The Situation: With El Paso wrapping up a championship season, the Padres have called up three of their top prospects to get a taste of the majors.
Scouting Report: Renfroe was the Padres first-round pick out of Mississippi State in 2013, and though there have been some peaks and valleys, for the most part he's looked the part of one of the best corner outfield prospects in baseball. The weakest tool at his disposal is likely the hit: he's an aggressive hitter with some length to his swing, and you can mark him down for some 100-plus strikeout seasons if he's a regular. That being said, he does have quality bat speed, and he will go the other way, so a 50—or possibly even a tick above—grade isn't out of the question. There's no question about his power, as there's natural loft in his right-handed stroke, and he is strong enough to take the ball out to any part of the park. Even in Petco Park, 25-30 homer seasons are not out of the realm of possibility, if he sees enough quality pitches to allow that to happen.
Even if Renfroe disappoints with the bat, he has a chance to stick around a roster because he's a solid outfielder. His average speed plays just fine in right, and his ability to track the baseball allows the speed to play up. Once the ball is in his hand/mitt, his arm is a weapon; it's an easy 60-grade with plenty of carry and accuracy. He'll certainly be able to handle left, and if centerfield is the position that gets his bat in the lineup, he can handle that in a pinch, too.
Because Renfroe's plate discipline is so, well, undisciplined, there's more risk here than there should be. If everything goes right, he's a guy who hits in the middle of the order while playing above-average to plus defense in right. If everything goes (relatively) wrong, he's a fourth outfielder who can mash left-handed pitching and replace a poor defender in the corner in the late innings.
Fantasy Take: The polar opposite of his teammate Margot from a fantasy perspective, Renfroe brings loads of raw to the table and little else. Believers might point to Renfroe’s .306 batting average in 2016 as a sign of a young hitter making adjustments, and indeed, maybe there is something to reports that a shortened swing, more closed stance, and improved timing help alleviate concerns about his contact ability. I’ll remain cautious until I see how he performs against big league hurlers, for a couple reasons. First, Renfroe hit .365 in favorable El Paso versus just .247 on the road. For comparison’s sake, his above-mentioned teammate with a true plus hit tool benefitted from his home environs too, but Margot’s 32-point split was much less severe. Secondly, Renfroe steadfastly refuses to take a walk, drawing ball four in a scant 22 of 563 plate appearances this season (3.9%). I expect major league pitchers will prey on that aggressiveness and, combined with his natural swing-and-miss, we’ll see a strikeout rate that pushes towards 30 percent in the near term and with it, a toxic batting average. I’m not concerned about the home venue because Petco hasn’t played quite as tough lately and there aren’t any parks that can hold this kind of muscle, but I’m just not sure Renfroe is any more than a one-trick pony. That’s the kind of player I typically shy away from unless my roster construction begs for the one carrying tool. —Greg Wellemeyer
Scouting Report: Asuaje was the "other" infield prospect in the Craig Kimbrel trade, but after a fantastic 2016 season—and a borderline disastrous season from Javier Guerra—he is the the player most likely to make an impact at the big-league level. The left-handed hitting infielder's best tool is his hand-eye coordination, as he has excellent bat-to-ball skills, and makes a ton of contact. Though there isn't much to his swing, it gets through the zone quickly, and there's enough strength for that contact to be hard contact at a good enough rate to call his hit tool average. His frame/swing-plane isn't conducive to power, so you're likely looking at a guy who hits no more than a handful or two of homers in a season. He's also not a burner, so if you think he's going to compensate for the lack of power with a bunch of steals, you are factually incorrect.
Asuaje spent most of his 2016 season at second base, but he also has played some third for El Paso, with an occasional appearance in left field. Second base is his best position, as his average arm and so-so range play well on that side of the bag. He's good enough with the glove to fill in at the hot corner, however, and in an emergency, he can probably handle shortstop for a game/inning or two.
