KATOH Projects: Arizona Diamondbacks Prospects

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Way back in November, before I had finished tweaking my KATOH model, lead prospect analyst Dan Farnsworth published his excellently in-depth prospect list for the Arizona Diamondbacks. In this companion piece, I finally get around to looking at that same Arizona farm system through the lens of my recently refined KATOH projection system. The Diamondbacks have the 21st best farm system according to KATOH.

There’s way more to prospect evaluation than just the stats, so if you haven’t already, I highly recommend you read Dan’s piece in addition to this one. KATOH has no idea how hard a pitcher throws, how good a hitter’s bat speed is, or what a player’s makeup is like. So it’s liable to miss big on players whose tools don’t line up with their performances. However, when paired with more scouting-based analyses, KATOH’s objectivity can be useful in identifying talented players who might be overlooked by the industry consensus or highly-touted prospects who might be over-hyped.

Below, I’ve grouped prospects into three groups: those who are forecast for two or more wins through their first six major-league seasons, those who receive a projection between 1.0 and 2.0 WAR though their first six seasons, and then any residual players who received Future Value (FV) grades of 45 or higher from Dan. Note that I generated forecasts only for players who accrued at least 200 plate appearances or batters faced last season. Also note that the projections for players over a relatively small sample are less reliable, especially when those samples came in the low minors.

1. Jamie Westbrook, 2B (Profile)

KATOH Projection: 5.1 WAR
Dan’s Grade: 45 FV

After an unremarkable first year and a half as a pro, Westbrook broke out in a big way in 2015. The 2013 fifth round pick slashed .319/.357/.510 at the High-A level and also kicked in 14 steals. This was all despite spending half the year as a 19-year-old. As a 5-foot-9 second baseman, Westbrook doesn’t get much praise from scouts, but his numbers speak for themselves. If he carries his success over to Double-A, he could be one of KATOH’s top prospects a year from now.

Jamie Westbrook’s Mahalanobis Comps
Rank Name Proj. WAR Actual WAR
1 Felipe Crespo 4.6 0.7
2 Miguel Flores 3.5 0.0
3 Josh Barfield 4.8 2.4
4 Rich Almanzar 5.2 0.0
5 Marcus Giles 3.5 17.8
6 Belvani Martinez 3.4 0.0
7 Tony Graffanino 3.4 3.9
8 William Bergolla 4.6 0.0
9 Brad Emaus 2.9 0.0
10 Jose Vidro 3.5 15.8

2. Jack Reinheimer, SS (Profile)

KATOH Projection: 3.6 WAR
Dan’s Grade: 45 FV

Reinheimer started 2015 in the Mariners organization, but came to Arizona in the Mark Trumbo trade in June. Reinheimer lacks power, but does a decent job of getting on base, especially for a shortstop. He had a successful season in Double-A last year, so he might be in line for big league time by year’s end.

3. Domingo Leyba, SS (Profile)

KATOH Projection: 2.8 WAR
Dan’s Grade: 40 FV

Leyba was terrible last year. The second baseman hit an anemic .237/.277/.309 with 10 steals. However, as a 19-year-old in High-A, he was also obscenely young for his level. Furthermore, he hit an encouraging .322/.358/.430 in the lower rungs of A-Ball in 2014. Leyba’s not a good hitter, but given his age and position, he’s done just enough with the bat to catch KATOH’s eye.

4. Cody Reed, LHP (Profile)

KATOH Projection: 2.5 WAR
Dan’s Grade: 45 FV

Reed dominated Rookie ball after he was drafted in 2014, and carried over that success to the Northwest League last year. In 15 games, he whiffed 28% of opposing batters to hang a 3.27 ERA. Reed’s still a few years from the show, but the early returns are encouraging. I look forward to years of mixing him with the other Cody Reed, who’s also a big lefty with good minor league numbers. Cody Reed could very well be the next generation’s Alex Gonzalez.

5. Sergio Alcantara, SS (Profile)

KATOH Projection: 2.2 WAR
Dan’s Grade: 40 FV

Alcantara’s another glove-first middle infielder who put up decent numbers as a teenager. He has very little power, but hit a passable .253/.314/.327 and made a decent amount of contact as an 18-year-old in Short-Season A-Ball.


