Reviewing the NL Sleeper Prospects of 2012

Last week, we took a look at the 14 American League sleeper prospects I identified during the pre-season FanGraphs Top 15 prospects series. Today, we’re reviewing the 15 National League sleeper prospects.

I apologize for the lateness of the second part of this series, which was intended to run one day after the AL portion. However, my wife went into labor two weeks early with our second child. The good news, though, is that the world has a new baseball fan.

The NL East

Navery Moore, RHP, Atlanta Braves: Moore showcased a good arm in college but suffered from inconsistent performances. Now 22, the right-hander has spent the entire season in low-A ball. He made 11 starts to begin the year and then moved into the bullpen and he’s probably more suited to relieving.

Austin Barnes, C, Miami Marlins: Barnes opened the year with more positional value because he was projected to spend the year behind the dish. He’s made 13 appearances while wearing the tools of ignorance but he’s seen more time at second base (91 games). Offense has not been an issue at all for Barnes, 22. He’s hitting more than .300 with more walks than strikeouts and has a wRC+ of 148.

Domingo Tapia, RHP, New York Mets: Tapia, 20, has shown good control in his career to along with his dynamite stuff. He’s taken a big leap forward this year in his first full season at low-A ball. His strikeout rate has jumped from 5.40 to 7.95 K/9 and he’s limited base runners. Tapia has also produced above-average ground-ball rates throughout his three-year career and has given up just three homers (all in 2011) in more than 200 combined innings.

Josh Smoker, LHP, Washington Nationals: A former top draft pick out of Georgia high school, Smoker converted to the bullpen on a full-time basis in 2011 and showed a lot of renewed potential after struggling early in his career. He’s made just six appearances in 2012, though, and has spent most of the time on the disabled list.

Kyrell Hudson, OF, Philadelphia Phillies: Hudson, 21, has fallen apart during his first attempt at full-season ball. His strikeout rate has jumped from 21.5 to 30.5 K%. The speedy outfielder has stolen more than 50 bases in the past two seasons to date (132 games) but he needs to do a better job of getting on base.

The NL Central

Jordan Scott, OF, Houston Astros: The 20-year-old Scott showed solid results in his first two seasons but found a huge challenge in the jump to full-season in 2012. His wRC+ has dipped all the way down to 71, he’s struggled to hit for average and the pop in his bat has taken a bit of a step backward. Houston has dramatically improved its minor league depth this season so Scott will have to bounce back quickly to avoid getting lost in the shuffle.

Santo Manzanillo, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers: Manzanillo suffered serious injuries, including a separated throwing shoulder, in a 2011 post-season accident in the Dominican Republic. He made in back in April but has made just 12 appearances while dealing with further injuries. At 23 years of age time is not on his side.

Charlie Tilson, OF, St. Louis Cardinals: The 19-year-old outfielder has shown a lot of potential as an athletic, but raw, prospect. Unfortunately, he injured his shoulder while attempting a diving catch during extended spring training and had surgery – and likely will not appear in an official game in 2012.

Pin-Chieh Chen, CF, Chicago Cubs: A Taiwan native, Chen recently turned 21 and has produced a decent season in 2012 at the low-A level. After hitting right around .300 during his first two seasons, the outfielder is hitting just .259. On the plus side he’s done a better job of controlling the strike zone and has a chance to develop into a handy bench player or platoon outfielder at the big league level.

Alen Hanson, SS, Pittsburgh Pirates: Perhaps the gem of the 2011-12 sleeper alerts, Hanson has quickly developed into one of the best prospects in the Pirates system and could be a Top 100 prospect next year. The teenaged switch-hitter infielder is batting more than .300 with an ISO rate over .200 and 30 steals, all of which have helped him produce a wRC+ of 142.

Gabriel Rosa, 3B, Cincinnati Reds: Rosa hit just .179 in 21 games and then was lost for the year due to injuries to the labrum in his hip, as well as his wrist.

