Archive for Minor Leagues

Projecting Anthony Alford

In something of a surprise move, the Blue Jays summoned top prospect Anthony Alford to the big leagues on Friday. The move is a surprise not because Alford lacks talent, but because he’s played a mere 33 games above A-ball, all of which came this season with the Jays’ Double-A affiliate. Alford has performed exceptionally well this season, slashing .325/.411/.455. But he was overmatched by low-minors pitching as recently as last season, when he struck out 29% of the time and could only muster a .236/.344/.378 batting line at High-A.

Alford cut his strikeout rate by over 12 percentage points (from 29% to 17%) this year while maintaining his robust walk totals and modest power. The result has been substantially better offensive numbers. This is an encouraging development, especially since Alford’s so much more than his offense. He’s a 70 runner per Eric Longenhagen, which makes him a no-doubt center fielder and a threat on the bases.

Read the rest of this entry »


KATOH’s Most-Improved Pitching Prospects So Far

A couple of weeks ago, I looked at the 10 pitching prospects who had most improved their KATOH+ projections over the season’s first few weeks. Now that we have a more meaningful sample of games to analyze and a new Baseball America top-100 list baked in, I’m repeating that exercise. It’s still early in the season, but not too early to start identifying players who are performing better than they have in the past. A reminder: a player’s KATOH forecast denotes his projected WAR total over the first six seasons of his major-league career. I performed a similar exercise for hitters yesterday.

To ensure I am writing up actual prospects rather than fringey ones, I set a minimum KATOH+ projection of 4.0 WAR this time around. I still listed the five most-improved lesser prospects at the bottom.

Luiz Gohara, LHP, Atlanta (Profile)
Preseason KATOH+ Projection: 2.9
Current KATOH+ Projection: 5.6

Gohara was utterly filthy in High-A this year. He struck out 27%, walked 7%, and didn’t concede a single homer over seven starts, likely due to his 57% ground-ball rate. That performance earned him a promotion to Double-A. Unfortunately, he injured his arm in his first start.

Read the rest of this entry »


Projecting Bradley Zimmer

The reigning American League champion Cleveland Indians haven’t been quite as dominant so far in 2017 as last year. Lackluster production from their outfielders has been a big culprit. Michael Brantley is seemingly healthy and productive once again, but there’s been a void beyond him. Abraham Almonte, Brandon Guyer, and Austin Jackson have been varying degrees of unremarkable in limited playing time and have all found their way to the 10-day DL. Minor-league journeyman Daniel Robertson has been playing right field this week, while Lonnie Chisenhall has started 18 games in center this season.

The Indians were desperate for outfield help, and luckily they had an impact player waiting in the wings in the form of top prospect Bradley Zimmer. Zimmer has mashed Triple-A pitching this year to the tune of .294/.371/.532 and has stolen nine bases. Zimmer is a 6-foot-5 power hitter who also happens to be a speedy center fielder, which means Chisenhall can return to a corner where he belongs. Zimmer has also posted double-digit walk rates at most levels of the minors, which gives him yet another way to provide value. Very few prospects can get on base, hit for power, and play good defense at a premium position, making Zimmer a rare bird. On the downside, however, Zimmer has some serious contact issues that threaten to eat away at his offensive value. He struck out at a high-but-acceptable 30% clip this year, but was up over 37% in his first crack at Triple-A last year, when he hit .242 without any power.

Read the rest of this entry »


KATOH’s Most-Improved Hitting Prospects So Far

A couple of weeks ago, I looked at the 10 hitting prospects who had most improved their KATOH+ projections over the season’s first few weeks. Now that we have a more meaningful sample of games to analyze and a new Baseball America top-100 list baked in, I’m repeating that exercise. It’s still early in the season, but not too early to start identifying players who are performing better than they have in the past. A reminder: a player’s KATOH forecast denotes his projected WAR total over the first six seasons of his major-league career.

Juan Soto, OF, Washington (Profile)

Preseason KATOH+ Projection: 4.0
Current KATOH+ Projection: 11.2

Soto topped this list two weeks ago and has only built on that performance since, though he’s sidelined with an ankle injury for now. His line now sits at .360/.427/.523. Baseball America also recognized Soto’s excellence by ranking him No. 59 on their updated top-100, which also nudges up his projection. Soto possesses a rare combination of power and contact skills and is very young for his level.

