Projecting Manny Margot and Other Padres Call-Ups

Following the end of their Triple-A affiliate’s championship season in the Pacific Coast League, the San Diego Padres promoted a small collection of players to their major-league club on Tuesday. Below are forecasts for the three most notable prospects of that group — Carlos Asuaje, Hunter Renfroe, and Manuel Margot — according to my KATOH system and presented in order of projected WAR.

Note that KATOH represents the WAR projection for the relevant player’s first six years in the majors; KATOH+ is that same thing, except with the player’s Baseball America ranking included as a variable.

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Manny Margot, CF (Profile)

KATOH: 13.0 WAR
KATOH+: 13.6 WAR

Margot’s game centers around speed and contact. The 21-year-old struck out in just 12% of his plate appearances in Triple-A this year on his way to a .307/.355/.442 slash line. He also racked up an exciting 32 steals, while playing elite center field defense by Clay Davenport’s numbers. Margot also isn’t a zero in the power department, as he managed a respectable 46 extra-base hits in the minors this year, including seven homers. He’s one of the very best prospects in baseball by my math, and he’s big-league ready.

To help you visualize what his KATOH projection entails, here is a probability density function showing KATOH+’s projected distribution of outcomes for Margot’s first six seasons in the major leagues.

margot

To put some faces to Margot’s statistical profile, let’s generate some statistical comps for the speedy outfielder. I calculated a weighted Mahalanobis distance between Margot’s performance this year and every Triple-A season since 1991 in which a center fielder recorded at least 400 plate appearances. 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. A lower “Mah Dist” reading indicates a closer comp.

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.

Manny Margot’s Mahalanobis Matches
Rank Name Mah Dist KATOH+ Proj. WAR Actual WAR
1 Grady Sizemore 4.98 8.3 29.4
2 Felix Pie 5.03 9.9 1.7
3 Vernon Wells 6.18 12.5 18.7
4 Shane Victorino 10.57 10.2 22.1
5 Richard Hidalgo 10.83 8.2 19.6
6 Todd Dunwoody 11.48 7.0 1.5
7 Ryan Sweeney 12.17 10.4 7.5
8 Brett Gardner 12.45 12.5 20.5
9 Adam Jones 13.56 8.7 16.3
10 John Barnes 13.57 8.3 0.0

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Hunter Renfroe, RF (Profile)

KATOH: 1.8 WAR
KATOH+: 2.4 WAR

Renfroe crushed 31 homers in the PCL this year, although he did so while also recording alarming strikeout and walk rates. Renfroe’s power makes him interesting, but his approach needs some work. Renfroe appears to have a future in the big leagues, but as a non-elite corner outfielder, he’ll need to do more than hit the occasional homer to be an impact player.

renfroe

Hunter Renfroe’s Mahalanobis Comps
Rank Name Mah KATOH. Actual.WAR
1 Karim Garcia 1.20 1.2 1.1
2 Mike Peeples 1.59 2.1 0.0
3 Scott Krause 2.02 2.0 0.0
4 Dee Haynes 2.12 1.3 0.0
5 Mike Ryan 2.21 1.6 0.9
6 Harvey Pulliam 2.23 1.4 0.2
7 Bobby Higginson 2.25 3.0 13.5
8 Jeff Baker 2.27 1.9 2.7
9 Marty Cordova 2.43 3.6 6.7
10 Ozzie Timmons 2.52 1.5 0.9

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Carlos Asuaje, 2B (Profile)

KATOH: 1.8 WAR
KATOH+: 1.9 WAR

Though he stands at just 5-foot-9, Asuaje hit a stellar .318/.376/.467 in Triple-A this year on the strength of a 15% strikeout rate. He doesn’t have a ton of power or speed but still managed to post double-digit homers and steals last year. Slap-hitting middle infielders who have mastered Triple-A often stick in the big leagues, though they rarely accumulate more than a few WAR.

asuaje

Carlos Asuaje’s Mahalanobis Comps
Rank Name Mah KATOH. Actual.WAR
1 Mike Fontenot 0.86 2.3 4.1
2 Marco Scutaro 2.74 2.0 2.3
3 Matt Tolbert 2.76 2.6 0.7
4 Bobby Hill 3.62 1.0 0.0
5 Kevin Melillo 4.36 2.1 0.0
6 Monty Fariss 4.56 3.8 0.1
7 Elliot Johnson 4.67 1.1 0.9
8 Keith Ginter 5.08 1.1 2.9
9 Marty Malloy 5.31 1.7 0.0
10 Juan Melo 5.60 1.2 0.0





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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OddBall Herrera
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OddBall Herrera

From watching a lot of your posts, it seems a little rare to have your closest comparable be as far away by dist value as Margot’s. Seems like the top comp usually floats in the .75-2 range. What is there in his profile that’s so relatively unique? Is it running that contact rate at his age in AAA?

Cool Lester Smooth
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Member
Cool Lester Smooth

Or maybe the lack of power, but solid results, in El Paso?

Emcee Peepants
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Emcee Peepants

The Victorino and young Brett Gardner comps seem pretty spot on to me though (obviously on the optimistic side).

Also, his K rate was 8th best in AAA this year and 4 of the players above him are over 30 non-prospects/former MLBers (i.e. Casey Kotchman).

Bolton
Member
Bolton

When I was looking at Margot before the season, I imagined (going way back) an Amos Otis type. A 5-11 right-handed hitter who plays good D, hits around .280 with 12-15 homers and 25 steals. You never go broke betting against prospects, so he’ll probably end up falling way short of Otis’s career. But one can hope.