KATOH Projects: San Diego Padres Prospects

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Yesterday, lead prospect analyst Dan Farnsworth published his excellently in-depth prospect list for the San Diego Padres. In this companion piece, I look at that same San Diego farm system through the lens of my recently refined KATOH projection system. The Padres have the 11th-best farm system in baseball 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. Ruddy Giron, SS (Profile)

KATOH Projection: 11.6 WAR
Dan’s Grade: 45 FV

I’ve already invoked Giron in four articles this winter, so what’s one more? Giron hit a solid .285/.335/.407 in 96 games at Low-A last year, and also kicked in 15 steals. That’s mighty impressive for an 18-year-old who has enough defensive ability to play shortstop. As a player with less than 100 games in full-season ball, the sample size on Giron is limited. But the few data points we do have suggest he has a very bright future ahead of him.

Ruddy Giron’s Mahalanobis Comps
Rank Name Proj. WAR Actual WAR
1 Jason Hardtke 9.3 0.0
2 Brent Butler 8.7 0.0
3 Felipe Lopez 9.1 8.3
4 Alex Gonzalez 11.0 8.3
5 Joaquin Arias 9.9 1.7
6 D’Angelo Jimenez 10.6 7.7
7 Miguel Cabrera 10.1 38.8
8 Jose Castillo 12.5 0.1
9 Jimmy Rollins 13.3 25.6
10 Benji Gil 8.1 2.8

2. Manny Margot, OF (Profile)

KATOH Projection:10.5 WAR
Dan’s Grade: 65+ FV

Margot put himself on the prospect map in 2014 with a strong showing in Low-A. But he outdid himself in 2015 by essentially replicating those numbers in both High-A and Double-A. Margot makes a ton of contact, hits for modest power and runs wild on the base paths. All of that bodes well for his future in the show, especially considering he’s always been very young for his levels.

Manny Margot’s Mahalanobis Matches
Rank Name Proj. WAR Actual WAR
1 Todd Hollandsworth 10.1 5.3
2 Carl Crawford 9.3 36.8
3 Ruben Mateo 11.8 1.0
4 Carlos Gomez 7.5 22.7
5 Peter Bergeron 9.8 0.5
6 Chris Young 10.9 15.2
7 Elijah Dukes 9.4 2.7
8 Ricky Otero 7.1 0.1
9 Juan Encarnacion 9.9 6.1
10 Mark Smith 7.7 2.2

3. Luis Urias, 2B (Profile)

KATOH Projection: 7.0 WAR
Dan’s Grade: Unranked

To the naked eye, Urias looks nothing like a prospect. He’s a 5-foot-9 second baseman with minimal power, who’s yet to play above Low-A. But KATOH’s been on Urias for a while now. As long ago as January of 2015, before I was even writing for FanGraphs, Carson Cistulli inquired about Urias’ extremely favorable projection. Urias makes loads and loads of contact, draws walks and runs well, which enables him to hit a respectable .296/.383/.330 as an 18-year-old in A-Ball last year. Urias feel like the type of high-contact, under-tooled prospect KATOH would be too high on, but I think he’s worth keeping an eye on.

Luis Urias’ Mahalanobis COmps
Rank Name Proj. WAR Actual WAR
1 Cesar Izturis 6.0 4.7
2 Raul Chavez 5.7 0.0
3 Oscar Robles 4.8 0.0
4 Willy Aybar 5.5 3.4
5 Luis Rivas 7.4 1.6
6 Eduardo Nunez 7.4 1.6
7 Ozzie Chavez 5.8 0.0
8 Ivan De Jesus 4.5 0.1
9 Trevor Plouffe 5.4 4.4
10 Alex Prieto 3.3 0.1

4. Jose Rondon, SS (Profile)

KATOH Projection: 3.7 WAR
Dan’s Grade: 40 FV

Rondon is yet another Padres middle infielder with encouraging numbers. He slashed an exciting .300/.360/.414 in High-A last year before he fell flat on his face in a month at Double-A. Rondon makes a good amount of contact, steals bases, and unlike Urias, has a modicum of power. Too bad it’s only one modicum.

5. Franmil Reyes, OF (Profile)

KATOH Projection: 3.6 WAR
Dan’s Grade: 35+ FV

Although he was just 19, Reyes demonstrated an encouraging amount of power last season in his second go-around in Low-A. In just over 500 plate appearances, the 6-foot-4 outfielder slugged 40 extra base hits. He also swiped 10 bags last year and slashed over 3% off of his strikeout rate, giving him an all-around solid statistical package.

6. Taylor Lindsey, 2B (Profile)

KATOH Projection: 3.5 WAR
Dan’s Grade: Unranked

Lindsey’s 2015 wasn’t very good. He hit a paltry .189/.285/.296 in 94 games between Double-A and Triple-A  last year, while his 12% walk rate was the only real bright spot. His 2014 wasn’t drastically better: .238/.306/.372 in Triple-A. Still, in spite of his lousy batting lines, Lindsey’s still a high minors middle infielder who just turned 24. Furthermore, his struggles were largely BABIP driven (.216 last year and .254 in 2014), while he’s maintained respectable strikeout, power and walk numbers.

