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.
Erling Moreno, RHP: Age 20, signed out of Colombia for $650,000 in 2013; posted 1.88 ERA with 55/9 K/BB in 62 innings combined between rookie ball and Northwest League, 47 hits; heavy ground ball pitcher with sinker and plus curveball, throws strikes; breakout potential for 2017; was quite prominent when he signed but has been lost in the publicity shuffle to some extent in a deep system, despite consistently strong performance at the lowest levels and a live arm (career 1.72 ERA in 78 innings, 66/14 K/BB).
Chesny Young, INF-OF: Age 24, a 14th round pick in 2014 by the Cubs from Mercer University; hit .303/.376/.387 with 25 doubles, 16 steals, 57 walks, and 64 strikeouts in 491 at-bats in Double-A; line drive hitter with some doubles power, makes contact readily and can work a count; aggressive on the bases, sometimes to a fault; natural second baseman and a good one but has also seen innings at third base, shortstop, and the corner outfield spots to enhance versatility; could be useful super-utility man.
Gavin LaValley, 1B-3B: Age 22, fourth round pick in 2014 from high school in Oklahoma; big power hitter build at 6-3, 235 and put up the numbers to justify it in 2016, hitting .275/.334/.470 with 29 doubles, 11 homers, 29 walks, 72 strikeouts in 338 at-bats in High-A; ranked fourth in hitting-difficult Florida State League in SLG; defense at third base is atrocious but should be adequate with more reps at first; one-dimensional player but a strong dimension.
Tony Santillan, RHP: Age 19, second round pick in 2015 from high school in Texas; posted 5.19 ERA with 84/40 K/BB in 69 innings between Pioneer and Midwest Leagues; 93-98 MPH fastball mixed with excellent curveball leads to high strikeout rate; poor command traced to erratic mechanics holds him back right now but he’s quite young and the strikeouts aren’t lying about his stuff; high risk arm and years away but must be tracked.
Tristan Archer, RHP: Age 26, 26th round pick in 2013 from Tennessee Tech; posted 3.42 ERA in 82 innings in Double-A with 82/9 K/BB; also posted a 3.42 ERA in 2015 and a 3.42 ERA in 2014, bizarrely consistent; average fastball but a successful track record as both starter and reliever due to ability to command slider, curve, and change to any spot of the strike zone; fifth starter or long relief type but could surprise soon.
Weston Wilson, 3B: Age 22, 17th round pick in 2016 from Clemson; hit .318/.390/.498 with 23 walks, 33 strikeouts in 233 at-bats in Pioneer League; despite pre-draft reports of a so-so glove, he was a very good defensive third baseman in the early going, hitting track record in college was mixed but raw power said to be impressive and he got off to a good start in pro ball.
Barrett Barnes, OF: Age 25, compensation round pick in 2012 from Texas Tech; missed large parts of 2013, 2015, and 2015 with injuries; finally got healthy in 2016, played 124 games, in Double-A, and hit .306/.377/.477 in 405 at-bats; constant injuries cost him some of his running speed and a great deal of development time but once healthy he showed the hitting ability that got him drafted in the first place; so-so arm limits him to left field, increasing pressure on the bat; I liked him a lot before the injuries struck; due to the lost development time he is something of a forgotten man and thus a sleeper at this point.
Braeden Ogle, LHP: Age 19, fourth round pick in 2016 from high school in Florida; projectable lefty at 6-2, 175; posted 2.60 ERA in 28 innings in rookie ball with 20/11 K/BB; low-90s fastball with higher peaks, curveball and change-up need more polish but that’s normal for his age; long way off but starting pitcher upside is clear.
St. Louis Cardinals
Zac Gallen, RHP: Age 21, third round pick in 2016 from University of North Carolina; posted 2.68 ERA in 91 innings in college with 95/21 K/BB and just 68 hits allowed; kept on short leash in rookie ball due to spring workload but struck out 15 with zero walks in 10 pro innings; another typical Cardinals college arm with low-90s fastball, good cutter/slider hybrid, and at least average change-up, throws strikes, excellent mound makeup; could move rapidly and Cardinals have a strong track record maximixzing returns from this type of pitcher.
Jeremy Martinez, C: Age 22, fourth round pick in 2016 out of the University of Southern California; hit .325/.419/.433 in New York-Penn League with 32 walks, 16 strikeouts in 194 at-bats; threw out 46% of runners; lacks speed and athleticism; athletic limits hamper defensive projection but he can nab runners and manage pitchers well enough to keep catching; excellent strike zone judgment is best asset; may show more isolated power eventually.