Archive for Brewers

Finding the Next Kyle Hendricks

Over 450 innings into his major-league career, Kyle Hendricks possesses both an ERA under 3.00 and a third-place finish in Cy Young voting. That’s impressive. Even after accounting for the regression he’s likely to experience in the future, he’s nevertheless proven himself to be an apt pitcher at the major-league level, something that we didn’t see coming as he ascended the ranks as a prospect. He’s done enough to wonder why we missed on him, and what he can teach us about other young pitchers out there.

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Top 25 Prospects: Milwaukee Brewers

Below is an analysis of the prospects in the Milwaukee Brewers farm system. Scouting reports are compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as from my own observations. The KATOH statistical projections, probable-outcome graphs, and (further down) Mahalanobis comps have been provided by Chris Mitchell. For more information on thes 20-80 scouting scale by which all of my prospect content is governed you can click here. For further explanation of the merits and drawbacks of Future Value, read this. -Eric Longenhagen

The KATOH projection system uses minor-league data and Baseball America prospect rankings to forecast future performance in the major leagues. For each player, KATOH produces a WAR forecast for his first six years in the major leagues. There are drawbacks to scouting the stat line, so take these projections with a grain of salt. Due to their purely objective nature, the projections here can be useful in identifying prospects who might be overlooked or overrated. Due to sample-size concerns, only players with at least 200 minor-league plate appearances or batters faced last season have received projections. -Chris Mitchell

Other Lists
NL West (ARI, COL, LAD, SD, SF)
AL Central (CHW, CLE, DET, KC, MIN)
NL Central (CHC, CIN, PIT, MIL, StL)
NL East (ATL, MIA, NYM, PHI, WAS)
AL East (BAL, BOSNYY, TB, TOR)

Brewers Top Prospects
Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
1 Lewis Brinson 22 AAA CF 2017 60
2 Corey Ray 22 A+ OF 2018 60
3 Luis Ortiz 21 AA RHP 2018 55
4 Isan Diaz 20 A 2B 2019 55
5 Josh Hader 22 AAA LHP 2017 55
6 Brandon Woodruff 23 AA RHP 2017 50
7 Lucas Erceg 21 A 3B 2019 50
8 Marcos Diplan 20 A+ RHP 2018 50
9 Trent Clark 20 A OF 2020 45
10 Mauricio Dubon 22 AA SS 2017 45
11 Phil Bickford 21 A+ RHP 2019 45
12 Ryan Cordell 24 AA OF 2017 45
13 Jorge Lopez 23 MLB RHP 2017 45
14 Cody Ponce 22 A+ RHP 2018 45
15 Brett Phillips 22 AA OF 2018 45
16 Monte Harrison 21 A RF 2020 40
17 Gilbert Lara 19 R SS 2021 40
18 Corbin Burnes 22 A RHP 2019 40
19 Kodi Medeiros 20 A+ LHP 2019 40
20 Devin Williams 22 A+ RHP 2018 40
21 Demi Orimoloye 20 R OF 2022 40
22 Jacob Nottingham 21 AA C/1B 2018 40
23 Freddy Peralta 20 A+ RHP 2019 40
24 Mario Feliciano 18 R C 2021 40
25 Damien Magnifico 25 MLB RHP 2017 40

60 FV Prospects

Drafted: 1st Round, 2012 from Coral Springs HS (FL)
Age 23 Height 6’3 Weight 170 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/50 60/60 50/60 60/60 50/55 60/60

Relevant/Interesting Metrics
Slashed .382/.387/.618 at Triple-A Colorado Springs after trade.

Scouting Report
A physical freak who has undergone a half-decade of physical growth and mechanical adjustments to reach the doorstep of the majors, Brinson headlined the package sent to Milwaukee for Jonathan Lucroy ahead of the trade deadline. He had been struggling through the first few months of the season and missed several weeks with a shoulder injury. Injuries have been a prevalent aspect of Brinson’s pro career and he’s missed substantial playing time during each of the last three years with various ailments, including quad and hamstring issues.

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How Much Hope Do the Bad Teams Have?

