A New York-Penn League Pref List for 2017

Because most of the posts I publish at FanGraphs are based on my KATOH projection system, you might think my interests lie in stark contrast to the typical scout’s. My work is often presented against the backdrop of traditional prospect lists in an effort to identify players who may by underrated by the scouting consensus. However, I do attempt to see prospects in person from time to time in order to put faces and bodies to the stat lines I spend so much time analyzing.

As noted previously in these pages, my in-person looks are defined by one constraint — namely, my general reluctance to leave the five boroughs of New York. As such, I confine my interest in pro prospects to those players in the New York-Penn League (NYPL), seeing as many games over the summer as my schedule will permit.

What follows is specific sort of document, then, based on a combination of in-person looks, statistical performance, and geography. It is, in short, the pref list of someone who refused to stray far from New York City while compiling it. The mediocre scouting video is my own. KATOH numbers represent projected WAR over first six major-league seasons.

For your convenience, here’s a table that includes relevant information on all 31 of the players covered below.

NYPL Prospects
Rank Name KATOH KATOH+
1 Brendan McKay (Pitcher) 8.0 8.0
2 Jorge Guzman 4.5 4.4
3 Adam Haseley 1.5 3.3
4 Vidal Brujan 3.1 2.6
5 Juan De Paula 2.5 2.4
6 Brendan McKay (Hitter) 0.3 1.6
7 Patrick Sandoval 3.2 2.3
8 Greg Deichmann 1.4 1.2
9 Oswaldo Cabrera 2.4 1.2
10 Jhonleider Salinas 1.1 1.1
11 Nick Maton 1.3 1.2
12 Quinn Brodey 0.3 0.3
13 Matt Winaker 0.6 0.6
14 Daniel Alvarez 2.5 2.4
15 Will Toffey 0.4 0.4
16 Taylor Walls 0.2 0.2
17 Briam Campusano 1.6 1.5
18 Drew Finley 1.1 1.1
19 Jio Orozco 1.1 0.9
20 Abdiel Mendoza 0.6 0.6
21 J.J. Matijevic 0.1 0.1
22 Corey Julks 0.6 0.6
23 Miguelangel Sierra 0.4 0.3
24 Wilkerman Garcia 0.2 0.3
25 Leonardo Molina 0.3 0.2
26 Emilio Gustave 0.0 0.0
27 Eduardo Rivera 0.1 0.1
28 Cole Stobbe 0.1 0.1
29 Jason Lopez 1.0 0.9
30 Greg Pickett 0.1 0.1
31 Oscar Rojas 0.0 0.0

*****
Brendan McKay, LHP, Tampa (Profile)
KATOH: 8.0 WAR
KATOH+: 8.0 WAR

McKay’s fastball ran the gamut from 91 to 95 mph. He commanded it well, placing it on both corners of the plate with ease. He complemented it with a good curveball in the 83-86 mph range and mixed in some changeups that were slightly faster than his curve. McKay was obviously too good for the NYPL this year, which was to be expected from an elite college draftee. The real test will be full-season ball next year. Note: due to McKay’s lack of professional innings, his KATOH figures above refer to his projection generated from his college performance.

Jorge Guzman, RHP, New York AL (Profile)
KATOH: 4.5 WAR
KATOH+: 4.4 WAR

Guzman throws absolute gas. He sat 96-100 mph as a starter and even ran it up to 102 a couple of times. He can also miss bats with a slider that he can throw as hard as 89 mph. It’s not hard to see how he struck out league-leading 33% of batters faced last year on his way to a 2.30 ERA. KATOH adores his gaudy strikeout numbers. My math sees him as a back-end top-100 prospect, despite the risk associated short-season pitchers.

Adam Haseley, CF, Philadelphia (Profile)
KATOH: 1.5 WAR
KATOH+: 3.3 WAR

This year’s eighth overall pick and KATOH’s top college bat in the draft, Haseley hit a solid .284/.357/.405 in his pro debut across three levels. I was lucky enough to catch him on his way through the NYPL, where he showed a solid approach at the plate and good bat speed. Haseley’s a good hitter who runs well and plays center field, which makes for an encouraging overall package. He predictably cruised through the lower levels this year, so next season will be the real test.

