by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
When does on-the-field production trump the consensus feel for a player? There are many players who keep producing on the diamond, yet when you look at prospect rankings they don’t appear to garner the respect that the numbers justify. Let’s take a look at two of those players and try to determine their true value:
Sheldon Neuse – Oakland A’s (3B)
All Sheldon Neuse did in 2017 was hit, regardless of the level he played:
- Single-A (321 PA) – .291, 9 HR, 51 RBI, 40 R, 12 SB
- High-A (94 PA) – .386, 7 HR, 22 RBI, 21 R, 2 SB
- Double-A (75 PA) – .373, 0 HR, 6 RBI, 9 R, 0 SB
Now 23-years old, Neuse added 26 doubles and 3 triples. Of course there are some obvious questions, like a 13.0% SwStr% despite spending the bulk of his time as a 22-year old in the lower levels of the minors. He also posted a 50.0% groundball rate, calling his home run upside into question, as well as a 19.9% line drive rate. The latter further clouds the average upside, as he needed an overall .397 BABIP to post his impressive ’17 mark. Throw in questionable speed, which MLB.com described him as “a fringe-average runner” despite his SB mark at Triple-A, and the risk grows further.
In this case it’s easy to argue that the lack of hype is justified. While the thought is that he has power potential, the risk of significantly increased strikeouts trump that (as does the groundball rate). Throw in the inevitable BABIP regression and the numbers could get ugly quickly. It was a nice 2017, but he needs to prove capable of doing it at the upper levels before we’re willing to buy in.
Verdict – Justified lack of hype
Current Grade – C
Edwin Rios – Los Angeles Dodgers (1B/3B)
Rios split time between Double and Triple-A last season, putting up gaudy numbers along the way:
- Double-A (332 PA) – .317, 15 HR, 62 RBI, 47 R, 1 SB
- Triple-A (190 PA) – .296, 9 HR, 29 RBI, 23 R, 0 SB
He added 34 doubles and his 40.9% fly ball rate shows the potential for his power (he owned a 16.1% HR/FB last season). The issue is a 13.0% SwStr%, which led to a modest 21.3% strikeout rate. He did improve upon his promotion to Triple-A (12.0% SwStr%), which does offer a little bit of hope… This comment from MLB.com is going to raise the concern level, though:
“Though he’s very aggressive and doesn’t have much of a game plan at the plate, his hand-eye coordination allows him to make consistent hard contact.”
The fact that he improved upon his promotion to Triple-A is promising, and if he can continue down that path the upside for a .270/25/80 player is there. There’s enough promise to monitor him closely, and there’s a good chance he ultimately proves the doubters wrong.
Verdict – More upside than currently being given
Current Grade – B
Sources – Fangraphs, MLB.com
Missed our Top 100 prospect rankings? Make sure to check it out by clicking here. Also don’t miss all of our 2018 Preseason Positional Prospect Lists: