Results tagged ‘ Request for Reader Participation ’
There are three main reasons, I think, why baseball is a game so full of player-to-player comparisons.
- because its history, both recent and deep in the past, is so well documented
- because well-kept statistics make it easier to provide beyond-what-the-eye-can-see evidence that a comp is justifiable
- because juxtaposing two ballplayers (or teams or leagues or eras with or without the use of stats) helps us connect our dad’s Major Leagues to our own
Why comps are so prevalent in the talk of prospects should be obvious then: Pitting a retired or current big leaguer against a projected one allows us to connect our own Majors to the future’s.
Thanks to my many conversations with scouts and Minor League managers/coaches as I report stories for MiLB.com, I have come across — and very often asked direct questions to yield — prospects-to-players comps. Here are some I have included in stories in recent months:
- Rangers third baseman has Scott Rolen-like hands.
- Padres catcher Austin Hedges has the athleticism of a young Brad Ausmus.
- Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor plays the game as smoothly as Robinson Cano.
- White Sox infielder Carlos Sanchez has Roberto Alomar-like ability (and the talent level of Robin Ventura).
- Astros third baseman Rio Ruiz is starting the same journey Eric Chavez already took.
- Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado has many of the same skills Vinny Castilla once showcased.
- Astros first baseman Nate Freiman can become Mark Trumbo Lite.
And lately, here are comparisons I’ve heard in other media reports:
- The Rays’ Wil Myers is the next Dale Murphy.
- The Cardinals’ Oscar Taveras has the violent yet effective hack of Vlad Guerrero.
- The Cubs’ Jorge Soler takes BP like a right-handed Cliff Floyd.
- The Rangers’ Jurickson Profar has a Chase Utley-like lefty swing.
A Frame of Reference
Why I like employing comps in my reporting — and why, I assume, you like reading them — is that putting, say, A’s infield prospect Grant Green side by side with longtime Rangers infielder Michael Young (now the Phillies’ third baseman) gives us a sense of how good Green can become. If we’ve made a smart comp with Green and Young, we know right away how good the former can eventually become: an average defender with a plus contact rate at the plate. We now have a frame of reference.
Today is the first day of Major League Spring Training games — we’ll have to wait longer on the Minors — so we are getting our first looks at lineups with prospects: what positions they’re playing, what slot in the order they’re hitting, etc. For example: Avisail Garcia and Nick Castellanos, two of the Tigers’ top three prospects, started in right and left field and batted eighth and ninth, respectively, on Jim Leyland’s first card of the exhibition season.
Anyway, that was enough for me to ponder this question: If you could make a lineup — one through nine, with a DH instead of a pitcher — comprising entirely prospects, what would it look like? Well, after doing some thinking, here is what I came up with:
I’m guessing this will be one of the more divisive blog posts in PROSPECTive’s brief history, so allow me in advance to explain some of my choices:
- Profar (Rangers): He is the Minors’ most dynamic player, not quite the base-stealer that the Reds’ Billy Hamilton is, but a much better hitter for both average and power. He would also play a very good shortstop.
- Yelich (Marlins): Hamilton and the Red Sox’s Jackie Bradley contended for this center field slot, but I couldn’t pass up Yelich, who might be the Minors’ most natural hitter. He also has decent power and smarts on the basepaths. I would trust the him to form a solid atop-the-order combo with Profar — they’d make for a good hit-and-run combo.
- Myers (Rays): Speaking of natural hitters, the Royal-turned-Ray might be a better fit for the lineup’s cleanup spot, but I like to alternate lefties and righties so as to stop the skipper in the other dugout from bringing in a relief specialist that would cross off back-to-back sluggers. Superficial of me, I know.
