Peripheral Prospects, Ep 1.10

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

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

Let’s jump straight into the action.

Vince Fernandez | 23 | COL | OF (AA)

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Fernandez cobbled together a noteworthy week, swatting five home runs as part of a .379/.419/1.000 batting line in 31 plate appearances. His success is made all the more impressive because he struck out 11 times. That’s an awful lot of production on balls in play plus home runs (.462 BABIP, .621 ISO). Noting his so-called luck stats isn’t meant to discredit his hot streak. This is exactly how hot streaks work – it’s a time when the batter breaks the physics of baseball statistics.

The power binge brings him up to 11 home runs in 173 plate appearances. Overall, he’s batting a robust .291/.393/.615. A quick glance at his player page reveals one very obvious flaw – an over-30 percent strikeout rate backed by a painful 18.5 percent swinging strike rate. This is coupled with a high walk rate. In other words, Fernandez ranks as a Galloian Bishop in the Church of Three True Outcomes. Here is a video of Fernandez hitting a Spring Training home run.

You’ll notice a fairly extreme upper cut approach. In fact, based on this one lonely swing, I do see some physical resemblance to Gallo’s hack. Here are a few of those for your visual pleasure.

Fernandez is flying well-under the prospect radar. In fact, here on FanGraphs, he’s tagged in just one post from 2017 where Eric Longenhagen had this to say:

A 10th round pick out of UC Riverside last year, Fernandez has above average, all-fields raw power. He also has a corner-only (and some scouts have said 1B-only) defensive profile so there’s lots of pressure on the bat, but he’s hitting .336 at Low-A Asheville and is 10-for-10 on stolen base attempts. The Cal League will likely be kind to Fernandez’s skillset if/when he’s promoted. Fernandez seems likely to at least get the opportunity to sink or swim at Double-A at some point during the next two seasons, which is pretty impressive considering that, less than a year ago, he was a 10th rounder.

Well that’s spot on. Exactly two seasons later, Fernandez is currently swimming in Double-A. It’s been a long time since the Rockies nurtured a player with extreme power and strikeouts. They tend to prefer guys who make frequent contact with some latent pop tacked on top. Fernandez seemingly has an outside chance to be the 2019 version of Franmil Reyes.

Jake Rogers | 24 | DET | C (AAA)

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When your scouting report starts with…

A polished receiver and cat-like ball-blocker with a laser arm, Rogers was one of this century’s best defensive amateur backstops while at Tulane.

… it doesn’t take much offense to climb the ladder. In the past, Rogers has struggled to make quality contact despite decent plate discipline and readily apparent power (17 home runs in 408 Double-A plate appearances. This season, he’s improved his walk, strikeout, and power rates. Minor league stats leave much to be desired so we’re left to guess about any potential breakouts. One thing is absolutely verifiable – he was promoted to Triple-A within the last week. He’s now a short distance from a major league debut. It’s not like Grayson Greiner or John Hicks can obstruct a defensive stalwart like Rogers.

Overall, he’s batting .306/.433/.561 this season. The profile is reminiscent of a slew of other catching prospects – plus defense, questionable contact skills, plate discipline, and all-or-nothing power. Rogers is at least promising a chance for a little more.

Kevin Cron | 26 | ARI | 1B (AAA)

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Over the last week, Cron has hammered seven home runs, bringing his season total up to an otherworldly 21 big flies. This now marks five straight seasons in which he’s reached the 20 home run plateau. Whereas he needed an entire campaign to get there in the past, he’s on pace to bop over 60 this year. Given the Diamondbacks unimpressive tandem of Jake Lamb (injured) and Christian Walker, Cron seemingly has a path to an active roster spot.

In addition to hitting for absurd quantities of power, Cron has improved to a 14.3 percent walk rate and 16.9 percent strikeout rate. Swings and misses remain an issue for the right-handed slugger, although he’s mostly kept his strikeouts in check. He’s a fly ball hitter who uses all fields – his hulking physique backs up an all-fields power profile.

Due to the embargo on minor league videos, there’s almost no visual evidence of Cron’s existence. This is him circa 2016. Not a single word has been written about him on the website; at least not in a tagged post.

Daniel Palka | 27 | CWS | OF (AAA)

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This is where Periphery Prospects can take some liberties unexplored by Fringe Five. We have a technical definition of “prospect,” but in our hearts we understand the word to mean any player who may have a future in the majors. Palka has a total of 491 major league plate appearances spread over parts of two seasons so he’s not technically a prospect. As a not-major league who could hit home runs at a pace of over 30 per season, he is, in essence, a prospect.

With the White Sox earlier this season, Palka went 1-for-35 with six walks and 15 strikeouts. Since a demotion, he’s batting .311/.461/.644 with a 21.7 percent walk rate, 22.6 percent strikeout rate, and nine home runs in 115 plate appearances. As a bonus, he’s making more contact. His current 9.2 percent swinging strike rate is a career-best by over four percentage points. It’s evidence, perhaps, of a new Palka, one who can exert control over the strike zone whilst retaining above average power. Or maybe Triple-A is completely falling apart.

Periphery Prospects Leaderboard
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
Vince Fernandez 23 COL OF AA W9 1
Kevin Cron 26 ARI 1B AAA W9 1
Jacob Rogers 24 DET C AAA W9 1
Daniel Palka 27 CWS OF AAA W9 1

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One of my favorite FG series. Question — where do you find minor league swinging strike data? Does FG have its own stats or is it through a third-party subscription service that’s not available to the general public?