02 July 2012

2012 International Signings -- Day 1

Ben Badler at Baseball America will be updating the BA Prospect Blog with news on signings today -- the first day that eligible international free agents can sign with MLB clubs (this is the "new" crop of eligibles, each of whom are 16-years old).

Click here to follow updates from Ben, one of the better providers of international coverage on the baseball front.

We'll have some thoughts this evening in a Day 1 summary post.  I have not scouted the vast majority of these players, and accordingly will not be offering thoughts on the particulars.  As a reminder, Camden Depot has only recommended two signings of high profile international players.

The first was Miguel Sano (for whom we set a $3.5 MM price tag and would have gone up to $4 MM).  Sano received $3.15 MM from the twins and likely would be in the Camden Depot "Shadow System" considering how much more we would have offered.

The second was Ronald Guzman (for whom we set a $3.0 MM price tag and would have gone up to $3.5 MM).  Guzman signed with the Rangers for $3.45 MM and likely would not be in the Camden Depot "Shadow System" considering the almost identical sum of money and the preferential landing spot in Texas's system, which is flush with Latin talent.

We did not recommend any players for signature this year, though the new soft-cap system strongly encourages teams like Baltimore to jump in the game with some level of cost certainty (each team can spend up to $3.2 MM without penalty if they play the game correctly, per Jeff Passan at Yahoo).  2012 will strictly be an analytical year from the sidelines for the Depot and our Shadow System; hopefully the real Orioles will have something more exciting up their sleeve.

UPDATE -- Courtesy of Badler and Baseball America, here is a running scorecard of AL East high profile signings today. Please click on this link and peruse their blog for details on these players and their signing bonuses (Baseball America does the lifting, they should get the page hits).

Blue Jays
Franklin Barreto, ss/cf, Venezuela (BA Rank #1)
Luis Castro, ss, Venezuela (BA Rank #9)

Jose Mujica, rhp, Venezuela (BA Rank #3)
David Rodriguez, c, Venezuela (BA Rank #14)

Luis Torrens, c, Venezuela (BA Rank #2)
Alexander Palma, of, Venezuela (BA Rank #4)

Red Sox
Jose Almonte, rhp, Dominican Republic (BA Rank #17)


UPDATE -- The original entry was updated to correct the description of the pool allotments for this year.

01 July 2012

Here comes Thome!

Yesterday I posted an opinion piece where I stated that the Orioles are ripe for a downfall.  That the team has been overachieving with holes at 1B, 2B, 3B, LF, and SP.  These were too many holes to be aggressive in trading.  I doubt anyone in the front office read anything I wrote yesterday, but they sort of met halfway to nowhere with my perspective yesterday as they acquired DH Jim Thome for a pair of minor leaguers in RHP Kyle Simon and C Gabriel Lino.

Jim Thome
Jim Thome is an excellent hitter.  He has always been an excellent hitter.  Age has ruined many of his skills and his ability to stay healthy, but he still has a great eye and enough bat speed to punish any pitch that enters his zone.  He probably has about 250 plate appearances left in him this summer where he will likely hit in the .820 to .860 OPS range.  That should be worth about 1 WAR coming from him.  The other 100 plate appearances will come from existing players and produce about an additional 0.1 or 0.2 WAR.  That stands as an improvement of about 0.7 WAR over what Mark Reynolds, Wilson Betemit, Nick Johnson, and Chris Davis have managed at the position (.781 OPS).  A 0.7 value for about 700k is a $ per win rate of 1MM.  Current market value puts it around 4.5MM per win.  In a vacuum, this is a very efficient trade.  If you think this team is truly a .550 winning percentage team, then it is also likely an effective move.  Every little bit that pushes you in the right direction is worth a great deal or, at least, can be worth a great deal when the playoffs are involved.

However, this deal was not completed in a vacuum nor was it completed in a 5x5 league.  These guys have to put some collection of players on the field.  As it stands the Orioles have 5 DHs on the roster.  Mark Reynolds is a butcher in the field even though the press has heralded his defensive aptitude these past two offseasons.  He dropped some weight in the offseason, but it did nothing to affect his range and his rushed throwing mechanics.  His dives and snags look good, but the misses and throwaways mean more to his defensive value.  First base limits his ability to adversely affect the game, but he still rates poor over there.  His bat barely makes up for this deficiency.  Unfortunately, he has stated time and time again that he does not have the mindset to succeed as a DH.