Last Saturday, I wrote this blog post, soliciting prospects-related questions from you. I’m writing this post here and now to fulfill my end of the bargain and answer those questions as best as I can. Before we get to the Qs and As, I would like to thank you for participating — or, for just reading along — and also encourage you to use the comment section below in the future. As I wrote in this post (the first in this blog’s now 77-day history), this platform is for you. So if you want to see more chats like this one (or an actual-live chat in which we are conversing real-time) or have other ideas, please let me know. Without further adieu…
Andrew: Ryan, Starling (now the Royals’ No. 1 prospect) has a higher overall ceiling than Arcia (the Twins’ seventh-ranked farmhand), but it’s not quite that simple. For one, we have larger sample sizes of Arcia — he has played parts of five seasons in the Minors versus Starling who finally completed his first Short-Season in 2012. Therefore, we know a lot more about Arcia. He has, for example, proven he can hit Double-A pitching. Starling hasn’t. That should explain why Starling has greater potential but Arcia has a greater chance at realizing his. And that’s as a hitter. As a defender, there’s less debate: Arcia will top out as an average corner outfielder while Starling is already an outstanding center fielder. If you’re asking me which player I would in my organization, I’d take Starling if only because his talent is too great to pass up.
Andrew: Interesting question, Charlie. If you followed the Drillers in 2012, you already know that Arenado was solid but not spectacular in the way that his ’11 season in the Minors and Arizona Fall League suggested he might be. Dickerson, meanwhile, continued his quick ascension in the Rockies’ system. With that said, my educated guess would be that Arenado has the better season in ’13. His ability to make contact at all costs, plus his cerebral approach at the plate will give him a better shot against the advanced pitching he will face at Triple-A. I know less of the approach used by Dickerson, who will also play for the Pacific Coast League’s Colorado Springs Sky Sox for the first time next spring, but it’s obvious that he is more prone to striking out. Both are well equipped to produce, but my money is on Arenado. I would not be at all surprised to see him jump back into the conversation of best Minor League hitter.
Andrew: This is actually a very easy choice for me, Pierre. I firmly believe Smyly is and will continue to be the best of the quartet you mention. As long as he can stay healthy, Smyly is the one of the four that, in my mind, can be a No. 2 starter in a good Major League rotation. When pitching their best, the other three, are no more than No. 3s. I have seen (and written about) Griffin and Straily the most of these hurlers and that helps inform my opinion here: Griffin will be challenged to repeat his 2012 results (2.82 ERA in the Minors, 3.06 in the Majors) given his lack of a truly plus offering; he will always need to be mixing his pitches well to stay a mental step ahead of hitters. And Straily led the Minors in strikeouts but then found out that fanning Major Leaguers is a different task altogether. He has an excellent slider and a strong changeup, but he consistently leaves his fastball up in the zone, which is hard to get away with in the Majors. I know less of Chen but simply based on age, past numbers and future projections, Smyly comes out well ahead.
Anonymous: How do you evaluate the most recent trades: Myers and Odorizzi to Tampa Bay and Bauer to Cleveland?
Andrew: Well, this question would fall under this blog’s While You and I Were Out category. I was not scheduled to work the last four days and here is what I (and perhaps you, missed):
Our story Sunday: Royals send top prospects to Rays
My take: I understand why Kansas City felt it had to acquire starting pitching, but I completely disagree with how they went about it, yielding three top prospects (and a solid fourth) whom Tampa can control contractually for six years. I’m also on record as a strong believer in the bat of outfielder Wil Myers, who is the best player going to the Rays. Jake Odorizzi will be better than Wade Davis, too. And it seemed like the Royals just threw Mike Mongtomery into the deal. I’m not a believer in Montgomery, but he has the best pure stuff of any pitcher in the trade and is yet another example of KC underselling on the value of its own farmhands.
Our story Tuesday: Bauer sent to Tribe in three-team deal
My take: This deal didn’t involve as many elite-level prospects and wasn’t as lopsided, but it also leaves me wondering about one team’s decision. No matter how highly the D-backs rated Didi Gregorius, the shortstop prospect they’re getting from the Reds, and how much they have soured on pitcher Trevor Bauer, the pitching prospect they’re sending to the Indians, this trade makes little to no sense. It boils down to trading baseball’s No. 5 prospect (Bauer) for the No. 5 prospect in Cincinnati’s system (Gregorius). I realize Arizona was shortstop-starved, but will Gregorius hit that much more than in-house option Cliff Pennington, who is also a very good defender? I’m not so sure.
