KATOH Projects: Tampa Bay Rays Prospects

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Last week, lead prospect analyst Dan Farnsworth published his excellently in-depth prospect list for the Tampa Bay Rays. In this companion piece, I look at that same Tampa farm system through the lens of my recently refined KATOH projection system. The Rays have the eighth-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. Jake Bauers, 1B (Profile)

KATOH Projection: 8.2 WAR
Dan’s Grade: 45 FV

Bauers spent his age-19 season squaring off against High-A and Double-A pitchers, and more than held his own. Bauers didn’t show any glaring weaknesses offensively, and rode a 14% strikeout rate to a .273/.347/.422 batting line. Bauers doesn’t have the power of a traditional first baseman, but he excels in every other offensive area. Considering how young he’s been for his level, that’s quite an accomplishment.

Jake Bauer’s Mahalanobis Comps
Rank Name Proj. WAR Actual WAR
1 James Loney 6.0 6.7
2 Adrian Gonzalez 5.2 19.1
3 Justin Morneau 6.5 14.9
4 Randall Simon 5.7 1.5
5 Rico Brogna 6.6 4.4
6 Paul Konerko 8.9 9.2
7 Prince Fielder 11.3 24.9
8 Kyle Blanks 5.4 3.7
9 Derrek Lee 6.4 14.6
10 Roberto Petagine 5.5 1.0

2. Kevin Padlo, 3B (Profile)

KATOH Projection: 5.9 WAR
Dan’s Grade: 50 FV

Padlo kicked off his pro career by hitting .300/.421/.594 in Rookie ball in 2014. The Rockies pushed him to full-season ball to open 2015, where he was a bit overmatched. He hit just .145/.273/.277 in 29 games, though a .179 BABIP played a hand in his struggles. Padlo redeemed himself at Low-A, however, by hitting .294/.404/.502 with 33 steals in 70 games. Padlo does a lot of things well, but his strikeout numbers and distance from the majors make him something of a high risk to bust.

Kevin Padlo’s Mahalanobis Comps
Rank Name Proj. WAR Actual WAR
1 Julian Benavidez 4.5 0.0
2 Todd Betts 4.9 0.0
3 Kody Kirkland 4.1 0.0
4 Jose Amado 3.7 0.0
5 Adam Morrissey 3.7 0.0
6 Joe Randa 4.4 6.4
7 Tim Forkner 4.4 0.0
8 Simon Pond 3.1 0.0
9 Chris Weinke 2.8 0.0
10 Fernando Cortez 2.6 0.0

3. Willy Adames, SS (Profile)

KATOH Projection: 5.9 WAR
Dan’s Grade: 60+ FV

Adames clubbed .258/.342/.379 at the High-A level in 2015, which was quite remarkable for a 19-year-old shortstop. He still strikes out far to much, but given his age and confluence of other skills, Adames’ contact struggles aren’t nearly enough to write him off.

Willy Adames’ Mahalanobis Comps
Rank Name Proj. WAR Actual WAR
1 Joe Lawrence 5.5 0.0
2 Desi Relaford 4.4 4.0
3 Royce Clayton 5.0 13.6
4 D’Angelo Jimenez 8.5 7.7
5 Anderson Machado 3.5 0.1
6 Jose Hernandez 0.7 4.2
7 Trevor Plouffe 3.0 4.4
8 Jhonny Peralta 3.7 11.7
9 Ivan De Jesus 4.0 0.1
10 Nick Punto 2.2 5.1

4. Blake Snell, LHP (Profile)

KATOH Projection: 4.6 WAR
Dan’s Grade: 60+ FV

Snell pitched decently across multiple levels in 2014, but really broke out last year. He shot from High-A to Triple-A and dominated at each stop, finishing with a 2.71 FIP and a remarkable 31% strikeout rate. As 23-year-old who was drafted out of high school, Snell wasn’t particularly young for his competition level last year, but the numbers speak for themselves.

In generating Snell’s comps, I only considered pitchers who cracked Baseball America’s top-100 list after the season in question. This is intended to act as a proxy for “stuff.”

Blake Snell’s Mahalanobis Comps
Rank Name Proj. WAR Actual WAR
1 Ed Yarnall 4.6 0.2
2 Mike Drumright 3.2 0.0
3 Kurt Ainsworth 4.3 0.7
4 Anthony Reyes 4.3 1.2
5 Bobby Jones 5.2 11.1
6 Eric Milton 4.5 14.7
7 Rick Helling 5.1 5.5
8 Clint Nageotte 3.8 0.0
9 Erik Bedard 4.0 15.6
10 Jason Bere 4.0 4.5

5. Jacob Faria, RHP (Profile)

KATOH Projection: 4.2 WAR
Dan’s Grade: 45+ FV

Faria recorded a promising season in Low-A in 2014, but really took off last year, when he posted a 2.67 FIP between High-A and Double-A. Faria missed a lot of bats last year, especially following his promotion to Double-A, where he spun a 32% strikeout rate. Throw in that he stands at 6-foot-4, and there’s a lot to like there.

