The Detroit Tigers farm system is full of highly rated fantasy talent, especially on the pitching side (Matt Manning, Casey Mize, Franklin Perez, Alex Faedo, etc.), but one bat is clamoring for more attention: 19-year-old middle infielder Isaac Paredes. Signed by the Chicago Cubs out of Mexico as a 15-year-old in 2015, Paredes played one-and-a-half seasons in the Cubs system before heading to Detroit last season as part of the return for RP Justin Wilson and C Alex Avila. Paredes opened the year in Advanced A at age 19, raking in 84 games at that level before earning a promotion to AA. Here are his numbers on the year:
Let’s focus on his Advanced A numbers for now. That .196 ISO rated sixth overall for the Florida State League (Min. 300 PA’s) and would have rated seventh and twelfth respectively in the two other Advanced A leagues (Carolina and California). He also posted top-ten marks in OPS (.793), wOBA (.361), wRC+ (126), and BB/K (0.59) as well. He displayed a great eye at the plate by limiting strikeouts (15.6% K%), walking at an above-average rate (9.2% BB%), and posting the league’s fifth-lowest SwStr% (6.6%). That approach is such a great thing to see, especially given how young Paredes was compared to the rest of his competition; the average age in Advanced A is 22.4 years.
Despite these numbers, Paredes still lags behind other prospects in acclaim, especially relating to industry rankings, both overall and at his position. MLB Prospect Watch and Prospects1500 do not see him as a top 100 prospect, though Fangraphs and our own Adam Garland do rate him as such. Paredes is also not listed among the top ten prospects at his current position per MLB Prospect Watch. This is odd when you compare his performance to the shortstops ranked ahead of him, especially as most of them spent time in Advanced A in 2018 as well, allowing for easy comparisons:
At the very minimum, Paredes’s production shows he belongs with those players, offensively at least. Scouts are not as bullish on his defensive abilities, however, rating him below average on speed (40/40) and fielding (40/45) despite an above-average arm (55/55). This is one reason he lags behind some of the aforementioned players in certain prospect rankings, as many see a shift to third or second base in his future. Even if a shift does occur though, Paredes Advanced A production compares well to some of the higher rated prospects at those positions too, despite being younger at the level than many of them:
|Vladimir Guerrero Jr.||A+||18||209||17.20%||13.40%||.944||.161||.434||179|
While defense matters in real life situations and to some extent in fantasy, I think Paredes is being undervalued given his Advanced A offensive production. Since we looked at his numbers compared to his peers, seeing how his numbers compare to current MLB players’ past production at that level makes sense. This chart looks at Advanced A performances (2010 – 2016) by current MLB shortstops and third basemen at age 19:
Paredes compares well to this group, and putting his production into this perspective should excite you somewhat. Direct player comparisons are a fun way to gauge player production and potential, though they are by no means absolute indications that one player will follow the same path to stardom as others with similar statistics. Baseball is littered with players who, at one point, showed similar abilities to future stars before flaming out well before posting an All-Star season in the majors. For every Lindor, there is an Owings. And for every Owings, there is a Jerry Sands or Brandon Wood who never even had sustained success at the MLB level. However, these comparisons do give us an idea of how a player’s performance measures historically, providing us more data to use as we project ahead.
An ETA of 2021 makes him a target for dynasty leagues rather than redraft at this point, though a strong showing in AA this season could accelerate that timetable. His bat should carry him forward regardless of any positional shift, and his advanced approach limits the risk of him being exposed at higher levels. Paredes is a prospect you should invest in now before he becomes more of a known commodity. If he continues hitting in AA like he did over 39 games last season (.321/.406/.458, .136 ISO, .388 wOBA) you may be left on the outside looking in, bemoaning the chance you had to watch Paredes as he terrorizes opposing pitchers with swings like this one in 2018:
(Photo by Jeff Chevrier/Icon Sportswire)
Roll Tide, Hunter
Roll Tide Casey!
The concern I’ve read about Paredes is that the body is already mature and further projection isn’t expected. This, plus the anticipated position switch, is why he’s regarded lower than some of the names you are comparing him to. Of course performance matters (in the majors it’s all that matters) but have to be careful not to just scout the stat line.
Hey Sean! Thanks for reading. Great point. Those two issues are definite concerns to consider in addition to his MiLB production thus far. That bat is exciting though, and 2019 will tell us a lot about how we should value him based on how he performs in a longer AA run. Looking forward to watching him this year.