Top 100 update: trending prospects

With my month-long statistical projection project complete, I have found it necessary to reassess the rankings once again. After all, the numbers don’t lie. Click here to view the baseball season’s final installment of the Top-100 list.

19. Stephen Strasburg / SP / Washington / This Update: -17
Tommy John surgery isn’t what it used to be, but it still leaves Strasburg’s future in limbo. I have removed his statistical projections due to the uncertainty surrounding his health, but his ranking doesn’t tumble far. After seeing recent Tommy John surgery success stories like Jaime Garcia, Jake McGee, and teammate Jordan Zimmermann, hope remains justifiably high for baseball’s most hyped pitcher of all time.

26. Logan Morrison / OF/1B / Florida / This Update: +8
Morrison’s .300/30 potential would play at any position, but his seemingly permanent move to the outfield gives his fantasy outlook a serious jolt.

31. Brett Lawrie / 2B/3B/OF / Milwaukee / This Update: +9
Lawrie didn’t set the world on fire in 2010, but he quietly became one of the more respected hitters in the Southern League, all while playing second base.

33. William Myers / C/OF/1B / Kansas City / This Update: +9
There is no sense in holding back the Myers love at this point. He posted an outstanding debut, showing no weakness in his bat and leaving little concern about his offensive future. Where his defensive future lies is another story.

58. Danny Espinosa / SS / Washington / This Update: +15
Espinosa’s great finish to the International League season and carry over to his major league debut is worthy of heightened respect. His ability to play a good second base increases his chances of sticking in Washington for good.

67. Jaff Decker / OF / San Diego / This Update: -14
Decker’s year finished up strong, before yet another trip to the disabled list. I was also expecting him to cut down on his strikeouts this year. His stock finally takes the hit that it should have took halfway through the season.

71. Hank Conger / C / LA Angels / This Update: +25
After projecting Conger’s skill set and stats to the majors, I now realize he has been undervalued all year. His projected ability to hit for a respectable average and solid power in the majors propels his stock past the likes of Devin Mesoraco, Jason Castro, and Tony Sanchez.

75. Manuel Banuelos / SP / NY Yankees / This Update: +8
His fastball and size are strikes against Banuelos, but the success he had in the second half of the season, after missing the first half, was unexpected to some degree. He even had a successful three-start audition in the Eastern League at the age of 19. He deserves this bump up the board.

77. John Lamb / SP / Kansas City / This Update: -8
Maybe I went a little overboard in my praise for Lamb, as his late season seven start Texas League outing brought his 2010 campaign back to earth. Make no mistake, the 20-year-old player took a giant leap forward this year.

79. Aaron Hicks / OF / Minnesota / This Update: +8
After criticizing Hicks for the past two years, it’s time to give him props for producing a solid season in the Midwest League. We’re all expecting much, much more in 2011.

83. Reid Brignac / SS/2B / Tampa Bay / This Update: +9
Brignac quietly produced some decent power numbers for a rookie middle infielder adjusting to the big leagues as a part-time player. A solid future is in store.

84. Christian Colon / SS / Kansas City / This Update: +7
After signing, Colon joined the Carolina League for a half-season of work. He didn’t blow ‘em away, but he showed that he belongs and may be closer to the majors than many expected.

85. Tanner Scheppers / SP/RP / Texas / This Update: -9
Scheppers’ season fell apart over the last month of the season. His lack of endurance and history of arm trouble may prevent him from starting long term.

86. Jemile Weeks / 2B / Oakland / This Update: +7
Weeks had another ho-hum year, but his future stat projections point toward a strong big-league career. If only he could stay healthy and put his power potential on display.

87. Lonnie Chisenhall / 3B / Cleveland / This Update: -16
As a third baseman Chisenhall’s numbers aren’t exciting, and his future projections point toward an average major league career. Unless his power takes off, but there isn’t much evidence of more power to come.

88. Jason Castro / C / Houston / This Update: -9
Overall, Castro had a sub-par year, but showed enough to think that Houston will rely on him as their catcher from here on out.