Read the rest of this entry »


KATOH’s Most Improved Pitching Prospects So Far

Now that we’re nearly one month into the minor-league season, 2017 performances are starting to mean something. The 2017 sample size is still small, but it’s large enough at least to merit a look at those prospects who may be in the midst of a breakout. This article aims to do just that by calling attention to the 10 pitchers who have most improved their KATOH+ projections over the season’s first few weeks. (The most-improved hitters were examined yesterday.) A reminder: a player’s KATOH forecast denotes his projected WAR total over the first six seasons of his major-league career.

Wilmer Font, RHP, Los Angeles NL (Profile)
Preseason KATOH+ Projection: 0.6
Current KATOH+ Projection: 1.9

Over the winter, KATOH tabbed Font as one of the most compelling minor-league free agents due to his serviceable performance as a starter in Triple-A last year. Through five Triple-A starts in 2017, Font possesses a 31% strikeout rate and 7% walk rate, giving him one of the best FIPs in Triple-A. As a 26-year-old journeyman, Font isn’t much of a prospect, but he’s currently pitching like one as a starter in Triple-A.

Read the rest of this entry »


KATOH’s Most-Improved Hitting Prospects So Far

Now that we’re nearly one month into the minor-league season, 2017 performances are starting to mean something. The 2017 sample size is still small, but it’s large enough at least to merit a look at those prospects who may be in the midst of a breakout. This article aims to do just that by calling attention to the 10 hitters who have most improved their KATOH+ projections over the season’s first few weeks. A reminder: a player’s KATOH forecast denotes his projected WAR total over the first six seasons of his major-league career.

Juan Soto, RF, Washington (Profile)
Preseason KATOH+ Projection: 4.0
Current KATOH+ Projection: 6.9

Soto destroyed the GCL last year, prompting the Nats to send him to full-season ball at the age of 18. An 18-year-old in the Sally League is noteworthy in and of itself. An 18-year-old striking out at a 9% clip while also hitting for some power is the stuff of a blue-chip prospect. If he continues to rake, he’ll likely be place highly on midseason lists. Eric Longenhagen recently checked in on Soto as part of his daily notes.

Read the rest of this entry »


KATOH Projects: Super Deep Sleeper Prospects

Over the winter, FanGraphs lead prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen wrote the equivalent of a novel in the form of 30 organizational prospect lists. Each list included a writeup and scouting grades for every prospect receiving a FV grade of at least 40 — that is, the equivalent of a bench player or middle reliever. For each team, roughly 20-25 prospects (give or take) met this criteria.

Of course, every organization features many more than just 20-25 minor leaguers. What about them? Using my KATOH projection system, I attempted to find the best of the rest. Just as I did last year, I’ve identified the players with the most promising statistical profiles who missed Eric’s 40 FV cutoff.

I think this goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: these are non-prospects of the worst kind. They were ranked below the future utility players, below the future middle relievers, below the toolsy teenagers who were overmatched in Rookie ball, and below the flame-throwing relievers with hideous walk rates. I’m scraping the absolute bottom of the barrel here.

Why am I writing about them, then? Well, because nobody else is, and my math suggests they’re at least worth keeping an eye on. So I decided to round them all up and put them all in an article that will generate an embarrassingly low number of page views. The sad reality is that most of these players will never amount to much. Just about the entire baseball industry has looked at them and said “org guy,” and the baseball industry is usually right about these things. But every so often, an org guy grinds his way to the majors, and the players listed below seem like decent bets to do so.

Read the rest of this entry »


Projecting Cody Bellinger

With Andre Ethier, Logan Forsythe, Franklin Gutierrez, Joc Pederson, Rob Segedin all on the DL — and both Chase Utley and Scott Van Slyke struggling to do much of anything — the Dodgers have called up Cody Bellinger to strengthen their lineup. Bellinger is a powerful first-baseman-turned-outfielder who spent the past few weeks mashing .343/.429/.627 at Triple-A at the tender age of 21. Like most first basemen, Bellinger’s power is his biggest asset. He belted 26 homers between Double- and Triple-A last year and has amassed a remarkable 120 extra-base hits since the start of 2015. He’s already hit five out this year, tying him for third among Triple-A hitters.

