Author Archive

A Word About KATOH

Last week, I published KATOH’s 2018 top-100 list. It was the fourth such preseason list to appear at FanGraphs. Unfortunately, it will also be the last.

I am embarking on a new opportunity in the baseball industry that prohibits me from working in the public sphere, which means no more KATOH. As much as I’d love to brag about how awesome this opportunity is, unfortunately that is all I can say about it.

Writing for FanGraphs was something I aspired to do since I stumbled upon the site as a teenager nearly a decade ago. I’ll be forever grateful to Dave Cameron and David Appelman, who hired me based on what was little more than an idea and stuck with me as I continually worked out the kinks. I also owe a debt of gratitude to Paul Swydan, who first brought me into the fold at the Hardball Times despite my undeveloped writing skills.

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The 2018 All-KATOH Team

Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel published their top-100 list on Monday. Other outlets have released similar lists, as well, recently — outlets including Baseball AmericaBaseball Prospectus, Keith Law, and MLB Pipeline. I submitted my own contribution yesterday with KATOH’s top-100 prospects. All of these lists attempt to accomplish the very same goal: both to identify and rank the best prospects. But KATOH goes about it in a very different way than the others. While most others rely heavily on scouting, KATOH focuses on statistical performance.

On the whole, there’s a good deal of agreement between KATOH and the more traditional rankings. Many of KATOH’s favorite prospects have also received praise from real-live human beings who’ve watched them play. Ronald Acuna, Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., Brent Honeywell, Michael Kopech, and Kyle Tucker all fall within this group. In general, there is a lot of agreement. However, there are other KATOH favorites who’ve received little public consideration from prospect analysts. The purpose of this article is to give these prospects a little bit of attention.

For each position, I’ve identified the player, among those excluded from all top-100 lists, who’s best acquitted by KATOH. These players have performed in the minors in a way that usually portends big-league success. Yet, for one reason or another, each has been overlooked by prospect evaluators.

Of course, the fact that these players missed every top-100 list suggests that their physical tools are probably underwhelming. That’s very important information! Often times, the outlook for players like this is much worse than their minor-league stats would lead you to believe. There’s a reason people in the industry always say “don’t scout the stat line.” Although KATOH scouts the stat line in an intuitive fashion, it still overlooks important inputs that can predict big-league success.

Still, the stat-line darlngs sometimes pan out. I performed this  exact same exercise last year, as well, and I’m proud to say there were some big successes. Rhys HoskinsJake Faria, Ben Gamel, Chad Green, and Brandon Nimmo have each blossomed into productive big leaguers just one year out. Zach Davies and Edwin Diaz also appeared in this space two years ago. Of course, others haven’t worked out so well. Clayton Blackburn, Dylan Cozens, Ramon Flores, and Garrett Stubbs: none of them were particularly useful major leaguers in 2017. There will be hits, and there will be misses, especially when you’re dealing with non-elite prospects.

*****

C – Jake Rogers, Detroit (Profile)

Why KATOH Loves Him
Rogers hit a respectable .261/.350/.467 across two levels of A-ball last year, pairing an 11% walk rate with encouraging power. Most impressive of all, however, is that he did so as a catcher — a position where good hitters are few and far between. Rogers isn’t just any catcher, either: Clay Davenport’s defensive numbers graded him out as elite. Elite defensive catchers who can also hit a little are exceptionally valuable.

Why Scouts Don’t (J.J Cooper)

He has a big leg kick to start his swing, and takes a ferocious cut with a pull-heavy approach. When his swing works, he has the power to deposit pitches in the left-field bleachers. When it doesn’t, he rolls over ground outs or hits a number of harmless pop outs. Evaluators generally see Rogers as a below-average hitter with a lot of swings and misses and average bat speed.

