Posts Tagged ‘Baseball Prospectus’

by: Mauricio Rubio Jr.
email: mr@99sportsproblems.com
twitter: @MRubio52

You should read yesterday’s opening post to get an idea of where I’m coming from with all this. Also, before we continue on, check out the Chicago Cubs prospect tracker over at Prospectus, keep it in mind when you’re reading the rest of this. If’ you’re looking for Rizzo, he’s still listed with the Padres.

Cub fans seem acutely aware of both the farm system and the MLB draft this year. What we’ve been told ever since the arrival of Theo Epstein is that the Cubs will build a winner from within. A new emphasis has been placed on the draft and player development. It’s something that was set in motion with last year’s draft which impressed Theo Epstein for its approach, even if he didn’t value the players the same way the Cubs did.

I do understand the excitement about the farm hands, the Major League club has been awful and really hasn’t given much reason for excitement. Anthony Rizzo and Brett Jackson have been top of mind for Cub fans, ditto with Javy Baez and Josh Vitters. The problem with the Cubs farm system is that it lacks impact talent that can help the big league team. Jackson’s ceiling is “good player.” Rizzo can be an above average 1B. Baez isn’t going to stick at short, and he’s so raw no one knows what he’ll do. Vitters lost a lot of stars off his prospect status and no one knows if he’ll ever be ready. And then there’s the thin pitching depth…

It’s not good, it’s not close, and it’s not going to happen soon. Know this, let it sink in, understand there is no savior that is coming in to save the Cubs. It’s a long process TheoCo is undertaking, and it’s all about drastically changing the very infrastructure of a franchise that was slow to adapt to the new way of doing baseball. This isn’t add a few pieces here and there. The Cubs aren’t in “just add a free agent 1B mode.” We’re talking a complete and massive overhaul of a system. I think it could be fun. All the people dressed as green seats at Cubs games are telling me that most don’t think it’s very fun at all. That’s ok. That’s expected.

So, while you’re watching the draft, keep this in mind.

  • You can’t trade draft picks. Can’t stress that enough. Teams aren’t allowed to trade picks at all. Don’t ask for it.
  • This isn’t the NFL draft. In several respects. The Cubs are probably going to take a SS with their first overall pick. I would put money on it, actually. The talent selected here is a huge unknown, and it’s not a sure shot that any of the 50+ players selected will be a contributor at the Major League level in even 3 years. Think about that for a moment, 3-5 years from now you still might not see any of these cats up with the big league team.
  • Theo does a blend approach. Numbers/scouting eyes. That’s his M.O. That’s how he builds, and that’s the right way to do it in my humble opinion.
  • AAA isn’t really a proving ground anymore. AA is where it’s at. AAA is full of old Quad A players who are filling out rosters. Young kids with stuff to prove will go to Tennessee. Guys waiting for a spot to open end up at Iowa.
  • Good young prospects don’t go to Peoria, they end up at Daytona. You’ll be able to tell what the Cubs think about a guy depending on where they send him. Daytona is advanced A ball, Peoria is A- ball. The players they value early will end up at Daytona.
  • Watch the plan of attack. The draft is meh this year. Watch what they acquire though, this is the first year the CBA is in effect and it will affect who they draft and why.

The Cubs have the 6th overall pick, so let’s get straight to that. The reports are small because, well, I’m not going to project too much there. I can tell you what I like, what I don’t like, and what I think they end up being. Honestly, that’s all you need too. No “if he” bullshit. These are 5 guys I would target with their pick, in no particular order.

Kyle Zimmer – RHP University of San Fransisco

[youtube http://youtu.be/GB1KG-ZDeQo]

What I like

Easy gas. Has been clocked at 96-97, but recently sitting at 93-95. Good action on his two seamer. Decent offspeed offering. Stats show that he misses bats. Has a solid body, looks like it can carry some extra good weight. He can handle the SP load. Decent delivery…

What I don’t like

…right up until the follow through. Falls to the 1B side, compromising some control. Stats say he only issued 17 BB’s, but I can see him having control issues once he hits pro ball. Conference record, which is usually against better competition, was meh. Loss in velocity is a concern.

