Rays Top 50 Prospects includes a tremendous number of high-quality prospects. We at RCG are bringing you an in-depth look at those we consider to be the Top 50.
While gathering as much information as possible from various sources, we’re going to put it all together for your enjoyment and raise the bar on what you expect from a prospect knowledgable site. Stay tuned, check-in often, and please let us know how we’re doing.
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Being such a lengthy process, some encouragement will go a very long way. We hope you’ll enjoy reading this series as much as we enjoy putting it together. If anything, all of us will know that much more about the quality of the Rays system.
The rankings will be based on all aspects of each prospect, but will focus first on how likely the player is to make an impact in MLB, and ceiling next. Mikie Mahtook and Enny Romero have been graduated to the majors and will not be included in these rankings.
Once completed, the Top 50 will be updated mid-season with an explanation to why they’re moving up or down, and the entire process will be repeated each season.
The next player to be examined in detail is …
#48: Jacob John Cronenworth, 2B, 21 years old
- Bats: Left Ht/Wt: 6’0″ 170 lbs
- Drafted: in the 7th rd of the 2015 MLB draft
- Signed: for $198,900
- 2015 Affiliate: Hudson Valley, SS
- Anticipated MLB Arrival: 2018+
Cronenworth’s 2015 Splits
- Follow him on Twitter: @JCronenworth10
- One of only 2 players ever selected out of St. Clair HS
- Also played for UofMichigan, which produced recent MLB players Zach Putnam, Clayton Richard, and Chris Getz
- Was also a great pitcher with UofM, “second on U-M’s career saves list with 27“
- Was named BIG Ten tournament MVP after earning 4 saves (including one in the championship winning game) and hitting .389 with a double and 3 RBI
- “Was named the sixth-best prospect in the Big Ten for the 2015 draft by Perfect Game“
- Hit .338/.419/.494 with 27 XBH in 269 AB in 2015 before being drafted by the Rays
- During his College Career, he managed 97 BB and only struck out 83 times
- Had a low .107 ISO rating in 2015, but worked with a whopping .407 BAbip
- The great .382 wOBA and 6.6 Spd rating allowed him to manage a 140 wRC+
- Managed multiple hits in 18 of his 51 games, including 3 of his last 5 games
Was pretty excited about signing with the Rays:
But was shocked to be taken as a 2B:
"“I was definitely shocked,” “Everything I had been hearing was pitcher from mostly all the teams. I really hadn’t talked to the Rays leading up to the draft, but a lot of the guys in their organization like me as a position player.”"
Best quote describing what he offers the Rays from Michigan coach Erik Bakich:
"“One of the best two-way talents and athletes in the draft,” “He’s relentless and a tireless worker, just extremely deserving.”"
Best Tools & Abilities
- Versatility and Athleticism
- Defensive ability to play anywhere
- Speed and on-base ability
- One of the best Splitters in the entire 2015 draft class
Video (hitting and pitching)
That we were forced to rank Cronenworth this far back is not an indication of his full potential. He concentrated on both pitching and hitting throughout his youth in order to give himself as much of a shot as possible to be drafted. With his athleticism and overall abilities, we completely believe he can rise to the challenges placed in front of him and become a prominent utility prospect before too long. It’s just going to take his concentrating on hitting to get himself into the top 20-30 talk.
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What Cronenworth already provides is a great looking swing that shows promise, above-average speed, and a great approach at the plate. He’s proven again-and-again that he can rise to the occasion when the pressure is on, and the big ten championship was a culmination of years of hard work.
Some things that he’s shown us while in Hudson Valley includes an aptitude to handle 2B, SS, and LF. While 2B will likely remain his focus going forward, maintaining flexibility on the field is what will enable Cronenworth to get the playing time he needs to continue improving at the plate.
While his power is not likely to ever grade as above-average, his swing is good enough to anticipate some power from him. He’s more likely to become a great doubles and SB source as he develops than a HR hitter. As a 2B with versatility to fill in other spots as required, that should be good enough to allow for good progress through the minors.
There’s no rush in moving Cronenworth through the ranks, but with the way he handled Hudson Valley after the draft, there’s a good chance he’ll get a look in Bowling Green and a full season in 2016. Getting him as many AB as possible will likely be the focus of the season, while also seeing whether he can continue to handle SS and possibly 3B while maintaining his prime position of 2B.
Should the bat ever show signs of cracking and that he won’t handle MLB pitching as well as the franchise would like – unlikely but always possible – there’s a good chance he could be converted to a reliever. His splitter will remain strong enough to allow him to be a threat in the pen and it’s a great fall back for him moving forward, even if we don’t believe he’ll require to make the change.
We expect that by the end of the season, Cronenworth will have made a significant move up these rankings on the back of a strong full season. He’ll be competing with the likes of Riley Unroe and Kean Wong for playing time at 2B when he climbs the ranks, an indication of the depth the Rays have at 2B.
While we can’t discount a possible future move to the pen altogether, we can see why the Rays chose to initially investigate the 2B option. Cronenworth has a very advanced approach at the plate and can get on base with the best of them. Mix in the speed and versatility, and you’ve got an intriguing prospect to follow in 2016. We wish him all of the best and a giant leap in our rankings.