Yankees Clint Frazier highlights 5 impact outfield prospects for 2017

We continue our look around the minor leagues at which prospects could provide an impact to their big league club in the coming season. Today, we focus on Part One of the outfielders. Projecting outfielders by position once they reach the majors proves somewhat difficult as often times, they will fill a hole that wasn’t necessarily where they expected to be. So we will look at the outfield as a collective whole, looking first at the bigger names ready to move and then some under-the-radar guys who may be ready.

Again, this isn’t a ranking or list of best prospects. You won’t see Victor Robles or Eloy Jiminez’s names on here because they have some years to mature. You also won’t see Andrew Benintendi on this list. This kid hit a home run in the playoffs this offseason. He has poise beyond his years and has already made his impact felt.

We continue our look around the minor leagues at which prospects could provide an impact to their big league club in the coming season. Today, we focus on Part One of the outfielders. Projecting outfielders by position once they reach the majors proves somewhat difficult as often times, they will fill a hole that wasn’t necessarily where they expected to be. So we will look at the outfield as a collective whole, looking first at the bigger names ready to move and then some under-the-radar guys who may be ready.

Again, this isn’t a ranking or list of best prospects. You won’t see Victor Robles or Eloy Jiminez’s names on here because they have some years to mature. You also won’t see Andrew Benintendi on this list. This kid hit a home run in the playoffs this offseason. He has poise beyond his years and has already made his impact felt.

So who can we expect to see in 2017?

Jesse Winker, Cincinnati Reds

Here’s what we know about Winker: He can hit for average at every level that he’s played at, evidence by his .296 career batting average. He is an on base machine, backed by an advanced feel for the strike zone — striking out 63 times and walking 61 times in 2016 — which all equates to a very impressive .396 career on-base percentage. His home run power is maddening as many think he has a 25+ home run bat, but he has been up and down throughout his career.

Simply put, Winker has little left to prove in the minors after yet another solid campaign in his Triple-A debut. His left-handed swing is major league-ready, especially in the hitter-friendly confines of Great American, and he has been a solid outfielder his entire career, averaging 7.5 assists per season and usually playing near error-free defense. The question is where he will fit.

A left fielder by trade, Adam Duvall had a monster breakout season at the position in 2016. Winker is a far superior defensive left fielder, but Duvall’s bat is too valuable to replace with Winker’s. He has played over 100 games at each corner outfield position in his career, so perhaps Scott Schebler could be the odd man out in right.

It will be interesting to see the Reds approach. They could leave him in Triple-A for the early part of 2017 and get him everyday at bats, but at some point, Winker is going to have to get big league at bats. It’s only a matter of time before he contributes in 2017.

Clint Frazier, New York Yankees

One of the two big pieces acquired for Andrew Miller, Frazier had somewhat of a down 2016, but that doesn’t change who he is. Frazier is an elite athlete who has nice gap power and 20/20 potential. He also plays a solid centerfield, which means the Yankees are in the same situation with Frazier that the Reds find themselves in with Winker.

Moving Jacoby Ellsbury’s contract will be a difficult task, but left fielder Brett Gardner has long been the center of trade rumors. With right field seemingly already handed over to the youth rebellion in the Bronx, Frazier should be the next move. The 22-year-old right-handed hitter has played all three outfield positions, but has made a home in center field. Should the Yankees be able to move Gardner, perhaps they shift Ellsbury to left and begin the Frazier Era in center, for Frazier’s biggest struggles defensively have been in left.

Split between two organizations, Frazier’s down year was still pretty solid. He slashed .263/.335/.447 with 27 doubles, 16 home runs and 13 doubles. He is a special talent who many have pegged as one of the top prospects in all of baseball. The Yankees won’t be able to hold him back for long, no matter who is in their starting outfield come 2017.

Lewis Brinson, Milwaukee Brewers

Speaking of trade rumors, enter Ryan Braun. Should Braun be dealt this offseason, that could make Brinson the best outfielder on the Brewers 40-man roster… and he hasn’t even seen a big league pitch yet.

Brinson was acquired in the Jonathan Lucroy deal at the deadline. Though a small sample size, Brinson lit it up once he arrived with the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, slashing .382/.387/.618 with nine doubles, four home runs and four stolen bases. The 22-year-old right-handed-hitting centerfielder is certainly in the 2017 plans.

Keon Broxton was just getting things going when his season ended a bit prematurely due to a fractured wrist, so he will certainly be in the conversation for centerfield. Brinson, however, is special. He has well-above-average hit, power, speed and fielding tools and is the kind of prospect that could make an impact from day one. New to the system, perhaps the Brewers start him back in Triple-A to begin the season, but it won’t be long until he has a spot in Milwaukee.

Who else made the cut? Find out by heading on over to Today’s Knuckleball for the full feature by clicking on the link below:

MiLB: Five outfielders poised to make an impact in 2017

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