There’s much more to Bellinger than his homers, however. He’s also a 45 runner who already has seven steals to his name in 2017 and has played all three outfield positions as recently as last year. That same athleticism earned him a 60/70 fielding grade from Eric Longenhagen over the winter. Clay Davenport’s defensive numbers graded him out as a +8 defender across 78 games at first last year.

Read the rest of this entry »


Eric Longenhagen Prospects Chat, April Finale

12:01
Eric A Longenhagen: Is this thing on?

12:01
Eric A Longenhagen: Indeed.

12:01
Eric A Longenhagen: Now we chat.

12:01
Nomar Picnics: WHAT TO DO WITH GARRETT. Please advise. Yours, in a panic.

12:02
Eric A Longenhagen: Amir? He’s fine. That HR rate isn’t going to be that high forever.

Read the rest of this entry »


Comparing and Contrasting This Year’s Prospect Rankings

A few weeks ago, lead prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen published FanGraphs’ top-100 prospect list. Baseball America recently performed a similar exercise, as did Baseball Prospectus, Keith Law, MLB.com and John Sickels.

On the whole, there’s a lot of consensus among these rankings. Although the order varied, all eight of Andrew Benintendi, Dansby Swanson, Amed RosarioAlex ReyesGleyber Torres, Eloy JimenezYoan Moncada,  Brendan Rodgers and Austin Meadows ranked within each outlet’s top 20. Fifty-nine players made every single top 100. The point of this article, however, isn’t to celebrate those similarities, but to point out the differences. In what follows, I identify the prospects that each outlet ranks higher and lower than the “establishment,” and look at how the various outlets compare to each other. Brace yourselves for an onslaught of tables and plots.

*****

List of Lists

Firstly, here’s the consensus prospect list. I hard-coded all unranked players as having ranked 210th, since Sickels ranked just over 200 names. The “Avg. Rank” column below is a simple average of all the rankings.

Read the rest of this entry »


One Cause for Optimism in Cincinnati

The Reds’ pitching staff was absolutely dreadful last year. Their rotation and bullpen were both the worst in baseball. With a ghastly -0.5 WAR, their staff was the worst since the 1800s, which basically means it was the worst of all time.

Not much has changed since last year. Here’s the current depth chart for the Cincinnati rotation:

Name IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% ERA FIP WAR
Brandon Finnegan 171.0 8.2 3.9 1.4 .297 73.0 % 4.42 4.66 1.4
Anthony DeSclafani   136.0 7.7 2.4 1.2 .305 72.8 % 4.06 4.14 1.9
Scott Feldman 133.0 6.1 2.6 1.3 .305 69.6 % 4.65 4.65 1.1
Robert Stephenson 119.0 8.9 5.5 1.5 .301 71.8 % 5.07 5.25 0.5
Bronson Arroyo 117.0 5.0 2.2 1.8 .299 68.8 % 5.34 5.44 0.1
Homer Bailey   93.0 7.6 2.8 1.2 .309 70.7 % 4.37 4.27 1.1
Cody Reed 81.0 8.3 3.1 1.3 .306 72.8 % 4.24 4.38 0.9
Tim Adleman   37.0 6.6 3.0 1.5 .300 70.3 % 4.90 5.03 0.1
Austin Brice 19.0 8.0 4.2 1.3 .306 70.8 % 4.79 4.88 0.1
Amir Garrett 9.0 7.9 4.7 1.3 .303 71.6 % 4.77 4.94 0.1
Keury Mella 9.0 6.4 4.2 1.4 .306 69.1 % 5.27 5.32 0.0
Nick Travieso 9.0 6.4 4.0 1.4 .301 69.4 % 5.12 5.23 0.0
Total 933.0 7.4 3.3 1.4 .303 71.3 % 4.62 4.72 7.4

Brandon Finnegan is at the top, which is fine, I guess. After that, however, things go downhill in a hurry — especially with Homer Bailey and Anthony DeSclafani slated to open the year on the DL. For example: both Bronson Arroyo and Scott Feldman are apparently not only still pitching, but are penciled in for 250 innings in Cincinnati’s rotation. The rest of the list is made up of unproven youngsters. Each of them has some promise, but none have had much success in the major leagues, either. Hence their middling projections.

