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Thread: The Unranked Sleepers

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    The Big Dog mth123's Avatar
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    The Unranked Sleepers

    Playing around a little looking at some of the Reds minor leaguers and wondered what some may think about a few of the guys who seem to have fallen out of favor or were never really on the radar. In the process I checked out a few guys who were ranked last year or seem to have some ability based on 2009 but don't get a mention. I'll start off with some guys who Doug left off of his top 40 that he has posted on his fantastic site.

    Cody Puckett - Kid hit 19 HRs playing 2B in 2009. He does seem to K a lot while needing to walk more, but earlier in 2009, there seemed to be some excitement for him. Not sure of his defense and wonder if he's really a prospect.

    Alex Buchholz - Was fairly well heralded last year and the Reds thought enough of him to skip Low A and play him in Sarasota. He had a poor season and he probably can't play SS but it seems like a far fall in one season. I have to wonder where Puckett, Buchholz and Rojas are going to play in 2010. It seems like they should all be at A+ and they can't all play. I wonder if Buchholz will jump to AA even though he struggled so badly. If so, it may mean he has a chance.

    Byron Wiley - He had a pretty good year at Dayton, and at age 22 didn't seem too old for the level. Why no love?

    Mace Thurman - I think this guy could be a good one and I see in another thread that he may have a shot at a conversion to starter. He seems pretty interesting as a reliever, but as a starter he could be even more interesting. He doesn't get much discussion, but he seems a good bet to pitch in the big leagues some day if he stays healthy.

    Chris Denove - Seems like the second coming of Ryan Hanigan and while that's not star material, could be useful while he's cheap. Not sure if he is Hanigan's equal on defense.

    Ben Jukich - I've long thought of him as a sleeper and IMO he's a better prospect than Sam Lecure and certainly has a healthier history than Lotzkar, Thompson, Buck or even Wood. He just turned 27 though so maybe not a prospect is OK, but I think he has a chance to be of use on a staff and I wouldn't be surprised if he gets a look during a pinch when the staff is gassed and needs a body. I prefer him to Lehr for that role.

    David Sappelt - Fairly well received in 2008. Struggled a bit in the minors in 2009 but BA ranks him as the best defensive OF in the system (though I question that). He steals bases (and gets caught a lot) and while little guys who can run and get thrown out aren't my cup of tea, many in the baseball world project some value to them and I wonder if he doesn't have value as an organizational asset.

    Sean Watson - Throws hard, no control, a little old for his position on the food chain now and has had a couple of mediocre to bad years in a row. Sounds a lot like Pedro Viola who still gets some love. I wonder if its because Viola is a lefty since that's about the only difference that I can see.

    Let's hear some opinions on these guys and feel free to throw out others who I may not have mentioned.
    Last edited by mth123; 11-20-2009 at 06:43 AM.
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    The Boss dougdirt's Avatar
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    Re: The Unranked Sleepers

    I will go ahead and tell why these guys weren't in my Top 40.
    Quote Originally Posted by mth123 View Post
    Playing around a little looking at some of the Reds minor leaguers and wondered what some may think about a few of the guys who seem to have fallen out of favor or were never really on the radar. In the process I checked out a few guys who were ranked last year or seem to have some ability based on 2009 but don't get a mention. I'll start off with some guys who Doug left off of his top 40 that he has posted on his fantastic site.
    Cody Puckett - Kid hit 19 HRs playing 2B in 2009. He does seem to K a lot while needing to walk more, but earlier in 2009, there seemed to be some excitement for him. Not sure of his defense and wonder if he's really a prospect.
    He had 1 month with an OPS over .735 and 1 month with an OBP over .307. He has a powerful swing, and I do think the power is legit enough to keep moving forward with that part of his game, but at the same time I wonder if that swing is holding him back.

    Alex Buchholz - Was fairly well heralded last year and the Reds thought enough of him to skip Low A and play him in Sarasota. He had a poor season and he probably can't play SS but it seems like a far fall in one season. I have to wonder where Puckett, Buchholz and Rojas are going to play in 2010. It seems like they should all be at A+ and they can't all play. I wonder if Buchholz will jump to AA even though he struggled so badly. If so, it may mean he has a chance.
    Dealt with some injuries this year, but where did the power go? 2 HR in over 350 plate appearances leaves me with a lot of questions. He has age on his side and he did deal with some injuries, but there are a lot of questions still with him.