My Thoughts
Usually, KATOH’s catcher crushes are good hitters who are questionable behind the plate. Rogers is the exact opposite, as his offense is the questionable piece. Eric Longenhagen called him “best defensive catching prospect I’ve seen, a polished receiver and cat-like ball-blocker with a plus arm” over the summer. Even if Rogers’ A-ball numbers ultimately don’t translate, he could still be a solid regular given how little catchers hit. For example, Martin Maldonado defended his way to 1.1 WAR last year in spite of a 73 wRC+.

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2018 Top 100 KATOH Prospects


Below is KATOH’s 2018 top-100 prospect list. If you’re a regular FanGraphs reader, you likely know the drill by now. But in case you need a refresher, KATOH produces a WAR forecast for a player’s first six major-league seasons. It incorporates age, offensive performance, defensive performance, and other characteristics from the past two seasons. There are certainly drawbacks to scouting the stat line, but due to their objectivity, the projections can be useful in identifying prospects who might be overlooked or overrated.

I have made a few updates this time around. KATOH now features:

  1. The batted-ball data (for both hitters and pitchers) available on our awesome leaderboards. Among other things, this helps KATOH differentiate between fluky and un-fluky high- and low-BABIP hitters.
  2. A greater reliance on recent data for the construction of the model and less dependence on data points from 10-plus years ago.
  3. Numbers from the Dominican Summer League, which was previously outside of KATOH’s scope

Astute readers might notice that this article does not include a top-100 for KATOH+, the version of KATOH that incorporates scouting grades in addition to the stats. Since Kiley and Eric are still working their way through the organizational lists, I don’t have up-to-date FV grades for every prospect. Rather than plugging in FV grades from a year ago (or more), I am holding off on KATOH+ for now.

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Projecting the 2017 Rule 5 Picks

This year’s Rule 5 draft came and went yesterday, with 18 players selected in the major-league phase of the draft. All the players selected will need to spend the entire 2018 season on their new team’s active roster (or disabled list). Otherwise, they have to be offered back to their original team.

Since most of these players do not have any sort of prospect pedigree anyway, I utilized the stats-only version of KATOH. WAR figures represent projections for the first six years of a player’s major-league career. For a scouting companion to this post, read Eric Longenhagen’s analysis from earlier this afternoon.

Players listed in order of draft selection.

*****

1. Detroit Tigers
Victor Reyes, OF, 1.9 WAR (from D-backs)

Reyes has long been a KATOH darling. Look no further than his player page to see the articles in which he has been tagged.

KATOH has always believed in Reyes’s blend of youth, contact, and speed — a skill set he carried into Double-A last year. Reyes showed everything except for power as 22-year-old in Double-A last year. Given his 6-foot-3 frame, I wouldn’t be surprised if more power eventually shows up.

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Projecting the Prospects in the Giancarlo Stanton Trade

The Yankees have acquired reigning National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton from the Marlins in exchange for Starlin Castro plus prospects Jorge Guzman and Jose Devers. A possible $30 million in cash would also be included in the event Stanton chooses not to opt out of his mega-contract following the 2020 season.

Below are the KATOH projections for the prospects received by Miami. WAR figures account for each player’s first six major-league seasons. KATOH denotes the stats-only version of the projection system, while KATOH+ denotes the methodology that includes a player’s prospect rankings. In total, my KATOH system projects these prospects for a combined 5.9 WAR (5.2 by KATOH+) over their first six years in the majors.

*****

Jorge Guzman, RHP (Profile)
KATOH: 3.3 WAR
KATOH+: 3.2 WAR

Acquired from the Astros last winter in the Brian McCann trade, Guzman dominated the New York-Penn League in 2017. He struck out a league-leading 33% of opposing batters this past season and walked just 7%. The end result was a 2.30 ERA across 13 starts. At 21 years old, Guzman wasn’t particularly young for short-season ball — especially for an international signee — but his performance was off the charts. As a result, KATOH has him as a top-150 prospect. Guzman is obviously several levels away from the majors, but there is a lot to like.

