Four Sleeper Prospects to Watch in 2013

Prospect-related topics are hard to come by in spring
training, so I thought I’d take a look at some sleeper prospects that I’ll be
keeping an eye on in 2013. Rather than sticking to guys that have been on most
top prospect lists, I decided to take a look at some guys that have
breakthrough years. In Austin Dicharry and Rick Hague’s cases, they have MLB
talent but have battled injuries for the past few years. Jason Martinson has
excellent tools up the middle but lacks plate discipline. Robert Benincasa has
been blowing batters away with stuff that doesn’t blow scouts away. While these
four players specifically might not break out in 2013, these types of profiles
are the ones that often do (see Christian Garcia and Nathan Karns for guys that
battled injuries and Craig Stammen for a reliever succeeding despite not having
tremendous stuff).

RHP Robert Benincasa

22 years old, finished 2012 in the NYPL with the Auburn

2012 7th round pick out of Florida State

The 2012 Nationals draft will be forever tied to the
success of Lucas Giolito, but that’s not to say the Nats completely punted on
talent. Benincasa is a wonderful example of finding good players for value
prices; in his junior season at Florida State, he posted a 1.35 ERA and 15
saves to go along with his 8/1 K/BB ratio. He excelled against top competition,
putting up a 0.47 ERA in ACC games with 31 K and only 4 walks. Amazingly,
Benincasa improved upon his college K/BB rate, putting up a marvelous 10.67/1
rate in his professional debut. With an above average sinking fastball and a
slider that got GIF’ed (see below) by Carson Cistulli of
FanGraphs, look for Benincasa to move up the ladder quickly.

RHP Austin

23 years old, finished 2012 in rookie ball for the GCL

2012 24th round pick out of Texas

Another 2012 draftee, Dicharry was more of a lottery pick
than anything. After a breakout freshman year in 2009 where he went 8-2 with a
2.28 ERA and 59 K in 59 and 1/3 innings (with 28 walks, though), Dicharry spent
the 2010 and 2011 seasons battling arm injuries. The 2012 college version of
Dicharry didn’t find the mound much, but succeeded when he was there, posting a
9.0 K/9 to a 2.25 BB/9 in 20 innings. Todd Boss of Nationals
Arm Race
also mentioned him briefly as a sleeper back in January, and
Todd is a guy that I trust when it comes to evaluating pitchers. Dicharry’s
improved control (1.4 BB/9 in 25 and 1/3 innings in 2012) gives me hope that he
will blossom into another relief option for the Nats system.

IF Jason Martinson

24 years old, finished 2012 in high A ball for the
Potomac Nationals.

2010 5th round pick out of Texas State

Forgive me, but guys with great power/speed combinations
make my lists more often than not. Martinson had an excellent 14.6 BB% in the
half season he spent in Hagerstown, but then saw it drop to a mediocre 7.9% in
the second half in Potomac. 22 HR, 30 steals and 106 RBI out of a middle infielder
are hard to overlook, but so is 167 strikeouts in 586 plate appearances
(28.5%). If Martinson can get back into the 12-14 BB% range, he’ll be able to
survive despite striking out over in over a quarter of his plate appearances.
It’s a thin line, but I could see him on the right side of it in 2013.

IF Rick Hague

24 years old, finished 2012 in high A ball for the
Potomac Nationals.

2010 3rd round pick out of Rice

Hague’s 2012 stats are not that encouraging, as he
finished the season with a .258/.312/.370 triple slash in 433 plate
appearances. I’m still dreaming that he’s the same hitter he was in college;
with a compact swing, he can hit the ball to all fields with some line drive
power. Injuries stole basically his entire 2011 season from him, which leads me
to chalk up his 2012 mediocrity mostly to recovery. With modest improvements in
BB% and K% to go with some of his doubles turning into HR, Hague could be
looking for a utility spot in DC in 2014 or 2015.