We released our top 100 fantasy prospect lists last week, and in amongst that group, I wanted to take a look at two outfield prospects who have had significant changes in their value since the start of the season.
Bradley Zimmer - Cleveland Indians
My Preseason Rank: #149 overall (#4 Cleveland)
My Midseason Rank: #27 overall
Zimmer came into the season viewed by me as a potentially better real-life rather than fantasy prospect, as he is considered an above-average defender who is expected to stay in center field. He only played three games in full-season ball last year, so his numbers weren't really viewed as any indicator really given the level of competition he was facing as a college draftee. He was sent to High-A Lynchburg, where he hit .305 with 10 home runs, 38 RBI, and 32 SB in just 77 games.
Brian's report on Zimmer before the season noted the following:
The scouting profile on Bradley Zimmer lacks sex appeal, but similarly lacks in any weakness. He's a 50ish grade guy across the board, and that includes his centerfield defense where he has shown the tools to handle the position. The hit tool may end up playing up to 55 grade and Zimmer could develop into a .280 AVG guy with 15ish HRs. The power is missing at present, but his athletic frame and easy stroke should add some pop as he matures. He's a solid runner and should chip in some SBs but not enough to carry his value in a meaningful way. He has the look of a future OF2 for fantasy purposes and it's hard to envision anything more than that. The power will hold the key to him hitting that point, and if it doesn't develop, Zimmer will end up an average-only guy.
He's seen an increase this year in his line drive rate, from 14% last year up to 23% so far this year, and has been hitting the ball to all fields according to the heat map at MLB Farm. The profile was probably a bit underrated in the offseason, as the tool profile hasn't really changed all that much so far this year. However, he is showing that the results are real, and was recently promoted to AA as well. I don't know if I believe yet in the stolen base profile, as I don't think he's going to be a 40-50 steal outfielder, but rather can provide around 15-20 on a regular basis. Whether the power continues to develop toward a 20+ home run hitter or not could be the determining factor on his overall value to fantasy owners, and I think we do see some more power, even if it isn't home run power.
Hunter Renfroe, Padres
My Preseason Rank: 37 (#1 San Diego)
My Midseason Rank: 56
Renfroe dropped in my rankings, but the drop doesn't look as significant as it actually is when you remember how many prospects in the top 50 have already graduated. With that said, Renfroe fell in part because there are other prospects that I think have either a higher upside or better safety related to their profile. Renfroe got off to a miserable start in his second stint at AA San Antonio, hitting .224/.278/.324 with just 13 extra base hits in 170 at bats through the end of May. It has definitely been better since then for Renfroe, hitting .326/.384/.569 with 8 home runs, 10 doubles and 2 triples. Over that time, he's had an increased line drive rate (26%) that is actually higher than his ground ball rate (25%) in that span. That should normalize some, which should also bring his batting average a little bit back to earth.
The profile for Renfroe has always been power-specific, which can be a bit scary when he's not hitting well. The fact that he's been destroying the ball for nearly two months now leads me to think he's likely to get promoted to AAA sometime soon. There's a bit of a logjam ahead of him right now, especially for corner outfielders, but with the Major League team falling out of contention and potentially sellers, that may change over the next two weeks. I don't think we see Renfroe this year, but I could see him by midseason 2016 in San Diego. Even with the depressed offensive environment there, he's a potential 25-30 home run hitter, but you may have to be aware of the fact that he could potentially be a streaky hitter to go with it.