Chris Davis is another player who makes some nice plays and gets some accolades for defense, but simply does not have the range or throws to make him an average first or third baseman.  His bat, when hot, makes up for these problems.  His bat is not always hot, so, like Reynolds, he often waivers between being above average and being below replacement level.  Like Reynolds, Davis is likely to be worth about as much as a bench player or a fill in when the rest of the team is much stronger in the lineup and on the field.

Wilson Betemit's bat has always shone great promise.  The hope was that his fielding would come around.  It never has and it simply gets worse as he ages and his agility decreases.  He still hammers righties and that is where his value comes from.  Unfortunately...that is what Chris Davis does and Nick Johnson does.  Nick is currently on the DL.  He has a good eye and some remnants of power, but he is not likely to be in the team's plans anymore because Thome is a better version of Nick Johnson.

So, what we have here are 5 DHs with none of them able to play the field and one on the DL, likely to be released.  This deal slightly improves the DH position and forces DHs to remain on the field.  Mind you, this does not make the Orioles' defense worse because these DHs were playing the field to begin with.  It does make it seem less likely that players will be acquired to push Reynolds, Davis, and Betemit to DH where they belong.  I think that would truly be the playoff run move.  It would also likely be a move that would require more than Kyle Simon and Gabriel Lino.

Kyle Simon
Simon was drafted in the 4th round in last year's draft.  At the time of the draft, Nick surmised:
Simon throws from a low, almost side-armed, slot, relying primarily on a fastball/change-up pairing. Like Wright, he is a big-bodied righty with some arm strength and a chance to start if things break right. Inconsistencies in his release and his low-angle make it difficult for him to command his slider right now -- improving that offering will be key in determining whether or not he ultimately ends up in the pen. Like Wright, he's tough to lift because of the sink on his heater and his change, allowing him to go 128.2 IP while allowing just two homeruns. He doesn't miss may bats right now, but the hope is that he will once he finds a more consistent breaker.
That is basically what he still is.  He is a groundball pitcher who does not miss bats.  A sinker that gets contact in A ball is not likely to be a solid pitch unless he is able to improve upon it.  He has been about league average this year and his stuff plays pretty similarly to both righties and lefties.  I have yet to see him throw, but to me he seems to have the makings of a fringe MLB reliever.  It would not surprise me if he peters out in AA with some splashes in AAA.  Considering Thome was last traded for a small transaction fee and before that a no hit minor league utility player, this would have been a perfectly fine price to pay for his services.

Gabriel Lino
Lino was also in the deal, which in my opinion technically makes this an overpay.  It is easy to get high on Lino because he is a 19 year old in full season ball with exceptional potential as a defensive catcher and a lot of pop.  It is important to remember that Lino does not have much of a contact tool and is being overwhelmed at the plate this season.  We had him rated as the 16th best prospect in the Orioles' system before the year began:
Backstop Gabriel Lino has some offensive upside and a strong arm behind the dish, but may lack the lateral quickness needed to stick at catcher long term, particularly if he gets any bigger. He has soft hands but lets his glove float a little too often when receiving, which he'll need to tighten. The power is still raw, and does not project particularly well to a corner infield spot. Just 18-years old this year, he has time to work on his problem areas. Should his power tool emerge, he could shift to first base in order to allow more developmental focus on his bat. He is on the large side for a catcher, and it still remains to be seen how he will hold up physically over the stress of a long full season ball season.
The projection was that he would become a fringe back up catcher, but that his ceiling was as a starting catcher on a first division team.  This is the kind of player I would not like to give up.  My perspective with prospects is that if you have any high ceiling catchers, short stops, or centerfielders that you do what you can to keep them.  To simply find an average player out of those positions is worth a great deal in value.  If (and it is a big if) Lino can find his bat, he could easily be a top 50 prospect.  There simply are not many catchers who can put that package together.  That said, he is not a top 50 catcher.  He is not a top 200 catcher.  There is promise there though.  Some, like Kevin Goldstein, agree that there is potential there.  Others, like Keith Law, do not see the ceiling.

The Likely Outcome
In all likelihood, I see this as happening.  Thome hits pretty well and leaves the team at the end of the year.  The Orioles will likely finish in fourth or fifth place, but with a record that is about 15th to 18th best in the league.  Kyle Simon will fade out in AAA at some point.  Gabriel Lino will eventually get a cup of coffee, impressing people on his defense and making them wish he could square up more.

