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The White Sox Extend Eloy Jimenez

Yesterday, White Sox right fielder Eloy Jimenez, our eighth overall prospect on this year’s Top 100, joined this week’s extension palooza (now featuring prospects!), signing a precedent-smashing extension before he’s even spent a day in the major leagues.

An important point here is that the White Sox appear to have leveraged service time manipulation to their advantage, as noted by Ken Rosenthal, though they’re far from the first club to have done so. Since Chicago could have gained a seventh year of control by leaving Jimenez in the minors for 15 days, the six-and-two structure means that he only gave up one year of potential free agency from what was otherwise his best (and only) alternative to taking this deal. There’s no way to know exactly how much money or how many years this saved the White Sox, but it basically took one season from the free agent column and moved it into the arbitration column, so the figure is likely in the millions. Since this exact set of circumstances could be changed in the next round of CBA negotiations, it was opportunistic of the White Sox to use this negotiating chip while they still had it.

But that doesn’t take away from the fact that this deal is predicated, at least in part, on some disingenuous public posturing from a club in the middle of a rebuild that isn’t going that well. They’re essentially holding their best prospect, and their fans, hostage, all to squeeze a little more value out of a potential franchise player in a far-off year. General manager Rick Hahn gave a non-answer last August when, during a sixth straight season in which the club was more than 15 games out of first place, Jimenez clearly warranted a call-up but was left in Triple-A. Manager Rick Renteria casually compared Jimenez to Ken Griffey Jr. last week when he was sent to minor league camp. Astros pitcher Collin McHugh shined a light on the motivations behind the situation after Jimenez was optioned. If Jimenez is on the Opening Day roster, I’m sure we’ll get some chuckles and shrugs when Hahn or Renteria are asked how he magically became major league-ready less than a week after they’d announced that he wasn’t.

Jimenez originally signed for $2.8 million in 2013, so that money plus the roughly $1.6 million he would get making the league minimum in 2019-2021 obviously wasn’t going to create a set-for-life situation, especially after agent/buscon fees and taxes. The sort of player he has turned into (a big corner hitter who has gotten bigger and more corner-y in recent years) isn’t in demand in free agency or elsewhere, unless that player is making close to the league minimum or is hitting like J.D. Martinez. In our most recent Top 100 prospect list, we made a graph of Jimenez’s likely WAR outcomes over his cost-controlled years, using the empirical baseline of past 60 FV hitters:

Moving left to right, the percentages are 12%, 15%, 30%, 28% and 15%. The weighted average of Jimenez’s team control-years WAR is 15.5, putting him in the middle to lower end of the 60/65 group, which jives with our 60 FV grade. We basically think he’s a perennial three-win player with a chance for a season or two of production higher than that, and about a 25% chance of turning into a role player or one who fizzles out quickly (the bottom two tiers).

Craig Edwards’ research pegs a 60 FV hitter as being worth $55 million, but Jimenez is near the top of that range and research from Dan Aucoin pegs that value at about $60 million. That would cover the first seven seasons with no deal, so $43 million guaranteed with a chance at $77 million over eight years suggests that both sides did well, with Jimenez taking somewhere between a $10 million and $20 million discount (roughly a third) to get the money guaranteed, but losing little of the upside. If Jimenez captures the full value of the deal (eight years, $77 million), that figure is very close to his present asset value over eight years, or the median value of what he’s worth over that term.

The White Sox assume some risk that Jimenez ages very quickly and turns into a DH in his arbitration years, but they’re in a rebuild and things will have gone pretty poorly in other ways if that happens. Jimenez could be leaving some money on the table if he does indeed turn into J.D. Martinez, but I’m generally of the mind that right-handed hitters with heavy builds at age 22 to take the median payout, especially if they haven’t had a huge payday yet. I just wish these sorts of shenanigans weren’t what got them there.


Kiley McDaniel Chat – 3/20/19

2:10

Kiley McDaniel: Coming to you live from ATL a little later than usual because I’m moving onto my third contractor now. Scout has chased all the squirrels and chipmunks and is taking a nap next to me. On to your questions:

2:10

Ben M: It feels like to date we aren’t getting the same type of negative reports on the high schoolers that caused players like gorman to slide last year. Is that accurate?

