22 March 2013

Camden Depot's Orioles top 10: 6 through 10

I mentioned in a previous post that the prospect evaluation here at the Depot has undergone some changes with Nick Faleris' departure to Baseball Prospectus.  Briefly put, I am writing up each of these prospects, but the list was formed by averaging out the prospect lists of mine, Jeremy Strain, and Joe Reisel.  Last time, we reviewed the top five and this time we go through numbers six through 10.

No. 6 - CIF Nicky Delmonico
Ht/Wt - 6'2", 196
B/T - L/R
Age at 6/13 - 20y 11m
Drafted 6:4 by Baltimore in 2011
Prospect Grade - C+ (44)

Last year, Delmonico rated as our sixth prospect, but was viewed slightly more positively than he was graded this year.  What was good about 2012?  As a 19 year old in full season A ball, Delmonico certainly held his own in the batter's box making up for poor contact with a strong walk rate and a very promising display of power.  His .770 OPS was 12% greater than the league average when park factors are considered.  The optimist would note that his poor June numbers (.688 OPS) coincided with a knee injury while his numbers in May and July were greater than .800.  Regardless of your viewpoint on how to use those numbers, these numbers are excellent for a 19 year old in A ball.

My concern comes from two things: health and defense.  A back injury was a major reason why Delmonico dropped from a high round draft pick to the sixth round.  In his first professional season, he strained his knee.  As a rule, back and knee injuries cause me a great deal of concern.  This is particularly true for a player who is playing second base where they get torn up and blindsided while turning double plays.  The good news for Delmonico is that he really cannot play second and will be shifted off to first, third, or maybe even the outfield.  A catcher in high school, a second baseman in his first professional year, and now sitting on the hot corner.  The uncertainty in his defensive home hopefully gets resolved giving him more time to concentrate on his bat, which in the end is what will carry him to the show.  With that in mind, any struggle with the bat and he becomes minor league depth.

No. 7 - RHP Mike Wright
Ht/Wt - 6'5", 195
B/T - R/R
Age at 6/13 - 23y 6m
Drafted 3:4 by Baltimore in 2011
Prospect Grade - C+ (41)

To me, Mike Wright is someone like Jim Johnson.  He is a pitcher who induces groundballs with an interesting breaking ball.  Wright has an interesting, flashy above average slider while Johnson has a curve.  Wright also throw a four seamer, a curve, and has a decent changeup.  With those pitches at his disposal, the team wants to bring Wright along as a starter.  He may struggle at times, like he did last year in Bowie, but he should be able to progress through the minors as a decent starting pitcher.

The trick for him would be to continue success with his two seam fastball.  As he moves up from level to level, his two seamer will have more difficulty in resulting in swing and misses as well as swing and poorly hit balls as batters are more capable of discerning when the sink will drop the ball below the strike zone.  My rule of thumb for groundball pitchers without any steady plus pitches is to force them to be successful at each level.  It is the same reason why I was hesitant about Zach Britton and Brad Bergesen being successful Major Leaguers.

Wright is a useful prospect.  With more consistency from his slider, he profiles as a solid middle reliever.  For now, he will likely begin in Bowie as a starting pitcher with Norfolk coming in 2014.

No. 8 - INF Adrian Marin
Ht/Wt - 5'10", 165
B/T - R/R
Age at 6/13 - 19y 3m
Drafted 3:4 by Baltimore in 2012
Prospect Grade - C+ (40)

I aggressively rate shortstop prospects, so that might be putting a bit of a shine on Marin for me.  It simply is incredibly difficult at this time to find solid options for shortstop.  With such scarcity, any potential shortstop carries good value for me.  Adding to Marin's worth has been positive comments that have been shared with me from two evaluators.  In the long run, I am not sure what his value as a shortstop is to the Orioles, but that is an issue to be dealt with a few years from now.  There is no reason to think about that right now.

So, Marin's value is tied to him being a shortstop because his bat is not going to carry him.  At times, he produces great velocity as the ball jumps off the bat.  Last year, that produced doubles and triples.  With a little more loft, they should turn into a few home runs, but it is unlikely though that the bat produces much more than a handful in any given year.  Again, that kind of player works if he sticks at shortstop.  If he has to shift to second or third, the bat will have to exceed expectations or he would need to become the best defensive second baseman or third baseman in the game.  Marin has the reflexes and speed to make up for an average arm as a shortstop. I would estimate he may be ready for the Majors in 2016 if everything works out.

