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Deep Dive: right field edition, part 4

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A snapshot of the top free agent right fielders, as well as the best projected right fielders in next year’s draft

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Los Angeles Angels
Boomtown: Nelson Cruz has hit 163 homers in cavernous Safeco Field — how many could he hit in Chicago?
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

“Deep Dive” focuses on the depth of each position in the White Sox organization. Each position will be a four-part series:

  1. Depth in the lower levels (Dominican through Kannapolis)
  2. Depth in the higher levels (Winston-Salem through Charlotte)
  3. Under the Radar-type detail on one of the White Sox players at that position
  4. Free-agent options at that position, plus sneak peeks into available players in the upcoming 2019 MLB Draft.

So, finally, let’s take a look at free agent right fielders, as well as those who could be available in the first few rounds of the upcoming MLB draft.

Free Agents

While a decision is still pending in regards to tendering right fielder Avi Garcia arbitration, the White Sox may be looking for a stopgap until the higher-end prospects are ready to man the position — outfielders like Micker Adolfo, Blake Rutherford, or Alex Call. However, there is one free agent right fielder (Bryce Harper) who could end up being a fixture in his own right — if the Sox are willing to break the bank.

Anyway, without further ado, here is a list of this year’s free agent class of right fielders in descending order of bWAR.

(age as of April 1, 2019)

Nelson Cruz
Seattle Mariners
2018 bWAR: 2.9
Slash/power: .256/.342/.509, with 37 HR and 97 RBIs and 14 SB
Age: 38

Primary was a DH for the Mariners, playing just four games in RF. Good results in a tough ballpark to hit dingers in.

Andrew McCutchen
New York Yankees
2018 bWAR: 2.7
Slash/power: .255/.368/.424, with 20 HR, 65 RBIs and 14 SB
Age: 32

Also played left field.

Nick Markakis
Atlanta Braves
2018 bWAR: 2.6
Slash/power: .297/.366/.440, with 14 HR and 93 RBIs
Age: 35

Also played left field.

Jose Bautista
Philadelphia Phillies
2018 bWAR: 1.4
Slash/power: .203/.348/.378, with 13 HR and 48 RBIs
Age: 38

Also played left field, third base, first base and second base.

Bryce Harper
Washington Nationals
2018 bWAR: 1.3
Slash/power: .249/.393/.496, with 34 HR, 100 RBIs and 13 SB
Age: 26

Was given a qualified offer by the Nationals, so the White Sox would relinquish a second-round pick and $500,000 international bonus pool money if signed. Defensive bWAR was and Avisaílesque -3.2. Also played center field and first base.

Jon Jay
Arizona Diamondbacks
2018 bWAR: 0.8
Slash/power: .268/.330/.347, with three HR and 40 RBIs
Age: 34

Also played left field and center field.

Carlos Gomez
Tampa Bay Rays
2018 bWAR: 0.5
Slash/power: .208/.298/.336, with nine HR, 32 RBIs, and 12 SB
Age: 34

Also played center field, second base and comic relief.

Carlos Gonzalez
Colorado Rockies
2018 bWAR: 0.4
Slash/power: .276/.329/.467, with one HR and nine RBIs
Age: 33

Lonnie Chisenhall
Cleveland Indians
2018 bWAR: 0.1
Slash/power: .321/.394/.452, with 16 HR and 64 RBIs
Age: 33

Melky Cabrera
Cleveland Indians
2018 bWAR: 0.0
Slash/power: .280/.335/.420, with six HR and 39 RBIs
Age: 34

Also played left field. Hey, we know the Melkman rather well, suiting him up from 2015-2017.

Brandon Guyer
Cleveland Indians
2018 bWAR: -0.2
Slash/power: .206/.300/.371, with seven HR and 27 RBIs
Age: 33

Also played left field and center field.

Chris Young
Los Angeles Angels
2018 bWAR: -0.6
Slash/power: .168/.252/.363, with six HR and 13 RBIs
Age: 35

Also played center field and left field. Hey, we know Young; he was a White Sox farmhand from 2001-05.

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2019 MLB Draft prospects

I will be doing a more comprehensive list next year, so this is just a preliminary look at right fielders the White Sox could draft in the first round and beyond. The number in parentheses before the name is where FanGraphs ranked each player as of November 9. Of course, players may move up or down the charts depending upon how well they do in various offseason tournaments and upcoming collegiate/prep seasons. The right field class this year seems far stronger at the college level.

