Offseason Notes – With Final VWL Leaderboards

Hanley Ramirez knows at least one more language than the author of this post.

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

1. Assorted Headlines
2. Final (!) SCOUT Leaderboards: Venezuelan Winter League
3. Prospecting: John Sickels’ Top-20 List for San Francisco

Assorted Headlines
Ramirez Fine with Third Base
“Jugaré donde me pongan,” Miami Marlin infielder Hanley Ramirez told the AP’s Dionisio Soldevila on Saturday — which, provided Google Translate isn’t lying, means something to the effect of “I will play where I’m put.” The difference in positional adjustment between shortstop and third base is five runs per 162 defensive games — meaning that, were Ramirez a true-talent 5.0 WAR player at short, he’d be a 4.5 WAR player at third. Of course, that also ignores defensive runs saved (UZR), which is also likely to change (for the better, one would think) with a move to the left side of the defensive spectrum. (Thanks to MLBTR’s Nick Collias for link.)

Toronto Adds Frasor, Oliver
The Toronto Blue Jays both traded for Jason Frasor and signed left-hander Darren Oliver over the holiday weekend, reports’s Gregor Chisholm. Frasor, 34, and Oliver, 57, both profile to post above-average xFIP-s and join Sergio Santos in a Blue Jay bullpen that has been strengthened (pretty affordably) over the winter after being mostly lost to trade at least year’s deadline.

SCOUT Leaderboards: Venezuelan Winter League
The regular season portion of the Venezuelan Winter League is now complete. Final SCOUT leaderboards for batters and pitchers are below. Complete SCOUT figures are available by clicking here.

Batting Leaderboard
Here is the final SCOUT batting leaderboard for the VWL. SCOUT represents an attempt to derive something meaningful from small samples and is the average of a player’s standard deviations from the VWL mean in three important (and regressed) stats: walk rate, strikeout rate, and home-run rate. (Click here for more on SCOUT.)

Name Org PA xBB% xK% xHR% BBz Kz HRz SCOUT
Luis Jimenez SEA 264 18.8% 17.8% 3.6% 2.12 -0.28 0.92 0.92
Bryan LaHair CHN 206 18.2% 25.2% 5.6% 1.98 -1.68 2.17 0.82
Gregor Blanco SF 243 21.3% 18.9% 1.7% 2.75 -0.49 -0.21 0.68
Jesus Guzman SD 187 18.2% 15.5% 1.4% 1.97 0.15 -0.38 0.58
Mario Lisson KC 185 10.8% 17.8% 4.5% 0.16 -0.29 1.45 0.44
Sean Burroughs MIN 154 11.3% 7.8% 1.0% 0.30 1.60 -0.64 0.42
Edgardo Alfonzo ??? 163 8.4% 9.2% 2.6% -0.43 1.33 0.33 0.41
Mike Wilson SEA 173 18.4% 26.6% 3.9% 2.02 -1.93 1.09 0.40
Hector Gimenez LAN 196 13.7% 17.9% 3.1% 0.88 -0.29 0.59 0.39
Luis Valbuena TOR 244 14.3% 15.6% 2.1% 1.02 0.14 -0.01 0.38

• Infielder Mario Lisson makes his debut on the VWL SCOUT leaderboard in the final week of competition, after hitting five home runs in his last five games. Lisson, who turns 28 in 2012, played mostly third base with Kansas City’s Double-A club. He was ranked by John Sickels as the 13th overall prospect in the Royals org… in the year 2007.
• Likely (as of now) Chicago Cubs starting first baseman Bryan LaHair climbed from ninth to second on the leaderboard. He finished over two standard deviations above the VWL mean in terms of regressed home-run rate.

Pitching Leaderboard
For pitchers, SCOUT is the average of a player’s standard deviations from the VWL mean in (regressed) strikeout and walk rate.

Name Org G GS IP BF xK% xBB% Kz BBz SCOUT
Enrique Gonzalez DET 25 0 27.0 107 27.5% 8.5% 2.50 0.01 1.25
Yusmeiro Petit MEX 14 13 81.2 341 21.7% 5.3% 1.14 1.04 1.09
Dylan Owen NYN 9 7 41.2 168 23.3% 7.8% 1.50 0.25 0.88
Eric Junge LAA 11 10 56.2 231 21.7% 7.3% 1.13 0.39 0.76
Josh Schmidt NYA 6 6 32.1 135 23.0% 9.0% 1.44 -0.14 0.65
Mike Parisi LAN 9 8 51.2 203 19.2% 6.3% 0.56 0.71 0.63
Yohan Pino TOR 29 0 45.2 185 20.6% 7.3% 0.88 0.39 0.63
Josh Wilkie WAS 25 0 26.1 116 21.1% 7.8% 1.00 0.23 0.61
Deunte Heath CHA 7 7 35.1 151 22.5% 8.9% 1.32 -0.12 0.60
Kendy Batista IND 22 0 25.2 111 22.4% 9.2% 1.31 -0.20 0.55

For the first time in his professional career, at any level, Enrique Gonzalez struck out more than a batter per inning (60 K, 47.2 IP) this past season at Triple-A Toledo — a trend he continued in this year’s edition of the VWL. Even still, when recalled by the Tigers in April and early June, Gonzalez managed only to strike out three of the 44 batters he faced (6.8%), while walking seven of them (15.9%). Per PITCHf/x, it’s not the slider (31.8% of all pitches) that’s been the problem: the pitch has been worth +1.51 runs per every hundred thrown. His four-seam fastball (54.9%), however, has been worth -1.29 runs per hundred.

Prospecting: John Sickels on San Francisco
John Sickels has published his preliminary top-20 list for the San Francisco Giants.

Here are some notes on same:

• Sickels ranks outfielder Gary Brown and infielder Joe Panik first and second, respectively, in the organization. Both players had excellent contact rates at their respective levels in 2011: Brown, 23, posted a 12.1% strikeout rate in 638 plate appearances at High-A San Jose; Panik, 21, posted just an 8.2% (while walking 9.2% of the time) in his 304 plate appearances at Low-A Salem-Keizer. Brown’s baserunning and defense are praised all over the internet, suggesting he could add runs/wins in both capacities. Regarding Panik (who actually out-hit Brown, per SCOUT, pretty convincingly in the Arizona Fall League), the defense is a question: if he proves capable of playing a decent shortstop, his offensive upside is particularly promising.

• Sickels ranks third baseman Conor Gillaspie 20th overall, nor are many prospect mavens likely to rate Gillaspie much higher. I, perhaps foolishly, think a great deal of him, ranking him fifth on the very important, and entirely annual, Team Joy Squad before the 2011 season. Gillaspie proceeded to post a totally competent offensive season (108 wOBA+) as a 23-year-old at Triple-A. There’s been some conversation about how he’d maybe play second base, in addition to third, to increase his usefulness.

• Note: former top-ish prospect Angel Villalona is back in affiliated baseball after being absolved of murder charges in his native Dominican Republic. Only still 21, Villalona displayed good power for his age back in 2008-09, with a distressing lack of plate discipline.

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