97. Tony Sanchez / C / Pittsburgh / This Update: -15
Sanchez dealt with multiple injuries in 2010 and never got a chance to get going. The real disappointment lies in the fact that he never got a chance to play in Double-A. He is expected to take part in the Arizona Fall League, however, giving him a chance to make amends.

98. Aaron Miller / SP / LA Dodgers / This Update: -14
Miller’s control isn’t where it needs to be and showed that he wasn’t ready for the Southern League.

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  1. bob said...

    Hank Conger – You are still way off on him. He’s top 20.

    Jake Odorizzi – You are missing the boat on this kid too.

  2. tbr said...

    Stephen Strasburg has 68 major league inning, exhausting his rookie eligibility.  Doesn’t that make him “not a prospect” any more?

  3. obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

    Nice rundown!

    Regarding Conger, you noted, “His projected ability to hit for a respectable average and solid power in the majors”.  What, to you, is a respectable average and solid power in the majors for a catcher?

    Regarding Christian Colon, and college hitters in general, what is it that determines that one is better than another?  For example, Colon is considered better than his teammate Gary Brown, but Brown hit much better than Colon in college, in fact, he hit better than any other college hitter in the Big West for at least the past 7 seasons, better, even, than Evan Longoria, on an OPS basis. 

    I understand that the aluminum bat is the key factor in why college numbers are taken with a giant grain of salt.  How does one tell the Evan Longoria’s from the Gary Brown’s from the Christian Colon’s?

    Lastly, in the Posey profile, you note that catching full-time takes its toll.  You list average year and prime year projections (sidenote: why didn’t you calc SLG as well for a full batting line?) for him, presumably, as a catcher.  Now that we have a taste for what he can do, are you sticking with your projections (just was not sure if you updated that since the original publish date) and what do you think his projections would be if he started at, say, 1B instead (or even 3B).

    Listening to the games, his homers have been shots, and to the opposite field, so I just cannot imagine him not being more of a HR hitter than you or other projections have him.  Is it just a matter of factoring in his duties as a catcher (which you don’t have affecting as much for Carlos Santana, or are you thinking that he could be a 40 HR hitter playing 1B?). 

    He’s basically at a 23 HR pace now, and he’s done most of that as a catcher, not as a 1B, and while I understand that catching is a tougher job, he is still at around 100 games caught for the season and 145 games played in the season.  At this point in the season, firstbasemen are scuffling too, most players are scuffling. 

    The only other factor I can see is that his relative youth is helping him, but it is not like all the young players are blasting balls out now. For example, his ROY competitor, Jason Heyward, has played less games (133) at a less demanding position, and has only hit 2 HR in 74 AB in September.  And he’s been batting 2nd whereas Posey has been the Giants cleanup hitter for a long while now.

    Thanks for any answers you can provide.

  4. dave silverwood said...

    What about Heisey and ordunsek and the young Reds any way enjoy your writing, but several young prospects have already helped the Reds.

  5. Chris said...

    About Chisenhall…

    Personally I think that he’ll be fine. Rough year in AA, but it was also his first full season there and he may see time in AAA out of spring training depending on what the Indians do with Jared Goedert.

    The kid is just that, a kid. He’s 22 years old in October. The average age of AA players is 25.03, so he’s still young for the league. He’s flashed 22 HR’s in 2009 (mostly from High A Kinston, a fairly pitcher friendly league).

    Chisenhall’s lack of numerical progression is most likely due to adjusting to an even more pitcher friendly league in the Eastern League. Even if he starts out in AA again next year I expect him to get better. After all, his K% was ~17% (rounded up) which isn’t bad, and he walked 10% of the time in a pitcher friendly league.

    Chisenhall has a lot of potential and as soon as he gets adjusted to the better pitching league he’ll start posting 20+ HR seasons again. As he ages and matures as a hitter I expect to see his OBP and ISO to start creeping up as well.

