Deep Dynasty Fishing: 7 sleepers worth knowing

May 15, 2009

Alexia Amarista, 2B – 4/06/1989, Low-A, Los Angeles Angels: Signed out of Venezuela, Alexia Amarista is a second baseman of the Alberto Callaspo mold. The 5-foot-8, 150 pound switch-hitter began his American professional career in 2008, where he recorded 235 plate appearances in the AZL. While the power was lacking (.099 isoP). Amarista displayed great plate discipline (12.3 BB%, 8.5 K%) on his way to a .377 wOBA. So far in 2009, Amarista has made the transition from Arizona to Iowa seem like a walk in the park. Through 136 Midwest League plate appearances, Amarista has improved the discipline he displayed in 2008 (13.2 BB%, 7.4K%), and shown significantly more power (.181 isoP). As a result, Amarista has a .419 wOBA to this point. Although his .386 BABIP is very high, his line drive rate (17%) is solid, while his speed (14 SB, 4 CS so far) seems above-average. To put into perspective just how good Amarista has been so far, keep in mind he is only six months older than Eric Hosmer.

Manuel Banuelos, SP - 3/13/1991, Low-A, New York Yankees: Signed out of Mexico in 2008, Manuel Buenelos is a 5-foot-11 righthander who has been tremendous in his pro career so far. The freshly turned 18-year-old jumped on the scene throwing 39.1 impressive innings (160 TBF) in the GCL last season. In that span, he walked 8.1% and struck out 21.9%, as one of the younger players in the minors. This season, Banuelos has continued his success at Low-A Charleston. With a fastball that sits 90-92, and a great feel for pitching, Banuelos has been able to strike out over a quarter of the batters he’s faced so far (25.8%), while his walk-rate remains at 8.2%. If Banuelos continues this type of success, he could soar up the prospect charts. Although he is very far-away from the big show, Banuelos is a name we could be hearing for a while.

Danny Espinosa, SS - 4/25/1987, High-A, Washington Nationals: A 3rd rounder in last year’s draft out of Long Beach State, Danny Espinosa may be the Nationals shortstop of the future with the recent controversy surrounding Esmailyn Gonzalez. Last year, Espinosa got 87 plate appearances in the New York-Penn League to begin his pro career. While he both walked and struck out 19.5% of the time, he showed hardly any power (.031 isoP). Making the leap to High-A in 2009, the switch-hitter’s power has emerged. Over his first 140 plate appearances, Espinosa has a .237 isoP. His strikeout rate has jumped a bit, to 22.9%, but his walk rate remains very strong (15.0%). Already 22 years old in High-A, it will be dire that Espinosa makes more contact as he advances through the system, but if he can cut down on his strikeouts, he could be a solid bat at a premium position.

Tyson Gillies, OF - 10/31/1988, High-A, Seattle Mariners: Gillies was selected in the 25th round of the 2006 draft, but his baseball skills warranted a much higher pick. Gillies fell so far because he is legally deaf. He wears a hearing aid and reads lips, and this generally only impedes him when he is wearing a helmet. The 20-year-old center fielder’s deficiencies haven’t seemed to impact his performance. Gillies spent the bulk of 2008 in the Northwest League where he recorded 241 plate appearances. Gillies posted a .391 wOBA while walking an impressive 14.5% of the time. He showed speed to burn with 24 stolen bases and 7 caught stealing. Gillies started 2009 in High-A and is showing no signs that he is being rushed. Through 146 plate appearances, Gillies has an 11.6 BB%, 16.4 K%, and is showing adequate power (.155 IsoP) although that is surely aided by playing in High Desert. While the power remains behind his other aspects of the game, a speedy outfielder with patience can bring value in the majors and Gillies is one who I will be rooting for to succeed throughout his career.

Dan McDaniel, SP, 4/18/1988, High-A, Chicago Cubs: In a pitching deprived farm system, McDaniel could quickly become one of the Cubs best pitching prospects. A former Junior College player, McDaniel was selected in the 14th round of the 2008 draft. McDaniel brings low-to-mid-90’s heat to the table, and also has features a changeup and breaking ball. In 32.1 Northwest League innings (123 TBF) in 2008, McDaniel was dominant at times, striking out 33.3%. He also induced ground balls 63% of the time the ball was put in play. The major concern with McDaniel was his command – he walked 13.0%. This season, McDaniel has made the jump to High-A and continues to be effective. While the strikeouts are down (22.0%), the walks are down as well (10.0%). While this is still a high percentage, it shows improvement. If McDaniel can continue to limit his walks, he will definitively be one of the top pitching prospects in the Cubs system by year’s end.

Alejandro Sanabia, SP - 9/09/1988, High-A, Florida Marlins: A 32nd rounder from the 2006 Draft, Sanabia is a deep sleeper in the Marlins system, but one who could bring big return. The 6-foot-1 righthander started his pro career in the New York Penn League in 2007, and found a good bit of success (5.7 BB%, 23.3). He made a difficult jump to Greensboro in 2008, one of the most hitter-friendly parks in the minors. While his numbers (6.0 BB%, 17.9 K%) didn’t blow anyone away, he was definitely solid for a 19-year-old. In 2009, it appears that Sanabia’s secondary pitches have improved as he climbed to High-A. Through 33.2 IP (134 TBF), Sanabia has struck out 19.4% of opposing batters, while his walk-rate has remained at 6.0%. Sanabia is a far-off but still rather intriguing name to keep in mind.

Vance Worley, SP - 9/25/1987, Double-A, Philadelphia Phillies: In a system with several emerging young arms such as Kyle Drabek and Jason Knapp, Worley may be overlooked. A 3rd rounder in 2008 also out of Long Beach State, Worley wasted no time making a strong impression in the pros. In 61.0 innings (249 TBF) at Low-A Lakewood in 2008, Worley struck out 21.3% and walked only 2.8%. He also induced ground balls at a 55% clip. Working 91-93 with his fastball and showing a decent changeup, Worley has continued his success in 2009, this time at Double-A Reading. Through 38.1 IP (145 TBF), Worley has increased his strikeout rate to 23.4%, and ground ball rate to 58%. The walks have jumped to 6.2%, but his command remains an asset. The 6-foot-2, 220 pound righthander has yet to turn 22, and if he continues to perform at his current level, the Phillies will be hard pressed not to give him a look in the majors this season.


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