by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
The Angels have been hit hard by injuries, both to their rotation and their infield. With Andrelton Simmons and Jefry Marte already on the DL, Zack Cozart is once again banged up (and could soon join them). That has led to the promotion of David Fletcher, who has let his offensive production at Triple-A do all the talking (and he further backed it up by going 3-4 in his MLB debut):
.350 (89-254), 6 HR, 37 RBI, 55 R, 7 SB
So why hasn’t the 24-year old garnered more attention? He’s never shown significant power (though he’s added 25 doubles and 6 triples this season) or speed, making his approach his strongest asset. Over the course of his minor league career he’s shown an ability to make consistent contact (154 K vs. 96 BB), and he’s gotten even better at Triple-A (21 K vs. 16 BB).
That’s strong, but where are the walks? This represents a 5.8% walk rate (and he was at 7.7% at Double-A a year ago). While he’s still posting a .394 OBP this year, he also isn’t going to maintain a .364 BABIP and the ability to maintain an elevated OBP will be tied directly to his ability to hit for a strong average. If that drops to .270-.280 (which is very possible), his OBP may only be in the .310-.315 range. For a player without much power, is that something that you want to buy?
As MLB.com described him prior to the season:
“Fletcher makes a ton of contact at the plate with a line-drive approach, rarely chases and while he doesn’t walk a ton, he also rarely strikes out. He had a solid offensive season in Double-A in 2017 then lost his gameplan a bit when he was up a level and without power to speak of, it’s important for him to stick with what works best for him. An average runner, he can steal a base and has shown he can play short, even with just an average arm and range, largely because of his instincts and good hands.”
While he has stolen as many as 20 bases in a season, that scouting report further dampens the outlook. So we are looking at a player with limited upside in his average, and will couple that with single-digit home runs and maybe 10-12 SB. With the lack of walks keeping him from the top of the order, there’s very little to like.
Maybe he catches fire and makes a short-term impression, but ultimately he profiles as a utility player and little else.
Sources – MLB.com, MILB.com, Fangraphs
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