Today represents the final Prospect Stock Watch of the year… Soon, we’ll be transitioning to the annual series called ‘A Minor Review of 2016:
Max Schrock | 2B | Athletics
There aren’t many big leaguers like Schrock — who was recently traded from Washington to Oakland. He makes a crazy amount of contact and his strikeout rate actually sits below 10% in his two-year pro career. That’s allowed him to produce a .325 batting average. The downside to his game, though, is that he’s almost 100% reliant on his ability to hit for average as he doesn’t walk much and has almost zero power. At 5-8, 180 pounds — and with a line-drive approach — he doesn’t project to add much pop. As a result, while the contact is impressive, he probably doesn’t project as anything more than a big league utility player or second-division starter at second base. Schrock, 21, has played all but 12 games in his career at second base so it’s probably about time that Oakland begins to expand his defensive repertoire. With that said, second base has been a blackhole for the A’s so the young infielder is likely earmarked for a shot at the position in mid-to-late 2017 unless the club looks at other internal and external options.
Dan Vogelbach | 1B | Mariners
Value: Rising (Ready for MLB)
It’s been a bit of a breakout year for Vogelbach — although he’s had some solid seasons in the past. The burly first baseman has always displayed the ability to hit but it’s the power that has been inconsistent. He finally broke the 20-homer mark in 2016 and has shown an above-.500 slugging percentage at the triple-A level. Vogelbach, 23, was hitting extremely well for the Cubs’ triple-A affiliate (.972 OPS in 89 games) but has cooled off since being traded to Seattle (.802 in 39 triple-A games). The former second-round pick has struck out a fair bit (96 times) but he’s offset that by walking a tremendous amount (92 times). He doesn’t play the field overly well but Nelson Cruz is going to spend most of the time at the DH position in 2017 and neither Adam Lind nor Dae-Ho Lee are going to keep Vogelbach from being a full-time player in The Show next year. In his prime, Vogelbach should be good for a .270-.280 average, 20-25 homers and a .380+ on-base percentage.
Austin Slater | OF | Giants
The Giants are known for developing pitching but they’re also quite good at squeezing talent out of college-drafted outfielders with the likes of Mac Williamson, Jarrett Parker and Kelby Tomlinson all playing minor roles of the perennial playoff contender. Slater, a former eight-round pick, could be the next outfield prospect to play a role with the Giants. The biggest knock on the outfield prospect entering the 2016 season was the lack of pop but he’s seen his slugging percentage increase more than .100 while facing the added challenge of splitting his year between double-A and triple-A. He’s also continued to hit for average and has gotten on base more consistently. Slater has played all three outfield spots in 2016 and spent most of 2015 at second base so he has the potential to be quite versatile for the Giants and could be a key contributor from the bench in ’17.
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