The NL West

Michael Perez, C, Arizona Diamondbacks: The left-handed hitting catcher and former fifth round draft pick out of Puerto Rico has a ton of potential value if he continues to follow his current development curve. Playing in the rookie Pioneer League as a teenager, Perez has shown the ability to hit for a ton of power (.280 ISO). His batting average of .293 is buoyed by a high BABIP and he’ll likely struggle to maintain a decent average if he continues to strike out at the rate of 27%. Defensively, he’s nabbed almost 50% of base-runners attempting to steal bases.

Angel Sanchez, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers: It’s not easy for young pitchers to survive pitching in the California League and Sanchez, 22, has posted a 6.02 ERA in 2012 while making 23 appearances (21 starts). The right-hander continues to show solid stuff and maintain decent control numbers despite the hostile environment. He should move up to double-A in 2013 where we will get a better read on his future potential.

Seth Rosin, RHP, San Francisco Giants: Rosin has always been one of my favorite under-the-radar players and he was recently traded from the Giants organization to the Phillies. He has decent overall stuff and just continues to post solid results. Rosin doesn’t have a huge ceiling but he could produce a decent big league career as a middle reliever.

Alberth Martinez, OF, San Diego Padres: A strong defender, Martinez started to show promise with the bat in 2011 but he took a step back in ’12. He opened the year in low-A ball but was sent back to short-season ball in June. Unfortunately, the refresher has not helped much and his wRC+ sits at just 88.

Rosell Herrera, SS, Colorado Rockies: Herrera opened 2012 as a 19 year old in low-A ball but his wRC+ of just 51 sent him back to short-season ball part way through the season. His offense has still been below average despite the demotion but he’s shown signs of improvement and he has youth on his side.




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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospect and rookie analysis. He also operates AstrosBall.com and can be reached via email at: marchulet@astrosball.com, or follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

14 Responses to “Reviewing the NL Sleeper Prospects of 2012”

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  1. TKDC says:

    Congrats. Now can you do a prospect write-up on Baby Hulet?

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  2. ataraxia_ says:

    Really like that you guys revisit early projections/predictions.

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  3. Marc Hulet says:

    It’s all projection at this point but with his large hands and feet he looks like a future slugger, although his first name (Jacoby) suggests a fleet-of-foot, gifted fielder with surprising pop and all-star potential.

    His 2-year-old sister could be the real star, though, as a hard-throwing left-handed pitcher. Perhaps she’ll become the first female MLB star if she can develop a reliable breaking ball.

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  4. jpg says:

    Congrats on the birth of your son Marc.

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  5. Dennis says:

    Re: Santo Manzanillo. “At 23 years of age time is not on his side.”

    Is that a joke? God forbid he gets to the majors at 24 or 25 and produces through his prime. Not everyone can be Harper or Trout and be ready at 20 years old.

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  6. M says:

    Not sure what a sleeper prospect is. If today’s status vs beginning of season, then Alen Hanson is a huge sleeper. If you’re comparing an underrated prospect by their status today, then I think a lot of people are drinking the Hanson kool-aid and Baseball America had him at #40 for their mid-season list.

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    • Justin M. says:

      These were sleeper prospects listed at the beginning of the year M and this is an update on how well they’ve been doing. At least that’s what I think it is.

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    • Bob says:

      Forty is still too low for Hanson. Somewhere in the teens would be about right.

      Middle infielder who absolutely kills the baseball, and runs well? Sign me up.

      I’d be tempted to take him over Lindor, even if Hanson were definitely destined for the keystone — which, by the way, Keith Law believes he is *not*. Law simply declares: “He’s a shortstop.” And if he’s a shortstop (i.e. no worse than 5 runs below average while in the majors), he’s a top 10 — not top 100, as some cowards might opine — prospect, right now.

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  7. Marc Hulet says:

    ast week, we took a look at the 14 American League sleeper prospects I identified during the pre-season FanGraphs Top 15 prospects series. Today, we’re reviewing the 15 National League sleeper prospects.

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