Spring training has gotten surprisingly close, and — in terms of significant activity — the offseason is mostly complete. Just about every team around has a pretty good idea what the opening-day roster is going to look like, which means we’re coming up on projection season. Now, you could argue it’s always projection season, at least here on FanGraphs, but the team projections should, in theory, be better than they’ve been all winter. So let’s work with that.

Right now, all we have available is Steamer. We’re still a little while away from ZiPS getting folded in. But Steamer isn’t stupid, so, looking at that, we see the following teams projected to bring up the MLB rear: the Padres (66 wins), the Brewers (67 wins), and the Reds (69 wins). No one else is projected right now for a win total in the 60s, and while the White Sox would end up down there if they sold Jose Quintana, that hasn’t yet happened, so we shouldn’t assume anything.

You could argue the three worst teams are on the right tracks. All of them are openly rebuilding, and none of them think they’re going to win in 2017. Keith Law just ranked the Padres’ farm system No. 3 in the game. He ranked the Brewers at No. 6, and he ranked the Reds at No. 8. I don’t think many people thought the Reds would come in so high! There they are, though. Lots to hope for in the future.

But what about the near-term future? How good could these teams be in the year just ahead? None of them plan to win, but, miracles happen. To get to the point: I consulted my spreadsheet of team projections going back to 2005. That’s 12 years, and over that span, I found 26 teams projected to win no more than 70 games. Here’s a big (sortable) table of how all those teams did:

Worst Projected Teams Since 2005
Team Season Projected W Actual W BaseRuns W
Orioles 2012 70 93 82
Blue Jays 2010 65 85 84
Marlins 2008 68 84 81
Astros 2010 69 76 68
Brewers 2016 69 73 76
Nationals 2007 70 73 69
Pirates 2011 70 72 70
Phillies 2016 64 71 63
Royals 2011 68 71 78
Astros 2014 67 70 77
Royals 2007 65 69 74
Braves 2016 68 68 70
Orioles 2008 67 68 72
Pirates 2008 70 67 67
Pirates 2005 69 67 72
Rays 2005 70 67 64
Twins 2013 67 66 63
Phillies 2015 66 63 59
Marlins 2013 69 62 65
Pirates 2009 70 62 66
Royals 2006 65 62 62
Nationals 2008 70 59 62
Astros 2011 66 56 62
Royals 2005 68 56 59
Astros 2012 64 55 58
Astros 2013 60 51 57

On average, the teams were projected to win 68 games. On average, they actually won 68 games, with an average BaseRuns win total of 68. Pretty good, all in all, by which I mean, pretty bad. The medians are also in agreement.

Of note: The worst projected team was even worse than expected. Of greater note, though, is that three of these 26 teams finished over .500. That’s about a 12% success rate, if that means anything to you. The 2012 Orioles are the greatest success story included, because they outdid their projected win total by an unbelievable 23. They made the playoffs! Their win totals leading up to the season in question: 69, 66, 64, 68, 69, 70. Between 2007 – 2011, no team in the American League won fewer games than the Orioles. Between 2012 – 2016, no team in the American League has won more games than the Orioles. That year in 2012 was when the whole story of the organization was flipped on its head.

The 2010 Blue Jays were only a little outdone. They beat their projection by 20 wins, and just looking at BaseRuns, they finished better than the 2012 Orioles. Those Jays were thought to be somewhat rebuilding, after ridding themselves of J.P. Ricciardi, and no team would expect to win after trading away Roy Halladay. The Jays played just one month that year with a sub-.500 record.

And then you’ve got the 2008 Marlins, before they decided to identify just with Miami. What the 2008 projections knew was that, in December 2007, the Marlins traded Miguel Cabrera to the Tigers. But the projections didn’t think the run prevention would improve by 124. It wasn’t a playoff season, but it was a hell of a lot better than it could’ve been.

In all, 26 projected bad teams. Of those, 23 were at least mostly bad. Odds are, the Padres, Brewers, and Reds will be bad, too. But let’s just say, for simplicity, there’s a 3-in-26 chance for each given team to do better than .500. It would follow there’s about a 30% shot for at least one of these teams to do better than .500. Wouldn’t that be something? I’ll pick the Brewers, and live with it.


