One of the more enjoyable parts of the annual Top 15 prospects lists that I do at FanGraphs is unearthing and writing about new, unpolished prospect gems. As a result, I added an extra player to each Top 15 list during the pre-2012 series and highlighted a “sleeper prospect” that did not make it into the featured group.
The minor league regular season ends in less than a month and the 2013 Top 15 prospect lists are already forming in my mind so I though it would be a good time to reflect back on my collection of sleepers and see how many of them woke up.
Dalton Pompey, OF, Toronto Blue Jays: Pompey, 19, was assigned to short-season Vancouver to begin 2012 and was looking good (20.5 BB%, 172 wRC+) before a broken hamate bone in his left wrist wiped out his season after just 11 games.
Zach Davies, RHP, Baltimore Orioles: The 19-year-old hurler received an aggressive assignment to low-A ball in 2012 despite not playing in ’11 after signing his first pro contract. He’s done a solid job in 20 appearances (12 starts), although his strikeout rate (6.63 K/9) could use some helium.
Jeff Ames, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays: A raw pitcher with big-time velocity, Ames has a 1.85 ERA (2.67 FIP) in nine starts in short-season ball. The 21-year-old pitcher is ironing out his repertoire in hopes of finding one or two reliable pitches to go with the heat but I’m betting he’s a future reliever at the big league level.
Jose Vinicio, SS, Boston Red Sox: Vinicio just recently turned 19 and has spent much of the year in low-A ball where he’s hit .282 but his wRC+ is just 91 so he’s been a little below-average with his overall offense game, thanks in part to a low walk rate (4.8 BB%) and a high strikeout rate (20.5 K%).
Isaias Tejeda, C, New York: I had to dig deep into the Yankees system to pick a sleeper because so many prospects receive attention. I may have dug a little too deep for Tejeda. The 20-year-old catcher has hit just .136 in short-season ball after posting a .971 OPS in rookie ball in 2011.
Alex Monsalve, C, Cleveland Indians: Monsalve, 20, hasn’t taken the big leap I was hoping for, but he’s gotten better. Moved up to full-season ball in 2012 for the first time in his career, the young catcher has seen his wRC+ increase from 88 to 102 while also displaying more power. He’s also trimmed his strikeout rate from 19.4 to 11.2% and recently received a promotion to high-A ball.
Humberto Arteaga, SS, Kansas City Royals: A Latin gem out of the Royals system, Arteaga made his debut in 2011 at the age of 17. He then moved up from rookie to advanced-rookie ball in 2012 and has been OK, but not great, with the bat. He has a wRC+ of 86 but he’s shown a little pop in his bat and has struck out just 7.4% of the time. Unfortunately, his walk rate sits at 2.3%.
Tyler Collins, OF, Detroit Tigers: With a thin system in terms of impact prospects, Detroit can use all the help it can get and Collins has been a revelation. After a solid debut in 2011, he’s built upon that success with a nice campaign in high-A ball that’s seen him post a 136 wRC+ while hitting just under .300. He doesn’t have a huge ceiling but Collins, 22, could develop into a solid No. 4 or platoon outfielder.
Niko Goodrum, SS, Minnesota Twins: Goodrum started out very well in June but came back to earth in July. Overall, he’s hitting .242 but has shown surprising power with 18 extra base hits in 39 games. His 21.5% strikeout rate will be a little more palatable if he keeps showing the power and continuing to display a high walk rate (currently 16%).
Jeff Soptic, RHP, Chicago White Sox: Soptic is your typical White Sox pitching prospect. In other words, he throws hard. The right-hander has struggled in 2012 while battling control issues that have seen him post a walk rate of 5.59 BB/9. When he finds the plate, though, he’s tough to hit (5.90 H/9).
Kole Calhoun, OF, Los Angeles Angels: After posting a wRC+ of 142 in high-A ball in 2011, Calhoun was skipped over double-A and landed in triple-A to begin this season. He’s hit well in the minors and even received some injury-fill-in time at the big league level. Calhoun looks like a respectable future fourth outfielder at the big league level.
Gregory Paulino, RHP, Oakland Athletics: Paulino’s 4.78 ERA in rookie ball is nothing to write home about but the 19-year-old prospect has a solid FIP at 3.06 and he’s shown good control of the strike zone (2.08 BB/9). He’s also missing quite a few bats (8.72 K/9).
Carter Capps, RHP, Seattle Mariners: Capps, who turned 22 yesterday, blew through the minors in less than two years and reached the majors at the end of July. Prior to his promotion, the hurler struck out 72 batters, with just 12 walks, in 50.0 double-A innings.
Matt West, RHP, Texas Rangers: Converted from third baseman to hard-throwing pitcher in 2011, West injured his elbow at the beginning of ’12 and hasn’t been right since.
Tomorrow we’ll look at the National League’s sleepers.