Happy Wednesday gang, hope you’re ready for this week’s Panning For Gold – Finding The Prospect Hidden Gems – our weekly glance at some of those lesser-known prospects that are beginning to generate the type of buzz that starts their climb up organizational ranking lists, which will in turn lead to more discussion about them in more well-known circles. Think of these guys as players you may not necessarily have at the top of your lists in shallow keeper leagues, but names you’ll definitely want to keep an eye on as you begin to participate in deeper leagues – the types of player you can wind up scooping before your mates, in your quest to become another fantasy baseball “guru”…respected and adored whenever draft time rolls around (not to mention mumbled about under your opponents’ breath) for years to come.
The name sounds familiar (of course it does), so yes, he’s the son of Braves’ GM Frank Wren. However, he’s not one of those kids that was drafted because he comes from a “baseball family” as many draft-nicks liked to note when the organization selected Kyle in the 8th Round of the 2013 Draft. Wren signed with Georgia Tech following a great career at Landmark Christian High School (named to the All-State Team three times) and earned Freshman All-America recognition (5 lists) in 2011 while being one of only two Freshmen named to the All-ACC team that season. Originally drafted by Cincinnati in the 30th Round of the 2012 Draft as a draft-eligible Sophomore, Kyle chose to return to Tech. He finished his Yellow Jackets career with a .319/.394/.426/.820 slash line, piling up 60 SBs to go with an impressive 98/92 BB/K Ratio.
After cashing his $50,000 signing bonus check, he logged 53 games (47 in the SALLY League with Rome, 1 AB with Lynchburg) in the low levels of the Braves’ system and compiled a .335/.391/.472/.863 line in 218 ABs with 14 2Bs, 5 3Bs, and 42 runs scored while showing off his speed (35/42 in SB attempts) and good plate awareness (19/24 BB/K Ratio) . The Braves sent him to Lynchburg (High-A) to begin this season to pair him with Jose Peraza (the organization’s likely long-term answer at 2B) to form a dynamic OBP/speed pairing at the top of the lineup, and he responded with a .296/.359/.357/.716 line in 291 ABs to go along with 10 2Bs and 4 3Bs, while continuing to be a serious threat on the basepaths (33/42 SBs) and show great plate discipline (30/39 BB/K Ratio). His performance in Lynchburg earned him a promotion to AA Mississippi at the end of last week, and Kyle’s 4/10 with a double and 2 SBs in his first two games there.
Wren didn’t make any of the major 2014 Top 10 Lists (BA/MLB/Sickels), but should figure significantly when pundits compile their midseason rankings.
While the big club has been struggling to get guys on base in front of Freddie Freeman, Justin Upton, and Evan Gattis all season (much less production from them) so far, it’s obvious that help is finally coming – Tommy La Stella has been promoted already, and Peraza and Wren are quickly working their way into consideration as pieces of the big club’s roster as early as next spring. All three youngsters look like players who can finally help offset the well-profiled swing-and-miss in Atlanta’s lineup with high contact %/good OBP hitters.
With B. J. Upton under contract through 2017 when the new stadium opens, there’s no clear path to a regular CF gig for Kyle unless the team decides to trade Upton, but his skill-set could vault him past Jordan Schafer, Todd Cunningham, and Jose Constanza as the team’s potential 4th OF as early as 2015.
Remember, you can always hit me up on Twitter @clvclv, as well as in the comments section here.