Triple Play: The San Diego Padres!
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 until we cover all 30 teams!
Each team will be covered in alphabetical order. This article we’re covering the San Diego Padres. And, 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!
Franchy Cordero, Age: 23, OF
Analysis by: Keaton O. DeRocher
Franchy Cordero is an interesting player. He’s shown he has electric speed on the basepaths and an ability to make enough contact at the major league level to be an effective outfielder (as long as he has playing time). His strikeout rate at the pros is unbelievably high, but that seems to be the only real blemish in his profile, and he is one adjustment away from being a borderline top 20 OF.
Franchy’s Got The Mustard
Franchy actually does many things well on the baseball field–the aforementioned base stealing being one of them–but one of the more surprising things he does well is hit the ball very hard. He currently ranks 39th in all of baseball in barrels per batted ball event at an impressive 14.9% and has an equally impressive exit velocity of 95.17 miles per hour. Those crazy numbers have lead to a hard hit rate this year of 49.3% [ Ed. Note- check out Jim Melichar’s Statcast Primer for more info on batted ball events, barrels, and exit velocity]. Again as equally impressive as all of that Franchy has been using the whole field, spraying the ball to all fields with a 32.8% – 38.8% – 28.4% pull/center/oppo spray chart.
Franchy’s Last Stand
The scouting report on Franchy is pretty succinct: he can be really good if the hit tool develops enough to be serviceable. Right now it has- he’s refined his approach enough to make contact and without letting strikeouts weigh him down. With players like Franchy though, the strikeouts are hard to shake and there will probably be more of an adjustment period to major league pitching still to come. If he’s able to adjust enough to come down to a mid-20s strikeout rate, he’ll be tough to slow down at the plate. He has tremendous plate coverage with the bat and gets to just about any pitch thrown in any location.
His short step is, for him, a great timing mechanism and his swing isn’t as long as you would expect for the amount of plate coverage he gets. The one tweak Franchy needs to make to really boost his stock is he needs to hit more balls in the air. His launch angle is a paltry 8.27 degrees, which is four degrees below the league average. If Franchy could combine even league average launch angle with how hard he’s hitting the ball, he would be one of the better all-around power/speed fantasy players in the game. Even so, he’s still slashing .277/.342/.505 and walking at a double-digit rate of 10.3%. Cordero’s strikeout rate of 32.5% is concerning but is only a touch off of his career-minors mid-20s rates, and with decent enough power strikeouts are very easily forgiven. Add in Corero’s speed and the poor strikeout numbers are forgiven completely. First, though, Cordero will need to start putting the ball in the air. If he’s able to do that–and at 23 years old the safe bet is he’ll figure it out–he’s a player to go buy now before he figures it out and becomes a 25/25 player.
Keaton’s Artist Selection
Joey Lucchesi, 24, SP
Analysis by: Adam Lawler
The Curious Luchessi
Pitcher prognostications are tricky. It’s difficult to say definitively whether a new, relatively unknown pitcher is good or a flash in the pan. It’s near impossible to say whether a relatively unknown pitcher who displays flashes of brilliance will sustain that brilliance over the course of their career.
Here’s what I do know. Joey Lucchesi a microcosm of all things San Diego at the moment. He’s a fun player in a fun organization. He’s a fun story to learn and track. He’s a fun to watch pitch. He’s fun to dream on. He’s the type of player that makes fantasy baseball so intriguing.
In 2016, if you would have told anyone this 4th rounder out of directional state school Missouri (that was purposeful by the way), would be the first pitcher from that draft to debut in the majors, there would’ve been an eye roll. Maybe some skepticism on the circumstances surrounding his arrival. Maybe some questions about whether he would stick.
All of those feelings are fair and most are still accurate. Lucchesi only came up after Dinelson Lamet went down with season-ending surgery. He skipped Triple-A entirely. He was called up over higher-rated, perhaps more developed prospects like Cal Quantrill, Eric Lauer and Michel Baez.
For those uninformed or only monitoring on the periphery, here’s the upshot on Lucchesi. He’s a 24-year-old who was deemed to be too old for most levels he was assigned to during his MiLB tenure. He’s a two-pitch pitcher sporting a middling fastball (sitting low 90’s, but hits 95 on occasion) and the much ballyhooed “churve”. He has command of the zone and can be stingy with the free pass. His delivery can be described as “hurky jerky” and purposefully like one of the best pitchers in the game. Heck, even his push off foot crossing over his body at the end is completely copied.
Since his debut, everything about Lucchesi has been average to slightly above average. He has a slightly better than average K/9 and BB/9. He has a slightly below average HR/9. He has a higher than average swinging strike rate and soft hit rate. Complicating his profile a bit more is the advanced metrics on his allowance for runs. Lucchesi’s SIERA (3.63) and FIP (3.82) say he’s worse than the 2.98 ERA. Meanewhile, Baseball Prospectus’ DRA (3.06) see this as sustainable.
When diving a bit deeper, I like to look at O-Swing and Z-Swing differentials, and for Lucchesi, they worry me a little. Batters are making more contact with his pitches both inside and outside the zone than other pitchers around the league (read” his stuff is more hittable and maybe less deceptive than we think).
Then, I look at this seasons spray chat and see if there’s anything weird going on there.
From what I can gather doing a side by side comparison of the hit spray chart and the corresponding exit velocity, San Diego’s defense is kind of terrible. This notion carries some water when reading about defensive efficiency on Owlcroft. The Padres are only slightly above cellar-dwellers Baltimore, Texas, the Dodgers, and Kansas City. More like SAD Diego, amirite?