What Can Change All of This
Another deal could be coming and this may change the outlook.  The team has five DHs.  Nick Johnson will likely be DFA'd.  With Thome on board, he serves no role.  It may be the end of the line for him.  I could see Davis being moved for a piece.  He does not have much value, but I could still see someone dream on him.  I do not think this would bring in a top tier talent, but it could bring something decent.  I cannot think of an obvious target though at the moment for him.  Maybe Arizona if they think he can play third (does anyone believe that he can?).  Maybe the Dodgers.  I do not know.

30 June 2012

2012 Playoffs: Should the O's Stay or Should They Go?

I think it is safe to say that the Orioles performing at a .550 winning percentage is something none of us anticipated.  Well, none of us except for the true believers.  Though a true believer probably foresaw Matt Wieters developing a little bit more into the best catcher in baseball, perhaps Adam Jones streaking his way into a possible breakout year, and Wei Yin Chen showing everyone that baseball is baseball no matter what side of the Pacific you pitch on.  However, I do wonder whether anyone anticipated the pitching revolution that has happened with Jason Hammel.

At the time, the Hammel/Lindstrom/Guthrie trade was a dog of a deal.  Baltimore dealt the consistent lunch pail hero that is Jeremy Guthrie for the inconsistent and below average Jason Hammel.  The Rockies also put in the hard throwing, but well hit Matt Lindstrom.  In total, the Orioles shifted a 200 IP league average pitcher at 8.2 MM for a 170 IP below average pitcher and a 50 IP average reliever for 8.5 MM.  That led to this column that I wrote.  The main conclusion follows:
So...why do I not like the trade if it looks like a push in so many ways?

It kicks the talent can another year.  Guthrie's worth has been converted into Hammel and Lindstrom.  Hammel's peripherals last year concern me.  I am not certain that he all of a sudden gained an ability to depress BABIP rates.  I more believe that he has lost his ability to strike batters out.  In that regard, I do not see a Guthrie for Lindstrom trade being worthwhile as it places too much value in a somewhat hittable flame thrower.  I think this move runs counter to building this franchise into a winner.  Young, cost-controlled talent would be preferable even if that talent had a low probability of being a difference maker.
 So...no, I did not see Jason Hammel becoming a solid 2/3 pitcher.  True, it is still early to suggest that what we see is what we get with Hammel, but he has become a different pitcher.  His pitch usage has completely changed.  He dabbled with a two seamer in the past, but now throws it a third of the time (last year at 13.1% was the only other recorded season where he threw it more than 6.3% of the time).  His velocity has also ticked up.  His 4 seamer is the 7th hardest one thrown by a starter in baseball at 93 mph.  His change up has jumped up 3 mph and is the third hardest change for a starter at 88.1 mph and behind only Stephen Strasburg and Felix Hernandez. 

Now, keep in mind that although velocity is good, it does not equate to a great pitcher.  However, it should be noted that the harder a pitch is thrown the amount of time a batter has to react is reduced and the amount of time a ball crosses the plate is reduced.  Those two acting together helps result in swings and misses.  Anyway, the point here is that a good bit of the Orioles' success is on Hammel's shoulders and that his performance was completely unexpected.

That all said...the Orioles find themselves in second place in an intensely competitive AL East.  They are the only division where every team has a winning record.  In fact, none will have a losing record through June, which has to be a record of some sort.  At 42-34, the Orioles are four games behind the Yankees.  The team currently has many soft spots.  By fWAR, the Orioles have the second worst position player value in baseball with 6.6.  That is about 4 wins below average and 12 wins behind the first place team, the Rangers.  By contrast, their pitching is roughly average at 8.0 wins.  If one is to believe in fWAR, the Orioles are a team ripe for a collapse.

This position is Matt Wieters and no one else.  He is on pace to bring in about a 4.3 fWAR, which would result in top 5 performance for that position.  No other team in the AL East has production anywhere near that level.  As long as Wieters' name can be penciled in the lineup, the Orioles will be set.

First Base
There is not a lot to like here.  Chris Davis visually has a lot of offense to offer, but it is primarily limited to the long ball and the whiff.  He simply does not prevent outs and preventing outs by safely hitting the ball or walking is incredibly important.  His defense is poor, but not as poor as Mark Reynolds.  What Davis looks like at the plate is what Reynolds looks like in the field: impressive, but hollow in value.  As such, the two make for a relatively below average first baseman.  Neither are great choices and both as passable.  The O's have a bottom barrel solution here, but it is not much different than what the Rays have in Carlos Pena or how Adrian Gonzalez has done so far this year.  I would expect AGon to improve.  I have my doubts as to whether the Orioles' tandem has a higher gear to shift into.

