Triple Play

TDG’s Triple Play: Arizona Diamondbacks!

The Triple Play is back for a third season! This regular feature is broken down by staff writers Bob Osgood and Paul Monte and a rotating panel of third writers. If you’re new to the Triple Play, this series breaks down an arm, a bat, and a prospect within each organization for your reading pleasure!

Follow Bob (@BobOsgood15) and Paul (@3cardmonte13) and Joe Drake (@JDrake349) on twitter and read their analysis here at the site!


Zac Gallen, Age: 24, Position: SP

Analysis by:  Paul Monte

THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED

Gallen, a third-round pick of Saint Louis in 2016, will open the season on the third team of his very short professional career. Just under 10 innings pitched in rookie ball to finish his 2016 season was all the Cardinals needed to give the 21-year-old an assignment in High-A to open the 2017 season. He failed to find himself listed in the Baseball Prospectus 2017 edition of the Futures Guide, or the Baseball America organizational top 30, standard for a college arm and third-round pick. What he did in 2017 was not standard- he dominated High-A and moved up to Double-A after just 55 innings. He didn’t stop there either, as the Cardinals remained aggressive and pushed him up to Triple-A to close out his 2017 season as a 21-year-old.  

Instead of starting the 2018 season back in Memphis, he found himself New Orleans pitching for the Miami Marlins. Gallen was traded to Miami along with Sandy Alcantara and two other players for Marcell Ozuna. He had cracked the top 10 of the prospects lists that were mentioned above but profiled as a low risk back end starter. All of 2018 was spent in Triple-A as well as the first half of 2019. It became clear that even though the stuff was not overpowering–he sits just under 93 MPH with his Four-Seamer–the control made everything play up. He got seven starts with the big club before he was traded again, this time to Arizona, for fellow prospect Jazz Chisolm.

THEN IT GETS WEIRD

Not often does a third-round pick out of college with backend starter projections see the type of rise in the fantasy world that Gallen has. Fantasy owners will drool over the pedigree of a first-round pick, the upside of a guy with “great stuff,” but not many are reaching for the “low ceiling,” ready-soon arm. That’s reserved for deep head to head points league where Gallen was indeed being drafted in the last free agent rounds of drafts. Some publications that focus on real-life baseball are debating if Gallen will earn a role in the starting rotation in 2020. The Diamondbacks added Madison Bumgarner in the offseason to pair with fellow lefty, Robbie Ray. Luke Weaver, Mike Leake, Merrill Kelly, and Gallen will battle it out for the last three spots in the rotation.

FANTASY OWNERS DISAGREE

ADP on March 7th according to the NFBC for Arizona pitchers is as follows.

Player

ADP

Madison Bumgarner

123

Zac Gallen

128

Robbie Ray

153

Luke Weaver

190

Merril Kelly

432

Mike Leake

606

Not only is Gallen going before Robbie Ray, but he’s also getting drafted just after Jesus Luzardo and before Hyun-Jin Ryu, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Max Fried. The fact that he is still just 24-years-old drives his price even higher in the dynasty world.

One of the most overlooked stats for pitchers is innings. Gallen has thrown over 130 innings in the minors and totaled 171.1 innings before getting shut down in 2019. If he wins the rotation spot as expected, he could be in line for an increase in 2020, though most of the popular projection systems call for closer to 150. His K% remained in the high 20’s at 28.7% but the BB% was up over 10%. This was a career-high for Gallen, and double what he had done in his 14 Triple-A starts.

CONCLUSION

Gallen is checking boxes and showing continued improvement but this is no longer happening behind the scenes. If you were lucky enough to grab him for free in 2018 or 2019, you will enjoy his 2020 season. His current ADP and cost in dynasty startups is too high for me. It’s not a knock on the pitcher, but rather the cost. He will need to maintain the huge gains he has had to return value and I am fine with missing out on this one.

 


Eduardo Escobar, Age: 31, Position: 3B, 2B

Analysis by: Bob Osgood

QUIEN ES ESCOBAR?

After spending the majority of his minor league career with the White Sox from 2006-2012, the Venezuelan Eduardo Escobar was traded to Minnesota in a deal that brought Francisco Liriano to Chicago as a rental, prior to his free agency. Although Escobar made his major league debut with Chicago in 2011 at 22-years-old, Escobar was first given significant playing time by Minnesota in 2014 and has played in 100+ games in every year since, mainly as a super-utility man. In his career, Escobar has played 455 games at third base, 328 at shortstop, 92 at second base, 45 in the outfield, 37 at designated hitter, and has even spent one inning at both pitcher and catcher. With an exit velocity in the bottom 8% as recently as 2016, Escobar’s value was versatility … until it wasn’t, when he began chipping in 20-homer pop in 2017.

ESCOBAR, EL PATRÓN?

In 2018, Escobar had 55 extra-base hits in late-July, which was more than he had in any of his entire seasons during his seven previous years in the majors. At this time, the Twins moved him to the Diamondbacks for a trio of prospects led by Jhoan “Hungry Like The Wolf” Duran. The Twins likely thought they were selling high on a career year from Escobar. The year-and-a-half that Escobar has spent in Arizona since the trade has proven him to be a reliable player, both in fantasy and in real life. He finished that 2018 season with a total of 74 extra-base hits, and he followed that up in 2019 with an identical 74 extra-base hits. The distribution of extra-base hits, however, came from a home run boost that accompanied the rest of the league. While his doubles decreased from 48 to 29 between ’18 and ’19, his triples jumped from three to a Major League-leading ten, and his home run total went from 23 to 35. Escobar is not a Statcast darling, ranking only in the 29th percentile of Exit Velocity in 2019, but he did improve that velocity by 1.3 mph from 2018 (86.5 to 87.8 mph).