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Projecting the Prospects in the Dee Gordon Trade

At long last, the hot stove appears to be heating up. In something of a surprise move, the Mariners have swung a trade with the Marlins to acquire both (a) Dee Gordon, who will apparently play center field for Seattle, and (b) $1 million in international slot money. In exchange, the Marlins receive three lower-tier prospects: righties Robert Dugger and Nick Neidert, plus infielder Chris Torres.

Below are the KATOH projections for the players received by Miami. WAR figures account for each player’s first six major-league seasons. KATOH denotes the stats-only version of the projection system, while KATOH+ denotes the methodology that includes a player’s prospect rankings. In total, my KATOH system (both stats-only and KATOH+) projects this trio for 3.6 WAR over their first six years in the majors.

*****

Nick Neidert, RHP (Profile)

KATOH: 2.2 WAR
KATOH+: 2.7 WAR

Seattle took Neidert in the second round out of high school back in 2015, and he promptly began mowing down low-minors hitters. Neidert opened 2017 as a 20-year-old in High-A, where he pitched excellently — his strikeout rate, walk rate, ERA, and xFIP were all top-five in the Cal League among pitchers with at least 80 innings pitched. Neidert’s performance cratered following a late-season promotion to Double-A, but his body of work is impressive. He rarely walks anyone and has shown an ability to miss bats against much older competition.

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KATOH’s Guide to the 2017 Rule 5 Draft

The deadline for teams to set their 40-man rosters in anticipation of the Rule 5 draft was Tuesday, November 21st. This means that all Rule 5-eligible players who aren’t currently on a 40-man roster will be available in the draft on December 14th at the Winter Meetings in Orlando. Here’s what makes a player Rule 5-eligible, according to MLB.com:

Players who were signed when they were 19 or older and have played in professional baseball for four years are eligible, as are players who were signed at 18 and have played for five years.

For the coming version of the Rule 5 draft, that’s generally any player drafted out of college in 2014 or earlier, drafted out of high school in 2013 or earlier, or signed as an international free agent in August 2013 or earlier. But that’s just a rule of thumb, and since very few things in life are simple, there are exceptions and loopholes.

Most of the players listed below aren’t good prospects. If they were, their teams would have protected them — or traded them to a team interested in stashing them. The baseball industry has effectively deemed each of these players to be a fringe prospect at best. Who cares about these mostly bad baseball players? Probably a very tiny sliver of the world’s population, if I’m being honest. But if you you’re still reading, I’m willing to bet you’re part of that small minority. And besides, several Rule 5 picks from recent memory have enjoyed immediate big-league success, including Joe Biagini, Matt Bowman, and Odubel Herrera.

Below, you’ll find a list of KATOH’s favorite Rule 5-eligible prospects, grouped by position. Due to the aforementioned loopholes, along with the fact that I checked each player’s eligibility manually, it is possible I omitted a noteworthy player along the way. All players with at least 200 professional plate appearances or batters faced in 2016 or 2017 were considered. Since most of these players do not have any sort of prospect pedigree anyway, I utilized the stats-only version of KATOH.

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Projecting the Minor-League Free-Agent Pitchers

Every winter, hundreds of nondescript ballplayers become minor-league free agents. Players are granted minor-league free agency when they’re omitted from a club’s 40-man roster and have also spent at least six years in the minor leagues. In other words, they’re the ones who weren’t good enough to merit a call-up after several years in the minors, and their organizations suspect they lack the potential to be worthy of a 40-man spot.

Some of these players latch on with new organizations; some of them don’t. But regardless, the overwhelming majority never have much big-league success. Carson Cistulli found that only about 1% of minor-league free agents produce at least 0.5 WAR the following season. Minor-league free agents are the absolute bottom of the barrel when it comes to player transactions. But there’s an occasional gem at the bottom of that barrel. It’s not unheard of, at all, for a minor-league free agent to make a major-league impact. A few successful examples of players I highlighted in this space last year:

  • Wilmer Font dominated the PCL by striking out a jaw-dropping 32% of batters as a starter, earning him a role on the deepest pitching staff in baseball. My money’s on him opening 2018 on someone’s big-league squad.
  • Lane Adams recorded 122 plate appearances of above-average production with the Braves, much of that coming as a pinch-hitter.
  • Jacob Turner was a serviceable swingman for the 97-win Nationals in the season’s first half (33.2 innings, 4.28 ERA through June 18th).