Jacob Faria’s Mahalanobis Comps
Rank Name Proj. WAR Actual WAR
1 Ed Yarnall 4.6 0.2
2 Jason Bere 4.0 4.5
3 Clint Nageotte 3.8 0.0
4 Colby Lewis 4.1 0.2
5 Mike Drumright 3.2 0.0
6 Kris Honel 4.1 0.0
7 Marc Barcelo 3.6 0.0
8 Scott Linebrink 4.1 4.2
9 Matt Morris 4.0 20.7
10 Jeremy Affeldt 3.8 5.1

6. Daniel Robertson, SS (Profile)

KATOH Projection: 4.0 WAR
Dan’s Grade: 50 FV

Robertson did a fine job at Double-A last year, slashing .274/.363/.415 as a 21-year-old shortstop. Aside from his ability to man shortstop, Robertson doesn’t stand out in any one particular area, but his lack of weakness on offense makes him an intriguing prospect.

7. Brent Honeywell, RHP (Profile)

KATOH Projection: 3.6 WAR
Dan’s Grade: 55 FV

Honeywell is yet another Rays pitcher who’s put up excellent minor-league numbers. Between two levels of A-Ball, he posted a sparkling 2.53 FIP with a 25% strikeout rate. Honeywell’s a ways away from the big leagues, but statistically, he checks all of the boxes of a promising low-minors pitching prospect.

Brent Honeywell’s Mahalanobis Comps
Rank Name Proj. WAR Actual WAR
1 Ricky Nolasco 3.4 14.4
2 Ervin Santana 3.9 16.5
3 Joel Hanrahan 3.0 3.1
4 Hector Trinidad 3.7 0.0
5 Wascar Serrano 3.0 0.2
6 Mike Kusiewicz 3.7 0.0
7 Javier Vazquez 2.7 30.2
8 Anthony Swarzak 3.7 2.0
9 Derrick Van Dusen 4.1 0.0
10 Brad Radke 3.8 25.1

8. Andrew Velazquez, SS (Profile)

KATOH Projection: 2.4 WAR
Dan’s Grade: 45 FV

Velazquez played in High-A last year, where he slashed a strong .290/.343/.360 as a 20-year-old shortstop. Before you get too excited, note that Velazquez’s performance came over just 200 PAs, while his .406 BABIP hid his 26% strikeout rate. Even so, given his age and defensive skill, any offensive aptitude is encouraging.

9. Richie Shaffer, 3B (Profile)

KATOH Projection: 2.4 WAR
Dan’s Grade: 35+ FV

Shaffer was a first-round pick back in 2012, but struggled offensively in 2013 and most of 2014. He showed signs of life late in 2014, however, and wound up breaking out last year. He clubbed 30 homers between the minors and the majors, which has put him in the mix for playing time in Tampa. The strikeout numbers are still a huge concern, but he should hit for enough power to be of some use.


1-2 WAR Prospects
Rank Player Position KATOH WAR Dan’s FV
10 Luke Maile C 1.9 Unranked
11 Johnny Field OF 1.8 40
12 Kean Wong 2B 1.8 35+
13 Jose Mujica RHP 1.5 35+
14 Patrick Leonard 3B 1.4 35+
15 Chih-Wei Hu RHP 1.3 45
16 Justin Williams OF 1.3 40
17 Dylan Floro RHP 1.2 Unranked
18 Greg Harris RHP 1.1 Unranked
19 Taylor Guerrieri RHP 1.1 55
20 Jaff Decker OF 1.1 Unranked
21 Riley Unroe 2B 1.1 40
22 Oscar Rojas OF 1.0 Unranked
23 Spencer Moran RHP 1.0 Unranked
24 Nick Ciuffo C 1.0 35+
25 Taylor Motter OF 1.0 45+
26 Yonny Chirinos RHP 1.0 Unranked
27 Ryan Brett 2B 1.0 40

Luke Maile struggled in Triple-A last season, but hit a solid .268/.341/.387 in Double-A in 2014. Although his ERA was well over 5.00, Dylan Floro posted a 3.39 FIP in Triple-A thanks to a stellar 4% walk rate. Greg Harris put up a stellar 2.92 FIP between two levels of A-Ball. Jaff Decker’s already 26, but succeeded in Triple-A last year by cutting his strikeout rate down to 14%. Oscar Rojas hit a strong .278/.340/.411 with 16 steals last season as an 18-year-old in Rookie-level ball. Spencer Moran put up a 2.77 FIP in limited Rookie-ball action. Yonny Chirinos struck out 20% of batters and walked just 3% across three levels of A-Ball last years.


Remaining 45+ FV Players
Name Position KATOH WAR Dan’s FV
Enny Romero RHP 0.8 45
Jaime Schultz RHP 0.7 45
Mikie Mahtook OF 0.5 45+

Enny Romero throws gas, but he’s already 25 and was more good than great in the minors last year. Jaime Schultz also throws gas, which has gotten him some strikeouts, but his 15% walk rate as a 24-year-old is concerning. Mikie Mahtook crushed it in a cameo with Tampa last year, but his age (26) and high strikeout rates suggest he’s more of a Quad-A or bench player.

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
7 years ago

Can you explain how KATOH ends up with 5.9 WAR for Padlo when none of his Mahalonobis comps are near that? Does this mean it thinks they’re not very close comps and Padlo is in a better part of the input space?