Brewers Sign Neftali Feliz, Remain Interesting

The Brewers appear to have unearthed a gem in Keon Broxton, whose admirers are growing in number, the bandwagon led by FanGraphs’ own Jeff Sullivan.

If the projections are right, the Brewers found more sneaky value in their 2017 first baseman, Eric Thames, who spent the last few years launching home runs in South Korea.

And on Thursday, the Brewers reached a one-year, $5.35 million million deal with Neftali Feliz as first reported by Jon Heyman.

On the surface, Feliz was solid last season, and produced value for the Pirates on a one-year deal. After three seasons marred by injury and inconsistency with the Rangers and Tigers, Feliz struck out 28% of the batters he faced in 2016, posted a 19-point difference between his strikeout and walk rates (K-BB%), and recorded his hardest average fastball velocity (96.1 mph) since 2011.

While a .240 BABIP kept his ERA at a reasonable 3.52, that’s also probably a function of his approach: Feliz’s fly-ball tendencies have helped him to a .241 BABIP for his career.

He looks like another Ray Searage special.

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How Keon Broxton Looks Like the Brewers’ Best Player

I’ve encouraged you to believe in Keon Broxton before. In baseball-game terms, that wasn’t even very long ago. So you could accuse me here of being unoriginal, but I’ve prepared a counterargument. For one thing, it’s January, shut up. For a second thing, I bet a lot of you missed my previous summary. And for a third thing, now there’s some new information. This is a Keon Broxton article, and I’ll tell you why I think he’s already the best player on the Brewers, headed into 2017.

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Could Scouting Use a Pivot to the Pacific?

The signing of Eric Thames and the projections subsequently produced for him represent two of the more interesting, if lower-profile, developments of the offseason. Since Thames took his quick left-handed swing across the Pacific, he’s become one of the top sluggers in the hitter-friendly Korea Baseball Organization.

If you have 30 free minutes you can watch all 47 of his 2015 home runs thanks to YouTube:

Despite having already played in the majors, Thames is something of a mystery, a curiosity, in transitioning from a foreign professional league. If the projections are accurate, however – and his Davenport translations are pretty close to other, former international unknowns like Jose Abreu, Yoenis Cespedes and Jung Ho Kang – then the Brewers have themselves a steal.

In the cases both of Cespedes and Kang, who played in foreign leagues that draw fewer scouts, analytics played a considerable role in the decision to sign them. Analytics and projections also played a significant part in the Thames signing, as Brewers GM David Stearns told David Laurila in the latter’s Sunday notes this weekend.

Kang was the first KBO hitter to make the jump directly to the majors. There were no direct comparisons. But plenty of South Korean stars had played in the Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball Organization, so the Pirates looked at their production in Japan and then studied the more sizable sample of NPB position players who have played in the majors.

Back in 2013, the A’s were also creative in projecting Cespedes, then a trailblazing Cuban defector, as detailed by Ben Reiter in Sports Illustrated.

“[Farhan] Zaidi built a model that analyzed not just the grades the scouts had given to Cespedes on the usual eight-point scale, but also the scouts themselves. Say three guys have a six power on him, three guys have seven power on him. What kind of minor leaguers or major leaguers do those guys have those grades on?”

The A’s did not miss a chance to scout Cespedes when access was available. The Pirates did send scouts over to evaluate Kang in addition to video analysis (though Kang’s off-the-field issues were apparently not discovered). Still, recent success stories of players signed from foreign pro leagues are analytics-heavy because they’ve had to be. There are few scouting resources committed to South Korea and Japan. Cuba has been difficult to scout due to political reasons.

But what are MLB clubs missing at the professional and amateur levels by not having more of a scouting presence in places like South Korea? And why are such areas not heavily staffed?

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2017 ZiPS Projections – Milwaukee Brewers

After having typically appeared in the very famous pages of Baseball Think Factory, Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections have been released at FanGraphs the past few years. The exercise continues this offseason. Below are the projections for the Milwaukee Brewers. Szymborski can be found at ESPN and on Twitter at @DSzymborski.

