Fantasy Fringe Five: Ep 4, Now With Small Samples

This is the fourth post-Cistulli edition of the Fantasy Fringe Five, a feature intended to highlight players who possess some degree of Major League-like talent combined with a lack of typical prospect hype. To that end, let us ask rhetorically, what is this column and how does a player become eligible to participate?

Eligibility for The Fringe Five will require (for the present, at least) the following:

  • Rookie-eligibility (i.e. fewer than 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched), and

  • Absence from a 25-man roster (i.e. not in the major leagues currently), and

  • Absence from any noted top-100 prospect lists, and

  • The capacity to stir something within the author’s manly bosom.

Promotions and Sundry Graduations

Already in the short history of this column, which I share with the esteemed Alex Chamberlain, a number of players we have discussed are no longer strictly eligible for inclusion here. What follows is a list in order of appearance. In parenthesis, the writer(s) who discussed him via this column.

Mike Tauchman (Carson, Alex)

Frank Schwindel (Brad)

Ildemaro Vargas (Carson, Brad)

Drew Jackson (Brad, presently designated for assignment)

Spencer Turnbull (Brad)

Garrett Cooper (Alex, cheating)

In a future week, Alex or I will contrive of a Nice Table with which to memorialize these former Fringe Fivers. Now, let us turn to several days of minor league data in order to enumerate not-quite-prospects of dubious repute.

Zac Gallen

First-time Fringe Fiver

Gallen, a right-hander, presently leads the minor leagues with 11 strikeouts. He accrued these over the span of seven perfect innings. According to scouting reports, including those most recently purveyed by McDongenhagen, Gallen throws a low-to-mid-90s fastball with a typical array of offspeed stuff. None of the assortment rates as a plus offering. While largely writing him off as anything more than a back-end starter, McDonghagen concluded by hedging their remarks.

But if the velo bump last year was just the start of a trend that continues into the future, there might be a bit more here.

Indeed, I was unable to uncover velocity readings from this first start. Intrepid readers who discover, share, and cite a resource providing such data would be thanked. As a member of the Miami Marlins who is also within close proximity of the majors, we will probably see him in a Major League game this season.

Cavan Biggio (2nd Appearance)

Cistulli Fringe Fiver

Biggio, in the span of 17 Triple-A plate appearances, has managed to accumulate six hits, five walks, two home runs, one stolen base, and one strikeout. Or displayed as a traditional triple slash: .500/.647/1.167. While certainly the product of a small sample, his present performance can be most aptly described as “impressive.”

Scouting reports tend to offer muted views of Biggio, suggesting he may never make much of an impact in the majors. Fantasy analysts and owners have a more sanguine relationship with Biggio – likely due to a 26 home run, 20 steal 2018 season at Double-A. While I do not doubt the tools aren’t visibly those of a big league star, players who hit well at both Double- and Triple-A eventually get the chance to hit well in front of larger crowds. It’s not as if the Blue Jays have a surplus of talented second basemen.

Enyel De Los Santos

First-time Fringe Fiver

Of the minor league pitchers I watched live in 2018, a fairly short list which does include touted prospect Justus Sheffield, De Los Santos was the most impressive. He is a seemingly finished product, one who probably at least belongs in a big league bullpen. A surfeit of both starters and relievers in the Phillies system has left De Los Santos stranded in Triple-A. In his 2019 debut, he struck out 10 batters over five innings of work. A solo home run was the lone blemish on his stat line.

The lanky righty throws a fastball in the mid-90s, a good changeup, and two middling breaking balls. When I saw him, his curve was used almost like a changeup off his slider. His mechanics are somewhat unconventional, leading to some question as to how his stuff will translate to the majors.

Luis Barrera

First-time Fringe Fiver

Barrera, a 23-year-old outfielder, is presently hitting .500/.579/.938 through 19 Double-A plate appearances. Best known for his speed, athleticism and arm strength, Barrera has the look of a platoon bat or defensive replacement. Whereas he hit just three home runs in all of 2018 (a span of 495 plate appearances), he has already hit his first home run of 2019. Given a propensity to hit many ground balls – one that remains visibly present even in his current small sample of work – we should not anticipate a newfound spate of power. Per McDongenhagen:

He projects as a high-end pinch runner and corner outfield defensive replacement, but there’s a chance he ends up as the larger half of a center field platoon.

Seemingly, said chance would be better on a roster excluding Ramon Laureano.

Jake Cronenworth

First-time Fringe Fiver

A 25-year-old super utility man, Croneworth has tossed together a spicy .722/.737/1.000 batting line through 19 Triple-A plate appearances. Would it surprise you to learn his .765 BABIP is probably unsustainable?

Croneworth is a light-sticked, high-contact batter who doesn’t hit for enough authority to qualify as a prospect. Nor is he slick-gloved enough to pave his way on the defensive side. He made the list this week because he’s the minor league hits leader. While I do not expect to see him again within the confines of the Fringe Five, I do expect to see him next weekend when I attend a Durham Bulls game.

We hoped you liked reading Fantasy Fringe Five: Ep 4, Now With Small Samples by Brad Johnson!

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