Second Base
This position is full of nostalgia for the Orioles.  Robert Andino is the Red Sox Killer and Brian Roberts was one of the best 2B in baseball for a decade.  This season has made readily apparent that Andino is a good utility player.  He simply does not have the offensive package to start.  He also does not have the defensive package to make up for his inadequacies on offense.  Full time and he may give you 1 fWAR and this was in no way unexpected.  What was unexpected was Brian Roberts playing baseball.  What was not unexpected was Brian Roberts not playing baseball well.  His range (especially his first step) has greatly collapsed.  Maybe this is him getting back into game shape, but I do not see a lot of promise here.  It has also been impressive to see him get back into hitting the ball, but he simply just does not do that at a MLB level anymore.  This is a major hole in the lineup.

Third Base
The only thing that needs to be said is that platoon DH Wilson Betemit is the starter at third.  This position has been a black hole ever since Melvin Mora became old.

Short Stop
J.J. Hardy is a very good shortstop.  He is a solid second tier guy.  The Orioles probably have the best SS in the AL East, but it is arguable with Yunel Escobar and maybe even the season Mike Aviles is putting together.  I think of the three, Hardy has the best shot of maintaining his production.  Escobar is not far off.

Left Field
Nolan Reimold gave the team some hope, but his body fell apart on him again.  Xavier Avery is trying to show he is more than a fourth outfielder.  This is an area where an improvement would be hepful.

Center Field
Adam Jones is a good offensive oriented center fielder.  The Orioles are set here for a few years.

Right Field
Nick Markakis is the right fielder and that is that.  It may be optimistic to expect him to continue putting up league average numbers.  His wrist injury is something that could sap his already meager power potential.

Starting Pitching
Right now the Orioles' mantra could be "Hammel and Wei Yin and then a monsoon we are a prayin'," which is indeed better than last year's "Rain, rain, every day."  It is uncertain if Oswalt has any interest in coming here, but it would have been nice to add to the starting pitching without depleting an already thin minor league system.  There has also been talk about engaging with the Cubs on either Ryan Dempster or Matt Garza.  It is unlikely the Orioles have the pieces to grab a top tier pitcher without forking over Dylan Bundy or Manny Machado.

The Orioles have one of the best pens in baseball and have several arms in the minors (and in the MLB rotation) who can help when needed.

As it stands the Orioles need help at 1B, 2B, 3B, LF, and SP.  Peripherals suggest (WAR and run differential) that the team has been exceptionally lucky and faces a high probability that they will collapse.  To prevent a collapse, two things needs to occur:
(1) The team will need to trade for two or three solid pieces
(2) Internal solutions that are not currently known need to appear
If these two things happen then the team has a legitimate shot of getting one of the two wild cards.  However, does it make sense?

I try to take a three year view of whether or not it makes sense to push for a run.  Bundy and Machado are clearly pieces that will need to be part of a successful team 2-3 years from now.  They cannot be dealt.  A player like Jonathan Schoop would be nice to keep, but is not essential.  The same is true for someone like Nicky Delmonico who may also be a fringe top 100 guy by the end of the year.  If you can deal Schoop and/or Delmonico for a player who is valuable to the team this year, but also further on in the three year window then it makes sense to act on it.  This is particularly true if you can find solutions for 1B, 2B, LF, or SP.  All four of those positions do not have great solutions in the future.  I leave 3B out merely because Machado may be pushed to third or, perhaps, Hardy.  I think the only 3B move that makes sense to me is if you can deal for someone like David Wright.

It has been an enjoyable run, but I just have difficulty is seeing this team being able to sustain it or finding the pieces to make it work.  It is important to simply enjoy the season as it is and really ask nothing in return.  They have done well and there certainly is a lot of fight in this team.  It has been a wonderful season so far.  Maybe they continue to defy common wisdom of peripheral metrics and qualitative measures of player value.

22 June 2012

Just a note....

...to let you know that, yes, I am still alive.  Believe it or not, scouting the 2013 class has already started eating into a ton of my time, but I plan to get back on the proverbial horse and post some stuff here soon.