Read the rest of this entry »


The 2017 All-KATOH Team

Baseball America recently published their top-100 list of prospects, as have Baseball Prospectus, Keith Law and MLB Pipeline. Eric Longenhagen will be putting out his top-100 this spring, too. I submitted my contribution on Tuesday, when I put out KATOH’s top-100 prospects. All of these lists attempt to accomplish the very same goal: identifying and ranking 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 rea- live human beings who’ve watched them play. Andrew Benintendi, J.P. Crawford, Michael Kopech, and Austin Meadows all fall within this group. However, there are other KATOH favorites who’ve received very little attention from prospect rankers. 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 the non-numerical attributes that can predict big-league success.

I performed this exact same exercise last year, as well, and I’m proud to say there were some successes. This time last year, Edwin Diaz was a KATOH guy who was unanimously omitted from top-100 lists due to his high-effort delivery and lack of a viable third pitch. Now, he’s coming off of one of the best reliever seasons we’ve ever seen. Zach Davies also appeared on this list last year as a soft-tossing righty. He promptly posted a 2.8 WAR season as a 23-year-old. He was especially effective in last year’s second half, posting a 3.40 FIP after July 1st.

Of course, I also touted Ramon Flores, Clayton Blackburn and Zach Lee in this space last year. One year later, those guys are flirting with non-prospect-dom. But let’s try to remain optimistic and not think about them right now. There will be hits, and there will be misses.

Bear in mind that this exercise excludes the KATOH darlings who still wound up on top-100 lists. For example, KATOH loves Jake Bauers, Manny Margot and Thomas Szapucki way more than most. Even though KATOH’s assessment of these prospects is more optimistic than most, they’re ineligible for this list because at least one well-respected outlet ranked those same prospects among the top-100 rookie-eligible players on the planet. The players below are the ones who are a bit further off the radar.

*****
C – Garrett Stubbs, Houston (Profile)

Why KATOH loves him:

Stubbs hit a slick .309/.397/.472 between High-A and Double-A last year while walking nearly as much as he struck out. For a catcher, that’s amazing, especially considering he opened the year as a 22-year-old. He also swiped 15 bases, which suggests he’ll provide additional value with his legs. Though he’s mastered Double-A, he’s still just 23, which is relatively young for a college bat.

Why scouts don’t (per Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook):

He projects as a near-average hitter with well below-average power… Stubbs’ size is the biggest impediment to him becoming a big league regular. No regular backstop today weighs as little as Stubbs, but he could still be a solid contributor even if limited to a part-time role behind the plate.

Read the rest of this entry »


Projecting the Prospects in the Dan Straily Trade

Dan Straily is on his way to becoming a Marlin. According to reports, the Reds have agreed to deal the soft-tossing, veteran righty for a trio of prospects. We’ll have more on the trade in a bit. For the moment, here’s what my KATOH system has to say about the players who are newly employed by the Cincinnati Reds organization. KATOH denotes WAR forecast for first six years of player’s major-league career. KATOH+ uses similar a methodology with consideration also for Baseball America’s rankings.

*****

Austin Brice, RHP (Profile)

KATOH: 0.9 WAR
KATOH+: 0.9 WAR

After an underwhelming tenure as a starter in the minors, Brice had success in the bullpen last year. Following a move to the pen in June, he posted a 2.10 ERA and 2.90 FIP between Double-A and Triple-A, earning him a September call-up. Brice’s recent minor-league numbers suggest he’ll have a future in the show, even if it’s a short-lived one. KATOH gives him a 50% chance of pitching in the majors again. But as a soon-to-be 25-year-old relief prospect without much track record, he isn’t likely to make a big impact. KATOH considered Brice to be the 10th-best prospect in the Marlins’ system, which says more about the Marlins’ system than it does about Brice.

