Reviewing the Top 100 Prospects List, 25-1

We’re wrapping up the review of my pre-season Fangraphs Top 100 Prospects list. You can read the previous three parts of this series by clicking the links below:

Prospects 100-76
Prospects 75-51
Prospects 50-26

25. Arodys Vizcaino, RHP, Atlanta: Vizcaino was haunted by elbow injuries in previous years and finally succumbed to Tommy John surgery at the beginning of the year. He should return to full strength in 2013 and it will be interesting to see if Atlanta views him as a long-term starter or reliever. (Value Down)

24. Hak-Ju Lee, SS, Tampa Bay: I ranked Lee very aggressively on this list and fully expected him to breakout in 2012 after flashing good speed, the ability to hit for average and plus defensive tools (both fielding and arm strength). Unfortunately he scuffled early and is just now starting to really turn things around. I still believe he’ll develop into a solid big league regular at shortstop. (Value Down)

23. Jarrod Parker, RHP, Oakland: Getting traded from Arizona to Oakland is about the best thing that can happen to a young pitcher, as Parker went from a hitter’s environment to an extreme pitcher’s environment. The young right-hander has made 14 big league starts in 2012 and currently has a 2.86 ERA. His fly-ball tendencies have been muted by his home park and it’s helped him survive with an above-average walk rate (4.34 BB/9). (Value Up)

22. Nolan Arenado, 3B, Colorado: Just 21, Arenado is having a decent season in double-A but his wRC+ is right around average at 101. His power output is down from last year, with his ISO dropping from .190 to .120. There have also been concerned raised over his makeup and maturity… and it’s not the first time that these issues have been raised. (Value Down)

21. Anthony Rendon, 3B, Washington: Rendon, an injury magnet in college, appeared in just two games before his entire season was wiped out by an ankle injury. His lack of durability is a major red flag but guys like Paul Molitor have bounced back from repeated injuries to have productive careers. (Value Down)

20. Taijuan Walker, RHP, Seattle: Just 19 years old, Walker is holding his own in double-A He has a 4.50 ERA but his FIP sits at 3.59 in 70.0 innings. His walk rate is a little high but he’s struck out 9.13 batters per nine innings. The youngster has a very high ceiling and could be ready for the Majors by the end of 2013. (Value Static)

19. Danny Hultzen, LHP, Seattle: After signing late in 2011, Hultzen did not make his pro debut until 2012 (although he pitched 19.1 innings in the Arizona Fall League) and has already reached triple-A. He’s spent the majority of the year, though, at double-A and has a strikeout rate of 9.44 K/9 with a 1.19 ERA. (Value Up)

18. Jacob Turner, RHP, Detroit: The Tigers organization has been suffering from a lack of minor league depth for a number of years now and the club has attempted to compensate for that by rushing many of its prospects through the minors. It hasn’t worked well at all for the Tigers and Turner has been inconsistent in 2012. (Value Down)

17. Zack Wheeler, RHP, New York NL: I couldn’t believe that the Giants organization gave Wheeler away in a trade with the Mets for a half season of veteran outfielder Carlos Beltran – and the swap still baffles me to this day. The right-hander has allowed just one home run with 6.41 hits per nine innings in 92.2 innings this season. His walk rate has also improved each of the past three years. (Value Up)

16. Wil Myers, OF, Kansas City (Value Up): Myers, 21, had a down year in 2011 at double-A and returned to the level this year with a vengeance. His wRC+ rate rose from 104 to 219. He hit .351 with an ISO rate of .388 in 134 at-bats. Promoted to triple-A, Myers continues to hit for both power and average. (Value Up)

15. Devin Mesoraco, C, Cincinnati (Value Down): The organization believed in Mesoraco enough to include fellow catching prospect Yasmani Grandal in a deal to acquire young pitcher Mat Latos. Unfortunately, Dusty Baker is the Reds manager. His handling of the young catcher has left something to be desired. Mesoraco is having a very poor season but he’s appeared in just 38 games while playing second fiddle to Ryan Hanigan. (Value Down)

14. Manny Machado, SS, Baltimore: Pushed with an assignment to double-A to begin 2012 despite a wRC+ rate of 95 in 63 games, Machado has performed admirably. He’s hitting just .264 but has good power production to go along with solid on-base skills and nice contact rates. He may not stick at shortstop but Machado has the potential to develop into a middle-of-the-order threat. (Value Static)

13. Jesus Montero, C/DH, Seattle: The trade to Seattle opened up an immediate big league role for Montero but it’s been a disappointing season, which has included both offensive struggles and injuries. With a wRC+ of 78 at the MLB level, the catcher may need a little more minor league seasoning when he comes off the disabled list. (Value Down)