2:12

Kiley McDaniel: Not a question I get very often. I think Gorman may have stood out more because he was a top 10 overall prospect for us wire to wire but had some clear deficiencies that got a little worse during the spring

2:12

Kiley McDaniel: That said, we kept him in the top 10 (we settled on him at 7th, he went 19th overall) because we thought those things were fixable and the strengths were too good to pass up

2:13

Kiley McDaniel: So I wouldn’t say that was a unique amount of negative info on a top prospect. We have said Abrams probably can’t play SS longterm, Witt has real hit tool questions, Espino has a really long arm stroke and may throw too hard too early, etc. which is on par with the Gorman stuff

2:13

shf9: What’s going on with Carter Stewart?  He’s falling fast down your draft rankings.

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More 2019 Draft Rankings Updates

Eric and I didn’t think that there would be weekly updates for the draft side of THE BOARD this early, but the information keeps rolling in. The latest updates are almost all 2019 in nature, though 2020 prep LHP Lucas Gordon was added and 2021 Florida State RF Robby Martin continues to rise. More players have been added to the others of note section at the bottom of the 2019 rankings, pushing us to well over 200 players total, but here are some notes on the ranked portion of the 2019 list:

  • Andrew Vaughn is now solidly No. 2 on the list and we’ve added a Top 100 ranking for him (52nd, just behind Mets 1B Peter Alonso). Vaughn has a little less raw power than Alonso, but the hit tool, frame, and defense are all superior, to go along with Vaughn being younger and also having comparable-to-better pitch selection. We still have Oregon State C Adley Rutschman solidly at No. 1 and well ahead of Vaughn (Rutschman would be 17th on the top 100), but catchers’ development paths are notoriously non-linear, so there is a little more uncertainty with Rutschman.
  • We were the high guys on UNLV SS Bryson Stott after a down summer because we saw him dominate in the previous spring. That faith has been rewarded with Stott’s hot start, so he’s stayed steady on our board at No. 5, just behind the top four players, though he’s rising for some in the industry with less history. There’s a similar story for Orlando-area prep RF Riley Greene, who showed more swing and miss late in the summer for some scouts, but has been blazing hot early and has an improved physique. He’s rising for many scouts but doesn’t have much further up to go for us.
  • The second tier of college bats behind Rutschman, Vaughn, and Stott is coming into focus, with North Carolina LF Michael Busch and Texas Tech 3B Josh Jung holding their spots, UCLA 1B Michael Toglia falling dramatically, Baylor C Shea Langeliers breaking his hamate, and Missouri RF Kameron Misner joining Vanderbilt RF J.J. Bleday in taking their spots. Bleday and Misner both have the look of above average regulars, with Bleday having more hit tool and Misner with more raw power.
  • On my current trip, I saw Arizona State LF Hunter Bishop twice. He has been going insane at the plate. He’s now solidly in the first round, with a chance to move into the top half if he continues at this rate (.414/.534/.948, 8 HR in 15 games) because the tools are real (65 raw power, 60 speed). Tonight, I’ll see Houston-area prep RHP Matthew Thompson, who is trending up after a velo dip, and was 93-96 mph in his last start. Wednesday, I’m planning to see dual-sport prep CFs Maurice Hampton and Jerrion Ealy in a tournament in Biloxi, Mississippi, where Hampton hit a homer on his first swing of the season. On Thursday (crosses fingers), there’s a great triple-up back in Houston, with JuCo RHP Jackson Rutledge at 2 pm, popup prep RHP Josh Wolf at 5 pm, and Thompson’s teammate RHP J.J. Goss at 7 pm; all three are projected for the top 50 picks right now. Wolf isn’t a new name, but his velo has spiked and he’s now just behind Thompson and Goss in the Houston prep arm hierarchy.
  • Other risers of note include Georgia prep SS Nasim Nunez, California preps 3B Keoni Cavaco and SS Kyren Paris, and Louisville 1B Logan Wyatt. Nunez has continued performing and is now seen as a potential plus hitter, runner, defender, and thrower, so his stature and lack of power are less of a negative. Cavaco popped up in the last few weeks and is getting top-two round buzz thanks to average to above tools across the board. Paris is the youngest player on THE BOARD and, as you may guess, is developing physically later than his class peers, but just in time to rise up the rankings. Wyatt is a totally different type of player but is a draft model darling with performance, tons of walks, and low-end everyday first base tools.
  • Well-known collegiate arms like Kentucky LHP Zack Thompson and TCU LHP Nick Lodolo are ticking up just a bit, but we knew they would rank in the late first/comp round area if they performed well. Some popup college arms are making bigger jumps behind them: UAB RHP Graham Ashcraft, Butler RHP Ryan Pepiot, Ball State RHP Drey Jamison, and Xavier RHP Connor Grammes. Ashcraft has developed more feel since high school and post-Tommy John, and is now showing starter traits and huge spin rates on his fastball and curve. Pepiot has a chance to start and is into the mid-90s. Jamison flashes three plus pitches at times but is still learning to harness them. Grammes was very strong (94-97 touching 98 mph with occasional plus life, a 60-flashing slider, and decent strikes) for a few innings against Arizona State until Bishop took him deep. Grammes’ arm action likely limits him to relief, but he’s a fresh-armed conversion case.
  • Auburn 2B Edouard Julien was ruled eligible by MLB last week, after it appeared he wouldn’t be. On draft day, he’ll be a 20-year-old sophomore, but he had a post-grad year in Québec at age 18 that counts as a year beyond high school. With so few Québécois in college baseball, this situation hadn’t arisen much in the past. Julien has plus raw power and a late-count approach, but may be a 40-45 bat and is fringy in the infield, so could move to LF/1B.
  • Another interesting eligibility case came to light yesterday in Maine prep CF Tre Fletcher. He’s transferred high schools and is set to graduate this year, but MLB hasn’t ruled on his 2019 draft eligibility yet, though he’s expected to get that soon. Fletcher repeated 9th grade, so he would be back on track for a traditional prep career with a reclassification, with a near-class-average 18.1 age on 2019 draft day should he be eligible. It’s unclear if Fletcher is reclassifying just to get to Vanderbilt a year early or to also enter the draft process, but he’ll be a tough evaluation for scouts. He was nationally scouted over the summer, standing out for his tools at East Coast Pro, but scouts weren’t bearing down on him and he’ll face very weak competition that will start in mid-April in Maine, so there won’t be a ton of certainty around his hit tool. Fletcher is similar to Rays 2015 1st round pick CF Garrett Whitley in that he has a strong frame, plus bat and foot speed, above average power potential and some questions on his hit tool. Fletcher is a high variance, high-end 40 FV for us, likely in the 50s or 60s in the overall rankings if eligible, somewhere at the end of round two, until we can learn more.