If Arizona was set on 1) getting a shortstop, 2) unloading Bauer and 3) involving three clubs, I would have explored this one a week or so ago:
D-backs get: Mike Olt (3B from TEX), Luis Sardinas (SS from TEX), Wil Myers (OF from KC), Christian Colon (SS from KC), Mike Montgomery (SP from KC)
Royals get: Trevor Bauer (SP from ARI), Martin Perez (SP from TEX)
Rangers get: Justin Upton (OF from ARI)
What do you think?
One month ago, on Nov. 7, we — you all and I — worked together on this blog’s first online chat (link here). All indications are that it turned out pretty well. And with so much happening over the past month (trades involving prospects, Rule 5 Draft, etc.) and because we are one month closer to Opening Day 2013, I’m sure there are some more lingering questions out there. So let’s hear them. As a reminder, this is how it will all work:
Here’s my pledge: Send me your prospects-related questions anytime between now, 10:30 a.m. ET on Saturday (Dec. 8), and 2 p.m. ET next Wednesday (Dec. 12), and I promise to fully answer each and every one of them. They will appear in a wrap-up post (that will look like this) before 6 p.m. ET next Wednesday.
There are three ways to send in your queries and a piece of identifying info (first name, hometown or something else):
1) Simply post a comment at the bottom of this post
2) Email me at email@example.com
3) Tweet at me on @andrewmilb
So send along those questions!
Last Saturday, I wrote this blog post, soliciting prospects-related questions from you. I’m writing this post here and now to fulfill my end of the bargain and answer those questions as best as I can. Before we get to the Qs and As, I would like to thank you for participating — or, for just reading along — and also encourage you to use the comment section below in the future. As I wrote in this post (the first in this blog’s now 42-day history), this platform is for you. So if you want to see more chats like this one (or an actual-live chat in which we are conversing real-time) or have other ideas, please let me know. Without further adieu…
Kourage Kundahl: If you’re Cincinnati, how do you handle Billy Hamilton? Develop further in Double-A Pensacola, or put him on the AAA fast track?
If I’m Cincinnati, I would start Hamilton at Triple-A Louisville next season. He did enough at Pensacola in 2012 with his bat (.286 .AVG, .406 OBP and 36-43 BB-K in 50 games) to prove that he is ready for another challenge. The International League will present that challenge. The 22-year-old switch-hitter has work to do at the plate — making his swing more fluid would be a start — if he and the Reds want him to be more than a base-stealer. (Remember, to be a good base-stealer, you need to be able to get on base consistently.) So will Hamilton start ’13 in Louisville? The only way, I think, he could be held back for more seasoning at Double-A is if Walt Jocketty and Co. are unimpressed with the shortstop-turned-center fielder’s acclimation on defense. Hamilton is learning his new position in the Arizona Fall League, however, and he obviously has the athleticism and the baseball smarts to be, at least, an average defender. There’s no reason he can’t work on that part of his game at Triple-A, one level below the bigs.
Mike Squier: Could I get your complete analysis of Tyler Collins in the Detroit Tigers’ farm system? What are the chances of him getting to the bigs? His strikeout-to-walk ratio, plus 20 stolen bases — interesting…
Collins is definitely a guy that deserves to be talked about more following his 2012 at Class A Advanced Lakeland: .290/.371/.429 and, as you mentioned that 58-64 BB-K ratio and 20-for-23 success rate on the basepaths. I am high on Collins’ bat, as his swing is not unlike his stature: short, but powerful. It’s hard to argue with his production, too. Where my enthusiasm declines: Collins is, at most, an average defender in left field and, despite that 20-steal total, is very likely a 10-to-12 steal guy when he gets to the bigs. And that was your other question, wasn’t it? His chances of getting to the bigs? I would put them very high because of that bat, his one standout tool. He will be able to hit Major League pitching, though we might differ on how well and how often he goes deep. From the reports I have read, Collins will hit some home runs but should be considered more of a gap-to-gap hitter. This is all starting to sound familiar. Andy Dirks 2.0?
J.P. Schwartz: Who are your top five overall prospects for 2013 and why? Thanks.
