Taking a look at new Padres’ prospect Jake Cronenworth who has a unique prospect profile.
In the deal, the Padres also acquired the Rays 17th ranked prospect (according to MiLB Pipeline) Jake Cronenworth. The middle infielder/pitcher has a fascinating profile as he gets on base at a favorable rate and also throws a mid-90 mph fastball out of the bullpen.
Cronenworth owns a career .375 on-base percentage in over 1,900 minor league at-bats. There is little power to his bat presently (22 homers/.394 slugging percentage), but he rarely strikes out and consistently takes walks. The Padres are determined to improve their on-base average, and Cronenworth certainly fits that profile. The Rays drafted the 25-year-old in 2015 with a 7th-round pick.
In 2019, playing for the Durham Bulls in the International League, he put up a .334/.429/.520 season with a .934 OPS in 88 games and 344 at-bats. The left-handed hitter slugged ten homers last season and may have found something with his swing unlocking a certain amount of power. Reports are that he added muscle and became more aggressive at the plate. The 6-foot-1 infielder has plus speed but is considered an average shortstop defensively at best. Luckily for him, the Padres will likely use him at second moving forward. His defensive flexibility is excellent, but his real value lies on the mound.
In this day and age of versatility, the Padres may want to include Cronenworth on the Major League team as he can throw an inning or two when needed off the bench.
The right-handed pitcher is armed with a mid 90s fastball that tops out at 96 mph. He throws an 89-91 mph cutter and a slow 12/6 curve. This past season the pitcher struck out Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge, who were both in the minors rehabbing injuries. The stuff is real. He has the potential to be a useful middle reliever.
Cronenworth is relatively new to pitching in professional baseball. Still, he was a closer for the University of Michigan, where he saved 27 games in his career and averages 9.5 K/per nine innings. There is some familiarity with the role, and it is not a huge ordeal for him to pitch. Some comments from Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash indicated that the team was excited about his potential.“He pitched in college at the University of Michigan,” Cash said. “He had knocked the cover off the ball this year. It would be a nice weapon if it clicks. He was 94 to 96 [mph] with the fastball. It will be interesting to see how that develops.” Cash explained about the potential of Cronenworth.
The Rays recognized his unique talent and had plans to utilize him, but he is now the property of the San Diego Padres.
Expect Cronenworth to be given a chance to earn some real at-bats in the spring and possibly be the 26th man on the roster when spring camp break in late March. The Padres are starting to think outside the box, and having a few two-way players on your roster may be an idea worth exploring.