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 players to watch out for:
MLB Sleeper Prospects: Part 1
Jimmie Sherfy – Arizona Diamondbacks
Despite his small stature, only 5’11 175lbs, Sherfy has a big time arm. With the ability to reach the upper 90’s he has the ability to become a real back-end of the bullpen arm. Control had always been the issue but in 2016 he seemed to harness that more effectively. Look for Sherfy to have a big year in 2017.
Ronald Acuna – Atlanta Braves
Acuna spent a large portion of this season on the DL with a thumb injury. However, when he did play he showed off the plate discipline, approach and athletic ability that will make him a very intriguing prospect in the future. The power must continue to develop and there is always a chance he moves to left or right field, but for now look for Acuna to shoot up prospect charts in the coming seasons.
Ofelky Peralta – Baltimore Orioles
When Peralta signed with Baltimore a few years ago, he was a thrower with a power arm and limited control or secondary stuff. Fast forward 3 years and the consensus hasn’t changed much. Improvements in pitch command are a huge sign of things to come. The secondary stuff will continue to develop and Peralta will continue to climb prospect charts everywhere.
Nick Longhi – Boston Red Sox
When looking for position players who could take a big leap there are usually two skill set that teams look for. Elite athleticism or advanced approach. Longhi, by no means, is an elite athlete. His approach is plus, and despite his lack of natural power, he has consistently made hard contact around the field. The power needs to develop more still but he has the potential to end up a Doug Mientkiewicz-esque player.
Darryl Wilson – Chicago Cubs
Darryl “D.J.” Wilson is the opposite school of thought as Longhi. Elite athlete, great speed that plays in the field as well as on the bases, and some untapped power potential. Look for Wilson to continue to develop his extremely impressive skill set, and his name will begin to appear on prospect lists everywhere.
Jake Peter – Chicago White Sox
Peter will never be a top prospect with his skill set. He will never have an easy job in the MLB. He will certainly never be a guy that opposing teams game plan around. But with all that said, he is the type of player that scouts are proud to pick. Great approach, great contact skills, ability to spray the ball to all fields and play all over the diamond. Peter will be a Major League Player, and a useful one at that.
Antonio Santillan – Cincinnati Reds
Santillan has all the tools at his disposal to become a dominant closer in the big leagues. At 19 years old he already has a 98 mph fastball and a hammer curve that he has a lot of confidence in. The last piece of the puzzle is fastball command. He has a cross-body arm action and is he can harness his control he has the ability to become truly special.
Logan Ice – Cleveland Indians
Ice’s skill set reads like a how-to guide on becoming a pro ball player quickly. Catcher with enough athleticism to stick. Switch hitter with a solid eye and approach. Technician behind the plate with average physical abilities. He wont wow anybody, but Ice has all the skills to become an everyday catcher in the MLB down the road.
Sam Hilliard – Colorado Rockies
A 2015 15th round pick out of Wichita State, Hilliard has had a nice pro showing so far. Despite being older than the majority of his competition at 22 years old, he still has plenty of upside. With two potential plus skills, power and speed, the 6’5 Hilliard could climb the Minors quickly if he can make more consistent contact.
Jairo Labourt – Detroit Tigers
Labourt was a disappointment this season. The control somehow got worse. But in June the Tigers made the decision to move Labourt to the pen and things changed. The walks were still an issue but he was able to essentially scrap his change-up and go with fastball-slider the majority of the time. Out of the pen opposing hitter only managed a .189 average. Look for Jairo to continue to develop in this role after an odd 2016 season.