The Prospect Stock Watch: Kingery, Verdugo, Gallen

Today at the Prospect Stock Watch we take a look at a second base prospect enjoying the home-run (juiced ball) revolution, an outfielder who has rebelled against the home-run (juiced ball) revolution, and a pitcher who perhaps has the makings to be the next Chris Devenski.

Scott Kingery, 2B, Phillies: Kingrery is an interesting prospect. He hit eight home runs between being drafted in 2015 (in the second round) and the end of 2016. So far in 2017, through 75 games, he has 21 homers. It’s likely the combination of three things: an adjustment in his swing/approach at the plate, the juiced ball, and the Phillies’ double-A park which inflates home run production. That final point may carry less weight given that Kingrey has launched three of his home runs since being promoted to triple-A six games ago.

Second base incumbent Cesar Hernandez has been a solid player over the past year and a half based mostly on his defence but he’s also starting to get expensive (He’s making $2.6 million this year). Philadelphia, in the midst of a rebuilding phase, could look to trade the veteran to a contender this summer, or possibly this winter, and open up a spot for Kingery — who already has a 20-20 (HR-SB) season as July kicks into full swing. Even if the power output slips, he has the ability to hit for a solid average, get on base consistently and steal some bases — which makes for a very good second baseman who can also play defence competently.

Alex Verdugo, OF, Dodgers: While almost every hitter in affiliated baseball is enjoying the juiced ball with increased home run rates, Verdugo is moving down the spectrum. But that doesn’t mean he’s not having a great season. Just 21 and in triple-A, the young outfielder is hitting .347 through his first 73 games of the year and has struck out just 9.3% of the time. His walk rate of 10.6% ensures that he’s not solely reliant on his batting average to have value; his on-base percentage is a healthy .417.

As long as Verdugo continues to have value in the field as a centerfielder, this profile will work. If he eventually slows down a step or two, though, and moves to right field, his value will diminish given the desire for pop on the corners. Or he could simply make some adjustments and tap into the average to above-average raw pop that he possesses – and sacrifice some of the contact. It will be interesting to watch how Verdugo continues to develop and he could be trade bait this summer as the Dodgers look to get deeper and better for a run to the World Series.

Zac Gallen, RHP, Cardinals: St. Louis does a great job of swiftly moving college pitchers through the minor leagues and Gallen is no exception. A 2016 third round pick, he opened the year in high-A ball but soon travelled through double-A (for four starts) and is now in triple-A. In 15 total starts, he has a 2.19 ERA and has struck out 87 batters in 90.1 innings – not bad for a guy with a modest fastball.

A strong college performer, Gallen’s fastball is just average and he survives mostly due to his above-average command and control (18 walks in those 90.1 innings) and ability to keep the ball in the yard (four homers allowed). And while he might make a decent No. 4 starter, Gallen could be better off in the bullpen where his heater might jump a bit and he can pitch more off his potentially-plus cutter and changeup – perhaps developing into the next Chris Devenski.





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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frangipard
5 years ago

The idea that Kingery’s homer surge was due to the Reading ballpark can be dismissed by looking at his home/road homer split in AA: 10/8.

Also, why do you write about “the juiced ball” as if this is some kind of proven thing? It isn’t.