KATOH’s Most-Improved Hitting Prospects So Far

With nearly two months of games in the books, I’m taking another look at the hitting prospects who have most improved their KATOH+ projections since the preseason. To ensure I am writing up actual prospects rather than fringey ones, I’ve set a minimum KATOH+ projection of 3.0 WAR and listed the five most-improved lesser prospects at the bottom. I did not include guys who are injured or who have graduated to the big leagues. A reminder: a player’s KATOH forecast denotes his projected WAR total over the first six seasons of his major-league career.

Jesus Sanchez, OF, Tampa (Profile)
Preseason KATOH+ Projection: 0.5
Current KATOH+ Projection: 5.8

Sanchez appeared on the two previous iterations of this exercise and continues to perform as a teenager in Low-A. He’s hit for an impressive amount of power and has also been making more contact of late. As of this writing, he’s struck out just four times over his last 10 games. The combination of contact, power, and youth will win over KATOH in a hurry.

Rhys Hoskins, 1B, Philadelphia (Profile)
Preseason KATOH+ Projection: 3.9
Current KATOH+ Projection: 7.4

KATOH was the high man on Hoskins heading into the year, and his WAR projection has nearly doubled in the meantime. Hitting .323/.423/.659 in Triple-A will do that for you. Hoskins has sliced five percentage points off of his strikeout rate and is hitting for more power than ever. He has nothing left to prove in the minors.

Gleyber Torres, SS, New York AL (Profile)
Preseason KATOH+ Projection: 10.5
Current KATOH+ Projection: 13.9

Torres smacked around Double-A pitching to the tune of .273/.367/.496 before he was bumped up to Triple-A. He’s improved on both his strikeout and power numbers this year and is still just 20. Shortstops with that type of offensive talent are rare.

Luis Urias, SS, San Diego (Profile)
Preseason KATOH+ Projection: 5.4
Current KATOH+ Projection: 8.7

Urias has long been a KATOH guy thanks to his strong performance and low strikeout totals. He’s really ramped things up this year by hitting .346/.427/.482 at Double-A with more walks than strikeouts. He’s also been playing shortstop, meaning he’s an asset on both offense and defense.

Cristian Pache, OF, Atlanta (Profile)
Preseason KATOH+ Projection: 3.0
Current KATOH+ Projection: 6.0

Pache has held his own in Low-A at the tender age of 18, slashing .291/.349/.360. Pache’s speed is what really sets him apart, though, as he’s swiped 12 bags and played an elite center field by Clay Davenport’s numbers. Speed remains Pache’s calling card, but he’s hit surprisingly well against older competition.

Brendan Rodgers, SS, Colorado (Profile)
Preseason KATOH+ Projection: 3.4
Current KATOH+ Projection: 6.3

KATOH was way down on Rodgers after his underwhelming 2016 campaign, but he’s done a lot to prove my dumb computer wrong this year. He’s hit .389/.414/.687 in 31 High-A games after missing time with a hand injury. Though his .423 BABIP has surely helped, he’s also hit for an impressive amount of power. In March, I wrote “[Rodgers] certainly wouldn’t be the first toolsy high-school draftee to piece it all together a couple of years after he was drafted, nor would he be the first player to make me look stupid.” He appears to be doing both of those things.

Cole Tucker, SS, Pittsburgh (Profile)
Preseason KATOH+ Projection: 2.6
Current KATOH+ Projection: 4.9

Tucker’s played very well in High-A this year, slashing .280/.361/.440 with 27 steals. Previously a slap-hitting speedster, Tucker has added walks and power to his profile this year. That makes for an enticing offensive profile coming from a shortstop and he’s still just 20.

Dustin Fowler, OF, New York AL (Profile)
Preseason KATOH+ Projection: 5.1
Current KATOH+ Projection: 7.2

Fowler matriculated to Triple-A this year and has responded to the challenge by hitting .310/.348/.583. The 22-year-old center fielder has enjoyed a nice little power spike this year, with eight homers and seven triples already. Fowler’s strikeout and walk numbers aren’t great, but he has an exciting combination of power and speed.

Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, San Diego (Profile)
Preseason KATOH+ Projection: 4.0
Current KATOH+ Projection: 6.0

The son of the former big leaguer with the same name, Tatis has hit a strong .272/.353/.444 as an 18-year-old in Low-A. His 28% strikeout rate is a bit concerning, but he’s otherwise impressed against older competition. His power, speed, and ability to play shortstop make him exciting.

Ronald Acuna, OF, Atlanta (Profile)
Preseason KATOH+ Projection: 8.8
Current KATOH+ Projection: 11.0

KATOH really liked Acuna after his strong showing in Low-A last year. He’s pulled out all the stops this year, slashing .287/.336/.478 in High-A and .375/.439/.597 in Double-A. He’s also swiped 24 bags in the process. Oh yeah, and he’s also just 19. Acuna’a struck out a bit much this year, but he’s quickly establishing himself as one of baseball’s top prospects.
*****

Fringier Prospects Who Are Improving

Michael Chavis, 3B, Boston (Profile)
Preseason KATOH+ Projection: 0.0
Current KATOH+ Projection: 1.9

Jason Krizan, OF, Detroit (Profile)
Preseason KATOH+ Projection: 1.0
Current KATOH+ Projection: 2.6

Melvin Mercedes, UT, Oakland (Profile)
Preseason KATOH+ Projection: 0.1
Current KATOH+ Projection: 1.6

Brandon Lowe, 2B, Tampa (Profile)
Preseason KATOH+ Projection: 0.1
Current KATOH+ Projection: 1.6

Kyle Farmer, C/3B, Los Angeles NL (Profile)
Preseason KATOH+ Projection: 0.9
Current KATOH+ Projection: 2.3





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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