Projecting Zack Littel and Dietrich Enns

The Yankees acquired Jaime Garcia from the Twins for prospects Zack Littell and Dietrich Enns. You may remember that the Twins acquired Garcia less than a week ago. For their trouble, the Twins seemingly got a better return for Garcia than they gave up to acquire him. I have Huascar Ynoa projected for 1.9 WAR (by both KATOH and KATOH+), which is about half as much as Littell and Enns combined. It’s worth noting, however, that the Yankees are facing a 40-man roster crunch, so dealing Littell and Enns clears space for other prospects.

Below are the projections for the Twins’ newest prospects. WAR figures account for the 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.

Zack Littell, RHP (Profile)



Littell was having an excellent season in the Yankees system this year, pitching to a 1.87 ERA as a starter between High-A and Double-A. He posted some excellent strikeout and walk rates in the process — 24% and 5%. Littell’s strong minor-league performance earned him a spot on Stats-Only KATOH’s mid-season top-100 list.

To put some faces to Littell’s statistical profile, let’s generate some statistical comps. I calculated a Mahalanobis distance between Littell’s 2017 performance and every 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.

Zack Littell Mahalanobis Comps
Rank Name KATOH+ Proj. WAR Actual WAR
1 Keith Heberling 2.5 0.0
2 Chad Ogea 2.6 5.6
3 Javier Vazquez 3.0 30.2
4 Brad Radke 2.5 25.1
5 Hector Trinidad 3.0 0.0
6 Ramiro Mendoza 1.6 10.3
7 Anthony Lerew 1.8 0.0
8 Tim Rumer 1.2 0.0
9 Colby Lewis 3.1 0.2
10 Craig Anderson 3.2 0.0


Dietrich Enns, LHP (Profile)



Enns spent over two months of 2017 on the DL, but has pitched well when healthy. The lefty has posted a 2.29 ERA across seven Triple-A starts, posting solid strikeout and walk rates while allowing just a single homer. Enns is already 26, however, so he’s quite old by prospect standards.

Dietrich Enns Mahalanobis Comps
Rank Name KATOH+ Proj. WAR Actual WAR
1 Rodrigo Rosario 1.6 0.0
2 Neal Musser 0.7 0.0
3 Brian Burres 0.7 1.8
4 Ryan Jensen 1.3 1.3
5 Charlie Haeger 1.0 0.0
6 John Koronka 1.1 0.9
7 Dan Meyer 1.7 0.5
8 Chris George 1.0 0.0
9 Luis Mendoza 1.2 1.8
10 Tobi Stoner 1.1 0.0

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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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Dan Rausch
Dan Rausch

It certainly looks like both Littel’s and Enns’s Likelihood of Outcomes charts are identical. Is that really the case, or is it a copy-paste error?