Jake Cave: After missing his first two seasons, the 2011 sixth round pick finally chipped in with his first full season last year by hitting .282 with 37 doubles and 18 stolen bases for low-A Charleston. A bit of a 'tweener' -- he doesn't have the plus power potential of a true corner outfielder nor does he have the plus speed of a true centerfielder -- he could fly under the radar for those very reasons but he has five solid tools across the board.
Kendall Coleman: Anytime you're drafted in the 11th round like Coleman was last year you're almost immediately capping out in the 'sleeper' category from the start, but throw in the fact that the 6-foot-4 left-hander has added 30 pounds already this offseason, has long-term above average or better power potential, and speed as well, he has the tools and the ceiling to sneak up on a lot of folks in the coming years.
Taylor Dugas: The 2012 eighth round pick has flown under the radar his entire life, mostly because his rather small frame [he stands just 5-foot-8] limits his long-term projection. He's not very quick either and more of a serviceable centerfielder than a true one to boot, but the all-time hits leader from the University of Alabama has the kind of solid all-around game, bat control, and incredible plate discipline [he struck out just 39 times in 113 games last season] to potentially find a reserve outfield role cut in the mold of Sam Fuld someday. He shouldn't be disregarded because of his size.
Dustin Fowler: Like Coleman, this 18th round pick last year is going to most likely fly under the radar because of his round selection even though the talent is there to be so much more. A little more like Cave tools-wise, however, one who doesn't have a true plus tool but whose collection grades out as average or better, he too could surprise some folks when it's all said and done.
|MORE POWER WOULD HELP: If Gamel can improve his power he could be a real find. (Photo: Patrick Teale/PinstripesPlus.com)|
Ericson Leonora: This Venezuelan native could easily fit into the 'need to make their move' category considering he spent his first four seasons at the rookie levels, but with burgeoning above average power potential and some real athleticism he seems poised to break out pretty soon. Don't be surprised if that happens in 2014, but if it doesn't he might begin to have his prospect status fade somewhat. This could be a make or break season for him but the talent is there to turn things around quickly.
Nathan Mikolas: The 2012 third round pick made marked improvements to his entire game last season, turning himself from a no-defense, all bat type player into more of an all-around prospect after shedding 20 pounds. He has above average power potential, especially to the pull side, and he's more of a reliable defensive player now. He still has to use the whole field more in his hitting approach but he's showing signs of being able to do exactly that lately.
Rob Segedin: Still getting reps at third base and one who will probably continue to get some for the foreseeable future, don't rule out the possibility of him seeing some eventual outfield action down the road again. The hitting potential is there to be a consistent player and the hope is his surgically repaired hips could help his rather average power potential. A lot has to play out and at 25 years old he needs to make his mark soon too, but there is some real untapped potential here that has helped him fly under the radar.
Need To Make Their Move
Austin Aune: The 2012 second round pick has the natural talent to be in the 'highest ceiling' category too but he's coming off of a disastrous sophomore campaign that saw him hit just .192 with a whopping 72 strikeouts in just 41 Gulf Coast League games last season. Already a lock to be back in the short-season league again in 2014, he needs a big bounce back season in the worst way to resurrect his waning confidence.
Sandy Brito: The Dominican native has a lot of tools and a real patient approach at the plate, but there is also a lot of swing and miss right now that hasn't allowed his above average tools to blossom. He's going to be 21 years this coming season and he is coming off of a .161 showing in the Gulf Coast League last season. This is a make or break year for him -- he needs to get productive quickly.
|POWER ONLY: Calderon has to show something other than just power. (Photo: Patrick Teale/PinstripesPlus.com)|
Daniel Lopez: This Dominican native is the speed version of Calderon in that he has the one plus tool to potentially turn into a decent prospect. He can actually play defense too, quite well in fact, and his offensive approach is rather refined. However, the results simply have not been there. He is coming off of a .209 showing in Staten Island last season, his second straight year at the short-season A-ball level, and he is now 22 years old. Like Calderon he is in the sink or swim realm.
Ronnier Mustelier: Unlike most of the names in this category, this Cuban native has been pretty productive over the years, hitting a respectable .274 at Triple-A Scranton last year with 29 extra-base hits in just 90 games. However, while the 29-year old can hit, he doesn't have a true position and the power is quite limited. He is running out of time to make his mark.
The Jury Is Still Out
Jordan Barnes: With plus speed and plus defensive abilities -- in fact, game-changing defensive abilities -- last year's 15th round pick out of Northwest Mississippi Community College is a bit of a 'sleeper'. However, standing just 5-foot-11 and weighing 180 pounds, he has very little power and there is a question if he will hit enough to make better use of his speed/defense combination.
Chris Breen: This 12th round pick in 2012 sure has the power to be a 'sleeper' prospect in his own right and despite hitting just .214 in the Gulf Coast League last season many scouts believe he can make the long-term hitting adjustment. However, as is the case with most sluggers, his rather poor speed and limited athleticism leaves him without a true position. He's been playing some outfield but it remains to be seen if he can be anything more than a liability out there defensively, especially since he has the type of frame that should only get bigger in the coming years. With those defensive limitations he's going to need to hit a lot and that is something that will have to play out.
Michael O'Neill: The nephew of all-time Yankee great Paul O'Neill and last year's third round pick out of the University of Michigan has tremendous makeup, above average speed, and a winning style of play. However, the power is very limited and defensively he's more geared towards left field, and that's problematic not only since the power isn't very good but there is still a lot of swing and miss to his game [he struck out 93 times in just 256 at-bats last season]. He needs to prove he can be a more consistent hitter and the jury is still out whether or not he can do that.
Alexander Palma: Signed out of Venezuela for $800,000 in 2012, Palma can flat-out hit, so much so in fact that he really should be a 'sleeper' of sorts too. However, while the defensive game is improving, he still projects best as a corner outfielder and the power potential is more average than anything. He compares somewhat to a Jose Tabata type without the speed and those kinds of corner outfielders with limited power are rare. Throw in some conditioning concerns that could be there each year, he has some work to do to get onto the actual prospect map.
Brandon Thomas: Last year's 8th round pick out of Georgia Tech sure looks the part of a high-ceiling player, possessing above average speed, some raw power potential, good defensive abilities in centerfield, and a very projectable frame. Throw in his switch-hitting, there is some real upside here. However, like O'Neill, there is a lot of swing and miss here [90 strikeouts in just 66 games] and that might prevent his tools from being truly productive. He has to be a more consistent bat to begin tapping his potential.