Less Premature Statistical Report on the Arizona Fall League

Last week, the author published an entirely premature statistical report on the Arizona Fall League — less because such a thing is of great utility to prospect analysis, and more because, for those of us not currently present in the Greater Phoenix area, one of the few ways to participate in that very compelling league is by dwelling for too long on very small statistical samples.

What follows — because it appears not just a single day, but rather a week and a day, into that same League’s season — is less premature.

*****

Less Premature SCOUT Leaderboard: Arizona Fall League Hitters
Below is the current SCOUT batting leaderboard for all Arizona Fall League hitters. SCOUT+ combines regressed home-run, walk, and strikeout rates in a FIP-like equation to produce a result not unlike wRC+, where 100 is league average and above 100 is above average. Note that xHR%, xBB%, and xK% stand for expected home run, walk, and strikeout rate, respectively.

Player MLB Age PA HR BB K xHR% xBB% xK% SCOUT+
Michael Ohlman Orioles 22 8 1 3 0 2.1% 13.0% 18.1% 117
Kris Bryant Cubs 21 20 2 1 2 2.6% 10.2% 17.3% 116
Matt Skole Nationals 23 15 1 4 2 2.1% 13.2% 19.0% 115
Thomas La Stella Braves 24 14 0 4 0 1.5% 13.2% 16.0% 114
Wes Darvill Cubs 21 6 1 2 0 2.1% 12.3% 18.8% 114
Jared Mitchell White Sox 24 13 1 1 0 2.1% 10.8% 16.4% 113
Travis Mattair Reds 24 13 1 3 2 2.1% 12.5% 19.7% 112
Albert Almora Cubs 19 15 1 1 1 2.1% 10.7% 17.3% 111
Addison Russell Athletics 19 16 0 3 1 1.5% 12.2% 17.0% 109
Ryan Brett Rays 21 18 0 4 2 1.4% 12.9% 18.0% 109

Less Premature SCOUT Leaderboard: Arizona Fall League Pitchers
Below is the current SCOUT pitching leaderboard for the AFL. SCOUT- combines regressed strikeout and walk rates in a kwERA-like equation to produce a number not unlike ERA-, where 100 is league average and below 100 is better than average. Note that xK% and xBB% stand for expected strikeout and walk rate, respectively.

Player MLB Age G GS IP TBF K BB xK% xBB% SCOUT-
Andrew Heaney Marlins 22 1 1 3.0 11 6 0 26.2% 10.5% 87
Ken Giles Phillies 22 2 0 2.0 7 5 0 26.0% 10.8% 88
Samuel Solis Nationals 24 2 2 7.2 31 10 3 25.9% 10.9% 89
Nick Wittgren Marlins 22 2 0 2.1 9 5 0 25.4% 10.6% 89
Bo Schultz D-backs 27 2 2 8.1 35 10 3 24.7% 10.7% 91
Drew Hayes Reds 25 2 0 2.0 7 4 0 24.5% 10.8% 91
Pedro Baez Dodgers 25 2 0 2.0 7 4 0 24.5% 10.8% 91
Jonas Dufek Astros 25 2 0 2.0 7 4 0 24.5% 10.8% 91
Dominic Leone Mariners 21 2 0 2.1 8 4 0 24.2% 10.7% 92
Alex Meyer Twins 23 2 2 5.0 19 6 1 23.8% 10.6% 92

Notes and Observations
• Baltimore’s Michael Ohlman split his games at High-A Frederick this season between catcher and designated hitter, which seems to give rather a concise summary of his skills on the defensive side of things. Ohlman was proficient offensively this year, recording walk and strikeout rates of 13.2% and 21.9%, respectively, while hitting 13 home runs in 424 plate appearances. His future value would appear to depend largely on his capacity to remain at catcher. A defensively average one of those has a positional adjustment of +8-10 runs per season; a first baseman, approximately the inverse of that.

