Peripheral Prospects, Ep 1.08

Welcome back to Peripheral Prospects. As a reminder, this is a column I share with Alex Chamberlain which is designed to identify un/under-hyped prospects. It is not unlike the former Fringe Five series. We have a mission statement. Behold.

Mission Statement: Peripheral Prospects seeks to identify obscure future fantasy contributors.

Let’s jump straight into the action.

Zac Gallen | 23 | MIA | SP (AAA)

third appearance

Last week, Alex pointedly didn’t write about Gallen. Since we last discussed the righty, he’s made two starts with a total of 15 innings. The results were… mixed. Nobody is complaining about 17 strikeouts, five hits, one walk, and one hit batter over a 15 inning span. Even his four runs allowed – two in each start – is a good result. The downside is all four runs came via solo home run. Preventing home runs is a rather important indicator of future major league success. These happen to be the first four home runs he allowed this season so there’s absolutely no cause for panic. It’s merely a small blemish.

Eric Longenhagen came back with a scouting report. His velocity remains the same as last season, working 91-94 mph and topping out with a few 96 mph heaters. Eric wondered if Gallen might have improved his spin axis “which is ideal for rise.” It’s also possible he’s simply learned how to use that ideal-for-rise spin more effectively.

He’ll next pitch either today or tomorrow.

Jacob Wilson | 28 | WAS | 2B (AAA)

third appearance

While a certain part of me would like to avoid continued reference to Wilson, a 28-year-old (nearly 29) who has yet to taste major league action, there’s nothing I can do when the player continues to slay minor league pitching. Over the last calendar week, Wilson is batting .478/.586/.870 with a home run, four doubles, and a triple. His Triple-A MVP pace has shown no signs of abating. And while Carter Kieboom had an opportunity to forever block Wilson’s ascension, the Kieboom fairy tale sputtered. He’s back in the minors.

If there’s one glaring warning sign, it’s Wilson’s 10.1 percent line drive rate. His numbers are consistent with a high line drive rate hitter. Minor league batted ball stats can be wonky. Until we get him on a Statcast tracked field, it’s difficult to do more than observe his plus plate discipline numbers, solid contact rate, and superb outcomes to date. A path to the majors remains fraught. It might actually help if the Nationals fall out of the pennant race (they currently have the second fewest wins in the National League).

Rylan Bannon | 23 | BAL | 2B/3B (AA)

first appearance

Part of the return for Manny Machado, Bannon entered 2019 rated as the 27th-best prospect is a middling Orioles system per the McDongenhagen duo.

Bannon’s power is generated by a big leg kick and a low hand load that enables him to lift the ball (35% ground ball rate, well below league average) despite a flat-planed swing. He’s vulnerable up in the strike zone and has middling bat control because of all the effort in the swing, but there is pop here. Combine that with above average plate discipline and Bannon’s chance to stay on the infield, either at second or third base, and he’s at least an intriguing bench/platoon option based on eyeball scouting reports, and perhaps more if you really buy the on-paper production.

In his second go at Double-A, Bannon is hitting a respectable .319/.392/.526 in 131 plate appearances. His plate discipline, contact rate, and power output are all fine. Just fine. There’s nothing here insisting he’s a can’t-miss major league caliber player. More recently, Bannon is batting .464/.500/.714 over the last week with superior contact rates.

Having watched more than my share of Doobie Herrera, the wide-open stance and large leg kick tends to produce streaky results. Bannon might be a similar player with a better super utility profile. It’s not hard to envisage periods of fantasy relevance. The path to playing time in Baltimore is relatively unimpeded.

Jorge Ona | 22 | SDP | OF (AA)

first appearance

You may recall Ona’s name. He was once a top Cuban prospect. Upon joining the Padres organization, his star immediately dimmed. Or, perhaps, Ona simply suffers from finding himself in a ridiculously over-packed farm system. His most recent scouting grades suggest a 40 future value with potential for an above average bat. It may be insufficient for regular play as a corner outfielder. He doesn’t have the speed or instincts for center field. In the Padres system, there’s almost no chance he’ll find the light of day. Well, besides a massive breakout at the plate.