Other Projections: Arizona / Atlanta / Boston / Chicago AL / Chicago NL / Cleveland / Detroit / Houston / Kansas City / Los Angeles AL / New York AL / San Diego / San Francisco / Seattle / Tampa Bay / Toronto / Washington.

Batters
Milwaukee general manager David Stearns has dedicated the first year-plus of his tenure with the Brewers to a pursuit of affordable pieces that might contribute to the club’s next winning season, while trading away the most valuable pieces of its most recent one. The ZiPS projections here reflect the results of that endeavor. On the one hand, no field player is projected to record more than three wins in 2017. (Jonathan Villar, at 2.8 zWAR, is best acquitted by that measure.) On the other hand, 20 positions players receive a forecast of 1.0 WAR or better.

For context, consider: three of the National League’s playoff clubs from 2016 have been included thus far in this series of ZiPS posts. By comparison, only 16 of the Cubs’ position players receive a projection of one win or better. Only 13 of Washington‘s do. And only 10 field players for the San Francisco Giants are expected to cross the one-win threshold, per ZiPS. Milwaukee, in other words, has gathered a large collection of players whose median probable outcome is slightly below average. Given the youth of that group, however, and the vagaries of the world, some of those players will develop into average or better players.

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Let’s Talk About That Eric Thames Projection

Back on November 29th, the Brewers decided to non-tender first baseman Chris Carter, despite the fact that he hit 41 home runs for them last year. Despite his big time power, they wanted to open the position for Eric Thames, a free agent they signed the same day. Thames has been a star over in Korea the last few years, and the Brewers decided to bet on his uncertainty, hoping that some of his success over there is based on real improvements, and not just evidence of what a minor league slugger can do to inferior competition.

Normally, when teams make moves, we like to cite the projection system data as a baseline, to give us a rough understanding of what a player might reasonably be expected to do going forward. Because Thames was playing in Korea, though, we didn’t have a Steamer projection for him at the time, and in fact, we didn’t have one for him until yesterday, when Jared Cross finished running his forecasts for international players. And so, starting today, we’re officially displaying a projection for Thames here on the site. And it’s a pretty good one.

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The Brewers’ Potential Breakout Slugger

Right after the end of the playoffs, we lost August Fagerstrom to a major-league front office. I miss having August around, because he was a good friend and an excellent writer. If there was one complication, though, it was that, shockingly often, we wanted to write about the same things. The same sorts of stuff inspired us, and in this line of work, there’s nothing more precious than a half-decent idea. It would be discouraging to want to do something, and then realize another person already had something along the same lines in progress.

It’s not good to have August gone. Less quality content is less quality content. But if nothing else, I am now freer to pursue what I like. Which means I am now freer to write about Domingo Santana. Used to be, August would carry that torch, and he wrote positive things about him any number of times. Now it’s up to me. Much like August, I consider myself a Domingo Santana fan. And it looks like he could become a crucial piece of the Brewers’ organizational rebuild.

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The Disappearing Trade Value of Ryan Braun

It’s possible not to have noticed Ryan Braun last season, but the 32-year-old had a pretty good year. He hit 30 homers, put up a 133 wRC+, and produced just over three wins. There was some talk during the season that Braun might be traded, and a trade that would have sent Yasiel Puig to Milwaukee might have been close. At the time, trading Braun made a lot of sense for the Brewers: the club was firmly situated in a rebuilding stage and Braun’s represented the only big contract remaining on the team’s payroll. While he played well down the stretch, Braun’s trade value has declined nonetheless: he’ll now be another year older, his future production will be worth considerably less than his present, and there’s a glut of bat-first players available on the market.

If Ryan Braun were a free agent, he would be one of the more sought after players available. Consider Braun’s 2016 stat line compared to those produced by two of the best hitters to hit free agency this year.