If you have article recommendations/requests relating to the Orioles draft class, any prospects, or the MLB club, just drop them in the comments section. Otherwise, I'll let my muse (which is my pet name for Jon) be my guide.


17 June 2012

Orioles are rather unique when it comes to double plays

An angle about this weekend series in Atlanta that seems to have missed being discussed is that the Braves and the Orioles represent extremes in one special way: Ground into Double Plays.  The Orioles have had the most GiDPs for most of the season and currently sit at 73, eight ahead of the next hopeful, the Minnesota Twins.  The Braves, on the other hand, seem to be quite adept at avoiding double plays.  By pure count, the Braves are tied with the Red Sox with 40 GiDP for third in MLB.  However, if you calculate the percentage of base runners at first base with less than two outs, the Braves have the leanest GiDP rate in the league.  The following graph illustrates this:

The league average rate is 11.4% of runner on first base with less than two out being involved in a double play.  The Orioles' value for this metric is 15.7%, which is 38% greater than the league average and 2.42 standard deviations away.  The Braves are 23% less likely to ground out in a double play than the league average with a rate of 8.7%.  This story has remained relatively consistent through the first two games of the three game series with the Orioles leading the Braves 5 to 2 in GiDPs.

What is interesting is trying to figure out why the Orioles are much more proficient in inducing these than Atlanta is.  First off, both teams hit about the same amount of ground balls with the Orioles having the 13th highest rate in baseball and the Braves with the 16th highest rate.  If you put any stock in Speed Scores, the Orioles have the least team speed in baseball and the Braves are average.  However, a comparison of speed score with GiDP does not yield much.  For instance, the second slowest team in baseball according to this metric, the Red Sox, have the second lowest GiDP rate.  Fangraphs Base Running metric also does not yield much as the Orioles rate as average and the Braves rate are a fringe first division team on the base paths.

J.J. Hardy has the most GiDPs on the team with 11.  He actually hits fewer ground balls than a league average hitter.  He has always had a variety of players bat in front of him who are not exactly slow (Endy Chavez - 19 times; Nolan Reimold - 14; Robert Andino - 13; Xavier Avery - 11).  Hardy appears to be having bad luck.  He is on pace to shatter his previous mark of 18 GiDP in a season.  I expect him to do better in the future.

The next two players on the Oriole leader list I am less sure about.  Adam Jones is second with 9 GiDPs.  Half of his hit balls are grounders and he has had Hardy and Nick Markakis in front of him (not exactly burners on the base paths).  Third is Andino with 8 GiDPs, which may result from half of his hits being ground balls and having players like Luis Exposito and Chris Davis bat in front of him. 

The Orioles propensity of GiDP may simply be due to lineup construction and the specific attributes of the team's star players.  The Orioles have a number of good players who happen to be unlucky or simply have a greater chance for ground balls.  When this is combined with other good players on the team not having good speed, it can result in a heavy GiDP situation.  The Braves on the other hand have a burner in Michael Bourn and players like Dan Uggla, Freddie Freeman, and Brian McCann who simply do not hit ground balls (33%, 35.2%, and 38%). 

06 June 2012

2012 MLB Draft -- Day 2 Review and Shadow Picks

So, Baltimore had an interesting second draft day, though they went about things slightly differently than did Camden Depot in our Shadow Draft. Baltimore stayed fairly balanced throughout the first ten rounds, beginning with hometown selection Branden Kline (pictured, copyright DiamondScape Baseball LLC), a Frederick native who has spent his collegiate career at UVA. The O's followed a more traditional approach to the draft by mixing-in some signability picks with some upside JuCo and high school selections. The net result, in my opinion, is a very solid collection of talent with five of the selections falling outside my evaluative comfort zone.

Our approach centered on an analysis of the draft class up top (players in consideration for selection at 1:4), the number of players we had rated as Day 1 talents but with strong enough college commitments to drop them in the draft, and an estimate as to how many "expensive" selections we might be able to afford (this, in particular, is heavily dependent on what Gausman ultimately signs for). We came out with the general idea that any top tier high school selections would have to be made early and a portion of the top 10 bonus allotment slots (rounds 1 to 10) would need to be inexpensive college seniors that would sign for around or under $100 thousand in order to free up a little more cash. The specific high schoolers available after Round 3 would determine whether we could grab one, two or three solid college picks in the mid-single digits. I'll post a piece tomorrow morning that mirrors this piece, but covers our shadow picks rather than the actual picks discussed below.