Synopsis

I like him, quite a bit. Scouts are a bit put off by his dip in velocity. Just as likely to go 1-1 as he is to fall even beyond the Cubs. I would take the flyer on his arm, it has good action and it pitches an above average fastball, sometimes an elite fastball. That’s big. The rest you can learn, the fastball is the framework for everything. If he’s there, that’s the guy I take.

Carlos Correa – SS Puerto Rico Baseball Academy

[youtube http://youtu.be/xxkCTTe-4m0]

No stats I could find.

What I like

He’s clearly been taught the game of baseball by professionals. Small hitch in the swing when he loads, but what he does to create leverage is outstanding. He’s an athlete, solid body, looks like it’ll fill out well. He’s really short to the baseball, creates good batspeed, flashes good power. He’s a refined baseball player, which is rare in a kid this young.

What I don’t like

I don’t think he sticks at short where his bat potential is special. He has the arm to play third. He’s not fast/quick enough to survive at short with a bigger body. Don’t know how he’ll handle some of the breaking stuff he’ll see at pro ball. I don’t like the hitch at all, and sometimes he can swing from his front leg more than his back.

Synopsis

Raw. His bat is obviously much more tantalizing at short, I don’t think he sticks there. I think he’s a 3B, and he’ll have to hit better than I think to justify him being an everyday player. Worth the risk, but it’s a big one.

Mike Zunino – C Florida

[youtube http://youtu.be/W67frV4rCyE]

What I like

Mean swing. Great balance, simple load, quick to the ball. Great bat speed. Generates a lot of power. Stout body, well-built, looks the part. From what I’ve read about him, he’s improved as a catcher by leaps and bounds. Frames pitches well, good arm. He looks like he can be a solid catcher for a long time.

What I don’t like

That’s a lot of strikeouts, too many for that type of swing. It’s not a hole, so it’s likely pitch recognition/bad command of the strike zone. Obvious risk factor for a catcher.

Synopsis. 

I would consider taking him above Zimmer, I would probably take him over Correa too. His bat looks like it can play in the Majors, his strike zone command needs improving. Defense is key, and it looks like his is good enough.

Kevin Gausman – SP LSU

[youtube http://youtu.be/NCelzHSiPjE]

What I like

Great fastball. Great frame, good quick delivery. Quick, athletic, misses bats. Fastball has good movement on it, slider shows potential. Changeup looks like the fastball.

What I don’t like

He’s really raw, has issues with command, likely needs to scrap a middling curve and pick up a new pitch so he can develop the slider. High risk guy because he may never figure it out. Bad control.

Synopsis

He has #1 potential, which makes him so tantalizing. He’s also really far away from MLB at this point. He flashes a good slider and his fastball-change combo will be good enough to get him through High-A ball. I don’t know if the slider will develop enough to survive AA though. If I were the GM, I’d pay to find out though.

Byron Buxton – OF Appling County HS

[youtube http://youtu.be/_jEOvrNoBlE]

Dark horse candidate. I don’t think he falls to the Cubs, but at least there’s an outside chance of it, unlike Appel.

What I like

All of it. He’s a 5-tool guy. Great athlete, good repeatable swing, good arm, solid fielder, can probably play CF/SS/2B, bat projects well to all those positions. Stays on balance with his swing and he has really easy speed. I’d be surprised and ecstatic if he fell to the Cubs.

What I don’t like

Obviously raw, power potential might be overstated. Fundamentally lacking in the field.

Synopsis

It would take a cascade of events for the Cubs to get him, but if he ends up there, be it because scouts are turned off by…something I dunno, or Scott Boras shenanigans, the Cubs should take him.

Overall

This is an important draft. My twitter handle is up at the top, I’ll be doing some live tweeting during the event. I’d love to talk with you guys and see what you think about the picks. See you guys June 4.

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by: Mauricio Rubio Jr.
email: mr@99sportsproblems.com
twitter: @MRubio52

The purpose of this article is to inform you, the Chicago baseball fan, about the draft as much as I can. If you want some hardcore draft analysis, check out Kevin Goldstein at Baseball Prospectus. I’ll reference that and other sites a lot, so it’s probably a good idea to get yourself acquainted with their work.

