Five Prospects Who Fit The Mold Of A Future 4th OF
Examining five outfield prospects, some heralded, some not, to see which are the best bets as future fourth outfielders. We first examined the "myth" of the fourth outfielder floor last month.
LEODY TAVERAS, RANGERS
Scouts have long dreamed on Taveras’ lithe body and athleticism, seeing a potential standout everyday center fielder. To date his offensive numbers fall short of what even marginal reserve big league outfielders hit in the minors. Taveras has hit .253/.315/.351 for his career, numbers more in line with a career minor leaguer than a major leaguer. Taveras will be just 20 years old in 2019 and still has time to improve, but his offensive performance needs to start ticking up.
DANIEL JOHNSON, INDIANS
Johnson broke out in 2017 but came back down to earth in 2018 as he struggled in Double-A and was beset by a broken hamate bone. His ability to hit better pitching further came into question when he hit .145/.260/.177 in the Arizona Fall League. But even with his struggles, Johnson is a career .281/.337/.439 hitter in the minors, right around the average of what big league fourth outfielders hit in the minors. As long as Johnson can maintain that level of offensive production to go with his plus arm, plus speed and plus outfield defense, that will be enough to give him a chance.
LANE THOMAS, CARDINALS
Thomas is a trendy riser pick in the Cardinals’ system after a breakthrough season, but as it stands now his offense falls short of the average future major league backup. Thomas owns a career .250/.325/.415 line, making it hard to project him to stick on the Cardinals’ roster unless he makes another offensive leap. As for Harrison Bader, the player many like to compare Thomas with, Bader hit .282/.346/.473 in the minors, numbers far beyond Thomas’ professional output so far.
BRYAN REYNOLDS, PIRATES
The Pirates acquired Reynolds from the Giants in the Andrew McCutchen trade last year, and evaluators often peg Reynolds as a future fourth outfielder. Interestingly, Reynolds not only clears the bar for a future reserve outfielder, but has actually outhit what many major league starters did in the minors. He owns a career .309/.369/.459 slash line through Double-A, showing signs of being such a prominent hitter that he will outdo commonly held projections.
LAMONTE WADE, TWINS
Wade doesn’t get the publicity of some other outfield prospects, but he’s quietly hit most of his career and easily beats the minor league averages of future reserve outfielders. Even with a difficult showing at Triple-A last season, Wade has hit .282/.389/.420 while primarily playing center field. He is going to have to fare better at Triple-A in 2019 to prove he’s ready for the majors, but his overall track record suggests he can make it work.