Since this is the mid-season write-up, it's just a quick overview of the player. When we get to the preseason re ranking in the offseason, they'll be a lot more involved.
All stats are current as of 8/4/2019.
All write-ups were published during all-star weekend.
Prospect #28: OF Justin Toerner
Drafted in the 28th round of the 2018 draft.
Age 23 (on August 11th)
Sometimes you can't truly appreciate a player until you see them play regularly.
Such is the case with Justin Toerner.
Toerner has been on an interesting course through the system. He was the first player from the 2018 draft to reach both Palm Beach and Springfield. Until reaching Springfield, the 28th round pick had put a hitting clinic on at every level he touched. The stats were there, and they were impressive, but watching him wasn't impressive. You could see a power-deficiency in his swing and approach, and he didn't seem like he'd be able to play center field. He made a ton of contact, and hard contact at that, but corner outfielders without the ability to hit for much in the way of power usually fizzle out pretty quickly.
When he was at State College, Peoria, and Palm Beach, Toerner never really did anything to stick out. He just seemed "fine". You don't get to watch many Palm Beach games via MiLB.TV, so much of his 2019 season had been a blind spot for me.
Then, he was promoted to Springfield.
It was here that Toerner has really stuck out. He struggled mightily upon first reaching the league, but it was the little things that he did loudly that began to catch my attention. Toerner has average speed and he's an average base-runner, but he's an above average corner outfielder with a plus arm.
He pulled his own "Lane Thomas", jumping over the right field wall to make a home run-saving catch (this catch actually ended the ball game).
Now, Toerner was definitely over-matched in Double-A, at first. Over his first 22 games spanning 93 plate appearances, Toerner hit 154/290/282 with 27 strikeouts. There was soft-contact almost exclusively during this period, with the exception of three home runs. It wasn't good, and it looked like Toerner had peaked, if I'm being completely honest.
HOWEVER, his last 20 games (84 plate appearances) have been a different story. I've been so damn impressed with Toerner and his turnaround, and the way that he's adjusted shows a maturity in his approach that I didn't expect to see. Over this time, he's hit 282/393/451 with three doubles and three home runs. He's still striking out too much, but he's also walking more. He's also hitting the ball substantially harder, even with this quick and slappy stick:
Everything that I've seen out of the left-handed swinging Toerner reminds me of what I saw out of the 2017 version of Tommy Edman. There's a strength in his swing and his at-bats that make him more intriguing than just a minor league depth option. That being said, the warning still stands: this is the type of player that needs to continue to add power and slugging into his game, especially because he's going to have to stick in a corner outfield position. 20 extra base hits in 413 plate appearances just isn't going to cut it. Hopefully more is coming!
Thanks to Fangraph for the stats!
Thanks For Reading!!