Big League Debut: Rengifo and France Rise in the West

Ty France- As 2018 ended and 2019 began, France sat atop the Padres depth chart at third base and was set to be a prominent member of every sleeper list about to hit the presses. That all changed February 20 when the Padres put their franchise on the shoulders of Manny Machado after signing him to a 10-year, $300 million dollar contract, pushing France to Triple-A.

France had a breakout season in 2018 as he put together a .267/.355/.464 line split between Double-A and Triple-A. His 22 homers were easily a career high, and he also showed a more advanced plate approach in 2018. He’s also posted a sub 20 K% for his minor league career thus far. He’s an intriguing bat with a good mix of power, contact and plate discipline. The California kid is also a San Diego State alum, and has a chance to become a fan favorite in San Diego. France is primarily a third baseman, but has spent some time at first base in every minor league season. But it wasn’t until this year that he began playing games at second, likely signaling the Padres’ faith in Ian Kinsler. The added versatility is a must because as a corner infield bat France is currently stuck behind the Padres’ two most expensive players.

I think France will hit and has a chance at becoming a productive bench bat in the Steve Pearce mold, and if the versatility aspect sticks he could find himself in the lineup two or three times a week. He hits lefties hard and could work himself into the weak side of a platoon at first base with Eric Hosmer down the line. France had a strong spring and was already on the Padres 40-man, so the call-up isn’t that surprising. He was red hot in his 19-game sample in El Paso with a .423/.500/.885 triple slash and nine homers. He’s hit seven homers over his last seven games. He’s worth an add in NL-only and monitoring in mixed leagues.

Luis Rengifo- The switch-hitting, twice traded middle infield prospect has a lot of the traits that stat-line scouts will drool over. That’s not exactly a bad thing, but there’s some context needed when looking at these numbers. Rengifo’s 2018 stat-line was a .299/.399/.452 with a 1:1 K:BB ratio, 41 stolen bases and 50 extra base hits. Those should all pique your interest. He accomplished all of this while climbing from High-A to Triple-A, which again, is an intriguing sign.

Let’s break down his stolen bases by level. He swiped 22 bags in 41 games in High-A while being caught eight times. He proved to be far too advanced for High-A pitchers and catchers. In Double-A he went 13-for-15 on the base paths, but when he moved to Triple-A his success rate dropped to 50 percent, going 6-for-12. He not a burner, more of a 55 runner on the 20-80 scale, and relied on his plus instincts more than his raw tools. The plate skills held up better as he climbed the ladder as he struck out 31 times to 25 walks in Triple-A. He’s not going to post those numbers in the big leagues though (obvious, I know) because of the lack of power in the profile. That’s not saying he can’t be a productive player though. Rengifo has a path to everyday at-bats with the Angels if he hits, and his ultimate upside is something like a Jonathan Villar with better feel for the strike zone.

Rengifo was my sixth ranked prospect on my Los Angeles Angels top 30 list, and also ranked 131st in our Fantasy Top 300 Prospects list. There’s enough contact ability and defensive skills to stick on the roster for the Angels for the foreseeable future, but all that can change when Shohei Ohtani and Justin Upton return. He’s worth scooping in all AL-only formats and as a stash in 15+ team mixed leagues.