Vidal Brujan, 2B, Tampa (Profile)
KATOH: 3.1 WAR
KATOH+: 2.6 WAR

Brujan had an awesome year in the NYPL, slashing .285/.378/.415 and swiping 16 bases. The switch-hitting second baseman has a patient approach and manages to generate power despite his slight frame. (The last swing of the video is one of his three homers on the year.) Paired with his speed and defense, that makes him quite the prospect. KATOH is a little deterred by Brujan’s 5-foot-9 stature, but his performance as a teenager has been excellent.

Juan De Paula, RHP, New York AL (Profile)
KATOH: 2.5 WAR
KATOH+: 2.4 WAR

De Paula sat in the low 90s with his fastball, but he did bump 94 a couple of times. He complements his heater with a hard, high-80s slider and mid-70s curve with good movement. As a result, De Paula fared well in the NYPL this year, posting a 2.90 ERA as a teenager. His command wasn’t great, though; his fastball sometimes catches too much of the plate for a low-90s offering and I saw him hang quite a few breaking balls. Still, there’s a lot to like about a 19-year-old performer with a projectable frame. Added bonus: check out the BAMF cargo ship in the background passing through New York Harbor.

Brendan McKay, 1B, Tampa (Profile)
KATOH: 0.3 WAR
KATOH+: 1.6 WAR

June’s No. 4 overall pick slashed just .232/.349/.376 after going pro, which is obviously underwhelming for a first baseman. KATOH remains unimpressed with McKay’s hitting, pegging him for just 0.3 WAR by the stats-only version — exactly where my college model (which has no bearing on this projection) had him in June. I was lucky enough to see McKay’s first professional homer (about 11 seconds into the video), but I also saw him strike out twice and swing through some hittable pitches. Hitting has never been a priority for McKay, so perhaps he’ll improve with more reps. But his performance to date — middling power and immoderate strikeouts — is weak for a first baseman.

Patrick Sandoval, LHP, Houston (Profile)
KATOH: 3.2 WAR
KATOH+: 2.3 WAR

Sandoval’s fastball topped out at just 89 mph from the left side and was mostly in the 85-87 range. But he locates it well enough to miss bats (in short-season ball, at least). His real weapon is a mid-70s curveball that he buries below the zone. His feel for the pitch came and went, but he made short-season hitters look foolish when it was on. He also mixed in a few low-80s changeups but didn’t command them well. Sandoval will probably need to add more velocity to crack the big leagues, but his curve alone was enough to carve up opponents at this level.

Greg Deichmann, RF, Oakland (Profile)
KATOH: 1.4 WAR
KATOH+: 1.2 WAR

Oakland’s 2017 second-round pick, Deichmann hit well in his pro debut, mashing .274/.385/.530. Just like he did at LSU, Deichmann hit for copious power and drew plenty of walks. He has impressive bat speed but also some swing-and-miss, striking out 21% of the time against NYPL pitchers. Deichmann shows promise, but as a 21-year-old corner outfielder who’s had contact issues against low-level pitching, he carries some risk.

Oswaldo Cabrera, IF, New York AL (Profile)
KATOH: 2.4 WAR
KATOH+: 1.2 WAR

Cabrera is a contact-oriented middle infielder who held his own at the plate despite being very young for his levels. The 18-year-old started and finished the year with Low-A Charleston, but spent a month in Staten Island over the summer. He hit a solid .289/.337/.344 over that month and performed similarly following a promotion back to Low-A. Cabrera posted an impressive 13% strikeout rate thanks to a short, simple swing that gets even simpler with two strikes when he eliminates his leg kick and minimizes his stride. Cabrera played mostly second base at Staten Island (in deference to Wilkerman Garcia) but has also played a good bit of shortstop and third. His youth, contact, and defensive skills make him intriguing.

Jhonleider Salinas, RHP, Tampa (Profile)
KATOH: 1.1 WAR
KATOH+: 1.1 WAR

A lanky, 6-foot-7 righty from Venezuela, Salinas touched 97 mph with his fastball. He complemented it with a slider that looked nasty at times but not with any regularity. Given his long arm action and iffy command, it’s probably safe to assume he’s a reliever long-term. Given his age, distance from the majors, and bloated walk numbers, KATOH doesn’t think he’s terribly likely to have a fruitful big-league career. But Salinas’s stuff suggests otherwise.

