Forum Replies Created
“I’m not advocating bringing Carlson up because I don’t know who to sit but I suspect the Cardinals management are agonizing over the decision. I think they would have to sit Bader….”
And I agree. Carlson and Bader would be the moving parts in this equation. Marcell Ozuna is something of a lineup anchor, and we know Shildt has an inexplicable mental block when it comes to Fowler (and anyway, Delicate Dexter’s hit very well of late) and an equally oddball myopic view of Harry Bader in the other direction. So Shildt might easily be convinced by the front office that Dangerous Dylan Carlson is ready to play and start in The Show — at least on a trial basis.
As much as I want Bader to start every day in center field for the next 4 or 5 years, IF come September 1st Carlson is still killing the horsehide and IF Bader is just muddling through at the plate, I wouldn’t mind if Harry were switched to a high-leverage fielder and pinch-runner for a week (or two) while Carlson tests the MLB waters.
Angel Rondon innings, by year:
2017: 57 1/3
Call me Mr. Cautious, but I say that for safety’s sake, Rondon should probably have been shut down weeks ago, when he crossed the 125 inning line or so. I hope to heaven that the organization isn’t considering the Arizona Fall League for Angel. Enormous 21-year-old Johan Oviedo on the other hand has only thrown 134 innings this year, after 122 in 2018. He’d be a natural fit, to me. Or perhaps 20-year-old Alvaro Seijas, as he’s kinda sorta proved himself in the Florida State League, and has thrown no more innings than he did last year. Well, 1/3 of an inning more.
As for the noble subject of this thread, I can’t see Carlson going. The AFL is pretty much unanimously rated equivalent to a AA hitter’s league, and Dylan certainly has nothing to prove at that level. And maybe nothing to prove in AAA either, by the looks of it.
I’m deeply ambivalent about a Carlson September call-up. I don’t disagree with any of Brian’s points…but if Carlson’s still batting, say, .450 with a 1.300 OPS on September 1, then I think you owe it to the kid — and the MLB team — to not only call him up, but start him for a week to see what happens. Could be lightning in a bottle.
It’s already happened this year with rookies like Yordan Alvarez and Pete Alonso and Bo Bichette and Aristides Aquino and Will Smith and no doubt others I can’t recall at this time. All-time rookie power-hitting records are being set left and right, Dylan is hotter than the Sun right now, and MLB pitchers do not know him. If and only if he’s still torching the PCL in a week, then it wouldn’t bother me a bit to bring him up, provided he gets those 25 AB’s in the first week.
“On the subject of the thread, I would be interested in seeing a bit of detail on the defensive metrics you cite for Carlson this year. Not disagreeing – just interested in learning more. Thanks.”
Sure thing, Brian. Clay Davenport and Baseball Prospectus have, to my knowledge, the only publicly available defensive values for minor leaguers. In my experience they’ve both been fairly prescient in translating to MLB defensive performance. Exceptions do happen of course. Some players get fat. (Some of them not even related to Dmitri or Delmon Young.) And some get materially better by dint of hard work.
But generally, if they look good by the Davenport & B-Pro metrics, they’ll be good in The Show. And also the other way around. I’ve been watching the numbers for quite awhile now, and I’d place reliability at 80-85%, if not higher.
So, Dylan Carlson. The Davenport tally for his center field play this season is a poor negative six runs over 87 games. The B-Pro number is even worse, at minus 12 runs. (I don’t think there’s a chance in the world that Carlson is THAT bad, even in center field. But I think he’s probably not a center fielder.)
Still, defensive metrics have a wide variance over smallish samples — and one partial season is quite small for defensive samples. And on the bright side the Texas League managers did select Carlson as Best Defensive Outfielder in the entire league. So he’s probably doing a lot of things right…even if the voting was likely influenced by his elite batting this year.
And speaking of Carlson, here’s a little Dylan Carlson gem from the most recent Fangraphs prospect chat (Longenhagen, 8/16). See if you can help me decipher the doubletalk & gibberish, Brian.
redbird: Dylan Carlson is a ways down on the list for 50 FV on the Board. Is there something holding you back from being more excited? A 20-year-old with power and speed in AA seems like something to be excited about.
Eric A Longenhagen: IDK he was on our pre-season picks to click article, so we’ve somehow gone from the high guys on him to the low because (no offense) Cardinals fans are how they are about their own players. I don’t think his level of statistical power production matches what he’s actually capable of, but hey the baseball makes a real difference so maybe I’m wrong. We like him as a good everyday player and maybe he’ll be at the top of the 50s or even a 55 in the offseason,
So that was Friday, when they still had Carlson ranked in the 90’s. Even though every other reputable individual or organization had moved him up weeks or months ago into the 30-50 range. Prospectus, Baseball America, MLB Pipeline, Keith Law. Everyone. Everyone but the buffoons.
Until today, I see! Wow, must have been some weekend to alter their opinions so dramatically, huh? Now, finally, when Longenhagen & McDaniel have become an embarrassment, they at long last move Carlson up into something like the range where he belongs — he’s now 47th.
“Cardinal fans are how they are about their players.”
How is that an answer to why Carlson was 50 spots lower on the Fangraphs list than anywhere else in the prospect-ranking community? Because of Cardinal fans? It’s not Cardinal fans who ranked Carlson 50, 60 spots higher than Fangraphs. It’s everybody who isn’t Fangraphs.
I’ve got one finger for Longenhagen. As a Cardinal fan, a baseball fan, and a person who respects intellectual honesty and integrity. You’re number one, Longenhagen. Well, it’s a joint number one for you and your Fangraphs partner in imbecility.
“When you’re hitting .152 over a multiple month stretch, there’s pretty much no level of defense that can save your playing time.”
Rather than just looking at Bader, and solely by batting average, let’s look at the numbers of two similar Cardinal players by OPS instead of batting average, since part of my diatribe was specifically about some folks fixating on the latter to the detriment of the team.
If a player did hit .152 over, say, 175-200 AB’s of consistent playing time, then I’d agree with you, Card25. But that’s not at all what happened with Bader.
On June 13, Harrison Bader went 3-for-4 to lift his OPS to an excellent .817, despite a mediocre .245 batting average. With his great glovework, that would basically put him on pace for roughly a 5-6 WAR season. Something like that. So at that point, on the morning of June 14, any competent manager would theoretically be thinking of Bader as a BIG part of the baseball team, a no-doubt starter all the way.
