Fringe Five Scoreboards: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013.
The Fringe Five is a weekly regular-season exercise, introduced a few years ago by the present author, wherein that same author utilizes regressed stats, scouting reports, and also his own fallible intuition to identify and/or continue monitoring the most compelling fringe prospects in all of baseball.
Central to the exercise, of course, is a definition of the word fringe, a term which possesses different connotations for different sorts of readers. For the purposes of the column this year, a fringe prospect (and therefore one eligible for inclusion among the Five) is any rookie-eligible player at High-A or above who (a) was omitted from the preseason prospect lists produced by Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, MLB.com, John Sickels*, and (most importantly) lead prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen and also who (b) is currently absent from a major-league roster. Players appearing on a midseason list will also be excluded from eligibility.
*All 200 names!
In the final analysis, the basic idea is this: to recognize those prospects who are perhaps receiving less notoriety than their talents or performance might otherwise warrant.
Sherman Johnson, 2B/3B, Los Angeles AL (Profile)
Ralph Waldo Emerson writes in “Self-Reliance” that it’s essential to “abide by our spontaneous impression with good-natured inflexibility then most when the whole cry of voices is on the other side.” Immediately, one senses that Emerson’s words might lack universal application. When the whole cry of voices declares that the building is on fire, for example, it’s wise to hear them out — regardless of the impressions one has previously formed. In the case of fringe prospects, however, the risks associated with such inflexibility are less pronounced.
Which is fortunate, because a brief inspection of things reveals that the present author has abided by his impression that Sherman Johnson is a promising ballplayer. In 2015, Johnson appeared (alongside current major leaguers Matt Boyd and Jharel Cotton) at the top of the arbitrarily calculated Fringe Five Scoreboard. Last year, Johnson appeared (by himself) at the top of that same, haphazardly constructed Scoreboard. Three weeks into the current season, Johnson is poised once again to merit similar consideration.
Why? For a few reasons. Johnson’s a capable defender. He’s continued to record roughly equivalent walk and strikeout rates. He’s produced roughly average power numbers at every professional level. It’s a promising, if clearly not elite, collection of skills. Relative to his pedigree, however, it’s pretty impressive.
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