Peripheral Prospects, Ep. 1.16

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

first appearance

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

first appearance

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

first appearance

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

first appearance

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

second appearance

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.

The Table

Peripheral Prospects Leaderboard
Name Age Team Pos Highest Level Weeks Points
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
Mike Tauchman 28 NYY OF MLB W1 1
Zack Granite 26 TEX OF MLB W1 1
Myles Straw 24 HOU OF MLB W1 1
Nick Neidert 22 MIA SP AAA W1 1
Matt Swarmer 25 CHC SP MLB W1 1
Ildemaro Vargas 27 ARI 3B MLB W2 1
Drew Jackson 25 BAL OF AAA W2 1
Spencer Turnbull 26 DET SP MLB W2 1
Drew Anderson 25 PHI SP MLB W2 1
Garrett Cooper 28 MIA 1B/OF MLB W3 1
Ryan Hartman 24 HOU SP AAA W3 1
Luis Rengifo 22 LAA 2B/SS MLB W3 1
Brett Sullivan 25 TBR C AAA W3 1
Enyel De Los Santos 23 PHI SP AAA W4 1
Luis Barrera 23 OAK OF AA W4 1
Erik Swanson 25 SEA SP MLB W5 1
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
Lucas Sims 24 CIN SP MLB W6 1
Josh Naylor 22 SDP 1B/OF MLB W7 1
Matt Beaty 25 LAD 1B MLB W7 1
Eli Morgan 22 CLE SP AA W7 1
Rylan Bannon 23 BAL 2B/3B AA W8 1
Jorge Ona 22 SDP OF AA W8 1
Zach Plesac 24 CLE SP MLB W8 1
Devin Smeltzer 23 MIN SP MLB W9 1
Parker Markel 28 SEA RP AAA W9 1
Garrett Whitlock 22 NYY SP AA W9 1
Danny Mendick 25 CHW 2B/SS AAA W9 1
Vince Fernandez 23 COL OF AA W10 1
Jake Rogers 24 DET C MLB W10 1
Kevin Cron 26 ARI 1B MLB W10, W16 2
Daniel Palka 27 CWS OF MLB W10 1
Austin Allen 25 SDP C MLB W11 1
Will Craig 24 PIT 1B MLB W11 1
Luis Arraez 22 MIN 2B MLB W11 1
Jack Mayfield 28 HOU 2B/SS MLB W11 1
D.J. Stewart 25 BAL OF MLB W12 1
Ashton Goudeau 26 COL SP AA W12 1
Jose Urquidy 24 HOU SP MLB W12 1
Jake Fraley 24 SEA OF AAA W13 1
Yonathan Daza 25 COL OF MLB W13 1
Bobby Dalbec 24 BOS 3B AA W13 1
Alec Bettinger 23 MIL SP AA W13 1
Alex Faedo 23 DET SP AA W13 1
Nabil Crismatt 24 SEA SP AAA W14 1
Mitch Nay 25 CIN 3B AA W14 1
Chas McCormick 24 HOU OF AAA W14 1
Mark Payton 27 OAK OF AAA W15 1
Randy Dobnak 24 MIN SP AAA W15 1
Ernie Clement 23 CLE SS AA W15 1
Seth Brown 27 OAK 1B/OF AAA W16 1
John Nogowski 26 STL 1B AAA W16 1
Tucker Davison 23 ATL SP AAA W16 1
Jared Walsh 26 LAA RP/1B AAA W16 1

We hoped you liked reading Peripheral Prospects, Ep. 1.16 by Brad Johnson!

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newest oldest most voted
Anon
Member
Anon

Yordan Alvarez is right there too with 42 combined HR between majors and minors. I think it goes (correct me if I’m wrong):
Cron 43
Alvarez, Trout, Bellinger 42
ALonso, Yelich 41
Aquino 40

After that, the next most in the majors is Soler and Acuna with 36 and I don’t think any of the other minor league guys has more than Seth Brown’s 37 – Walsh has none in the majors so 34 total and Hiura is only at 34 combined.

Uncle Spike
Member
Uncle Spike

Cron actually has 44 when you count the one he hit while rehabbing in rookie ball.