Then Harry went ice cold for three weeks, was promptly benched, and then played so rarely (seven starts from July 6th-28th, and just 16 AB’s from the 17th-28th) that he had to be sent to the minors just to get regular playing time. Now let’s look at someone else on the 2019 Redbirds.
You want a very, very long cold streak? Try Kolten Wong. From April 19-July 4, Kolten batted .204/.273/.284. That’s a dreadful .557 OPS for two and a half months. But the manager wisely stuck with him — because the manager understood that Wong provides a lot of value even when he isn’t hitting. And moreover the manager understood that Wong was a much better batter than he was showing. The manager stuck with Wong and was eventually rewarded when Kolten got back to being the solid hitter he is.
And that’s EXACTLY what a competent manager would have done with Bader. Use the defense, wait for the offense to come back. Because of course it will come back. Because he’s never been a bad hitter, and often been an excellent one.
Entering the season, Wong and Bader were remarkably similar players, and batters. Basically, league average hitters who play great defense. Bader had in fact been the slightly better hitter pre-2019. But then, Wong had the longer track record. Anyway, the manager managed one player correctly and one incorrectly. Replacing Bader with natural bench players like Jose Martinez, and Yairo Munoz, and Tommy Edman was a blunder that could well cost the team a playoff spot this year. As we all know, sometimes a game or two makes a big, big difference.
Last word on Bader. Remember how some people back in March said Carson Kelly wouldn’t hit MLB pitching, and they based it on a handful of sporadic at-bats? And now Kelly is getting more playing time, and Voila!, he’s doing what some of us knew he’d do all along, if not better. Well, that’s Bader. Let him play, and he will hit. (Not like Carson’s hitting. But he’ll hit okay.)
“Bob, I am curious how you classify Tommy Edman, the semi-regular right fielder currently?”
Could be a switch-hitting Greg Garcia with more speed and defensive versatility. A Zobrist Lite if you will. Real, real nice bench guy who might keep adding more pop, and be a 2-3 WAR starter somewhere. Should probably be the starting third baseman right now, or at least sharing with Carpenter.
But there’s no way Tommy Edman — or Jose Martinez or Dexter Fowler or Yairo Munoz — should be playing in the outfield in place of Harry Bader. Only a poor manager does that. By the by, a 2020 bench of Edman, Munoz, Arozarena, Lane Thomas, and Andrew Knizner looks pretty darn good to me. Of course, that means dropping Fowler and Martinez, and not re-signing Wieters or of course Ozuna. (If you’re the Cards, you simply can’t pay star money to a merely solid regular like Ozuna — especially when you’ve got a multitude of potential solid regulars, and maybe even a start or two, already in the organization at the upper levels.)
“From folks that have been fortunate enough to see him in person, what does the eye test say about Carlson in CF? Is that a possibility or is he likely a corner guy?”
I’ll bite, ChiTown. Saw him in Peoria when he was just an 18-year-old colt, so Dylan’s abilities could have evolved. But at the time (and even as recently as 2019 Spring Training) I would not have bet on his ever being a regular MLB center fielder unless you gave me at least, say, 7-1 odds. Wouldn’t have truly embraced the wager without 10-1 or better.
There was nothing wrong with him, no slow first step like Fowler or giraffe-on-roller-skates effect like a certain overused right fielder we all know. But Carlson just wasn’t a burner, wasn’t a center field profile as the cool kids say. Nothing remotely like Bader for example. And in fact, the defensive metrics at both Baseball Prospectus and Clay Davenport scream out loud and clear that Carlson was far below average in center field for Springfield this year.
I’m pretty sure Dylan could be a real asset in a corner, however, and anyway Harry Bader should be playing every single day under the Arch of course, as he’s a ~3.0 WAR player even if he hits .220. Unfortunately some managers (and we fans) tend to fixate counterproductively on batting averages and strikeouts, rather than seeing players as a whole — which is not merely a different way to see them, but the only wise way to see them, the only way that works for optimizing wins.
(I’m allowing myself the latitude to rant about Bader, since through some extraordinary idiocy he has somehow been made a minor leaguer again. That’s the same Bader who’s been worth 3.7 WAR per 600 plate appearances at the MLB level for his young career — averaging the Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs values.) Any individual or organization that explicitly or implicitly says, “We’re starting our three best-hitting outfielders, regardless of defense and baserunning,” is stupid and doomed. And unworthy of our support as fans.
What a great subject for investigation. Thanks for prompting it, ChiTown. And for the research, CJ.
I’m pretty sure the last Texas Leaguer age 20 or younger to post a 20/20 season was Gregg Jefferies, back in 1987. Jefferies, just 19 at the time, popped 20 homers and pilfered 26 bases, which ranked him 11th and 7th in the league, respectively. Best stat? He had 48 doubles.
In the Southern League, 19-year-old Delmon Young had a 20/25 season in 2005 — and in just 84 games! (That exclamation point was brought to you courtesy of Pugs.)
In the Eastern League you have to go back to 1993 when Cliff Floyd recorded his amazing 26/31 season in just 101 games. He was 20, and he was gonna be Frank Thomas, but with speed. If you don’t already know what happened to him, don’t look it up. Kinda gruesome.
Before anyone inquires, I got my information by asking both Alexa and Siri. Told them whichever was fastest with the answers would win a set of steak knives. Loser gets tossed in a dumpster.
You’ve misrepresented me just a teeny bit there, Pugs. I would never deploy an exclamation point where I’ve already wielded faux profanity. Exclamation points oughtta be used quite sparingly, as eloquently illustrated in this training film on punctuation:August 12, 2019 at 5:26 pm in reply to: A few minor fixes for the Fangraphs Cardinal prospect list #101861
No doubt in my mind that it’s the primary reason, gscott.
When the bats are bad, that’s it. There is no secondary effect whatsoever.
But when starting pitching is bad, it creates a nasty domino effect where the relievers get pressed into service too much, and then they can get overworked and ineffective, or even injured. Happened with Jesus Cruz, and it’s about to happen with Junior Fernandez if the big club isn’t very careful. (A workload of 15 innings per month is awfully, awfully heavy for a 22-year-old bullpen arm. Too heavy I’d say.)