Using my KATOH projection system, I identified the pitchers from this year’s minor-league free-agent class who showed glimmers of promise in the minors. Since none of these players have any sort of prospect pedigree anyway, I utilized the stats-only version of KATOH. Based on their minor-league numbers, there’s reason to believe they might be able to help at the big-league level sometime soon. This analysis considers only players who logged at least 200 minor-league batters faced in either 2016 or 2017.

For reference, here is my piece from yesterday on minor-league free-agent hitters.

*****

1. Scott Barlow, RHP

Barlow split time between the Dodgers’ Double-A and Triple-A affiliates this past year, pitching to a stellar 3.29 ERA as a starter. He struck out 28% of opposing batters while walking a reasonable 10%. Barlow’s numbers were decidedly worse in his seven Triple-A appearances, but on the whole, his 2017 campaign was excellent for a 24-year-old starter.

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Projecting the Minor-League Free-Agent Hitters

Every winter, hundreds of nondescript ballplayers become minor-league free agents. Players are granted minor-league free agency when they’re omitted from a club’s 40-man roster and have also spent at least six years in the minor leagues. In other words, they’re the ones who weren’t good enough to merit a call-up after several years in the minors, and their organizations suspect they lack the potential to be worthy of a 40-man spot.

Some of these players latch on with new organizations; some of them don’t. But regardless, the overwhelming majority never have much big-league success. Carson Cistulli found that only about 1% of minor-league free agents produce at least 0.5 WAR the following season. Minor-league free agents are the absolute bottom of the barrel when it comes to player transactions. But there’s an occasional gem at the bottom of that barrel. It’s not unheard of, at all, for a minor-league free agent to make a major-league impact. A few successful examples of players I highlighted in this space last year:

  • Wilmer Font dominated the PCL by striking out a jaw-dropping 32% of batters as a starter, earning him a role on the deepest pitching staff in baseball. My money’s on him opening 2018 on someone’s big-league squad.
  • Lane Adams recorded 122 plate appearances of above-average production with the Braves, much of that coming as a pinch-hitter.
  • Jacob Turner was a serviceable swingman for the 97-win Nationals in the season’s first half (33.2 innings, 4.28 ERA through June 18th).

Using my KATOH projection system, I identified the hitters from this year’s minor-league free-agent class who showed glimmers of promise in the minors. Since none of these players have any sort of prospect pedigree anyway, I utilized the stats-only version of KATOH. Based on their minor-league numbers, there’s reason to believe they might be able to help at the big-league level sometime soon. This analysis considers only players who logged at least 200 minor-league plate appearances in either 2016 or 2017. Tomorrow, I’ll repeat this exercise for pitchers.

*****

1. Christian Lopes, 2B/3B

A seventh-round pick way back in 2011, Lopes has slowly but steadily worked his way through the Blue Jays organization, finally reaching Triple-A this past season. He hit a respectable .261/.349/.402 at the highest rung of the minor leagues while also showing speed on the bases. A 25-year-old infielder who can hit a little bit and run a little bit is about as compelling as minor-league free agents come.

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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.

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The Players KATOH Got Wrong in 2017

Over the course of the last year, I’ve published projections for a boatload of prospects at this site. Now that the 2017 regular season is complete, I thought it might make sense to review how KATOH has performed with specific players. Last week, I looked at some instances where KATOH’s forecasts looked prescient. For this particular post, I’d like to look at some instances where KATOH’s forecasts have looked foolish.