Below is my top five, though I preface the list with this: Rankings, as much as you and I might love them, are very subjective and often poorly defined. Are we talking about, for example, the five Minor Leaguers who have the highest ceilings, the five Minor Leaguers with high ceilings who are most likely to reach them or some combination of the two? And is a player further along in his development ranked ahead of a player that is, say, only a year into his career? Every so-called expert weighs these things differently. Let me tell you that I am ranking players with high ceilings who are almost certain to reach them, and I should also add that I show a subjectivity toward position players. (That there are three pitchers in my top five — and seven pitchers in MLB.com’s top 10 — shows just how many elite pitching prospects there are knocking on the door of the bigs.)
1. Wil Myers: He is most natural hitter in the Minor Leagues. From talking to him, opposing pitchers and the Royals, I get the sense that Myers can make up his mind whether he wants to his .330 with some power and some strikeouts or .300 with more power and a lot more strikeouts. Either way, he was the best offensive player in the Minors in 2012 and, barring an Opening Day nod in Kansas City, will be again in 2013. I also like the fact that Myers adds value not only with his versatility, but also his deftness at playing any outfield position as well as third base.
2. Jurickson Profar: No. 1 on a lot of others’ charts, I have Profar a step below Myers despite the fact that he plays a premium position (shortstop) at a potentially gold glove-caliber level. Why then? Well, Profar is still 19 and, in my mind, a ways off from being a star in the Majors. He could probably be an above-average Major Leaguer tomorrow, which is why I don’t disagree with the Rangers promoting him late last season, but he’s not as far along his career path as Myers, who could star tomorrow. One other thing I like about Profar: Like Manny Machado, he seems to play “up” to his level of competition. Not all prospects are like that.
3. Dylan Bundy: At 19 and in his first season, Bundy not only got to Double-A, but to the Majors. And I’m not sure it will be long before he’s back for good. The right-hander has as much or more stuff and poise of any Minor League pitching prospect. And as long as we’re talking ceilings, Bundy is very sure to reach his. Ironically, that is also my only qualm — and many scouts’, too — with the Orioles’ ace of the future. Is he peaking now? How can he get any better? He’s a workout fiend and, at 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, isn’t going to change his body as he ages (he turns 20 in eight days, by the way). How good will be when he can no longer pump his fastball up to triple digits? Those questions explain why Baltimore was so intent on Bundy improving his secondary pitches, particularly his changeup, this year.
4. Gerrit Cole: Because I’m working in New York City and not at a Minor League ballpark near you, I tend to place a greater emphasis on a prospect’s actual production than other scribes. It’s a more data-driven, on-the-surface way of looking at things, but I don’t have the scout’s eye that tells me that a guy with an ERA over 5.00 is a better prospect than a guy sporting an ERA sub-3.00. Which bring me to Cole, who happens to projectable and productive. He was consistently strong, if not stellar, in 26 starts in 2012. (He was the No. 1 overall draftee in 2011 but didn’t pitch that season.) I would expect him to be in the Majors by next June.
5. Jose Fernandez: Some won’t have this Marlins farmhand among their top 25 prospects for 2013, let alone their top five. And, to be honest, I can’t understand why. His 1.75 ERA at Class A and Class A Advanced this year shows that, at age 20 and in his first full season, he was facing inferior competition. That won’t be the case when he begins next year at Double-A Jacksonville. Based on where I have him ranked, of course, I expect him to excel there as well.
Josh Pfaffle: Do you think Nick Franklin can make the Mariners roster next year and produce?
Next year, yes. To start next year, I’m not sure. Franklin is a strong prospect, but he hasn’t yet proven his bat against Triple-A pitching: .243/.310/.416 in 64 games at Tacoma last year. I have little doubt that he can, but that’s not the only obstacle to clear before he joins the Mariners. After playing mostly shortstop at Double-A Jackson, the 21-year-old switch-hitter started playing more second base at Tacoma and is playing there almost exclusively in the Fall League. If Seattle’s brass deems him a better defensive fit there, a decision will have to be made about him or incumbent Dustin Ackley.
Josh Pfaffle: How do you think the Mariners prospects will affect the big league team, and how far are they away? Do you see James Paxton or any other prospects getting traded for a proven bat?
