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Scouting the Stat Line – 6/11/2019

The Dynasty Guru updates its peak performance leaderboards weekly. View the latest update here, updated through last week’s games.

The leaderboards present peak MLB wOBA for all players, minor and major leaguers. Peak MLB wOBA captures league difficulty, adjusting minor league performance from each league to the same major league baseline. It also adjusts for aging. These adjustments are derived from research done by Jordan Rosenblum.  Please see our debut introducing the leaderboards here.

If you’re interested in learning more about this research, please go here to read about Jordan’s MLB equivalency calculator.  This article also links to his four-part series of articles on the related research. Each week, Jordan and I are authoring a new piece to the “Scouting the State Line” series, highlighting interesting movement and players that we have recognized through analysis of this data.

Also, if you haven’t seen Jesse Roche’s latest top prospect update, go read that immediately here!

Notes from the 5/28 ‘Scouting the Stat Line’ Prospect Highlights (Follow This Link to Read the Entire 5/28 Article)

PROSPECT

PEAK wOBA CHANGE STOCK
Yordan Alvarez -64

Neutral

Luis Robert

-27

Neutral

Wander Franco

19

Rising

Kyle Tucker

17

Rising

Alek Thomas

36

Rising

Dylan Carlson

-4

Neutral

Sam Huff

11

Rising

Abraham Toro

-10

Neutral

Miguel Vargas

-7

Neutral

Josh Ockimey -44

Falling

 

Yordan Alvarez and Luis Robert continue to dominate the peak wOBA projections, though their projections are finally coming into the “somewhat realistic” zone.  Both have finally dipped under .500, as Alvarez’s average has dropped down from nearly .400 two weeks ago to a more-human .343 before he received his call up to the big leagues.  While these dips are significant, it was always expected that they would come down.  After his call to the bigs, Alvarez demonstrated that the hype is absolutely justified by promptly launching a dinger in his first game up.  If you have any chance to get him on your roster, make it happen!  Meanwhile, Robert trails Alvarez by just 9 points in projected peak wOBA. Keston Hiura occupies a distant 3rd place after a strong Major League debut, though nearly 25 points below Robert (.474 to .448).  Robert continues to perform admirably in Double-A (.319/.360/.539), a slight downgrade from his titanic performance prior to his promotion (an absurd .453/.512/.920).

Sam Huff, who I highlighted in my last write-up, continues to put up seriously impressive numbers.  In the article, I mentioned that I am not convinced that he can keep it up.  Since then, I have read talk of him establishing himself as the Rangers’ best prospect.  I hedged my bets and added him to my fantasy roster.  He will maintain a spot in my minor leagues for as long as he slugs like he is.  Other players I highlighted that continue to rake include Dylan Carlson (#12 on the leaderboard with a .410 projected peak wOBA), Alek Thomas (improved to #13 with a .409 peak wOBA), and Kyle Tucker (#19, .401).  Tucker was awarded the Pacific Coast League Player of the Month for his continued dominance after a miserable first month of the season, and soon may be in line for a promotion in the vein of his teammate Yordan Alvarez.  Miguel Vargas continues with steady performance, and also hit his first dinger on the season since the last update.

I am also particularly proud to report that after stating that I think Wander Franco has been unlucky on the year, he responded by raising his batting average 36 points over the last two weeks (from .287 to .323) and his projected peak wOBA by 19 points (from .415 to .434).  As I previously wrote, I anticipate that he will soon possess the #1 prospect tag, once Fernando Tatis gathers enough Major League plate appearances to disqualify himself.

Is there anything that can happen to derail Franco’s ascent to #1?  One possibility lies with the influx of exciting new talent coming in from the MLB draft.  I look forward to watching how the new talent performs against professional competition.  In particular, I am looking forward to seeing how the college bats fare. Adley Rutschman, Andrew Vaughn, J.J. Bleday, and Josh Jung are who I will have my eyes on the most out of the gates.

 

New Prospect Highlights

Jarred Kelenic, SEA

Age: 19

Level: Single-A

Season Slash Lines: .316/.398/.595

Peak wOBA Projections: .433

It’s hard to believe that I haven’t already written about some of the really good players I am highlighting today.  Out of that group, Kelenic appears to be the best.  He has been hitting since the season began, but a recent surge has made it impossible for me to ignore him any longer.  Kelenic ranks 7th on the leaderboards overall and has healthy-looking ratios across the board.  He has increased his projection from last year by 23%, which strikes me as a tad high and may indicate some regression.  However, Kelenic also gets raves for his superior work ethic. If those reports as accurate, seeing him improve at a faster clip than the average player would not be a surprise.

Drew Waters, ATL

Age: 20

Level: Double-A

Season Slash Line: .316/.366/.496

Peak wOBA Projection: .403

Waters continues to impress with the bat and will be skyrocketing up prospect charts soon if he keeps it up.  In fact, he has already ballooned to #20 overall on Jesse Roche’s June top prospects update.  His average, which now hovers around the league lead (just below the person detailed below), is somewhat buoyed by a likely unsustainable .455 BABIP.  Regardless, Braves fans must be intrigued by the idea of getting a heavier bat into the Braves outfield lineup to complement Ronald Acuna.  A future outfield of Acuna, Waters, and Cristian Pache certainly sounds intriguing.

