Corner Outfielder Prospect Review

Not an impressive list of players. These players usually lack speed, which means to be in the starting lineup power is an expected attribute from them. Below are the top ten corner outfielders as rated by Baseball America to start the 2016 season and an assessment of what they did to enhance their prospect standing or shatter it.

1. Nomar Mazara (Rangers) - He was promoted to the majors after the injury to Shin-Soo Choo. After a hot start his bat has cooled off finishing with 18 homeruns after hitting .270. Those are numbers Choo can spit out during a healthy season. The Rangers have to do something with Joey Gallo. If Ian Desmond is not signed that seems to open an outfield spot, but neither Gallo, Choo or Mazara are strong in centerfield. Nomar needs to show better plate discipline with a 37/105 walk to whiff ratio if he wants to take one of the corner slots from Choo or Gallo. One attribute Choo brings to the game is his plate discipline.

2. Austin Meadows (Pirates) - The Pirates have one of the best outfields in baseball when Andrew McKutchen is producing. This year was an off year for Andrew so if the Pirates trade him that will open up a spot for Meadows, who was drafted by the Pirates in the first round in 2013. Meadows can play centerfield but Starling Marte is the better outfielder, so it would be a move to left for Meadows if the Pirates chose to move McKutchen to another team. Injuries cut short Meadows at bats in 2016. After a little over 120 AAA at bats Austin only hit .214. Another half a season in AAA would do Meadows no harm.

3. Nick Williams (Phillies) - Nick had a rough 2016. Strikeouts are the big problem for him, 136 of them, which only came with 19 walks. Originally a property of the Rangers, he was included with a number of other prospects in the Cole Hamels trade. He has the speed to play centerfield but it is probably better suited for right field. Lightening bat speed brings some impressive power, but it also produces a lot of swings and misses, which will result in low batting averages should he make it to the major leagues.

4. Max Kepler (Twins) - One of the first players from Europe to sign a large bonus ($800,000) the son of two ballerinas chose baseball as his sport. He moved to Florida as a high schooler, went to instructional camps and after seven years is finally a major leaguer. The German native replaced Miguel Sano in right field by mid-season because of a mixture of injuries and his struggles defensively. Kepler does not have the power of Sano but is a much more polished defensive player. Once Sano was healthy Kepler had proven himself in right field. The 2016 season displayed some impressive power, but that also came with some swings and misses and a low batting average. He should hit for 20 plus homeruns each year in the major leagues but the Twins hope to see better than a .240 average.

5. Clint Frazier (Yankees) - He played in the same area as Meadows (Georgia) and was also a first round draft pick, Frazier going to the Indians. The Indians traded him to the Yankees in 2016 as part of the Andrew Miller trade. Frazier is more gifted defensively than Meadows and is a logical fit in centerfield. With the declining skills of Jacoby Ellsbury and his propensity for getting injured, Frazier could see a lot of time in center for the Yankees by mid-season. With some speed he could end up being a 20/20 player with a possibility of being a consistent 30 homerun hitter in the major leagues.

6. Jesse Winker (Reds) - Jesse kind of disappeared for the Reds in 2016, a wrist injury sapping much of his power. While he hit .303 that came with only three homeruns and about 90 singles. That would be good for someone who can steal bases and play centerfield, but Winker lacks speed and the Reds would like to see him become much more than a singles hitter. The Reds have a lot of choices for left field next year but they would like to see Winker show a little more power before they give him the left field job.

7. Hector Olivera (Released) - Hector played second base in Cuba. Despite his advancing age and mystery injury the Dodgers signed him to a big contract. The Braves ate much of that contract, trading away Jose Peraza and a cadre of veteran pitchers to get Olivera’s bat in the lineup. Problem is that bat never materialized. What myworld saw of his defense in the outfield was pretty deplorable. A domestic assault charge has ended his hopes of continuing his professional baseball career. Major league baseball suspended him, the Padres traded for him to subtract the Matt Kemp contract from their ledgers, then released Olivera. To date, no team has bothered trying to to sign him so his major league career seems to be over.

8. Kyle Tucker (Astros) - The younger brother of Preston had a pretty good year in 2016, reaching the high A level and hitting .339 in limited at bats. He has more tools than his brother and could be playing with him next year as he rises up the minor league ladder and his brother stagnates at the AAA level. It would be ideal if the 2015 first round pick could play center field, but he lacks the burner speed to play the position and is destined for a corner outfield spot. The Astros have some room in the outfield, but expect his arrival to be more in 2018 than 2017.

9. Aaron Judge (Yankees) - A massive bat from a big guy. There is a lot of non contact in his at bats, with a lot of walks and strikeouts and balls carrying over the fence when he makes contact. Despite a 6′7″ frame that would fill many NBA baseketball rosters, Judge moves pretty well to be a good right fielder. The Yankees are rebuilding and Judge showed some power in his September callup. He also showed a lot of swing and miss and a low batting average that will have to improve if he wants to win the job in 2017.

10. Hunter Renfroe (Padres) - The amazing thing is Hunter is still with the Padres after Preller tried to trade all his prospects for veterans in 2015. That was then and this is now where the Padres are now rebuilding. Renfroe should be an important part of that rebuilding project. He does not show the speed to play center, but his arm is suited for right. His bat his geared for driving in runs with balls leaving the yard. He had an impressive September callup for the Padres, putting together one game where he drove in seven runs.

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