2013 MLB Draft: Ranking the Biggest Sleepers at Every Position
Mark Appel, Jonathan Gray, Austin Meadows and Clint Frazier are the names to know for the 2013 Major League Baseball draft on June 6. If you follow the process closely, you have at least heard of those players.
But what about those players who won't be top-five picks?
There is a clear divide between the top talent in this draft and everyone else.
In fact, one could argue that after the top two pitchers (Appel and Gray), this is one of the most uncertain classes to come along in years.
That does make for several interesting names to keep in mind, even later in the first round or into the second. Sleepers can make or break a draft.
Sure, there are times we can look and see Mike Trout or Bryce Harper in the first round and assume it was a great draft, but you need to have depth to make a group elite.
Here are the prospects in the 2013 draft flying under the radar with a bright future ahead of them in professional baseball.
Note: All college players stats courtesy of NCAA.com unless otherwise noted. All high school stats courtesy of MaxPreps.com.
Catcher: Jeremy Martinez, C, Mater Dei HS (CA)
After last year's draft was complete, and we started to look ahead to the 2013 class, Jeremy Martinez was thought to be one of the top players off the board. His stock has dropped this season, but it is more to do with a lack of one or two top-tier tools than anything he has done.
Martinez projects to be a good hitter at the next level, though he doesn't project to hit for more than fringe home-run power. He starts his hands high and is wide, relying on a toe tap instead of a stride that really cuts off his ability to drive the ball hard. He is quick through the zone and makes solid contact more often than not.
On the defensive side, Martinez has the athleticism and arm strength to be a solid-average catcher. His footwork isn't great and the release needs to get quicker. His blocking and receiving skills are raw, though you would expect that from a high school catcher.
If a team believes Martinez can hit for average with doubles power and average defense behind the plate, he will be a starting catcher in the big leagues for a decade.
Projected Pick: Fourth Round
First Base: Daniel Palka, Georgia Tech
Daniel Palka continues to show plus power in his third year at Georgia Tech. He already has 11 home runs after hitting 24 in his first two years with the Yellow Jackets combined. It is true power that can play at the next level.
Besides boasting power, Palka is just a good hitter. He has a solid approach at the plate and should be able to take his share of walks.
The swing is not great, leading to a lot of swings and misses. He stands slightly open and upright, allowing him to uppercut the ball and drive it out, but also limiting his ability to make contact. As long as Palka can make enough contact to hit in the .250 range, he should be fine.
He is a good athlete with solid arm strength and accuracy, so he could play a corner outfield position in pro ball. But he has spent time at first base in college and will have enough profile to stay there at the next level.
Projected Pick: Late-Second Round
Second Base: Dominic Ficociello, Arkansas
An injury-plagued season has taken the shine off Dominic Ficociello. He was dealing with an oblique injury that robbed him of 15 games, and the stats reflect just how far behind he is.
Ficociello was a standout first baseman on the Arkansas team that went to the semi-finals of last year's College World Series. He moved to second base this year, which also could be hurting his offensive performance.
It is harder to concentrate on hitting when you are trying to focus energy on learning the intricacies of a new position.
Listed at 6'4", 200 pounds, Ficociello is big for second base. He is an athletic player who might be able to handle the position in pro ball, so the questions then become about his bat.
At his peak, Ficociello has the tools to be an above-average hitter. He has a good eye at the plate and works deep counts to go along with above-average power potential.
Being able to show it in games, especially down the stretch for one of the top teams in the country, will determine how high his stock climbs.
Projected Pick: Fifth Round
Shortstop: Brandon Trinkwon, UC Santa Barbara
Brandon Trinkwon is not a player who is going to stand out when you look at him. He is a slight 6'1", 190 pounds.
But when you watch him play, especially on defense, Trinkwon turns into a possible starter in professional baseball. He has easy, gliding actions at shortstop with good range and hands at the position. His arm is fringe-average, so it is possible he will have to move to second base.
Hopefully that doesn't happen, because it would hurt his chances to make it to the big leagues. Trinkwon won't have enough bat to profile as a regular at second. He uses a short, contact-oriented swing with a good approach and discipline. But he is going to hit for little more than gap power at the next level.
As long as Trinkwon can make his arm work at shortstop in pro ball, he could find a job as a second-division starter in a few years.
Projected Pick: Sixth Round
Third Base: Connor Hale, State College of Florida
Connor Hale's skill set seems to have stalled, leading to him dropping from an early second-day pick to late in the day, possibly even having to go on the third day.
Playing a corner infield position, Hale doesn't show the kind of home run power you want to see. He can drive the ball into the gap, but his swing is more geared toward contact and line drives than being able to drive through the ball to hit it over the fence.
There is plenty of athleticism in his 6'2", 180-pound frame. He has quick-twitch actions at third base and an above-average arm. But the questions about his bat, now and in the future, will push him down draft boards. If the power arrives, like it seemed it would two years ago, he could turn into an everyday player.
Projected Pick: Ninth Round
Outfielder: Kort Peterson, St. Francis HS (CA)
High school players, much more than their college counterparts, have the advantage of being able to show present tools and projection for the future. Kort Peterson is one of the most intriguing high school prospects because of where he could end up.