Nick Maton, SS, Philadelphia (Profile)
KATOH: 1.3 WAR
KATOH+: 1.2 WAR

Philadelphia’s 2017 seventh-round pick, Maton hit an unremarkable .252/.350/.333 in his pro debut. Despite that forgettable performance, his projectable frame (6-foot-2, 165 pounds) and patient approach are encouraging. Speedy shortstops don’t need to hit much, so Maton’s approach paired with a touch of power might be enough for him to carve out a role in the big leagues.

Quinn Brodey, OF, New York NL (Profile)
KATOH: 0.3 WAR
KATOH+: 0.3 WAR

Brodey went in the third round after a solid junior season at Stanford but hit an unimpressive .253/.302/.355 over his first 268 pro plate appearances. Despite his lackluster numbers, Brodey has good bat speed and more power than his .102 ISO implies. Brodey’s speed and defense give his bat some margin for error, which may be needed given his contact troubles at the lower levels.

Matt Winaker, 1B, New York NL (Profile)
KATOH: 0.6 WAR
KATOH+: 0.6 WAR

Winaker recorded 87 professional plate appearances in his draft year, which yielded strange results — particularly for a first-base prospect. His 17.2% walk rate dwarfed his 12.6% strikeout rate, but his power was non-existent. Winaker’s college performance — along with his strong, level swing — suggests he has more power than his small-sample NYPL numbers indicate. The fifth-rounder clearly has some skills, but he’ll fight an uphill battle as a first-base prospect.

Daniel Alvarez, RHP, New York AL (Profile)
KATOH: 2.5 WAR
KATOH+: 2.4 WAR

Alvarez only throws 90 mph, but he has a very good curveball that has afforded him a good deal of success in the lower levels. As a soft-tossing righty with a minimal prospect pedigree, Alvarez will need to prove himself at every level. And considering he’s already 21 and has a relatively thick frame, more velocity isn’t necessarily coming. The good news is that his curveball can miss bats and he’s performed well at every stop. I also saw him record a win over some guy named Noah Syndergaard in his last start of the year.

Will Toffey, 3B, Oakland (Profile)
KATOH: 0.4 WAR
KATOH+: 0.4 WAR

After a breakout .354/.475/.602 performance at Vanderbilt and a fourth-round draft selection, Toffey hit an unremarkable .263/.377/.349 in his first taste of pro ball. To his credit, Toffey’s discerning eye stood out when I saw him and that wasn’t an anomaly: he took the second-most balls in the NYPL while also posting the second-lowest swinging-strike rate. Toffey can clearly control the strike zone, but the power that made him a fourth-rounder was nowhere to be seen this summer. One of the few 1994 birthdays drafted this year, Toffey was a bit old for the NYPL, making his performance especially disappointing.

Taylor Walls, SS, Tampa (Profile)
KATOH: 0.2 WAR
KATOH+: 0.2 WAR

A stocky, switch-hitting shortstop, Walls hit a puny .213/.330/.287 in the NYPL. His pro debut was characterized by lots of walks, lots of strikeouts, and very little power. Still, Walls is a shortstop with speed who has a track record of solid hitting at Florida State. He was selected in the third round last June for a reason.

Briam Campusano, RHP, New York NL (Profile)
KATOH: 1.6 WAR
KATOH+: 1.6 WAR

Campusano only throws about 90 mph, but he relied on a good changeup (83-84 mph) to carve up low-minors hitters. His arm action on his changeups wasn’t always consistent when I saw him, yet it still managed to miss bats. Campusano also sprinkled in some sliders and curves, which kept hitters off balance. Neither Campusano’s stuff, nor his background, nor his build is the sort typically possessed by a true prospect. But to his credit, he achieved good results this year. A 2.89 ERA and 2.83 FIP as a starter is impressive, even if most of it came as a 21-year-old in Rookie ball.

