2015 Sleeper and Breakout Selections

As we start the 2015 minor league season, I thought I would publish your selections for Sleepers and Break Out Players.  I received 25 responses, some with multiple selections.  So if you are going to count the responses, that’s why they add up to more than 25.

Twenty-one players were selected to have break out years.  Dylan Cozens was picked by 4 people to be the break out guy.  Playing half of his games in Clearwater should allow him to increase his power output over last season.

Six players were selected by 2 readers – Aaron Brown, Odubel Herrera, Matt Imhof, Yoel Mecias, Chris Oliver, and Carlos Tocci.  Brown should also benefit from playing in Bright House Field and I’m looking forward to watching Imhof.  If Mecias is going to break out, he’s going to have to do it after he comes off the DL, again.  Herrera is already in Philadelphia, so a break out minor league season is unlikely.  Oliver is a highly touted pitcher and is expected to rebound this season.  Tocci is starting his third year at Lakewood.  He’s still the third youngest player on the roster, but  …

Fourteen additional players were selected to have break out seasons – Jesus Alastre, Jesse Biddle, Kelly Dugan (starting another season on the DL), Luis Encarnacion, Miguel Gonzalez (shut down for 2-3 weeks with shoulder inflammation), Aaron Knapp, Tyler Knigge, Nefi Ogando, Riccardo Pinto, Brian Pointer, Roman Quinn, Cord Sandberg, Ranger Suarez (who pitched an inning in the Threshers/GCL scrimmage Wednesday night), and Jiandido Tromp.

Samuel Hiciano and Chris Oliver each were selected three times to be the sleeper player of the year.  Tommy Joseph and Brandon Leibrandt were each selected twice.  And eighteen players received one selection – Lewis Alezones, Drew Anderson, Carlos Duran, Luis Encarnacion, Jan Hernandez, Rhys Hoskins, Colin Kleven, Sam McWilliams, Hoby Milner, Adam Morgan, Colton Murray, Riccardo Pinto, Jose Pujols, Cord Sandberg, Jiandido tromp, Tyler Viza, and David Whitehead.

One reader suggested Adam Morgan would be the Comeback Player of the Year.  Another suggested that Maikel Franco would be the runner-up for the Rookie of the Year.

I received responses from the following, if you aren’t there, I didn’t see it.  If you want to submit your picks, add them to the comments below and I’ll track it with the others  – Alfred, allentown1, Andrew Cleveland Alexander, Boston Phan, Christopher, Dave H, Dennis Orlandini, Eric D, Erich, fritzerland, gkit, gmwannabe, Handzus, Ivan Drago, Ken45, Murray, Puddinhead, RedBeardDoubleChin, Rei De Bastoni, RemHoward2011, Romus, sam soap, Steve (Tampa), TonyCurry, and wheatlandroots.

Now, in order to leave myself open to the same level of ridicule as everyone else, I submit my selections.  I have had the benefit off seeing a little of all the players who go through Clearwater.  That is also a curse because I have too much data to go through, and the most recent (an extreme SSS) is sometimes difficult to ignore.  So here goes.

The player I think will have a breakout season is Andrew Knapp.  By definition, a  break out prospect is a player who is expected to perform well but who does so with a much better year than anticipated and comes from the upper tier of prospects, say from within the top 15-20.  Knapp was our 20th pick in the reader top 30 (13th by MLB).  He came off the DL and spent about 20 games as the DH for the Threshers.  He didn’t hit well and went to Lakewood when he was able to catch.  He rebounded nicely and slashed .290/.354/.438/.792.  During spring training, Knapp looked capable behind the plate (I hadn’t seen him catch when he was with Clearwater).  He spent his time during ST with the Advanced A Group so he saw the appropriate level pitching and really performed well with ample power.  I see no reason for that to not continue and would expect a big jump on the prospect list at the end of the season.

Our definition of a  sleeper prospect is a player from outside the top 15-20 who you expect to have a bigger year than we should expect for a player at his level, both in the organization and as a prospect.  For my sleeper, I decided to go outside our top 30, and our top 50.  This might be a case where a recent performance is affecting my decision.  But it is recent performance in several games over a two-week period.  Chase Harris.  He was our 14th round pick out of New Mexico.  He hit well enough in the GCL to get a quick call up to Williamsport.  I admit, I didn’t know who he was until I watched him lead off and reach base on four consecutive doubles.  A couple days later he homered in a game.  Later he reached base on two base hits in a game where he also stole 3 bases.  Wednesday, he tripled to right in the scrimmage with the GCL.  I’ve seen him play all three outfield positions, and play them well.  He has the speed to run down balls in the gaps.  And he hustles.  When a ball was dropped in LF, he as the RF, was behind 1B anticipating a possible rundown.  He’s young, it’s early, it’s only Advanced A, but he has the kind of hustle that Philly fans love.  I’m originally from Philly.