1-2 WAR Prospects
Rank Name Position KATOH WAR Dan’s FV
6 Anthony Banda LHP 1.8 45
7 Brad Keller RHP 1.7 35+
8 Dawel Lugo SS 1.7 35+
9 Socrates Brito OF 1.6 55
10 Brandon Drury 2B 1.5 45
11 Gabby Guerrero OF 1.5 40
12 Peter O’Brien OF 1.5 45
13 Zach Borenstein OF 1.3 35+
14 Luis Madero RHP 1.2 Unranked
15 Victor Reyes OF 1.2 35+
16 Carlos Hernandez RHP 1.1 Unranked

Luis Madero pitched excellently in Rookie Ball in each of the past two seasons, yet still hasn’t turned 19 yet. At 5-foot-11, Carlos Hernandez doesn’t have a traditional pitcher’s build, but he missed lots of bats in the Northwest League last year.

Socrates Brito gets his own paragraph. After an unremarkable two years in A-Ball, Brito took off last year in Double-A. The speedy centerfielder hit .300/.339/.451 with 20 steals, which was enough to earn him a September cameo in Arizona. Brito demonstrated a somewhat rare combination of contact, power and speed last season, but KATOH’s a little turned off by his limited track record and the fact that he’s already pushing 24.

Socrates Brito’s Mahalanobis Comps
Rank Name Projected.WAR Actual.WAR
1 Marc Lewis 3.3 0.0
2 Jeremy Dodson 3.1 0.0
3 Dan Peltier 3.8 0.0
4 Miguel Negron 0.9 0.0
5 Frank Diaz 0.4 0.0
6 Nate Schierholtz 3.6 4.7
7 J.J. Johnson 0.7 0.0
8 Brooks Kieschnick 3.5 0.1
9 Steve Pegues 3.0 0.4
10 Brad Gennaro 2.3 0.0


Remaining 45+ FV Players

Braden Shipley, RHP (Profile)

KATOH Projection: 0.9 WAR
Dan’s Grade: 55 FV

Shipley pitched to a 3.50 ERA last year in his first full season at the Double-A level, but peripherals suggest he wasn’t quite that good. His 18% strikeout rate was a notch below league average, while his 8% walk rate was a tick above. Shipley turns 24 in February, so he wasn’t exactly young for his level. This, along with his lack of strikeouts, has KATOH way down on his long-term prospects.

Braden Shipley’s Mahalanobis Comps
Name Proj. WAR Actual WAR
Chris Enochs 1.1 0.0
Matt Belisle 1.4 3.1
Aaron Cook 1.4 8.9
John Van Benschoten 1.9 0.0
Danys Baez 1.9 5.5
Wade Davis 1.7 8.7
Jesus Colome 1.7 0.5
Jeff Granger 1.9 0.0
Brett Sinkbeil 0.2 0.0
Manny Aybar 0.9 1.7

Wei-Chieh Huang, RHP (Profile)

KATOH Projection: 0.7 WAR
Dan’s Grade: 55 FV

The D’Backs signed Huang from Taiwan at 2014’s July 2nd signing period. Huang was lights out in his first taste of American ball, striking out 23% of the time and walking just 5%. The end result was a sterling 2.00 ERA, which was backed up by a 2.53 FIP — both among the best in Low-A. Huang’s results have been encouraging, but KATOH dings him for being a 22-year-old with a minimal track record.

Yoan Lopez, RHP (Profile)

KATOH Projection: 0.5 WAR
Dan’s Grade: 50 FV

Lopez struggled in his first taste of American baseball. The Cuban-born righty pitched to a 4.69 ERA at Double-A, and posted strikeout and walk numbers that were worse than league average. Lopez suffered from elbow tightness late in the year, which may have inhibited his performance, so it’s possible last year’s numbers weren’t a fair representation of his talent.

Remaining 45 FV Prospects
Player Position KATOH WAR Dan’s FV
Colin Bray OF 0.8 45
Jake Barrett RHP 0.4 45
Marcus Wilson OF 0.3 45
Jimmie Sherfy RHP 0.2 45

Colin Bray had a nice season in Low-A last year, but his success was predicated on a high BABIP rather his power or contact ability. Jake Barrett throws gas, but is a 24-year-old reliever with a history of walk and command issues. Marcus Wilson has tools for days, but demonstrated neither contact ability nor power in Rookie Ball. Like Barrett, Jimmie Sherfy throws gas, but if there’s one player archetype KATOH hates the most, it’s the undersized relievers who were mediocre against older competition.

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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Dave Stewart
8 years ago

I guess I’m not such a fool when I tell everyone that we’d have to get blown away to trade Bradley. Archie could be the next Wade Davis if he can’t be a starter, that plus he works out just like Goldy.

8 years ago
Reply to  Dave Stewart

I actually just noticed that Braden Shipley’s comps table says Bradley’s name on it.