Everyone needs a good utility player, and that's what Asuaje projects to be at the next level; a guy who can play a handful of position, give you quality at-bats, and not kill you with the glove. It's not sexy, but it's darn useful. —Christopher Crawford
Fantasy Take: Almost anyone would tell you that Asuaje is the least valuable fantasy asset of this trio and I agree, but he’s my favorite from the perspective of potential return on investment in a deep or NL-only context. Owing to his lack of prospect pedigree, limited major league service time, and likely questions about his stature, Asuaje shouldn’t cost you more than a buck at next year’s table even though he brings well-rounded production, positional flexibility, and an opportunity to compete for full-time at-bats. Asuaje’s .321 batting average in 2016 is a testament to his premium bat-to-ball skill, and his 8.2 percent walk rate hints at a more refined approach than his fellow promoted Chihuahuas. Since we knocked Renfroe for his splits, it’s worth mentioning that Asuaje exhibited no such thing, registering a nearly identical batting average at home and on the road (and versus righties and lefties, for that matter). Asuaje also out-slugged PCL home run king Renfroe by 31 points on the road despite a wide gap in their raw power grades. That treads into statistical fun fact territory, but perhaps it helps highlight that Asuaje has a little more juice in his bat than your standard second-division keystoner or utility man. There’s double-digit steal potential here (barely), as well as the possibility that Asuaje hits his way into the second spot in the batting order and adds solid counting stats, as he did in El Paso. Asuaje is a floor-over-ceiling type and isn’t the kind of player that’s going to be a long-term dynasty contributor, but he does everything well enough that he’s on my short list of guys to fill out a roster with in 2017, assuming a reasonable path to playing time survives the winter. —Greg Wellemeyer
Scouting Report: Speed and defense are the main attractions with Margot but they’re far from the only ones these days. He enjoyed a productive 2016 at the plate with Triple-A El Paso showing off tremendous bat to ball skills, hitting .304 while posting an 11.3 percent strikeout rate in 566 plate appearances. He doesn’t have a lot of power in his profile, with only 39 extra base hits this year, the highest total of his minor league career. Since his swing plane is more apt to produce hard-hit line drives than lofty fly balls, it’s unlikely he develops much more power down the line. Margot won’t get the bat knocked out of his hands, however. He projects to have some gap power and his plus speed and baserunning instincts will turn some singles into doubles and some doubles into triples.
But hey let’s get back to the defense here because it is the one tool that will ensure Margot gets a long, long look at what he can do at the major-league level. Margot has the speed and instincts to cover a ton of ground out in center. His arm isn’t anything special but it won’t keep him from playing center field either. From a glove standpoint Margot profiles as a true plus defender out there. He isn’t blocked on the Padres, so he’ll likely get a long look in center to prove his worth, and has a shot at being the starting center fielder for the Padres in 2017. —Mauricio Rubio
Fantasy Take: Margot checked in at 16th in our midseason real-life rankings, yet was all the way down at 46th on Bret’s midseason dynasty list. The difference in valuation, of course, is due to the boost he’ll provide the Padres on the grass. Margot’s plus glove up the middle has limited utility in fantasy aside from the fact that it virtually guarantees significant playing time in 2017 and beyond. What you see from his minor league stat line and lineup utilization is pretty much what you can expect in the Show. Margot hit .304/.351/.426 in Triple-A this season, which is all the more impressive when you consider he played the full season at age 21 and was the youngest player in the PCL to come to the dish more than 100 times. His 11.3 percent strikeout rate was third best among qualifiers and in line with a resume that boasts a rate no higher than 12.8 percent at any full-season level. Margot will be an asset in batting average and while I have my doubts about whether there’s enough over-the-fence pop to move the needle at all for fantasy purposes, Margot’s line drive swing and wheels will result in a sufficient number of extra-base knocks to keep pitchers honest. That speed should allow for 20 or so steals too, though I’d like to see his efficiency improve before penciling him in for the 25+ you might project based on straight-line foot speed alone; he was caught in 11 of 41 attempts this season. Margot was El Paso’s leadoff hitter for all of 2016 and, with all due respect to Travis Jankowski, there’s no reason to believe Margot won’t be the primary table-setter in San Diego going forward. Assuming he can get on base at a clip approximating his minor league numbers, Margot should be in line for a healthy runs tally, despite the mediocre offense below him on the lineup card. Add it all up and you have the makings of a solid OF4 in the Ender Inciarte or early-career Denard Span mold. —Greg Wellemeyer