By Marc Nolan – Last Word On Baseball
Every year in Major League Baseball, teams have one or two prospects come out of obscurity to become legitimate Major League prospects. Whether through the development of an additional skill or maybe just seeing a player figure out some plus potential in a tool they already possess. It is fascinating to watch happen. This season saw many of these players develop. Some even at the big league level. For 2017, these are some of the MLB sleeper prospects to watch out for:
MLB Sleeper Prospects: Part 2
Brendan McCurry – Houston Astros
At 5’10 170 lbs, 24 years old, and having a below-average fastball, it would be hard to describe McCurry as “looking the part”. What he lacks in the look, he makes up for in feel for the game. He has a 4 pitch mix, incredible accuracy, and is deceptive, very deceptive. Showing the ability to miss bats in the high minors was a nice surprise. Look for McCurry to continue to perform at a high rate, while seeing time in the big leagues this season.
Khalil Lee – Kansas City Royals
Lee is an 18-year-old with the ability to choose his path as a baseball player. Blessed with high-end offensive skills and also a 94 mph fastball, he offers the tantalizing set of skills every team wants. The Royals want to see him develop as a centerfielder, although most agree he is destined for a corner. But when a kid has the eye, approach, and raw power that Lee does it doesn’t really matter what position they play if it all comes together.
Connor Justus – Los Angeles Angels
Justus is not going to wow anyone with his style of play. He lacks a plus tool, he frankly, has very few above average ones as well. But the 22 year old has honed the ability to make contact and play a solid, yet unspectacular defense at short. David Eckstein comes to mind when Justus is on the field. He will continue to master his skills and should see progression quickly.
Austin Barnes – Los Angeles Dodgers
This has to be prefaced by saying that Barnes will likely have to be traded to see the playing time he deserves. He is an excellent hitter, flashing gap to gap power, a great eye, good speed for a catcher. He has also shown the ability to play above average defense at several positions. At 26 years old, he has earned his chance to play at the big league level. His receiving skills have a chance to become elite, he just needs a chance to show it. A trade to the Toronto Blue Jays to play regularly behind Russell Martin seems like the perfect fit for the multi-talented Barnes.
Sam Perez – Miami Marlins
Perez is just learning how to pitch with his newly discovered arsenal. A late bloomer in college, Perez only recently was capable of hitting 90 mph with regularity. Now he can occasionally flash 95. Is he a starter? Is he a reliever? It is uncertain at this point. But one thing is for sure, he has the ability to turn into a very nice piece wherever he settles with his combination of feel for his pitches and some heavy sink.
Miguel Diaz – Milwaukee Brewers
With a very quick arm, a low three quarter delivery, and an occasionally wipe-out slider, Diaz could become a great reliever. His velocity saw large peaks and valleys, ranging from high 80’s all they way to the 95-96 range, if he can resolve the inconsistency issues with velocity and master the slider that he has been tweaking, look for Diaz to rapidly ascend up prospect lists.
Lachlan Wells – Minnesota Twins
Nothing about Wells screams prospect. A soft tossing 5’8 wirey lefty from Australia who spots 3-4 pitches and thinks his way through the game. It is unlikely he has the abilities to ever become a top prospect or an elite arm in the big leagues. But he is the type of guy that costs you nothing and ends of becoming a solid lefty arm out of the pen or a 4-5 starter. He is young, and still has time to get bigger, therefore, a couple ticks up on his fastball could really turn some heads in 2017.
Tomas Nido – New York Mets
There are very few prospects in the Mets system that are likely to have breakout seasons. Most are single skill guys with a lot of red flags standing in the way of their potential. It seems like Nido fits that description. He has raw power potential, and a decent approach when he doesn’t sell out for power. Positionally he is a “catcher” but his skills are very basic. If he can deliver on the power potential, while improving his defense behind the plate, he has a chance to become a big league player. But a lot of questions need to be answered first.
Hoy Jun Park – New York Yankees
Park is the type of prospect that people fall in love with. Easy game, plus speed, plus defense, and also a short swing that generates a tonne of contact. There should be little doubt about his ability to play in the Major Leagues one day. Ever if his bat doesn’t develop like it could. Look for Park to make big strides this year and climb up the Yankees system.
Max Schrock – Oakland A’s
This kid can flat-out hit. Plus contact skills, plus approach, and also the ability to have double digit home run output in the future. Schrock is a less athletic Devon Travis-type. Furthermore, when given the chance he can ever steal some bases. A very inconsistent defender, he may end up being a difficult guy to play everyday without strides being made in that area. But a team will give him a chance to play, hopefully he can make the improvements necessary because the bat will not be cheated.
If you missed Part One, you can find it here.