Here is a quick set of notes covering Baltimore's actual selections today rounds 2 to 10. We'll have more in-depth reports on these players, and some of those selected in rounds 11 to 40, between this week and next:

2nd Round, Branden Kline (rhp, University of Virginia)
As mentioned in our draft preview piece covering local talents, Kline made the jump from reliever to starter this year.  Prior to 2012, the righty utilized a high-effort but utilitarian wind-up, moving to a crouched set and delivery from the stretch. As is the case with many (most) UVA starters, Kline moved to a crouched approach in his wind-up this year, as well, with mixed results. Kline's low-90s fastball and power slider can miss bats, but his new crouched delivery, married with a high arm slot, regularly drives balls up and out of the zone and makes it difficult to spot his secondaries. If Baltimore is willing to break down and rebuild his mechanics, he has the raw talent to mold into a potential mid-rotation starter. Otherwise, he's likely destined for the pen, where he could top out as an 8th inning guy.

3rd Round, Adrian Marin (ss, Gulliver Prep. School, Miami, Fla.)
Marin, a University of Miami commit, likely profiles best as a second baseman or center fielder due to his straight line foot speed, average arm strength and below-average power.  Marin shows quick hands in the box but puts together inconsistent showings due to some quirks in his swing mechanics, including some dip in his eye level and a top-heavy cut that makes adjust to off-speed problematic at times. He's an excellent student with a chance to play for the hometown 'Canes, so he may require the full slot allotment to sign -- maybe a bit more.

4th Round, Christian Walker (1b, Univ. of South Carolina)
We discussed Walker in the local talents draft piece, as well, noting his slightly undersized stature for a first baseman and an offensive profile that skews hit tool over power. Walker was one of three players Jon identified in his "three outcomes" study for 2012 (if you ask him nicely, I'm sure he'd discuss it in more detail in the comments section or even a separate piece!). We know Walker understands the strikezone well and is battle tested in the SEC. What we don't know is how well his power tool will develop once he makes the switch to wood and starts squaring off against advanced pro pitching. Jon pegged the 4th Round as the target round for Walker, and while I overruled him for purposes of the Depot shadow draft, this is certainly a solid value pick for the veteran Gamecock middle-of-the-order bat.

5th Round, Colin Poche (lhp, Marcus HS (Flower Mound, Texas)
Poche was down in Jupiter last October with the MSL All-Star squad, gaining a degree of notoriety as a draft-eligible lefty that broke the 90-mph barrier. He's the type of recruit you feel good about as a college coach, lacking the "now" profile you expect to be poached by MLB clubs, but showing enough stuff to help you out in relief early on while eventually growing into a weekend starter role. Provided he signs, he could spend the remainder of the summer with the Gulf Coast rookie squad, tackling Aberdeen next year. Poche isn't likely to be a fast mover, there is solid projection in his body and stuff, and providedd a reasonable signing bonus he should be a nice addition to the lower-levels of the system.

6th Round, Lex Rutledge (lhp, Samford Univ.)
Rutledge caught my attention two summers ago as a relief arm invited to partake in the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team Trials. He was eventually cut from the squad before the final roster was set, but had the opportunity in scrimmage action to show a mid-90s fastball that bumped 97 mph and a hard low-80s 1-to-7 curve (which worked as a chase pitch but which he struggled to command). As a starter, Rutledge sees his velo drop to 88-92 mph range, and below-average control and command further complicates his future as a starter.

7th Round, Matt Price (rhp, Univ. of South Carolina)
A former power arm in the Gamecocks pen, Price has seen his velocity drop over the past two seasons, with his fastball generally a low-90s offering at this point that will still scrape 95 mph. He has thrown in many a high leverage situation for the back-to-back defending national champs, though his future at the professional level is more likely to be that of a low-leverage middle-reliever due to his current quality of stuff. His breaker is a tilty slider that can flash bite and counts as his second fringe above-average offering when paired with his fastball.