Drew Finley, RHP, New York AL (Profile)
KATOH: 1.1 WAR
KATOH+: 1.1 WAR

Finley’s heater tops out at 92 mph, but has a good curveball and changeup and commands all three of his pitches decently. Still, as a short-season pitcher with mediocre numbers and mediocre stuff, his odds of developing a big leaguer of any consequence aren’t great.

Jio Orozco, RHP, New York AL (Profile)
KATOH: 1.1 WAR
KATOH+: 0.9 WAR

Orozco opened the year at Low-A, but the Yankees returned him to the NYPL after he struggled early. Orozco sat in the low 90s and nibbled around the zone with unremarkable command. As a result, he fell behind most batters and ended up in a lot of deep counts. His changeup and curve both looked good, however. Orozco’s pretty maxed out physically at a stocky 6-foot-1, but any 19-year-old with two quality secondary pitches is interesting.

Abdiel Mendoza, RHP, Oakland (Profile)
KATOH: 0.6 WAR
KATOH+: 0.6 WAR

Mendoza doesn’t throw terribly hard — his fastball tops out at 92 mph — but can miss bats with his looping, mid-70s curveball. Mendoza had only moderate success in the NYPL this year and, at 5-foot-10 135, is quite tiny for a pitcher. He’ll likely need to add a few mph of velocity even to make it to the big leagues.

J.J. Matijevic, LF, Houston (Profile)
KATOH: 0.1 WAR
KATOH+: 0.1 WAR

KATOH liked Matijevic after his strong .383/.436/.633 season at the University of Arizona. But June’s 75th overall pick scuffled in his pro debut, hitting just .228/.290/.384. His swing can get a bit long, which helps explain his 28% strikeout rate. But he has plenty of power and is overall more athletic than I expected given his profile. He runs decently and went 11 for 15 on the bases in a half-season, which suggests he could be at least adequate in left field, which is where Houston’s played him despite the frequency with which he played first base in college.

Corey Julks, OF, Houston (Profile)
KATOH: 0.6 WAR
KATOH+: 0.6 WAR

Julks managed a respectable 16% strikeout rate this season and walked nearly as much as he struck out. On the downside, he didn’t hit for any power at all in his pro debut, resulting in a weak .176/.311/.235 showing. Still, Julks’ bat speed is encouraging and he hit much better as an amateur, both at the University of Houston and in the competitive Cape Cod League. Julks also also flashed some speed by swiping nine bases despite rarely getting on base last summer. KATOH rarely bites on 5-foot-10 hitters in short-season leagues – let alone ones who OPS under .550. But at the very least, Julks’ combination of tools and amateur performance make him worth monitoring.

Miguelangel Sierra, SS, Houston (Profile)
KATOH: 0.4 WAR
KATOH+: 0.3 WAR

Sierra struggled to make contact when I saw him in late June, and that game wasn’t an anomaly. He struck out at an unsatisfactory 30% clip for the season, finishing up with a ghastly .178/.260/.297 batting line. He had an awful lot of pre-swing movement: in addition to utilizing a leg kick, he brought his hands way back and then down. This seemed to complicate his path to contact and make it hard for him to react to the pitch being thrown.

Theoretically, this should be fixable, but Eric Longenhagen also cited “swing length and an excessively deep load” last winter, so it’s notable that this quirk still existed after two-plus months in extended spring training. KATOH’s way down on Sierra due to his offensive performance, and it’s hard to argue that pessimism isn’t warranted. Nonetheless, he’s still a toolsy, teenaged shortstop.

Wilkerman Garcia, SS, New York AL (Profile)
KATOH: 0.2 WAR
KATOH+: 0.3 WAR

Another switch-hitting shortstop, Garcia hit a measly .222/.256/.296 with poor plate discipline. He swung at too many bad pitches and looked particularly overmatched against breaking balls, resulting in a 4% walk rate and 26% strikeout rate. His build is thicker than one might expect for a 19-year-old shortstop, but his range seemed fine. The bigger issue were his 18 errors in 65 games this year — easily the most among NYPL shortstops. The handful of errors that I saw involved him misplaying balls hit more or less right to him. In addition to his defensive struggles, this is the second year in a row that Garcia hasn’t hit a lick; so although he’s only 19, the clock is ticking.