Braun, Cespedes, and Encarnacion in 2016
Name Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wRC+ Def WAR WAR/600
Ryan Braun 32 564 8.2% 17.4% .305 .365 .538 133 -8.8 3.2 3.4
Yoenis Cespedes 30 543 9.4% 19.9% .280 .354 .530 134 -9.2 3.2 3.5
Edwin Encarnacion 33 702 12.4% 19.7% .263 .357 .529 134 -13.1 3.9 3.3

Cespedes signed with the Mets for $110 million, costing the Mets a compensation draft pick in the process. Edwin Encarnacion has reportedly turned down four years and $80 million. Ryan Braun now has four years and $76 million left on his contract, although $14 million of that amount is deferred interest-free, putting the actual value of the contract closer to $65 million or $70 million in the way we normally think of guaranteed contracts. Braun is two years older than Cespedes, but is one year younger than Encarnacion, and can actually play in the outfield. While Braun isn’t a particularly good defender, saving a few less runs than average in a corner-outfield spot makes his bat playable out there.

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Today’s Managers on Adjusting to the Home-Run Surge

The 2016 season featured the second-most home runs in baseball’s history. Though a few people around baseball want to attribute it to the placement of power hitters higher in the lineup or better coaching based on better data, the evidence that both exit velocity and home runs per contact are up across the league refutes the first, and the evidence of the latter is minor. It’s a bit of an open mystery, but it’s certainly possible that the ball is different now.

In any case, the fact that homers are up is irrefutable. And it’s on the game to adjust. So I asked many of baseball’s best managers a simple question: with home runs up, how have you adjusted how you approach the game? Lineups, rotations, bullpens, hooks: is anything different for them today than it was two years ago?

*****

Terry Collins, New York Mets: No, really doesn’t. The game has changed, that’s the game now: home runs. And we’re lucky we got a few guys who can hit ’em. That’s where it’s at. As I said all last year, our team was built around power, so you sit back and make sure they have enough batting practice and be ready to start the game. We’ve got a good offensive team. Neil. Getting Neil Walker back, that’s big. David back and Ces and Jay and Granderson. We got a bench full of guys that could be everyday players. We’re pretty lucky.

I watched the playoffs, too, and I know what you’re talking about. I talked to Joe Maddon a couple days ago about how the playoffs may change and he said, ‘We didn’t have your pitching. I’ll leave ’em in.’

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Projecting the Prospects in the Tyler Thornburg Deal

The Red Sox have landed right-handed reliever Tyler Thornburg in exchange for a trio of players: big-league corner infielder Travis Shaw and prospects Mauricio Dubon and Josh Pennington. Here’s how the minor leaguers headed to Milwaukee grade out by my KATOH system. KATOH denotes WAR forecast for first six years of player’s major-league career. KATOH+ uses similar a methodology with consideration also for Baseball America’s rankings.

*****

Mauricio Dubon, SS, (Profile)

KATOH: 4.6 WAR (92nd overall)
KATOH+: 3.5 WAR (138th overall)

After hitting respectably in the low levels of the minors, Dubon broke out big time last year. He opened the year by hitting a rock solid .306/.387/.379 at High-A, pairing a 9% strikeout rate with a 12% walk rate. He continued raking following a June promotion to Double-A, but did so a bit differently. His walk and strikeout rates both trended in the wrong direction, but for the first time ever, he hit for power.

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Some Undue Optimism for Mauricio Dubon

Any idiot with modest control both over the English language and also Microsoft Excel is capable of writing a weblog post about the implications of Mauricio Dubon‘s statistical record as a minor leaguer on his possible future as a major leaguer. The only idiot prepared to do it for FanGraphs.com, however, is the one composing these words right now.

Who is Mauricio Dubon? A different person to everyone he meets, probably, because this is how humans work. Who he is for the purposes of the current post, however, is one of the players received by Milwaukee in a deal that sent reliever Tyler Thornburg to Boston this morning. Travis Shaw is almost certainly the most well-known player acquired by the Brewers. Dubon, however, is likely the best.

As a professional, Dubon almost immediately joined that class of player who presents a challenge to evaluators. He was drafted in the 26th round, has always lacked a carrying tool, and plays what amounts to probably just a fringe shortstop. At the same time, however, he also possesses nearly elite contact skills and — regardless of the position at which he’s being deployed — profiles as a net-positive defensive contributor.

