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 slightly more robust meditation on the idea of fringe can be found here.)

Three players retain their place this week among the Five: Mets infield prospect Wilmer Flores, recently promoted (to Triple-A, that is) Marlins left-handed prospect Brian Flynn, and Cardinals Double-A outfielder Mike O’Neill. Departing from the Five are promising Cleveland pitcher Danny Salazar — largely because shoulder soreness might be an issue — and Cubs infield prospect Ronald Torreyes, who did nothing in particular to lose his spot except fail to amuse the author completely.

Replacing the pair are two New York pitching prospects: the Mets’ Rafael Montero and the Yankees’ Jose Ramirez — about which pair the reader can learn more below.

All those points having been made, here are this week’s Fringe Five.

Wilmer Flores, 2B/3B, New York NL (Profile)
The salient points regarding Wilmer Flores remain unchanged since last week’s edition of the Fringe Five — remain unchanged, in fact, since the series’ inaugural dispatch in April. Flores is still just 21; he still controls the strike zone; and his primary offensive indicators (regressed home-run and walk and strikeout rates) remain roughly equal to those currently being posted by both Jurickson Profar and Oscar Taveras in the Pacific Coast League. Here’s his line over the past week: 20 PA, 1 HR, 1 BB, 3 K.

Brian Flynn, LHP, Miami (Profile)
Flynn makes his second consecutive appearance among the Five this week — and fourth overall among either the Fringe or Next Five. Despite a merely passable start this past week with New Orleans (5.1 IP, 24 TBF, 5 K, 0 BB, 2 HR, 8 H), he remains a 6-foot-7 and (probably) 240-pound left-hander with what appears to be above-average command.

Rafael Montero, RHP, New York NL (Profile)
Mets right-handed prospect Montero, 22, has previously appeared among the Next Five, but receives here his debut among the Fringe Five proper. The occasion, in this instance, is a promotion to Triple-A Las Vegas on Tuesday which saw Montero — who had posted an excellent 54:6 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 46.2 Double-A innings — strike out five Iowa Cubs, and walk just one, in 6.2 innings (box).

The video from that particular game is poor; however, footage from his April 9th start against Tigers Double-A affiliate Erie reveals what appear to be the essentials of Montero’s repertoire.

Like his four-seam fastball, for example — over which pitch he typically demonstrates excellent command — thrown here to Detroit prospect Tyler Collins:

Montero Collins 2 FA

And what might very well be a two-seam fastball — or, at least, some manner of pitch (a hard changeup, perhaps?) with considerable armside run — as thrown in the fifth inning of that game to Erie’s Marcus Lemon:

Montero Lemon 1 FT

And, finally, Montero’s slider, which appears to show some promise as a possible out pitch — in this case, as thrown to Erie’s James McCann:

Montero McCann 2 SL SS K

Mike O’Neill, COF, St. Louis (Profile)
Last year, following a mid-August promotion to Double-A Springfield, O’Neill posted walk and strikeout rates of 19.0% and 4.8%, respectively, in 42 plate appearances over the remaining month or so of the season. It wouldn’t, of course, have been reasonable to expect O’Neill even to approximate those rates, given the degree to which such figures represent outliers relative to the rest of the population. And yet, O’Neill has actually improved upon them slightly, carrying walk and strikeout rates of 19.4% and 4.6%, respectively, into play on Tuesday.

Jose Ramirez, RHP, New York AL (Profile)
Multiple reports place Yankees prospect Jose Ramirez’s average fastball velocity somewhere around 95 mph. Many of those same reports indicate that the right-hander’s changeup is actually his best pitch.

Here’s an example of the latter, from spring training, to Ryan Howard:

Ram How 1st CH SS

And here’s an example of the former, also from spring training, also to Ryan Howard:

Ram How 1st FA Called

Regardless of which is best, the right-hander has recorded a 33:5 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 24.0 innings with Double-A Trenton after missing the season’s first couple weeks with elbow soreness, or something similar to elbow soreness. (Note: J.D. Sussman also considered Ramirez — specifically, his future role — in some depth earlier today.)

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

Corban Joseph, 2B, New York AL (Triple-A International League)
Taylor Lindsey, 2B, Los Angeles AL (Double-A Texas League)
Danny Salazar, RHP, Cleveland (Triple-A International League)
Marcus Semien, SS/2B, Chicago AL (Double-A Southern League)
Ronald Torreyes, 2B, Chicago NL (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 6 0 18
Mike O’Neill Cardinals OF 5 0 15
Marcus Semien White Sox SS 3 3 12
Corban Joseph Yankees 2B 3 1 10
Brian Flynn Marlins LHP 2 2 8
Chase Anderson Diamondbacks RHP 2 2 8
Burch Smith Padres RHP 2 1 7
Danny Salazar Indians RHP 2 1 7
Chad Bettis Rockies RHP 1 2 5
Joc Pederson Dodgers OF 1 2 5
Rafael Montero Mets RHP 1 1 4
Ronald Torreyes Cubs 2B 1 1 4
Jose Ramirez Yankees RHP 1 0 3
Max Muncy Athletics 1B 0 2 2
Nicholas Kingham Pirates RHP 0 2 2
Nolan Fontana Astros SS 0 2 2
Victor Payano Rangers LHP 0 2 2
Chris Heston Giants RHP 0 1 1
Clayton Blackburn Giants RHP 0 1 1
Garin Cecchini Red Sox 3B 0 1 1
Greg Garcia Cardinals SS 0 1 1
Taylor Lindsey Angels 2B 0 1 1
Zach Walters Nationals SS 0 1 1

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Carson Cistulli occasionally publishes spirited ejaculations at The New Enthusiast.

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

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  1. Jeffrey Paternostro says:

    Montero does throw a two-seamer, but pretty sure that’s a (particualrly firm) change from Montero in the middle there. It will at times feature that kind of late hop away from lefties.

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  2. Urban Shocker says:

    Fringe Five Fans may also find MLB Depth Charts Under The Radar feature worth checking out.

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  3. Tommy says:

    Why do you hate Corey Dickerson?

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  4. Undocorkscrew says:

    Just curious. Would Tommy La Stella classify? Highest I’ve found him on any Braves prospects list was #17. He’s a bit old for AA(24), but he’s raking at the plate this year after posting a .318, .394, .501 slash line with 16 HR, 15 SB(4 CS), 70 BB, and a mere 55 K in 153 games in A-ball.

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  5. Can’t wait to see over time if the fringe five becomes predictor of success or confirms the fact that we’re all doomed. Or both.

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    • sdiaz says:

      Not to be an ungrateful jerk, (I really do like the series) but some of these guys (ie: Wilmer Flores/Garrin Cechinni -suprised that he has only been written about once)were hardly “fringe” prospects and are guys that serious prospect followers know. Maybe you could change the definition to guys who Hulet and yourself did not have ranked in their systems’ top 10? Again, I love the work you and Hulet do follwing MiLB and the site in general, just an idea.

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      • I agree with you: I think there are absolutely questions to ask about what is and isn’t a fringe prospect. I also think that people who follow prospect lists and general prospect analysis are going to have a greater deal of familiarity with the names that appear among the Fringe Five — and might therefore have a different idea of fringe.

        I’ve regarded all players not on top-100 lists as eligible because (a) even among players on those top-100 lists, about 70% will fail and also because (b) it makes for an easy reference point!

        In any case, I should emphasize that my intention is not necessarily to “discover” prospects, but moreso just to provide a little bit coverage for players who are performing well (or interestingly) but who, for whatever reason, were omitted from a bunch of industry lists.

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        • Well if you consider the “fringe” on a golf course is the area just off the green, these players are exactly what one should consider “fringe” prospects with the Top 100 list being the “green.”

          To further the analogy, making the Top 100 list while being either age appropriate or younger would be considered a “green in regulation.”

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        • Does the author deliberately refer to himself in the second person when posting and first person when commenting? Do you?

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        • Dammit- third-person/first-person.

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        • Ted Nelson says:

          Pinstripe Wizard – the thing is that “top 100” is an arbitrary cutoff, both in terms of cutting off at 100 and in terms of the subjective nature of the rankings (some of which have more to do with potential than actual projection of future outcomes). .

          A green is physically different from the fringe. A top 100 prospect might not actually be worse than someone outside the top 100. (Granted, a lie on some parts of the fringe might not be worse than a lie on some parts of the green. My point is just that the definition of fringe prospects is pretty arbitrary and subjective compared to the fringe on a golf course.)

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  6. chri521 says:

    Joc Pederson getting some buzz about a callup according to Donny Baseball. Carson’s magical powers strike again.

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  7. MLB Rainmaker says:

    In reference to that two-seamer from Montero, think you meant to write “considerable” in all caps, right?

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  8. JohnM says:

    When does Joc Pederson stop being fringe?

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  9. DD says:

    That delivery from Ramirez must take some getting used to. He’s very upright, looks like he’s going to come over the top, but his hand never gets there.

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  10. Ruki Motomiya says:

    That is a mean looking change from Ramirez.

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  11. Aiden says:

    In a dynasty would you stop any of the following for Flores

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  12. Mark says:

    In a dynasty would you stop any of the following for Flores

    Also have wheeler and taillon so not dropping them.

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  13. Ted Nelson says:

    I don’t now what the three top 100 lists referred to are, but I think Law had Ramirez in the top 100.

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