Without looking up stats, take a guess at who had the highest OPS on Oklahoma City's roster this season among players who did NOT play in the majors.
Alright, that may not be as hard as I may have thought considering the amount of hitter who shuffled between the majors and Triple-A. It's Joe Sclafani.
We've heard a good bit about Sclafani on this site, mostly from Anthony Boyer who was able to cover him in Lancaster late last season. Although, we don't get to hear all that much from major media outlets. After all, he's not projected to be a middle of the order bat or a first tier player at any position.
But, that doesn't mean he's not worth talking about. Major league teams are built with solid role players. The A's and Cardinals do it all the time. You have to have your big time players like George Springer and Jose Altuve, but you fill up the other areas who can hold their own defensively and get on-base, you have a lineup that is sneaky good.
That's what Sclafani could be.
He's obviously smart. People don't go to Dartmouth just to play baseball. #IvyLeague
That serves him quite well. The Astros play cognitive baseball. They play percentages. They ask a lot of their players on the mental side of baseball.
He can play multiple positions (SS, 2B, 3B, LF). He knows the strike zone (12% K% in AAA). He makes contact at a very high rate (86% vs 77.8% league average for PCL). He draws walks (11.5% in AAA). What more could you ask?
So, what makes him more valuable now than last year?
To put it very simply, he has improved. He has upped his season batting average every year from .271 to .296 to .315. He has maintained a very high OBP every year. He kept his walks above average while keeping his strikeouts low. All while consistently moving up throughout the minors. He spent over half the season this year at triple-A. That means a lot.
I'll take utility guy who can post a .368 wOBA in AAA as a 24 year old. He's a classic grinder that does what it takes and maximizes himself. Sure, he has a high BABIP, but he has a good LD% as well which will help maintain a high BABIP. Not the .387 in AAA this year, but again I'm not expecting him to hit .300 in the majors either.