Allow me to point out immediately that none of this is conclusive: we’re only a year (or less) into the big-league careers of the players included here. Labeling a six-year projection as definitively “right” or “wrong” following a single season is obviously premature. That said, we undoubtedly have a much clearer picture of these players’ futures than we did six months ago.

This analysis compares each player’s industry-wide consensus to his stats-only KATOH projection — which does not consider a player’s ranking on prospect lists. Stats-only is KATOH’s purest form and also the version that disagrees most fervently with the establishment. Note that I did not consider cases where all parties were wrong, such as Aaron Judge. Although KATOH’s No. 53 ranking of Judge looks silly now, it was on par with other rankings, which ranged from 44th to 145th.

Picking players for this article was obviously somewhat subjective. So if you have a player in mind that I neglected to mention, feel free to complain about it in the comments!

Prospects KATOH Liked
Here are the players on whom KATOH has typically been more bullish than other outlets. Players are listed in general order of “failure” in 2017.

Dylan Cozens, OF, Philadelphia

Last winter, KATOH ranked Cozens as the top prospect in baseball. The large outfielder proceeded to tarnish my reputation by hitting .210/.301/.418 with a 36% strikeout rate in Triple-A this year. There was a lot to like about Cozens’ 2016: he mashed 40 homers, stole 21 bases, and graded out well in right field — all as a 22-year-old at Double-A. But evaluators were concerned about his strikeouts and predicted his power numbers would crater outside of Reading. The book is far from closed on Cozens, who KATOH still sees him as a back-end top-100 guy. But tippy-top prospects don’t have seasons like Cozens’ 2017.

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The Players KATOH Got Right in 2017

Matt Olson’s adjusted minor-league power numbers were encouraging. (Photo: Keith Allison)

Over the course of the last year, I’ve published projections for a boatload of prospects at this site. Now that the 2017 season is winding down, I thought it might make sense to review how KATOH has performed with specific players. For this particular post, I’d like to look at some instances where KATOH’s forecasts have looked prescient.

Allow me to point out immediately that none of this is conclusive: we’re only a year (or less) into the big-league careers of the players included here. Labeling a six-year projection as definitively “right” or “wrong” following a single season is obviously premature. That said, we undoubtedly have a much clearer picture of these players’ futures than we did six months ago.

This analysis compares each player’s industry-wide consensus to his stats-only KATOH projection — which does not consider a player’s ranking on prospect lists. Stats-only is KATOH’s purest form and also the version that disagrees most fervently with the establishment.

Writing this article was a lot of fun. Like everyone else, I enjoy saying “I told you so” when I’m right. But I also acknowledge that I’m often wrong. So as much as I’d like to tout these cherry-picked success stories and move on to current projections, I feel I’d be doing you a disservice if I didn’t write another article pointing out KATOH’s misses. Stay tuned.

Prospects KATOH Liked
Here are the players on whom KATOH has typically been more bullish than other outlets. Players are listed in general order of “success” in 2017.

Rhys Hoskins, 1B/OF, Philadelphia

As you’re probably aware, Hoskins had a pretty good summer. But before he was hitting homers at a ridiculous clip, Hoskins was an unheralded first-base prospect who had never cracked a major publication’s top-100 list. KATOH was all over him, though, due to his impressive minor-league numbers. My system ranked him No. 54 in the preseason and No. 14 when he was called up. He also cracked the All-KATOH Team in the preseason. The best minor-league hitters often succeed in the majors as well. As obvious as that sounds, the case of Rhys Hoskins shows that we sometimes overthink these things.

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Projecting J.P. Crawford

With September call-up season upon us, the Phillies have summoned top prospect J.P. Crawford from the minor leagues. He made his debut last night, starting at third base and notching his first career hit. Prior to his call up, Crawford hit .243/.351/.405 in Triple-A this year, including a powerful .284/.385/.517 since July 8th.

