Four Sleeper Prospects to Watch in 2013

Prospect-related topics are hard to come by in springtraining, 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 Doubledays.

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 Dicharry

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

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.

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