That Big Three — starting pitching prospects Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen and Paxton — needs at least another half-season (and, likely, a full season or more) of development in the Minors. That leaves Franklin, who would need to catch fire in Spring Training to make the Opening Day club, and catcher Mike Zunino, who is probably another full season away, too. So as far as the M’s elite prospects making a difference, I would expect them to make a significant impact — but not before the 2014 season. And, by the 2015 season, watch out. Sluggers like Brad Miller and Stefen Romero should be in Seattle by then, too. Their presence — and continued emergence — would lessen the pressure to deal away Paxton or one the organization’s other top pitching talents. There is a lot to be excited about if you’re a Mariners fan.
Pierre: Andrew, I have the No. 9 pick in my Dynasty League Rookie Draft. All the players who made their debut in 2012 are available. What’s your top 10 list? Harper, Cespedes, Middlebrooks, Machado, Olt, Profar, Darvish, Harvey, Bauer, S. Miller, Bundy, Skaggs, M.Perez, Odorizzi, etc…
Let me say first off, Pierre, that I’m no fantasy baseball expert. I have suggested to my editor that we start a fantasy baseball advice column at MiLB.com, so that could be an addition to our prospects coverage by Opening Day 2013. That said, I’ll try and help you out now. I’m guessing that Mike Trout, who made his Majors debut in 2011, is not available, or you would have included him in your list. So we’ll leave him off mine, too. I’m also assuming prospects who have yet to appear in the Majors (like, say, Wil Myers) aren’t eligible in your draft, so we’ll stick to prospects who made their MLB debuts in 2012. Here’s my list, in order:
- Bryce Harper
- Manny Machado
- Jurickson Profar
- Dylan Bundy
- Yoenis Cespedes
- Yu Darvish
- Matt Harvey
- Shelby Miller
- Will Middlebrooks
- Tony Cingrani
Reena (from Tucson): Which player this year has surprised you the most by excelling as a player? Who do you see as a breakout star?
I would zero in on Tyler Austin (Yankees) and Dan Straily (A’s). Here are the blurbs I wrote about each player’s “Breakout Prospect” bid for our annual MiLBY Awards coverage:
Austin, a 13th-round draftee in 2010, reached Double-A the week of his 21st birthday during his first healthy season. He hit 14 homers in 70 games, including six in one seven-game stretch, with Class A Charleston.
Straily, a 24th-round draftee in 2009, pitched at three levels, finishing in the Majors. The K’s were his calling card, as he led the Minors most of the year.
As far as identifying the next breakout star, it’s very difficult to pick out a guy who goes from nothing to something in such a short span. Austin and Straily, in all honesty, weren’t on my radar entering last season, and I’m not in the minority on that one. Who’s on my radar entering next season? I’ll give you a hitter and a pitcher: Max Kepler (Twins) and Josh Bowman (A’s), guys I’ve written about on this site.
This blog is closing in on its 40-day anniversary — big deal, I know — and I’m ready to try a new experiment. Here goes: If you’re a fan of prospects, you’re probably also a fan of the prospects-topical online chat. Baseball Prospectus does ‘em all the time. Baseball America has its way, too. And, once in a while, Fangraphs.com produces a good one with its readers as well.
So there’s no reason the MiLB.com PROSPECTive brand can’t moderate its own conversation. Here’s my pledge: Send me your prospects-related questions anytime between now, 2 p.m. ET on Saturday (Nov. 3), and 2 p.m. ET next Wednesday (Nov. 7), and I promise to fully answer each and every one of them (even if there is only one or two of them). They will appear in a wrap-up post — the very next blog post on this very page — before 6 p.m. ET next Wednesday.
There are three ways to send in your queries and a piece of identifying info (first name or hometown):
1) Simply post a comment at the bottom of this post
2) Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
3) Tweet at me on @andrewmilb
One last thing: You’re going to want to know that the “A” I provide to your “Q” carries some weight, right? I’d be disappointed if you didn’t. Well, this should put your inquisitive mind at ease: I have been covering Minor League Baseball, with a focus on prospects, since April 2011 and, in that time, have had countless conversations with players, coaches, managers, scouts, farm directors and other front office personnel. I’m also, perhaps like you, a curious and thorough reader of prospects-related news and analysis in publications and on websites beyond the one I work for.
This is the experience that will inform my A. So send along those Qs!
You deserve the truth. Here it is. Many of my MiLB editorial colleagues and I (at least, those of us willing to admit it) actually look forward to the offseason. Don’t get me wrong. We love baseball as much as you do. But after six months of ballgames… well, you get the picture.