Kiley McDaniel Chat – 3/6/19

12:18

Kiley McDaniel: Hello from ATL where Scout is laying on her bed but you can tell she’s gonna pop up and ask to go outside as soon as the neighbor dogs start barking

12:19

Kiley McDaniel: and if you’re in Phoenix this weekend, come meet the FG Staff https://blogs.fangraphs.com/fangraphs-meetup-scottsdale-march-8/

12:20

Mark: Any high school pitchers that you think can jump into the top 5?

12:20

Kiley McDaniel: Feels like there will be a lot of draft questions today, so here’s our updated rankings for those interested, and the dropdown at the top brings you to 2020 and 2021 rankings as well: https://www.fangraphs.com/prospects/the-board/2019-mlb-draft?sort=-1,1…

12:23

Kiley McDaniel: Daniel Espino is the top prep arm right now but has his first real game this weekend. Buzz has been positive about progress with feel, but he’s also a shorter prep righty where velocity is still a big part of the package and the arm swing is really long.  Doesn’t mean he won’t be really good, but teams are really wary of prep RHP and to take one that high, you need it all to line up. Add that with the recent track record of prep arms that sit 95+ not being very positive in terms of health/development and I can’t see him getting to top 5, maybe 8-10 if he really shoves all spring. Matt Allan is in the discussion right behind him, then there’s a pretty big dropoff.

12:25

Kiley McDaniel: Matt Manning went late top 10 and had a really good frame, top end athlete, two 65-70 grade pitches and even some teams wouldn’t take him up there.

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Kiley McDaniel Chat – 2/27/19

12:15

Kiley McDaniel: Hello from ATL, perched on the couch with Scout on her bed, keeping an eye out for chipmunks to chase. To your questions:

12:15

Finally Happy Padres Fan: Please tell me the Padres won’t be upstaged with an LA Bryce Harper signing. PLEASE!

12:16

Kiley McDaniel: Sounds like some California clubs are taking a long look. Time to get in the bidding, Oakland!

12:16

Darren: Draft question: how would you describe the plate discipline of Witt and Abrams?

12:16

Kiley McDaniel: Abrams about average, Witt maybe a hair below, but they’re pretty close

12:17

Adam: Are we far enough away from the 2016 draft to say that the Padres executed their plethora of picks and pool space poorly?

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FanGraphs Audio Presents: The Untitled McDongenhagen Project, Ep. 10

UMP: The Untitled McDongenhagen Project, Episode 10
This is the 10th episode of a mostly weekly program co-hosted by Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel about player evaluation in all its forms. The show, which is available through the normal FanGraphs Audio feed, has a working name but barely. The show is not all prospect stuff, but there is plenty of that, as the hosts are Prospect Men.

