Szymborski’s MLEs: Five Notable (Double-A) Batters

In my two most recent dispatches from the front lines of baseballing analysis, I’ve submitted for the reader’s consideration some notable zMLEs — that is, minor league translations courtesy of beloved Pole Dan Szymborski.

Though, as Szymborski shouts at the top of his lungs, the numbers are subject to all manner of caveat, they still provide an interesting point of departure for developing ideas about players come 2011.

Below are five notable Double-A batter zMLEs, accompanied by notations of varying utility. As to what constitutes “notable,” there’s no hard definition, but I’ve generally looked for hitters with at least 100 ABs and have omitted more well-known prospects — like Devin Mesoraco or Mike Moustakas, for example.

Ages are as of today, November 1st. The wOBAs (for the MLEs, that is) are approximate; players, ordered according to author’s whim.

Name: Brandon Guyer, 24, CF
Organization: Chicago (NL) Level: Double-A
Actual: 410 PA, .344/.398/.588 (.371 BABIP), .452 wOBA
zMLE: 410 PA, .284/.327/.462 (.323 BABIP), .344 wOBA
• Was repeating Double-A after doing this through 205 PA in 2009: .190/.236/.291 (.223 BABIP), .238 wOBA.
• Of course, was also in High-A in 2009 and raked: 305 PA, .347/.407/.453 (.380 BABIP), .410 wOBA.
The most recent iteration of CHONE projects him as roughly league average (-4 runs) in center field.
• Was on neither Baseball America’s nor John Sickels’ (preliminary) prospect list for Cubs.
• Currently playing for Tigres de Aragua of Venzuelan League, slashing .333/.437/.417 in 60 AB.

El Tigres!

Name: Dave Sappelt, 23, CF
Organization: Cincinnati Level: Double-A
Actual: 372 PA, .361/.416/.548 (.394 BABIP), .421 wOBA
zMLE: 372 PA, .290/.338/.432 (.330 BABIP), .341 wOBA
• Was also promoted to Triple-A, where he did this: 115 PA, .324/.365/.481 (.362 BABIP), .374 wOBA.
• Per zMLE, that line looks like this: 115 PA, .275/.319/.422 (.312 BABIP), .327 wOBA.
• The most recent CHONE projection has him at .271/.313/.394 — and +10 runs in center field.
• It’s very possible — at least according to the numbers — that he’s an average major leaguer right now.
• Also was on neither BA’s nor Sickels’ respective lists last year.

Name: Steve Lombardozzi, 22, 2B
Organization: Washington Level: Double-A
Actual: 118 PA, .295/.373/.524 (.306 BABIP), .396 wOBA
zMLE: 118 PA, .259/.328/.426 (.291 BABIP), .333 wOBA
• Is noted, in BA’s preseason Prospect Handbook, for being “hard-nosed.”
• Is predicted, in same text, to become “a sparkplug in the Nick Punto mold.”
• Nick Punto, age-21 season (1999), at High-A: 478 PA, .305/.404/.388 (.353 BABIP).
• Lombardozzi at High-A this season: 507 PA, .293/.370/.405 (.336 BABIP).
• That’s pretty similar, although I’m guessing Lombardozzi hits a home run more than once every 189 ABs as a major leaguer.

Name: Charlie Blackmon, 24, CF
Organization: Colorado Level: Double-A
Actual: 381 PA, .297/.360/.484 (.309 BABIP), .381 wOBA
zMLE: 381 PA, .277/.326/.428 (.306 BABIP), .333 wOBA
• Is closest thing to actual prospect on this list, ranking 12th in organization on Baseball America’s preseason list.
• Looks like he ranked somewhere around there on Sickels’ list, too.
• Sickels said he’s a “terrific glove in center.”
• BA said, “Needs to improve his jumps and reads so he doesn’t have to rely as much on his speed.”
• CHONE says he’s basically a league-average center fielder.
• Who ought we to trust in this epic battle of prospect mavenry?!?
• In any case, is having a pretty wicked AFL so far with Scottsdale: 35 AB, .286/.375/.571, 3 HR, 5 BB, 1 K.

Name: Robinson Chirinos, 26, C
Organization: Chicago (NL) Level: Double-A
Actual: 318 PA, .314/.409/.576 (.308 BABIP), .424 wOBA
zMLE: 318 PA, .271/.347/.451 (.289 BABIP), .353 wOBA
• Yes, yes, yes: he was old for his level this year.
• But also, please consider: he converted to catcher from infield in mid-2008.
• Walked 42 times, struck out only 35 this season.
• CHONE has him as a .261/.341/.427 true-talent hitter.
• Please, people, give both peace and Robinson Chirinos a chance.

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