The MLB draft is gaining a lot of attention locally with Theo Epstein coming to town to run the baseball ops of the Chicago Cubs. I think this is the most attention the draft has ever received locally. What the draft means to White Sox fans should also be important for a few reasons. The Chicago White Sox have been in a weird “Win Now” mode since 2000. I can’t think of many developmental years since Kenny Williams became the GM. He’s earned a reputation as a gambler, someone who views prospects as suspects, and most importantly, a GM that isn’t afraid to empty the system to go after talent.

That’s why the White Sox farm system is panned so often. We can look it over and talk about the contributions that former farm hands are giving to the Sox, most impressively Chris Sale. However, it’s no big secret that Kenny’s impact guys usually come via trade or Latin American/Free Agent signing. Gordon Beckham, Brent Morel, and Tyler Flowers are the only position players that were drafted by the Sox and up with the big club. All three are failing to produce and all three are likely candidates to be replaced next year. The pitching side has done much better, pumping out Chris Sale, Addison Reed, and Nate Jones in an extremely small sample size.

It’s not fair to say that the White Sox don’t draft well, they clearly do as they are able to flip prospects for good talent with some regularity. They landed Peavy for Dexter Carter, Aaron Poreda, Clayton Richard and Adam Russell. All talent from their farm system, all turned into a solid contributor so far this year. They flipped Gio Gonzalez for twice. He was traded to the Phillies for Thome, sent back to the Sox for Freddy Garcia (the White Sox also landed Gavin Floyd in this trade), sent to Oakland for Nick Swisher and then he finally ended up in Washington where he is currently enjoying some success.

What does that say about the White Sox and the draft in general? It says to me that the White Sox don’t trust the draft much. You can’t really blame them for that either, the MLB draft is one of the biggest enigmas in all of sports. The talent is so raw yet so far away from the Major League level. The chasm between AAA ball and MLB ball is wide, and it’s illustrated by the MLB failures that proceed to tear up AAA ball for years. Bobby Scales currently has a .945 OPS at AAA Buffalo and he isn’t close to being a Major League player.

With all that in mind, here are some things to keep in mind when watching the draft:

  • Nobody drafts for need. Best Available player is always selected in the first 12-15 rounds. Sometimes teams will end up drafting 4-5 shortstops in the first 10 rounds because those are the best players on the board. You don’t know who will actually end up sticking at their positions either, especially shortstop.
  • High school players are still a bad bet. If you find the right guy, he could turn into Rickey Henderson, but more often than not they just end up being Billy Beane.
  • Speaking of Beane…It’s no coincidence that the best player that Beane took in the Moneyball draft was a guy that both the numbers guys and scouting guys loved, Nick Swisher. Keep that in mind. Both of these things must work in harmony. Numbers tell only one side of the story, ditto with a pretty swing.
  • This draft blows. Consensus is that there is no franchise changer in this draft. It’s also really thin and some are calling it the worst draft in 20+ years.
  • Don’t expect the kids to come up anytime soon. Or at all. The most important thing to watch during a draft, I think, is to look for a plan. What are they drafting? Are they going all athletes? Are they going after pitchers with raw arms? Are they targeting more groomed College pitchers? Are they taking risks on broken wings? What’s their plan is more important than who they draft in a lot of ways.

Let’s get to the names that are being projected for the White Sox. Like I said, check Prospectus for their big board, it should be coming out pretty soon and it’s a really great board.

There isn’t a consensus #1 in this draft, which makes the unenviable task of projecting picks even more difficult and impossible. A few different outlets have the Sox taking either an SP or a 3B, but let’s look at 5 guys I think they should take with the pick if they’re there.

Joey Gallo – 1B/3B Bishop Gorman HS

[youtube http://youtu.be/oXVr2gKr1Po]

He pitches too, but he projects much better as a corner infield prospect. Here are some of his scout videos. From what I gather about his defense, it’ll be a shocker if he sticks at third. He’s committed to LSU, but if he gets drafted and offered the money, I can’t see how he would turn it down.

What I like

The swing is nice and easy, it’s fluid, repeatable and generates power. It’s not a batting practice swing either, he shows it in the game. He hit .506 last year with 20 HR’s in high school. He’s got a big frame that projects to fill out nicely. Strong arm.

What I don’t like

He’s not quick on his feet, I can’t see him sticking at third at all. He’s a high school kid, so the risk factor is high with him there. Also, his speed is meh already and he won’t get any quicker. His bat would play better at third.