Focusing on 2019 alone, Escobar had 35 home runs, 118 RBI, 94 runs, and five steals, which were ALL a career-high, to go along with a more than serviceable .269 batting average. The 118 RBI was tied for fifth in all of MLB. The one surprising Statcast area that Escobar stood out in 2019 is that he had a 67th percentile sprint speed, despite his career-high in steals being five. On the defensive side, Escobar has made a combined 12 errors over the past two seasons. He was 1st of 19 qualifying third basemen in fielding percentage in 2018, and 3rd of 17 qualifiers in 2019, right next to defensive wizards Matt Chapman and Nolan Arenado both seasons.

CONCLUSIÓN

Even if there is an expected regression with his bat (projection systems have Escobar closer to a 25/90/80 player), his glove should keep him on the field, both from defensive productivity and versatility perspectives. He enters 2020 with eligibility at both second and third base, one of the rare “Corner/Middle” players in fantasy. The lack of stand-out Statcast numbers, along with the idea of a late-career breakout does not always resonate with the fantasy community, but Escobar has now had two straight seasons of 3.6-3.7 WAR. He clocked in at 36th overall (30th hitter) on Razzball’s Player Rater in 2019. That seems like a player that should be going well within the top-100 players in redraft, especially in a season where second base stinks on ice. Recent NFBC Average Draft Position has Escobar going around the 117th pick, a steal in my opinion. On a dynasty team within its competitive window, the 31-year-old Escobar is a great target as a hold or buy for the next couple of seasons.

 


Kristian Robinson, Age: 19, Position: OF, Level: Low-A

Analysis by:     Joe Drake

HERE’S TO YOU, MR. ROBINSON

Kristian Robinson just looks like a star. He’s got that long, lean build of a wide receiver at 6’3” and 190lbs with long levers and he oozes athleticism. If you’re going to build the ideal outfielder, they would look pretty similar to Robinson. The next thing you’ll notice is that there’s thunder in his bat. Robinson generates great bat speed with all that strength and athleticism and he punishes baseballs. He’s also a plus runner right now (though he’ll likely drop a grade or so depending on how much he fills out). I should note that he came into 2020 looking noticeably slimmer, so perhaps he’ll hold that speed a little longer than expected — hat tip to The Welsh. To recap, Robinson is a physically-gifted athlete who possesses speed and power and might be able to stick in center field. The only potential flaw in his game is the hit tool. 

MR. ROBINSON YOU’RE TRYING TO SEDUCE ME

Despite turning 19 this winter, Robinson has already gotten a taste of full-season ball. Arizona has been aggressive with his assignments and Kristian has responded by hitting at each level. He’s posted a wRC+ over 100 at each stop including an insane 171 number in the Northwest League in 189 plate appearances. And we’re not just talking about a hot week here, he showed a sustained ability to annihilate pitching in short-season A-ball and then held his own in 100 PAs in the Midwest League. It wasn’t always pretty (.217 BA), but he was able to work a walk (7.8% walk %) and hit for power (.217 ISO, a stat that tells you how often a batter hits for extra bases) despite being much younger than the competition.

Something that sticks out to me about Kristian Robinson is his approach. While the strikeout rates are a little higher than you’d like (I’ll touch on that in a second), I really like his ability to draw walks against advanced competition. Robinson has managed walk rates in the high single digits and low double digits and has looked comfortable at the plate in the video I’ve seen. I like that quite a bit and I think it bodes well for his success going forward. The pitching is only going to get tougher from here on out.

There are a couple of concerns with Robinson’s offensive game, but neither appears to be a dealbreaker right now. First, is the hit tool. There’s a decent amount of swing and miss to his game and you can see it right away in the strikeout rates (28%, 25%, 25%, 29%). The development of the hit tool is going to decide just how big of a star Robinson becomes. If everything comes together and he grows into a league-average hit tool, he’ll be one of the most dangerous hitters in the league. If he struggles to find his feel for the barrel, the ceiling gets a lot lower — you can’t hit home runs if you can’t hit the ball. The other piece is that Kristian drives down on the ball right now, which means he doesn’t tap into as much power as he could in games. You can see it in his GB/FB ratios as they all sit between 1.20 and 1.50. Ideally, he’d be closer to 1.00. He’s going to need to fix that attack angle if he’s going to maximize his abilities.

THAT SCENE WHERE THEY’RE SITTING IN THE BUS AT THE END (THE CONCLUSION)

Verdict: I am buying Kristian Robinson shares anywhere I can get my hands on them and I think you should too. He’s not going to be cheap, but he’ll be cheaper now than he will be later this summer.


PREVIOUSLY COVERED TEAMS

NL WEST NL CENTRAL NL EAST
ARI CHC ATL
COL CIN MIA
LAD MIL NYM
SDP PIT PHI
SFG STL WAS
AL WEST AL CENTRAL AL EAST
HOU CWS BAL
LAA CLE BOS
OAK DET NYY
SEA KC TB
TEX MIN TOR

The Author

Keaton O. DeRocher

Keaton O. DeRocher

Keaton O. DeRocher is a Data and Tech Consultant in Chicago, Senior Baseball Writer for The Dynasty Guru and writer for Over The Monster. A voice on Dynasty's Child podcast and on the Over The Monster podcast network. Lover of bat flips, brunch, and Bombay Sapphire. His High School batting average was .179 and he lead the team in strikeouts. Follow him on Twitter @TheSpokenKeats

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