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Daily Notes: The Top Rookie-Eligible Players, According to ZiPS

Posted By Carson Cistulli On February 14, 2013 @ 11:36 am In Daily Notes | 22 Comments

Table of Contents
Here’s the table of contents for today’s edition of the Daily Notes.

1. Some Brief and Mostly Important Disclaimers
2. The Top-Five Rookie-Eligible Hitters, According to ZiPS
3. The Top-Six Rookie-Eligible Pitchers, According to ZiPS

Some Brief and Mostly Important Disclaimers
With the release of the ZiPS projections for the Cleveland Indians this morning, now all 30 major-league teams have been caressed tenderly by Dan Szymborski’s math computer.

In celebration, what the present author has done is to peruse haphazardly all 30 sets of ZiPS team projections with a view to extracting from same the rookie-eligible hitters and pitchers (meaning fewer than 130 at-bats or 50 innings in the majors) with the best projections — where “best” is equivalent to “highest projected WAR” and nothing else.

Below are the players who most aptly fit all of that description — the top-five hitters and, because there was a tie for fourth, top-six pitchers. Alongside each player’s name are listed his 2012 line (for the level at which he spent the most time) and his 2013 projection. (Note that ZiPS does not predict playing time in the majors, but, rather, projects major-league equivalent production.) Finally, the author has appended brief comments to each entry to give the impression that he has not merely assembled a List of Numbers.

The Top-Five Rookie-Eligible Hitters, According to ZiPS
By the criteria outline above, here are the top five rookie-eligible hitters for 2013, according to ZiPS.

5. Mike Olt, 3B, Texas
2012 Line: 420 PA, .288/.398/.579 (.327 BABIP), 168 wRC+ at Double-A
2013 ZiPS: 487 PA, .247/.331/.429 (.325 BABIP), 2.4 WAR
Notes: At 24, Olt is among the oldest players on this list. With plus power and defense, skill set is not entirely dissimilar from — if less impressive than — Rangers current third baseman Adrian Beltre’s.

4. Oscar Taveras, OF, St. Louis
2012 Line: 531 PA, .321/.380/.572 (.323 BABIP), 159 wRC+ at Double-A
2013 ZiPS: 540 PA, .279/.331/.457 (.301 BABIP), 2.6 WAR
Notes: Enters just his age-21 season having hit well at every level before that. Has played mostly center field in minor leagues, but move to a corner is likely. Little room for him at major-league level right now.

3. Adam Eaton, OF, Arizona
2012 Line: 562 PA, .381/.456/.539 (.432 BABIP), 163 wRC+ at Triple-A
2013 ZiPS: 719 PA, .275/.358/.389 (.326 BABIP), 2.8 WAR
Notes: Of hitters here, probably has lowest ceiling, owing predominantly to lack of power. Still, has posted a 133 wRC+ at every minor-league level. Enters age-24 season. Should have everyday role following departure of Justin Upton to Atlanta.

2. Jurickson Profar, SS, Texas
2012 Line: 562 PA, .281/.368/.452 (.306 BABIP), 127 wRC+ at Double-A
2013 ZiPS: 610 PA, .263/.331/.414 (.299 BABIP), 3.2 WAR
Notes: Generally regarded as best positional prospect in baseball. Hit quite well at Double-A Frisco last year in just his age-19 season. Despite talent, unlikely to begin season in majors.

1. Mike Zunino, C, Seattle
2012 Line: 133 PA, .373/.474/.736 (.413 BABIP), 234 wRC+ at Low-A
2013 ZiPS: 598 PA, .251/.318/.382 (.302 BABIP), 3.3 WAR
Notes: Third-overall pick in last year’s draft out of University of Florida. Performance at Low-A prompted promotion directly to Double-A in mid-August. Defense is regarded as solid. Trade of John Jaso creates less of an obstacle at major-league level, but Jesus Montero is expected to get bulk of starts. Likely to begin age-22 season in minors.

The Top-Six Rookie-Eligible Pitchers, According to ZiPS
By the criteria outline above, here are the top six rookie-eligible pitchers for 2013, according to ZiPS.

4. Trevor Rosenthal, RHP, St. Louis
2012 Line: 93.2 IP, 8.0 K/9, 3.6 BB/9, 0.6 HR/9, 3.51 FIP at Double-A
2013 ZiPS: 123.0 IP, 8.3 K/9, 3.7 BB/9, 0.9 HR/9, 1.6 WAR
Notes: Was excellent in relief for Cardinals last year following July promotion. Sat at ca. 97 mph with fastball in majors. Following return of shoulder injury for Chris Carpenter, will likely compete for fifth spot in roation.

4. Wily Peralta, RHP, Milwaukee
2012 Line: 146.2 IP, 8.8 K/9, 4.8 BB/9, 0.6 HR/9, 3.83 FIP at Triple-A
2013 ZiPS: 153.1 IP, 7.9 K/9, 5.3 BB/9, 0.8 HR/9, 1.6 WAR
Notes: Made major-league debut in 2012, after originally signing from Dominican in 2005. Pitched 29 slightly above-average innings, almost all as starter. Sat at ca. 95 mph with fastball. Definite candidate for 2013 rotation.

4. Dylan Bundy, RHP, Baltimore
2012 Line: 57.0 IP, 10.4 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 0.8 HR/9, 3.02 FIP at High-A
2013 ZiPS: 104.0 IP, 7.2 K/9, 3.6 BB/9, 1.0 HR/9, 1.6 WAR
Notes: Numbers here are from High-A Frederick, but also pitched at Single-A Delmarva and Double-A Eastern League. Made major-league debut in late September in form of two relief appearances. Entering age-20 season. Not likely to begin year in majors.

2. Dan Straily, RHP, Oakland
2012 Line: 85.1 IP, 11.4 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, 0.6 HR/9, 2.57 FIP at Double-A
2013 ZiPS: 170.0 IP, 8.1 K/9, 4.2 BB/9, 1.1 HR/9, 1.8 WAR
Notes: Led minor leagues in total strikeouts and strikeout rate (among pitchers with 20-plus starts). Less impressive in seven major-league starts. With exception of Ryu, probably, has weakest fastball among pitchers on this list. Could very well begin season in Oakland rotation.

2. Hyun-jin Ryu, LHP, Los Angeles (NL)
2012 Line: 182.2 IP, 10.4 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, 0.6 HR/9, 2.66 ERA in KBO
2013 ZiPS: 180.1 IP, 8.4 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, 1.5 HR/9, 1.8 WAR
Notes: Poses greater challenge in terms of projections, obviously, coming from Korean baseball league. Link goes to career stats in Korea. Signed six-year, $36 million contract with Dodgers in December. Will begin season in rotation.

1. Zack Wheeler, RHP, New York (NL)
2012 Line: 116.0 IP, 9.1 K/9, 3.3 BB/9, 0.2 HR/9, 2.80 FIP at Double-A
2013 ZiPS: 141.2 IP, 8.6 K/9, 4.4 BB/9, 0.7 HR/9, 1.9 WAR
Notes: Acquired by Mets originally in trade that sent Carlos Beltran to Giants. Numbers are from Double-A Binghamton, but also made six (less successful) starts at Triple-A Buffalo. Features plus fastball and slider. Will likely begin season at Triple-A Las Vegas.


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