This afternoon we continue our review of all players with the "Sleeper Alert" Tag in the 2016 Baseball Prospect Book. The complete list was published here on March 18, 2016. We've split the review into three sections.
Letters A through G were written up yesterday.
The purpose of a Sleeper Alert is to point out promising players ahead of the general knowledge curve. They are sometimes (but not always) well-known to close followers of their particular team, but haven't made their way into the broader baseball conversation yet.
Past Sleeper Alert success stories include Jacob deGrom, Roenis Elias, Jeurys Familia, Mike Fiers, Tyler Lyons, Nathan Karns, David Phelps, Devon Travis,Trevor Rosenthal, Eugenio Suarez, and Michael Taylor. Top Pittsburgh Pirates prospect Tyler Glasnow was a Sleeper Alert player entering 2013, as he was transitioning from "interesting arm known to Pirates followers" to "top pitching prospect known to everyone."
Let's see how the 2016 list looks right now. Remember, this list was put together in mid-March.
Taylor Hearn, LHP, Nationals: Age 22, traded from the Nationals to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the deadline Mark Melancon deal; has fought some injuries but has been quite effective with 2.51 ERA in 47 innings, 66/22 K/BB; power lefty arm remains highly intriguing.
Arnaldo Hernandez, RHP, Royals: Age 20, Venezuelan right-hander has 5.52 ERA with 52/15 K/BB in 60 innings in Pioneer League but ERA elevated due to 85 hits; I don't have a current stuff report on him; control and youth remain best attributes.
Elieser Hernandez, RHP, Astros: Age 21, very good in the Midwest League (2.37, 68/12 K/BB in 57 innings) but ineffective in the California League (7.46 in 45 innings, 35/23 K/BB), started season in Cal but demoted after rough start; Midwest League sources still like him.
Sam Hilliard, OF, Rockies: Age 22, hitting .266/.350/.452 in Low-A with 16 homers, 26 steals, 55 walks, 149 strikeouts in 436 at-bats; nice power/speed production but contact is a concern and we need to see him outside the influence of Asheville.
C.J. Hinojosa, INF, Giants: Age 22, hitting combined .275/.347/.395 with 52 walks, 85 strikeouts in 463 at-bats between High-A and Double-A; University of Texas product is reliable defender who still has a chance to improve with the bat, a typical Giants prospect in other words.
Jake Jewell, RHP, Angels: Age 23, difficult season in the California League, 6.32 ERA with 100/61 K/BB in 131 innings, 185 hits; only real positive is that he's stayed healthy; may have a better chance in the bullpen.
Brad Keller, RHP, Diamondbacks: Age 21; went on disabled list five days ago; 4.47 ERA with 99/26 K/BB in 135 innings in the Cal League, 147 hits; that's not bad for the Cal League really but we need to see how his health goes; perhaps a power relief arm long-term if durability is an issue.
Ryan Kellogg, LHP, Cubs: Age 22, Arizona State product has been sharp in the Midwest League with 3.18 ERA, 101/26 K/BB in 125 innings, 110 hits; hoped-for velocity spike did not occur but pitchability has made him successful anyway, need to see at higher levels. I still like him.
Dinelson Lamet, RHP, Padres: Age 24, very impressive campaign between High-A, Double-A, Triple-A with 2.91 ERA, 151/59 K/BB in 145 innings, 121 hits; command has been much better over the last five weeks and there has been no doubt about having good stuff.
Andrew Lee, RHP, Nationals: Age 22, off to a decent start in Low-A with 3.71 ERA in 51 innings, 46/18 K/BB but went on disabled list in early June and hasn't returned.
Lazaro Leyva, RHP, Orioles: Hard-throwing 22 year old Cuban has been hurt all season.
Shedric Long, 2B, Reds: Age 21, successful season with .296/.376/.474 15 homers, 21 steals, 54 walks in 460 at-bats between Low-A and High-A; power, speed, and ability to play second base make him interesting.
Phil Maton, RHP, Padres: Age 23, bullpen prospect with an excellent season between High-A, Double-A, Triple-A, 11 saves, 1.60 ERA, 76/11 K/BB in 51 innings, just 31 hits; can't complain about any of that.
Patrick Mazeika, C, Mets: Age 22, line drive hitting skills with .297/.415/.393 in Low-A with 37/33 BB/K in 219 at-bats; has thrown out just 27% of runners but a reliable receiver; lacks home run power but gets on base.
Anderson Miller, OF, Royals: Age 22, hit well in Low-A (.284/.376/.432) but not in High-A (.205/.274/.393), missed more than a month with injuries; hasn't tapped power in 6-3, 210 frame.
Cody Mobley, RHP, Mariners: Age 19, has pitched just one June inning in rookie ball; status unclear; eighth round pick in 2015 from high school in Indiana; he was strong at the same level last year.
Taylor Motter, OF-INF, Rays: Age 26 but has tools, hitting .234/.300/.401 with 13 homers, 18 steals, 31 walks, 62 strikeouts in 329 at-bats in Triple-A; .188/.290/.300 in 80 major league at-bats; fun to watch, can play multiple positions, run, and hit the ball a long way but don't expect a high batting average.
Carlos Munoz, 1B, Pirates: Age 22, Mexican mashed in Appy League last year but hasn't repeated in Low-A, .258/.341/.376, strong 50/53 BB/K in 431 at-bats but just seven homers; limited to first base so he needs to show a lot more power than this.
Trey Nielsen, RHP, Cardinals: Age 24, fair year in Double-A/Triple-A with 3.76 ERA in 122 innings, 82/40 K/BB, 128 hits; throws strikes but doesn't dominate; likely better suited for bullpen role when/if he reaches the majors.
Jio Orozco, RHP, Mariners: Age 19, repeating rookie ball, 4.07 ERA with 63/16 K/BB in 49 innings; not projectable physically at listed 6-0, 210, but hit low-90s and secondaries have promise; high strikeout rate still says this is someone to watch.