    Byron Wiley - He had a pretty good year at Dayton, and at age 22 didn't seem too old for the level. Why no love?
    Defense is questionable. I like his bat and if he continues to hit like he did in 2009 as he moves up the ladder then he will get on the list, but at his age what he did was merely good rather than quite impressive. Again, just want to see the bat play well at higher levels and he will move up. Still is a guy who seems like a solid 4th outfielder more than a starter somewhere.

    Mace Thurman - I think this guy could be a good one and I see in another thread that he may have a shot at a conversion to starter. He seems pretty interesting as a reliever, but as a starter he could be even more interesting. He doesn't get much discussion, but he seems a good bet to pitch in the big leagues some day if he stays healthy.
    Solid stuff, but nothing that is really outstanding that makes him stand out from the crowd. He put up outstanding numbers and I do think he will pitch in the big leagues one day or at least have a very good shot at that, but at the same time I don't see him being more than a middle reliever. There is value in that, but as a single middle reliever ideally you can easily be replaced so the value isn't much.

    Chris Denove - Seems like the second coming of Ryan Hanigan and while that's not star material, could be useful while he's cheap. Not sure if he is Hanigan's equal on defense.
    Nothing special with the defense like Hanigan is. Not a big fan of his bat either. There is a reason he doesn't play every day.

    Ben Jukich - I've long thought of him as a sleeper and IMO he's a better prospect than Sam Lecure and certainly has a healthier history than Lotzkar, Thompson, Buck or even Wood. He just turned 27 though so maybe not a prospect is OK, but I think he has a chance to be of use on a staff and I wouldn't be surprised if he gets a look during a pinch when the staff is gassed and needs a body. I prefer him to Lehr for that role.
    Jukich has a fastball that tops out at 87 in some games. Perhaps a loogy one day, but I don't see much more than that at the major league level.

    David Sappelt - Fairly well received in 2008. Struggled a bit in the minors in 2009 but BA ranks him as the best defensive OF in the system (though I question that). He steals bases (and gets caught a lot) and while little guys who can run and get thrown out aren't my cup of tea, many in the baseball world project some to value them and I wonder if he doesn't have value as an organizational asset.
    Good range, weak arm. Heard that his arm had been hurt, which could explain the weak arm.... but until its no longer hurt, its a weak arm that is going to take his defense down a notch or two. Want to see the bat at the AA level. Upside is likely that of a 4th outfielder.

    Sean Watson - Throws hard, no control, a little old for his position on the food chain now and has had a couple of mediocre to bad years in a row. Sounds a lot like Pedro Viola who still gets some love. I wonder if its because Viola is a lefty since that's about the only difference that I can see.
    Watson doesn't exactly throw hard. He is in the low 90's these days, usually around 91. Absolutely no control most of the time though and his offspeed stuff hasn't played nearly as well against more advanced hitters.

    Let's hear some opinions on these guys and feel free to throw out others who I may not have mentioned.
    The other guy that I think we should keep a guy on is:
    Henry Rodriguez - No clue on his defense, but I like what his peripherals say about him at the plate if he can stick at either SS or 2B. Hit .322/.354/.421 as a 19 year old in the GCL with 7 walks and 18 strikeouts in 161 plate appearances. Currently hitting .362/.393/.524 with 7 doubles and 5 triples in 118 plate appearances in the Venezuelan Parallel League (minor leagues for the Venezuelan Winter League) with 9 walks and 11 strikeouts.

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    Re: The Unranked Sleepers

    All good choices as sleepers, mth. Certainly several of these guys are top 40, in my opinion, as I think Doug and others tend to get too enamored of first-year players in the system and underestimate the value of players who may someday contribute as bullpen or bench contributors.
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    The Boss dougdirt's Avatar
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    Re: The Unranked Sleepers

    Quote Originally Posted by lollipopcurve View Post
    All good choices as sleepers, mth. Certainly several of these guys are top 40, in my opinion, as I think Doug and others tend to get too enamored of first-year players in the system and underestimate the value of players who may someday contribute as bullpen or bench contributors.
    I just find most bullpen guys replaceable, thus their value is low. Unless you profile to be at least a set up guy, your value is generally low because you should be readily replaceable by a good team. Bench guys are generally the same way. If that is your ceiling.... then I am going to lean toward the guy with a ceiling that is that of a starter even if they haven't proven it yet because teams should easily be able to find a bench player every year on the cheap.