To put some faces to Brice’s statistical profile, let’s generate some statistical comps for the hard-throwing righty. I calculated a weighted Mahalanobis distance between Brice’s performance this year and every Double- and Triple-A season since 1991 in which a pitcher recorded at least 350 batters faced. In the table below, you’ll find the 10 most similar seasons, ranked from most to least similar. The WAR totals refer to each player’s first six seasons in the major leagues. A lower “Mah Dist” reading indicates a closer comp.

Read the rest of this entry »


Projecting the Prospects Seattle Traded Yesterday

The Mariners continued their early-January flurry of activity yesterday, swinging two trades in short succession. First, they dealt left-handed pitchers Thomas Burrows and Luiz Gohara to the Braves for Mallex Smith and intriguing arm Shae Simmons. They promptly flipped Smith, along with prospects Carlos Vargas and Ryan Yarbrough, to the Rays for Drew Smyly.

The most interesting players in this deal are likely the two who’ll make an immediate big-league impact — Smith and Smyly — the former of whom KATOH adored heading into 2016. But the other players changing hands also have their merits. Here’s what my KATOH system has to say about the players who spent most of 2016 playing in the domestic minor leagues.

Note that new Atlanta prospect Burrows is omitted due to a lack of professional experience; new Tampa prospect Vargas, because KATOH doesn’t account for Dominican Summer League numbers, which are the only sort Vargas has produced. KATOH denotes WAR forecast for first six years of player’s major-league career. KATOH+ uses similar a methodology with consideration also for Baseball America’s rankings.

*****

Luiz Gohara, LHP, Atlanta (Profile)

KATOH: 3.1 WAR
KATOH+: 2.7 WAR

Gohara posted an ERA well above 5.00 over his first three seasons as a pro, but really found his groove last year as a 19-year-old. In 15 starts across two levels of A-ball, he pitched to a dazzling 3.04 FIP on the strength of a 29% strikeout rate. Gohara was one of the more dominant arms in the low minors.

KATOH isn’t completely sold yet, though, as Gohara has a few negative variables in his profile. For one, he was decidedly bad as recently as 2015, which wasn’t terribly long ago. He’s also never pitched above Low-A, meaning he’s largely untested against high-quality hitters and still has a few years of development that have yet to occur. Even his strong 2016 numbers came in a small sample — 79 innings — so KATOH’s a bit skeptical of the track record he does have.

Read the rest of this entry »


Eric Longenhagen Prospects Chat, the Thaw

12:02
Eric A Longenhagen: Hi everyone. There’s actual baseball being played here in AZ this week, rejoice rejoice.

12:02
Eric A Longenhagen: Oh, the Pirates list is done and being edited, I’d expect that tomorrow.

12:02
Eric A Longenhagen: Let’s begin

12:02
Owen: Dylan Cease: SP or RP?

12:03
Eric A Longenhagen: SP until he proves he can’t do it. I like the progression he’s shown since returning from TJ, less violent delivery, better fastball and curveball control.

12:03
Zonk: Is there something Mark Zagunis can do to get more interesting for you as a prospect guru?

Read the rest of this entry »


Projecting the Prospects in the Adam Eaton Trade

Just one day after they dealt away Chris Sale for an impressive crop of young talent, the White Sox continued their tear-down yesterday by flipping Adam Eaton for another nice haul. This time, they landed three young pitchers (roughly in order of consensus future value): Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning.

Here’s how the minor leaguers headed to Chicago grade out by my KATOH system. KATOH denotes WAR forecast for first six years of player’s major-league career. KATOH+ uses similar a methodology with consideration also for Baseball America’s rankings.

*****

Lucas Giolito, RHP (Profile)

KATOH: 5.8 WAR (47th overall)
KATOH+: 10.8 WAR (9th overall)

Giolito is one of those cases where the scouting reports outstrip the on-field performance. Scouts have long raved about Giolito’s fastball-curveball combination, and he parlayed it into dominance at the lower rungs of the minor leagues in 2014 and 2015. He was a consensus top-five prospect at this time last year, but things got a little rough for him in 2016.