Jake Fraley, SEA

Age: 24

Level: Double-A

Season Slash Line: .333/.402/.576

Peak wOBA Projection: .397

Fraley is older than I generally like to mention in the prospect highlights, but his performance so far certainly merits it.  Currently, Fraley leads all of Double-A in batting average, and he is doing it while hitting for power as well, sporting an OPS just under 1.000 on the season (.978).  His 2019 performance is also well-aligned with how he performed in High-A ball last year, which bodes well moving forward.  Will he end up being a .330+ hitter in the Major Leagues?  Unlikely.  But he may still end up being a significant boon to your fantasy team.  Not calculated in his already stellar wOBA projection is his 14 stolen bases, which comes on the heels of the 39 bags he stole in 2018. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better overall performer in the minor leagues right now than Jake Fraley.

Nolan Jones, CLE

Age: 21

Level: Single-A

Season Slash Line: .295/.438/.421

Peak wOBA Projection: .390

The power has not been there for Jones as much as it has been in the past.  However, the first thing that strikes me when looking at Nolan Jones’s profile is how many pitches he must see.  In 235 plate appearances, Jones already has drawn 47 walks, good enough to help him sport a hefty .438 OBP.  Indeed, Jones ranks fifth out of 199 qualified batters in High-A for the number of pitches he sees per plate appearance, at 4.3.  If the power starts showing up, we are talking about a possible middle of the order bat that will add extra oomph to lineups in OBP leagues.

Gavin Lux, STL

Age: 20

Level: Double-A

Season Slash Line: .299/.353/.509

Peak wOBA Projection: .385

I have put off talking about Lux for long enough.  Unfortunately, I am catching him at one of his weaker points in the season, as he has only hit .240 with no home runs or doubles since my last article came out.  Hopefully, this just indicates a mini-slump rather than a new trend. Considering last year’s performance, I tend to believe it is more the former than it is the latter.  Lux dropped from #13 on the leaderboard to #38, but his performance is still in line with last year’s breakout (right now he is -1% off last year’s projection, two weeks ago he was 7% above).  I anticipate that moving forward we will see him produce something that is in line with his season-long slash rates (~.300/.355/.515).

Xavier Edwards, SDP

Age: 19

Level: Single-A

Season Slash Line: .341/.395/.396

Peak wOBA Projection: .369

A personal favorite of mine, Edwards currently leads the Midwest League in batting average, almost 20 points above Wander Franco.  Two weeks ago, Edwards was even hotter, with his batting average topping out at .375 before coming down to earth.  Edwards’s detractors state that he will not be able to continue producing such a high batting average as he moves up levels due to his slap-hitting approach.  Undeniably, there is practically no power to Edwards’s game, as he has yet to hit a home run in 438 minor league plate appearances.  However, Edwards also possesses a .343 career batting average, impressive control of the strike zone (a perfect 1:1 career K/BB ratio), and blazing speed (again, wOBA does not take speed into account) that will help him put pressure on opposing defenders.  The numbers say he is performing close to how he is expected to improve over the years, with his peak wOBA only 2% below last year’s projection.  If you can afford to give up power in one of your lineup slots, Edwards could end up helping you win with stolen bases while also helping your peripheral hitting stats, such as batting average and OBP.

Ivan Herrera, STL

Age: 19

Level: Single-A

Season Slash Line: .279/.383/.434

Peak wOBA Projection: .383

Herrera, who just turned 19 on June 1st, has already proven he can hit professional pitching at the lower levels.  Coming into 2019, Herrera possessed a career .335 batting average across 336 plate appearances in 2017 and 2018.  This year, after moving up to the Midwest league (an advanced assignment for such a young catcher), the batting average has dipped slightly, but power is coming into to play.  Herrera has five home runs this year, compared to just two in the preceding two seasons. It isn’t too often that you see catchers this young at this level.  While his approach is a little different, I am reminded somewhat of Keibert Ruiz.  In another year, Herrera could very well be similarly distinguished on top prospect lists.

Mario Feliciano, HOU

Age: 20

Level: Single-A

Season Slash Line: .281/.333/.539

Peak wOBA Projection: .392

Another young catching prospect to whet your appetite, Feliciano is demonstrating serious power behind the plate, with 14 homers and a .539 slugging percentage on the season.  Feliciano is still relatively unknown in prospect circles, but that will change if he continues his current performance.  In contrast to Herrera above him, Feliciano doesn’t possess the same strong track record, as no part of his slash line has really been anywhere close in three previous seasons to what he is doing this year.  The projected numbers indicate that his peak wOBA has increased by 35%, compared to what it was at the end of last year.  His strikeout rate is also higher than one would like, which may cause him some problems as he moves up.  However, as we saw with Sam Huff last week, there is also a chance that the hits and dingers just keep coming too.  Feliciano’s numbers indicate regression may be in store, so for now, I would categorize him as “someone to keep a close eye on”.

“Too Old to be a Prospect” Guys to Keep an Eye On

Mike Ford

Brian Mundell Tim Locastro

Michael Brosseau

Age: 26

Age: 25 Age: 26

Age: 25

Level: Triple-A

Level: Triple-A Level: MLB

Level: Triple-A

Season Slash Line:

.350/.455/.706

Season Slash Line:

.364/.426/.558

Season Slash Line:

.330/.425/.701

Season Slash Line:

.316/.414/.583

Peak wOBA Projection: .413

Peak wOBA Projection: .398 Peak wOBA Projection: .395

Peak wOBA Projection: .393

 

Above are several players that are too old to really be considered prospects at this point but have been absolutely destroying Triple-A pitching.  These players have either received a call up to the Major Leagues or are close to it.  While their mastery of the high minors does not always translate to major league success for players like them, there is a chance to land a difference-maker here through your league’s free agency.

The Author

Ross Jensen

Ross Jensen

Ross has been an avid fantasy baseball player and League Manager for over a decade. Ross's fantasy approach is to build league powers is through hunting down talented minor leaguers and targeting players on the verge of breakout based on a variety of metrics, statistical analysis, and assumptions.

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