Fresh Take: Is Ramon Laureano “A Guy?”
Going the Other Way
On August 21st Ramon Laureano smacked two homers off of living legend, Bartolo Colon. My partner, who is a Bartolo Colon fan, turned to me and asked who’s that guy? I replied with a shrug, “I have no idea who that dude is.” My wife then pointed out the fact that there was a gentleman wearing his jersey in the crowd. “He’s gotta be A Guy!” she exclaimed.*
*[In the parlance of our fantasy baseball times, A Guy is best described as a worthwhile player- someone interesting and worth investing in- Ed.]
Laureano is relatively new to the A’s organization. He was acquired from the Houston Astros last November, and that for me is the first clue that Laureano might be A Guy. The Astros are very good at developing talent, and in my opinion, they have the best farm in baseball. Is it a great sign that the Astros are trading him away? Probably not, but if there’s another organization I trust with player evaluation, it’s the Oakland Athletics.
Now “Big Sexy” isn’t quite the Cy Young Award winner he was way back in 2005, and so it’s pretty easy to write-off Laureano’s two-homer night as a fluke. However, after a little digging, I think Ramon might be good, or at the very least interesting. Interesting enough that he may need to be added in deeper leagues (16+). Let’s dive into Laureano and see if my wife’s hypothesis is correct.
Who are you, Ramon Laureano?
Who is this mysterious 16th round pick flashing all sorts of tools in his brief time in the majors? Let’s take a peek at his progression through the minors and see if we can determine what kind of tools this young man is carrying.
|2015 | Single-A||314||6.7%||26.4%||.150||4||18|
|2016 | High-A||357||14.0%||24.1%||.201||10||33|
|2016 | Double-A||148||13.5%||22.3%||.226||5||10|
|2017 | Double-A||513||7.8%||21.4%||.143||11||24|
|2018 | Triple-A||284||10.9%||24.6%||.228||14||11|
|2018 | MLB||36||0.0%||36.1%||.167||2||2|
I came for the home runs, BB%, and ISO, but I’ll be staying for the steals. He’s shown tremendous success on the base paths through his minors, and while I’m not generally a “speed” guy, if you’re showing the right kind of plate discipline, and are showing a strong success rate on the base paths… Then I’m a speed guy. It doesn’t hurt that he lead the Texas league with 16 assists.
Oh, and he’s got an ok arm too, I guess.
I’m not quite ready to say he’s good, but wow he’s certainly interesting. Between the minor league stats, the homers, steals and the crazy arm; I am certainly intrigued. And of course Roman here just so happens to be an Oakland Athletic. If you’ve read any of my previous work, or subscribe to the Dynasty’s Child podcast then you already know how this story ends.
Quick Hands, Weak Contact, and a Decent Launch Angle
Laureano appears to have quick hands, and I’ve seen multiple sites suggesting that he may hit for average. The strikeout rate throughout the minors suggests otherwise, although he has maintained decent averages throughout. In general, he lifts the ball when he does make contact, posting strong fly-ball rates and elite line drive rates throughout the minors.
If you take a look at the pull-side home run, you can see how effectively he generates loft using his hands. While there’s not much of a major league sample size yet, his exit velocity is above league average, and his launch angle is slightly above league average as well. Those two facts make sense in the context of the previous scouting done on the young outfielder.
Despite posting strong ISOs throughout the minors, scouts have routinely rated Laureano’s power as below average. With our small sample of Statcast data and video, we can start to gather evidence as to what has made the young outfielder successful in the minors, and if it will translate to the majors.
Approach at the Plate
Laureano has a mixed approach at the plate. On the one hand, he’s demonstrated decent plate discipline in the minor leagues; leading the minors in on-base percentage in 2016 and averaging 3.95 pitches per-plate appearance since reaching Double-A. But he fell off a pretty steep cliff in 2017. A change of scenery altered his performance, as this season Laureano did it all in Triple-A, but he also was playing in the extremely hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.
Thus far at the Major-League level, it’s been a mixed bag. The rookie outfielder has shown flashes of how he may be able to impact our dynasty teams with his power and speed, but the dude has yet to take a single walk and is striking out 36% of the time. That’s not good. He’s rocking a swinging-strike rate that’s 8% higher than league average, and a contact rate that’s 14% lower than the league. However he’s also only been in the majors for a bit, and we can’t draw any real conclusions from that.
Good, Bad, or Interesting?
This debut of Laureano’s has left me wanting to know more, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. I’m not ready to declare that Ramon Laureano is good, as we’ll need to see if the patience and power translate to the majors. He has done enough in his short time in the majors and throughout his minor league career that I am happy to call him interesting.
This star lacks pedigree, as he was the number one pick in the sixteenth round, but he has enough speed, power, patience, and flash that he’s worthy of our attention. Go grab him, throw him on your bench, and see if he blooms into something worth starting.
Hey, at the very least he’s provided us with one hell of an entertaining week.