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, usually 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.
Last week we looked at the American League West and the National League West. Yesterday we examined the National League Central. Here’s the American League Central. And the National League East.
Christian Alvarado, RHP: Age 22, signed out of Venezuela in 2011, posted 3.41 ERA in 148 innings in Low-A with 148/29 K/BB; draws comparisons to Zach Davies as a right-hander who lacks plus fastball velocity but has a wide array of pitches to choose from, throws strikes, and understands his craft; Alvarez is taller than Davies (listed 6-3, 175 compared to 6-0, 160) and throws slightly harder.
Cedric Mullins, OF: Age 22, 13th round pick in 2015 from Campbell; hit .273/.321/.464 with 37 doubles, 10 triples, 14 homers, 30 steals, 37 walks, 101 strikeouts in 517 at-bats in Low-A; switch-hitter, 60-grade speed and instincts to match make him legit threat on bases, covers a lot of ground in center field; mechanically-sound swing produced more power than expected though that may not hold at higher levels; could use more patience to maximize OBP; a lot less publicity than D.J. Stewart but is younger and has broader skills; good makeup rep dating back to high school.
Boston Red Sox
Jake Cosart, RHP: Age 22, third round pick in 2014 from Seminole State Community College; younger brother of Jarred Cosart; posted 1.78 ERA with 104/36 K/BB in 71 innings between Low-A and High-A, 43 hits; struggled as starter in ’14 and ’15 but took well to bullpen, fastball up to 95-97, made progress with breaking ball; never developed a good change-up but doesn’t need as much in bullpen; working in splitter to replace it; excellent dominance ratios and stuff to back it up.
Tyler Hill, OF: Age 20, 19th round pick in 2014 from Delaware Military Academy; hit .332/.400/.487 in 232 at-bats in New York-Penn League with 11 steals, 24 walks, 41 strikeouts; features slightly above-average speed and wiry strength; best-suited for left field defensively and may end up as a tweener, but he’s still young and there may be more in the bat.
New York Yankees
Giovanny Gallegos, RHP: Age 25, from Mexico; Yankees have many bullpen options ready for the majors and Gallegos has received less attention than most, however that should change this spring; added to 40-man roster after posting 1.27 ERA in 78 innings in Double-A/Triple-A with 106/17 K/BB, just 48 hits allowed; Tommy John survivor, fastball has crept up to 94, already has good mixture of off-speed pitches, throws strikes; would certainly have been a Rule 5 pick if the Yankees had not protected him.
Zack Littell, RHP: Breaking the one pitcher/one hitter per team rule here but that’s ok; age 21, 11th round pick by the Mariners in 2013 from high school in North Carolina, acquired for James Pazos in November; posted 2.66 ERA in 166 innings between Low-A and High-A with excellent 156/34 K/BB; features low-90s fastball (some reports have him topping out at 95) with a superior curveball and improving change-up; I like this guy a lot.
Tampa Bay Rays
Austin Franklin, RHP: Age 19, third round pick in 2016 from high school in Florida; posted 2.70 ERA with 40/16 K/BB in 43 innings in rookie ball, just 30 hits; fastball up to 93-95, curveball and change-up have potential to be at least average; good size at 6-3, 215; Rays have had good luck helping similar pitchers develop; command needs work but he wasn’t as raw in rookie ball as may have been expected. High upside.
Joe McCarthy, OF: Age 22, fifth round pick in 2015 from University of Virginia; hit .285/.398/.430 with 19 steals, 61 walks, 68 strikeouts in 351 at-bats between Low-A and High-A; split time between first base and left field but was actually better in the outfield; left-handed hitter with a good eye, hit just .196 his junior year in college but has been effective in pro ball and is starting to tap the power in his 6-3, 225 frame more frequently.
Toronto Blue Jays
Emilio Guerrero, 3B: Age 24, signed out of Dominican Republic in 2011; didn’t hit much until 2016 when he produced a .283/.335/.502 line between High-A and Double-A with 23 doubles and 13 homers in 311 at-bats; approach is aggressive but he’s getting to the strength in his 6-4, 190 frame more often; defense at third base has improved and he can also handle right field; could continue to hit if he keeps strike zone under some semblance of control.
Zach Jackson, RHP: Age 22, third round pick in 2016 from University of Arkansas; 3.38 ERA with 23/12 K/BB in 19 innings between GCL and Northwest League, 14 hits; standard bullpen arsenal with 93-94 MPH fastball and a wicked breaking ball, a curve which draws 70 grades from some experts; command and control are erratic and durability concerns make him a reliever but he could move fast if he throws strikes.