7. Travis Jankowski, OF (Profile)

KATOH Projection: 3.4 WAR
Dan’s Grade: 45+ FV

Jankowski hit a slick .335/.413/.425 between Double-A and Triple-A last season and capped things off with a September cameo in San Diego. Jankowski made lots of contact in the minors and complimented it with ample walks and excellent speed. His power output has been underwhelming, especially for an outfielder, but his blend of contact and speed is intriguing.

8. Javier Guerra, SS (Profile)

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

Guerra spent last season — his age-19 season — in Low-A, where he slashed .279/.329/.449. That power output is exciting, especially for a shortstop, but his strikeout numbers bordered on concerning. He struck out in 24% of his plate appearances last year, after whiffing in 20% in 2014. His strikeouts are the flaw that most threaten to derail him in the upper levels. But overall, there’s a lot to like about a shortstop who thrives in full-season ball as a teenager. He’s also an extremely well-regarded defensive shortstop, for which KATOH doesn’t fully account.

9. Bryan Rodriguez, RHP (Profile)

KATOH Projection: 2.1 WAR
Dan’s Grade: Unranked

Rodriguez spent most of 2015 in Double-A with mediocre results. His 4.44 ERA wasn’t pretty, and he struck out a mere 14% of batters faced. However, his 3.73 FIP suggests he was at least somewhat unlucky. That’s still not great, but is fairly encouraging from a 23-year-old. Plus, at 6-foot-5, Rodriguez has height working in his favor.

10. Jose Pirela, UTIL (Profile)

KATOH Projection: 2.1 WAR
Dan’s Grade: Unranked

Pirela hit a remarkable .325/.390/.433 in Triple-A last year, while playing nearly every defensive position. Pirela seldom strikes out and also manages a respectable amount of power. That’s an impressive offensive profile for a player who can play the middle infield, even if that player’s already 26.

11. Jean Cosme, RHP (Profile)

KATOH Projection: 2.1 WAR
Dan’s Grade: 35+ FV

A 2014 17th round pick, Cosme exceeded expectations last year in the New York Penn League. The 19-year-old put up a 23% strikeout rate over 12 starts, and allowed just two homers. Cosome ran a 4.74 ERA, so the results weren’t great, but his peripherals hint at a future in the big leagues. It will be very interesting to see how he fares in full-season ball in 2016. He also throws in the mid-90s, so he isn’t just one of those guys who fools inexperienced hitters with deception and bendy stuff.

*****

1-2 WAR Prospects
Rank Player Position KATOH WAR Dan’s FV
12 Enyel De Los Santos RHP 1.8 45
13 Cesar Vargas RHP 1.7 Unranked
14 Hunter Renfroe OF 1.5 55
15 Jabari Blash OF 1.2 45
16 Colin Rea RHP 1.2 55
17 Austin Allen C 1.1 35+
18 Brad Wieck LHP 1.0 Unranked

Hunter Renfroe hit decently at Double-A last season, but did so with a concerning 24% strikeout rate. Considering he rarely walks, has non-elite power and is already 24, KATOH is bearish on 2013’s 13th overall pick. Colin Rea pitched well in the minors last season, but he turns 26 this summer, and he saw his strikeout rate plummet at Triple-A.

This is the third time Cesar Vargas‘ name has been invoked at FanGraphs, and I’ve been responsible for all three. He pitched mostly at the Double-A level in 2015, where he posted an impressive 2.55 FIP and 24% strikeout rate out of the bullpen. As a reliever, Vargas’s upside is obviously limited, but he’s already succeeded in the high minors at 23. He seems like a pretty good bet to make for a useful lefty reliever. Brad Wieck posted a terrible 5.21 ERA in High-A last year, but pitched exceptionally well in the lower rungs of A-Ball. He’s also 6-foot-9, which is always worth mentioning.

*****

Remaining 45+ FV Prospects
Player Position KATOH WAR Dan’s FV
Michael Gettys OF 0.7 45
Dinelson Lamet RHP 0.6 45

Thanks to a 31% strikeout rate Michael Gettys, hit just .231/.271/.346 in Low-A. KATOH always takes the under on hitters who struggle that much to make contact. Dinelson Lamet had a nice year in Low-A, but is very unproven for a guy who turns 24 this summer.

We hoped you liked reading KATOH Projects: San Diego Padres Prospects by Chris Mitchell!

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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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Jetsy Extrano
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Jetsy Extrano

Urias’s comp list is interesting, in that not one guy hit his retro-KATOH projection. More usually, a lot of the comp guys wash out with ~0, but a couple beat the projection, which supports the average. Is this just bad luck or do some player types get comps who underperform? Which is largely equivalent to, do some player types underperform their forecast?

You fit your model to do as best it can overall, but does the residual error have any shape to it, or is it nice uncorrelated noise?