Synopsis

Good bat, has a lot of potential. If I was Kenny I would draft him if he were available.

Richie Shaffer – 3B/1B Clemson

[youtube http://youtu.be/899EWcexyGU]

Another 3b/1b guy, this isn’t to replace either Konerko or Morel, but I think these guys project to be the types of guys that can rake at the Cell.

What I like

Good swing, consistent approach from the cages to the game. Improved his OBP and SLG every year at Clemson. Athletic body, closer to being a finished product.

What I don’t like

Looks like he didn’t handle the transition to third too well, sporting a .935 FLDG%. Swing plane is a little flat. He strikes out too much. 48K’s in 218 AB’s at the collegiate level.

Synopsis

Interesting guy, better feet than Gallo, can learn to be adequate at third, but he’ll never be a good 3B. Decent enough arm.

Deven Marrero – SS Arizona State

[youtube http://youtu.be/TLQyIC9iWsI]

The Pirates are high on him, but he could slip.

What I like

The glove and the arm are nice. Feet are quick too. Bat has some life to it.

What I don’t like

His stance is weird and will probably be corrected in the minors. His hitting collapsed this year, even though the tools are still evident. He didn’t put together a solid year with the glove even though the word on him is that his glove is close to MLB ready. Plus arm, reads the ball well off the bat, and he can pick it. The high error rate is perplexing.

Synopsis

The bat will be a project. He does flash power, but that stance/weight transfer is just ugly. He has the tools to stick at short, but he’ll have to cut the mental errors.

Lucas Giolito – SP Harvard-Westlake School

[youtube http://youtu.be/WeqhrGzMjjM]

Ahh, the prototypical problem HS arm.

What I like

God that arm.

What I don’t like

God that arm is hurt.

Synopsis

He’s got an incredibly high ceiling, and if he stayed healthy, he could have creeped into the top 10. He was a fireballer with intriguing breaking stuff before the injury, now teams will be interested to see how he bounces back into form. I would risk it.

Andrew Heaney – SP Oklahoma State

[youtube http://youtu.be/JytqYmEbt9w]

Could go in the single digits, but he might be there for the Sox

What I like

He misses a lot of bats. 120 K’s in 102 IP. Good command too, only 19 BB’s. Decent fastball, sits around 93, drops to 88 late in games. Off-speed stuff is interesting.

What I don’t like

He throws a bit like Walter Johnson, which worked for The Big Train, but not so much this guy. The delivery is easy and repeatable, but I’m not a fan of it. His body is slight, and won’t get bigger in a good way. Fastball is what it is.

Synopsis

Potential to be a 3/4 starter, flashes good stuff, can obviously miss bats at the college level which is key.

 

Yeah I know, there’s a lot of HS talent there. That’s what’s up there in terms of talent in this draft though. College players didn’t wow this year. Those are the five I would target as the Sox. There isn’t much in this draft. The good intriguing talent should be gone by then. Cubs tomorrow.

According to the oracle known as “Google,” Pie Traynor was quite the ballplayer/scout. He was widely regarded as the best 3b in baseball history for quite some time, he played in the 20’s and 30’s, a different period of baseball when the stolen base was out of style and teams began to look for the 3 run homer for offense.

We at A Drinking Town With A Sports Problem have a fantasy league that we rather enjoy. It’s fun, crass, competitive, totally bullshit, but honestly, I wouldn’t want to be in any other league. It was a private 8 team league.

Until now.

We have at minimum 4 spots available as we look to expand to 12 teams for the 2012 season. The Rules are all outlined here (click on image to zoom):

As you can see, it’s pretty basic, with the caveat of this turning into a dynasty league after this year, meaning you can keep your entire roster for the 2013 season.

If you are interested in signing up, please fill out the form below. We’ll be looking for you.

Mauricio Rubio Jr.
Commissioner  

 

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West Chicago Blues

Episode 008 – ALEXEEEEIII! YES, YES, HISTORY!

Posted: February 6, 2012 by Mauricio Rubio Jr. in Podcast
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In this episode, we forget football ever happened, we review Soxfest, interview Alexei Ramirez and Dayan Viciedo, review a great Chicago brew (not Ronnie Brewer), discuss a lot of baseball, and reveal our favorite sports books of all time.