The Cautionary Tale of the Talented Mr. Wrigley


In June of 2005, Henry Wrigley was an 18 year-old third baseman selected in the 14th round of the amateur draft by the Devil Rays organization. The right-handed hitter would move across the diamond to first base in 2006 in his first professional season with the Princeton Rays to avoid serving as the backup to Michael McCormick. Wrigley proceeded to move up one level at a time, repeating half a season at A ball before being promoted in 2009 to Charlotte where he has been in 2010.

 

Year

Age

Level

PA

K

BB

BA

OBP

SLG

2006

19

Rk

201

20.7%

3.5%

0.250

0.273

0.388

2007

20

A-

269

15.2%

7.4%

0.235

0.301

0.337

2008

21

A

437

15.3%

5.5%

0.250

0.292

0.384

2009

22

A

177

16.9%

2.7%

0.220

0.245

0.390

2009

22

A+

260

16.9%

3.3%

0.246

0.267

0.388

2010

23

A+

235

14.1%

5.5%

0.314

0.354

0.555

 At the age of 23, it was a little surprising Wrigley was still around to begin the season given his season OPS number has ranged from .512 to .621 as primarily a corner infielder. A lot of higher draft picks have put up bigger numbers and haven't lasted to the age of 23, but the Rays must have seen something they liked in Wrigley.

 

Now in 2010, it appears Wrigley has put it together at the plate in Charlotte. Wrigley is near the top of the team leader-board in the following categories:

 

#

Rk

BA

0.313

2

OBP

0.355

4

SLG

0.549

2

2B

13

2

HR

12

1

 

It's a nice story especially given the slugging combined with the low strikeout rate, but the on-base skills remain a concern. It would seem a mid-season promotion would be likely.I previously mentioned higher picks/prospects haven't had the length of rope that Wrigley has been given by the Rays. The short rope comes with good reason. There isn't much of a track record for 23 year-olds mashing in A+ moving on to have fruitful careers. 26 players have hit 16 home runs or more in season in the Florida State league since 2006.The table belows divides the group by age and compares whether they are out of baseball, in AAA, or have made it in the major leagues. All players out of baseball didn't make it past AA:

 

Age

#

OOB

AAA

MLB

20

3

       -  

1

           1

21

5

       -  

2

           1

22

4

       -  

3

          -  

23

9

        4

3

          -  

24

4

        3

1

          -  

26

1

        1

       -  

          -  

 

Eight of the 14 players age 23 or greater who hit at least 16 home runs in the FSL did not make it past AA, and the Rays own Matt Fields is still toiling in AA. Fields is joined by fellow ex-Rays Cody Strait and Sergio Pedroza who hit the milestone at the age of 23 but failed to make it past AA. For those curious, Blake DeWitt and Jesus Flores are the two players who made the major leagues. Why the high incidence of failure? The better players often are promoted before they have a chance to hit the 16 home run mark, and the younger players who move up may not have mastered the power element of their game. The important takeaway is that while Wrigley's season has been enjoyable, the odds are heavily stacked against him making it to the show.

The complete list of the FSL 16 HR club can be found here: Worksheet

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