Projecting Dustin Fowler and Jorge Mateo

The Yankees traded for Sonny Gray. Below are the projections for the prospects the Athletics received in exchange for Gray’s services. Although he is a major part of this trade, I do not have a projection for James Kaprielian, who has thrown just 29 innings as a professional and zero since April 2016. WAR figures account for the player’s first six major-league seasons. KATOH denotes the stats-only version of the projection system, while KATOH+ denotes the methodology that includes a player’s prospect rankings.

Dustin Fowler, OF (Profile)

KATOH: 9.0 WAR (28th)

KATOH+: 8.8 WAR (18th)

Fowler demonstrated a rare combination of power and speed in the minors this year, mashing 12 homers this year to go along with 13 steals. He also kicked in eight triples after lacing 15 last season. Fowler doesn’t strike out all that often, either. He whiffed 20% of the time this season, which puts him right around league average. Fowler’s offensive success as a 22-year-old center fielder at Triple-A made him one of the most compelling prospects in all of baseball, at least by my math. However, it remains to be seen how he bounces back from the devastating knee injury he suffered in his big league debut.

To put some faces to Fowler’s statistical profile, let’s generate some statistical comps. I calculated a Mahalanobis distance between Fowler’s Triple-A performance and every season since 1991. In the table below, you’ll find the 10 most similar seasons, ranked from most to least similar. The WAR totals refer to each player’s first six seasons in the major leagues. Please note that the Mahalanobis analysis is separate from KATOH. KATOH relies on macro-level trends, rather than comps. The fates of a few statistically similar players shouldn’t be used to draw sweeping conclusions about a prospect’s future. For this reason, I recommend using a player’s KATOH forecast to assess his future potential. The comps give us some interesting names that sometimes feel spot-on, but they’re mostly just there for fun.

Dustin Fowler Mahalanobis Comps
Rank Name Mah Dist KATOH+ Proj. WAR KATOH+ Actual WAR
1 Dee Brown 6.2 4.4 0.0
2 Cody Ross 6.5 6.4 7.3
3 Rich Butler 6.5 4.8 0.0
4 Nate Schierholtz 6.5 5.2 6.5
5 Vernon Wells 6.7 6.0 19.9
6 Adam Jones 7.7 11.0 12.3
7 Pat Lennon 7.9 4.7 0.0
8 Mike Restovich 8.0 5.4 0.3
9 Wladimir Balentien 9.3 5.0 1.0
10 Felix Pie 9.3 9.9 1.7


Jorge Mateo, SS/CF (Profile)

KATOH: 3.8 WAR (98th)

KATOH+: 4.5 WAR (102nd)

Mateo’s biggest asset is his speed. It is an 80 on the 20-80 scale, which has resulted in gaudy stolen base numbers at each minor league stop. But Mateo’s hitting has underwhelmed for most of his career. He’s hit for very little power, while striking out around 20% of the time — too often for a punchless hitter at the lower levels. But since he was promoted to Double-A last month, the power has started to show up. If the power sticks around, Mateo will look even more interesting, given his speed and defensive skill. Historically a poor defensive shortstop, his defense appears to be coming around according to Clay Davenport’s metrics.

Jorge Mateo Mahalanobis Comps
Rank Name KATOH+ Proj. WAR Actual WAR
1 Julio Ramirez 4.7 0.1
2 Donnie Sadler 5.6 0.1
3 Reggie Taylor 3.3 0.4
4 Jason Bartlett 5.7 16.4
5 Josh Anderson 2.8 0.9
6 Gookie Dawkins 3.9 0.0
7 Tyrone Pendergrass 2.9 0.0
8 Randy Winn 2.7 12.9
9 Julio Lugo 3.5 12.6
10 Dave Krynzel 2.7 0.2

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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6 years ago

Gookie Dawkins and Felix Pie.

6 years ago

I remember Pie. Tyrone Pendergrass is a 70+ grade name too.