, 40/16 K/BB, 76 hits. Football background so raw when drafted, reported in the 90-96 range and he doesn't walk the park but secondary pitches need lots of polish.
Huascar Ynoa, RHP, Twins: Age 17, Michael Ynoa's brother, signed for $800,000 in 2014, posted 2.70 ERA with 47/30 K/BB in 57 innings, 43 hits in the DSL. At his best throws three quality pitches for strikes but still looking for consistency, certainly understandable given his age. Similar high upside like his brother but one hopes Huascar can avoid the physical problems that have hampered his sibling.
Generally this list turned out pretty well. There was only one serious failure and several successes, though as always we won't know how this pans out for a few years.