by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
The Tampa Bay Rays have finally decided to summon Jake Bauers from Triple-A, and whether he’s given time at 1B (46 games played in ’18) or in the OF (6 games played in ’18, 146 over his minor league career) there is little question that he’s going to be in the lineup. The question is how big of an impact can he make? Let’s take a look and see where his potential impact lies:
Average/On Base Percentage
Bauers owns a .276 average over his minor league career, including a .268 mark over 683 AB at Triple-A. That doesn’t seem impressive, but he also has a .365 OBP at Triple-A as he’s shown a strong approach (strikeout rate // walk rate):
- 2017 – 19.5% // 13.6%
- 2018 – 21.2% // 10.4%
With SwStr% of 9.5% in ’18 and 9.0% in ’17, there’s every reason to believe that he’ll carry this into the Majors. Couple that with an ability to hit the ball hard and he should be a .260+ hitter with a strong OBP.
Just how good is he at drawing a walk? As per MLB.com, “Bauers’ advanced approach and feel for working counts drive his on-base skills, as he paced the International League in walks (78) after ranking second in Southern League in 2016.”
Let’s put it this a different way, after the 2017 season Baseball America said “Bauers has the makings of a younger version of Joey Votto”. That’s high praise, to say the least.
This has not yet translated to game action, with just 5 HR in 197 AB this season. However he’s shown plenty of extra base power at Triple-A, and that gives hope that he will be able to grow/mature into it before long:
- Doubles – 45
- Triples – 1
- Home Runs – 18
Maybe he’s not a consistent 30+ HR slugger, but at 22-years old the upside is there to develop 25+ HR pop (and he could even show it by year’s end). Even from a first baseman, with his ability to get on base there’s nothing wrong with that.
Bauers isn’t a pure burner, but he is athletic and knows how to use it. Over his time at Triple-A he’s gone 30-for-39 in SB attempts, and from a position that generally offers little upside in this department it can’t be overlooked.
Bauers may not be an elite prospect, but he has the potential to make a bigger impact than he’s given credit for (especially in OBP formats). He could be a .270/25/10 first baseman, hitting in the middle of the batting order. Concerned that the left-handed hitter is destined for a platoon? Just look at his split from this season:
- LHP – .309/.397/.544
- RHP – .264/.336/.364
He has the potential to be a difference maker in all formats from Day 1 (and the Rays have no reason to call him up and not play).
Fantasy Waiver Wire Guidelines:
- 10 Team League – Not quite Must Add (but close)
- 12 Team League – Must Add
- 14+ Team League – Must Add
- AL-Only League – Must Add
- Keeper/Dynasty – Must Add
Sources – Fangraphs, MLB.com, MILB.com, Baseball America
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: