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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
|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|
|Ildemaro Vargas||27||ARI||3B||MLB||W2||1||Recalled 4/5|
|Drew Jackson||25||BAL||OF||MLB||W2||1||return to Dodgers|
|Garrett Cooper||28||MIA||1B/OF||MLB||W3||1||Injured List 4/1|
|Luis Rengifo||22||LAA||2B/SS||MLB||W3||1||Recalled 4/25|
|Enyel De Los Santos||23||PHI||SP||AAA||W4||1||Optioned|
|Erik Swanson||25||SEA||SP||MLB||W5||1||Recalled 4/15|
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