And also, the boring counterintuitive truth is that farm system winning percentage doesn’t always correlate neatly with the number of top prospects — and it’s chiefly the top 150-200 types who drive the farm system value. Not infrequently it’s big seasons from overage non-prospects that help push a minor league nine over the top, rather than seasons like Dylan Carlson is having now.
And speaking of him, isn’t Carlson/Springfield a microcosm of what we’re talking about? Springfield’s having a bad year. They have the second-worst record in their league — and the best individual player in their league. They’re a bad team because they have the worst ERA in the league, and it isn’t close. Even if Elehuris Montero were hitting like Carlson, they’d still be a sub-.500 team because of the sub-mediocre moundsmen. And it’s like that all over the system.
Also, regarding your earlier remarks about the competence of the Cardinal front office: I wouldn’t exactly say that I question their competence. With today’s firing of Mark Budaska I’m absolutely certain they have none.
The farm system is in good shape not great shape, and at the MLB level, from the three-years-of-ineptness front office to the incredible dullard in the dugout, they’ve become a laughingstock of directionless incoherence. I can’t wait until the minor league season is over so I don’t have to report about/think about this organization any more.
The thing of it is, it does not matter one jot how good or great are the position players & pitchers you develop, if you trade them away for next to nothing — or retain them and fail to play them.
Last year with John Mabry as hitting coach: 4.4 runs per game.
Last year with Mark Budaska and George Greer as hitting coaches: 5.1 runs per game.
This year with Jeff Albert as hitting coach: 4.5 runs per game.
It’s official. I have now given up on this front office, and this organization as a whole. Managers, coaches, players. They cannot identify the difference between a failure and a success. (Bleep) them.
The Memphis Birds were on the road Sunday and received homers from infielders Edmundo Sosa and Ramon Urias. So this seems as good a time and place as any to mention their respective home/road splits this year. (Memphis, as I’m sure everyone here knows, is a pretty significant pitcher’s park. At least when you compare it to the vast majority of the Pacific Coast League stadiums.)
Edmundo Sosa now has a cool .900 OPS away from AutoZone Park this year, which is 232 points above his home OPS. And it’s critical to note that his road numbers have NOT been padded by the hitter-happy havens of the PCL. Specifically, Edmundo has played zero games in Vegas, Albuquerque, El Paso, and Salt Lake City.
The 23-year-old shortstop has played four games in Omaha, typically a good hitting park, and four more in the fairly notorious Reno stadium. And that’s it. That’s the only games in anything like a severe hitter’s park for Sosa. (In those 8 games by the way he batted .447 and slugged .684.)
Ramon Urias on the other hand has a road OPS that’s 302 points above his home total (.945 to .643). Urias has also played no games in El Paso, Albu-Q, Salt Lake, or Vegas. He does have three AB’s in Reno. “Three AB’s in Reno.” Sounds like a bad Ry Cooder/Terry Cashman collaboration.
So these middle infielders probably warrant more attention than they’ve received this year. Some guys really are hurt by their home park more than others. It was true of Tommy Pham in the minors, it was true of Gorman & Herrera in Peoria this year, it’s been true of Harry Bader in the majors — I’d tell you the Bader Home/Road career splits, but you wouldn’t believe me — and it certainly seems to be true for this duo at Memphis. (I strongly suspect that with Bader it’s actually a case of David Wright Syndrome, but that’s a story for another day.)August 12, 2019 at 3:11 am in reply to: A few minor fixes for the Fangraphs Cardinal prospect list #101764
Thank you one and all for the extravagantly generous sentiments.
Glibness aside, I confess your words moved me just a little bit. Gracias.
So anyway. Having had a few days to reflect and re-evaluate, I have a handful of names to add to the StL prospect list. And some math to put the farm system into its proper industry-wide context. The additions are:
Catcher Jose Godoy, top 900.
Jose is a solid defensive catcher according to Baseball Prospectus’ metrics, and a downright elite one per Clay Davenport’s numbers. Davenport projects him as a 2.5 WAR backstop in his prime, if not a hair better. In other words, Godoy — who turns 25 in two months — figures to be a very good MLB backup for awhile if given the opportunity, or maybe even a viable starter for a year or two at some point. However, the Redbirds themselves have never prioritized playing time for Jose, which makes me think that “good backup” is his ceiling. He’d be a top 400 were he a year younger.
Outfielder Johan Mieses, top 900.
One of the more up-and-down hitting profiles you’ll find anyplace. Davenport and B-Pro both like the glovework, and Davenport’s projection model thinks the power is pretty darn real. Mieses is neither young nor old, having just turned 24 a month ago, but he might be in one of the 3 or 4 farm systems deepest with future MLB outfielders, so I doubt his career will start under the Arch. Either way, top 900 is quite cautious for someone projected at 2.5 WAR in his prime by Clay Davenport.
Pitcher Yordy Richard, top 1,200.
This 16-year-old righty has a 4.81 ERA in a pitcher’s league, but here’s the rest of the story. (Apologies to Paul Harvey, who doubtless just spun in his grave.) In his first three Dominican Summer League appearances, Yordy Richard permitted 13 earned runs across just 9 innings. He whiffed 10 (good!) and walked 10 (not good at all!). But over his next seven outings, he’s been a new man. Well, a new kid. He’s twirled 30 innings and allowed just 8 earned runs, with a solid 26-to-7 K/BB ratio. For me that’s enough to easily make a top 1,000 list, much less a top 1,200. Anyone wants to make him a top 900, I wouldn’t debate the point.
Third baseman Brandon Hernandez, top 1,200.
The 17-year-old Hernandez began his season 6-for-40 with 19 strikeouts in 11 games (ugh) and zero extra base hits. But he has turned things around beautifully. In the next 25 games, he fanned just 20 times, drew 15 walks, and batted ~.320/.430/.470, which is very, very good for the DSL. His numbers don’t dazzle at a glance, but Hernandez has been excellent for awhile now, and that’s enough to get on the end of a massive top 1,200 list.
Second sacker Brendan Donovan, top 1,200.
This one I could be talked out of, frankly. Donovan is two years too old for the Midwest League, and if his own organization thought much of him he’d already have been promoted to High-A. But facts are facts, and he’s been real good at the dish this year (wRC+ of 136) and just as importantly for overage prospects like Brendan, he’s shown a sturdy BB/K tally. Neither B-Pro nor Davenport like his fielding, so I don’t see utilityman in his future. But hey, surprises can happen — and after all, I’m talking top 1,200 not top 200. Old guys with good plate discipline account for many of baseball’s better late bloomers, so I’ll give Brendan a seat at the very back of my list.
