The Fringe Five: Baseball’s Most Compelling Fringe Prospects

The Fringe Five is a weekly exercise (introduced last month) wherein the author utilizes regressed stats, scouting reports, and also his own heart to identify and/or continue monitoring the most compelling fringe prospects in all of baseball.

Central to this exercise, of course, is a working definition of fringe. Currently, for the purposes of this column, it’s any prospect who was absent from all of three notable preseason top-100 prospect lists. (A more robust meditation on the idea of fringe can be found here.)

Since last week’s edition, there have been four total changes to The Fringe Five. Following his promotion to the majors, Corban Joseph was omitted from consideration last week. In the wake of his recent demotion, however, he’s become eligible again for inclusion here, per the author’s mostly arbitrary rules governing the matter. New to The Five is Cleveland right-handed prospect Danny Salazar, who, following an eight-strikeout performance on Tuesday, now has 38 strikeouts in his last four Double-A starts.

Demoted from The Five — for reasons that require no elaboration, declares the present author — are right-handed Rockies prospect Chad Bettis and White Sox middle infielder Marcus Semien.

Those caveats made, let’s proceed to this week’s Fringe Five.

Wilmer Flores, 2B/3B, New York NL (Profile)
Only two qualified Pacific Coast League batters are younger than Flores: uber-prospect Jurickson Profar and other uber-prospect Oscar Taveras. Nor are Flores’ present offensive indicators considerably different than either of theirs. Regard, Profar’s line as of Tuesday: 117 PA, 2 HR, 17 BB, 19 K. And also Taveras’s: 99 PA, 3 HR, 6 BB, 11 K. And now Flores’s: 129 PA, 1 HR, 9 BB, 13 K.

Corban Joseph, 2B, New York AL (Profile)
As noted above, Joseph was promoted to the major leagues last week. As not noted, he made precisely zero plate appearances at the level before being sent back down. Joseph did make 17 Triple-A plate appearances over the past week, however, recording a 3:3 walk-to-strikeout ratio.

Mike O’Neill, COF, St. Louis (Profile)
O’Neil has posted a 6:2 walk-to-strikeout ratio since the last edition of The Five and is now — as of Tuesday night, at least — batting .308/.466/.352 (.329 BABIP) with a 27:6 walk-to-strikeout ratio in 118 plate appearances.

Here’s representative footage of a Mike O’Neill plate appearance — in this case, from a May 6th game against Colorado Double-A affiliate Tulsa:

O'Neill Walk

Danny Salazar, RHP, Cleveland (Profile)
A 2006 free-agent international signing out of the Dominican, the 23-year-old Salazar has been dominant to begin the season — especially in his four most recent starts, over the course of which he’s posted a 38:5 strikeout-to-walk ratio in just 21.0 innings. Like Burch Smith below, Salazar’s fastball has touched 98 mph — and was siting at 96-98 on Tuesday night, provided the Akron gun is somewhat accurate.

Here’s footage of a fastball at 98 mph from Salazar’s Tuesday night start to strike out Double-A Erie catcher James McCann:

Salazar to McCann

And here’s a changeup for a swinging strike to first baseman James Robbins:

Salazar to Robbins CH

Burch Smith, RHP, San Diego (Profile)
Since his first appearance among The Fringe Five last week, Smith has made one start, and it seems to have been excellent. In 5.1 innings, Smith posted this line: 20 TBF, 6 K, 2 BB, 0 HR, 1 H. Reports seem almost unanimously to suggest that he’s at least touching 98 mph. As Bill Center of the Union-Tribune notes, the Padres will need a fifth starter later in May. Smith is a candidate for promotion at that point.

The Next Five
These are players on whom the author might potentially become fixated.

Chase Anderson, RHP, Arizona (Triple-A Pacific Coast League)
Chad Bettis, RHP, Colorado (Double-A Texas League)
Nolan Fontana, SS, Houston (High-A California League)
Nicholas Kingham, RHP, Pittsburgh (High-A Florida State League)
Marcus Semien, SS/2B, Chicago AL (Double-A Southern League)

Fringe Five Scoreboard
Here are all the players to have appeared among either the Fringe Five (FF) or Next Five (NF) so far this season. For mostly arbitrary reasons, players are assessed three points for each week they’ve appeared among the Fringe Five; a single point, for each week among the Next Five.

