by Ivar G. Anderson
This week we profile three outfielders who are not likely to see any MLB time for a couple of seasons. There is some nice power and speed to target here, but you will need to be patient for any of it to pay off in your dynasty or deep keeper leagues.
Jesse Winker OF CIN (High-A Bakersfield Blaze/California League)
Baseball America Prospect- Not in Top 100/Cincinnati Reds Prospect #4
The left-handed Winker has both power and batting average potential. He possesses good pitch recognition and plus bat speed, and he punishes both right handed and left handed pitchers equally. He uses the entire field with his consistently hard contact at the plate, and he did bang out 16 HR in 417 AB in 2013.
His downside is the lack of arm strength and below-average speed, which will relegate him to left field. He also needs to work on his outfield defense to make it in the NL. Overall, he projects as a middle of the lineup outfielder who can provide both average and plus power (think .300 and 25+ HR per season), and he will move up at a pace dependent on his development as a fielder.
Do not expect to see him in Cincy until 2016, except for a late season call up when the rosters expand.
Hunter Renfroe OF SD (High-A Lake Elsinore Storm/California League)
Baseball America Prospect #80/San Diego Padres Prospect #4
Renfroe, at 6’1″ and 210 pounds, is a big and powerful outfielder. He has a plus arm and plus power, but lacks the understanding of the strike zone to demonstrate an eye or contact rate that will allow him to hit for high average. He generates good bat speed, but gets fooled by too many off-speed/breaking pitches.
Regarding his power potential, in 209 AB this season he has slugged 12 homers and 14 doubles. He is also currently riding a eight game hitting streak (hitting .441 over his last 34 AB), which gives hope that he can hit for a decent average. Understand he was a first round draft pick in the 2013 amateur draft, so there are thoughts he has the tools to be a good, if not great, MLB outfielder. Also consider that despite his .281 BA on the season, his K/BB ratio sits at an alarming 64:19 mark.
Looking to a 2016 appearance at Petco may be a tad optimistic, but it could happen, as he is already 22 years old.
David Dahl OF COL (Low-A Asheville Tourists/South Atlantic League)
Baseball America Prospect #94/Colorado Rockies Prospect #6
Dahl lost nearly all of 2013 due to a team mandated suspension for what was termed “a lack of maturity” followed by a severe hamstring injury. He is back on track in 2014, though, banging out eight HR and stealing 10 bases (out of 12 attempts) in 191 at bats in Low-A.
He is a line drive hitter with enough power to drive the ball over the fences. If he continues to develop his short, compact swing, he could be a 20+ home run hitter in the big leagues, and a potential 20+ stolen base candidate, too.
As a CF, he has the arm to play the position and good speed, but so far only rates out as an average fielder. He should also provide a decent average, as his contact rate is in the 80-85% range.
A promotion to High-A by mid-season would not be a surprise, but seeing him on the field in Denver before 2016 would be shocking.
All three of these prospects have the potential to fill a lineup slot in the majors once they prove they can continue to hit and/or run in the high minor leagues. It is never too early to pencil in players with skills on your prospect watch lists, and if you are looking for future outfield help these guys may just be the ticket. Plus, it is entirely possible that your league mates won’t even know they exist, giving you a leg up on the competition.
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