Photo Credits: Kent Sievers/Omaha World-Herald
Frank Schwindel probably put together the best offensive seasons in the Royals Minor League system this year. In 133 games between AAA Omaha and AA Northwest Arkansas, Schwindel hit .329/.349/.541 with 23 home runs. But I come here to tell you to temper your expectations. Though he crushed AA/AAA arms this year, Schwindel doesn’t necessarily profile as a guy that will hit at the next level. Here’s why:
To put it simply, a player hitting well in AAA at the age of 25 isn’t rare. The Royals have had plenty of guys mash in Omaha at age 25 or older and then later become irrelevant.
- Clint Robinson, age 26, 2011: Had a .932 OPS in AAA, had a .720 OPS in three partial seasons for the Dodgers and Nationals
- Carlos Peguero, age 27, 2014: Had a .927 OPS with 38 home runs in Omaha, hit .190 in 100 big league plate appearances after
- Balbino Fuenmayor, age 25, 2015: Had a .972 OPS between AA and AAA, now playing in the Mexican League
The only one to defy this so far is Jose Martinez. If you can remember, in 2015 Martinez was the Ted Williams of the Pacific Coast League, hitting .384 on his way to a batting title. The Royals ended up not having a place to play him, flipping him to the St. Louis Cardinals for cash considerations a year later. Martinez won a job on their bench earlier this year, and has now found his power stroke and is hitting .314/.379/.538 in 265 plate appearances for the Cardinals. Sigh.
Even more saddening is the comparisons Martinez is drawing, such as this one from Dave Cameron of Fangraphs:
“Martinez’s success obviously comes in a smaller sample than the guys around him, but the company he’s keeping is remarkably impressive. And while small sample results absolutely need to be regressed heavily against a guy’s track record, it’s much harder to fluke your way into hitting the ball hard for this long. And we already knew Martinez controlled the strike zone; the key was always just unlocking his power.
He still doesn’t really pull the ball all that often, but with the changes he’s made to his swing and approach this year, he’s now driving the ball the other way with authority. The aforementioned J.D. Martinez has the highest wRC+ (321) on balls hit to the opposite field, but Jose Martinez comes in right behind him, with a 309 opposite field wRC+. When you’re driving the ball like this without trying to pull everything, there is obvious natural raw power there. Martinez just had to figure out how to use it. Now, at 29, it looks like he finally has.”
Probably the biggest reason Frank Schwindel will not hit at the big league level is plate discipline. His 16.7% K% and 2.5% BB% will not play in the majors. These are similar to the rates Balbino Fuenmayor posted in 2015 (3.2% BB% and 15.6% K%).
Other things like a .207 ISO and .353 BABIP are why we consider Schwindel a non-prospect.
Schwindel won’t be seriously considered for a roster spot next year, but he might get something like a light look in Spring Training. Don’t expect him to be added to the 40-man roster either. It also seems highly unlikely he would be plucked away from the Royals in the Rule 5 Draft.