Wilmer Flores Mets 2B 4 0 12
Marcus Semien White Sox SS 3 1 10
Corban Joseph Yankees 2B 3 0 9
Mike O’Neill Cardinals OF 3 0 9
Chase Anderson Diamondbacks RHP 2 2 8
Burch Smith Padres RHP 2 1 7
Joc Pederson Dodgers OF 1 2 5
Chad Bettis Rockies RHP 1 1 4
Danny Salazar Indians RHP 1 0 3
Brian Flynn Marlins LHP 0 2 2
Max Muncy Athletics 1B 0 2 2
Nicholas Kingham Pirates RHP 0 2 2
Victor Payano Rangers LHP 0 2 2
Chris Heston Giants RHP 0 1 1
Greg Garcia Cardinals SS 0 1 1
Nolan Fontana Astros SS 0 1 1
Rafael Montero Mets RHP 0 1 1
Zach Walters Nationals SS 0 1 1

Print This Post

Carson Cistulli occasionally publishes spirited ejaculations at The New Enthusiast.

14 Responses to “The Fringe Five: Baseball’s Most Compelling Fringe Prospects”

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
  1. Chris Bootcheck is making a comeback as a starter with Scranton. Fringy.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. ralphwiggum41 says:

    Thanks Carson. I love prospecting, but get tired when attention only focuses on the usual suspects.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. Eminor3rd says:

    So Semien is still playing well, you’re just getting tired of him, correct? I’m just curious as to his performance as a White Sox fan.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. Eminor3rd says:

    Does Wilmer Flores truly qualify as a “fringe prospect” or is he more of a “post-hype sleeper (PHS)?” Are the two categories mutually exclusive?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Preston says:

      Probably a little bit of both. Flores can hit, the problem is finding him a place to stand in the field where his glove won’t detract too much from his offense.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. Meyer Wolfsheim says:

    Salazar just got promoted to AAA

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. Gabriel Syme says:

    Andy Burns in the FSL is having a nice season with a combination of plate discipline, speed and some power. The speed is fringy, the power is fringy, his ability to stay at SS is fringy. One might call him a fringy prospect- unless he’s a sleeper.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • JayTeam says:

      The other guy in the Jays system is OF Kevin Pillar at AA. Plays way over his tools. Part fringy, part sleeper, 100% scrappy.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  7. Drakos says:

    “As Bill Center of the Union-Tribune notes, the Padres will need a fifth starter later in May. Smith is a candidate for promotion at that point.”

    Or he’ll get called up to start on Saturday. Kind of interesting that he’s getting the call and not someone like Erlin or Stauffer.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  8. randplaty says:

    Lookin forward to Burch Smith’s major league debut Saturday.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  9. Wobatus says:

    How about Joe Panik? 16 BBs 12Ks at ss. He ws a pretty high draft pick to be fringe I suppose, but I don’t think he made any top 100s.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  10. Donut3 says:

    Corban Joseph will never get an inning as a fielder or an at bat in the big leagues under Girardi’s watch due to lack of Veteran Presence and certified GRIT. Girardi and Cashman are obsessed with TEH VETERANZ.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Jay29 says:

      Girardi worked Nunez in over the past couple years, didn’t he? Besides, has Cashman been wrong in recent memory? Compare what Ibanez, Hafner, Ichiro, Wells, etc have done with what Jesus Montero has done in the past 13 months, and he was a “can’t-miss” hitting prospect. Cashman has shown that other teams are too eager to ditch older players who still have some ability, in favor of hopes and wishes.

      And the upper minors in the Yankee organization have been pretty weak lately. Joseph is decent but it’s not like they’re keeping Bryce Harper or Mike Trout out of the lineup.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  11. rusty says:

    A season-long leaderboard? I hope that by the end of the season, this feature has implemented some version of fringe-prospect NERD, as well…

    Vote -1 Vote +1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>