Leonardo Molina, OF, New York AL (Profile)
KATOH: 0.3 WAR
KATOH+: 0.2 WAR

Molina was a blue-chip international signee on July 2nd 2014 but hasn’t hit much at all as a pro. This was his fourth season since the Yankees brought him stateside as a 16-year-old and he’s seemingly made very little progress offensively. Molina had a lot of trouble hitting breaking balls and looked very overmatched against short-season pitching. Molina ultimately hit a weak .214/.255/.278 on the year and appears to have missed time due to injury. Now that he’s a 19-year-old, it’s no longer appropriate to ignore his performance in deference to the tools that earned him a $1.4 million signing bonus nearly five years ago.

Emilio Gustave, OF, Tampa (Profile)
KATOH: 0.0 WAR
KATOH+: 0.0 WAR

Last winter, Eric Longenhagen described Gustave as “a 60 runner with a 7 arm and good bat speed.” In the meantime, Gustave hit .238/.296/.410 as a 22-year-old in the NYPL. His plate approach looked about as bad as his stat line, though his tools stood out compared to other NYPL players. Maybe 2018 will be the year he finally puts it all together.

Eduardo Rivera, RHP, New York AL (Profile)
KATOH: 0.1 WAR
KATOH+: 0.1 WAR

Rivera’s a tall and athletic righty who signed out of the Dominican for $475,000 way back in 2010. He sat in the mid-90s and touched 97 at times out of the pen, pairing it with a 75-79 mph curveball with good movement. Rivera has big-league stuff but has long arm action and very little idea of where the ball is going. He looked way too good for short-season ball, posting a 1.90 ERA and 34% strikeout rate. But that’s not terribly impressive coming from a 24-year-old facing hitters several years younger than him.

Cole Stobbe, 3B, Philadelphia (Profile)
KATOH: 0.1 WAR
KATOH+: 0.1 WAR

Stobbe looked overmatched, taking long swings and reaching out of the zone often when I saw him. He seemingly didn’t fare much better when I didn’t see him, as evidenced by his .203/.280/.376 batting line and 31% strikeout rate. Stobbe posted the highest fly-ball rate in the NYPL (by a lot) and also the highest pull rate. Pair that with the fifth-highest swinging-strike rate, and it’s clear pretty clear what Stobbe is: a pull-happy hitter who swings for the fences but too often misses the ball entirely.

Jason Lopez, C, New York AL (Profile)
KATOH: 1.0 WAR
KATOH+: 0.9 WAR

At 5-foot-9, Lopez is very undersized for a catcher and he looked quite pedestrian at the plate. He also looked pretty raw behind it, allowing a league-leading 17 passed balls. Despite his flaws, Lopez caught KATOH’s eye by hitting .240/.345/.313 as a 19-year-old. Any sign of offensive life from a teenaged catcher is noteworthy, even if it’s little more than a 14% walk rate.

Greg Pickett, 1B, Philadelphia (Profile)
KATOH: 0.1 WAR
KATOH+: 0.1 WAR

Pickett’s swing generates tons of power, but it’s also long and features a deep load. As a result, he struck out an unreasonable 28% of the time this year and has yet to hit for much power as a pro. Now 21, youth is no longer on Pickett’s side. It also doesn’t help that he’s limited to first base.

Oscar Rojas, OF, Tampa (Profile)
KATOH: 0.0 WAR
KATOH+: 0.0 WAR

A former KATOH Super Deep Prospect, Rojas put up solid numbers in Rookie ball in 2015 and 2016. He fizzled in the NYPL this year, though, hitting a weak .259/.302/.338. An undersized corner outfielder with a weird swing, Rojas didn’t stand out in person, either.

We hoped you liked reading A New York-Penn League Pref List for 2017 by Chris Mitchell!

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Chris works in economic development by day, but spends most of his nights thinking about baseball. He writes for Pinstripe Pundits, FanGraphs and The Hardball Times. He's also on the twitter machine: @_chris_mitchell None of the views expressed in his articles reflect those of his daytime employer.

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Cole
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Cole

Did you miss Jhailyn Ortiz of Williamsport? Hefty (in more than one way ;)) omission otherwise…

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