In 10 words or fewer: Future utility infielder, nabbed in the 6th round.
Position: SS | Age (2016): 22
Bats: R | Throws: R
Height: 5’10″ | Weight: 175
2015 Rank: N/A
Contact – A. Like any speedster worth his weight in pennies, Fletcher has excellent bat-to-ball skills. He’s particularly adept at putting the ball on the ground and giving himself a chance to beat the throw, and when given the opportunity, will spray line drives, particularly to LF.
Power – D. Fletcher doesn’t put the ball in the air, but as we saw in A Ball and in college, Fletcher has enough pop in the bat to keep the infield playing honest and the OF from preventing any gap triples.
Discipline – A. As has become the hallmark of any Dipoto-regime draft, the Angels were able to seek out and bring in collegiate bats that know how to work a count and reach base. Fletcher, being the leadoff hitter that he naturally is, is one of the best in his draft class in this particular category. It’ll be interesting to see if the hitter friendly environs of the Cal League will tempt him into a more free-swinging approach, or if he’ll continue to deploy his reach-base first method.
Speed – B. Fletcher is more quick than fast, but he’s plenty fast too, which just says all the more about his quickness. Reread that if you need it to make sense. David is also a very smart baserunner. In general, Fletcher’s baseball IQ by most reports appears to be off the charts. When I watched him play, he always made the right decision, but I couldn’t use such a small sample to laude his in-game intelligence, only pass on what I’ve read and what little I’ve observed. Anyway, suffice it to say, he’s very quick, he’s fast, and he’s very smart. The end result is good for the Angels.
Arm – B. Fletcher has more than enough arm to stick at shortstop from what I saw. He’ll log some time at 2B as well, just because. The Angels love their prospects versatile, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see Fletcher jump in at 3B as well. He has the arm for any spot on the diamond.
Fielding – B+. Fletcher is borderline “elite” in his ability to pick it at SS. Perhaps a year ago I’d have graded this an “A” because a year ago, I considered Erick Aybar’s ability to field his position at SS to be an “A” grade, which it can be for the most part. But now that I’ve had ample time to really look at Andrelton Simmons following his trade to the Angels, I’ve managed to see what elite really looks like. Fletcher is REALLY good at SS, but he isn’t quite at Simmons level. More like Aybar’s level.
Range – A. Right here is where Fletcher seems to distance himself from the rest of the pack of very good defensive infielders. Back when Eric Stamets was still an Angel, he was the best defensive SS I’d ever seen in the minors, and that still rings true. Everything he did, that kid was a wizard at SS. Almost as good as Andrelton Simmons. The main thing that separated Stamets was his range. I didn’t think any minor leaguer could equate that and not be seen as a future major leaguer. I still think that. David Fletcher has as much range, if not more than Stamets. Let that marinate for a bit. David Fletcher has more range, than the best defensive SS I’ve ever seen in the minors. This kid is good.
Performance – A. All David has ever done, at least in recorded baseball is hit. I imagine that because of his smaller frame and lack of power, he wasn’t drafted out of high school, but still able to play for the one of the West Coast powerhouses for college. Once he arrived at Loyola Marymount, his glove made scouts used to seeing high-end talent take notice. He could hit too. By the time his sophomore year rolled around, David added a little muscle and began driving the ball, which took him from intriguing young player to a favorite among mid-round draftees. Just about every reports I’ve seen so far from those that pay attention to the collegiate ranks more than I, has inferred that Fletcher was one of the best picks of the draft. That’s how much he is liked. Upon being drafted, Fletcher did more of the same in Orem, which led to a promotion to the Midwest League, where many of the best collegiate prospects go upon being drafted. Fletcher arrived in the pitching friendly environment and continued to put up the numbers to justify his selection. He did it all.
Projection – C-. And here’s the reason David Fletcher wasn’t a first round pick. Well that and the fact that if he were three inches taller he’d be a millionaire by now. Fletcher doesn’t have the necessary power to wow scouts, and he isn’t so fast that he’ll steal 50+ bags a year. He’s a glove-first shortstop that isn’t lost at the plate, but he doesn’t come with all-star level tools. It’s almost assured that Fletcher will be a major leaguer someday, because of his glove, speed and ability to reach base. If his bat continues to impress and progress, then I think we’ll see him become a starting SS in the big leagues. But for now, he’s a defensive specialist, like Andrelton Simmons. As we’ve seen, that can get you paid.
What to expect in 2016 – Fletcher’s performance in the Midwest League almost demands a promotion to the Cal League to start next year. If Fletcher can fight the urge to inflate his numbers via the HR, I think he’ll really turn into something special.
Most Likely Scenario – Fletcher has a steady climb up the prospect ladder, but his OBP ability will be tested once he arrives at AA. Without the necessary power to keep professional caliber athletes at bay, he’ll be relegated into more of a defensive specialist and pinch runner in the major leagues. Still, this kid looks like a future pro to me.
Grade as a Prospect – C. The prospect world is a bit harsh when it comes to defensively gifted middle infielders, mostly because there are so many. Most don’t have the finesse that Fletcher shows, but it still doesn’t make him more than a C grade prospect. But if Fletcher reaches AA and still shows the ability to post out of this world k/bb rates, and an OBP north of .350 plus 20+ SB, then we’ll start putting a “B” next to his name.
Estimated Time of Arrival – 2019. Unless Fletcher gives the Angels a reason to be super aggressive in his promotion, they should be able to take their time and feed him on level on the minor league ladder per season.