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Red Sox Get Underrated Reliever for Underrated Return

Last season, there were 129 relievers who threw at least 50 innings. Cody Allen ranked 12th in strikeout rate. Tyler Thornburg was one slot ahead of him. Craig Kimbrel ranked 15th in K-BB%. Tyler Thornburg was one slot ahead of him. Ken Giles ranked tied for 20th in adjusted FIP. Tyler Thornburg was one slot ahead of him.

Thornburg didn’t draw a lot of attention, having a breakout year in a crowded bullpen on a go-nowhere Brewers team. He’s now become professional property of the Red Sox, him and his three years of arbitration eligibility. While Thornburg might’ve been off the general radar, he’s a big addition as a controllable setup guy for a team that wanted to make its bullpen more dominant. In return for an underrated power righty, the Brewers are getting their own underrated package. Dave Dombrowski has dipped into his farm again, and other front offices like when he does just that.

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Job Posting: Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Research & Development Senior Analyst & Intern

To be clear, there are two job postings here.

Position: Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Research & Development Intern

Location: Milwaukee
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Brewers Sign Dinger Machine, DFA Other Dinger Machine

Chris Carter is not, by any stretch of the imagination, what one would characterize as a “pure” or “complete” hitter. He’s the owner of a .218 career batting average and has struck out in 33.1% of his plate appearances. However, 150 of his career 499 hits have also been home runs. As a result, Carter has always found a place to play. His most recent stop was with the Brewers. He hit 41 bombs in Milwaukee this past year, which was enough to tie him with Nolan Arenado for the league lead. He didn’t do much else (recording just a 0.9 WAR this year), but 41 dingers don’t just fall into one’s lap every year. That’s why it’s a little weird that the Brewers seem to have cut ties with their big, slugging first baseman last night. Again, Carter wasn’t that far above replacement level in 2016, but power is power, and it’s hard to imagine that someone wouldn’t have signed up for that in a trade over the winter or at the deadline, when power is such a hot commodity.

To replace Carter, Milwaukee has brought in Eric Thames. Yes, as you’re doing your best Obi-Wan Kenobi impression, Eric Thames. What’s he been up to since 2012, when he last appeared in a big-league game? Do you have half an hour to spare?

Those are all from 2015. Thames joined the NC Dinos in South Korea in 2014 and immediately became one of the biggest offensive threats in the league. He won the league’s MVP award in 2015 with a .381/.497/.790, 47-homer effort. He lost this year to Dustin Nippert, who appeared in 119 major-league games between 2005 and 2010 and posted a 5.31 ERA during that stretch.

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Adam Walker Will Look Familiar to Milwaukee

The Milwaukee Brewers claimed outfielder Adam Brett Walker off waivers today from Minnesota. Walker, who just turned 25, was originally selected in the third round of the 2012 draft out of Jacksonville University.

Here’s a distillation of roughly all his virtues as a ballplayer:

As a professional, Walker has recorded 124 home runs in 2,449 plate appearances — including 27 homers this past season in 531 plate appearances for Triple-A Rochester. He has considerable power. Indeed, by at least one measurement, he has nearly the most power. Because, consider: his home-run figures are also accompanied by a number of walks and an even greater number of strikeouts. All told, roughly 45% of all Walker’s plate appearances this year produced one of those two outcomes. That’s an unusually high figure. Which means that Walker was left with relatively few opportunities with which to actually hit those home runs.

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Fall League Daily Notes: October 21

Eric Longenhagen is publishing brief, informal notes from his looks at the prospects of the Arizona Fall League and, for the moment, the Fall Instructional League. Find all editions here.

