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 week.
Prospect #35: 1B/OF-ish John Nogowski
Signed as a minor league free agent in June of 2017
Much like with the 35th spot on the preseason list, a spot that was occupied by Rangel Ravelo, Nogowski finds his way on to the D35 as a sign of solidarity for years of hard work (think of it, kind of, like the "Mr. Congeniality" award). That, and an advanced feel for the strike zone and how he operates within-and-around it.
Over the last couple of seasons, "Nogo" has undergone a bit of a swing adjustment with an emphasis on introducing a little more power into his game. Last season, when he wasn't out with a broken hand/wrist issue, he really seemed to take well to the power adjustment. While that hasn't translate as well this season, Nogowski still has the quick swing and barrel-ability to put the ball in the air and between the outfielders.
Where Nogowski cashes his check is in his advanced feel for the strike zone. His strikeout rate is great at 10.3%, but it's made even stronger and more impressive when coupled with a walk rate that's right around 13.4%. His at-bats are often long and boring, but equally as productive.
Here's a small sample of a prototypical Nogo at-bat. It's only two pitches, but it demonstrates what he does very well. He lays off of the first pitch, which is clearly designed to get the double play via chase. Then, on a hanger, Nogowski takes the pitch to the opposite field for a double. By the way, Andrew Knizner scores from first on this play.
The other spot that Nogowski really excels is on the defensive side. Nogo is a very solid defensive first baseman. He's how my dad use to describe me as a point guard; "heady". That's to say, he's never out of position, and he's a huge asset at first base. Sure, my dad was just looking for some random nice thing to say about me so that my mom didn't lose her mind, but I mean it in total sincerity with Nogowski.
Like with Ravelo, the issue with Nogowski is opportunity. He's already 26, and he's at least a couple of spots down on the depth chart at first base. He can play left field, but you'd prefer that he doesn't.
There's no telling if the opportunity will ever present itself for Nogowski. I really hope that it does. His contact-oriented approach with grinding at-bats would be an interesting addition, and experiment, in the current Cardinals' lineup. Either way, I hope that Nogowski eventually gets his shot with a major league team. He'll never be anything more than standard James Loney, but he's deserving of a shot.
Thanks to Fangraph for the stats!
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