Roemon Fields has speed to burn, but the Blue Jays’ minor-leaguer is still developing at the plate
Of the many stories that run through minor league baseball, Roemon Fields’ may be one of the most unique.
In 2013, Fields was out of baseball after going undrafted the summer prior and was already at an age where most top prospects are expected to be approaching the upper-minors. Instead of stealing bases, the Seattle native was delivering mail and working at Lids. Yes, the hat store.
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Then an old baseball coach invited him to play in a tournament held in British Columbia and a Blue Jays scout just so happened to be in the stands. Three professional seasons later, somehow, we’re here.
That scout, Matt Bishoff, clearly knew what an Alex Anthopoulos outfielder looked like. Fields, like many young outfielders through the Blue Jays’ system, is an extremely talented athlete and excellent defensively, but still a work in progress at the plate.
The Blue Jays were fairly aggressive with Fields in 2015, his second season. After opening in high-A Dunedin, Fields was moved up to double-A and even saw a brief taste in triple-A with the Buffalo Bisons.
Stolen base totals of 48 and 46 in his first two seasons grabbed a lot of eyes, and in the 2015 Arizona Fall League, it looked like Fields was slowly rounding a corner at the dish.
He posted a .757 OPS over 100 plate appearances with the Salt River Rafters and, more important than anything, walked 17 times compared to just 13 walks.
Fields’ numbers regressed in 2016 while back with the double-A Fisher Cats, however. With a .227 average and .295 on-base percentage, his OPS dipped below .600 and his extra-base hit totals stayed far too low for someone with his incredible speed.
The expectation with Fields is not a .300 batting average or 15 home runs. Instead, Fields’ career trajectory will be determined by his ability to get on base and then create havoc with his legs. Unfortunately, those running opportunities do not happen without a high OBP.
Fields’ hand-eye coordination gives him a fine ability to put the bat on the ball, but as the video above shows, he often relies on his hands alone without much help from his core and legs.
This results in Fields battling to fight off pitches that leave him off-balance and that often ends up producing a high number of weak contact or pop-ups. This could be tested even further when he gets a longer taste of triple-A pitching, which is filled with veteran junk-ballers just waiting to revive their strikeout totals by pulling the string on eager young hitters.
If one were to build Fields’ swing from scratch, all he requires is consistent solid contact. Not hard contact, just solid. His speed will do the rest, and that is a tool that cannot be overstated.
Defensively, there is nothing to worry about with Fields. Beyond his athleticism (have I mentioned the speed?), I’ve heard good reviews of Fields’ natural fielding ability (meaning his ability to break quickly on balls and take the proper routes).
In 2017, Fields will begin to toe the line between being a legitimate future asset for the Blue Jays and being a career minor-leaguer with one missing tool. Again, Fields does not need to put up Jose Bautista‘s numbers. Even with a very slight uptick at the dish, he can regain his foothold as one of the most exciting players in the system.
If that happens , he could quickly emerge as a fringe candidate to be a fourth or fifth outfielder (used situationally) in the future. Depending on the Blue Jays’ moves between now and April, Fields does have a shot to open the year in Buffalo but it may be best for his development if he gets off to a strong start back in New Hampshire first.
Keep Fields on your short list of prospects to monitor once the season begins. His sleeper potential is very enticing.