FanGraphs Prospect Stock Watch – 05/22/12

Nolan Arenado, 3B, Colorado Rockies
Current Level: AA
2012 Top 15 Prospects Ranking: 1st
Current Value: Star-in-the-Making

It’s not even June but the Rockies are fading fast from the playoff picture. The hot corner has been a gaping hole and the organization’s top prospect just happens to be a third baseman. Unfortunately, Arenado is not exactly forcing the club’s hand to promote him. He’s currently hitting .303 in double-A but his OPS is just .788 as he’s not exactly getting on-base at a huge rate and he’s just hitting for OK power. Never one to take a huge number of walks, his rate is down to just 5.6 BB% this year after topping out at 8.1% in 2011. His strikeout rate is still good at 14.0 K% but it’s up to the highest mark of his career and 5% higher than last season. Arenado, 21, has 13 doubles but just three home runs after slugging 20 last year; his power, as witnessed by his ISO rate, has dipped each of the past few seasons from .212 to .190 to .137. After a breakout 2011 season in the California League and then an even better performance in the Arizona Fall League (.388/.423/.636 in 121 AB), the organization was probably hoping for a little bit more from Arenado and it looks like he won’t be ready before 2013.

Andrew Chafin, LHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
Current Level: A+
2012 Top 15 Prospects Ranking: 8th
Current Value: Breakout Potential

It seems like every time I turn around there is another pitching prospect showing off for Arizona. This time it’s Chafin, the 43rd overall pick in the 2011 amateur draft. A hard-throwing left-hander, he struck out 12 batters – without issuing a walk – in 7.0 innings during his last start on May 21. He’s now whiffed 66 batters in 50.2 innings of work while also producing above-average ground-ball rates. The southpaw’s splits are interesting; he’s allowed a .298 batting average to left-handed hitters while righties are hitting just .217. Chafin flashes a plus slider to go along with his 90-95 mph fastball but the improved numbers against right-handers lend proof to the belief that he’s made huge strides with his changeup. The Diamondbacks may have another gem in Chafin, who continues to look better and better as he quiets concerns over his 2010 Tommy John surgery.

Nick Franklin, SS, Seattle Mariners
Current Level: AA
2012 Top 15 Prospects Ranking: 5th
Current Value: Almost Big League Ready

It’s safe to say that Franklin is on fire. After hitting a respectable .296 in April, his batting average is up to .415 in May. Overall, he’s hitting .336 with 11 doubles and just 16 Ks in 33 games. On the down side, the home run power he displayed in 2010 in low-A ball is looking more and more like a fluke; going forward we should expect gap power with 10-12 home runs from the middle infielder. He hasn’t been running much this year (three steal attempts) but he’s a good base runner and has the speed to steal 15-20 bases at the big league level. A switch-hitter, Franklin is hitting just .233 from the right side, compared to .370 from the left. The shortstop position has been a gaping hole in Seattle this season with both Brendan Ryan and Munenori Kawasaki hitting below .180 and Franklin is probably the long-term solution but he may not be ready until 2013 and likely won’t be a star.

Starling Marte, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates
Current Level: AAA
2012 Top 15 Prospects Ranking: 6th
Current Value: Overrated

The Pittsburgh Pirates have received brutal production from the outfield in 2012, save for center-fielder Andrew McCutchen. After what seemed like a breakout 2011 season, many fans were eagerly anticipating the arrival of outfield prospect Marte to help take some of the offensive load off of the current starting outfield trio. Unfortunately, the wait may be longer than anticipated for many. Marte, 23, is struggling to put the finishing touches on his minor league career while playing at the triple-A level. He’s hitting just .246 and has taken nine walks on the year – which is actually an improvement over 2011 for the notoriously impatient hitter. Swift of foot, Marte hasn’t made the best decisions on the base paths and has been caught trying to steal during five of his 14 attempts. On the plus side he’s showing some gap power. Although the big league club could really use him now, Marte is probably still about a year away from helping the big league club on a regular basis but I’m still not sold on him being anything more than an average big league regular.

Ethan Martin, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
Current Level: AA
2012 Top 15 Prospects Ranking: NR
Current Value: Exceeding Expectation

It seems like everything is going right for the Dodgers organization this season as the McCourt fog of controversy begins to dissipate. The big league club is winning – even without Matt Kemp‘s bat in the lineup – and the minor league system is starting to breed true blue prospects. Martin was a lost soul within the system for the past two seasons – and even ended up in the bullpen for a time – but he’s back in the starting rotation in double-A and he’s on a roll. He’s given up more than two runs in a start just once in his last five appearances. The soon-to-be-23-year-old right-hander has given up just 34 hits with 47 strikeouts in 51.2 innings of work. On the down side, Martin has walked 27 and has been a fly-ball pitcher (despite giving up just three home runs). His changeup still needs a lot of polish, which is one of the reasons why left-handed batters are hitting .274 against him, compared to right-handed hitters at .113. If he continues on this path, Martin could develop into a No. 2 or 3 starter.



