THE DYNASTY GURU’S TRIPLE PLAY: DETROIT TIGERS!
Welcome to The Dynasty Guru’s Triple Play! This is a brand-new series where three very cool dynasty baseball nerds- Adam Lawler, Patrick Magnus and Keaton O. DeRocher- bring to you a succinct analysis of a pitcher, a hitter and a prospect from each organization. We’ll be running this regularly leading up to and through Opening Day!
Each team will be covered in alphabetical order. This article we’re covering the Detroit Tigers. While we here at The Dynasty Guru are primarily baseball obsessed, we’ll also be touching on some music we’ve enjoyed from each team’s home state. Enjoy, and leave us your question and comments below!
Joe Jimenenz, 23, RP
Analysis by Adam Lawler
Rumors of a big, live arm within the Detroit farm system have been circulating for the better part of five years. In 2013, the 18-year-old Puerto Rican signed for a cool 100 Gs after going undrafted. Early reports started trickling out that described the 6’3” 220 lbs. righty with a “high octane” fastball and a slider that flashed plus. Now, relievers with a true fastball are a dime a dozen, and closers with a slider are ever more common. So when an international teenaged hurler with some common offerings is signed to a small contract, the overwhelming response from the baseball community is “… ‘K.”
Well, K is exactly what Jimenez did throughout the first three years. The Tigers literally treated him with gloves, and it seems they were right to do so. Before his arrival to the MLB last year, Jimenez embarked on a four-year journey between Rookie Ball and Triple-A, and was more than four years younger than the competition on average. However, what was more impressive was his Pavlovian-response-inducing 12.44 K/9, coupled with a 1.45 ERA and 0.83 WHIP. That’s right. A relative child was making a mockery of grown men. Queue the Jurassic Park look of astonishment from MLB scouts and industry writers.
It wasn’t long before fantasy owners got on board too. In dynasty formats, when you draft a young gun who’s labeled as a reliever, there is a certain amount of risk in the draft pick. First, it’s a very big gamble because if they bust there’s no coming back from it (whereas starters could always become relievers). Second, they had better be good at what they’re doing in order to float your ratios and get those completely-foolish-but-important saves. Third, arms have a tendency to get hurt and stay hurt (see Zack Burdi).
Well, then came the World Baseball Classic where Jimenez showcased things like this. When you see that kind of slickness to a slider, it’s almost unfair for the batter to make contact. It leaves fans clamoring for a promotion to the big leagues, and in 2017, many were calling for Jimenez to break camp with the MLB squad. Unfortunately, Al Avila and company had other plans and like a fine shawarma, Jimenez was placed back in Triple-A to be slow roasted.
After injuries forced his way to an April showcase, he was sent back down to wait in the shadows before being called back up again in August.
|Joe Jimenez, 2017 MLB Stats|
Blech. He was underwhelming and bad. He walked a ton of batters and let the ball fly. It could have been a purported back issue, underscoring concerns about a “bad body” and lack of conditioning that have dogged him throughout the minors.
Joe-K’s On You
The more likely scenario is that Jiminez is a young man who dominated the minors by throwing upper 90s heat and got by solely on natural talent. In the MLB, when you try that, you’re gonna have a bad time. He was smacked around, leaving meatballs up in the zone and down and in. It’s clear he missed his spots. When the heater was directly in on the hands or away, there wasn’t any contact.
What you see here is a young gun figuring out that (a) he’s not invincible, (b) he can’t leave fastballs up in the zone, and (c) a pitch mix is important.
Jimenez is on “best shape of his life” watch entering the 2018 season, dropping 20+ lbs since the offseason. His entire offseason regimen has been focused on improving his focus and pitch selection. This year Jimenez will click, and when – not if – he does, it won’t be long before they crown him as the heir-apparent.
Adam’s Music Selection
KISS. My dad played in a KISS cover band when in high school. I always found that to be kind of a cool but weird thing about him given his regimented and uptightness as a father. I like to think he was a Gene, but something tells me he was more of an Ace [Ed. Note- at least he’s not a Peter]
Franklin Perez, Age: 20, Double-A
Analysis by Patrick Magnus
PEREZident of Detroit Prospects
Franklin Perez came to Detroit via last-minute deal with the Houston Astros. The young and talented pitcher instantly became the top prospect in the system, which is admittedly not a difficult task. Easy task or not, he’s currently ranked as the 48th overall prospect here at The Dynasty Guru.
The 20-year-old has only been pitching for five years, Originally a third baseman, his height an plus arm strength may have encouraged the change in position. Whatever caused the switch, be thankful he made it, because he’s been very good at it thus far.
Living in the PEREZent
Despite not committing to pitching until he was 15, Perez has developed a wide arsenal of pitches, starting with a fastball that generally sits in the low-to-mid 90s. He kicks it up a notch if he needs to, and most scouting reports suspect that Perez may increase his velocity as he ages. He really enjoys climbing the ladder.
Before he threw that high cheese, he threw a nasty change-up. Take a peak, it’s got some fantastic fade.
He also throws a nasty curve with plus potential, and has recently added a slider. If that velocity does develop, may the baseball Gods have mercy.
Let’s be Franklin for a Second
Pitching prospects. We don’t like them. They’re injury prone and inconsistent. However, Perez reached double-A at 19 years old. You know another prospect who reached double-A at 19? Fernando Tatis.
