Analyzing Stephen Wrenn’s potential with the Astros


Stephen Wrenn heard his name called during the sixth round of the 2016 MLB Draft on Friday when the Houston Astros selected him.

It was the second time Wrenn was drafted. The Atlanta Braves picked him in the 28th round back in 2013 but he decided to attend the University of Georgia. Judging by his noticeable improvement and significantly higher selection in this year’s draft, it’s clear Wrenn made the right decision.

Wrenn, a native of Marietta, Georgia, served as Georgia’s primary center fielder the last three seasons. In his freshman season, Wrenn drew 24 walks – a single-season career high for him – and led the Diamond Dogs with 16 stolen bases.

His sophomore season was a breakout year, as Wrenn batted .324 with eight home runs, 72 hits and 28 RBIs. He was an on-base machine, adding 23 walks to hold an impressive .400 on-base percentage.

One week before the 2016 season, Wrenn attempted to field a ball during a team scrimmage. Unfortunately for him, it kicked off his glove and crashed into his face, breaking a few bones and forcing him to miss the first week of the season.

Wrenn returned to begin the second weekend of 2016. He wore a protective mask, which he didn’t lose until much later in the season. It seemed to affect him, as Wrenn didn’t really find his groove until he’d played several games with the mask and gotten accustomed to wearing it. By the end of the 2016 season, Wrenn had five homers, 12 stolen bases and 26 RBIs.

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Many Major League clubs look for power hitters to play in the outfield. Wrenn doesn’t necessarily fit that bill. He only hit 13 homers in three years with the Diamond Dogs, and didn’t even hit one as a rookie.

When he gets started in the lower levels of the Astros organization, Wrenn will need to develop his hitting ability before he’s able to move up the ranks. That’s not to say Wrenn can’t hit – he racked up 188 hits and was a career .292 hitter – but Wrenn seems to struggle with his identity as a hitter.

Sometimes, he looks like a lethal power threat. At other times, he looks like a guy who only hits singles and relies on his speed. There’s nothing wrong with being either of those types of hitters, but his coaches will likely want him to find some consistency and settle into one of those roles.

The Astros were probably encouraged by his work last summer with the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox of the Cape Cod League. The league, which offers extra playing time for undrafted college players, uses wooden bats instead of aluminum like the NCAA.

Last year, Wrenn hit the second-most homers for the Red Sox (5) and recorded 38 hits in 39 games. The Cape Cod League also includes some of the nation’s best pitchers, so Wrenn’s work last summer likely did a lot to raise his draft stock.

Should Wrenn make it to the MLB with the Astros, he’d be in good company: Craig Biggio, a 2015 electee to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and Jeff Bagwell both played in the Cape Cod League and reached the MLB with the Astros.

Wrenn’s strength, offensively, is his speed. If he hits a chopper in the infield, it isn’t an easy out for his opponent. His base-stealing prowess is pretty strong, too.

In his career at Georgia, Wrenn swiped a total of 56 bags. Wrenn scored 104 runs, too, which was undoubtedly aided by his ability to fly around the bases. Wrenn’s running ability and his propensity to get on base mean he’ll probably make it to the MLB at some point.

His fielding ability is nothing short of elite. Wrenn’s career fielding percentage was .994, and he only committed three errors in his time with the Diamond Dogs.

Wrenn has all the tools to make it to “The Show.” His speed and fielding ability are extremely valuable and mean he can be a significant contributor to a team even if he isn’t the best hitter on the squad.

He may spend a few years working his way through the Minor Leagues, but it’s safe to say if nothing goes wrong for him, Wrenn will probably be an MLB player someday.