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.