    It seems like people are talking up Morrison’s 30 HR potential, but personally, up until recently I’ve never heard a quote much higher than 20, and he’s only hit 20+ once and that was in the SAL. In fact, he only hit more than 10 HR’s one other time after that in his MiLB career. Chisenhall has three years of 17+ HR’s under his belt with less MiLB experience and being a year younger than Morrison.

    Lets see how the guy does in Akron next year (maybe even Columbus) before we write him off as an at best league average hitter.

  6. Chris said...

    Age in the minors in HUGE! Not everyone can be a Justin Upton and come up and put up massive numbers (or show the potential too) well before he hits his prime. This seems to be the age of “If he’s not showing something special by age 22 then he’s a bust!” and that’s simply not true.

    Additionally, you don’t see to many older AA players around because career minor leaguers tend to get to AAA then get stuck there. There are some exceptions, but AA is a more competitive step in the minors than AAA because of that.

    Additionally, have you guys forgotten about such Cleveland stars like Casey Blake and Cliff Lee? Casey Blake might not be the sexiest of 3B, but Chisenhall at least has that kind of power and Blake got his first full big league season at the ripe old age of 30!

    This year Chisenhall posted an ISO of .172, McGehee had an ISO of .181 and is having a very productive year at 3B, but Chisenhall is much faster. I’m not saying that he’s going to be the top 3B in all of baseball, but give the kid a chance to mature as a hitter and he’ll end up being a plus offensive 3B option. League average is pretty harsh to say right now.

    League age has been used by many websites when evaluating a minor league player’s prospect status. IE if a player is over performing but 3 years older than league average or under performing but a few years younger.

  7. nick said...

    Even if the average age at AA is 25, that’s probably not a good way to judge is a player is young for his league or not.  If you are 25 and are going to have a significant big-league career, you would be well advised to get out of AA.  Average age in a minor league is pushed up by the career minor leaguers who fill out a large chunk of each team.  The guys who are real prospects are, by and large, a good deal younger.  22 at AA sounds about right, although I suspect all is not lost if he spends another year there.

  8. obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

    Thanks for the THT forecast for Gary Brown.  I would certainly take that from him, leading off for the Giants.  Add to that his expected above average defense in CF, and you have a valuable starter. 

    I think his lack of walks is overblown by people.  In interviews, he knows that OBP is very important for him.  His Cape Cod results seem to support that, his OBP was about the same both seasons, but first season, he couldn’t buy a hit, so he bulked up on walks, but the second season he was hitting pretty well, so the walks went down but the OBP was similar.  Likewise, his walk rate was pretty high his freshman year, when he didn’t know how to hit, but once he figured that out, the walks went down, but as long as he’s hitting like he did in 2010, that’s OK (I compared value of 5 walks vs. a 5 PA slice of his BIP stats and found that he did the right thing to avoid walks and instead try to hit, it was more valuable to the offense that he tried to hit).

  9. obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

    To see how age affects subsequent performances in the majors, look in any league for the early 2000’s, take the top 10-20 OPS, separate by age, those much younger than the league average, and the rest, and you will find that a lot of older players will either never make the majors or not do much there, while a greater percentage of the younger players have not only made the majors but are stars there. 

    It’s an eye opener.

    I use this to judge how good the Giants prospects are by looking at who had similar performances at a similar age in previous seasons, and that usually give me a better grasp of how good (or bad) they really are.

  10. Brian Cartwright said...

    Agree with Nick, as the median age for each of the three AA leagues is 23…

    The THT Forecasts project Gary Brown at a .343 MLB wOBA (293/350/435), .302, .321, .377 MLE wOBAs the past three seasons, with 30+ SB expected in a full season. The biggest worry is a lack of BB, but he should be able to have a .300 BA, 2-3 WAR per season.

    Christian Colon signed early, showed a good glove with +12 fielding runs in 59 pro games. His wOBA projection is .345 (289/350/441), nice for a SS, last 3 year wOBAs of .318, .343, .322. Only 22 in 2011, he could grown in a .300 BA with 15-20 HRs. While only about 40 BB, excellent contact with about 50 SO. Also 2-3 WAR.

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