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Rays Top 50 Prospects: No. 29, INF Jake Cronenworth

Credit - Nick Musial (@bigmusephotography)

When you look for someone under the radar who could beat the odds and make it to MLB, Jake Cronenworth should be high on your list.

No.29, INF Jacob John Cronenworth, 24 yrs old

Born: Jan 21st, 1994 in St. Clair, MI

Height/Weight: 6’1” 185 lbs Bats/Throws: L/R

Signed: by the Rays after selecting him in the 7th rd of the 2015 draft for $198,900

Twitter handle: @JCronenworth10

Twitter profile statement:Baseball player in the Tampa Bay Rays organization, University of Michigan”

Baseball America Rankings

  • Ranked as the 18th best prospect in the Midwest league in 2016
  • Ranked as the 194th prospect pre-MLB draft in 2015 (taken 208th overall)

DRB Writers ranking

  • High: 19th
  • Low: 42nd

Jake Cronenworth: Abilities

  • Outstanding contact hitter
  • Above-average Arm
  • Above-average split-finger fastball (has hit 94 MPH)
  • Good speed and range
  • Solid defensively
  • Pitched well enough to return to it sometime down the road if required
  • Jake says it best with the following quotation,

“Just get a good pitch and hit it well. I’m not trying to hit home runs. I’m not a home run hitter. Just try and put the ball in play and put pressure on the defense.”

Scouting grades 2017 (Pipeline): Hit: 55 | Power: 40 | Run: 55 | Arm: 60 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45

  • Abilities notes: He may not steal 30 bases a season, but Jake runs the bases well enough to steal his share.

Joined the Rays by way of....

The draft, 208th overall, only 6 selections before fellow Montgomery Biscuit OF Nathan Lukes was selected by the Indians.

Latest Transaction: Assigned to Montgomery from Charlotte July 18th, 2017

Note - He has been invited to spring training with the Rays for 2018 as a non-roster invitee.

Facts, Honors, and Awards

  • A Michigan native, with a love of hockey.
  • Credits his dad for his worth ethic.
  • The quotation that best sums up Jake’s time at U of M is this one,

Michigan junior Jacob Cronenworth picked up the award as the junior batted .389 with a double with three RBIs to go with saves in all four of the Wolverines postseason wins.

  • Although Brendan McKay comes to mind when you think of two-way players, there’s a case to be made that Jake could still make it in MLB as a position player and/or as a reliever.
  • Was noted in 2017 for achieving the 3rd longest hit streak in Rays history at 25, and only Aubrey Huff (28) and Darnell McDonald (27) are only others to have achieved longer streaks.
  • Pre-2017, was recognized by JT Morgan as the 4th best Rays prospect in Montgomery, when he noted that “Cronenworth’s history of playing every position in the infield makes him perfect for a bench role in the majors”, something that’s been evident for a long time now.
  • Earned a 1.5 KATOH rating among super deep sleeper prospects list put out by Fangraphs.
  • Takes pride in being one of the dirtiest players when he makes his way off the field.

Stats

Jake Cronenworth 2017

GP 125
GP 125
PA 561
AB 486
Hits 133
Doubles 22
Triples 5
Home Runs 3
RBI 49
SB (CS) 13 (6)
AVG 0.274
OBP 0.364
SLG 0.358
OPS 0.722
BB% 11.8 %
SO% 15.7 %
ISO 0.084
BAbip 0.327
wOBA 0.341
wRC+ 116

Stats Notes: Kicked off his career in AA with a 15 game hitting streak at which time he hit .333/.415/.346 with an 11.7 % BB% and 8.5 % SO%, .361 wOBA, and 129 wRC+. That’s a pretty great way to make an impact at a time when many - if not most - hitters tend to struggle some (when promoted from HiA to AA).

Interesting Comparison: Ryan Goins

  • Both Goins and Cronenworth are LHB, Goins is slightly shorter but slightly stockier. Like Goins, Cronenworth will play his first full season in AA at 24 years old, and the year prior Goins had a .751 OPS in HiA vs .730 for Cronenworth at same level last yr.
  • While Goins was not quite as patient as Cronenworth at the plate going through minors, their on base abilities were very similar with Goins managing a .343 wOBA and Cronenworth managing a .341 wOBA.
  • Goins also threw some in College (albeit with lesser velocity), which makes it that much more interesting, and he even managed to throw some in MLB.

Notes for 2018 and beyond

Jake Cronenworth is a player that does many things so well, which increases his odds of making it to the majors. He has spent the majority of his time at SS (240 G) and 2B (36), but we could see him being able to handle the hot corner or the OF if needed. It’s likely that he’d be able to handle both assignments while muttering something like,

Whatever you need, I can do. Just put me on the field and let’s go.

If you hadn’t seen him hit and only saw him pitch, you’d likely question why a team would decide to have him play the field. Here was a kid with 27 saves in College, a 2.76 ERA, 1.26 Whip, and 104 Ks in just over 97 IP (37 BB). With good potential on the mound, it’s possible that the Rays could have developed him as a pitcher (and there’s still time for that, really), but they saw something else in Jake and ran with it.

Now, we’re glad they did.

The patience, quick bat, and keen eye give Cronenworth a great approach at the plate; coupled with his strong defensive play he seems to have a lot to offer. He’s not afraid to sit on his pitch, is able to extend ABs in order to get that pitch, and doesn’t mind getting deeper into counts.

That approach has led to success against some of the top pitching prospects MLB has to offer. In 2017, he went 2 for 5 vs Mitch Keller, 2 for 4 vs Stephen Gonsalves, and 3 for 5 vs T.J. Zeuch to name a few.

If the start Cronenworth had in AA is any indication as to what he’ll manage in 2018, there’s a decent chance he finishes the year in AAA and most of us believe he has a leg up on that assignment when Willy Adames gets promoted to the Rays. With a utility role likely in his future, there’s also a good chance he gets exposed to various positions in 2018.

Some of us have thrown around the idea of asking Jake to return to the mound to become a UT/RP, and although it’s meant in fun, the latest trends in MLB do make you wonder about such an arrangement. For now, it’s just nice to know he’s on the right path and should be able to make an impact with the Rays sometime in 2019 with an unlikely chance he gets a look late 2018.

Jake Cronenworth: Spotlight Videos

Recap and links of previously listed DRB Top 50 Rays Prospects