Catcher Aaron Antonini, top 1,200.
And speaking of older prospects with admirable plate discipline…Antonini, a native Venezuelan taken in the 18th round out of Middle Tennessee State this year, is a 21-year-old batting .256 in the Appalachian League. So why on Earth would he make a list that excludes Griffin Roberts, Luken Baker, Delvin Perez and Seth Elledge, et. al.? Well, first Antonini very recently had a birthday. Therefore it’s actually his age 20 season, which means he’s effectively just one year too old for his league rather than two. And second, that aforementioned strikezone control. You see, AA is hitting .256/.396/.651 and has 9 walks to just 5 strikeouts in 53 trips to the plate. It’s rookieball, I realize. And he’s old, I know. But there’s clear evidence of the things we want to see: patience, power, contact. So there’s upside there, particularly if he can keep catching. Okay, to be blunt he’ll likely flatline at Peoria next year. But for the present he’s a mildly intriguing longshot of a prospect.
So now the math. Using my prospect grades, and applying the dollar values for prospects provided by Fangraphs, the St. Louis Cardinal farm system has a paltry $37M worth of pitching prospects, which is pretty bad. Glancing at the Fangraphs table, Redbird arms would rank approximately in the 22-25 range, I’d say. But the good news is the Cardinals also have $262M worth of position players, a total which would trail only the Big Two farm systems of San Diego and Tampa Bay. (The Friars and Devil Rays really are easily the two strongest farm systems right now. No one else comes within shouting distance.)
The Redbird overall grand total then is $299M. This would rank them 4th in minor league monetary value behind only the two juggernauts and the Dodgers. But since the Cards are so severely imbalanced down on the farm in terms of hitters/pitchers, there are some other organizations whose more balanced farm systems I’d prefer even if their total value doesn’t quite match that of the Baby Birds. (Atlanta, Minnesota, and Miami spring immediately to mind.)
In any case, I’d have to do a deep dive investigation of other farms to parse the rankings precisely — and moreover, I’d need to figure out who’s going to lose prospect eligibility by Labor Day on top of it. (And I don’t even know that about Cardinal guys like Tommy Edman or Lane Thomas for example.) But now that the numbers are crunched, folded, spindled, and mutilated, I’m more comfortable than ever in saying that the Cards have a top 8-10 farm system, and maybe a touch better. Certainly and absolutely no worse.
Brian provided this link earlier, but I see no reason not to do so again here. This will keep everyone, including my lazy self, from having to scroll up and search for it. This is the total farm system values for all franchises, and how Fangraphs arrived at the numbers, prospect-by-prospect:August 7, 2019 at 2:01 am in reply to: A few minor fixes for the Fangraphs Cardinal prospect list #101272
Thanks for all the feedback and kind words, folks! Thanks especially, Ny, for the copious Rondon info. (Of course we jinxed him tonight. That’s baseball.)
Now, I hadn’t intended to make this thread a referendum on Angel Rondon per se. (Can a person hijack their own thread?) My noble goal was to peevishly excoriate the buffoons at Fangraphs — with supporting evidence — and place the StL farm system into it’s proper position among all franchises. So let’s do that.
Below are the corrected Cardinal prospect grades. My grades, but using the Fangraphs numbering system. I’ve included the ranking range for each group of prospects, along with the numerical grade. To be clear, the ranking range numbers reflect how many prospects were given each grade by the buffoons.
So, if I think Tommy Edman and Edmundo Sosa are roughly the 200th-best prospects in the minors, they would be assigned a grade 45 since Fangraphs graded 156 players at 45+ or better, and 132 prospects at exactly grade 45.
(The players within each group are NOT listed in any particular order within said group. Well, except it’s hitters before pitchers. Also, the twirlers are italicized.)
Grade 55 (rank between 16 and 44 overall): N. Gorman, D. Carlson
Grade 50 (rank between 45 and 121): A. Knizner, I. Herrera, E. Montero
Grade 45+ (between 122 and 156): M. Nunez, A. Rondon
Grade 45 (between 157 and 288): T. Edman, E. Sosa, L. Thomas, J. Rodriguez, J. Torres, R. Arozarena, R. Helsley, J. Woodford, J. Oviedo
Grade 40+ (between 289 and 406): C. Soto, R. Urias, P. Pages, P. Romeri, J. Fernandez, Z. Thompson, C. Thomas
Grade 40 (between 407 and 902): J. Williams, L. Nootbaar, J. Yepez, T. Fletcher, M. Castillo, R. Heredia, R. Mendoza, J. De Los Santos, M. Gil, T. Fuller, T. Parsons, J. Ralston, A. Fagalde, K. Whitley, A. Pallante, G. Cabrera, A. Seijas, L. Jimenez
Grade 35+ (between 903 and 1,235): Diowill Burgos, Brady Whalen, Albert Inoa, Leandro Cedeno, Carlos Arcia, Parker Kelly, Angel Cuenca, Gustavo J. Rodriguez
Fangraphs rated at least 15 Cardinals higher than I did. I know it’s at least 15, because I excluded from my rankings 15 individuals who made the Fangraphs list, including the Cannabis Card, Griffin Roberts. (An honorary title inherited from Alex Reyes.) Also omitted from my list were noteworthies such as Jose Adolis Garcia, Luken Baker, and Stephen Gingery. I welcome any objections to my omissions as long as they’re relatively civil and include a vile anti-Cub remark.
I didn’t bother to closely check the rest of the Redbird Fangraphs grades; I’m sure that a substantial majority of my grades will be higher than theirs. For example I have 16 Redbirds graded 45 or better, while the buffoons have four.
A thousand apologies to any forgotten prospects. No doubt someone or two slipped through the cracks. And Griffin? Put down the pipe, son.August 5, 2019 at 1:26 am in reply to: A few minor fixes for the Fangraphs Cardinal prospect list #100940
Sorry I missed your update, Brian — or rather, your update of the Fangraphs update.
Okay, here’s the thing. All a Cardinal fan need know about Fangraphs is they STILL do not consider Angel Rondon to be a pitching prospect. He is dead to them. They do not list him among the 600 pitching prospects assigned value grades. That’s not hyperbole. They list exactly 600 arms and he is not among them.