The Threshers begin their season tonight.  Matt Imhof gets the start against the Dunedin Blue Jays.  We have a lot of promising young prospects on this year’s roster, 10 of MLB’s top 30 for the organization.  Last season, the Threshers began the season with just one, #30 Dan Child who was released earlier this week.  I’ll begin posting Threshers’ game reports after the game and the daily reports like Brad did each morning.

I do tweet during the game, but am limited to once per half-inning unless something monumental happens.  And I tend to drift away from twitter after the starter gets pulled.  But if you’re interested I post under the same handle @jimpeyton19.


22 thoughts on “2015 Sleeper and Breakout Selections

  1. Thanks in advance for the coverage Jim. Because of this site I can look forward to another milb season.

    You’ve probably gone through it before, but is it Bright House that’s playing out to be a hitter’s park? They always used to say that the FSL was a pitcher’s league. Just curious why you’re saying the above hitters have an advantage.

    1. Really my main pick is Quinn. Feeling really good about him.

      Green is one of several others I think are reasonably likely to break out. I’d put Tocci in that category too.

      Regarding Quinn, I think it’s truly remarkable just how consistent his peripherals (BB/K/ISO) have been, and at a pretty nice level for an 80 speed / good defense guy. And he’s moved quickly (and hit well) despite lots of adversity — position switch, learning to switch hit, achilles injury.

      Now he’s starting his fourth year switch hitting, another year removed from his injury, and back to his natural position. I see a huge breakout.

    2. How can a top 5 prospect be a sleeper. We are really reaching for something positive.

  2. My picks are (I have a few): Biddle, Knapp, Joseph, Quinn, Morgan and Hoskins.

  3. i liked the following players that i saw at the carpenter complex this spring, knapp, quinn, morgen tromp and grullon. tromp is a stong looking dude. tocci has matured from 2 years ago, but still is small and probably always will be. still could be a useful player but don’t see any power potential. hope joseph and dugan can be healthy as both could be good. alterr is a great looking athlete but so was hewitt. hope he gets more contact and less k’s.

    great that the minors are starting. that’s where the interest is this season.

    1. I disagree on a few points. Tocci was a little stronger last year and close to doubled his ISO. If he is also a little stronger this season, that may be almost enough. What is the minimum strength requirement? He has very good contact skills, which amplify the strength he does have. Tocci is one of my breakout candidates for 2015. He’s been sneaking up on it and is still sort of youngish for Lakewood. In addition to showing a bit more power this season, Tocci needs to do better as a base-stealer and draw more walks. I don’t accept the ‘athlete’ comparison to Hewitt. Hewitt couldn’t really do much in a game — despite the athlecticism he flopped defensively as an IF and was never more than marginal as an OF. Tocci is an excellent defensive CF. He also displays a hit skill far beyond anything Hewitt ever showed in game situations.

      I like the other players you list. Of course it looks like Dugan is certain to miss at least the first two months of the season. He has a plus hit skill, but is very close to being de-railed by all these injuries. He seems brittle.

      1. seems to me jim guida …..was comparing athletic build between Altherr and Hewitt, not Tocci and Hewitt.

      2. Right. Last year MLB centerfielders had a .130 ISO collectively. Tocci had an 0.80 ISO last year, after .040 the year before. If he has another .040 point improvement, that puts him at .120, which is pretty close to the average.

        Reports are unanimous that he is an advanced fielder, so let’s assume he can be above average in the field. While he’s fast, he’s a bit of a glider and probably won’t be a huge threat on the bases.

        So then it really comes down to whether his (reportedly) advanced feel for hitting translates into a reasonable hit tool at higher levels once he adds a bit more strength. Assuming this happens, I think a .270 / .320 / .390 line is a realistic upside. That’s pretty much the CF average line last year, and with above-average defense would make him a 2-3 win player.

  4. Thanks Jim, talking about this stuff gets me excited for the season. If I just think about who could help the major league team this year due to a break season, I think of Morgan and Biddle. Franco and Nola are the obvious but as the #2 and #3 prospects, that’s not a break out, that’s expected. I also think Araujo could be a sleeper who makes it to the majors this year. The AAA pen guys are obviously ahead of him but he’s a lefty who throws hard and who could move fast if he performs well. Colton Murray (yes, I’m rooting for him and Demarco) is another guy in the pen who could go up. The reality is that lots of bullpen guys are going to get called up this year due to the starters wearing out the relievers.

    Last year, our system had the worst record of any team. The rosters look much better to me this year and I think each team has a chance to win some games. The fun starts tonight….

    1. This winter sucks and will not quit. Nola’s start tonight was postponed due to snow.

  5. Joseph and Quinn. Joseph to re-establish himself as a bona fide C Prospect, and Quinn establishing himself as a legitimate CF prospect.

  6. I picked Severino Gonzalez as a breakout, not Miguel Gonzalez, who is not a rookie any longer. Nobody picked MAG.

    1. I picked Gabriel Lino as a sleeper. You did include my second choices of breakout and sleeper, Imhof and Jan Hernandez.

      1. I have to tell you, I was in Florida for a few days and Lino looked great to me. He was hitting the ball hard consistently and with very good power.

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