The Fringe Five is a weekly series unique to FanGraphs where authors use regressed statistics, scouting reports, and their own opinions to identify fringe prospects that are the most compelling in professional baseball. To give fringe a concrete definition, those contributing to this series are considering a fringe prospect one that doesn’t appear in any of the three notable pre-season top-100 prospect lists.
This week’s edition of the Fringe Five is the second week in a row that Bowman has appeared, as he continues to string together solid performances with High-A St. Lucie. He allowed one run on two hits, two walks, and seven strikeouts in eight innings pitched on June 28th against Palm Beach, which caught the eye of Cistulli. That brings his season statistics in St. Lucie to 4-1 with a 2.33 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 9.5 K/9IP, and 1.7 BB/9. He also boasts a 2.21 ground ball/fly ball ratio, and induces ground balls approximately 60% of the time. Also, according to the SCOUT + rating John Bernhardt talked about earlier today, Bowman’s rating of 70 is third best among High-A starting pitchers.
It’s understandable to see why Bowman has been considered an “under the radar” type prospect, but he’s quickly separating himself from the pack with the way he’s been performing on the mound this year. Between Savannah and St. Lucie this season, he’s 8-1 with a 2.44 ERA, and has only allowed 71 hits and 15 walks in 88.2 innings pitched, while striking out 87 hitters. He showed more of the same last season with Brooklyn, but 2013 is his first year as a starter in professional ball. If I had to take a guess, Bowman will likely stay in High-A the remainder of the season. However, I’m real interested to see how the 22-year-old Maryland native will adjust to Double-A hitters once promoted.
On the flip side, it boggles my mind that Wilmer Flores is considered a fringe prospect at this stage in his development. Yes, it’s tough to find a position on the field for him to play, but this kid can hit. He’s been around for so long, we forget he’s only 21-years-old and currently ripping up Triple-A pitching. The 51s second baseman was elected to the PCL/International League All-Star game this year, and used a strong month of June to bring his season statistics to .317/.356/.515 with 10 home runs, 64 RBIs, and 27 doubles.
Despite his torrid June, Cistulli points out that Flores’ walk (3.4%) and strikeout (15.3%) rates last month were drastically different from his successful seasons in St. Lucie and Binghamton last year (7% and 10%, respectively). While those are big differences from what he did last year, if Flores keeps that lower walk rate and higher strikeout rate, I’d be fine with it if he continues to hit .342/.364/.586 like he did in June.
What I found interesting was that Cistulli notes that Flores’ home run, walk, and strikeout rates are similar to that of top prospect, Oscar Taveras, who also plays in the PCL, and is also 21-years-old. So once again, I’m not sure why Flores is considered a fringe prospect, but that’s just me.
At the end of the Fringe Five piece, they keep a running tally of how many times players show up there, as well as in the Next Five, which is a similar feature. Flores ranks second on the list, showing up in the FF eight times, and the NF three more times. One would imagine he’s on the radar at this point if he’s been showing up that consistently since April. Bowman has appeared in the FF three times, including the last two weeks.
It’s nice to see Flores get some love in this feature, especially since he hasn’t been getting much from anywhere else (which is beyond me). Plus, it’s cool for Bowman to continue getting recognized for his solid performance this season. Time will tell before we find out if these “fringe prospects” will end up making an impact on the major league level.