To illustrate precisely how bizarre this is, how incompetent+corrupt Fangraphs is re St. Louis prospects, and this twirler specifically, let’s put Angel Rondon’s Double-A pitching performance into a context.
Here are the slashlines permitted this year in AA by some of the very elite pitching prospects in baseball. Beside each pitcher is his age and his current Fangraphs ranking among all pitching prospects.
Dustin May (21 years old, #3 overall pitching prospect) .237/.297/.330
Casey Mize (22, #4 pitcher) .226/.274/.322
Sixto Sanchez (21, #8) .231/.273/.353
Matt Manning (21, #11) .198/.264/.296
Ian Anderson (21, #13) .202/.285/.296
Angel Rondon (21, not top 600) .228/.309/.320
As a blind man could see, these six are awfully, awfully similar in both age and AA pitching performance. And yet, with the myriad updates always going on with Fangraphs’ vaunted board, they haven’t found any room for poor Angel Rondon — who’s allowed one earned run or less in six of his past seven starts by the way. A few weeks back they (Fangraphs) finally at long last woke up and moved Ivan Herrera from 33rd to 8th in the organization. But still, no Rondon any place. And Dylan Carlson still juuust barely within their top 100 overall prospects, by the way. That cannot happen unless they’re idiots, corrupt, or both.
I bet I know what you’re thinking, but there are no serious red flags for Rondon. There just aren’t. His velocity is already fine, with room for extra. (MLB pipeline’s recent update remarked that “he generates easy velocity, sitting 92-94 mph and bumping 95 in most outings, and is a candidate to add a few more ticks based on his remaining physical projection.”)
He has no serious injuries much less arm surgeries in his past.
He’s succeeded at every single level and never been old for his league.
He isn’t a little guy, nothing like that. He’s listed at 6′ 2″ and 185, same as Jordan Hicks.
He has no conditioning or other work ethic/personality questions.
And finally he gets out lefties as well as righties.
In fact, that last bullet point is real important. Because in 2018, Rondon actually DID have trouble with lefty hitters, permitting them a borderline unacceptable slashline of .259/.325/.427. But this year has been a different story.
Righty Rondon has faced 269 lefty batters in 2019 and allowed them to slug .237.
That’s not a typo, and that’s not a batting average line. Seriously, that’s slugging. That’s lefty slugging, permitted by a righty starting pitcher. Rondon across two levels has allowed lefties to hit .190/.291/.237. In Double-A they’ve slugged .286. So I’m guessing it’s fair to assume that Rondon’s changeup has probably taken a significant step forward this year.
But honestly, the why is almost entirely irrelevant. What’s important is that Angel Rodon is a 21-year-old pro ballplayer enjoying conspicuous success in AA, with zero red flags either this year or in his professional track record. Therefore that makes him a good-or-better prospect. At least a top 200-250 overall prospect, regardless of repertoire. And in his specific case, knowing his details, I’d have him crowding the top 100 — especially if he finishes the season strongly.
Oh, and the Cardinals are in the 8-10 range among all farm systems. Could maybe be one or two higher or lower than that, I suppose. I’d have to look closely at who has lost rookie eligibility lately, and who was traded.
“Jimenez came over from the GCL team and started the Palm Beach game. His current age? 17!!!!”
Yeah, I couldn’t help noticing that too, CC. Held his own for four innings on top of it.
While I’m sure the Palm Beach outing is purely a stopgap/convenience thing (not unlike 18-year-old backstop Ivan Herrera’s very, very, very brief Springfield stint last year), I wonder now if they’ll start Jimenez in Peoria next year. I was planning on seeing him there in 2021 when he’d still be a teenager, but maybe the timetable will be more aggressive. We’ll see.
Favorite oddball Carlson stat:
This year he’s batting .290 and slugging .500 when behind in the count. It’s only 124 at-bats, and I have zero idea whether or not this has any predictive value whatsoever. But I love it anyway.
For a little context, here are some other highly rated outfield prospects and their 2019 behind-in-the-count batting averages/slugging percentages:
Drew Waters .245 and .340
Jo Adell .200 and .343
Cristian Pache .220 and .390
Alex Kirillof .151 and .221
Taylor Trammell .160 and .213
Jarred Kelenic .186 and .309
Jesus Sanchez .214 and .262
All of this might mean nothing. Last year Fernando Tatis Jr. in AA hit .176 and slugged .272, but this year you certainly can’t say that major league pitchers are exploiting the kid, can you?
Dylan Carlson has been generally credited with having a “mature, professional approach” at the plate, so maybe his extraordinary numbers reflect that to some degree. Or maybe it’s all noise, no signal.
But it’s still fun.July 13, 2019 at 3:02 am in reply to: The #1 Cardinal Prospect: Dylan Carlson or Nolan Gorman? #97727
There seems to be something like a consensus — at this website and everywhere else — that strictly from a batting standpoint Dylan Carlson has a higher floor and lower ceiling than Nolan Gorman. That’s certainly how I feel as well. But what about the non-batting factors? What about fielding and baserunning?
First I must declare a tiny caveat. These calculations are about a week old, so there may be some very minor changes lately. In fact there almost surely will be. But this will be extremely close to accurate.
I used the numbers available at Baseball Prospectus for fielding and baserunning values at the minor league level, and pro-rated to a per-150-game run value for many highly ranked third base prospects.
(There is no shortage of arrogant and annoying voices within the scouting & analytics “communities” who pooh-pooh defensive metrics at the minor league level, but I’ve consistently found the numbers to have solid predictive properties — at least as much as defensive scouting reports, if not moreso. And specifically, over the years I have observed one near certainty: if a player has truly terrific defensive numbers in the minors, he will be an excellent gloveman when he gets to The Show. Middle infielders, catchers, corner outfielders, doesn’t matter what the position.)
So anyway, here are the fielding + baserunning values for hot corner prospects, per 150 professional games:
1) Ke’Brayan Hayes +18 runs per 150 minor league games played.
This makes sense, as Hayes is universally lauded for his glovework and doesn’t hurt you on the bases.
