All six affiliates are underway and most of the 2014 draft picks have debuted so let’s move forward with our draft roundtable. Next up is our trio picking out the sleeper picks of the White Sox 2014 draft class. We have more variety than we did in the last topic.
Matt Cassidy: Matt Cooper and Brannon Easterling
I am going to cheat a bit on this one, and choose two sleepers, because I had a hard time deciding between a couple guys. First is RHP Matt Cooper, 16th round from Hawaii. Cooper struck out 106 in 106.2 IP for a DI program in a decent conference, and showed good control (28 BB) with a four-pitch repertoire led by a good 12-6 curve, a fastball by some reports in the 88-92 range, a change and occasional slider. He profiles nicely as a starter.
My other pick is another senior college arm in Brannon Easterling (20th), who was the staff ace for DII St. Edward’s in Texas. Easterling also struck out nearly a batter an inning, and only walked 23 in 114.1 innings for a very nice 4.7 K:BB ratio. Showing endurance, this senior threw 15 complete games in 16 starts. Caveats about DII stats and his relatively advanced age (23) apply, but he looks like a big, tough competitor and a nice pickup in the middle of the draft.
Jeff Buchanan: Connor Walsh
I’m limiting my sleeper selection to day three picks only, and there are a few interesting names to consider. Matt Cooper put up some excellent numbers at Hawaii, but his reported high 80’s fastball from the right side doesn’t exactly scream pro success. Mason Robbins has some strong tools and was highly thought of out of high school, but he never managed to put it all together in college. Mike Gomez could move quickly as a lefty reliever with good ‘pitchability’. For my sleeper though I will go with Connor Walsh. I like his athleticism and he offers good projectability for a college arm. He needs to improve his consistency with all aspects of his game, but he has a fastball that has touched 95 and has the potential for an above average curve. I think there’s a chance he could start if the Sox are willing to be patient. His college numbers weren’t great but there are some tools to work with and he could really benefit from receiving pro instruction.
Dan: Zach Thompson
I’m going with a higher draft pick than Matt or Jeff, but that’s because I like Thompson’s stuff a lot. He is a 6-7 pitcher with a 92-95 fastball. His slider has received some good reviews as well, which gives him the fall back of becoming a reliever if his change and curve don’t develop enough. He didn’t have big strikeout numbers this spring (62 in 87.1 IP), but his scouting report on MLB.com notes how he is raw for a college pitcher. I’m banking on him developing enough to at least be a power relief prospect and I think will be given every chance to start first.