Already showing a good, balanced swing with raw power, the 6'1", 175-pound outfielder has a lot of room left to fill out. When Peterson adds that muscle to his frame, he could easily end up with above-average or even plus power from the left side.
An outstanding athlete, Peterson also has above-average speed and arm strength. He is a big project because his swing can get a little long and doesn't have high-end bat speed. The fact he has struck out 17 times in 68 at-bats is alarming.
But if a team wants to take a chance on a project, Peterson would be a solid choice. He is committed to UCLA and could choose to go to college hoping to improve his draft stock for 2016.
Projected Pick: Ninth Round
Starting Pitcher: Adam Plutko, RHP, UCLA
Despite the impressive college numbers, Adam Plutko is not going to crack the first round of the draft. He might not even go in the supplemental round, which does qualify him as a sleeper because the strength of this class is right-handed college pitching.
The first thing that you notice about Plutko is pitchability. The raw stuff isn't first-round worthy, as his fastball is an average offering in the 89-91 mph range. He also mixes in a cutter, changeup and curveball that project as average or better offerings because of his terrific command.
We all love to see power stuff that will miss a ton of bats, but if there is someone who can mix pitches to keep hitters off balance and puts the ball wherever he wants, you have a solid starter for a long time.
Plutko pitches down in the zone and gets good plane on his fastball to keep opponents from elevating it, though they might be able to square it up often just because it has average velocity.
There are going to be a lot of pitchers taken ahead of Plutko with better stuff and higher ceilings, but no one would be shocked if he wound up as one of the first players from this draft in the big leagues.
Projected Pick: Third Round
Relief Pitcher: Andrew Brockett, RHP, Richmond
Despite middling results at Richmond this season, Andrew Brockett fits the profile of a late-inning reliever in pro ball. He has two plus pitches (fastball and slider) and above-average control.
The command is not where it needs to be, as Brockett's arm slot tends to shift and makes it hard for him to find a consistent release point. The delivery is clean, as he uses a strong lower half to get plus velocity. His arm action does make it so his fastball dances all over the place, and it can be hard to pick up.
At just 5'11", Brockett has to be consistent with his delivery because he gets so little plane on his fastball that hitters will be able to elevate it. He also has to start missing more bats to pitch in high-leverage situations at the next level.
Despite not fitting the traditional closer profile, Brockett could turn into a good seventh- or eighth-inning setup man.
Projected Pick: Eighth Round
Other Notable Position Players
No. 1 Adam Frazier, SS, Mississippi State
The Mississippi State shortstop could carve out a future as a leadoff hitter in the big leagues. He has a good, quiet approach at the plate with an excellent eye and pitch recognition. He doesn't hit for home run power, but can make contact and hit the ball into the alley.
Even though he won't be an elite defender at shortstop, Frazier has more than enough glove, arm and range to be average. If he can hit .260 with a .330 on-base percentage and solid defense, he could start for any team.
No. 2 Terry McClure, OF, Riverwood International HS (GA)
One of the better high school hitters in this year's class, Terry McClure could find himself on the outside of the first two rounds because speed is his best tool and the hit tool is still incredibly raw.
He has below-average arm strength and tends to get out on his front foot early in his swing, but given his athleticism and some projection, he could turn into a center fielder and leadoff hitter down the line.
No. 3 J.T. Riddle, SS/2B, Kentucky
There is a point in the draft when you can start to take risks and hope to catch fire. J.T. Riddle is one of those risks who could pay huge dividends, because there are times when his skill set looks like that of a second- or third-round pick.
Riddle makes solid contact, can punch line drives all over the field and has power projection left. He doesn't play consistently enough to warrant a high selection, but with his hit projection and ability to play second or, possibly shortstop, he is worth the investment.
Other Notable Pitchers
No. 1 Tom Windle, LHP, Minnesota
Depending on what you look for, Tom Windle could end up being a compensatory-round pick or wait a little while longer.
Given that Windle is a tall left-hander who can run his velocity up to 93 mph with a good changeup and average slider, teams are likely to overlook some of the negatives. He doesn't use his lower half well and has been inconsistent commanding all of his pitches.
There will be some team that believes it can work with Windle's delivery enough to find a good release point without sacrificing velocity. If that winds up being the case, he could sneak into the top 50-60 picks.
No. 2 Daniel Gibson, LHP, Florida
Daniel Gibson is one of my favorite project picks in this draft. He has all the raw tools to be a starter with a clean, easy delivery and plus fastball velocity. The problem comes when you look at his off-speed stuff.
He throws a curveball and changeup, but struggles to keep them in the strike zone and neither offering has great shape to fool hitters or miss bats. He does have the size—6'3", 220 pounds—to be a starter.
Even though Gibson is a college pitcher, a team could decide to move slow with him and hope he can find something with his off-speed pitches. If that happens, he could turn into at least a No. 4 starter.
No. 3 Robert Tyler, RHP, Crisp County HS (GA)
Boasting a wiry 6'4" frame, Robert Tyler is going to add bulk and possibly another mile or two to his fastball that already touches 93-94. He also throws an above-average changeup that he shows good feel for already.
Tyler also knows how to use his entire arsenal. He has advanced pitchability for a high school pitcher and a lot of projection. He has the makings of a third-round pitcher with two above-average or better pitches. If he can find a consistent third offering, he can be a good mid-rotation starter.
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