2) Isaac Paredes +8 runs per 150
3) Elehuris Montero +6
4) Sheldon Neuse +5
5) Bobby Dalbec +1
6) Jordan Groshans neutral
7) Nolan Jones -1
8) Hudson Potts -2
9) Mark Vientos -4
10) Alex Bohm -5
11) Jonathan India -6
12) Ryan Mountcastle -12
13) Colton Welker -14
I know, you’re wondering where Nolan Gorman is hiding. First, for those of you who unlike myself have real lives and don’t regularly waste time poring over other teams’ prospect evaluations, I just want to say that the above numbers generally align quite neatly with the scouting-based reputations of each prospect. Paredes and Montero look a bit better here than their reputations, but the rest of the numbers reflect the publicly available scouting reports to a great degree. So what of Gorman?
Nolan Gorman as of last week had been worth +19 runs per 150 games in defense + baserunning since being drafted. Well, it’s all defense. He’s not a runner.
Gorman could get hurt. He could get fat. He could run off to join the circus as a knife-thrower for all I know. The future is not written…but his past is clearer than crystal. Nolan Gorman has indisputably been an outstanding defensive third baseman so far as a professional. And it is largely for this reason that I place him above Dylan Carlson on my Redbird prospect list. (Carlson is at +3 per 150 games, which is very slightly better than both the mean and median for an elite outfield prospect, and distinctly above average in a corner.)
I think Baseball Prospectus went too far in ranking Nolan Gorman 14th in their latest prospect list. And I think Carlson at 38th was a tad too low. But 20th for the former and 30th for the latter feels right to me, so I guess I’m guilty of quibbling. The plausible upside for Carlson over his prime 4-6 years is something like 2017-2019 Tommy Pham. But the plausible Gorman upside is Mike Schmidt Lite, and that’s even better. I have the same concerns as Forschy and others, re Gorman’s contact troubles. But Nolan’s so very young, and has so many physical gifts — strongest hands/wrists of anyone I’ve seen at Peoria (though admittedly I never saw Pujols there) — that he’s still a half-notch above Dylan for me.
I’ll just say that’s a very interesting gambit, promoting an 18-year-old who is striking out twice a game at his current level, and leave it at that.
Never mind. I can’t quite leave it. If someone were going to be promoted from the GCL to the Appy League so early in the season, it feels like the 19-year-old with more walks than strikeouts who’s hitting .423/.531/.692 would be the one. (Not that Franklin Soto is the better prospect by any means. But he looks like the one who currently requires the challenge of a better league.)
I’m not an exercise physiologist, but it seems like 95-98 MPH would place a lot less stress on the body than 99-103 MPH.
Maybe the Cards should seriously consider returning Jordan Hicks to a starting role in the future, where he’ll be forced to pace himself, i.e., take something off that fastball and take some pressure off that valuable right elbow & shoulder.
Good luck, Jordan.
I know what POTUS and SCOTUS are. But what’s a Wotus?
I like Showalter a lot as a manager — and as a 15-1 value bet. But I would think the Giants are veering toward a youth movement very soon, and I don’t know which manager is the best fit for that philosophy. Matheny’s St. Louis tenure was excellent for developing young starting pitchers, but Mabry undermined all of the Cardinal kid hitters and Matheny might want to bring him along as batting coach.
If I’m Frisco I’d prefer Matheny to Matt Williams for sure, or any first-time managers. Not sure about Girardi. But re Matheny, I’d insist on no Mabry (except in a benign bench coach role) or no deal.
“For an organization that can be so passive most of the time at the big league level they can sure be aggressive/reckless with their lower minor league promotions. Weird paradox.”
Jekyll and Doolittle. That’s a weirder one.
Sorry, couldn’t resist. Seriously though, the one organizational constant during the decline into MLB mediocrity has been the Redbird player development excellence. So in this case I’m going to blandly assume that the braintrust knows what they’re doing. Or at least mostly knows what they’re doing.
Unlike with free agent signings and big time trades, a significant portion of what’s going on with minor league promotions is unseen by our gaze. But yes, as others have said, this is clearly not a standard merit-based promotion. Unless the club gave a lot of weight to my Nolan Gorman home/road remarks of the other day!
Gorman away from Dozer Park: .314/.391/.588. That really would be more than worthy of the bump to Palm Beach.
Anyway, I wouldn’t have promoted him yet, but I’m not gonna fret over it. And I won’t be shocked if he’s an above average hitter in the FSL for the remainder of the season.
Thanks for the kind words, GScott and SC-25. And you guys are spot on re the “devil magic” nonsense, and the vastly underrated influence of minor league park factors.
Take Peoria. In a sixteen team league, Peoria is the toughest of all for hitters. According to the most recent numbers I could find, runs are roughly 40-50% more plentiful in Lansing, Kane County, Burlington, and Cedar Rapids. (Good movie. But too much of a hitter’s park.) Park factors link: https://www.milb.com/milb/news/toolshed-stats-class-a-park-factors/c-210987116
How does this affect the perception of StL prospects? Well, I can tell you that I myself am a bit disappointed right now in Nolan Gorman’s season. Or rather, I was until very recently. Then I checked those home/road splits the other day. (Due to some flooding at other parks, Gorman’s played 40 games at home and just 27 on the road.)
Gorman away from Dozer Park: .314/.391/.588
Gorman in 11 games at Cedar Rapids/Lansing/KC/Burlington: .386/.413/.705
Looks juuust a bit more impressive than his overall .792 OPS, right? That’s .979 on the road and 1.118 in the Midwest League hitter’s parks. (Somewhere Charlie Blackmon is smiling.)
Of course that could be a weird fluke just specific to Nolan Gorman. So let’s look at the other top prospect playing in Peoria. You know, fellow teenager Ivan Herrera, the one that Fangraphs just massively upgraded from 33rd in the organization pre-season all the way to 8th — but STILL they won’t rank in the top 300 overall prospects. Or even particularly close to the top 300, apparently, since only the top 4 Redbird farmhands make their top 300. But then, they’re incompetent with St. Louis prospects. So you have to factor that in.
Ivan Herrera — the only catcher in pro baseball at any level to post at least a 150 wRC+ in both 2017 & 2018 — has played 26 games in Dozer Park this season and 19 on the road.
Herrera, Road: .371/.451/.548
Herrera, hitter’s parks: .409/.480/.591 in 6 games
That’s .999 and 1.071 for Herrera. And again, .979 and 1.118 for Gorman. The sample sizes may be laughably small but the performances certainly are not. Anyway I wouldn’t claim that those spectacular road splits define the current hitting skill of Gorman and Herrera. But then, neither do the overall numbers in my opinion, not by a mile. So, how good are they really?