Now, there’s much more than age separating these two prospects. Just don’t discount Perez by slapping the pitcher label on him. He has been successful in the minors despite only switching positions five years ago.
|Year | Level||IP||K/9||BB/9||HR/FB||GB%|
|2015 | Rookie||35.0||11.31||2.83||3.0%||45.6%|
|2016 | Single-A||66.2||10.13||2.57||1.5%||44.4%|
|2017 | High-A||54.1||8.78||2.65||6.9%||37.5%|
|2017 | Double-A||32.0||7.03||3.09||5.7%||33.0%|
The numbers were less impressive in 2017 between High-A and Double-A. Lower strikeout-rate, lower ground ball rate, and a higher home run to flyball rate. If that pitcher makes it to the majors, he’s decidedly less sexy than the 2015-16 versions of Perez.
It’s important to note, however, that there were only three other 19-year-olds in the Carolina League last year. The average age of players in the Carolina league in 2017 was 22.6, according to Baseball Reference. This is an important factor when evaluating any prospect, their age, and rate of success for the level.
Dead PEREZidents or Takes PEREZident?
Alright, let’s put a bow on Perez, shall we? He’s a young player with a promising arsenal, potential for increased velocity, young for his level, and what looks like a repeatable delivery. But there were some noticeable scratches in this young pitcher’s polish last year. Oh, and Perez is also a pitching prospect which isn’t a very popular thing.
I’ll be targeting Perez in leagues where he’s undervalued but I’m unlikely to pay full price at this point. I wouldn’t send a bat packing to obtain him, and I feel he’s reasonably rated here at TDG. There are certainly worse pitching prospects to gamble on, and Perez has as reasonable a floor as possible for a pitcher of his age and talent.
Currently, Perez projects as an SP3, but with continued development of his pitches, there’s a limited chance he might reach SP2 status. He’ll likely appear in the majors at the end of next year, and when he’s up there will likely be an adjustment period. He might not actually be fantasy useful for two or three years.
Patrick’s Artist Selection
Jack White is not among my favorite artists. I always feel like you need to cherry-pick his songs, as I rarely can sit down and listen to an entire record he’s been a part of. The songs that I enjoy though, are very, very, very good songs. For instance, this White Stripes cover of “Jolene” is among my favorite songs of all time.
Nick Castellanos, Age: 26, 3B/OF
Analysis by: Keaton O. DeRocher
Drafted in the first round, 44th overall, in the 2010 Draft by Detroit, Castellanos didn’t waste much time putting himself on the map. He dominated the lower levels of the minors, hitting well over .300 and earning a promotion to Double-A in 2012 (and a slot as the 10th best prospect by MLB.com). Ranked as the 11th best prospect in 2013, Castellanos performed well enough at Triple-A to earn a promotion to the majors by season’s end. In his four seasons in the minors, Castellanos compiled a slash line of .303/.359/.445, a walk rate of 7.9% and a strikeout rate of 20.0%. Heading into the 2014 season, which would be his first full season in the majors, Castellanos stock was about as high as anyone’s.
Castellanos didn’t quite live up to the hype in his first taste of the majors, slashing .259/.306/.394 and .255/.303/.419 in his first two seasons (2014 and 2015). He was able to park double-digit homers in each of those seasons, but he also logged below-average walk rates of 6.2% and 6.6%, and below average strikeout rates of 24.2% and 25.5%. After back-to-back seasons of not meeting expectations, Castellanos was falling off fantasy players’ radars and entering potential post-hype territory (as he was still only 24 entering the 2016 season).
Castellanos seemed to hit his stride in 2016. He was able to increase both his line-drive and flyball percentages, which in turn lowered his ground ball rate. THe whole package resulted in a 30 point uptick in batting average, and he slashed .285/.331/.496. Castellanos launched 18 homers in an injury-shortened season where he only played 110 games. What made these gains in his batting profile stand out is that he maintained nearly the same walk rate (6.3%) and strikeout rate (24.8%) as the previous two seasons. Was this Castellanos’ break out season? Is this what we can expect from him going forward?
There are several interesting numbers in his profile from the 2017 season that point to a regression, and tell me that, despite it being another successful campaign, his production and output are not sustainable. One of the numbers that pops out the most from Castellanos’ 2017 campaign was his uptick in hard contact from 35.7% to 43.4%. This would indicate that, as the label suggests, Castellanos was hitting the ball harder and this would provide better results, right? Well, the gains Castellanos made in his flyball percentage completely disappeared. His flyball percentage dropped 5% and his groundball rate rose 6% putting both numbers back in-line with his previous percentages from the 2014-2015 seasons, thereby making the gains he made in 2016 outliers. There was also regression in how far he was hitting the ball:
|Season||Avg HR Dist||Avg Hit Dist||Avg Exit Velo||Avg Launch Angle|
These results – lower launch angle, shorter home run and hit distance, same exit velocity as his 2016 season- indicate that his uptick in hard contact were mostly driven by harder hit ground balls. Although he ended the season with a career-high 26 home runs, there is nothing from his 2017 profile that suggests a trend and not an outlier. Castellanos batted .272 last season and kept that from regressing back into the .255-.260 range by dropping his strikeout rate to 21.4%. This seems more like a blip, however, as his walk rates and strikeout rates have remained essentially level throughout his major-league tenure. It’s safe to expect this to regress back to 25% and the average to settle at around .255 again. 2018 will be an interesting year to see if Castellanos can trend out of any of these numbers, but it’s surprising and concerning to see someone hitting the ball as hard as Castellanos is hitting it doing so into the ground as often as he currently is.
Keaton’s Artist Selection
Mike Posner – Not only does Mike Posner have some pretty sweet tunes for himself but he’s also written some awesome songs for other people like Maroon 5, Justin Bieber and Labrinth. Check out his stuff.
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Previously Covered Teams
- Arizona Diamondbacks
- Atlanta Braves
- Baltimore Orioles
- Boston Red Sox
- Chicago White Sox
- Chicago Cubs
- Cincinnati Reds
- Cleveland Indians
- Colorado Rockies