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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects, depth charts and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.


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AL Eastbound
Guest
4 years 2 months ago

Was the Arenado status correct? The analysis doesn’t seem to support a “star in the making” at this point?

James
Guest
James
4 years 2 months ago

I assume it’s due to Arenado just turning 20 last month and putting up a decent line in AA in his first year there.

Soxy
Guest
Soxy
4 years 2 months ago

As far as Arenado is concerned, Coors field has the ability to turn doubles or fly ball outs into homers. I say let him come up and figure it out next to Tulowitzki. Plus sometimes these “stars in the making” get bored riding the buses and really light it up in the Show. Especially if they have low K rates.

Derek
Guest
Derek
4 years 2 months ago

If Martin and Withrow can have good years. It would really help the Dodgers farm system. It’s never been a matter of stuff with either.

jfish26101
Member
4 years 2 months ago

Small suggestion, I would reward “overrated” to something else. Perhaps stock dropping since you are using stock rising? I think it is innocent enough but can just see fans of a team/player getting up in arms over the idea that their top prospects are overrated.

I enjoy the feature though. On a completely different topic, does Fangraphs plan to push out any 2012 Rule 4 draft content?

Psst
Guest
Psst
4 years 2 months ago

To be fair to Arenado he just went through a mini slump, lets see where he is mid June, his numbers from mid April to mid May were pretty average but his overall line is still good for a 121 OPS+.

byron
Member
byron
4 years 2 months ago

Really enjoy these articles, and I think you do a great job mixing it up between top 50 prospects, low minors upside guys, high minors guys who are close, and anything in between.

Small issue:I don’t really care about batting average at all. You do a great job talking walks and strikeouts, but I don’t understand why you lead off every hitter with whatever their current BA is. Is there any type of hitter where BA is more instructive than OBP/SLG? If you only want to use one number, when wouldn’t wOBA or wRC+ be better?

byron
Member
byron
4 years 2 months ago

Literally, Chris Owens on 5/17 is the only position player of the last ten you’ve written up whose first stat wasn’t batting average.

Marc Hulet
Guest
Marc Hulet
4 years 2 months ago

You’ll find I vary the stats once we exit the small sample size – approximately at the two month mark. I’ll definitely be using wRC+ more.

The Artful Dodger
Member
The Artful Dodger
4 years 2 months ago

Couldn’t one argue that BA is an indicator of how their hit tool is currently faring? I’m a huge fan of BA and demand you continue using it on the regular*

*I don’t really care about BA, and think you should use whatever metrics you find most illuminate the reader as to the value/status of the prospect. Thanks for doing the series.

byron
Member
byron
4 years 2 months ago

But . . . BA is one of the last stats to start to stabilize (Pizza Cutter)! Why would you use it MORE at the beginning of a season? Particularly with the generally higher and more variable BABIPs in the minor leagues (right? I’m not an expert on that). K rate stabilizes so much earlier (Pizza Cutter, again) and tells you way more about a player’s ability to make contact (again: right? not an expert).

Rocky Colavito
Guest
Rocky Colavito
4 years 2 months ago

My claim to fame: I got a hit of Mr. Chafin in high school. Ha, it’s great to see how far he’s come; honestly, I along with most of my teammates though he was very average in high school, never really saw much in him. Just goes to show how some prospects can turn to out to be late bloomers.

Colorado Rockies Prospects Report
Guest

Nolan Arenado is young for his league and is a notorious slow starter. He will likely be much more productive as the season grinds forward.

That said, while hitting over .300 he is not showing much power.

It appears that many were overzealous in their MLB ETA for Arenado. He’s going to need time to develop and I think a 2013 callup is more likely than sometime in 2012.

My original forecast was that he could be brought up at some point after the All-Star break in 2012 but that too might have been overly ambitious.

One thing is being proven – as much as many know that the California League is a hitters’ league, it might be much more so than thought as Arenado, Josh Rutledge and most of all, Kent Matthes are facing difficult adjustments to the Texas League.

RyanK
Guest
RyanK
4 years 1 month ago

Marc… I disagree about Franklin and won’t pay attention to any thing you write from here on out. Good luck.

RyanK
Guest
RyanK
4 years 1 month ago

You should be fired for being closed minded instead of objective.

Simon
Guest
Simon
4 years 17 days ago

I’m assuming these two comments are a joke. Otherwise, an unintentional irony award is surely yours.

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