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    Vampire Weekend @Bernie's camisadelgolf's Avatar
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    Re: The Unranked Sleepers

    Speaking of Denove, the Reds could really have a logjam at the catcher position in AAA (Chris Denove, Craig Tatum, Wilkin Castillo, Corky Miller). It should be interesting to see how it plays out.

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    Re: The Unranked Sleepers

    I just find most bullpen guys replaceable, thus their value is low. Unless you profile to be at least a set up guy, your value is generally low because you should be readily replaceable by a good team. Bench guys are generally the same way. If that is your ceiling.... then I am going to lean toward the guy with a ceiling that is that of a starter even if they haven't proven it yet because teams should easily be able to find a bench player every year on the cheap.
    If bench players and bullpenners were "easily replaceable," every team in the bigs would have benches and bullpens full of minimum salaried players. The fact that teams have lots to choose from to fill these positions does not mean that all of these players are alike.

    A player who offers the big league club something is worth more than a player who offers nothing. And, in my estimation, the rankings here and on your site tend to ignore players who are more likely to offer modest contributions and depth in favor of players who still hold a fairly strong likelihood of flaming out completely.
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    The Boss dougdirt's Avatar
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    Re: The Unranked Sleepers

    Quote Originally Posted by lollipopcurve View Post
    If bench players and bullpenners were "easily replaceable," every team in the bigs would have benches and bullpens full of minimum salaried players. The fact that teams have lots to choose from to fill these positions does not mean that all of these players are alike.
    Teams should probably do it that way. They choose to employ the likes of Jerry Hairston Jr instead of the likes of your Drew Suttons for some reason though.

    A player who offers the big league club something is worth more than a player who offers nothing. And, in my estimation, the rankings here and on your site tend to ignore players who are more likely to offer modest contributions and depth in favor of players who still hold a fairly strong likelihood of flaming out completely.
    Well of course players who offer something are worth more than those who offer nothing. But the value of a guy who projects as a starter who hasn't made it to the upper minors yet is still worth more than the guy who is at AAA and projects as a 4th/5th outfielder. When trades go down are teams trying to get the 4th outfielder type or the guy in Low A with the tools to start every day?

    There is a lot of risk in taking the unproven guy, but the reward on taking the minimal contributor is so small that most people are going to lean the other way.

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    Re: The Unranked Sleepers

    Teams should probably do it that way. They choose to employ the likes of Jerry Hairston Jr instead of the likes of your Drew Suttons for some reason though.
    You've got to have the Drew Sutton in your system first. Assuming teams have these guys ready to go at any given moment in time is where I think your approach is off base.
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    The Boss dougdirt's Avatar
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    Re: The Unranked Sleepers

    Quote Originally Posted by lollipopcurve View Post
    You've got to have the Drew Sutton in your system first. Assuming teams have these guys ready to go at any given moment in time is where I think your approach is off base.
    Drew Sutton types are readily available in more than half the systems in baseball at any given moment and some teams have more than one.

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    Re: The Unranked Sleepers

    Of the guys you mentioned, mth . . . Thurman has always been a favorite of mine. He's been aces from the very start . . . Puckett seems to be held back by defensive issues, although you'd think he could maybe play a corner OF, possibly 3B . . . I think Wiley's bat may be the most underrated in the system. It was interesting that he went on a tear last year when Votto was down there and pointed out something in his swing . . . Buchholz, as you say, is a puzzlement, and someone who probably shouldn't be written off too quickly . . . I like Denove, although he doesn't seem to profile as anything more than a journeyman . . . I've never seen much out of Watson.
    Last edited by mace; 11-20-2009 at 11:38 AM.

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    Re: The Unranked Sleepers

    Drew Sutton types are readily available in more than half the systems in baseball at any given moment and some teams have more than one.
    Point being, it isn't a given. Nor is it a given, for example, that you'll have a lefty out of the pen ready to come up. These guys are nice to have in a system, providing ready depth, so that the organization doesn't have to go begging. That's why in plenty of cases I value minor leaguers with those skillsets (whether it's LOOGY or speed + defense + positional flexibility) over kids who are pure projection with no professional track record of note. At some point, the prospect hype fades and you have to take a more practical look at these players, IMHO.

