At the beginning of the 2017 season, I wrote pieces reviewing the potential impact rookie hitters in each league for 2017. Today, we continue a semi-regular review of how those players are actually performing. The American League East was the first up for review and we hit the NL East today.
1. Dansby Swanson, SS, Braves: Swanson entered the year as one of the favorites for NL Rookie of the Year after performing well in a brief MLB showing in ’16. The 23-year-old infielder has seen his BABIP drop from .383 to .242, though, and that’s dragged down his triple-slash line to just .190/.261/.270. He’s hitting .255 in May – up from .156 in April – but the swing-and-miss rate is actually up and nearing 30% this month. The team wasn’t expected to win in 2017 so the club can be patient with Swanson but he has a lot of work to do before he’ll consistently produce at even a league-average rate.
2. Koda Glover, RHP, Nationals: Glover was expected to be a key high-leverage reliever for the Nationals in 2017 but an injury knocked him out for close to three weeks. When healthy, he’s shown excellent control with just two walks in 11.2 innings. However, he’s struck out just nine batters and his swinging strike rate is just 8.4% (In comparison, Craig Kimbrel leads relievers at 23.7% and Chris Devenski is second at 21.1%). Glover has some work to do before he’s considered an elite relief option — but the potential is still there.
3. Robert Gsellman, RHP, Mets: The Mets have struggled with injuries early on in 2017 but rather than step up, Gsellman has taken a step back. He’s producing lots of ground balls but he’s still allowing too many homers (five) and he’s not missing many bats (28 Ks) through his first 36.2 innings. He’s been peppered for 52 hits already and his ERA is north of 7.00. The bullpen might be a better place for him right now.
4. Nick Williams, OF, Phillies: Williams’ value is tied to his raw power potential but he has yet to consistently tap into it during games. Despite his impressive bat speed, the outfielder has never gone deep more than 17 times in a season. Now in his sixth season, Williams’ approach at the plate remains a work-in-progress as his over-aggressive nature results in incredibly low on-base rates putting a lot of pressure on his batting average. The rise of Aaron Altherr means the triple-A outfielder has more time to make adjustments before he’s tossed into the frying pan.
5. Erick Fedde, RHP, Nationals: The Nationals bullpen has been downright awful so far this year and a low-cost option to patching the leak might be Fedde. A starter throughout his college and pro career, the former first round draft pick has been shifted to a relief role at double-A. It’s a reasonable decision given that Fedde projects as more of a solid mid-rotation starter than a true ace, and the move might help his stuff play up a little more – giving him a shot at being a solid high-leverage option. If all goes well with the experiment, he could be up by the end of July.
6. Brian Anderson, 3B, Marlins: The Marlins have had injury issues (Martin Prado) which left a pretty big hole at third base. Anderson opened the year as a potential option to help later this year but his hitting has wilted in double-A. Originally promoted to double-A in 2016. he hit just .243 with a .689 OPS. In his second shot in ’17, he’s still struggling at .228/.698. A .300 hitter in the lower minors, Anderson needs to find a way to solve double-A pitching.
7. Jorge Alfaro, C, Phillies: Phillies catchers got off to a slow start to begin the year but Cameron Rupp and Andrew Knapp are now combining to produce an .800 OPS. That has lessened the need to rush Alfaro, who is currently playing at triple-A. The slugging prospect has enviable raw power but his approach at the plate still remains very raw and won’t lead to much success in The Show. Through 32 games he’s hitting .293 (Thanks to an unrealistic .409 average on balls in play) but his BB-K rate of 2-43 is horrendous.
8. J.P. Crawford, SS, Phillies: Freddy Galvis has been a solid shortstop for the Phillies so far this season which is good news because Crawford has been terrible in triple-A. Just 22, he appears to have become too passive at the plate. He has a 24 walks in 38 games but has also gone down on strikes 31 times. He’s not driving the ball well and his triple-slash line is just .196/.315/.246 after being .244/.328/318 at the same level last year. His line-drive rate is down from 21.7 to 15.8% this year. He has a lot of work to do.
9. Rhys Hoskins, 1B, Phillies: Most prospect analysts preferred fellow Phillies prospect Dylan Cozens to Hoskins during prospect ranking season but the slugging first baseman has pulled away from triple-A teammate early on in 2017. Hoskins has shown a strong approach at the plate to go along with his massive raw power. He has a 1.139 OPS through 40 games — along with an impressive BB-K rate of 21-26. Current Phillies first baseman Tommy Joseph has been solid with the bat but Hoskins deserves a shot sooner rather than later — although the club could also try and use one of its first basemen to try and acquire some additional pitching.
10. Gavin Cecchini, SS, Mets: Known mostly as a good-glove, decent-hit player coming into pro ball, Cecchini hasn’t done much to disprove that scouting report. However, he’s moved through the minors well and is at triple-A as a 23-year-old. And he’s already had a taste of the majors. Asdrubal Cabrera is hurt and Jose Reyes is struggling to hit so Cecchini might get a chance to play a little as the year progresses — especially if Cabrera struggles to stay healthy (or becomes trade bait) and the Mets continue to fall out of the playoff picture.
Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.