Prospect Stock Watch: Fairchild, Howard, Dunand, Abbott

With the 2018 amateur draft just around the corner, we’re going to take a look at some 2017 draftees to see how they’re doing in their first full year of pro ball.

Stuart Fairchild, CF, Reds: Looking back at Fairchild’s pre-draft reports, they continue to remain spot on. He was expected to go in the second round and that’s exactly where the Reds nabbed him. His bat was a bit of a question mark but he was known for a strong arm and excellent center-field defence. Cincinnati has gone easy with him so far and he opened 2018 in low-A ball — whereas most top college hitters are in high-A or better during their first year. Now, Fairchild is hitting well… but he should be doing just that based on his pedigree. The biggest knock against him so far has been the swing-and-miss tendencies that carried over from his collegiate career. It’s not terrible but he’s struck out 40 times in 43 games (Good for just shy of 23%). On the plus side, he offsets that with a healthy number of walks (12%) and I believe he’ll eventually start tapping into his raw power as he consistently hits the ball hard. He might never be a guy that hits for a high average, but Fairchild gets on base nonetheless and could eventually be a 20-20 threat if he generates more loft to his swing.

Spencer Howard, RHP, Phillies: Another second rounder from the 2017 draft, Howard has struck out 84 batters in his first 60.2 pro innings split over the past two seasons. Like Fairchild above, though, he opened 2018 in low-A ball despite his college success. Howard has a nice pitcher’s frame and could eventually develop into an innings-eater but he lacks a consistent out-pitch right now. He mainly gets his strikeouts through out-smarting the younger hitters and by throwing strikes more consistently then the average low-A hurler. So far this year, he’s walked just seven batters in 32.1 innings. But he’s also struggled more recently. After striking out 29 batters with just 15 hits and two walks allowed in his first four starts (19 innings), he’s struck out 15 but allowed 17 hits and five walks in his last three appearances (13 innings). The bats around the league are heating up and the scouting report on Howard is getting around. The 21-year-old hurler continues to have potential but he really needs to find a consistent breaking ball to go along with his promising changeup — if he’s going to meet expectation as a former second round pick.

Joe Dunand, SS, Marlins: Miami may have found excellent value with this second round pick from 2017. Dunand never really put up great college numbers but he showed some good pop in his junior year and he had the added benefit of being related to Alex Rodriguez. He wasn’t expected to get drafted higher than the third round and the Marlins saved a little money (shocker) by picking him early. But it’s also worked out well for them. Dunand has been a better hitter in pro ball than college. He’s continued to hit with pop while also showing the ability to hit for average — while playing in high-A ball. He has some swing-and-miss to his game but it’s more than manageable with the 15-20 homer potential that he’s shown. Dunand, 22, has also stuck at shortstop in pro ball thanks to his strong arm… despite the expectation that he’d immediately move to third base. That switch will still likely happen but the ability to play shortstop, even in a pinch at the big league level, has value.

Cory Abbott, RHP, Cubs: Well, we’ve been focused on college players in the second round of 2017 so let’s finished with the last pick of the round. As the story goes, Abbott was a pretty generic arm until he learned a new slider grip, which catapulted him all the way into the Cubs’ plan in the second round. He’s taken that newfound success and run with it in pro ball, albeit in low-A ball. He’s struck out 44 batters in 36.1 innings and boasts a tidy 2.72 ERA. His numbers would actually look even more impressive if not for one bad outing in which he allowed 11 hits and five earned runs in 3.1 innings. If you take out one bad start, he’s allowed just six earned runs on 16 hits and 10 walks in 33 innings. I’d expect to see Abbott, 22, move up to high-A ball near the midway point of the 2018 season and he looks like someone capable of reaching a 3/4 starter ceiling if everything continues to develop along this same path.





Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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luke.shigeo
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luke.shigeo

I’ve heard Fairchild is a good kid.