    So, right now at least, just to cite a single example, I would have Sappelt higher than Juan Duran. Doesn't mean Duran can't shoot up the list, but he's going to have to break out first. And on and on....
    Last edited by lollipopcurve; 11-20-2009 at 10:48 AM.
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    Re: The Unranked Sleepers

    Interesting topic, MTH123. Several of those players played in Dayton and I saw a lot of them. They were the core of a team that went 59-80. Puckett, Wiley, and Sappelt all have some positives but they all have holes in their games and most scouts that you talk to generally watch those guys for a few days and dismiss them. Thurman is a guy that is interesting to me. He really had a great year. He is improving a little more rapidly than your typical minor league player. His body type is such that you could see him maturing and adding velocity. Really nice kid, could use maybe a bit more of a killer instinct on the mound because in pressure situations, he started pitching scared due to lack of confidence.

    That's why you can't just look at numbers. When Thurman was in a game with no pressure, he could be dominant. But when Benzinger brought him into a tough spot, say, two men on and nobody out with the tying run at the plate, 8,000 people in the stands, he was a totally different pitcher. Totally different. Most likely, he was going to walk the first guy on four pitches. He did get more confidence as he had some success. But how do you account for that when you evaluate a guy if you are just looking at numbers? That's why I am not a numbers guy. There are too many variables with 22 year old kids and too many things that don't show up in the numbers.

    Puckett: Probably smaller than listed 5'10...Great raw power with tape-measure home runs due to very strong hands and bat speed...long swing led to 138 strikeouts...decent speed...very limited range at second base will likely require a move to left field...As with Sappelt and Wiley, the better Midwest League pitchers handled him pretty well, leading to .263 average. As Doug mentioned, most of his production came in one month (May) before they figured out how to pitch to him.

    Wiley: Very streaky hitter (had only 2 HR as of mid-June, then hit seven in next 13 games, then just three more the rest of the year)...Showed a lot of potential as a hitter at times but does not have much else to offer...Can't throw at all...Below average range in the outfield...Doesn't offer much on the bases...Manager quoted several times saying he needs to work harder.

    Sappelt: 5'9"...I have written at length about this player...Tremendous range in the outfield...Will make plays that would make SportsCenter...Excellent acceleration...Has a lot of ability but as a hitter, could not come through in key situations...You kept expecting more from him as a hitter but it never came...Weak arm...Good speed on basepaths, but bad baserunner...Very confident, brash, cocky player.

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    Re: The Unranked Sleepers

    This is about as subjective as it gets (both on player judgments and who actually qualifies), but my sleeper list would look something like this, I suppose:

    Tucker Barnhardt, Theodis Bowe, Kevin Coddington, Daniel Corcino, Enerio del Rosario, Chris Denove, Starlin Gerson, Jeremy Horst, Jordan Hotchkiss, Joe Krebs, Andrew Means, Alexis Oliveras, Curtis Partch, Henry Rodriguez, Lee Tabor, Travis Webb, Byron Wiley.

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    Re: The Unranked Sleepers

    Quote Originally Posted by lollipopcurve View Post
    Point being, it isn't a given. Nor is it a given, for example, that you'll have a lefty out of the pen ready to come up. These guys are nice to have in a system, providing ready depth, so that the organization doesn't have to go begging. That's why in plenty of cases I value minor leaguers with those skillsets (whether it's LOOGY or speed + defense + positional flexibility) over kids who are pure projection with no professional track record of note. At some point, the prospect hype fades and you have to take a more practical look at these players, IMHO.

    So, right now at least, just to cite a single example, I would have Sappelt higher than Juan Duran. Doesn't mean Duran can't shoot up the list, but he's going to have to break out first. And on and on....
    It's also not a given that these guys will reach their ceilings either, right. Which is why they are lower on the totem pole. To use your own example Sappelt might be more advanced than Duran but I doubt he's ever as good as a Sean Henry or even Shaun Cumberland and look where they have been stranded. Just because it's a more modest ceiling doesn't make it any more likely they reach it.
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    Re: The Unranked Sleepers

    It's also not a given that these guys will reach their ceilings either, right. Which is why they are lower on the totem pole. To use your own example Sappelt might be more advanced than Duran but I doubt he's ever as good as a Sean Henry or even Shaun Cumberland and look where they have been stranded. Just because it's a more modest ceiling doesn't make it any more likely they reach it.
    Disagree there, simply because they are so much closer to their ceiling than the Durans and Ravins of the world are to theirs. You make a good point that a guy like Sappelt still has a ways to go to hit his ceiling, but I believe you may be ignoring some of the assets in his game when you compare him to Henry and Cumberland.
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