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)
KATOH: 3.0 WAR
KATOH+: 2.8 WAR
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.
Jason Martin, OF (Profile)
KATOH: 2.1 WAR
KATOH+: 1.6 WAR
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.