Projecting Marcus Greene: The Return for Will Venable

On Tuesday night, the Texas Rangers swung a deal to acquire Will Venable from the San Diego Padres. In return for Venable, the Rangers sent catcher/outfielder Marcus Greene to San Diego, along with a player to be named later. Here’s what my fancy computer math has to say about Greene and his future outlook.

Greene has played exclusively in Low-A Hickory this season, where he logged 25 games before he underwent Tommy John Surgery in June. The 20-year-old hit a strong .218/.365/.500, thanks to an impressive combination of power (.282 ISO) and walks (17% walk rate). On the downside, he struck out in a concerning 24% of his trips to the plate in Hickory. This performance yielded a KATOH forecast of 1.9 WAR through age 28, with a 54% chance of cracking the majors. Due to Greene’s increased strikeout rate, this is a sizable step down from the 4.7 WAR forecast yielded by his 2014 numbers, which primarily took place in the Northwest League.

Greene’s 2015 performance has taken place over a relatively small sample of plate appearances, but his numbers aren’t largely different than those from prior seasons. Between 2012 and 2013, he hit .256/.395/.377. In a sentence, Greene is a low-average hitter who draws copious walks and hits for a modest amount of power.

Let’s pull up some comps. Using league-adjusted, regressed stats, along with age, I calculated the Mahalanobis Distance between Greene’s performance this year and every season in Low-A since 1990 in which a batter recorded at least 400 plate appearances. Below, you’ll find a list of historical players whose performances were nearest and dearest to Greene’s, ranked from most to least similar.

Rank Mah Dist Name PA thru 28 WAR thru 28
1 0.79 Jamie Romak 23 0.0
2 0.86 Sean Coyle* 0 0.0
3 1.04 Nomar Mazara* 0 0.0
4 1.21 Ricky Ledee 1,411 0.0
5 1.29 Jon Hamilton 0 0.0
6 1.39 Miguel Sano* 161 1.3
7 1.76 Jonathan Rodriguez* 0 0.0
8 1.79 Ben Petrick 764 0.4
9 1.88 Rod McCall 0 0.0
10 2.09 Jayson Nix 869 0.9
11 2.27 Troy Cameron 0 0.0
12 2.32 Wes Bankston 63 0.0
13 2.36 Shelley Duncan 148 0.3
14 2.44 Kurt Bierek 0 0.0
15 2.49 Rickey Cradle 8 0.0
16 2.51 Justin Humphries 0 0.0
17 2.52 Arturo Rivas 0 0.0
18 2.56 Brian Dubose 0 0.0
19 2.57 Luke Montz 26 0.1
20 2.58 Reid Fronk* 0 0.0

*Hitters who have yet to play their age-28 seasons.

And here are the top ranking hitters who were primarily catchers in Low-A, as Greene has been.

Rank Mah Dist Name PA thru 28 WAR thru 28
8 1.79 Ben Petrick 764 0.4
19 2.57 Luke Montz 26 0.1
25 2.75 Luis Gallardo 0 0.0
30 2.79 Jason Grabowski 212 0.0
35 2.93 Jorge Posada 1,709 10.8

*Hitters who have yet to play their age-28 seasons.

Of course, these comps fail to take into account for Greene’s elbow injury and what that might mean for his development. As a result of his Tommy John surgery, Greene will not play another game this season, and will likely miss part of next season as well. But if his recovery goes smoothly, and his bat continues to develop, Greene stands a decent chance of being a future big leaguer.

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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