Crawford is an extremely talented player who can provide value in more ways than one. His minor-league batting lines don’t necessarily jump off the page, but in the context of his age and defensive value, they’re rather impressive. That’s why he’s been appearing near the tops of prospect lists — including KATOH’s — for years. Baseball America ranked him among the top-14 prospects each of the last three seasons, while Baseball Prospectus ranked him No. 4 each of the last two. Eric Longenhagen ranked him No. 9 in the preseason and No. 34 in his summer list.

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Projecting All of the Prospects Traded at the Deadline

In the table below, you’ll find a treasure trove of information pertaining to the prospects who changed hands this trade deadline. There were 67 of them in all. Since there was a flurry of early trade activity this year, I’m using a liberal definition of “trade deadline” that considers all trades since the July 13th Jose Quintana deal. For reference, I performed a similar exercise last year. Read the rest of this entry »


Projecting Willie Calhoun, Brendon Davis and A.J. Alexy

The Dodgers traded for Yu Darvish. Below are the projections for the prospects the Rangers received in exchange for Darvish’s services. WAR figures account for the player’s first six major-league seasons. KATOH denotes the stats-only version of the projection system, while KATOH+ denotes the methodology that includes a player’s prospect rankings.

Willie Calhoun, 2B/LF/DH (Profile)

KATOH: 9.4 WAR (15th)

KATOH+: 8.9 WAR (24th)

Calhoun has hit a rock-solid .298/.357/.574 at Triple-A this season as a 22-year-old second baseman. His power numbers have been undoubtedly helped by the PCL and he doesn’t exactly look like a premium athlete. But still: Calhoun’s blend of contact and power makes him extremely exciting. His defense, however, is suspect. Clay Davenport’s metrics say his defense at second has improved this year, but going from unbelievably bad to merely really bad doesn’t do much to help Calhoun’s case. Calhoun is a prospect without a position for now, so a move to the American League makes a ton of sense. KATOH had Calhoun as the Dodgers’ second-best prospect, behind Alex Verdugo. Read the rest of this entry »


Projecting Dustin Fowler and Jorge Mateo

The Yankees traded for Sonny Gray. Below are the projections for the prospects the Athletics received in exchange for Gray’s services. Although he is a major part of this trade, I do not have a projection for James Kaprielian, who has thrown just 29 innings as a professional and zero since April 2016. WAR figures account for the player’s first six major-league seasons. KATOH denotes the stats-only version of the projection system, while KATOH+ denotes the methodology that includes a player’s prospect rankings.

Dustin Fowler, OF (Profile)

KATOH: 9.0 WAR (28th)

KATOH+: 8.8 WAR (18th)

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Projecting the Prospects Traded on Friday Night

Three minor-ish trades went down on Friday night. The Mets acquired A.J. Ramos from the Marlins for Merandy Gonzalez and Ricardo Cespedes; the Nationals acquired Howie Kendrick from the Phillies for McKenzie Mills; the Orioles acquired Jeremy Hellickson from the Phillies for Garrett Cleavinger and Hyun Soo Kim.  Below are the projections for the prospects who changed hands. WAR figures account for the player’s first six major-league seasons. KATOH denotes the stats-only version of the projection system, while KATOH+ denotes the methodology that includes a player’s prospect rankings.

None of the players dealt last night are top prospects, and as a result, their likelihood of outcomes graphs are heavily skewed towards “no MLB”. Kyle Glaser recently found that fewer than one in five prospects traded at the deadline contribute more than one positive WAR season. All three of these pitchers seem like good bets to fall into that bottom four-fifths.

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KATOH’s Midseason 2017 Top-100

Vlad Guerrero Jr. appears among the top-three prospects by both versions of KATOH. (Photo: Joel Dinda)

With the trade deadline swiftly approaching, it’s time for some updated KATOH rankings. I know you’re not here to read about assumptions and caveats, so I’ll keep the non-list part of this article short and sweet.