Ona hasn’t given us any statistically-based reason to believe his talent level has changed. He continues to whiff at a high rate (25.2% K%, 15.2% SwStr%). This is offset by a 10.7 percent walk rate and improving power. His current .348/.417/.539 batting line is buoyed by a .433 BABIP. It’s possible he’s dealing with some sort of injury – he hasn’t played in the last few days. Unlike many of the hitters who appear in this column, Ona is age appropriate for Double-A and could ascend to Triple-A with continued success. His easiest path to the majors is via a trade to a less logjammed organization.

Zach Plesac | 24 | CLE | SP (AA)

first appearance

Opportunity matters. For an Indians rotation presently forced to use Jefry Rodriguez, it’s not hard to envisage a further need to dip into the minors. One of the options on hand is Plesac. The nephew of former major leaguer Dan Plesac, he currently has a 0.96 ERA with 8.20 K/9 and 1.45 BB/9 through six starts. Longenhagen wrote about him on May 1, noting improved command, a jump in velocity to the 94-97 mph range, and an advanced feel for a changeup. He presently lacks an above average breaking ball, leaving him exposed to a bullpen-only role.

A contending Indians roster probably isn’t using Plesac in the rotation – no matter how desperate things become. However, the club is already four games behind the Twins in the AL Central. Their offense is sputtering, the bullpen is thin, and the rotation is half-injured. It’s very possible Cleveland is a deadline seller which likely involves shipping out Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber (if healthy). That could open a door for some experimental starts.

2019 Peripheral Prospects
Name Age Team Pos Level Weeks Points Notes
Cavan Biggio 23 TOR 2B AAA W3, W4 2
Jake Cronenworth 25 TBR SS AAA W4, W5 2
Frank Schwindel 27 KCR 1B AAA W2, W5 2 Optioned 4/11
Zac Gallen 23 MIA SP AAA W4, W6, W8 3
Jacob Wilson 28 WAS 2B AAA W6, W7, W8 3
Mike Tauchman 28 NYY OF MLB W1 1 Graduated 4/26 (exhausted rookie eligibility)
Zack Granite 26 TEX OF AAA W1 1 Acquired from MIN 3/3
Myles Straw 24 HOU OF AAA W1 1
Nick Neidert 22 MIA SP AAA W1 1
Matt Swarmer 25 CHC SP AAA W1 1
Ildemaro Vargas 27 ARI 3B MLB W2 1 Recalled 4/5
Drew Jackson 25 BAL OF MLB W2 1 return to Dodgers
Spencer Turnbull 26 DET SP MLB W2 1
Drew Anderson 25 PHI SP AAA W2 1
Garrett Cooper 28 MIA 1B/OF MLB W3 1 Injured List 4/1
Ryan Hartman 24 HOU SP AAA W3 1
Luis Rengifo 22 LAA 2B/SS MLB W3 1 Recalled 4/25
Brett Sullivan 25 TBR C AAA W3 1
Enyel De Los Santos 23 PHI SP AAA W4 1 Optioned
Luis Barrera 23 OAK OF AA W4 1
Erik Swanson 25 SEA SP MLB W5 1 Recalled 4/15
Denyi Reyes 22 BOS SP AA W5 1
Nick Solak 24 TBR 2B AAA W5 1
Rhett Wiseman 24 WAS OF AA W6 1
Tyler Beede 25 SFG SP MLB W6 1 Optioned
Lucas Sims 24 CIN SP AAA W6 1
Josh Naylor 22 SDP 1B/OF AAA W7 1
Matt Beaty 25 LAD 1B AAA W7 1
Josh Rojas 25 HOU 1B/2B AAA W7 1
Eli Morgan 22 CLE SP A+ W7 1
Rylan Bannon 23 BAL 2B/3B AA W8 1
Jorge Ona 22 SDP OF AA W8 1
Zach Plesac 24 CLE SP AA W8 1

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Jorge Ona’s write up almost disqualifies him from this article given the bountiful worrisome traits described, such that Ona’s underhyped persona will remain as such. I think the only good mention is his current slash line, before the BABIP fact shows up that is. Is there something you like about him that might give him a chance for a good full season of AA ball, or at least improved hype? His single-A numbers aren’t too inspiring, unfortunately, but here’s to hoping for continued success…


He showed up to spring training in much better shape than in years past, with significantly reworked mechanics at the plate and what has appeared to be an improved approach. He’s always had raw power but it appears that he may be bringing that into games a little now. The high BABIP is certainly a flag, but he’s a guy to keep an eye on now, when he appeared to be lost this time last year.