Every year in Major League Baseball, teams have one or two prospects rise from obscurity to become legitimate prospects. Sometimes they develop an additional skill. Sometimes they figure out some plus potential in a tool they already possess. It is fascinating to watch. 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 3
Alberto Tirado – Philadelphia Phillies
Tirado has always had top-end talent. His fastball runs 95-99 MPH and he has an athletic enough frame to even develop that further. Like so many big-armed pitcher on these lists, command is the issue. Consequently, he has never been able to consistently locate his pitches. If Tirado were able to harness his talent, he could end up being a top-flight closer or even a solid starter in the bigs.
Dovydas Neverauskas – Pittsburgh Pirates
A Lithuanian-born baseball prospect? As unlikely as it sounds, it’s true! Despite his non-traditional background for baseball, Neverauskas has a big league arm and arsenal, including a heavy upper-90’s fastball and a workable slider and change-up. His recent move to the bullpen proved to be the lynch-pin for his continued success. He already locates fairly well, but the next step for him will be continuing to miss bats at the Triple-A and MLB levels.
Mason Thompson – San Diego Padres
Referring to the 6’7 righty as thin would be an understatement. The 18-year-old has a very athletic approach to pitching. Despite having Tommy John surgery at a young age, it seems Thompson has fully recovered due to his recent increase in velocity. He has so much potential and it will be interesting to see how far his star can climb.
Dylan Davis – San Fransisco Giants
David has big-time bat speed, a plus arm, a solid understanding of the zone, and the ability to hit the ball out to all fields. These skills make Davis a very fun prospect to watch. Furthermore, despite his below-average speed and some contact issues, with time you could be looking at a guy who could be a very good big league ball player.
Christopher Torres – Seattle Mariners
Torres is as exciting of a prospect as can be found outside of top-100 lists right now. He is a plus defender in all elements of the craft. Some believe that refinement is needed and the finer details could move him to second base, but that seems highly unlikely. Despite his smallish stature, Torres has surprising power to all fields. With a good eye, solid contact skills, and above average speed, Torres can become a star this season.
Austin Gomber – St. Louis Cardinals
When watching Gomber pitch, the key to enjoying him is in the finer points. He won’t wow anyone with his combination of low-90s fastball and an excellent change-up. That said, his ability to work all four quadrants of the strike zone and change speeds at will excites those who love quality pitching. Some say he has limited upside, but with his skill set it would be easy to see him develop into a quality mid-rotation starter.
Jake Fraley – Tampa Bay Rays
Almost nothing about Fraley screams star. He lacks power and flash in his game. Fraley relies on his ability to work his way through a game with an advanced approach and enough speed to make a difference. If his bat manages to develop, think Brett Gardner. If everything comes together for Fraley, he could be a valuable player in the bigs.
Michael Matuella – Texas Rangers
Tommy John surgery robbed him of potentially going #1 overall in the 2015 draft. However, the Duke standout is finally healthy and ready to make an impact. His large frame (6’6, 220 lbs), 97 MPH fastball, and his two potentially-plus breaking-balls make him a legitimate ace prospect. Look for Matuella to regain form and quickly rise to the upper levels of the Rangers prospect rankings.
J.B. Woodman – Toronto Blue Jays
Elite bat-speed is Woodman’s calling card. The Ole Miss product has the ability to create bat speed on pitches to all locations in the zone. When he gets to a ball, he shows solid gap-to-gap power and he runs well enough to turn doubles in triples. Woodman has shown the ability to hold down center field at a respectable level. His problem is simple: his contact skills are uncomfortably poor. With a few swing adjustments, Woodman could become a Colby Rasmus-type player.
Drew Ward – Washington Nationals
Very few prospects in the Nationals system scream exciting. Ward is no different, but he has the varied skill set to become a useful utility guy at the next level. It is unlikely he will be an everyday player; however, with his ability to run deep counts and play respectable defense at multiple positions, Ward can definitely see his MLB service time add up.