But we also look forward to the offseason — at least, I do, and I can only speak for myself — because this time gives us a chance to spend time reporting on prospects we perhaps missed during the season, when things are undoubtedly busier. One of the vehicles for this reporting is our recurring “Prospect Q&A” feature (previously called “Ten Questions with…”
I like this story format because it’s done in a casual, conversational form but can still yield quality content. I use it as an opportunity to test my educated opinion, too, on who might be among the next great group of prospects. How did I do last year in identifying these guys? Here are the seven I wrote around this time last year:
- Prospect Q&A: Carpenter’s trade-off – 03/19/12 — Cubs-turned-Red Sox right-hander Chris Carpenter told me he was “startled to learn he was “traded” for Boston-turned-Chicago exec Theo Epstein … then he missed the first half of the season after undergoing minor surgery on his throwing elbow but finished the season in the Red Sox’s bullpen.
- Prospect Q&A: Doolittle does more – 03/05/12 — A’s slugger-turned-pitcher Sean Doolittle told me had a “whole new energy for the game” after overcoming multiple injuries as a position player … then he dominated in the Minors, needing just 16 combined relief appearances at three levels before becoming the setup man for the American League West Division champ.
- Prospect Q&A: Hamilton a humble thief – 02/20/12 — The Reds’ Billy Hamilton told me about the baserunning advice he “stole” from Delino DeShields and Joe Morgan … then, in the wake of Mike Trout’s promotion to Majors, he became the Minors’ most exciting player and — oh, by the way — the single-season thefts record-holder.
- Prospect Q&A: ‘Reck’ turns to Langston – 02/06/12 — Angels top prospect-turned-forgotten farmhand Trevor Reckling told me former Halos hurler and fellow lefty Mark Langston was getting him back on track … then he struggled at the Class A Advanced level, was released and (despite his Twitter bio) appears unemployed.
- Prospect Q&A: Thompson has tools – 01/23/12 — The White Sox’s Trayce Thompson, the son and brother of NBA players, told me hadn’t yet scratched the surface of his athletic potential … then hit 25 home runs at age 21, finished the season at Triple-A after starting it at High-A and went from unranked to No. 1 on Chicago’s list.
- Prospect Q&A: Dominguez goes fishing – 01/09/12 — Marlins-turned-Astros third-baseman-of-the-future Matt Dominguez told me he needed to be a more consistent hitter … then, post-trade, he batted .298 at Triple-A and .284 in Houston to complement his gold glove-caliber defense on the hot corner.
- Prospect Q&A: Friedrich and free time – 12/05/11 — Rockies left-hander Christian Friedrich told me about escaping his offseason man cave to find a catch partner … then pitched well in his first five Triple-A starts before having a feast-or-famine 16-start campaign in Colorado.
OK, so I swung and missed on Carpenter and Reckling. But I’m pretty proud of that Doolittle-Hamilton-Thompson trio. Yeah, Hamilton was already a known quantity, having stole 103 bases in 2011, but Doolittle and Thompson really saw a spike in their value as prospects and ballplayers.
So who is next on my radar? Below is a list of MiLBers my colleagues and I are considering interviewing this winter for your reading enjoyment. My choices are denoted in italics.
Most important — this is the real reason for this blog post — is who is NOT on this list. Is there a prospect or two you’d like to see us catch up with November through March? If so, who and why? Use that ever-so-lonely comment section below, please.
- Matt Barnes (Red Sox)
- David Dahl (Rockies)
- Addison Russell (A’s)
- Byron Buxton (Twins)
- Josh Bell (Pirates)
- Michael Wacha (Cardinals)
- Max Kepler (Twins)
- Mike Zunino (Mariners)
- Richie Shaffer (Rays)
- Kolten Wong (Cardinals)
- Kevin Gausman (Orioles)
- Jorge Soler (Cubs)
- Jackie Bradley (Red Sox)
- George Springer (Astros)
- Dan Straily (A’s)
- Brandon Nimmo (Mets)
- Tony Cingrani (Reds)
- Joe Panik (Giants)
- Christian Yelich (Marlins)