The Best Contact Hitter in the Minors: Manuel Margot
From April 9th when the Carolina League Salem Red Sox kicked off their season until April 28th Margot did not record a single strikeout at the plate. Though these 16 games Margot recorded all of his outs by putting balls in play and through his first 25 games he has stuck out only six times. Margot’s last game on May 7th was the first time he had stuck out more than once during a single game all year. This feat is very impressive especially considering how well players who make a lot of contact have been able to transition to the big leagues.
Margot is a name you ought to get familiar with because if the Red Sox don’t figure things out with their pitching staff this is one of the guys that could be a key component in a trade to bring back a quality starter. In fact in early May there was already speculation that the Phillies were scouting him. Once he makes headlines as being part of a large trade the cat will be out of the bag so to speak and he will become much more difficult to acquire.
Margot is currently leading the A+ Carolina League with just a 3.9% K rate and a 2.25 BB/K rate as a 20-year-old. Although contact% is unavailable for Single-A leagues, quick analysis of the relationship between BB%, K%, and contact% using available data allows us to roughly approximate Contact% using only a player’s BB% and K%. According to this cursory method, Margot’s contact% is approximately 93.4. To put that number into perspective only three players at either AAA or AA managed to surpass that mark.
With an impressive ability to square up pitches Margot has posted an early season slash line of .292/.347/.438 with a surprising amount of pop from his 5’11”, 170 lbs. frame. Among all players in the minor leagues with a K rate below 7% Margot leads the way with a .146 ISO which is actually a hair below his mark from 2014. Margot managed to hit 12 home runs, 5 triples, and 25 doubles across two levels last year and is well on his way to repeating or surpassing those numbers. Using his elite speed Margot has already legged out three triples this year to go along with 11 stolen bases.
While Margot certainly got noticed by all outlets for his performance last season a strong performance this year would go a long way to solidifying him as the cream of the crop for the next group of outfielders. His highest ranking by a major industry source was 35th by Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs. I was even higher on him from a fantasy angle ranking him 23rd overall and as my 6th outfielder. Currently in my updated rankings I have him as the third best outfield prospect removing those who have moved up the big leagues.
If you are looking for a player with a legitimate shot to play have a .300 batting average, double digit home runs, and 30 plus steals then you need not look any further than Margot. Margot’s skillset puts him squarely in the conversation with Byron Buxton, Carlos Correa, Jesse Winker, and Corey Seager for best hit tool in the minor leagues. Those guys have all done it at a higher level but Margot has continued to improve as he rises through the ranks. With ever improving walk and strikeout rates the sky is the limit for Margot as he continues to develop. Get in on this potential All-Star while you still can.