by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
We all know that many prospects fail in their first opportunity in the Majors. That doesn’t mean that they won’t learn from their struggles, ultimately becoming a good (if not great) player. We’ve seen it time and time again, so today let’s look at a pair of players who have already gotten their feet wet in the Majors and are potentially nearing another opportunity:
Renato Nunez – Oakland A’s – Third Baseman
He’s certainly enjoying a strong start to his season, hitting .270 with 7 HR (as well as 7 doubles) over 89 AB. Things are going particularly well right now, including home runs in four straight games and riding an eight-game hitting streak (11-27, 5 HR, 6 RBI, 7 R). Even more impressive is his sudden strike zone command, with 7 K vs. 8 BB over this stretch.
His current Triple-A hitting coach Eric Martins was recently quoted by MILB.com as saying:
“This, I think for him, is the final phase for his development before he becomes a regular in the big leagues. It’s just understanding the strike zone, understanding what the pitchers are trying to do to him, not trying to do too much. He doesn’t have to swing hard to get the ball out of the ballpark. I’m really impressed and proud of the way he’s taken to it.”
There’s never been a question about Nunez’ power, with as many as 29 HR in a minor league season. A career .265 hitter, he’s showing signs of figuring it out at the highest level of the minors and that’s a significant development.
He’s already on the 40-man roster and with Ryon Healy struggling (.228 with 3 HR), there’s the potential for the team to make a move. Primarily a 3B, Nunez has experience at 1B and in LF (and he’s even played a game at 2B this season) adding additional flexibility to the roster.
His stock is clearly on the rise.
Verdict – Buying Opportunity
Roman Quinn – Philadelphia Phillies – Outfielder
The talk about Quinn has always been if he can stay healthy, because there was little questioning his potential. He’s on the field and playing at Triple-A thus far, but that hasn’t meant success in the early going as he’s struggling to a slash of .250/.309/.318.
The big problem has been his strikeout rate, with 30 K over 88 AB (30.93%). For a player who is going to use his speed more than his power (though he does bring 10+ HR potential), the jump in strikeouts is a significant concern. It also shouldn’t be a huge surprise, after he posted a 27.5% strikeout rate over 57 AB in the Majors last season (12.7% SwStr%). For a player whose best tool is his speed, he should be drawing walks and putting the ball in play.
Throw in the consistent risk of injury (something we simply can’t ignore), and he’s hard to buy in at the moment. That’s not to say that the upside isn’t there, but for now we have to have our reservations.
Verdict – Hold (though in the right circumstance ideal Sell Opportunity)
Sources – MLB.com, MILB.com, Fangraphs
Make sure to check out all of our 2017 Prospect Rankings: