Phegley, Gennett, Quackenbush: Mining the Minors

In this week’s edition: A backstop in the middle of the best stretch of his career; a candidate to replace one of MLB’s slumpingest hitters; and an under-the-radar closer of the future candidate.

In addition to recently-promoted top prospects, this column offers a fantasy take on those who are formerly-elite or lesser-known and on the verge of getting a shot in the majors. To help owners get an idea of just how good a player is (or might be), there’s a Talent Rating, but just as important is the Opportunity Rating, which points out the likelihood that a player will make his way to, or stay in, the majors during the current season based on various factors (i.e., age, depth chart, recent performance, etc.).

Josh Phegley, White Sox C
Talent: 6 (out of 10)
Opportunity: 9 (out of 10)
DOB: 2/12/1988
Current Level: Triple-A
Statistics: .325/.384/.636 BA/OBP/SLG, 11 HR, 13 2B, 30 RBI, 29 R, 0 SB, 27:11 K:BB over 172 PAs
On 40-Man Roster: Yes
Fantasy Category Strengths: BA, XBH
Potential 2013 Fantasy Peak: AL-only C2

A former supplemental-round pick in 2009, Phegley looks ready to make his debut. It’s taken him a little while longer than expected, in part because he has a condition called Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP), which prevents normal blood clotting. By all indications, though, Phegley is now in control of his health, which might explain why he’s having his best season.

The box-framed backstop has hit better than ever in May, posting a .349 average with seven homers and 19 RBI. Given the poor performances the White Sox are getting from Tyler Flowers and Hector Gimenez at catcher — the duo has combined for a .212/.286/.364 triple-slash line — Phegley’s timing seems to be spot on to make his big league debut soon. He’s unlikely to be the type of big league hitter who will move your fantasy needle, but in deep AL-onlies that use two catchers, Phegley could be a very fine second starter who you won’t mind plugging in over some other backstop who has absolutely no offensive upside.

Colleague Marc Hulet took a look at Phegley back in April on the mother site.

ETA: Instead of “When might Phegley get called up?” the question here might better be phrased, “Why hasn’t Phegley been called up?” Given that he’s on the 40-man already, Phegley could be up at any point in June, especially since the White Sox are starting to fade in the AL Central and might want to see what they’ve got in him.

Scooter Gennett, Brewers 2B
Talent: 7 (out of 10)
Opportunity: 8 (out of 10)
DOB: 5/1/1990
Current Level: Triple-A
Statistics: .313/.353/.396 BA/OBP/SLG, 1 HR, 7 2B, 13 RBI, 29 R, 8 SB, 30:12 K:BB over 192 PAs
On 40-Man Roster: Yes
Fantasy Category Strengths: BA, SB, XBH
Potential 2013 Fantasy Peak: NL-only MI

Gennett was a 16th-rounder in 2009, so he’s had to fight his way up, which is about what you’d expect from a guy who stands 5’10″ and weighs 180. Having just turned 23, Gennett has proved himself at every step and has carved out a .302/.340/.414 line by making making lots of contact (13.7% BB), especially in the form of doubles, as he averaged 30 two-baggers in his first three pro seasons. While Gennett has solid speed, he hasn’t been a particularly proficient pilferer (44 out of 66 to date), but he should be able to approach double digits in the category over a full season in the bigs.

The defense remains a work in progress, especially since Gennett has led his leagues in second basemen errors (21 on average), but he’s made only two this year. Perhaps that’s the last factor the Brewers need to see some real improvement in before promoting Gennett to work him into the mix at second, where Rickie Weeks, unfortunately, looks like a complete lost cause. Gennett’s contact should help him stay afloat once he reaches the majors, but initially, he’s unlikely to be more than a placeholder type who’s better off as a reserve/fill-in, at least until he makes the necessary adjustments.

ETA: The only thing slumping as badly as Weeks and his .183 average might be the Brewers, who have lost (gasp) 22 of their last 27. In other words, it shouldn’t even take until the All-Star break before they start looking toward the future a bit, which Gennett will have to prove (once again) he can be a part of.

Kevin Quackenbush, Padres RP
Talent: 7 (out of 10)
Opportunity: 8 (out of 10)
DOB: 11/28/1988
Current Level: Double-A
Statistics: 1-0 W-L, 10 SV, 0.38 ERA, 0.79 WHIP; 12.0 K/9, 3.4 BB/9 over 24.0 IPs (23 G/0 GS)
On 40-Man Roster: No
Fantasy Category Strengths: ERA, WHIP, SV, K/9, K/BB, HLD
Potential 2013 Fantasy Peak: NL-only RP3

Did you really look at those stats, or did you just sort of gloss over them? The crazy thing is, as insane as Quackenbush’s numbers are this year, they’re right in line with his career. Since going in 2011′s eighth round, he’s compiled a 0.73 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 12.6 K/9.

Even weirder? The right-hander has thrived thus far by primarily throwing his hard-to-pick-up heater, which comes in in the low-90s. He’s not overpowering, but he throws from a deceptive arm angle — and is damn effective. The fact that he’s succeeding this much at Double-A and coming off a successful stint in the Arizona Fall League has to be enticing to the Padres, whose bullpen isn’t what it once was. It will be interesting to see how Quackenbush’s stuff translates to MLB, but he could have some success early before big leaguers get a book on him.

ETA: Huston Street has been mentioned as a trade chip dating back to last season, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him be in the summer, at which point Quackenbush could get a look as a seventh- or eighth-inning arm while Luke Gregerson likely takes over closer duties. Even if Street isn’t moved, though, Quackenbush should be a late-summer call-up.




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Jason Catania is an MLB Lead Writer for Bleacher Report who also contributes to ESPN The Magazine, ESPN Insider and MLB Rumor Central, focusing on baseball and fantasy content. When he was first introduced to fantasy baseball, Derek Jeter had 195 career hits, Jamie Moyer had 72 wins and Matt Stairs was on team No. 3. You can follow him on Twitter: @JayCat11


5 Responses to “Phegley, Gennett, Quackenbush: Mining the Minors”

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  1. Kevin says:

    I only glossed over the stats because of “Quackenbush”

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  2. Matt says:

    Thank you for recognizing Phegley’s efforts. He’s been on an absolute tear and while know those stats won’t carry over exactly to the majors, he’s gotta better than the Flowers/Gimmenez tandem. I think part of why he’s not up already is the fact that Ventura loves playing the matchups. But when neither of your guys is hitting ANY pitcher worth a damn, something needs to change. Having two righty catchers is not the end of the world.

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