We used to include timestamps so you could skip around by topic, but this episode has just one topic: the 2019 MLB Draft. If you’re not into that, we bet you’ll like the new into/outro music or the opening few minutes about non-baseball topics.

Among the draft subjects sampled on this podcast: the current state of our top five overall before next week’s re-ranking, what teams seem to be already zeroing in on which players with the top picks, which players made themselves into first rounders in the opening weekend, the Andrew Vaughn valuation dichotomy, prospects we think are moving down early on, our high variance picks for the guys who could jump way up THE BOARD by draft day, whom we saw last weekend, what happened in some games that happened literally hours ago, whom we’re seeing this weekend, and finally, tips for how to win an election for state office in Arizona.

Don’t hesitate to direct pod-related correspondence to @kileymcd or @longenhagen on Twitter or at prospects@fangraphs.com.

You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or other feeder things.

Audio after the jump. (Approximately 41 min play time.)

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Kiley McDaniel Chat – 2/20/19

12:40

Kiley McDaniel: Hello from ATL, just wrapped up a call and now I’m here to chat with you while Scout is busy in the other room eating what the food robot provides

12:42

Jay: Does the Machado signing move up a potential Tatis callup from June to say, late April?

12:43

Kiley McDaniel: Will be interesting to see how SD handles this situation. Do you speed up Tatis’ 2019 look so he’s ready for the 2020 push? Same with the pitching? If they aren’t ready, do you trade some depth for now help? Or is Machado just a solid piece and he’ll be there when the kids show up? Do they have a bunch more money to spend or was this all of it?

Lots of questions and I do not have those answers right now. I would assume this means more aggressive in the right spots and so Tatis may move up quicker, which shifts Kinsler to utility.

12:43

tommyboy: 2019 draft question. How concerned are you about Logan Davidson’s lack of wood bat performance and how much higher would he have ranked if he at least performed a little on the Cape?

12:44

Kiley McDaniel: Think he may just always be a 4 bat, 5 power shortstop, which is fine.

12:44

JH: You and Eric have mentioned about adjusting the top 100 list after getting feedback from teams.

Any players where you got that sort of feedback but decided “nah, we’re good?”

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Reviewing Last Year’s Top 100 List

Each year, we strive to improve our process for ranking prospects. Part of that is reviewing our past rankings to identify any trends or biases that may have emerged. This post doesn’t represent a comprehensive effort to do so. Rather, think of it more as a first step to finding any low-hanging fruit we may have missed.

The 2018 version of our Picks to Click was less formal than this year’s edition. Last year, we listed 62 players, representing a mix of those in striking distance of the top 100, guys we thought would improve their rankings in 2019, and players we just liked. This year, we narrowed it down further to players who have never been a 50 FV before and who hadn’t appeared on the 2018 Picks to Click list. The aim is to have a leaner list with a higher percentage of players who will become 50 FV prospects for the first time next year.

We identified 15 of the 33 players who were new to the 2019 Top 100 in the 2018 Picks to Click (this excludes Yusei Kikuchi and the players drafted in 2018, as none of them were eligible for last year’s list). A handful of the 18 we didn’t include in our Picks to Click were close to last year’s Top 100 and wouldn’t have been much of a stretch to rank; a few were late cuts from both lists. All told, we picked about half of the new Top 100 talents. The 62 players on last year’s Picks to Click essentially broke down into three equal groups: stock up, steady, and stock down. Our goal is that this year’s leaner and more-focused group of 55 prospects will beat that mark. We also found the Picks to Click group of performers with lesser tools had our worst outcome (the success was Brandon Lowe, who would’ve been shoehorned into another group if this one didn’t exist), so we axed that subset from this year’s incarnation.

On last year’s Top 100, we included honorable mentions for the rest of the 50 FV prospects, which got us to 139 total players. I’ve manually graded whether the stock of those 139 went up, down, or held steady in 2019, and added a “slight” modifier for the in-between cases. Read the rest of this entry »


2019 Impact Prospects

While the idea of the Picks to Click article is to answer the common question Eric and I get of who we think will move up the prospects rankings and appear on the top 100 next year, the 2019 Impact Prospects list is the answer to which prospects will make the biggest impact in the big leagues this season. The standard I’m using is my own personal projected WAR, so position, defense, anticipated health, and opportunity to play all matter. In most cases, my projections and Steamer match pretty closely, but there are instances where a playing time variance, or an in-depth knowledge of a player’s tools, have shaped my projected WAR and caused them to diverge.