When considering the lack of defense behind him, it gives more credence to the notion that maybe Lucchesi and his above average BABIP (.292) need to be given more thought when considering his value. Bad defense makes things exponentially worse when you allow a higher rate of contact on your offerings too. So maybe the DRA is more accurate than the SIERA or FIP.
In Chessi Fire, Break
So, what do we make of Joey Luchessi?
First and foremost, he’s probably not as good as he has been so far. The deception factor is played up a bit too much as he allows plenty of contact and he only has two pitches. Therefore, the situation might not get much better in that department.
Second, he’s not probably not going to fall to pieces. For the contact he does allow, a lot of it is soft thanks to that nifty churve. However, his fastball velocity is trending downwards and that should be considered as the season carries on. After all, he’s never pitched more than 70 innings while in pro-ball. As the bands between his churve and fastball lessen, hitters will begin to key in on his offerings and wait for an 89 MPH meatball over the plate.
Third, everything about him is fun. If you’re looking for a gamble, a pitcher on your team whose starts you enjoy watching, or just a dude who may wind up being a solid SP3 over the next couple of years through development, Lucchesi is your guy. I have several shares of him and I don’t plan on giving them up unless the offer is equally as fun. Like, say, Franchy Cordero.
Adam’s Artist Selection:
Tom Waits. Whenever my time to exit the mortal world arrives, two things will likely be true. One: Tom Waits will have survived me. Two: I will likely have one of his songs play at my funeral.
Fernando Tatis Jr. 19, SS
Analysis by: Patrick Magnus
The Greatest Expectations
Expectations are a mixed bag. There’s the flattery that comes with great expectations: one should find a sense of pride in the presumption one will be great. However there’s also an immense amount of pressure, and the slightest hitch in one’s progress can cause unreasonable panic and criticism from those that championed you before.
This situation is most likely something you’ve experienced in your life at some point, and it’s certainly familiar to the young Toronto shortstop phenom. Tatis has struggled at parts of the 2018 season after breaking out last season (22 home runs an swiping 32 bags between Single-A and Double-A). So, what can we expect?
What Makes Tatis So Special?
First- that little tidbit about Tatis’ home runs and stolen bases. He was the first player to ever put up those numbers in the low Class-A Midwest League. He also managed to do this while being six years younger than the average player in his league. The combination of youth and historic performance in 2017 is why he’s ranked in the top 10 for almost every prospect list you’ll be able to find.
Let’s just take a peek at what the budding shortstop has done thus far in the minor leagues.
|Year | Level||PA||BB%||K%||ISO||FB%||HR/FB|
|2016 | Rookie||188||5.3||23.4||.153||35.2||9.1|
|2016 | Low-A||49||6.1||26.5||.182||34.4||0|
|2017 | Single-A||518||14.5||23.9||.239||43||15.9|
|2017 | Double-A||57||3.5||29.8||.073||34.2||7.7|
|2018 | Double-A||155||7.7||32.3||.223||33.3||20.7|
It’s easy to see why 2017 was such a big jump in Tatis’ value. His plate discipline and pull power jumped into elite territory. If you’ve taken the time to listen to The Dynasty Guru Podcast, then you know I’m a fan of seeing players who put the ball in the air and pull it out of the park. This is a strategy that’s successful at the major league level, and thus if a player is a having success with the approach in the minors with it, I’m pretty giddy to see them in the majors.
Tatis has maintained a near 50% flyball rate while reaching double digit HR/FB rates twice in his minor league career. Let’s get this guy to the majors!
Reason for Concern in 2018
San Diego’s blue-chip prospect has come back down to Earth a bit in 2018. Holes in his game actually started to appear in his brief appearance in Double-A in 2017, and have persisted throughout Spring Training and the start of the Minor League season. He’s been striking out a lot more since facing more advanced pitching. The answer as to why, I believe, can be seen in his swing.
While in the gif above we can see what happens when everything goes right with Tatis’ swing, we can also observe what might go wrong. The long swing was something that evaluators first worried about with Tatis, add in his leg kick and there’s the strong possibility of some timing issues.
During 2017, Tatis had 574 plate appearances and struck out 141 times between Single- and Double-A. Meanwhile, Tatis struck out 12 times in 32 PAs in Spring Training, and 50 times in his 155 PAs thus far in AA. This is a bit alarming as he hasn’t maintained his patience from 2017, and more often than not has found himself in pitchers counts thus far in 2018.
Buy High or Sell High
I think the strikeout rate warrants keeping an eye on for Tatis. He’s marched through the minors with little need for adjustment and is now facing much more advanced pitching. The flipside is that he is making adjustments while being a whopping eight and half years younger than the rest of the players in his league. Thus, while you should be monitoring his K’s you should be looking for an opportunity to buy low, not to sell the stud prospect. The ceiling here is astronomically high, and he would appear to be the future face of the Padres franchise. He’s still seeing close to four pitches per at bat in the minors, and pitchers also may be taking advantage of his willingness to take strikes.
Give the 19-year-old some time to adjust to Double-A, but look for any chance that his stock takes a hit this year. We know that growth is not linear, but it’s important to remind ourselves of that with prospects. Tatis’ defense alone ensures that he’s likely to make it to the majors, and he’s proven that the power is legit throughout the minors. Buy high? Sure. However, you might also see if you can take advantage of his struggles and pull the trigger if the dynasty community’s narrative starts to shift to concern. The plate discipline looks like it’s a real issue, but Tatis is going to be very good. Buy.
Patrick’s Artist Selection:
Donald Glover was born in California. I couldn’t pick anything else.
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Previously Covered Teams
|NL CENTRAL||NL EAST|