Notes on prospects from lead prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen. Read previous installments here.
Luis Rengifo, MIF, Los Angeles Angels (Profile)
Level: Triple-A Age: 21 Org Rank: NR FV: 45
Line: 3-for-5, 2 2B
Rengifo slipped through the cracks of our offseason team prospect lists, as he was traded from Tampa Bay to Los Angeles after we had finished the Angels’ writeup but before we had finished the Rays’. It’s turned into a fairly significant failure of process, as Rengifo has traveled three levels throughout the year, walking more than he has struck out while swiping 37 bases. Rengifo profiles as a max-effort utility guy who contributes in many subtle ways. Chone Figgins comps were being made before Rengifo was traded to the Angels and now seem more prescient — if perhaps a bit overzealous, as Rengifo doesn’t have that kind of elite speed.
Josh James, RHP, Houston Astros (Profile)
Level: Triple-A Age: 25 Org Rank: NR FV: 40+
Line: 6 IP, 2 H, 4 BB, 1 R, 11 K
James’ velocity has ticked up each of the last three years, and he now sits comfortably in the mid-90s with a slider that is plus when it’s located properly. James now has 140 strikeouts in 80 innings split between Double- and Triple-A. His fastball command and breaking-ball quality in the strike zone give pause about his ability to start at the big-league level, but he’s been so dominant that lumping him in with other generic 40 FV relievers is probably too conservative. He probably ends up in a bullpen but could have a multi-inning role.
Brent Rooker, LF/1B, Minnesota Twins (Profile)
Level: Double-A Age: 23 Org Rank: 10 FV: 45
Line: 4-for-5, 2B, HR, BB
I’ve been clear about my distaste for righty-righty college first-base types because, other than Paul Goldschhmidt, Rhys Hoskins, and Erik Karros, those types of players haven’t yielded big-league value this century. Should Rooker’s .270/.335/.517 line at Double-A this year quell concerns about him as an individual? He’s striking out at a nearly 30% clip as a 23-year-old, and my scout sources regard his breaking-ball recognition as problematic. His performance is encouraging but not so dominant that I’m all in on him as a prospect. Outcomes for prospects like Rooker are binary: they either hit enough to play every day or they don’t and they’re fringe 40-man guys.
Josh Lowe, CF, Tampa Bay Rays (Profile)
Level: Hi-A Age: 20 Org Rank: 10 FV: 45
Line: 3-for-3, 2 BB
Lowe has exhibited a fairly significant shift in batted-ball profile, his ground-ball rate dropping from 46% to 37%, and it’s possible the hitting environment in the Florida State League has obscured the eventual impact of this change on his profile. It’s possible there’s a good defensive center fielder with in-game power lurking here and we Just don’t know it yet because the FSL isn’t kind to power.
Eric Longenhagen is from Catasauqua, PA and currently lives in Tempe, AZ. He spent four years working for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, two with Baseball Info Solutions and two contributing to prospect coverage at ESPN.com. Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.