When we last huddled together for episode 15, Alex speculated about the possibility of seeing Josh Rojas in September. After slashing .514/.475/.943 in 40 plate appearances with Triple-A Reno, the Diamondbacks said “screw it” and called him up early. The early results are mixed through 37 plate appearances. On the one hand, he’s making plenty of hard contact and has shown a discerning eye. On the other hand, his swinging strike rate has more than doubled. His strikeout rate has spiked in accordance. With the jury still out, Rojas remains one of the most interesting unknown quantities in baseball.
Well then, get to it.
This is Peripheral Prospects. We seek to identify obscure future fantasy contributors (before they contribute).
Seth Brown | 27 | 1B/OF | Oakland Athletics
Brown’s lone appearance in a FanGraphs column appeared back in 2016 when Dan Farnsworth spoke to an A’s source who praised his “raw power, innate ability to hit and good baseball intelligence.” The raw power has shown up in a big way thanks to juicy baseballs and a near-absence of notable pitchers in Triple-A. On the season, he’s hitting a robust .297/.352/.634 with 37 home runs (and eight steals) in 500 plate appearances. The power output isn’t purely a function of the baseball and offensive environment. He bashed 30 home runs in High-A during the 2017 campaign.
While Brown is certainly too old to be regarded as a true prospect, he does seem to possess traits associated with late career breakouts – especially a penchant for hard, pulled, fly ball contact. His plate discipline isn’t sparkling, and he has a bit of a whiff issue. If I had to guess, he could probably hold his own in the majors with a homer-forward 95 to 110 wRC+. Presently, the A’s are using clearly injured Khris Davis as their regular designated hitter. As they gear up for a Wild Card run, perhaps they’ll consider internal alternatives with a similar profile.
John Nogowski | 26 | 1B | St. Louis Cardinals
For a third straight year, Nogowski is well on his way to a remarkable milestone – he’s accrued more walks than strikeouts. Beyond this ability to avoid free outs, Nogowski lacks attention-worthy attributes. He combines above average plate discipline with a double-plus contact rate (5.0% StStr%). Unfortunately, he’s managed just 13 home runs to go with his .291/.409/.464 batting line.
If one were to impetuously assume a smooth transition to the majors, Nogowski’s output might look something like the 2019 version of Joey Votto. While Votto has disappointed his fantasy owners, he’s still a useful player in ottoneu FGpts. Nobody would pass up a $1 Votto. Unfortunately, Nogowski is a 1B-only on a team that already rosters Paul Goldschmidt, Matt Carpenter, and Jose Martinez. His best chance for playing time in the semi-near future is to be left exposed during the next Rule 5 draft.
Tucker Davidson | 23 | SP | Atlanta Braves
By and large, minor league pitchers are gross. Just about anybody who has shown any glimmers of hope is either a carefully managed top prospect or has already been rushed to the majors. Davidson is a rare example of somebody who has neither performed poorly nor been promoted. Earlier in the year, he posted a 2.03 ERA with 9.92 K/9 and 3.66 BB/9 in 110.2 Double-A innings. More recently, he’s managed a 1.72 ERA, 6.89 K/9, and 2.87 BB/9 in three Triple-A starts.
The collapse in strikeout rate – backed by a concurrent drop in swinging strike rate – is obviously concerning. We’re in small sample territory, and it will probably swing in one of two direction. Either the strikeout rate will improve or his run prevention will start to match his 4.88 xFIP. Scouts, most notably our scouts, view Davidson as a future lefty reliever who has an outside chance to stick in the rotation. Since the Braves farm system is so jammed packed with arms, the bullpen outcome looks doubly likely.
These sorts of performing prospects with shaky pedigrees are often bundled into trades. Don’t be surprised if he lands elsewhere over the offseason.
Jared Walsh | 26 | P/1B | Los Angeles Angels
Now this is the good stuff! An extreme ground ball pitcher with a thumptastic bat. At Triple-A, Walsh is among the batting leaders with a .328/.430/.695 line and 34 home runs in 428 plate appearances. He launched three home runs just yesterday. As a hitter, he’s shown a real talent for working counts and making hard, barreled contact. Whiffs and strikeouts could be his Achilles’ heel.
On the mound, Walsh’s ability is a fun bonus rather than a true strength. He’s the sort of pitcher a team might use in a blowout without risking a more valuable position player or the pain of watching somebody flip 69 mph fastballs. One thing that has stood out through multiple (very small sample) performances is a 60 percent ground ball rate. It’s good when your fodder keeps the ball on the ground. His fastball sits at 90 mph, and he throws a passable curve too.
The Angels gave him a couple brief cuppas earlier in the season. His multifaceted skills should ensure he continues to dance around the fringes of major league rosters whenever he’s healthy. We’re going to see more players with this sort of flexibility in the coming years.
Kevin Cron | 26 | 1B | Arizona Diamondbacks
Free Kevin Cron! Including his five major league home runs in 64 plate appearances, Cron is in the race for the most home runs this season. Mike Trout and Cody Bellinger share the major league lead with 42 home runs. Cron has totaled 43 big flies in over 100 fewer plate appearances than those MLB schlubs. Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks just can’t get enough of mediocre 28-year-old Christian Walker. Sure, it’s wonderful that Walker has redeemed his Chit of Endless Prospectdom for a league average performance, but it’s come at the expense of something truly fascinating.
In Triple-A, Cron is batting .318/.438/.789 with 38 home runs in 357 plate appearances. In the majors, he didn’t quite grasp the bull by the horns, hitting .207/.266/.534 with five home runs and 26 strikeouts in 64 plate appearances. Notably, nearly half of his balls in play are hard-hit. Most of his contact is a liner or fly ball. He has all-fields power. This is a more selective Aristides Aquino.
|Zac Gallen||23||MIA||SP||MLB||W4, W6, W8||3|
|Jacob Wilson||28||WAS||2B||MLB||W6, W7, W8||3|
|Jake Cronenworth||25||TBR||SS||AAA||W4, W5, W12||3|
|Josh Rojas||25||ARI||1B/2B||AAA||W7, W14, W15||3|
|Cavan Biggio||23||TOR||2B||MLB||W3, W4||2|
|Frank Schwindel||27||DET||1B||MLB||W2, W5||2|
|Ljay Newsome||22||SEA||SP||AAA||W9, W11||2|
|Ty France||24||SDP||3B||MLB||W12, W15||2|
|Enyel De Los Santos||23||PHI||SP||AAA||W4||1|
|Kevin Cron||26||ARI||1B||MLB||W10, W16||2|
You can follow me on twitter @BaseballATeam