I’ll put it this way. If a stranger stops you on the street tomorrow and says, “Excuse me, do you have the time? And also, what does Bob Reed think the real Midwest League hitting ability of Ivan Herrera and Nolan Gorman is right now?”
Tell them I would put their true OPS numbers at the halfway point between their overall numbers and their road splits. By that math, that would be a little over .900 for Herrera and a little under .890 for Gorman. And if the stranger asking is Salma Hayek, please tell her she can reach me through this website any time.
A thousand pardons but I don’t have the time tonight to complete the Carlson musings. But I can give a cursory glance at Carlson’s season, compared to his Texas League peers. His league rankings:
3rd in triples
4th in slugging %
7th in doubles
7th in walks
8th in home runs
10th in on-base %
12th in batting average
13th in steals
And 40th in strikeouts. More precisely, of the 91 Texas League batters with 100+ trips to the plate, Dylan Carlson ranks 17th-lowest in strikeout rate. And of those 91, he’s the second youngest. By five days. See, this is not a top 100 prospect, or a top 75 prospect, or a top 50 prospect. But we’ll put a number to him soon. Tomorrow with any luck.
Thanks for the update, BHC!
With the overslot payments to catcher Zade Richardson and pitcher Thomas Hart (they’ve gotta draft a backstop named Benton now) I don’t see any possible path to signing both McFarlane and Newell, if there ever was. But can they capture one of them, that’s the question.
I’ll just continue where I left off last night. Sorry if that feels abrupt. Oh, but first — per the Pugs request — I’ll go ahead and identify the overrated outfielders mentioned earlier.
1) Corey Ray
2) Monte Harrison
3) and 4) Pirate outfielders Oneil Cruz and Travis Swaggerty
5) Leody Taveras
6) Tristen Lutz
Outfielder #7 is Estevan Florial, who is a year older than Carlson and is yet to reach AA ball despite his pro career starting in 2015. Florial’s defense & baserunning are no better than Carlson’s, he strikes out much more, and he has a checkered health history.
Number eight is Yusniel Diaz, who is two years older than Carlson and hitting just .243 in AA with a .754 OPS. He is worse than Dylan at both fielding and running (for all players, the numbers for defense & baserunning are taken from a combination of Baseball Prospectus and Clay Davenport), and has seemingly regressed as a hitter since switching organizations via last year’s Machado-to-the-Dodgers deal.
Ninth is Trevor Larnach, who is 22 years old in High-A — nearly two years older than Carlson and competing a level lower — and like Diaz he appears to be distinctly less valuable in non-hitting ways than Dylan Carlson, who’s a minor asset both in the field and on the basepaths.
Outfielder number ten is Brandon Marsh, who actually has a skill that surpasses Carlson. Marsh is a tremendous baserunner. As for the rest, though, he’s a year older than Carlson while playing against the same level of competition, and they are posting nearly identical wRC+ numbers. So, the edge goes to Carlson due to his age advantage; and there’s something else. Marsh is striking out 50% more often than Carlson, and therefore Marsh gets to his 135 wRC+ via a bloated .422 BABIP. Normalize that BABIP down to .380-.390 and the wRC+ plummets below 120, maybe even 115.
I will say this for Marsh: he has hit much better outside of his home park of Mobile this year. But offsetting that is the fact that his isolated slugging has decreased with every single promotion along his minor league career. (His ISO is exactly half of what it was back in rookieball in 2017. Unlike Carlson whose power is only increasing — a very good sign.) I like Marsh as a top 60-70 guy, but not nearly as much as Carlson.
Number 11 is Victor Victor Mesa. Victor Victor Mesa has a really cool name. That is all of the positive things I can say about him. I would show you the numbers but you would not believe me. Here’s a link: https://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=sa3008602&position=OF
Jesus Sanchez is number 12. He’s performing exactly as well as Carlson, at the same level as Carlson, but is a year older. That’s an edge, plain and simple. He could get a mulligan on the age difference if there were mitigating factors — like if he was drafted last year out of junior college, something like that. But Sanchez is in his fifth professional season. So Carlson gets the edge. As for fielding + baserunning, it’s an almost perfect push.
These guys could have very similar careers in the offing…but again, advantage Carlson for the time being. Sanchez has the better resume if we go back to the lower minors, with lots of dominance; but when Sanchez got his first shot at AA last year — at the same age Carlson is this year, of course — he flopped badly, batting a punchless .214. So the negative and positive pre-2019 stuff basically washes out.
The 13th and 14th guys are recent draftees schoolboy Riley Greene and collegiate home run leader J.J. Bleday. Bleday is a year older than Carlson and would need to clobber the upper minors this year to be on pace with where Carlson is. In fact, being a year older he’d actually need to reach AAA, and that ain’t happening. If Bleday gets to AA this year it would be a huge shock. He’s a big talent but I could never put a 21-year-old college bat ahead of a 20-year-old who’s already excelling in Double-A. Not unless the college guy has a distinct advantage in defense/baserunning, and that is not at all the case here.
Sidebar: J.J. Bleday hit almost exactly the same this year as Brett Wallace hit during his final collegiate season. Bleday probably played a tougher schedule…but then, Wallace had the much better BB/K numbers. I don’t mean to imply that Bleday will wind up like Wallace. Just suggesting that metal bat performances translate much better to the pros for some guys than others, and it’s real hard to tell which ones will and which ones won’t.
Now Riley Greene. If Riley Greene is tearing up Double-A in 2021, he’ll be what Carlson is now — only with worse defense & baserunning than Carlson offers, apparently. (And excelling in AA just two years after being drafted is an awful lot to ask of a high school kid. It does not happen often.) In fact, word is Greene’s roughly even money to end up at first base, and he’s already “not fast” on the basepaths, to put it politely. I can’t see ranking him higher than 50th or so until he has some kind of pro hitting record. And 50th is not above Dylan Carlson.
So that’s the 14 guys who cannot be above Carlson, for me.
I think that’s enough for one night. Tomorrow I’ll do the fun part, comparing Carlson to his real true peers — the guys I’m not sure whether I prefer to him or not. You, dear readers, will have the experience of following along through my thought processes. You have my condolences.
First, thanks for the very generous words, everyone. Your checks are in the mail. I mean, your bitcoins are in the cloud.