8th Round, Torsten Boss (3b/of, Michigan St. Univ.)
Boss isn't quite a "toolsy" player, though he flashes five of them throughout his game. While his 15% walk rake and .323/.443/.497 triple slash line (as of mid-May) jump out as impressive, his stats are buoyed by a heavy starter/reliever split, with Boss walking 24% of the time against relievers and triple-slashing .329/.505/.579 vs. an 8% walk rate and .319/.394/.442 triple-slash against starters. He also shows his pop almost exclusively against righties, with just 3 of his 20 extra base hits (as of mid-May) coming against southpaws. Making a name for himself with homers against St. John's Kyle Hansen and Texas A&M's Michael Wacha, Boss otherwise struggled some against elite pitching, striking out 22% of the time against arms that figured to go in the top 10 rounds, as compared to a 15% strikeout rate on the season. He is a coin-flip to stick at third, and should at minimum be able to provide a little bit of versatility between the hot corner and the outfield. 

9th Round, Brady Wagner (rhp, Grand Canyon Coll.)
Wagner, like Rutledge, is a low- to mid-90s power arm with a hard breaking ball a pension for periodic issues finding the strike zone. Also like Rutledge (and Kline), he has experience both in the pen and as a starter. Baltimore could run him out as a starter and see how far some mechanical tweaks can go in helping him to find some more consistency.

10th Round, Joel Hutter (ss, Dallas Baptist Univ.)
What is likely a cost-saving selection, Hutter is a senior middle-infielder with some outfield experience. As a pro, he likely profiles as a tweener without traditional speed for center field and what can be a fringy arm for the left side of the infield. He'll run into some balls at the plate, but profiles generally as a n org guy, offensively, with some swing-and-miss to him.

Camden Depot Shadow Draft selections (Rd 1 - 10)
As noted above, we went aggressive with high schoolers early and determined there to be room for two college juniors before switching over to easier signs (but also guys we liked).  Additionally, we tried to mix-in a local flavor, per directives of the O's front office. Jon lobbied hard for Christian Walker in the 4th, but was overruled due to my insistence on a higher upside high schooler in the first three rounds today.

Rd 1, Kevin Gausman (rhp, Lousiana St. Univ.)
Rd 2, Tanner Rahier (ss, Palm Desert HS, Palm Desert, Calif.)
Rd 3, Avery Romero (ss/3b, Menendez HS, St. Augustine, Fla.)
Rd 4, Ty Buttrey (rhp, Providence HS, Charlotte, N.C.)
Rd 5, Josh Elander (c/of, Texas Christian Univ.)
Rd 6, Lex Rutledge (lhp, Samford Univ.)
Rd 7, Jeremy Rathjen (of, Rice Univ.)
Rd 8 Zach Cooper (rhp, Central Michigan Univ.)
Rd 9, Michael Boyden (rhp, Univ. of Maryland)
Rd 10, Chris Kirsch (rhp, Lackawanna JC, Penn.)

05 June 2012

2012 MLB Draft -- Gausman stats; Day 2 Targets

The Orioles, with the fourth overall selection in this year's first-year player draft (Rule 4), drafted LSU righty Kevin Gausman (pictured right, copyright DiamondScape Baseball LLC).  Gausman was the top rated player in the draft class on our pref list and our "shadow selection" as well, for the O's.  We'll have an in depth report on Gausman later this week, but for this morning let's take a look at some stats that I'm fairly certain you have not yet read. And if you were wondering, yes, that was me on MLB Network clearly visible in the Kevin Gausman video they were running from the LSU/Arkansas game.

All stats from the regular season:
  • Against players that figure to go out in the first ten rounds of the draft, Gausman had a 25% SO-rate, 4% BB-rate and a 19/3 SO/BB-rate.
  • Gausman threw more than 120 pitches in a game just four times this year and never in back-to-back weeks.
  • Gausman logged just 11.1 innings pitched once passing the 100-pitch mark in his starts.
  • 61% of the batters faced by Gausman either struck out or hit the ball on the ground.
  • 57% of the batters faced on RPI Top 25 teams faced by Gausman either struck out or hit the ball on the ground.
  • 68% of the batters faced for the third time or more during the same game (3+ times through order) by Gausman either struck out or hit the ball on the ground.
  • Batters in the 1 through 5 slot hit .218 against Gausman.
  • Gausman allowed two homeruns over 100.2 innings pitched, neither with runners on base.
  • Gausman averaged less than four pitches per batter faced (3.7).
  • Gausman had a 26/1 SO/BB-rate facing batters between pitches 76 and 100, and a 1.88 GB/FB-rate during those same at bats.

Gausman video:
From my trip down to Baton Rouge this spring...

