KATOH Projects Pittsburgh’s Return for Gerrit Cole

The Astros have acquired right-hander Gerrit Cole (for real this time) from the Pirates in exchange for Michael Feliz, Joe Musgrove, and prospects Jason Martin and Colin Moran. Below are the KATOH projections for the latter two of those players.

Note that WAR figures account for each player’s first six major-league seasons. KATOH denotes the stats-only version of the projection system, while KATOH+ denotes the methodology that includes a player’s prospect rankings.


Colin Moran, 3B (Profile)

The Marlins made Moran the sixth-overall pick back in 2013, but his stock has cratered since. His bat never developed the way scouts thought it would, culminating in a paltry .259/.329/.368 line in 2016. He showed signs of life last year, however, hitting .308/.373/.543 in his second crack at Triple-A. For the first time as a professional, he hit for power — largely by upping his fly-ball rate by 10 percentage points — while simultaneously cutting eight points off of his strikeout rate.

KATOH somewhat buys Moran’s 2017 breakout, but does not think he’s particularly likely to produce more than a few wins in the majors. Even if his offensive spike ultimately sticks, he’s still a 25-year-old third baseman who isn’t a terribly good defender and who has, consequently, started getting reps at first.

To put some faces to Moran’s statistical profile, I calculated a Mahalanobis distance between Moran’s 2017 performance and every Triple-A season since 1991. In the table below, you’ll find the 10 most similar seasons, ranked from most to least similar. The WAR totals refer to each player’s first six seasons in the major leagues. 

Please note that the Mahalanobis analysis is separate from KATOH. KATOH relies on macro-level trends, rather than comps. The fates of a few statistically similar players shouldn’t be used to draw sweeping conclusions about a prospect’s future. For this reason, I recommend using a player’s KATOH forecast to assess his future potential. The comps give us some interesting names that sometimes feel spot-on, but they’re mostly just there for fun.

Colin Moran Mahalanobis Comps
Rank Player Proj. WAR Actaul WAR
1 Tim Hummel 2.5 0.0
2 Scott Cooper 2.9 6.3
3 Aaron Boone 4.4 11.5
4 Casey McGehee 2.8 4.5
5 David Freese 2.4 9.5
6 Peter Ciofrone 2.0 0.0
7 Greg Norton 2.5 0.4
8 Corey Koskie 2.7 23.5
9 Brandon Wood 3.8 0.0
10 Terry Jorgensen 2.5 0.1


Jason Martin, OF (Profile)

Selected in the eighth round of the 2013 draft, Martin split 2017 between High-A and Double-A, where he slashed .278/.332/.487. Martin is an undersized left fielder whose performance doesn’t stand out in any one particular area. That said, he doesn’t have any major weaknesses, either, and has hit quite well the last couple of years. He was one of the top players available in December’s Rule 5 by my math, but he went undrafted. He could carve out a role as a bat-first bench outfielder, but his statistical profile does not suggest he’ll be anything more than that.

Jason Martin Mahalanobis Comps
Rank Player Proj. WAR Actaul WAR
1 Aaron Guiel 2.3 1.4
2 Cody Ross 2.7 7.3
3 Kelly Johnson 2.3 15.5
4 Kevin Burford 2.4 0.0
5 Sean Henry 2.2 0.0
6 Cole Gillespie 2.3 0.1
7 Brad Nelson 1.3 0.1
8 Jonny Gomes 2.3 4.3
9 Mike O’Keefe 1.8 0.0
10 Chris Durbin 1.7 0.0

Chris works in economic development by day, but spends most of his nights thinking about baseball. He writes for Pinstripe Pundits, FanGraphs and The Hardball Times. He's also on the twitter machine: @_chris_mitchell None of the views expressed in his articles reflect those of his daytime employer.

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4 years ago

Looks like a nothingburger of a return for a top 30 SP. Good thing Huntington just got a 4 year contract extension so he has time to conduct his dogmatically risk-averse rebuild in style. I predict he’ll draw even more pitchforks and torches than Dave Littlefield did in 2008 by 2020! The combination of his disregard for fan perception, his ability to reduce all transactions to “years of control” in the press, his penchant for quantity of return over upside quality and his ability to exasperate the fans by explicitly stating stuff like the year after a 98 win season was no more than a “bridge year”. He’s a real talent.

4 years ago
Reply to  BillClinton

Must have been downvoted by someone who’s not a Pirates fan so not as much NH fatigue.

4 years ago
Reply to  BillClinton

crazy you got downvoted more than actual spam