Archive for Prospects

Top 5 Prospects for 2015: Tampa Bay Rays

This 30-part series will look at the projected Top 5 freshmen contributors for each big league club for the year ahead. The rankings take into consideration a mixture of ceiling, readiness and potential playing time allocation, which is to say some players with lower ceilings may be ranked ahead of others with higher ceilings because they project to have a greater impact in the coming season.

In a Nutshell: The Rays have some interesting names ready to challenge for permanent big league gigs, but their ceilings are fairly modest and there may not be a star player in the bunch.

The Top 5 Freshmen for 2015

Steven Souza, OF: As the key return in the WIl Myers trade this past off-season, the Rays clearly value Souza as a potential impact player. However, the outfield prospect will turn 26 in April and has eight years of minor league experience under his belt as a late-bloomer. With that said, he’s shown the ability to hit for average, power and steal bases so it’s easy to understand the interest in his potential. He could have some 20-20 (HR-SB) seasons in his prime, but those years are just about upon him.

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Final 2014 Zobrist Values

Last year for my FG+ article I created a methodology to find unheralded prospects similar to Ben Zobrist and Matt Carpenter by looking at recent minor league walk, strikeout and extra base hit numbers. I named my metric ZOBRIST and it performed better than I expected. I identified 10 players to watch for during the 2014 season and few had good MLB seasons like Kole Calhoun, Marcus Semien and Scott Van Slyke. I have decided to look again for similar players in 2015 with a few changes to the evaluations.

One issue I noticed when I went back and looked at the data was how one of the three traits (power, walks and strikeouts) could hurt the hitters chances for success. A hitter could have no strikeouts, a ton of walks and zero power so they could rate high with my metric. The problem is that the complete lack of power would get exposed in the majors. I needed to set a minimum level for each of the three stats. I use Chris St. John’s minor league walk and strikeout values and a replace level power numbers to set a minimum baseline each hitter must reach.

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Top 5 Prospects for 2015: New York Yankees

This 30-part series will look at the projected Top 5 freshmen contributors for each big league club for the year ahead. The rankings take into consideration a mixture of ceiling, readiness and potential playing time allocation, which is to say some players with lower ceilings may be ranked ahead of others with higher ceilings because they project to have a greater impact in the coming season.

In a Nutshell: New York doesn’t have the deepest system but it continues to produce big league contributors and its Class of 2015 could be one of the best in the Majors — if the rookies are given enough playing time to strut their stuff.

The Top 5 Freshmen for 2015

1. Jacob Lindgren, LHP: The club’s second-round pick in 2014, Lindgren allowed just 12 hits in 25.0 innings of work while pitching at four different levels of affiliated ball. The under-sized lefty also showed his dominance by striking out 48 batters and kept the ball almost solely on the mound when contact was actually made. Lindgren and Luis Severino (see below) could make for a dominating tandem of high-leverage relievers in the years to come.

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Top 5 Prospects for 2015: San Diego Padres

This 30-part series will look at the projected Top 5 freshman contributors for each big league club for the year ahead. The rankings take into consideration a mixture of ceiling, readiness and potential playing time allocation, which is to say some players with lower ceilings may be ranked ahead of others with higher ceilings because they project to have a greater impact in the coming season.

In a Nutshell: The massive roster overhaul by Padres’ front office has shed some prospects in trades and block others with newly-acquired veteran players. The outfield is especially deep with nine outfielders on the 40-man roster, which doesn’t bode well for the two outfield prospects on the list below (one of whom isn’t even on the 40-man).

The Top 5 Freshman for 2015

1. Matt Wisler, RHP: Like the outfield, San Diego has beefed up the pitching depth, which could leave Wisler in Triple-A for much of the season. However, a number of the pitchers are well-acquainted with the disabled list (such as Brandon Morrow and Josh Johnson) so that depth will likely be tested in 2015… and this young hurler is tops in the system. Even if he doesn’t break into the starting rotation this year, though, Wisler could make an impact in the bullpen where his stuff could play up and thrive.

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Top 5 Prospects for 2015: San Francisco Giants

This 30-part series will look at the projected Top 5 freshman contributors for each big league club for the year ahead. The rankings take into consideration a mixture of ceiling, readiness and potential playing time allocation, which is to say some players with lower ceilings may be ranked ahead of others with higher ceilings because they project to have a greater impact in the coming season.

In a Nutshell: The Giants’ freshman class of 2015 doesn’t have a lot of depth but it has a strong hitting prospect, a number of capable arms and even a guy that can make things happen with his feet — when he manages to get on base. All in all it should be decent but unspectacular.

The Top 5 Freshman for 2015

1. Andrew Susac, C: Veteran backstop Buster Posey has been seeing increased playing time at first base to try and shield him from injury. Susac could be the guy that finally pushes the former MVP to first permanently. The rookie backstop is a competent defender and has enough hitting skill to become an above-average hitter for a catcher. Because he’s lost some development time to injuries in the past, it will be understandable if the Giants want Susac to open the year back in Triple-A. But if back-up Henry Sanchez struggles again with the bat, it may be too tempting for the front office to give the freshman a shot on this perennial-playoff team.