College

(10) Michael Toglia
6´5´´
200 pounds
School: UCLA

After a good freshman season with the Bruins, Toglia outdid himself last year by slashing .336/.449/.588 with 24 doubles, 11 homers, 58 RBIs, five stolen bases, 48 walks (16.96%) and 60 strikeouts (21.20%) in 226 at-bats. This switch-hitter has massive power, but has a little swing-and-miss in his game. Togilia doesn’t have the greatest range, and may be better suited to play left field or first base eventually.

(17) Dominic Fletcher
5´10´´
185 pounds
School: Arkansas

Fletcher is rated a bit too high for my taste. He hit .288/.338/.468 for the Razorbacks this year in 267 at-bats, with 16 doubles, one triple, 12 homers, one stolen base, 20 walks (6.73%) and 53 strikeouts (17.85%). He has an arm that’s above average, so it’s possible he can stick at right; he’s basically average defensively and will need to improve his offense significantly in order to get drafted in the top two or three rounds.

(22) Matt Wallner
6´5´´
220 pounds
School: Southern Mississippi

Wallner was rated a bit higher prior to the offseason tournaments, where some struggles in the Cape Cod League (.250/.343/.417 with four homers, 8.08 BB%, 24.24 K%) dropped his stock somewhat. In his sophomore season with the Golden Eagles, Wallner slashed .351/.474/.618 with 19 homers, 67 RBIs, 48 walks (16.44%) and 53 strikeouts (18.15%) in 228 at-bats — all numbers quite close to his freshman season. He’s also had some success as a reliever, striking more than a batter per inning. However, his future rides on his powerful, left-handed bat. Expect Wallner to be drafted in the Top 10, provided he adds another strong collegiate season under his belt.

(25) J.J. Bleday
6´3´´
205 pounds
School: Vanderbilt

While Bleday doesn’t possess the massive power of Wallner, he has plenty of pop that’s gone relatively untapped. Last year for the Commodores, this lefty slashed .368/.494/.511 in 133 at-bats, with four homers, 15 RBIs, 31 walks (18.67%) and 23 strikeouts (13.86%). His stock has gone up with a successful Cape Cod League season, in which he slashed .311/.374/.500 in 148 at-bats with nine doubles, two triples, five homers, 15 RBIs, 13 walks (7.93%) and 20 strikeouts (12.20%). He also has good range and a strong enough arm to play right field.

(36) Kyle Stowers
6´3´´
200 pounds
School: Stanford

Stowers had a nice season for the Cardinal this year, his first season as a starter. The lefty slashed .286/.383/.512, with 10 homers, 42 RBIs, six stolen bases, 30 walks (12.50%) and 49 strikeouts (20.42%) in 203 at-bats. He’s moved up the rankings due to sustained success in the Cape Cod League, where he slashed .326/.361/.565 with six homers and 34 RBIs in 138 at-bats. His biggest weakness is his inability to make contact, which he failed to do 22.97% of the time at Cape Cod. He does have the arm and range to play right field regularly.

High School

(7) Riley Greene
6´2´´
197 pounds
School: Hagerty H.S., Oviedo, Fla.
Verbal commitment: Florida

Greene is arguably the best overall hitter in the high school class. He entered the 2019 draft cycle as one of its most anticipated hitters, and he did nothing to dispel that status with his performance in several events this summer. Greene routinely squared up the best pitchers in the class. He has a patient approach and a great understanding of the strike zone, with solid power and a chance for more as he fills out his frame. He likely fits best in a corner at the next level, as he’s a below-average runner with questionable jumps at times, but he has an accurate arm.

Emanuel Dean
6´5´´
209 pounds
School: Servite H.S., Anaheim
Verbal commitment: UCLA

Dean has an exceptionally strong and athletic build. He’s a 6.68 runner, with a right field profile on defense and above-average arm strength. He’s got lightning-quick bat speed, but is still learning to tap into his power potential. He’s presently a solid line-drive contact hitter. He can easily move up the charts if he adds game power to his repertoire next season.

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Summary

The White Sox could be in the market for a right fielder, especially if they decide to non-tender Avi García. If they pursue one via trade or free agency, a long-term fix isn’t necessarily needed because several top outfield prospects should be ready within the next couple years. However, Harper could be a long-term fix if they decide to take the risk on a long-term, big-money contract — ultimately hoping Harper makes a big improvement on his 2018 1.3 bWAR. As for next year’s draft, it’s possible but unlikely that the Sox will draft a right fielder with the third pick in the draft. Look for the Sox to opt for RF depth on the second day.