Braves 2B Travis Demeritte has looked tremendous at second base this fall. Not only has he made several acrobatic plays but he’s handled some bad hops and sucked up errant throws on steal attempts as well. While his hands remain somewhat rough, Demeritte’s range and athleticism have forced me to reckon with the idea of plus-plus defense at second base — as well as to remember if I’ve ever put a 7 on a second baseman’s glove before. I don’t think I have, and I suppose it’s worth asking if such a thing even exists, as one might wonder why a 70 or 80 glove at second base couldn’t play shortstop in some capacity. I think the right concoction of skills (chiefly, great range and actions but a poor arm) can churn out a plus-plus defender there. I’d cite Ian Kinsler, Brandon Phillips and Dustin Pedroia, and Chase Utley as examples from the last eight or 10 years. It’d be aggressive to put a future 7 on Demeritte’s glove right now because his hands and arm accuracy are too inconsistent, but those are things that could be polished up with time.

Tigers RHP Spencer Turnbull was up to 94 and mixed in five different pitches last night. Nothing was plus and Turnbull doesn’t have especially good command but I liked how he and Brewers C Jake Nottingham sequenced hitters and how to and that Turnbull was willing to pitch backwards and give hitters different looks each at-bat. He and Rays RHP Brent Honeywell have the deepest repertoires I’ve seen so far in Fall League.

Giants righty Chris Stratton sat 89-92 last night with an average mid-80s slider that is good enough to miss bats if he locates it, and last night he did. I think the changeup is average, as well, while Stratton’s curveball is a tick below but a useful change of pace early in counts. He looks like a back-end starter.

Quite a few defenders got to air it out last night. Here are some grades I put on guys’ arms:

Dawel Lugo, 3B, ARI: 6

Miguel Andujar, 3B, NYY: 6

Pat Valaika, INF, COL: 5

Gavin Cecchini, INF, NYM: 45

Christin Stewart, OF, DET: 4

Angels CF Michael Hermosillo, who was committed to Illinois to play running back before signing with Anaheim after the 2013 draft, displayed tremendous range in center field last night. He looks erratic at the plate but he hit well at Burlington and Inland Empire this year and is an obvious late-bloomer follow as a two-sport prospect from a cold weather state.


Fall League Daily Notes: October 14

Eric Longenhagen is publishing brief, informal notes from his looks at the prospects of the Arizona Fall League and, for the moment, the Fall Instructional League. Find all editions here.

As Fall Instructional League winds down here in Arizona, teams have begun playing their games earlier in the day, allowing scouts to double and triple up should they so choose, catching instrux at 9 or 10 am before moving on to the afternoon and night Fall League games. For me yesterday, that meant seeing the Brewers’ and Diamondbacks’ instructional-league teams in the early morning. Of note from that game, the Brewers lined up second-round pick Lucas Erceg at shortstop and shifted Gilbert Lara over to third. Lara’s destiny likely lies at a position other than his usual shortstop — and so, too, does Erceg’s (despite a 70-grade arm) — and this was probably more of a fun experiment or opportunity to let Lara move around than it is earnest developmental news for Erceg, who has looked great throughout instrux but can’t play shortstop.

Luis Alejandro Basabe homered the opposite way during the game. He has more power than his incredibly small frame would otherwise indicate. His double-play partner, Jasrado (Jazz) Chisholm, showed off his precocious defensive ability at shortstop, ranging to his left behind the bag, corralling an odd hop while he simultaneously made contact with second base and then making a strong, mostly accurate throw to first base from an awkward platform. It wasn’t especially pretty but an impressive play nonetheless.

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Projecting Brewers Acquisition Ryan Cordell

Back at the trade deadline, the Milwaukee Brewers dealt Jonathan Lucroy and Jeremy Jeffress to the Texas Rangers in exchange for prospects Lewis Brinson and Luis Ortiz, along with a player-to-be-named-later. That player now has a name, and it’s Ryan Cordell. Cordell spent all of 2016 playing at the Double-A level, where he slashed a solid .264/.319/.484 with 19 homers and 12 steals. He produced a similar batting line last year, though it was split up between a dominant performance at High-A and an underwhelming showing at Double-A.

Cordell doesn’t have any one skill to separate him from the crowd offensively, but he doesn’t have any massive weaknesses either. He hits for decent power, doesn’t strikeout terribly often and provides some value on the bases. Defensively, he grades out as well above average in the outfield, with the plurality of his games coming in center. Altogether, that makes for a promising young player.

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