Peripheral Prospects 2019: Brad’s Review

In case you missed it, Peripheral Prospects was the fanboy spawn of Carson Cistulli’s erstwhile Fringe Five column. I worked on PP in conjunction with Alex Chamberlain (his review), although I must admit we never actually discussed our picks. Basically, we both like finding value on the fringes of the fantasy scene. To that end, we brought our own processes for discovering these often free gems.

Anyway, let’s move on to reviewing my favorite/best picks. Read Alex’s review (above) if you’re desirous of further introduction.

Week 1: Spencer Turnbull

Turnbull broke camp with the pitiful Tigers. In a different run environment, I’m convinced he would have been a useful fantasy asset. He actually held opponents to 0.85 HR/9 – which ranks seventh-best among pitchers with 100 or more innings. He also recorded a hair under a strikeout per inning with a non-lethal 4.61 ERA. Don’t mind the 1.44 WHIP or 3-17 record. I’ll have my eye on him next season.

Week 4/6/8: Zac Gallen

You’re going to hear a LOT about Gallen this winter. We at PP had the scoop on him before anybody else. Command of multiple quality offspeed pitches is an excellent indicator of success. Gallen has a potent four pitch repertoire. I have some trepidation about his fastball continuing to produce such gaudy results (.192 AVG, .308 SLG), but there’s room for regression without stealing the shine from his results.

Week 4: Cavan Biggio

There are two camps when it comes to evaluating Biggio. He has Bregman-like plate discipline to go with solid hard contact, a better than average swinging strike rate, and a sky-high fly ball rate. Toss in 20 stolen base upside, and we’re looking at a potential fantasy monster.

The fly in the ointment is his, uh, fly ball rate (different kind of fly). It feels like the 2019 season with its oh-so-juicy balls was a best case scenario for Biggio’s batted ball profile. And he was only OK. In particular, his .234 AVG was entirely earned due to a surfeit of lazy flies. On the plus side, he posted a low infield fly rate so there’s some cause for optimism. Biggio’s floor is something like a low-AVG Adam Eaton with upside to exceed a 30/20 campaign. Expect plenty of draft season helium.

Week 8: Zach Plesac

Part of making a good recommendation is timeliness. Plesac was needed in the decimated Cleveland rotation shortly after his appearance in PP. Unlike most of my pitcher discoveries, his numbers skewed in favor of rate stats (3.81 ERA, 1.23 WHIP) despite a meager 6.85 K/9. I usually find Turnbull-like pitchers who rack up strikeouts at the expense of a painful WHIP. While there is growth potential here for a decent fantasy asset, I don’t think we’re looking at the next Indians ace. Instead, look at him as a useful streaming target – one who could play up in a lesser home run environment (1.48 HR/9). He’s a discount alternative to Marcus Stroman.

Week 10: Kevin Cron

Due to circumstances beyond his control, Cron may never see the light of day. He bashed 45 home runs across 460 plate appearances – mostly in Triple-A. As with most extreme power threats, strikeouts figure to be an issue, and his plate discipline completely crumbled in 78 major league plate appearances. Last season, the Diamondbacks were oddly committed to a combination of Jake Lamb and Christian Walker at first base. Both may return in 2020 (Lamb is a non-tender candidate). Lurking over Cron’s shoulder is touted DH-prospect Seth Beer. Ideally, Arizona will trade Cron over the winter to a struggle bus club like the Tigers or Marlins. Otherwise, he’ll likely burn his prime years annihilating Triple-A arms. #FreeCron

Week 13: Jake Fraley

Fraley is the type of player who slips under the radar due to second division talent. For fantasy purposes though, he has some similarities with Biggio. Specifically, you can hope to scrape a 20/20 profile with a low batting average. Unfortunately, Fraley doesn’t share Biggio’s absurd plate discipline. That means the profile floor is unplayable in both a real and fantasy sense. The upside is sufficient to justify plenty of late-draft fliers if it looks like he’ll start in 2020. There’s a chance Seattle will leave the door open, although it sounds like they finally want to contend. Thus, he may be blocked by veterans.

Week 16: Seth Brown

Brown was a serendipitous pick on my part. He blasted an impressive 37 home runs in 500 Triple-A plate appearances. The Athletics then summoned him for a September assist. He posted a robust .293/.361/.453 batting line in 83 plate appearances despite failing to launch a single deep fly. An outfielder by trade, Brown could work his way into the starting lineup in 2020. His nose for making hard, pulled, line drive contact should prove useful with or without a juiced baseball. He’ll even toss in a handful of stolen bases. As we know, Oakland has a knack for maximizing fringe talents (see Marcus Semien, Mark Canha).

Week 16: Jared Walsh

I’m a sucker for two-way players. Most are well and truly hyped – like Shohei Ohtani, Brendan McKay, and (sort of) Michael Lorenzen. Walsh flew under the radar. In his age 25 season, he blasted 36 home runs in 454 Triple-A plate appearances to go with a .325/.423/.686 batting line. Like some of the others listed here, his first 87 plate appearances in the majors left something to be desired (/203/.276/.329 with a 40.2 percent strikeout rate).

On the pitching side, Walsh is an ideal mop up reliever. The southpaw features a bowling ball 90 mph fastball. With new roster rules coming into force next season, Walsh’s flexibility might not prove to be necessary. If he wants to spend more time in the majors, it’s up to his bat.

We hoped you liked reading Peripheral Prospects 2019: Brad’s Review by Brad Johnson!

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This was the first place I saw a mention of Turnbull, and he was a solid streaming option depending on the matchup. So kudos for putting him on my radar.