• Cubs prospect Kris Bryant‘s offensive future is likely tied to his capacity for making contact. He’s generally regarded as having raw power at something between 70 and 80 on the scouting scale. His home-run rate of 9.0% on contact this year in 146 minor-league plate appearances is approximately 2-3 standard deviations above the major-league mean. Furthermore, he’s begun his AFL with two homers in just 20 plate appearances.

Here are some rough projections for Future Kris Bryant, with walk rate and home-run rate on contact fixed at (a roughly league-average) 8.0% and (perhaps fair) 7.5%, respectively, but with different strikeout rates:

PA BB% K% HRC% BABIP HR wOBA Off
600 8.0% 15.0% 7.5% .300 35 .387 31
600 8.0% 20.0% 7.5% .300 32 .367 22
600 8.0% 25.0% 7.5% .300 30 .348 13
600 8.0% 30.0% 7.5% .300 28 .328 4
600 8.0% 35.0% 7.5% .300 26 .309 -5
600 8.0% 40.0% 7.5% .300 23 .289 -15

• FanGraphs’ Nathaniel Stoltz discussed former ninth-overall pick Andrew Heaney in August, shortly after the left-hander was promoted to Double-A. Heaney was excellent in the Florida State League, recording a 66:17 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 61.2 innings for Miami affiliate Jupiter. His strikeout rate, however, dropped nearly 10 percentage points over six starts following the move to Double-A. Significant? Hardly something about which to worry? One doesn’t know.




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Carson Cistulli occasionally publishes spirited ejaculations at The New Enthusiast.


8 Responses to “Less Premature Statistical Report on the Arizona Fall League”

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  1. Bip says:

    Do guys who struggle with contact also tend to have low BABIPs? Or is that more related to their flyball tendencies? I could also see why those guys might have high BABIP; if they swing for the fences a lot, then when they do make contact, you’d expect it to be hard.

    I don’t know anything about Kris Bryant, but is he a flyball-type hitter? If so, might it make sense to adjust his BABIP down? What position does he play/is he likely to play in the majors? Assuming league average defense at that position, what would he WAR be?

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    • Bip says:

      I looked him up and saw his BABIP have been over .400 throughout much of his professional career. Does anyone know if that is typical for talented hitting prospects? It appears, based on his numbers, that he has been better than his competition up to high-A ball. Should he reach a level more worthy of his skills, how significantly would we expect his BABIP to drop?

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    • evo34 says:

      If you’re too lazy/uninformed to know his position, probably best not to comment on the subtleties of his future BABIP projection.

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      • Bip says:

        If you can’t discern a question meant to provoke discussion from a comment taking some position, best not comment at all.

        I looked and say he’s listed as a 3B, but players often play more difficult in the minors than the majors, so I didn’t know if he is considered likely to stick at 3B in the majors.

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        • Roger says:

          There was talk at draft time that he might end up in RF or 1B, but reports on his 3B defense as a pro have been positive. If Baez has to move to 3B, Bryant could move to RF, but it’s unlikely to be due to any deficiency on Bryant’s part.

          I’m not qualified to address the BABIP and WAR questions.

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  2. LostinTranslation says:

    Why would a 27 year old be in the Arizona Fall League? Not so much a question about him, but about how an organization is spending their money. Of course, it is the Diamondbacks, so the actual cost is nothing–but the opportunity cost seems to be quite high, right?

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    • dudley says:

      interesting question about the 27 year-old. it looks like they shifted him from a relief role to starting in June, and just wanted him to get a few more starts in before the spring. maybe they’re hoping he can contend for a rotation spot next year.

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    • Roger says:

      Because of season innings/pitch limits that organizations impose, as well as the hitter-friendly environment of Arizona, pitchers in the AFL tend to be more organization filler than anything else. When you do see a significant pitching prospect there, such as Heaney, there’s usually a regular season injury involved. Thus, the opportunity cost of an AFL pitcher roster spot is quite low.

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