This isn’t explicitly for fantasy purposes, though I’m sure some of you will use it for that, as Paul Sporer has already told me he plans to. I like this exercise more as a chance to project which of the prospects Eric and I spend so much time thinking about will do best just in 2019. It also gives me a chance to offer some early insight into how the Rookie of the Year race might shake out. (You’ll be shocked to learn I think Guerrero (AL), and Robles and Senzel (NL) will feature prominently in those conversations.) I’m sure you could drive a truck through the holes this list will have at the end of the season, but that’s never stopped me before.

2019 Impact Prospects
Player Name Pos Age Team FV Proj. WAR
1 Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. 3B 19.9 TOR 70 3.8
2 Victor Robles CF 21.7 WSN 65 2.7
3 Nick Senzel 3B 23.6 CIN 60 2.4
4 Eloy Jimenez RF 22.2 CHW 60 2.2
5 Danny Jansen C 23.8 TOR 50 2.1
6 Luis Urias 2B 21.7 SDP 55 1.9
7 Peter Alonso 1B 24.2 NYM 50 1.6
8 Yusei Kikuchi LHP 27.7 SEA 50 1.5
9 Brandon Lowe 2B 24.6 TBR 50 1.3
10 Alex Verdugo RF 22.7 LAD 50 1.2
11 Nate Lowe 1B 23.5 TBR 45+ 1.1
12 Brent Honeywell RHP 23.9 TBR 55 1.1
13 Kyle Tucker RF 22.1 HOU 60 1.0
14 Jesus Luzardo LHP 21.4 OAK 55 1.0
15 Josh James RHP 25.9 HOU 50 1.0
16 Alex Reyes RHP 24.5 STL 55 1.0
17 Forrest Whitley RHP 21.4 HOU 65 0.8
18 Mike Soroka RHP 21.5 ATL 55 0.8
19 Garrett Hampson 2B 24.3 COL 50 0.7
20 Logan Allen LHP 21.7 SDP 50 0.7
21 Chris Paddack RHP 23.1 SDP 55 0.6
22 Austin Riley 3B 21.9 ATL 55 0.6
23 Fernando Tatis, Jr. SS 20.1 SDP 65 0.6
24 Justus Sheffield LHP 22.8 SEA 50 0.6
25 Touki Toussaint RHP 22.6 ATL 50 0.6

Others of note: Dylan Cease (RHP, CHW), Luiz Gohara (LHP, ATL), Keston Hiura (2B, MIL), Mitch Keller (RHP, PIT), Andrew Knizer (C, STL), Jonathan Loaisiga (RHP, NYY), Francisco Mejia (C, SDP), Casey Mize (RHP, DET), Sean Murphy (C, OAK), Keibert Ruiz (C, LAD), A.J. Puk (LHP, OAK), Kyle Wright (RHP, ATL)

Vladito continues to lead our rankings. He’s the best prospect in the game, he should spend essentially the whole year in the big leagues, he’s polished, and he offers some defensive value. The top ten or so on my list all appear to be solid, everyday players who have the inside track on an everyday job starting on or around Opening Day, and I think they’ll be able to keep those jobs if they get them.

The next half dozen or so players have a good chance of spending most of the year in the majors (Nate Lowe), only need one injury to get serious playing time (Tucker), or have an uneven enough past that we aren’t sure they’ll be able to stick and stay healthy the whole season. Honeywell, Luzardo, and Reyes all have elbow surgery in their injury history, so even with a great season, they may be on an innings limit; James may be a bullpen fit.

The last group of players are either part-timers (Hampson looks like a utility guy, Toussaint and Sheffield could start and relieve, and Riley may begin the year in Triple-A and wait for an injury on the big league roster), or are top prospects who project to come up for the second half of the season (Tatis, Paddack, and Whitley).


Kiley McDaniel Chat – 2/6/19

12:07

Kiley McDaniel: Hello from ATL now that it’s warm and all the tourists are gone, things are looking up

12:08

Steve Sanders: When will the Blue Jays team prospect list come out?

12:08

Kiley McDaniel: This week for sure, rankings are locked now but we’re working on those reports and prospects week stuff side by side

12:09

Cave Dameron: If you had to convert any position-player prospect into a pitcher, who would it be and why?

12:09

Kiley McDaniel: You can see the top arms in the minors here: https://www.fangraphs.com/prospects/the-board/2018-in-season-prospect-…

12:10

Kiley McDaniel: I’d probably pick Robles or Pache b/c you want pure arm strength but also athleticism and body control

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