12. Archie Bradley, RHP, Arizona: One of my favorite arms from the 2011 draft, Bradley started off the year very strongly but he’s been inconsistent, with each good month followed by a poor month. He’s given up just 46 hits in 81.2 innings but has allowed 57 walks. The control issues are not surprising given his age and it may take some patience but Bradley has one of the highest ceilings of any pitcher currently in the minors. (Value Static)

11. Tyler Skaggs, LHP, Arizona: Skaggs, 21, made 13 starts at double-A to begin the year and posted very good numbers, including 71 Ks in 69.2 innings. He was recently promoted to triple-A and pitching in the potent Pacific Coast League will certainly help prepare him for his home ball park, which favors hitters. Skaggs has the ceiling of a No. 2 starter. (Value Up)

10. Jameson Taillon, RHP, Pittsburgh: Taillon remains one of the best pitchers in the minors that no one is talking about. The young hurler can sit in the mid-90s and touch the upper 90s with his fastball, and also has a very good curveball. Taillon pitches with above-average control for his age, as well. He’s almost ready for double-A and has an outside shot of reaching the Majors at the age of 21. (Value Up)

9. Trevor Bauer, RHP, Arizona: Bauer, 21, has been just as good as advertised. He’s reached the Majors in just his first full season in pro ball. The right-hander has the ceiling of a top-of-the-rotation starter but won’t reach that ceiling until he polishes up his command and control. (Value Up)

8. Gerrit Cole, RHP, Pittsburgh: Cole has impressed with his fastball velocity, strong strikeout rate and good ground-ball numbers but whispers continue to suggest he’s headed for a high-leverage reliever role at the big league level. With that said, he’s produced decent numbers and has already reached double-A. I remain optimistic that he’ll stick in the starting rotation as a big leaguer. (Value Static)

7. Dylan Bundy, RHP, Baltimore: Bundy blew threw low-A ball and did not allow an earned run in 30.0 innings of work (eight starts). He’s now pitching at high-A ball as a 19 year old and has a 3.58 ERA with 34 Ks in 32.2 innings of work. It’s hard to find a scout that doesn’t project an all-star future for Bundy as a top-shelf starter. (Value Up)

6. Jurickson Profar, SS, Texas: The Rangers organization challenged Profar in 2012 by jumping him over high-A ball to double-A. Just 19, he has a wRC+ of 134 in 83 games. He’s hitting .288 with a strikeout rate of just 14% and has shown impressive pop (.187 ISO). Profar is destroying left-handed pitching with a .330 average and and OPS of .951. (Value Up)

5. Julio Teheran, RHP, Atlanta: The right-hander has had a rough year – both in triple-A and the Majors. Teheran has struggled with his command, which has resulted in an uncharacteristically high home run rate. Youth is on his side so he has lots of time to make adjustments. (Value Down)

4. Shelby Miller, RHP, St. Louis: Miller entered the season as an untouchable prospect within the Cardinals system but rumors suggest St. Louis would now be willing to offer him if the right deal were to come along. The young pitcher has had some challenges in 2012 while pitching at the triple-A level. He’s allowed 90 hits in 77.1 innings of work and his ERA is 6.17. On the plus side he’s struck out 90 batters and is just 21 years old. Miller was also suspended in late 2011 for a “violation of team policy.” (Value Down)

3. Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles AL: With 64 MLB games under his belt, Trout has definitely established himself as a legitimate big leaguer with a wRC+ of 172. The biggest knock on the young outfielder is the strikeout rate but it’s less of an issue if he keeps showing above-average power. (Value Up)

2. Bryce Harper, OF, Washington: Like Trout, Harper has already proven that he belongs in the big leagues despite the fact that he’s just 19 years old. He still has a lot to learn and rough edges to file down but he’s one of the most exciting players in the Majors. (Value Up)

1. Matt Moore, LHP, Tampa Bay: Moore entered 2012 with expectations so high that he was bound to disappoint. Just 23, he’s taken a regular turn in the Rays rotation and has provided 99.2 innings of solid, but unspectacular, work. He’s struggled with his command and control but has shown improvements as the year has progressed. (Value Down)

BONUS: International Signees

Yu Darvish, RHP, Texas (Would rank 8th): The 25-year-old Darvish has been a solid pitcher for the Rangers while adjusting to a new league and a new culture. He looks like a stud but the second year in North America is usually a big challege for Japanese hurlers.

Yoenis Cespedes, OF, Oakland: Cespedes, 26, has shown promise in 2012 with flashes of good power but has produced a modest wRC+ of 118. Inconsistency has been his biggest issue and he’s hitting just .120 in July after a very impressive June – but he’s also been battling a bad thumb. (Would rank 32nd)



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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.



Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Eddie
Guest
Eddie

Marc,

You mentioned a few pitchers that need to improve their ‘command and control.’ What is the difference between the two?

walt526
Guest
walt526

Control is the ability to throw strikes in the intended location.

Command is the ability to have the pitch move as one would want.

Eddie
Guest
Eddie

Thanks for the clarification. I’ve always used those terms interchangeably.

Kevin
Member

Actually – that’s not correct.

Control is the ability to throw strikes without walking guys.

Command is the ability to throw the ball where you want to i.e. hit the target.

Jacob275
Guest
Jacob275

Don’t listen to this man, he’s leading you astray. Actual meaning of the terms:

Control: The ability to throw strikes
Command: The ability to throw strikes where you want them in the zone.

Anon21
Guest
Anon21

Jacob: I think Kevin’s definition is probably somewhat better, in the sense that command can also involve hitting a target outside the strike zone, if that’s where you mean to throw it. (E.g., throwing it on a batter’s fists, hoping he will swing and get jammed.) Command is, at its essence, precision.

Drew_LBC
Member
Drew_LBC

“Command is, at its essence, precision.”

Anon21: Would that then suggest that the difference between Control and Command is somewhat analogous to the difference between Accuracy and Precision? Or is that stretching things?

Anon21
Guest
Anon21

Drew: I’m not really familiar with the difference between accuracy and precision–I tend to use them interchangeably.

Anon21
Guest
Anon21

Having read the article, I’m not sure if it quite fits. If we substitute “catcher’s target” for “true value” in the definition of accuracy,* then accuracy seems more akin to command, while precision and control don’t seem closely related.

*Which, maybe we shouldn’t. You could argue that hitting the catcher’s target is the objective of pitching, just as measuring the true value is the objective of modeling, but really the objective of pitching is to record outs, so perhaps the analogy doesn’t work.

Eddie
Guest
Eddie

Ok I’m going to renew my question to Marc, as everyone seems to have a different answer. Marc, what did you mean?

Dan
Guest
Dan

The only person in this discussion who is wrong is walt526, with the first reply.

Dan
Guest
Dan

This happens every single time the question is asked. It’s ridiculous. If you can reliably throw pitches where you want to, are you going to have a separate problem having to do with walking too many guys?

These two things, “command’ and “control”, have never been consistently defined in a coherent way, and when intellectually honest people ask the question there never seems to be a shortage of people willing to authoritatively declare their definitions.

I’d be willing to bet that if you asked 10 different scouts the question, you’d get at least a handful of different and permutations on a few various themes. Some would describe command the way others describe control. If these isn’t the case we’d have figured it out by now.

Anon21
Guest
Anon21

Dan (2?): to answer your first question, no, if you can reliably throw the ball where you want it, you won’t have a problem with unintentional walks. But note that “unintentional” here is used more broadly than in common parlance; guys with good command absolutely can issue unintentional-intentional walks, where they make a decision not to throw a pitch that the hitter can handle, hoping to have the hitter swing at bad pitches. Sometimes that strategy will result in a walk, but over the long run (and sometimes in the short run, depending on the game situation) it might save runs.

But it’s also worth noting that a guy can have good control and bad command. It may be that a guy is able to consistently get the ball over the plate, but throws too many “fat” pitches over the heart of the plate that are then squared up for hits, especially extra base hits.

So, it’s probably fair to say that command is sufficient but not necessary for control, with the proviso that a pitcher with good command may sometimes consciously pursue a strategy that’s more likely to lead to a walk. Control is necessary but not sufficient for command.

ppabich
Guest
ppabich

Anon21: Adding to your point, the type of pitcher where control is important, are the flamethrowers who have such unhittable stuff, that the only real goal is to get the ball over the plate. Chapman’s fastball comes to mind. You don’t need him to have command of his fastball, just to control it. For command you often hear the phrase, “He knows how to pitch,” meaning the guys knows how to use their stuff to set up hitters and maintain control (not the pitching term) over at bats.

@Dan: I don’t think there are many definitions, there is some nuance to the terms but they are pretty straight forward. Anon’s explanations are pretty right on.

Daniel
Member
Member
Daniel

FWIW Ron Shandler (BaseballHQ) defines control as BB/9 and command as K/BB.

Drew_LBC
Member
Drew_LBC

Anon21: I linked to a Wikipedia article in my comment, if you click “Accuracy and Precsision”.

Here is the address:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accuracy_and_precision

Check out the section that uses the target analogy. Not sure if it quite fits for baseball, but it is an interesting concept.

Drew_LBC
Member
Drew_LBC

doh, reply fail.

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