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The out-of-nowhere rookies of 2016: the hitters

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Ryan Schimpf
Ryan Schimpf
Kent Horner/Getty Images

Earlier this week we examined the results for the pre-season Top 175 prospects for 2016 list. The next item on the agenda as 2016 wraps up: looking at rookies who have succeeded this year in the majors but who didn't rank on the list. We will rank them according to their standing in Fangraphs WAR, with a minimum of 1.0.

We did the pitchers earlier today.

Here are the hitters.

Ryan Schimpf, 2B, Padres, 1.9 fWAR: Hit .220/.336/.541 with 19 homers in 255 at-bats; was not graded or ranked pre-season due to age (28) and persistently poor track record in Triple-A. I liked him as a sleeper prospect five years ago but gave up on him long ago; kudos to anyone who predicted this.

Travis Jankowski, OF, Padres, 1.9 fWAR: .244/.335/.316 in 320 at-bats, 30 steals, much of his value is on defense; rated as a Grade C+ prospect pre-season, book excerpt:

I used to think he might develop additional pop and turn into a David DeJesus type, but that seems less likely now. His best tools are 70-grade speed and excellent defensive instincts. Overall this is a fourth outfielder profile, albeit a good example of the type.

Seems fair.

Greg Garcia, INF, Cardinals, 1.8 fWAR: Hitting .265/.388/.365 in 200 at-bats; impressive OBP skills and defense; was not graded or ranked pre-season due to age (27) but in past years had been graded as high as C+, profiling as a utility guy.

Keon Broxton, OF, Brewers, 1.8 fWAR: Hitting .242/.354/.430 with nine homers in 207 at-bats; rated at Grade C pre-season, book excerpt:

He’s got some power and will take a walk, but his strikeout rates are quite high and he’s not going to hit for much of an average against big league pitching. That said, if he can manage to hit .250, his speed, defense, and occasional power could keep him employed on someone’s bench for some time. He’s still a Grade C prospect but he has some tools and has shown that he can deploy them often enough to be rather interesting.

Seems fair.

Whit Merrifield, UT, Royals, 1.5 fWAR: Hitting .284/.320/.389 in 275 at-bats; was not graded or ranked pre-season due to age (27) but had been rated at Grade C in past seasons with utility potential. I think he is more of a .240 hitter in a larger sample but his defensive versatility is helpful on the bench.

Jefry Marte, 3B, Angels, 1.0 fWAR: Hitting .253/.309/.455 with 12 homers in 233 at-bats; rated Grade C pre-season, book excerpt:

Marte is a mediocre defender at third base and hasn’t been much better when used at first. I think he made real progress last year but I’m not convinced it was enough to make him more than a somewhat useful role player. He looks to me like a guy who can hit .250 with fair power, nothing special. Still, that’s better than getting released. Grade C.

Seems about right.

Ryon Healy, 3B, Atlhetics, 1.0 fWAR: Hitting .301/.336/.515 with 11 homers in 229 at-bats; rated Grade C+ pre-season, book excerpt:

He’s obviously very strong and physical with big raw power, but he uses a short line drive-oriented swing and doesn’t smack the ball over the fences as often as you’d think given his size. He’s aggressive and can be impatient but doesn’t strike out much. His glove is solid at first base and playable-if-mediocre at third. This all reminds me a great deal of Ron Coomer and I think Healy can be a similarly useful role player. Grade C+.


Healy is getting to his power more often this season; I do wonder how that batting average will hold up over the long haul.

Tommy Joseph, 1B, Phillies, 1.0 fWAR: Hitting .262/.311/.522 with 21 homers in 301 at-bats; was not ranked or graded pre-season after hitting below .200 last year in Triple-A and missing most of 2013 and 2014 with injuries. Was rated as high as a Grade B- a few years ago when he was a catcher; I am working on an article looking at Joseph in more detail.