  • For each player, KATOH produces a WAR forecast for his first six years in the major leagues. There are drawbacks to scouting the stat line, but due to their objective nature, the projections here can be useful in identifying prospects who might be overlooked or overrated.
  • KATOH+ incorporates Baseball America’s midseason top-100 list and Eric Longenhagen’s preseason FV grades for players excluded from BA’s list. Stats-only KATOH does not consider prospect rankings.
  • These projections account only for minor-league stats. While I’ve done work with college players, I have not yet attempted to merge college and minor-league data. These projections also do not account for any major-league performance.
  • All players with at least 200 minor-league plate appearances or batters faced in 2016 and/or 2017 were considered.
  • This isn’t “Chris Mitchell’s Top 100 List,” and certainly not “FanGraphs’ Top 100 List.” This is simply the output from my far-from-perfect statistical model.

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Projecting Tyler O’Neill and Marco Gonzales

Thoughtless and bad editor Carson Cistulli overlooked this post when Chris Mitchell submitted it on Friday afternoon. That’s the reason it’s appearing on Tuesday.

The Mariners and Cardinals completed one-to-one swap of outfielder Tyler O’Neill and lefty Marco Gonzales on Friday. As Dave Cameron has pointed out, this represented a case of the Mariners trading away future upside for some much-needed, immediate rotation depth. A move of that type is understandable given the state of the Mariners’ rotation and their position in the Wild Card race, but KATOH thinks the gap in value between these two prospects is quite large.

Below are the projections for the three players whom the White Sox receive. WAR figures account for the player’s first six major-league seasons. KATOH denotes the stats-only version of the projection system, while KATOH+ denotes the methodology that includes a player’s prospect rankings.

*****

Tyler O’Neill, OF (Profile)

KATOH: 7.1 WAR (34th overall)
KATOH+: 6.0 WAR (52nd overall)

O’Neill elevated his prospect stock last season, when he slashed .293/.374/.508 at the Double-A level. But he’s had a tougher time at Triple-A this season, hitting only .244/.328/.479. Part of that, however, has to do with playing in a park that’s tough on right-handed hitters. Eric Longenhagen gave him a 50 FV over the winter and listed him as an honorable mention on his top-100 list.

O’Neil is a three-true-outcomes prospect who’s homered, walked, or struck out in over 43% of his trips to the plate this year. His power is his biggest strength, as he’s belted a remarkable 75 homers since the start of the 2015 season while also kicking in 76 doubles and triples. But all that power comes with a lot of strikeouts, as evidenced by his 27% strikeout rate this year.

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Projecting Yoan Moncada

After they shipped Todd Frazier to the Yankees in exchange for prospects earlier this week, the White Sox replaced him on their roster with Yoan Moncada. Moncada was hitting a healthy .282/.377/.447 at Triple-A, highlighted by his 12 homers and 17 steals. He hits for average, hits for power, steals bases, and even draws walks. Very few players can hit like Moncada does while also providing value in the field and on the bases. That’s why he was a fixture at the top of midseason prospect lists this summer. Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus both ranked him No. 1, while Keith Law put him at No. 13.

But for all his strengths, Moncada has some weaknesses that we shouldn’t overlook. Most notably, he strikes out a bunch. Moncada’s struck out in over 28% of his trips to the plate this year. Though it’s been somewhat hidden by his high batting averages, Moncada has had a lot of trouble making contact against minor-league pitchers. This suggests he’ll have even more trouble doing so in the big leagues, which is exactly what happened in Boston last September when he struck out 12 times in 20 plate appearances.

There’s also the matter of Moncada’s defense. He’s primarily played second base since emigrating from Cuba, and the prognosis for minor-league second basemen isn’t great. The fact that he’s already been deemed “not a shortstop” is a knock against him in KATOH’s eyes. Furthermore, his defensive metrics at second base aren’t great. He’s been right around average there by Clay Davenport’s fielding data this year and was several ticks worse than average last year. This suggests he may not be a defensive asset in the infield.

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