Read the rest of this entry »


Projecting the Prospects in the Chris Sale Trade

The Red Sox acquired a second pitcher on Tuesday following their trade for reliever Tyler Thornburg — in this case, receiving talented left-handed starter Chris Sale from the White Sox in exchange for an impressive return (roughly in order of consensus future value): Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, Luis Alexander Basabe and Victor Diaz.

Here’s how the minor leaguers headed to Chicago grade out by my KATOH system. KATOH denotes WAR forecast for first six years of player’s major-league career. KATOH+ uses similar a methodology with consideration also for Baseball America’s rankings.

*****

Yoan Moncada, 2B (Profile)

KATOH: 6.2 WAR (36th overall)
KATOH+: 14.0 WAR (4th overall)

There’s no denying that Yoan Moncada was one of the most productive hitters in the minors this year. In 61 High-A games, he hit .307/.427/.496. In 44 Double-A games, he slashed .285/.388/.547. He 45 stolen bases across both levels. Moncada excels in multiple areas: he hits for power, runs like crazy, and plays a semi-premium position. His tools are top-notch, which is why he was the consensus No. 1 prospect last summer.

Read the rest of this entry »


KATOH’s Guide to the 2016 Rule 5 Draft

The deadline for teams to set their 40-man rosters in anticipation of the Rule 5 draft was Friday, November 18th. This means that all Rule 5 eligible players who are not currently on a 40-man roster will be available in the draft on December 8th. 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 2013 or earlier, drafted out of high school in 2012 or earlier, or signed as an international free agent in 2012 or earlier. That’s just a rule of thumb, but 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 former teams would have protected them — or traded them to a team with an interest 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’s possible I omitted a noteworthy player along the way. All players with at least 200 professional plate appearances or batters faced in 2016 were considered. Note that KATOH denotes the relevant player’s WAR projection over his first six major-league seasons, while KATOH+ denotes the same thing while also accounting for the player’s place (or not) among Baseball America’s top-100 rankings.

Read the rest of this entry »


Projecting the Minor-League Free-Agent Pitchers

Every winter, hundreds of nondescript minor leaguers 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 players 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. A couple of years ago, 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. Here, in no particular order, are some notable examples from the past few years: Gregor Blanco, Jesus Guzman, Donovan Solano, Yangervis Solarte, Jake Smolinski, Jose Quintana and Al Alburquerque. Each left his original organization via minor-league free agency, but achieved some level of big-league success with his new team.

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. 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 only considers pitchers who faced at least 200 minor-league batters in 2016. For reference, here’s a similar article I wrote last year, and a post from yesterday looking at minor-league free-agent hitters.

*****

1) Jacob Turner, RHP, 2.8 WAR

Turner was the ninth-overall pick back in 2009, and broke in with the Tigers as a 20-year-old in 2011. Six years and three new organizations later, his career is at a crossroads. Turner hasn’t had much success getting big-league hitters out, as evidenced by his 323 big-league innings of 5.00 ERA ball. It’s been a struggle for Turner, but he’s still just 25 and is coming off of a solid showing in Triple-A last year. Despite an unsightly ERA, the 6-foot-4 righty posted a 3.69 FIP at the highest level of the minors with the White Sox. The book isn’t closed on his career yet.

Read the rest of this entry »


Projecting the Minor-League Free-Agent Hitters

Every winter, hundreds of nondescript minor leaguers 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 players 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. A couple of years ago, 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. Here, in no particular order, are some notable examples from the past few years: Gregor Blanco, Jesus Guzman, Donovan Solano, Yangervis Solarte, Jake Smolinski, Jose Quintana and Al Alburquerque. Each left his original organization via minor-league free agency, but achieved some level of big-league success with his new team.

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. 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 only considers players who logged at least 200 minor-league plate appearances in 2016. For reference, here’s a similar article I wrote last year. Tomorrow, I’ll repeat this exercise for pitchers.

*****

1) Todd Glaesmann, OF, 2.2 WAR

For the second year in a row, Glaesmann hit respectably in the upper levels of the minor leagues. He spent 2016 at the Diamondbacks’ Double-A and Triple-A affiliates, where he turned in a .272/.312/.462 performance. Glaesmann’s numbers aren’t flashy, but he’s hit for a healthy amount of power while simultaneously not striking out terribly often.

Read the rest of this entry »