KATOH Projects: Toronto Blue Jays Prospects

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Yesterday, lead prospect analyst Dan Farnsworth published his excellently in-depth prospect list for the Toronto Blue Jays. In this companion piece, I look at that same Toronto farm system through the lens of my recently refined KATOH projection system. The Blue Jays have the 28th-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. Richard Urena, SS (Profile)

KATOH Projection: 6.2 WAR
Dan’s Grade: 45 FV

Although he played the entire year as a 19-year-old, Urena belted 16 homers as a shortstop in A-ball. His 21% strikeout rate and 3% walk rate speak to his unrefined plate discipline, but Urena’s so good in other areas that KATOH doesn’t much care.

Richard Urena’s Mahalanobis Comps
Rank Name Proj. WAR Actual WAR
1 Juan Bautista 4.2 0.0
2 Brandon Phillips 6.6 11.5
3 Sean Rodriguez 4.5 6.0
4 Teuris Olivares 4.2 0.0
5 Kevin Witt 4.3 0.0
6 Brent Butler 4.8 0.0
7 Adam Jones 7.0 22.0
8 Tony Batista 3.9 13.3
9 Trevor Plouffe 5.4 4.4
10 Jose Ortiz 5.1 0.3

2. Rowdy Tellez, 1B (Profile)

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

Tellez enjoyed a breakout season last year, slashing a solid .289/.347/.454 between two levels of A-ball. Tellez is strictly a first baseman, so his future relies almost entirely on his bat. His 19% strikeout is a tad high for someone with Tellez’s defensive limitations who also lacks elite power, but KATOH sees some offensive potential there.

3. Conner Greene, RHP (Profile)

KATOH Projection: 2.2 WAR
Dan’s Grade: 55 FV

Previously an unremarkable seventh-round pick, Greene took off last year. He jumped shot through three minor-league levels — Low-A, High-A and Double-A — and finished up with a 3.13 FIP. He hit a wall at Double-A, and his 21% strikeout rate leaves a little to be desired. But considering he’s still just 20, KATOH’s a fan.

4. Sean Reid-Foley, RHP (Profile)

KATOH Projection: 2.1 WAR
Dan’s Grade: 55 FV

Reid-Foley posted a solid 3.57 FIP in A-ball last year, and struck out a remarkable 28% of batters faced. On the downside, he sported an unwieldy 15% walk rate. Reid-Foley clearly has some adjustments to make, but 20-year-old starters with excellent strikeout numbers in full-season ball aren’t easy to find.

5. Danny Jansen, C (Profile)

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

A 2013 16th-round pick, Jansen put himself on the map in 2014 when he hit .282/.390/.484 with nearly identical strikeout and walk rates in Rookie ball. While he wasn’t nearly as successful in his first taste of full-season ball last year, he did maintain his excellent strikeout and walk rates. KATOH blames his .213 BABIP for last year’s struggles, and ultimately expects he’ll hit enough to make it to the show.

6. Anthony Alford, OF (Profile)

KATOH Projection: 1.6 WAR
Dan’s Grade: 60 FV

Alford did a bang-up job last year, slashing .298/.398/.421 with 27 steals between two levels of A-ball. He’s yet to show much home-run power, which renders his 22% strikeout rate particularly concerning. But considering how raw he is as a baseball player, it’s understandable that he was a bit rough around the edges. He’s the type of player who KATOH is prone to underrate since his age does not reflect his level of baseball experience.

Anthony Alford’s Mahalanobis Comps
Rank Name Proj. WAR Actual WAR
1 Omar Rosario 0.6 0.0
2 Marvin Seale 1.1 0.0
3 Ryan Langerhans 1.4 4.7
4 Glenn Reeves 0.8 0.0
5 Gary Matthews Jr. 0.6 5.9
6 Clay Fuller 1.1 0.0
7 Rashad Eldridge 0.4 0.0
8 Corey Wright 0.7 0.0
9 David Espinosa 0.3 0.0
10 Oscar Jimenez 0.6 0.0

*****

1-2 WAR Prospects
Rank Player Position KATOH WAR Dan’s FV
7 Dwight Smith OF 1.4 40
8 Andy Burns 3B 1.3 40
9 Darrell Ceciliani OF 1.1 Unranked
10 Yeltsin Gudino SS 1.0 Unranked

Darrell Ceciliani is already 25, but he runs well and slashed .345/.398/.581 in limited time at Triple-A last year. Yeltsin Gudino hit a wimpy .185/.251/.265 in Rookie ball last year, but was inhibited by a .217 BABIP. He made a decent amount of contact as an 18-year-old shortstop.

We hoped you liked reading KATOH Projects: Toronto Blue Jays 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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Damaso
Member
Damaso

28th? ach. WHY DO YOU HATE MY TEAM.

but seriously, I’m surprised by that Alford output. His numbers for age, level, and defensive role seem comparable to pretty much all the best hitting prospects.

Serbian to Vietnamese to French and back
Member
Serbian to Vietnamese to French and back

Tasso says:
April 19, 2016 by 21:42

28 Ap. I HATE my team.

But seriously, I was surprised to exit Alford. Phone Number for age, degree of protection and the role it seems mainly to compare the best prospects hit

Spartacus
Member
Spartacus

In my humble opinion, it seems that Brinson and Zimmer are the two best CF prospects (assuming Buxton stays in the big leagues). After that there’s a group of Margot, Alford, & Meadows. All five are really talented, but for me personally, I wanted to see another year out of the last three… obviously even Brinson and Zimmer need more time to develop. Alford is definitely an excellent prospect.