No. 9 -RHP Clay Shrader
Ht/Wt - 5'11", 200
B/T - L/R
Age at 6/13 - 23y 2m
Drafted 10:3 by Baltimore in 2010
Prospect Grade - C (39)

Schrader would have probably fallen off the this list if not for being somewhat championed by Joe Reisel.  Last year, the Depot had him at the nine slot as well, but with more hope than I currently have.  There certainly are things to like about him.  He has a plus mid 90s fastball that has a great deal of movement, resulting in swings and misses.  However, who knows where it will wind up?  As his walk totals suggest, Schrader struggles greatly with his command.  Additionally, he has a plus slider that breaks hard and is also a true swing and miss pitch.  Again, it dances around the strike zone as well.

His success will depend on how well he can gain control of his pitches.  Although it involves only 23 innings, one should expect his walk rate to increase and his strikeout rate to decrease as he moves up the ladder.  That expected outcome has largely followed him throughout his minor league career.  Advanced hitters will face will hold off against more pitches on the edge of the strike and force him to prove he has command of his pitches.  If he cannot cut his walk rate down from 7 batters per 9 innings, then he will need to retain a 13 or more strikeouts per 9 innings to be of any use.  That will be difficult.  Simply put, he is going to put a lot of baserunners on first and that usually is a bad thing.

No. 10 - OF Xavier Avery
Ht/Wt - 6'0", 190
B/T - L/L
Age at 6/13 - 23y 6m
Drafted 2:4 by Baltimore in 2010
Prospect Grade - C (39)

Baltimore statistics:
2012 22 32 107 6 1 1 6 3 11 23 .223 .305 .340 .645 76
There is certainly a certainty in the value of Xavier Avery.  He is now a 23 year old who profiles well as a defensive fourth outfielder with speed who could face a right handed pitcher of the bench.  He does not offer plus defense as his solid range with improving routes is balanced by a pretty dreadful arm.  It is important to remember that he has been able to hold his own at every step along the way even though he has been one of the youngest players at each level.

My hesitancy in valuing him more is that I cannot see what it is that he can become.  I do not see him adding much more in terms of power and his inability to hit left handed pitching severely limits his usefulness as a full time player.  The key for him will be to improve his contact rate.  If he can push it up to where he could bat .280 line at the MLB level, he could be a very valuable as it probably puts him as a .750 to .800 OPS hitter against righties.  That could work.  Again, though, I am not aware of a single other batter who has been able to perform at a MLB average level of performance after being a mid to low .200 batting average hitter with no power in the minors.  I do expect him to be offered many opportunities over the next 5-8 years to prove me wrong.

Others considered:
Branden Kline - RHP
Josh Hader - LHP
Henry Urrutia - OF
Hector Veloz - INF/OF
Glynn Davis - OF
Ty Kelly - INF


Matt P said...

From the good folks at Fangraphs:

"Meanwhile, catchers (.248/.318/.400) outhit both shortstops (.257/.310/.388) and second baseman (.257/.318/.383), while third baseman (.266/.327/.427) hit nearly as well as both corner outfield spots."

Second baseman definitely need to hit better then shortstops to be equal value but that's a far cry from needing to hit well. We're talking a .320 OBP for a second baseman rather than a .310 OBP for a shortstop. Certainly a difference but not a huge one.

I'm just thinking that having a below average second baseman that we can store in the minors would be useful given what he've had the past few years.

Jon Shepherd said...

I think it is too soon to think that the current population of players by position reflect a more permanent trend so I hold of judgement on that

Matt P said...

"I think it is too soon to think that the current population of players by position reflect a more permanent trend so I hold of judgement on that."

I decided to test this. I used data from Fangraphs and used all second baseman/shortstops who played at least 400 innings at the position. Players who played 400 innings at both position were given the qualifier "both" and not included in either category. There were a limited number of these players. Perhaps Cameron decided that players who played both should be in the category they played the most innings in?

Fangraphs didn't begin storing this data until 2002 which is why the dataset starts with that year. Otherwise I would have started from 2000. Clearly, this means that looking from 1990-2012 will be difficult.

It turns out that you're correct that there's a statistically significant difference between second basemen and shortstops. It doesn't really matter whether you use OBP, SLG, wOBA or wRC+ as your metric of choice. SLG is significant at the 95% confidence level while OBP, wOBA and wRC+ is significant at the 99% level.

Still from 2002-2012, the average second baseman had a .331 OBP and a .401 SLG compared while the average shortstop had an .322 OBP and a .389 SLG. The average wOBA for a second baseman was .321 while it was .312 for a shortstop. The mean wRC+ was 93.53 for the second baseman while it was 87.7 for the shortstop.

You're right that there's a statistically significant difference offensively between second baseman and shortstops. I guess a three percent difference in OBP really is a bigger deal then I thought.

Jon Shepherd said...

Matt...have you ever thought about writing for the site?

With a little editing, I think you could probably write some decent pieces using statistics.