Some targets for Day 2:
Here are some players to look at from rounds 2 through 15, which will be covered on Day 2 of the Draft. We'll have a full wrap of Baltimore's selections, and our Shadow Draft picks, tomorrow morning. Happy Draft Day 2!

2nd to 5th rounds
Hunter Virant, lhp, Camarillo HS (Fla.)
Nolan Sanburn, rhp, Arkansas
Mitch Brown, rhp, Century HS (Minn.)
Tanner Rahier, ss, Palm Desert HS
Wyatt Mathison, c, Calallen HS (Texas)
Branden Kline, rhp, Virginia
Ty Buttrey, rhp, Providence HS
Carson Kelly, 3b/rhp, Westview HS
Duane Underwood, rhp, Pope HS (Ga.)
Kenny Diekroeger, 2b/ss, Stanford
Chase DeJong, rhp, Wilson HS (Calif.)
Austin Nola, SS, LSU
Nathan Mikolas, of, Bradford HS (Wisc.)
Christian Walker, 1b, South Carolina
Steven "Paco" Rodriguez, lhp, Florida
Austin Maddox, rhp, Florida

Mikey White, of/2b, Spain Park HS (Ala.)
Barrett Astin, rhp, Arkansas
Edwin Diaz, rhp, Naguabo HS (P.R.)
Lex Rutledge, lhp, Samford Univ.

6th to 15th rounds
Ross Stripling, rhp, Texas A&M
Kevin Ross, Niles West HS (Ill.)
Jeremy Rathjen, of, Rice
Dylan Floro, rhp, Fullerton
Hudson Randall, rhp, Florida
Bralin Jackson, of, Raytown South HS (Mo.)
Josh Conway, rhp, Coastal Carolina
Christian Jones, lhp, Oregon
Hoby Milner, rhp, Texas
Kevin Brady, rhp, Clemson
Xavier Turner, of, Sandusky HS (Ohio)
Blake Brown, of, Missouri
Eric Semmelhack, rhp, UW-Milwaukee
Ryan Ripken, 1b, Gilman Academy (Baltimore, Md.)

04 June 2012

2012 MLB Draft - 1st Round Post

We will be using this entry to serve as our focal point for discussing the draft and, in particular, the Orioles' selection.

Our top five for the draft is:
1. Kevin Gausman, rhp, Louisiana St. Univ.
2. Albert Almora, of, Mater Acad. (Hialeah Gardens, Fla.)
3. Carlos Correa, ss/3b, Puerto Rico Baseball Acad. (Gurabo, P.R.)
4. Mark Appel, rhp, Stanford Univ.
5. Byron Buxton, of, Appling County HS (Baxley, Ga.)

Let's have some fun!

Update: Follow me and Nick on twitter.

Orioles Real Draft: Kevin Gausman, RHP, LSU
Orioles Shadow: Kevin Gausman, RHP, LSU


Comparison of Draft Talent: 2008 - 2012

Each year there is often a comparison of how this year's draft class matches last year's or some other time before.  Nick Faleris has provided me with a product from his draft notes comparing the players draft day grade versus each other.  For instance, Tyler Matzek's 2009 ranking is based on what it was in June 2009, not what it is now in June 2012.  Below are listed 50 prospects.  The 2011 draft has the most with 15 players on the list while 2008 has 6.  2012 compares favorably with 2009's group.  2012 does not have the elite name like Strasburg, but it does have a pretty solid top 7.

Overall 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Stephen Strasburg


Bryce Harper


Anthony Rendon

Gerrit Cole
5 Buster Posey


Jameson Taillon


Bubba Starling

Kevin Gausman

Sonny Gray
Tyler Matzek


Dyland Bundy

Karsten Whitson


Albert Almora

Blake Swihart

Carlos Correa
16 Pedro Alvarez


Mark Appel
Donovan Tate

Zack Wheeler


Daniel Norris

Taylor Jungman

Francisco Lindor

Byron Buxton
24 Tim Beckham


Archie Bradley
26 Brian Matusz


Chris Sale


Matt Harvey


Nick Castellanos


Max Fried

Kyle Zimmer

Jed Bradley

Danny Hultzen 

Trevor Bauer

Zach Cox

36 Justin Smoak


Lucas Giolito
38 Aaron Crow

Alex White


Mike Zunino

Christian Colon


Deck McGuire


Manny Machado


Brandon Workma


Drew Pomeranz

Aaron Crow 


Marcus Stroman
Shelby Miller


Matt Barnes

Jose Fernandez