The Angels and Braves swung a trade last night that sent Andrelton Simmons and catching prospect Jose Briceno to LA in exchange for Erick Aybar and pitching prospects Sean Newcomb and Chris Ellis. Jeff Sullivan had some thoughts on the trade itself last night. KATOH has some thoughts on the prospects involved, which you can find below.
Sean Newcomb, 1.9 WAR
The Angels selected Newcomb with their first round pick in 2014, and he’s been a strikeout machine in the minors thus far. He split the 2015 season between three levels — Low-A, High-A and Double-A — and pitched well at each stop. All told, he finished up with 2.36 ERA and a 29% strikeout rate. However, those strikeouts came with a heavy dose of walks.
Because of these walks, and also because Newcomb spent most of the year as a 22-yaer-old in A-Ball, KATOH isn’t overly excited about him. It forecasts him for just 1.9 WAR through age 28. Newcomb’s strikeout rate was great, but it’s outweighed by other factors. KATOH will start to believe a bit more once he establishes himself in the higher levels. Here are his top statistical comps, which were generated by way of some Mahalanobis distance calculations. Neal Cotts was most similar, while Doug Davis and Matt Clement are the clear standouts.
Chris Ellis, 1.4 WAR
Newcomb was clearly the centerpiece of this trade, but Ellis is a compelling prospect, as well. Ellis was the Angels’ third round pick in 2014, and split last season between High-A and Double-A. He began his age-22 season by striking out 27% of opposing batters in the High-A California League, but encountered a bit more adversity after a mid-season promotion Double-A. He finished the year with an unremarkable 3.95 ERA.
Because of his struggles at Double-A, KATOH pegs Ellis for just 1.4 WAR through age 28. Here’s his list of Mahalanobis comps, which are unremarkable save for the inclusion of Corey Kluber. And I suppose Damaso Marte, as well.
Jose Briceno, 0.2 WAR
Along with Simmons, the Angels also received 23-year-old catching prospect Jose Briceno. Briceno hit an atrocious .183/.215/.226 in High-A last season. Considering his 2015 numbers, KATOH foresees 0.2 WAR through age 28, and gives him a mere 9% chance of even cracking the majors. Briceno was a decently regarded prospect in the not too distant past, however, and his 2014 numbers yielded a more respectable forecast of 1.7 WAR through age 28. This forecasts likely understates Briceno’s true potential, as my current (and soon to be upgraded) KATOH model does not directly account for defensive position. I didn’t bother with the comps for Briceno since they would almost certainly be a bunch of no-name org guys.
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.
The real question here is what is KATOH’s predictive accuracy?