by Mike Rogers
Update: I found an error that occurred in my 2008 numbers across all of the conferences. As a result, the numbers have changed a bit, and I have fixed them, but haven’t updated the blurbs I wrote about each player.
Sorry this is delayed. I got sick last week that ate up my two days off, and, thus, consumed any time I was going to devote to writing this piece. Better late than never, I suppose.
I’m changing this just a little, and dropping the lone college bat that I’ve evaluated that did not sign with the Padres out of the 2008 draft, Jason Kipnis of Arizona State. Also, in my previous post, I outlined my methodology. I forgot to say that I also have an aggregate number which uses park-Adjusted wOBA, park-adjusted Isolated Power BB%, and K%.
Caveats: One, I’m not an expert. Far from it. I’m not presenting this as gospel and I haven’t even gone back far enough to see how predictive (if at all) or accurate these methods are. Two, this, at best, is based on lots of small samples, relatively speaking. I’m dealing with two years of data for each of these kids. However, that’s generally around 350-550 plate appearances total. So, not even quite 80% of a big leaguers season. Add in hundreds of different parks and varying levels of competition, and you’ve got a lot of uncertainty that comes with this sort of thing. Three, regarding that competition, I realized that I didn’t adjust for the level of competition faced. This was an oversight on my part and something I will go back and change at some point in the future. However, I haven’t done that yet, but I’m going to present this anyways. And lastly, there’s big virtual hat tip I want to give to Adam Foster, founder of Project Prospect. I am a regular in the forums over there and through constant email exchange with Adam, he’s been gracious enough to show me his “system” he’s using to help rank prospects. I’ve used parts of his system. Half of my “score” is based on his back-of-the-envelop math and the other half would be too, but I’ve adjusted the weightings in the formula. I’m also using his Speed Score in my study as well. This analysis (for the lack of a better word) isn’t as in-depth as the one Lincoln Hamilton unveiled over at PP a couple weeks ago. He’s been at this for 4-5 months longer than I have been, so I defer to his systems superiority, though from the conversations him and I have had, we tend to agree on most of these kids.
With that long, long intro, lets not stall any longer…
1B, Wake Forest
Dykstra, the 23rd overall pick in the 2008 draft and the Padres first selection, shows great plate patience. I weight BB% twice as much K% which is part of the backbone of the “Score.” The other major part of it is the park-adjusted wOBA and PAIsoP. Toss in a speed score and you’ve got my “Score,” unveiled. Dykstra’s got a very good eye at the plate and he played in pretty much neutral parks in terms of run scoring (99 total park factor in 2007 and 100 on the nose in 2008). To put his ‘score’ in perspective, I’ve got 6 tiers of scores in my systems with anything over 122 as elite, anything over 102-121 as very good, 82-101 as good, 61-81 as average/above-average, 41-60 as below-average, 21 or worse is just plain bad. Dykstra rates very well, and his 23.7% BB rate (BB/plate appearances) was the 4th highest in my entire system which spans 1988 entries. Not too shabby at all.
Forsythe improved his BB:K ratio from his 2007 to 2008 season – a good sign. Arkansas had a total park factor swing of 10 – 95 in 2007 to 105 in 2008 – which affected his PAIsoP but there was a power drop despite his slash stats not really declining. In 2007 he posted .347/.431/.556 and in 2008 he posted .351/.479/.530. He managed just 26% of his hits to go for extra bases in 08 which was down from 35% in 07 – mostly in doubles which was cut in half from 16 down to 8 in 2008. Most of this is due to foot surgery that he was attempting to recover from, and also a string of hamstring injuries he suffered early in the season. This limited his abilities to rotate on his back foot, thus limiting his power. That said, I’m not entirely sure how his power will translate to the pro game, but his great patience will play at any level with any type of bat. Good news is that Pedro Alvarez blocked him from third base for Team USA as a sophomore, but this allowed him to play Left Field where he took good routes to the baseball, showed a good arm, and displayed his great patience (22 BB’s to just 14K’s) on route to leading that team (a great collection of collegiate talent) in OBP. Forsythe might not stick at the hot corner in pro ball, nor slug for astronomical amounts, but in Left Field there may be a chance for the former Razorback to stick.
3B, South Carolina
James Darnell was another 3rd sacker taken by the Pads, this one in the 2nd round, 69th overall. Darnell’s long swing will probably limit his abilities to make consistent contact and hit for a healthy average, however, his patience and ability to drive the baseball once he can make contact is clearly evident. Darnell’s much more likely to move off the position compared to Forsythe, as he lacks side-to-side quickness, but has an above average arm. He moved to third in 2007 after playing the outfield, so he’s likely looking at a move back to the outfield in professional ball, though he wasn’t drafted based on defensive prowess. He can rake and rake for big time power. His great extension and bat speed lead to his power which he displayed when playing in the Cape Cod League and was an all-star. All-stars were honored with the invitation to take batting practice at Fenway Park before a Red Sox game. There, Darnell launched the most balls over the fence of any of the Cape All-Stars. His power’s undeniable and is arguably the 2008 drafts biggest power hitter.
OF, Miami (FL)
Tekotte’s not going to wow you with his tools. His biggest asset is his great speed. He scored a 14.94 in 2008 and 8.7 in 2007 on my speed score where anything over 10 is good an over 15 is great. Aside from that, he does a number of things well, but none of them are eye-popping. The 3rd round draft pick (101st overall) is a slightly above-average defensive centerfielder where his speed obviously helps (though, he’s not blazing fast). Power’s not going to be a major part of his game at the pro-ball level, but he’s profiling as a very good leadoff hitter – one that gets on base while centering the baseball very well. He’s not a fast guy who looks like he should be leading off, as his on-base skills will actually be worthwhile in that spot. In other words, he’s not someone Dusty Baker would employ in that spot of the lineup. I don’t put a ton of stock in the jump in IsoP (either park adjusted or not), as Miami is a very hitter-friendly place to play baseball (and friendly in that it’s always beautiful out – unlike the frigid temperatures I sit in now!).
While I do adjust for a park factor, Sawyer Carroll’s big jumps from 2007 to 2008 are partially attributable to his park factor. The PF I used for the 2007 numbers was 102 and for 2008 it was 114. That said, Carroll, a 3rd round supplemental pick at 111th overall, is carried by his bat. He got off to a roaring start, more than doubling his 2007 HR total in just the first 18 games of 2008 – this definitely bolstered his overall numbers for his senior campaign. He was drafted in 2007, by the Washington Nationals but reportedly turned down six-figures to go back to Kentucky. He hit just 3 homers in 2007, but had 23 doubles while in 2008 he finished with 19 long balls and 22 doubles. Is this a case of the doubles just starting to get turned into homers through the natural development in his body, gaining experience against 4-year college level pitching, or the Wildcats playing a favorable schedule in terms of park(s)? I would say it’s somewhere in the middle. His 6-foot-4, two-hundred and nine pound frame definitely suggest that his power is real, but I’ll need to see him replicate this with wood in pro-ball before I’m a believer that the surge was legit. This, however, is unlikely with more of a line drive swing suited towards racking up doubles up the alleys rather than hitting moon shots. He projects as a corner outfielder and showed enough improvement in that regard that some scouts think he could play the 4 corner positions, both outfield corner spots and corner infield spots, in a pinch. The 20 lbs of muscle from his junior to senior campaigns certainly help, and if the power does transition to wood with his swing mechanics (I’m not convinced), he could be a big steal in this spot.
Stay tuned for Part 2 coming soon.