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Finding Above Average Fastballs

I am huge proponent of the pitch type work which has led to the Arsenal Score here are FanGraphs. One possible issue with pitch type data is a reasonable amount of data needs to be collected before any conclusions could be draw. I am going to take it a step further today and look for MLB ready fastballs knowing just the pitcher’s velocity and break. Just knowing how the pitch’s speed and trajectory, some conclusions can be drawn on how the pitcher will perform in the future.

This past summer, I found how to estimate a pitcher’s fastball ground ball (GB%) and swinging strike rate (SwStr%) knowing just the velocity and break. The ground ball rate was the same for all pitches while the swinging strike rate varied a bit. Well, I went into meld/average mode to come up with a method to find a simple way to determine how productive a fastball may be knowing its current break and speed.

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Top 107 Redraft Prospects

Prospects are usually the sole dominion of keeper and dynasty league owners. In a redraft league, there is usually hype around a few players. Jose Abreu, Masahiro Tanaka, Billy Hamilton, and Gregory Polanco were among the most popular last year. There were also plenty of useful, under-the-radar types like Jacob deGrom, Kolten Wong, Danny Santana, and Collin McHugh.

What follows is a list of 107 prospects, gathered for their proximity to the big leagues and potential for valuable contributions. There will be names missing, if only because my methodology for hunting down candidates was imperfect. I used FanGraphs’ depth charts, 40-man rosters, and top prospect lists to gather everybody I believed could be a positive contributor in 2015.

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Prospect Classes In Ottoneu

Chad Young and I have written a couple times about our general disdain for prospects in ottoneu. It’s not that we dislike all prospects, they’re just rarely a cost effective means to build (or even rebuild) a team. It would be fantastic to own Kris Bryant for $3. Unfortunately, his average price is actually $10 – on par with Danny Salazar and more than Nolan Arenado. Of course, Bryant is a “can’t miss” star. Right? Right!? While prospects of his caliber don’t often fail, it does happen. Given that his owner has probably invested upwards of $20 over the last couple years, Bryant needs to do a lot better than “not fail” in order to be a profitable asset.

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Top 5 Prospects for 2015: Arizona Diamondbacks

This 30-part series will look at the projected Top 5 freshman contributors for each big league club for the year ahead. The rankings take into consideration a mixture of ceiling, readiness and potential playing time allocation, which is to say some players with lower ceilings may be ranked ahead of others with higher ceilings because they project to have a greater impact in the coming season.

In a Nutshell: The Diamondbacks made a lot of moves this winter in an effort to get younger and boost up their farm system. I actually prefer most of the in-house prospects they already had when compared to the near-MLB-ready talent they brought in. From a ceiling perspective, and compared to the rest of the league, Arizona could have some of the best prospects contribute at the big league level in 2015.

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Top 5 Prospects for 2015: St. Louis Cardinals

This 30-part series will look at the projected Top 5 freshman contributors for each big league club for the year ahead. The rankings take into consideration a mixture of ceiling, readiness and potential playing time allocation, which is to say some players with lower ceilings may be ranked ahead of others with higher ceilings because they project to have a greater impact in the coming season.

In a Nutshell: Promotions and trades (not to mention so-so draft results) have left the system somewhat bare and the ceilings for upper-level talents modest. The list below definitely lacks a “wow” factor.

The Top 5 Freshman for 2015

1. Stephen Piscotty, OF: The Jason Heyward trade was good news for Cardinals fans, but not as well received (I would assume) by the family and friends of Piscotty. A former third baseman, he was being groomed as the next corner outfielder in St. Louis before the deal put the kibosh on that for 2015 — unless an injury occurs to Heyward or Matt Holliday. He has a chance to hit .280-.300 with 15 or so homers. Piscotty makes good contact and will even steal the odd base.

2. Marco Gonzales, LHP: A polished southpaw, Gonzales has a modest ceiling considering he was selected 19th overall in the 2013 amateur draft. He doesn’t have “stellar stuff” but he succeeds due to above-average command/control (although that slipped during his MLB debut) and a plus changeup. Gonzales has a chance to settle in as a No. 3/4 starter. He’ll compete for a rotation spot in spring training but he has the likes of Jaime Garcia, Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez ahead of him, which means he could be destined for more Triple-A time or a bullpen spot.

3. Randal Grichuk, OF: Like Piscotty, the acquisition of Jason Heyward puts a damper on the 2015 outlook. However, Grichuk is a little ahead of his fellow rookie on the depth chart (but has a lower ceiling) so he may spend the year with sporadic playing time as the club’s fourth or fifth outfielder. The young outfielder has some pop in his bat but his overly-aggressive approach puts a dent in his production and hurts both his on-base percentage and his ability to make consistent contact.

4. Tim Cooney, LHP: Cooney, 24, is very similar to Gonzales. The southpaw’s best asset is his changeup, followed by perhaps his durability or command/control. He was prone to the home run ball in 2014 at the Triple-A level so it’s something to be cautious of as he settles into a big league role. Unless injuries blow through the Cardinals’ starting staff in 2015, Cooney is likely to see his first big league action or a middle or long reliever. His ultimate ceiling is that of a No. 4 starter.

5. Sam Tuivailala, RHP: A former pro shortstop, it took Tuivailala a couple of seasons to acclimatized himself the new role on the mound. Things really clicked in 2014, though, and played at four different levels, including the Majors. He features an upper-90s fastball and promising curveball, which should allow him to eventually settle in as a high-leverage reliever.