Let’s take a shot at pegging some prospect sleepers ahead of the curve. I’m going to divide this by division, with two sleepers per team, one pitcher and one hitter. None of them have a current grade higher than C+ on our prospect lists entering 2017, but all (in my opinion) have a chance to be very good or even excellent values relative to their current ranking.
AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST
Yordan Alvarez, 1B: Age 19, Cuban, signed by Dodgers last summer for $2,000,000 then traded to Astros a few days later for Josh Fields; big left-handed hitter (6-5, 200) with power potential; hit .341/.474/.500 with 12 walks and seven strikeouts in 44 at-bats in Dominican Summer League; scouting reports point to excellent strike zone judgment, which is backed up by the early numbers; need to see a higher levels but quite intriguing.
Jose Hernandez, RHP: 21 years old, from Mexico, excellent season between Low-A and High-A with combined 2.94 ERA, 127/24 K/BB in 125 innings; complete arsenal with low-90s fastball, slider, curveball, change-up; throws strikes, Midwest League observers impressed with maturity and ability to mix pitches and change speeds, could surprise as control artist inning-eater.
Los Angeles Angels:
Troy Montgomery, OF: Age 22, eighth round pick in 2016 from The Ohio State University; hit .291/.384/.461 in 230 at-bats between Pioneer and Midwest Leagues; also stole 13 bases; lefty hitter with above-average speed and power potential, also a good defensive outfielder; didn’t quite live up to expectations in college but pro career off to good start
Chris Rodriguez, RHP: Age 18, fourth round pick in 2016 from high school in Miami; 1.59 ERA in 11.1 innings in rookie ball with 17/3 K/BB, small sample but a strong debut; fastball 91-94 with peaks at 95-96, mixes in slider and change-up and showed better-than-expected command in debut; obviously we need more data but it is possible that he could leap up the pitching prospect lists in '17; keep a close eye on him.
Here’s some cool Fangraphs video of Rodriguez.
Jaycob Brugman, OF: Age 24, 17th round pick in 2013 out of BYU; hit .285/.347/.438 between Double-A and Triple-A with 12 homers, 33 doubles, 52 walks, 121 strikeouts in 543 at-bats; interesting to watch in person, no weak tools, everything is at least average including speed, raw power, arm strength; defense is ahead of hitting, can handle all three outfield positions with little trouble; will flash power and patience but performance record is erratic; older prospect but should be tracked for signs of more consistency; watch for a performance surge in the next year or two.
James Naile, RHP: Age 24, 20th round pick in 2015 from the University of Alabama-Birmingham, posted 3.39 ERA in 157 innings between Low-A, High-A, Double-A, and Triple-A with 125/38 K/BB; throws strikes with 90 MPH fastball and an 11-6 breaking ball, stuff is heavy and generates grounders; back end rotation potential.
Donnie Walton, INF: Age 22, fifth round pick in 2016 from Oklahoma State University; hit .281/.361/.421 with 22 walks, 24 whiffs in 178 at-bats in Northwest League; switch-hitter with average speed and below average power but has good zone judgment, excellent instincts for the game, and usually plays above his tools; utility projection but similar players have surprised before.
Pablo Lopez, RHP: Age 20, signed out of Venezuela in 2012, had Tommy John surgery in 2014 but has come back; posted 2.13 ERA in 84 innings in Low-A with 56/9 K/BB in 84 innings; throws strikes with fastball in low-90s and an excellent change-up; breaking ball needs more work (reflected in the strikeouts) but has a good basis for development.
John Fasola, RHP: Age 25, posted 3.18 ERA in 51 innings between High-A, Double-A, Triple-A, 58/12 K/BB; then posted 2.00 ERA in nine Arizona Fall League innings with 9/0 K/BB; 31st round pick in 2014 from Kent State; middle relief type with mid-90s fastball but was especially sharp late in the year with 20/1 K/BB in 18 innings between Triple-A and AFL; could sneak into bullpen soon.
Luke Tendler, OF: Age 25, 29th round pick in 2014 from North Carolina A&T; older prospect has stayed on radar by performance including .297/.384/.524 in ‘16 with 38 doubles, 23 homers, 64 walks, 107 whiffs in 508 at-bats; High Desert helped him but he’s hit everywhere he’s been; 5-11, 190 body has been strong enough to generate surprising pop; manages his at-bats well and not easily fooled by off-speed stuff; tools fit best in left; Age and tweener projection keep him off prospect lists but he qualifies as a sleeper.