Earlier today, Kiley McDaniel published his consummately researched and demonstrably authoritative prospect list for the Atlanta Baseball Club. What follows is a different exercise than that, one much smaller in scope and designed to identify not Atlanta’s top overall prospects but rather the rookie-eligible players in the Atlanta system who are most ready to produce wins at the major-league level in 2015 (regardless of whether they’re likely to receive the opportunity to do so). No attempt has been made, in other words, to account for future value.
Below are the top-five prospects in the Atlanta system by projected WAR. To assemble this brief list, what I’ve done is to locate the Steamer 600 projections for all the prospects to whom McDaniel assessed a Future Value grade of 40 or greater. Hitters’ numbers are normalized to 550 plate appearances; starting pitchers’, to 150 innings — i.e. the playing-time thresholds at which a league-average player would produce a 2.0 WAR. Catcher projections are prorated to 415 plate appearances to account for their reduced playing time.
Note that, in many cases, defensive value has been calculated entirely by positional adjustment based on the relevant player’s minor-league defensive starts — which is to say, there has been no attempt to account for the runs a player is likely to save in the field. As a result, players with an impressive offensive profile relative to their position are sometimes perhaps overvalued — that is, in such cases where their actual defensive skills are sub-par.
5. Jace Peterson, 2B (Profile)
Two other players besides Peterson — both outfielder Zoilo Almonte and right-handed reliever Juan Jaime — are projected by Steamer to produce about 0.1 wins for Atlanta, as well. Composing whole paragraph for all three of that group, however, would seem to constitute an example of Overenthusiasm in Action. In any case, among the triumvirate, Peterson appears to have the greatest likelihood of finding a half-regular role with the parent club. Despite last season’s vigorously unsuccessful cameo with the Padres (58 PA, -27 wRC+, -0.6 WAR), Peterson nonetheless continued to exhibit above-average contact skills in the high minors — in addition, that, to occupying a place along the more challenging end of the defensive spectrum.
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