I wanted to talk about more than Dylan Carlson in this post, but I didn’t realize exactly how many other outfielders were misguidedly ranked ahead of him on the MLB.com and Fangraphs lists. There’s a lot to go over, and I’d honestly like to keep this a manageable length. So today, just Carlson. (Dylan by the way is ranked 95th and 100th at MLB.com and Fangraphs, respectively.)
Between the pair of aforementioned prospect lists, there are 25 different outfielders rated better than Dylan Carlson. I’ll start by acknowledging the ones who truly are worthy of such a distinction. These are the guys I would absolutely trade Dylan Carlson for straight-up.
Jo Adell. Half a year younger than Carlson and appears plenty ready for Triple-A. Adell has hit at every level since being drafted in 2017, and likely has more defensive/baserunning value than Carlson. Injured this year and last, his inconsistent health is at least a mild concern going forward. He’s 27-for-32 stealing bases, with 28 homers, 12 triples, and 51 doubles in 166 pro games. Big guy, great athlete, reminiscent of a young Matt Kemp — who I rated 50 spots better than Baseball America when he was a prospect, by the way. You know what they didn’t like about Kemp? Sixth round pick.
Kyle Tucker. Flopped in the majors at age 21 last year, but he was in the majors at age 21 last year. Age 21, in the majors. (As Carson Kelly is re-teaching everyone right now for the umpteenth time, we should 99% ignore miniscule samples for young MLB players, and trust the track record.) Tucker is raking in AAA right now, just as he did in 2018. Similar skillset to Carlson but with more consistent dominance on his resume. Reminds me of Shawn Green in many ways. Beauuutiful swing.
Heliot Ramos. One level lower than Carlson & one year younger, and absolutely murdering the baseball with a 177 wRC+. Slaughtered the Arizona League in similar fashion at age 17, before holding his own in the South Atlantic League last year. He’s just 2-for-7 stealing and has no triples this year, and available public metrics make him a poor center fielder, so I’m assuming he’ll contribute the same or less than Carlson on the bases and afield. Slight worries over 25-30% strikeout rates.
Cristian Pache. Born within weeks of Carlson, his defensive reputation is elite, almost surely the best of all minor league guys who can also hit. And he is really hitting in Double-A this year. When you think Pache, think prime Michael Bourn with pop. Or think Harrison Bader for that matter. But the precocious Pache could be better than both. He won’t steal bases like Bourn (his baserunning overall has been surprisingly poor for the past two years), but his burgeoning power far surpasses anything Bourn could ever do. Not that I would ever, ever be tempted to brag, but I had Pache in the overall top 50 back while he was going homerless in 400+ at-bats in A-ball at age 18. That’s how much I loved his defense, and valued his age-relative-to-league. No one else had him even in a top 100 until a year later.
So those are the four outfielders distinctly better than Dylan Carlson. Now I’ll just rattle off the guys who are ranked above him, but are in fact obviously and objectively worse prospects — and why. I’d rather not use their names because it feels mean, sorta belittling them. Of course, I wouldn’t mind using names if any of them were Cubs. But they’re not, so I won’t.
Outfielder #1 is 24 years old and has never batted even .250 and he’s had an OPS over .700 just once. He is currently hitting .178 in AAA and striking out 44% of the time. Probably playing through injury…but even tossing out this season, the overall track record is absurdly worse than Carlson’s in pretty much every way. Can you guess why on earth he’s ranked above Carlson? That’s right, super high draft pick way back in the day.
Number two is more than three years older than Dylan Carlson, and playing in Triple-A right now. When he was in Double-A last year, he batted .240, slugged under .400, and struck out 215 times in a five-month season. No, I’m not making this stuff up.
Outfielders three and four should be lumped together, as they are adjacent on the Fangraphs list — 48 and 49 spots better than Dylan Carlson — and have much in common. (With each other, not with Carlson.) They share the same organization, both are batting under .240, and both have a lot less power than Dylan Carlson. Oh, and they also strike out much more often than Carlson.
So you have two players, both at a lower level than Carlson and playing much much worse than Carlson (.637 and .647 OPS this year), and, amazingly, they’re both also older than Carlson. One of them by more than a year. It is silly and frankly stupid that they would even be in the same conversation with Carlson, much less ranked above him. And by nearly fifty spots.
Number five is the same age as Carlson, playing in High-A, and has an OPS of .745. This is his career best OPS, in four pro seasons. Any other details are unnecessary.
Outfielder #6 is slightly older than Carlson, and posting a .747 OPS in high-A while whiffing 30% of the time and also drawing fewer walks than Carlson. So he’s older than Dylan, he’s markedly worse, he’s at a lower level, and he has a huge plate discipline red flag. Other than that, he’s got a lot going for him.
I’m going to stop here because I would HATE to have the computer go goofy and lose what I’ve toiled oh-so-diligently to present thus far. Forgive me. I’ll wrap this up tomorrow at some point. But I suspect that the picture is getting pretty clear already — many players who have no business shining Carlson’s spikes are being ranked ahead of him by “professional” prospect evaluators. There are several more such players to come tomorrow.
The fun part will be the final part: parsing out the guys who are neither clearly better than nor clearly behind Carlson. Guys like Drew Waters or Julio Rodriguez for example. Anyway, ‘night all.
“Bob, just curious… what present prospects do you think are undervalued? How about a few to prove that they are better than let’s say 20th. Maybe you are something that other Card fans aren’t recognizing.
Here I’ll help you get started…. Carlson.”
Sure thing, Ny.
I’ll throw together a post late tonight, wherein a few Redbird prospects — including Dylan Carlson of course — are directly compared & contrasted to some much higher-rated prospects from other organizations.
I will try not to be too long-winded. I will almost certainly fail.
Thanks so much for the ongoing updates, BlackHills. Very fine work, sir.
By my math the Cards have about half a million in extra dough before incurring penalties, and two highly rated high schoolers — both around #100 pre-draft, per MLB.com — to try and buy away from college commitments. So they could offer McFarlane (25th round) or Newell (37th) middle of the 3rd round money (roughly $620,000).
Or they could offer each of them just under $400,000 (4th/5th round bonus range). But I doubt that would be enough to get either one. Probably want to use each draftee as implicit or explicit leverage against the other, i.e., “first guy to sign gets the six hundred grand.” I don’t know which one I prefer, but I’d bet they ink one of them.
And that’s not counting any additional bonus money saved once Ralston is signed. There should be something fairly substantial there I’d guess, since he’s a senior.